The Bible’s Forked Tongue?

Put simply, the Bible speaks narrowly to the church but broadly to believers. This, at least, is the unexamined logic of neo-Calvinism.

Two-kingdom proponents and neo-Calvinists both distinguish between the institutional church and its members. This distinction allows us to recognize that Christians properly do things that the church can’t do. Christians work as artists, parents, plumbers, bankers, and bakers. The church does not produce or rear children, lacks its own currency, uses bread from common sources for the Lord’s Supper. So far so good.

But the hiccup for neo-Calvinists comes when they insist that Christians must have biblical warrant or use the lens of Scripture for all that they do. In Kingdoms Apart, Timothy R. Scheurers, puts it this way:

Where . . . proponents of the Two Kingdoms perspective go wrong, however, is in their failure to distinguish adequately between the work of the church (as an institution) and the cultural activity of Christians who are simultaneously citizens of heaven and earth (church as an organism). The Two Kingdoms doctrine neglects the biblical command that in every area of public living, believers should apply the principles and values that shape their distinctiveness as Christians. If fails to provide a biblical and helpful paradigm for cultural living by limiting the unique identity and spirituality of believers in this world. . . .

Scripture nowhere hints that we are to live a compartmentalized life in which we relegate our Christian convictions to Sunday observance only. Romans 12:1 declares that for those who have been renewed by the Spirit of God, it is entirely reasonable and fitting for them to offer up to God their whole person, both body and soul, in an act of worship. . . . If we accept the Two Kingdoms assertion that the Christian’s secular activities are “thoroughly common,” and that it is improper to “apply” the gospel to our work in the common realm, it would seem a type of Sunday Christianity remains for us. However, if we are transformed by the gospel, then it is profoundly relevant for how we conduct ourselves as Christians in the civil realm, for “the very essence of Christian faith includes a grace-produced identity that comes to manifestation in the way we live our lives every day of the week.” (144-45)

And thus we see another example of neo-Calvinism’s bloated rhetoric for admirably pious reasons.

Here is the rub: if the essence of the Christian faith is a grace-produced identity for every area of human existence, then the church (institute or institutional) lacks this Christian essential. After all, the corporate church does not take stands on matters in which Christians engage throughout the week — plumbing, baking, banking, gardening, ditch-digging. No Reformed church has produced a chapter or chapters in its creeds about algebra, Greek, or photosynthesis. That does not seem to bother neo-Calvinists since the work of the church is different from that of the believer.

But if neo-Calvinists are content with churches that lack the essence of Christianity, why do they demand more of believers than of the church? Churches don’t confess articles of faith about hydrogen or dangling prepositions because the Bible does not speak to such matters. The Reformed creeds summarize biblical teaching and if Scripture taught trigonometry or Asian history, churches would be expected to teach what God’s word reveals.

And yet, under the logic of the comprehensive sweep of Christianity and biblical testimony, neo-Calvinists claim powers for believers what the church lacks, namely, the ability to apply biblical norms to all walks of life. We do not let ministers preach sermons on tax rates, rotation of crops, exercise, or television game shows. But now along come neo-Calvinists to tell us that any Tom, Dick or Mary, who has no training in biblical exegesis or may not even be catechized, is going to tell us how the gospel transforms cat litter, Alfred Hitchcock movies, and meteorology?

And people wonder why the institutional church ends up suffering in neo-Calvinist contexts, or why the convoluted notion of kingdom-work has given every member a ministry.

As I say, neo-Calvinists intentions may be admirable. But Calvinists, who put the T in TULIP, were not supposed to be suckers for good intentions.

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414 Comments

  1. Posted January 2, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    How can the gospel transform my sandbox that the neighborhood cats have been crapping in?

  2. Posted January 2, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Erik, one-square inch at a time.

  3. Don Frank
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Darryl,

    This is where the strict dualism between the church and civic realm, in my opinion, completely breaks down. You say,

    Two-kingdom proponents and neo-Calvinists both distinguish between the institutional church and its members. This distinction allows us to recognize that Christians properly do things that the church can’t do. Christians work as artists, parents, plumbers, bankers, and bakers.

    Ok, I admit this to be true. But how do you get from this that Christians acting individually are no longer the church as opposed to the opposite calim that Christians acting individually are an extension of the church?

    In DVD’s LGTK, we are told, and I agree, that we will only experience visible triumph over enemies when Christ returns. He then says,

    But until then God calls us to be involved in activities such as education and politics not in order to trounce opponents but to serve neighbors. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44). The apparent enemy is our neighbor (Luke 10:25-337).

    So it seems that DVD is arguing that as Chrisitans we are to behave individaully in the world according to the ethics of the heavenly kingdom, not the ethics of the common kingdom.

    I cannot square this with how one would not view individaul Christians as extensions (i.e., Christian witness without regard to outcome, which is up to the Lord) of the Church if they are championing the ethics of the heavenly kingdom while in the world.

  4. Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Don, so following your logic (which is not exactly clear since you have not really corrected me but are asking about DVD — who did not write this post), a Christian in the voting booth is choosing according to the ethics of the kingdom of heaven. If that is so, and if Christians have one faith, one baptism, one Lord, how could Christians ever vote for different candidates, parties, policies or legislation? Or you could admit that Scripture (the ethics of the kingdom of heaven) doesn’t comprehend all of life. So one Christian votes Democrat, another Green, and another Libertarian, all to the glory of God. No such democracy prevails in the church (btw).

    In other words, if the church and civic realm are not distinct, how do you wind up with Christians who act and behave differently in the world? Or how do you wind up with anything but a cultural and political order like Israel (pre-33 AD)?

  5. Zrim
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Don, I’m not sure the point DVD is making is for our heavenly citizenship to swallow up our earthy citizenship. There is still a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up.

    Still, when it comes to heavenly citizens engaging the provisional order you may note that his words don’t give much purchase for a favorite neo-Cal notion: transformation (of the world). In fact, it seems to prop up the sort of participation-versus-transformation ethics suggested in “A Letter to Diognetus”:

    Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

    And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

    They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

    To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

    Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

    If this is a description of the early church, it’s hard to see where neo-Calvinism’s notion even of soft transformation has any place there. Sounds like the ancient faith, not the new one.

  6. Don Frank
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    I assumed you were following DVD’s logic on page 117 of LGTK that “Believers and groups of believers do not constitute ‘the church’ in everything they do.” when you talked about distinguishing between the institutional church and individual members. You then posited, presumably based on the same logic, that if the essence of the Christian faith is a grace-produced identity for every area of human existence, then the church (institute or institutional) lacks this Christian essential.

    The problem I see is not with making distinctions between the church and civil realm (they are obviously distinct) but in arguing that this distinction precludes individuals acting in the civil realm as constituting the church because the bible does not speak to voting, plumbing, etc. and therefore one Christian will make a different decision than another Christian.

    If you agree with DVD that we are to live in the world according to the ethics of the heavenly kiingdom and not the common kingdom, then it is not the behavior but the motive that distinguishes individuals as Christians, and therefore constituting the realm of the church and not the civil realm.

    The fact that the behavior of different Christians will differ depends on a host of variables to include maturity, knowledge, etc. not that they are acting as individuals in the common world without Christian manuals for plumbing, voting, etc. Those same variables will also produce differences in the way Christians worship, but you would not deduce from that that Christians do not have one faith, one baptism and one Lord.

  7. Don Frank
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Z,

    But if we live according to that Letter, why would we not be characterized as constituting the church in everything we do as individuals?

  8. Don Frank
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Z,

    And let me add that I am not talking about trying to “transform the culture.” That is way above my pay grade.

  9. Richard Smith
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    D.G. Hart: Put simply, the Bible speaks narrowly to the church but broadly to believers. This, at least, is the unexamined logic of neo-Calvinism.

    Two-kingdom proponents and neo-Calvinists both distinguish between the institutional church and its members. This distinction allows us to recognize that Christians properly do things that the church can’t do. Christians work as artists, parents, plumbers, bankers, and bakers. The church does not produce or rear children, lacks its own currency, uses bread from common sources for the Lord’s Supper. So far so good.

    RS: A few questions, or comments, or… The Church is defined in Scripture as being the body of Christ. True, that is not the institutional aspect. However, wouldn’t one part of the body of Christ be a plumber a lot differently than s/he would than one that is not part of the body of Christ? Isn’t it the case that all believers are to do what they do in such a way that others may see their works and glorify God? Wouldn’t that be doing a particular job differently than the unbeliever? Does your position hinge in some way or ways on the distinction between the Church as the body of Christ and the Church as institutional? No trap of hidden agenda, but trying to make sense of what you are saying.

    Mat 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

  10. Zrim
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Don, good. But that’s not how you’ve spoken in the past, where you’ve consistently made transformation of the neo-Cal essence. Which means while it may be above your pay grade, you still have a stake in it. And by the Letter I wasn’t suggesting we couldn’t be characterized as constituting the church in everything we do as her members–the institution and organism distinction works for me just fine. It’s just that when it comes to organism I don’t see why transformation is always assumed. By the Letter, I see more ordinary participation (minus sinful behaviors) being the ethic.

  11. Posted January 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Don, I believe you keep missing the point, namely, that God hasn’t revealed (which college I should attend) but how to fix a leak. We can talk about motives all we want — though that sounds like the sort of argumentation that leads to legislating against “hate crimes” — as if murder weren’t sufficiently hateful on its own. But the doing of plumbing is what I am talking about. A Christian plumber will not plumb use a washer differently from a non-Christian. Why is that so hard?

    And why do you need the church to leak into the civil realm? The apostles weren’t trying to transform the Roman empire.

  12. Posted January 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Richard, no. Plumbers will not plumb differently if they are Christian. Anyway, if Christ told us to pray in our closets, not to make a bid deal of our alms, not to call attention to our fasting, why should Christians “show off” their faith in all that they do? Could it be that God will see something that is spiritual but the watching world — including neo-Calvinists — won’t be able to see the difference — that is, unless the plumber belongs to an anti-revolutionary teamsters union.

  13. Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    D.G. – “And why do you need the church to leak into the civil realm? The apostles weren’t trying to transform the Roman empire.”

    Erik – Saw on the WGN (Chicago) News last night that the Cardinal was instructing Catholics to contact their state legislators over an upcoming vote on Civil Unions in the Illinois State Legislature. How does this work since lots of Catholics are Democrats and Democrats are largely about gay rights, abortion, and sexual freedom? Shouldn’t the Cardinal just cut to the chase and tell them to stop being Democrats? Would that be out of bounds while telling parishioners to call on a specific issue isn’t?

  14. Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    What am I supposed to conclude when a guy who supposedly can draw a direct line from himself back to Jesus is worried about what the Illinois State Legislature does?

  15. Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Erik, maybe they read this advice.

  16. George
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Erik – I saw that last night, too, and the only thing I can conclude is that he has come under pressure from Rome to get off his duff and make a public statement about his church’s view on same-sex marriage before he officially retires (which he is about to, if he doesn’t fall over from his recurrent cancer first). In the past he has not exactly spoken or acted in a way that that Rome would consider in keeping with their official party-line, or conservatively if that’s the right expression. He got by with that under JP XXIII, but it doesn’t seem to be playing well under Benny-the-16th (even though certain Protestant spin-offs who used to frequent this blog would probably disagree with that).

    What I found more fascinating than his sudden outburst against the governor’s pending approval signature of same-sex marriages was when one of the local broadcasters interviewed him a few months ago about his dubious health condition and possible demise. He fumbled around about his “fear and uncertainty of the next life.” Huh? How can someone who has progressed through the bureaucracy up to the level of a cardinal have any doubts about that? Aren’t they supposed to be among the ones who are heaven-bound versus their parishioners who look forward to spending some time in purgatory?

  17. Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    When the Neocals get ahold of your FPR piece the conspiracy theories about your true motives will only grow. “See! see! I knew he was a Democrat!”

  18. Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    The funny part about it is if you went to a Democratic Party gathering and gave a pro-life speech the reaction might not be much worse than it would be from a lot of (Country Club) Republicans.

  19. B
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    George,

    Lets not get carried away. Only RC “Saints” can be assured of being in Heaven. And Sainthood only comes after receiving the title of “servant of God”, the title of “Blessed” (which requires proof of miracle while alive), and after the proof of a miracle carried out after the title of “Blessed” was bestowed…all which must take place at least five years after death!

    If I were a Cardinal in Rome near death…or anyone in Rome near or not near death…I would be deathly afraid of where I was going!

  20. Posted January 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    George – “(even though certain Protestant spin-offs who used to frequent this blog would probably disagree with that).”

    Erik – Called to Communion on the current state of the Roman Catholic Church:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDAmPIq29ro

  21. Posted January 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    How can the gospel transform my sandbox that the neighborhood cats have been crapping in?

    Good question, how about implementing a transformational strategy that includes a couple of well placed Claymores? Sure, you might have to close it off to the kids for a couple of days, but at least they wouldn’t be tracking cat poo back onto mom & dad’s carpet. One could only wish the Bible was more clear on mine operation.

  22. sean
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    How about let’s start with a session meeting on worship, that doesn’t end on the conclusion; ‘the bible doesn’t prohibit it!” Then maybe my drinking problem will start to be transformed.

  23. George
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Erik – “Only RC “Saints” can be assured of being in Heaven. And Sainthood only comes after receiving the title of “servant of God”, the title of “Blessed” (which requires proof of miracle while alive), and after the proof of a miracle carried out after the title of “Blessed” was bestowed…all which must take place at least five years after death!”

    And this is attractive to people!? Why? I was always under the assumption that it was this kind of threat of insufficiency of “completeness” (works) that caused Luther to rebel against the Roman system in the first place. But then, as I look around the area I notice Evangelicalism that not only ignores anything to do with a celebration of the beginnings of the reformation on All Saints Eve in their worship (i.e., freedom from Rome’s chains), but seems totally open to building pathways to an ecumenism that totally ignores anything that happened in the past. All in the name of social justice, of course.

  24. Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    When they invite John Frame to come and do a seminar on liturgical dance be very afraid.

  25. Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Erik,
    I’m a registered Libertarian.

  26. Don Frank
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    Was that an intentional pun about Christian plumbers and the church leaking into the civil realm?

    I think it is you who are missing the point. You keep trying to focus the debate on “transforming the culture”. We both know that the way an equally skilled and equally motivated Christian plumber and non-Christian plumber to plumb as best as they can makes no difference with regard to “transforming the culture.” But this misses the point that I have been making and Zrim’s quotation from the Letter to Diognetus amplifies, specifically,

    To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen.

    So, contrary to what you think about motives, the Christian plumber’s motive must be to submit to the spiritual, invisible government in all that he does. This is why, as an individual, we constitute the church and should not be identified with the world as the Letter explains. It has nothing to do with the visible act of plumbing that so constitutes the individual, which seems to be the line you are taking.

  27. Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    D.G. – No surprise there. I need to talk to you sometime and see how you fit in at Hillsdale. When I was arguing with Old Bob I found an article online that was kind of a hit piece written by a disgruntled Catholic about George Roche, Ayn Rand, and Christianity on the Hillsdale campus. It was written from a rather conspiratorial angle, but Hillsdale certainly does seem to be a petri dish where the various factions of libertarian/conservative thinking (from atheistic to seriously Christian) all get thrown together. It must be quite interesting there.

  28. Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Don,

    You need to spend some time on Kloosterman’s blog (Cosmic Eye) to get a feel for what Neocalvinism is. His posts always end with a pronouncement about a grand overarching system of transformation. It’s maybe not a system of transforming society, but it’s a system of transforming the church and the Christian life.

  29. Posted January 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Society is in constant flux. Its always being transformed, the question is, in who’s image?

  30. Posted January 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    If the seed of Christ is not supposed to transform every nation then what do the kingdom parables mean? If the kingdom of God is like a women who puts leaven in meal until it’s *all* leavend, how is that not transformative?

  31. Richard Smith
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, no. Plumbers will not plumb differently if they are Christian.

    RS: So Christian plumbers will not be more honest and will not take advantate of people differently than non-Christians?

    D.G. Hart: Anyway, if Christ told us to pray in our closets, not to make a bid deal of our alms, not to call attention to our fasting, why should Christians “show off” their faith in all that they do?

    RS: But the passage that follows does mean something: Mat 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

    D.G. Hart: Could it be that God will see something that is spiritual but the watching world — including neo-Calvinists — won’t be able to see the difference — that is, unless the plumber belongs to an anti-revolutionary teamsters union.

    RS: Perhaps, but you are mentioned specifically spiritual things that we should do in private (prayer, alms, and so on). The text above speaks of doing what we do in such a way that the watching world will glorify God. The unbelieving plumber does not want to do that at all, but the Christian plumber will.

  32. sean
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Sowers, assuming you still believe in the sovereignty of God, then is there any question that society and culture is becoming exactly what God intended?

  33. Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    Transformation of individuals through humble means like the Word, the sacraments, and prayer? By all means, yes.

  34. Don Frank
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Erik. I’ll check it out.

  35. Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Don, you’re kidding, right? Most of your presence here has been to object to the “spirituality” of the church because it neglects physicality. Now you compare the Christian to the soul within the body. So it’s okay for you to be spiritual but not me. As several characters in Hudsucker say, “hey, what gives?”

  36. Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Erik, do you have a link for that article? I’d be glad to talk sometime. The talk that George Will gave last fall at the Danforth Center at Washington University (St. Louis), I believe captures Christianity’s place at Hillsdale.

  37. Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Richard, the passage speaks of both invisibility and visibility. So which part do you believe?

    BTW, I have heard the Christians are more honest line so many times I almost want to turn off the computer. Do you really mean to suggest that all of that comprehensive Christianity, all those square inches, all those religious affections, comes down to honesty? Honesty is a good thing. But I actually don’t think Christians have a corner on the market and I do think they may even delude themselves if they think they are more honest than the world. Does the word Pharisee ring a bell?

  38. Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Sean, of course I believe in the sovereignty God. But does God’s sovereignty negate our need to be the light and salt of the world? What did Jesus say would happen if we lose our saltiness? Shall we blame it on God and say, that’s how God must have wanted me to live, since he’s sovereign?

    Should Christ’s church be indifferent to our Nations moral confusion? Shall we say, “that’s how God must want things to be since he’ sovereign? I think not.

    Please tell me you don’t really believe that either

  39. Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Erik, individual transformation only? What’s wrong with corporate? My answer to you is both! After all Jesus is to be our all in all! Who is the king of kings? This means in every realm God’s name is to be hallowed. To hallow the name of God should be every believer’s main purpose in life both individually, in your family, church, city and nation. Let the whole world know, that Jesus Christ is Lord of all!

  40. Posted January 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm | Permalink
  41. Posted January 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Doug – “What’s wrong with corporate?”

    Erik – History has shown me it involves too many guns, camps, and dead people.

  42. sean
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Doug, what are you talking about? Since when does being salt and light obtain to transformation of the culture? Attraction to Jesus and His church, yes. But our hope is in a heavenly citizenship and a new heavens and new earth.

  43. Richard Smith
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, the passage speaks of both invisibility and visibility. So which part do you believe?

    RS: I would argue that Matthew 5:13-16 is primarily about visiblity.

    D.G. Hart: BTW, I have heard the Christians are more honest line so many times I almost want to turn off the computer.

    RS: We could agree that professions Christians are not necessarily more honest than some unbelievers, but true Christians must be. Telling the truth is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit = Galatians 5: 22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Revelation 21:8 sure seems to indicate that no liars will be in heaven. “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” I conclude that true Christians are those that tell the truth and are very honest.

    D.G. Hart: Do you really mean to suggest that all of that comprehensive Christianity, all those square inches, all those religious affections, comes down to honesty?

    RS: I wouldn’t say it all comes down to honesty, but we do have a commandment specifically in that regard. We have Christ who is Truth itself living in His people. We are to speak the truth in love. If every idle word will be brought into judgment, then what of every lying word?

    D.G. Hart: Honesty is a good thing. But I actually don’t think Christians have a corner on the market and I do think they may even delude themselves if they think they are more honest than the world.

    RS: While Christians may not have a corner on the market, if they are not more honest than the world then salvation makes no difference in how truthful a person is. I shudder at that thought.

    D.G. Hart: Does the word Pharisee ring a bell?

    RS: Yes, it does ring a bell. But they were not Christians. They were not even good Jews.

  44. Zrim
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Don, I’m not sure what your point is. But the point of the Letter to Diognetus is how Christians are resident aliens, which is another way of saying we have a dual citizenship.

    If you like a side of puns to go with analogies then try this: you and I go out to eat and go Dutch (get it?). When our bills come we are each obligated to pay them in full. But when it comes to the gratuity there is liberty: You may be generous, I prudent. Both are biblical virtues. So if you want members of the church to behave in the world according to the ethics of the heavenly kingdom, there you go. But 2k also wants to account for a time for binding (bills) and a time for adiaphora (gratuity), you know, the way things really work themselves out. But the way 2k critics speak it’s as if there is actually a Xian worldview on gratuities as well as bills. Pish.

  45. Zrim
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Doug, there you go again, having the world set the church’s agenda. Tell me again what the problem was with liberal Protestantism and social gospel? But salt doesn’t transform, it preserves.

  46. Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Sean, we also await to see Jesus face to face to receive our new bodies, until then we use the bodies he gave us to his glory. Same is true in every sphere. We are supposed to press on with all diligence seeking more of God’s transformation in our lives families, church, city and nation and yes the whole world.

    We shouldn’t say, “Well I’ll never be perfect so why bother pressing on to seek God with all my heart”, God forbid! The same is true in every realm, we don’t say, “Well, our nation will never be 100% Christian, so why bother praying for a greater expression of the knowledge of God in America

  47. Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    But Zrim, what does leaven do if not transorm? How do you understand the kingdom prarables?

  48. Posted January 3, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Erik, thanks.

  49. Posted January 3, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Richard, do you know how much you resemble a Marxist or feminist? If the evidence goes against you, then a person must not be a Christian — false consciousness. You seem to have no conception that a true Christian actually lies. Yes, a true Christian also repents. But if you think that Christians don’t struggle with sin, you’re not being honest. And you have created a spiritual universe that sounds Pharisaical. Sheesh.

  50. Posted January 3, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Zrim, not to mention that neo-Cals and recreationists regard gratuities sacramentally — get it? Grace? Gratuity?

  51. Zrim
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Doug, I asked you first. What’s the problem with Protestant liberalism and social gospel? But even if leaven transforms, is the Bible’s analogy really designed to prop up that kind of naiveté about the way the world actually works (see Hunter’s “To Change the World.” Hunter claims Christian faith so he must be right, right)?

  52. Zrim
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Darryl, good one. But neo-Cals are also typically Dutch, a mindset defaulted to at least fiscal prudence (or so the stereotype goes), so what gives with the antagonism to 2k which is all about limits and restraint?

  53. sean
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Doug, there you go again with the rhetorical flourish about transforming city, nation, world. But the biblical picture is one of being a pilgrim church, who pitch tents not transform cultures waiting on a better city. This life is pilgrim, sojourners on the earth(the already). The new heavens and new earth WHEN Jesus returns there is your triumph-glory(the not yet). Here, now, by faith. In the world to come, by sight. When we will know as we have been known.

  54. Richard Smith
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, do you know how much you resemble a Marxist or feminist?

    RS: I quoted Matthew 5:13-16 and now I sound like a Marxist?

    D.G. Hart: If the evidence goes against you, then a person must not be a Christian — false consciousness. You seem to have no conception that a true Christian actually lies. Yes, a true Christian also repents.

    RS: I take it that this is in response to Revelation 21:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” What does it mean when one repents of lying?

    D.G. Hart: But if you think that Christians don’t struggle with sin, you’re not being honest.

    RS: I never said that Christians don’t struggle with sin, but that is a different thing than not taking sin seriously and warring against it because it wars against the soul.

    D.G. Hart: And you have created a spiritual universe that sounds Pharisaical. Sheesh.

    RS: I have created nothing of the kind. I was asking a sincere question about 2K thinking and how it regarded work and how it related to the body of Christ. I am not sure how it has devolved to this. However, as far as being a Pharisee, the Pharisees watered the Law down to an external keeping of. I don’t think you can argue that about me. I also argue, which the Pharisees did not, that a person must love in order to even make a half-step toward keeping the Law and it must be Christ in them doing that. The Pharisees did not do that.

  55. Don Frank
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Darryl says: Most of your presence here has been to object to the “spirituality” of the church because it neglects physicality. Now you compare the Christian to the soul within the body. So it’s okay for you to be spiritual but not me. As several characters in Hudsucker say, “hey, what gives?”

    Me: Darryl, if you go back and read what I have said you will see that my objection has been to your position (or at least the way I have understood your position to be) that the VISIBLE church is identified with or equivalent to the spiritual government of believers.

    If this is your position, it directly contradicts both Luther and Calvin. Luther says,

    The spiritual government is that by which Christ rules inwardly in the conscience by his Word and Spirit, the realm of grace; the temporal government is that by which Christ hobrtnd sll external human affairs by law, in which he works not directly and immediately, but through the larvae, “masks,” of earthly governors and institutions.

    So, the visible church is an earthly, temporal institution. This is why you cannot separate the visible church from the civil realm. It is part of the civil realm. This is also why believers constitute the invisible church in the visible world, i.e., they ultimately submit to the invisible, not the visible government of Christ.

  56. Posted January 3, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Richard, here’s what you wrote that set me off (how we devolved to this is your call but you introduced honesty): “We could agree that professions Christians are not necessarily more honest than some unbelievers, but true Christians must be.”

    There is that classic and annoying Edwardsean distinction between nominal and real Christians. There is your implicit appeal to false consciousness — nominal Christians do lie, but real Christians don’t. And there is the typical terrors of the law “or else” — if you think you’re a Christian and you lie, you’re not.

    You’d have an easier time saying that Christians shouldn’t lie. I agree. But saying Christians don’t lie is a lie and a walk down Pharisee lane.

    BTW, the way you repent of lying is to confess your sin to God and the offended party, ask for forgiveness, ask for grace to live truthfully, and pray not to be tempted.

    You may take sin seriously, but you don’t seem to take salvation seriously, as in Christ really did die for sins to the law no longer terrifies (even if Richard does).

  57. Posted January 3, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Don, do you read a lot of John Frame because you seem to jump from words’ various meanings to real pieces of a logical deduction?

    2k says over and over and over and over that the church holds the keys of THE kingdom. The keys are word and discipline. What is so hard about that. That is not an earthly or temporal kingdom. It is the kingdom of heaven. The state does not have that jurisdiction. The state’s power and kingdom are temporal.

    How hard is that to understand.

    As for the power that you attribute to Luther and Calvin’s views (though you don’t quote Calvin), try this from the OPC’s book of church order on church power:

    3. All church power is only ministerial and declarative, for the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice. No church judicatory may presume to bind the conscience by making laws on the basis of its own authority; all its decisions should be founded upon the Word of God. “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, if matters of faith, or worship” (Confession of Faith, Chapter XX, Section 2).

    4. All church power is wholly moral or spiritual. No church officers or judicatories possess any civil jurisdiction; they may not inflict any civil penalties nor may they seek the aid of the civil power in the exercise of their jurisdiction further than may be necessary for civil protection and security.

    5. Nevertheless, church government is a valid and authentic jurisdiction to which Christians are commanded to submit themselves. Therefore the decisions of church officers when properly rendered and if in accord with the Word of God “are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in his Word” (Confession of Faith, Chapter XXXI, Section 2).

    Sorry, Don, but the church has power that is spiritual and not part of the temporal order. What would you ever gain by saying the church is part of the civil realm unless you are a cultural warrior?

  58. Posted January 3, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Doug pines so fervently for Christendom that I should have set him up in my living room and covered him with tinsel and lights last month…

  59. Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Sean, as I pointed out earlier, our society (as in every society) is in flux as I speak, the question is; in whose image? Transformation is inevitable and is taking place, not only in our lives, but in our families, our Churches and our culture.

    Our Public schools teach things today (like homosexuality being a gender issue) that would have been unthinkable when I was going through grade school in the mid-sixties. In fact the word sodomy was taboo. Now we call this same life style “gay”. Why? What transpired Sean? What changed our public school teachers mind about sodomy? Was there a science break through we all missed? No?

    Then why did this transformation take place?

  60. Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Zrim pontificates: But even if leaven transforms, is the Bible’s analogy really designed to prop up that kind of naiveté about the way the world actually works

    *if* Zrim? Come on! Of course leaven transforms! Now who’s being naive? Let’s quit playing silly games, leaven transforms you know it, and I know it. Why do you have such an aversion for admitting such an obvious truth?

    Quit kicking against the goads.

  61. Richard Smith
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, here’s what you wrote that set me off (how we devolved to this is your call but you introduced honesty): “We could agree that professions Christians are not necessarily more honest than some unbelievers, but true Christians must be.”

    D.G. Hart: There is that classic and annoying Edwardsean distinction between nominal and real Christians.

    RS: The converse of what you just wrote, though you may not believe it, is that there is no distinction between those who profess Christianity and those who are really Christians. Yet Jesus said (recorded by Matthew in ch 7) many things that would make one think that there are many who are nominal Christians and not truly born from above. Notice in particular the “many” of v. 22.

    Mat 7:15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

    D.G. Hart: There is your implicit appeal to false consciousness — nominal Christians do lie, but real Christians don’t. And there is the typical terrors of the law “or else” — if you think you’re a Christian and you lie, you’re not.

    RS: But of course I would not argue that Christians never lie, but it cannot be their practice. By the way, that is not the terrors of the law as such but rather shows whether one loves Christ or not. “If you love Me, obey My commandments.”

    D.G. Hart: You’d have an easier time saying that Christians shouldn’t lie. I agree. But saying Christians don’t lie is a lie and a walk down Pharisee lane.

    RS: I wouldn’t see that as a walk down Pharisee lane, but just a lane of a disregard for reality. But again, it cannot be their practice.

    D.G. Hart: BTW, the way you repent of lying is to confess your sin to God and the offended party, ask for forgiveness, ask for grace to live truthfully, and pray not to be tempted.

    RS: But a repentance from being a liar is to be a teller of truth. So at least one that repents is not one that practices lying.

    D.G. Hart: You may take sin seriously, but you don’t seem to take salvation seriously, as in Christ really did die for sins to the law no longer terrifies (even if Richard does).

    RS: I do take sin seriously and therefore salvation seriously. Christ did not just die to take away the guilt of sin, but He died to take His people out of the bondage of sin. Since sin is punishment for sin, for Him to die for sin is for Him to die so that His people would no longer be under the power of sin and to deliver them from sin itself. The Law should still terrify true believers, though not to eternal damnation, but the fact that unrepentant sin breaks communion with God.

    I John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

  62. sean
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Doug, I’m all for living morally. The problem is morality isn’t the sole domain of christian’s or the church. Rom 2:14-15. It’s not a uniquely cultic/particularly christian pursuit, though christian’s are held to ethical standards. So, If you want a more moral society or a society with less sexual expression in the public sphere, knock yourself out. But, it’s not the gospel nor does it advance the kingdom of God. Those are the sole provinces of the church and God’s election. There’s any number of atheists, muslims, hindus, mormons, RC’s etc who will join and champion the cause. So, be careful when identifying such movements as ‘being made(conforming) to the image of Christ or the kingdom of God.’ Only the elect in Christ are being conformed to the image of Christ and only the visible church administers the keys to the kingdom of God.

  63. Zrim
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Doug, fine, leaven transforms. So why after 2,000 years has the world not really changed much even with Christians in it? Or are you kicking against the Teacher who suggests that what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again and there is nothing new under the sun? I think this is the part where you manufacture all sorts of examples of societal improvement from light bulbs to paved roads to toilet paper to literacy to democracy and tie them to Christianity. But you’re the one complaining about the vastness of “the nation’s immorality.” So if Christianity has made such a cultural impact what went wrong with so much piety packed underneath?

  64. Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Sean says: Doug, there you go again with the rhetorical flourish about transforming city, nation, and world. But the biblical picture is one of being a pilgrim church, who pitch tents not transform cultures waiting on a better city.

    Sean, our first priority should be God’s first priority, amen? “Hallowed by thy name”. But where? In our lives? YES! In our families lives? YES! In our church? YES! In our city? YES! In our State? YES! In our nation? YES! In the world? YES! But why?

    “Because God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

    So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

    Since that’s what God says everyone *should* do, (and one day will do) why not pray for it to happen?

    Now Sean, what name is above every name? Jesus the Christ, amen? For that very reason let’s pray that every tongue will confess the truth, amen? Who wants to live around a bunch of liars and truth deniers? Will that require transformation? Yes it will and amen! How many people will God ultimately transform into his kingdom? A number that no man can count! So let’s press on brother with all diligence! Let’s pray, “Thy kingdom come” in faith and watch God work in our midst. Since the Bible speaks of God transforming our lives, let’s pray for him to transform his world as well! This is still God’s world, isn’t it?

    After all, Jesus is the savior of the world!

  65. Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    In spite of what you read in that fundraising letter I don’t think Sodomy is a huge part of the public school curriculum. Live and let live, maybe. Sodomy, probably not.

    The other thing that’s ironic about public school critiques is that the critics say (1) public school is completely ineffective and public school teachers are incompetent, and (2) public school is incredibly effective at brainwashing students. Which is it?

  66. Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    If we sound the alarm about the gay agenda a small (2-3%) of the population will be gay. If we completely ignore the gay agenda a small (2-3%) of the population will be gay. The latter option preserves my free time.

  67. sean
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Erik;

    If we sound the alarm about the gay agenda a small (2-3%) of the population will be gay. If we completely ignore the gay agenda a small (2-3%) of the population will be gay. The latter option preserves my free time.

    Me: Funny, and I mean funny ha ha, and true to boot

  68. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Zrim bloviates; Doug, fine, leaven transforms. So why after 2,000 years has the world not really changed much even with Christians in it?

    How can you make such an absurd statement? Are you God? How do you *know* societal evolution (aka transformation) has not changed dramatically for the better? Just a short two thousand years ago, instead of people enjoying football games, they went to stadiums and watched human beings being ripped limb from limb, and then eaten by lions.

    And yet Zrim sees no difference today? Are you insane? In the Roman world men were executed by being stripped naked and nailed to a cross alive, then made to suffer for untold hours in front of the world. It was the Roman way of making sport of their death. And yet Zrim can’t detect a change in culture? What are you smoking, and do you have a card for it?

  69. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Erik, but I won’t bite. I’m not against all forms of secuar edecation. My question is; what changed in Public edecation since I started grade school in 64-65? When I went to school, homosexuality was considered a taboo subject, but no longer. Why? Obviously there is some “transformation” going on, no?

    And Erik, do you think only 2% to 3% of Sodom was into sodomy? Will sodomites always stay at 2% or 3% level and why?

  70. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Doug – “Will sodomites always stay at 2% or 3% level and why?”

    Erik – How excited are you about some hairy dude?

  71. Don Frank
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Z says: Don, I’m not sure what your point is. But the point of the Letter to Diognetus is how Christians are resident aliens, which is another way of saying we have a dual citizenship.

    Me: Resident aliens are by definition not citizens. They only “play their role as citizens,” as the Letter states, but are governed by the invisible rule of Christ in the soul. This is why they can never claim dual citizenship, as opposed to the very opposite conclusion that you have drawn. The Letter clearly demarcates the two realms as spiritual/inward/soul and earthly/external/body.

    Z says: But 2k also wants to account for a time for binding (bills) and a time for adiaphora (gratuity)

    Me: And so does reformed (as opposed to contemporary) 2k. However, your analogy does not really get us to the bottom line, i.e., how is the binding of our conscience determined. Both the paying of bills and the leaving of a tip, strictly speaking, are human/positive laws which are the product of rational discernment of the natural law to render payment and express gratitude for services provided. Human law is binding upon the conscience in that, and in as much as it clarifies the moral law which is normative by virtue of creation, not Scripture. Scripture, as it relates to Supernatural, or divine law (as opposed to when it clarifies something in the moral law), on the other hand establishes the way of salvation, our Supernatural end. In other words, divine law governs the spiritual/inward/soul which must never be confused with the earthly/external/body.

  72. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m just trying to get you to think of the dreaded transformation word! Once we get over that hump we can move on! Can’t you see transformation everywhere you look?

  73. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Doug – “Just a short two thousand years ago, instead of people enjoying football games, they went to stadiums and watched human beings being ripped limb from limb, and then eaten by lions.”

    Erik – This sounds like how surgical abortion works. Also, why are you of all people complaining about Roman executions?

  74. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Richard, actually, escaping the bondage of sin is by eluding the threat of the law (and of Richard). I can say sin boldly with Luther because I know my good works are as filthy rags (even though I also try for good works) and because I know that once Adam fell we are all polluted. And that pollution extends after salvation — wretched men that we are. The danger of your view is to think that salvation ends pollution. It doesn’t. It ends the claims of the law against me. That’s what Edwardseans don’t seem to get.

    Read some Luther (or someone who reads Luther).

  75. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of Dr. K, he takes a recent Hart essay to task here: https://cosmiceye.wordpress.com/

    I think his essay falters at the point he says:

    “Those responses identified as “the fruit of the Spirit” are essentially and inherently public and social responses. In other words, there is no such thing as private, individualistic love, joy, peace, etc. No one denies this, I think.”

    I deny it. Why can’t those fruits be viewed on an individual level?

  76. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Erik, let me be clear, I see God saying he would have spared Sodom if there were ten righteous men in that great city. That would seem to me that the percentage was higher than 2-3 you were eluding too. This would seem to put a stick in the spoke of your no transformation ideal, which I find absurd.

    Societies transform just like individuals do. If God would warn us to renew our minds daily so we aren’t conformed to this world, then why can’t whole churches fall into this trap as well as cities and nations? The book of Revelations warns the 7 churches of that very possibility, even though everyone had not compromised, Jesus warned that their lampstand could be taken away, if they did not repent. Jesus knows the correct percentage is when he moves in judgment, and it’s when the majority have been conformed to the image of the world, God forbid!

  77. Zrim
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Doug, careful, you’re teetering on that insult brink we discussed a few days ago. Deep breaths, in, out. But with the football versus lions bit you’re doing exactly what I’d anticipated in terms of a Pollyanna assessment. But if football marks an improvement what do you do with all the compromised sexual ethics these days (you keep blustering about)? The point is that for every social improvement you conjure up there are set backs. Death may not be a mainstream spectator sport anymore but all kinds of porn are at my finger tips.

    I’m still waiting to hear what was so wrong with Protestant liberalism.

  78. Zrim
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Don, I’m still a little lost. But if your point is that there is a difference between the soul and the body, heaven and earth then ok. There are two kinds of this-worldly piety and two kinds of otherworldly piety, good and bad. 2k is not informed by the bad kind of either. It affirms the very goodness of creation while at the same time saying it is fleeting. This is how we can happily submit to civil authorities as God’s ministers without putting eternal hope in princes.

  79. Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Dr. K seems to be using some type of Bryan Crossity logic in his post.

    Hart gave Dr. K a wormhole by mentioning “fruits of the Spirit” and Dr. K went and created a whole new universe through it.

  80. Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Erik – This sounds like how surgical abortion works. Also, why are you of all people complaining about Roman executions?

