Kuyperians and Theonomists, Say “Hello” to the Old School Presbyterians

I continue to be amazed by the decibels of hostility and venom heaped upon 2k. From bloggers like Nelson Kloosterman, James K. A. Smith, David Koyzis, Doug Wilson, Steven Wedgeworth, Rabbi Bret and the Bayly Bros., to your average and pseudonymous commenters at various Reformed blogs, many Reformed Protestants and evangelicals believe that 2k theology is either foreign because it is Lutheran or unbiblical because it exempts God’s law from part of life and nurtures dualism.

But for anyone who has spent time with Old School Presbyterians and Old Princeton Seminary, 2k feels comfortable like an old shoe, and that’s because one of the Old School’s hallmark doctrines, the spirituality of the church, is basically the Presbyterian version of 2k.

David Coffin, pastor of New Hope Church (PCA) in Fairfax, Virginia, recently preached on the doctrine of the spirituality of the church. A link to the first sermon is here. It is well worth hearing and filled with numerous quotations that neo-Calvinists and their theological cousins, theonomists, Federal Visionaries, and Erastians, have yet to fit into their schemes of denying dualism and making Christ Lord of every square inch, like the following from Calvin, who is commenting on Christ’s response to a request to settle a property dispute between two brothers (Luke 12:13):

Our Lord, when requested to undertake the office of dividing an inheritance, refuses to do so. Now as this tended to promote brotherly harmony, and as Christ’s office was, not only to reconcile men to God, but to bring them into a state of agreement with one another, what hindered him from settling the dispute between the two brothers? There appear to have been chiefly two reasons why he declined the office of a judge. First, as the Jews imagined that the Messiah would have an earthly kingdom, he wished to guard against doing any thing that might countenance this error. If they had seen him divide inheritances, the report of that proceeding would immediately have been circulated. Many would have been led to expect a carnal redemption, which they too ardently desired; and wicked men would have loudly declared, that he was effecting a revolution in the state, and overturning the Roman Empire. Nothing could be more appropriate, therefore, than this reply, by which all would be informed, that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual. . . .

Secondly, our Lord intended to draw a distinction between the political kingdoms of this world and the government of his Church; for he had been appointed by the Father to be a Teacher, who should “divide asunder, by the sword of the word, the thoughts and feelings, and penetrate into the souls of men, (Hebrews 4:12,)” but was not a magistrate to divide inheritances. This condemns the robbery of the Pope and his clergy, who, while they give themselves out to be pastors of the Church, have dared to usurp an earthly and secular jurisdiction, which is inconsistent with their office; for what is in itself lawful may be improper in certain persons. . . .

P.S. If Dutch-American Calvinists want to write off nineteenth-century American Presbyterians, fine. But don’t be surprised if those Presbyterians descendants remind you that it was the Presbyterians at Princeton that domesticated Kuyper and Vos for American Protestants. Without Benjamin Warfield, Abraham Kuyper and Geerhardus Vos would still be available only in Dutch.

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54 Comments

  1. Posted March 30, 2011 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    Baus, where does Coffin reject the idea that Christianity is found in the church? How is something or someone a Christian apart from the church? Are you becoming one of those Jesus-in-my-heart Christians? Or is this what neo-Calvinism leads to? Obama is a Christian president and every member ministry?

  2. Posted March 31, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, it’s not that Christianity is not found in the church, nor that one is a Christian apart from the church, but that one can act Christianly in this-worldly matters, in one’s vocation. Christianity has meaning for ones understanding of culture and for ones cultural activity. You have denied this, haven’t you?

  3. Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    Baus, whatever my answer, it would be hard to find Coffin rejecting points that I have argued. And that was what you first came on asserting.

    As to answers, I believe that Christians act in the world. I do not know the adverb for Christian is. How does a plumber plumb Christianly? I know it’s an old question. But I still haven’t seen an answer. What I do detect is a lot of inspiration bordering on hot air to help Christians think THEY are really making a difference when I’d think they should be thinking that CHRIST made all the difference.

  4. Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    WOW, I have read some bad interpretations, but something this ridiculous, and from Calvin?, is worth commenting on. It seems to me, that it is clearly the point of the parable of the rich fool to answer this situation of the brother asking for the inheritance to be split. The issue behind the man’s request was one of covetousness (Luke 12:15), which Jesus so aptly points out. The man was a fool because he wanted to hoard the inheritance, like the rich fool did his riches, all for himself. But our Lord gives us riches not so we can hoard them, but so we can invest them for the kingdom. It is in this way that one lays up treasures in heaven and is rich toward God. The opposite is being rich toward self, which is covetousness, which is idolatry and poor stewardship.

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