The Lens of Scripture

I continue to be befuddled by the neo-Calvinist claim that Scripture speaks to all of life (of course, in general terms, never in specifics). A discussion has ensued over at Matt Tuininga’s blog that is better than a previous one at Dr. K’s shop. Still, in both cases, some claim that it is natural and ordinary for Calvinists to claim that we view all of life and everything in the world through the lens of Scripture.

So to test this I turned to the Kuyper Reader that James Bratt edited around the time of the centennial celebration of the Stone Lectures. In an essay against uniformity (political, cultural, and religious), which I like very much and that resonates with a localist strain of American conservatism, Kuyper writes this:

. . . do I need to argue the point that all such striving for a false uniformity, the leveling principle of modern life, the demand for one people and one language, run counter to the ordinances of God? You well know the divine word, full of holy energy, that Scripture opposes to that striving: “Else nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” [Gen. 11:6b]. That all life should multiply “after its kind,” after its own, unique, given character is the royal law of creation which applies to more than seed-bearing herbs. That everyone who has been born from above will someday receive from the Lord a white tablet on which will be written a new name that no one knows except the one who receive it [Rev. 2:17]: what else is this but a most forceful protest against all the conformity into which the world tends to pressure us? (“Uniformity: The Curse of Modern Life,” 34)

So there we have the Bible as the lens through which Kuyper regards the problem of cultural uniformity. Though it needs to be said that Kuyper’s writing is not rife with biblical citations, nor are his invocations of Scripture, like this one, the most compelling exegetically. So I am not sure that Kuyper exemplifies what Kuyperians claim — that Christians need to look at the world through the lens of Scripture. Self-consciousness, epistemologicial or psychological, might call for a Christian to be careful about attributing his opinions to the revealed words of God.

But then Kuyper goes on in a different part of this essay/speech to state some notions that surely most modern day neo-Calvinists (especially those without Dutch surnames) living in North American would not support (even though I again laud Kuyper’s Dutch chauvinism as a way of resisting globalism and universalism):

Hold the Dutch national character in honor. Drive out our national sins but still love our national ways. Be true to your nature as Hollanders, ladies and gentlemen! Remove from your midst the spineless tendency to bestow extravagant accolades on everything that comes from abroad, and in your appraisals give preference to the things that are made at home. Uphold Holland’s fame in learning foreign languages but let there be no language you would rather speak, and especially write, than that splendid, rich mother tongue in which alone Dutch people can express what a Dutch heart feels. Do no just feed your mind with what has been thought and sung abroad but drink of the vital stream of Holland’s life also from your own poets. Daughters of the Netherlands, do not make yourselves ridiculous by being old-fashioned but also have the good taste and modesty never to present yourselves in a foreign outfit conceived in the capital of France by Dutchmen who no longer understand the honor and dignity of being a Dutchman . . . .

May the illustrious history of your ancestors be more to you than a monument to the past; let it be for you the current of national life that you feel pulsating in your own veins. Yes, just let us be who we are: Hollanders! — in every circle and sector of life. Though our flag no longer dominates the seven seas, still we shall regain the rightful influence by which the legacy entrusted to our people may be made a blessing for all humanity. Let the Dutch people, standing on the blood-soaked soil of our fathers, rise again from its grave. . . .

Would that God gave us such a national will — but then a will anchored in his will. While every nation is subject to the deep truth that it strikes itself from the roster of nations by devaluing its piety, this applies all the more to the national existence of the Netherlands which owes its origin to a religious movement. . . . Without religion there can be no patriotism; where religion is most intense, there the love of country and people is most robust: so history teaches us on every page. (42-43)

Kuyper’s appeal to Dutch hearts, Dutch minds, and even Dutch fashions seems curious from a fellow known for putting the anti in antithesis. If Hollanders have a Dutch heart or mind simply by virtue of growing up on the “blood-soaked soil” of the Netherlands (sorry Dutch-North Americans of the 1.5 generation and beyond), then what happens to the idea that Christian Hollanders by virtue of regeneration share more in common with Protestant Canadians who hail from France? Where are Brazilian Calvinists supposed to go for dress fashions?