    Touché on your abortion point! But on the other hand, I think it would coarsen society if we got off watching abortion for fun, no? That was my point. The Romans did get off on watching torture. They even liked it! And society hasn’t transformed a wee bit?

    As for Roman executions, where do you find that taught in the law? You are never to make sport of someone created in the image of God, even when they are to be executed. I can’t find one place in Scripture that encourages torture, so why pin that on me?

  81. Don Frank
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Darryl: Don, do you read a lot of John Frame because you seem to jump from words’ various meanings to real pieces of a logical deduction?

    Me: I have not read one word of Frame, so congratulations on insulting two birds with one stone.

    Darryl: 2k says over and over and over and over that the church holds the keys of THE kingdom. The keys are word and discipline. What is so hard about that. That is not an earthly or temporal kingdom. It is the kingdom of heaven. The state does not have that jurisdiction. The state’s power and kingdom are temporal.

    Me: Now who is jumping from words’ various meanings to real pieces of a logical deduction?
    Are you equating the keys with the kingdom? We don’t live in keys do we? :)

    Let’s try to clarify what you are really saying here. The keys to which you refer are purely external (spoken word, water, wine, bread and discipline) not internal. We are not ushered into the kingdom by external means, assuming you have not yet poped, but by the inward work of the Holy Spirit upon our souls. So your conclusion that these keys (spoken word, water, wine, bread and discipline)are not earthly, is completely baffling.

    Darryl; Quoting from the OPC BCO,

    All church power is only ministerial and declarative, for the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

    Me: Amen. This is saying the same thing I said above. The visible church can only exercise its authority in an external fashion throgh the vocal proclamation of the word and the phyical administration of sacrament. However, assuming again that you have not yet poped, this is not to say that the minister is infallible or that the visible church has spiritual power, but that the Holy Spirit alone is infallible.

    Darryl: Sorry, Don, but the church has power that is spiritual and not part of the temporal order.

    Me: Sorry (and I really am sorry) Darryl, but you keep confusing the visible and invisible again and again.

    Darryl: What would you ever gain by saying the church is part of the civil realm unless you are a cultural warrior?

    Me: Christian liberty, which you say you are as eager to protect as I am. Our conscience must never, never, never, be bound by fallable ministers or councils, but by the infallible Holy Spirit who alone, and invisibly working in our souls, gives the keys their power.

  82. Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Doug – Was sodomy the only form of unrighteousness going on in Sodom?

  83. Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Doug – Was sodomy the only form of unrighteousness going on in Sodom?

    No, but they’re evil was personified by they’re homosexual perversions, founded on selfishness according to Ezekiel. What’s more selfish than sodomy?

  84. Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Erik, my wife sure denies it. She wants my attention to be singular (when she wants it, that is). Last I checked, the Bible tells me I’m supposed to love my wife. So I think I have scriptural support for such love.

    Doh (goes the neo-Cal)!

  85. B
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I am wondering if someone here is part of the Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA or any number of youth cenetered, noise elevating, reverence diminishing, mega church fads popping up around the country?

    The church, city, state, world, boooyah!!! rythem I have heard here is extremely popular among people, in particular, young people, looking for emotional highs from contemporary “christian” music and conferencies (i.e. Passion conference). A very popular theme in contemporary Christian music, is how they want God to be the God of the city (and city is usally strung out like this…”cccciiitttttttttttttttttttttttYYYYYYyyyyy” but its hard to hear because you are usually deaf by the time the refrain is clearly stated).

    I hear things like “God of the city” and it makes me ponder…

    Isn’t the whole reason the gospel can be preached boldly (everywhere) because God is the ruler of all, reigning supreme, sovereign, and adding to the church such as should be saved?

  86. Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Don, sure our conscience should be bound by fallible ministers and councils, unless you’re prepared to pope. Is obedience to authority subject to the authority’s perfection? Tell that to my wife when she submits to me (that was about 2 decades ago). Your categories are full of Framean logical leaps.

    The visible church is an ordinance of God. It may err and does. But it still has the power to bind consciences. You just bought the Edwardsean logic in objecting to church power. Say hello to Gilbert Tennent.

    And here’s the other curious thing about your logic. Now you are on the quest for the invisible when it used to be your tune that 2k was gnostic in denying the reality of God’s work in the visible created world. Well, I do believe God uses creation to save his creatures. He uses water, bread, wine, words, and other human actions that are set apart for such salvation. Is this automatic like Rome? No. But we still believe in the means of grace.

    Who’s the gnostic now?

  87. Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    D.G. – I’ve got it. Your rejoinder to Dr. K will be that he is advocating free love! A 21st century Neocalvinist version of the Oneida Community!

  88. Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m watching “The Wire”. God of the city. Hmmm… If I was God I think I would prefer the more remote regions.

  89. Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart posted on January 3, 2013 at 10:36 am: “There is that classic and annoying Edwardsean distinction between nominal and real Christians. There is your implicit appeal to false consciousness — nominal Christians do lie, but real Christians don’t. And there is the typical terrors of the law “or else” — if you think you’re a Christian and you lie, you’re not.”

    Dr. Hart, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on whether we should make a “distinction between nominal and real Christians.” I suspect we’re too far apart to have a useful discussion on that issue. As a side point, I’d note that I have major problems with much of Dutch Calvinism and with the Federal Visionists because too many of them fail to make what I believe is a critical distinction between those who profess Christ and those who are truly converted. On this one issue, you have may have something in common with Doug Wilson and Abraham Kuyper, but I would dissent from you, Kuyper, and Wilson.

    I would, however, appreciate a quotation from Jonathan Edwards backing up your claim that Edwards, or at least his followers in what you and many others have called the “Edwardsean” movement, taught that “nominal Christians do lie, but real Christians don’t.”

    That sounds more like Wesleyan perfectionism than like Edwards, or any other form of Reformed Christianity, for that matter. I am not aware of any Calvinists who claim to be immune from the “total depravity” part of TULIP. However, I think it’s been well-established by church historians that some of Edwards’ followers went seriously off track, and maybe you can show me an “Edwardsean” from the second or third-generation of Edwardseans (i.e., Edwards Jr., Timothy Dwight, or the Hopkinsians) who held such a view.

    My guess is your post was a poorly worded statement and was not what you meant to write. That’s fine, we’ve all done such things. However, if you actually did intend to write what you wrote, I think it requires backup documentation.

  90. Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    We have a DTM sighting. Good to have you back, Darrell.

  91. Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Go back and forth with Richard for say, 500 comments, and report back to me.

  92. Richard Smith
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, actually, escaping the bondage of sin is by eluding the threat of the law (and of Richard).

    RS: Or by having the love of Christ in the soul which is the fruit of the Spirit.

    D.G. Hart: I can say sin boldly with Luther because I know my good works are as filthy rags (even though I also try for good works) and because I know that once Adam fell we are all polluted. And that pollution extends after salvation — wretched men that we are.

    RS: Luther’s quote in context: “If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world.” It is in a letter to Melanchthon.

    A few comments on the context:

    ” Luther was prone to strong hyperbole. It’s his style, and this statement is a perfect example. Luther doesn’t write analytical theology. He writes profound verbose sentiment driving one to think deeply. The first thing to recognize is that the sentence is a statement of comparison. Luther’s point is not to go out and commit multiple amounts of gleeful sin everyday, but rather to believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly despite the sin in our lives. Christians have a real savior. No amount of sin is too much to be atoned for by a perfect savior whose righteousness is imputed to the sinner who reaches out in faith. But what then is the practical application of sinning “boldly”?… The strong hyperbolic comparison Luther makes between “sinning boldly” and believing and rejoicing in Christ “even more boldly” comes clear. When assaulted by the fear and doubt of Christ’s love because of previous sins or the remnants of sin in one’s life, one is thrust back into the arms of Christ “on whose shoulders, and not on mine, lie all my sins…”. Rather than promoting a license to sin by saying “sin boldly,” Luther’s point is to simply compare the sinner to the perfect savior. Left in our sins we will face nothing but death and damnation. By Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the world, we stand clothed in His righteousness, the recipients of His grace, no matter what we have done.”

    D.G. Hart: The danger of your view is to think that salvation ends pollution. It doesn’t.

    RS: But I never said that and don’t believe it. I am simply arguing that we are to flee sin and pursue holiness.

    D.G. Hart: It ends the claims of the law against me. That’s what Edwardseans don’t seem to get.

    RS: Once again a shot at Edwardseans that once again doesn’t recognize that it misses the mark by a long way. The pursuit of holiness is not so one can make the brag of keeping the Law, but so that one can love Christ. It is Christ Himself who teaches us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. We should not want to find the line that is as far from the commandments as we can get, but we should pursue Christ with as much love as grace will give.

  93. Richard Smith
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    D.G. Hart: The visible church is an ordinance of God. It may err and does. But it still has the power to bind consciences. You just bought the Edwardsean logic in objecting to church power.

    RS: Do you really have Edwards writing anything like that? Edwards did not want to take the presidency but did so in submission to what the ministers in the area thought he should do.

    D.G. Hart: Say hello to Gilbert Tennent.

    RS: But couldn’t you also say hello to Jesus the Christ who upset what was the “Church” at the time and then Martin Luther as well?

  94. Richard Smith
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: DTM, Go back and forth with Richard for say, 500 comments, and report back to me.

    RS: DTM, I would be happy to have a discussion with you, but please don’t be like Erik and make unwarranted deductions and assumptions about my beliefs and person and then think of them as facts. It is good to see someone (DTM) defending Edwrards and his biblical beliefs around here.

  95. Posted January 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, I might quibble Scheurers as to whether “essence” is the correct way to put it. There I just might agree with you.

    It seems to me, however, that your problem here is that you expect the church to be as broad as Creation. This may be true in the eschaton but it is not true now. Of course, God’s revelation and law extends to all, and all of reality is subject to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. But the church, as church, is just one sphere. It seems to me that the church has hegemony over the believer, as believer, in your view. You do acknowledge that believers have lives as “artists, parents, plumbers, bankers, and bakers.” Are these lives lived under God and his authority and rule? Surely, you would say yes. Do believers recognize this authority and rule differently than unbelievers? Again, I think you would say yes. (Please correct me if I’m putting words in your mouth.) Isn’t this all we’re saying? The church as church doesn’t address these things other than to proclaim that Jesus is Lord of all. Believers now strive to look at life through converted and unblinded eyes. No one denies that we aren’t perfect at it or that our worldview doesn’t contain remnants of the world, but we always ask “What would my Lord have me do? How should we now live?” I trust you do the same.

    You say that the church “suffers” at the hands of neo-Calvinism. No. The church is put in its place in neo-Calvinism as proclaimer of the gospel, minister of the sacraments, keeper of the keys, guardian of the faith once given to the saints. But life and Creation (and eschaton in my view) is more than those things. The church is not the only sphere that warrants God’s or believers’ attention.

  96. Posted January 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted on January 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm: “If we sound the alarm about the gay agenda a small (2-3%) of the population will be gay. If we completely ignore the gay agenda a small (2-3%) of the population will be gay. The latter option preserves my free time.”

    Erik, you’re making an assumption about what the “gay agenda” does or does not involve, and that you will be allowed to do what you want in your free time.

    I think it is crystal clear that while some homosexuals just want to be left alone, others have a much broader agenda.

    I belong to several professional journalism organizations and discussion groups, some of which have a large number of members working for English-language newspapers outside the United States. That typically means Britain, Ireland, India, and English-language newspapers in Asia. I’ve been struck by the radical differences in what is considered standard operating procedure from one nation to another. By that, I do not mean merely that people have different opinions of what is the right or wrong way to do things, but rather that the spectrum of acceptable opinions can differ so radically from one country to another that some of what is considered mainstream opinion in America is considered so far out of bounds in other countries that it cannot even be tolerated as a legitimate opinion.

    For example, during a discussion of how to deal with offensive and obnoxious online comments, which seems to be a problem worldwide, several British newspaper editors noted that they have to remove comments including hate speech against homosexuals because of legal prohibitions on “hate speech” which is defined to include anti-homosexual bigotry.

    I don’t want to get into a detailed discussion of British law here — I rather strongly suspect British law has exceptions for religious speech, and that newspapers which cover church news do tolerate respectful conservative comments on articles covering the debates over homosexuality in the Church of Scotland, the Church of England, or the various free churches. My point is that these editors of secular conservative newspapers not only forbade anti-homosexual comments on their websites but also considered that to be the obvious commonsense thing to do.

    In the middle of that discussion in which virtually everyone was assuming that those who object to homosexuality should be considered in the same category as Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Le Pen, and the British National Party — i.e., people who should be attacked or at least not allowed to speak in polite society — I posted a comment asking how British press practices banning anti-homosexual speech worked in places like Northern Ireland or the Isle of Lewis, given the large percentage of conservative Christians in those parts of Britain.

    I pointed out that if I adopted a policy of banning comments critical of homosexuals, I would antagonize the large majority of my readers in a conservative American rural community.

    I also suggested that those of us in the media need to be listening to our readers and trying to understand their perspective rather than trying to force our views on them as if we automatically know better than those who have had less opportunities for education than ourselves. (Remember, I’m a former liberal, and I know how to speak that language when needed — not unlike how the Apostle Paul used his rabbinical training to sow discord between Pharisees and Sadducees.)

