To that long line of classical Reformed theologians belongs Louis Berkhof (1853-1957), professor for almost forty years at Calvin Theological Seminary. His internationally renowned Systematic Theology is valued as a highly useful single-volume theology textbook. It has become a standard work both for training and for examining ministerial candidates among Reformed and Presbyterian denominations throughout the world.
Some today are saying publicly (and privately), wherever such a narrative may be useful, that “Louis Berkhof taught Two Kingdoms theology, too.”
Well, if what you read below defines that theology accurately, then there really exists no genuine debate. And the churches need not have been agitated by what has been presented as a “recovery” of something allegedly lost.
See what you think.
Since the Roman Catholics insist indiscriminately on the identification of the Kingdom of God and the Church, their Church claims power and jurisdiction over every domain of life, such as science and art, commerce and industry, as well as social and political organizations. This is an altogether mistaken conception. It is also a mistake to maintain, as some Reformed Christians do, in virtue of an erroneous conception of the Church as an organism, that Christian school societies, voluntary organizations of younger or older people for the study of Christian principles and their application in life, Christian labor unions, and Christian political organizations, are manifestations of the Church as an organism, for this again brings them under the domain of the visible Church and under the direct control of its officers. Naturally, this does not mean that the Church has no responsibility with respect to such organizations. It does mean, however, that they are manifestations of the Kingdom of God, in which groups of Christians seek to apply the principles of the Kingdom to every domain of life. The visible Church and the Kingdom, too, may be identified to a certain extent. The visible Church may certainly be said to belong to the Kingdom, to be a part of the Kingdom, and even to be the most important visible embodiment of the forces of the Kingdom. . . . In so far as the visible Church is instrumental in the establishment and extension of the Kingdom, it is, of course, subordinate to this as a means to an end. The Kingdom may be said to be a broader concept than the Church, because it aims at nothing less that the complete control of all the manifestations of life. It represents the dominion of God in every sphere of human endeavor.
From Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1941), pp. 569-570.
Berkhof’s point about the activity of the church as organism necessarily coming under the domain of the visible church is debatable.
Nevertheless, if this is what people mean when they claim that Louis Berkhof taught “Two Kingdoms theology,” then all could rejoice and be glad.
For the unwary reader, were the preceding sentence written in Greek, it would be a “contrary to fact condition,” of the sort: “If pigs had wings, then they could fly.”