One Kingdom or Two? A Review of Citizens & Exiles: Christian Faithfulness in God’s Two Kingdoms by Scott Aniol

Citizens and Exiles (Mockup)

Before commencing a book review of Scott Aniol’s Citizens and Exiles: Christian Faithfulness in God’s Two Kingdoms, let me provide a brief backdrop and introduction to what led me to pick up this book.

I have long followed a paradigm known as one kingdom theology or sphere sovereignty. I was first introduced to it when I watched the 12-part worldview DVD series The Truth Project in the early 2000s when I was in seminary. I found the paradigm helpful for two main reasons. First, it guards against falling prey to tyranny on one extreme and anarchy on the other extreme. Second, it takes seriously the application of a biblical worldview to all of life.

Sphere sovereignty is the idea that God designed the social structures of the world in divided spheres of power or authority—at the very least the spheres of the family, church, and state. Each sphere has its own tasks or responsibilities, and each sphere has its own hierarchy of authority to govern over and carry out those tasks. No other spheres are to swallow up another sphere to take over or undermine another sovereign sphere. Anyone who tries to take over all undivided power is antichrist because only Christ can take all power and authority when he returns to set up His kingdom on earth over all. Therefore, sphere sovereignty guards against tyranny while also recognizing that we have an obligation to submit to limited powers of authority over us in the realms of family, church, and state. Each sphere has checks and balances in relation to the other spheres.

Sphere sovereignty is also the idea that God rules over all. Abraham Kuyper, the Protestant theologian most known for formulating this theology, is famous for saying: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine.”1James D. Bratt, ed., Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 488 In other words, God’s kingdom rule must be brought to bear in every sphere of life; there is no realm of neutrality free from His rule. The biblical worldview must be applied to all of life rather than dividing the world into sacred and secular realms—and leaving the secular realm to be run according to man’s ideas absent from any biblical or religious influence. Sphere sovereignty is meant to guard against secularism while also guarding against the church swallowing up the sphere of the state (as the Church of Rome had done previously).

Although I had seen the benefits of Sphere Sovereignty over the years, I also began to see dangers or problems, if not in the system itself then, in the misuse or misapplication of this paradigm. Whether postmillennialists or progressive dispensationalists who went too far with an over-realized eschatology, efforts to “redeem the culture” led to a socio-political approach that wanted to shift the mission of the church and change the church’s approach toward culture, undermining antithesis to the culture. Although I maintain that the Creation Mandate is a mission for humans until the consummation of all things (Gen 8–9), it is not the mission of the church per say (institutionally gathered or even organically scattered). Certainly, when the church scatters into its weekly vocations, these redeemed humans ought to be equipped by the church to live faithfully in all of life. But the mission of the church is to be a light in the midst of darkness as a faithful witness until Christ returns to redeem the culture. The church will not triumphantly transform the culture before His return even if Christian influence may produce glimmers of successful impact on the culture in certain limited ways for which we can praise God. The church (gathered and scattered) must stay on mission, keeping its priority fully on the Great Commission. This includes both evangelism and discipleship (living faithfully in all of life—which impacts how Christians live within all of culture). But the Great Commission cannot be forced fit to expand beyond the breaking point to include a triumphalist transformationalism that forwards a mission of the church to take over and redeem the culture itself before Christ returns. This grates against all that the New Testament teaches about us being foreigners in a kingdom of this world in which we do not belong.

It is at this point that I became interested in two-kingdoms theology. Although a quick look at the outset of VanDrunen’s Living in God’s Two Kingdoms left me unconvinced, it seems as if there are variations of two kingdoms theologies. What I did know for sure was that the Bible speaks of the kingdom or kingdoms of this world as well as God’s kingdom. We were translated out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light (Col 1:12–13). The Prince of the Power of the Air rules in some respect on this earth (Eph 2:1–3). The nations currently rage (Ps 2). And we are pilgrims on this earth living as foreigners during this age because Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36; 1 Pet 2:11). Yes, God is sovereign over all (His universal kingdom) and a biblical worldview must be applied to all of life if we are to be faithful. We can bring to bear biblical principles in the public square. Yet, we should not expect to triumph in any kind of permanent way before Christ Himself returns to vanquish His enemies. We must face up to the reality that we live in opposition to the kingdom of darkness in this world. 