But aside from this hiccup in Kuyper’s mental digestion, where exactly is the method of viewing the world through the lens of Scripture? Sure, Kuyper was fallible and made mistakes (as we all do). But would not a biblical perspective on patriotism call for important qualifications to such nationalism? To be clear, what is wrong with this excerpt in (all about me) my estimate is not Kuyper’s reveling in Dutch culture and history — even exceptionalism. A person’s attachment to his people, country, and land is basic to being human — that is, part of the created order. It is not essential, however, to being redeemed. What is wrong, then, is thinking that such an argument is the product of a Christian w-w, in other words, the result of some form of epistemological self-consciousness. I could imagine any number of Dutch patriots, not members of a Reformed church, seconding Kuyper’s call for loyalty to Dutch traditions. I cannot imagine that Kuyper’s logic would appeal to someone who regarded the speaker not as a fellow-Dutchman but as a fellow believer.

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647 Comments

  1. Posted December 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Part of why I think you are messing with people is that when you get a hard question you ignore it. Where is the simple statement of the gospel I have asked you repeatedly for of late? How can you claim someone has not preached the gospel correctly when you can not even define it? How about my question of how you determine whether or not one is saved?

  2. Posted December 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Richard – ” not hurry to false conclusions.”

    Erik – I’ve been reading you for months now. No hurrying has taken place.

  3. Richard Smith
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Here is how Tennent started off his “Irenicum Ecclesiasticum”.

    My Motives to endeavour in earned to promote Peace and Union are these:
    Not a change of sentiment, about the late Revival of ReIigion,”No ! I do now declare folemnly before the World, that I have seen no cause to alter my opinio in relation to it, and thereofer I do not believe its reality, as much as formerly; and if after this open and express declaration, any will unjustly censure me with the contrary, perhaps because I cannot be so narrow as themselves, I shall take no farther notice of it, than to pity their unreasonable prejudice, and appearl from their unrighteous judgment to a higher and more impartial tribunal; to a God that knows all the thoughts and designs of men.

  4. Posted December 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    I can’t find Tennent’s piece online anymore but if you didn’t see his recanting I think you missed it. Everyone else seems to have seen it. From Wikipedia:

    ” Tennent admitted in his Irenicum Ecclesiasticum (1749) that he could not ‘find that the Christians of the three first Centuries after CHRIST made gracious experiences, or the Church’s Judgment about them Terms of Communion’. So rather than judging the spiritual state of others, Tennent now advocated reunion with the Old Side because they were orthodox in doctrine and regular in life. Although this return to Scottish piety aroused the ire of some of his revivalist colleagues and did not immediately allay the suspicions of the Old Side ministers, it did provide the initial groundwork for reunion nine years later, and in 1758 Tennent was elected moderator of the reunited synod of New York and Philadelphia.[1]”

    ^ Timothy Larsen, D. W. Bebbington and Mark A. Noll, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 664-65.

    You disagreeing with pretty much everyone else would not be anything new, however.

  5. Posted December 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    That quote says nothing about the accusations he made against Old Side ministers. He is just saying he remains enthused about the First Great Awakening. When the two sides came back together the official position was enthusiasm about the Awakening. The New Side was the majority.

    The relevant facts here are (1) Tennent made uncharitable remarks about Old Side ministers (2) He took then back (3) You have made uncharitable remarks about my minster’s gospel preaching (4) You haven’t taken them back or provided any evidence to substantiate your charges.

  6. Posted December 31, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    It’s not enough for you to just say “I didn’t hear the gospel”. We don’t all get to just have our own personal versions of the gospel. If you have your own personal version that no one else shares then it’s another reason to shun you as a divisive person at best or a false teacher at worst. That’s why I keep asking you to define the gospel.

  7. Don Frank
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    But, the last shall be first.

  8. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter: Richard, Since I erred about sending that to you you get a reprieve.

    RS: Yes, pope Charter.

    Erik: Let me ask this: Since you do not hear the gospel in 10-11 of my minister’s sermons, would you conclude that he is unsaved and would you warn people about the danger of his “unconverted ministry” like Tennent did?

    RS: I would not conclude that he is unsaved from my listening to 10-11 of his sermons and as such would not tell people that he has an unconverted ministry.

  9. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter: Part of why I think you are messing with people is that when you get a hard question you ignore it.

    RS: I don’t ignore hard questions, but at times I ignore ones that I have already answered or when things get personal.

    Erik Charter: Where is the simple statement of the gospel I have asked you repeatedly for of late? How can you claim someone has not preached the gospel correctly when you can not even define it?

    RS: Are you sure you are not female? You just keep on and on. Anyway, let me try to be very clear on this. There is such a thing as a statement of the Gospel and then there is such a thing as the preaching of the Gospel. A simple statement of the Gospel is not the same thing as a pastor preaching the Gospel. So once again, what I said was that in hearing those sermons I did not hear the Gospel, which is to say I did not hear the preaching of the Gospel. That is a different thing than what you said in your question which was that I claimed that he did not preach the Gospel correctly.

    Erik: How about my question of how you determine whether or not one is saved?

    RS: I cannot determine whether a person is saved or unsaved. What one can do, however, is take a hint from I John (yes, other places as well) and walk them through the issues that are presented there. Of course one cannot infallibly know the heart of another, but what one is to do is take people who have said words and try to help them examine their own hearts. What one does is to examine a person’s basic doctrine, basic life, and then look for evidence of a new heart. An evidence of a new heart is some true repentance, true love and true holiness. Again, not perfection and perhaps not even a lot, but some. This is to say is there fruit of the Holy Spirit and the life of Christ in them rather than the old life of self.

  10. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter: Richard, I can’t find Tennent’s piece online anymore but if you didn’t see his recanting I think you missed it. Everyone else seems to have seen it. From Wikipedia:

    ” Tennent admitted in his Irenicum Ecclesiasticum (1749) that he could not ‘find that the Christians of the three first Centuries after CHRIST made gracious experiences, or the Church’s Judgment about them Terms of Communion’. So rather than judging the spiritual state of others, Tennent now advocated reunion with the Old Side because they were orthodox in doctrine and regular in life. Although this return to Scottish piety aroused the ire of some of his revivalist colleagues and did not immediately allay the suspicions of the Old Side ministers, it did provide the initial groundwork for reunion nine years later, and in 1758 Tennent was elected moderator of the reunited synod of New York and Philadelphia.[1]”

    ^ Timothy Larsen, D. W. Bebbington and Mark A. Noll, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 664-65.

    You disagreeing with pretty much everyone else would not be anything new, however.

    RS: You might read what I have said once again, however. I don’t deny that he did recant, but I am saying that I did not find where he did so in the sources quoted. Again, I didn’t see a clear recanting, but my not seeing it does not mean that it did not happen. There is a huge difference between what I actually said (I don’t see it in the sources) and what you are saying that I said (that he did not recant).

  11. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter: The relevant facts here are (1) Tennent made uncharitable remarks about Old Side ministers (2) He took then back

    RS: So far you have not shown (2) to be true. We can take (1) for granted, but if they were true statements then we could argue about what is uncharitable or not. But again, let us say that he did make uncharitable statements and that in fact they were against Old Side ministers. If you read the sermon, however, he did not specifically mention Old Side ministers.

    Erik Charter: (3) You have made uncharitable remarks about my minster’s gospel preaching (4) You haven’t taken them back or provided any evidence to substantiate your charges.

    RS: Erik, I am not sure how to get this across to you. I did not make uncharitable remarks about your minister. There is a difference between “I did not hear the Gospel preached” in those sermons and statements about the minister and his preaching. Since I did not hear Gospel preaching in those sermons, I would be a liar if I took them back. The only evidence I can provide to you is to say I did not hear Gospel preaching in THOSE PARTICULAR sermons. What evidence could I possibly provide about what I hear to another person?

  12. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter: Richard, It’s not enough for you to just say “I didn’t hear the gospel”.

    RS: Okay, I didn’t hear your minister preach open heresy. I didn’t hear your minister say he wasn’t gay. Erik, get a grip.

    Erik: We don’t all get to just have our own personal versions of the gospel. If you have your own personal version that no one else shares then it’s another reason to shun you as a divisive person at best or a false teacher at worst. That’s why I keep asking you to define the gospel.

    RS: Exactly, you want me to define the Gospel so you can do a pope Erik declaration on a false deduction. But again, I would define the Gospel in the lines of WCF. But I did not say anything about how your minister defines the Gospel. I said I did not hear the preaching of the Gospel.

