In an uphill battle against a President associated with The Persian Gulf War, Clinton campaign strategist James Carville didn’t want the campaign to be about foreign policy. He wanted to take the campaign to a different venue and on a different theme. Needless to say, he wanted it to be a winning theme. His strategy, which was famously summarized as “it’s the economy, stupid” was the right move at the right time and Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992.
If the current two kingdom discussion can be likened to two political campaigns, it’s the anti-2k group that has the superior rhetoric. While two kingdom advocates have yet to even come up with a clever name for anti-2ks, the anti-2ks have never met a 2k who isn’t a r(adical)2k. Its pretty similar to the way our national media overuses “far right Republican,” and it seems that both use their terminology to marginalize and stigmatize. But the rhetorical strategies don’t stop there. The anti-2ks – who usually don’t understand two kingdom thought – portray two kingdom advocates as soft on abortion and homosexuality, two hot button issues. It’s no surprise that the faction with the most interest in promoting mandatory political issues would use essentially political-type rhetoric to gain the upper hand. Clearly two kingdom advocates are losing the rhetorical war.
As an aside, two kingdom advocates are rarely liberals; they aren’t secret agents of the Obama administration asserting a theological theme as a pretense to liberalize conservative American Protestantism. They are largely (but not uniformly) conservative; they just don’t want their politics or anyone else’s politics to be, as it were, stapled to the back of the church’s confessions.
They don’t want any confession-apocrypha for a number of reasons. Liberty of conscience is one important reason, but, unfortunately most conservative Protestants think liberty of conscience was once-for-all achieved in the Protestant break from Rome. The second reason is actually more central: it’s about the church.
The church, simply put, is not a means for the greater ends of political and social progress. Her task is greater: to preach the gospel and the way of sanctification. The “world” will be better off because of what happens in the church, but the world does not set her agenda. When the world sets the church’s agenda in the form of the “correct” candidates, constitutional amendments, and legislation, the church’s mission is impaired. When the church is identified with partisan politics, those who don’t share those politics will see the church as their enemy and stay away from the gospel. When the church is filled with politics, there will be either political dissension within her doors or an artificial concord achieved by shunning naysayers.
So, while a catchy name for the anti-2ks wouldn’t hurt, it’s more important to emphasize the heart of the two kingdom perspective: it’s the church, stupid.