One of the greatest dangers or misuses of Kuyperian theology is the idea that the church’s mission is to triumphantly transform the culture (not just individuals who may influence it) before Christ returns. And in its efforts to gain success, the church accommodates itself to the world to appease it in order to gain influence and power. In order to profess progress, the church begins to ape the world; the world transforms the church. It doesn’t want an “us against them” mentality. 

Recognizing that Christians are called out of this world to live for a kingdom that is not of this world demands an antithesis with this world—not just in personal piety but also socio-politically. As long as the church drifts from the Great Commission—failing to confront an idolatrous, godless world to repent and to submit to the rightful King—it will compromise by trying to accommodate and appease the godless kingdom. The church needs to be called back to its courageous mission. Success will not be found in a social gospel likableness but in storming the gates like the strong man in Matthew 11:12.2cf. Pilgrim’s Progress: Interpreter’s House and the Man Who Storms the Palace

I don’t think it’s contradictory to recognize that God rules over all so that the biblical worldview is applied to all of life by Christians seeking to be a faithful witness in all of life (even socio-politically in the public square) and on the other hand to recognize that Christians have a higher priority to live for a future eternal kingdom rather than for this temporal world. And this does call for a more narrow fulfillment of the Great Commission—evangelism and discipleship of the nations that is truly gospel- and eternity-driven in contrast to those who redefine the gospel in new left social justice or liberal social gospel ways or Christian Nationalism efforts—shifting the gospel work of the church to social renewal.

It’s not that the true gospel doesn’t impact society—for if people truly repent, they will demonstrate that in all of life. And the more people who do so can then have an impact socially. However, this is an after-effect that results from faithful evangelism and discipleship of individuals. It is not the front-end priority, goal, and focus that drives our work. Christians can be just as faithful under persecution with zero cultural capital or influence or power socio-politically and that takes nothing away from successfully fulfilling the Great Commission because the Great Commission is about saving souls not cultural renewal. This world is headed for zero cultural power for Christians with the rise of anti-Christ followed by perfect cultural renewal at the return of Christ when He takes all dominion. In the meantime, we may perhaps be able to exert some influence for a moral society. And we should always stand for that. But our priority due to our mission is an eternal city while we sojourn as strangers here on earth.

With that backdrop and those presuppositions, I picked up Scott Aniol’s Citizens and Exiles: Christian Faithfulness in God’s Two Kingdoms. I want to begin by summarizing the thrust of each chapter of Aniol’s book and simply allow it to speak for itself. Then, I will summarize some of my reflections and conclusions. Since the introduction and first two chapters set up the whole system, I will provide a more detailed summary of those chapters.


Citizens and Exiles begins with a brief foreword by Owen Strachen who like me is coming from a Kuyperian framework. But he has also grown to appreciate some strands of Two Kingdoms theology. At the same time, he recognizes the pitfalls from those who seek to use Kuyper to redeem the culture or Christianize society in ways that do not rest on New Testament support.


The Introduction reckons with the deplorable state of our culture, including the church. Aniol zeroes in on multiple approaches of the church in response: 1) Christ Against Culture pietistic isolationists who withdraw from and ignore culture in favor of spiritual only pursuits; 2a) Christian Nationalism Transformationalists who want to forward an external Christianizing of nations enforced by the Mosaic law; 2b) Integrationist Transformationalists who want to accommodate the current culture to gain power and influence so that the world will respect, like, and accept the Christian agenda for redeeming the culture; 3) an antithesis between the common kingdom of this world in which Christians live as exiles and the redemptive kingdom in which Christians are citizens of Christ’s redemptive kingdom. 