    Let’s just say the discussion ended quickly. It seems that none of the British reporters participating in that discussion had even remotely considered that someone might want to tolerate anti-homosexual comments on their newspaper’s articles, let alone allowing anti-homosexual articles to be published.

    It’s certainly true that some homosexuals want nothing more than tolerance from us so they can live their lives in peace and quiet while those of us who disagree with them live our own lives in peace and quiet.

    But if we think that the more aggressive homosexual advocates will stop at asking for tolerance, we’re simply being naive.

    A significant number of homosexual advocates want to make homosexuality a protected class comparable to race or religion against which employers cannot legally discriminate. A smaller number want to follow a European model of forbidding “hate speech” against homosexuals.

    Either of those two steps, if they gain legal traction, will necessarily result in direct government persecution against those who refuse, as a matter of conscience, to employ homosexuals or stop saying homosexuality is sin.

    That is a threat that is not likely to go away anytime soon, and the homosexual advocates of such viewpoints will not make a distinction between “Two Kingdoms” advocates and “neo-Calvinists” when they blast us for writing “hate speech” on the internet.

  97. Posted January 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    @ Erik and @ Richard Smith —

    Thank you, Erik, for your comment about the “DTM sighting,” and thank you, Richard, for your comments on defending Edwards.

    You would both be correct if you guessed that I read far more than I post.

    However, as far as getting actively involved in this blog, I respect Dr. Hart’s ownership of his own blog and probably don’t want to spend too much time posting here. If I’m going to do that, I need to take the time to do it right, and that’s a greater investment of time than I can make.

    Occasionally, however, something pops up on which I believe I simply have to comment because I don’t see anyone else saying something I would have said. Today was one of those days.

  98. Zrim
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    The church is put in its place in neo-Calvinism as proclaimer of the gospel, minister of the sacraments, keeper of the keys, guardian of the faith once given to the saints. But life and Creation (and eschaton in my view) is more than those things. The church is not the only sphere that warrants God’s or believers’ attention.

    Terry, thanks for helping make VanDrunen’s own point from “Always Reformed.” But some of us see more downside to putting the church in its place in favor of esteeming holistic cultural vision:

    Another common characteristic of neo-Calvinism, amidst its diversity, is its dedication to putting the church in its place. That may seem unnecessarily pejorative, but I believe it is not unfair. What I mean is that neo-Calvinism, if it is united by anything, is united by a desire to promote Christian cultural engagement, the goodness of all lawful vocations, and a “kingdom vision” that includes but by no means is limited to the church. Conceptions of Christianity that are overly church-focused—and hence restricted in their kingdom vision—come in for special critique. Neo-Calvinism aims to convince believers that Christianity is about all of life and that their common occupations are just as holy and redeemable as their pastor’s work and their own worship on Sunday. Of course none of its proponents are anti-church and many of them are dedicated servants of the church. It seeks to elevate other institutions and activities rather than lower the church’s status, but the effect is still to ensure that the church does not have too prominent a place in the Christian life, for the sake of a holistic kingdom vision.

    This holistic kingdom vision—notably different from Calvin’s kingdom theology—is undergirded by many of the features of neo-Calvinism mentioned above: the emphasis upon worldview, the creation-fall-redemption paradigm, and the drive for cultural transformation. One of its chief theological distinctives is the conviction that redemption consists in enabling Christians to take up again the original cultural task of Adam, that is, the task of developing the potentialities of creation and perhaps even building the stuff of the world-to-come, the new heavens and new earth. If this is what redemption is, it is quite logical to conclude that the church is important for the Christian life but not precisely where the main action lies. The main action is in fulfilling the original creation mandate in the various spheres of human culture.

    The neo-Calvinist vision is compelling in many ways, and it is not difficult to understand why it has proven so attractive to a great number of Reformed Christians in the past century. This vision has inspired the formation of numerous institutions—in North America particularly educational institutions—and has offered a plausible framework for ordinary Christians to ascribe meaning to their various vocations. Reformed churches, nevertheless, have not flourished under the watch of neo-Calvinism.

  99. Richard Smith
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Darrell Todd Maurina: Dr. Hart, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on whether we should make a “distinction between nominal and real Christians.” I suspect we’re too far apart to have a useful discussion on that issue. As a side point, I’d note that I have major problems with much of Dutch Calvinism and with the Federal Visionists because too many of them fail to make what I believe is a critical distinction between those who profess Christ and those who are truly converted. On this one issue, you have may have something in common with Doug Wilson and Abraham Kuyper, but I would dissent from you, Kuyper, and Wilson.

    RS: It is truly a critical distinction and one that Jesus spoke directly to. Indeed, it is a very critical distinction and Paul spoke to it as well.

    Eph 5:3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
    6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;

  100. Posted January 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Terry – “You say that the church “suffers” at the hands of neo-Calvinism. No. The church is put in its place in neo-Calvinism as proclaimer of the gospel, minister of the sacraments, keeper of the keys, guardian of the faith once given to the saints.”

    Erik- I think 2K’s point is that the church stumbles at these tasks when the focus shifts to what really seems to animate Neocalvinists — cultural transformation. The church needs to do the God-ordained tasks that only it has been given really well. There are only 24 hours in a day.

    Ask yourself which subject Dr. K gets more giddy about. My minister is unenthused about Neocalvinism but really enthused about Word & Sacrament. That’s why he’s my minister.

  101. Posted January 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    DTM – The world can do what the world will do. I’m not going to spend my life playing whack-a-mole with other people’s sin. I’m going to do what I do when I can do it in freedom and when I get arrested for doing it.

  102. Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “I pointed out that if I adopted a policy of banning comments critical of homosexuals, I would antagonize the large majority of my readers in a conservative American rural community.”

    Erik – I’ve heard there are similar biases in your parts against people with all of their teeth.

    “Billy Bob just gone to the dentist. There he goes agin, puttin on airs…”

  103. Don Frank
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Z says: Don, I’m still a little lost. But if your point is that there is a difference between the soul and the body, heaven and earth then ok. There are two kinds of this-worldly piety and two kinds of otherworldly piety, good and bad. 2k is not informed by the bad kind of either. It affirms the very goodness of creation while at the same time saying it is fleeting. This is how we can happily submit to civil authorities as God’s ministers without putting eternal hope in princes.

    Me: My point goes further than that there is a difference between soul/body, heaven/earth. It is that the difference is that the one is invisible and the other is visible. In the words of Calvin,

    Now, these two, as we have divided them, are always to be viewed apart from each other. When one is considered, we should call off our minds and not allow them to think of the other.

    So, we submit to both civil magistrate and visible church minister in the very same way — as fallible ministers of God. Our soul, though in constant conflict with our body (in the words of the Letter — The body hates the soul and wars against it) responds to the voice of the Holy Spirit, assuming we are elect and therefore do not resist the Holy Spirit, Who leads us invisibly by faith through the word/sacrament proclaimed by the fallen minister and the righteous law enacted by the magistrate.

  104. Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    After seeing “Deliverance” I wouldn’t think those folks would be so down on gays.

  105. Don Frank
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Darryl says: Don, sure our conscience should be bound by fallible ministers and councils, unless you’re prepared to pope. Is obedience to authority subject to the authority’s perfection?

    Me: By this logic, Darryl, the reformation would not have happened. Our conscience is bound only by the Holy Spirit working through the visible minister, the spoken word, and the pysical water, bread and wine. And this is why our obedience is subject to the visible authority who will never be perfect as long as he occupies an earthly body.

    Darryl says: Now you are on the quest for the invisible when it used to be your tune that 2k was gnostic in denying the reality of God’s work in the visible created world.

    Me: I thought it was you who said that consistency is highly over rated. But in fact, I am being consistent in that the power behind word, sacrament, and creation are the very One and same God who is invisible until Christ returns.

  106. Posted January 3, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Erik, yes. That’s what your minister and your church should be excited about. I’m not asking the church to do other stuff. In fact, I prefer it if the church as church would stay out of politics and stay out the science lab. (Just been reading about geocentrism on one of the Old School PCA lists that I follow.) No competence and no mandate!

    But that doesn’t mean Christians shouldn’t be about those things and about those things through the lenses of a Christian worldview informed by Biblical theology. You seem to be hearing that I want the church doing this stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth! I want Christians doing this stuff, at least Christians who have the particular calling to do so.

    Zrim, the Creation Mandate has not been revoked. DVD says that since Christ fulfilled the Covenant of Works that Adam failed that he also fulfilled all the Creational tasks given to Adam. This is 2K’s (at least in the DVD/DGH rendition) major error (along with its anti-Creational eschatology).

  107. Zrim
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Don, if your point is that the spiritual is invisible and the bodily is visible then no 2ker is quibbling.

    But if your point is that we submit to the civil magistrate and church elder the same way then pardon. Paul gives no room for civil disobedience in Romans 13. But in Galatians 1 he puts even himself (and angels) on notice that should even he preach another gospel he is to be accursed, which among other things I take to mean unheeded.

  108. Zrim
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Terry, who says the creation mandate’s been revoked? When 2k thinks creation mandate it thinks moral law, not ceremonial and judicial. Which means that as the moral law is fulfilled but not abrogated so is the creation mandate.

    But do you want unbelievers doing science and politics? Like Luther and wise Turks over foolish Christians, my only standard is competency, not faith.

  109. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Terry – ” I’m not asking the church to do other stuff”

    Erik- The problem with some of this “worldview thinking” is people claim they are not talking about the church but then you get things like the URC Church Order which says elders must “promote godly schooling” which then leads to a defacto prohibition against electing elders who do not have their kids in homeschool or public school. Sphere sovereignty kind of goes out the window.

  110. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Oops. Should say – “in homeschool or Christian school”.

  111. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Erik, but you’d never meet Jimmy, Bunk, Omar, or Prop Joe.

  112. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Erik, perhaps you should get your consistory to overture Synod about that. I’d be thrilled to see the URC more consistently in the neo-Calvinist camp.

  113. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    DTM, My line about lying was in response to an Edwardsean, Richard, who said the very thing (or words to that effect). Do I believe that all professing Christians are truly Christians? How could I read the Bible and think that? But I’m not buying the Edwardsean scheme of spotting such nominal Christians. It cuts too wide a swath (and has even nicked me).

  114. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Richard, if I miss the mark, then why is it that whenever you start talking about holiness, many of the readers here (except Doug or Don) feel threatened and not comforted?

  115. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Richard, Jonathan Dickinson, the Edwards of American Presbyterianism, did object to subscription precisely on the grounds that it would bind consciences illegitimately.

  116. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Terry, how could you possibly think that I expect the church to be as broad as creation when it is the neo-Cals (e.g. cosmic eye) who want Christ’s Lordship to be evident everywhere (and if I see another appeal to Col 1:15-20 I’ll be tempted to call it an epistle of straw).

    In case you haven’t noticed, 2k asserts that God rules everything but that Christ rules the church differently from the rest of creation. That Christological point (a la Col. 1) is the one that drives neo-Cals batty. 2k circumscribes the church. Neo-Calvinism opened the church up to everything. Need I appeal to the GKN or CRC again?

  117. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, ding ding ding ding.

  118. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Don, consistency is indeed overrated. But making sense is not.

    The Reformation happened because the Reformers taught that the church can and does err and they believed the papacy was in error. They did not teach that church power vanishes because the church errs.

  119. Don Frank
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Z,

    I’m sure you are aware of the Scriptural precedent for disobeying the civil magistrate who commands us to disobey God.

    But I think I have expressed my position as clearly as I could, understanding that it is necessarily nuanced.

  120. Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, DVD in Chapter 3 of LG2K

    “Our cultural task as already-justified Christians is fundamentally different from that of the first Adam, who was to perform his cul- tural work during a period of probation.”

    Excerpt From: VanDrunen, David. “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms.” Crossway. iBooks.
    This material may be protected by copyright. Check out this book on the iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=398523345

    In the same he regards transformationalism as a form of self-justification as if the Covenant of Works embodied the entire Creation Mandate rather than just probationary restriction. I think he’s reading his own eschatology into the account and he’s going way beyond the confession’s treatment of the CoW.

    DVD claims that the whole creation order was temporary and was only to last until the probation was complete. This is a sweeping claim that essentially begs the question at hand.

  121. Don Frank
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    It seems like you are simply rattling off responses in an attempt to fend off any substantial debate. That’s fine as I understand that you are running this blog because your editors tell you that its a good way for you to sell your books. Well, I already bought your book, so I guess I’ll just read that to see if it makes a better case than your blog responses.

  122. Posted January 3, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Terry – “I’d be thrilled to see the URC more consistently in the neo-Calvinist camp.”

    Erik – What? If that’s not the Neocalvinist camp, what is? Dr.K = Thoroughly Neocalvinist = Thoroughly Christian Schools. He probably had a hand in getting that in the church order. Is the CRC any different (or were they in the past?)

  123. Richard Smith
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, if I miss the mark, then why is it that whenever you start talking about holiness, many of the readers here (except Doug or Don) feel threatened and not comforted?

    RS: But why would you want me or anyone to comfort them? If you can’t see anything about their hearts, then how can you see that they need to be comforted? It seems that they are way too comfortable as it is. Perhaps they follow you in the thinking about Edwardsean thinking. I just thought they didn’t like true holiness which is holiness of the heart. While Jesus said, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”, some don’t like speaking about holiness of the heart.

