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Avoiding the possible disingenuousness of as if

The work of peacemakers is never finished, surely not on this side of glory! In fact, genuine peacemaking is a foretaste of glory, isn’t it?

In addition to multiple efforts on this blog to engender an atmosphere of constructive engagement in the NL2K discussion (see here and here and here and here), we gratefully receive this report of a recent panel discussion on the campus of Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The reporter is an alumnus of both schools, whose representatives were engaging in this dialogue concerning a dispute that lies so near to the heart of the educational vision of these respective schools. What a relief it must be, then, when a graduate hears representatives of his most formative educational institutions agreeing at so many important points!

It’s best that you read that report before continuing to read this post, since most of my observations depend on the background offered there.

The comments that follow are not intended to detract from the progress in understanding, but merely to focus the discussion for the sake of clarity among the churches.

That last italicized phrase is, for me, perhaps the most important element in this entire discussion. This controversy has been going on for more than three years now, and has drawn international attention and commentary. Some are calling it an intramural dispute, just one more tempest in the Reformed teapot, descriptions often accompanied with a hopeful sigh that “this, too, shall pass.” Most of the public participants are office-bearers in Christ’s church, a fact that invests this discussion with more than ordinary weight. Ministers, elders, and theologians are advocating positions, ideas, and conclusions designed and intended to lead the church. And so it is with that “target audience” in view, that we’d like to press further in our pursuit of clarity and coherence.

Let me reiterate: the following comments are born neither of cynicism nor disbelief regarding the intentions of participants, but rather seek to help foster ongoing integrity in the cause of intellectual, moral, and ecclesiastical leadership.

So here goes.

1. That troublesome definite article

Imagine a conference or panel that was meeting somewhere—let’s say, Grand Rapids, Michigan—to discuss a matter central to Reformed and Presbyterian identity. The outcome gets reported in the local paper under this headline: “The Covenant in Grand Rapids: Healthy and Well.”

Those exhausted by a conflict about “the covenant” that some might dismiss as merely intramural would heave a sigh of relief. Those schooled in Reformed theology would be immediately suspicious, and inclined to ask: Which covenant? For in Grand Rapids you’ve got a number of versions of “the” covenant represented by a panoply of denominations—so what are we talking about, specifically, please?

So too here. We are assured in some quarters that there’s no real disagreement about “the two kingdoms doctrine”—prompting anyone informed about this discussion to ask rightly: Which two kingdoms doctrine, please? The one advocated by Martin Luther? Or by John Calvin? Or by contemporary innovators? By all of of them?

The problem continues to be the persistent, unqualified use of the definite article as if there exists a single, univocal referrent behind that article. In point of fact, there does not. Just as “the” doctrine of the covenant does not exist, so “the” two kingdoms doctrine does not exist. The time has come to stop writing and speaking as if there exists “the two kingdoms doctrine.”

2. Kuperian neo-Calvinism and “the two kingdoms doctrine”

This problem-of-the-definite-article can be clarified further when we evaluate the claims offered about the compatibility between Kuyperian neo-Calvinism and “the two kingdoms doctrine.”

Again, we are being assured that the differences between moderate—let us say: representative—neo-Calvinism and “the two kingdoms doctrine” are, after all is said and done, not that great. No fewer than nine elements of agreement are identified in the report of the recent panel discussion.

I deeply appreciate this attempt at rapprochement.

With a view to continuing the conversation, then, let me identify four questions raised by the reported attempt.

Are representative neo-Calvinism and the contemporary version of “the two kingdoms doctrine” genuinely compatible when advocates of the latter . . .

2.1 . . . publicly question whether there is really such a thing as “Christian education”? (For background to this question, see here and here and here.)

2.2 . . . [clearly share an approach to interpreting the Bible that is being used to {altered 11/8/2012}] defend the legitimacy of homosexual marriage? (For background to this question, see here.)

2.3 . . . publicly claim that the thought of Herman Bavinck and Abraham Kuyper regarding the relation between the Christian faith and public life is incoherent? (For background to this question, see here and here.)

2.4 . . . publicly ridicule serious attempts to integrate Christian faith and science, faith and learning, faith and politics, faith and farming, faith and plumbing, and so forth?

Please don’t receive or interpret these questions as impertinent or dismissive.

Some “two kingdom” advocates seem to be saying now, at least three years into this discussion, that there is no one, single, univocal “two kingdoms doctrine.” Evidence: one NL2K advocate seems unwilling now to be identified with the views of another NL2K advocate.

Such unwillingness would be quite understandable—and also reminiscent of other recent debates that stirred the Reformed/Presbyterian teapot. Perhaps we will be seeing advocates of “the two kingdoms doctrine” taking a page from the playbook of “the Federal Vision movement” to remind us that theirs is not a monolithic movement, nor even a movement. Just classic Reformed theology. (My point, lest it be unclear, is that I am a bit sympathetic to—now, as then—the attempted disassociation within the ranks, from the more radical positions being advocated in both debates. If, however, no disassociation is attempted or made, all sympathy, and credibility, evaporate.)

So then it behooves anyone presenting his or her claims as “the” implication of “the two kingdoms doctrine” to specify which version of “the two kingdoms doctrine” underlies that implication, and which version(s) do(es) not.

The church is not being helped, it seems to me, by the lack of definitional clarity in arguing as if representative neo-Calvinism and “the two kingdom doctrine” are compatible.

3. “Rightly” dividing . . .

The report of the recent panel discussion repeatedly observes that various respondents “rightly noted,” or “rightly point[ed] out,” or “rightly questioned” certain emphases or claims. Each of these reportedly correct observations constitutes a change in position or emphasis among advocates of “the two kingdoms doctrine.” Needless to say, this must be a cause for true and genuine joy!

(Parenthetically, however, it must be noted that with these changes in position, it is now becoming increasingly difficult to write/speak about “the” two kingdoms doctrine.)

More astonishing still is that all the panel participants reportedly agreed with one speaker’s claim “that Scripture is necessary not just to the Christian doctrine of salvation but to the proper interpretation of natural law for the purposes of cultural and political engagement” (italics added).

Read that statement again.

This is a crucial change in position, given earlier formulations of this issue!

In light of this remarkable change in position, I think it’s fair to ask: Will we be reading a formal printed retraction of the public claim by advocates of “the two kingdom doctrine” that natural unbelieving human beings can construct a valid public ethics solely on the basis of natural law? Or will we instead be invited to continue the conversation as if everyone now agrees with the claim about the necessity of Scripture for the proper interpretation of natural law for cultural engagement?

In light of this remarkable change in position, I think it’s fair to ask: How long will the church need to wait before advocates of “the two kingdom doctrine” repudiate the claims identified in the four questions above, all of them being made by advocates of various versions of “the two kingdoms doctrine”? Or will we instead be expected to continue the conversation as if these claims were not made, or not seriously intended, or not necessary implications of “the two kingdom doctrine”?

What, then, is our point in this post?

Simply this: To avoid any possible disingenuousness in the reported rapprochement, we need to remove any possible as if quality from our terminology, from our comparisons, and from our advocacy of the truth.

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758 Responses

  1. Those 9 statements when read from the Worldview of a Kuyperian and alternately of a R2K Lad might well yield very different conclusions.


  2. You are right, of course. This is precisely why my invitation to celebrate the agreement articulated in “the nine points” (for URC readers, such a reference may be humorous déjà vu!) was followed with four questions seeking clarity on the meaning of that agreement. Without that clarity, “the nine points” will quickly appear to be disingenuous. If that emerges, then we will in fact be no further ahead.


  3. I would just view this as Michael Horton speaking for Michael Horton and not much more. Where did anyone else give him the authority to speak for “the movement”? Van Drunen and Hart are the ones who have written the books that people are disagreeing with, not Horton. No disrespect meant to Dr. Horton, but don’t just take his statements and run with them as is “the movement” has conceded anything.


  4. For what it’s worth, Christian education, Bavinck, Kuyper, and worldview are not matters of confessional standing. You may think they are important and I understand how Dutch Reformed history leads you there. But we’re not all descendants of the Dutch. In fact, well before Dutch neo-Calvinists arrived in the U.S. other forms or Reformed Protestantism existed. So you are forcing Calvinists into one version of the Reformed faith (and not a confessional one at that).

    As for homosexuality, you really have to stop fear mongering or else non-Kuyperians will bring up apartheid. Play fair.


  5. I think I understand why you might say this. But what, then, about the enthusiastic endorsement of Matt Tuininga? Does that count? And . . . is it only book writers, then, who speak for “the movement”? And . . . has “the movement” adopted Drs. Hart and VanDrunen as their spokesmen? These questions are seriously meant, in order to gain more clarity.


  6. I’ll respond in reverse sequence.

    1. Regarding homosexual marriage and apartheid: Okay, let’s play fair. History shows that Kuyperian neo-Calvinists led the way during the 1980s in urging ecclesiastical assemblies to declare apartheid in South Africa to be a matter in statu confessionis. (The Latin phrase indicates that they considered apartheid to be a confessional matter.)

    I am aware that some Kuyperians defended apartheid. But I know of none who did so after 1980. Rather, it appears that Kuyperians had a change of heart and mind on apartheid.

    So, then, either one of two things must be concluded from your analogy. Either someone among the NL2K folk is preparing to ask an ecclesiastical assembly to declare homosexual marriage (and its advocacy) to be a matter in statu confessionis, or your analogy misses the point altogether.

    2. Your continued use of the genetic fallacy significantly diminishes the worth of your argument.

    My defenses of Christian education, Bavinck, Kuyper, and worldview have never appealed to any ethnic identity or ethnic history for their warrant or validation. It is true that not all Calvinists agree with these loyalties. It is also true that not all Dutch Reformed agree with these loyalties. So what? How do these truths invalidate my stated defenses of these matters?

    It’s not ethnocentrism that drives my efforts. Rather, my greater burden and vision are that these matters/persons you’ve identified can contribute significantly to clarifying and deepening today’s North American discussion of a Christian public theology of cultural obedience. These matters/persons can contribute a wholesome, integrated, biblically based approach that honors the competence of the institutional church, together with the competence of the family, of the state, of the employer/employee, etc.

    3. Declaring the Bible to be authoritative over all of human living, and acting accordingly, are confessional matters. Nevertheless, all of us continue to wrestle with how the Bible is authoritative (for example, more directly / less directly; by way of norm, orientation, or example; and the like). The concretization of the principle, however, need not be a confessional matter.

    Here’s an analogy. We Reformed and Presbyterians have wrestled for generations to clarify the relationship between the Reformed Confessions and Reformed theology. Frankly, I think those people have been more successful who have insisted that theology is a handmaiden to the church, is non-binding upon the church, and therefore of subordinate status in the church. One who holds a particular theology of the covenant, for example, must be given latitude. So, too, mutatis mutandis, latitude must be granted to one who holds a particular version of “two kingdoms.”

    While energetically defending the normativity of Scripture for educating covenant children Christianly, I know of no neo-Calvinist or Dutch Reformed person who has ever called for ecclesiastical discipline to be applied to any parent who acknowledges that normativity of Scripture but does not send his/her child to a Christian school.


  7. On homosexuality, what is your point? It is to discredit 2k even though possibly one person — no one who has written about 2k or defended it — has raised the possibility of tolerating homosexuality.

    If you can raise homosexuality to discredit 2k, why can’t apartheid be raised to discredit neo-Calvinism? That’s the point.

    Regarding matters Dutch, of course the immigrants to North America were not the only Calvinist game in town. There were the colonial Dutch who formed the RCA, and there are later groups in the 20th century following Schilder and others. I am aware of Dutch diversity. Are you aware for North American Reformed diversity or do you insist that all Calvinists measure up to particular expressions of Reformed Protestantism that took shape in unique political and social circumstances in 19th c. Netherlands. This isn’t anti-Dutch. It is pro-diversity and you do not appear to be capable of granting such.

    Possibly a neo-Calvinist outlook can contribute to a “public theology of cultural obedience” whatever that is. But do you ever consider that it has been tried and failed in the Netherlands and the CRC? So what are you going to do now? Insist the old model has no flaws? That may be a genetic fallacy. But you show something worse — historical naivete.

    As for your overwrought understanding of special revelation, perhaps you’ve considered Art. 7 of the Belgic Confession which says what the Bible reveals: “We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it.” If plumbing is necessary for salvation, I guess it’s in there.


  8. Dr. Hart, my name isn’t Vander Marina and I have a decades-long history of arguing against “Dutch” ethnocentric bigotry. Dr. Kloosterman and I have crossed swords before on certain issues related to Dutch Reformed theology, and there are people who have known us since the early 1990s who are more than amused we’re agreeing with each other today on an issue of ecclesiastical importance, namely, this “Two Kingdoms” issue.

    I do not know of anyone in neo-Calvinist or Kuyperian circles today who supports apartheid. I do know that Misty Irons has advocated legalization of homosexual marriages, and Dr. Horton has written some very unfortunate things that come close.

    I do not think it is fearmongering to point that out.

    But if you want to bring up apartheid, be my guest. I’ll be more than happy to point out that Wyatt Earp’s father was recruiting Dutch soldiers in Pella during the Civil War to go fight Southern rebels who, in too many cases, attended Southern Presbyterian churches whose spirituality of the church doctrine led them to say the church could say nothing about race-based chattel slavery.

    Our “side” took out our trash long ago on apartheid. Do I need to point out that a certain very prominent Old School PCA theologian took the wrong side just a few years ago in a discipline case involving racism down in the Old Confederacy? Fortunately, Joel Belz and a number of other people did what needed to be done to purge the PCA of some racially bigoted elders.

    I don’t think bringing up apartheid and racial bigotry among the Dutch is a card the “Spirituality of the Church”/”Two Kingdoms” people want to use.


  9. Darrell, in case you missed it, I spoke about a variety of Dutch Protestants as well as a variety of Reformed Protestants. I would like Dr. Kloosterman to acknowledge that his views are not the only ones in the Reformed world (not to mention that his views come from a particular historical moment in Dutch history).

    In case you missed it also, I said it was possible to bring up apartheid if Dr. Kloosterman is going to continue to invoke Misty Irons. Your own response has nothing to say in refuting that apartheid was justified at times on Kuyperian grounds. I myself do not think that it is fair to associate Kuyper with apartheid despite certain intellectual connections. For that reason, I think that the spirit of fairness would recognize that gay marriage is not a cause that rallies 2k. Yet, Dr. Kloosterman continues to trot that out as if to show how scary and odd 2k is. Since he is now in the PCA and worships at a church that follows the project of Tim Keller, who has said far more troubling things about homosexuality than Misty Irons ever said, why did Dr. Kloosterman switch from the URC to the PCA? That’s about as fair a question as associating Kuyper apartheid and 2k with Misty Irons.


  10. 1. Regarding homosexual marriage and apartheid: I’m not complaining that you raised the connection between Kuyperian intellectual thought and apartheid, nor am I alleging fear-mongering in your doing so. I’m simply stating this: any Kuyperian intellectual defense of apartheid has been corrected, disavowed, and ecclesiastically sanctioned. In accepting your analogy, and pursuing it further, I’m simply asking: Will there be any similar response to the connection between the 2K argument being employed to defend homosexual marriage? The identity and status of the person who made this argument are irrelevant; the 2K argument being employed to defend homosexual marriage needs to be corrected, disavowed, and ecclesiastically sanctioned, wherever the argument is being advocated.

    You put the analogy on the table: One-version-of-modern-2K-supporting-homosexual-marriage is analogous to one-use-of-Kuyperian-thought-supporting-apartheid. I’m calling, and raising you. To stay in, you need to find someone defending modern 2K who will press for ecclesiastical sanction of homosexual marriage. Else your analogy folds.

    2. Regarding neo-Calvinism and being pro-diversity: I have fully acknowledged diversity among Calvinists and among Reformed people. I have readily acknowledged that both in the Netherlands and in North America, there are and have been Calvinists and Reformed people who disagree(d) with the thought of Groen van Prinsterer, Herman Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper, Klaas Schilder, Herman Dooyeweerd, D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, S. G. de Graaf, and other representatives. I have publicly, on this blog, identified significant flaws in versions of neo-Calvinism. I have publicly asserted that these flaws contributed to failures in church life in both the Netherlands and North America. And I have applauded the contemporary renaissance of neo-Calvinist thinking that is actively seeking to remedy these flaws by cultivating a sound view of Scripture, a healthy regard for the institutional church, the practice of vibrant personal holiness, and a missional cultural obedience. This renaissance is occurring internationally and interdenominationally.

    But you already know that I’ve written these things.

    In numerous replies, I have argued that the ideas and principles that constitute the Bible-fed vision of those named above were shared by, among others, people like J. Gresham Machen (recall his defense of Christian education), Francis Schaeffer (recall his advocacy of Christian cultural engagement), Cornelius Van Til (recall his construction of a Kuyperian apologetic), and Tim Keller (whose application of Bavinck and Kuyper is blessing New York City today). All of these were/are Presbyterian, the majority of them non-Dutch. This vision has been championed widely within some Presbyterian denominations, and is gaining informed allegiance among some Baptist leaders in North America.

    So I’ve never thought that the ideas and principles I am seeking to defend are restricted to Dutch people, or to neo-Calvinists, or to Reformed people. Instead, they have been and are being applauded, defended, and developed internationally and inter-denominationally and inter-confessionally. How much more pro-diversity is necessary?

    But you already know that I’ve written these things.

    Pro-diversity?

    I am so excited by this diversity that I nearly trip as I dance in my klompen!


  11. Dr. Kloosterman dancing in his klompen, perhaps on the way to a movie produced by cultural engagement people, would be an interesting sight.

    Just thought this thread needed some levity… 😉

    Dr. Hart, since your previous and closely connected comment was also directed to me, I’m going to punt on Dr. Keller.

    I don’t like a significant amount of what I’ve seen coming out of his church — and yes, I have personal contacts in that church including some of its early members who left other churches under bad circumstances — but I also don’t know enough to be an informed critic. In any large church, there are often differences between what the senior pastor wants and what some in his church are doing. That’s an issue for someone else to address who knows the situation better than I do.

    I concur with you, Dr. Hart, “that the spirit of fairness would recognize that gay marriage is not a cause that rallies 2k.”

    I know that Misty Irons is not going to be joining any OPC anywhere anytime in the near future, least of all the typical “Old School” variety of OPC congregations. I’m also painfully aware that she’s in a mostly Korean congregation of the PCA, which says a great deal about the problems of Korean second-generation church life which were caused by a focus on personal piety at the expense of doctrinal education and catechesis among the first-generation immigrants.

    My problem is not that I expect 2Kers to start advocating for gay marriage en masse, but rather that I do not see how serious doctrinal aberrations like those of Misty Irons can be stopped by those who hold to “Two Kingdoms” theology. Recent comments by Dr. Horton raise serious questions as well, though I have much more hope for Horton than for Irons.

    Similar issues, unfortunately, may now be rising in 2K circles regarding abortion.

    What is going to be done in 2K circles to make clear that advocates of “Two Kingdoms” theology still believe advocates of homosexual marriage and of a pro-choice position on abortion are worthy of church discipline?


  12. on November 1, 2012 at 10:14 am Mark Van Der Molen

    Darrell Maurina, I assume you also remember the OPC minister stating–on 2k grounds–that a church member’s advocacy of repealing anti- bestiality laws is not worthy of discipline.


  13. NDK, what you have never proved — though you have engaged in demagoguery — is that any case for 2k has involved an argument in favor of homosexual marriage. Misty Irons is no more a representative of 2k than Joel Osteen is of Dutch Protestantism. In fact, she is less representative because she is a spokesman for no one. So 2kers don’t need to refute homosexual marriage. Your continuing to bring it up is a form of the question “have you stopped beating your wife?” Either you are being purposefully manipulative or you are remarkably naive.

    As for diversity, you don’t get it. You write: “So I’ve never thought that the ideas and principles I am seeking to defend are restricted to Dutch people, or to neo-Calvinists, or to Reformed people. Instead, they have been and are being applauded, defended, and developed internationally and inter-denominationally and inter-confessionally. How much more pro-diversity is necessary?”

    An affirmation of diversity would mean an acknowledgement that not everyone agrees about your ideas about worldview, the antithesis, cultural obedience (whatever that is), or Christian education. But then you say, we’re different bu we all agree.

    Huh!?!


  14. Darrell, how about the fact that 2kers like me have defended the Regulative Principle on 2nd commandment grounds, or that VanDrunen has defended iconoclasm on 2nd commandment grounds? If you think 2k is antinomian, you need in the spirit of fairness (9th commandment) to acknowledge that 2kers also defend the law.

    The charge of antinomianism is not only unfair, it is untrue.


  15. Dr. Hart, while Dr. Kloosterman can certainly speak for himself, I interpreted his reference to “diversity” as ethnic diversity. At least in Dutch Reformed circles, “diversity” in the church doesn’t usually refer to doctrine but rather to the ethnicity of people who have become church members.

    In other words, instead of calling me a “dirty Dago” like some of Dr. Kloosterman’s ancestors quite likely would have done, he’s willing to consider me a legitimate Calvinist despite not being a son of the covenant.

    You’ve already alluded to the Dutch history of apartheid, and it is true that a certain sort of ethnocentric bigotry was given theological sanction in Dutch circles. That was more than wrong — it was evil.

    And it was not limited to South Africa.

    If you doubt me on that, remember that I grew up in Grand Rapids and became Reformed as an adult. I know the Dutch, I know the Dutch rather well, and I am Reformed in spite of the way I was treated growing up. If Calvinism and divine sovereignty weren’t clearly taught in the pages of the Bible, I would have wanted to be **ANYTHING** but a Calvinist based on what I saw around me.

    To the credit of the Dutch, not only has that wicked hypercovenantal theology been repudiated, even some of the most strictly conservative denominations in North America have gone out of their way to accommodate individuals and churches composed of “outsiders” who are strictly Reformed but not at all Dutch.

    Who would have ever expected that Dr. Joel Beeke’s denomination would have a church in Arkansas filled with Ozark ex-fundamentalists who have come to love the Puritans, or that the Protestant Reformed Churches would be doing mission work in Singapore among people who think Herman Hoeksema is the answer to an anti-intellectual attitude among that nation’s evangelical churches? Closer to home, who would have ever expected that one of the more prominent conservative URC ministers who both you and I respect, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, would be a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary who was brought into the CRC by friends in high school decades ago, way back when the CRC was still basically a Dutch club? Or who would have expected that the main seminary of the seceders, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, would have a prominent OPC professor on its faculty?

    Remember that there was a day when even the Old School Presbyterians at Princeton were considered suspect by Dutch conservatives for a variety of reasons. Some were legitimate — after all, conservative Presbyterianism of the late 1800s and early 1900s had lots of problems, and there are reasons why Machen greatly admired the Dutch emphasis on catechesis and others praised the Dutch emphasis on psalm singing. Unfortunately, other reasons were little more than code words for “if you aren’t Dutch, you aren’t much.”

    Dr. Hart, I would be a fool to try to claim that the Dutch have dropped ethnic bigotry entirely. That takes generations to change, not just a few decades. I could tell lots of really bad stories, and there are churches in a number of different conservative Presbyterian denominations today because of bad experiences with Dutch conservatives.

    However, the ethnic diversity seen today among those who hold to classically “Dutch Reformed” theological distinctives is much greater than what was the case just a few decades ago, and I for one consider that to be a very good thing.

    The Dutch had a lot of good things going for them a century ago. It’s too bad they spent most of their time either hiding their light under a bushel or trying so hard to protect their covenant kids from “outsiders” that they became largely irrelevant to the broader evangelical world. Maybe some of that is changing now that Dutch people are actually talking to people whose last name isn’t VanderSomething.


  16. @ dghart

    1. Yours is an interesting, new demand: prove “that any case for 2k has involved an argument in favor of homosexual marriage.” Ah, but I’ve never made that claim. My claim is the inverse claim: there exists one defense of homosexual marriage that appeals to a contemporary version of NL2K.

    Note the difference between these two claims:

    (1) Any defense of NL2K theology entails defending homosexual marriage.
    (2) One defense of homosexual marriage appeals to NL2K theology.

    Again, I am not making claim (1), but only claim (2). Moreover, in the current discussion, critics of NL2K are insisting that disproving claim (1) requires at least first disproving the legitimacy of the appeal identified in claim (2).

    I continue to insist—apparently to your great irritation—that the argument being employed to defend homosexual marriage clearly appeals to a contemporary version of NL2K theology. Someone simply needs to show how that argument being employed to defend homosexual marriage differs from contemporary versions of NL2K theology. It’s not a trick, nor a device. It matters not a whit who is or is not a “representative.” The focus is on the argument being employed in this advocacy of homosexual marriage. Simple as that.

    So let’s get on with it. The invitation involves replacing argumentum ad hominem with argumentum ad rem.

    2. I wrote:

    “I have readily acknowledged that both in the Netherlands and in North America, there are and have been Calvinists and Reformed people who disagree(d) with the thought of Groen van Prinsterer, Herman Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper, Klaas Schilder, Herman Dooyeweerd, D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, S. G. de Graaf, and other representatives.”

    So there’s the acknowledgement. It’s been public quite awhile now.

    To dispel the ethnocentric caricature, I merely illustrated again that, despite your description, these are not just “my ideas” about worldview, antithesis, cultural obedience, and Christian education. Witness Machen, Schaeffer, . . . oh well, you know that, too.


  17. My biggest objection to Neo-Calvinism is that it is to a large degree “extra confessional”, especially in light of the revisions to the statements on the civil magistrate. For example, the URC Church order article which requires elders to “promote godly schooling”. The way this gets applied is you will have a hard time being elected as an officer unless you homeschool your kids or shell out thousands of dollars to send your kids to private Christian school. One of the nice things about the confessions is that whatever is required in the confessions is generally provided by the church or asks nothing more of Christians than to live an ordinary, faithful Christian life. Once we get extra-confessional and try to tell people how to school their kids (without offering to pay for it), how to vote, where and how to work, etc. this becomes a troublesome attempt to bind Christians consciences beyond what the confessions (and, more importantly, Scripture) says. When ordained ministers & officers do this, whether it is from the pulpit or in the blogosphere, I think it can be an abuse of their office. If you want to bind people’s consciences try to change the confessions. Don’t just have another layer of rules like the Pharisees did.


  18. Another problem I think we have is that we have ministers and seminary professors who have spent most if not all of their working lives in churches and theological seminaries touting Neocalvinism. If someone tells me I have to “redeem my workplace” or view my vocation as a way to transform culture for Christ I have a problem with that and I’ll explain why. I work as an accountant for a real estate developer and property owner. Over the years I have worked with Christians and non-Christians. We have had to let people go from time-to-time, both for their own shortcomings or just for changing business conditions. If I sell myself as a “Christian Businessman” or any such thing if I have to fire someone that person can’t help but associate their firing with Christ. It may have absolutely nothing to do with Christ, but with slow business, with personality differences, or with a myriad of other things. The fact is, our business is common, there is nothing inherently “spiritual” about it just because the owner is a Christian and I am a Christian. We actually do a disservice to Christ when we try to label anything but the Church as Christian. A lot of Neocalvinism just comes from a spirit of pride and triumphalism in my opinion, and too high a view of ourselves and our activities.


  19. We had an elder who sent his daughter to Christian school. She got pregnant in high school and when the consistory said something about it formally he got mad and left for a Presbyterian church that has women elders. We had another elder who homeschooled his daughter. He disagreed with how we were fencing the table, got mad, and the last I heard he was attending a Methodist church. These are URC elders I am talking about. Selecting men who send their kids to Christian schools or homeschool is no magic bullet.


  20. @ Mark Van Der Molen: Yep, that’s right! How could I forget that we now need to protect the puppies against the ravages of some radical forms of Two Kingdoms theology, with at least one OPC minister who seems to think bestiality should not be punished by the civil magistrates?

    @ Dr. Hart: You have a valid point on your fight (and that of Dr. Horton, Dr. Clark, and others) for doctrinal orthodoxy within the church. I’ve said before that I think we largely agree about principles of worship, and even beyond that, we probably agree on our personal preferences about incidentals of worship which aren’t prescribed by the regulative principle. In no way am I accusing Two Kingdoms people of ecclesiastical antinomianism, but rather of failure to apply Scripture outside the walls of the church.

    You will not hear me criticize you or a number of your colleagues for your advocacy of confessional Calvinism. Many of you deserve a lot of credit in that area.

    We all have to specialize. I’m not asking you to get involved in politics; I’m asking you to stop discouraging or actively opposing those of us who are.

    I wouldn’t be involved in this at all if the Two Kingdoms people were just saying quietly that they think trying to reform civil government is a lost cause, or if they were just saying they personally preferred to focus on the sphere of the church and not of the state, or if they were just saying that the calling of ministers is to focus on the church and the calling of laymen is to focus on the state.

    I don’t agree with any of those three views, but I can live with them, and the third one has a long pedigree in Reformed history due to the “three estates” concept of political participation (nobility, clergy, and commoners) that has roots dating back to the Middle Ages. Kuyper himself had to resign from the pastorate to run for office under the civil laws of the Netherlands at the time.

    Furthermore, I probably wouldn’t be objecting if the Two Kingdoms people were just saying that in nearly all cases the courts of the church ought not to be dealing with political questions.

    Finally, I wouldn’t be objecting at all if Two Kingdoms people were just pointing out (correctly so) that applying the general equity of the civil law of the Old Testament is not an easy matter, and pointing out that Christians can and do disagree on such issues. Theonomy is clearly contrary to the Westminster Standards, Rushdoony was honest enough to admit that, and we need to repudiate views which seek to draw a straight line between Old Testament civil law and modern politics.

    My problem is when I see self-identified Two Kingdoms people arguing against the legitimacy of trying to apply Christian principles outside the sphere of the church.

    I believe that is a different version of the world-flight attitudes that once prevailed in fundamentalism.

    Dr. Hart, I’m well aware that you’re a scholar of American evangelicalism, and you have written extensively on the issue, and you may well have interesting insights about things I have never studied.

    I do find it very interesting that, thanks in large measure to the work of Francis Schaeffer and D. James Kennedy, something at least somewhat related to a neo-Calvinist approach to civil government has become common among American evangelicals and fundamentalists, at the same time that a fair number of conservative Calvinists are starting to sound in their approach to government much like world-flight premillenialists of the 1920s and 1930s.

    Perhaps you have some articles you’ve written, and to which you’d like to refer us, on why (politically speaking) )American evangelicals at the end of the twentieth century often sound like neo-Calvinists at the first part of the twentieth century, and why a fair number of confessional Calvinists at the beginning of the twenty-first century seem to be advocating views of politics which end up in the same political place as premillenial dispensationalists of a century earlier.

    My personal view, for whatever it’s worth, is that small churches, small denominations, and lost theological battles breed pessimism, cynicism, and sectarianism. When people win their battles and see their churches growing with people who flock to hear their preaching, it gives them confidence to fight. The result is that pre-mil people who should be pessimists based on their theology act like post-mils. There’s probably enough material there for a doctoral dissertation on the neo-Calvinist and Schaefferite roots of the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, and later evangelical political movements, but someone else is going to have to do it (maybe someone guided by Dr. Kloosterman).

    I’m not sure I can say the converse is true about conservative Calvinists who are withdrawing from politics.

    I do, however, think there is a spirit of sectarianism in Reformed circles that is born out of ecclesiastical defeat. That spirit needs to be fought against, and fought aggressively.

    That’s why I find Kuyperian sphere sovereignty so helpful — it shows us why we can have strictly conservative confessional standards in the sphere of the church while cooperating with other Christians in the spheres of the state and of the family.

    For some “Two Kingdoms” people, I think their theology functions similarly. It allows them to participate in the state according to what they see as natural law principles, while remaining strictly confessional within the church based on not just general principles but rather specific demands of special revelation. I don’t agree, but I think I can live with that.

    For others, however, I fear they’re engaged in an ecclesiastical war against applying any sort of moral principles to the civil realm. That is doing real damage, and it needs to stop.


  21. I’m sorry, but there are simply too many “threads” poking out that I cannot begin to respond to them all.

    Instead, let me ask just this question:

    Is a sermon that proclaims that the Bible requires us as Christian citizens to promote unborn human life and prohibits us from exposing unborn human life to extermination extra-confessional?

    This is question designed to elicit a “yes” or “no.” Please, only after you have given us your “yes” or “no,” feel free to qualify, explain, amplify, and protect your answer.

    But first, either “yes” or “no.” Please.


  22. I am one who for decades has “touted” neo-Calvinism while persistently criticizing the language of transformationalism.

    Somebody has successfully peddled the mistaken notion that all neo-Calvinism necessarily “touts” redeeming culture, creation, or whatever. Sadly, to be sure, some neo-Calvinists have used (and continue to use) this language, and yes, some have sounded prideful and triumphalistic. Happily, this language is not essential to neo-Calvinism.

    Again, there are too many threads here to pick up.

    So, again, I suffice with one pertinent, pointed question, designed to provide clarity: Given your claim that “we actually do a disservice to Christ when we try to label anything but the Church as Christian,” is there then such a thing as a Christian family?


  23. Erik, I agree with some of what you’ve said.

    But would you not agree that a person who wants to run his business honestly would search out an accountant who shares his values? While “1+1” still equals “2” regardless of whether the addition is done by a Christian or a pagan, there are principles of where and how the money should be spent, principles on which Christian values come into play.

    There are many opportunities for an accountant to advise doing shady things with taxes, for example, since he or she knows that certain types of deductions are much less likely to be caught by auditors than others.

    My family uses three different lawyers for different purposes, and in the past we used a fourth before he was elected to a judgeship. Two are men who I have no reason to believe are Christians. In one case, he’s an expert in his field, he wrote or had input into many of the state laws and local ordinances I need to deal with, and I know enough about the subject that I can evaluate his work. The second man is an aggressive and proudly nasty lawyer who works cheaply and loves litigating. We “sic” him on people when we’re tired of dealing with them anymore, but we use him only in cases where I know the situation well and can “reel him in” if he goes into places where I don’t want him going.

    The other two lawyers are conservative Christians who deal with areas of law where I need to get advice based on Christian ethical principles. Not everything is moral which is legal, and I need lawyers in certain types of cases who won’t steer me into bad directions.


  24. Heidelberg 105-107 deal with the sixth commandment so I certainly would have no problem with a sermon that deals with “you shall not murder”. Beyond that I think Christian people can draw their own conclusions on how the commandment should be applied. A minister is not a political analyst or consultant.


  25. I think the family is an institution that is common to humanity. Certainly families can me made up of Christians and the Bible, as well as the confessions, tell us how Christian family members should treat each other. As Reformed people we also baptize our children, which sets us apart from non-believers and from many other Christians.


  26. Darrell – You say to D.G. – “We all have to specialize. I’m not asking you to get involved in politics; I’m asking you to stop discouraging or actively opposing those of us who are.”

    Do 2k people criticize you as an individual Christian for getting involved in politics?


  27. The short answer is yes.

    A fully accurate answer requires some qualifications which may go beyond the intent of your question.

    A medium-length answer would be that I think there are important differences between moderate and radical Two Kingdoms people, and we need to listen to people rather than blaming them for views they may not actually believe. I’ve been guilty of that several times in this Two Kingdoms debate. As the Two Kingdoms movement continues to develop, I think a lot of things will become much more clear about what people believe and why they believe it.


  28. I assume this answer means: “No, it’s not an extra-confessional sermon.”

    Next question:

    Is a sermon that proclaims that the Bible requires a Christian politician to promote unborn human life and prohibits him/her from exposing unborn human life to extermination extra-confessional?

    Again, a “yes” or “no” answer first, please, and then add any qualifications, caveats, etc. you think are important.


  29. @ EC: May I infer from your answer that you also think there is no such thing, then, as a Christian marriage, but only a marriage between two Christians?


  30. I have no problem with individual Christians getting involved in politics.


  31. I think that is fair to infer.


  32. What do you mean by “to promote”? How and to whom?


  33. In this question about the Christian politician, as in the prior question, I used the verb “promote” to mean “act in ways appropriate to one’s office or calling.” Regarding the Christian politician, then, he/she ought to promote . . . and prohibit . . . in ways appropriate to their calling. One way is to sponsor and/or vote for legislation that promotes unborn life and prohibits exterminating unborn life.

    Is such a sermon about the Bible’s requirement for a Christian politician . . . extra-confessional?

    Yes, or no?


  34. @ EC:

    Okay. In your view, there is no such entity as a Christian family or a Christian marriage.

    To what, then—if not to Christian marriage—is Paul referring in Ephesians 6.32: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church”?

    Surely he has in view a relationship. I would suggest the referrent here is Christian marriage, since the context for his entire discussion of the respective callings of the Christian husband and the Christian wife is their mutual submission to one another in Christ. In other words, together they constitute a Christian entity—i.e., a Christian marriage.


  35. NDK, forget the lessons in logic and Latin. You haven’t proven that Missy Irons either represents 2k or that she bases her argument on 2k. You are engaging in scare tactics.

    Your acknowledge of diversity again runs into a bland uniformity since I know that Machen and Schaeffer don’t conform to your arguments about education and worldview. You need to do more than posture.


  36. Darrell, I react negatively to your point about defeatism and sectarianism. Those were the same charges leveled against Machen in the 1930s when he thought the New Deal was ruining the U.S. and when he thought the PCUSA was unreformable. You make is sound like you only want to hear the positive.

    I also think it is revealing how quickly you run from a Christian engagement with politics and culture to “applying any sort of moral principles to the civil realm.” Do you really mean to equate Christianity with morality? If you read Machen at all you’d know that such an association is the fast highway to liberalism. And that may be a reason why 2kers are worried about neo-Cal political engagement. Are you bringing grace to politics, or law?


  37. Dr. Hart, you’re asking a fair question about equating Christianity and morality. I’m aware of the older liberal emphasis on moral values, and quite frankly, I was shocked in reading the older liberal theologians on how much emphasis they placed on things which today virtually no liberals discuss. I think we can agree that morality without doctrine leads to Unitarianism, or at best the lowest-common-denominator civil religion of the 1950s and earlier, not to biblical Christianity in a confessional sense of the word.

    More later. I have to go pick up my niece from Christian school. Dr. Kloosterman would be proud of me — he knows I was a quiet though emphatic opponent of mandatory Christian schooling back when I was working in the Dutch Reformed world.


  38. The charge of antinomianism is not only unfair, it is untrue.

    I never have seen a very good refutation of this kind of comment which I responded to.

    ——————————

    DGH said, “Brad, I don’t see that the gospel is about changing lives, or that the Bible is chock-full of moral imperatives. I see that everywhere else, sports-talk radio, New York Times, Fox News — plenty of stuff about how to live good lives. What the Bible offers is forgiveness. ”

    Me…
    Well, that pretty much trashes the Reformed books I have been reading over the many years. I guess maybe I should just go somewhere else besides the gospel for a changed life.

    Wow, I am amazed!

    Dr. Hart,
    You might want to rethink and rephrase this in light of the things the scriptures say.”””””

    ———————

    Really Darryl? Will you define what antinomianism is to you. I have honestly said that I believe you have a bent toward it. Well, you really didn’t respond to me. Some of the doctrines we have debated with Clark and company on the Puritanboard have sounded just like what Samuel Rutherford called Antinomianism in his book. In fact we (one of the most knowledgeable confessional men I have ever met) were told that we held to “Serious Error” concerning the Gospel by that company of folk. Of course they were refuted. LOL.

    Samuel Rutherford….
    A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist Opening the Secrets of Familisme and Antinomianism in the Antichristian Doctrine of John Saltmarth, and William Del, the present Preachers of the Army (headed by Oliver Cromwell–RB) now in England, and of Robert Town, Tobiah Crisp, H. Denne, Eaton and others. In which is revealed the rise and spring of Antinomianism, Familists,…

    Wow, What a Title!

    Look for Mark Jone’s book coming out “Antinomianism.” It will be an eye opener I believe.

    Just because someone says it is Reformed doesn’t mean it is Reformed. There is some Deformation going on in Modern Reformed Thought. I know plenty of Historians who are having problems with a Historian I am listening to.

    I personally would like to start at Westminster Confession Chapter 7.5,6 and then move on to Chapter 19 and then back to 16. Then we could go on to other places this stuff is having a domino effect into.

    Darryl,
    I would like to know what kind of Covenant you believe the Mosaic Covenant is. Is it a mixed Covenant as a few guys at Escondido are propagating in your thought? I am sure you are familiar with what I am asking since I have started interacting with you a bit finally.

    Very curious,
    Randy


  39. @ dgh

    The argument in question defends homosexual marriage on the basis of these claims:

    1. Taking the Bible into the voting booth, and preaching the requirements of Scripture for political life, constitute an unbiblical power grab.
    2. Christians ought not to try to apply their convictions to the political process, since Jesus and the apostles exhort Christians only to submit to the governing authorities.
    3. Biblical teaching about homosexuality should not be used to oppose homosexual marriage, since the latter is an issue that belongs to civil society, to which the Bible is not addressed.

    “Should biblical teaching against homosexuality be used as the basis for opposing everything from gay student organizations, to the legalization of same-sex marriages to the right for gay couples to adopt children?
    Certainly not, and the reason is simple. It is because the laws of the Bible were never meant to be applied to the state, for the Bible addresses itself to the church community, not to secular society.”

    4. There are two distinct kinds of laws—biblical and civil—completely separated and unrelated in terms of purpose, nature, and use.

    “Therefore, since biblical law was given for the clearly spiritual purpose of convicting people of their sin and showing them their need of salvation in Jesus Christ, it isn’t appropriate to use it to determine civil legislation, for biblical law and societal law serve totally distinct purposes. The purpose of biblical law is to spiritually lead people to Christ, whereas societal law is concerned only to maintain social order. Biblical law lays out an ultimate moral standard for human conduct; societal law only demands that people be moral enough to co-exist peacefully together and respect one another’s civil rights. Biblical law is designed to prove everyone to be a moral failure; societal law is designed so that only criminals are penalized. Biblical law belongs to the church, societal law to the state.”

    Hence, according to this argument, it is inappropriate “to use [the Bible] to determine civil legislation.”

    I would call this perspective on the Bible and its (ir)relevance for contemporary statecraft and citizenship the contemporary 2K-hermeneutic, because it has become a prominent cornerstone in various contemporary defenses of NL2K.

    If the foregoing argument for homosexual marriage does not share the hermeneutic employed in various contemporary defenses of NL2K, I would like to learn the difference(s).


  40. You’ve changed the question. You first referred to “Christian citizens”, now you changed that to a “Christian politician”. Why would a minister be preaching a sermon to his congregation about the duties of a Christian politician unless the members of his congregation were politicians? I don’t know why a Christian who is a politician wouldn’t be pro-life, though. I’m not sure what your point is.


  41. What’s the difference, practically speaking? What do our confessions (the Three Forms) say about marriage? Once again, I’m not sure what your point is.


  42. Dr. K – Who are you quoting? You call the argument that you laid out for gay marriage “the contemporary 2K-hermeneutic”. Who is making that argument right now? I don’t see Hart & Van Drunen making it. If you say Misty Irons, that is old news, isn’t it? It’s as if 5 years from now I cite Patrick Edouard as the standard bearer for URC ministers. You have to get a new argument if Misty Irons is who you are referring to. Additionally, since when do we consider the opinions of non-ministers and non-officers to be anything other than opinions?


  43. While we’re seeking clarification, I would appreciate some clarification fron the neoCal side. You have picked up on two hot-button issues: abortion and gay marriage. Excellent choice, rhetorically speaking. But I’d like to see the whole agenda laid out. Here are some positions:

    Christians must vote and politicians must advocate to limit abortion.
    Christians must vote and politicians must advocate to ban gay marriage
    Christians must vote and politicians must advocate to ban nonmarital sex
    Christians must vote and politicians must advocate to ban telling lies
    Christians must vote and politicians must advocate to ban blasphemy
    Christians must vote and politicians must advocate to ban heresy

    Are these all mandatory? if not, why not? Do any of them belong in the realm of political theory?


  44. Thanks for responding. Yes, indeed, I have changed the question. Here’s my point.

    You agree that preaching that a Christian citizen ought to promote unborn human life is not extra-confessional. And you agree that the same applies to preaching about/to a Christian politician.

    May I assume, then, that you agree that if a Christian citizen or a Christian politician who is a member of your congregation does not promote unborn life in ways appropriate to their office or calling, then such a member is liable on that basis to formal church discipline?

    Are you aware that there are Christian politicians within the orbit of Reformed/Presbyterian churches who are not pro-life? Darrell Maurina has indicated this here. Please note as well his response on that blog, dated October 19,2012, at 10:20 pm.

    Are you aware that some advocates (I’m not sure if they’re “representative” or not, since that status seems slippery at the moment) of so-called “Two Kingdom theology” argue against a church member who is a politician but not pro-life being liable to discipline?

    You began by alleging that neo-Calvinism is to a large degree extra-confessional. Yet, you believe the church may speak to the pro-life issue. I have taken this issue as a sample—and now I want to apply these same permissions to other issues on which the church may speak—and by extension, Christians may/must be active: The Seventh Commandment and homosexual marriage? The Eighth Commandment and government stealing by inflationary monetary policies? The Fourth Commandment and freedom of worship—for all citizens! The Third Commandment and sanctions for public blasphemy—for all religions! Etc.

    I am well aware of the need for pulpit wisdom, restraint, and discernment. I know we are not a theocracy. I realize Christians will disagree about policy implementations. Etc.

    The bottom line involves whether the church may nurture its members by biblical preaching about applying the principles of God’s Word to life outside the church. And do so as part of nurturing holiness, obedience, and sanctification?

    Has this ever been done carelessly? Yes. Recklessly? Of course. Ignorantly? Without question.

    Are there important questions about how, and how far, and in what way, and to what extent all of this may be done? For sure.

    But if we agree on the pro-life example, we might be able to move the ball downfield.


  45. Okay, let’s go with Dr. Hart’s claim that Misty Irons represents only herself and leads no movement.

    What about Rev. Todd Bordow, pastor of Rio Rancho OPC in New Mexico, a Westminster-West graduate, and a member of the contributor list on Steve Zrimec’s blog?

    Mark Van Der Molen asked him this over on the Puritan Board: “If we assume the church member’s intent is not to divide the church, but rather to pass laws in the civil sphere to sanction homosexual marriage and abort as many babies as women may see fit, the session could not step in under the R2k ‘liberty’ principle?”

    Bordow responded with this: “If a member confessed with the Bible that homosexual behavior and lust is sinful, and himself did not practice such things, but decided to vote to allow homosexuals thr right to marry, we would not discipline him. These are always opportunities to teach if necessary, but we wouldn’t have the Bible’s authority to cast them out of the kingdom for such political views. In reality it is none of our business as clergy to know the voting practices of our members ( I know one could come up with some extreme or absurd example where this might not be true – fine – it is generally true).”

    Then later, he said this:

    “Not being a theonomist or theocrat, I do not believe it is the state’s role to enforce religion or Christian morality. So allowing something legally is not the same as endorsing it morally. I don’t want the state punishing people for practicing homosexuality. Other Christians disagree. Fine. That’s allowed. That is the distinction. Another example – beastiality is a grotesque sin and obviously if a professing member engages in it he is subject to church discipline. But as one who leans libertarian in my politics, I would see problems with the state trying to enforce it; not wanting the state involved at all in such personal practices; I’m content to let the Lord judge it when he returns. A fellow church member might advocate for beastiality laws. Neither would be in sin whatever the side of the debate. Now if the lines are blurry in these disctinctions, that is always true in pastoral ministry dealing with real people in real cases in this fallen world.”

    Guys, this isn’t blurry at all. I don’t care how much you want to distinguish between natural law and revealed law — no way in the world can anyone argue that sex with dogs, cats, cows, pigs and goats is something which the civil magistrates have no natural law to tell them it’s wrong.

    Why are we even discussing this in conservative and confessional Reformed circles where our ministers and members can be presumed to believe the Bible? Aren’t some things so obviously wrong that even most unbelievers today still understand they need to be prohibited and punished?

    It seems to me that even granting the “Two Kingdoms” principle that we should confine civil sanctions to what is revealed in the Natural Law rather than special revelation — a principle I do not grant for the simple reasons that 1) common sense is not so common, and changes with time, and 2) human depravity leaves us unable to rightly understand general revelation — we ought to be able to at least condemn bestiality.

    Protecting the puppies from perversion should not have to be a question in the conservative Reformed world.


  46. Change these from “must” to “should” and I can think of no situation in which I would disagree.

    I’d put some qualifications on moving from “should” to “must.”

    When we’ve made a previous agreement with people to allow them to do something, we have to honor the commitment once made. We’ve done that dating back to the Revolutionary War with Roman Catholics and Jews. We’ve done that dating back to the admission of Utah to statehood with Mormons. I’ve debated this before with you on your own blog, but we cannot go back on our pledge even if we wanted to in these three specific situations. I’ve cited both the Westminster Standards on the binding authority of vows even if given to unbelievers, and the Gibeonite example when King Saul was punished for breaking his commitment to the Gibeonites even hundreds of years after the covenant with them.

    In our federal republic, we have a Constitution we must follow. Ex post facto laws are wrong for both constitutional and biblical reasons. Breaking a sworn oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States is also wrong. Theoretically some things could be amended, but under current conditions, most amendments are likely to make things worse, not better, so we need to be extremely careful before opening that door.

    I do not have a problem with incrementalism in the political realm. If my goal is to eliminate abortion, I may vote today for rules that bar federal funding of abortion. I may vote to reject candidates for the Supreme Court who are pro-abortion but affirm candidates who would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Sometimes halfway steps are necessary to accomplish long-term goals.

    If anyone thinks incrementalism is un-Reformed, they need to go back and look at how long it took to accomplish many of the political goals of the Reformation itself. Things take time.


  47. DTM, what is the shift from “must” to “should”? I’m just trying to discern if you have moved from what is mandatory to what is preferable. If it’s the latter, then none of these are bright line dividers as some of the talk here seems to suggest.

    Then, are you confirming that a politician who is in favor of letting nonmarital sex remain legal is of the same species as the one who is in favor of letting abortion remain legal? They are both to be condemned? That’s a long list of politicians you’ll have to start condemning.

    You mention the Constitution, and you aware that politicians have sworn to uphold the Constitution. You are also aware that abortion, to our dismay, is a constitutional right. It seems problematic, then, to basically accuse a pro-choice poltician of sin. Of course, citizens can still consider whether a politician is prolife when they enter the voting booth.

    “I may vote to reject candidates for the Supreme Court who are pro-abortion.” No you can’t. I’m sure you know that and its a typo.


  48. Just to avoid anyone reading this and thinking the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is somehow wishy-washy on homosexuality and bestiality, here’s a section from Chapter 6 of the OPC’s “Professing Your Faith” communicant class booklet which specifically addresses bestiality and homosexuality:

    “We live in a day of widespread sexual immorality. The Christian must therefore be certain he does not think as the world does about sex. There was also widespread sexual immorality in the Roman Empire in Paul’s time. Because of the blatant sexual perversions of that day some Christians reacted by reprobating sex completely. They thought it would be most conducive to holiness if people repudiated marriage and became celibate (which means “doing without sex entirely”). This can be made to seem very pious, yet Paul does not hesitate to call this a doctrine of demons (1 Tim. 4:3). No, it does not promote holiness to treat all sex—even sex in marriage—as something inherently evil. To the contrary, the Bible speaks of marriage—and sex in marriage—in a very positive way. Because of so much sexual immorality all around, says Paul, for most people it is best to marry because this is the means God has appointed for most of us, so that we can avoid these evils (1 Cor. 7:1-2). Those who are already married—even if one partner is not a Christian—should remain together, if possible (1 Cor. 7:10-15). Only adultery—or desertion of a believer by an unbeliever—frees a Christian from the bonds of marriage. Other forms of sexual deviation—more common today as our own culture deteriorates (such as homosexual behavior, incest and even bestiality)—are utterly condemned in the Bible (cf. Ex. 18). It is a sad fact that there are even so-called churches today that go along with a permissive attitude toward these sins. A faithful church will never lower the standard of God’s law to accommodate such abominations.”


  49. DTM, glad you swooped in to let everyone know that the OPC is not in favor of bestiality and homosexuality. Next please clarify whether the OPC is in favor of witchcraft.


  50. We were talking about the actions of both Christian citizens and elected officials. Why would a member of the United States Senate not be able to vote to reject candidates for the Supreme Court who are pro-abortion?

    Mikelmann, please reconsider your statement that abortion is a constitutional right. It’s going to create major problems if people think an OPC elder believes that.

    I believe, after reading what else you have written on the subject, that you’re likely to be seriously misunderstood.

    I think I know what you mean by saying that abortion is a constitutional right. Your point, I think, is that abortion remains a right until we can get five of the nine justices to overturn or reinterpret Roe v. Wade. I don’t advocate revolution or defiance of the court system, so in that sense I agree that we must submit to a very bad decision while we work to get it changed.

    Abortion is not in the text of the constitution in any way, shape or form, unless it is the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that people’s life, liberty or property may not be taken without due process of law. Our Supreme Court has abused the Constitution badly to create a right which is not implied in any way by the text.

    It is absolutely essential to get pro-life justices appointed to the Supreme Court.


  51. NDK, oh, now I see what you mean. This is the old argument that Machen used to prevent the church from supporting Prohibition and that a many commissioners at OPC GA’s have used to oppose the church banning women from serving in the military. Right, that’s the one, the one that turns Machen into an advocate of homosexual marriage.

    Have you ever actually studied the spirituality of the church or the history of American Presbyterianism?

    And have you actually proved that the Bible is to be used to determine civil legislation? If you oppose abortion and if you think the church should support laws against abortion, does the Bible say whether this is a matter for state law or should the federal government determine it? What about insist and rape? And does the Bible determine whether the mother involved in abortion should be punished by execution?

    I’m sure Mikelmann can add other legal hurdles that your invocation of Scripture has not cleared.


  52. Darrell, you really need to stand back a minute and take a breath. Todd’s point is that session has no authority to discipline a member for voting a certain way. Why? Because a vote on a certain issue has more than the issue at stake. To use another example from Machen, he voted against the church supporting Prohibition. His critics believed this meant that he was in favor of drunkenness and opposed to biblical morality. But he voted against Prohibition because as a states rights Democrat he did not believe the federal government should determine such policies.

    A vote is not necessarily an indication of a person’s morality. Your think that it is is an indication that you think like political liberals — if you don’t support welfare policies you favor hurting the poor. Well, actually, people have other reasons for not supporting welfare policies.

    Can you not be so moralistic or literalistic?


  53. DTM: “Mikelmann, please reconsider your statement that abortion is a constitutional right. It’s going to create major problems if people think an OPC elder believes that.”

    Reality check: it is a consitutional right. It was not the founder’s intent, and Roe v. Wade was based on defective legal reasoning, but the sky is blue and abortion is constitutional. You may not like a law, but that doesn’t mean the law doesn’t exist. We’ve been over this before: all three branches of the government accept the principle of Marbury vs. Madison that the SCOTUS has the final say in interpreting the Constitution. Sometimes your fideltiy to the culture war makes you say extreme things, and this is a good example.

    FWIW, Darrell, I don’t think they’ll reverse Roe v. Wade even if they get six conservative justices on the SCOTUS. There is a principle called stare decisis which, in general terms, is a respect for precedent and an antipathy for overruling precedents. Roe is now 40 years old and we have a society that has become accustomed to it. I don’t think even 6 prolife justices would result in overruling it. The main option for a prolifer is now moral and religious suasion, not state compulsion.


  54. FYI, my knowledge of spelling exceeds my performance on a keyboard.


  55. No problem on the spelling… we’ve all typed strange things before 😉

    I do think we have a major disagreement on the possibility of overturning Roe v Wade. I do understand stare decisis — “let it stand” — but you certainly know there have been similar past Supreme Court decisions including the Dred Scott decision on slavery which we now consider to be prime examples of unjust jurisprudence.

    Overturning Roe v Wade is a political question, not primarily a judicial question. If we get the necessary votes in the Senate and the right person in the presidency, legal niceties won’t matter.

    In this case, that would be a good thing because politics is our only realistic remedy to fix the court decision. However, I fully concur that politicizing the courts is a bad thing which we should regret.


  56. Mikelmann, I’m not aware of any movement in the Congress or the courts to encourage or promote witchcraft, so I guess no OPC members who identify with the Two Kingdoms movement have yet thought to defend it.


  57. DTM, we’ve gotten off track but even if you get a conservative President who appointes conservative Justices, those Justices may not vote the way the President hopes they will. Think Justice Souter. Or Justice Roberts, who was the key to upholding Obamacare (but good on the Free Exercise Clause).
    But enough of that.


  58. Yes, I understand and agree with your point about Supreme Court justices being free to vote contrary to the principles of the president who nominated them and the senators who confirmed them.

    That is an issue inherent in our constitutional system of lifetime judicial appointments, for which the only remedy is judicial impeachment. I think we all realize that remedy is politically impossible under current conditions. I understand the concept of lifetime judicial appointment and don’t necessarily disagree with it, but even if I did, it’s irrelevant since the last attempt to change the Supreme Court system in any significant way was under FDR’s “court packing” scheme and that failed dramatically.

    A bigger issue is that conservatives believe in certain principles of judicial restraint which liberals do not. As you correctly pointed out earlier, stare decisis is a conservative principle, and I’m painfully aware that we could get a Supreme Court justice who would argue that based on some small technical point of a pro-life case before the court, the risks of overturning the established but highly controversial precedent of Roe v Wade is too great.

    The Supreme Court has only rarely explicitly overturned major precedents; the more common method has been to chip away at the edges bit by bit. You know that — but you also know that on very important cases, overturning has happened when a majority of the justices believe a prior decision was seriously wrong.

    For example, we have our current laws on church property because of a Southern Presbyterian case with two churches which sued for their property rights; rather than convincing the Supreme Court that they were being faithful to the original principles of the denomination at the time they were organized (the old standard), the Supreme Court, contrary to the requests of the lawyers on both side, overturned virtually all principles of ecclesiastical property law dating back all the way to England by determining that secular courts are not competent to judge religious disputes. That forced every denomination to rewrite its property provisions, and generated a lot of litigation during subsequent secessions.


  59. Mike,

    Could a choice not to vote actually be a vote? Some might say that is true. Either way, it can’t be considered on the same level as advocating a position where someone is propagating the correctness (in certain situations) for doing moral evil such as murder or performing reprobate acts. It is very similar to heresy. A propagation of serious deep sin is a dangerous thing.

    I still think this passage has something to do with this kind of situation.

    (Mat 18:6) But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
    (Mat 18:7) Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!


  60. Erik said…

    It may have absolutely nothing to do with Christ, but with slow business, with personality differences, or with a myriad of other things. The fact is, our business is common, there is nothing inherently “spiritual” about it just because the owner is a Christian and I am a Christian.

    Me…
    Wow! Did you actually say that? You don’t know how Christ works do you?


  61. OK, Dr. Hart…. following up now.

    I grant your point about equating Christianity with morality. That is a constant temptation for Christians in politics. We can and must make coalitions with people who do not share our fundamental principles but agree with us on some specific outcome, though not the rationale to get there, and that runs the serious risk of focusing on results rather than principles. The ends do **NOT** justify the means if the means involve a fundamental compromise of Christian values. Case in point — the people who seem to be trying to minimize the seriousness of Mitt Romney belonging to a cult.