  13. Posted January 1, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Don, you’re trying to hard. Glorification will be first?

  14. Posted January 1, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Richard,

    Those are better answers. Thanks.

    What does “I would define the Gospel in the lines of WCF” mean? Which chapters/articles/questions?

    What does a sermon where you “hear the gospel preached” sound like?

    Do you recall which “10 or 11″ sermons you listened to?

    I would like to take the answers to these three questions to my minister and elders and see if they have a response/defense. I will listen to the sermons again as well.

    Listen to the 12/30 morning sermon when it is up. If you don’t “hear the gospel preached” there you won’t hear it.

    http://www.providencerc.org/news.cfm

  15. Don Frank
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Darryl,

    First in importance in that this is the end for which God created man according to the first question and answer of the catechism. Justification is the means to that end.

  16. Posted January 1, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Don, now you’re switching the debate to the priority of glorification? You kvetch even more than I do.

  17. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: What does “I would define the Gospel in the lines of WCF” mean? Which chapters/articles/questions?

    Chapter VIII Of Christ the Mediator
    I. It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man,[1] the Prophet,[2] Priest,[3] and King,[4] the Head and Savior of His Church,[5] the Heir of all things,[6] and Judge of the world:[7] unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed,[8] and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.[9]

    II. The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature,[10] with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin;[11] being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance.[12] So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion.[13] Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.[14]

    III. The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure,[15] having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;[16] in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell;[17] to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth,[18] He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.[19] Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father,[20] who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.[21]

    IV. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake;[22] which that He might discharge, He was made under the law,[23] and did perfectly fulfil it;[24] endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul,[25] and most painful sufferings in His body;[26] was crucified, and died,[27] was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption.[28] On the third day He arose from the dead,[29] with the same body in which He suffered,[30] with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father,[31] making intercession,[32] and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.[33]

    V. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father;[34] and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.[35]

    VI. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.[36]

    VII. Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself;[37] yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.[38]

    VIII. To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same;[39] making intercession for them,[40] and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation;[41] effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His word and Spirit;[42] overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.[43]

    Chapter X Of Effectual Calling
    I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call,[1] by His Word and Spirit,[2] out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ;[3] enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,[4] taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;[5] renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good,[6] and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:[7] yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.[8]

    II. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man,[9] who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,[10] he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

    Chapter XI Of Justification
    I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies;[1] not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,[2] they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.[3]

    II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification:[4] yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.[5]

    III. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real and full satisfaction to His Father’s justice in their behalf.[6] Yet, in as much as He was given by the Father for them;[7] and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead;[8] and both, freely, not for any thing in them; their justification is only of free grace;[9] that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.[10]

    IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,[11] and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification:[12] nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit does, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.[13]

    V. God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified;[14] and although they can never fall from the state of justification,[15] yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.[16]

    Chapter XIV Of Saving Faith
    I. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls,[1] is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts,[2] and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word,[3] by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.[4]

    II. By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein;[5] and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands,[6] trembling at the threatenings,[7] and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.[8] But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.[9]

    III. This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong;[10] may often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory:[11] growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ,[12] who is both the author and finisher of our faith.[13]

    Chapter XV Of Repentance unto Life
    I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace,[1] the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.[2]

    II. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God,[3] purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.[4]

    III. Although repentance is not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof,[5] which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ,[6] yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.[7]

    IV. As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation;[8] so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.[9]

    V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.[10]

  18. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: What does a sermon where you “hear the gospel preached” sound like?

    RS: A sermon that is what I would think of as one that is preaching the Gospel is not just telling the facts of the Gospel, but is (1) one where the sinner is stripped of all hope in himself and in what he can do. (Matthew 18:1-3) (2) It is setting forth the glory of God in Christ as the only sufficient way of salvation (II Cor 4:4, 6). In the II Corinthians passage the evil one works to keep sinners from seeing the glory of the Gospel or the glory of God in the Gospel. In that text it is not that the evil one works to keep people from hearing the facts of the Gospel, but tries to blind them from the glory of the Gospel. So preaching the Gospel is an effort to point sinners to the glory of the Gospel. (3) It is preaching to the sinner the nature and glories of Christ rather than just trying to get sinners to see the facts. (4) It is preaching the work of the Holy Spirit who works in hearts to regenerate them and give them life rather which drives the sinner away from self to come up with faith. (5) It is to preach the wonders of Christ crucified and the blood of Christ in the atonement in such a way that drives sinners away from self and draws them (in a sense) to Christ. (6) It preaches to sinners in such a way that they see that the Gospel is of grace and grace alone from beginning to end. (7) It treats the sinner as a whole person rather than just a brain that has to have certain information, though indeed there is information to be given.

