Calvin Theological Seminary recently hosted a lecture by Matthew Tuininga titled “Politics and the Kingdom of God: John Calvin’s Theology of Christian Public Engagement.”
Tuininga, assistant professor of moral theology at Calvin Seminary, is the author of Calvin's Political Theology and the Public Engagement of the Church: Christ's Two Kingdoms, published last year by Cambridge University Press.
Presented as this year’s installment of the Meeter Center Spring Lecture Series, Tuininga’s lecture discussed Calvin’s views on the role of the church and how the church and its members interacted with the political life of the city, in their case Geneva.
After the lecture, Tuininga was joined by Kevin Den Dulk, executive director of Calvin College’s Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics, for a time of questions and answers.
In both the lecture and the subsequent session with Den Dulk, Tuininga looked at Calvin’s thought on the church’s interaction through three lenses—historical, theological, and political. Calvin, Tuininga noted, spoke and wrote about a “Two Kingdoms” theology: the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God.
Tuininga argues that Calvin has been mostly misunderstood in this area—that Calvin clearly saw the importance of this theological framework and the important distinction between the two kingdoms.
Calvin’s teachings, Tuininga said, provide answers to questions about a church member’s role in the political life of the worldly kingdom.
Tuininga clearly and enthusiastically spoke into the nuances that made Calvin’s approach unique and about how it still influences neo-Calvinist thought today.
While not wanting to put words in Calvin’s mouth, Tuininga used Calvin’s understanding of politics in his own time to theorize how he might consider politics and the role of government in modern times.
Calvin Seminary looks to prepare leaders for ministry and engagement in the broader world God so loves. Conversations like these help prepare our students as they consider their role in this larger context.
You can listen to the lecture here.