Two Kingdoms

Two Kingdoms Theology

Two Kingdoms theology is a novel theology that mainly comes out of the faculty at Westminster theological seminary in Escondido, California. However, it is quickly being picked up by Reformed, dispensational and other evangelical Christian leaders and pastors across America. David Van Drunen and Michael Horton, as well as other faculty members at Westminster, are advocates of it. Carl Trueman was also an advocate of it when he headed up the Westminster seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania. As Willem J. Ouweneel points out, this is a rebirth of a neo-scholastic way of thinking. “I intend to show in the present book that 2K theology is a kind of neo-scholasticism – and in this age in which Reformed thinking was finally liberating itself from its ties with scholasticism.”

Van Drunen teaches that “God rules the church (the spiritual kingdom) as redeemer in Jesus Christ and rules the state and all other social institutions as (the civil kingdom) as creator and sustainer, and thus these two kingdoms have significant different ends, functions, and modes of operations.” As this quote by Van Drunen shows, advocates of the 2K theology believe that Christians live in two kingdoms. One is the sacred realm and the other is the secular realm. The sacred realm is the Kingdom of God and it is restricted to the church and its activities. This is the redemptive supernatural kingdom. The secular kingdom is the realm of our common everyday lives and activities in the secular natural world. The secular world activities of the Christian are considered neutral in that they are neither holy or unholy.

The danger with this worldview is that it sets up a false dualistic dichotomy (spilt) in which Christian ethics and law apply only to the sacred realm (church) while a “neutral” humanist (pagan) set of ethics and laws apply in the secular realm of everyday life activities. This dualistic split in life can be traced back to the scholasticism which developed during the Roman Catholic church era prior to the Reformation. When the Reformation occurred a great biblical reset also occurred. It placed both the entire world and the entire lives of Christians under the rulership of Christ. The dualistic split in the Christian life was rejected by the Reformers who called for the total lordship of Christ in all areas of life. They realized scholasticism leads to a dualistic split in the Christian life whereby only the “spiritual” life of the Christian is under the authority of God and Scripture. Life in the natural (secular) world is placed under the authority and laws of the pagans.

In theology this dualistic split in life is known as the nature-grace dualism of scholasticism. Calvin and the Reformers broke away from it, but with time, later Reformed church leaders gradually returned to this dualistic way of thinking. Van Drunen and his associates are reviving this fatal dualistic split in the Christian life once again. R.J. Rushdoony, Francis Schaeffer and Nancy Pearcey addressed the problems that result from this way of thinking and how it has weakened our churches. They explained how this dualistic worldview leads to a schizophrenic life in which Jesus rules solely over the spiritual life of the Christian while biblical norms and ethics don’t apply to one’s public life and worldly affairs. As a result, Christians can live like pagans in their everyday lives and live under God’s rules only when they are in church. The Lordship of Christ and his ethics do not apply to their everyday lives in the natural world. This helps explain why the Gospel has had little moral and cultural impact in nations that have adopted this dualistic way of thinking. In many respects it is the dualistic form of a Gnostic worldview. The Gnostics taught the Christian life applied solely to the spiritual dimension of one’s life. Therefore, what one did in their body and in the natural secular world was not a part of the Christian life. One could act like a total pagan in one's ethics and worldly affairs, but still be a Christian, as long as the individual confessed their belief in Christ and went to church to be forgiven of acting like a pagan the previous week. Sound familiar?


1) The World is Christ’s: A Critique of Two Kingdoms Theology, Willem J. Ouweneel.

2) Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey.

3) How Shall We Then Live?, Francis Schaeffer.

4) God and Caesar, John Eidsmoe.

5) Mission of God, Joe Boot.

6) Gospel Culture, Joe Boot.

7) The Foundations of Social Order, R.J. Rushdoony.

8) Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, David Van Drunen.

9) Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, Bryan C. McIlheney

Two Kingdoms critique link: