The past few years have seen a number of publications putting forth the thesis that the Protestant Reformation held to a belief in natural law and advocated a socio-political theory known as the “two kingdoms.” This has been construed as a move away from a previous consensus that the Reformation and Calvinism in particular believed that their faith was for all of life and that Christ’s mission required a transformation of culture. That concept, it is argued, should be understood as “neo-Calvinism” and is actually a step away from the Reformation tradition. Complicating the discussion is the fact that this is not merely a historical debate, but indeed a competition between contemporary political programs. In what follows I will argue that the Reformation did indeed advocate natural law and a distinction between two kingdoms, but this was not a precursor to modern political Liberalism. In fact, the Reformers’ understanding of the two kingdoms served as a primary apologetic for the reform of the church by the civil magistrate.
Read the rest at Two Kingdoms Critique.