The allegedly controversial character of 2k theology has prompted Lane Keister over at Greenbaggins to cease his review of John Frame’s recent book. He has also decided not to allow any more discussions of 2k at his blog. I understand Lane’s decision. I also concede that my sarcasm has contributed to his decision. For some reason, mocking someone’s objections does not bring out the best in those who object.
At the same time, some objections do no deserve a reasonable response. In fact, some who object to 2k have so made up their minds about the idea and its proponents that they will hear nothing in defense of the doctrine; they won’t even read the books written on 2k.
From the perspective of this 2k advocate who also doubles as a historian, two undeniable historical developments exist that 2k critics won’t accept — sort of like denying that the North defeated the South in 1865; you may not like it, but how do you deny what happened at Appomattox?
The first fact is that the critics of 2k do not advocate the execution of adulterers or heretics. This is pertinent because 2k critics fault 2kers for departing from Calvin and his holy Geneva. The problem is that the Baylys, Rabbi Bret, Nelson Kloosterman (and his favorite disciple, Mark Van Der Molen), Doug Wilson, and anonymous respondents at Greenbaggins don’t advocate the laws in Calvin’s Protestant Jerusalem. To the credit of theonomists, they sometimes do advocate the execution of adulterers and even recalcitrant adolescents. But 2k critics do not have the stomach for all of Calvin’s policies and laws. In which case, they have no more claim to Calvin as a standard for religion and politics than 2kers do. Yet, here’s the key. 2kers are honest. They actually admit that they disagree with Calvin. They actually acknowledge the deficiencies of those who try to follow the Old Testament for post-resurrection civil governments.
The second fact of cherry-picking proportions is that all of the Reformed churches that belong to the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council have rejected the teaching of both the Westminster Confession and the Belgic Confession on the civil magistrate. Not only have the mainline churches revised these confessions, but so have the conservative churches. (Ironically, Frame thinks I am unaware of the American revision of WCF in his review of A Secular Faith. This is ironic because if Frame were as aware of the revision as he thinks he is, he would see that 2k is not outside the confession that Presbyterians profess.) These revisions do not necessarily mean that every officer and member of these churches is an advocate of 2k. It does mean that the modern Reformed and Presbyterian churches have come to terms with modern governments and the disestablishment of Christianity in ways inconceivable to Reformed Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. And this means that the critics of 2k are either unaware of how little standing the original WCF chapter 23 or Belgic Art. 36 has in conservative Reformed churches. Or if they know of confessional revision and use the original documents to denounce 2kers, they are dishonest.
Or perhaps they are simply foolish (and impolitely so). One of the additional points I made about the importance of the Reformed churches’ teaching on the magistrate was this:
I have said it before and will say again, even before the Covenanters revised their Constitution and rejected the language of WCF 23.1 which Tfan affirms, even before this, the RPCNA explored a merger with the OPC which had already adopted the American revisions to the WCF. In other words, the RPCNA had a very different view of the civil magistrate than the OPC did and did not let that difference keep them from fraternal relations with the OPC. I do not see that same generosity or acknowledgement of orthodoxy for 2kers from 2k’s critics.
The fanatic of Turretin’s response was this: “Again, this is total ad hominem. Try to focus on your defense of E2k, not at criticizing your critics.”
How this is ad hominem I do not know, though my Latin is rusty. But even if in some fifth or sixth definition of ad hominem my comment qualifies, I do not see how this point is beside the point. 2k critics treat 2k not only as if it is entirely outside the bounds of confessional orthodoxy, but they also react to 2k as if it is a threat to the gospel. They believe it is antinomian, destroys Christian schools, and abandons society to relativism. But the RPCNA, even when they still affirmed the original WCF 23, did not consider teaching on the civil magistrate a deal breaker. Critics of 2k, like John Frame, do.
And some people like Lane Keister wonder why 2kers like me become sarcastically indignant. But for those wanting to keep the debate going, they are welcome here.