Is James Jordan Now Advocating the Radical Two Kingdoms Theology?

If there is nothing else you learn from R.J. Rushdoony’s unique book, The Foundations of Social Order, one thing must remain: A man’s creed determines his whole worldview, including his political positions and how he votes. And therefore, conversely, that how a person votes, and the political position he uses to justify his vote, reveal his true faith.

This applies to James Jordan’s piece that was published yesterday by Gary DeMar in Godfather Politics: “Is It OK for Christians to Vote for Mitt Romney?” I already criticized DeMar’s call to Christians to vote for Romney. I did it with a heavy heart: I have learned a lot from Gary. But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. And what a man’s gotta do is stand unconditionally on his principles, even when everyone around him – including his teachers – is betraying those principles. I have learned a lot from James Jordan too. But here again, he is wrong, and I must say something about it.

Here we have a greater problem, though. Gary’s article was simply devoid of logic, without any explicit theological statement that would make one suspect his faithfulness to his espoused theology. Jordan’s article is just as devoid of logical thinking – if not more so – but it is also self-consciously based on a theological premise which Gary DeMar officially rejects: The Two Kingdoms Theology. I am not going to explain the Two Kingdoms Theology here; my articles and Joel McDurmon’s articles on the American Vision website give a good overview of that rhetorical position (it is not really a theology) and give our reply to it. Why Gary would publish under his name an article that openly uses the tenets of a theological position he rejects, is beyond me. I suspect he was focused on the political side of it, and did not pay attention to the dualism in the theological foundation.

I said, Jordan’s article is devoid of logical thinking. I will just briefly demonstrate the main logical fallacies in it before I move to the more important part:

In the first six paragraphs Jordan presents some imaginary arguments by his opponents. I am an opponent of his, and I couldn’t recognize my own arguments anywhere in these six paragraphs; neither do I know of any other opponent of voting for Romney that uses those arguments. Obviously, Jordan either doesn’t know what the real objections to voting for Romney are, or he is self-consciously engaged in what is called “building a straw man.” Starting your piece with six paragraphs of strawmen reveals desperation: the man knows he doesn’t have much to offer. Constructing imaginary enemies and destroying them is an easy way out of such problem.

Then he gives the examples of Joseph, Daniel, and Mordecai, to convince us that it is OK if Christians try to take the centralized power in the land. A straw man. None of his opponents is against a Christian becoming a President, and using the Presidency to change legislation and culture. What is strange is that Jordan is using the examples of covenant-keeping rulers in covenant-breaking societies as a basis for his claim that covenant-keeping men today (Christians) should vote for a covenant-breaking man (Romney, a Mormon, and therefore an open idolater) to become ruler over the land. Logic, anyone?

Then he says that Charlemagne and Louis IX effected societal progress through centralized government. Jordan is either ignorant of history, or he hopes his readers are. Charlemagne’s empire and Louis IX’s kingdom were highly decentralized, especially legislatively. I have explained the decentralized social organization of Christian Europe here. If Jordan is imagining that Charlemagne or Louis IX had a central government that decided the issues centrally and thus changed the society to the better, he doesn’t know much about that historical period.

He says that the Reformers were OK with centralized power which effected societal progress, and he summons to his support Calvin and Bucer who wrote to kings and exhorted them to reform the laws and the courts in their lands. Jordan forgets that that was written in a specific historical context, and Calvin and Bucer could have meant what was common sense at the time, namely, that the kings should reform the laws that are under their power, not all the laws in the land. The results of the Protestant Reformation are certainly anything but the centralized power structures that Jordan imagines. No matter how much he wants to see centralized power in Calvin or Bucer, the societies that emerged out of Calvinism were all decentralized republican societies, and Calvin’s spiritual heirs fought bravely against centralized power.

Then Jordan points to Ann Coulter. “See, if she is for Romney, there is no problem that I go there too.” Ann Coulter is also on the Advisory Board of the GOP homosexual organization. Would Jordan consider joining them?

He says that because he and DeMar who have been “theocratic Reconstructionists” for longer than some of us have been alive, vote for Romney, therefore it is OK to vote for Romney. Well, for one, Jordan officially left the Christian Reconstruction some time ago; I have never seen an official statement of him coming back. But also, Jordan misses the fact that there are those who have been Reconstructionists for longer than he has, and they are against voting for Romney. I am sure Jordan can think of at least two names there, and take down that useless argument.

