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Neither quietism nor triumphalism: How two-kingdoms doctrine helps political discourse

Neither quietism nor triumphalism: How two-kingdoms doctrine helps political discourse
Walking a tightrope CREDIT: Shutterstock
David VanDrunen
David VanDrunen David VanDrunen is Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminster Seminary California.
23 April, 2022 4 min read

Have you ever read the book of Daniel and marvelled at how four godly Israelites – Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – served effectively in the court of pagan kings? These remarkable men didn’t shun civil service in Babylon and Persia, yet they didn’t see pagan empires as their true home or lose hope that God would return them to their promised land (Daniel 9).

God has called us to live a similar sort of life in our own societies. As New Testament ‘exiles’ (1 Peter 2:11), Christians should reject the temptations of both quietism and triumphalism. A two-kingdoms doctrine provides a helpful theological anchor to keep us from falling into either of these extremes. It enables believers to affirm both the goodness of participating in political affairs and their identity as heavenly citizens who are pilgrims in this world.

Two dangers

Quietism is the tendency to dismiss political affairs as thoroughly evil and to avoid participating in them as much as possible. According to quietists, believers should focus their energy on Christian communities and beware of mixing with the world.

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