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During the pandemic, Canadian evangelicals debated various approaches to political theology because of the pressures of the COVID-19 virus and the attendant governmental restrictions. As a response to these queries, Dr. Michael Haykin organized a conference called Political Theology in the History of the Church. I am attending one of the three days of the conference. While I am here, I will live-blog at least parts of the conference. If you are curious, tune-in here.

9:00 am: The political theology of the French Huguenots – Dr. Martin I. Klauber, Affiliate Professor of Church History, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Martin Klauber discusses the French Wars of Religion. Mentioning the Affair of the Placards as a key moment, Klauber expands on the history of France in the 1500s. Here, he discusses matters of two-kingdom theology and various constitutional matters.

The work Franco-Gallia is now under discussion. François Hotman, the author, complained against current political government in France. The Parlement in France gives royal edicts and opines on legal matters, Hotman says. It differs from the UK.

Klauber has provided a wide-ranging history of French political history from the early Roman ages up to, what I assume, will be the 16th century.

Hotman, in response to objections to his Franco-Gallia, wrote on the St. Bartholomew’s Massacre.

Theodore Beza read Franco-Gallia  and consulted with Hotman to write a work On the Right of Magistrates. Beza had to publish anonymously. And found it hard to find a publisher. It was too controversial. Geneva and Zurich said no to him. He finally found a French refuge printer in Germany to print the book.

Beza appealed to Plato, Aristotle, and Paul for his political theology, showing that magistrates were accountable to their people. A resistance theory is present.

This resistance theory to magistrates has roots in Martin Bucer (~AD 1530).

Beza speaks of those who usurp illegitimate power and those who are legitimate. The former can only legitimate if the people affirm him. Julius Caesar is the example Beza uses. Beza at this time has little room for lesser magistrates. But modifies his position later to give them more leeway.

Kings rule by the consent of the people, says Beza. That said, an individual cannot rebel against the king. One must suffer well unless the king demands something against what God says. The Hebrew Midwives in Exodus 1 are the example. Obadiah too provides an example by hiding prophets.

Beza goes further and says the the king is created for the sake of the people. David in 2 Samuel 5 gets the people’s consent. That’s key.

I missed some bits of the lecture.

At this point, Beza talking about the Estates and their ability to depose a King. The Estates General should be able to do that instead of taxes and administration. Louis XI is a villain in Beza’s story.

The massacre also led to another work in 1574, A Call to Awakening, written by an anonymous writer or one who gave a pen name only. Perhaps there was multiple authors. Dedicated to Queen Elizabeth of England, written in French, but Elizabeth was thought to know French.

Kauber asks Michael Haykin to let him when he is running out of time. Haykin says “yep.” I find it hilarious since there is no more information given. Is he almost done? Is there more left? An hour? A half-hour?

More discussion on Huguenot political theology, especially the Revue Matin. A fourth point of discussion on the work called Vindiciae contra tyrannos. I’ll hopefully hear the title again. But it’s hugely influential, it seems, for resisting tyrannical princes. The argument here is that kings are vassals of God. So they forfeit their fief if they attack God himself. So Ahab says worship Baal. But Elijah does not. People need not obey an evil command.

People do not have the rights to resist by own sword, but can resist passively. Fealty to the monarch and to God, but God is the liegelord. So he has the highest allegiance. So don’t worship an idol if a king demands it. Kings should be elected by people for the protection of the people’s property, not to exploit it. Saul was elected. David was elected in a sense in Hebron. Kings are first anointed by God then by the people. The source of strength and purpose of their reign—God and for the people.


Read authors in their historical context. For today, think of the Huguenots writings as part of a develop of constitutionalism. When the US imposes democracy on countries without a tradition of it, it doesn’t really work. Democracy is a gradual develop over time.

Klauber notes how authors both cite biblical passages and historical authors selectively in clever ways. They explain away counter evidence as exceptions. A good lesson for us.

St. Bartholomew’s Massacre made resistance to the French reign impossible. Before that, resistance theory had some steam.

11:00 am: The political theology of Richard Hooker — Dr. W.J. Torrance Kirby, Professor of Ecclesiastical History, McGill University

Time for a theology of law in Richard Hooker (1554-1600). Hearing a short bio of Hooker’s life. By the way, if you have not read Hooker you should. He began his career as a Bible scholar. Kirby says that’s definitive for his career.

Richard Hooker contributes to the English Reformation around the politics of the Elizabethan Settlement. He has what Kirby calls a sapiential approach and reads the Bible figurally. His famous work on Church Polity is a brilliant work. He starts, Kirby, notes with God as Law. (He hasn’t said it yet, but Hooker has a brilliant point here, in which God is not Law as a Lutheran or a modern day person might think). See Lawes 1.2.5 or Aquinas ST ?.Q91,A1.

Kirby reads Hooker to us on the origin of law. So good. Everything Hooker does is good. If you haven’t read him, again, do so.

God’s Being is a Law in a sense, since God is the Worker, performer of Work, and activity of Work. He is in this sense Law. A trinitarian thought. God is the end of his governing work, a Law unto himself bringing all those to his ends. That’s the sense of law here, not the modern sense of the word.