Then, at the end, he says that Romney will provide peace and freedom for the church to act and spread the Gospel. I have already dealt with that logical fallacy here.

What is more important though, and deserves more attention, is Jordan’s theological justification for his political choice.

There isn’t much of it in the article, except one sentence:

I don’t look to the State for the things only the Church can do.

It is a strange sentence, in the context of Jordan’s polemic. It is unrelated to any other sentence in the article. Apparently, it is Jordan’s opponents who “look to the State for the things only the Church can do.” But he never explains in what area they do it; and he never explains what the things are that the Church can only do, but some of us want to give to the State. (Ironically, Jordan is voting for the statist Romney, while accusing others of statism.) The thing is not self-explanatory: No opponent of Romney among the Christians that I know has ever gone public saying, “Let’s not vote for Romney because we want the State to do the things the Church can do.” Jordan owes an explanation here, and it is not in the text.

(I would say, it is also strange that several paragraphs earlier Jordan defends the idea of societal progress through centralized government fiats, but then he suddenly doesn’t look to the State for what only the Church can do. But I will overlook that discrepancy here.)

The answer to that riddle lies in the fact that what Gary DeMar published is only a shortened version of a letter Jordan wrote to his Biblical Horizons email list last week. I was forwarded the letter by a friend for the simple reason that in that letter, Jordan specifically attacks me. In it, Jordan explains what he means. For some reason DeMar omitted the explanation in the published text.

Here’s the explanation, from Jordan’s original letter:

It is in the church where we insist prophetically on absolute obedience. In the civil realm it is a matter of doing what you can in your context.

Now it makes sense. Yes, those of us who are Christian Reconstructionists, who have learned from Rushdoony, North, and Bahnsen – and from DeMar and Jordan, in their better days – we do insist prophetically on absolute obedience in all realms, not just in the church. The Old Testament prophets prophesied against the nations around Israel, and declared God’s curses on them for not obeying the Law of God in their civil realm. In the New Testament, Paul says that the Law of God must be applied in the civil realm, “according to the Gospel” (1 Tim. 1:8-11). We do not see a different ethical standard between the Church and the State: in both realms we are required to render perfect obedience. Pragmatism is not the Biblical standard in any realm. In fact, unless there are clear ethical standards, no one can even define what is “practical.” (And neither can Jordan prove that his specific political position is “practical”: he just takes it for granted.)

Jordan’s theological objection is against this requirement for total obedience in every area of life. He limits such obedience to the church. The civil realm is where we do what we can, and pragmatism trumps absolute obedience.

The question, of course, is: What about the family? What about business? What about education? What about any other area of life outside of the church? If only in the church we insist on absolute obedience, then should we say that in the family we do what we can? What about business? Can you imagine a business world that is run not by moral principles but by “what I can do in my context”?

But the worse problem is this: Jordan creates two different ethical standards for two different realms. There is one law for the Church, and how we act in the Church. There is another law for the civil realm, and how we act in the civil realm. And when some of us insist on the same ethical standard for both realms, Jordan replies: “I do not look to the State for the things that only the Church can do.” He sees the consistent application of Biblical ethics to the State – or to any other area outside of the Church – as some kind of mixing the two realms. And then, once he has denied the standard for ethical obedience in the civil realm, Jordan replaces it with some “practical politics.” He doesn’t say how he knows that his “practical” is really “practical.” He just knows it, naturally.

Where else have we seen such separation between two ethical standards for two different realms?

In the Two Kingdoms Theology.

It is the Two Kingdoms Theology, as espoused and defended by the faculty at the Westminster West, and by other seminary professors (Al Mohler, for example), which insists that there are different ethical standards for how we act in the church (the “redemptive kingdom”) and how we act in the civil realm (the “common grace kingdom”). This separation is central to the Two Kingdoms Theology, and Joel McDurmon and I have discussed it in many articles. In the church, it claims, we have the revealed Law of God – or parts of it, at best – and we should obey it. The civil realm, according to David VanDrunen, one of the ideologues of the Two Kingdoms Theology, is under the “natural law,” and there we and the unbelievers – and Mormons as well – naturally know what to do. No revelation is needed there, and no requirement for absolute obedience. In Chapter 7, “Education, Vocation, and Politics,” of his book, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, VanDrunen, just like Jordan, insists that we have a different ethical code for acting in the civil realm. He specifically claims that our involvement in the culture can not be called “Christian” or “non-Christian” because these categories simply do not apply there. He still wants us to act in the culture but not as Christians, and certainly not trying to subject our cultural activities to a “Christian” ethical standard. How do we know how to act, if the standard is not ethical? VanDrunnen tells us: the standard is practical usefulness:

What constitutes excellence for the Christian engineer? Whether the bridge he designs holds up traffic. What constitutes excellence for the Christian plumber? Whether the pipes he fixes stop leaking.