    But despite all that, whether the whole world agreed with Athanasius or not, Athanasius was right in what he said about Christ. So even if all on this site agree with you, that would not make you right in your continued assertions in this regard. It seems as if you have a paradigm in your mind and whenever anyone hits a certain button an answer that fits the paradigm comes out rather than what the person said. With that said, whether people feel comforted or threatened is not the standard.

  124. Richard Smith
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, Jonathan Dickinson, the Edwards of American Presbyterianism, did object to subscription precisely on the grounds that it would bind consciences illegitimately.

    RS: A little quote from Edwards’ preface Freedom of the Will. “I should not take it at all amiss to be called a Calvinist, for distinction’s sake: though I utterly disclaim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them.” This raises an important question. Should people believe what a certain confession teaches just because the confession teaches it? If so, then people are believing certain doctrines because it is in a confession rather than because they have learned it from the Word of God.

    “All the Ministers of this Synod now present . . . after proposing all the scruples that any of them had to make against any articles and expressions in the Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, have unanimously agreed in the solution of those scruples, and in declaring the said Confession and Catechisms to be the confession of their faith, excepting only some clauses in the twentieth and twenty-third chapters, concerning which clauses the Synod do unanimously declare, that they do not receive those articles in any such sense as to suppose the civil magistrate hath a controlling power over Synods with respect to the exercise of their ministerial authority; or power to persecute any for their religion, or in any sense contrary to the Protestant succession to the throne of Great Britain.”

    The action in 1736 was a result of the heresy trial of Samuel Hemphill, who had been admitted to the Synod of Philadelphia in 1734 under the Adopting Act as understood through its preamble. Hemphill was ultimately convicted of being “a Deist and a Socinian.” The embarrassment of the trial and conviction caused the solid anti-subscriptionist Jonathan Dickinson to come around to the subscriptionist camp.

    “Thus the Adopting Act of 1729, ultimately solidified by 1736, became what it was originally intended to be–an understanding that would hold the line on the essentials of the faith while holding at bay errant theology and unqualified ministers.

    “The PC(USA) has chosen to understand the original Adopting Act as a compromise, as characterized in Heuser’s summary. The compromise as thus conceived is actually what came to be understood as the “loophole” in the compromise. The actual compromise was nothing more than the adoption by the Synod of Philadelphia in 1729 of the Westminster standards as being the essentials of the faith, except for sections of Chapters 20 and 23 identified as being non-essential.”

    http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs079/1103274555079/archive/1110293316607.html

  125. Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Erik, the CRC Church Order is similiar but I think more recently “liberalized”

    Article 71
    The council shall diligently encourage the members of the congregation to establish and maintain good Christian schools in which the biblical, Reformed vision of Christ’s lordship over all creation is clearly taught. The council shall also urge parents to have their children educated in har mony with this vision according to the demands of the covenant.

    I think the area of education has always been a bit untidy in the Dutch-American neo-Calvinist tradition. Christian schools aren’t usually parochial, I.e. church run. They are parent/board run usually with a confessional grounding. This the way it should be. There is a consistory enforceable scriptural command to parents to baptize their children and raise them in the faith. But the task and its details are in the sphere of the family, not the church.

    The CRC owns and operates Calvin College. That too is inconsistent. Church and school are distinct spheres.

    The Westminsters aren’t church controlled, neither are places like Dordt or Trinity. The OPC had an early debate on whether WTS should be a church run seminary. The sphere sovereignty argument carried the day.

    It seems to me that in principle an officer could provide a Christian education in the context of a public school. The parent has to keep a close watch on what’s being taught. Of course, good parents will do that with a Christian school as well. The tricky part about education is building up and being cognizant of the foundational world view.

  126. Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Don, debate is fine and so is impugning my motives. At least you haven’t questioned my salvation. But why can’t you spit out your own position? It is not exactly a debate to feel like you are on a witness stand. As for reading books, you started the interrogation before having read any book by DVD or me.

    So do you want to debate church power and the Reformation? So far, you haven’t shown that you actually know what Reformed churches do or believe.

  127. Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Richard, how could anyone who is honest take comfort from “blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”? If you think you are pure in heart by any means other than Christ, you are dangerous.

  128. Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Richard, nothing that you write about 1720s Presbyterianism contravenes how Jonathan Dickinson argued against subscription (a tendency that was characteristic of New England Puritanism). Your quote from Edwards is proof of what?

    Does it bind your conscience that you depend on translators who have made the Bible available to you? Or that you rely on editors and publishers who made available the best Greek and Hebrew sources for the Bible? Just how far are you prepared to take this independence from all man-made authority?

  129. Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    DGH, excuse me for stepping in, BUT Don had said repeatedly that he *read* DVD’s BEFORE he started debating you! You either don’t read what people say or your just plain sloppy, but please stop it!!

  130. Richard Smith
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, how could anyone who is honest take comfort from “blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”?

    RS: One, perhaps comfort is not the primary issue here but an encouragement to seek the Lord for a pure heart. Two, those who have a pure heart are comforted because they are blessed. Three, this does set out that there is such a thing as a pure heart and it is necessary.

    D.G. Hart: If you think you are pure in heart by any means other than Christ, you are dangerous.

    RS: Indeed, but if one disregards the need for a pure heart then one is very dangerous. In fact, a disregard for that would be a way to be like the Pharisees. As I have repeatedly said, Christ in the heart is the only way for a holy heart and life and a true holiness is sharing in His holiness (Heb 12:10).

  131. Richard Smith
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, nothing that you write about 1720s Presbyterianism contravenes how Jonathan Dickinson argued against subscription (a tendency that was characteristic of New England Puritanism). Your quote from Edwards is proof of what?

    RS: Let me give the quote and my comments in full: A little quote from Edwards’ preface Freedom of the Will. “I should not take it at all amiss to be called a Calvinist, for distinction’s sake: though I utterly disclaim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them.” This raises an important question. Should people believe what a certain confession teaches just because the confession teaches it? If so, then people are believing certain doctrines because it is in a confession rather than because they have learned it from the Word of God.

    The point has to do with a great weakness a certain form of subscription. People should believe a teaching because they have learned that it is biblical and they have learned it from studying the words of Christ and it is their true conviction. Believing doctrine X BECAUSE person A teaches it or because confession A teaches it is not the same as believing it because the Father has taught it to you in the Son and by the Spirit. Christ told Peter that he was blessed because (Peter) flesh and blood had not revealed that to him, but the Father in heaven had.

    Matthew 16:17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

    John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

    D.G. Hart: Does it bind your conscience that you depend on translators who have made the Bible available to you?

    RS: Of course not.

    D.G. Hart: Or that you rely on editors and publishers who made available the best Greek and Hebrew sources for the Bible?

    RS: Nope

    D.G. Hart: Just how far are you prepared to take this independence from all man-made authority?

    RS: I wasn’t aware that I was arguing for an independence from all man-made authority. I thought I was arguing along the lines of the WCF and the Belgic. The question is not how important confessions are, but to what degree a person subscribes to them and the reasons a person subscribes to them. A person can argue against subscription and yet only be arguing against one form of subscription. I would argue that the WCF and the Belgic sets out their own limitations and the reasons why a person should subscribe to them. In other words, just because Jonathan Dickinson argued against one form of subscription does not mean that he was against all forms. I am still wondering why you used him in an argument against Jonathan Edwards, however.

    WCF: Chapter I Of the Holy Scripture

    IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

    V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture.[10] And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

    VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

    VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

    VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,[19] therefore they are to be translated in to the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,[20] that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner;[21] and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.[22]

    IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.[23]

    X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.[24]

    The Belgic Confession:

    Article 5: The Authority of Scripture
    We receive all these books and these only as holy and canonical, for the regulating, founding, and establishing of our faith.
    And we believe without a doubt all things contained in them– not so much because the church receives and approves them as such but above all because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that they are from God, and also because they prove themselves to be from God.

    Article 7: The Sufficiency of Scripture
    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. For since the entire manner of service which God requires of us is described in it at great length, no one– even an apostle or an angel from heaven, as Paul says–^2 ought to teach other than what the Holy Scriptures have already taught us. For since it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Word of God,^3 this plainly demonstrates that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects.
    Therefore we must not consider human writings– no matter how holy their authors may have been– equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.

    For all human beings are liars by nature and more vain than vanity itself.

    Therefore we reject with all our hearts everything that does not agree with this infallible rule, as we are taught to do by the apostles when they say, “Test the spirits to see if they are of God,”^4 and also, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house.”^5 ^2 Gal. 1:8 ^3 Deut. 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19 ^4 1 John 4:1 ^5 2 John 10

  132. sean
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Doug, please stop with the inflammatory and provocative comments; “You either don’t read what people say or your just plain sloppy”. Darryl, is free to moderate as he pleases but your engagement here is consistently crossing the line, and that toward your intellectual and academic better no less. Even if you were right and Darryl were wrong, it doesn’t justify your insistence to ‘speak’ pejoratively.

  133. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Don, if you mean Acts 5:29-32 then that is less proof-text for disobeying the magistrate than it is for obeying God—disobedience is never affirmed by the Bible. And bonus: it’s also a way of privileging redemption to creation.

  134. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Terry, you may not like the premise that the CoW embodied the creation mandate, etc., but your claim that the creation mandate is abolished is a gross mis-reading. It is no more abolished than the moral law. Which means believers and unbelievers alike still pursue it. But the neo-Cal error is to think there is still something to come of human obedience to it, which is why neo-Calvinism is a cultural version of prosperity gospel.

    PS, on Christian schools, instead of URC CO 14 or the CRC CO 71 how about something more like the RCC 2229: “As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.”

    But the neo-Cals and those influenced by them fundamentally confuse catechism and curriculum. The biblical charge to baptize and catechize has nothing to do with the 3Rs but everything to do with the three Persons. In that sense you’re right that in principle an officer could provide a Christian education in the context of a public school. It’s called catechism in the off hours. In which case, what does “promote godly schooling” or “diligently encourage the members of the congregation to establish and maintain good Christian schools” really mean?

  135. Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Doug just needs to switch from Mountain Dew to 7-Up. No caffeine.

  136. Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    DGH, without intending to carry any water for the “transformation” project, still and all, I cannot agree with your basic reasoning.

    You argue that “After all, the corporate church does not take stands on matters in which Christians engage throughout the week — plumbing, baking, banking, gardening, ditch-digging.”

    But this is not so. In fact, the corporate church *does* take stands on general principles that apply to plumbing, baking, banking, gardening, and ditch-digging.

    WLC 99 sets the framework: “That the law is perfect, and binds everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience forever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin. ”

    Then the particulars:

    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.

    So unless your “plumbing, baking, banking, gardening, ditch-digging” involve no contact with inferiors, superiors, or equals, the 5th commandment has something to say about your plumbing, baking, banking, gardening, or ditch-digging. Not everything, but something.

    Likewise the 6th, 8th, 9th, and possibly 10th.

    So the entire premise is askew. If it were correct that the Bible had nothing to say about these endeavors, it would follow that we could cheerfully ignore Scripture while engaged in these endeavors, resting in the confidence that where there is no law, there is no transgression.

  137. Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    My main beef on Christian schools is that when churches take a position they are putting an economic burden on families. It’s kind of an unfunded mandate. If they are serious they should provide scholarships for any family who can’t afford it. Our church does have a “Christian Education Assistance Fund” but I am not sure how much money is available through it.

    I’m also concerned that it provides a simplistic criteria on which to view some parents as righteous and others as unrighteous. We need fewer things like this in the Reformed world, not more. We already have Sabbath keeping.

  138. Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    My other beef with Christian schools is what if their is no thoroughly Reformed Christian school available? So the kid gets “Christian math”, “Christian science”, “Christian history”, and “Christian shop” (none of which even exists if you are 2K) and bad theology. All for several thousand dollars a year out of the family budget. Your kids also probably learn a “Christian good, secular bad” mindset from hanging around fundamentalists all day long. How about thorough catechesis at home and then going out and mixing it up with all of the other kids in the public school? That is what they are going to experience as a Christian for the next 60 years of their life.

  139. Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Sean, you said the magic word :) So I will take heed.

    I will try to temper my words with wisdom, okay? But I have to stand by what I said, Don has stated “more than once” that he read DVD’s book some time ago and that he took copious notes. For Darryl to come by now and act like Don didn’t even read DVD’s book until he started this debate is not accurate. And no! I don’t have to go back and look through back posts because I “clearly” remember Don saying as much!

    DGH: As for reading books, you started the interrogation before having read any book by DVD or me.

    Why would DGH say that? How many times must Don repeat that he read DVD’s book some time ago? Notice I didn’t call DGH a liar; I gave him the benefit of the doubt and called him sloppy. Isn’t that true? I just happened to read their back and forth and remember Don saying this over and over again, and if I noticed DGH’s boo boo, who else in the blogosphere noticed as well? So quit being so touchy with DGH, he’s a big boy. If he gets his fact wrong someone needs to point it out, no? You obviously didn’t catch it! What would you call DGH’s mischaracterization of Don, other than “sloppy”?