The key to keep the church on mission is to recognize and order one’s responsibilities in both the common kingdom (God’s sovereign rule delegated to the first Adam) and the redemptive kingdom (God’s sovereign rule delegated to the Second Adam). This framework guides Christians to properly engage culture in the common kingdom while staying on mission as a church in relation to the redemptive kingdom over which Christ rules. Yet we await His return to reign eternally and we live in an age between these two Adams and thus with these two kingdoms.

Chapter One

Chapter one explains the two kingdoms (how God sovereignly reigns over all) and summarizes the biblical support. Aniol begins by laying out three ways that the Bible makes use of kingdom language: in reference to 1) the universal kingdom (Ps 103:19; 145:13); 2) God’s rule over His redeemed people; 3) the literal earthly kingdom to come at Christ’s return.

All humans have been delegated dominion as sub-rulers and priests under God’s universal rule (Gen 1:27–28; 2:15; Ps 8). This was granted before the Fall, and now the Fall has affected the carrying out of this human mission (Heb 2:8). Originally, man/Adam was supposed to serve God in one unified kingdom as a priest/king who perfectly represented God. Now the Second Adam would have to come to restore this unified kingly/priestly rule (Gen 3:15).

Here is the key thesis:

God intended for there to be one kingdom/temple on earth, an expression of his sovereign rule over all things that was a union between man’s dominion over creation—that is, culture—and man’s relationship with God—that is, religion. Adam failed the requirements to rule that one kingdom, and so between his failure and the Second Adam’s success, God separated the two aspects of his united kingdom into two realms of his sovereign rule.3Aniol, 16; this seems to correlate with the long-held belief of separation of church and state or Sphere Sovereignty’s recognition of different spheres of divided sovereignty for church and state.

The common kingdom (established by the Noahic covenant) and the redemptive kingdom (established by the Abrahamic covenant) divide how God rules this earth under the curse corresponding with common grace and special grace (Gen 9:1–7; Rom 2:15; Matt 5:45). The common kingdom can be constrained by government that enforces the common grace given to image-bearers. But the redemptive kingdom is made up of people who worship God by faith according to His special grace. They have been called out and stand in antithesis with those who still serve the god of this world (Gen 3:15; 1 John 3:12). God’s people are always called out to be distinct and to be sojourners (Heb 11:10, 13, 16). The earthly kingdom is temporal; we’re called to live for an eternal, heavenly kingdom. Only when Christ returns will these two kingdoms be united again in a literal kingdom on earth (Isa 11:9; Ps 72:8; Dan 2:44; Ps 110; Rev 11:15).

Therefore, Christians await the return of Christ to reign with Him in accordance with the reunification of these two kingdoms. But now we live as faithful sojourners. We do not try to unite the two kingdoms ourselves in an attempt to Christianize or redeem the culture—every attempt will fail as it did with Israel. We must avoid an over-realized eschatology. 

Chapter Two

Chapter two explains our dual citizenship: citizens of this world (the common kingdom) and citizens of a heavenly or redemptive kingdom. This is due to Adam failing to rule well so that God administers His one rule over all in different ways as we await the Second Adam. The Noahic and Abrahamic covenants represent these different administrations of the common and redemptive kingdoms respectively. In addition, the nation Israel under the Mosaic covenant foreshadows what the union of God’s two kingdoms rule was supposed to look like.

This understanding of our dual role as citizens of distinct kingdoms impacts our engagement with culture—especially if our responsibility no longer centers on taking dominion of the common kingdom but awaiting the Second Adam to do so at His return.

However, before dealing with our engagement with culture as dual citizens, culture must be biblically defined in contrast to evolutionary ideas of culture leading to multiculturalism. The chapter goes on to define culture as group behavior, the expression of underlying value systems that are never neutral: either borrowing from or opposing the biblical worldview. Christians’ orientation toward the eternal kingdom should direct how they live in the common kingdom; they should be holy and set apart from the depravity of this world’s system.

