Jonathon D. Beeke
This historical study considers the various sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Reformed expressions regarding the duplex regnum Christi (the twofold kingdom of Christ), or, as especially denominated in the Lutheran context, the “doctrine of the two kingdoms.” While this study examines a sampling of the patristic and medieval sources for these formulations, it concentrates its investigation on representative Protestant intellectual centers within the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (notably, Geneva, Leiden, and Edinburgh). A primary concern of this study is to examine the development of these formulations over the two centuries in question, and relate its maturation to the intellectual and political context of the early modern period.
Although Luther’s two kingdoms doctrine has received a great deal of attention in secondary scholarship, far less historical studies are devoted to analyzing Reformed versions of the twofold kingdom—and the studies that do exist are largely systematic in nature. Even more neglected is the period of Reformed orthodoxy; while select chapters and sections of monographs seek to articulate the Reformed orthodox position on the twofold kingdom of Christ, to my knowledge no full-length work has made this its particular focus. It is the intention of this study to make steps towards filling this lacuna in secondary scholarship.
The overarching tentative argument of this work is that the Reformed orthodox portrayal of the twofold kingdom of Christ (distinguished most often as the regnum essentiale and regnum mediatorium) stands in continuity with the early Reformers’ articulations, and yet there is in the second half of the sixteenth century, and even into the seventeenth century, significant and ongoing development and maturation of the duplex regnum Christi. Moreover, this dissertation’s hypothesis is that there were at least three primary reasons for this maturation: 1) new theological challenges combined with a desire for more precise terminology to meet these needs, 2) development in other areas of theology, and 3) a changing political scene. This study will test this hypothesis by focusing on the writings of prominent Reformed orthodox theologians from Geneva, Leiden, and Edinburgh.
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