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A Reformed Baptist Perspective on Public Theology: Augustine’s Two Cities

Augustine wrote City of God as an apologetic in response to those who were crediting Christians with the downfall of Rome. They argued that Christianity as a religion weakens cultures and makes them susceptible to overthrow by foreign powers. Augustine argued to the contrary that, whereas faithful commitment to the God of Scripture has always brought about flourishing in particular cultures, increased rebellion against Him has always resulted in their downfall. Within these cultures, Augustine recognized that there were two types of citizens: those of the City of God and those of the City of Man (also known as the city of this world or the earthly city).

A Necessary Dichotomy

Augustine distinguished the City of God from the City of Man. These two cities are organized societies with citizens who are respectively distinguished by the standards by which they live. Citizens of the City of Man live by the standard of the flesh, whereas citizens of the City of God live by the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:13-26). Augustine emphasizes that what ultimately distinguishes the two cities are their loves: “We see then that the two cities were created by two kinds of love: the earthly city was created by self-love reaching the point of contempt for God, the Heavenly City by the love of God carried as far as contempt of self.” (Book 14, Chapter 28).

 

 

 

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A Reformed Baptist Perspective on Public Theology: An Introduction

Disclaimer: The present series is a presentation of the thoughts of two Reformed Baptists (Gabriel Williams and William Leonhart) on the relationship between kingdom and culture. This series is to be taken neither as the view of all Reformed Baptists nor as the view of all contributors to CredoCovenant. Reformed Baptists are a diverse group with a wide variety of perspectives on this issue.

Paying attention to the news, one will have noticed that 2015 has been a year marked by numerous stories that have deeply affected American cultural life in the present and will doubtless have many ramifications in the future. The following list is a quick rundown of just a few major stories that have gained attention in 2015 (so far) throughout social media.

The shooting of Eric Courtney Harris and the shooting of Walter Scott
The death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent Baltimore protests
The controversial death of Sandra Bland
The mass shooting of the Emanuel Nine and the subsequent Confederate Flag controversy
The media celebration regarding Bruce Jenner’s gender transition
The landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision regarding homosexual marriage
The controversy surrounding the racial identity of Rachel Dolezal
The undercover videos controversy associated with Planned Parenthood
Donald Trump’s controversial statements regarding illegal immigration and border security
Protests for $15 minimum wage

A cursory examination demonstrates that many of the news stories mentioned above involve matters of social justice and politics. This raises a significant question for Christians to consider: What is the proper Biblical approach regarding matters of social justice and politics? This question is one that addresses fundamental aspects of public theology.

Considerations

Before answering it, we’re compelled to acknowledge the complexity of the question. Its answer demands a discussion on the relationship between the Church and State, the relationship between individual Christians and the institutional Church (i.e. a discussion of ecclesiology), and an honest discussion regarding numerous Biblical passages. Moreover, this discussion will also lead to a discussion on economic theory and political theory.

 

 

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My comment: In this series David VanDrunen’s “Radical 2K” will be discussed. As a blogger at Reformedontheweb, I reject David VanDrunen’s “Radical 2K” view of two kingdom doctrine.