Tuininga explores Calvin’s ‘Two Kingdom’ theology in new book

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Tuininga explores Calvin’s ‘Two Kingdom’ theology in new book

Photo by Matt Cooke.

Photo by Matt Cooke.

Photo by Matt Cooke.

Photo by Matt Cooke.

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Calvin Seminary professor Matthew Tuininga spoke at the 36th annual Meeter Center Spring Lecture about John Calvin’s views on political engagement on March 6.

The lecture is the result of Tuininga’s book “Calvin’s Political Theology and the Public Engagement of the Church: Christ’s Two Kingdoms.”

In the lecture, Tuininga described how Calvin’s “Two Kingdom” theology shows a new course for the church to use political engagement, one that does not adhere to either Republican or Democrat party lines. Tuininga argued that because Calvin’s thinking is before the politicization and polarization that came with modernity, it can provide a fresh view of the church’s engagement with the state.

“It is very difficult for Christians today to think outside of right or left,” said Tuininga. “Calvin is outside of that.”

Tuininga stated that he went into writing his book thinking that Calvin offered a very abstract and disinterested theology of political engagement, but found that Calvin’s approach advocated for “the church to have a concrete presence in the real world.”

Dr. Karin Maag, director of the Meeter Center, introduced the lecture. Tuininga elaborated on the what Calvin’s “Two Kingdom” methodology means for the church in historical, political and theological terms. Then political science professor Kevin Den Dulk asked Tuininga questions to begin and then opened up the room for audience questions.

The audience asked Tuininga a range of questions, from who Calvin’s historical audience was to what Calvin would have thought of the American Revolution.

Tuininga stressed that Calvin employed secular arguments to convince secular audiences of his theological truths, which makes Calvin’s approach attractive in this pluralistic age.

“The church is the most effective witness to politics and to the world, when you let the church be the church,” Tuininga said.

Tuininga’s book, which Cambridge University Press published last spring, has enjoyed considerable success. Tuininga said that his publisher has told him that it has done better than most academic books. Previously, Amazon only sold hardcover copies, but now a Kindle rental is available, and pre-orders for a paperback edition are available as well.