    I’m perfectly willing to use Kuyperian sphere sovereignty arguments to defend voting for a non-Christian civil magistrate who we could never accept as a church member in the ecclesiastical sphere or as a partner in marriage in the family sphere because he is not a Christian. I think the Two Kingdoms advocates are using natural law principles in a similar way to defend voting for non-Christians in the civil ream.

    But help me here, Dr. Hart. What does natural law teach if not how to be morally good apart from God’s divine revelation?

    I do not claim to be an expert on Roman Catholic natural law theory, or its 2K version as mediated through Dr. Van Drunen and others. How, if we bring law to politics and not gospel (to use 2K terminology) does not not result in moralism for the state? I’m not necessarily saying that is bad since I think I practically end up in pretty much the same place when I work with a traditional Roman Catholic crisis pregnancy clinic manager, an Orthodox Jewish business owner and conservative radio talk show host, and a secular atheist retired Army sergeant major to support PCA elder Todd Akin for U.S. Senate based on his pro-life views.but despite his really unfortunate “legitimate rape” comments.


  62. Dr. Hart, I’m going to try to make a more substantial reply to a different point of your thread, this comment: “Darrell, I react negatively to your point about defeatism and sectarianism. Those were the same charges leveled against Machen in the 1930s when he thought the New Deal was ruining the U.S. and when he thought the PCUSA was unreformable. You make is sound like you only want to hear the positive.”

    You are a recognized leader and formulator of the 2K position and I’m asking here to try to understand you. If you react negatively to charges of defeatism and sectarianism, I need to listen carefully. Whether I agree with you or not, if you say those are not underlying motives or thought patterns in the 2K retreat from political engagement, and if you cite Machen in your defense, I need to listen loud and clear. I’m not unaware that you are an expert in the fundamentalist-modernist conflict and I accept your ability to marshal the facts of history on this point.

    So let me try to go back to my original point about how modern fundamentalists are acting politically like Kuyperians of a century ago and a prominent group of modern Calvinists in the beginning of the 21st century are acting politically like the world-flight premillenialists of the early 20th century. Something has changed, that change is important, and I think it needs to be explored.

    I originally wrote this: “My personal view, for whatever it’s worth, is that small churches, small denominations, and lost theological battles breed pessimism, cynicism, and sectarianism. When people win their battles and see their churches growing with people who flock to hear their preaching, it gives them confidence to fight. The result is that pre-mil people who should be pessimists based on their theology act like post-mils. There’s probably enough material there for a doctoral dissertation on the neo-Calvinist and Schaefferite roots of the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, and later evangelical political movements, but someone else is going to have to do it (maybe someone guided by Dr. Kloosterman). I’m not sure I can say the converse is true about conservative Calvinists who are withdrawing from politics.”

    As that last sentence points out, I was willing to grant your point that conservative Calvinists withdrawing from politics is not necessarily due to an inverse version of the same cause as the pre-mil fundamentalists.

    But what is going on in the broadly evangelical world? What has turned these people into practical post-mil Kuyperians, mediated through Schaeffer?

    I think there’s some truth to the point that not only can we believe ourselves into new ways of behaving, we can behave ourselves into new ways of believing. That’s less of a threat to Calvinists who focus on rigorous and systematic theology, but I think it is going on in broadly evangelical circles.

    How else do we explain Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, or even Michele Bachmann, whose ultra-conservative Wisconsin Synod Lutheranism certainly seems to have been Schaefferized rather than Lutheranized?

    Your take on that phenomenon would be appreciated. I don’t think the actions of the modern religious right can be adequately explained by their core theology, which would lead to defeatism rather than what they’re actually doing and have been doing since the late 1970s. It seems quite clear there is an inconsistent overlay of neo-Calvinist or Kuyperian theology, mediated through Francis Schaeffer, at work there.


  63. Okay, Eric, we agree.

    I’ll go a step further — I really don’t care very much if the institutional church wants to take political positions or not on most issues. It’s largely irrelevant politically since church assemblies generally speak to, not for, their membership. The relevance of a church synod or general assembly taking a pro-life stance, for example, is to speak to its own members and provide a means to enforce discipline, not to the broader secular world.

    Realistically, Christian politics in the American multidenominational context usually has to operate in a “parachurch” model with voluntary associations crossing denominational lines if it has any hope to be effective.

    But let’s grant all that.

    On what basis do individual Christians make their decisions on what is right or wrong when they vote as elected officials?


  64. Mikelmann, I’m starting a new subthread here, based on your on November 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm post, because I think this is crucially important and needs more attention.

    You quoted me saying this: “DTM: ‘Mikelmann, please reconsider your statement that abortion is a constitutional right. It’s going to create major problems if people think an OPC elder believes that.'”

    You then responded: “Reality check: it is a consitutional right. It was not the founder’s intent, and Roe v. Wade was based on defective legal reasoning, but the sky is blue and abortion is constitutional. You may not like a law, but that doesn’t mean the law doesn’t exist. We’ve been over this before: all three branches of the government accept the principle of Marbury vs. Madison that the SCOTUS has the final say in interpreting the Constitution. Sometimes your fideltiy to the culture war makes you say extreme things, and this is a good example.”

    Mikelmann, I think this exchange shows just how far apart we are in our circles of friends and acquaintances, and that concerns me.

    I was trying to help you when I saw you making a statement that, at least in my circles, would be waving a red flag before a raging bull. There are people who would call me a dirty liar if I tried to tell them that there is an OPC elder who says abortion is a constitutional right, and would accuse me of slandering the entire Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and would say no such elder could possibly get ordained in the OPC. I think I understand what you mean by that phrase, but in the world in which I live, I know nobody other than the most extreme leftists who argue that abortion is a constitutional right.

    You probably need to know that our former congressman, former state representative, and former state senator were all pro-life Democrats, and our former Democratic state representative was one of the so-called “dirty dozen” Democrats who broke ranks with his party to overturn a Democratic governor’s veto of some pro-life legislation. Even most Democrats around here are generally either pro-life or advocate a “safe legal and rare” position, saying they wish abortion had never been made legal but don’t want to fight it because they think there are more urgent or important battles. To make a comment such as yours in my community would place you on the farthest left-wing fringe of the Democratic Party.

    We’ve already had people on this thread (Erik Charter, for example) saying things like this, on which he was challenged by Dr. Kloosterman: “I don’t know why a Christian who is a politician wouldn’t be pro-life, though.”

    With that as background, I’m going to ask you one more time to make absolutely sure I’m not misquoting you.

    Are you willing to stand by your statement that abortion is a constitutional right?

    If so, do you believe Christians can, should, or must work to overturn what you believe to be a constitutional right?

    I’m trying to give you an “out” here, but I fear that you really believe what you are saying and it is not a problem on my end of me misunderstanding you.


  65. Mikelmann,

    The neo-Calvinist vison is that together Christians cultivate their witness and walk in the various spheres of cultural activity. Insofar as they seek to apply the principles of God’s Word in the particular area of politics, the neo-Calvinist vision aims to pursue biblical justice for all members of society according to the divine norms relevant to various kinds of human activity.

    One of those norms involves protecting unborn life.
    Another involves protecting the divine institution of marriage, which, as we know even from Scripture, by divine permission allows divorce for the hardness of the human heart.
    Another norm involves truth-telling, such that biblical teaching requires fidelity to one’s oath, the enforcement of contracts, punishing perjury, anti-libel laws, etc.
    I know of no neo-Calvinist who would argue that politicians must advocate to ban heresy or false religion. Some might advocate punishing blasphemy. Most would seek to do everything politically feasible to limit non-marital sex.

    Much more could be said, by way of ranking these norms, evaluating their application to contemporary society, etc. But I’d like to keep the focus on what I see as the central issue at the heart of the contemporary NL2K discussion: the authority of Scripture. This issue involves the legitimacy of Christian citizens and politicians practicing statecraft for the common good in terms of arguments derived from biblical principles.

    You suggest that my alerting folks to the use of a 2K-hermeneutic (my phrase) in one person’s defense of homosexual marriage was an excellent rhetorical choice.

    Let me supply another one issue: the legalizing of polygamy.

    Dr. John Witte, Jr., a law professor at Emory University, argues in a forthcoming book that legalizing polygamy rests on the same argument as legalizing homosexual marriage (for the report, see here). I am not suggesting that Dr. Witte defends legalizing polygamy—in fact, the article claims that he opposes polygamy, but readers will need to investigate for themselves if this means also that he opposes legalizing polygamy. All I am saying is that the hermeneutic being used by some to defend legalizing homosexual marriage will not—indeed, cannot—stop there. It is time for contemporary 2K advocates to demonstrate how their hermeneutic differs.


  66. Erik,

    I apologize for omitting the reference of my citations (I’ve been critical of that practice in others, so I am now subject to my own criticism!).

    Yes, these quotes were taken from the website of Misty Irons (“A Conservative Christian Case for Civil Same-Sex Marriage” and “Should Biblical Law Rule Society?” The latter essay presents what I am calling “the 2K hermeneutic.”

    I am unaware the either the age of an argument (“old news,” 5 years old), the author of an argument (Ms. Irons, non-minister, non-office-bearer), or the status of an argument (non-spokesperson for “the 2K movement”) are relevant factors in judging the validity of an argument.

    If you are right in alleging that neither Drs. VanDrunen nor Hart employ the contemporary 2K-hermeneutic, could you show me how their hermeneutic argued in A Biblical Case for Natural Law and Secular Faith, respectively, differs from the hermeneutic being employed by Ms. Irons?


  67. Erik,
    Here is my point.
    You asserted that the name Christian can/should apply only to the institutional church. I’m suggesting it can/should apply to more—like the family, for example. There is such a thing as a Christian family. By extension, there are such things as a Christian school and a Christian political party. A Christian school would be a school that educates Christianly, in the fear of the Lord, in terms of biblical principles pertaining to the nature of the child, the responsibility to parents, the nature of truth, the source and nature of creation revelation, etc. A Christian political party would be a party that pursues biblical justice for all members of society according to the divine norms relevant to various kinds of human activity.
    My broader argument would claim that, consistent with the foregoing, the Bible may and must be used beyond the institutional church and for more than individual Christian holiness. The Bible sheds light on, and provides norms for, all Christian—and all human—living. Including plumbing. How this light is focused, and how these norms are articulated, are both matters requiring immense wisdom and communal reflection.


  68. Darrell, whoever said NL was separate from divine revelation? Have you not heard of the Lordship of Christ? (kidding.) Everything reveals God. NL is part of general revelation. Just look at the opening chapters of the Belgic Confession or Romans 1-2.


  69. Darrell, what has happened is that they are not content with the Bible especially the New Testament. It is very hard to see this worldly triumphalism in Christ’s example or the apostle Paul. They recommend suffering. This was Machiavelli’s point about Christianity. It turns people into wusses. What is hard to see is that Christ and the apostles taught a spiritual victory which is very different from identifying such victory with the things of this world like politics and culture.

    In other words, evangelicals do exactly what the Bible and political conservatism forbids — they immanentize the eschaton. God’s kingdom eludes our efforts to build it. And that’s why the bloated rhetoric of transformation can do a serious number on the gospel and the good news it proclaims. It sets people up to look for salvation in this world so that they don’t set their minds on things above.


  70. One thing that concerns me about Neocalvinists (including the ones here) is they seem frankly bored with sound biblical preaching (including catechetical preaching) unless it is explicitly focused on the political hot-button issues that animate them. Maybe they need to turn off Fox News for awhile and read the Bible & Confessions in a fresh way. Hit some kind of mental reset button. The Word can do its work without your help and guidance.


  71. Okay, Erik, I think it’s time to take a break. I think there are other forums for you to express your concerns.


  72. Return to Set

    Premise — The R2K hermeneutic allows Misty Irons and Todd Bordow to come to the conclusions they arrive at concerning social issues quite apart from whether or not other R2K aficionados agree with them or not. Hence, while Bordow and Irons may not be agreed with by Hart touching the issue of man love and puppy love, because of the R2K hermeneutic, they have the “Liberty of Conscience” to advocate for perversion.

    Query — If the R2K hermeneutic doesn’t forbid such a possible embrace (no pun intended) of rather queer positions, on what basis does the R2K hermeneutic rule out such possible conclusions arrived at by Bordow and Irons?

    As an aside … I love catechitical preaching. For example based on HC 110 & 111 a good Catechical sermon would note that fiat money and inflationary policies count as “Wicked tricks and devices whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbour.”

    Seems God was talking about this long before the neo-con FOX news ever showed up. immanent

    Finally, it is precisely because of R2K’s immanentizing of the humanist eschaton that finds me mocking them and chortling. Here they are, by their “theology” immanentizing the Cultural Marxist eschaton by their withdrawal and surrender, and they have the chutzpah to tell me that they are worried about us Christians immanentizing a Christian eschaton? They are advocating the possibility of puppy love and man love as legit and they are worried about the Biblical Christians going all “Salem Witch trials.”


  73. M&M, in other words, are you willing to incur the wrath of the political correctness of DTM’s world?

    That’s right, DTM, political correctness, like sin, is an equal opportunity affliction. It isn’t just “whatever liberals think and try to push on everyone else.” Rightists have their own version. DGH has already called you on thinking like a liberal. Your constant grilling on M&M point here is more example of it.


  74. I know you are in time out Erik but this is easily answered. Hebrews 12 and 13 come to mind. Read the scriptures for a bit. Let them sink down into your ears.


  75. Did DGH drop off again? Not that I am anyone to respond to but he sure doesn’t seem to reply back to my questions or replies to his comments.


  76. The problem with Zrim is that he assumes that his position isn’t leftist when in point of fact it is as left as it comes. R2K is the bastard child of Modernity as it seeks to set loose right reason and natural law, as putatively un-anchored by religious moorings, in the common realm. Diderot and Voltaire applaud R2K with excitement from the nether realms.

    Zrim has his own R2K version of political correctness that he is hawking and whenever anyone calls him on it he suddenly screams about their political correctness. He is like a Terrorist who understands that the best way to escape the undercover police chasing him in a crowded area is to turn and point at the police and cry “TERRORISTS.”


  77. DTM said: “I was trying to help you when I saw you making a statement that, at least in my circles, would be waving a red flag before a raging bull. There are people who would call me a dirty liar if I tried to tell them that there is an OPC elder who says abortion is a constitutional right, and would accuse me of slandering the entire Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and would say no such elder could possibly get ordained in the OPC.”

    The political guy thinly veils a threat to ostracize his opponent by misleading rhetoric. Are you transforming the culture war or is the culture war transforming you?

    The speed limit is 55. You can’t kill bald eagles. Mormonism is legal. Obamacare is legal. Abortion is a constitutional right. Where is the world you live in which you can pretend that certain laws don’t exist

    DTM, you’re intelligent enough to be able to understand that I believe Roe v. Wade was a bad decision while acknowledging the SCOTUS and not Darrell Todd Maurina has the final say on what is constitutional. So if you go off to the listserves and blogs screaming about this you only discredit yourself.


  78. NDK: “The neo-Calvinist vison is that together Christians cultivate their witness and walk in the various spheres of cultural activity….I know of no neo-Calvinist who would argue that politicians must advocate to ban heresy or false religion. Some might advocate punishing blasphemy. Most would seek to do everything politically feasible to limit non-marital sex.”

    This just doesn’t look at all like a biblical argument. It looks like a justification for enforcing whatever the majority of neo-Cals think ought to be enforced. And then you would bind people to that majority opinion. Looks more like a culture war than a biblical movement.


  79. And McAtee’s problem is that he doesn’t grasp that theonomy (hard neo-Calvinism) is the mirror error of Protestant liberalism–the latter wants NT ethics politically embodied, the former OT codes. It’s this same tick that disallows him to conceive the possibility that right-wingery is capable of sit-down-and-shut-up political correctness. The accusation that those who can see this are leftist owes to old-fashioned looniness (at least something in him is old life-y).


  80. MM: For clear articulations of the biblical basis for this wholistic Christian cultural vision, please consult and consider interacting with the following helpful sources:

    Henry Zylstra, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture
    Michael W. Goheen and Craig G. Bartholomew, Living at the Crossroads: An Introduction to Christian Worldview
    Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview

    Hope this helps!


  81. Mikelmann, you and I are probably both getting private emails about our discussion here. I know I am.

    The general typical emails I am getting say some version of “where is this guy Mikelmann coming from?” When I explain that you are a lawyer, the general consensus of the comments is some version of “doesn’t he distinguish between the text of the constitution, which can be changed only by amendment, and the interpretation the courts put on that text, which can and does change by majority vote of the justices?”

    I think we both understand that distinction. I think we’re using different words to mean something that, if not the same, is close. I am not questioning the long-established principle of judicial review of the constitutionality of legislative decisions, and I don’t think you are saying the Supreme Court never changes its mind once a decision has been made.

    I do strongly believe that your words are open to very serious misunderstanding. Conservative evangelical Christians, at least in my world, simply don’t go around saying abortion is a constitutional right.

    What this really shows more than anything else is how far apart we are. For you to say that abortion is a constitutional right, and to keep saying that when challenged, indicates we live in very, very different worlds.

    Again, I think we’re probably using different words and phrases to mean the same thing. I’m not yet sure what to make of that difference. I did not expect it, and this discussion has been illuminating to me.


  82. McAtee – “For example based on HC 110 & 111 a good Catechical sermon would note that fiat money and inflationary policies count as “Wicked tricks and devices whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbour.”

    Me – Who is “we”? Isn’t the sermon being given to a congregation of Christians? How many of them have anything to do with setting U.S. Federal Monetary policy? What good would the sermon do besides helping the pastor share his particular political views? Why not just preach the text and let people apply it to politics as they see fit? It’s as if you guys think that the pupose of a 300 member congregation is to give the consistory/session and pastor 300 votes in the next election. I think you skip several logical steps in reaching your conclusion. By trying to make the Bible “relevant” to the current political climate you actually cheapen it. This is one of the reasons many Reformed people left the PC-USA & the CRC, except for the fact you are touting right wing politics instead of left wing politics. And In case you think I have a dog in the fight I have never voted for a Democrat in my life. This is about protecting the church for me.


  83. So say a congregant buys your premise. Some Republicans would claim to support what you are advocating. But maybe the congregant opposes Republican foreign policy. What are they to do? These issues are not so simple, that’s why we leave them to people’s consciences.


  84. Well, Erik, I have voted for Democrats and there will be at least one Republican who won’t get my vote next week because Right to Life of Missouri has endorsed his opponent.

    There are two other local races where, even though I know both candidates well, I think a reasonable case could be made for voting for either the Republican or the Democrat. In one of those two races, a lot better case can be made from a Christian perspective for voting for the Democrat, but the Democrat has some very serious allegations of abusive management in his background — allegations I covered extensively — and they’ll probably torpedo his campaign.

    It’s not about defending the Republican Party for me, either. It’s about practicing in the voting booth what I believe Scripture tells me to do in the rest of my life. Sometimes the Republican is a pretty bad guy, and sometimes both guys are bad.


  85. DTM, I live in a world in which the 5th Commandment tells me the magistrate gets to make laws. I may not like them and I may disagree with them, but it is the magistrate and not I that gets to declare what they are. The SCOTUS is the body of magistrates that gets to say what the constitution means.

    I really think that the neoCal endeavor – with its groupthink, elevation of worldview, and white-knuckle culture wars – hinders understanding this very basic point. I see that you are astounded, and I am astounded that you can be astounded over something that is just so simple: we can’t make up our own laws.

    PS. I suggest that you allow the government to tell you what tax law is. The IRS disregards private opinions.


  86. Misty Irons is all wet because she goes to the opposite extreme of Neocalvinists. She says that Christians SHOULDN’T vote to ban gay marriage because it’s a civil matter, not a church matter. Christians are also citizens, however, so they have every right to vote their consciences when it comes to gay marriage. Her logic makes no sense. I think she starts with a soft spot for homosexuals and uses 2K as cover to make her political point. Neocalvinists, on the other hand, want to tell people they SHOULD vote to ban gay marriage, in an overt way, instead of just teaching what the Bible and the confessions say and letting Christians draw their own practical conclusions.


  87. Actually, ZRim, Mikelmann should be glad he doesn’t live in “the wrath of the political correctness of DTM’s world.”

    Around here, angry people publicly threaten during open meetings to shoot city council members and it is not always clear they’re kidding. We have armed security at every city council meeting of all five cities in my county for a reason. Beyond that, when we had an impeachment process begin against a city mayor last week, the police used a metal detector on every person coming into the city council meeting.

    Even many churches make sure some of the members have guns with them at all times in the worship service. Our county sheriff sponsored a conference on how churches can repel armed attacks, and while the intention of the conference was to deal with the fact that we are a potential terrorist target because of our location near a large Army installations, anti-terrorism lessons can be useful for ordinary civilian disputes.

    Let’s just say that some stereotypes of the Ozarks are true.

    (And no, Mikelmann, that is not a threat. I’ve had a gun pulled on me, it’s not a pleasant feeling, and as a civilian, I will never do that to anyone unless I am physically threatened — certainly **NEVER** over politics or theology. While I do sometimes get mad, you aren’t even close to the level of dispute that would make me raise my voice if we were in the same room.)

    Now back to the point.

    While I haven’t yet heard Mikelmann say in his own words that he believes Christians may, should, or must work to overturn Roe v Wade, upon re-reading his words, I am certain he knows Supreme Court decisions can be overturned. I think we differ mostly in our choice of words, not the underlying issues behind the words.

    I do think Mikelmann’s choice of words here is exceedingly unwise and will get him into trouble with people who don’t take the time to figure out what he means by them.

    But apparently Mikelmann and I live in very different worlds. He simply could not talk this way if he thought what he was saying was controversial, and that is illuminating to me.


  88. We agree we can’t make up our own laws — no disagreement. And we both believe in paying taxes to Caesar.

    In a free republic such as ours, however, we can do things to get the government to change the laws. That’s my point, and I am quite sure you agree. Nine black-robed Supreme Court justices are not nine scarlet-robed imperial dictators whose word stands forever and for all time.

    Roe v Wade is the law of the land.

    Today.

    Dred Scott once was too.

    Supreme Court decisions can be changed, and some are in serious need of changing.


  89. Another challenge for Neocalvinists is, how in the world do you do cultural transformation (which by its very nature has to be a mass movement) out of churches that baptize infants and hold to the Regulative principle. We are not evangelicals and don’t aspire to be. Calvinists like Plantinga & Wolterstorff have had some influence on the wider culture, but so have Paul Schrader and Peter DeVries, who I don’think have been the greatest examples of guys growing up in the CRC. Plantinga & Wolterstorff have been influential mostly because they have sought excellence in their professions, not because they have been on a transformational mission, no?


  90. Erik, just so you know, Misty Irons is now a member of a PCA congregation where her husband is now a ruling elder, having left the OPC ministry. She is still speaking and writing publicly, and attacked the Orthodox Presbyterian Church at a homosexual Christian conference late last year.

    That means misty Irons is still a problem for us in the Reformed world in a way she would not be if she had joined the UCC or the PCUSA.


  91. Read Francis Schaeffer. He said a lot about co-belligerency. Dr. D. James Kennedy effectively modeled how Calvinists can work with Baptists, Charismatics and Catholics.

    Kuyperian politics is key to explaining why we can cooperate with people in the sphere of the civil magistrate with whom we cannot cooperate in the ecclesiastical sphere.


  92. “But apparently Mikelmann and I live in very different worlds. He simply could not talk this way if he thought what he was saying was controversial, and that is illuminating to me.”

    How about fearing God rather than man? Do I get a little credit before the men with pitchforks swarm into my frontyard?

    “And no, Mikelmann, that is not a threat. I’ve had a gun pulled on me, it’s not a pleasant feeling, and as a civilian, I will never do that to anyone unless I am physically threatened — certainly **NEVER** over politics or theology.”

    Here again, we live in different worlds. It would never occur to me that you might shoot me over our discussions, but the thought flashed through your mnd, apparently.

    Well, this is the perfect time to tell about when I had a gun pointed at me. I was on a lawn mowing crew as a twenty-something when one of the mowers broke down. Three workers but two lawnmowers isn’t very efficient, so one of the guys said we could go into the garage at his place and grab his mower. So off we went, drove up to the garage, and opened it. I then heard an unusual voice behind me: “you always just open up another man’s garage?” I turned around, and there was a middle-aged “little person” pointing a shot gun at me. All’s well that ends well; I got the lawn mower and I’m still alive, but that freeze-frame of the little person pointing a shotgun at me will not be forgotten.


  93. NDK, where does the Bible ever say the church is supposed to execute justice? Doesn’t God take care of that? The church proclaims forgiveness. But if you’re going to stress justice, you’re going to feed a lot of moralist addicts.


  94. Erik, that would be the same synod that oversees a Christian college (even though it’s violating its sphere).


  95. Brett, that’s an interesting point. So how much room does the neo-Calvinist hermeneutic give you — a right wing free marketer in a left leaning social justice worldview sort of Reformed denomination.

    Liberty everywhere.


  96. NDK, where in the world do these books address gay marriage or abortion? Your culture brush needs to be thinned.


  97. @ dgwired: I’m not sure where the question is coming from. I’ve never suggested that the Bible requires the church to execute justice.

    Perhaps you are referring to my response to mikelmann, where he asked for some specification of what he called “the whole agenda” of neo-Calvinism, and I wrote in part: “Insofar as they [neo-Calvinists] seek to apply the principles of God’s Word in the particular area of politics, the neo-Calvinist vision aims to pursue biblical justice for all members of society according to the divine norms relevant to various kinds of human activity.” The state is the body that executes justice, I think. Christian political activity seeks to shed the light of biblical principles on what that justice might look like for various kinds of societal entities—church, family, school, labor, etc.

    Is this what you’re referring to?


  98. DTM – Ouch for the PCA. Who the heck is electing her husband as an elder? Our church won’t elect a man as an elder if his wife’s skirt is too short and the wife of a PCA elder can be a gay activist? This is why I always err on the side of too conservative vs. too liberal.


  99. DTM – I am reading Bratt’s history of Dutch Calvinism in America so maybe I’ll have some more sympathy in a month or so. We’ll see.


  100. DTM – “Partnering” is troublesome because you always partner on the basis of the least common denominator of agreement, which I think goes against the nature of what it means to be a part of a conservative P&R church. Just be excellent within the confines of your own Confession and you will impact the culture far more than you will allowing yourself to be watered down. The OPC wouldn’t even partner with the Boy Scouts for goodness sake. What’s more American & apple pie than the Boy Scouts? The OPC had good reasons, though.


  101. @ dgwired: The Goheen/Barthlomew book, Living at the Crossroads, addresses homosexuality and abortion in several places. One of the more interesting discussions occurs on pp. 120-121, involving a comparison between churches in the northern hemisphere and churches in the southern hemisphere—and the inability of the latter to comprehend “‘the Enlightenment-derived assumption that religion should be separated into a separate sphere of life'” (p. 121, citing Philip Jenkins, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South). The point Jenkins makes is that Christians living in the southern hemisphere see the Bible—both Testaments—as a comprehensive source of authority for living in the world.

    This rather contemporary exposition of worldview Calvinism is a very balanced overview of the application of Christian principles to business, politics, art, and education, to name a few. Their recommendations are formulated as general notions rather than specific policy recommendations. Overall, their approach is highly integrationist, evident from the title of their opening chapter: “Gospel, Story, Worldview, and the Church’s Mission.”

    You may recall that my book suggestions were in response to a comment seeking the biblical argument for the neo-Calvinist vision of Christian cultural obedience. Perhaps you know of other, better titles fitting that criterion?


  102. I’ll add some things to make it even worse. It’s a predominantly Korean PCA. I remember going out to Los Angeles to cover the secession of all but one of the large Korean CRC congregations from the Christian Reformed Church back in the 1990s and homosexuality was a much more important issue to them than women’s ordination.

    I know from direct firsthand experience what is happening in the second-generation Korean churches. You don’t want to begin to hear my Korean wife talking about this issue of homosexual activism and how the second generation immigrants are walking away from the faith of their fathers.

    This is a perfect example of cultural problems. Even if the culture doesn’t transform us, it **WILL** transform our children if our churches and our homes aren’t doing their jobs,


  103. DTM – The culture might transform them for awhile, but at some point in life you realize the culture isn’t all that and you come back to the church (if you are elect). When you do come back you need the church to be solid & timeless and not chasing the latest whim. This is what evangelicals do. We need to be different.

    A Christian starts with what the Bible says about sin and then views the culture in light of that, not the other way around. So if we are figting to change the culture we are still asking Christians to go about defining how they live backwards. All we end up doing is constantly trying to put out fires. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole.


  104. Maybe your wife can talk to Misty (in Korean) and get through to her. She needs a good Korean tongue-lashing (ha, ha!).


  105. EC / Me – Who is “we”? Isn’t the sermon being given to a congregation of Christians? How many of them have anything to do with setting U.S. Federal Monetary policy?

    Bret

    Frankly this is a monumentally stupid question.

    Only each and everyone of them who steps into the polling booth. The Catechism teaches us that WE must not vote for a candidate who advocates wicked tricks and devices whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbour.” This Catechism question teaches Christians (the “we”) that they may not vote for people who will use the wicked trick and device of Inflationary policy in order to line their pockets, or for people who will redistribute wealth.

    EC

    What good would the sermon do besides helping the pastor share his particular political views?

    Bret

    Well, since the language is in the Catechism which comes with appropriate Scriptural reference, it would do the good of teaching people not to steal. That is, after all, what questions 110 and 111 are dealing with. I kind of figure that people who want to glorify God by not stealing might be interested in what the Catechism says about not stealing.

    But that’s just me.

    EC

    Why not just preach the text and let people apply it to politics as they see fit?

    Bret

    Why not just preach the text and let people apply it to their personal lives as they see fit? Why not just preach the text and let people apply it to their family lives as they see fit? Why not just preach the text and let people apply it to their work lives as they see fit?

    Why do any application at all?

    EC

    It’s as if you guys think that the pupose of a 300 member congregation is to give the consistory/session and pastor 300 votes in the next election. I think you skip several logical steps in reaching your conclusion. By trying to make the Bible “relevant” to the current political climate you actually cheapen it. This is one of the reasons many Reformed people left the PC-USA & the CRC, except for the fact you are touting right wing politics instead of left wing politics. And In case you think I have a dog in the fight I have never voted for a Democrat in my life. This is about protecting the church for me.

    Bret

    It’s as if you guys think that the purpose of a 300 member congregation is to be conformed to the world and not transformed by the renewing of minds. It’s as if you guys think that the purpose of a 300 member congregation is to NOT take EVERY thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. All that salt stuff … NONSENSE. All that light stuff …. Silly transformationalists.

    By trying to make the Bible irrelevant to the current culture you actually make it ….Oh, I don’t know …. IRRELEVANT to the current culture.

    Your “protecting” of the Church is a shiv directed at its ribs.


  106. Bret says: Why not just preach the text and let people apply it to their personal lives as they see fit? Why not just preach the text and let people apply it to their family lives as they see fit? Why not just preach the text and let people apply it to their work lives as they see fit?

    Why do any application at all?

    I say: I can actually go there if you can.

    If you have two candidates and neither one of them is ideal (as in, say, the last several presidential elections) do you obstain or do you just pick the better of the two? What if both support the Federal Reserve as it is set up today?

    What stance does the political preaching that you advocate take on this question?


  107. Bret – Another question is, what even gives a minister the qualifications to make these political assessments? As P&R people we insist on learned ministers. How many courses are these men taking in economics, political science, law, etc. as part of their ministerial training? Do you expect your minister to fix your car and fill your cavities as well?


  108. The Neocalvinist minister is like Kelly Leak of the Chico’s Bail Bonds Bears team in the semifinal game in “The Bad News Bears”, running all over the field making catches. Like the Yankees player I have to say – “So Brad, does your minister go to the bathroom for you, too?”


  109. D.G. – There’s a blog post for you – The Neocalvinist Minister as the Very Model of the Modern Major General…


  110. Sorry, D.G. – I beat you to it.


  111. Erik, apparently you know about “kimchi temper.” I’m not afraid of very much, but the wrath of Korean women is well-known in military circles and that is one road I won’t go down.

    The anger can be useful, however. I have an older niece who is currently in college and her goal is to be a yogun — female soldier — since she enjoys shooting things and jumping out of helicopters. Her father, my wife’s brother, was in the South Korean Special Forces and it obviously rubbed off on his two daughters, both of whom are now in the United States and under our care. All I’ll say on that subject is dynamite comes in small packages, and I would not want to be on the wrong side of her weapons.

    To quote a local Army recruiter regarding the ROK Special Forces — “Those are some bad-ass dudes.”

    Unlike our military, the South Korean military trains to fight a war on their own soil and in their own cities, and that includes using women who volunteer for things most of our toughest American male soldiers wouldn’t want.

    I’m just glad they’re on our side.


  112. DTM – You’re alright (and funny).


  113. Sigh …

    If you have two candidates and neither one of them is ideal (as in, say, the last several presidential elections) do you obstain or do you just pick the better of the two? What if both support the Federal Reserve as it is set up today?

    What stance does the political preaching that you advocate take on this question?

    ______________

    On multiple choice questions you always have the option of E.) None of the above.

    Besides … every Presidential election gives us more than two choices, not to mention the possibility of write ins.

    Or … obstaining or even abstaining is always a legit option.

    Really, a Biblical preacher would tell you that if the choice was between Stalin or Mao the Biblical Christian would be best served by writing in a worthy man or by just not voting.

    However, a R2K preacher would insist that it wasn’t his business to say that a Christian shouldn’t vote for Stalin or Mao and that it was perfectly legit if Christians in his Church campaigned for Stalin or Mao.


  114. Bret – Another question is, what even gives a minister the qualifications to make these political assessments? As P&R people we insist on learned ministers. How many courses are these men taking in economics, political science, law, etc. as part of their ministerial training? Do you expect your minister to fix your car and fill your cavities as well?
    ________________

    Books. Big fat things they keep in Libraries. Ministers used to spend their lives reading and studying across the spectrum. I’m just getting started at 35 years now.

    And if the time comes when Dentists are filling my teeth with Mercury and Mechanics are cutting my hoses then I may very well take up Denistry and Mechanics so that God’s people are not harassed by pagan Dentists and pagan Mechancis.

    Y’all or so funny with your comparisons between the technical skills and the humanities as if they are one and the same. Does Denistry require sustained thinking on metaphyics and epistemology like Education or the Arts? Does auth Mechanics require one to consider teleology or axiology like law or economics? Y’all think that all because anybody can honorably practice widget stuffing (something a monkey could be trained for) therefore anybody can honorably practice law or education.

    Also, the wonder of presuppositional philosophy makes the tasks of knowing across the disciplines much less arduous then you think. The presuppositionalist understands that economics, politics, law, science, education — is all theology by another name. Theology remains the Queen of the Sciences. Get your theology right and it is all down hill from there.


  115. The R2K minister is like Rocky Balboa. He is dumb as a box of rocks but he knows how to take a punch. He can tell you haltingly about boxing — barely — but don’t ask him about anything else.

    And even when he wins in the ring, he squanders it all upon those that are using him to advance an agenda that is altogether different then his.


  116. Well, that’s a pretty scary story about your experience with the business end of a gun!

    Now on the issue of shooting you, I have no such intention. You’re good at “verbal judo,” or whatever lawyers call the parry-and-thrust of trying to bring a situation under control with words rather than with weapons. I obviously disagree with you, but I’d rather debate with you than with a lot of people in my local area for whom the only questions are along the lines of “Do you love Jesus?” or “Why don’t you use the King James Version?” (actually, I do, to avoid needless offense) or “Are you one of them blasted baby-baptizers?”

    ZRim brought up the issue of political correctness. My point was that in my world, political correctness involves a level of right wing evangelicalism and fundamentalism that few if any people on this board would support, and a degree of right-wing politics that defines the term “fighting fundie.”

    Once I used the example of threats to bring guns to city council meetings and shoot people — and such threats do happen in my county — it became important to make clear I am not making a threat against you. I have zero interest in shooting you; you’re too much fun to debate.

    I can’t deny that I have great respect for the fundamentalists in politics. They effectively motivate and mobilize huge numbers of angry people who work their tails off for what they believe

    As for respecting their theology… not so much.

    The Southern Baptists managed to throw out their liberal denominational leadership. They won a battle for control of their churches that nearly everyone else in American Protestantism lost. They deserve credit for that.

    There is something about the Southern “fighting fundie” culture that is behind the successful battles in the Southern Baptist Convention, the Missouri Synod Lutherans (who have a large component of Southern churches), the PCA, and the ARP, and we would be fools not to respect the fact that their fighting spirit saved their churches from liberal apostasy, or in the case of the PCA, led the only successful large-scale secession out of any of the major mainline denominations once they lost the battle to control the PCUS.

    But beyond the basics of the gospel, I think in Reformed circles we can do far better than the fundamentalists.

    And if we aren’t doing better, we should be.


  117. McAtee says:
    “Also, the wonder of presuppositional philosophy makes the tasks of knowing across the disciplines much less arduous then you think. The presuppositionalist understands that economics, politics, law, science, education — is all theology by another name. Theology remains the Queen of the Sciences. Get your theology right and it is all down hill from there.”

    If this was over on Old Life I would take it as a parody of neoCal. But you’re serious, right? DTM and NDK, do you affirm this?


  118. What is the deal with cutting hoses? I used to work at Jiffy Lube and wondered about that.

    By obstaining or abstaining how is cultural transformation taking place? I abstained from voting for McCain (I wrote in Ron Paul), but voted for Romney. I don’t know that he is any better than McCain. By allowing Obama to win what are abstainers accomplishing? We can split the Republican/Conservative vote every time, but Democrats don’t generally have such scruples (Ralph Nader notwithstanding).

    How do you determine if a politician is pure enough? What criteria do you use?

    We have a local (now on nationally), conservative Christian radio host who thinks like you. He has hounded Romney for the last two elections but endorsed Newt Gingrich this time. Newt Gingrich?

    You raise some decent (and funny) points. What church do you pastor?


  119. NDK, yes, that’s it. “might shed light”? Whatever happened to “thus, sayeth the Lord”?


  120. NDK, Islam is also integrationist. The separation of the sacred and secular is as old as Augustine. Make that Christ — all that Caesar and God business. If you read Bernard Lewis on Islam, you might appreciate the disintegrationist perspective of Christianity.


  121. Erik, I prefer my minster like Jay Santon (a la Phil Hendrie) of the Citizens Auxiliary Police. He has the power to make a citizen’s arrest.


  122. Bret makes the Neocal minister sound like the coolest dude since Deacon Blues…


  123. Keep in mind that one of the best presuppositional thinkers around was Greg Bahnsen, who was also a Theonomist and got divorced (I believe). It’s no magic bullet for the minister.


  124. Well, you’re asking both me and Dr. Kloosterman, so I guess I have to answer.

    I wouldn’t put things the way that Rev. McAtee did, but part of my reason is that when I use the word “minister,” most people I know don’t think of a Reformed minister with seven or more years of college and seminary training. They think of a tentmaker wiih no training, or someone with a Bible college education at most. Even in Reformed circles, the standards for ministerial training are so much lower than they were in the days of Hodge, Warfield and Machen that I doubt very much if most people applying to seminary today would even have been considered for admission to Princeton when Machen was teaching there. The result is that even when seminaries try, they’re dealing with young men or second-career older men who simply do not have the level of liberal arts preparation that used to be a prerequisite for seminary.

    Rev. McAtee’s comment needs to be placed in the context of his emphasis on a studied ministry…. a **SERIOUSLY** studied ministry… in which the older principles of a liberal arts education really do apply. I have never in my adult life had the luxury of being able to do the kind of serious in-depth research that a minister who takes the academic side of his calling seriously will consider not just important but essential to proper preparation for preaching, and I respect those pastors, many of whom are in the Dutch Reformed tradition, who have served churches which value a studied ministry and give their ministers the opportunity to do the sort of study that used to be standard a century or two ago in Reformed circles.

    The ministry is (or at least is supposed to be) a profession, not a technical trade. Yes, technical skills are important, but getting one’s basic presuppositions wrong will simply make someone a very effective heretic.

    Can’t you agree on that, Mikelmann?

    The sorts of skills that used to be required for the pastoral ministry can make a very effective teacher, a very effective lawyer, or a very effective participant in any number of professions for which liberal arts — knowing how to think — rather than technical training is key. Technical skills can be taught. Basic presuppositions and attitudes toward life are much harder to acquire, or in the case of bad habits, to unlearn.

    The benefits of the breadth and depth of an advanced liberal arts education in understanding the principles lying behind many different fields cannot be underestimated.

    When combined with a biblical understanding of sin, salvation and service, and a Reformed world and life view, a Christian scholar will be much better prepared to understand the times than a secularist or a Christian who is focused purely on technical skills without basic principles.

    But does that mean a degree in theology qualifies a pastor to be a lawyer? Of course not. Technical skills are not all it takes to be an ethical lawyer, but an ethical lawyer will understand why he needs to acquire those skills in order to serve his clients to the best of his ability.

    Bottom line, Mikelmann… I don’t think we’re really debating Neo-Calvinism here. We’re debating the benefits of a liberal arts education, and adding to it the importance of Van Tillian presuppositionalism.

    I think someone who is Reformed but quite strongly opposed to Neo-Calvinism could agree with much of what Rev. McAtee said about the benefits of ministerial preparation for other professions.


  125. Y’all or so funny with your comparisons between the technical skills and the humanities as if they are one and the same. Does Denistry require sustained thinking on metaphyics and epistemology like Education or the Arts? Does auth Mechanics require one to consider teleology or axiology like law or economics? Y’all think that all because anybody can honorably practice widget stuffing (something a monkey could be trained for) therefore anybody can honorably practice law or education.

    Sorry, Rev., but education and the arts do not require sustained thinking on metaphysics and epistemology. This is where the neo-Cal talks about ordinary vocations the way the medieval monk talks about extraordinary callings. It sounds pious but it’s not actually the way real life works, secular or religious. The upshot of your worldviewry is a bifurcation of the ordinary vocations into first and second class: those who do holy work with their 24/7/365 epistemologically self-aware minds and those who do lowly work with their hands. But the Reformation was all about liberating believers from this kind of pietism, and it works for both clergy and laity. Ordinary vocations are not split up between the high and holy rollers and the low and lower brain stem reptiles. Frankly, your insulting quip about monkeys should be a glaring red flag for anybody who remotely grasps the Protestant ethic of vocation. I do hope the good Dr. K. is listening to how one of his fellow neo-Cals has trampled Protestant virtue that gives honor to all vocations, great and small—and necessarily from the presuppositions of worldviewry. I dare you, Rev., to find a way to give the applied arts and skills their due respect and avoid any hint of insulting those who practiced them.

    So, yes, anybody can honorably practice law or education, as well as dentistry and mechanics, even those who cannot for the life of them trace back their gifts to the one true God. Many of them, in fact, can even outpace those who can. Do you neos ever (ever!) consider how easily your system gives rise to religious arrogance? Do you really think Christians are the only ones who can honorably fulfill common vocations and are invulnerable to dishonor? The doctrine of abiding sin is one of the greatest casualties in your ranks.


  126. I have a blog post up on Bret’s Neocalvinist Minister – The Most Interesting Man in the World


  127. ZRim, Rev. McAtee has gone beyond what I would say, but I’m sure you’d acknowledge the fundamental differences between a trade and a profession.

    That doesn’t mean there’s a difference in inherent worth of the two individuals. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a man who labors with his hands or his strong back, or anything less valuable about him in the eyes of God than a person who labors with his head. In fact, not only is technical training valuable, in the current marketplace it may actually have considerably higher market value in many fields.

    I am also absolutely the first person to acknowledge that a skilled carpenter or plumber may very well be self-taught in theology and have an extremely high level of knowledge and ability to comprehend things about Reformed doctrine that go far beyond the average minister. Such men have historically been the foundation of Reformed elderships, and in non-Reformed circles, have often become lay preachers..

    Unless you are prepared to deny the usefulness of a traditional college education and professional preparation rather than technical training for a studied ministry, you can’t deny the validity of at least some of what Rev. McAtee is saying. If you do, then you’ve eliminated the reason Reformed churches have historically emphasized the need for a studied ministry and you might as well accept the Baptist notion of untrained or semi-trained men sent out to preach with a modicum of technical skills which can be learned in a parsonage training program or a Bible college.

    ZRim, I live and work in a world where nearly everyone in the ministry has minimal formal preparation for their work. I’ve been a lay preacher myself in the past, and I understand what it means to be a tentmaker. I am anything but an elitist when it comes to ministerial preparation, and I personally would be a lot happier with a two-track system of ministerial preparation for men who have different types of gifts. I am very much aware that the ordination standards of I Timothy and Titus do not include a seminary degree, and I know very well that the history of the inability of Reformed churches to produce enough ministers to fill pulpits on the American frontier led to devastating consequences that choked off the expansion of Reformed Christianity beyond the eastern seaboard.

    But when I say that, I’m fully aware I am rejecting several hundred years of Reformed church history and siding with the Baptists and the fundamentalists. Even as I say that, I strongly emphasize the need to provide high-level academic preparation for the ministry for those who are so inclined, because we absolutely **MUST** have scholars in the church.

    ZRim, this is not an area where you want to make mistakes. I’m comfortable rejecting several hundred years of Reformed history on proper ministerial preparation, but I understand the consequences and consider it to be the lesser of two evils. I also believe the dumbing-down of seminary education is going there anyway, leading to ministerial preparation becoming technical training rather than actual education in too many seminaries.

    Think through the conclusions of your position before you take it, ZRim. You may end up somewhere you don’t want to go once the conclusions become clear.


  128. Here are links to Erik’s parodies of Rev. McAtee, for whatever they’re worth:

    http://literatecomments.com/2012/11/03/the-neocalvinist-superminister-the-most-interesting-man-in-the-world/

    http://literatecomments.com/2012/11/02/the-neocalvinist-minister-as-the-very-model-of-the-modern-major-general/

    Now Erik, speaking as someone who has interviewed a real major general (i.e., two star general) who has two masters degrees and a doctoral degree on the benefits of the Army’s education system, letting him explain why Army engineers getting actual engineering degrees is important to do their military jobs well, I think you’d be well advised to rethink your use of the “major general song” in applying it to the pastoral ministry.

    Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Model of a Modern Major General” song was intended to satirize the then-new concept that soldiers can learn how to fight wars by reading books. There are a lot of enlisted men who have bad stories about idiotic college-educated second lieutenants that make the “Major General song” a continuing hit, and I don’t dispute that in the least little bit. Someone who places more value on his college degree than his practical experience is a fool in any field. Education teaches people how to think; it’s not a replacement for the need to think.

    However, we’ve moved a century beyond Gilbert and Sullivan’s satire. I don’t think anyone important today in the American or British military seriously doubts the value of professional military education — and not only for the officer corps but also for the mid-level and senior enlisted ranks in many MOSes.

    That is even more so when it comes to the pastoral ministry, which inherently requires academic preparation. Wielding the sword of the Scriptures is not a simple matter and the minister is not supposed to be a simple-minded man.


  129. Zrim – Bret’s demeaning of manual labor pales in comparison to his denunciation of the non-Neocalvinist superminister:

    “The R2K minister is like Rocky Balboa. He is dumb as a box of rocks but he knows how to take a punch. He can tell you haltingly about boxing — barely — but don’t ask him about anything else.

    And even when he wins in the ring, he squanders it all upon those that are using him to advance an agenda that is altogether different then his.”

    I’ll make sure and chide my URC minister (who doesn’t say much about politics) that he is slacking off in only preaching two sermons a week, teaching Wednesday Bible study, catechizing the youth, dealing with a divorce & church discipline situation, checking up on sick people, doing family visitations with the elders, and serving on missions committees at the classis & synod level. He needs to quit slacking off and pick up the pace. Having to deal with births, deaths, weddings, and baptisms are also no excuse. Neither is being a husband and homeschooling his three children. We’re losing the culture while he wastes time on these trivial pursuits.


  130. Erik, Rev. McAtee can and likely will speak for himself.

    As for me, I will never criticize those who choose to focus on areas of their life that have little to do with the civil magistrate, least of all those who focus on their homes and their churches. It sounds like your pastor is doing valuable work, and since he’s URC, he’s probably working very hard at it. URC consistories are not known for tolerating lazy ministers.

    Everyone needs to specialize and I understand that. All I ask is that Christians who choose not to be involved in politics stop spending their time attacking those of us who are.


  131. DTM – Now you’re tempting me to put something up using Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”. Come on, you’re a smart guy and you know Bret has put one right up on the tee for us. We can’t help but swing a big oversized driver at it. I think he might have had a few too many Red Bulls last night and is sleeping them off this morning.


  132. DTM – You get a pass in my book as a layman and a journalist. If you are an officer or a minister and you’re importing that into the church that’s what the argument is about. I’ll defend the individual Christian citizen’s right be be politically active right along side you. As long as we have a government that is of the people and by the people there is no reason to try to take away Christian citizens’ rights.


  133. I need to let Rev. McAtee speak for himself, and I’m pretty sure he’ll do so.

    There are things which Rev. McAtee wrote which I will not defend, and others which are defensible in theory but which I would not choose to say because they can easily be misunderstood or misused. I am very sensitive to indicators of academic elitism — politically, I’m a populist, not an elitist — and I grant that unless qualified, some of Rev. McAtee’s comments can be badly misused.

    The problem I see here is your criticism of Rev. McAtee, and also that made by ZRim, go beyond just criticizing neo-Calvinism. You’re criticizing the value of a liberal arts education, and of professional training in general as opposed to technical training.

    I don’t want to speak for Dr. Hart or Dr. Clark any more than I want to speak for Rev. McAtee, but I have trouble seeing those two men, both of whom place a high value on academics and on a studied ministry, agreeing with some of what you and ZRim have written here about the value of formal academic education as opposed to technical training.

    Some of what you are writing sounds more like a Bible college approach than like Old School Calvinism. People need to learn how to think in order to be good ministers. Learning how to think is the purpose of a liberal arts education. Much of what Rev. McAtee wrote rests on that premise and it is a premise which is shared by Old School Calvinists — in fact, it’s my experiential Calvinist wing of the Reformed faith which historically has de-emphasized the value of formal academic training for the ministry.

    On this point of professional ministerial preparation, I think I may be a better Old School Calvinist than you two. Please think through the conclusions of where you are going… they are inconsistent with your Old School principles.

    I’m probably going to bow out for much of the rest of the day, so if I don’t reply immediately it doesn’t mean I am not paying attention. I have a ton of work to do and it is not getting done by reading and responding here.


  134. @ dgh: I must admit that I find this kind of conversation bizarre. The missing steps in reasoning are making it difficult to follow any line here.

    dgh: Where does the Bible say the church must execute justice?
    ndk: I never claimed the Bible said that. Christian political activity seeks to shed the light of biblical principles for applying justice.
    dgh: “Shedding light?” What about “thus sayeth the Lord”?
    ndk: Okay, I’ll try to understand your point here. You seek a “thus saith the Lord” pronouncement? From the church? About justice?

    It’s interesting that the phrase “thus saith the Lord” is perhaps the most frequent Old Testament prophetic formula introducing a direct divine Word about some kind of cultural wickedness in Israel—like falling down before the cultural idols of . . . Baal, Molech, Assyria, Egypt, etc. Or, to put it in modern terms: these are preachers holding forth by divine authority about cultural sins into which the church has fallen.

    But today’s 2K advocates seek to forbid the pulpit from addressing the (principles of the) Bible to concrete modern forms of cultural wickedness seducing the church-in-the-world—perverted sexual affections, misguided economic fantasies, idolatrous loyalties to family, a narcissistic view of life, etc.

    The pulpit declares “thus saith the Lord,” and God’s people bring that divinely authoritative Word to bear, through their witness and walk, in all of life—thus, yes, “shedding light” upon justice, nurture, truth-telling, respect for property, etc.

    As in Matthew 5:16: “Let y’all’s light so shine before men that they may see y’all’s good works and glorify y’all’s Father in heaven.” There’s the biblical warrant for—here comes a carefully thought-out phrase—communal Christian missional cultural obedience.


  135. Augustine’s sacred-secular distinction is hardly the same as the sacred-secular separation being advocated by today’s 2K defenders. Augustine’s “two cities” are not at all similar to today’s “two kingdoms.” For a competent analysis of this claim, I refer readers to the excellent essay by Brandon Parler, “Two Cities or Two Kingdoms? The Importance of the Ultimate in Reformed Social Thought,” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective (P & R Publishing, 2012), pp. 173-197 (both the Table of Contents and a sample chapter are available here).

    Among the features of Christianity that used to make it such a threat to Islam was its totalitarian (whole life) identity in society. Alas, Islam need not fear that from much of today’s Christianity. Today, ironically, Islam seems provoked as much by the toothlessness (as in tolerationist irrelevance) of much contemporary Christianity as by the latter’s whole life identity.


  136. Dr. K says, “But today’s 2K advocates seek to forbid the pulpit from addressing the (principles of the) Bible to concrete modern forms of cultural wickedness seducing the church-in-the-world.”

    Erik: It depends what you mean by “addressing”. Addressing is a verb and could mean a lot of different things, some of them appropriate, some of them not.


  137. “communal Christian missional cultural obedience”

    That’s upping the ante, alright…


  138. Erik, this has to be “over and out”: — I needed to be downtown at the courthouse half an hour ago.

    I am not calling for the church as institute to run around making political proclamations. That is not usually very helpful anyway.

    I am saying there is a Christian position on some political issues, and there are Christian principles to be applied on a larger number of issues. As a believer in sphere sovereignty, I happen to think organizations like Right to Life are the proper place for Christians to work out the details of how to oppose anti-Christian political attacks on Christian values.

    What I have problems with is comments like these: “Christianity is about being saved from God, by God. It is about dying well, not living well. It’s about people being changed, not cultures being changed. The religious right gets this all backwards and is an offense to non-Christians for all the wrong reasons.”

    There is some truth in that paragraph — we **DO** need to place a priority on personal conversion, and “culture war” issues are of secondary rather than primary importance — but there’s also serious error.

    Christianity is not a Sunday-go-to-meeting religion, to be practiced one day per week; it is about living out our Christian values in everything we do, not just what we do inside the walls of the church building on Sunday.

    Surely you agree that if on Sunday morning I’m singing psalms in a whitewashed church building and nodding my head in agreement while hearing the pastor object to idolatry in worship, and then on Monday morning I go to work and rip off my employees or lie to my colleagues, I am not acting like a Christian.

    The Christian faith has a great deal to say about how I am to live my life once I am converted. Discipleship is supposed to follow conversion.

    Again, I need to apply those last two sentences to my own actions this morning.

    I’ve taken way too much time on this already. I need to bow out and go do some newspaper work downtown before the courthouse closes, or I will be legitimately accused of being so spiritually minded that I am no earthly good, to use an old phrase from earlier days of the church.


  139. DTM – It’s not about the value of a liberal arts education (I have one — from a Reformed college, no less) or about reading lots of books (I’ll bet I have more than you & Bret put together), but about what the proper duties of a minister are.


  140. “Christianity is about being saved from God, by God. It is about dying well, not living well. It’s about people being changed, not cultures being changed. The religious right gets this all backwards and is an offense to non-Christians for all the wrong reasons.”

    Man, what smart guy said that?

    Note that the examples you cite are those of personal piety. Things I would not disagree with. By “not living well” I don’t mean not sinning. I am talking about always fighting for “our rights” in the same way that pagan, country club Republicans do. So by “living well” I mean living as a rich Republican, not living as a Christian.

    Have a good day. I have to get ready to go watch some football myself. Oklahoma at Iowa State.


  141. “Alas, Islam need not fear that from much of today’s Christianity.”

    Then why are they so afraid of letting Christian missionaries into their countries?

    When did this golden age of Christianity exist? Under Rome? Conservative P&R churches have always been marginal in society.


  142. Steve Zrimec wrote,

    Sorry, Rev., but education and the arts do not require sustained thinking on metaphysics and epistemology.

    Bret responds,

    Sorry Steve, but this only tells me that you’re presupposing your worldview (which required sustained thinking on metaphysics and epistemology) and then are reinterpreting reality through your worldview. Even though you and other R2K lads refuse to do the sustained thinking doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be done.

    Do you honestly think Marxist art and Existential art are the same? Do you the music of John Cage the same as the music of Beethoven or Bach? Is the Educational theory of Dewey the same as Comenius? Is the poetry of the Beatniks the same as the poetry of John Milton? Why the difference? Clearly it is because did sustained thinking on metaphysics and epistemmology, thus embracing and revealing a different world and life view.

    Your statement is just a display of ignorance Steve. Now, certainly, poets, composers, and artists who are not epistemologically self aware will become useful idiots so that they are practitioners of their craft without realizing what worldview they are serving. However, all that proves is that people live and die without examining what they believe and why they believe it and what they don’t believe and why they don’t believe it.

    Steve,

    This is where the neo-Cal talks about ordinary vocations the way the medieval monk talks about extraordinary callings. It sounds pious but it’s not actually the way real life works, secular or religious. The upshot of your worldviewry is a bifurcation of the ordinary vocations into first and second class: those who do holy work with their 24/7/365 epistemologically self-aware minds and those who do lowly work with their hands.

    Bret

    This is all assertion on your part Steve w/ not a lick of proof. Again, your ignorance is on display.

    The Biblical Christian teaches that all that men do, they do to the glory of God. That means my Grandfather could teach me what it meant to be a dairy farmer to God’s glory. It means he brought a excellence to his calling precisely because excellence in dairy farming is only what it is because of who God is.

    However, clearly there is a bifurcation but it does not run between those who do holy work and those who do lowly work but rather it runs through those who, regardless of their craft, career, or calling, who have been conformed to this present wicked age and those who are being transformed by the renewing of their minds. Professional people can be and most often are brain dead useful idiots just as non-professional people can be.

    So, clearly your assertions are baseless.

    Steve,

    But the Reformation was all about liberating believers from this kind of pietism, and it works for both clergy and laity.

    Bret

    Couldn’t agree more. But of course I’m not the one dividing the world up between sacred and secular.

    Steve,

    Ordinary vocations are not split up between the high and holy rollers and the low and lower brain stem reptiles. Frankly, your insulting quip about monkeys should be a glaring red flag for anybody who remotely grasps the Protestant ethic of vocation. I do hope the good Dr. K. is listening to how one of his fellow neo-Cals has trampled Protestant virtue that gives honor to all vocations, great and small—and necessarily from the presuppositions of worldviewry. I dare you, Rev., to find a way to give the applied arts and skills their due respect and avoid any hint of insulting those who practiced them.

    Bret

    I’ve already done it Steve. See above. I reserve brain stem thinking for R2K folks who create the Secular vs. Sacred divide. It is R2K who insists that the minister is doing something “Holy” while the everyone else practice’s their craft in the common realm. The poor shlubs in the common realm are only really good if they give their money so that people working in the Holy realm might get folks saved. According to R2K the Father’s work in the family is not Holy but common. According to R2K the Magistrates work is not Holy but common. According to R2K the Teacher work is not Holy but common. Indeed for all of these it is irrelevant whether or not they are Christian because if they were fire breathing pagans they could do these callings just as effectively as the R2K Christian.

    It takes a lot of moxy for someone who believes that to accuse me of arrogance.