So far, Book I of Ecclesiastical Law is under discussion. That’s the source of the above.

Drawing on Aquinas STIa.Q13, Kirby shows us how divine names are imperfect ways for us to understand to God who is one in reality, even though we know God in manifold ways. For Hooker, primordial Wisdom is Law that God orders all things by, identical to God’s very self. Hooker emphasizes the oneness and simplicity of God in Lawes 1.2.2.

Hooker distinguishes first and second eternal laws (1.2.3; 1.3.1). One is Original Divine Source. It’s Simple. The second, if I tracked, is basically just how we experience God’s eternal law in time. It’s the harmony of the world. Put another way, Eternal Law is Simplicity and Origin. Then the second eternal law is the harmony of that law across time and place, participating in the Original as cause is in effect; and effect participates in cause. So Proclus Elementa Prop. 35.

Lawes 1.5.2 the passage in which Hooker says something to that effect. It all sounds complicated. But he’s just trying to show that God is behind everything in the created order. And to show how all of us creatures here below have a relation to God above. We as effects of the Creator are tied to our Creator, the cause of our lives.

Kirby continues to discuss Aquinas and Hooker on how we talk about God. Some words are more metaphorical like “rock”, others are more direct like Good. God is one in reality but multiple in idea. So these words help us to know God, but are always imperfect.

The reason why Hooker has two Eternal Laws is to say that everything comes from God and returns to him. He is the centre of all things. And it’s practical to talk about God’s second eternal law is the thing that orders all stuff in time like angels and us. Note Divine Law means the law recorded in the Bible.

It looks like Eternal Law in Hooker is sort of the simplicity and oneness of God, which other laws imperfectly represent under the major category of second eternal law. So that’s why Kirby talked about language earlier on. The second eternal law includes natural law and revealed law. Natural law comes from God outwardly; revealed law (i.e. the Bible) brings us back to God.

Let me try to simplify:

God is Eternal Law, because he is the One God that orders all things. A law in this sense.

But God created. So his eternal law also has an in-time sense—second eternal law. That major category of law stands above all the lower laws: natural law (including positive law, etc.) and revealed law (the Bible). Both Natural Law and Bible are part of God’s extended or second eternal law. One goes out from God because of Adam’s sin (natural); the other brings us back to God through revelation (the Bible).

One note if you are reading this. People did not have cell phones or the internet. So they could think for a while without distractions. Sometimes what seems over complicated to us is only for us because have lost the ability to think without distraction.

Missed some pieces. But Hooker has a reformed view of salvation. So revealed law, not natural law, saves.

“Who the guide of nature but only the god of nature?” says Hooker. Well, of course! God guides nature. Nature “as an instrument,” writes Hooker. Laws 1.3.4. Nature is God’s work. This is another reason why Hooker likes to call God Law, as a name, or description of God’s Being, imperfect as it might be.

Hooker on Royal Supremacy. Act of Supremacy on Nov 3 1534 by Henry VIII starts this idea in England. Queen Mary in “‘Act Concerning the Regal Power’ passed in Parliament in 1554.” She is Supreme Governesse then. Elizabeth has titles: “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church, within these Our Dominions.” And Queen E says “We are Supreme Governor of the Church of England.” This last bit is from the preface to the Articles of Religion (1563/71).

I am a bit lost here in the lecture. Talking in general about Hooker’s … defence of Elizabeth? Marsilius of Padua to the Papacy’s claims in Unum Sanctum. So I think she might be an ally of Hooker. Thomas Cromwell published Marsilius’s work. The work is Defensor Pacis, which vindicates Henry’s claims to be head of the church of England, I think.

I think I get it. The Augustinian argument of Marsilius involves a hypostatic union of spiritual and temporal power. I think Hooker also has a similar argument, drawing on the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

Ah, Elizabeth (or Hooker?) speaks of no personal difference between the two: church and commonwealth. The personal union of the two is the hypostatic language. Looks like Hooker speaks here. So church and commonwealth has distinct natures, but in the Person of Elizabeth there is a unity. Two natures bound together in a single person, a hypostasis—a sort of hypostatic union.

BUT the prince governs the outward and external matters, not the supernatural society of the church, since of that aspect of the society, no prince can govern. This is two-kingdom thinking. Two kingdoms in England here being bound Personally, but there natures being distinct in their orders and functions. The church has supernatural law, the prince natural.

There is nuance I am missing here.

Hooker speaks of the Spiritual reign of Christ, invisibly by Christ but also in outward ways to Rulers. For Hooker, the State comprises both church and commonwealth, yet this Personal unity in the Queen retains its distinction of natures.

If a good magistrate cares for religion, then that can really help society. In his context, Elizabeth did. So that benefited the English Reformation. The Person of the Sovereign, Elizabeth here, helps to ensure that church and society can have some unity despite being differ in nature—one spiritual and the other external. Hooker notes that this is the case in a Christian commonwealth. That assumption plays a key role. Today, we obviously don’t have a Queen reigning directly over Canada, nor a leader who cares for the religion of his people.