Christendom seeks to unite the common and redemptive kingdom in an effort to redeem the culture. Positively, we can applaud any moral influence in the production of cultural artifacts. Negatively, this approach tends to produce both nominal Christianity that’s not genuine and worldly Christians who don’t behave as exiles but accommodate this world to gain influence and power.

The chapter concludes with historical and biblical support and recognition of distinctions in God’s kingdom administrations.4See, for example, the John Calvin quote on pages 44–45; Baptist separation between church and state; Jer 29:4–7; Ps 137; render to Caesar and to God what is due; 2 Tim 2:1–2

Chapter Three

This chapter answers how we should live in the culture around us. We should live based on how God works in the world in two distinct kingdoms. We are dual citizens in these two distinct kingdoms.

1 Peter 2 explains how we are to live in the common kingdom: as sojourners and exiles (1 Pet 2:11ff.) because we are citizens of the redemptive kingdom (1 Pet 2:9–10). Our ultimate citizenship determines how we live in the common kingdom. Therefore, we don’t separate sacred and secular and relegate this temporary world to meaninglessness or neutrality.

After some general teaching on how to live in the common kingdom (1 Pet 2:13, 18; 3:1, 3, 7–8), 1 Peter 2:11–12 directs how we carry out the specifics of this general philosophy: applied to government, family, vocation. Our living distinctly in all of life compared to others should not engender pride because we received mercy. We live distinctly for others’ good in society (Matt 5:16). Our witness may convert others (1 Pet 2:12; 3:1–2).

The chapter goes on to reinforce the distinction between the common and redemptive kingdom based on what guides our living in the common and redemptive kingdoms: general and special revelation respectively (Ps 19). On the one hand, the beauty and order of God’s creation reveals God to all people universally (Rom 1:18ff.). General revelation may guide some ethical living in the common kingdom—universal principles for image bearers. On the other hand, the specifics about the true God and redemption through His Son (redemptive kingdom) must come through special revelation. Special revelation gives more wisdom in how to live in this world. Only citizens of God’s redemptive kingdom will benefit from special revelation: it is the guide we submit to. We live distinct and as exiles because we submit to God’s Word.

Although we strive to live peaceably even with outsiders in the common kingdom (Rom 12; 1 Pet 3:8; 1 Tim 2), we also ought to expect to be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12; 1 Pet 3:16).

Chapter Four

This chapter begins a more specific focus on directions for living in the common kingdom—specifically related to family and vocation.

What does it mean to serve the Lord? Serving the Lord entails more than full-time Christian service. Wives, husbands, children, and fathers can all serve the Lord in various capacities (Col 3:17ff.). Citizens of the redemptive kingdom need to know how they should live in every-day life. Col 3:1–2 guides how we live in this world. We serve Christ within our every-day duties and responsibilities. Christ is both at work in His redemptive kingdom as well as the common kingdom and we can serve Him in both.

God works through all professions (Ps 147:13) and providentially assigns us to our roles where we can serve Him (1 Cor 7:17) in order to preserve order and peace in this world. Whatever your work, do it to the Lord (Col 4:1, 23).

Chapter Five

This chapter continues a more specific focus on directions for living in the common kingdom—specifically related to government.

God established human government in Genesis 9:6. Government is an extension of God’s universal rule, granting sub-rule to it (Rom 13:1). Human government is subject to the moral law of God since it was instituted by God and its rulers are God’s servants (Rom 2:14–15).

Even when they don’t properly account for morality, successful governments borrow from transcendent biblical morality if they are to be successful. There is no neutrality—either conform or oppose God’s law.

In response to the claim that there can only be two options (Christ or chaos), this chapter summarizes three options and supports the third option:

  1. Christ/a theocratic kingdom (Christendom/theonomy, Christian nationalism versus awaiting Christ setting up His kingdom at His return)
  2. Chaos (anarchy)
  3. Common Grace: borrowing from Christian morality by common grace in the common kingdom

The chapter goes on to enunciate the common grace understanding of government within the common kingdom. 