  19. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter quoting Richard – ” not hurry to false conclusions.”

    Erik – I’ve been reading you for months now. No hurrying has taken place.

    RS: Okay, you have slowly arrived at false conclusions.

  20. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: Do you recall which “10 or 11″ sermons you listened to?

    RS: I spent quite a bit of time trying to go back and find those during the last “situation.” You then came back and said that it was over, so I did not keep up with them. I remember that I had them written down on two sheets of paper. I am not sure looking for them at this point is a step in the right direction.

    Erik Charter: I would like to take the answers to these three questions to my minister and elders and see if they have a response/defense.

    RS: I doubt they will be overly excited about this. If you are compelled to do this, I would wonder if keeping this between you and your pastor would be better.

    Erik Charter: I will listen to the sermons again as well.
    Listen to the 12/30 morning sermon when it is up. If you don’t “hear the gospel preached” there you won’t hear it. http://www.providencerc.org/news.cfm

    RS: It may not be the best of things for me to comment on that sermon when it comes up. I have been trying to take pains not to say things directly against your minister. He sounds like an orthodox man and he is a good speaker.

  21. Don Frank
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    Ok, I’ll leave well enough alone.

  22. Richard Smith
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Don Frank: Darryl, First in importance in that this is the end for which God created man according to the first question and answer of the catechism. Justification is the means to that end.

    D. G. Hart: Don, now you’re switching the debate to the priority of glorification? You kvetch even more than I do.

    RS: God’s priority is His own glory and that makes it our priority, not to mention the whole purpose of man is the glory of God. Man is saved to the manifestation of the glory of God.

    Eph 1: 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
    13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

    Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
    5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

  23. Posted January 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    So do you preach pretty much the same sermon every time you preach regardless of the text? If so it would appear you are driving your own agenda vs. expounding the text as it is written. Isn’t this a dangerous thing for a minister to do, even if he is well meaning? Do you have to do all seven things you noted in every sermon in order to be “solid in terms of the gospel”, as you put it? Can you point to other ministers and churches who have insisted on all seven of these things to be present in each sermon in order for them to be “solid in terms of the gospel”. For instance, Calvin preached multiple sermons each week. Was he “solid in terms of the gospel” in that all of his sermons had all seven of these things?

    The thing I dropped was trying to go to your overseers (if you have any — I sadly suspect you don’t).

    My goals now are to (1) defend my church and minister, and (2) help others be fully aware of the rather idiosyncratic theological perspective they are dealing with when they deal with you here.

  24. Posted January 1, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    The 12/30 morning sermon is up. I invite anyone here who is interested to listen to it and decide for themselves if it is “solid in terms of the gospel”. This is one of the sharpest young ministers in the URC, trained at Westminster Seminary California by Horton, Clark, Hart, Kline, Godfrey, and many other solid Reformed men.

    http://www.providencerc.org/news.cfm

  25. Posted January 1, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    How can a minister be an “orthodox man” if he’s failing at his primary task of preaching the gospel?

  26. todd
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    “My goals now are to (1) defend my church and minister,”

    Erik,

    Why do you need to defend your minister against an anonymous blogger? Who cares? You are a reformed two kingdom guy – most are not going to like where you stand, smile and move on; don’t let it get to you. If your pastor’s conscience is clean before God and his oversight is fine with his ministry there is nothing to defend.

  27. Posted January 1, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Todd. I’m thinking through several different angles on this. If it’s as trivial as you say I probably need to give up posting here entirely, which is a possibility I have considered. I enjoy some of the insights & people here, though.