Hooker’s career is to be Hebrew Professor. But we really see his exegesis in his sermons. The political work draws on larger philosophical themes. Hooker is a biblical scholar, Kirby argues. The Bible is all over the Ecclesiastical Polity.

For Hooker, baptism (of infants) means you enter civil society. So that’s also important to the above argument. That said, everyone in England is part of civil society. So the assumption of Baptism as an infant may not be a requirement, just an assumption.

Hooker has a subtle republican vibe because he believes the monarch needs the people’s consent. Though he disagrees with the Vindiciae that the consent must be re-given at each monarch’s ascent.

Whitgift was Hooker’s patron.

12:30–2:30 pm: Lunch

I had pasta. I thought everyone should know.

2:30 pm: William Perkins and church-state matters – Dr. J. Stephen Yuille, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spiritual Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Prof Yuille talk about Perkins on witches. The key text—Exodus 22:18. No idea why, but I am interested!

Perkins has no straightforward writing on political theology. But you can pick it up in his wrings. The key for him: does Christ rule over both kingdoms—church and civil—or not? If Christ reigns, then there are one set of laws, one set of requirements. All must testify to Christ’s kingship.

Perkins says the Jewish commonwealth was the “first Christian commonwealth.” It is thus a template. Israel had a divinely monarch. So England does. Elizabeth I is Deborah. Blessing is based “on national obedience.”

God required conformity in Israel. So a Christian commonwealth should have conformity. So one national church in England. A nation under covenant with God.

Perkins talks about two roles: king and priest. Now, civil and ecclesiastical have differing functions in a Christian commonwealth. Yet the King of Israel upheld God’s law and worship in Israel. So the magistrate in England does likewise.

Magistrates requires worship, compels people to forsake idolatry, and punish the disobedient. Civil authorities uphold the first tables of the law of Moses, like in Israel—her kings did the same.

Two kingdoms: spiritual (inner man) and material (outer man)—Perkins affirms this. Not church and state. But the outer and inner man. That’s Luther’s view. Christian freedom refers to the first (inner man); and Christian freedom does NOT refer to the second (outer man).

Christian liberty is to be free from sin. We are not free in terms of the outer man, to the civil authorities or ecclesiastical. Our consciences are bound. Unless authorities demand our disobedience to God.

Read my article on the topic here. Christian freedom refers only to Spiritual matters, not our external life. Hence, we pay taxes and more. Read this article.

Moral law important to Perkins too. Israel obeys the Law. England does too. The law here is the Moral Law, which means not the ceremonial or judicial laws but moral—namely, those contained in the Ten Commandments and are a reflection of God’s eternal will. The moral law reflects God’s eternal will.

So England follows the moral law which IS the natural law. Same thing. England rejects ceremonial law. Magistrate enforces Moral law or Natural Law. Ministers encourage people to fulfill this duty.

Perkins also has a keen influence on eschatology, which influences his political thought. He thinks the millennium already happened. A modified Augustinian historicist system.

The millennium began in the years 295 (the rise of Constantine). The millennium ended in 1295 (Boniface BIII / Ottoman Empire). First beast pagan Rome. Second beast is Christian Rome (Gregory I). Somehow this union of Emperor and Christianity signals the devil being bound. Gregory around AD 600 becomes pope in Rome, a long line of antichrists begins with him. The second beast arises.

Boniface VIII and Unum Sanctum show that the devil was loosed in 1295. Ottoman Empire, the turk, and the antichrist of Rome pinches the church UNTIL the Reformation. England rises. A new bright future dawns.

Perkins thought the Constantinian Settlement meant the binding of Satan, the best way to live. Therefore, Exodus 20:18 says that magistrates should put witches to death! Judicial laws that attach death penalty may signal that such penalties connect to moral law. So kill the witches! Don’t suffer the witch to live.

The jesuits are the black horseman.

God’s blessing of England is at stake. Fight the papists and the Turks, Perkins thinks. Is Perkins a Christian Nationalist? Ha.

Yuille has some questions about Perkins’ presuppositions. Why is Israel a Christian commonwealth? Must the state confess Christ? Must civil authority enforces both tables of the law?



Witches needed to have 2 or 3 witnesses or admit the sin. If a witch is obstinate, Perkins recommends the rack.

Perkins thinks if Israel returns to its land, it should live under Mosaic law.

Perkins doesn’t appear to think a second millennium will come. But perhaps he does. He doesn’t say.




9:00 am: The political theology of the French Huguenots – Dr. Martin I. Klauber, Affiliate Professor of Church History, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

11:00 am: The political theology of Richard Hooker — Dr. W.J. Torrance Kirby, Professor of Ecclesiastical History, McGill University

12:30–2:30 pm: Lunch

2:30 pm: William Perkins and church-state matters – Dr. J. Stephen Yuille, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spiritual Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

4:00 pm: Baptists in the 17th Century – Dr. Barry Howson, Academic Dean and Professor of Theological Studies at Heritage Theological Seminary

5:30–7:30 pm: Dinner

7:30 pm: Canadian Protestants and Conscription in the Two World Wars – Dr. Gordon L. Heath, Professor of Christian History, McMaster Divinity College