First, government jurisdiction is limited: Its task is to protect human life and to uphold good and punish evil. The key to this common grace approach is that fulfilling its task is guided by the second table of the Ten Commandments to love one’s neighbor. The first table of the law is governed by the church for the saved and redemptive kingdom. In the common kingdom the goal of government is preservation of human life and safety in a sin-cursed world.

Government enforced religion is dangerous—we should not desire theocracy. Obedience to the moral and spiritual law of God only comes from the Spirit’s empowerment after true repentance and salvation—theocracy or Christendom has always failed.

However, one can see some benefits of Christendom”

  • Freedom to worship and practice Christian living
  • Allowed Christian morality to flourish with biblical norms carrying great influence—Judeo-Christian ethic influenced laws
  • Cultural production rooted into in God’s ordered world—comes from a value system that made it possible

The harms of Christendom outweigh the benefits:

  • A cultural Christianity forced on others is not genuine Christianity and produces externalists and hypocrites making evangelism difficult 
  • Nominal “Christians”
  • Instead of leading people to Christ they can be desensitized and apathetic
  • People don’t realize the need for personal regeneration 
  • A form of legalism and Pharisaism follows—externalists

God instituted human government as a common grace institution to help preserve peace and order in a sin-cursed world, not as an institution tasked with enforcing external conformity to all of God’s moral law.

Aniol. 107

We should support Christian involvement in every sphere to promote righteousness and oppose evil (second table of the law in the public square), but we must also understand that in the age we are in we are exiles who will be persecuted without the power and influence (1 Tim 3:1, 12).

Our response to human government is marked by submission (Rom 13; 1 Pet 2:13–17; Matt 22:21; 1 Pet 3:16), but this submission is limited by its jurisdiction since God administers His justice in two kingdoms (Matt 22:21; Acts 5:29; see also 1 Tim 2:2). Different jurisdictions are given to family (education, health, etc.) and to the church (doctrine, enforcing church discipline, etc.). This is where sphere sovereignty comes into play. It’s important to note that government is limited both by its God-given task and its jurisdiction: it cannot command us to go against God’s law nor can it force us beyond its jurisdictional powers. And in our context, submission is ultimately governed by the constitution that our leaders are also subject to.

Chapter Six

This chapter continues a more specific focus on directions for living in the common kingdom—specifically related to Culture making.

Since we are made in God’s image and blessed with the task of the Creation Mandate, we produce culture. Culture making begins with properly interpreting and communicating God’s general revelation through His special revelation in order to present proper conclusions about God’s reality to others through various forms. Art is an interpretation of God’s world.

Truth, goodness, and beauty correspond with and reflect God’s knowledge and character and loves. Culture is not neutral but communication of interpretation of God’s world. It presents and interprets experience. Does this interpretation of reality conform to sound doctrine? This chapter reinforces then that beauty is objective—a reflection of God. 

We are also shaped by what we consume so that we will perceive beauty based on what has shaped us (Phil 1:9–11). Our loves/delights should be informed by knowledge and discernment—what we love will guide our subjective perception of art and whether it reflects truth, goodness, and beauty.

Art should embody sound doctrine—reflect truth. Art is human expression —an interpretation or perspective on reality and truth—so it should be critiqued.

Chapter Seven

This chapter begins a more specific focus on directions for living in the redemptive kingdom: the Church.

There are distinct missions and responsibilities as a gathered church and as individuals (redemptive and common kingdom distinctions). Jesus’ authority and Commission directs the Church. His rule over all is not currently realized and won’t be until He returns to vanquish His enemies (Heb 2:8–9). We do what Christ has commanded and this is enunciated in particular by the apostles in the epistles to direct our work as a church. The only authority to guide how the church should operate is found in the epistles.

Our mission is to make disciples—what that means is specified by the other phrases:

Go proclaim the gospel, baptize, and teach to observe all things—and the epistles emphasize what these “all things” are.

The mission of the Church is exclusively redemptive in nature. Our mission is not cultural or social transformation. The church’s mission is spiritual—how to live regardless of the social situation you find yourself in. It is true that churches should instruct individuals on how to live Christianly in all of society. But our job is not to transform society, but to best influence the word by making disciples who live faithfully to God in all of life.