He says this in the context of our cultural activities; he applies the same standard to politics. As members of the “redemptive kingdom,” that is, the church, he says, we are supposed to be obedient to what the Bible specifically calls us to be obedient; but our cultural activities are not obedience or disobedience in themselves because they aren’t “Christian” or “non-Christian” to start with. Our involvement in this world is rather for practical reasons: that we may spread the Gospel. Just what Jordan says. Interestingly, VanDrunen uses the word “wisdom” several times in that chapter, and every time it is in exactly the same sense as Jordan uses it: knowledge of how to practically act in a morally neutral setting where total obedience to the Law of God is not required. Neither Jordan nor VanDrunen ever mention the Biblical definition of wisdom: fear of the Lord. And neither of them bothers to explain how their own definition of wisdom – act “practically” in a morally neutral setting – is compatible with Proverbs 8. It is a chapter of very strong statements; how can it be explained by declaring that Biblical wisdom is simply the ability to act practically in the world without absolute obedience to the Law of God?

Jordan and VanDrunen agree on every point here, and on every point they disagree with the Bible.

This same view we can see in Michael Horton’s view on politics. In his article, “In God’s Name,” he specifically insists that there must be separation between Christ’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world, by which he means between how we act in the church and how we act in the world outside of the church. And he has a role for the kingdoms of this world: not an ethical, but a practical role:

. . . they are . . . God’s means of contributing to the common good and preserving society with a relative order, justice, and peace in the world.

And again, our obedience is required in the church; in the realm of politics, we have the “natural law” which every one knows and is informed by it. Politics is ethically neutral, as far as the revealed Law of God is concerned.

It is important here to direct the attention to another one of Jordan’s statements:

I vote for the person who best provides peace and room for the Church to act and the gospel to go forward.

Voting, for Jordan, is something outside the scope of the Gospel. We vote, and then the Gospel goes forward. The Gospel is a separate reality. Jordan doesn’t stop to think that his very vote may be an act of disobedience to the Gospel; such possibility is not entertained. After all, in voting, the issue of obedience to the Gospel is irrelevant; only the issue of practicality matters: “what we can do.”

That is Michael Horton’s view as well, in his definition of the gospel:

“Gospel” is not the equivalent to whatever is good and important in Christianity. . . . It doesn’t tell us what to do; it tells us what has been done. Law is good, but not the “good news.”

If the Gospel doesn’t tell us what to do, then we can’t take the Gospel to the political realm. And if the Law is not the “good news” (I wonder how Horton would explain Heb. 4:1-2), then we can break the Law in the political realm, and that won’t affect the Church’s work to spread the Gospel. Just as Jordan has it.

There is more to be said, and many more quotes from Horton, Mohler, VanDrunnen can be given to present the case for Jordan’s true theological commitment. For the sake of brevity, I will leave it at that; I think the case has been presented abundantly. To summarize it:

First, Jordan declares two different ethical standards for the church and for the civil realm; one requiring absolute obedience, the other pragmatic. So does the Two Kingdoms Theology.

Second, Jordan defines “Biblical wisdom” in the civil realm as knowledge of how to achieve practical goals, not as fear of God and moral obedience to His Law. So does the Two Kingdoms Theology.

Third, Jordan separates the Gospel from our political activities, and does not see a connection between our obedience in the voting booth and our proclaiming of the Gospel. So does the Two Kingdoms Theology.

For all practical purposes, when it comes to his political positions, Jordan has become a dualist, a Two Kingdoms theologian, together with the rest of them in Westminster West. He defends his vote for Romney on a theological basis which has nothing to do with the Christian Reconstruction. Voting for Romney can’t be defended except on the basis of that dualism. Unfortunately, in this case, both Jordan and DeMar have abandoned their professed theology and have adopted the theology of their opponents, to justify their political choice. It is sad that these men have fallen from their original convictions; but it is also necessary that they be confronted and held accountable for it.

I hope and pray they will pay attention and correct their views.

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