  140. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Z,

    Call it what you want, but it does not seem to contribute any substance to this dialogue. The very same thing can be said with regard to the minister as the magistrate, i.e., if he teaches you to regard Christ as a man only, you must obey God instead. Thus you must disobey the minister. What is the difference?

    Maybe you are trying to make some other point as it relates to the substance of this debate, i.e., that the visible church, like the civil magistrate, is fallible and, as believers, our teacher and guide is the Holy Spirit working through the minister’s proclamation and administration of word and sacrament, and the civil magistrate’s enacting and enforcing the moral law. Word and sacrament are Supernatural, to be derived from scripture, while moral law is natural, to be derived from creation. Or perhaps I’m just not seeing how your point relates.

  141. Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Jeff,

    A church teaching the law of God and the implications of the law of God for Christian conduct is not the same thing as the church teaching people how to do their jobs. In other words, the law is binding on a retired person just as it is binding on a working man. Either can be disciplined for serious unrepentant sin. The church does not have the expertise to tell everyone how to do their jobs as Christians.

  142. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Don, you said that we submit to the civil magistrate and church elder the same way. I’m trying to track with you, so I don’t see how what I’ve said misses the substance of your point. But, no, I am not saying that the moral law is derived from creation–it is derived from God. It corresponds to creation. What do you mean that the Word is derived from Scripture? That seems redundant.

    PS, the difference is that the Bible doesn’t condone disobedience of any kind. So why are you speaking as if it does?

  143. Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The Christian faith is portable, relevant in any context, and transcendent. This is the great thing about the stories of Joseph and Daniel in the Bible. We don’t need to worry as much about making our surroundings Christian as we do about being a Christian in whatever surroundings we find ourselves in. This is a beautiful and profound thing.

  144. Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Zrim – “the difference is that the Bible doesn’t condone disobedience of any kind. So why are you speaking as if it does?”

    Erik – Of any kind? Are you saying that God was not pleased with how Daniel ended up in the Lion’s Den?

  145. Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The problem of saying “of any kind” is that as 2K guys who are not advocating transforming culture we may be faced with a culture someday that seeks to outlaw certain elements of our worship and faith. It will be put up or shut up time then. Do we obey God or men? I think we say we need to disobey men, obey God, and accept the consequences.

  146. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Erik, how could God be displeased with Daniel’s obedience? But I don’t see what is to be gained by speaking affirmatively of civil disobedience.

    But on Xian schools amongst the Dutch, I’ve also wondered if it’s a lingering function of an immigrant culture. It is respectable, since education is one way to keep cultural coherence when in a strange land. And CVT’s dictum that “in our isolation is our strength” has some merit. But if the church really is about gathering in from every tribe, tongue, and nation then a lot of it needs re-examining. Still, trying to get a fish to understand it’s wet is, well, hard.

  147. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Darryl, Doug and Richard,

    I think I get it now. You, Darryl, are acting in total conformity with your modern 2k thinking. When you interact on this blog, you are playing the role of a citizen under the government of the common world as established by the Noaic covenant. Under that government, citizens are encouraged to do whatever it takes, as long as it is not amoral, to make a profit because making a profit is good for the common world by sustaining economic order and peace. As a citizen under common world government, you are truly obeying, or at least obeying to the best of your (or the Holy Spirit’s — I’m not sure which, though I suspect it would be yours as I think you would say that the common world is ruled autonomously/Deistically) ability. On Sunday however, you take off your common world hat and shake off all your common world dust, and enter the redemptive world with your redemptive world hat and robes of Christ’s righteousness.

    You, Darryl, are especially blessed because the work you do in the common world on Monday through Saturday liberates(I am having trouble coming up with the right word here as “liberates” has an implication that Christians are somehow enslaved under God the ruler of the common world, an implication I know you would never consent to, but I’ll use the word anyway) the Christian from any guilt when participating as citizens under common world government that does not need to acknowledge God because it has natural law, and joyfully enter the redemptive world as citizens, detached from the common world, on Sunday, the only place where true reality really exists.

    To Doug, Richard, and others who, like me, are scratching their classical reformed thinking heads: Perhaps if you understand and agree with my postulate, you may take a different approach, or conclude that further interaction is simply a waste of time. Bear in mind, however, if you continue to interact that you will most certainly be attcked by the DGH, 2k bull dogs barking horrible, adhominem labels like neo-Calvinist or Christian worldviewers, and whining appeals to leave poor DGH alone. Either way, let the Holy Spirit guide you.

  148. sean
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Don: “the Christian from any guilt when participating as citizens under common world government that does not need to acknowledge God because it has natural law”

    Sean: Don natural law is God’s law. It’s the moral law that all human creation has by being made Imago Dei. So, we acknowledge God’s law 24/7 365.

  149. Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Erik, I understand what you are saying, but you are equivocating in the same way that I have objected to in the past.

    Suppose I have a student to whom I give a command (or direction): Do your homework.

    Am I telling them how to be a student? Most definitely. Am I telling them all that there is to say about being a student? Definitely not.

    My command (or direction) has implications for how he or she will spend his or her time. He or she will need to spend the necessary time to accomplish the job of his or her homework.

    But the directive does not specify how much time, or when, or where, or under what lighting conditions.

    Nevertheless, a student that obeys the directive will be considered a “good and faithful student.”

    Further: My directive contains some implied directives within it. Students coming into my class must learn what it means to “properly do one’s homework” (hint: not in the car on the way to school, unless you are brilliant). There are some basic skills — confirming answers, communicating clearly — that are part of the homework-doing process that are expected and implied in every directive to “do your homework.”

    I am expecting them as mature “almost-adults” to have pride of craftsmanship in their work.

    And so it is here. You say that because the Bible doesn’t give us step-by-steps for plumbing, etc. that it therefore is silent about plumbing. This is false.

    The Bible directs plumbers and bakers alike to use honest weights and measures. It directs plumbers and bakers alike to treat their superiors, subordinates, and equals with the honor due them. That most certainly includes, for example, obeying one’s boss, which is a part of doing one’s job.

    The fact that the 5th commandment applies also to retired persons is entirely beside the point.

  150. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Z says: Don, you said that we submit to the civil magistrate and church elder the same way. I’m trying to track with you, so I don’t see how what I’ve said misses the substance of your point. But, no, I am not saying that the moral law is derived from creation–it is derived from God. It corresponds to creation. What do you mean that the Word is derived from Scripture? That seems redundant.

    PS, the difference is that the Bible doesn’t condone disobedience of any kind. So why are you speaking as if it does?

    Me: I think we are going off on a different tangent by debating the fine points of submitting to the civil magistrate and church elder the same way. My only point in saying that is that they are both infallible. Can we leave it at that?

    With regard to moral law, I think you may be conflating the meanings of “originates” and “derived.” Natural law certainly originates from God, but it is still dervied from creation, otherwise a non-believer would not subscribe to natural law.

    Similarly, God is the originator of the Word, but we derive it as mediated through man and recorded in what we call the Scriptures.

    Regarding the bible condoning disobedience, I agree with Erik, but don’t see any benefit in going further down that rabbit hole.

  151. Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    DGH,

    Further, I would argue that the Bible speaks in exactly the same way to the church and to the individual church member (the church being the aggregate of its members!).

    But the individual member must police himself more strictly than the church polices him for a simple reason: the individual member is accountable for his conscience, which is (mostly) invisible to others.

    Hence, the church must preach, Do not love the world or anything in the world.

    The member must then consider whether his job, his house, his car, his Star Wars collectibles fall within “loving the world.” But the church cannot consider that question for him — the church must generally give him liberty to consider it on his own, unless his love for the world becomes a matter of gross public sin.

    The message of Scripture is the same, but the application is broader to the individual who must obey by faith.

  152. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Sean,

    True enough, but the common world (if it acknowledges God at all, as in God bless America), only acknowledges Him as a deistic, creator God. Contemporary 2k would say,

    Don’t sweat it if the common world doesn’t understand that God is also the redeemer God; and participate guilt free in that common world, because you can nonetheless glorify Him as creator God. The visible church is detached from the common world and that is where you, as a Christian, acknowledge Him as redeemer God. When you go out into the common world, you should feel no guilt about or compunction in trying to live as though you are living coterminously in the redemptive kingdom because the common world was established for a different purpose under the Noaic coveneant and will be terminated when Christ returns.

  153. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Don, ok, so your point is that both magistrate and elder are (I think you meant) fallible. Who’s quibbling with that point?

  154. Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Sean: Don natural law is God’s law. It’s the moral law that all human creation has by being made Imago Dei. So, we acknowledge God’s law 24/7 365.

    Sean, I would suggest you take a gander over at Seven Wedgworth’s blog. He’s an expert on natural law and one smart cookie to boot. But he disagrees with DGH (who doesnt right?) except for you Old Lifers. Yet I think you could read him with profit.

  155. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    You say that because the Bible doesn’t give us step-by-steps for plumbing, etc. that it therefore is silent about plumbing. This is false.

    Jeff, so because the Bible speaks to people who plumb it has something to say about plumbing? This just seems like strained logic in order to be able to conclude something that is linguistically confusing. I mean, if “the Bible speaks to plumbing” then I should be able to open it up and see something about plumbing. You and I both know it doesn’t, so why speak as if it does? Why not be content to say it speaks to people (who inherently do all sorts of things)? And actually, if we want to qualify people, it’s God’s people to whom it speaks. And when I open it up, lo and behold that’s what I see—God speaking to his people.

  156. Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Richard, let’s see if I get this right. I need to have a pure heart if I want to be saved. But when it comes to church authority you play the impure heart card and only trust the Bible. So I can’t figure out the basis on which you write here. If you heart is pure, I guess you have reason to challenge me. And if you’re pure, I’ve got a bridge you may also want to buy. But if you’re heart is impure (as mine is), then why should I possibly take seriously anything you say/ After all, human beings are liars by nature.

    In other words, you use depravity when it is convenient.

  157. Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Doug, prove it.

  158. sean
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Doug, Thanks. Time constraints barely allow to read this blog profitably but if I get a minute…

    Don, as one who often tries to compact as many concepts into a single paragraph as possible, I understand the effort but I really am not following your point all the way through. The whole ‘guilt’ bit I’m completely whiffing on. And I’m not sure how making distinction between cult and culture and how I ‘live that out’ is much different from Paul’s direction to believers in 1 Cor. 5: 9-13. We make distinctions between those in the body and those without, even sharp dichotomies.

  159. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Jeff says: But the individual member must police himself more strictly than the church polices him for a simple reason: the individual member is accountable for his conscience, which is (mostly) invisible to others.

    Me: Excellent point, Jeff.

  160. Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Jeff, but transformation of plumbing would mean a Christian method of fixing leaks. In other words, neo-Cals (and you sometimes) waffle between the general and the specifics. I am talking about specifics. Most neo-Cals back off the specifics when challenged but not when advertizing Christian day schools. But the appeal to the Bible as the lens does not change specifics. Why, I’ve heard Dr. K. recommend Bach as a great Christian musician. I am trying to assert that when Bach composed he was not thinking about superiors and inferiors. Neo-Cals inevitably invite multi-tasking of the worst kind — how do I glorify God while crossing the street? Darn, just got hit by the car because I wasn’t paying attention to the traffic.

  161. Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Doug, mischaracterizer, characterize thyself (and me while you’re at it).

  162. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Z,

    Thanks. Yes I did mean fallible. But no, that was not my point, it was only a premise for support of my point.

  163. Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Don, huh? What is your position? You appeal to Schmemann, Newbiggin, but then take the Reformed confessional high ground. Have you thought about your own blog where you can actually take a stand rather than putting others on one?

    Seriously, what is your point? I have no idea for what you are arguing. I do understand you don’t like 2k (and possibly me). That’s okay. My cats adore me.

  164. Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, this is really sloppy, sorry. So when you say “do your homework” that also covers plumbing, since a student will need to take a bath at some point and will need indoor plumbing?

    This is sloppy because we would never use this kind of analogizing in a court of law or in a course on math. I believe you are trying to hard to make the Bible do something that ends up undermining the Bible. Anyone can read whatever they want into the Bible.

    Which goes back to the point that churches don’t take stands on math or plumbing because they believe the Bible is silent on math and plumbing.

  165. Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Jeff, so because the Bible speaks to people who plumb it has something to say about plumbing?

    No. Rather, because the Bible speaks about our activities in general, then what it says covers our activities in specific also.

    The Bible speaks to the plumber, the baker, the candlestick maker, and tells them all: Use honest weights and measures. This means that the plumber must do the work he claimed to be doing; the baker must count out at least as many donuts as he is claiming to sell; and the candlestick maker must use as much wax as he is claiming to use.

    It’s not an amazingly profound point, and it hardly adds up to a radical transformation of industry.

    But it is a basic point, and one that seems to elude some Christian tradesmen.

  166. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Don, you said: “My only point in saying that is that they are both fallible.” You gave me a lesson on the difference between derive and originate (which seemed tortured, btw). Now you say that wasn’t your point but only a premise for a point. I”m confused. But now that you say this was a premise, maybe your can give me the point again. Both are fallible…and so?

    PS, I believe Jeff calls that “personal theonomy.” Yuck, more linguistic confusion. How about an older and less confusing term: the Christian life.

  167. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, thanks. Now you have the Bible speaking to people. Just stop there. I agree with Darryl that you’re trying too hard to bridge the 2k/neo-Cal bridge. And when you do it just muddies matters.

