I did not go to a Presbyterian/Reformed seminary, so I missed out on a lot of the intramural debates that my brethren had who went to Covenant, RTS, or the like. Not that I would change my time at Beeson, but I do have to play catch-up at times on subjects like Cultural Redemption vs Two Kingdoms Theology.
So, I’ve been trying to read a little into the subject, and I picked up David VanDrunen’s book Living in God’s Two Kingdoms. One of the more interesting arguments he makes in the book is that the cultural redemptive transformationist view is incompatible with the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone.
Regarding N. T. Wright, VanDrunen writes:
It is no coincidence that Wright both finds the traditional Reformation view of justification inadequate and also embraces the redemptive transformation of human culture. Before we consider Surprised by Hope, let me briefly state a bold claim that I will defend in subsequent chapters. Those who hold a traditional Protestant view of justification consistently should not find a redemptive transformationist perspective attractive. As some of the Reformers grasped, a two-kingdoms doctrine is a proper companion to a Protestant doctrine of justification. (21)
Like the first Adam, the Lord Jesus was called to priestly service, and Christ the Great High Priest purified God’s holy dwelling and opened the way for human beings back into his presence (Heb. 9:11-28; 10:29-22). Like the first Adam, the Lord Jesus was to enter God’s royal rest in the world-to-come upon finishing his work perfectly, and this is precisely what Christ did, entering into heaven itself, taking his seat at God’s right hand, ministering in the heavenly tabernacle, and securing our place in the world-to-come (Heb. 1:3, 4:14-16; 7:23-28).
This is absolutely essential for issues of Christianity and culture! If Christ is the last Adam, then we are not new Adams. To understand our own cultural work as picking up and finishing Adam’s original task is, however unwittingly, to compromise the sufficiency of Christ’s work. Christ perfectly atoned for all our sins, and hence we have no sins left to atone personally. Likewise, Christ perfectly sustained a time of testing similar to Adam’s: he achieved the new creation through his flawless obedience in this world. He has left nothing yet to be accomplished. God indeed calls Christians to suffer and to pursue cultural tasks obediently through our lives. But to think that our sufferings contribute to atoning for sin or that our cultural obedience contributes to building the new creation is to compromise the all-sufficient work of Christ. (50-51)
I’d have to think a lot more about this before jumping on it, but it’s an interesting point. I’d be interested in responses from cultural transformationist Reformed Christians.
- Would Reformed Christians who hold to a cultural redemptive view agree with VanDrunen’s characterization of their view that we are “picking up and finishing Adam’s original task” in our cultural work? Even if you don’t agree with his assessment that such a view opposes justification by faith alone, does he correctly state that the cultural redemptive view sees us as finishing Adam’s original work?
- How would cultural transformationists respond the VanDrunen’s assessment of this view?