    But tell me Steve … have you ever worked in a factory? I worked in several for many years and everybody in the plant referred to the work as “monkey work.” I am only recognizing the boring repetition of it all. It doesn’t require sustained reflection on metaphysics, epistemology and teleology in order to put one widget in the proper hole of the other widget. Just as you have not done sustained reflection on metaphysics, epistemology, and teleology in order to deny that education does not require sustained reflection on metaphysics, epistemology, and teleology. You are a living demonstration that even professional can be brain dead.

    Steve,

    So, yes, anybody can honorably practice law or education, as well as dentistry and mechanics, even those who cannot for the life of them trace back their gifts to the one true God. Many of them, in fact, can even outpace those who can. Do you neos ever (ever!) consider how easily your system gives rise to religious arrogance? Do you really think Christians are the only ones who can honorably fulfill common vocations and are invulnerable to dishonor? The doctrine of abiding sin is one of the greatest casualties in your ranks.

    Bret

    ARROGANCE? LOL

    R2K are the most arrogant people who I read online.

    I have no doubt that people presuppose Christianity without understanding it and for that I thank God. However, if the R2K lads get their way those people will become fewer and fewer as you allow a culture to flower that is based on the presupposition that God is not true.

    Do you R2K boys ever (EVER!) consider how easily your system gives rise to religious ignorance? Do you really think R2K practitioners are the only ones who can work in the Spiritual realm? Do you really that ministers are the only “Christians” who can honorably fulfill sacred vocations? The dualism and gnosticism in your ranks is appalling.


  143. DTM wrote,

    Unless you are prepared to deny the usefulness of a traditional college education and professional preparation rather than technical training for a studied ministry, you can’t deny the validity of at least some of what Rev. McAtee is saying. If you do, then you’ve eliminated the reason Reformed churches have historically emphasized the need for a studied ministry and you might as well accept the Baptist notion of untrained or semi-trained men sent out to preach with a modicum of technical skills which can be learned in a parsonage training program or a Bible college.

    Bret observes,

    This is why another good handle for R2K is “Neo-Anabaptist.” When you combine Darrell’s observation above with the neo-anabaptist dualism and gnosticism it is easy to see why they call us “Neo-Calvinists.” What else would you expect a neo-anabaptist to call a contemporary Calvinist but “Neo-Calvinist?”


  144. Bret – Are you in the CREC? Did you study at New St. Andrews? I smell Wilson here somewhere.


  145. Just some closing comments.

    Grew up in a lower middle class blue collar family.

    Grew up around a dairy farm.

    Hustled Newspapers in between milking and chores.

    Worked factories steadily.

    Spent 15 years working for a major Airline as a Tentmaker while in the ministry.

    To suggest that somehow I am someone who demeans labor is just an example of somebody trying to make debating points.

    However, I do make a distinction between the trades and the professions and anybody who denies that has fallen into the modernity model of egalitarianism.

    Something we commonly find among anabaptists.

    Much of what I see here is an apologetic for an ignorant ministry. There was a time when the Minister was the “go to guy” in the community for counseling, tutoring, and teaching on the liberal Arts subjects. Ministers taught at the Universities across a spectrum of subjects. They could do so because they had a integration point. (They didn’t call them Universities for nothing.) Of course all this is denied by the R2K neo-anabaptist as they insist, quite consistently with modernity and the Enlightenment, that we must have specialization as that comes to us from Muslims, Humanists, or Jews. Ministers must know and keep their place — cordoned off in the “spiritual realm” not thinking about how Christianity applies to Economics, Family life, Education, Law, and a host of other issues. Let the Muslims, Humanists, and Jews do all that kind of thinking for us. Everyone knows that God hasn’t a special revelation word about such subject matters.

    Really… y’all, as Dr. Gamble has rightly said, are a opposition movement to a Reformed understanding to the Confessions. Gamble said your Theology is a “Call to Arms.” He was exactly correct. You neo-anabaptists must be defeated.


  146. Eric,

    Have you ever been or are you now a member of the Communist party?

    Did you attend Government schools?

    I smell Dewey on you.


  147. And by the by …

    Given the caliber of men that the Humanist West is producing it doesn’t take much to be “The Most Interesting Man In The World.”

    It’s like saying a cripple is the fastest human alive when all the other competitors are double leg amputees.


  148. Hey Dr. Kloosterman

    Isn’t Rapproachment grand?


  149. Dr K,

    Thank you for striving for definitional clarity. In that spirit may I ask you for some clarity on a comment you made to another commenter?

    In the discussion regarding whether or not marriage is merely common or if there is a difference between christian marriage and non-christian marriage you gave Eph 6:32 as a prooftext (actually it is Eph 5:32).

    The periscope in question implies there is a metaphysical affect that occurs in marriage but at the same time Paul is quick to note this is only analogous to Christ and the church.

    Would you expound on your reasoning in regards to a difference between christian and non-christian marriage?

    Thanks.


  150. @ Bret: Yes, well, I am tempted to enjoy this repartee as much as the next guy, but I must admit that I do wonder how much of the “conversations” of the last several days has been either helpful or edifying? You did alert us to the fact that the Horton/Tuininga-Covenant College 9-point rapprochement all depends on the meaning of words. But as this week now draws to a close, I must admit that I was simply unprepared for the kinds of responses my appreciation for that reported event has aroused—the sniping with anecdotes aimed at discrediting people, the apparently unwitting reliance on logical fallacies to discredit arguments by discrediting people, and this very unflattering dependence on sarcasm as a form of discourse.

    As someone who defends the whole-life application of biblical principles, I have invested significant effort in seeking to understand—as in: read, study, reflect on, and analyze—the published writings of NL2K advocates and published hermeneutical arguments identical to those used by these advocates. Perhaps the collection of essays in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Theology will elicit thoughtful and responsible interaction on the part of spokespersons (self-identified or otherwise) of this new movement.

    For my part, if I have misunderstood any claim or tenet of the contemporary NL2K movement, I am eager to be corrected. For my part, our disagreement begins with the Bible—with the exegesis of the entire biblical story from Genesis through Revelation. It continues with the Confessions—both the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards. It moves from there to the application of the truths and principles harvested from these sources to all of Christian living in the world. None of this denigrates the institutional church, the office of minister of the Word, the pivotal, crucial role of the means of grace, the essential ecclesiastical activities of catechesis, family visiting, discipling, and service. It is simply saying: the gospel is for more than these.

    To be frank, I really need to monitor the time I spend watching people play digital verbal bumper cars.

    Have a blessed Sunday, y’all!


  151. @ gas: Thanks for the invitation—and for the corrected reference!

    Here is the verse (my translation): “This mystery is great; I am speaking in relation to Christ and in relation to the church.” The apostle had just cited words from Gen. 2.24; the mystery in these cited words about marriage is great, as that is now applied in context to marriage in Christ. Marriage in Christ is such a unity and brings into existence an intimate bond. Paul is pointing to this mutual unity between a Christian husband and a Christian wife to point to the intimate bond between Christ and the church, and Paul is illuminating that unity with the Gen. 2.24 citation.

    The context of my referring to this verse was my claim that such a thing as a Christian marriage exists—which is more than simply a marriage between two Christians. Indeed, Eph. 5.21-33 speaks to the callings of Christian wives and of Christian husbands. But that which is “brought about” by their intimate bond is a Christian “thing,” namely, a Christian marriage. This intimate bond in Christ—analogous to that intimate bond between Christ and the church—is what constitutes Christian marriage to be different from non-Christian marriage.

    Now, this is not to suggest that a marriage between non-believers is no marriage. The institution of marriage is common to humanity, because it belongs to the structure of creation. The human fall into sin, however, has led to the mis-direction, the deformity, of every creational structure. I do wish to suggest that the marriage relationship between two Christ-believers is qualitatively different, possessing the “newness” of the gospel’s transforming power and grace.

    I have found the distinction between structure and direction very helpful: the structure of marriage is common, but the direction of marriage is different. This distinction is very helpful in understanding the quality of other cultural endeavors in relation to similar activities among non-believers. Structure v. direction. What is common between believers and non-believers is the shared creational structure, in education, parenting, work, science, art, etc,; but was is distinctive is direction, in all of these areas.


  152. Thanks Dr K.

    Follow up question:

    So would you say all non-christian marriages lack the direction, the intimate bond, that characterize christian marriage? That all that exists is merely the structure of marriage?


  153. @ gas: Yes, I would say that non-Christian marriages lack the gospel’s transformative newness that I mean by the phrase “distinctive Christian direction.” Non-Christian marriages lack the distinctive intimate bond that (1) exists between a Christian husband and a Christian wife, and (2) is analogous to the intimate bond between Christ and the church. Non-Christian marriages have a “direction,” for sure, but not the Christian direction described in Eph. 5.32.


  154. If the disagreements between you and 2k are as sweeping as you say, from the Bible to the confessions, then you really must do something about this beyond mere blogging.


  155. NDK, actually, neoCals don’t have any real sense for Augustine’s point — namely, that God’s purposes and ways are not captured in the rise and fall of empires, universities, and various other affairs of secular (as in temporal) life. You guys have made it seem like we can read history and tell who the good and bad guys are (NL vs. France), or Christian schools vs. public schools. The point of many parts of Scripture — try Job and Ecclesiastes — and of The City of God is that the fall of Rome or the suffering of God’s people does not mean what you think. But neo-Calvinism teaches a success gospel — when societies are more moral or more just, then Christ is Lord. You immanentize the eschaton and don’t even have qualms about it.


  156. NDK, my point was in response to yours about how neo-Calvinism “might” bring principles of justice from the Bible to public life. The Bible doesn’t bring “mights.” That sounds pretty relativistic. Who is the conservative Bible believer now?


  157. @dgwired: I quite agree. A number of steps need to be followed. There needs to be clear understanding, to make sure people are being heard and represented accurately. Others who have an assessment of the issues involved must be heard. There needs also to be analysis and interaction that invites refinement (on all sides) en route to possible rapprochement.

    These disagreements have been identified for some time now, in terms of differing views of at least the following:

    — Scripture and its authority (including a differing hermeneutic)
    — the effects of humanity’s fall into sin
    — the priority and necessity of special revelation for rightly understanding and using creation revelation
    — the relationship between creation and redemption, or nature and grace, including eschatology

    So, ja, there’s a lot to be done. As Dr. Richard Gamble has recently argued in this address, the 2K movement is an “opposition movement” that should serve as a “call to arms” for those who adhere to the Westminster Standards.


  158. Dr K,

    Sorry for all the annoying questions but I’m striving to find your qualitative distinctions in direction. So in a christian marriage versus a non-christian marriage we will see that a husband will love his wife more and a wife will respect her husband more?

    If this is so, the neo-calvinist project can’t affect direction, since only those regenerated can have qualitatively different marriages, but can only work towards ensuring creational structures remain in place?

    But that begs the question of creational structures versus non-creational structures. Isn’t the goal to keep creational structures in place because that will result in a qualitatively better direction?

    So on the one hand we can’t affect qualitatively better marriages except as a secondary means through preaching the gospel but on the other hand we can affect better marriages by working to keep creational structures in place?


  159. @gas Yes, in a Christian marriage a Christian husband will love his wife as Christ loved the church, and a Christian wife will submit to her husband as the church does to Christ. Along that route of marital obedience, they will experience an intimate bond analogous to that between Christ and the church, which is the new direction of their marriage.

    Only the gospel affects, and effects or supplies new direction.

    Christians ought to do things appropriate to their callings to shed the light of the gospel upon activities within creational structures, realizing that the new direction of these structured activities is supplied by God, not by human beings. Moreover, when Christians defend the institution of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman, they thereby bear witness to the biblical testimony regarding the objective, divinely-structured institution of marriage. Merely keeping the creational structure of marriage in place will not result by itself in a qualitatively better direction. That direction is supplied only by the gospel of God’s regenerating Spirit.

    (In other words, I do not believe it is correct to say that “keeping creational structures in place . . . will result in a qualitatively better direction.”)


  160. Interesting.

    So in your analysis there is no real societal benefit to traditional marriage. We won’t see husbands loving their wives qualitatively better or wives respecting their husbands qualitatively better than a society in which homosexual marriage (a completely oxymoronic term, imo) is allowed?

    The question becomes what does this “bearing witness to the biblical testimony” entail? I must assume for you it goes beyond merely living individual lives in that manner to petitioning the government to enforce these positions? But for what goal? Natural theology? I can’t imagine you hold that position.


  161. NDK, and if the stakes are that high, you stand to lose a lot if you lose.

    BTW, you know that Scott Clark is not in the PCA, right?


  162. DTM, I can tell you some of the reasons why I asked. First, I have never been immersed in any of the Dutch Reformed churches, so I lack the experience of how these things play themselves out in a congregation and from the pulpit.

    But years ago I studied Dooyeweerd, and the above doesn’t sound like Dooyeweerd. If there was a Queen of the Sciences is was philosophy, and the pistic (faith) sphere was one among many. Moreover, he would say that each sphere of study is governed by laws of thought peculiar to it, and it is an error to reduce one sphere to another, or make one sphere “submit” to another. The above seems to be counter to all this. So is Rev. McAtee mainstream and Dooyeweerd a historical footnote?

    Then, really, Rev. McAtee’s position looks like fundamentalism.Not saying it is fundamentalism – again, perhaps not being in a Dutch Reformed community hinders my understanding of what he is saying.

    Of course.”McAtee” isn’t Dutch, is it? So I’m scratching my head.


  163. @gas: I don’t understand how that conclusion follows from what I’ve written. I would not for a moment suggest that there is no societal benefit to traditional marriage. I firmly believe monogamous marriages between heterosexuals (including non-believers) honor and comport with the creational structure of marriage. In other words, there is very much societal benefit to upholding traditional marriage.

    Yes, “bearing witness to the biblical testimony” in ways appropriate to our callings can include: Christians offering free marriage counseling as a benevolent service (note, I did not say “ministry,” since I’m persuaded that word belongs to the official activities of the institutional church); Christians voting in ways that promote upholding the divine creational structure of monogamous heterosexual marriage; Christians speaking and acting in line with the Bible’s/God’s explicit hatred of divorce; etc. The context for all of these activities must be speaking of, and living out, the gospel’s grace that offers hope and joy and new direction with respect to marriage, sexuality, and singleness.

    Here is another example. Bearing witness to the biblical testimony about marriage as a Christian physician may require him/her not to prescribe contraceptives being requested for the express purpose of non-marital sexual activity. (Please notice how I’ve tried to word that carefully.)

    I hope this helps.


  164. @ dgwired: Fortunately, there is still opportunity for more rapprochement like the kind Matt Tuininga reported and applauded.

    And yes, I am aware of that.


  165. Uh, Bret – I wouldn’t use “cripple” in your pastoral work.


  166. Dr. Kloosterman, is Gamble’s address on the web somewhere?


  167. Bret – I graduated from public high school (with more National Merit Scholars than you did, I would guess) and Christian college. My kids have been homeschooled & public schooled. I am a Republican (albeit not always a proud one). Are you or are you not a Creccie (rhymes with “Trekkie”). Hey, Hart has spoken at their conferences so I am not saying they are all wet. You match their militancy and postmillennial leanings, I think.


  168. Unless Rev. McAtee has changed denominations, he is is not and never has been a member of Doug Wilson’s denomination.


  169. An Anabaptist call to arms? Isn’t that an oxymoron. The older I get the more I actually like Anabaptists. They march to the beat of their own drummer. Re. The Enlightenment. A Creccie woman (who turned me onto Wilson — somewhat) once called me “A Child of the Enlightenment” when I didn’t buy into his entire program. I took it as a compliment. Being a Christian in the 21st century is all about reconciling the enlightenment with the Christian faith whether we like it or not.


  170. DTM – Where does Bret minister? He would fit in the CREC really, really well.


  171. Dr. K – If this is a project you are motivated by I am surprised you left the URC for the PCA. Since the URC has its roots the CRC it seems like you would find more sympathy among Dutch Calvinists. The PCA seems to have bigger fish to fry and more of a trajectory toward broader evangelicalism than toward (what you would argue is) historic Calvinism. DTM has reported that Misty Irons has moved to the PCA, though, so she is there for you to deal with now.


  172. @ MM: Yes, I was able to catch it here. But there are some technical audio difficulties that will require patience and persistence. I think you’ll be able to work around the technical problems.


  173. The thing about “doing something” about 2K is it’s like trying to push on a string or speed up a sloth. Are you going to discipline us if we don’t attend a political rally or protest at an abortion clinic? Really? The whole point is that we focus on word & sacrament and kind of tune the extraneous stuff out. It’s the Neocalvinist who has the program, has to rally people, has to fire people up, organize people, etc. We are content to just plod along, tending to the boring old staples of the Christian faith. What can you do to us?


  174. You guys are from Omaga Theta Pi and we’re from Delta Tau Chi. Bret is Greg Marmalard & I’m Flounder. Zrim is Bluto and Mikkelmann is Otter. D.G. would make a good D-Day.


  175. That’s another blog post…


  176. @ Erik: Yes, I was raised, catechized, and ordained in the CRC. I owe my life in Christ, humanly speaking, to the faithful pastoring and preaching of Rev. William Van Rees, who has gone to be with the Lord, and to godly covenantal parents who sacrificed a lot so I could be today what the Lord has made of me. My move from the URCNA to the PCA involved a rather personal story, so I’ll not discuss it here; but it has been a move the Lord is blessing richly.

    As for the compatibility between whole-life Calvinism and the PCA, I’m very encouraged by what I read, hear, and see. Since making this transition, I have received so many forms of encouragement and appreciation for the translation and writing work that I’m doing, from across international Reformed and Presbyterian, Baptist and Pentecostal denominational lines.

    I am very thankful for the home we have found in the PCA (check it out here). Our congregation’s worship is nourishing because it is theodoxical; its fellowship is warmly nurturing; and its witness features real-life engagement within its surrounding urban culture.


  177. I appreciate the clarification, Mikelmann, on the reasons behind the question.

    Here’s something that may help.

    You are going to get a somewhat different “take” on this question from me than from Dr. Kloosterman. Unlike me, Dr. Kloosterman is fluent in Dutch, he received his doctoral degree in the Netherlands, and he is very aware of the Dutch writings of the Kuyperians in the early, middle, and late 1900s. I believe he is far more aware of the underlying philosophy of neo-Calvinism than the vast majority of people today in North America who identify themselves with that movement, with the important qualification that Dutch people in Canada tend to me more recent immigrants, are more likely to be fluent in Dutch, and may be a lot more aware than people in the United States of that history.

    South of the Canadian border, most people identified today as Kuyperians are really more influenced in theory by Schaeffer and in practice by people like Dr. D. James Kennedy and World Magazine. I would never say that Dooyeweerd is unknown in modern Dutch Reformed circles — that would be an idiotic statement — but outside those Dutch circles, Kuyper is the great-grandfather, not the direct father or even grandfather, of most modern non-Dutch “neo-Calvinist” political thought.

    Using that taxonomy, if Kuyper is the great-grandfather, Schaffer is the grandfather, and men like D. James Kennedy and Joel Belz and Marvin Olasky are the current fathers of the movement. (Yes, I certainly know that Kennedy is dead and Belz is retired, but they are still direct influencers, not mediated through other thinkers.) Dooyeweerd is more of an uncle or a cousin whose views may have some influence on politically active neo-Calvinists but aren’t a controlling influence and may not be very well known at all.

    Some of that shift is because the political structures in which Kuyper worked simply are not replicable in North America without a change to a European-style proportional representation parliamentary democracy. Schaeffer’s thoughts and theories simply make more sense in an American context.

    An even more important factor is that the “pillarization” that existed in the Netherlands, in which confessional Calvinists, traditional Catholics and secularists organized their own social and political organizations separate from each other, with state funding for the buildings of the Christian schools, has not been possible in most states since the late 1800s due to Blaine Amendments. It is no longer possible anywhere in the United States today because of Supreme Court decisions federalizing questions of state support for “sectarian” pre-college. While the result is that evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics are mixed throughout a wide variety of institutions and can influence them to some extent, a less helpful result is that we’re much less organized and have a harder time demanding things politically or explaining our views even to our own people. The bottom line is that confessional Christians, whether evangelicals or Roman Catholics, have to view ourselves in the United States as a minority group demanding equal treatment, not one of several large groups that can force the government to do what we want. The Dutch neo-Calvinists presumed a level of social and political influence for confessional Calvinism, with an array of supporting academic, political, and ecclesiastical institutions, which simply does not exist in North America.

    Another factor is that Kuyperianism itself changed significantly in the post-World War II era, and to some extent began to change after the death of Kuyper himself. The split between the majority of the Gereformeerde Kerken and the Liberated Reformed Churches under Schilder had major effects on the Dutch confessional movement, many of them very bad. In any event, and for whatever reason, Kuyperianism near the end of the life of the Anti-Revolutionary Party was much more like Jimmy Carter’s view of Southern Baptist politics of justice than like anything Kuyper would have recognized.

    The later Kuyperian political theologians and philosophers took Kuyperianism in directions which have not born much fruit in North America. To some extent, efforts were made to do so through the Institute for Christian Studies up in Toronto, but that organization has gone so far left that it is not in any way recognizable today as a traditional Kuyperian institution.

    The end result is a lot of people, myself included, tend to be a lot more interested in Kuyper’s broad vision and success in practical politics in the 1800s and early 1900s than we are in the concepts of Christian philosophy to which Kuyperianism gave birth. We tend to be suspicious of the later Kuyperians from the World War II era onward. Even if we think they’re orthodox, we may view them as speaking to a social, ecclesiastical and political context which does not exist in North America.

    Is that of some help?


  178. Actually McAtee is more like Neidermeier, using words like “cripple”. Kind of like when Niedermeier told the ROTC guys they were “worthless & weak”. Maybe the new idea is the Neocalvinist minister as some kind of Nietzschean Superman.


  179. McAtee – Nice comments about “Jews”, too. Do you pastor in the backwoods of Idaho?


  180. Nelson – “As someone who defends the whole-life application of biblical principles”

    What separates you from Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles? I sat through that for a few nights when I was engaged and I remember it was mostly about legalism and baking your own bread.


  181. Dr K,

    The conclusion follows from this statement: “In other words, I do not believe it is correct to say that “keeping creational structures in place . . . will result in a qualitatively better direction.”

    You last post seems to contradict this statement. Your last post seems to suggest that those activities will result in a qualitatively better direction. You now seem to be saying that christian counseling, christian voting, etc… will lead in a qualitatively better direction.


  182. @ gas: The initial statement was meant only to clarify that such new direction comes not through keeping creational structures in place, but only through the gospel.

    The comments in my last post describe Christian witness-bearing, which in itself, apart from the grace and power of the Holy Spirit through the gospel, cannot result in a better direction, but which can serve to maintain the creational structure of marriage and point people to that marriage-renewed-in-Christ. These forms of witness-bearing are a kind of “show and tell”—they don’t lead to a new direction, they proceed from that new direction experienced in Christian marriage.


  183. @ Erik: A large number of factors distinguish me from the Gothard Institute. Among them are (1) a significant hermeneutical difference, which includes my higher regard for the role of child psychology in childrearing; and (2) my lack of sympathy for some of the emphases associated with the “resurgent patriarchalism” evidenced among Institute graduates (e.g., the whole “courtship v. dating” debate; an imbalanced understanding of so-called “headship”).

    You need not read further if you wish, but your question affords me opportunity to agree with those who criticize using the Bible (and its principles) as the only sourcebook of teaching Christians everything about childrearing or diet or pre-marital customs or constructing a political platform. I would term that approach biblicism. I think the Gothard Institute approach suffers from biblicism. This, in part, has been my criticism of Theonomy as well.

    However . . . the only alternative to biblicism is not to claim that the Bible (and its principles) teach Christians nothing about childrearing, diet, pre-marital customs, and constructing a political platform.

    I would defend a third way, one that takes into account both “books” of revelation, Scripture and creation—and in that order. (Recall John Calvin: the spectacles of Scripture are necessary for rightly apprehending and using creation revelation.) Moreover, I think it is preferable to speak about applying biblical principles to all of life, rather than applying the Bible to all of life. The difference involves the reality that when we read Scripture, we inevitably and necessarily transform its imperatives into principles suited to our situation. This helps us retain the full authority of the Old Testament Torah in all its parts, for example. As the Belgic Confession, Art. 25, teaches us: the substance of these Old Testaments laws (1) has been fulfilled in Christ, and (2) continues to regulate our living to his glory. Which explains why I delight in preaching the gospel from the Torah for Christian living today, an example of which you can find here, on Deuteronomy 12.17-19.

    Oh my, I’ve said far more than you were asking!


  184. DTM – “Some of that shift is because the political structures in which Kuyper worked simply are not replicable in North America without a change to a European-style proportional representation parliamentary democracy. ”

    This is huge because normally Christians are left with only the option of (a) being a pressure group trying to influence the Republican Party, or (b) sitting out. Note that McAtee endorsed the Constitution Party nominee for President, which I would say is akin to sitting out.

    When we resort for option (A) we get lumped in with the entire Republican Party platform, some of which reflects the values of Country Club Republicans.

    If we had proportional representation we could have a party that better represented our values. In a coalition government there is still give and take, however, no?


  185. Good comment. You didn’t tell me your position on baking your own bread, though – ha, ha!

    When my URC pastor preached through the first few books of the OT the biggest emphasis I took out of it was how God was faithful in spite of all of the Patriarchs, pretty much to a man, being a bunch of screw-ups.


  186. It’s good to hear that’s going well for you. I went to college with a guy names Mike Van Rees who is an RCA minister today. Maybe some kind of relation. I am not Dutch but am trying to learn more of Dutch Reformed history. I am actually teaching an adult Sunday school class on American Church history right now (need to go prepare) and am trying to figure out how to insert some good CRC stuff because my basic text doesn’t say much about them. I have a book on the Christian Reformed Church by Kromminga and James Bratt’s history. It’s good stuff for a URC Church. I am interested to see if the URC ever develops a D.G. Hart who can tackle the CRC/URC split someday the way Hart tackled the PC-USA/OPC split (not that he was the first to do so).

    One thing I know is that when you try to trace the CRC back into the Netherlands it gets really complicated both before and after they came to America. Lots of Dutch church names. I’m glad you are tackling all that. It’s some valuable work.


  187. @ Erik: A confession: since I did not know Gothard’s theology of bread-making, I Googled Gothard Institute and baking bread. I still don’t know what it is, but I quickly scanned some testimonies of people who have “come out” of what they describe as a cult-like legalism. I was simply ignorant of these dimensions of the (very lucrative!) Gothard industry.

    So, no, I don’t bake my own bread, though we have a bread-maker we could be using more. I must confess that in our home, this machine and its products belong to the queenly sphere of my wife and daughters.


  188. A Two-Kingdoms Theology lecture with an echo so you hear everything twice. How ironic.


  189. “I must confess that in our home, this machine and its products belong to queenly sphere of my wife and daughters.”

    On that we wholeheartedly agree! Ha, ha!

    D.G. is the 2K guy that I suspect spends a lot of time in the kitchen.


  190. If the inability to get rid of the echo in that Gamble video is a result of Neocalvinists rejecting the Enlightenment, I’ll take the enlightenment.


  191. I went to the volume icon in the bottom right corner and turned it all the way down and the echo went away.


  192. Dr K,

    Let me bracket off the arguements so we can advance.

    1. Creational structures do not lead to a qualitatively better direction

    2. Christian witness-bearing does not lead to a qualitatively better direction

    3. Creational structures benefit society.

    One isn’t like the others. What am I missing here?


  193. Erik, I have been making assumptions that as a URC member you were quite familiar with recent URC history. After reading your comments about how someone needs to write a history of the CRC/URC secession, and asking if Dr. Kloosterman knows that Dr. Clark is in the URC rather than the PCA, I may have been making wrong assumptions about your level of knowledge of the founding of the URC..

    If you don’t already know, you may want to ask your fellow church members about the name “Dr. Nelson Kloosterman” in connection with the founding of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and the name “Darrell Todd Maurina” in connection with the news coverage of Christian Renewal of the 1990s.

    Let’s just say neither of us were strangers to the events of the Christian Reformed secession.


  194. DTM, I don’t know how you go from my last point to McAtee to wondering if it I’d affirm the need for a studied and well educated ministry. The short answer is, yes I heartily affirm that (contra “the Baptist notion of untrained or semi-trained men sent out to preach with a modicum of technical skills which can be learned in a parsonage training program or a Bible college”). All I can guess is that you missed my point entirely, which seems to be a sustained reality between you and me.

    The point was that McAtee’s neo-Calvinism has set up a two-tiered notion of vocation. And I really don’t see how this isn’t the final result of all neo-Calvinism (I see NDK hasn’t refuted any of the implication in McAtee’s remarks). There is higher order vocation that requires a sustained thinking on metaphyics and epistemology by vocational monks, and a lower order that trained monkeys can do. But beyond the medieval overlay neo-Calvinism gives vocation, there is the problem that even the vocational monks like educators/attorneys/doctors/legislators don’t really spend that much time in sustained meta-cognition.

    But I don’t know, M&M, do you as an attorney spend more time in sustained metaphysical and epistemological thought, or do you spend more time doing law? You know, the way most teachers spend most of their days trying to get Johnny and Suzy to grasp the 3Rs.


  195. Zrim said to DTM – “All I can guess is that you missed my point entirely, which seems to be a sustained reality between you and me.”

    I chuckled at that. I don’t think anyone here is arguing against the merits of an educated clergy. McAtee was reacting to my dig about whether he will expect the Neocalvinist minister (who he expects to be competent in many, many things) to also do auto mechanics and dentistry. In his response I don’t think he meant to demean manual labor as much as he meant to demean non-Neocalvinist ministers who confine their labors to the normal means of grace (Word and Sacrament) in a traditional sense (i.e. without making contemporary applications about inflationary monetary policy & other political issues that are important in his eyes). I think that is where the disagreement lies. These other issues (learned vs. unlearned ministers, manual vs. mental labor) are side issues.


  196. on November 3, 2012 at 7:23 pm Mark Van Der Molen

    Erik, this is simply not accurate. Horton was writing on the two kingdoms and the idosyncratic covenant hermeneutic that fuels it long before Van Drunen became his disciple. Horton has been blogging, podcasting, publishing, and speaking on this issue for a long time and is a leading figure in the R2k movement. His works have been subject to the same critiques directed at other R2k fellows.

    Now whether Horton’s statement at Covenant College means he actually is pulling the rug out from under DVD remains to be seen. I for one, am highly skeptical until I see him explicitly reject his prior positions. As Rev. McAtee alluded to above, words do not always mean the same thing to Horton as they do to others. Certainly, if we take the Covenant College speech at face value, it would be difficult to reconcile them with the tenets of his dichotomous teaching. On the other hand, I have seen Horton contradict himself within short time spans, so I would not be surprised to see some form of repudiation or modification of the Covenant college speech– which I am sure would be welcome relief to DVD.


  197. DTM – You’re starting to sound like my favorite Dilbert cartoon character, Dan the Illogical Scientist in missing everyone’s points. You say:

    “I have been making assumptions that as a URC member you were quite familiar with recent URC history. After reading your comments about how someone needs to write a history of the CRC/URC secession,”

    Has anyone writtten that history (as in, a book) about that? I don’t think so. Venema has a chapter in the Godfrey Festschrift, but normally you can’t truly do history until at least 20 years after an event so we are still on the edge of that parameter.

    You say:

    “and asking if Dr. Kloosterman knows that Dr. Clark is in the URC rather than the PCA,

    That wasn’t me.

    “If you don’t already know, you may want to ask your fellow church members about the name “Dr. Nelson Kloosterman” in connection with the founding of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and the name “Darrell Todd Maurina” in connection with the news coverage of Christian Renewal of the 1990s. Let’s just say neither of us were strangers to the events of the Christian Reformed secession.

    I’ve read Kloosterman in “Christian Renewal” (I don’t subscribe but my pastor does and he brings some copies to church from time-to-time), mostly beating up on Hart in recent times. I hadn’t heard of you until I saw your posts on Old Life, though. Maybe I actually saw you on Facebook a year or two ago.

    Most of my fellow church members have little or no clue about much of this. Most of them are younger than me and are either new to the URC or are Dutch, grew up Reformed, and are not that into Church history. It’s actually interesting to me how much more interested “converts” are about all of this stuff than people who grew up in Reformed Churches.

    Maybe you are the guy who needs to write that history book (especially if you have your old notes).


  198. Mark – Which of his books would you point to as Horton’s most thorough treatment of 2K? I have read Hart’s “A Secular Faith” and Van Drunen’s “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms” but not Van Drunen’s larger book (it’s by the bed). I don’t deny Horton has 2K sympathies (you can pick this up by listening to the White Horse Inn) but it seems like evangelicalism has been a much bigger target for him in recent years than Neocalvinism (which is not the case with Hart & Van Drunen). Pretty much all we talk about on Old Life (at least since I’ve been there over the last few months) is Neocalvinism/2k and Called to Communion (Reformed guys who have moved to Rome and are trying to bring more Reformed guys with them).


  199. Interesting as an historical account, DTM. I am tinkering with the taxonomy of High Kuyperians and Low Kuyperians. I’m not sure those are the best labels, but the idea is that former are somewhat moored by the confessions and more churchly than the latter who are culture warrior worldviewists. The Low Kuyperians are difficult to distinguish from the evangelical Christian right. In fact, they blend right into the evangelical Christian right, except they say “worldview” a lot.

    Ecclesio-Kuyperians and Poltico-Kuyperians maybe? Eh, still don’t like the categories. Anyway, I had better get my Sunday School lesson in shape. So I’m out.


  200. @ gas: Maybe we need these:
    Amend 3. to read: “Creational structures benefit society by virtue of divine providence.”
    Add 4. Only the gospel provides new direction for people living within creational structures.
    Does this help?


  201. You’ve picked up on a significant issue, and there is a difference between people who agree on Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty doctrine as a model for political action.

    I don’t have a good solution.

    Kuyper was so prolific in his writing and in his influence that there are threads and strains of his views which lead in all sorts of different directions, some of them very different from each other. How many people 1) lead a secession from the state church, 2) become a key figure in starting a Christian political party, 3) start a Christian university, 4) start a daily newspaper operating from a Christian perspective, 5) start a weekly church newspaper, 6) develop a major theological system of Christian education that leads to the creation of an entire system of Christian day schools and Christian higher education, 7) develop a political theology that justifies working with Roman Catholics and others of radically different theological views, 8) develop a theology of common grace that pulls that all together, 9) successfully merge two different seceder denominations, 10) serve in parliament, and 11) become Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

    Any one of those tasks would be a monumental accomplishment crowning most men’s lifetime career of service. Kuyper did all of them, and quite a few more besides.

    The problem is complicated by the fact that there are some people, myself included, who greatly admire some of Kuyper’s system while strongly rejecting other parts. It’s no secret that I am an experiential Calvinist of strongly Puritan inclinations, and that is not compatible with Kuyperian views of regeneration or baptism. I have no problem with Kuyper’s politics — I think it was brilliant — but I have serious problems with his presumptive regeneration. I therefore always need to qualify that I’m an admirer of some of Kuyper’s project, but not all.

    On an even more basic level, while I am not Protestant Reformed, the more I understand the role that common grace played in Kuyper’s political system and soteriology, the less happy I am with the role common grace played as an organizing principle of his theology. I like the parts of his system, but I am not at all sure I like the glue which holds some of them together.

    It is certainly not possible to be a consistent Kuyperian and doubt the role of common grace and object to Kuyper’s views of regeneration and of the covenant. But that’s not new — in Kuyper’s own day, he had people from the more experiential Calvinist wings of the Dutch Reformed world who bought into his politics but not his views on those issues.

    Where does this leave us? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s somewhat like the role of Jonathan Edwards. As a preacher of experiential Calvinism, I am strongly in support of his views and practices. But he had other aspects of the more philosophical parts of his theology that clearly led the New England churches into problematic areas.

    Brilliant men are neither angels nor gods. We worship God, not Kuyper, and that’s the way Kuyper would want it, testing everything he said against the Word of God.


  202. Okay, Her is my Randy Rant! Don’t know why but DGH became DGWIRED!!!!! I hate following blogs. People hide too easily or seem to be shadows. I use my name.

    Darryl,

    I am not a hard man to get along with. I try to respect my Elders and listen to them whole heartedly. When Challenged I will truly consider my place and submit. If you challenged me to listen I will do my best. I am not perfect. But I try my best to listen. I do not want to misrepresent anyone. I have a lot of practice at trying to be correct about others. I do not want to misrepresent others. I have been accused of it but when challenged I asked where and nothing specific has ever come out. If it does I will repent. And I am accountable. Very accountable. Especially on the Internet. It matters to others what I do on the internet since I moderate one of the most frequented Reformed discussion forums.

    So in light of this will you please respond to my question. I have communicated with Dr.Clark concerning his view on the Mosaic. Yes, we all know he is not Presbyterian and that he doesn’t claim to hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 7.5.6. He has told me that by affirming…. Well let me quote him….

    “I’ve said that Mosaic covenant is both an administration of the covenant of grace AND an administration of the covenant of works.”

    Darryl,
    I would like to know what kind of Covenant you believe the Mosaic Covenant is.it an admixture of the Covenant of Works and Grace? Is it a mixed Covenant as a few guys at Escondido are propagating in your thought? I am sure you are familiar with what I am asking since I have started interacting with you a bit finally. Maybe you aren’t. I am using a new blog but all of my stuff is on the pb. Will you please tell us what you think as Dr. Clark has.

    I am very currious to understand what you think.
    Randy

    As a side note….
    Here are some of my thoughts on this concerning Dr. Clark.

    This issue is really something that should be known. What Clark is teaching might be someone’s Reformed Thought but it isn’t confessional Presbyterian Thought. There is a whole web site made up to show the substance that the substance of the Mosaic Covenant is of the same substance as the New Covenant. https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/Home

    Clark wants to present his view as THE CLASSICAL REFORMED VIEW. That is how he is presenting it. It isn’t “THE” classical Reformed view as I understand it. When I openly asked about how to get a copy of John Ball’s Treatise on the Covenant of Grace on Google Plus, Dr. Clark just pooh poohed it and basically told me it was rubbish. I personally think Clark should be exposed as being in opposition to the Westminster Confession of Faith on this topic. Especially since he is teaching many of our up and coming Presbyterian ministers. I don’t mind that he is teaching his view. I mind the fact that he is teaching under the guise of being Confessional in a Presbyterian named Seminary when he isn’t teaching a foundational understanding of Presbyterian Covenant Theology. It does matter. And it is having ramifications. At least let it be known what he considers to be truth and why? Let it be known he isn’t Westminsterian on Chapter 7. 5,6. I know a lot of Profs and Pastors who agree that he isn’t.

    Modern media tools have been very effective at promoting what Horton and Clark believe. Many of my PCA friends can tell me what they believe about the Mosaic Covenant. And it sounds just like Reformed Baptist theology to me. It has amazed me for years that they aren’t Baptists. The reason they can voice what they believe is because they listen to WHI or have read a Horton book. Maybe you would or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised by how many guys don’t know the differences I am referring to. I remember when I started noting that the gentlemen (Horton and Clark) were noticeably sounding Lutheran a few years ago. When I made mention of this I was literally cussed out by a friend and PCA member. He accused me of slandering Horton and Clark. I even sent our messages to a Lawyer and Elder to make sure I wasn’t out of line. My buddy couldn’t understand what I was noting when I showed him the 7th Chapter of the Westminster. He just told me to go read Horton’s small book The God of Promise. Horton and Clark aren’t even Presbyterian and don’t have to teach Covenant Theology from our perspective. The problem I am seeing is that people don’t even know they are teaching contra our confessional view. And it is contra our view. This situation isn’t even comparable to what Charles Hodge’s did in writing about Abraham and two covenants in my estimation. I wish it were so. That is the problem. They haven’t misspoken nor notably spoken strangely. This is what they teach on a Systematic and Historical Theological Seminary level. They do it on a laymen’s level. They teach this over and over. They hold to this so strongly that it is the reason they can make statements that say some of my T E Friends and I who teach like the old guys are in “serious error”. Horton and Clark are not Presbyterian and they do not have to affirm the teaching of the Westminster Confession of faith.

    I don’t think very many people understand this. Just because it has a Reformed label doesn’t mean that it has the approval of those of us who hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Am I making my point. And this is an important distinctive that separates Presbyterians from others. Just my honest opinion. Horton and Clark are not Presbyterian and do not hold to the Westminster when it comes to Westminsterian Covenant Theology. They teach at Westminster but they are not Westminsterian. That ought to be noted.

    If I am incorrect please tell me. I wish it was true. But I haven’t been refuted yet.


  203. Randy – Can you summarize what it is that you think Clark is teaching that is wrong?

    I have sat under the teaching of a Westminster (CA) grad for 6-7 years now and I think he clearly teaches only two covenants: A covenant of works for Adam, and a covenant of Grace thereafter. The only wrinkle I see is the teaching that Israel staying in the land was conditional on obedience. They were not obedient so they were kicked out. Do you believe this is not true?

    I am pretty sure my minster studied under Horton, Clark, and Hart while at Westminster and as I understand it he was one of the best students in his class (which was actually the same class as Jason Stellman).


  204. Erik, it’s true that to the extent that neo-Calvinism tends to scoff at an older Protestant emphasis on the institutional church as opposed to the organic (see DVD’s chapter in “Always Reformed”), it also is perplexed at the idea that ministers aren’t really Jacks-of-all-trades. Limits and restraint aren’t a neo long suit.

    But I do think McAtee shows another neo tendency, namely to emphasize higher order vocations at the expense of lower order vocations. This instead of understanding that higher doesn’t mean almost holy and lower doesn’t mean negligible. They both lie on a provisional spectrum, which means neither are to be too highly esteemed nor degraded, but put into eternal perspective.


  205. Z, few attorneys know what epistemology is. There’s a big-firm attorney in Chicago that needs the whole city to hold his ego, but he’s fun to talk with and we’ve discussed Greek mythology. I’m guessing he billed his client for that discussion. Well he probably knows what epistemology is, but when I bring up philosophical terminology among my immediate colleagues it’s to fulfill my role as the religio-philosophical geek to balance non-religious, non-philosophical elements in my sociological niche, enhancing the solidarity of the group.

    Got that? It’s been a long week.


  206. on November 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm Mark Van Der Molen

    Erik, Horton’s “Where in the World is the Church” is a good place to start. His essay “How the Kingdom Comes” in Christianity Today and “Defining the Two Kingdoms” in Modern Reformation are other resources. As noted, his blog addresses it often, where you can follow his “two kingdoms” tag to find a load of stuff.


  207. And I have been communicating with Dr. Clark for a few years Erik,

    Please let DGH respond first. He knows exactly what I am speaking about. If you want to, you can go read Clark’s Theology here.

    http://clark.wscal.edu/covtheses.php

    He does not even believe the Abrahamic and Mosaic are of the same substance even.

    Then read this short thread and many of my blog posts on the Mosaic Covenant or the Covenant of Works in Chapter 19. But please let DGH or DGWIRE respond first so I can hear him.

    Slowly read the below blog post with the links provided in the blog also. Please. Do not respond till DGH does (please) as I do not want to rabbit trail. I asked a specific person a specific question about what he thinks concerning the substance of the Mosaic. Is it an admixture of two Covenants as Dr. Clark states or is the same in substance as the New Covenant. That being an administration of the Covenant of Grace not mixed with a Covenant of Works.
    .
    http://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/category/mosaic-covenant/


  208. But I do think McAtee shows another neo tendency, namely to emphasize higher order vocations at the expense of lower order vocations. This instead of understanding that higher doesn’t mean almost holy and lower doesn’t mean negligible. They both lie on a provisional spectrum, which means neither are to be too highly esteemed nor degraded, but put into eternal perspective.

    Me…
    Can you explain if you mean that Neo Calvinists hold to a position that one position is more important than another or more holier than another? Or are they just repeating the Confession concerning Superiors and Inferiors?


  209. Thanks Mark. I’ll check those out.


  210. Dr K,

    I’m not sure we have advanced the ball. Add 4. seems superfluous. Amend 3. seems circular.

    Your reluctance to state that creational structures lead to a qualitative better direction is held back by your wanting “better direction” to be only within the christian sphere.

    I’m not convinced that Christians have the market cornered when it comes to a better direction in the realm of marriage. In the sermon on the mount Jesus says that a pagan loves those who love him just like the Jews. In essence he’s saying, you love your wife?… big deal… even the pagans love their wives. The better direction lies in loving ones enemies.

    Additionally, if God’s covenant people have the market cornered in regards to marriage why did he allow divorce in the Mosiac covenant? Seems God allowed pragmatic concerns to outwiegh the ideal.

    Taking these two things together, when considering homosexual relationships, is it really pragmatic and loving to petition the government to use coercion against homosexuals in their relationships?

    Considering the divorce rate amongst Christians, isn’t it hypocritical to claim to have the better direction in regards to marriage?


  211. NDK, “fortunately”? Fortune? I would have thought a Calvinist would use the adverb “providentially”? (Is it fun having your words picked apart?)


  212. Randy – Why don’t you just send him an e-mail? This is a blog comment section, not Batman’s hotline. What do you see that is particularly gracious in the Law of Moses?


  213. Just an FYI.

    Westminster Larger Catechism

    Question 126: What is the general scope of the fifth commandment?

    Answer: The general scope of the fifth commandment is, the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors, or equals.

    Question 127: What is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors.?

    Answer: The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behavior; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defense and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government.

    Question 128: What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?

    Answer: The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against, their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking, and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonor to them and their government.

    Question 129: What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?

    Answer: It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God has put upon them.

    Question 130: What are the sins of superiors?

    Answer: The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, an inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.

    Question 131: What are the duties of equals?

    Answer: The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other, in giving honor to go one before another; and to rejoice in each other’s gifts and advancement, as their own.

    Question 132: What are the sins of equals?

    Answer: The sins of equals are, besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement of prosperity one of another; and usurping preeminence one over another.

    Question 133: What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment, the more to enforce it?

    Answer: The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, in these words, That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee, is an express promise of long life and prosperity, as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good, to all such as keep this commandment.


  214. Erik,

    You don’t listen son. Please learn to listen. I have been reading your comments the last week and I am amazed at how people are so patient with you. Please listen.

    DG is very capable. I have been doing the internet thing a long time. I know how it works youngin.


  215. Randy – You give Clark’s “Theses on Covenant Theology” and then ask me to compare it to a blog post you wrote (do you mean the one from 9/25 and not the one from 11/2)? What do you want me to get from that vs. Clark’s theses? Clark lays everything out so clearly & systematically, why don’t you just say which of his theses you disagree with and why (in your own words). He numbers them for goodness sake.

    I would also note that I don’t think Reformed men need to freak out on each other if they have some different conclusions on Covenant theology. Article VII of the Westminster is awfully short and leaves a lot of room for details to be filled in (similar to say, Article 37 on eschatology in the Belgic). We run into problems in the Reformed world when people want to insist that their particular filling in of the details is the only way they can be filled in. This is how we end up with churches that have about 12 people gathering for Sunday worship.

    Neocalvinism/2K is this kind of issue in my opinion. If people want to ramp it up and make it akin to people denying things that are made clear in the confessions they are going overboard. Not that we can’t go back and forth about it endlessly. That is kind of fun.


  216. Here is Horton’s essay in “Christianity Today”. If any 2K opponents want to read it and comment on it I would welcome your objections to what he is saying.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/january/2.43.html


  217. Randy – These types of comments make you come across as the arrogrant one. Is this your blog? Is Oldlife your blog? You don’t get to set the rules on either of them. Stick to posting and commenting on your own blog if you want to make the rules. How old are you, anyway. I feel like Kip in Napoleon Dynamite. I’ll bet we are about the same age.


  218. Mark – Do you have a link or copy of the Mod. Ref. Article? I might have to subscribe to read it. This would actually not be a bad thing for me to do anyway.


  219. Erik,
    You don’t listen. You just don’t listen and you haven’t interacted with anything I have asked you to. That is what I was trying to avoid. Then you make accusations without cause. You misapply things and when confronted you don’t respond when you should. I have confronted a few things this past week on Old Life.

    Please listen and stop for a bit and spend some time reading. Take your fingers off the keyboard for moment and research. I posted a link above with all of the Mosaic Covenant stuff I have posted. Most of it is just transfer from my Puritanboarrd blog and posts from the Puritanboard. It has been Public for a while. If you went down through the blog list you would read the one concerning the substance of the Mosaic Covenant and a few that particularly discuss Dr. Clark. Take your time and research it. . Read them all if need be. I have a lot of problems with how Dr. Clark discusses and thinks about the Mosaic Covenant in relationship with the Covenant of Works, Grace, Abrahamic and New Covenant. Take some time to read. You exhibit that you can try to communicate but that you don’t listen very well. Start with the blog post on 9/14 maybe. Same in Substance. Or go over to the Puritanboard and do a search and look up Clark and antinomianism or Gospel. You can also look up, “is Kline Confessional?”. I contend he deviates from the Confession of Faith as a Presbyterian. And I also contend it matters as you might have read me say before. Plus, this isn’t just my narrow interpretation. If you look you will notice that I do list a few divines from the period of the time the Confession.. I have also given the Mosaic Covenant link. Do some research.

    Now, Please let Darryl respond without this long rabbit trail. If you want to discuss this with me you can email me. rpcna.covenanter at g. mail Or I will even take time to discuss this over the phone with you if you want. As I noted, I am sure that Darryl knows exactly what I am speaking about. He is an Historian. Let him speak. This was not addressed to you.

    Have a good Lords day.

    BTW, I don’t spend a lot of time on the internet, so if I seem slow it is because I have a life outside of the internet world. LOL. Now go and meditate on the Lord’s goodness today. Examine yourself before Him that you might judge yourself so that you aren’t counted unworthy. Be Reformed because of your Union with Christ.


  220. on November 4, 2012 at 7:50 am Mark Van Der Molen

    Erik, here is the link, and yes, it appears you would have to subscribe to read the full article.

    http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=514&var3=issuedisplay&var4=IssRead&var5=52


  221. Randy – You need to be able to interact without requring the other party to obtain a Ph.D in your personal theology. If you don’t want to point out specifically what you disagree with Clark on that’s fine. I don’t have the time or inclination to read all of your stuff (especially given your condescending attitude). Why would I trust your opinions?


  222. This is an example of why 2K thinkers win converts. They can engage in a creative and entertaining way. Neocalvinists struggle in this regard. Note Hart’s average blog comment is about two sentences — but he says a lot each time. You have to be able to communicate your points without burdening the other side to sift through a bunch of stuff. Summarize and argue. You digest your sources, Don’t make the other guy do it.


  223. Randy, it’s quizzical to me how one gets that some vocations require sustained thinking on metaphyics and epistemology from confessional statements about superiors and inferiors, which is really just pointing out the nature of the created order. It seems to me it flows more from modern presuppositions and an over-estimation of philosophical importance, which isn’t so much interested in the created order as it is in creating a vocational caste system..


  224. Reading Horton’s 2006 essay in Christianity Today, “How the Kingdom Comes”. On page two he says, “This means that there is no difference between Christians and non-Christians with respect to their vocations.” Point six of Tuininga’s report on Horton’s meeting is “Each perspective insists that Scripture has much to say about how Christians should be involved in culture through their vocations.”

    I’m no logician, but these statements appear to be direct opposites.


  225. Rev. McAtee, your reponse here is characteristic of someone who doesn’t understand 2k. In lieu of understanding, familiar dichotomies and denunciations issue forth. To be fair, it’s pretty difficult to step outside one’s own ideology and try to see things from another point of view. You aren’t there at this point.


  226. I’ve been reading about Kuyper tonight. James Bratt would say that McAtee is being careless in his principial thinking. Bratt says a common weakness of principial thinkers is their “tendencies to create specious unities. Whenever people start linking “Jews” in with other thinkers you know they’ve gone off of the principial rails.


  227. Is this your assumption that this is what they are doing? I personally do think that God puts a very high priority on some vocations over others as more important. One of them has to do with his word. I could be incorrect. Not that the man is more important in that he is man but that the Kerux is so because it is directly linked to God’s mouth and His Character. Does that make sense?


  228. I asked….

    Please let DGH respond first. He knows exactly what I am speaking about. If you want to, you can go read Clark’s Theology here.

    Erik said…
    Randy – These types of comments make you come across as the arrogrant one. Is this your blog? Is Oldlife your blog? You don’t get to set the rules on either of them. Stick to posting and commenting on your own blog if you want to make the rules. How old are you, anyway. I feel like Kip in Napoleon Dynamite. I’ll bet we are about the same age.

    Me…

    I understand I don’t get to set the rules on others blogs Erik. But in all humility I don’t have time to answer every Tom, Dick, or Harry. Common Courtesy of listening to a request and complying is nice. I try to accommodate others and respect their wishes. I said I wanted Darryl to respond first for a reason. Now I have had to spend more time than I wanted to trying to get you to show some common courtesy. I would have spent the time helping you understand what I was saying. I actually specifically did point to a doctrine when I said…

    “He does not even believe the Abrahamic and Mosaic are of the same substance even.

    Then read this short thread and many of my blog posts on the Mosaic Covenant or the Covenant of Works in Chapter 19. But please let DGH or DGWIRE respond first so I can hear him.

    Slowly read the below blog post with the links provided in the blog also. Please. Do not respond till DGH does (please) as I do not want to rabbit trail. I asked a specific person a specific question about what he thinks concerning the substance of the Mosaic. Is it an admixture of two Covenants as Dr. Clark states or is the same in substance as the New Covenant. That being an administration of the Covenant of Grace not mixed with a Covenant of Works.”

    I asked you with a big Please for a reason. I even gave it. You just kept steam rolling on. I want you give you the answers but I want for D. G. to respond first. And either he will answer me or not. It is his prerogative. I suspect (knowing his frequency on the net) he will be faithful to answer. He is not one to hide behind anyone’s skirt. LOL. He and Jason Stellman at least have the Yahtzee to be what they are and Highly admire that.

    Erik…
    Randy – You need to be able to interact without requring the other party to obtain a Ph.D in your personal theology. If you don’t want to point out specifically what you disagree with Clark on that’s fine. I don’t have the time or inclination to read all of your stuff (especially given your condescending attitude). Why would I trust your opinions?

    Me…

    I am sorry Erik if I came across overly pompous. You are correct this isn’t my blog and I don’t make the rules. But I asked for a specific person to respond. I just wanted some common courtesy. I did point out specifically by doctrine what I think Clark is off on. I just don’t have the opportunity to get into a full fledged wrestling match on a keyboard with someone who doesn’t know the terminology or the situation at this time. Darryl does I am sure. You don’t. I am not putting you down for that. I am still learning about it. It even gets down to how we define the Gospel.

    Please Erik. I will also respond to your comment to me on the Old Life blog as I noticed it today after I started going back and forth with you here. I needed to focus on Christ today since it is His Day that He made for us. I literally need Him so much.

    I am going to be 50 in a few months. I am not 70. I am a Veteran and have raised three sons on my own. I have taken in a teenager with aspergers ASD which is a form of autism. I know how to be patient but I have a full plate right now. So please if you want to talk by phone just say the word. It is a quicker way to communicate and I actually find that it is more edifying and a better way to communicate because you can sense the compassion in voice.

    Randy


  229. BTW, Erik. It might be a while till I get back to everyone. My Dad and I are headed out to the Property tomorrow to get our deer stands and stuff ready for deer hunting season. So if I don’t respond as fast as you want please be patient. I have a lot going on. BTW, I have two kids in college. One is a Senior in High School and the teen I took in is 16. I have a full plate. Just like everyone else and I can’t be on every blog or respond to everything as quickly as you do. So please be patient.

    Thanks


  230. Erik, you are correct that those statements appear to be direct opposites. I hope this means that Dr. Horton’s views have changed for the better.

    It is not unheard of for people to change their views with time. To cite an extreme example, thirty years ago I was denying the Trinity and saying the church has a Christian obligation to work for the legalization of gay marriages. (Is that enough to prove that I understand liberalism and where it leads, from firsthand experience?) By God’s grace, I wasn’t stupid enough to say such things in print.

    I’m not trying to argue that Dr. Horton’s positions stated in that 2006 essay in Christianity Today were anywhere as bad as the positions I once advocated, but I do hope that with time he’s changed his views.

    Such things do happen.

    Now on the broader issue being raised by Randy…

    Erik, I don’t think you’re fully aware of who you’re dealing with on this blog. You could say what you want about me, but there are people on this board, including but not limited to Dr. Kloosterman, who you really need to learn to address with more respect. He is showing tremendous patience with you, and given that I’ve been the subject of Dr. Kloosterman’s ire several times in the past, I can only guess that he’s decided to treat you gently as someone who is a newcomer and therefore doesn’t need to be held to the higher standard that would be expected from someone who has been around long enough to learn the “lay of the land.”

    You’re new to the URCNA. From some of your posts about the OPC and Boy Scouts, it sounds like you were originally raised in the OPC, but I’m only guessing on that. I’m assuming you have a long history, perhaps a lifelong history, in Calvinist circles, but even so, there are massive differences between the Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed worlds.

    Candidly speaking, Erik, you have a great deal to learn about the Dutch Reformed world in general and about the URCNA in particular. Take it from someone who grew up in Grand Rapids as a non-Dutchman, and who, like you, is an “outsider” to the Dutch Reformed world. If you don’t know why the CRC objected to Boy Scouts and created its own separate youth organizations, and how that Christian Reformed objection transferred over to many Orthodox Presbyterian congregations, it shows just how little you know about the influence of “neo-Calvinism” and Kuyperianism in the Dutch Reformed world and how it spread to other denominations within broader Calvinist circles.

    Tone and tenor count for a great deal. From what I hear both on and off this board, you are not endearing yourself to fellow members of your federation of churches by your conduct on this board.

    Please listen to what is being said to you, not only by me but also by others. Speaking for myself, I prefer to speak politely to people. However, when sufficiently angered, the Dutch are not known for being polite, especially to “outsiders.”

    As the old saying goes, “you can’t choose your family.” Dutchmen have to be careful in how they speak about theological opponents in their churches who are relatives, extended family, or friends of extended family members. Less care is required when dealing with people who are relative newcomers, and who do not have decades of personal contacts with hundreds of people in dozens of different churches. Those of us who enter into the Dutch Reformed world need to understand that, and act accordingly.


  231. @ gas: Good morning! I trust you (we all) had a blessed Lord’s Day!

    Your questions are helping me a lot, because they seem to provide a focus. Let’s see if this helps.

    Generally speaking, the following parallels (not dualisms) work for many whole-life Calvinists: special grace//common grace; church institute//church organism; special revelation//creation revelation; direction//structure. It is important to note that these are not hermetically sealed, disconnected entities or realities. This lies at the heart of our disagreements with many current 2K advocates. Rather, we plead for integration between these—for the former “realm” or “arena” to influence and transform the latter. (Please note: grace transforms, we don’t.)

    Gospel-given grace changes people, from the inside out. This change (what I’ve called change in “direction”) ought to become evident in life relationships and life activities (what I’ve called “structure”). Sadly, often there is a wide gap between the ideal and the real, between what is and what ought to be.

    So I agree that Christians have no market cornered when it comes to being “better” in the realm of marriage (or any other “market”). Statistics on marital disobedience within the Western church reveal that fact. Moreover, precisely because God’s covenant people did not have the market cornered, God permitted divorce (“for the hardness of your hearts,” Jesus said). In other words, inconsistent behavior on the part of God’s people, and God’s limited accommodation for one demonstration of that sinfulness, do not destroy the validity of the claim that the purpose of grace is to restore nature—another way of saying that new direction “sanctifies” creational structures.