  28. Posted January 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    The question in my mind is, if theological discussion online is without accountability (and with anonymity) is it something I should even engage in? These are serious matters with eternal consequences. I know Scott Clark shut down his blog for quite awhile. I have my own blog, but I control it so if someone posts something out of line anonymously I can just delete it. Free speech in the church should probably come with the requirement that it is not anonymous. Richard will say he’s not anonymous, but we have no idea where he has pastored, where he is ordained, where he worships now, who he is accountable to. I’ve asked other guys here these questions and they have been very forthcoming.

    “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” – Titus 3:10

  29. Posted January 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    One of the dangers of online stuff is that without knowing who we are talking to we cannot examine the context of their lives, something that Scripture says is really important (look at the practical requirements for pastors, elders, and deacons). We had a guy in our church who had incredible theological knowledge and insight. As I learned more about him, though, it became apparent that he (1) was a defrocked Presbyterian minister, (2) who had left his first wife after a brief online fling, (3) had divorced that woman, (4) and was married for a third time to another woman he had met online — and they divorced shortly thereafter. So how good were his insights in this context?

  30. Posted January 1, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Todd,

    That’s probably the answer: Interact with those who are accountable and something can be known about. Ignore those who aren’t. That’s my New Year’s Resolution.

  31. Posted January 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Erik, we all have to decide what to do with our time, but I have to say I’ve learned a lot here, and had a good deal of fun as well. Frankly, I’ve seen enough of the theonomist and the Edwardsean that I tune them out a bit, but if others want to dialogue and learn something that way bully for them. But dialogue is good for testing ideas, learning other positions, and promoting your own.

    Do we need to know about the people we are talking to? Sometimes I’m curious, but we can always steer clear of anyone we don’t trust or who can’t behave.

  32. Posted January 2, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Erik takes up Richard’s criticisms with the Consistory:

    Erik: I’m concerned that a man has criticized our pastor’s preaching as being “not that solid in terms of the gospel”

    Elder: Someone in our church has said that?

    Erik: No, he’s not in our church.

    Elder: Oh, so it was a visitor to our church?

    Erik: No, he wasn’t a visitor.

    Elder: Who was he? I don’t get it.

    Erik: He was somebody I interacted with online.

    Elder: Online? You mean he sent you an e-mail?

    Erik: No, I met him on someone’s blog.

    Elder: Blog? Whose blog? How did you meet him?

    Erik: It’s the historian Darryl Hart’s blog. I used his book in my Sunday School class on church history. Our pastor also had him as a professor at Westminster. I met the guy because he posts a lot of stuff that is critical of Reformed churches for not being revivalistic like Jonathan Edwards.

    Elder: Somebody on Darryl Hart’s blog is promoting revivalism?

    Erik: Yes.

    Elder: Well who is the guy?

    Erik: He says his name is Richard Smith.

    Elder: What does he do for a living?

    Erik: He says he’s a pastor.

    Elder: Where?

    Erik: I don’t know. He won’t say.

    Elder: What group of churches is he in?

    Erik: I don’t know. He won’t say.

    Elder: Where did he go to seminary?

    Erik: I don’t know. He won’t say.

    Elder: Is he a good husband? Does he manage his family well?

    Erik: I have no idea.

    Elder: Well what church is he a member of? Who are his elders?

    Erik: I have no idea. He won’t say. I suspect he may not be a member of a church or be under any elders.

    Elder: Remind me of why you are concerned about this man’s criticism.

    Erik: I have no idea. I can’t say. Sorry for wasting your time.

    Elder: No problem. See you on Sunday.

  33. sean
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Erik,

    It seems to me that 2k itself, while not only making way for the necessary diversity apart from cultic activity, makes the very distinctions that would allow us all to participate, by faith, according to the liberty granted us, on this blog without requiring the sort of religious “intoleration” (orthodoxy/orthopraxy) we all would like to see practiced within the bounds of our local bodies. This blog is not cultic activity, so toleration is bounded by Hart and Muether and our own individual consciences. At least that’s how I choose to interact here. Plus, MM and Zrim require fairly constant reassurance and reinforcement.

  34. Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Sean,

    Muether? Is he a silent partner? I’ve never seen him post anything. I know when it comes to Steely Dan Fagen is Becker and Becker is Fagen but I didn’t know that applied to Old Life with Hart & Muether.

