The theological basis for principled pluralism is the narrative that God created everything good and sin has corrupted it all. Therefore, Jesus must redeem it. The narrative structure forms the basis of how God’s sovereignty is properly exercised for the good of a fallen creation.
Creation: the cultural mandate
Creation was the initial work of God in Genesis 1-2, but the cultural mandate of “subduing the earth and filling it” (Gen. 1.28) is more than procreation. It is the cultivation of culture. Under this cultural mandate, government would be a likely development even if Adam had never sinned.
Fall: common grace
The Fall resulted in the corruption of all of creation. Total depravity in the Reformed tradition speaks to the “breadth rather than the depth” of depravity. The fall has separated all from God’s saving grace, though it is available to those who are chosen. However, God exercises “common grace” on all people (see Mt. 5.45). Government should be an operation of “common grace,” but it, too, is tainted by sin and will fall short of ideal “common grace,” but this does not mean it should be abandoned.
Redemption: cosmic in scope
Christ comes to offer redemption, not just to people, but to the created order (Rom. 8.18-23). Believers will not “save,” in a redemptive sense, the culture, but it can be transformed to what it is intended to be. This isn’t a return to Eden since the biblical witness ends with a glorious city (Revelation). Believers need to facilitate this redemption as their able.
What does this mean for the church and state? It is a two powers view, but unlike Luther, the Reformed position has the two working together. The state protects the church and the church serves as a prophetic witness to the state by calling it to “common grace” righteousness.”