    I am understanding you to be saying that if Christians do not have a great track record when it comes to marriage, why are we opposing others who desire the benefits of a relationship we Christians are not successful in upholding? In the realm of public opinion, that is a very powerful argument. It is one that I understand, and one that I believe hurts the witness of the Christian community, and not just on this issue. If we Christians are really interested in protecting marriage, then why don’t we clean up our own “house” when it comes to rampant divorce among us?

    If you would like me to answer that, I would be pleased to do that. But I want to make sure that I have understood your point.


  232. @ Darrell: Darrell, I am appending this response to your note, not because I think you or anyone in particular needs to hear this, but because I’d like us all to read this post from Bryan Chapell.

    As we head into a new week of what I hope and pray will be enriching discussion, may I ask all of us to consider, before posting, the clear-headed instruction that Dr. Chapell provides here?

    Have a blessed week!


  233. DTM – You’re starting to sound like Ron Burgundy in “Anchorman”, telling people who don’t know him that “I’m kind of a big deal”. It’s as if you and Randy are in a contest to see who can be more condescending. I’m not impressed by anyone’s resume online. I’m impressed by their arguments. If you can’t handle that, maybe you’re the one who needs to stay offline. When the best Nelson can do in arguing against 2K is refer to Misty Irons I’m really unimpressed. He can do what he wants to me here (I assume he can block me), but you & Randy aren’t going to shut me up. Besides, I don’t think I could as obnoxious as McAtee if I tried and you guys give him a pass. The Neocalvinist emperor appears to wearing no clothes. When I read James Bratt, as I was last night, he points out several flaws of Neocalvinism. I will elaborate on some of these if I am not blocked. I would think you guys would not want to just have an echo chamber here.

    For what it’s worth I know lots of people who grew up in Reformed churches and I am currently teaching a church history course to them, including the history of American Reformed Churches. Longevity in a particular church or brand of churches does not necessarily make people overly self-aware or curious. In fact, it often has the direct opposite effect.


  234. My 16-year-old nephew just shot his first deer (bow and arrow). He made jerky out of it and it was really good. Now he’s hooked. Him & his dad got up at 4:00 on Sunday morning to go hunt before church. They struck out, though.


  235. Randy – And even if you don’t respond that’s o.k. You have no obligation to respond to anything I write.


  236. Dr. Kloosterman, et al., thanks for the discussion. The combox trail is getting difficult for me to follow, so I’ll just look forward to our next conversation.


  237. Erik, please read what I said a second time.

    First, if I wanted to shut you up — which I don’t — I would not have written my last post. I am trying to give you advice to help you avoid others shutting you up, ignoring you, or dismissing what you say because of how you say it. As Randy has pointed out, Dr. Kloosterman has been quite patient. Not everyone will follow that model.

    Second, reread this sentence: “You could say what you want about me, but there are people on this board, including but not limited to Dr. Kloosterman, who you really need to learn to address with more respect.”

    The last thing anyone should be able to get out of that sentence is that I’m saying “I’m kind of a big deal.” Back in the 1990s, that might have been true in your URCNA circles; today it’s not, and I long ago moved my focus to secular rather than ecclesiastical politics. Even there, outside some rather narrow circles, I’m nobody important.

    Want proof? I said “you could say what you want about me.”

    Furthermore, I have a very long track record of defending people’s right to criticize me, including public criticism using strong language. I’ll fire back if warranted, but you won’t find many people in conservative Reformed circles who are more willing to tolerate public attacks than me.

    Sometimes people have different personalities in the blogosphere than they do in their ecclesiastical and secular lives. I hope you behave differently when you’re not behind a keyboard.

    I know I behave very differently when visiting New York City (where I once lived) than when visiting Grand Rapids (where I grew up). Behavior regarded as brash in Grand Rapids might be viewed as overly passive in New York City. Likewise, I choose my words differently when visiting a fundamental Baptist church than when visiting a confessional Reformed church. Again, I generally avoid any reference to my education here in the Ozarks because most people who I know have never been to college and have a strongly negative attitude toward education; back in West Michigan I may need to mention that I’m a Calvin graduate to establish credibility with Christian Reformed people; in New York City I may have to say something about my education merely to get a hearing among secularists who regard anyone from Missouri as a backwoods idiot.

    My post is that we need to adjust our attitudes and our actions depending on how they will be perceived by those around us.

    As you spend more time in the Dutch Reformed world, you’ll learn what I saw growing up in Grand Rapids, namely, that the Dutch don’t handle attitudes like yours very well coming from those perceived as “outsiders.”

    I’ve tried to give you well-meant advice. If you want to interpret that as being condescending, that’s your choice.

    You may not like the results of your choice.

    I’ve said what I wanted to say. I don’t intend to repeat myself; ignore me if you want. I’m done with this discussion of your method of speaking. It won’t be me attacking you for speaking your mind, but those attacks will come from others if you continue your current approach.

    I sincerely hope you take this in the spirit with which it is intended.


  238. @ MM Thanks for your participation, mikelmann! I hope the difficult “combox trail” is not a result of my digital inexperience in managing this WordPress blog; I am willing to learn how to do it better. I do hope we can continue interacting.


  239. NDK, this is rich, your providing this link to Chappell since in your guzzillion part series on 2k you do not follow the very rules that Chappell prescribes. Maybe you don’t think you have to represent your adversaries accurately or edifyingly in print (as opposed to blogging). But your series was neither accurate nor was it helpful to the church. And specifically, your charge that 2k limits the Lordship of Christ (along with Gamble’s) is patently wrong. Both neo-Cals and 2kers affirm the Lordship of Christ. But they explain it differently.

    That would be a problem if we were talking about Christology or Trinitarianism. But since the confessions have no explicit teaching on the dogma of Lordship of Christ, your assertion that someone denies what you believe just because they don’t say it the same way is neither accurate nor edifying.


  240. @ dgh: I’m not sure which series you’re referring to. I wrote a series of articles entitled
    “The Bible, The Church, and The World: A Third Way” (available here), and another series entitled “Peering Into a Lawyer’s Brief: An Extended Examination of David VanDrunen’s Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms,” (available here).

    I am open to learning where I have represented others inaccurately.

    I agree that whole life Calvinism and modern 2K advocates explain the Lordship of Christ differently. That difference consists in, among other things, limiting the authority of Christ’s Word (the Bible) with respect to applying its principles to Christian cultural activity. More fundamentally, it involves the nature and extent of the Third Use of the Law, including the Decalog.


  241. I had always glanced at D.G.’s photo and thought it was Spike Lee. Only now did I take a closer look and realize it is Dick Allen. Very nice.


  242. NDK, but Christ’s Lordship and biblical application to culture are not matters of confessional standing. They are simply YOUR interpretation of the Bible and the Reformed tradition (I know, Kuyper et al too). But Machen has a very different interpretation and the Presbyterian understanding of Christian liberty means that we are not bound by your interpretation of the Bible. Yours is a doctrine and commandment of men.

    So again, have you actually studied Machen and the history of American Presbyterianism? The confessions say nothing about culture or how the Bible MUST be applied.


  243. It works pretty well if you subscribe to get the comments sent to your e-mail. You can then click “reply” and the follow-up comment goes in the right place. I do like the Old-Life chronological system better, though.


  244. DTM – I think you & Randy have become obsessed. I think I have to resort to the dreaded teenager phrase “whatever”. I will be the one ignoring any future such messages at this point. Make winning arguments.


  245. “I hope you behave differently when you’re not behind a keyboard”

    Likewise I hope you’re not so long-winded in person.

    “It won’t be me attacking you for speaking your mind, but those attacks will come from others if you continue your current approach.”

    I welcome them. They will most likely result from a lack of winning arguments.

    I go to church with lots of Dutch people and we get along great. We’re having a couple over tomorrow night. Regardless, where did you get the idea that being a Christian is all about pleasing men? Is Rev. McAtee about pleasing men? You remain silent on him talking about “cripples” and “Jews” because you perceive him to be on your side.


  246. Another question is why NK is having to import Neocalvinism into the PCA vs. staying in the CRC/URC where there is a direct link to Kuyper. Who is treading on who’s ground? You might draw a link from Schaeffer back to Dooyeweerd back to Kuyper, but I agree with D.G. that Presbyterians have forefathers that they can look back to who are just as compelling (or more compelling for some) than Kuyper.

    I would also note that Schaeffer was a bit of a Presbyterian oddball. He was the first man to be ordained in the Bible Presbyterian Church, I believe.


  247. Good morning Dr K,

    Yes, I did have a blessed Lord’s day and hope you did as well.

    I understand the basic differences between the 2k position and the neo-calvinist position. I agree with you that some 2k advocates press the distinctions in ways that are not helpful. OTOH, I think some neo-calvinists press Creation to the point where they think if these structures are in place it will have an ex opere operato effect.

    I believe a question about “protecting marriage” is the wrong question. I believe the real question is what is that grace that restores nature? I think the Bible is pretty clear about that: God prefers mercy over sacrifice.

    Christian attempts to use government coercion to enforce “creational structures” reeks of the phariseeism that Jesus railed against. It reeks of the attitude that God will be so pleased that we kept the Fags from their sinful ways.

    Ironically, some 2k advocates, defensive over charges of antinomianism, advocate a different form of phariseeism. Because of their bipolar approach, pleasing God is divided between obedience to church law and a servile obedience to the god-state. Thus, any attempts to resist a tyranical god-state is viewed as unpleasing to God even if that resistance is meant to restore mercy.

    I hope that sheds some light on my perspective.


  248. @ dgh: I have studied Machen, though I definitely do not claim expertise in the history of American Presbyterianism.

    In several of my essays in the series “The Bible, The Church, and The World: A Third Way,” I showed how Machen himself championed Christian education as a necessary Christian response within secular society. I provided a number of citations from Machen himself (which the interested reader can find here and here and here), leading to this conclusion:

    If the J. Gresham Machen of 1933 and 1936, with his warm appreciation for Christian schools among the Dutch Christian Reformed, is to be dubbed a paleo-Calvinist, then surely those who today for the very same reasons defend the Lordship of Jesus Christ within the sphere of education are Machen’s true spiritual children!

    I have mentioned that Francis Schaeffer was among those arguing for the application of biblical principles to cultural activity as the expression of Christ’s Lordship over all of life.
    For some reason that I am failing to grasp, the arguments and loyalties of these American Presbyterians don’t count.

    If the Confessions say nothing about culture or how the Bible must be applied, how then must we use WLC 135 in our Christian cultural activity?

    The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; . . . .”

    Are not the italicized words obligatory for Christian living in the world? Is not the Bible in principle pro-life? And are not Christians thereby obligated to be and act pro-life?


  249. @ gas: I am not sure I understand what it means that creation structures have an “ex opere operato” effect. I definitely agree that, by themselves, these structures certainly do not effect (bring about, produce) grace.

    I am in full agreement with you about the need for grace with respect to addressing human living within God’s creational structures, including marriage. The uniquely Christian response to so many aberrant situations within culture must be grace-combined-with-righteousness. Compassionate justice, or righteous compassion.

    Was the Pharisaism against which Jesus railed really the attitude of keeping people from their sinful ways? Did not Jesus himself exhort people, with grace-filled compassion, to leave their sinful ways, like the woman caught in adultery, to whom he said:”Go and from now on sin no more” (John 8.11)?

    It sounds to me that you are pleading for a mercy-filled attitude on the part of the Christian community toward people whose life within culture (“structures of creation”) is not being directed to the glory of God and the coming of his kingdom. I could not agree with you more. And I wish to supplement that longing with the appeal for the Christian community to “show and tell” what that newly-directed-life-in-creation looks like.


  250. Dr K,

    In reading A. Kuypers Stone Lectures I believe he was over-optimistic in his assessment of the effects of Christianity on culture. While I can agree with him to an extent, I think there is great danger in pressing some of those conclusions too far. If Christianity helps to some extent then more Christianity will even be better, seems to be where that would lead. My guess is that an over emphasis on Idealistic philosophy generates a kind of “ex opere operato” thinking. If the right structures are in place then people will automatically comply.

    Undoubtedly the Church and her people need to be pointing in the right direction but is petitioning for governmental coercion really the type of “show and telling” we want to employ? We know from Paul that law only increases sin. So yes, righteous compassion is the right way not working towards governmental coercion. Should we be surprised that homosexuals feel a need for a familial bond? If we employ governmental coercion to destroy this need for a familial bond we only work against ourselves. The paradox is that within that abhorent situation lies the very creation structure we want to uphold.


  251. NDK, all you ever do is trot out Machen on Christian education. You never notice that he also defended the rights of Communists to found schools. Why? It doesn’t fit your agenda.

    But I’m still waiting for you to give a shred of attention to the notion of Christian liberty, which was a big rationale for Dutch-Reformed pastors in the OPC, like Stonehouse and Van Til, to withstand the pietistic moralism of Bible Presbyterians like Carl McIntire (with whom Francis Schaeffer allied).


  252. @ gas: You may be correct about Kuyper’s optimistic assessment of Christianity. And such optimism (today dubbed: transformationalism) has not been absent from some of his spiritual descendants. I quite agree with your warning about “automatism.”

    I view the governmental coercion about which you speak as belonging to the state’s task of upholding civil order by administering justice—rewarding well-doers and punishing evildoers. Coercion is the mode whereby the state operates, so I suppose the question becomes: Whose morality will be coerced by the state? If natural law defenders mean what they are saying, then I think they would agree that in ways appropriate to the state, God’s structures—and the natural laws governing them—ought to be upheld.

    I remain puzzled, however, by your apparent opposition to the state upholding monogamous heterosexual marriage exclusively. In your view, if Christians should not petition the state to uphold monogamous heterosexual marriage exclusively, should they petition the state to uphold marital heterosexual activity between husband and wife, or is state-permitted pedophilia acceptable? Should Christians oppose the state legalizing polygamy and polygamous marriage? Why, or why not, in your view?


  253. @ dgh: I’m being told repeatedly that whole life Calvinism is a sectarian, ethnocentric, late 19th-early 20th century preoccupation. I adduce concrete, clear evidence contradicting that claim. That evidence is regularly ignored. Please show me, now, with specific evidence, that whole life Calvinism would on principle withhold from parents who are Communists, Muslims, atheists, or Wiccans the right to found their own schools?

    I am happy to stand with Cornelius Van Til in this conversation, as one who defended both presuppositional whole life Calvinism and the full exercise of Christian liberty. I don’t believe for a moment these two are in contradiction. Where have I written or defended anything in contradiction of that blessed combination?


  254. NDK, so Machen on Christian schools won’t work any more?

    I’ll ask for the third time. Have you read Machen and the Old School Presbyterian tradition on Christian liberty? If you haven’t, then perhaps you should before treating 2kers as threats to your Reformed faith.

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t know what hermeneutic would allow you to have the magistrate the second table (marriage and abortion) but not the first (Mormonism and Roman Catholicism as idolatry). And I also do not see how your view that special revelation must interpret general revelation avoids putting only Christians (who have the spiritual sense to read Scripture aright) in public office.

    I bet at the end of the day, you’ll be forced to side with Machen on Christian liberty. Whether you’ll also see that this puts you some distance from your previous claims is yet to be determined.


  255. One underlying question that I ponder is, if Jesus is Lord, does he really need us to publicly display that to the world and the culture? After all, He is Lord whether they know it or choose to acknowledge it. What if instead of seeking to take over culture or seeking to set up a parallel, Christian culture to rival secular culture, we simply lived as faithful Christians in the midst of our unbelieving friends, coworkers, and neighbors, rubbing up against them and seeking to share in their joys and sorrows. For a mature Christian, I’m just not so sure how helpful the antithesis is. We know Jesus and know our eternal destinies. We also know the eternal destinies of unbelievers. It seems like doing anything other than trying to live peacefully amongst them, as much as it depends on us, is going beyond what is required or is even wise. The Bible talks about “a city on a hill”, but it also talks about Christians as “salt” (as in, when we mix with them, we make their lives better). Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners and rebuked the Pharisees who criticized him for it. We might even say it is not a terrible thing to suffer for the sake of Christ in our dealings with unbelievers. Jesus did.


  256. @ dgh: In direct response to your previous post, I replied:

    I’m being told repeatedly that whole life Calvinism is a sectarian, ethnocentric, late 19th-early 20th century preoccupation. I adduce concrete, clear evidence contradicting that claim. That evidence is regularly ignored. Please show me, now, with specific evidence, that whole life Calvinism would on principle withhold from parents who are Communists, Muslims, atheists, or Wiccans the right to found their own schools?

    I am happy to stand with Cornelius Van Til in this conversation, as one who defended both presuppositional whole life Calvinism and the full exercise of Christian liberty. I don’t believe for a moment these two are in contradiction. Where have I written or defended anything in contradiction of that blessed combination?

    In order that to maintain focus and conserve energy in this conversation, I’m prepared to engage your direct answers to the above two questions.


  257. Silence does not equal agreement.

    I was specifically asked by someone else whether I agreed with Rev. McAtee on some of his views, not all of them. I don’t know him well, but I’m sure, like anyone else, we could find things on which we disagree.

    To avoid any misunderstanding, I’m not going to defend terms like “cripple” or negative comments about Jewish people. The Dutch Reformed have a centuries-long history of positive views of the Jewish people, much like Oliver Cromwell, and for similar reasons. A shared appreciation for the Old Testament has social as well as theological consequences, and pretty much rules out anti-Semitic views.


  258. Regarding Machen and Van Til: http://www.opc.org/OS/MachenVanTil.html

    Very interesting piece. Did Machen appreciate Van Til on the antithesis? Yes. Would Machen have appreciated how Neocalvinism played out in the CRC as it moved toward looking like the PCUSA in it’s social activism? Certainly not.

    It would be really helpful for me to hear NDK spell out exactly what his Neocalvinist aims are and how those differ from the CRC (both looking back and looking forward). I see he has written a lengthy response to Van Drunen’s larger 2K book. I’ll check that out after I read Van Drunen.


  259. Dr. Hart wrote on November 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm:

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t know what hermeneutic would allow you to have the magistrate the second table (marriage and abortion) but not the first (Mormonism and Roman Catholicism as idolatry). And I also do not see how your view that special revelation must interpret general revelation avoids putting only Christians (who have the spiritual sense to read Scripture aright) in public office.

    I cannot speak for Dr. Kloosterman, but here’s my view.

    The precedent of the Gibeonites applies. The Westminster Standards say, correctly so, that oaths and vows are valid even when given to unbelievers.

    The Calvinists of Hungary made an agreement with the Catholics of Austria to drive out the Turks. That’s far from the only example of such allegiances.

    It doesn’t make any difference whether we like it or not… the founders of the United States badly needed help from France and could not survive without the support of Catholics in Maryland. Right from the foundation of the United States, we have explicitly allowed Roman Catholic worship, initially regarding that as a matter for each state to decide and in modern history regarding it as something that states have no business deciding at all. Something very similar happened with the admission of Utah to the union on condition of abolishing polygamy. It is not hard to find evangelicals in the 1800s who wrote that the government should deal with Mormonism as a criminal problem, not a religious problem, but once Utah was admitted, that option was eliminated as a possibility.

    Original intent counts. I can’t read the Constitution using liberal principles of interpretation and still affirm original intent of the confessions and the Scripture.

    At this date it no longer makes a difference whether I agree with toleration of Roman Catholics or Mormons. That decision was made more than two centuries ago in the case of Roman Catholics — who correctly believed they would have far greater freedom in an independent America than under British rule — and more than a century ago in the case of Mormons. Much as Saul was considered to be a sinful man for breaking the covenant with the Gibeonites hundreds of years later, we can’t break our agreements to tolerate Roman Catholicism and Mormonism apart from doing things that simply are not going to happen in the modern American context.


  260. J.V. Fesko on Machen on Christian Liberty:

    “Finally, it was Machen’s and the OPC’s concern for Christian liberty that greatly impressed me, as one coming out of a fundamentalist environment. As a seminarian, he wrote: “The fellows are in my room now on the last Sunday night, smoking the cigars and eating the oranges which it has been the greatest delight I ever had to provide whenever possible. My idea of delight is a Princeton room full of fellows smoking. When I think what a wonderful aid tobacco is to friendship and Christian patience, I have sometimes regretted that I never began to smoke.” Some might want to avoid a denomination with such an attitude. But I saw in Machen’s statement (and in the OPC’s ethos) a commitment to Christian liberty, namely that “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word, or beside it, in matters of faith, or worship” (WCF, 20.2). People will often affirm that we are freed from the demands of the law in Christ, only to throw a new yoke of demands and prohibitions upon others, about which the Scripture says nothing. Such a commitment to Christian liberty showed me that the gospel was central to Machen and the OPC in its understanding of the Christian life and not a list of peripheral dos and don’ts. “


  261. @ Erik: Thanks for the invitation, but given significant limits on my time, I can really help you best—though not with reference to any specific neo-Calvinist aims or to the CRC—by referring you to my numerous blog posts labeled “Christianity and Culture.” As you’ll learn from these posts, my aims are rather simple, and simply stated: whole life Christian cultural obedience. If you have specific questions about one or another of these posts, I will try to respond directly to those questions.

    For the moment, this is the best I can do.

    Thanks again.


  262. NDK asked, “If the Confessions say nothing about culture or how the Bible must be applied, how then must we use WLC 135 in our Christian cultural activity?”

    WLC 135 (on the 6th Commandment – “you shall not murder”):

    Q: What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?

    A: The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.

    I think you beg the question (now I sound like Bryan Cross) when you read the answer in light of “our Christian cultural activity”? I can go to church on Sunday, have the church provide word & sacrament, and then go out into the world and strive to do these “duties”. I don’t need the church to facilitate that for me through a Neocalvinist program. What can the church really do regarding my soberly using meat & drink? Set up a Christian restaurant and cut me off after one beer? Only give me lean turkey vs. steak? I don’t think citing WLC 135 does anything to strengthen the Neocalvinist case.


  263. DTM – Your last sentence is revealing: “that simply are not going to happen in the modern American context”

    How is the whole Neocalvinist program in any sense achieveable in the modern American context? Don’t we either have to stand on all that Scripture says or not? The argument should be over what Scripture requires, not what is achieveable, shouldn’t it? If the goal is “whole life Christian cultural obedience” how do you draw lines between the practical & the impractical. I think that is D.G.’s point.


  264. And how do you refer to these compromises as “our agreements”? Most Dutch Reformed didn’t even start arriving here until the 1830’s (not counting the older churches in the East — but most of those folks are in the RCA and aren’t that interested in this debate). Is this an American project or a Reformed Christian project?


  265. Eric, we are bound by our civil polity as Americans. This is not a Dutch Reformed issue since the Dutch do not have a sovereign state in North America, and haven’t since New Amsterdam became a British possession.

    Look at Reformed history during the Reformation. Calvinists are not Anabaptists; the Reformation was not won by a pure all-or-nothing approach, but consistently worked incrementally to reform things.

    More later. Need to go.


  266. @ Erik: Okay, then, let’s forget “the neo-Calvinist case.” I’m rather uninterested in defending that for now, since I’m altogether unsure about the variety of meanings people might give to that phrase.

    I’m interested in the Westminster Larger Catechism. No question-begging. No big-sounding phrases. Simply this:

    If I as a Christian am required by WLC 136 to preserve the life of others by resisting all practice which tend to the unjust taking away of the life of any, does this requirement obligate me to act in ways appropriate to my calling(s) in the world to promote and preserve unborn human life? Why, or why not?

    No agenda, no hidden traps, no “gotcha” springs waiting to snap. Just a simple question whose answer all those Joe and Mary Christians out there are waiting to hear. Do their Bible and their WLC obligate them to promote and preserve unborn human life in ways appropriate to their calling(s) in the world.

    Please answer “yes” or “no,” if you’re able, and then qualify if you must.


  267. Sure. I have no problem with any Christian believing and telling others about what the Bible has to say about unborn human life.


  268. @ Erik: Thank you for that answer. May I assume that when you say, “I have no problem with . . . ,” that you intend this to mean that a Christian is obligated to promote and preserve unborn human life in ways appropriate to his/her calling(s) in the world?


  269. I can agree with that as long as you give wide latitude to how they do the “promoting and preserving”. This is where Christians get themselves into trouble and we end up with a Civil War being fought that kills 625,000 people because Christians just had to “oppose slavery.” I would argue that someone can promote and preserve life without ever voting, without ever protesting abortion, or without even talking about it much. A Christian who befriends a pregnant teen or a teen who is likely to get pregnant and have an abortion can do a lot. This is where we always disagree — I say preach the Word and let the Holy Spirit convict people on the actions they should take in light of it. No one has to dictate the actions from the top down.


  270. Dr K,

    The Second Table of the Law speaks about those things YOU should not do. It does not speak about a communal harm.

    Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus talk about a common good/harm. His addresses are always personal, in the first person.

    Paul in Romans 13, after quoting the 2nd Table, sums it up: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

    Your question about whose morality implies that government coercion should be used for some common good. Our current state of Politic is a divide over whose common good morality.

    It seems to me that the Bible is concerned about personal concrete harm done rather than some abstract communal harm.

    Pedophilia? Clearly harm to a child. Governmental coercion is proper and necessary.

    Polygamy? I’m more concerned about Mormons teaching a false gospel rather than a small group of people living in the desert but I don’t want governmental coercion used against them because of their false gospel. Their false teaching isn’t causing me any concrete harm nor are a few people who have voluntarily consented to live together.

    This seems to be another case where reliance on Continental philosophy leads in ways that are foreign to the way the Bible speaks.


  271. Darrell, if we are bound by our American context, then why is it that 2k is constantly criticized for not following Calvin’s Geneva or the Westminster Divines’ England (as if)?

    But it’s worse, this recognition of the American context is precisely what 2k does. There is a spiritual realm and a civil realm. God has ordained both. The church’s norm is Scripture. The state’s norm is its laws and Christians are bound to submit, honor, and pray for the state.


  272. NDK, what you think you prove by citing the Larger Catechism on taking innocent life also implies something far more troubling. What 2ker (even including Misty Irons) supports abortion rights? Even Mormons and Muslims oppose abortion. You don’t need the Bible or the Larger Catechism to get there.

    But here’s where your example suggests more than you seem to know. Why do you only seem to care about marriage and sex? Why not blasphemy, idolatry or taking the Lord’s name in vain?

    You know, don’t you, that liberal Protestant Social Gospelers were also concerned about the second table but sort of let the first table slip.

    If you would actually show your opposition to unbiblical teaching (Federal Vision) and worship (contemporary, casual services that are urbancentric), you might look Reformed.


  273. NDK, you’re “prepared” or not “prepared”?


  274. Fair question, Dr. Hart.

    You cite Geneva and England, and I believe the difference between the two shows my point of why existing civil order needs to be respected, barring extreme situations that we do not face in our current American context.

    The Reformation proceeded differently in Calvin’s Geneva than it did in England, but also differently than how it proceeded in the Netherlands, in the Palatinate, in Scotland, or in Hungary, France, Poland, or any of the other areas where Protestant preachers gained a significant following. You and I both agree that Calvinists are reformers, not revolutionaries, and we ought not to follow an Anabaptist model of overthrowing all authority in church and in state.

    Cromwell understood just how serious it was to become a regicide, and as you know, he spent years trying to avoid what eventually happened with executing the king and converting England into a nominal republic that in practice eventually became a de facto military dictatorship under the control of Cromwell’s generals. In the context of the 1600s when the person of the king was central to national identity in England (and to a lesser extent also Scotland) in ways it was not in Switzerland or the Netherlands, reformation in England depended on both the parliament and the monarch.

    While I do affirm John Knox’s view of the authority of the lesser magistrates to revolt as an act of protecting those under their care — it’s pretty difficult to disagree with Knox and still agree with Witherspoon that the American War of Independence was legitimate — I strongly object to the Anabaptistic and fundamentalist attitude that we ought to separate at the first sign of problems, and to do so in ways reminiscent of yelling, screaming, and taking our marbles home.

    To avoid any misunderstanding, no, I’m not accusing you of that — if anything, I’m agreeing with your critique of the fundamentalist impetus in much of modern American conservative Protestantism, which I believe is often Anabaptist at its core. That sometimes shows up even in forms of conservative Protestantism that wear the garments of Calvinist soteriology but have been impacted more than they realize by the spirit of American fundamentalism.

    A fundamentalist model of secondary separation may work to some extent in an ecclesiastical environment, but that approach definitely does **NOT** work in the sphere of the civil magistrate or the sphere of the home.


  275. @ Erik: First off, I agree that mercy and compassion are the uniquely Christian responses, as distinguished from, say, democratically-permissible responses (rallies, placards, and the like). Shepherding homes, for example, whereby a mother is provided shelter and support as she carries her child to term, is an example of this.

    But WLC 136 obligates me, does it not, to the duty of resisting the unjust taking of life? Does not this duty direct my actions as a citizen in a democratic republic, someone who has the power and authority to effect the preservation of life? Does not this duty direct my actions as a physician being asked by a family to withdraw nutrition and hydration?

    I think you have agreed with me that the duties specified in WLC 135 obligate us Christians to defend and represent the honor and authority of Jesus Christ in the public square, in ways appropriate to our calling(s) in society. So that the Bible, though addressed to the church and revealing the salvation of the church, is authoritative for the life of the church in the world.

    Yes?


  276. “Does not this duty direct my actions as a citizen in a democratic republic who has the power and authority to effect the preservation of life? Does not this duty direct my actions as a physician being asked by a family to withdraw nutrition and hydration?”

    I would say “maybe” to the first and “yes” to the second. A doctor has more direct connection to the outcomes he is working toward than a citizen does. When we vote we are almost always voting on a package, not just on one issue. I think a lot of politicians claim to be Pro-Life but then do nothing once they are in office. Using your argument one might conclude that every Christian has a duty to vote pragmatically in every election for the politician with the best pro life credentials who has a realistic chance to win. Another person might argue that every Christian has a duty to vote for the best Pro-Life candidate regardless of whether or not they have a realistic chance to win. A third Christian might say that they are not concerned about voting with regards to Abortion because the problem is not ultimately one that will be solved through political means. These are all valid stances that Christians can take based on their analysis of the issue and their conscience. Once again, I don’t think the Church can bind people’s consciences and insist on one, top-down approach.


  277. That being said, I would never personally vote for a politican who does not claim to be pro-life. I can’t even spend a dime at the Planned Parenthood Book Sale and I’m a book nut!


  278. @ dgh: Indeed, when I learn your responses to the two questions I posed, I am prepared.

    In case the questions have been forgotten:

    Please show me, now, with specific evidence, that whole life Calvinism would on principle withhold from parents who are Communists, Muslims, atheists, or Wiccans the right to found their own schools?

    With Cornelius Van Til, I don’t believe for a moment that whole life Calvinism and the full exercise of Christian liberty are in contradiction. Where have I written or defended anything in contradiction of that blessed combination?


  279. Has NDK been affirming of the Federal Vision and contemporary worship or merely silent?


  280. NDK says, “Please show me, now, with specific evidence, that whole life Calvinism would on principle withhold from parents who are Communists, Muslims, atheists, or Wiccans the right to found their own schools? With Cornelius Van Til, I don’t believe for a moment that whole life Calvinism and the full exercise of Christian liberty are in contradiction. Where have I written or defended anything in contradiction of that blessed combination?”

    I think the issue is, why are you so enthused about enforcing the second table of the law in society but not the first? Communists, Muslims, atheists, and Wiccans are all violating the first table. It’s not a question of would “whole life Calvinism” withhold, but why aren’t they?

    “Whole Life Calvinists” seem to merely want their “seat at the table” (i.e. their own institutions to rival competing institutions), but this is a pretty uninspiring vision, not to mention one that I don’t find in Scripture.


  281. @ Erik: Okay, leaving aside for the sake of our discussion all of your qualifications, the conclusion is that Scripture requires Christian citizens to preserve and promote unborn human life, in ways appropriate to their calling(s).

    Regardless of whom you’ve heard, or how many people you’ve heard, or what your experiences have been, I have not insisted on how that must be done, what mechanisms, political or otherwise, must be used. In other words, all of your many words about liberty, no top down, no coercion, etc., etc., etc., may be relevant to other discussions, but are beside the point of this discussion at the moment. You’ve not heard from me in this discussion anything “top down” or “church coerced” or “pulpit forced.” So those bogeymen belong to another discussion.

    At the moment, I’m uninterested in stipulating that you or anyone else be a card-carrying member of any pro-life group, or that you be required to vote for this or that candidate, or anything.

    I am trying to establish this claim: the Bible has normative authority for Christian living in the world. In my vocabulary, “Christian living” is simply another phrase for “Christian cultural activity.”


  282. @ gas: I had thought that since the Decalog was a precipitate or summary of the natural law, that the precepts and prohibitions of the Decalog are universally binding in terms of their equity. WCF 19.5 says: “The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it. Neither doth Christ, in the gospel, in any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.” The WCF understands the moral law to be universally binding. So the Decalog is not just about me.

    As for polygamy, sooner that we might imagine, Christians will be facing the advocacy of legalizing polygamy on the very same legal basis being used for advocating the legalizing of homosexual marriage. Given that we currently live in a democratic republic, and that the Christian community is a community of moral discourse, how should the Christian community seek to apply the principles of God’s Word, specifically, the Seventh Commandment, in terms of political and social morality with regard to the issue of polygamy?


  283. Okay, since the “Two Kingdoms” people are asking us “Neo-Calvinists” how we would handle enforcement of the First Table of the Law, let’s ask the 2Kers some serious questions about what happens when people don’t believe civil magistrates should enforce the Second Table.

    Apart from traditional Judeo-Christian principles which underlie Western jurisprudence, can someone explain how the following real-life situation should have been handled?

    In the following article, we learn that a college swim coach apologized to a transgendered male who was naked in the girl’s locker room with girls ranging from age 17 to age 6 once she found out the man was “transgendered,” even though he still had intact male genitals, and she said the college’s policy prohibited discrimination against “transgendered” people.

    The local police say the local district attorney probably will not pursue charges because the “criminal law is very vague in this area.”

    These are real situations, guys — not hypotheticals.

    It won’t be long before Christians everywhere, not just in nut case la-la land jurisdictions, have to deal with these issues.

    Somebody show me how Two Kingdoms theology allows Christians to demand that the civil magistrate prevent gay marriage, abortion, polygamy, and young girls having to share locker rooms with “transgendered” men.

    Remember, we’re not talking about a private college here where people voluntarily choose to enroll, knowing the situation in advance. This is a public college using taxpayer funds. Furthermore, it isn’t just young adult college students involved. The college swimming pool and lockers are also used by the local school district, so juveniles under the age of adulthood are affected.

    Got a suggestion on how we should deal with this, 2Kers? I suspect if it were your daughter in the local public school district sharing showers with a “trangendered” male, you’d have an opinion.

    Oh, and by the way, don’t tell me that your opinion is that parents who object should place their kids in Christian schools or a private school which doesn’t do things like this.

    I could make that argument. Some people on this board can’t.
    _____

    College Allows Transgender Man to Expose Himself to Young Girls
    Posted in Top Stories | 2,345 comments
    Nov 1, 2012
    By Todd Starnes
    FOX News

    A Washington college said their non-discrimination policy prevents them from stopping a transgender man from exposing himself to young girls inside a women’s locker room, according to a group of concerned parents.

    “Little girls should not be exposed to naked men, period,” said David Hacker, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom. A group of concerned parents contacted the legal firm for help.

    Hacker said a 45-year-old male student, who dresses as a woman and goes by the name Colleen Francis, undressed and exposed his genitals on several occasions inside the woman’s locker room at Evergreen State College.

    Students from nearby Olympia High School as well as children at a local swimming club share locker rooms with the college.

    According to a police report, the mother of a 17-year-old girl complained after her daughter saw the transgender individual walking naked in the locker room. A female swim coach confronted the man sprawled out in a sauna exposing himself. She ordered him to leave and called police.

    The coach later apologized when she discovered the man was transgendered but explained there were girls using the facility as young as six years old who weren’t used to seeing male genitals.

    “They’re uncomfortable with him being in there, her, being in there and are shocked by it,” parent Kristi Holterman told KIRO-TV.

    According to the police report, the local district attorney probably will not pursue charges because he said the “criminal law is very vague in this area.”

    Francis told KIRO-TV that he was born a man but chose to live as a woman in 2009. Francis said he felt discriminated against after he was told told leave.

    “This is not 1959 Alabama,” Francis told the television station. “We don’t call police for drinking from the wrong water fountain.”

    Hacker and local parents are outraged over the college’s response to the incident.

    “The idea that the college and the local district attorney will not act to protect young girls is appalling,” he said. “What Americans are seeing here is the poisoned fruit of so-called ‘non-discrimination’ laws and policies.”

    Placing this man’s proclivities ahead of protecting little girls is beyond unacceptable, Hacker said.

    A spokesman for the college did not return calls seeking comment.
    Hacker said the college could be held liable for damages if any of the young girls is harmed by the transgendered individual.

    “Clearly, allowing a person who is biologically a man to undress and expose himself to young girls places those girls at risk for emotional distress and harm,” he wrote in a letter to the college. “Any reasonable person would view this as dangerous to the young girls involved. The fact that this individual was sitting in plain view of young girls changing into their swimsuits puts you and Evergreen on notice of possible future harm.”


  284. Erik, I recall some disagreement between Scott Clark and NDK over Federal Vision. It may have simply been a conflict over the grounds by which to oppose it. But I think it was more than that and involved views of the covenant especially among the Canadian Reformed, views that NDK may have defended and that Clark thought were too similar to Federal Vision.

    As for worship, he is involved at a Redeemer like congregation in Chicago. I can’t find anything on the website about worship. But they do seem to be playing by the Redeemer NYC playbook which at least at one of its services includes a jazz ensemble. Why? Because it is the city. Oh.


  285. Dr K,

    Polygamy isn’t mentioned in the Decalog. What’s common in the Decalog is the prohibition of personal force used against persons. To read a prohibition against polygamy into the prohibition of adultery in the context of those times seems inconsistent. How many OT saints were polygamists yet still considered saints? The context would limit the prohibition to wife-stealing and the personal harm done to another in breaking the marriage covenant.

    As to the WCF, the question is should governmental coercion be used to enforce both Tables? I harken back to Romans 13. In the context of obedience to government Paul only quotes the 2nd Table. He says that obedience to the 2nd Table FULFILLS the law. No mention of the first Table.

    How should Christians treat polygamy in our current context? The same way we treat divorce. It’s not the ideal. It’s not the way God orginally planned. But if we want to be consistent, and if we want to throw polygamists in jail then we should also demand the people who get divorced should be thrown in jail.


  286. NDK, well, I asked first about Machen and Christian liberty. You replied with standard Neo-Cal fare about Machen and Christian schools which is beside the point. But I’ll play the game. It’s your blog.

    To GAS you wrote: ” I had thought that since the Decalog was a precipitate or summary of the natural law, that the precepts and prohibitions of the Decalog are universally binding in terms of their equity. WCF 19.5 says: “The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it. Neither doth Christ, in the gospel, in any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.” The WCF understands the moral law to be universally binding. So the Decalog is not just about me. As for polygamy, sooner that we might imagine, Christians will be facing the advocacy of legalizing polygamy on the very same legal basis being used for advocating the legalizing of homosexual marriage. Given that we currently live in a democratic republic, and that the Christian community is a community of moral discourse, how should the Christian community seek to apply the principles of God’s Word, specifically, the Seventh Commandment, in terms of political and social morality on the issue of polygamy?”

    So you’re kidding, right, about how your view would have implications for Communists and Wiccans having their own schools. If a Christian public theology of cultural obedience means that Christians will oppose abortion and gay marriage, why not also idolatry (as in even Roman Catholic schools)? And if you want the whole of the decalogue followed, where in the world is the civil magistrate, who enforces the whole decalogue, going to make room for idolaters and blasphemers (let along murderers).

    Either you are being purposefully evasive, or you have not thought through your call for cultural obedience. And if you separate the sixth commandment from the third commandment, then you are 2k on the first table but not on the second.

    As I say, you’re kidding, right?


  287. DTM, take a breath. 2kers oppose the evils you describe. 2kers believe, though, that the civil magistrate does not need the second table to discern that these are actions the state should not tolerate. Hence the appeal to natural law.

    Now you may think that natural law is insufficient to govern a society, but you also have to admit that the Bible wasn’t sufficient either. It didn’t work for Israel — we have the sin problem — and it didn’t work for Europe — we have the religious war problem.

    So maybe the problem is that neo-Cals expect too much peace and order in this life and think the Bible will be the panacea. In which case escatology raises its head again — as in neo-Cals seem to immanentize the eschaton. A no no.


  288. “But they do seem to be playing by the Redeemer NYC playbook which at least at one of its services includes a jazz ensemble. Why? Because it is the city. Oh.”

    Hopefully no Chet Baker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvXywhJpOKs


  289. Oh, by the way, in case people think this is a conservative overreaction to something that the college will quickly fix, check out a few pro-GLBT blogs defending the college’s policy of allowing “transgendered” naked men in the locker room with elementary and high school girls, and objecting to the school district’s “temporary solution” of finding another dressing room for the girls.

    Here’s one example which I’m citing because the author also writes for Huffington Post and therefore has more credibility than some leftist bloggers:

    LexiCannes, 10/6/12, by Courtney O’Donnell

    “Rather than educate parents and their kids about equality and their fallacy based concerns, the Olympia School District did an end run around the state law — a ‘temporary solution’ they say, but in actuality, a final ugly slap in the face to a trans person the law is designed to protect… The Evergreen State College ought to ban the school district until they are willing to use the pool facilities like everyone else. As for the Olympia School District: Supt. Dick Cvitanichl — what is it going to be? A teachable moment or hiding the kids?”

    Somebody want to explain how Two Kingdoms principles can be used to respond to the allegation that the college would be “discriminating” by prohibiting “trans people like Colleen Francis from equal access to state facilities”?

    You want to ask me why I think America should tolerate Roman Catholics when Geneva didn’t, and I gave you my answer, based on biblical principles, that the commitments Americans made to Maryland need to be honored once our word has been given. I’ve cited Scripture and the Westminster Standards (WCF XXII:4, with reference to the Gibeonites in Joshua 9 and II Samuel 21), which at the very least give a “general equity” argument for honoring the commitments which the founders of the United States made more than two centuries ago to respect religious toleration for Roman Catholics in Maryland in return for promises of help not only from Maryland but also from France.

    That, in essence, is why even if the United States became a predominantly evangelical Protestant nation, we **STILL** shouldn’t be prohibiting Roman Catholic worship. We made a deal, and we’re bound by it.

    And by the way, that’s not the first time Protestants made deals with Roman Catholics in the history of the church. Regardless of the wisdom of such decisions, once they’re made, both sides have to live with the consequences.

    Fair’s fair. Now that you’ve heard my answer on the First Table, I’d like to hear your answer on the Second Table about how you’d deal with this mess out in Washington.


  290. Dr. Hart, our notes crossed in cyberspace… but I still want to hear how this undefined “natural law” allows us to say that “Miss” Colleen Francis was wrong, rather than agreeing with the college that “Miss” Francis has been discriminated against.

    Who gets to decide, and on what basis?


  291. NDK, you point to WLC 136 to make the case that Christians have certain political obligations with regard to human life. But what about HC 99 which seems to suggest that breaking the third commandment (which 100 goes on to clarify that no other violation makes God angrier and should be punished by death) should not only be avoided by us but that we should see to it that others are not given any opportunity to do so.

    Wouldn’t HC 99 imply that believers should not affirm laws that make blasphemy not only possible, but even more so that death should not be their lot? You see the parallel: if believers can affirm laws that have the upshot of letting the violation that makes God angriest go, why not laws that have an upshot of allowing one segment of the human population to take the lives of another segment at will or whim?

    It seems to me your choice is to say that believers have political obligations to oppose legislation that implies that either the blaspheming of God or the killing of the defenseless to be permissible, in which case you really do affirm that not only should elective abortion be outlawed but also false religion. Or you could make a distinction between political views and personal behavior and say that what Christian Jane does with her unwanted pregnancy is one thing what she does in the voting booth is another. I for one am willing to say that the church has spiritual jurisdiction over the former (no liberty), but not the latter (liberty).


  292. @ dgh: Because responsibility for the education of children belongs principally to their parents, I take it as a given that insofar as the state is concerned, parents have the right to educate their children according to the dictates of their conscience. Because democratic constitutions define worship as a matter of conscience, the state must protect every citizen’s right to worship according to conscience, as long as it does not disrupt public order. The institutions of life, marriage, property, etc., are not institutions belonging to private conscience, but matters of public justice and order. By the way, if public blasphemy is inherently injurious to the public order, then the state should seek to proscribe it.

    In this regard, as you perhaps may have learned from the presentation of Gideon Strauss recommended here, principled pluralism is probably the most widely held political philosophy among neo-Calvinists. This differs significantly from both Theonomy/Christian Reconstructionism, on the one hand, and NL2K theology, on the other hand. Yet it has in common with the former a commitment to let the (principles of) Scripture shed light on Christian political obedience—albeit with a very different hermeneutical approach to Scripture. Failure to discern that difference continues to lead critics of neo-Calvinism to identify its hermeneutic as Theonomic. The approach of neo-Calvinism to applying Scripture to modern public life is, as someone has called it, “a third way.”


  293. NDK, you write: ” Because democratic constitutions define worship as a matter of conscience, the state must protect every citizen’s right to worship according to conscience, as long as it does not disrupt public order. The institutions of life, marriage, property, etc., are not institutions belonging to private conscience, but matters of public justice and order.”

    Where exactly does the Bible say that?

    The reason for asking is that even though you want to distinguish neo-Calvinism from theonomy and other forms of faith-based politics, all of these groups dispute the use of natural law and opt for the Bible as the sure guide to “ALL OF LIFE”. Now you’re saying that the Bible, which doesn’t know about public and private life, or about democratic constitutions, is not sufficient for determining how we approach cultural obedience but instead need to use sources outside special revelation.

    I don’t object to non-biblical materials. I do object to being characterized as unfaithful for defending natural law.

    Have you really thought this stuff through — I mean your invocation of the Bible and public theology of cultural obedience. Upon closer inspection, you rely on the same sort of distinctions that 2kers do.

    So what is all the fuss about? I can’t help but think ethnicity but you keep telling me it’s not. So what is it. You write pages and pages against 2k and then you make arguments that rely on the same distinctions 2kers make.

    BTW, you still haven’t answered the question about Machen and Christian liberty.


  294. DTM, because the journalist writing the story knew which one of these was wrong. The natural man knows what’s right and wrong even if she suppresses the truth. Even Paul will tell you that.


  295. @ gas: The prohibition of polygamy is most certainly entailed in the Seventh Commandment. As WLC 139 puts it, among the sins forbidden in the Seventh Commandment is “having more wives or husbands than one at the same time.” (Though the WLC list of sins prohibited also includes “allowing, tolerating, keeping stews.” I’m not sure if I’ve ever done that; I’ll look in the fridg.)

    You compare polygamy with divorce, with respect to how Christians should respond to this in the public square. If it were possible for me as a Christian legislator to introduce now, in 2012, a law that upholds monogamy over against polygamy, should I do so, or would I be forcing my morality on the public?

    By the way, in none of my comments, questions, or observations, have I called for the state to enforce any commandment—Seventh, Third, Ninth, or any. Rather, I have simply pointed to specific duties or obligations, whose wording I have borrowed conveniently from the WLC, to which we presumably adhere—duties that we have as Christians. The fact that as a Christian living in a democratic republic I should want the state legislatively to promote and preserve unborn human life, monogamous heterosexual marriage, and truthful contracts is not at all to desire that the state somehow become Christian, or that the state enforce what are merely Christian values. These values are universally binding moral values.


  296. Dr. Hart, I realize you are engaged right now in a discussion with Dr. Kloosterman. Both of you are a lot more important than me, and you quite correctly want to focus on your discussions with each other.

    I do, however, want to try to discuss how “natural law” can serve as an objective basis for making decisions in the sphere of the state apart from the Second Table.

    DTM, because the journalist writing the story knew which one of these was wrong. The natural man knows what’s right and wrong even if she suppresses the truth. Even Paul will tell you that.

    While Todd Starnes of FOX News, who has an entire section of his coverage dedicated to the “culture war,” may very well understand what’s wrong with transgendered men going into locker rooms with elementary and high school girls, I do not grant your point that everybody — or even most people — agrees with or even knows traditional Western values anymore. Pools around the United States are dealing with less extreme versions of this problem, with kids being told it is “silly” and “childish” to object if a mother brings a young boy into the men’s locker room with him, or a father brings a young girl into the men’s locker room with him. I might be able to see the point with an infant, but these situations aren’t involving infants anymore.

    And what do we do with colleges, both private and in some cases public, which are having shared shower rooms for college students? I don’t remember now if it was the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, but I remember reading an article about a very upset mother who had to deal with this precise situation that her daughter has been assigned to a mixed-gender housing arrangement that included shared showers.

    If that’s not enough to show that natural law and common sense are no longer so common, here are three more examples:

    1. Remember that the swim coach **APOLOGIZED** to the transgender man after finding out he/she is transgendered. The college stands by its position that it cannot discriminate against transgendered people.

    2. I used to work for a newspaper which was among the first in its start to decide to print gay marriage announcements, provided they were people who had an actual license. The newspaper was part of the Freedom Communications chain, which at the time was explicitly libertarian. To the editor and publisher, it’s common sense that there’s nothing wrong with two men or two women getting married, and even if there is something wrong, newspapers shouldn’t make value judgments on two people if they have a marriage license.

    3. Don’t forget that I have an interracial marriage. My wife was raised in an environment in which it was totally unacceptable to ever marry a foreigner. (Surprisingly, her very strictly conservative father didn’t mind our marriage, since he thinks America saved Korea from Communism and there’s no good reason for Koreans to object to Americans.). But even in the United States, my marriage would have been illegal in Missouri until the 1960s. It would have been viewed as “common sense” in much of Korea of the 1980s, just like it would have been viewed as “common sense” in much of America of the 1950s, that people of different races shouldn’t get married. So on what grounds do I say that most American states in the South and a fair number of states in the North were wrong to ban interracial marriage, but states are right to ban homosexual marriage?

    You cite the Apostle Paul, and I understand your point.

    However, our Reformed confessions say that while general revelation is enough to leave people without excuse, it is not enough to save people. Why do we think natural law based on general revelation provides any sort of firm foundation upon which to build a civil government?

    I am pretty jaded about what general revelation actually reveals to sinful hearts, or even to the converted hearts of lots of sincere but ignorant evangelicals.

    Over the years, I’ve had lots of open-and-out homosexuals as friends, along with semi-closeted gay friends in conservative Republican circles. I am not unaware of liberal arguments rejecting even the most basic principles of traditional Judeo-Christian ethics. Nothing I saw would be a surprise to most people who got their degrees at secular universities, but I raise it to make clear that I am anything but the kind of hothouse Christian conservative who was kept in a cocoon and never met anyone outside the Bible Belt or the Dutch Reformed world.

    I see only one remotely conservative approach in our culture that is logically consistent apart from Judeo-Christian values, and that is libertarianism. I can understand the idea that laws ought to punish someone only when they hurt someone else, not when they do something which offends other people or which hurts only themselves. That libertarian system is logically consistent, it has objective standards of right and wrong, and while it won’t answer every question (i.e., when does a developing child become a baby who must be protected) it will answer many questions.

    The problem is that libertarianism will inexorably lead to gay marriages, polygamy, or basically anything else that a group of adults want to call a “marriage,” or as some people propose, actually privatizing marriage entirely and saying any group of adults sharing a single home and meeting certain standards such as combining their finances for a set number of years qualify for a “household” tax status.

    Now Dr. Hart, I assume no Orthodox Presbyterian elder is going to say they think the government should legalize gay marriage, polygamy, or polyamory — and if you believe that, you already know not to say it here.

    I absolutely am not accusing you of believing such things.

    What I am asking is what possible logical reason, based on natural law principles and the clear history of polygamy in other cultures, could a libertarian have to object to such arrangements?

    I’ll press the point further — from my initial research, it looks like Evergreen State College is a rather liberal institution which probably doesn’t have any problem at all with transgender students using their locker rooms. They probably are sincere in their belief that it would be discriminatory to say he/she can’t use the locker room of the gender with which he/she identifies.

    In my Bible Belt environment in the Missouri Ozarks, I can see how a natural law argument might work. Lots of things around here are “common sense” that don’t get questioned, and many people around here think everyone with half a brain just knows that some things are wrong and some things are right.

    On homosexual marriage, I think pretty much everyone from fundamental Baptists to the most radical holy rolling Pentecostals to our local Catholics, whose parishes range from happy-clappy guitars in Mass to some very strictly conservative priests, and also our few mainline churches which are actually rather conservative, and even many of our secularists who look at farm animals and say “them parts don’t fit,” could agree to prohibit homosexual marriage.

    The problem is that our ideas of common sense down in the Ozarks are definitely are **NOT** common sense among liberals.

    How do we settle such disputes, since it’s pretty obvious that even the concept of the existence of a “natural law” is rejected by a lot of liberals?

    I simply do not believe an appeal to natural law will work. Common sense just isn’t too common anymore.


  297. I’m going to go a bit Bahnsen on both of you. I don’t find the concept of Natural Law to be that compelling, nor do I find the concept that Christians should be about promoting the 2nd table of the law while giving society a pass on the first table to be logically consistent. If the first table of the law is not true, then the second doesn’t make much sense. If the God of the Bible is not real, then any concept of “Natural Law” is a sham. I maybe don’t fit into any group, but I would argue for a robust church that compromises for no man and, out of that, Christian disciples who vote according to their theology. The church does not allow itself to be ruled by the civil sphere (ultimately to the point of martyrdom) and at the same time the church does not try to dominate the civil sphere because history has shown us this leads to nominalism, half-way covenants, and various corruptions of the church.


  298. DTM, so if natural law won’t do it, will the Bible convince the libertarian? I understand that the arguments against certain behaviors will be hard. Parents know this when dealing with children. But you make it seem as if NL can’t work. If not, fine. Then what? The Bible is going to be a non-starter.

    As for NL, even Dr. K. believes that biblical morality is universally understood:

    “That as a Christian living in a democratic republic I should want the state legislatively to promote and preserve unborn human life, monogamous heterosexual marriage, and truthful contracts is not at all to desire that the state somehow become Christian, or that the state enforce what are merely Christian values. These values are universally binding moral values.”


  299. Erik, I am probably more like you than a NL adherent. I am simply invoking one category used in debates about 2k. On the ground in a democracy, arriving at a moral consensus is a work in progress. But tell Jerry Sandusky Americans are relativists.


  300. “Somebody want to explain how Two Kingdoms principles can be used to respond to the allegation that the college would be “discriminating” by prohibiting “trans people like Colleen Francis from equal access to state facilities”?

    If Washington is like Iowa, the college, being a state college, is governed by a Board of Regents. Those Regents are appointed by the governor. If I was a Christian who lived there and was concerned enough I could contact the governor and tell him or her about my concern. He/she will face re-election soon and I can vote for or against him/her if I wish.

    If I’m not that concerned I could just use the situation as a teachable moment for my kids to teach them about what the Bible says about sex and being male or female. Just because it is going on doesn’t mean I approve of it or necessarily have to do anything about it. Sin and confusion have always been present and will continue to be present until Christ returns.

    Once again, the church provides the principles from Scripture and individual Christians decide how to apply them in their daily lives.

    If the goal is always to get the civil magistrate to baptize our position we are forever going to be chasing our tails. The task is endless, which people who make their living from such activity are good with. The rest of us just get warn out.


  301. ” I am trying to establish this claim: the Bible has normative authority for Christian living in the world.”

    I agree with that, as I am sure Hart does as well. So why the long books and papers by you, Frame, Venema against 2K?


  302. Re. Sandusky – Where would our self-righteousness be without sins that we ourselves do not practice? Three cheers for pedophiles and homosexuals!


  303. However, our Reformed confessions say that while general revelation is enough to leave people without excuse, it is not enough to save people. Why do we think natural law based on general revelation provides any sort of firm foundation upon which to build a civil government?

    DTM, if general revelation is sufficient to eternally condemn why is it not sufficient to provisionally govern? These are both projects in law, and so if God is the author of general revelation then why would you doubt its sufficiency to do its ordained task, i.e. provide a firm foundation upon which to build a civil government? But this isn’t some way to make a case for a legal secularist view of the state–where the Bible is sufficient to govern the church but general revelation is also at play (Robert’s Rules), general revelation is sufficient to govern civil life but special revelation is free to be invoked.


  304. @ dgh: No neo-Calvinist has ever claimed or argued that the Bible was sufficient for determining how Christians approach cultural obedience. Necessary, yes. Authoritative, yes. Perspicuous, yes. Sufficient? No. The Bible’s sufficiency has to do with serving as the final arbiter in matters of Christian doctrine and Christian living. Read again: final. Not only. Not exclusive. Not sufficient.

    These are important confessional and theological distinctions, and ought not simply to be equated with the distinctions being made by moder NL2K advocates.

    Listen carefully, please: Do not equate neo-Calvinists who emphasize the authority and light of Scripture for all of life with others who seek to use the Bible alone as the guidebook for statecraft. I have never claimed that, do not defend that, and do not believe that.

    One more time: I believe that both special revelation and general revelation are necessary, in that order, for properly apprehending and living according to God’s will in the world.

    I would not characterize, and have not characterized, anyone as unfaithful for defending natural law.

    You—not I, but you—allege these are the same distinctions 2K theologians make. That neo-Calvinist affirmation of the value of creation revelation for statecraft is the same as 2K assignment of natural law as the source of morality for statecraft? C’mon, please read and listen a bit more carefully.

    Yes, I have thought through these things, extensively. Your “upon closer inspection” is not nearly close enough. Evidence? See my response to your comment to Darrell.


  305. @ dgh: Here is an egregious failure to read, think, and listen carefully: you write, “As for NL, even Dr. K. believes that biblical morality is universally understood.” What is so egregious is that you even cite me—after you have twisted what I’ve said.

    I did not say or write, because I do not believe, that “biblical morality is universally understood.” Your claim is a false statement. In addition to the citation you provided, where I clearly write about “universally binding values,” I also said, in one response to “gas,” that WCF 19.5 teaches that the Decalog, the moral law, the precepts and prohibitions of the Decalog, are universally binding. This means binding upon all. Not “universally understood.”

    Here’s why I do not believe biblical morality, and natural law, are “universally understood”—and therefore why natural law cannot serve as the sole basis for morality in the public square. Read carefully these words, especially the italicized sentences that are often omitted when NL advocates cite Canons of Dort 3/4.4:

    To be sure, there is left in man after the fall, some light of nature, whereby he retains some notions about God, about natural things, and about the difference between what is honourable and shameful, and shows some regard for virtue and outward order. But so far is he from arriving at the saving knowledge of God and true conversion through this light of nature that he does not even use it properly in natural and civil matters. Rather, whatever this light may be, man wholly pollutes it in various ways and suppresses it by his wickedness. In doing so, he renders himself without excuse before God.

    Natural man does not use this light of nature aright even in natural and civil matters, but wholly pollutes it.

    This confessional teaching simply does not fit with the claim that “the Bible is the moral guide for the church, and natural law is the moral guide for the civil sphere.” We might not like what this confession says, and try to throw up all kinds of objections . . . what then’s . . . but Calvin this. . . but common grace that. . . . My claim is clear, confessional, and direct: the contemporary advocacy of NL2K cannot be reconciled with Canons of Dort 3/4.4.