Chapter Eight

This chapter focuses in on worship and highlights the aspect of warfare—commitment to God and His things means we must fight sin. That means there is a place for the church to confront sin in this world. Confrontation begins with compassionate appeal (2 Cor 10), and confrontation demands courage to take a stand when appeals are rebuffed.

We have enemies in the flesh, but our warfare is ultimately spiritual: ideas contrary to God. All we need to properly fight this warfare is the armor of God not human philosophy. When we see the problems of this fleshly world, we will find peace in the sanctuary of God (Ps 73:16–17). We need an eternal focus to persevere through persecution (2 Cor 4:16–18).

In the appendix, Aniol provides a detailed response and review of Doug Wilson’s Mere Christendom.


Upon reflection, I would like to highlight just a few things. Previously I had blogged (here and here) that ministry stability and progress require unity in vision, mission, philosophy, and doctrine. I believe that Scott Aniol’s book, Citizens and Exiles, provides valuable and clear direction for bringing about such unity by clarifying an appropriate mission and cultural philosophy that is much needed for the church in our day. Much of the disunity that can be observed in the church today (whether in conservative evangelical circles or fundamentalist circles) can be explained by variant cultural philosophies and understandings of the mission of the church. Therefore, I highly recommend Aniol’s book as a biblically sound portrayal of the mission of the church and a cultural philosophy for the church.

Of course, such mission and philosophy will be built off doctrinal and theological commitments. And one of the chief challenges one may have to reconcile is a one or two kingdoms theology. Like Owen Strachen, who wrote the forward to Scott’s book, I have historically followed a Kuyperian (one-kingdom) framework. But I find myself in agreement with the cultural philosophy and mission of the church for which Scott Aniol contends. At the same time, I often find myself disagreeing with other Kuyperian’s who tend toward an over-realized eschatology and a transformationalist approach to culture, misdirecting the mission of the church.

The main criticisms of two-kingdoms theology of which I am aware tend to be along the following lines:

  • Relegating the public square to neutrality (constrained at best by natural law alone),
  • resulting in a dualism that divides the sacred and the secular,
  • leading to an isolationist approach to culture that so focuses on the spiritual and eternal that it neglects God-given tasks in all of life now.

Certainly, if you read Aniol’s book, I believe you will see not only that he guards against such things but also how a two kingdoms theology can legitimately avoid such criticisms. In Aniol’s presentation of a two-kingdoms theology, God still rules over all even if He administrates that rule in distinct kingdom administrations. And the redemptive kingdom does interact with and affect the common kingdom. Therefore, the distinction does not lead to absolute disjunction that undermines the God-given human mission of the Creation Mandate. At the same time, it rightly guards the mission of the church to be exclusively redemptive in nature (the Great Commission) rather than misdirect it to cultural or social transformation.

For all the criticisms of two-kingdoms theology, I don’t find those above criticisms the most concerning in our age at least. I find most concerning the transformationalist approach to culture and the over-realized eschatology that characterizes so many one-kingdom practitioners. As I reflected on why so many Kuyperian’s (one-kingdom theology) tend toward transformationalism and an over-realized eschatology (but some like me do not), I tried to put my finger on whether it is the framework itself, a misapplication of the framework, or another theological factor that often accompanies the framework. 

The framework itself could be the culprit that necessarily requires transformationalism and an over-realized eschatology if it necessarily implies that God’s rule over all must be already renovating the fallen creation in all spheres without any necessary qualitative future intervention by Christ’s return to accomplish such renovation. Some might argue that this is indeed the intended underlying theology of this paradigm. And I can see how it could be. But if it is, those assumptions were not clear to me as I made use of it for many years (focused primarily on the benefits of sphere sovereignty rather than God’s ONE rule over all). Therefore, I tend to see the culprit as a misapplication of the framework due to another theological factor that often accompanies the framework: a certain kind of progressive dispensationalism that tends toward an over-realized eschatology or a certain kind of covenant theology that tends toward postmillennialism. 