    I’m not questioning the validity of the blog, I’m questioning the validity of me taking certain people seriously, which I hope you will notice I will no longer be doing in the new year.

  35. Posted January 2, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Erik, you have the script for an Xtranormal video.

  36. Zrim
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Sean, on the one hand it’s true I need regular reassurance and that from Christ alone, but on the other I do look to this filthy rag (called OldLife) for regular reinforcement.

  37. Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    D.G.,

    The only problem is that the guys who post here are the only ones bent enough to get it. None of us translate well into the real world.

  38. sean
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I’ll raise ya some quip and material pilfering( I mean citing) as well.

    Erik,

    I used to be cool and popular. Now I’m just a pain in the arse.

  39. Posted January 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    DGH (from Dec 26):

    But your account of my account of the Christian life is pretty much off. What I react against is not the same as what I advocate or try to do.

    OK, and that’s why I thought I should ask the questions. I was pretty sure that what I was seeing wasn’t the whole story.

    More later. Batman just showed up with a calculus question.

  40. Posted January 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Those last 9 or 10 posts were funny- I’ll keep comin back until Darryl kicks me off of here. I still do want to know who polices the site. Or, is that only randomly done? And no more remarks about me having to lighten up MM. He will probably ignore me again though. What’s up with that Calvinist ignore tactic? I consider myself to be a mixture of a Calvinist and a Lutheran- is that unacceptable here and warrant that tactic. I propose a little less fruit inspection in 2013. Spiritual growth can sometimes be a long and slow process- through many trials, tribulations and sins. However, God promises to complete the work He has started in His elect. That is Calvinist isn’t it?

  41. Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Spiritual growth can sometimes be a long and slow process- through many trials, tribulations and sins. However, God promises to complete the work He has started in His elect. That is Calvinist isn’t it?

    Whatever it is, it sounds biblical to me.

  42. Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    I kind of tend toward MM’s position on blog interactions – only after trial and error. There’s a time and place for heated debate, but I have learned that the people I most enjoy interaction with are those who understand the give and take of debate, and generally hit the blogs as a place for learning and the occasional good laugh.

    If I were in your shoes, I’d take Richard’s comments with a grain of salt. His whole system of belief, while somewhat Calvinist (via Edwards), looks very little like the churchly Christianity, bounded by Scripture, that the Reformers were seeking to establish in the place of the excesses of Rome and the extremism of the Anabaptists. The sort of pietistic faith he advocates here just doesn’t seem to be very compatible with the Reformed orthodoxy/praxy that resonates with the 2kers here. In his thousands of comments here, I see nothing that would indicate that he is at all interested in the sort of spirituality commended here – he seems to be here to debate the matter, which is fine and to a degree even welcomed. But I wouldn’t advise getting your feathers ruffled by his assertions – its just his opinion. It carries no more force that what any other guy says on a blog – it’s not as if it is the pronouncement of a session or presbytery.

  43. Posted January 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Here, here Jed! I am taking that as an encouragment and some other positive word that is not coming to me at the moment. Hope you are doing well. Well, it is certainly more Calvinist than Lutheran- biblical is better. I am starting to get confusing thoughts about biblicism etc., so, I better stop before I go off in a tangent. Feeling a bit manic today.

  44. sean
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I’m a big fan of the Lutherans, particularly on justification.

  45. Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    My daughter is getting married in a Lutheran Church in August and I’m hearing the rental fee for the fellowship hall is very reasonable, so I’m good with them as well. Now if I can just get them to quit using funny slides on the worship power point presentation when I visit…

  46. Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    I have problems with the Lutheran views of universal atonement, how they teach election, how they are borderline about teaching faith as almost a work, that they teach baptismal regeneration and I am not sure yet about who is teaching the Lord’s Supper most accurately. There are about nine differing views of the Lord’s Supper. It gives me an exedrine headache. I cannot find anything wrong with their views of sanctification even though they believe that someone can apostasize from the faith. They are not concerned about being logically consistent in their theological system either. I think Calvinists are right in their concern for a systems logical consistency. I am not convinced about the Calvinists doctrine of assurance and how they teach perserverance of the saints. And the whole union with Christ debate baffles me- I am prone to believe McMark’s view of legal union having the logical priority rather than union by the Spirit. But that gets messy when trying to think through it.

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