  306. @ Zrim: This is a fair question, given my discussion of WLC 136.

    Our readers need to have before them the very words of Q. 100, which I think is the relevant one: “Is, then, the profaning of God’s Name by swearing and cursing so heinous a sin that His wrath is kindled even against those who do not, as much as in them lies, help to prevent and to forbid such cursing and swearing?” The short answer is “Certainly.”

    The key phrase, “as much as in them lies,” is relevant here. I believe that the Bible obligates us to act in ways appropriate to our calling(s) in the world in terms of promoting and defending God’s name // opposing blaspheming of God’s name (the positive and the negative). By which I mean this: I believe that proposing, adopting, and enforcing a statute prohibiting and penalizing public blasphemy in relation to any religion serves the interests of public justice and order.

    I’m not sure I understand your concluding paragraph. If I believe Christians ought to favor laws that prevent the public blaspheming of God’s name, I’m unclear why this position of mine requires me to promote the outlawing of false religion. Concretely, if I believe the law should criminalize publicly blaspheming God’s name and publicly mocking Allah, I am not thereby seeking to establish Christianity as the state religion nor am I thereby obligated to seek the criminalization of Islam.


  307. “if I believe the law should criminalize publicly blaspheming God’s name and publicly mocking Allah, I am not thereby seeking to establish Christianity as the state religion nor am I thereby obligated to seek the criminalization of Islam.”

    What do you do with atheists who mock all religions? What do you do with Christians who do not mock Allah, but proclaim Islam to be a false religion? Is this that much less offensive to some Muslims? It seems that in our politically correct age this stance could lead to curbs on Christian evangelism.


  308. @ Erik: Very good question! Really, it is.

    Are you sure you agree with this? Christian living in the world includes . . . voting, investing, working, educating, doing science, art, etc. Do you agree that the Bible has normative authority for Christians doing all those living activities in the world?

    Perhaps you missed my identification, in an earlier post, in reply to somebody (I’ve forgotten whom), where I stated that the phrase “Christian living in the world” means the same thing for me as “Christian cultural obedience.” I can see no substantive difference between these phrases.

    Therefore, whole life Calvinists critical of NL2K are claiming that the Bible has normative authority for . . . Christian cultural obedience.

    Enter, stage right, the understanding, drawn from contemplation upon creation revelation, of spheres of Christian cultural activity. (Oh, I could write so, so much about this, in terms of creational structure sustained by divine providence [some call it common grace], and more.)

    Enter, stage left, the communal Christian cultural activity of the church as organism. (Oh, I could write so, so much about this in terms of restored direction (provided only and exclusively by special grace], and more.)

    Putting it together, whole life Calvinists critical of NL2K are claiming that the Bible has normative authority (not exclusive normative authority, not sole normative authority, but “spectacle-functioning” normative authority [thank you, John Calvin]) for Christian cultural activity on the part of the church as organism within the spheres of human living.

    If NL2K advocates agree with that, then Amen. Let’s go home.

    If NL2K advocates do not agree, then let’s ask: What, then, did happen at Covenant College?

    * * *

    To be fair, it is this “that” which some allege to be the ethnocentric, idiosyncratic, Kuyperian “superadditum” up with which they will not put. They view it as a threat to Christian liberty. And lots of other nasty things.


  309. NDK, so if the Bible is not sufficient for all of life, why do you insist that the Bible must apply to all of life? What about plumbing?

    And if the Bible is not sufficient for all of life, what makes you different from a 2ker who says the same? You sure have gotten a lot of mileage of making yourself look like the defender of the Bible for all of life. Why don’t you come clean?


  310. NDK, well you butchered the Canons again. They don’t say anything about the knowledge of natural light being insufficient for life in this world. They do say it is insufficient for saving knowledge. And you lecture me about reading and thinking carefully.

    And I still stand by my reading of your remark to GAS because in the context you were going out of your way to say that the Bible is not the standard for marriage in a democratic society and that you were not engaged in Christian politics.

    So let’s be clear, what is the basis for the civil magistrate to restrict marriage to heterosexuals? Is it the Bible or does it involve reflection on the natural order?

    I’m just trying to understand and to comprehend why you have such a vendetta against people who regularly defend the Bible and the confessions (maybe more than you do).


  311. NDK, maybe the reason why Zrim thinks you would be required to oppose blasphemy is because you cite a confessional document against homosexual marriage? But you won’t city the catechisms as obligatory on defending God’s name in public life? That seems odd and contradictory.


  312. @ dgh: What?!? Natural man does not use this light of nature aright even in natural and civil matters, but wholly pollutes it.

    Please explain to me that sentence from CD 3/4.4, if it does not say that the knowledge of natural light is insufficient for life in this world.


  313. NDK, you don’t agree with what you quote to Erik because you believe the Bible is insufficient to govern all of life. You really do need to work this out because on the one hand you want the Bible to speak to everything (farming and plumbing) and then admit that the Bible is insufficient for writing constitutions or talking about the pluraformity of civil society.

    So it seems you get to believe in the Bible when you want but won’t let others have the same privilege.

    Both of us agree that the Bible doesn’t speak to all of life but then you’re the one who keeps contradicting himself (perhaps to play to the pious galleries) and saying that the Bible speaks to all of life.

    It sure looks like the Bible doesn’t cover logic.


  314. NDK, two can play the where to end a quote game.

    “To be sure, there is left in man after the fall, some light of nature, whereby he retains some notions about God, about natural things, and about the difference between what is honourable and shameful, and shows some regard for virtue and outward order. But so far is he from arriving at the saving knowledge of God and true conversion through this light of nature.”

    Why should I expect you to represent 2k fairly when you don’t represent church teaching fairly? The line you take is in THIS context, which you promptly ignore just to focus on man’s pollution of such knowledge. But the pollution regards saving knowledge of God. It doesn’t regard knowing some things about God, virtue, honor and shame, all the sorts of things upon with the OUTWARD ORDER depends.


  315. @ Erik: As I indicated, such prohibition of public blasphemy would apply to all religions, including atheism and atheists. The Christian church must be allowed to proclaim the gospel, which includes declaring all other gods to be idols and all other religions to be false. Is that what you have in mind with your second question here?


  316. @ dgh: Finally, an easy one!

    The sufficiency of Scripture is an attribute of Scripture referring to that quality of Scripture whereby it alone imparts knowledge of grace and the gospel (the Bible is “sufficient” for telling us all we need to know for salvation).

    Many people mistakenly interpret the phrase “the sufficiency of Scripture for living” to mean “the Bible is all I need for living.” That mistaken interpretation was never taught by the Reformed confessions or Reformed theology, and no competent Reformed scholar that I know about has ever taught that.

    To say, then, that in addition to Scripture, Christian educators ought to have training in child psychology, is not to deny the sufficiency of Scripture as that attribute has been confessionally and theological formulated. Thus, if CE = S + c (Christian Education requires the light of Scripture and knowledge of creation), so too Christian . . . politics, investing, farming, and yes, plumbing. Again, this is very clear: Scripture is not the only source of information about Christian living, but it is the highest (ultimate, judging all other sources), and its light shines on all of life. AND the (sun)light of Scripture is supplemented in all of life by the (reflected moon)light/knowledge of creation.


  317. Okay, we had so many people vote tonight in our county that the workers at the county clerk’s office are swamped and several polls haven’t finished voting due to people standing in line. I have some time to answer this inquiry. I hope everyone understands what tonight is like for me and this may be my last response for a while.

    No, I do not believe natural law will convince most unbelievers of anything except that bad behavior has consequences. It’s true that the purposes of laws include deterrence and prevention of crime, but punishment is a key purpose as well.

    In other words, maybe the Bible is a nonstarter, but so is natural law. If an unbeliever is so corrupt in his mind that he wants to dress like a woman and use women’s locker rooms as a transgendered “female” and a college is so far off the mark that they apologize to him once they learn he/she is “transgendered,” I think the person and the college officials are both so far gone that nothing short of special revelation — i.e., conversion — will show them the truth.

    However, some jail time or an arrest by a guy with a gun and a badge may change their behavior.

    I fail to see how natural law will convince a liberal legislator today in a blue state that there is any objective ground for criminalizing these behaviors. Maybe it would have worked a few decades ago, but not now.

    At least with the Bible, we can argue on the basis of objective written documents. People may reject Scriptural authority, but at least we have a logical foundation for our argument.


  318. @ dgh: Let’s try once more:

    To be sure, there is left in man after the fall, some light of nature, whereby he retains some notions about God, about natural things, and about the difference between what is honourable and shameful, and shows some regard for virtue and outward order. But so far is he from arriving at the saving knowledge of God and true conversion through this light of nature that he does not even use it properly in natural and civil matters. Rather, whatever this light may be, man wholly pollutes it in various ways and suppresses it by his wickedness. In doing so, he renders himself without excuse before God.

    1. There is some light of nature left.
    2. By this natural light, natural man retains some ideas about God, nature, and the differences between honorable and shameful things.
    3. By natural light, natural man shows some regard for virtue and outward order.

    Now comes the comparison: “so far from arriving at saving knowledge that he does not use this light of nature properly in natural and civil matters.
    Rather, natural man wholly pollutes this natural light.”

    4. Natural light is so inadequate that not only can it not provide saving knowledge, but natural man does not use it aright in natural and civil matters.

    Where is the alleged misrepresentation? Where in this confessional statement is the basis for claiming that natural law is a sufficient sole basis for life in the civil kingdom?


  319. DGH,
    I would like to know what kind of Covenant you believe the Mosaic Covenant is. Is it a mixed Covenant as a few guys at Escondido are propagating? I am sure you are familiar with what I am asking since I have started interacting with you a bit finally.

    BTW, I showed Dr. Blackwood your post today. Do you wish to carry that discussion on also?

    Now if you would please, respond to this question. I posted a Randy Rant if you didn’t see it.

    https://cosmiceye.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/avoiding-the-possible-disingenuousness-of-as-if/#comment-543

    I honestly believe your answer to this question is going to clear up a lot of things. As a good OPC Elder and History Prof it should be an easy answer. It is very relevant to this discussion also.

    Thank you Dr. Hart,
    Randy


  320. Atheists by definition oppose (even mock/blaspheme) religion. Watch Christopher Hitchens sometime.

    When Christians evangelize they declare other religions to be false (which is blasphemy if it’s your religion that is being called false).

    So how can you favor “prohibition of public blasphemy” and at the same time say “The Christian church must be allowed to proclaim the gospel, which includes declaring all other gods to be idols and all other religions to be false.”

    It’s seems your second sentence runs directly counter to your first.


  321. When NDK asks me about abortion and I agree it is bad he leads me to the question, “Does the Bible has normative authority for Christian living in the world.” I agree that it does, so then NDK says “Christian living in the world includes . . . voting, investing, working, educating, doing science, art, etc. Do you agree that the Bible has normative authority for Christians doing all those living activities in the world?”

    This is the point in the movie “Vacation” when Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) thinks he’s buying a nice, new car and the salesman (Eugene Levy) instead sticks him with the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. No – abortion (which is forbidden by the sixth commandment) is a subject on which the Bible and our confessions clearly speak. This is much less the case with voting, investing, working, educating, doing science, art, etc.

    I’m not saying the Bible and the confessions say nothing about these activities, but you are doing an obvious bait & switch when you begin your argument with abortion and end it with art.

    You need to make a really clear, explicit case for each of these subjects from the Bible and the Confessions if you ever hope to make this (Neocalvinism) an issue on which you are going to bind consciences and practice church discipline. Leaps in logic and bait and switch techniques will not be allowed. The spiritual lives of people who put their trust in their pastors & elders are at stake.


  322. @ Erik: This understanding that defines Christian evangelizing as inherently blasphemous toward other religions may well be the modern politically correct understanding of any and all forms of evangelism—Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, etc. And under such a politically correct understanding, all evangelizing is dead in the water. But historically, evangelism has not been understood to be inherently blasphemous. Historically, one could disagree publicly with the tenets of a religion, even claiming that religion to be false, without thereby blaspheming that religion. However, if any public criticism of a religion is equated with blasphemy, then I agree: we’d better not seek an injunction against blasphemy, because that would prohibit all forms of evangelism.

    Am I understanding your point?


  323. @ Erik: Wait a minute. You posted:

    ndk: “I am trying to establish this claim: the Bible has normative authority for Christian living in the world.”
    Erik: “I agree with that, as I am sure Hart does as well. So why the long books and papers by you, Frame, Venema against 2K?”

    When in the context of our entire discussion, I interpret the phrase “Christian living in the world” to include activities like voting, working, educating, etc., that’s not “bait & switch.” What do you mean by “living in the world”? Are you saying that Christian living in the world does not include activities that constitute . . . living in the world?

    Nevertheless, we may have moved the ball together downfield a bit with your penultimate paragraph. You write: “I’m not saying the Bible and the confession say nothing about these activities.”

    Good. That’s great! Let’s pause a moment here, to be clear: Your statement is different than the statement “The Bible says nothing about these activities.” That latter has been the argument advanced repeatedly and loudly. Rather, you are saying: “Show me. Show me that the Bible/confessions have normative authority for Christian living in the world.” We have done that with the matter of defending and preserving unborn human life.

    Inch by inch. So now let’s try another activity: I would claim that the Bible/confessions obligate us, as part of Christian living in the world, to defend and promote monogamous heterosexual marriage. This would include, but go beyond, personally upholding such marriage by being faithful in our own marriages. But it would also include acting in ways appropriate to our calling(s) in the world, to defend and preserve monogamous heterosexual marriage. One way appropriate to our calling as citizens of a democratic republic involves voting on referenda. Surely not the only way, maybe not the best of all possible ways. But one way. So, then, it would be valid to say that when given the power of the vote, the Bible/confessions teach that Christians should vote to defend and preserve monogamous heterosexual marriage.

    I have no interest in—nor does my position require—binding consciences or exercising church discipline with respect to supporting Referendum A or Christian Organization B. If I say that Scripture sheds light on (= has authority with respect to) a certain activity/choice, I do not understand that claim to require that every Christian agree or else face excommunication.


  324. NDK, I agree with what you say about the confessions on Scripture. But you go squishy when you say that the Bible does not reveal everything but then it shines light on everything. Sounds pious but not precise. And if you’re going to make a career out of criticizing 2k, it sure would be good to be definite.


  325. NDK, your reading denies what the article says — that the light of nature does yield knowledge that fallen people have (which is what you also say when it comes to a Christian school teaching psychology — you need non-biblical material, much of which comes from non-Christians).

    But if you are right, that only Scripture interprets the light of nature correctly — which also contradicts your other statement that the Bible doesn’t speak to everything — then that means that we should never put a non-Christian in charge of anything. They will suppress the light of nature in unrighteousness. If you really believed that, you’d never leave your house.


  326. NDK, so as you’re walking Erik down this pier, first abortion, then gay marriage, is blasphemy next? Or why are you not as concerned about the first table as the second? You don’t interpret 2kers charitably. Why can’t we return the favor in your selectivity about the Decalogue?


  327. NDK – I can go there with you on a referendum on marriage. I voted to not retain an Iowa Supreme Court Justice on those grounds last night. Unfortunately he was retained (three similar justices had been not retained two years ago).

    You say: “I have no interest in—nor does my position require—binding consciences or exercising church discipline with respect to supporting Referendum A or Christian Organization B. If I say that Scripture sheds light on (= has authority with respect to) a certain activity/choice, I do not understand that claim to require that every Christian agree or else face excommunication.”

    That is good. Excommunication wouldn’t be the first step. Withholding communion would be.


  328. NDK says: “Am I understanding your point?”

    Yes.


  329. One thing I would note about gay marriage: Using DTM’s logic about “upholding past commitments”, one could argue that since (a) Christians base their understanding of monogomous. heterosexual marriage on God creating man male & female and on prohibition against adultery in the Ten Commandments, and (b) The founding documents do not make the United States an explicitly Christian nation, and (c) Two men or two women getting married does not injure me the way murder would, therefore (d) We have no right to hold fellow Americans who aren’t Christians accountable for violating our unique, Christian understanding of monogomous, heterosexual marriage.

    How does DTM get around this? I get around it because (a) I have a right to vote my conscience, and (2) I don’t care about things like “commitments we made to Maryland and France at the time of the Revolution”


  330. @ Erik: Listen, I think that—unless I’m misunderstanding something—our discussion has made some progress. I have some other thoughts that I’d like to write, probably in a blog post, about different ways of using Scripture in relation to Christian living in the world.

    But I really need to concentrate on my work here. No disrespect intended, but my chat responses will slow down, since I’ve got miles to go yet in 2012 to get my intended work finished.


  331. NDK – No problem. Thanks for the interaction. .


  332. on November 7, 2012 at 8:39 am Mark Van Der Molen

    What is missed amidst the pc angst is that Rev. McAtee compared himself to the “cripple”. I would have thought panties would be knotted over his comparison to R2k advocates as “double amputees”. 🙂

    What is even more odd is the highlighting of Jews from the category of non-Christian religions that included Jews, Hindus, and Muslims. The only negative connation in his comment toward any of these three is that they are non-Christian.


  333. McAtee – “Ministers must know and keep their place — cordoned off in the “spiritual realm” not thinking about how Christianity applies to Economics, Family life, Education, Law, and a host of other issues. Let the Muslims, Humanists, and Jews do all that kind of thinking for us.”

    Me – (1) There are ethnic “Jews” who are also Christians (2) Who says “Jews” all think the same?

    I guess if Neocals want to own the terms “Jews” and “Cripples” in their rhetoric they are welcome to it. It’s not the greatest PR, though. There is political correctness but there is also common sense. Witness the two Pro-Life politicians who went down in flames last night because they didn’t know how to wisely talk about abortion in the case of rape.


  334. Dr K,

    If you were a Christian legislator I would hope that you would govern in way that realizes that more laws do not create a better society. I would hope that you would reject social engineering of any stripe. I would hope that you would work to punish only real personal harm not abstract communal harm. I would hope you would affirm the creational structure of the Imago Dei- and that governmental coercion is not the answer to directing that image but only punishing those who harm another image.


  335. @ gas: I fully and heartily agree that more laws do not create a better society. The most they can do is maintain justice and order within society. As for social engineering, all laws inevitably and necessarily direct people’s behavior (which is what I understand by social engineering). Though I am able to distinguish personal harm from communal harm, I am unable to separate them, as your position seems to do.

    When you speak of affirming “the creational structure of the Imago Dei,” I trust you realize that this term, Imago Dei, refers in the history of Reformed thought, to at least four different realities. (1) The individual person; (2) the human family of male-and-female; (3) the church; and (4) Jesus Christ.

    On pages 7-8 of his recently published book, The Christian Family (available here), Herman Bavinck makes the following observation following his exegetical discussion of Genesis 1-2, perhaps the most precious lines in the book:

    For only in the human race is the image of God unfolded. . . . The two-in-oneness of husband and wife expands with a child into a three-in-oneness. Father, mother, and child are one soul and one flesh, expanding and unfolding the one image of God, united within threefold diversity and diverse within harmonic unity (italics added).

    In other words, monogamous heterosexual marriage and its offspring belong to the Imago Dei that I wish to affirm.

    On another note, I could be mistaken, but if I understand your position correctly, you would encourage me as a Christian legislator not to criminalize prostitution or bestiality. The former is consensual (thus no harm), and the latter harms no other divine image-bearer. Is this accurate?


  336. I do not intend the following to be inflammatory, but merely summarizing.

    Having re-read both my original blog post and the ensuing relevant comments, I publicly regret insinuating that some advocates of 2K theology defend homosexual marriage. As the interaction made clear (I hope), I should have claimed only that the hermeneutical argument employed by one defender of homosexual marriage is identical to the hermeneutical argument employed by some current 2K advocates. Simply stated, that hermeneutic is this: the Bible governs the spiritual kingdom/church, unaided reason and natural law alone govern the civil kingdom.

    By way of further summary, the most important point of my original blog post remains the reported fact that at the Covenant College event, all participants agreed with the claim “that Scripture is necessary not just to the Christian doctrine of salvation but to the proper interpretation of natural law for the purposes of cultural and political engagement.” I continue to see this as a potentially crucial change in position within the NL2K movement, given earlier formulations of this issue.


  337. Dr K,

    I agree that laws necessarily and inevitably direct peoples behavior. “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the law sin is dead” (Rom 7:8)

    As far as the personal and communal, I thought we were evangelical (I mean that in the old sense of the word)? That we hold the conscience sacred? I’m glad you can distinguish but I wish that it would not be conflated. Wasn’t the Reformation at least partly about the Romanist Church pushing the communal aspect too far?

    Prostitution? Yes.

    Beastility? No. God’s good creation includes animals. There is no real consent in that relation- merely personal force.


  338. NDK, if you need the Bible to interpret natural law correctly, what are you going to do with rulers who aren’t Christian and can’t interpret the Bible correctly to understand the light of nature? You are on the slippery slope to theonomy.

    BTW, glad for the clarification about 2k defenders and homosexual marriage. Are you going to let the readers of Christian Renewal know that you misrepresented various 2k advocates?


  339. NDK – Thanks for that statement.


  340. Dr. Kloosterman wrote (to Erik Charter):

    But historically, evangelism has not been understood to be inherently blasphemous. Historically, one could disagree publicly with the tenets of a religion, even claiming that religion to be false, without thereby blaspheming that religion. However, if any public criticism of a religion is equated with blasphemy, then I agree: we’d better not seek an injunction against blasphemy, because that would prohibit all forms of evangelism.

    This is a tangent, but it’s relevant — not so much to the United States context but to the context of other nations which do not have our centuries-old history of official disestablishment of churches.

    Given the way efforts have been made to use the remnants of blasphemy laws in modern European countries, I am very hesitant to advocate the introduction of blasphemy laws without some sort of recognition of Christianity and/or Judeo-Christian principles by the civil government.

    (Note that I am distinguishing between the words “recognition” and “establishment.” Those words have important technical meanings and differences in the history of church-state relationships, both in Europe and in American history, which to some extent go beyond the point of this post. I’m not in favor of either official recognition or official establishment of religion in the current American political context, nor do I think anything of that sort is realistic anywhere in the remotely foreseeable future in the United States, but we **DO** have to deal with the reality that some European evangelicals live in nations which still have remnants of some sort of established church.)

    Maybe blasphemy laws could work in a nation like Poland which is still strongly conservative in its religious beliefs and in which Roman Catholics generally accept the right of Protestants to have churches. While Polish harassment of evangelicals does happen, it is typically informal rather than official, and is often involving the sorts of things that governments should avoid addressing. There may be other examples of similar countries in Europe where a blasphemy law could work.

    In general, however, when the formalities of established religion (such as blasphemy laws) exist without the original intent, we can end up giving Muslims the tools to suppress Christian witness. A civil magistrate who is not a believer is not competent to distinguish between true and false religion.

    This isn’t just a European issue. The battles of evangelical Protestants against Roman Catholics in Latin America have sometimes centered on the establishment/recognition issue. At present, similar problems have come up in Israel with political proposals to establish legal barriers to inducing another person to change their religion. I’m usually in favor of being a co-belligerent with Orthodox and other traditionally observant Jewish people, but that’s one of the few areas where I must part company.

    Our First Amendment created a number of new issues which were truly radical for its time, but it also opened the door to some pretty horrific forms of blasphemy. Original intent counts, and while I’d be open to seeing how states handled blasphemy laws in the period between the ratification of the First and the Fourteenth Amendments, I think in our current American context we are likely to open some very dangerous doors if we were to start advocating blasphemy laws.

    Again, I’m not going to say blasphemy laws are wrong or unbiblical. To say that would be to condemn centuries of European history and the practice of some European evangelicals. I am going to say that I think blasphemy laws in America would probably require a Constitutional amendment, and I think we’ve got far more serious problems to deal with than trying to accomplish that anytime in the foreseeable future.

    To get down to brass tacks, revival and conversion simply must precede legal change in this area.

    Until the majority of Americans are in agreement on the foundations of a Judeo-Christian ethical system and are selecting judges who also agree with those foundations or at least understand them, we can’t expect those judges to be able to correctly interpret the intent of blasphemy laws, and therefore we probably should avoid that issue until such time as our religious demographics change.

    I can’t see that happening anytime in my lifetime, and probably for a long time afterwards.


  341. It appears we come full circle back to the hermeneutical question posed by Rev. McAtee, one which is being studiously avoided by R2k defenders:

    Premise — The R2K hermeneutic allows Misty Irons and Todd Bordow to come to the conclusions they arrive at concerning social issues quite apart from whether or not other R2K aficionados agree with them or not. Hence, while Bordow and Irons may not be agreed with by Hart touching the issue of man love and puppy love, because of the R2K hermeneutic, they have the “Liberty of Conscience” to advocate for perversion.

    Query — If the R2K hermeneutic doesn’t forbid such a possible embrace (no pun intended) of rather queer positions, on what basis does the R2K hermeneutic rule out such possible conclusions arrived at by Bordow and Irons?


  342. @ dgh: First, regarding Christian Renewal: I am unaware of misrepresenting any 2K advocate, but I remain fully prepared to clarify the matter for those readers if and only if I can be shown—with the use of verbal quotations, citing my very words, with bibliographical data—that I have misrepresented various 2K advocates.

    As for what I will do with the rulers you describe, I will fervently bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who by his providence governs sin and sinners, for the spread of his gospel and the glory of his name. There’s more—much more—that could be said, but at the moment, it needn’t be.


  343. NDK, yes, there is a lot more to be said and you’ve said plenty against 2k while not being exactly clear yourself about the standard by which you’re judging 2k defenders. Your exchange with GAS is revealing of how many loose ends there are in your view. And yet you can be definite in saying that differences with 2k begin with the Bible, extend to the confessions, and include almost everything else.

    As for misrepresenting 2k in CR, you associated Misty Irons with 2k in the whole series, as if she represented the view. Now you recant. But only on the blog.


  344. MVDM, 2k doesn’t rule out neo-Calvinist interpretations so why should we rule out these views? You need to show that they have misinterpreted the Bible (rather than just raise eyebrows and suspicions about “queer” — get it — views.

    Your question is reminiscent of the accusations against Machen that because he would not support a motion in the church in favor of prohibition he must have been in favor of drunkenness. Liberal Presbyterians thought his interpretation of the Bible and the church constitution was queer. Watch the company you keep.


  345. Responding to Erik’s post on how I “get around” his proposed logic for homosexual marriage — we need to be conservatives, understand that words have objective rather than purely fluid meaning, seek to understand the intent of whose who wrote authoritative documents, and then either follow that intent or change the document.

    Failure to observe that principle, which ought to be understood and being basic to truthfulness and integrity, is what led to the collapse of confessional integrity in our denominations. When people swear to follow things they don’t intend to follow, we have major problems.

    Homosexuality was considered a criminal offense at the time the Constitution was written. There is no way in the world that the Founding Fathers intended to authorize homosexuality, let alone homosexual marriage. Furthermore, several of your premises (such as the idea that homosexual marriage does nothing to harm society) are false. That doesn’t mean a state can’t abolish its laws against homosexuality, but it **DOES** mean the Supreme Court erred gravely in striking down such laws as unconstitutional since it had no constitutional basis on which to do so.

    Now if you’re talking about compromises which actually **WERE** made at the time the Constitution was written, we’re on an entirely different playing field. I am quite aware that the America of 1776 had changed significantly from what was present in 1620, and we cannot draw a straight line from Puritan New England to modern America. That’s even more so with regard to the Constitution, which was written to give specific implementation to some of the broader and vaguer principles of the Founding Fathers that caused them to declare independence. The America created by the Constitution deliberately made room for men like Franklin and Jefferson as well as for Witherspoon and the Catholic planters of Maryland. I cannot rewrite parts of our American constitutional history that I do not necessarily like; on the contrary, I am bound by them for both biblical and secular reasons.


  346. As I said, the question is studiously avoided.


  347. @ dgh: I’m having difficulty believing the sincerity of your request, since you refuse to cite specific examples of the alleged offense. So I’ve recanted nothing, niets, nada, on this blog or elsewhere, of what I’ve written in Christian Renewal.

    If readers wish to verify for themselves, they might check the publicly available articles here. They will discover that far from associating Misty Irons with 2K in the entire series, I devoted articles 7-11 (out of 21 total) to a discussion of three representative “users” of Meredith Kline’s approach—Misty Irons, the book Secular Faith, and NL2K. Together they share the hermeneutic of religious secularism, which is: “The Bible governs the spiritual kingdom/church, unaided reason and natural law alone govern the civil kingdom.”


  348. DTM – My point is that the Declaration & the Constitution are pretty weak documents with regards to the Lordship of Christ and the Christian religion. Compare these documents to the preamble to the Irish Constitution, a 20th century document:

    In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred, We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation, And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations, Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.


  349. “The Law of Nature and Nature’s God” sounds like some kind of a forest divinity in comparison!


  350. on November 8, 2012 at 10:38 am Mark Van Der Molen

    Someone alerted me that Rev. McAtee’s hermeneutical question was posed over on Hart’s blog. The query has now been answered more directly by Hart, where he stated:

    “… I answered the question. 2k doesn’t rule out such an interpretation.”

    So as Rev. McAtee’s question suggested, the R2k paradigm does provides freedom under “liberty of conscience” for a church member to advocate government sanctioned perversion of marriage (and presumably, puppy love).


  351. Mark – The tricky part for a pastor or elder is you are dealing with things that are step removed from the sinful acts themselves. Do we discipline somebody who commits adultery? Yes. Do we discipline somebody who is friends with someone who committed adultery? No. Do we discipline someone who watches movies in which people commit adultery (and those movies may even show the act)? No.

    It seems like the wisest thing to do is to let the Misty Irons’ of the world make their points, and then just argue as to why they are wrong. I haven’t seen too many P&R people rallying to her cause. Once we start trying to stamp out opinions as opposed to actions elders are going to be awfully busy.


  352. Mark, since you’re an aspiring judge, you might get a kick out of this: http://presbyterianblues.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/mock-trial-for-the-church/

    It shows that whatever you think your revelation proves, it doesn’t prove anything. Here’s an excerpt:

    “Now that we’ve walked through the analysis we’re ready to look at another specification: “on a certain date Politician Doe said that abortion should remain legal.” Note well that Politician Doe has neither had an abortion nor assisted in one. Moreover, the specification isn’t about Doe’s action on a bill. I’ve tried to construct a convincing argument that would establish the sinfulness of making such a statement but haven’t been able to do so. What is particularly intriguing about this hypothetical is that I disagree with Politician Doe’s position and perhaps you do as well, but establishing a biblical sin isn’t the same as violating popular opinion. And, while we’re on the issue of popular opinion, we should recognize that Pastor Smith (above) might have voiced a majority position in his church but sinned nonetheless.”

    I hope you’re a better defender than you are prosecutor.


  353. NDK, no kidding since you appear to have difficulty rendering 2k charitably.


  354. Mark Van Der Molen wrote:

    So as Rev. McAtee’s question suggested, the R2k paradigm does provides freedom under “liberty of conscience” for a church member to advocate government sanctioned perversion of marriage (and presumably, puppy love).

    There’s something seriously wrong when in confessionally Reformed circles we’re having to discuss whether puppies should be petted or loved like ladies.

    Sorry, but “creation care” doesn’t include bestiality as an expression of puppy love.


  355. Now, you might respond, what if she was making heretical statements about the Trinity? I would repond that that is a doctrine about which our Confessions speak clearly. What do our Confessions say about the Civil Magistrate tolerating gay marriage, though? Not the church tolerating gay marriage, the civil magistrate tolerating gay marriage. Keep in mind the revision to Belgic 36 made by the CRC in 1958 (which the URC has done nothing to change back). If you are Misty Irons’ elder and you want to discipline her, make your case using the Confessions for barring her from the table.


  356. Post at Iron Ink

    “Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough; intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.”

    – Dr. J. Gresham Machen
    From his address, — “Christianity and Culture”,
    Delivered in 1912 for the centennial celebration of the founding of Princeton Seminary in 1812

    Over at Dr. Nelson Kloosterman’s blog (Cosmic Eye) and at Dr. D. Gnostic Hart’s blog (Old Life) R2K (neo-Anabaptism) and Kuyperianism are debating. I briefly stuck my fork in there with the comment below,

    Premise — The R2K hermeneutic allows Misty Irons and Todd Bordow to come to the conclusions they arrive at concerning social issues quite apart from whether or not other R2K aficionados agree with them or not. Hence, while Bordow and Irons may not be agreed with by Hart touching the issue of man love and puppy love, because of the R2K hermeneutic, they have the “Liberty of Conscience” to advocate for perversion.

    Query — If the R2K hermeneutic doesn’t forbid such a possible embrace (no pun intended) of rather queer positions, on what basis does the R2K hermeneutic rule out such possible conclusions arrived at by Bordow and Irons?

    Dr. D. Gnostic Hart responded to Doug Sowers who repeated my Premise and Query at Old Gnosticism,

    Doug, I answered the question. 2k doesn’t rule out such an interpretation. How could it since in Presbyterian churches we don’t require members to subscribe (Irons) and we believe in Christian liberty. If you noticed, and please be as careful at Dr. K. allegedly now is, Bordow did not advocate gay marriage. He said he did not have the grounds to discipline someone for adopting political views that would allow for gay marriage.

    You are doing what Machen’s critics did, assuming he was in favor or drunkenness because he opposed Prohibition.

    This is why you are a fundamentalist. You only see one side of an issue. Gay marriage bad. But legislating gay marriage, or the church taking a stand on gay marriage involves laws and officers and members in a host of organizational relationships that go beyond the morality of homosexuality. But for you, it’s a black and white issue and you don’t care what comes with efforts to oppose it, even if it means instituting some kind of political or ecclesiastical tyranny.

    Bret responds to Dr. D. Gnostic Hart,

    1.) Notice how Dr. Hart has now embraced the position of Irons and Bordow who advocate theoretical Christians advancing the the permissibility of Homosexuality or Bestiality in the public square even if they themselves (Bordow, Irons, and now Hart) don’t advocate it or believe it themselves. If this is not public square anti-nomianism then none exists.

    2.) Notice how Dr. Hart places politically active “Christians” in the public square, who advance the permissibility of a social order that allows and gives place for deviancy and perversion (as defined by Scripture), under the umbrella of “Liberty.” Of course this is to redefine liberty as license.

    3.) Dr. Hart invokes Machen but Hart is comparing apples and sodomites here when he compares Machen’s opposition to Prohibition and Biblical Christians opposition to other Christians advocating the permissibility of perversion in the public square (even if those same Christians personally oppose such perversion). The reason this is a apple and sodomite comparison is that Machen’s position was that he could not oppose something that God’s word permitted. God’s word does not forbid the usage of alcohol and therefore Machen knew he could not support prohibiting what God allowed. Darryl is trying to advance a position where it is wrong to oppose, in the public square, a prohibition that God details in His word. It is not the same thing for Machen to oppose supporting (Prohibition) what God didn’t prohibit and Biblical Christians opposing for the public square what God opposes. As I said, Darryl’s comparison is Apples and Sodomites.

    4.) Of course it is Dr. D. Gnostic Hart who is the Fundamentalist here. Darryl is a Gnostic Fundamentalist. He is only seeing the Gnostic side of the issue. The implication of what Darryl is invoking the idea that it is perfectly acceptable for a Christian Doctor to preform Abortions if he is “in a host of organizational relationships (such as a Hospital that does abortions) that go beyond the morality of abortion. For Darryl this is a White and Gray issue. White — Personally and individually these things bad. Gray — In the Public square these things require “liberty.” Darryl doesn’t care what comes with efforts to oppose perversion, even if it means instituting some kind of political or ecclesiastical tyranny that forces Christians to accept these perversions in the public square and forces them to accept people who accept the acceptability of these perversions in the Church (even if those people don’t themselves approve them).


  357. on November 8, 2012 at 11:07 am Mark Van Der Molen

    Comparing Machen’s position on Prohibition to countenancing Christians to advocate for gay marriage is specious.

    Prohibition was a negative government prohibition of an activity which is both commended and not prohibited by Scripture.

    Gay marriage is a positive government sanctioning of an activity/relationship that is both condemned and prohibited by Scripture.


  358. If I am out of control and doing cocaine my elders could rightly discipline me. What if I think the government should legalize and tax drugs, however, to take the violence & prison overflow out of the equation. Any similarities to the gay marriage scenario? Should I be disciplined? I don’t know of anybody, inside the church or outside, advocating for bestiality right now, so I don’t know how relevant that is to the discussion. Two consenting men or women having sex, as much as I disapprove of it, is of a different nature as pedophilia or bestiality, so I am not sure what they have to do with each other. A child or an animal can not consent to sex in the way two adults do.


  359. Rabbi, you wrote: “Darryl is trying to advance a position where it is wrong to oppose, in the public square, a prohibition that God details in His word.”

    You mean the way that Paul and Peter were silent on infanticide when they commended honor for the emperor.

    Fundamentalists can be biblical, you know.


  360. Mark, oh, now distinctions are relevant when they work for your side. But you don’t allow them on the other.

    As I’ve said many times, I hope you perform better in the courtroom than you do on blogs.


  361. Erik, I don’t disagree with you that unlike the United States, a number of European countries have a history of established churches or state recognition of religion, which are significantly different concepts.

    American history on this point in the late 1700s left such questions to state governments. Several states — Massachusetts being the last one — had officially established and tax-supported state churches into the 1830s.

    The history of disestablishment in America is complicated and was different in each state. However, it would be a gross misunderstanding to believe disestablishment happened out of predominantly anti-religious or even a libertarian sentiment of religious tolerance. Such sentiments **WERE** present in Rhode Island and to some extent in Pennsylvania from very early days in those colonies, but they weren’t typical elsewhere.

    On the contrary, the typical complaints in the South were 1) that tax dollars were being used to support Anglican clergy of questionable loyalty to the cause of American independence, and 2) evangelical minority groups, of which the largest were Presbyterians and Baptists, who objected to tax support of one denomination over others.

    What happened in Virginia, which at the time was the largest state in population as well as cultural dominance in the South, was illustrative. Various efforts were made to establish a system of support for the Christian religion in general rather than Episcopalianism in particular.

    Those efforts had precedent in the colonial history of Virginia, where the established Church of Virginia allowed not only Anglicans but also some Church of Scotland (i.e., Presbyterian) ministers to be considered part of the establishment. However, the state-established churches were able to harass and sometimes even persecute Baptists and others who were not considered to be legitimately ordained under the practices of either the Church of Scotland or Church of England. In some cases, however, ministers of other denominational traditions (Lutheranism, for example) were able to obtain episcopal ordination due to latitudinarian standards in the Church of England and were able to share in the Church of Virginia’s system of licensing preachers and tax support for churches.

    Despite that history of denominational cooperation in Virginia, the various dissenting denominations were not able to come to agreement and a small minority of truly irreligious people, Thomas Jefferson being one example, were able to take advantage of the division between different groups of Christians and create a purely secular state system in Virginia.

    The situation in New England was even more complicated — the Unitarians were able to win control of the established church parishes in many of the prominent eastern communities near Boston and were able to take control of church buildings even if they were a minority of the membership. The push to disestablish churches in Massachusetts eventually came from orthodox Congregationalists, who were the majority statewide, rather than Unitarians, who were the majority in many of the Boston area communities, to prevent further examples of similar abuse. The disestablishment fight in Connecticut was mostly between orthodox Congregationalists and less conservative but still orthodox Episcopalians — the Episcopalians took the exact opposite position in Connecticut, where they were the minority, that they were taking in Virginia, where they were the majority.

    My point in this is not to say that I want state establishment or recognition of religion. I am emphatically **NOT** calling for that.

    My point is that those who think our religious situation in the late 1700s was any sort of secular worldview fail to understand that what really happened was a small group of opponents of conservative Christianity took advantages of divisions within the Christian community to accomplish a goal which few if any of the individual Christian groups would have supported as an ideal.

    Divide and conquer strategies are not new, and unfortunately, they work all too frequently when used by liberals against Christians.


  362. @ dgh: I have turned off the setting that arranges comments as nested within a thread, resulting in the new challenge of keeping discussions connected. This “drive by” quip seems to be your response to my denial of having recanted anything I’ve written in Christian Renewal. But I don’t understand how it addresses my response to your undemonstrated claim about my alleged misrepresentation of 2K representatives on the pages of Christian Renewal.

    Once again, please be specific, in order to be credible.

    Warning to all: I will begin removing comments that appear to add nothing substantive to the discussion or to offer nothing more than personal attacks.


  363. NDK – I think that’s a good move. Usually people can quote the item they are responding to in order to keep things understandable.


  364. DTM – Good historical recap on disestablishment. My point is that if we try to hold people today to the plain text of our founding documents (without having to enter into a David Bartonesque program), there just isn’t a lot of explicitly Christian language (as in recognizing Yahweh, Jesus, and the Bible) there. As in any modern society, the elites in Revolutionary America tended to be either not Christian (Jefferson, Franklin) or nominally Christian (Washington, Adams). If this is not the case, how did they end up writing the foundational documents? Christianity was a factor in our founding, but so was the Enlightenment. Edwards read and appreciated John Locke.


  365. McAtee – I’m glad you’re back. I need some comic relief after the elections the other day. We can always count on you to bring your gas can to put out a fire. you accuse Hart:

    “The implication of what Darryl is invoking the idea that it is perfectly acceptable for a Christian Doctor to preform Abortions if he is ‘in a host of organizational relationships.'”

    What evidence do you have for this “implication”? If you don’t have any evidence you are slandering an elder in good standing in the Orthodox Presbyerian church. Where has Hart said that it is acceptable for a Christian Doctor to perform abortions?

    You guys don’t do yourselves any favors when you use sloppy logic in making your great, unwarranted leaps.

    You still haven’t told me what church you minister in there in the backwoods of Idaho.


  366. DTM – It’s only you Neocalvinists discussing puppy love. 2Kers haven’t said anything about it. Another unwarranted, Neocalvinist great unwarranted logical leap. You guys need to change your pictures to Mike Powell or Bob Beamon you’re such prolific long-jumpers,


  367. NDK, yes, sir, it was in response to you denial of taking anything back. But it still would be nice if you could represent 2k charitably. Your admission that you shouldn’t have associate Misty Irons with 2k advocates is an indication of the need to represent 2k charitably. Please do more of that.


  368. NDK, you featured Misty Irons in the series for CR. You also mentioned Misty Irons in your allegations here against 2k. You have taken them back here. Why not, please, write a letter to the editors of CR?


  369. @ dgh: On this blog, I retracted the incorrect claim that 2K advocates publicly defend homosexual marriage (referencing Ms. Irons). I did not make that claim in the CR series. By contrast, in my CR series, I showed the similarities between the hermeneutical argument being employed by Ms. Irons, by the book Secular Faith, and by some NL2K advocates, each as an example of what I’ve called “religious secularism.”

    Those two claims are related (only in referring to Ms. Irons), but substantively different. I retracted the former, and stand by the latter. In the CR series, I did not make the blog post claim that I’ve now altered. In fact, the now-altered claim of the blog post is identical to the claim advanced in the CR series.

    This association exists between Ms. Irons and some NL2K advocates, namely: each employs the same hermeneutical argument, which is: “The Bible governs the spiritual kingdom/church, whereas unaided reason and natural law alone govern the civil kingdom.” Ms. Irons employs that argument en route to defending homosexual marriage. Advocates of NL2K do not. I believe it is fair to ask: What rule or feature of NL2K hermeneutics would prevent their approach to Scripture from leading to the same conclusion being drawn by Ms. Irons? (I am not alleging that these advocates do draw that conclusion; I’m asking what prevents their position from doing so?) I do not think making this association, or asking this question, is uncharitable at all.


  370. NDK – My take on where Irons is wrong is that she says Christians SHOULDN”T oppose gay marriage because of 2K. Christians can and should vote according to their consciences when given the chance. Just because 2k recognizes that the two kingdoms are distinct doesn’t mean they don’t intersect (look at the picture on the cover Van Drunen’s “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms”). The mainstream debate here is how the two overlapping gets worked out, not whether they intersect at all. Irons errs by acting as if they don’t intersect at all.

    My two beefs with Neocalvinism are (1) Trying to get the church too involved in shaping culture & politics (the strain of Neocalvinism which seems to mirror the broader evangelical model) and/or (2) Trying to construct parallel, “Christian” institutions to rival secular institutions (“Pillarization”). I think the 2K critique speaks to both of those persuasively while not making Irons’ error.


  371. Even if I bought the Neocalvinist paradigm that the Lordship of Christ and cultural transformation were the main forces at work in being a Christian, I still might argue that 2K is the best way to accomplish those goals. Worship faithfully with your Christian brothers and sisters on Sunday and then go out and rub up against non-Christians the west of the week, seeking to befriend them and influence them through your kindness and godly life. Who knows how many might be won over through this approach? When we are building armies and drawing battle lines constantly through the antithesis and Principial thinking we end up increasing the divide more than winning people over to our side.


  372. EC

    Here is the Hart quote,

    “But legislating gay marriage, or the church taking a stand on gay marriage involves laws and officers and members in a host of organizational relationships that go beyond the morality of homosexuality.”

    From here I found the implication.

    Gay marriage bad. However a Church member who is a member of a organizational relationship which supports sodomite marriage in some way and therefore that support is acceptable given their organizational relationship even though they are members of an assembly that forbids the sin of sodomy. I only then applied the same principle to abortion.

    Let’s say its not a Christian Doctor who does abortion but a Christian nurse who only attends the abortion as a surgery nurse. She doesn’t actually do the abortion but she attends it. She is in a organizational relationship that requires this of her. Does the R2K church say … “Well, we know she is personally against it but since she only attends abortions and doesn’t actually preform them and because she is in a organizational relationship that requires this of her we will not say anything to her regarding it because the Church can not speak to these issues. It is not the Church’s domain.”

    No Lords a leaping here.


  373. McAtee – Find me an abortion doctor or nurse in a conservative P&R church and then we’ll talk. Hart can speak for himself, but I wouldn’t have a problem disciplining a person who does that for a living.


  374. You guys need to consider who you are locking arms with when you enter into the political realm – Baptists, Fundamentalists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Libertarians (some of whom hate Christianity). Some of these folks hate Calvinists as much as they hate abortionists. I recently watched William Lane Craig (a Wesleyan) debate Christopher Hitchens and when the audience asked Craig what other Christians he strongly disagreed with he said Calvinists. Jerry Falwell called Calvinism a heresy. You need to really consider these alliances you are leading your people into.


  375. EC,

    So, I take that is an apology for slandering me by suggesting I was slandering someone else and that I was logic leaping?


  376. EC,

    It’s called co-belligerency. Look it up. Francis Schaeffer wrote a great deal about it. All because I agree with a Muslim that Abortion should be stopped doesn’t mean I don’t think the Muslim repent or perish.


  377. @ Erik: This will be a lengthy reply, because you have raised some noteworthy points. Thank you for that.

    1. Ms. Irons says, among other things, that Christians should not oppose homosexual marriage because, although the Bible clearly forbids it, the Bible was given to and for the church, not for society, where the issue should be decided on the basis of civil rights.

    I find this view of the Bible’s authority—which view, though not the application made by Ms. Irons, is defended by some NL2K advocates—to be troubling. Here’s why (in part). If the Bible’s revelation of the moral law is a precipitate or boiled down summary of the natural law, and the Bible clearly forbids “x” in terms of abiding moral principle, then does not the moral principle shared by the Bible and by natural law forbid “x”?

    I read in A Biblical Case for Natural Law, p. 38, the following:

    The appropriateness of natural law as the moral standard for the civil kingdom becomes all the more important in light of the fact that, in a certain sense, Scripture is not the appropriate moral standard for the civil kingdom.

    In the immediately following sentences, we are told how Scripture informs and enlightens Christians about the world, about natural law, and about living in the world. Then we read:

    Nevertheless, there are good reasons to suggest that Scripture, strictly speaking, is not meant to serve as the moral standard for the civil kingdom.

    In this entire discussion, I am not at all interested in encouraging Christians to swat people with the Bible, i.e., to defend political and social policies first and exclusively from the Bible. I am interested, rather, in not a priori excluding the Bible (meaning: its abiding moral principles) from all discussions of political and social policies.

    2. Your defense about distinct-but-not-separate-kingdoms has been the exact rebuttal of NL2K critics to the modern NL2K project! I may have missed it, but has anyone anywhere explained concretely what that “zone of intersection” pictured by two overlapping circles looks like? I see the picture, I know it’s on the cover. But I’ve yet to discover that the idea being represented by the overlap functions in the NL2K argument.

    I could write more in this response, but I’d like to try to keep a focus. So I’ll stop here. 🙂


  378. Erik Charter wrote on November 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Jerry Falwell called Calvinism a heresy. You need to really consider these alliances you are leading your people into.

    I don’t disagree with your point about the problems of cooperating with non-Calvinists in the political realm. It’s a big part of why I like the Kuyperian sphere sovereignty concept, which points out, correctly so, that the standards for covenant heads in the state and the church and the family are not the same. I have major problems with the way some evangelicals felt compelled to whitewash Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, for example. I can think of situations where I might support and campaign for a pro-life and anti-gay marriage Mormon, but I’d do so only carefully, and with the same sort of reservations I would have campaigning for an Orthodox Jewish candidate or (to a lesser extent) a traditional Roman Catholic.

    However, I want to see proof of your statement that Falwell called Calvinism a heresy. That sounds more like Jimmy Swaggart than Falwell. To my knowledge, Falwell’s statement in 2007 referred to limited atonement as heresy, not the other four points of Calvinism.

    The relevant quote is here, given in a chapel speech about a month before Falwell’s death, and it’s not consistent with a number of Falwell’s previous statements about the sovereignty of God and his respect for men like Dr. D. James Kennedy:

    “And we believe here at Liberty in the substitutionary atonement of Christ for all men. We believe that Jesus Christ was the perfect God-man, who died upon the cross of Calvary to take my sins, your sins, the sins of all humanity upon himself and that, duh, that anyone who trusts him, who believes in his death, burial, resurrection, is born again. We don’t believe that Jesus Christ died for a select few, sometimes called “the elect.” We believe that who-so-ever will may come—and that no one is left out. We are not into particular love or limited atonement. As a matter of fact we consider it heresy. And so we are believing that all men everywhere in every age can be saved if they will come to the living Christ, who died for them.”

    I am not in any way defending Falwell’s comments about limited atonement. However, I personally know several Calvinists who either teach at his school or taught there in the past and had no problems due to their Calvinism. Furthermore, I have great difficulty seeing Falwell calling D. James Kennedy a heretic.

    My read of the situation is that Falwell made a seriously bad statement that reflects his baptistic emphasis on universal atonement, without intending to attack the full system of the Reformed faith, and since he died shortly thereafter he didn’t have the opportunity to clarify his views.

    I see that kind of thing often among fundamentalists who will agree with or at least tolerate four of the points of Calvinism, but follow Richard Baxter in being unable to get around a couple of verses of Scripture involving the atonement, much as Luther couldn’t get around “this is my body.” That’s an example of people trying to be faithful to Scripture but failing to realize that texts have to be read in context.

    I could cite other comments by people at Liberty University that are considerably worse than those of Falwell. However, I don’t know of a place where Falwell attacked Calvinism in its entirety as a heresy, only one of the five points.

    If you can show me a place where Falwell condemned Calvinism in its entirety as heresy, I’d be interested. Based on the information I have, it sounds like Falwell said something that raises very serious questions, but didn’t get the opportunity to answer those questions.


  379. Erik, regarding “puppy love,” please go back and read my comment quoting Rev. Todd Bordow’s views on bestiality which I posted in this thread on November 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm.

    Once you read that comment, let’s talk.

    It sounds like you may disagree with Rev. Bordow and think civil government protecting the puppies is important. If so, I’m glad to hear it.

    I like dogs, but not that way.

    Unlike Jerry Falwell, Rev. Bordow is still alive, he’s pastoring an Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and he has a lot of questions to answer about what he meant by those comments on the Puritan Board.


  380. @ Erik: Although there are a number of things in your comments about neo-Calvinism that need to be clarified and challenged, I’d like to pick up on your comment about the antithesis.

    I believe you have put your finger on an important truth here, namely, that many of us view the antithesis as a “principle of division” and as a “call to opposition.” In point of fact, the Bible teaches the antithesis (beginning already in Gen. 3.15) as being a result of divine election, and being given for the sake of blessing the world. When God called Abraham, that was an act of election that distinguished Abraham (and Israel) from every other people or nation on the earth. But the purpose of God’s electing Abraham and Israel was that through him/them, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Divine election always establishes the antithesis—that is: the distinct identity, pattern, and calling of God’s people in the world. But the purpose of this distinctiveness is in order for them to be a blessing.

    Throughout the past few years, I have been speaking internationally to leaders within Christian education to urge them to prepare, train, and nurture students (age appropriately) in terms of engaging the world with the love and compassion that are born out of grace. Some may offer this fair criticism: among North American immigrant groups, Christian education has been understood and used as a fortress for training students to be against the world rather than to love the world as God did (cf. John 3.16).

    In other words, I think that we need not abandon “the antithesis,” but properly understand and use it as God himself designed it.

    Is this clear?


  381. NDK – Your comment on the antithesis and Christian education is clear. Good comment. I went to public grade & high school and Christian college and my kids have been a combination of home & public schooled. I think about this topic quite a bit in my own life. I am not one of those people who say that Christians should have their kids in public school for the purposes of evangelism. I think about mature Christian adults being active in “the world” differently than still growing Christian kids. I will not criticize your enthusiasm for Christian Schools. It is a great thing to have solid Christian schools available for Christian families. I wish we had Christian schools in my area I was more excited about.


  382. @ Erik: I agree about differences between minors and adults in re Christians in the world.

    I am saddened by Christian schools that either offer poor quality education or a tolerate a problematic lifestyle among students/teachers. But I do believe that Christian education is called to be a blessing to the world by serving the common good of society, and under the right set of circumstances, can answer to the paradigm taught in Matt. 5.13-16.


  383. DTM – All I can think of when I read “Rio Rancho, NM” is the “El Rancho” motel that used to exist in my hometown, but I digress.

    I don’t think Rev. Bordow was being very wise bringing up bestiality. If I had a member advocating that becoming legal I would ask some pointed questions. The answers to those questions could lead to some teaching and possibly even to church discipline based on the answers. If a person is that off in their thinking what else is going on in their life?

    One error I think you guys make with Misty Irons is to assume she was just going along with no biases, discovered 2K, and came to the conclusion that gay marriage in society was o.k. I think she had preconceived notions about homosexuals being a discriminated against minority and saw 2k as an excuse to justify what she had been wanting to say. Why do I say this? Becase if you look at her blog now it appears to be all she talks about. A person who just arrived at a conclusion neutrally using 2K logic wouldn’t be this passionate about the cause. Does anyone know if Misty Irons was disciplined in her OPC church?


  384. DTM – I’m referring to the same Falwell quote you are. “Heresy” is a pretty strong word to use about an important tenant of Calvinism. Things like this are an example of why I am not too excited about generic evangelical Christian schooling. I would rather undo the incorrect things my kids learn in public school than incorrect doctrines they learn in Christian school.


  385. NDK – Working out exactly what that intersection is is the tricky part. I need to read DVD’s larger book sooner rather than later since most of my interaction is based on his shorter book. I have some concerns about the concept of Natural Law myself. I am no Misty Irons so I know that I reject that “radical” version of 2K. I also am pretty sure I reject a “radical” version of Neocalvinism embodied by Rev. McAtee. In between those two extremes I am very open to dialogue.

    Maybe the rub for me is just how we go about influencing the public sphere as Christians. I’m not too excited about broad cooperation with evangelicals. I’m also not too excited about separatism. The work that I imagine you and DTM do, which is trying to inform Christian people about how to think through public policy issues is good work. I just get uneasy when that starts to get imported into the church, as if it is their task. I prefer the focus of ministers to remain on Word & sacrament, prayer, counseling, preaching, catechizing youth, etc. This does not mean that a minister can not have political opinions or never talk about politics, but people need to know that this is not primarily what he is about. Some ministers get on that path and once they do I think it is hard for them to get off. Look up the Rev. Cary Gordon of Sioux City, Iowa.


  386. Regarding DVD’s shorter book. Read his section on politics at the end. I remember reading it and don’t recall him being radical. I don’t think he by any means says Christians shouldn’t bring their Christian values into the workplace or into the voting booth. He seems like a really reasonable guy to me.


  387. So. Erik, you don’t want an “evangelical” Christian school, but–I take it–a Reformed Christian school which teaches “correct” doctrines. That view is fine, but then you must concede that school would for all intents and purposes be a “church school”, and should just as well meet in an educational wing of your URC. In fact, early 20th-century CRC-related day schools met in CRchurches fairly often, I think. So, back to the future for you?


  388. D.G. might get on me for this, but a Christian school overseen by the elders of a solid P&R church or churches is something I could get enthused about. At the primary & secondary level I think this could work, given enough families to make it viable. Now some Reformed folk might have a problem with this because education is normally seen as the responsibility of the family and right Church doctrine is seen as the responsibility of the church so you have some mixing of “spheres” going on there. I believe the OPC never set up their own seminary for this reason. You also might risk diluting the focus of the church officers, but making sure your kids get a good education is a pretty high priority for parents and church officers are often also parents, too. I guess you could say I am “teachable” on this topic.


  389. NDK, what prevents me from winding up where Misty Irons is is Christian liberty. I have the freedom to think about the political order because Christ has set us from the doctrines and commandments of men (even Dutch Reformed men). In which case I think about what is good for society and good for fellow citizens and come to a conclusion different from Irons. But if you think the Bible must apply to all areas of life, then I can see how you confuse the church and the world.


  390. Rabbi, so you are willing to cooperate with non-Reformed in politics but unwilling to be in fellowship with Reformed in the church, as in, you are as a CRC minister not in fellowship with the OPC, PCA, or URC.

    That’s called — pardon the vernacular — weird.


  391. NDK, for what feels like the millionth time, if you want the Bible’s morality to apply to sex and marriage, why not to blasphemy and idolatry? You are neo-Calvinist about the seventh commandment and pretty much 2k on the rest of the Decalogue. I could take your concern more seriously if you weren’t so selective. Could you not at least think about the Federal Communications Commission and their rules which allow for taking the Lord’s name in vain?


  392. NDK, was Kuyper appealing to antithesis when he formed the Anti-Revolution Party and cooperated with Roman Catholics in forming a coalition? It is the application of the anti-thesis that makes neo-Calvinism a breeding ground for theonomy. What you need to do for public life is figure out how to live with people who don’t share your convictions (or else move to North Korea). The antithesis is a non-starter for citizenship. It works very well for church membership.


  393. McAtee is in the CRC? I’m sure he has all kinds of warm, fuzzy moments with all of his progressive brothers at Synod. I’m actually feeling better about you, Rev.


  394. Erik, I’d need to see the particulars.


  395. Dr K,

    Seems our discussion has come to an end and I want to thank you for a good discussion.

    If you have time could you expound on this statement:

    “Creational structures benefit society by virtue of divine providence.”

    thanks.


  396. D.G. – Agreed. A lot to work out there. My pastor has actually expressed interest in actually doing something like this. I suspect it would be small and mostly for church families. I doubt it will actually happen. We’re pretty spread out throughout Central Iowa. Until then it’s public schools, homeschooling, or one of the evangelical/baptist schools in the area. Pella is hogging most of the Dutch.