The classical dispensationalist will be a hardliner for an absolute disjunction between the Noahic covenant (common kingdom) and the Abrahamic covenant (redemptive kingdom), which was only brought together in theocratic Israel under the Mosaic covenant and which will only be brought together again in the New covenant instituted after Christ returns.5see Snoeberger’s chart in Covenantal and Dispensational Theologies: Four Views, 166 Currently, there is an absolute disjunction and no covenant; the church is a parenthesis. So, God’s kingdom rule is completely delayed in regard to the physical restoration of this world. None of it is occurring right now.

Progressive dispensationalists will see a distinction but not an absolute disjunction. They believe the New covenant has already begun with already/not yet fulfillments of God’s kingdom rule in both the common and redemptive realms. Thus, they will tend toward transformationalism based on an over-realized eschatology. Though they’ll see some distinctions (different spheres of sovereignty), they highly prize restoration beginning in this age. They may not go as far as postmillennials in the success of the renovation before Christ’s return, but they still forward a twin emphasis of the mission of the church: the Creation Mandate (social transformation) alongside or as a part of the Great Commission. The restoration begun now will be transferred into the future kingdom because the work of restoration occurring now is successful to some extent.

However, to be fair, some progressive dispensationalists will emphasize the “not yet” and avoid an over-realized eschatology. To them, the “already” is focused on New covenant spiritual redemptive benefits with the physical and social being in the “not yet.” Jesus will vanquish His enemies at His return; we do not accomplish this to usher in His return; our job is to call the world to repentance. Any Creation Mandate contribution is subject to the common kingdom realities—Noahic covenant common grace and not a part of the New covenant restoration yet. They don’t believe the current renovation of the temporal world is permanent or significant in comparison to the rightful focus on the spiritual redemptive aspect of restoration that occurs now in the church—limiting the mission of the church to the Great Commission. Even if it values Creation Mandate efforts (as a part of the human mission), these efforts are ultimately futile in this fallen world—though still worthy contributions for constraint in a fallen world. Thus, not all progressive dispensationalists should be treated the same. Some are very much concerned about limiting the mission of the church as are classical dispensationalists while others are much more closely aligned with the efforts of postmillennialists.

In conclusion, whether one approaches Aniol’s book from a one-kingdom (Kuyperian) or two-kingdom background, with progressive or classical dispensationalist or other theological presuppositions and persuasions, this book will challenge you to make theological applications to your cultural and church mission approach. And if you’re concerned about church mission drift and cultural compromise, you will find this book helpful as a bulwark against such drift and compromise. 

I greatly appreciate Aniol’s careful treatment of a Christian response to the cultural compromises and mission drift of the church rampant in our day. He carefully navigates between Christian nationalism on one side and moderate accommodation to progressives on the other side—both sides of which are guilty of the transformationalist error. This book rightfully guards against an over-realized eschatology that underlies the cultural compromise and mission drift undermining the unity of the church today. May conservative Christians find unity by rallying around many of the ideas helpfully enunciated in this book.

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1 James D. Bratt, ed., Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 488
2 cf. Pilgrim’s Progress: Interpreter’s House and the Man Who Storms the Palace
3 Aniol, 16; this seems to correlate with the long-held belief of separation of church and state or Sphere Sovereignty’s recognition of different spheres of divided sovereignty for church and state.
4 See, for example, the John Calvin quote on pages 44–45; Baptist separation between church and state; Jer 29:4–7; Ps 137; render to Caesar and to God what is due; 2 Tim 2:1–2
5 see Snoeberger’s chart in Covenantal and Dispensational Theologies: Four Views, 166
Author Citizens and Exiles (Mockup)

Kevin Collins

Kevin Collins has served as a junior high youth leader in Michigan, a missionary in Singapore, a Christian School teacher in Utah, and a Bible writer for BJU Press. He currently works for American Church Group of South Carolina.