  397. Darryl,

    Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that because I’m in the CRC I am the biggest hypocrite walking the planet for standing for Biblical Christianity. Even were that true it would not take away the truthfulness the R2K contradictions I am exposing nor would it make untrue the observations that R2K is public square antinomianism. It would only make true that I am a liar, scoundrel, and all round weird guy.


  398. Rabbi, I don’t point this out to call you a hypocrite. It is to note that first you have a lot of work to do in the ecclesiastical world before you take on the greatest nation on God’s green earth. And to suggest that you may want to get off your high horse when you are commenting on 2kers who are in a fairly (if not purely) Reformed church.


  399. Dr. Hart, if there is anyone around here who is not going to defend the Christian Reformed Church, it’s me. I spent a decade covering the CRC and nobody can claim that I have rose-colored glasses about how bad things are inside it.

    I think Rev. McAtee should get out of the CRC. I know his classis better than most people do, and I frankly don’t know how he can survive over there. He’s in a situation in which I do not believe I could function.

    Having said that, unless we are prepared to accept the fundamentalist principles of separatism or even secondary separation, I think we need to recognize that men such as Dr. John R. de Witt and Dr. Sinclair Ferguson did not suddenly change from bad men to good when they left mainline denominations which were far worse than the Christian Reformed Church. The Reformed Church in America and the Church of Scotland are certainly not groups faithful to the Reformed confessions they claim on paper to uphold, and I certainly think all Bible-believing brothers in those denominations should get out, but I don’t recall that Westminster Seminary considered de Witt or Ferguson to be persona non grata due to their ecclesiastical connections during their time in those bodies.

    We also need to remember that Rev. McAtee is only one member of his consistory. I doubt very much that he is enamored of the Christian Reformed Church. However, Dr. Hart, as a ruling elder, surely you can understand why a pastor must defer to the decisions of his elders and use care and caution in major matters such as denominational affiliation. Ministers do not have the same level of freedom to choose their local churches that laymen have, and furthermore, they have a responsibility to pastor sheep under their care rather than abandoning the flocks.

    I would say different things if Rev. McAtee were a layman in a city with other churches that were confessionally Reformed, or if he were in a false church. I don’t think the Christian Reformed Church has yet crossed that line.


  400. I’m actually kind of excited about Rev. McAtee giving the liberals in the CRC heck. Here I pictured him being in the CREC and he is in the CRC. That’s wild.

    I value your background knowledge on the CRC, DTM. Look forward to picking your brain more in the future. I am serious about you writing a history of the CRC/URC covering the last 40 years or so. Bratt’s history only goes up to 1970.


  401. Darrell, all of that is well and good. I get it. Machen stayed in a flawed denomination for a long time.

    All I am saying is that someone who lives in a glass house should not throw stones. The Rabbi treats us as if we are Machen’s modernists. That’s provocative. It’s also false.


  402. “It would only make true that I am a liar, scoundrel, and all round weird guy.”

    Bret – You are at most only 1 or 2 of those.


  403. Let’s see … the modernists that Machen had to deal with were those who presupposed that the supernatural couldn’t be true. Clearly R2K isn’t guilty of that. No … what R2K presupposes is that God’s word can’t be applied to their common realm. The modernists were hardly dualists / gnostics because they believed that only the material was real. R2K, quite to the contrary presupposes a hard nature / grace divide. There is more of platonism then modernism about R2K.

    I will let others decide which poison is more sure to kill … Modernism or R2K.


  404. Rabbi, let’s see, the Modernists wanted a Christian America and banned alcohol to get it. Machen opposed prohibition and the modernists thought he was an antinomian.

    Ring any bells?


  405. on November 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm Mark Van Der Molen

    The panel discussion is now posted on Covenant College’s iTunes page.

    Having listened to it, I did ask Matt Tuininga to clarify whether Horton actually authored or presented those 9 points precisely as he reported. Matt replied:

    Hi Mark, good question. No Horton did not present a list of nine points (which I tried to indicate by saying “Among the commonalities he described …). It was much more fluid than that. However, I obviously did not make anything up. He makes the various points throughout his presentation.

    The listener should keep that in mind since the precise wording of those 9 points was based on Matt’s reporting of what he heard Horton say, and may or may not be exactly what Horton said.


  406. First the accusation was that I was making R2K out to be modernists and then when I show how ridiculous that charge is the esteemed Dr. Hart turns around and accuses me of being the Modernist.

    Second, to point out the irrationality and contradictory nature of R2K is not casting stones at glass houses. It is only the equivalent of commenting how funny looking a three legged dog is.

    Third, as you well know, if any of us had to wait to be in the perfect place or had to wait to be perfect ourselves we would never make any observations at all about anything. I am well aware of my own sin and the challenges of my setting. Thank you for reminding me.

    Fourth and finally, even were it the case (and it is not) that I never made similar observations regarding the challenges arising in the denomination where my credentials lie it would not make my commenting on the challenges arising in denominations where my credentials do not lie unjust.

    Still, I assure you that I am a equal opportunity observer of the times.

    It is why I am so well liked wherever I go.

    p.s. — All because Machen was falsely accused of being antinomian that does not automatically mean that any future accurate charging of antinomianism forever in the future against high profile clergy is therefore not true.


  407. “It is only the equivalent of commenting how funny looking a three legged dog is.”

    There you go demeaning my dog, tripod.

    “It is why I am so well liked wherever I go”

    You’re a regular Deacon Blues.

    I have some sympathy for those who are fly in everyone’s ointment. Get on Oldlife and interact with “Richard Smith” (not his real name) for a bit. I might pay admission to witness that. You guys might agree on everything, though, thus spoiling the fun.


  408. Mark, I guess you need to keep paying the private detectives. We must find out the source and follow the paper trail of this odd teaching that has only been around as long as Augustine.


  409. Rabbi, the parallels between you and modernists may be revealing. What is it you both want? A Christian America. And of whom are you suspicious? People who tell you that you can’t have a Christian America because the theology of a Christian America is not orthodox. And what do you call those who tell you your political theology is not orthodox? Antinomian.

    I’m sure there are differences. The modernists likely dress better than you (since they dressed better than all of us). But the parallels are worthy any thoughtful person’s attention.


  410. Mark – D.G. raises a good point. The CRC was having this same argument 100-125 years ago. Bratt talks about this in his “Dutch Calvinism in Modern America”. The Seceder/Pietist/Infralapsarian wing opposed the Neo-Calvinist/Kuyperian/Supralapsarian wing. To act like people who focus on Word & Sacrament vs. political activism is a shocking, new development is not historically accurate, even in the CRC.


  411. we had our Foppe Ten Hoor, you had your Henry Beets. Your guy’s name was just a little less strange.


  412. on November 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm Mark Van Der Molen

    Erik, I sense you are open to teaching, so I can only strongly encourage you to find a reliable and mature guide to help expand your understanding of the real issues in this discussion. I’d encourage you to read more before speaking too quickly. You might want to re-think the value of your list of internet resources. In general, while we all are tempted to it, I assume you would agree that personal insults, juvenile name-calling, and anti- Dutch bigotry will not carry the discussion very far.

    The issue is not word and sacrament vs. political activism. There is a difference between “two kingdoms” and “radical” two kingdoms. The R2k error finds its roots long before the CRC or Augustine. Augustine’s “two cities” are not today’s radical version of the “two kingdoms”.


  413. Darryl wrote,

    Rabbi, the parallels between you and modernists may be revealing. What is it you both want? A Christian America. And of whom are you suspicious? People who tell you that you can’t have a Christian America because the theology of a Christian America is not orthodox. And what do you call those who tell you your political theology is not orthodox? Antinomian.

    Bret responds,

    The expectation that the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters covers the sea is far far older than modernism. Have you ever read anything that covers Intellectual and social history Darryl? You do realize that even Athanasius was proto-postmillennial right?

    //”Since the Savior’s Advent in our midst, not only does idolatry no longer increase, but it is getting less and gradually ceasing to be…while idolatry and everything else that opposes the faith of Christ is daily dwindling and weakening and falling, see, the Savior’s teaching is increasing everywhere!

    So also, now that the Divine epiphany of the Word of God has taken place, the darkness of idols prevails no more, and all parts of the world in every direction are enlightened by His teaching.”//

    Even Augustine has strains of postmillennialism that looks forward to Christian nations,

    Augustine’s comments on Psalm 2is instructive. Regarding the Lord laughing at the nations (Ps 2:4) he writes:

    //“it is to be understood of that power which he giveth to His saints, that they seeing things to come, namely, that the Name and rule of Christ is to pervade posterity and possess all nations.”

    At v. 7 he writes: “‘Ask of Me,’ may be referred to all this temporal dispensation, which has been instituted for mankind, namely, that the ‘nations’ should be joined to the Name of Christ, and so be redeemed from death, and possessed by God. ‘I shall give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance,’ which so possess them for their salvation, and to bear unto Thee spiritual fruit.” (Augustine in The Post-Nicene Fathers, 8:3)//

    So Darryl you facile accusations are really quite specious when you attempt to link the idea of Christian America with modernism.

    Besides, it is not a Christian American I anticipate but a Christian world.

    Let us keep in mind here that since there is no neutrality the impossibility of there being a Christian nation means that we are left with having a, “Hindu, Muslim, Humanist, Marxist, etc. Nation.” Y’all fight so desperately hard to make sure that that everyone understands that there is no such thing as Christian nation, Christian culture, Christian family, Christian education, Christian law, Christian Historiography, etc. that people sometimes miss that by necessity (by reason of the presuppositional foundational reasoning that there is no neutrality) you are at the same time fighting for a nation, culture, family, education, law, Historiography, that is animated by some other non Christian religion.

    I suggest, in order to help you out on this, to read Christopher Dawson (be careful of his Aristoteleanism) on religion and culture, Harold Berman’s books on religion and law, Gordon Clark on religion and Historiography, Carle Zimmerman’s books on religion and family, and Machen on religion and education. These might help you in the areas in which you are deficient. I can offer others if you are interested.

    It is not because you tell me I can’t have a Christian nation that I insist you are a public square antinomian. It is because you advocate positions for our social order that will guarantee what your theology requires and that is a public square that is non Christian.

    Darryl wrote,

    I’m sure there are differences. The modernists likely dress better than you (since they dressed better than all of us). But the parallels are worthy any thoughtful person’s attention.

    Bret responds,

    To a hammer all the world looks to be a nail Darryl. To one who is insistent that all the common realm must be not Christian any one who suggests otherwise, from Athanasius, to Augustine, to McAtee looks like a Modernist.


  414. “The expectation that the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters covers the sea is far far older than modernism.”

    That is utterly Wilsonian. Why you are in the CRC & not in the CREC is mystifying. Perfect fit.


  415. McAtee – Newsflash. The Belgic is not postmillennial.


  416. Mark – Is “radical” (R2K — I always think of R2D2 when I see that) Misty Irons or is it D.G. Hart, David Van Drunen, Michael Horton, and Jody Lucero. If it’s the former, I’m not with her. If it’s the latter, I feel like I’m in good company. Those are some of the most brilliant, solidly Christian men I have ever encountered (although I only know one personally). They resonate so much more to me than John Frame and some of the other Neocalvinist guys I have read & dealt with. Same thing with theonomist & postmillennial Wilson/Wilkins types. All of these camps have good, Christian men in them, don’t get me wrong, I just fully believe 2K is the more biblical, not to mention, winsome, interpretation.


  417. Mark – And don’t go all fatherly on me like Darrell & Randy. I don’t know who I would change my picture to next.


  418. on November 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm Mark Van Der Molen

    Erik, if you read more from better sources, you should be able to distinguish the who the radicals are in your list. Nonetheless, you certainly don’t have to take my advice– which I can assure you was intended as brotherly, not fatherly.


  419. Since at least one person on this board actually earns my living from dealing with politics, and I’ve been swamped with work since the election, I’m just now catching up on some old posts.

    I suspect I’ve missed something, but here’s an attempt to reply.

    For Dr. Hart and for Erik: I’m not always on the same page with Rev. McAtee. I don’t think we’ve ever met, we don’t correspond often via email, and I don’t know him well enough to have much insight into his views. I am, however, aware of his extensive interaction on the internet with Dr. Hart, and probably the best thing for me to say is that if I haven’t read very much of what someone has written, it’s best for me not to say very much.

    I do believe, however, that Rev. McAtee’s motivations are substantially different from those of either the classical fundamentalists or the classical modernists of the early 1900s. I sense that Rev. McAtee’s theological and political goals hearken back a century or two before the fundamentalist-modernist conflict. We may disagree with Cotton Mather, Edwards, etc., but I think McAtee’s idea of a Christian America looks far more like their vision than like the vision of either Fosdick or McIntyre.

    However, Dr. Hart, I respect your own research and scholarship. If you say that McAtee says things that sound similar to the modernists, I need to be very careful when treading on your expert knowledge of the history of American evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity. You know the primary sources and you know where Machen, Van Til, Stonehouse, etc., stood in their fights against Buswell, Schaeffer, and McIntyre as well as their fights against the Auburn Affirmationists. I think it’s fairly clear that Machen brought his Southern Presbyterian “spirituality of the church doctrine” with him when he decided to be ordained in the PCUSA rather than the PCUS, and while Machen’s Old School Presbyterianism is certainly in a line which includes the older Princeton theologians, I am not at all sure the subsequent avoidance of political questions in the more strictly Reformed wings of Christianity in the 1940s and following decades does not owe more to Dabney and Thornwell than it does to Witherspoon and others in earlier centuries.

    My point is that even if you can show that Rev. McAtee would have been an “odd man out” in the OPC of the 1940s and 1950s, that still leaves the question open of whether McAtee reflects a still older view of Reformed political engagement that predates the OPC-BPC split.

    For Erik: I’m pleased by much of what I’ve seen you write over the last couple of days, in comparision with what I read earlier. I also want to echo Mark Van Der Molen’s encouragement that you look to better sources. Dr. Bratt took the liberal side of the Christian Reformed fights, and much of what you read about Christian Reformed history from Calvin College professors and other CRC loyalists had an understated agenda of defending the legitimacy of the liberal position in the CRC.

    I have absolutely no doubt that nearly everyone on all sides of the pietist-transformationalist fights in Christian Reformed history, whether Ten Hoor, Beets, Van Raalte, or even men with doctrinal problems like Dietrich Kromminga and Scholte who can fairly be classed as having drunk deeply from American-style fundamentalism while trying to make the Dutch immigrant churches relevant to the world of their day, would recoil with horror at the sort of things that Bratt and other Christian Reformed leaders from the 1970s on were trying to advocate. Even the men most supportive of “Americanizing” the CRC, and who were most willing to sacrifice historic Reformed distinctives, did not want to do so at the cost of losing basic biblical orthodoxy.

    You’re right that a book-length academic history of the Christian Reformed secession needs to be written. The work required would be several years of essentially full-time writing and research, and there’s no way I could do that until retirement. Two types of people can do that — one would be a graduate student with access to a good research library on the primary source documents (which pretty much limits the options to people near Dordt, Calvin, or Mid-America), and the other would be someone directly involved in the controversy who knows things firsthand and has the documents to do his own research.

    For many years I kept tens of thousands of pages of documents and research material, along with lots of clippings and television news videotapes from secular press coverage of the theological controversies, which was extensive and resulted in a number of awards for the religion reporters for the Grand Rapids Press. A former Westminster-West librarian was at one point in discussions with me about buying my library and files since my files contained many items unavailable anywhere else. In hindsight, I wish I’d taken him up on his proposal, but I knew if I did so I’d never be able to do the writing myself. For reasons I’m not going to discuss, virtually my entire library has been destroyed and there’s no way I can do that kind of project without moving to West Michigan, Chicago or Iowa. None of those three moves is going to happen, so when (not if, but when) the book gets written, it won’t be done by me.

    That project, realistically speaking, will probably end up being done by a Mid-America Reformed Seminary student who decides to go to graduate school after seminary. I don’t think anyone else has the level of interest and access to sources.


  420. DTM – Good thoughts. Bummer about your library. I promise to go onto more after I finish Bratt. That’s the great thing about being Reformed. Always more to read. I suspect my views at 62 won’t be identical to those at 42. I still don’t think I’ll be an Irons or a McAtee, though. Hart resonates with me so much right now due to common temperment. I’ve done the outraged cultural warrior bit (and still do given the right forum on the right day — I had a pretty good rant yesterday on Tuininga’s blog) but I am really attracted to the idea of the church being freed up to do the work that only the church is called to do. I’m sure this debate will continue for some time to come.


  421. Maybe Unclely? Ha, ha! I am interested in CRC history sources you & DTM (and NDK) might site as better representing your views. I like just about anything dealing with church history right now. As you know, Hart is more of a Presbyterian scholar than a Dutch church scholar, although a Hart global history of Calvinism is forthcoming.


  422. Darrell,
    I just discovered this blog yesterday (I don’t read many blogs) and do not comment very often on them, but saw this from you

    “Unlike Jerry Falwell, Rev. Bordow is still alive, he’s pastoring an Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and he has a lot of questions to answer about what he meant by those comments on the Puritan Board.”

    What questions would you like me to answer? Is it really that controversial that I would allow Christians to disagree on which sins the U.S. government should illegalize without resorting to ex-communication for those who disagree? If my state put out a proposition that all sex outside of marriage would be treated as a felony, would all my parishioners be required to vote for it, and those who vote against it face church discipline? I am still missing why this is so controversial. Are you all administering church discipline on everyone in your churches who voted for Obama in 2008 (since he is pro-abortion) and I am just not hearing about it?


  423. Erik,
    Perhaps you might contact Dr. Cornel Venema of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, who teaches a course in the history of things CRC and URC (check his bio here). It would certainly supply the resources and balanced perspective you’re looking for. While you’re looking, you might consider enrolling as a non-degree student, and benefit from a wider array of choices for certificates from this program.


  424. Rabbi, so it comes down to eschatology? You’ve heard of John Murray, right?


  425. Mark, if the issue is not word and sacrament vs. political activism, then what is it? So many here keep recommending that Erik read so many OTHER sources. Where are they? And for all the essays like the ones in Kingdoms Apart, anti-2kers haven’t exactly lined up on a single point. The Rabbi is some kind of Hayekian postmillennialist, Dr. K. is some kind of Schilderite/Kuperian hybrid, DTM recommends Kuyper mediated by the likes of Schaeffer and Falwell, the Baylys follow Edwards and Wilson, Wilson channels theonomy mediated by James Jordan and Peter Leithart.

    There’s a lot there but what is IT?

    2kers are still waiting.


  426. NDK – Thanks. I have met him. I was at his colloquium doctum.


  427. Erik and Darrell, by the way, Bratt is coming out with a big biography of Kuyper soon with Eerdmans.

    Also, why is it that Bratt agrees with NDK and other critics of 2k that Ten Hoor was wrong and Kuyper was right? Bratt may not have taken the right side in CRC debates, but that doesn’t discredit his history. Nor does it remove that he wasn’t a fan of Ten Hoor either (who happens to be a patron saint of the 2kers — so lots of folks he can put the anti-Dutch bias to rest).


  428. Darrell, first, I respect the respect that you communicate in these exchanges. It is so very different from the disdain, misrepresentation, and fear mongering that characterizes some of what, for instance, Dr. K. writes, or the way that the Rabbi and Mark Van Der Molen treat 2k advocates. At some point, someone may want to notice that 2kers didn’t go out looking for a fight. We were working in historical materials of which modern neo-Cals appear to be ignorant (such as VanDrunen’s work on Natural Law or mine on Machen). We have also thought through the implications of these historic positions and found that either the neo-Cal version of cultural/political engagement, or the evangelical version of it, do not necessarily represent the Reformed churches. And then came lots of scorn, disdain, and hair pulling. Meanwhile, have also come charges that we don’t understand the Bible and the confessions, and even that we are cowards and faithless). It has not been a very becoming representation of w-wism.

    As for whether the Rabbi represents an older view, I’m not sure many Reformed theologians would have embraced his libertarianism or his scorn for political authorities (you know, Rom. 13)? I also sense that McAtee would find Witherspoon to be a theological weenie. The Rabbi’s instincts are ideological and ideologues don’t show much room for other views.

    But if McAtee represents an older view, so does 2k hold a place that has been tolerated for at least seventy five years (as the OPC suggests). If the sky is falling now, why wasn’t it falling in 1947 when the OPC decided not to join the NAE or MacIntire’s American Council because both groups were too political?


  429. What do you guys say to this Van Drunen quote: “Christians must strive neither to deny the importance of politics – since it has great bearing on the justice, peace, and prosperity of this world – nor to exalt politics as a means for ushering in the redemptive kingdom of heaven. The two-kingdoms doctrine effectively guards against both dangerous extremes.” (LIGTK, pp. 194-195)

    Do you consider this “radical” 2K? If so, why is it radical? If not, who is saying what you consider to be radical 2K things about Christians and politics? Other than Irons and Rev. Rio Rancho.

    I came into Reformed Christianity largely (although not entirely) through Wilson. As I learned more it became apparent to me that he viewed Reformed theology through a paradigm (mainly fueled by postmillennialism) that is odd. I think he imposes a lot of things on Christianity because of his paradigm and not the other way around.

    I think Neocalvinists do the same thing, but instead of using postmillennialism as a paradigm neocalvinists use the sovereignty of God. I would welcome more scriptural evidence supporting your position and not just references to things that Kuyper, or Bavinck, or other Reformed thinkers have said.

    When I look at Jesus and the early church I just don’t see a lot of the program you guys are promoting. The excuse for that seems to be, “well, of course Jesus and the apostles don’t view things the way we do. They were under the Roman Empire and did not have the opportunites that we do.” I don’t know why this conclusion is logical, however. God could have sovereignly had Jesus born into any type of setiing he chose and the church could have emerged into and kind of setting he chose.

    I guess I am saying I see a lot of hand-wringing by you guys over “radical 2k” (which reminds me of the left describing any form of conservatism as “far right”) but not much of a positive defense or promotion of your own beliefs. Where is the contemporary neocalvinist Hart or Van Drunen book?


  430. Mark, maybe the difference between 2k and anti-2k is that the former are confessional and the latter add extraconfessional matters as criteria for orthodoxy (following a point that Erik already made). And this difference has important consequences for the life of our churches. By affirming the confessions, 2kers are unwilling to exclude anti-2kers from our churches as long as those critics continue to affirm what our confessions teach). But anti-2kers are unwilling to commune with 2kers and draw the lines around all sorts of extraconfessional issues.

    In other words, one group is generous, the other is hysterical and uncharitable.


  431. Todd – Just my opinion, but speculations on how we would deal (or not deal) with a member advocating that bestiality becoming legal does not help the 2K cause. Let’s let the other side bring up those far-out theoretical scenarios. They come with enough examples of people acting badly under the 2k banner without us helping them. Misty Irons we will always (unwillingly) have with us. Neocals have theonomy hanging around their necks, though.


  432. Erik, for what it’s worth, your point about Wilson and neo-Cals makes a lot of sense. Both are reacting to obvious cultural and political woes. But both lack a general revelation response. They seem to think that the only way to get it right is to appeal to Christian teaching and special revelation. This also explains why 2k becomes a matter of fundamental Christian teaching as why anti-2kers are prone to postmillennialism. Dissent from a Christian view of politics and the culture is a dissent from Christianity (so 2k must be a breach of the faith). And a Christian response will fix things and yield the millennium. These guys may be the smartest (and least published) guys in the room, but they also seem to be the least self-aware (despite all of that Dutch jazz about epistemological self-consciousness).


  433. Re. McAtee – I give him a hard time, but I’ll bet if we sat down for a beer together we would find out our political views are pretty much identical. I ranted about the election on oldlife last night (and feel much better now). The difference is, I don’t take those views into church with me as an (inactive) URC elder or try to get my pastor to promote them from the pulpit. I vote the same way most of you guys do, I just don’t think the church needs to promote my political program.


  434. DTM brings a lot of meat and historical insight to his posts here. I appreciate that. I’m sure it helps that, as a journalist, he can type really fast. He did do a hit piece on several Old Lifers back in March that I reproduced on my blog, but he has a lot of good stuff to say, nonetheless.


  435. dgh: This will be your last allowed comment where you employ names other than given names or self-generated handles for your interlocutors on this blog site. I know you’re able to control your snide side, since you do address Rev. Bret McAtee by his name in this comment. Fair warning.


  436. Bratt has an earlier book on Kuyper that I had him sign when he was in Ames. He looked at me like I was nuts when I asked him. Do you sign a lot of books, D.G.?


  437. “Mark, if the issue is not word and sacrament vs. political activism, then what is it? So many here keep recommending that Erik read so many OTHER sources. Where are they? And for all the essays like the ones in Kingdoms Apart, anti-2kers haven’t exactly lined up on a single point. The Rabbi is some kind of Hayekian postmillennialist, Dr. K. is some kind of Schilderite/Kuperian hybrid, DTM recommends Kuyper mediated by the likes of Schaeffer and Falwell, the Baylys follow Edwards and Wilson, Wilson channels theonomy mediated by James Jordan and Peter Leithart. There’s a lot there but what is IT? 2kers are still waiting.”

    That is hilarious. Kuyper mediated by Falwell. Nice. Who was the Tinky-Winky of the 19th Century Netherlands?


  438. That’s a blog post for sure.


  439. NDK – To quote Bill Murray in “Stripes”, “If (Hart) goes, all the plants are gonna die!” That, and Tito Puente is a genius. Without Hart this thread will be snoozerville, DTM’s historical insights excepted.


  440. “Erik, for what it’s worth, your point about Wilson and neo-Cals makes a lot of sense.”

    And the way this works out on the ground, which drives 2k folks nuts, is Rep. Steve King assuring a group of Dutch Christian Republicans in Orange City that Mitt Romney’s faith is not much different than theirs (I’m teaching on Mormon history tomorrow. Trust me — it’s different) or Billy Graham taking Mormonism off his list of cults. Now the election is over, we lost, and Christians have compromised for what?


  441. NDK – Who did Hart even cite who is not a public figure (or at least someone who puts themselves “out there” in the blogosphere? I look at blogs the same as publishing. If I say it, I’m prepared to be quoted on it. Private people are not on blogs (at least under their own names).


  442. Darryl said,

    Teacher, so it comes down to eschatology? You’ve heard of John Murray, right?

    Bret responds,

    And you’ve heard of Warfield and his Eschatological Universalism right?

    Or Edwards, or Mather, or the Westminster Divines who were preponderantly post-millennial?

    If you haven’t heard of them these were the guys who wrote the Confessions.

    Oh … and EC … your comment about the Belgic not being postmillennial reflects the accuracy of MVM comment about the necessity for you to read more. Of course it isn’t postmil, but neither is it amil. A person who has read around would have known that.


  443. Erik,

    It is about consistency. If I believe the bible tells us what is sin, but not what sins should be considered crimes by the state (outside OT Israel), and that Christians have liberty to disagree on those political questions, to be consistent I have to believe that about hetero fornication, homosexual behavior, prostitution and yes, bestiality. While the government certainly has the right to enforce community standards agreed upon by the majority, that’s not the issue, the issue is that we cannot pick and choose which commandments we think the state must enforce and then administer church discipline on those who think or vote differently.

    As for the 2k cause, I can only speak for myself, I’m not out to join a cause or start a movement.

    As for embarrassment over Misty, she is a friend and I don’t throw friends under the bus. But I strongly disagree with her, and actually think her views violate the 2k distinction in the Bible. In other words, she argues that Christians should support same-sex marriage to not hamper our ability to reach homosexuals with the gospel, and because homosexuals believe by denying them such rights we are not showing love to them and are being unfair. While I believe her desire to reach out to homosexuals and lesbians is genuine and in itself to be commended, I think her view is a blurring of the kingdoms. Obviously we all agree homosexual lust and behavior is sinful and both a sign of God’s judgment (Rom 1) as well as a precursor to it. From a political point of view, I think homosexual marriage is terrible law and setting bad precedent and the state has no right to redefine marriage (It violates my libertarian leanings). If Misty is arguing that the church as an institution should not be fighting that particular law, especially while ignoring so many other ways the state allows for sins concerning marriage, then she has a point – we do come across as hating one group, and it is not the church’s role as an institution to meddle in political questions . But, if a homosexual thinks by holding my view on gay marriage that I hate them, well, that’s his problem. I do not have to change my view on political questions to reach out to homosexuals with the gospel and love of Christ.


  444. NDK, do you try to protect the good names of 2kers? Would you please consider it?


  445. Teacher, I have heard of Warfield’s postmillennialism. But I haven’t heard that Murray tried to run Warfield’s views out of respectable Reformed circles.


  446. Erik, I do sign books, after a round of golf (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).


  447. Darryl wrote,

    Mark, if the issue is not word and sacrament vs. political activism, then what is it?

    Bret responds,

    This is so elementary that it is shocking that after years of discussions and volumes of books this question is asked by one who is putatively an expert on the R2K side.

    Here is the issue between us

    Biblical Christians believe that Scripture is the norm that norms all norms in all realms

    VS

    R2K advocates are those who believe that Scripture is not the norm that norms all norms in all realms.

    That Darryl throws out “Political activism” as the putative “Dog in the fight” of Biblical Christianity is a howler. Darryl desires to paint Biblical Christians with the brush that we are all about politics. Not true. Biblical Christians are concerned with what God’s word as to say to the Magistrate but we are also concerned with what it has to say to the Artist, and the Economist, and the Teacher, and the Judge, and the Father, etc.

    If we have to speak more now about “Politics” it is only because Politics has become modernities “Theology.” Politics for contemporary man has become the Idol of the age. As such, that idol needs pulled down and so that civil social institution is spoken to a great deal because that is where the battle is currently the hottest. But to say the Biblical Christianity is all about political activism is as ridiculous as it sounds.

    Darryl continues,

    So many here keep recommending that Erik read so many OTHER sources. Where are they?

    Bret

    I listed them in a previous comment on this thread for you to possibly read. So, some of them are in this thread already but here are a few more.

    The Calvinistic Concept of Culture — Van Til
    Kuyper’s Stone Lectures
    Dabney’s — Discussions: Secular
    Augustine — City of God

    Yes, yes … I realize that R2K is forever appealing to that book but I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Dawson — Religion and the rise of Western Culture
    Dawson — Inquiries into Religion and Culture
    T. S. Eliott — Christianity and Culture

    If anyone is interested in a ever fuller bibliography on the intimate connection between religion and culture, and religion and nations, and religion and civil social institutions contact me off-line.

    Darryl presses on where Angels fear to tread,

    And for all the essays like the ones in Kingdoms Apart, anti-2kers haven’t exactly lined up on a single point. The Rabbi is some kind of Hayekian postmillennialist, Dr. K. is some kind of Schilderite/Kuperian hybrid, DTM recommends Kuyper mediated by the likes of Schaeffer and Falwell, the Baylys follow Edwards and Wilson, Wilson channels theonomy mediated by James Jordan and Peter Leithart.

    There’s a lot there but what is IT?

    2kers are still waiting.

    Bret responds,

    This is another hootenanny statement. Here is Hart complaining about lack of uniformity among Christians on this matter and yet R2K is forever saying things LIKE … “Well, we’re not really a theology. More a way of leaning into the world,” or, “R2K really isn’t uniform,” or, “You must understand that R2K is evolving.” (paraphrases all)

    So again … the WHAT it is, is the conviction that Scripture is the norm that norms all norms in all realms. So, you may have these slight differences as Darryl enumerates but what they all agree on is that Scripture is the norm that norms all norms in all realms. Any disagreement from there is only disagreement over the exact application.

    But then I’ve seen the same contending among R2K concerning how they will apply Natural law to the common realm.


  448. dgh: After my earlier admonition to all participants, several NL2K critics changed their online behavior regarding the use of personal sarcasm in addressing others. If any NL2K critic continues to employ this rhetorical technique, I intend to issue them the same warning I’ve issued to you.

    Erik: I appreciate your concern about this blog becoming “snoozerville,” but I have high hopes that participants can and will honor my request. Even as you are doing (for which I thank you).


  449. Darryl wrote,

    At some point, someone may want to notice that 2kers didn’t go out looking for a fight.

    Bret responds,

    Something that I’m sure Arminius could have said.

    Darryl wrote,

    We were working in historical materials of which modern neo-Cals appear to be ignorant (such as VanDrunen’s work on Natural Law or mine on Machen). We have also thought through the implications of these historic positions and found that either the neo-Cal version of cultural/political engagement, or the evangelical version of it, do not necessarily represent the Reformed churches. And then came lots of scorn, disdain, and hair pulling. Meanwhile, have also come charges that we don’t understand the Bible and the confessions, and even that we are cowards and faithless). It has not been a very becoming representation of w-wism.

    Bret responds,

    Well, when we catch y’all fudging on the quoting of the historical material or misrepresenting it by not reading it against the whole of that material (of any given author) y’all will not be surprised if we come out of our shoes.

    For example you constantly seek to make Machen speak R2K and yet,

    “Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough; intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.”

    – Dr. J. Gresham Machen
    From his address, — “Christianity and Culture”,
    Delivered in 1912 for the centennial celebration of the founding of Princeton Seminary in 1812

    R2K could and would never speak this way. Machen was no R2K anti cultural R2K warrior.

    Darryl wrote,

    As for whether the Rabbi represents an older view, I’m not sure many Reformed theologians would have embraced his libertarianism or his scorn for political authorities (you know, Rom. 13)? I also sense that McAtee would find Witherspoon to be a theological weenie. The Rabbi’s instincts are ideological and ideologues don’t show much room for other views.

    Bret responds,

    Actually, this is another example where you pontificate without knowing what you’re talking about. I am NOT a movement Libertarian. At Iron Ink I’ve written scads about how movement (Randian) Libertarianism is not Biblical. I’ve made careful distinctions about how the One and the Many and Biblical Christianity does not allow Christians to be either Libertarians or Statists. And yet here you are, misrepresenting me, just as you misrepresent Machen and who knows how many other sources.

    And in terms of Romans 13 you can’t fit a thin dime between me and the Puritan Christopher Goodman. Are you going to indict him also?

    Have you ever read Vindiciae contra tyrannos thought to have been written by Calvinist Huguenots? Have you ever read the Covenanter James M. Willson treatise on Romans 13? Until you are familiar with these works please shut up about my inconsistency with Romans 13, for your only embarrassing yourself and maligning me by your ignorance.

    Darryl writes,

    But if McAtee represents an older view, so does 2k hold a place that has been tolerated for at least seventy five years (as the OPC suggests). If the sky is falling now, why wasn’t it falling in 1947 when the OPC decided not to join the NAE or MacIntire’s American Council because both groups were too political?

    Bret responds,

    R2K is a novel position being worked out to the severest of any earlier incarnations.


  450. McAtee – What does the Bible say about Christianity and the artist?

    Who denies that Christians are to bring their Christian values and beliefs into the workplace? If we just seek to be excellent at whatever our work is, aren’t we doing that? How did you go about being a distinctly Christian factory worker? I am a CPA. How does Christianity inform my work, other than compelling me to be honest and to show up on time? Give me some meat here about Christian artists, judges, and economists and account for the aspects of the Bible that are inconvenient to you (like the Mosaic law).


  451. DG – I spoke to Lucero last night. I will now hound him and the consistory endlessly. MM is an active elder at his church so that is good news. If you came in the late spring or summer would you bring your wife along? Would you prefer to stay in a hotel in downtown Des Moines or at someone’s home? I could put you up at the golf course in a nice condo but it’s 30 minutes from church. If we got you a rental car it might not be a bad option, though. There is also a local, conservative radio host (on a 50,000 watt blowtorch) who used to be in the OPC. We could probably get you on his show leading up to the event.


  452. It’s a beautiful 60 degree Saturday morning here in Northwest Indiana. Probably my last opportunity this year for a 2W ride—that’s a ride on my Suzuki Burgman 650 2-wheeler. Good for clearing the head, breathing deeply, and savoring God’s goodness. But before heading out, I wanted to thank Todd for joining the discussion! Your comments about compassion and understanding regarding homosexual desire and conduct resonate well! May I invite you to review—and consider responding to—previous comments regarding the biblical hermeneutic employed by 2K advocates, which says: the Bible governs the spiritual kingdom/church, whereas unaided reason and natural law alone govern the civil kingdom. This hermeneutic is being used by some to allow for the conclusion that advocates legalizing homosexual marriage. We are looking to learn how that hermeneutic would disallow that conclusion. Thanks again for participating!


  453. McAtee – The Belgic leans heavily Amil. Ask Wilson if it gives any indication of it being Postmil in a way that would satisfy him.


  454. NDK says – “his hermeneutic is being used by some to allow for the conclusion that advocates legalizing homosexual marriage”

    “Some” meaning Misty Irons. Oh, and you Todd, until you just now said it’s not you. I have yet to hear of anyone else who is a part of this “some”.


  455. EC

    Nonsense. Only a amill would come to that conclusion.


  456. on November 10, 2012 at 10:40 am Mark Van Der Molen

    Erik, have you not read Horton employing the R2k hermeneutic to permit gay civil unions? The issue is not the number of advocates openly employing it in this fashion, but whether the hermeneutic itself is defective to countance or encourage such thinking. You’ve already heard the admission on this thread that the “2k” hermeneutic would not preclude its use in service of such argument. That causes you no pause for reflection?


  457. It always amazed me that I get these same questions repeatedly. Have you read Van Til?

    EC

    McAtee – What does the Bible say about Christianity and the artist?

    Bret responds,

    The fact that God is a God of order and created a Universe of harmony where the one and the many are equally ultimate has vast implications for art.

    EC

    Who denies that Christians are to bring their Christian values and beliefs into the workplace?

    Bret

    R2K does. R2K, of course, says that a Christian can be a nice person in the work place, but they deny that there is any such thing as a Christian calling in the common realm. They admit that a Christian can be a artist but they deny that Christian art is distinct from, lets say for the sake of example, existential art.

    EC,

    If we just seek to be excellent at whatever our work is, aren’t we doing that? How did you go about being a distinctly Christian factory worker?

    Bret

    Excellence is defined by some standard. What is that standard and where does that standard arise from?

    EC,

    I am a CPA. How does Christianity inform my work, other than compelling me to be honest and to show up on time?

    Bret

    Ever heard of Ken Lay and Enron? Was he being a Christian CPA?

    And the necessity of honesty is something that presupposes a Christian worldview. The pagan CPA has no reason to be “honest” as the Christian understands honest.

    EC.

    Give me some meat here about Christian artists, judges, and economists and account for the aspects of the Bible that are inconvenient to you (like the Mosaic law).

    Bret

    I’ve already listed a number of books that you can reference.


  458. Mark – Give me the source for Horton on Civil Unions & I will react to it.


  459. McAtee – How does Milton Friedman fit into your paradigm? Jewish ethnicity, secular, brilliant economist, Nobel Prize winner, pro-freedom, anti-big government, pro-common sense. His memoir “Two Lucky People” with his wife Rose is a must-read. Presumably Scripture is not in any way authoritative for him. How do you explain him?


  460. Neocalvinist brothers – What exactly are you DOING about all of this? As a 2k guy I can tell you exactly what we do. Worship on Sundays, listen to biblical preaching, catechize our youth, read the Bible, partake of the sacraments, pray, try to help people through our deacons, practice church discipline through our elders, go to work, work hard, build friendships with co-workers & neighbors, enjoy culture. When elections come around I imagine most of us vote. Real simple, practical stuff. This is our program.

    What is your program? Does everyone have to learn Dutch to understand it? Write it out in a paragraph that any average Christian can understand.


  461. McAtee – “The fact that God is a God of order and created a Universe of harmony where the one and the many are equally ultimate has vast implications for art.”

    Such as?


  462. EC

    Some close reading in Cornelius Van til would answer this question for you.

    All worldviews need to steal at least some Christian worldview capital to get off the ground. Friedman merely borrowed from the Christian worldview and was felicitously inconsistent with his own non Christian presupposition of agnosticism.


  463. McAtee – “How does Christianity inform my work, other than compelling me to be honest and to show up on time? Bret Ever heard of Ken Lay and Enron? Was he being a Christian CPA? And the necessity of honesty is something that presupposes a Christian worldview. The pagan CPA has no reason to be “honest” as the Christian understands honest.”

    Who is denying that Christians bring their values to the workplace? What happened to Ken Lay and Enron? Did it require an explicitly Christian government for them to reap the consequences they did? Lay died before he was prosecuted, I believe, so use Andrew Fastow as a substitute.I would also note that George W. Bush was President when Enron went down and he wore his faith on his sleeve, going so far as to call Jesus, “His favorite philosopher”. Christians ate that up.


  464. EC

    I refer to reading Hans Rookmaaker or even Francis Schaeffer on the subject of art. You can go to Amazon and secure some fine reading on the subject.

    I’m not going to repeat their work here for someone unfamiliar with the subject matter.


  465. McAtee – I am familiar with Van Til (and, by extension, Bahnsen). You guys have a hard time expalining why you don’t go as far as Bahnsen, though. The transcendental argument for the existence of God argues that laws of nature, laws of logic, and laws of morality make no sense if the Christian God does not exist. It does not argue that atheists have no understanding of nature, logic, or morality. In fact the Bible says just they opposite. They have all of these things, they just do not give God credit for it, which sounds a lot like Natural Law which a lot of 2K guys are attracted to.


  466. McAtee – Pretend you’re taking your ordination exam. Quote the parts of Belgic 37 that you see supporting Postmillennialism.


  467. Hart spent time with Schaeffer. I’ll let him address how he did (or didn’t influence him). Schaeffer was a Bible Presbyterian and was therefore attracted to certain fundamentalist influences with regard to culture which I can tell you I will not be persuaded by. These cats weren’t too excited about smoking, drinking, or folks with European sensibilities on these matters like Van Til, either.

    If you’re so well read can you not even summarize their case in a few sentences? Everything I write here, unless it’s in quotes, comes right from the top of my head.


  468. Professor Kloosterman,

    Thanks for the invite. I would rephrase the question. What hermeneutic is employed which informs us which of the Ten Commandments the state must enforce? Since Mormonism and Judaism are idolatrous, and idolatry is as evil as homosexuality and witchcraft, what hermeneutic informs Christians that they must instruct the state to outlaw such idolatry or instruct Christians to seek such a thing politically? What about fornication, or Sabbath-breaking? What hermeneutic informs us how the state must enforce each of God’s laws? It seems to me the theonomists are the only ones consistent here by suggesting the state today should ideally enforce the laws enforced in OT Israel. But if you are not a theonomist, and you do not like Horton’s 2k, what hermeneutic are you using to answer these questions?

    But I would also suggest it is wrong-headed to seek the answers to these questions in a particular hermeneutic. When I visited Dutch Reformed believers in Canada a number of years ago, and these were very conservative (exclusive psalmody, KJ only, Christian schools) Christians, I was surprised at how liberal they were in their politics. They were strong socialists, liked Bill Clinton (president at the time), and criticized our country strongly for not embracing universal health care. Their views hardly arose from a 2k hermeneutic. I have read some arguments from certain theonomists on legalizing drugs that resonate with me as a libertarian, and yet we would come from opposite ends of the hermeneutical spectrum. So questions of how the Bible relates to political questions are answered by more than one factor, but a variety of factors that include societal background, nationality, etc…


  469. McAtee – How was Friedman “felicitously inconsistent”? Cite examples.

    If he wasn’t a Christian how was he so brilliant?


  470. Todd – Good questions. They answer will be something about France & Maryland helping out during the Revolutionary War and Mormons helping out during the War with Mexico. Real strong arguments…

    You need to post on Old Life. You’ll fit in there.


  471. Mark, I’ll ask again and again and again, what is THE issue if it is not word and sacrament vs. politics? Is it word and sacrament vs. gay marriage? But NDK has already indicated that Irons is not an example of 2k thought.

    But if you continue to invoke gay marriage — which seems obsessive — what about apartheid and the neo-Calvinist notion of pillarization? NDK says that neo-Cals have repudiated it. Well, I have never countenanced gay marriage. But you continue to bring it up. Why?

    I guess it’s because you think we have a similar hermeneutic. But the neo-Cal hermeneutic led to toleration for apartheid. Has neo-Calvinism ever repudiated its hermeneutic? Or have they switched on its application?

    In which case, why is it fair to say our hermeneutic is wrong if it leads to gay marriage (allegedly) if yours led to apartheid?


  472. Greetings, gentlemen (so far as I know there are no women posting on this thread, so I trust that term is appropriate):

    I am trying to get though massive mountains of backed-up email and other work that got put on the back burner thanks to the past election, so I can only comment here with some general points.

    First and most importantly, thank you to Rev. Bordow for participating here. I asked several times on other forums for you to get involved in responding to inquiries, including the Presbyterians-OPC forum where you had been participating in the past. I’ve said some very unwise things in the past and I would hate to be held accountable for things I’ve said that were poorly written and do not reflect my actual views.

    My primary concern is your interaction on the Puritan Board with Mark Van Der Molen over Two Kingdoms issues. I have raised that several times. The best thing for me to do is probably go over to the OPC forum, find my questions to you from earlier this year, and ask them here.

    Second, for Dr. Hart, a clarification on Falwell — I don’t particularly value Falwell as a thinker, but rather as a person who helped to lead a Christian political movement and channel it into helpful directions. He’s an activist, not an academic, and we need both. I think I cited a number of politically active Christian leaders, not just one, and speaking for myself, I have a lot more respect for men like Dr. James Kennedy (though I also have my differences with him as well). The modern Christian conservative movement may look to Schaeffer as a “grandfather,” but he built on a foundation laid earlier by Kuyper, and those who look to Schaeffer are all over the evangelical theological map.

    Third, thanks to Dr. Hart and to Erik for your compliments. I’ve spent enough time in liberal circles to know that conservatives and especially conservative Christians have a bad reputation for being unable or unwilling to think, or to interact constructively with original sources. While that may be a fair criticism of some types of evangelicalism, it is not a fair criticism of the Reformed approach to truth and to theology, and I believe it’s important that we equip our people as well as ourselves to interact responsibly with other viewpoints.

    We do that first of all by modeling it in our own discussions.

    We are people of the Word. We are people who consider doctrine and serious theological study to be very important. And we ought to be able to demonstrate that in how we interact with each other.

    Fourth and finally, on a closely related point, I am dismayed by the way a “tea party” approach to authority has crept into theological discussions.

    Something needs to be said here, and I probably should have said some of this a long time ago. All too often in internet discussions of theology during the last few years, I’ve seen an approach which has far more in common with Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” than it does with biblical Christianity.

    As Reformed people, not only do we show respect for doctrine, we show respect for duly constituted authority. That is a requirement not only for secular but also for ecclesiastical authority, and online discussions do not constitute an exception clause.

    That does not mean strong words are wrong. It does mean respecting the office even when we cannot respect the person holding it.

    You will note that I normally refer to people by their ecclesiastical or academic titles, or in the case of elected officials, by the title of their office. We have no biblical mandate to call people “Rev.,” “Dr.,” “Sen.,” “Gov.,” or whatever, so I realize that is not necessarily required — but the spirit of respect for office underlying the use of the official title **IS** required, and using the title is a way to remind myself and others of the proper attitude toward someone who holds office..

    The simple fact of the matter is that we **DO** have a biblical and a confessional mandate to show respect for those in authority, even if that means showing enough respect for the office to take the proper steps needed to depose an unworthy minister from his office.

    I’ve been involved on online discussion groups dating back for many decades, and I’m well aware that the culture of the internet has become a “leveller” culture (to use a very old theological and political term). That has both good and bad points.

    The good part is that we can have serious discussions with people who we are very unlikely to meet in person, and who we’d probably be intimidated to ask aggressive questions in front of a audience of hundreds or thousands of people — but we can “grill” men like Dr. Kloosterman or Dr. Hart here, asking them hard questions and knowing that many more people will be reading our questions and their answers than actually participate in the discussion.

    The bad part is that the internet culture, which originated with teenage and twentysomething technogeeks several decades ago, often has a level of disrespect for office found in teenage and twentysomething culture.

    That disrespect is not biblical and ought not to be used by Christians, barring extreme cases. I do not disagree that Scripture uses such language, but is limited to the explicit enemies of God, either damnable heretics inside the church or those outside who seek to destroy the church. Holding people up to ridicule and satire are only rarely the right ways to deal with our opponents — first, because they don’t work, and second, because they tend toward causing people to lose respect for the office. In the the long run, causing people to disrespect the ordained offices of Christ’s church at the end of a battle to remove unworthy people from office will lead to dire consequences for the church long after the fight is over and the people who needed to be removed have been removed.

    We are Reformed; we are not revolutionaries.. Strong criticism and strong words are appropriate at times. Disrespect for office is not.

    There are important differences between the two.


  473. CRC Pastor McAtee, thanks for the response. But your understanding of THE issue is not shared by Dr. K. You say it is that the Bible the norm for all of life. But Dr. K. in this very thread said that the Bible is not the only norm for all of life and that the Bible doesn’t speak to such matters directly as principled pluralism or constitutionalism.

    Here’s what NDK wrote:

    “No neo-Calvinist has ever claimed or argued that the Bible was sufficient for determining how Christians approach cultural obedience. Necessary, yes. Authoritative, yes. Perspicuous, yes. Sufficient? No. The Bible’s sufficiency has to do with serving as the final arbiter in matters of Christian doctrine and Christian living. Read again: final. Not only. Not exclusive. Not sufficient. These are important confessional and theological distinctions, and ought not simply to be equated with the distinctions being made by moder NL2K advocates. Listen carefully, please: Do not equate neo-Calvinists who emphasize the authority and light of Scripture for all of life with others who seek to use the Bible alone as the guidebook for statecraft. I have never claimed that, do not defend that, and do not believe that. One more time: I believe that both special revelation and general revelation are necessary, in that order, for properly apprehending and living according to God’s will in the world. I would not characterize, and have not characterized, anyone as unfaithful for defending natural law.”

    So again, I’m waiting to see what THE issue is. Maybe you guys could hold a conference and get on the same page (especially since so many of you are on different pages when it comes to the politics of the church — Wilson, Schaeffer, the Baylys, Colson, and Kuyper — that’s an arresting group). An arm wrestling tournament would also be fun to watch.


  474. Mark, I suppose you agree with Heidelberg on the idolatry on the Roman Catholic Mass. Can you point me to where you have opposed Roman Catholicism in Indiana or in the United States?


  475. Hart- What about N. Plantinga? Shouldn’t he be in your dream cage match?

    I agree that Kloosterman’s Dutch Calvinism (hereafter KDC) is different than your standard neo-calvinism. To my ears it sounds more like a Herman Hoeksma Dutch Calvinism. The fact that the pagan has no chance at qualitatively improving her life and the fact that he refers to Divine Providence instead of Common Grace as the factor behind creational structures leads me to believe that’s where his affinity lies.

    I’m struck by the implications of how a consistent KDCer would act. Take for example the benevolent KDC counselor. How would he counsel a pagan couple going through marital difficulties?

    “Hello, I’m Dr Van Vanderman. Welcome, have a seat. Let me start off by letting you know that there is nothing I can do to improve your marriage. The only thing that will qualitatively improve your marriage is to receive the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Since my role here is one of merely benevolence you will have to go to church to receive that grace and any hope of improvement. Despite that, you must stayed married because that is how God works his plan. I hope that helps.”

    Or how about the KDCer who writes his legislator to ban gay marriage.

    “Dear Legislator, I understand there is a bill that would allow gay marriage. You must vote against this bill despite the fact that denying them this privelege will not have any real positive impact on their lives. We must deny the homosexual any sense of familial bond because that is how we build up families. God desires the sacrifice of homosexuals over mercy. Let’s keep God happy!”


  476. on November 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm Mark Van Der Molen

    For those who may be interested, Matt Tuininga asked my take on the Horton discussion at Covenant College. I provided this answer:

    http://matthewtuininga.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/the-two-kingdoms-at-covenant-college-toning-down-the-rhetoric/#comment-2342

    Matt graciously responded that this was a fair analysis. You will note too he mentioned he will be reviewing the new book “Kingdoms Apart”– a book he described as “helpful” in these discussions:

    http://matthewtuininga.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/the-two-kingdoms-at-covenant-colege-toning-down-the-rhetoric/#comment-2343


  477. Mark, thanks for that. Have you written any books on the subject?


  478. I listened to the Horton confab at Covenant. I actually think we have a lot more fruitful back-and-forth here. Imagine going into a setting where most everyone else disagrees with you on a topic and many people aren’t that informed about what it is exactly that you believe. You are dealing with people face-to-face and there are a lot of people watching. You just aren’t going to get as in-depth as you can in an online setting where you are doing a lot of writing. I think Hart, and maybe even little old me, would have taken some of those Covenant folks to the woodshed (or at least challenged them) in ways Horton did not given an online setting. What does one do with the notion that because God said he would bless all people through Abraham “it is the church’s responsibility to be a blessing to the world around us.” Um, I don’t think that is precisely what is being communicated in Genesis. There are a few facts about Christ and his work in between that premise and conclusion. We don’t jump directly from God’s promise to Abraham to the social gospel. The whole thing was kind of frustrating — an ambush of Horton almost.

    One very interesting point, though. Critics at Covenant were mostly concerned about 2k leading to the church neglecting “the poor”. No one at all really argued for being culture warriors, in fact everyone seemed to agree they were generally against it — which is pretty much all that the 2k opponents online seem to be concerned about. Keep in mind this is an academic crowd, though, with the usual baggage that goes with that demographic.


  479. D.G. – You’re brutal. Everyone have a good Lord’s day.


  480. Hey Darryl, Have you ever written any good theological books on the Mosaic Covenant in light of your denominations Confessional Standard? I am still waiting to know if you are Confessional concerning the Law and Gospel in light of the Mosaic Covenant. You seem to be quite silent. Do you have something to hide? You must. Come Darryl! Lighten up your loose tongue. You can spew all kinds of strange stuff but you are scared to discuss whether you adhere to an admixture of Covenants in the Mosaic?

    On a side note…
    Does Hillsdale really pay you? I can’t get over that.

    http://oldlife.org/2012/10/what-hath-jerusalem-monarchy-to-do-with-athens-democracy/comment-page-1/#comments

    I started challenging your historical understandings on the blog above and I answered you faithfully. Why are you hiding behind skirts? I prefer kilts. LOL. You became so silent and write in bumper sticker style. Creepie! I am waiting for some substance. When you decide to have some and are willing to man up I will be impressed. I was told you wouldn’t. Maybe substance is not your repertoire. Maybe it isn’t Bumper Stickerish enough. Maybe I should be asking for some criticism about something that you haven’t read or know the contents of. I might get a response then. LOL. That seems to be your motif’

    Still wanting to know where the Luther quote about Turks comes from,

    You make some of the strangest, antinomian, historically incorrect, statements and I am wanting to see if you will make dispensationalist comments. Especially concerning the Mosaic Covenant. Are you Confessional? Do you adhere to WCF 7.5,6? Is the Mosaic an admixture of the Covenant of Works and Grace? Is it an administration of both?

    .
    Writing books and Bumper Stickers…..

    I promise, if I start mentioning you openly I will title my first blog Writing Books and Bumper Stickers. LOL.

    Come on Darryl. Come out and Play ay.

    This isn’t a game to me. A lot of people need sound doctrine for life. You are not promoting it in my estimation.

    Randy


  481. But NDK has already indicated that Irons is not an example of 2k thought.

    Darryl, It is an example of the strange 2K thought. It matters how you define 2K. After reading a lot of the Iron’s trial I am convinced that the Mosaic is a root issue. The Iron’s trial and Meredith Kline have a hand in hand stroll concerning the Mosaic. It is a root issue. And for some reason all these strange Escondido Natural Law types seem to hold to the same minority view concerning the Mosaic. Concerning the Mosaic, the Law is opposed to Gospel in soteriology That is some terrible theology.


  482. Randy – How is the Mosaic law with it’s death penalties for many acts gracious in the way the gospel is gracious? If you were a Jew and committed one of those acts and were put to death would you say that was grace? The law is good, but is it gracious? Do you draw any distinction between law & gospel? If you don’t see the law as, in a sense, bad news do you either overestimate your ability to keep it or underestimate how amazing the gospel is?


  483. The Covenant of Works is bad news Erik. Galatians 6:7 is also for the New Covenant Member as are all the warning passages to believers. I explain that in the blog concerning the Substance of the Mosaic and New Covenant that I asked you to read a long time ago. Erik. Now I really wish you would step aside and quit being a skirt for Darryl. Let him address this. Thanks buddy.


  484. God punishing sin in the believers life and the non believers life is gracious. It protects Society and the Church. That is grace at work also. God revealing His Character is gracious. God revealing His Holiness is gracious. Maybe we need to define grace a bit. It is a mercy and Grace when God judges us. Men are already condemned and adding to their condemnation. The Law reveals God’s character and is not reinstituted as a Covenant of Works. Not in any form.

    (1Co 3:17) If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

    Erik, I invited you to discuss this with me on the phone even. Are you up for that bud? I will check back in tomorrow. Have a good Lord’s day bud. Keep your Thoughts on the Beauty of the Lord. He is most wonderful.

    Psa_27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

    Sorry I haven’t had a lot of time to spend on this stuff. I have been preparing for Deer Season. As my son Samuel Rutherford and I were at the cabin last evening one of the biggest bucks I have ever seen just mozzied by. It was so beautiful. Dr. Venema is coming this next weekend for a RSI conference at my church. I am also tearing out my bathroom wall. Leakage from the shower head has ruined the wall. That and kid stuff adds up to a past crazy week and busy next few to come.


  485. Randy – If people go to hell is that gracious, too? You seem to be stretching the definition of grace here. How is it you feel that You are somehow in the majority and Hart is in the minority? I can’t say I’ve encountered too many people in the Reformed world with your view. What exactly did Jesus save us from? No thanks on the phone call. I hate talking on the phone.


  486. Randy – Presumably you sinned today, as you did yesterday, and the day before yesterday. You are still here so obviously God did not punish you with the death that your sins deserved. What do you call that?


  487. Randy – If you say God not punishing you is Grace you render the word meaningless because you have just told me that God punishing you is grace. The same word can not have two meanings that are direct opposites. That is gibberish, which may be why Hart seems to be ignoring you.

    I can maybe understand “correction” being gracious, but a death sentence is not gracious. Explain to me how Ananias & Sapphira being struck dead in the Book of Acts was gracious.


  488. “God punishing sin in the believers life and the non believers life is gracious. It protects Society and the Church.”

    But is it gracious to the one being punished (if it results in death)? Do you deny that there is still a distinction between law & gospel? Are you one of those golawspel folks?


  489. Randy says- “We do not pretend to make any secret of our own position on this matter. We believe that the majority consensus of Reformed theologians of the 16th and 17th centuries was that the Mosaic Covenant was essentially a covenant of grace. While it had unique administrative elements, these were merely accidental and did not change its essential character as a covenant of grace. This position was advanced by the vast majority of prominent 17th century Reformed Theologians, and is embodied in the confessions of that same century, particularly the Westminster Standards. Aware of this, the reader is also free to check all my introductory comments and analysis on the basis of the primary documents, and correct them where he or she feels they are inaccurate.”

    I think the biggest question you have to answer is, if the Mosaic Covenant was “essentially” a covenant of grace, why were the Israelites kicked out of the land? That was a pretty big part of the Covenant. How do you explain that? Was this just a “unique administrative element”?


  490. “Accidental?” In Scripture?


  491. Randy, I’m not avoiding you or hiding. You know where Old Life is. I just tire of responding to someone who laughs out loud to his own jokes.

    BTW, since I contributed not a bumper sticker but a chapter to The Law is Not of Faith, I’m sure you can connect the dots.


  492. Further Thoughts on Michael Horton’s Mugging Atop Lookout Mountain

    ‘ve allowed my brain to marinate overnight in the ITunes podcast of Michael Horton’s recent panel discussion on Two Kingdoms Theology with faculty and students at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Something didn’t sit right with me about the get together, and as I continue to reflect on just what that is I will make a few comments.

    What is Covenant College? Their website says “We are a community committed to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, and everything we do is grounded in our Reformed theology and worldview.”

    The site goes on:

    “The mission of Covenant College is to explore and express the preeminence of Jesus Christ in all things. We educate Christians to engage culture and cultures, to examine and unfold creation, and to pursue biblical justice and mercy in community. With the student-faculty relationship and strong teaching and scholarship at the foundation, our Christ-centered community seeks to help students mature in three primary areas: (1) Identity in Christ (2) Biblical frame of reference (3) Service that is Christ-like. We offer the world biblically grounded men and women equipped to live out extraordinary callings in ordinary places.”

    O.K. That’s a lot of stuff. Let’s unpack it.

    First off, as I noted in another post, “Critics at Covenant were mostly concerned about 2k leading to the church neglecting ‘the poor’. No one at all really argued for being culture warriors, in fact everyone seemed to agree they were generally against it — which is pretty much all that the 2k opponents online seem to be concerned about.”

    So on one hand we have college faculty and students affiliated with a Presbyterian Church in America school criticizing 2k because they think it is going to hold them back in their mission on earth to help the poor. Call it a vision of the church as a hospital for the sick in the world.

    On the other hand we have Neocalvinists & aggressive postmillennialists online, most of whom are interested in the issues that are normally associated with the “culture war” — homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion. Call it a vision of the church as a policeman for the law-breakers of the world.

    Both of these groups claim be be rooted in Reformed theology and criticize 2k for trying to limit what the church is meant to be — a refuge for the world’s downtrodden in one case, a transformer or preserver of culture in the other case (I would kind of like to see a panel discussion between these two factions. Maybe Nelson Kloosterman or Doug Wilson can head up Lookout Mountain).

    What do both of these groups miss?

    Heidelberg Catechism 114 is given at the end of the exposition of the Ten Commandments:

    Question: “Can those who are converted to God keep these Commandments perfectly?”

    Answer: “No, but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of such obedience, yet so that with earnest purpose they begin to live not only according to some, but according to all the Commandments of God.”

    Both of these groups miss the point, how can I put this nicely, that they are just plain not as good of people as they view themselves to be. The church is not a hospital for the sick in the world. The church is not a policeman for the law-breakers of the world. The church is a hospital for the sick and the law-breakers in the church. This is a profound difference.

    One of the more influential things I have encountered as a Christian is my pastor preaching through the first five books of the Old Testament. He didn’t go straight through every chapter, but he went through all of Genesis and select parts of the other four books. The number one impression these months of preaching left we with is the notion that God’s covenant people really aren’t any better than those he does not make a gracious covenant with. The only difference is that God is graciously working in their midst. They remain stained with sin throughout their lives and God will often have to work in spite of them, a notion that we see constantly in the lives of the Patriarchs.

    Why does 2k stress the humble means of grace — preaching of the Word, administration of the sacraments, prayer, church discipline — as what the church is primarily about? Because Christians need these things all their lives long. We are not good people who have arrived and are ready to be let loose on the world. We are sick and sinful people in need of constant reminding of who we are and who our God is.

    Will there be no good works that have an impact on those outside the church? No, the Heidelberg tells us there will be a small beginning. Let’s just be humble about what that means.


  493. Eric, Good Morning,

    You said…
    Randy – If people go to hell is that gracious, too?

    Me…

    That is Condemnation and mankind is receiving just punishment. That is totally based upon Adam’s Federal Headship and their adding up sin upon sin to the day of judgement. Of course that is not gracious bud.

    Erik…

    How is it you feel that You are somehow in the majority and Hart is in the minority?

    Me…

    When I speak about the Minority position Erik, I am speaking about the Westminster Divines. There were many minority positions that were rejected and considered unbiblical. The view that the Mosaic Covenant was an admixture or administration of both the Covenant of Grace and Works was the Minority position and found to be unbiblical. It is not in accordance with scripture so they rejected it. Their are variences of subservient language and language that states there was a republication of the Covenant of Works but how those terms are used is very important in understanding the situation. It is kind like this situation. How Two Kingdoms and Natural Law is defined is what is being contested here. It isn’t that we don’t understand the language is used. It is how was it used and what does it mean when people are using the language.

    Erik…

    I think the biggest question you have to answer is, if the Mosaic Covenant was “essentially” a covenant of grace, why were the Israelites kicked out of the land? That was a pretty big part of the Covenant. How do you explain that? Was this just a “unique administrative element”?

    Me…

    No Erik, it wasn’t. And if you would take the time to read the short blog I have asked you to read many times over you would see that what you are discrribing is very much found in the New Covenant also.

    Please take the time to read that short very carefully. It is the blog titled the Same in Substance I believe.

    You can find this concept of in the New Covenant also. Just to mention a few let me note the individual basis is found in 1 Corinthians 5 where the man is excommunicated unless he repent. Thessalonians mentions that some are excommunicated that they might learn not to blaspheme. Revelation chapter 2 where the Lord says if the Church doesn’t repent in Ephesus that he will remove their Candlestick. Those are just a few. Punishment is not necessarily condemnation. It is reproof. To go unpunished is what Romans 1 speaks of. Going unpunished on this side is reprobation and God giving mankind up to their sin. That is not gracious nor merciful. It is only condemnation on the final day.

    Heading out for a morning of Worship Erik You have a good one also.

    DGH.

    I hope you plainly speak as you are still avoiding a specific question. Come, Let us speak plainly. I am LOLing out of frustration and trying to provoke you to be forthcoming. Cryptic language is a skirt. Come on Put your kilt on and speak plainly man. Quit hiding behind the skirt.

    Come on DGH!. Play the man! Answer us plainly. Are you Confessional or Not?


  494. Erik. Just thought I would let you know that your descriptions and stereo types just don’t fit the mold here. I am Amil. I believe that the Church is the Salt of the Earth. It is used to preserve Society as well as deal with healing. BTW, I do not believe healing is total on this side. We still get sick. My left leg was crushed and crippled in the motorcycle wreck in 1985. It still hurts and I have a lot of physical problems. It is healed as good as it is gonna get on this side. It is healed but I still have the scars and pain. I still have a lot of metal in it also. Some of it has been removed. But not much of it.


  495. Okay Erik…
    You said…
    ““Accidental?” In Scripture?”

    Me…

    One other issue that I didn’t take time to explain this morning has to do with your question of accidental.

    First off, the quote you note above and get the term from is not my writing. It is actually taken from the Mosaic Covenant Page I link to on my site. I believe it’s Contributors are men of God from Northwestern Theological Seminary. Kerux is their Theological Journal. I love that Journal. It is proven to be more historically accurate than others.

    I do have a blog post where Anthony Burgess uses the same language. The same sentiments were expressed by Anthony Burgess who was one of the Divines of the Westminster Assembly. Even back then the Reformed distinguished between the Lutheran and Reformed doctrine of soteriology. That was the point of that blog.

    Here is what Anthony Burgess states…
    “We have confuted (proven to be incorrect) the false differences, and now come to lay down the truth, between the law and the Gospel taken in a larger sense.

    And, first, you must know that the difference is not essential, or substantial, but accidental: so that the division of the Testament, or Covenant into the Old, and New, is not a division of the Genus (classification) into its opposite Species; but of the subject, according to its several accidental administrations, both on Gods part, and on mans. It is true, the Lutheran Divines, they do expressly oppose the Calvinists herein, maintaining the Covenant given by Moses, to be a Covenant of Works, and so directly contrary to the Covenant of Grace. Indeed, they acknowledge that the Fathers were justified by Christ, and had the same way of salvation with us; only they make that Covenant of Moses to be a superadded thing to the Promise, holding forth a condition of perfect righteousness unto the Jews, that they might be convinced of their own folly in their self-righteousness.” (Vindication of the Morall Law, Lecture 26 p.251)”

    Here is pages 232-237 made easy from the same work. You would greatly benefit from it I think. Maybe not.

    https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/anthony-burgess

    Now I don’t know if you understand what he is saying concerning essential, substantial, and accidental. It is Aristotelian thought. Accidental is non essential property of the substance. It is a part of it but it is not essential. That doesn’t mean it is randomly thrown in or unnecessary. It is unnecessary for the substantial to exist. You have a leg. It is not necessary for you to have a leg to be. But God did put it there for a reason and purpose. It is Aristotelian language. I am not sure I am explaining it well but the language you mention above has a context and I hope I have helped out a bit. Historical Context and understanding is very important here. Accident should not be read as a modern day American would read it and think of a mishap or car wreck. I hope I am being clear as mud. At least it won’t be packed dirt which has little hope of having any water in it to drink.

    How is this for a Bumper Sticker Darryl?
    I hope I am being clear as mud. At least it won’t be packed dirt which has little hope of having any water in it to drink.


  496. Randy, I am confessional, of course.


  497. Anthony Burgess also wrote “A Clockwork Orange”. Different one, of course.


  498. Randy – Sorry to hear about your leg.


  499. Randy – I read (skimmed, at least) your piece. I understand big articles like that best by asking a few questions and then breaking the answers down further. Tell me how you agree or disagree with this:

    Adam was under a covenant of works. He sinned and received death, taking all mankind with him. God instituted a covenant of grace with Abraham that would eventually be completed in Christ. Christ came and completed the original covenant of works in which Adam had failed. From the time of Abraham forward people were saved by faith in Christ’s work. Obviously people at the time of Abraham they had only a limited understanding of Christ, but like Abraham their belief was credited to them as righteousness. Moses later gave the Jews the ten commandments and various other laws and the Jews also received the promised land. Staying in the land was conditional on obedience, but salvation remained based on faith and was by the grace of God. We continue to be saved based on faith by the grace of God today. It’s not our faith that saves us, but the object of our faith – Christ & his work.

    So you have one covenant of works, one covenant of grace, and a wrinkle where continued possession of the land was based on obedience.

    How do you disagree with this? Give me a short answer if you can with no references to any long articles or blog posts. Just your words.


  500. Darryl said….

    Randy, I am confessional, of course.

    Me…

    Darryl. Thanks for being patient with me. I just had a run around with someone who claimed to be confessional also. And yes, They were confessional. But they don’t hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    I also know guys who claim to be confessional while having noted exceptions. That is why I ask very pointed specific questions and expect specifically defined answers.

    Let me ask your forgiveness at this point first before I proceed on though.
    I was talking with Russ Pulliam tonight and I noted how I have been communicating on the Internet for years now and characteristically don’t get frustrated when communicating with someone. I want to humbly ask your forgiveness for my sharp ungraciousness.

    Russ noted this to me.

    .KJV Pro 16:21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.
    ESV Pro 16:21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

    He told me to speak the truth in love and not frustration. I don’t know what to say except that I let my frustration take over and forgot I was addressing a person.

    Darryl,

    At the same time I do want to know what you mean by you are confessional. Do you believe that the Mosaic Covenant is an administration that is of the same substance as the New Covenant and that it is purely and administration of the Covenant of Grace? I would like to know if you hold to the position that Meredith Kline held to? He would say he was confessional. Do you believe the same thing that Dr. Clark holds to in his Exegetical Theses when he says that the Abrahamic Covenant is renewed in the New Covenant and that the Mosaic is not. I would really appreciate your answer. I really think this is a root issue for us today and it is steering a lot of the differences in the Reformed Tradition of today.

    Thanks Darryl,
    Randy


  501. Okay Erik…

    You said…
    Randy – I read (skimmed, at least) your piece. I understand big articles like that best by asking a few questions and then breaking the answers down further. Tell me how you agree or disagree with this:…..[ ]
    …How do you disagree with this? Give me a short answer if you can with no references to any long articles or blog posts. Just your words.

    Me…
    I understand. Fair enough.

    Erik wrote….

    …God instituted a covenant of grace with Abraham that would eventually be completed in Christ. Christ came and completed the original covenant of works in which Adam had failed. From the time of Abraham forward people were saved by faith in Christ’s work…

    Me…
    God promised the Covenant of Grace in Christ in sight of Adam and Eve while speaking to Satan back in Genesis :3:15. In Genesis 3:21 God clothed them with coats of skin to hide there shame Those who were under that covenant where called the sons and daughters of God . That is the first period.

    There are four periods of time of Announcing and renewing this covenant of Grace: First, from Adam to Abraham; Then from Abraham to Moses by the promise of the seed and how God would provide a Lamb, after that from Moses to Christ which during that period it was made more clear by the sacrament of the paschal lamb and shadows that pointed to Christ and boldly announced forgiveness of sin and Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom by Shadows. Now we are in the time from Christ to the end of the world. The covenant of grace is is more clearly seen since the anti-type and fulfillment of the promise back in Genesis 3:15. We await the Consummation afterwards where we will be restored to reflecting fully the positive aspects of the Law never to sin again. As Bavinck notes, “The Gospel is temporary, but the law is eternal and is restored precisely through the Gospel.”

    Erik wrote…

    Staying in the land was conditional on obedience, but salvation remained based on faith and was by the grace of God. We continue to be saved based on faith by the grace of God today. It’s not our faith that saves us, but the object of our faith – Christ & his work…

    Me…

    Staying in the land or Covenant Community and salvation both have conditional aspects of life. Faith and repentance are conditions that are met for our justification. There are other conditions that are met. For instance let’s look at the Sola’s. They are all noted to be alone. But are they alone? Let me see if I can help you understand what I am saying. The Sola’s are only alone in respect to what they are referring to. For instance, By this Authority alone, By this means alone, By this instrument alone, By this Person alone. For this purpose alone. It is about context and distinction. Context is key. No one wants to make separations or dichotomize when they shouldn’t. But I contend it has happened. Because it has happened we are being told that the Law is opposed to the Gospel when it isn’t. The way the Jews used it was not intended by God. It was total misapplication. If it was a covenant of works it would have failed at the foot of the mountain. No repentance would have been called for. There would have been no sacrifice or possibility of reconciliation. There would have been no return to the land.

    Staying in the land (Covenant Community) has conditions in the Church in both the Old and New Covenant. Baptism is important as was circumcision. Obedience is important but unrepentant sin and idolatry will bring down a curse such as being delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the soul might be saved. That is grace and New Covenant teaching as well as Old Covenant. .

    1Co 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
    1Co 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
    1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
    1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

    To understand works and How we and the unregenerate are looked upon by God I would recommend you look at the WCF chapter 16.

    At the same time I would ask you to consider what I noted before. If you become overly idolatrous or sinful and you refuse to repent you will be kicked out of the Covenant Community in both the Old and New. That is true both individually and corporately as I noted the scriptures above in a previous post. So the land possession is not necessarily as you are seeing it as.

    I am sorry if this is too long. I tried. Sorry Erik.


  502. Oh yeah, Christ fulfilled the Covenant of Works. He is the second Adam. I don’t get how people can read Romans 4:4 and and many other passages and come away with mono-covenantalism.

    Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

    It is Finished. He is the second Adam and the Lord from heaven. Christ was sinless. He was Righteous and we are imputed with His righteousness. Not having a righteousness of mine own as St. Paul said in Philippians.

    Php_3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:


  503. Randy – It sounds like you and Edwards enthusiast “Richard Smith” at Oldlife have a lot in common. I just don’t know how you can’t make a distinction between law & gospel unless you delude yourself regarding how well you actually keep the law. You don’t keep it very well and neither do I, or D.G., or Klooseterman, or any of us. When you don’t make a distinction you just become a legalist — setting up rules that you can keep so that you can feel good about your own righteousness. Witness Richard at Oldlife getting on his high horse sometime. I stand with Hart & Clark & Horton & my pastor (all with Westminster West connections.) I thank Christ every day for His perfect lawkeeping because mine is far from perfect. The law is good, but it is not gracious because I can’t keep it. You deceive yourself if you think you do.


  504. Kloosterman. Sorry about the misspelling.


  505. Randy says, “If you become overly idolatrous or sinful and you refuse to repent you will be kicked out of the Covenant Community in both the Old and New.”

    How does this distinguish you from The Federal Vision? Have you read the OPC Report? Do you think the visible church and the invisible church are identical? What do you do with the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints?

    And what they heck does “overly idolatrous” mean? Is it o.k. to be “moderately idolatrous”? How about “moderately sinful”? This sounds like Rome where we contribute to our salvation or damnation and God grades on a curve.


  506. I would appreciate Dr. Kloosterman and Dr. Hart getting involved here since their understanding of Reformed confessional history far exceed mine. I think we may be reaching an important underlying point that divides the Two Kingdoms and non-Two Kingdoms people, as indicated by the following quotes from Erik:

    Erik wrote on Nov. 11 at 12:41 am.:

    Randy – If you say God not punishing you is Grace you render the word meaningless because you have just told me that God punishing you is grace. The same word can not have two meanings that are direct opposites. That is gibberish, which may be why Hart seems to be ignoring you. I can maybe understand “correction” being gracious, but a death sentence is not gracious. Explain to me how Ananias & Sapphira being struck dead in the Book of Acts was gracious.

    Again, Erik wrote on Nov. 11 at 12:51 am:

    But is it gracious to the one being punished (if it results in death)? Do you deny that there is still a distinction between law & gospel? Are you one of those golawspel folks?

    Erik says that Randy’s view is not the majority view in Reformed circles. Using his words at 12:32 am: “How is it you feel that You are somehow in the majority and Hart is in the minority? I can’t say I’ve encountered too many people in the Reformed world with your view.”

    It’s easy to say that Erik is presupposing what he must first prove, but it’s not quite that simple. I think it’s obvious that Erik is assuming his view of law and gospel is standard in Reformed circles, whereas my experience is that making a distinction between law and gospel seems very strange. It is certainly much more common in classical Lutheranism than in classical Reformed circles, which so far as I know have typically affirmed three rather than two uses of the law.

    We’re getting into an area where I freely confess the weakness of my education. It is no secret that I do not trust my education at Calvin to have grounded me very well, confessionally speaking, so maybe I simply don’t understand the details of the Reformed position on this point. I’m not prepared to prove that Erik is wrong; all I can do is say that Erik clearly lives among very different types of Reformed people than those I know or he could not say the things he says and assume most Reformed people will agree with him.

    Some of that is simply due to bad theology taught at Calvin — I think I understand the dynamics of Niebuhr’s “Christ and Culture” and Karl Barth’s approach better than I understand classical Reformed theology. My knowledge of classical Reformed theology is largely self-taught, and that always carries risks because by definition it is not systematic.

    However, the issues go deeper than that. There **ARE** important differences between the Dutch Reformed tradition and Presbyterianism, which until the last century was the “majority report” of the Reformed tradition. The Dutch kept their churches orthodox much longer than the Presbyterians, and that led to a resurgence of interest in Dutch Reformed distinctives, as evidenced by the great influence of men like Van Til on Westminster and the OPC, and the influence of GKN theologians and the Free University of Amsterdam on the churches of Europe.

    Covenantal theology is only one example of the existence of vast differences within Dutch Reformed churches on issues which are not confessional under the Three Forms of Unity but which are addressed by the Westminster Standards. An important reason is that the Three Forms of Unity leave open numerous questions on which the Westminster Standards (and the broader non-Dutch tradition) are considerably more specific. Nobody can make any serious case that the Canadian Reformed Churches don’t take their confessions seriously, but there are important issues which the Canadian Reformed affirm which are at the very least “iffy” in a denomination which affirms the Westminster Standards.

    However, when this whole “law-gospel” distinction started being discussed in Reformed circles — and as far as I can tell, the discussion started in the 1990s when the White Horse Inn and Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals started trying to build bridges between confessional Lutherans and confessional Calvinists — people far outside Dutch Reformed circles started to ask me questions about where this “law-gospel” distinction was coming from. The key advocates of that distinction were associated with Westminster-West and the conservative wing of the Christian Reformed Church, and in a lot of places I was regarded as one of the few non-Dutch people who understood Dutch theology. That is at least a possible indicator that separating law and gospel owes its origins to something other than the Reformed faith, and may owe much more to Lutheranism.

    Back to my original point…

    The issues here are serious and they require someone with serious depth in the history of Reformed theology to address them. I’m well aware that the distinctions which developed in later centuries between Lutheranism and Calvinism were not always as important in early generations, and I’m at least open to the idea that Horton, Clark, Van Drunen, etc., have rediscovered something from the early centuries of Reformed Christianity which has been obscured in more recent years with the classical Reformed emphasis on all three uses of the law.

    By the standards of typical Reformed laymen, I consider myself to be theologically knowledgeable. However, I cannot hold a candle to the level of theological training which was once standard for both Reformed and Presbyterian ministers.

    For that reason, I would like to hear Dr. Kloosterman weigh in on whether the Two Kingdoms people are placing an emphasis on distinguishing between law and gospel which is foreign to the history of churches affirming the Three Forms of Unity, and I would also like to hear Dr. Hart weigh in on whether this is a distinction which was historically found in churches affirming the Westminster Standards.

    I think much of what is happening in Reformed circles over Two Kingdoms debates is centered on the proper use of the law, and many of us on all sides of that debate are presuming what we should be proving. Going back to this issue may help in that regard.


  507. Randy wrote on November 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm:

    I was talking with Russ Pulliam tonight…

    It must be nice to be able to go to church and discuss theology with a member of the family which used to own a major American newspaper company.

    It was a major loss for evangelical Christians in the news media when the Pulliam family decided to sell to Gannett. I understand the economics of newspaper ownership and subsequent history has made clear that, financially speaking, they sold at the right time. However, I hope things aren’t too bad for them internally in Gannett… I went through media buyouts twice, once with Freedom Communications and again with Liberty/GateHouse, and they tend to be very bad for the former owners.


  508. on November 12, 2012 at 8:08 am Mark Van Der Molen

    The issue is between making a law/gospel distinction as the Reformed do vs. a making a law/gospel dichtomy as the Klineans do. Even while acknowledging the distinction, Berkhof could still speak of the law a “means of grace”, as explained here:
    http://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=171


  509. Darrell,

    The best I can do, given my schedule and tasks, is refer you to the following:

    Herman Bavinck, the section from his Reformed Dogmatics on “law and gospel” (reposted here)

    John Frame, an online essay on “Law and Gospel” (available here)

    I realize this does not answer your specific question, but en route to receiving that answer, these pieces will supply a helpful orientation.


  510. Erik said…
    Randy – It sounds like you and Edwards enthusiast “Richard Smith” at Oldlife have a lot in common. I just don’t know how you can’t make a distinction between law & gospel unless you delude yourself regarding how well you actually keep the law.

    Me…

    Erick…
    I haven’t read one Jonathan Edwards book believe it or not. LOL. I admit that openly. I have listened to Sinners in the hands of an Angry God but that is it. I only have one book by him that Don Kislter did.

    I do make the distinction between law and grace. I just don’t dichotomize them as Kline or the Lutherans do. I do distinguish and show distinctions between justification, sanctification, and glorification also. They are all distinct teachings in the scheme of salvation. They are topically alone as the sola’s in relationship to aspect and when we speak in a definitive context but they are never alone or totally separated from each other in the scheme of our Union with Christ and the Gospel.

    Erik.
    You don’t keep it very well and neither do I, or D.G., or Klooseterman, or any of us. When you don’t make a distinction you just become a legalist — setting up rules that you can keep so that you can feel good about your own righteousness. Witness Richard at Oldlife getting on his high horse sometime. I stand with Hart & Clark & Horton & my pastor (all with Westminster West connections.) I thank Christ every day for His perfect lawkeeping because mine is far from perfect. The law is good, but it is not gracious because I can’t keep it. You deceive yourself if you think you do.

    Me…

    Erik, I admit freely that I am a sinner and that any good work I do is completely by the Spirit of God influencing and moving me to obey Him.

    What laws or commandments have I set up before others outside of God’s law. What law or commandment have I required of you to make you think I believe that one is justified by doing a work? That really is what a legalist is. Obeying God’s word is not being legalistic nor is God requiring others to repent and abide in Him. Sexual immorality is wrong. Worshipping false God’s or secular Humanism is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Murder is wrong. I have smoked and drank Vodka for years. Where can you accuse me of being legalistic? A buzzed Uriah the Hittite was more righteous than David when King David had him drink trying to get him to sleep with his wife. You know the story. As far as I can tell I am not a Pharisee. I don’t see perfectly though. But I am not seeking justification by any work or obedience. I am trying to be pleasing to God as St. Paul and the Scriptures encourage. I do listen to to the warning of 1 Corinthians 10 about Idolatry and rising up to play as they were examples for us not to be sinful.

    I believe you are become a bit overly assumptive brother and I understand that there may be reason for that. But it probably doesn’t apply to me. I hope not anyways. Far be it from me to cause someone to stumble or become self justifying before God in their spirit because of some act of obedience. .

    The Westminster Confession of Faith says it so good when it comes to good works.

    .
    1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.

    2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

    3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

    4. They who, in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

    5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.

    6. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

    7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.

    Erik…

    I thank Christ every day for His perfect lawkeeping because mine is far from perfect. The law is good, but it is not gracious because I can’t keep it. You deceive yourself if you think you do.

    Me…
    I thank Christ also for His person and Work daily. I don’t think I can keep it perfectly but I do think what I do can be pleasing to God in Christ.

    Erik, I think it would be beneficial if we discussed what Grace was. Can you give me a good definition of the Greek Word Charis. How it is used in scripture in its many differing ways in the New Testament. Can we do that? I think that will help our conversation at this point.


  511. Erik wrote…
    Randy says, “If you become overly idolatrous or sinful and you refuse to repent you will be kicked out of the Covenant Community in both the Old and New.”

    How does this distinguish you from The Federal Vision? Have you read the OPC Report? Do you think the visible church and the invisible church are identical? What do you do with the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints?

    Me…

    Erik, you must not know who I am. I am a moderator on the Puritanboard. My call name is PuritanCovenanter. I was very embroiled in that controversy and have some very good friends who I linked arms with in that battle. Dr. R. Scott Clark was a big help to me in that.

    Alert**** Alert*** Alert*** It was over 60 degrees here yesterday. I just looked out the window and it is snowing. YUK! Now back to our regularly scheduled program….

    Of course I read the OPC report and the PCA report along with the one that came out of Mid America Seminary where Cornel P. Venema is. I saw the NAPARC family denounce it. I was there before many people even knew it was an issue. I had to teach Pastors about the issue. Most of them were too busy shepherding their flocks to even have any suspicion of the way people were changing the biblical terminology to fit in the Federal Vision thinking. I debated Tim Gallant and Mark Horne along with others who were Federal Visionists on a forum I moderated called the Reformation SuperHighway. I moderated both the Puritanboard and that one. I ended up resigning the RSH board because its owner started going off the rails.

    I am very well known for that. I have distinguished myself as someone who is not Federal Vision and can discuss it concerning its ecclesiology, sacramentology and soteriology. There are rules on the Puritanboard and Federal Vision doctrines are found outside of the Confessional bounds. It is not permitted on the Puritanboard. Some of my friends whom I stand with were on the PCA SJC and I know they would affirm my orthodoxy and opposition of those rank teachings of the Federal Vision. Fact I have been one of Dr. Frames critiques concerning his endorsements of things Like Presbyterians Together. I long suspected Jason Stellman was having problems by his blogs. Years before he recanted and became Roman.

    Seriously Erik, you must be skimming and not reading what I have written in the previous posts very well. The passage I quoted in 1 Corinthians 5 firmly notes that I believe in the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. It isn’t up to the Sheep to get into the fold. It is up to the Shepherd to get them in there.

    Please let’s discuss grace and how it is to be defined scripturally.

    Doesn’t your Church excersize Church Discipline Erik? This should be understood quite well. Dr. Clark, Horton, nor your Pastor should have a problem with what is stated here.
    “If you become overly idolatrous or sinful and you refuse to repent you will be kicked out of the Covenant Community in both the Old and New.”


  512. Darrell,

    We make distinctions between Law and Gospel. We do not dichotomize them and show that they are opposed soteriologically as some do.

    Dr. Koosterman’s links didn’t work so I will post his translation of Bavinck from my blog to here along with some other links to Law and Gospel.

    The Law-Gospel Distinction and Preaching
    Herman Bavinck
    Translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman
    http://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/herman-bavinck-on-law-and-gospel/

    Sundry Quotes from solid Reformed men on Law and Gospel
    http://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/sundry-quotes-from-solid-reformed-men-on-law-and-gospel/

    In the Covenant of Grace…. Bavinck
    http://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/category/law-and-gospel/


  513. Darrell,

    Russ is my Elder and someone who has been a faithful friend for over 25 years. He has deeply been a faithful man to me and I love him dearly as an older brother. His wisdom has saved my hide and had I listened to him more often I would have been spared much pain in life. I have a goodly heritage. So do my sons. Russ is being used of God in my life Daily. He is still at the Paper. He still has an office downtown. You would love him. He is so humble and full of God’s word. His kids are the best.


  514. Mark, if the issue is Berkhof vs. Kline, why are you so zealous to ferret out VanDrunen’s alleged errors? VanDrunen doesn’t even talk about Berkhof or Kline. Really, the hoops keep being moved.

    BTW, the link you give says nothing about Kline. He died a minister in good standing and people who hold his views enjoy the same status. If you have an issue with Kline, you have an issue with the OPC for tolerating his views.

    Furthermore, if law is a means of grace as the Federal Vision folks use it, then you may not be in such good company.


  515. Randy – Grace is “unmerited favor”. Getting something that I do not deserve. If Adam had kept the law and received a reward he would have earned it because of his obedience. No one since Adam has had that chance because we all inherited his sin. Adam’s sin was imputed to all of us. Christ’s righteousness (perfect law keeping) is imputed to those who are his (the elect). That is grace.

    Even if I got law/grace wrong, what do you see the implications being for the 2k/Neocalvinist debate? (not just Randy, anybody).

    There are so many wrinkles to covenant theology I doubt anyone gets it all right. Well, maybe the guys at Dallas Seminary (that was a joke).


  516. One thing I like about the Three Forms is there is a pretty short guilt section, a really long grace (gospel) section, and a gratitude (law) section that is somewhere in between. Not a ton of detail spelling out specific sins (although 113 on the 10th commandment tries to throw “any sins that we may not have mentioned” Into the pot). The point is Christ, not defining sin down to the most minute detail. We are not Wesleyan Perfectionists. We are not Ted Haggard, telling an interviewer a few years back (before his fall) that he hadn’t sinned in the last week or so. The law is good & right, but it’s not the focus of the Christian life — Christ and his work is. This may be why 2K focuses more on the church as institution, preaching, the sacraments, a liturgy where sins are confessed and pronounced forgiven, etc. while Neocalvinists seem to focus on law and making sure everyone inside and outside the church knows the law (although has D.G. has pointed out continuously, not the first table so much). 2K folks are not antinomian, those who belong to Christ will have some measure of lawkeeping (although the Heidelberg calls this a “small measure”). People who are really excited about the law often times seem to not be aware of their own lawbreaking or the always compelling good news of the gospel. In this way they repeat the evangelical mistake of viewing the gospel as the thing that “gets you in”, and then turning to preaching the law (even if in evangelical churches it takes a softer form of “helpful tips for a better life”).


  517. Darryl queried,

    Mark, if the issue is Berkhof vs. Kline, why are you so zealous to ferret out VanDrunen’s alleged errors? VanDrunen doesn’t even talk about Berkhof or Kline. Really, the hoops keep being moved.

    Bret

    Attorney Vander Molen is ferreting out VanDrunnen’s errors because VanDrunnen’s error’s began with Kline.

    It’s not that the hoops are moving. It just seems that the hoops are moving to people who are being blown around by every strange wind of doctrine.

    Darryl,

    BTW, the link you give says nothing about Kline. He died a minister in good standing and people who hold his views enjoy the same status. If you have an issue with Kline, you have an issue with the OPC for tolerating his views.

    Bret

    Lee Irons on the other hand was taken to the woodshed. Those who hold the views of Lee Irons are not to be tolerated.

    Bahnsen also died a minister in good standing in the OPC. People who hold his views enjoy the same status. If you have an issue with Bahnsen, you have an issue with the OPC for tolerating his views.

    Darryl,

    Furthermore, if law is a means of grace as the Federal Vision folks use it, then you may not be in such good company.

    Bret

    So now Berkhof was a Federal Visionist?

    That’s the way it is with the R2K crowd. If you’re not R2K then your a (cue up the scary organ music) a bogey man Theonomist or a slasher Federal Visionist.


  518. McAtee – I didn’t know the CRC cared about any of this. I thought they were just into planting trees and ordaining people who wear heels these days…


  519. “As a matter of fact, the Scriptures do teach a perfect system of doctrine, and all the principles which are necessary for the practical regulation of the lives of individuals, COMMUNITIES, and churches. The more diligent men have been in the study of the Bible, and the more assiduous they have been in carrying out its instructions into practice, the less has it been possible for them to believe that it is incomplete in ANY element of a perfect rule of ALL that which man is to believe concerning God, and of ALL that duty which God requires of man.”

    A. A. Hodge

    Clearly Hodge was a proto-Federal Visionist


  520. I Scripture the Norm that norms all norms in all realms?

    “Thus the Bible, as the infallibly inspired revelation of God to sinful man, stands before us as that light in terms of which all the facts of the created universe must be interpreted. All of finite existence, natural and redemptive, functions in relation to one all-inclusive plan that is in the mind of God. Whatever insight man is to have into this pattern of the activity of God he must attain by looking at all his objects of research in the light of Scripture. If true religion is to beam upon us, our principle must be, that it is necessary to begin with heavenly teaching, and that it is impossible for any man to obtain even the minutest portion of right and sound doctrine without being a disciple of Scripture.”

    Cornelius Van Til


  521. CRC Minister Bret, I didn’t say Berkhof was a Visionary. I did point out that Mark Van Der Molen cites Berkhof and doesn’t distinguish the Calvin professor from others who also say the law is a means of grace.


  522. CRC Minister Bret, I know you’re adept at piling up quotations. Some of them have been bogus. Be that as it may, we are Protestants here and you are a minister of the word. Care to make a biblical case for the Bible speaking about everything? Even when you get to the point where Saul might receive instruction about his duties as king, the author of Samuel says the counsel is in some book not included in Scripture. Go figure.


  523. DGH,

    Yes, I have a problem that the OPC didn’t recognize that Kline was unconfessional. I do know other OPC ministers that think Kline contributed more for Reformed Baptist thought concerning the Mosaic Covenant than he did for Presbyterian thought.

    By Oath Consigned and Kingdom Prologue are his two books that you can see his views change from one to another. I have Kingdom Prologue because I had to critique it. The Mature Kline deviated for sure.

    I thought you might know this Darryl.

    DGH or DGWIRED, what is your maturing view at this time? You said you are confessional. What does that mean? Will you answer my question after after you read this?

    But to shorten this discussion I will just post something here that was written by

    “Since the Irons trial, debate and discussion over the republication issue has continued from a variety of voices. Perhaps the most noteworthy has been D. Patrick Ramsey’s article in Westminster Theological Journal (66:2 [2004] 373-400) entitled, “In Defense of Moses: A Confessional Critique of Kline and Karlberg.” Ramsey argues that Kline and Karlberg contradict the Westminster Confession in their mature teaching regarding the republication of the covenant of works in the time of Moses. His key historical-theological argument is that Kline and Karlberg articulate a position that is essentially identical to the “subservient covenant” view of John Cameron, Moise Amyraut, and the later “Amyraldians”—a view he maintains was explicitly rejected by the Standards.

    A few months later, a response was written by Brenton Ferry, one of the contributors to this present volume, entitled “Cross-Examining Moses’s Defense” (67:1 [2005] 163-68). In it, Ferry defends Kline and Karlberg, arguing that they are not guilty of contradicting the Westminster Confession. Ferry’s key point is that in the 1968 publication, By Oath Consigned, Kline argues that the Mosaic covenant is renewed in the new covenant. As Kline writes:

    Hence, for Jeremiah, the New Covenant, though it could be sharply contrasted with the Old (v. 32), was nevertheless a renewal of the Mosaic Covenant.22 Thus Kline is vindicated from the charge of teaching an “Amyraldian” view of the covenant.

    The problem with Ferry’s argument is that what Kline taught in 1968 is not what Kline taught twenty, or thirty, or fourty years later. No less than Mark Karlberg himself (whom Ferry proposed to defend in his WTJ article) has critiqued Ferry for his failure to recognize this point. And with respect to the Westminster controversy in particular, [Ferry’s] failure to acknowledge change and development in Kline’s thinking on the covenants only distorts an accurate reading of the history of Reformed interpretation,
    past and present.23

    Karlberg points to an important principle in reading Kline’s works: the later works correct and revise the earlier works. Kline’s student, Lee Irons, has also noted this important principle, arguing that Kline’s position on the relationship between the Mosaic Covenant and the new covenant in By Oath Consigned is revised in his later work, Kingdom Prologue. Irons argues:

    In other words, in KP [Kingdom Prologue] he no longer defines the New Covenant as a renewal of the Old/Mosaic Covenant (i.e., as a law covenant) and instead stresses the contrast between the Old and the New Covenants. The Mosaic Covenant was a covenant of works and was breakable. The New Covenant is a covenant of grace and is fundamentally unbreakable (although the sense in which it is unbreakable must be carefully defined).24 In other words, in Kingdom Prologue, Kline revises the position he articulated in By Oath Consigned, by arguing that “The New Covenant is not a renewal of the Mosaic Covenant but the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.”25

    But Ferry ignores this development, and (in Karlberg’s words), “distorts an accurate reading of the history of Reformed interpretation, past and present.”26

    In fact, prior to the publication of Ramsey’s article, Lee Irons had argued (both in his General Assembly defense and on his weblog) that the “subservient covenant” view of Amyraldianism does in fact provide the best precursor of the mature Kline’s position on the Mosaic covenant. Irons argued that the Amyraldian “Subservient Covenant” is “A 17th Century Precursor of Meredith Kline’s View of the Mosaic Covenant.”27

    In this respect, Irons argues that “Kline’s understanding of the Mosaic Covenant has significant links with 17th century developments in covenant theology.”28

    This is exactly what Ramsey argued in his WTJ article. In other words, when Kline’s mature view on the Mosaic covenant is precisely articulated, both friend and foe alike have argued that it bears striking and substantial similarities to the Amyraldian view of the Mosaic covenant. The only difference is that the “friends” have argued this to support Kline’s version of the “republication” thesis, while his “foes” have used it to critique it in terms of its confessional fidelity.

    http://www.kerux.com/pdf/Kerux.24.03.pdf

    “Merit or ‘Entitlement’ in Reformed Covenant Theology: A Review.”
    James T. Dennison, Jr., Scott F. Sanborn, Benjamin W. Swinburnson
    pp.22-24″


  524. DGH….

    Here is the short on Kline….. I don’t think the OPC would have necessarily taken the time to deal with this as it might have been minor to them at the time. It can’t be dealt with directly now. It can be dealt with doctrinally though. I am pushing for it to be recognized as it is. I know other OPC guys who are also. Most don’t care about the debate because they are too busy Pastoring. It is kind of like the FV. A lot of Pastors didn’t know it was going on till it ballooned up so big and enough people made a ruckus about it.

    This is what I should have done in the above post….. I should have just cut it down…… Sorry.

    http://www.kerux.com/pdf/Kerux.24.03.pdf

    In the 1968 publication, By Oath Consigned, Kline argues that the Mosaic covenant is renewed in the new covenant. As Kline writes:

    Hence, for Jeremiah, the New Covenant, though it could be sharply contrasted with the Old (v. 32), was nevertheless a renewal of the Mosaic Covenant.22 Thus Kline is vindicated from the charge of teaching an “Amyraldian” view of the covenant.

    What Kline taught in 1968 is not what Kline taught twenty, or thirty, or forty years later.

    In KP [Kingdom Prologue] he no longer defines the New Covenant as a renewal of the Old/Mosaic Covenant (i.e., as a law covenant) and instead stresses the contrast between the Old and the New Covenants. The Mosaic Covenant was a covenant of works and was breakable. The New Covenant is a covenant of grace and is fundamentally unbreakable (although the sense in which it is unbreakable must be carefully defined).24 In other words, in Kingdom Prologue, Kline revises the position he articulated in By Oath Consigned, by arguing that “The New Covenant is not a renewal of the Mosaic Covenant but the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.”25


  525. EC

    Regarding Milton Friedman and Van Til

    In principle, non-Christians (Including the agnostic Friedman) have rejected the epistemic foundation that makes understanding truth possible. But in practice they do not carry through with their principle. God’s common grace enables unbelievers to have a degree of true understanding (though inconsistent) about many things. They are inconsistent with their commitment to rebellion against God, and borrow from God’s revelation. Van Til affirmed his appreciation for the contributions of non-Christians to the sciences and arts, but he always reminded us that these advances are the result of God’s common grace working against the sinful tendencies of unbelievers. Left to themselves, unbelievers would become epistemologically self-destructive. They would utterly reject every truth that confronts them.


  526. Where do you find the term “common grace” in the Bible or in the Reformed Confessions? How is this notion different than Van Drunen’s take on God’s covenant with Noah?


  527. Randy – How is Kline teaching something different 40 years later especially relevant? Back in 1968 I was not even in my mother’s womb yet (that happened the next year). We all change over 40 years. The question is whether or not what he teaches is true, not whether or not it changed.


  528. How much are you guys truly confessional vs. just having a “competing system” that you are bent out of shape over because someone is now questioning it? Also, are past Reformed theologians (Van Til, Bavinck, Kuyper, Hodge) necessarily more authoritative than 21st century Reformed theologians if they are all working from the same confessions? Are you practicing reverse-chronological snobbery? We’re Reformed and always Reforming, not Roman Catholics. The guys you cite were theological professors and churchmen. The guys we cite are theological professors and churchmen.


  529. One thing I never hear from Neocalvinists are biblical arguments. Let’s hear some. As D.G. sometimes say when debating Papists, “where is Jesus in all this?”


  530. Q. 1 — We were wondering the same thing since it is your “system” that is innovation.

    Q. 2 — Yes … you can’t seriously believe that the dumbing down effect on our overall culture in the past 50 years when combined with higher education’s bent towards a Humanist paradigm has not affected both our current crop of Church Doctors as well as where they were trained.

    Q. 3 — Well, it is handy to accuse us of “reverse Chronological Snobbery” when you have no one to appeal to who held your R2K view who lived prior to the 20th century.


  531. McAtee – I would cite two old-timers for you – Jesus & Paul. Jesus was not much of a culture warrior. Look at who he hung out with. Mostly his disciples (in order to build the church) and “sinners” (in order to show who he came to save). He didn’t say much negative about Caesar and reserved most of his criticism for the religious culture warriors of his day, The Pharisees.


  532. Oh, and I’ll tell Horton, Clark, Van Drunen, and Hart that you think they are “dumbed down”. How Dr. K escaped this I do not know.


  533. “Well, it is handy to accuse us of “reverse Chronological Snobbery” when you have no one to appeal to who held your R2K view who lived prior to the 20th century.”

    Have you read Van Drunen’s big, fat book? I think he delves back prior to 1900.


  534. Another thought about Jesus: Do we really have many examples of him going to teach people unsolicited? I get the impression that people either sought him out or he taught and people either gathered around or they didn’t. He was aggressive in cleaning out the temple (his church) but we don’t see him tearing up the saloon a la Carrie Nation, do we?


  535. Erik replied…

    Randy – Grace is “unmerited favor”. Getting something that I do not deserve. If Adam had kept the law and received a reward he would have earned it because of his obedience. No one since Adam has had that chance because we all inherited his sin. Adam’s sin was imputed to all of us. Christ’s righteousness (perfect law keeping) is imputed to those who are his (the elect). That is grace.

    There are so many wrinkles to covenant theology I doubt anyone gets it all right. Well, maybe the guys at Dallas Seminary (that was a joke).”””””

    ME…

    That is only a partial understanding of Grace, Erik. Let me illustrate what I am saying.
    You can download a paper I did for 7 days at the link I provide. I wrote it 20 years ago on a type writer. Finally on a computer. It has been copied and recopied. I almost lost it. I used it for years to disciple people with. My sister put it on pdf.

    https://sendnow.acrobat.com/Receive.aspx?i=CaaeLoYnIRRHfuBpNB8*hA

    Here are some tidbits from it defining Grace….

    Even though I do not agree with all of John MacArthur’s views his understanding of grace is biblically correct. “God’s grace is not a static attribute whereby He passively accepts hardened, unrepentant sinners. Grace does not change a person’s standing before God yet leave his character untouched … Clearly, grace does not grant permission to live in the flesh; it supplies power to live in the Spirit.” Gospel”According to Jesus p.31

    Strongs Greek: Charis: divine favor (espec. the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.)5485

    Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language: Grace; (10) Theol. a) the unmerited love and favor of God toward man. b) divine influence acting in man to make him pure and morally strong. c) the condition of a person thus influenced. d) special virtue given to a person by God.

    Harpers Bible Dictionary: grace; The English translation of a greek word meaning concretely “that which brings delight. joy. happiness. or good fortune.” Grace in classical greek applied to art. persons. speech. or athletics. as well as to the good fortune;” kindness and power bestowed by the god’s upon divine men. moving them to miraculous deeds.

    Websters American Dictionary of the English Language (~828):
    grace; 3) Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit. in renewing the heart and restraining from sin. 6) Virtuous or religious affection or disposition, as a liberal disposition. faith. meekness. humility. patience (proceeding from divine influence.) By these definitions and other scripture that will be shown later we will see that grace is not just some passive love acceptance that we can endlessly run over. It’s “loving and very active in the Christian’s life. It’s God’s free working in the hearts of men and
    women because of His great love for them. It’s free in the aspect that God gives it freely and not in payment as though he owed it to anyone.

    We know that grace is not just a passive acceptance of our being, because of Saint Paul’s writing to Titus in chapter 2 11,12. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously; and godly, in this present world.” According to this passage grace brings salvation and teaches us. This passage of scripture does not allow us to believe grace is only unmerited favor. Grace is God favoring us without merit by influencing
    us toward Himself when we do not deserve it. We are to cooperate with the Holy Ghost when He convicts us of sin and righteousness.

    Saint Paul writes more concerning the grace of God in 2 Corinthians 12:9. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” It appears, in light of Paul’s own understanding, that grace is also the power and. strength of Christ overcoming difficulties. Power and strength are paralleled with
    grace in verse 9. By grace we overcome the trials and tribulations of this world. It’s a supernatural supply of favor, power or enablement, and inner strength to conquer the flesh, devil, and world our greatest enemies.

    Erik said…

    Even if I got law/grace wrong, what do you see the implications being for the 2k/Neocalvinist debate? (not just Randy, anybody).

    Me…

    I do believe that the Law / Grace hermeneutic is effecting the situation greatly but I will have to spend time on that later.

    When one says that the law is opposed to gospel without clear and sufficient clarification in what sense they are speaking then it is confusing and is Antinomian, and or Amyraldian teaching. The Law is relenquished to something it isn’t. Now I do believe men have used the Law incorrectly as the Jews did and St. Paul notes in Roman’s 10. But just because the Isrealites missapplied the law doesn’t mean that we should think the law is opposed to the Gospel as some write. In fact St. Paul notes this problem in Galatians 3 and 4. I believe that the Antinomian and Amyraldian teachings are reactions and misunderstandings of the texts of Scripture.


  536. Erik asked…
    Randy – How is Kline teaching something different 40 years later especially relevant? Back in 1968 I was not even in my mother’s womb yet (that happened the next year). We all change over 40 years. The question is whether or not what he teaches is true, not whether or not it changed.

    I was responding to Darryl Erik.

    Kline’s position was not dealt with sufficiently through the years. Most people won’t confront a Professor. Kline held to a biblical and confessional view in his earlier writings and he slipped away from it as he got older. I was just responding to DGH as he asked Darrell a question. Kline definitely deviated from the OPC Standards and it is being noted now days.


  537. Erik wrote…
    One thing I never hear from Neocalvinists are biblical arguments. Let’s hear some. As D.G. sometimes say when debating Papists, “where is Jesus in all this?”

    Randy says…

    I am not sure I am what one would call a New Calvinist (I don’t understand the term personally) but I have over and over made this about Jesus. This is about the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ Erik. All authority has been given to him because of His Person and Work. Philippians 2″8-11. Every knee should bow and God commands every man everywhere to bow. That is now. Jesus might have hung around sinners like I do. Even recently I have inhabited air with that Bohemian subcultural smell of smoke. I do not participate in psychotropic activity but I do not cast off my friends. They know what I think. And they know I love them. And God has used me to pull people into His Kingdom. The Public Square was entered to by Paul. Men of Athens, Hear ye! Hear Ye! LOL The area the Temple exchangers were at was public area as far as I can tell.


  538. He was aggressive in cleaning out the temple (his church) but we don’t see him tearing up the saloon a la Carrie Nation, do we?

    It is this kind of rhetoric that is not beneficial Erik. It is a straw man brother. I understand that this is hard for you. Believe me. I do understand. Ask Mark Van der Molen. I chewed him out a few years ago for being so hard on these guys. I didn’t understand the whole situation and He did seem to be overly drawing attention to this. As a moderator I confronted him. Then it clicked.

    BTW, Thanks Mark for your patience. Love ya for it.

    Randy


  539. Mr. Sowers,

    I don’t know you personally, yet I would like to welcome you to this blog site, as a participant in this conversation.

    However, in your comment on 2012/11/12 at 6:46 pm, you have publicly charged an ordained elder in Christ’s church with violating his ordination vows. Unless you have personally filed such a charge with his supervising session, such a charge as you bring here is impermissible. Therefore, I determine that your opinion is not only not humble, it is uninformed, unbiblically spoken, and must be repaired.

    Before you may continue participating in this discussion, I request that you publicly apologize specifically to Dr. Darryl G. Hart.

    Nelson D. Kloosterman


  540. NDK – Don’t go and scare Doug off. He’s a theonomist. We need him here to help our 2k arguments. I’m sure D.G. can handle him. I’m interested in seeing him “flesh out” his charges using Scripture & the confessions. Ask him for his passage that he uses to justify theonomy.


  541. Randy – “He was aggressive in cleaning out the temple (his church) but we don’t see him tearing up the saloon a la Carrie Nation, do we?”

    “It is this kind of rhetoric that is not beneficial Erik. It is a straw man brother.”

    Tell me how it’s a straw man. .

    Can you actually communicate concisely about anything? If I asked you if it was raining outside I feel like I would have to make the stipulation, “in 500 words or less”.

    I have no idea what you are talking about regarding Mark. BTW for what it’s worth I worship with Mark’s son in Des Moines. He’s a sharp kid.


  542. Randy,

    You make my point by using terms like “the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ”. Show me that in the gospels. The Pharisees layered a really complicated system on top of the Word of God, too.

    You reference Phil. 2:8-11. In light of this it seems like laws against blasphemy would be your primary concern. Will every knee bow and every tongue confess in this life or on judgment day?

    Every time I lay law on you, you seek to justify yourself. Just admit you are a lawbreaker — like me and everyone else here. That’s the first step to understanding my main point about all of this. You’re not good Randy, and neither am I.


  543. Randy – “Most people won’t confront a Professor.”

    We don’t have a hard time confronting NDK & DGH. Maybe the internet is the difference.

    “Kline definitely deviated from the OPC Standards and it is being noted now days.”

    So when will Hart, Van Drunen, Horton, Clark, and all of the ministers they have trained (including my own) be brought up on charges?

    “deviated from the OPC Standards” is a serious accusation, Randy.


  544. Randy,

    Grace is Christ forgiving our sins. As we mature in Christ he sanctifies us and gives us a small beginning in keeping his law. The focus remains on Christ and the gospel — not our lawkeeping. We have churches with elders to discipline us for serious sins for which we are unrepentant. Even when they do the goal is restoration.

    You are starting to resemble the old saw about Puritans being people who lived with the constant fear that someone, somewhere was having fun. Where are the 2K libertines you are so concerned about? I know I have lots of wild times with my wife & four kids. Lots of riotous living going on around here.

    Consider the Heidelberg. Understanding who we are and what Christ has done leads to a measure of lawkeeping, which is called “gratitude”. Always start with Christ & his work.


  545. Okay Erik….

    No one is advocating that we run and start tearing up a Saloon. That is just a bogus slinging of mud. It is a side tracked issue that isn’t even relevant. As I also noted the area of the money changers was in a public area of the Temple It was a General Public area. The Court of the Gentiles. Peter in Chapter 2 of Acts was not in the Temple. As I noted Paul went before the Athenians. he went and reasoned in the Synogogues and the Market place ……and he Pronounced that God would judge the world in righteousness and commanded Every Man Everywhere to repent.

    I am convinced you do not read slowly or carefully. If you did you would understand what I am saying. My words are not hard to understand. I have been communicating a long time and recently have had one other person claim I was hard to understand. Maybe I need to write more in a bumpersticker style.

    Now to help you understand the Mark comment I will take it phrase by phrase and in context.

    “I understand that this is hard for you.”

    ( This topic seems hard for you grasp sometimes by the way you accuse people make accusations and try to defend Horton, Clark, Hart, etc.) I understand that.

    “Ask Mark Van der Molen. I chewed him out a few years ago for being so hard on these guys.”

    (Is that hard to understand in light of the comment before and your comments prior to these postings. I am responding to your previous posts. I confronted Mark as a Moderator of a Theological discussion forum called the Puritanboard at one time for how he was criticizing Horton and Clark I didn’t understand why he was confronting them so relentlessly.)

    .
    “I chewed him out a few years ago for being so hard on these guys. I didn’t understand the whole situation and He did seem to be overly drawing attention to this. As a moderator I confronted him..”

    (I confronted Mark via a message years ago wanting him to back off of the topic. He and Reverend Winzer were exposing Dr. Clark and Horton’s bent toward antinomiansim a few years ago. I was having problems with some of the things they were saying but I didn’t fully comprehend the situation as I also held to a view of the Mosaic Covenant that was not Westminsterian. I also believed the Mosaic Covenant to be an admixture and Administration of both the Covenant of Grace and Works. I had a hard time understanding the argument. I had been a Reformed Baptist for 30 years. It isn’t an unorthodox position but it is surely unbiblical and unconfessional in the Westminsterian sense. It is a minority position and rejected. I know understand why it is and why it is having ramifications in the Church.)

    Then it clicked.

    I came to understand what it meant that the Mosaic Covenant was an Administration of the Covenant of Grace and how it is of the same substance as the New Covenant is. That was big because it is an argument for or against paedo baptism also. If the nature of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New Covenants differ the subjects of the sacraments differ also and how we relate to the law of God does also. It is a major hermeneutical problem. It touches all areas of theology.)

    Clear as mud? I hope this doesn’t make you frustrated.


  546. Erik wrote….

    Grace is Christ forgiving our sins. As we mature in Christ he sanctifies us and gives us a small beginning in keeping his law. The focus remains on Christ and the gospel — not our lawkeeping. We have churches with elders to discipline us for serious sins for which we are unrepentant. Even when they do the goal is restoration.

    You are starting to resemble the old saw about Puritans being people who lived with the constant fear that someone, somewhere was having fun. Where are the 2K libertines you are so concerned about? I know I have lots of wild times with my wife & four kids. Lots of riotous living going on around here.

    Consider the Heidelberg. Understanding who we are and what Christ has done leads to a measure of lawkeeping, which is called “gratitude”. Always start with Christ & his work.

    Me…

    Keep up the false accusations Erik.


  547. Erik wrote….

    You make my point by using terms like “the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ”. Show me that in the gospels.

    Me…

    1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
    1Ti 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
    1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
    1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    1Ti 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

    Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
    Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
    Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
    Eph 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
    Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
    Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

    Erik asked…

    You reference Phil. 2:8-11. In light of this it seems like laws against blasphemy would be your primary concern. Will every knee bow and every tongue confess in this life or on judgment day?

    Me…

    You seem to be asking the wrong question in light of the passage I quote.

    Notice it says they should bow in Heaven, in earth, and under the earth. All of creation “should bow”…. That is now! And it is based upon God exalting Christ because of what He did.

    Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
    Php 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
    Php 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
    Php 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Luke
    (Act 2:36) Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

    Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
    Act 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

    Matthew
    Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
    Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
    Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

    Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
    Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
    Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
    Eph 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
    Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
    Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

    Erik charged….

    Every time I lay law on you, you seek to justify yourself. Just admit you are a lawbreaker — like me and everyone else here. That’s the first step to understanding my main point about all of this. You’re not good Randy, and neither am I.

    Me…
    Well if that isn’t a false statement again. Where have i justified myself to be good enough for heaven? I admitted I was sinner and I can’t perform perfectly. I can be pleasing to God in Christ though. See you are not reading what is being said. You are flat out making very False Accusations and statements Erik. You are a notable distraction and skirt to hide behind.

    Reread this post….. https://cosmiceye.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/avoiding-the-possible-disingenuousness-of-as-if/#comment-876

    It proves you incorrect and a false accuser. Please read it ccccaaaaaaarrrreeeefffffuuuuulllllllyyyyyyyy!

    I said this in that post….
    “Erik, I admit freely that I am a sinner and that any good work I do is completely by the Spirit of God influencing and moving me to obey Him.”

    I fully pasted Chapter 16 of the WCF in that post also. You would do well to read it and understand it as It is what I confess from my heart as I believe it speaks the truth about me.

    I am a sinner. That means I am a law breaker. But the Law also showed me God’s nature and how perfectly good and beautiful he is Character wise. I fell in love with His character based upon what the Decalogue revealed. I knew I wasn’t like that but that He was. So I went after Him as a fly to a flame or as a bucket that was being drawn from a well or river. So I also found Grace in the Law of God.

    Tell me you don’t see Grace in these passages concerning the Decalogue..

    Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
    Rom 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    Rom 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    You seem aweful scared of the Law and hate anything that would produce guilt Erik. I love guilt because it proves to me that God loves me and that He cares enough for me to goad me to do what is correct. I don’t have fear or guilt that is condeming me though. I have a healthy fear of God as He is my father and punishes me for my good. That is not a fear unto death. Maybe you need to learn Roman’s 8 a bit better. Romans Chapter 8 would be a great study for you to intently fall into.

    Now for the last thing I will address tonight and maybe for awhile because tomorrow is my day to start the weekly ministry cycle I am on.

    Erik wrote…

    So when will Hart, Van Drunen, Horton, Clark, and all of the ministers they have trained (including my own) be brought up on charges?

    “deviated from the OPC Standards” is a serious accusation, Randy.

    Me..

    Hart has not confirmed to me he deviates yet from the Confessional Standard. That is why I keep asking him a specific question. He only told me to connect the dots. He said he was confessional but didn’t confirm if he adhered to the Westminster Confession.

    He could say he was Confessional as Horton, Clark, and Van Drunen and still claim that the Mosaic is an admixture of the Covenant of Works and Grace. Clark and Horton do that. He could surely affirm if it is an administration of both the Covenant of Works and Grace. Hart could be like Kline and claim to be confessional while denying that the New Covenant is a renewal of the Old/Mosaic Covenant. That would be out of bounds from the Westminster Standards. Maybe I should put it more succinctly….. The Old and New are of the same substance.

    Horton and Clark are URCNA. The OPC nor the Westminster Standards hold nothing on them. They don’t have to acknowledge it. They can pick and choose what they want to from it.

    Van Drunen and Hart on the other hand are OPC. I believe this is being looked at intently by some OPC people now. At least doctrinally. I am not supposing that charges are being thought about or will be brought. Maybe they will when it is discovered how it is affecting the Church. Orthopraxy leads to Orthodoxy and I am smelling some fruit that is growing rotten. Espcially in how this dichotomizing of Law and Grace is working its way into all other areas of the Church including Natural Law.

    I am not OPC and I know quite a few Pastors in my denomination and I only know of one guy who has had any appreciation for Kline’s teaching on the Mosaic Covenant.. But I believe he has backed off from it. This is not a problem in my denomination. Our Seminary is also speaking out against this non sense. So is Westminster East as I can tell.

    Our RPCNA College and Seminary are more closely associated and accountable to our Denomination than the Westminster Seminaries are to any denominational Church I believe.

    Yes, it is serious in my estimation. And there are two sides in this situation.

    Escondido’s view of the Mosaic Covenant which is a bad hermeneutic and the Majority Biblical View that the Westminster Divines held.

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/94EPOz/www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2011/01/27/the-fear-of-antinomianism/
    In response to the blog here a very renowned Confessional Pastor friend of mine stated this. We both have been said to hold to Serious Error by Dr. Horton.

    And I quote and stand behind this also.
    “Thank you for pointing this out. Please note that in this repudiation we have an avowal of one of the tenets of Antinomianism. It is in this statement:

    “The law does what only the law can do: reveal God’s moral will. In doing so, it strips us of our righteousness and makes us aware of our helplessness apart from Christ and it also directs us in grateful obedience. No one who says this can be considered an antinomian.” Horton

    I regret that I have to inform those who strongly advocate Dr. Horton’s position that this is precisely what the Antinomians of history have taught. I urge you, Christian brethren, to prove all things. Please compare Dr. Horton’s statement with the repudiation of Antinomianism by Zacharias Ursinus which I quote.

    Obj. 8. The law is the letter which killeth, and is the ministration of death and condemnation. (2 Cor. 3 : 6, 7.) But there is no condemnation to Christians. Therefore, the law does not have respect to Christians who are in Christ Jesus.
    Ans. There is here a fallacy of accident ; for the law is not in itself the letter which killeth ; since this comes to pass by the fault of men, who, the more clearly they perceive the difference between themselves and the law, the more fully do they give themselves over to despair in reference to their salvation, and are therefore slam by the law. Again, the law alone, without the gospel, is the letter, that is, it is the doctrine which merely teaches, demands obedience, denounces the wrath of God and death to such as are disobedient, without producing the spiritual obedience which it requires. But when it is joined with the gospel, which is the Spirit, it also commences to become the Spirit, which is effectual in the godly, inasmuch as those who are regenerated commence willingly and cheerfully to yield obedience to the law. The law, therefore, is the letter, 1. By itself and without the gospel. 2. In respect to those who are unregenerated. On the other hand, the gospel is the Spirit; that is, it is the ministration and means through which the Holy Ghost, which works spiritual obedience in us, is given; not indeed as though all who hear, would receive the Holy Ghost and be regenerated, but because faith, by which our hearts are quickened, so that they begin to yield obedience to the law, is received by it. It does not follow, therefore, that the law is no longer to be taught in the church; for Christ himself says: “I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.” (Matt. 5: 17.) And Paul also says, that we establish the law through faith. (Rom. 3: 31.) Christ fulfilled the law in two respects: his obedience and suffering. He was just and holy in himself and did not violate the law in a single instance, but partly performed in our behalf those things which he was not bound to do, and partly sustained the punishment of the law. He also fulfills the law in us in two ways, by teaching it and granting unto us his Spirit, that so we may commence obedience to it, as we proved when speaking of the abrogation of the law.

    Ursinus Commentary pp. 617,18 objection 8

    He explcitly rejects Dr. Horton’s Antinomian tenet and insists that the law joined with the gospel “also commences to become the Spirit, which is effectual in the godly.” There, my dear Christian brethren, is the point at issue. One should be on his guard against being entrapped in an error on a most serious point: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.” I point it out to you once more, not for the sake of fear-mongering, but in Christian love, that you might be delivered from the counsel which causes to err. What do you believe? Do you hold the antinomian tenet of Dr. Horton that the law does what only the law can do? or do you maintain with reformed theology throughout the centuries, as represented by faithful teachers on many continents, what Dr. Horton considers to be a most serious error, that the law is changed by the Spirit into something that is effectual in the believer’s progressive sanctification? They are two different views, repeatedly contrasted, which an individual cannot believe at one and the same time.”

    I will also add

    Psalm 19:7

    The law of the Lord is perfect converting (reviving) the soul.


  548. NDK, thanks for checking Doug’s remark (though I don’t see it hear). I’m sure I’ve heard worse. But keeping it civil is appreciated.


  549. Good morning, all.

    Though you will read my request to Mr. Sowers for an apology, you will not read the post that I’ve determined to contain the offense. He has asked for further explanation, which I am posting here both to answer his request and to guide all of us in practicing civility—the lack of which severely diminishes the attractiveness of the argument being made.

    I am seeking to provide some guidance for exercising civility on this blog. Please consider the following suggestions.

    1. I would suggest that to declare that a person is outside the confession is (1) a personal charge, (2) of having violated one’s oath, (3) that procedurally is the prerogative of an ecclesiastical assembly or court to determine, and (4) regulated minimally by 1 Timothy 5.19: “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.”
    2. I would suggest that to declare—with demonstrating evidence—that a position someone is advocating seems to be outside the confession may be legitimate, but as an argument (1) need be stated only once, and (2) ought to be followed by specifications of charges to a person’s supervising body. It is the rhetorical equivalent of dropping the H-bomb (as is #1. above).
    3. I would suggest that to invoke citations from the confessions in discussing and/or criticizing someone’s position is not yet a charge.

    Again, these suggestions are designed to promote civility, and to decrease personalizing (Latin for the day: ad hominem-izing) the discussion/argument.


  550. Randy – It’s probably just me, but I can’t handle you writing a book every time I interact with you. Therefore, I think I’m done doing that. God bless you, though.


  551. I will say this – it is kind of cowardly of Doug to post his accusations here and not on Hart’s blog, where he posts all the time. Pretty weak, Doug.


  552. Thanks for the explanation Nelson. Calling Kline the *foul* root of R2K was inflammatory, as was calling for Hart to be run out of the OPC, even if he is out of accord with the WCF. This is a very serious subject that needs to be treated with grace and wisdom. I will choose my words with more care.

    So I do apologize for saying Darryl *should* be run out of the OPC. Forgive me Darryl, but I was jumping the gun. I do hope and pray that the OPC looks into this very closely, and it may very well turn out, that you do need to find a confession you can adhere too.

    Rest in his completed work
    ,


  553. Doug, apology accepted (not your additional swipe about my subscription).


  554. Sorry for the double post Dr. Kloosterman. It is way past my bedtime and I don’t have a lot of time at the present and I wanted to get this right. Please delete my prior post as it is terribly written. I had to correct a few things.

    Please know I am humbly trying to move this discussion on. I am not trying to be pushy or assume authority on someone else’s blog. This is an important discussion. I have much to learn here. And I want to learn it.

    I don’t know if this thing has worn itself out or has run its course. Maybe Dr. Kloosterman needs to do another blog post but it appears we have rabbit trailed into a lot of really important areas but haven’t really delved into the points that the Original Post was questioning. And they are really good points. Perhaps it may be helpful if we all return to the three main assertions of Dr. Kloosterman’s original blog post.

    1.) There is no such thing as “THE” Two Kingdom doctrine, since it has been proven that there are varying historical definitions and understanding. (Ie. Augustine, Luther, Calvin….) Terminology was used differently between them. Today we are not monolithic and have various versions of Two Kingdom defended in Reformed history. In other words If someone disagrees with some of the distinctions of the Modern Two Kingdom teaching they aren’t necessarily cultural Triumphalist nor Transformationalist.

    2.) It seems there was implication that there was a lot of concensus between Kyperian neo-Calvinism and today’s Two Kingdom Theology at Covenant. In light of that four specific items need to be explained concerning public life.
    a. Is there such a thing as “Christian Education” and does it exist?
    b. Is there a hermeneutic in scripture that can place in service an advocation of legalizing homosexual marriage?
    c. Can we argue that the fathers of neo-Calvinism are incoherent or inconsistent in their thinking?
    d. and lastly, can we ridicule attempts to apply and integrate the Christian faith with all of life?

    If these things remain neglected in the atmosphere of our discussion, can we discover how close the Kyperian neo-Calvinists are with today’s Two Kingdom Advocates? And I am discussing Two Kingdom advocates who are identified mostly as Escondido or Radical. I know those terms are inflammatory to some and don’t help the discussion sometimes. After all who wants to be known as Radical or tagged with a name that has negative connotations with it. But we do need to understand who we are addressing since this is not a monolithic movement.

    3.) Dr. Kloosterman seems to point out in his 3rd part that there is now similarity between the opposing sides. The agreement is that Scripture is necessary for the proper interpretation of Natural Law. This is true even for the purposes of cultural and political engagement. This is something that appears to be new in the discussion.

    Okay, now the kicker….. Could we keep the focus of the discussion on the original point?

    Concerning application and questions that probably need answered: Do we applaud this new coming together of the Minds? If so, does this help us work together from now on (at least for the time being)? If we don’t agree with this meeting of the minds and the consensus it seems to have brought about, does someone need to break someone’s bubble and call attention to this? Someone probably needs to alert those present at the Covenant College meeting that they aren’t representing the situation correctly.

    Maybe this discussion can be profitable if we hit the points of the original post. Just a recommendation. I have been known to help profit conversations before.

    Thanks guys for your patience. 1 Corinthians 15:58
    Randy


  555. Randy – I think you singlehandedly killed it. We could handle McAtee’s snottiness (and even returned it), but not your lengthy monologues. Even DTM’s book length essays were bearable because his content was compelling. Make it a conversation, not a lecture. Imagine you’re having a beer with someone. Do you launch into a 10 minute speech while the other guy’s eyes gloss over or do you just casually go back-and-forth.


  556. Erik,

    Let me join Randy in trying to get the conversation back in focus.

    The most important point of the original blog post was this: One significant, public NL2K advocate agreed with some neo-Calvinists that Scripture is necessary for properly understanding natural law and for Christians cultural activity.

    Question: If that report is accurate, what implications does this agreement have for the discussion?

    Let’s see if we can stay on point.


  557. on November 14, 2012 at 7:48 am Mark Van Der Molen

    Who’s “we”? I for one ( and I suspect others) appreciate Randy’s attempt to more thoroughly engage the issue.


  558. By all means, talk amongst yourselves.


  559. “Thorough” does not have to mean a thousand word essay with 27 links to his blog or wherever. My point is this kills a conversation rather than promoting it. You can say a lot by saying it a little at a time. Just go back & forth. Maybe you guys have more time than me, though.


  560. NDK, if that is the issue, then please explain how the Bible is necessary and also insufficient for cultural activity. You went out of your way to say you are not a Bible-only fellow. If that’s the case, then it would appear that the Bible does not speak to all matters. And if the Bible doesn’t speak to all matters, how can it be necessary for cultural activity since it won’t speak at least to some of those activities, such as grammar, baking, (your favorite) plumbing, and the pick n’ roll.


  561. Mark, so why not engage me by answering the question about the need to apply the law to sex and marriage but the silence about applying it to worship and freedom of religion?


  562. Erik, your most recent comments bring up something that until now I’ve chosen not to address.

    You’re Reformed. You’re not a broad evangelical; you’re not a fundamentalist. You’re supposed to be used to reading “book length” material, not sound bites.

    As Reformed people, we’re used to complaining about how evangelicals don’t think, don’t analyze, don’t plumb the depths of Scripture, and don’t care about the sort of systematic approach to the Bible that leads to serious theology. We cannot apply the sound-bite tactics of our theological opponents and expect that those tactics will have no effect on our own theology.

    Furthermore, you’re on the blog of a retired theology professor whose career has been dedicated to elevating the level of doctrinal awareness among pastors, elders, and laypeople. I certainly don’t set the rules for Dr. Kloosterman’s blog, but when I read something written by a professor of theology from a conservative Reformed seminary, I expect a higher level of academic discussion than when I read something written by a typical evangelical who cares very little about doctrine.

    Being Reformed has effects on many areas of our life, not only our soteriology.

    But then again, after writing that last sentence, it’s crossed my mind that this point is **PRECISELY** what is at stake in the Two Kingdoms debate — whether being Reformed mostly about how to get saved, or whether being Reformed has consequences for the rest of our life.

    My respect for the academic competence of Dr. Horton and others has caused me to refrain from comparing their reductionist approach to the Reformed faith to the “me and Jesus” approach of broad evangelicalism. I know they’re not the same, and that’s not a fair attack on the Two Kingdoms leaders.

    But I do think it may be a fair criticism of some of the Two Kingdoms followers.

    Theology has consequences. The way we think will affect the way we act, given enough time.

    It would be a very bad development if the spread of “Two Kingdoms” theology leads to a dumbing down of Reformed theology, or acceptance of the idea that being Reformed is only about how to get saved. If that happens, Reformed people of the “Two Kingdoms” variety will have more in common with the fundamentalism they criticize than they do with those of us who believe Christianity should affect everything we do in our lives.


  563. dgh, I’ll be pleased to explain, in due time, what Reformed theologians generally have meant by the sufficiency, clarity, and authority of Scripture.

    For now, focus, please: What implications for the NL2K discussion does the reported Covenant College rapprochement on the crucial point identified have for the NL2K advocates and our discussion with them?

    Here are some choices for you to consider:
    1. The Covenant College rapprochement on this point was bogus, i.e., disingenuous, imagined, and non-substantial.
    2. The Covenant College rapprochement on this point was a foretaste of the Second Coming, i.e., genuine, Christ-serving, and a blessing for the church.
    3. The Covenant College rapprochement on this point was neither 1. nor 2., but rather it was _________________________ (dgh’s answer).

    The floor is yours.


  564. Dr. Kloosterman said…

    The most important point of the original blog post was this: One significant, public NL2K advocate agreed with some neo-Calvinists that Scripture is necessary for properly understanding natural law and for Christians cultural activity.

    Question: If that report is accurate, what implications does this agreement have for the discussion?

    Let’s see if we can stay on point….

    Me…

    Yeah, What he said… but in light of the 3 main bullits he mentioned above.

    Now let’s see if we can go…

    Dr. Hart,
    I believe you can push Mark in Dr. Kloostermans most recent blog. I want to continue that discussion also. But maybe those topics should be left on that one.

    Thanks guys,
    Randy


  565. DTM – Why can D.G. and I dialogue back and forth with you guys in short paragraphs while you guys insist on writing books? It’s not that we’re dumber than you, it’s that we’re trying to have a conversation. If you have 10 points to make, make them one at a time. Don’t just unload on the other guy. At least you usually have one coherent thought you are trying to make in your long posts. Randy is all over the place with links, jokes, prayers, etc. I just don’t have time for it. Chalk that up to whatever you want, I guess.


  566. Look up “winsome” in the dictionary. You won’t find “boring” as a synonym. It has nothing to do with being an evangelical.


  567. “If that happens, Reformed people of the “Two Kingdoms” variety will have more in common with the fundamentalism they criticize than they do with those of us who believe Christianity should affect everything we do in our lives.”

    Darrell,

    While I agree with your thoughts to Eric on blogs, this last paragraph demonstrates you are still putting your position in the best possible light while your opponents in the worst. No one thinks reformed theology is about just being saved, and all of us believe Christianity affects everything we do in our lives. I am teaching a S.S. class now on the heads of doctrine in the Westminster Confession, not about just being saved, which is a rather ridiculous caricature. Imagine if someone were arguing that the Bible informs us that homeopathic medicine is Biblical while traditional medicine is not, and I respond that the Bible does not answer that question, but that a Christian is free to decide what is best for himself in that area, and he responds, “well, I guess I believe Christianity affects every area of life while you don’t.” Rather unfair and silly, wouldn’t you say?

    I would suggest this is really a question of Sola Scriptura and the limits this doctrine places on ministers of the Word, especially as it relates to statecraft. I would also suggest there are not one or two positions and hermeneutical approaches on this issue, but a whole spectrum of differences on this question, from hardcore theonomy to someone like me, who takes a very strict approach to WCF XXXI:4. As for Dr. Kloosterman’s question on Horton’s discussion at Covenant, I was not comfortable with some of what Horton said, it is not so easy to smooth over the differences, but I can explain more later (if anyone is interested).


  568. NDK – The Covenant Confab was Michael Horton being badly outnumbered — nothing more. The faculty at Covenant don’t really represent you guys anyway. They are mostly about advocating for the poor, not being culture warriors.


  569. Todd,

    Your last sentence captured, for me, an opportunity to move forward: “As for Dr. Kloosterman’s question on Horton’s discussion at Covenant, I was not comfortable with some of what Horton said, it is not so easy to smooth over the differences, but I can explain more later (if anyone is interested).”

    Color me interested—on the point about the impact on NL2K-whole-life Calvinist discussion regarding the need for Scripture for understanding natural law properly and for Christian cultural activity.

    You refer to the matter of Sola Scriptura. I think that cultivating a proper understanding of this phrase may be a profitable direction for our discussion.


  570. Erik,

    Just so I’m understanding you accurately, your answer would be: “1. The Covenant College rapprochement on this point was bogus, i.e., disingenuous, imagined, and non-substantial.”

    Is that correct?


  571. NDK, I don’t expect you to have to cite a lot of Reformed theologians. I’m just curious how you explain the Bible’s necessity and insufficiency. I’m not trying to catch you. You were very clear that you are not a biblicist. But I don’t know how you say the Bible is necessary for cultural activity and then say it doesn’t address some cultural activities.

    I don’t know about the forum at Covenant. I haven’t listened to it. I’ve only read reports.


  572. NDK – I would agree with all but disingenuous. I think everyone involved was well meaning.


  573. Erik, I never said I’m smarter than Two Kingdoms people. I would be a fool to compare my level of theological training or post-degree self-study to that of Dr. Horton or Dr. Clark.

    The question is not how smart we are but how we talk to each other online.

    My guess is that’s one area where Rev. Todd Bordow (I’m guessing that’s you Todd — correct me please, if I’m wrong) will agree. Internet discussions may not be the easiest place to discuss theology because the culture rewards people who ate snappish and loud rather than precise, clear, and careful in what they say.

    Erik, can you agree that cultures differ, and the way we speak to people will differ based on lots of different factors? What you regard as short and concise is being regarded by some people as rude and obnoxious.

    I’m not saying that to you because I know the way you write has become common on the internet. In fact, I’ve repeatedly defended you and Dr. Hart in sidebar conversations.

    Let me assure you that as someone who grew up in a political household (my father was a Republican Party official) I am quite capable of using language which is calculated to bite hard, and does so because it boils a complicated concept down to a sound bite.

    I have ethical problems with that method of trying to solve problems — and not just theological problems but also national problems. If my professors at Calvin did anything good for me, it was to convince me that I need to use lots of detail to back up what I say, not just speak in glittering generalities that may persuade people by emotion but actually prove nothing. Politics, to be effective, must speak at multiple levels — everything from the think tank to the stump speech to the “zinger” in a debate which will be remembered when everything else is forgotten.

    I don’t get to choose the culture in which I live. The internet has become the standard means of modern communication, and I’d rather try to elevate the level of discussion than capitulate to what’s typical today.

    If we’ve learned anything in the information age, it is that things change fast, and I don’t see why we have to live with a culture of sound bites in our theological world.

    Over and out. I’m making arrangements in a few minutes for military funeral honors for my father-in-law, a combat medic of the South Korean Army during the Korean War. He’s in good health today but we believe in preparing for such things in advance. Le’ts be grateful for the people who fought for freedom with guns and bullets so we have have the luxury of talking about theology on the internet instead of trying to whisper memorized Scripture passages to others in North Korean prison camps.


  574. dgh, Okay, when I get to my response, I’ll try to keep in mind that I need not cite a lot . . . and will focus on explaining how the Bible can be a necessary source, yet not the exclusive source, of light for Christian cultural activities.

    So, I understand that you have no opinion about the Covenant forum—whether it was bogus or beneficial? Okay, then.

    I’m not trying to avoid answering, but before moving to discuss the implications of the doctrine of Scripture, I’ll ask if there remains anyone who might still want to weigh in regarding the crucial point of reported agreement regarding the need for Scripture vis-a-vis natural law and Christian cultural activity, and its implications for discussions between NL2K and whole-life Calvinism.

    Going once . . . going twice . . .


  575. Dr. Hart,

    I am interested in Dr. Kloosterman’s answer also. I understand what he is saying is that the scriptures are totally sufficient concerning matters of faith and how we practice but it isn ‘t a book that can sufficiently teach us how to be Medical Doctors, Engineers, (I have that kind of degree in electronics and Major schools differ on whether there is Electron flow or Proton flow) Administrators, and such. Now God does give gifts of wisdom in those areas as is noted in ! Corinthians 12. (even concerning Government) but the Scriptures do not specifically tell us how to use pie charts or spreadsheets to help us get these jobs done. The Bible is not a manual for the Abacus.

    At least that is how I am understanding Dr. Kloosterman.


  576. Dr. Kloosterman said…
    I’m not trying to avoid answering, but before moving to discuss the implications of the doctrine of Scripture, I’ll ask if there remains anyone who might still want to weigh in regarding the crucial point of reported agreement regarding the need for Scripture vis-a-vis natural law and Christian cultural activity, and its implications for discussions between NL2K and whole-life Calvinism.

    Going once . . . going twice . . .

    Me…

    I will hold off… Sorry I didn’t see your post.

    I want to here Pastor Todd speak on what he thinks.
    Pastor Todd said, “As for Dr. Kloosterman’s question on Horton’s discussion at Covenant, I was not comfortable with some of what Horton said, it is not so easy to smooth over the differences, but I can explain more later (if anyone is interested).”

    I am interested Pastor….


  577. Erik, Fair enough. In my original blog post, I qualified the notion of “disingenuousness” with a number of conditions. So I understand your point. I think that if other NL2K advocates share your view, that has significant implications for the NL2K movement and the churches’ evaluation of it, which I won’t detail at this point.

    So, onward and forward!


  578. NDK, at the risk of repeating myself, here (http://oldlife.org/2012/10/not-so-fast/) is what I wrote about the forum on the basis of Matt Tuininga’s post (the statements with the numbers are Matt’s version of points of agreement):

    1) Both clearly distinguish the form of cultural and political engagement obligatory on Christians from the model of Old Testament Israel.

    If neo-Calvinists look to the Bible for models of political engagement, where are they looking other than the Old Testament since the New Testament is silent on political strategies unless you count “my kingdom is not of this world” as a form of political engagement. In which case, the neo-Calvinist insistence on biblical politics (see James Skillen) paves the way for theonomy even if Kuyperians are uncomfortable with Greg Bahnsen.

    2) Both maintain a sharp critique of the militancy and culture war mindset that marks much of the Christian Right, which has its own version of the social gospel.

    Since many neo-Calvinists do actually denounce 2kers for not lending adequate support to the culture wars or for criticizing statements like the Manhattan Declaration (think Chuck Colson, Nancy Pearcey, and some disciples of Francis Schaeffer — say, didn’t Schaeffer have a connection to Covenant?), I am waiting to see the neo-Calvinist critique of culture war militancy. Criticizing the evangelical baptism of the Republican Party and George W. Bush does not count.

    3) Each perspective affirms basic neo-Calvinist concepts concerning common grace, the antithesis, and sphere sovereignty.

    This is one of the more agreeable affirmations in the list, but the fine print is important. Since some neo-Calvinists construe the antithesis in a way that obliterates the proximate goods of the earthly secular city, or insist that special revelation must interpret general revelation (fine, but what if the Bible is silent on plumbing?), affirmation of antithesis is not going to produce synthesis. Meanwhile, this 2ker finds the notion of common grace unhelpful. Christianity already has good doctrines — creation and providence — that teach what common grace attempts to affirm. Adding grace to something common only gives license for speaking about realms like culture and politics redemptively. As for sphere sovereignty, see here.

    4) Both seek to distinguish the work proper to the institutional church (church as organization) and the way in which believers serve Christ and witness to his kingdom in every area of life (church as organism).

    Perhaps, but all of that talk about kingdom work and every member ministry leaves me thinking that neo-Calvinists share with evangelicals an inability to understand the kingdom of Christ aright, that is, as a realm of redemption (as opposed to creation and providence). In other words, the American Historical Association is not but the visible church is, as the Westminster Confession teaches, the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

    5) Both agree that Christians cannot bring the kingdom of God to earth through their cultural work.

    If this is true, why did Abraham Kuyper describe the cultural task as holy?

    6) Each perspective insists that Scripture has much to say about how Christians should be involved in culture through their vocations.

    Maybe, but 2kers are much more cautious about reaching for their Bibles to justify their political, philosophical, or scientific convictions and tasks. That is to say, that 2kers come closer to the Belgic Confession’s distinction between the books of general and special revelation than Kuyperians do. Those cosmological passages (e.g. Col. 1:15-20) give neo-Calvinists inches that look like the entire canon.

    7) Both agree that the church must proclaim what the word of God says about God’s law to the state, while avoiding false claims to expertise in matters of economics or policy.

    Actually, 2kers are much more inclined to cite Westminster Confession chapter 31.4 on the church’s duty to refrain from meddling in civil affairs, while neo-Calvinists (or those inspired by its broad claims) are inclined to tell government officials how they are godless nincompoops.

    8) Both affirm that while the actual objective work of Christians often looks similar to that of unbelievers, in terms of motivation, worldview, and sometimes objective results such work is profoundly different.

    Some 2kers wonder whether anyone can be as self-conscious as w-w language suggests. They even think that when a mother sees her child spill a plate of spaghetti over the new dining room carpet she is not necessarily thinking about how she can glorify God or extend Christ’s Lordship when she instructs little Sammy about the importance — for the eleventh time — of staying in his chair, sitting up, and not playing with his food. Some 2kers even think that this believing mother will act to rear her child in ways common to most female parents (as part of the created order) rather than consulting a Kuyperian handbook on child discipline and carpet cleaning. (She may wish for a neo-Calvinist cookbook that would yield a recipe for spaghetti sauce that little Sammy would eat.)

    9) Both affirm the value of Christian parachurch organizations like colleges and seminaries, while at the same time preserving the liberty of Christians to participate in non-Christian organizations as well.

    The irony here is that denominational colleges like Covenant and Calvin fail to meet neo-Calvinist criteria of sphere sovereignty and in so doing put their respective churches in an awkward place of having to oversee matters over which their pastors and elders have no competence (such as the arts and sciences, since the Bible does not reveal German, Shakespeare, or Austrian economics).

    I apologize if these comments rain on the warm and fuzzy fog that descended on Lookout Mountain, but many points of disagreement remain to be clarified.

    And one of the greatest is the very criticism that 2kers regularly endure from neo-Calvinists. Notions of sphere sovereignty, church as organism or institute, w-w, and cultural engagement are not in the Reformed confessions. In other words, they have never been confessional matters, that is, until neo-Calvinists expressed shock — simply shocked — that 2k thinking is going on here. Do 2kers ever receive praise for defending the gospel (as in justification by faith alone), the regulative principle (of Reformed worship), the importance of keeping the Lord’s Day holy, what the Second Commandment says about images of God, or maintaining a lively opposition to the errors Roman Catholicism? 2kers have taken positions on all of these pieces of Reformed faith and practice that have been central to Reformed Protestantism’s development and witness. Neo-Calvinists, in contrast, have been largely silent on these same topics. Yet, neo-Calvinists react to 2k as if its teachings were a denial of the fundamentals of the Christian religion.


  579. Thanks for the clarification Dr Kloosterman; I will take the six points to heart. I do have a couple questions. If Dr Hart sees the Mosaic Covenant as a republication of the Covenant of Works, and not the same in substance of the New (the position of Meredith Kline) how does that Jibe with the Westminster Confession of faith?

    As you know, the WCF calls the Mosaic Covenant the same in substance as the New Covenant. All the post fall Covenants are essenscially one Covenant of Grace, the new being the flowering of the Mosaic. But Kline says no! How can Kline’s later position be considered in accord with the WCF? Isn’t this a deviation that is vital to how we understand our Confession? Shouldn’t these questions be answered? And shouldn’t Dr Hart share his heart and plainly tell us where he stands on the WCF regarding Mosaic Covenant?


  580. dgh, Let’s move forward.

    Biblicism is the interpretation and use of Scripture without regard for its literary, historical, and canonical context. It may be described as uniformly employing a one-for-one correspondence between the “then” of the Bible’s content, and the “now” of applying that content. There are many hermeneutical qualifications to this description that I won’t take time to explain.

    Here is one helpful starting point for my explanation: 2 Tim. 3.16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (ESV).

    1. Let’s agree, first, that “the man of God” refers in this context first to Timothy, the pastor ordained to preach the gospel and teach sound doctrine. By extension, these verses apply to all Christian leaders who have been ordained to do what Timothy is doing. By further extension, these verses apply to all Christians, since (1) the rather generic word “person” (rendered here as “man”) is being used, and (2) the phrase “every good work” is both general and non-restrictive. Conclusion: whatever 2 Tim. 3.16-17 teaches, it teaches for all Christians.

    2. Let’s agree, second, that the phrase “every good work” refers in the immediate context to Timothy’s labors as pastor, teacher, and evangelist. This primary referent, however, is not the only possible referent; I suggest the phrase refers also to “every good work” of all Christians, or to their entire life.

    3. Let’s agree that the Bible (here, originally referring to the OT writings; now, to the entire Scriptures) is profitable for all of these four “results,” all of which together equip Christians for all their living. (With this, I just made several “jumps” that I don’t think I need to explicate.) This latter conclusion is based on the grammar of the original Greek of the verses.

    I’ll pause for you to register your agreement.


  581. Doug, Yours are important questions, and I think they are legitimate questions. At this point in time (that Nixon-era phrase likely dates me!), I am not the person to moderate that discussion. My situation is called “having one’s plate full.” Moreover, I am not at all sure that I’m the best qualified person to answer your questions, in the event that Dr. Hart is disinclined to do that.

    Meanwhile, let me share this link with you, where you will find resources directly related to your good questions.


  582. NDK – I’m trying to follow your logic (and asking some tough questions to my Westminster trained URC pastor). Would this statement be an accurate summary of your position:

    “The law is gracious. if the law is gracious then we should be promoting God’s law to everybody — inside and outside of the church — just like the gospel.”


  583. So, not all is well as is perceived by Matthew Tuininga and the Covenant College Concensus? Is that what I am hearing? I am also waiting for Pastor Todd Bordow to share his insight. .


  584. Erik, I’m confused. My logic . . . in reference to what comment, specifically?


  585. NDK – Just in general. I skimmed that link that you gave Doug. Anyone else can answer that, too. I am confused why Randy & Doug (and now you?) keep making reference to the issue of how D.G. (and Kline) view the character of the Mosaic law and exactly what the implications of that are for the 2k/Neocalvinist debate. Someone just needs to spell that out and connect the dots for me.

    DTM – “In fact, I’ve repeatedly defended you and Dr. Hart in sidebar conversations.”

    I wondered why I kept getting a tingling sensation.

    My main point (again) is that you can say a lot a little bit at a time.

    Amen to your last paragraph.


  586. Erik,

    The Law is gracious if we are in Christ.

    Zacharias Ursinus
    Obj. 8. The law is the letter which killeth, and is the ministration of death and condemnation. (2 Cor. 3 : 6, 7.) But there is no condemnation to Christians. Therefore, the law does not have respect to Christians who are in Christ Jesus.

    Ans. There is here a fallacy of accident ; for the law is not in itself the letter which killeth ; since this comes to pass by the fault of men,…. But when it is joined with the gospel, which is the Spirit, it also commences to become the Spirit, which is effectual in the godly, inasmuch as those who are regenerated commence willingly and cheerfully to yield obedience to the law. The law, therefore, is the letter, 1. By itself and without the gospel. 2. In respect to those who are unregenerated. On the other hand, the gospel is the Spirit; that is, it is the ministration and means through which the Holy Ghost, which works spiritual obedience in us, is given;

    Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
    Psa 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

    Sounds gracious to me? God showed me His beauty and perfection through it.


  587. Randy – ah, nice and readable.

    “The Law is gracious if we are in Christ”

    So what are the implications for the 2kNeocalvinist debate of Hart/Kline getting this wrong?


  588. Oops – 2k/Neocalvinst debate.


  589. In other words, you say that Hart and Kline misunderstand the Mosaic Covenant. Hart might also be a bad dancer and a Phillies fan. So what? What are the implications for the debate we are having?


  590. Thanks Dr KLoosterman, and keep pressing on!


  591. Eric,
    Go to the first blog and lets carry this on. That is where we are discussing this issue that you want to discuss. The topic you want to discuss fits and applies more in that blog. I think Dr. Kloosterman would prefer to keep this one about the Matthew Tuininga and Covenant College discussion. They seem to say there is a consensus when there might not be as much of a consensus as they think. That is what this OP is about.

    Thanks buddy. We can discuss the Decalogue and the Mosaic over there beneficially I believe.

    https://cosmiceye.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/lessons-being-learned-in-the-digital-classroom/


  592. So, not all is well as is perceived by Matthew Tuininga and the Covenant College Concensus? Is that what I am hearing? I am also waiting for Pastor Todd Bordow to share his insight.


  593. Since you were the one who brought the Mosaic Law up here, maybe you answered my question inadvertantly. It has nothing to do with the 2K/Neocalvinist debate. You just brought it up to try to discredit Hart. If this is true then that is an ad hominem argument. If it’s not true, tell me how it is relevant.


  594. Eric, Why are you having such a hard time following Dr. Kloosterman’s wishes? I want to tell you how relevant this issue is but we should do it in the proper place and respect Dr. Kloosterman’s wishes. But just to amuse you I will tell you quickly.

    It is a hermeneutical situation that causes the a total bifurcation of the religious and political realms. It stems from the dichotomizing of law and grace (gospel) and saying that the Law and Gospel are opposed when they aren’t. The Gospel is actually restoring us to what we should be when it comes to obedience.. It is gracious and it also restrains sin in all of life. This restraining of sin isn’t just in the regenerates life. It also restrains sin in the unregenerate. That is gracious for all.

    I really recommend you read the WCF chapter 16 and Romans 8.


  595. Gentlemen,

    Sorry for the delay, today was golf day. If any of you can provide a Bible verse which would move my game into the 80’s I would be willing to change my position. As for Horton’s concessions, I found only two I wouldn’t agree with.

    1.) Both clearly distinguish the form of cultural and political engagement obligatory on Christians from the model of Old Testament Israel.

    I would have to know what Horton means here, but I don’t see where Scripture requires one to be politically engaged. Being engaged with unbelievers and seeking to be a good neighbor does not necessarily mean being politically engaged. In David Calhoun’s book on Princeton Seminary, he writes of Archibald Alexander, Princeton’s first president; “Archibald Alexander had little interest in politics, seldom voted, and never preached a `political sermon.’” I’m okay with that – makes me like the guy even more! And if by cultural engagement one means believers are to care about the welfare of the place they live and people who live there, then yes, we agree, but he may mean more than that..

    7) Both agree that the church must proclaim what the word of God says about God’s law to the state, while avoiding false claims to expertise in matters of economics or policy.

    I would affirm the latter, but not the former. While all political leaders are accountable for their sins of greed, murder, etc… that may drive their policies… and if ministers are given an audience with state officials those pastors can call on these officials to repent of those sins and believe in Christ to be saved, as a non-theonomist I do not see where the Bible give us which laws the state must enforce, and I’m not sure how Horton’s view jives with WCF XXXI:4 unless I am misunderstanding him here.


  596. Dr. Kloosterman,

    You wrote,

    “I’m not trying to avoid answering, but before moving to discuss the implications of the doctrine of Scripture, I’ll ask if there remains anyone who might still want to weigh in regarding the crucial point of reported agreement regarding the need for Scripture vis-a-vis natural law and Christian cultural activity, and its implications for discussions between NL2K and whole-life Calvinism.”

    I think this is where there are misunderstandings. We, or I should say, I, believe in whole life Calvinism, that Scripture governs our life outside the church as well as in; all our life. I can think of many Scriptures that govern how we live in the world and relate to unbelievers in an unbelieving world, to name but a few:

    “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone,” (Col 4:5&6)

    “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer. 29:7)

    “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” (Col 3:23)

    “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” ( I Cor 10:31)

    “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (I Peter 2:17 and Rom 13:1-7 of course)

    “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)

    But Scripture warns repeatedly not to go beyond the commandments of God and teach the doctrines and opinions of men,

    “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matt 15:9)

    So given that Scripture, IMO, does not reveal how nations outside OT Israel are to enforce laws and which sins to punish and how, (as it doesn’t give us a cure for cancer, or even which medicines to use to treat it, or how to,lose weight), then as a minister I can only preach the principles and commands listed in the Bible and allow God’s liberty for Christians to apply them in a way they see fit.

    And given that ministers, like most people, have very strong opinions on politics, they must be careful not to misuse the bible to preach about how people should vote on certain issues, for then it is more a matter of the pastor’s opinions than the Word of God.

    So while I can certainly preach against fornication, greed, Mormonism, etc…, Sola Scriptura does not allow me to use the Bible to determine which of these sins the U.S. government should outlaw.

    Now where this all relates to 2k, is, if people in my church ask me why the Bible doesn’t give the cure for cancer, or laws for governments to govern by, or proper techniques for planting crops, or even Happy Days verses Good Times ( a big debate in my house when I was a child), I tell them the Bible is a book about God’s eternal kingdom, and while God cares for these other matters, he has chosen not to address them specifically in his Word, but everything we need for salvation and sanctification, for a life pleasing to him in the church and in the world, are found in his Word.

    Finally, as some like myself take a somewhat looser view of WCF XXI: 7&8 on the Sabbath Day, while others hold to it more strictly, some of us, like myself, take a strict view of WCF XXXI:4, that when it says the church is not to meddle in civil affairs – that we don’t (noting the one exception given).

    Does this help at all?


  597. Todd – “Happy Days verses Good Times”

    No, the question is Joanie or Chachi?


  598. Eric,

    I should have written “versus” but Joanie loved Chachi, so there is no competition there.


  599. Todd,

    Thank you for this fulsome answer. I appreciate very much your willingness to engage, and your citation of relevant and helpful Scripture passages.

    Specifically, I am encouraged by your agreement “that Scripture governs our life outside the church as well as in; all of our life.” As you go on to indicate, Scripture tells us some things about that life, but not all things. And you are right that Scripture warns repeatedly against compelling people to believe and do what God has not commanded us to believe and do. Our agreements are long and deep.

    Now, for purposes of further clarification and discussion, not to trick or trap, I grant that Scripture does not teach us how to lose weight, but does forbid the sin of gluttony. I’m curious—and this is not directed toward you, whom I do not know personally, and about whom I know precious little—how many ministers, if the text of Scripture they were proclaiming called for it and permitted it, would preach specifically about the sin of gluttony and its opposite—moderation in gratitude. I’m confident we would agree that the Bible permits and requires us, with all the proper qualifications exegetical, theological, and homiletical, to proclaim God’s calling to obey specific principles. Another example: given all the qualifications mentioned, the Bible does require a Christian employer to pay his worker a fair wage, yet does not stipulate what that wage should be, nor how frequently it should be paid. So on the level of principle, Scripture is normative for Christian cultural activity, but with respect to the concretization of that principle, Scripture gives wisdom (perhaps) but no specific command.

    I’m a bit unclear what this means, though I’m tempted to agree with it: “Sola Scriptura does not allow me to use the Bible to determine which of these sins [that you mentioned] the U.S. government should outlaw.” I’m interested in learning how “Sola Scriptura” fits in here.

    My wife is calling me to watch “Leverage,” so I must run for now.

    Thanks again!


  600. Thanks Pastor Todd. I really appreciate your clarifications and faithful witness to what you see. .


  601. NDK, I think you are wrong about biblicism. Here is what John Frame says (I can’t believe I’m quoting Frame):

    “The term “biblicism” is usually derogatory. It is commonly applied to (1) someone who has no appreciation for the importance of extrabiblical truth in theology, who denies the value of general or natural revelation, (2) those suspected of believing that Scripture is a “textbook” of science, or philosophy, politics, ethics, economics, aesthetics, church government, etc., (3) those who have no respect for confessions, creeds, and past theologians, who insist on ignoring these and going back to the Bible to build up their doctrinal formulations from scratch, (4) those who employ a “proof texting” method, rather than trying to see Scripture texts in their historical, cultural, logical, and literary contexts.

    “I wish to disavow biblicism in these senses. Nevertheless, I also want to indicate how difficult it is to draw the line between these biblicisms and an authentic Reformation doctrine of sola Scriptura. Consider, first, (1):Sola Scriptura is the doctrine that Scripture, and only Scripture, has the final word on everything, all our doctrine, and all our life. Thus it has the final word even on our interpretation of Scripture, even in our theological method.”

    As for your explication of 2 Tim. I am generally in agreement but very uncomfortable by where you seem to be headed with stressing “every good work.” I also don’t care for being led down a pier.

    On you point to Todd about the Bible teaching principles, specifically that employers should pay a just wage, perhaps. But what about all the non-Christians (even Democrats) who believe the same without ever consulting a Bible. At some point you may want to consider the way you give credit to the Bible for truth that most human beings recognize. It reminds me of my mother who was a bit of a partisan about how good Christians are and how bad the world is.


  602. dgh: I agree entirely with Frame’s descriptive definition; my description was more in line with his (4), and restricted to the exegetical component.

    As for 2 Timothy 3.16-17: first, I realize my mode may be somewhat pedantic and, yes, leading. I am setting it out this way with a view to others listening in on the conversation, perhaps less familiar with these points. Thus, I am following a rather inductive approach.

    Secondly, by stressing “every good work,” I believe that this phrase does refer to what I would call the Christian’s whole-life obedience. The phrase “good works” is used in this way throughout the NT. This is especially true in Matt. 5.16, for example.

    Thirdly, among the basic claims to be made on the basis of this text, then, is the claim that Scripture is not only “profitable” for the Christian’s whole-life obedience, but that Scripture was intended to shed light on that activity. This is confirmed by Psalm 119.105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

    Fourthly, I think with phrases like “Scripture sheds light on all of life,” and “Scripture is relevant to all of human activity,” one important remaining question is: How does Scripture shed this light on my path? and How is Scripture relevant to all of my activity?

    Negatively, the answer is: Scripture is not a textbook for . . . . But while that may be true, that doesn’t get us very far.

    Positively, Scripture (1) sets out some commands that must be obeyed, regardless of activity; (2) provides a “fence” beyond which we may not go, within which we are free to move about; (3) provides navigation points, like a compass, for steering a course; and (4) provides examples that we should emulate. Each in its own way is normative for whole-life Christian activity.

    Concerning (1), disputes arise regarding what, specifically, those commands are. This, among other things, is what distinguishes neo-Calvinists from theonomists/Christian Reconstructionists. The former do not believe that we may move directly from a Biblical command to modern enforcement of that command, but rather, we must distill the principle and seek to bring that into practice.

    Concerning (2), take marriage as an example. A Christian may marry whomever he/she wishes . . . as long as the spouse is a co-believer.

    I can say more, but perhaps this is enough for now, to keep us going.


  603. “how many ministers, if the text of Scripture they were proclaiming called for it and permitted it, would preach specifically about the sin of gluttony and its opposite—moderation in gratitude.”

    Dr. Kloosterman,

    If it was in the text I was preaching on I would definitely admonish the people against it, and I have confronted people in private visitation against such sin if applicable.

    “I’m a bit unclear what this means, though I’m tempted to agree with it: “Sola Scriptura does not allow me to use the Bible to determine which of these sins [that you mentioned] the U.S. government should outlaw.” I’m interested in learning how “Sola Scriptura” fits in here.”

    I mean that RC’s, given their rejection of Sola Scriptura, can make all kinds of theological and social proclamations with authority, but since we hold to Sola Scriptura we can only proclaim with authority what is in the Scripture, and since the Scriptures do not tell me which sins the U.S government should outlaw, as a minister of the Word I cannot proclaim it.


  604. Dr. Hart wrote on November 15, 2012 at 5:27 am:

    On you point to Todd about the Bible teaching principles, specifically that employers should pay a just wage, perhaps. But what about all the non-Christians (even Democrats) who believe the same without ever consulting a Bible. At some point you may want to consider the way you give credit to the Bible for truth that most human beings recognize. It reminds me of my mother who was a bit of a partisan about how good Christians are and how bad the world is.

    Dr. Hart, I believe you’ve hit on a key issue in this debate — whether most human beings are able to recognize truth apart from Scripture.

    In short, to use more colloquial terms, “Is common sense really that common?”

    I believe we in the West, especially the Western Christian world, often fail to recognize just how much our culture has been permeated with Judeo-Christian assumptions. I’m not a classical scholar, but it doesn’t take much reading of either Greco-Roman or Ancient Near East literature to realize that the standards of right and wrong in the world in which Judaism lived and into which Christianity entered were at radical variance with biblical standards.

    However, I fully concur that when dealing with dead civilizations known only from their literature and archaeology, we always run into issues of interpretation.

    So let’s move to a culture with which both of us have more than a passing acquaintance — that of modern Asia.

    It is impossible to spend very much time dealing with the Korean, Chinese, Japanese or Filipino church world and not realize that many fundamental cultural assumptions of right and wrong are not those which are generally held in the West. Take a look at the importance of saving face versus truth telling, and look at how that affects Korean ecclesiastical politics.

    The situation of the church in Japan or China might be explainable as being the problems of a minority faith in a culture dominated by non-Christian and anti-Christian assumptions, and perhaps the issues in the Philippines might be explainable by the Roman Catholic habit of syncretization with pre-existing cultural practices, but what about Korea, in which there are a considerably higher percentage of evangelicals than in the United States, and in which traditional Buddhist and shamanistic religious practices are largely ossified and not a vital part of modern Korean society?

    I’m well aware that Calvinism entered a pre-existing Korean culture that was quite amenable to its fundamental assumptions. It’s been said that pre-Christian Korean society, due to its emphasis on fatalism, respect for authority in the state and the family, respect for education, etc., made Korean culture prior to the arrival of the missionaries very fertile fields, essentially working among a people who had a Calvinistic worldview without knowing Christ.

    Believe me, I get it when it comes to how the missionaries “clicked” in Korea where they failed or had to work hard against problematic cultural assumptions elsewhere.

    However, there are still major problems in trying to transform basic cultural assumptions in dealing with Koreans. Conversion doesn’t change everything.

    For example, trying to explain Matthew 18 to a Korean is not easy. Confronting someone is considered very rude, especially if the person being confronted is of higher social status. The result is that very bad things happen regularly in churches and community life which can best be described as underhanded backstabbing over minor issues allowed to fester until they explode.

    Trying to explain the importance of following I Timothy and Titus in selecting elders is all but impossible. The primary qualification for the eldership, according to Scripture, is being able to rule one’s home well, but a detailed examination of someone’s home life (especially if he is a prominent person) is simply not going to happen in most cases, so only gross and obvious problems in someone’s home life will disqualify a man from ordination as an elder, and the real tests for making someone an elder become things which have no basis in Scripture at all.

    Teaching wives to obey husbands is not generally a problem in Korea (at least with regard to external behavior). Teaching husbands to love their wives is a much different problem. On this, traditional Korean cultural assumptions and modern American cultural assumptions of gender roles are both seriously wrong and both need to be corrected by Scripture.

    Much more could be said — and I could give examples from the modern Middle East as well, where our soldiers come back with truly horrible stories about cultural assumptions in areas of truth-telling and family relations.

    The bottom line is I do not believe common sense is anywhere near as common as we think.

    On the contrary, much of what we consider “common sense” is merely the residual foundations of a Judeo-Christian worldview — foundations to which we are taking a jackhammer in the modern Western world.


  605. NDK, I think it would be enlightening for you to admit more publicly than you have that Scripture is insufficient for all of life. I understand all of the hedges and basically agree with them. But popular neo-Calvinism of the Schaeffer Colson variety makes it seem that a return to the Bible is going to solve most of our problems.

    And I am still struggling to understand why with your understanding of every good work and the various qualifications you put on the Bible for all of life why you choose gay marriage as a case upon which to feature the deficiencies of 2k. That is, why sex and marriage and not blasphemy and idolatry. The first table of the law is as much apart of the Bible as the seventh commandment. You feel pretty confident going from the seventh commandment to contemporary application. I don’t see why a similar logic won’t apply to Mormons and Roman Catholics living in the United States right next door to gays and lesbians.


  606. DTM, all of that is well and good, but we are generally talking about the United States. Few are the 2kers or neo-Calvinists who presume to go to another culture and tell them how to run things. Gay marriage, last I checked, was an issue in the West. Many more people oppose it than those who are epistemologically self-conscious.


  607. Dr. Hart, I know you are a historian. From what I understand your classifications and application of 2kers or neo-Calvinists just seem a bit kiltered. History shows that when the Judeo or Christian Cultures entered into any culture this sin became a taboo. But you can find that it wasn’t in many of the Cultures before. From the East all the way to the West. Gay relationships are an issue and have been all around the world for several millenia. The only reason it is a cultural war here in the context of marriage is for the same reason it is an issue in Europe. Sinners want to justify their sin. I know you mentioned Gay marriage but the issue goes into other cultures also. Even in the Muslim cultures. Tolerance is really being pushed everywhere.

    Can you at least acknowledge tolerance is being pushed everywhere even if it isn’t on the level of seeking marriage by name?

    And I have one more question. You are assuming many more people oppose it than those who are epistemologically self Conscious. I am willing to bet it is because of their heritage and the way they were raised due to the epistemology of their forefathers. What thinkest thou?

    It is easier for a child to accept something that is morally wrong when he is raised in an environment where the noted sinful practice is not recognized as sinful. The sins of the forefathers are passed on.


  608. Yes, Dr. Hart. I am going to take us to Sodom and Gomorrah as an example.

    To back up a bit. If you guys (on both sides of this issue) don’t see the cohesiveness as the Covenant College meeting of the minds seems to indicate, then is Matthew Tuininga’s assessment out in left field or out of the ballpark when the game is mentioned? Is his assessment of the meeting correct but the participants wrong?


  609. Todd,

    Your understanding of Sola Scriptura does not seem to be the same as the classical Reformation formulation. The latter forged the phrase to indicate that only Scripture can be/is the final arbiter of truth and right. In its Reformational use, this phrase did not deny the normativity of secondary authorities—church councils, confessions, manuals, etc. These all had to be tested by and agree with Scripture, but they could function with authority.

    In other words, the limitation embedded in the word “sola” refers not to the scope of Scripture’s authority—as in, “give me just the Bible, only the Bible, nothing but the Bible”—but to the ultimacy of Scripture’s authority.

    What am I missing?


  610. Dr. Kloosterman,

    I am not denying secondary authority, but as you say, those secondary authorities must agree with Scripture, which still limits ministers to speak only what is revealed in the Word, quoting Calvin:

    “Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the word of God, of which they are constituted administrators. Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to and to obey the divine majesty of this word. Let them enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest. Let them edify the body of Christ. Let them devastate Satan’s reign. Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious. Let them bind and loose, thunder and lightning, if necessary, but let them do all according to the word of God.” (sermons on Ephesians)


  611. Randy, you wrote, “History shows that when the Judeo or Christian Cultures entered into any culture this sin became a taboo.” What evidence do you have for this? And do you really mean to say that Christianity has no influence on our culture?


  612. NDK, here’s what you seem to be missing, namely, that you are using only in both ways:

    “The latter forged the phrase to indicate that only Scripture can be/is the final arbiter of truth and right.”

    “the limitation embedded in the word “sola” refers not to the scope of Scripture’s authority—as in, ‘give me just the Bible, only the Bible, nothing but the Bible—but to the ultimacy of Scripture’s authority.”

    Your first statement sounds like only the Bible determines truth. If that’s so, then why would someone not say, “just give me the Bible.” “I’m going to have to check it anyway.”


  613. Todd,

    The phrase “according to the word of God,” then, does not mean that “x” must be found in a specific verse in the Bible. Rather, “x” has to comport with, agree with, be in accordance with the Word of God. Is that right?


  614. dgh, To say that “only Scripture can be/is the final arbiter of truth and right” is not to say “only the Bible determines truth.” It is to say that not tradition, not church councils, but only the Bible can be the final judge in disputes of doctrine and life. Arbiter is not determiner.

    If when you say “Scripture is insufficient for all of life” you mean “the Bible is not a textbook for auto repair,” that’s fine. That’s what I mean. But I’ll continue to say, as most neo-Calvinists that I know have always said, “the Bible is not a textbook for auto repair.” Unfortunately, within neo-Calvinism (and now, within contemporary NL2K), some have taken this to mean that the Bible has nothing to say about auto-repair. Those are two very different claims.


  615. Dr. Kloosterman,

    Yes, that is right


  616. dgwired
    Randy, you wrote, “History shows that when the Judeo or Christian Cultures entered into any culture this sin became a taboo.” What evidence do you have for this? And do you really mean to say that Christianity has no influence on our culture?

    Me…
    Dr. Hart,
    I appreciate the questions. Thanks for responding. I can show documentation for practices in countries and what happened to them after Missionaries or some form of Judeo or Christian Culture came in to influence them.

    As for you second question.
    I believe you possibly misread something. Just the first question you asked implies the second one’s topic wasn’t even entertained by me.

    I want to be faithful and answer your question. I had another question I have had for you many times now that you seem to be dodging. And it seems you admitted to dodging questions.
    https://cosmiceye.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/lessons-being-learned-in-the-digital-classroom/#comment-941

    I am not dodging yours I just want you to answer mine in this link below first. Please be faithful and answer my questions that I can gain some understanding to what you believe.

    https://cosmiceye.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/lessons-being-learned-in-the-digital-classroom/#comment-974

    Thank you Dr. Hart.

    Maybe you should answer that question over there so we don’t clog up this conversation and get it off track.


  617. NDK, great. So will you also say that what the Bible has to say about auto repair has little to do with the actual performance of adjusting breaks, tuning engines, and replacing timing belts? In other words, you may be an adulterer but you may still be the best auto mechanic in town.


  618. Darryl, why not say, he’s a child molester, but he’s the best mechanic in town? Where do you draw the line on sin/crime? You sound very casual, almost flippant about various sin/crimes that God has deemed worthy of death. Should Adultery even be legal? I think not. I know in most States in America adultey its still illegal. Do the current penal sanctions our States employ for an adulterer reflect justice? Do we currently give an eye for an eye?


  619. Break one commandment you break them all. If you commit adultery you are stealing from your mate and giving what is theirs to somebody else. We can go right down the list of all ten commandments….


  620. Moreover Darryl, are you saying if a “good” mechanic just around the corner from your house, ran off with the wife of someone in your Church, which made shipwreck of their family, that you would still do bussiness with him? Wow!

    I would hope you’ll rethink you’re example.


  621. dgh,

    We may be experiencing rapprochement, of sorts.

    Short answer: Yes, what the Bible does have to say with regard to auto repair does not cover the technique of adjusting brakes and replacing timing belts. What it does have to say, rather, involves the purpose, motivation, aim, goal, etc. of adjusting brakes and replacing timing belts. An adulterous auto mechanic may have the best technique and efficiency. Since this is what I am seeking and paying for when I bring my car in for service, I may well (as in: am permitted to) choose him to do that work. I’d probably give my business, however, to a fellow believer, if possible. (Though I am not at all hereby endorsing Christian yellow pages.)

    Let me use this analogy: two men go to a marble quarry to quarry marble; both use identical tools, identical techniques, to quarry the same marble. However, one takes his quarried marble to build a brothel, the other to build a cathedral (HT: Klaas Schilder [yes, yet another dead white Dutch guy], Christ and Culture).

    This is what Al Wolters means by structure and direction, in his excellent essay, Creation Regained.

    So, where does this leave us? Agreeing, I think, that though the Bible does not stipulate techniques of auto repair or plumbing, what it says about these activities it states indirectly, yet normatively. Christian auto maintenance is distinguished not by the technique, nor (and I mean no disrespect here, but want to make a point), by putting a magnetic fish or cross on his or her tool box. It involves, rather, letting one’s technique be governed by principles like stewardship, efficiency, honesty, etc.

    There’s more to be said, but so far so good?


  622. So, what I am hearing is that one can’t divorce technique from theology. Let us posit that our pagan auto mechanic is consistent with their God hating presuppositions. As such, they are concerned about the primacy of the self. Being concerned about the primacy of the self they use the shoddiest material as they employ their technique so that they can make a larger profit. They also pad their billable time while using their technique.

    So, it is the very fact that technique itself can not be abstracted from the person using the technique that finds us insisting that it is a good thing if you can find a Christian mechanic.

    If they aren’t unethical as Christians count unethical it is only because of their felicitous inconsistency.


  623. Todd,
    Thanks for the reply. I am really trying to understand your view, both with regard to the Bible and with regard to culture. Your responses are helpful.
    Would you as a preacher declare (text-permitting, etc., etc.) that any culture/society that legalizes homosexual marriage (I know, I know, there are other commandments, the breaking of which is deleterious for society; but the issue of the moment is . . .) will harvest God’s judgment?


  624. “An adulterous auto mechanic may have the best technique and efficiency.”

    I’m trying not to comment, but that was too good to pass up.

    I know what Dr. K. meant, but…


  625. “Would you as a preacher declare (text-permitting, etc., etc.) that any culture/society that legalizes homosexual marriage (I know, I know, there are other commandments, the breaking of which is deleterious for society; but the issue of the moment is . . .) will harvest God’s judgment?”

    Since political entities do not have souls I can only assume you are speaking of outward, earthly judgments on nations; so no, I have no warrant from Scripture to say such a thing. For one, all mankind via the covenant of works with Adam is already under God’s judgment. That is what i know clearly from Scripture. I have no warrant to be able to read God’s mind and know what he will do if certain nations make certain laws. I have no warrant to assume that if a certain sin is practiced in a nation, that nation evokes God’s judgment when the government of that nation legally allows for that sin, whether homosexuality, easy divorce, fornication, or allowing false religions freedom to exist and propagate. And what I have no warrant to say to an individual, I also cannot say about a nation. So while I can tell my homosexual neighbor in confidence that if he doesn’t repent of his sin and trust in Christ for salvation he will be eternally judged, I have no warrant to tell him that if he marries his homosexual partner God will bring judgments upon him in this life. What I cannot say about individuals I cannot say about large groups of individuals. Sometimes God is very kind to the wicked, weather individuals or nationally, and the Bible warns us not to assume we can guess or know who God will outwardly bless or not bless in this life.

    Eccl 8:13 “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve.”

    Luke 6:34,35 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”


  626. Todd,

    I understand your answer to be: there would be no text in the Bible that would permit you to proclaim to the congregation that a culture/society that legalizes homosexual marriage will harvest God’s judgment in history. Is it your position, then, that Scripture nowhere teaches that God judges a wicked culture, in history, for its collective disobedience? And therefore you may not declare to the congregation that he does?

    My questions arise because I don’t recall ever hearing/reading someone defend such a position. So I’m curious.