  168. Richard Smith
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, let’s see if I get this right.

    RS: Warning, a mass of errors/miunderstandings by Dr. Hart to follow.

    D.G. Hart: I need to have a pure heart if I want to be saved.

    RS: A person must be declared just by God to be saved based on the cross and the imputed righteousness of Christ alone which is given by grace alone through faith alone. A justified heart is declared pure and holy in a positional sense, but a justified heart will desire a holy heart.

    D.G. Hart: But when it comes to church authority you play the impure heart card and only trust the Bible.

    RS: No, church authority ends when it goes beyond biblical authority. That was one of the hallmarks of the Reformation and we think of that as Sola Scriptura. The confessions themselves point us to that as well.

    D.G. Hart: So I can’t figure out the basis on which you write here. If you heart is pure, I guess you have reason to challenge me. And if you’re pure, I’ve got a bridge you may also want to buy. But if you’re heart is impure (as mine is), then why should I possibly take seriously anything you say/ After all, human beings are liars by nature.

    RS: But elect human beings are given a new heart and are not lovers of truth. That does not make them perfect, but still they have a standard of truth and love apart from themselves and so there is no need to tell a selfish lie (though indeed they still may do so). For all human beings, whether regenerate or not, the Bible (Word of God) is what they must go by. All will be judged by the commands of God whether they profess to believe them or not, though indeed the eternal judgment has been removed for the elect in Christ.

    D.G. Hart: In other words, you use depravity when it is convenient.

    RS: No, I just watch others use it in an effort to escape the teachings of Scripture.

  169. Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    The problem I have is that time and time again I see people, whether they are Bible believing Christians or government bureaucrats, looking at vocations, industries, professions, or disciplines from the outside and making judgments about what it means to be “moral” in those areas and more often than not they get it wrong. My boss is a real estate developer and landlord and 95% of the people I run into (Christian or not) really don’t understand what we do or why we do it the way we do it. You probably run into the same thing as a teacher. Everyone seems to have an opinion how education should work and most of them don’t spend their days doing it. There may be a “Christian” way to carry out these various common activities, but if there is most of the people who opine about it have no idea what they are talking about.

  170. Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    You say you are not talking about “specifics” but my point is it’s all about specifics. To speak in generalities about vocations is kind of meaningless and that’s why I say we should just talk about how Christians should behave in general.

  171. Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    One can say that a Christian plumber should he honest, and I agree, but we are really talking about honesty, not plumbing.

  172. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    Thanks for understanding the difficulty. On the guilt thing, what I mean is that some Christians feel guilty if they are not explicitly championing Christ in the world. I agree with contemporary 2k thinking that we should not feel guilty, but for a completely different reason. My reason, which I believe is the classical reformed and scriptural reason, is that we as believers live coterminously in this temporal world (bodily) and the invisible kingdom of God (soul). The invisible kingdom really is invisible and we only commune invisibly with it, not only in worship but 24/7/365.

    Contemporary 2k, on the other hand, teaches that within this visible, temporal world, the invisible kingdom is not invisible but really present and visible in the visible church; in effect, removing the visible church from the visible world, and, on that basis, declaring that we are citizens of two kingdoms; the church and the common world. When in the common world, we obey natural law which is the law of God in the hearts of the believer who willingly submits and non-believer, who may or may not submit to that truth.

    Augustine would say that we are citizens only of the invisible kingdom by virtue of the invisible Holy Spirit, and we participate in the visible world as resident aliens, which world is coterminous with, as oppposed to detached from, the invisible kingdom. Therefore, we live in the visible kingdom as resident aliens of the invisible kingdom, awaiting the time when the visible gives way to the invisible. In this way, we can live in the visible world without a sense that we need to always explicitly champion Christ, because we champion Him in our invisible soul which we are to live by in the world according to Paul in Rom 8:5 saying that we are those who live according to the Spirit setting our minds on the (invisible) things of the Spirit.

    Perhaps I have only further muddied the waters. If you really want to get under the hood of this thing, I agree with Doug that http://calvinistinternational.com/ is an excellent place to start. Don’t be alarmed if on this site you encounter interaction with people like Doug Wilson and others who have been “demonized” here as you will find that these guys try to critically abstract from a broad host of both OL approved and OL acursed sources.

  173. Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    DGH: Jeff, but transformation of plumbing would mean a Christian method of fixing leaks.

    My discussion opener was “DGH, without intending to carry any water for the “transformation” project…”

    It’s a busy day, I know.

    DGH: Jeff, this is really sloppy, sorry. So when you say “do your homework” that also covers plumbing, since a student will need to take a bath at some point and will need indoor plumbing?

    I expect my students to use a context clue to figure that out.

    DGH: This is sloppy because we would never use this kind of analogizing in a court of law or in a course on math.

    The analogy is to help illumine the reasoning. The reasoning itself is really simple:

    Syllogism 1: The Bible has some things to say about plumbing.

    * The Bible gives some general commands whose scope is every activity of the believer.
    * Plumbing is an activity of the believer.
    * Therefore, those general commands apply to plumbing.

    Syllogism 2: The Bible’s commands about plumbing are more broad for the believer than for the church *because* the believer has liberty to implement those commands according to the dictates of his conscience.

    * The church must not teach beyond good and necessary inference from Scripture.
    * Some behaviors are permissible contingent upon conscience: if the conscience is clear, the behavior is clean; if not, the behavior is sinful.
    * Therefore, the church may not bind the consciences of believers on permissible behaviors, BUT
    * Believers must regulate themselves in those matters according to their consciences (Rom 14).

    Same teaching, different scopes because of liberty and conscience.

    DGH: I believe you are trying to hard to make the Bible do something that ends up undermining the Bible. Anyone can read whatever they want into the Bible.

    Explain? I think I’ve established a decent track record of requiring good-and-necessary inference.

    DGH: Which goes back to the point that churches don’t take stands on math or plumbing because they believe the Bible is silent on math and plumbing.

    Well … let’s agree that they *shouldn’t* take stands (but frequently do) on common grace matters.

    But anyways, it seems reasonable for churches to take stands on precisely what the Scripture teaches, and no more. So, to the extent that Scriptural commands apply to the activities of math and plumbing, well … they apply.

    So yes, while preaching from Proverbs, I can take a stand from the pulpit that mathematicians, no less plumbers, should be honest in their work. The End.

    What I don’t understand in your analysis is this craving for OR apprehension of more than the Scripture actually teaches. So the Scripture teaches that plumbers should be honest in their plumbing. Why should there be more to it?

    Why should the simply observation that ‘the Decalogue applies to all of our activities’ be read as anything more than this?

    *scratches head*

  174. Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: PS, I believe Jeff calls that “personal theonomy.” Yuck, more linguistic confusion. How about an older and less confusing term: the Christian life.

    Hm. What’s the provenance of that term ‘Christian life’? I find it suspicious.

  175. Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    This mini-debate is really important because it gets at the heart of what it means to be a 2K thinker. We teach and stand behind the Law of God, but we don’t attempt to micromanage how obedience to the law of God gets worked out by individual believers in the midst of a very messy world.

  176. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    I adore you too. :) Its just that I adore you so much that I don’t care to interact with you on a superficial basis. I am not blaming or accusing you of being superficial, only that you are extremely busy in sustaining this blog, and do not really have the time to get below the superficial. That is fine, as I think there may be others who have more time than you, and really want to understand both clasiscal and contemporary 2k more thoroughly.

    If you want to understand my position, I would encourage you to stop treating me as a bunch of labels like Newbegin, Schmemann, et al. and read what I post. That would be a good start.

    Love, Don

  177. Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Whatever we do, don’t send Jeff to Lookout Mountain. He may not come back.

  178. Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Doug – “I adore you too.”

    Careful Doug. You’re getting awfully close to that man-love you are so fearful of.

  179. Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, what I am supposed to prove?

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

    Jeff, re the Christian life I have in mind the entire third section of the HC. You find that dubious? But I’ve only ever heard “personal theonomy” from you. I’m confident you’re a faithful fellow and all but if either term is subject to suspicion…

  181. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Don, I’m tracking with your own words, but I’m still waiting to hear what point the premise about human fallibility is supposed to yield.

  182. Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    Here is where the approach you are talking about leads:

    http://www.worldviewresourcesinternational.com/

  183. sean
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Don, I’m trying. How about if we agree on the resident alien bit, and an already-not yet eschatological scheme. I’m not sure what’s difficult or untoward or unreformed/unconfessional/extra-confessional about making distinctions between church and church members and non-ecclesial institutions and ecclesial non-members. We aren’t God so we don’t make distinction in the visible world/church according to God’s secret election. We receive credible confessions and make distinctions forthwith. God rules one ‘sphere’ according to NL(imago dei imprimatur) and under the auspices of the noahic covenant(providence-creation) and within that ‘sphere-kingdom’ he has a cultic redemptive people who abide and are privileged with the worship of the one true God according to God’s election and Christ’s work.

  184. Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Jeff and Don, aren’t Christ’s undershepherds going to be held accountable for the members of their flocks? That’s in the Bible! So how does the church get off easier?

  185. sean
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Don,

    I should add, that along with NL, the cultic people are privileged with and adhere to covenantal directive and mandate per special revelation.

  186. Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Richard, I go back to the point when you asked basically why is comfort such a big deal? It is because sin is a big deal and can’t be removed by a pure heart of my own. I still sin and my good works are defiled. What I am to do? Which says, beware the Pharisees. Luther says, look to God’s promise in Christ.

    I’ll take Luther, thank you. You can have Edwards.

  187. Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, I still don’t understand why you are so intent on defending the all of life hermeneutic. On the one hand, if you’re a librarian, is it possible to shelve the Bible in the section on plumbing because it speaks to all of life? This is what your position seems to devolve to and it is (I think you’ll concede) silly in this case.

    But I also detect in your defense a view of the human person like that of a computer. As he contemplates an action he sorts through all the commands and finds several that apply in general terms and then has to sort through them to figure which is most germane. People don’t work this way.

    So what is in it for you to take this defense? Christians can honor God without finding a biblical warrant, no?

  188. Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Don, then explain your position. I have heard you cite a variety of authors in opposition to 2k. And yet, all I see is opposition (and confusion). So for what are you arguing? Federalism, agrarianism, Kuyperianism, Constantinianism with a dose of Reformed theology, generic cultural Christianity, Canada before 1960?

  189. Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Doug, you know what you’re supposed to prove (he wrote, taking a page out of his wife’s playbook).

  190. Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Erik, warning: you may link to that cite only one more time and then you’re banned. I have my limits.

  191. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Z,

    I’m not sure where your confusion lies. I have tried to lay out my position as carefully as I could. Unfortunately it is impossible to say it all in a bumper sticker-like quote.

  192. Richard Smith
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, I go back to the point when you asked basically why is comfort such a big deal?

    RS: But what of giving people comfort while they are still in their sins? The point is that comfort is not the ultimate goal, but there is a true comfort and a false comfort. A false comfort can lead people to be at ease in Zion.

    D.G. Hart: It is because sin is a big deal and can’t be removed by a pure heart of my own.

    RS: But how can one have comfort with a heart that is set on sin and not on pursuing Christ? Of course sin cannot be removed by anything but Christ, but Christ purifies the heart in a positional sense by salvation and then He lives in that heart. Any place where Christ dwells is a place that will become increasingly holy.

    D.G. Hart: I still sin and my good works are defiled. What I am to do? Which says, beware the Pharisees. Luther says, look to God’s promise in Christ.

    RS: One must beware the Pharisees, but also the libertines as well.

    D.G. Hart: I’ll take Luther, thank you. You can have Edwards.

    RS: So Luther says look to Christ and Edwards says look to Christ. Luther says you must die to your own free-will for you to be ready to be saved while Edwards says you must die to self and the Spirit must work in you a love that leads to holiness. I think the two of them stand back to back in defending the truth.

  193. Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted January 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm: “DTM – The world can do what the world will do. I’m not going to spend my life playing whack-a-mole with other people’s sin. I’m going to do what I do when I can do it in freedom and when I get arrested for doing it.”

    In principle, Eric, that’s fine. If all you wanted to do was say, “Darrell, I have better things to do with my time than get involved in political fights,” I’d say, “Fair enough, focus on the areas of Christian endeavor where you think you can do the most good.”

    People have different callings and effective participation in the political process takes a lot of time. My primary problem is not with Christians who don’t choose to get actively involved in politics, but rather with Christians who seem to think the Bible has little or nothing to say about politics, or who are actively discouraging Christians from getting involved in politics.

    That, Erik, is where I think you and I really do differ. Your position goes beyond saying that you don’t want to play what you call “whack-a-mole.” As I see matters, you are arguing either 1) that others shouldn’t be trying to do what you choose not to do yourself, or 2) that those who are trying are wrongly using Scripture when we should instead be using general revelation.

    I think we’ve had enough discussions by now that we each understand pretty much where the other person is coming from. There are limits to my time and yours, plus I’ve been horribly sick for more than a week. But at least sickness is allowing me to catch up on reading email and blog posts.

  194. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Don, ok. But like a former ST prof used to drill, don’t dis’ succinctness. Simplistic isn’t the same simplicity–a Reformed virtue. That old prof might ask you to revise your last four-paragraph post to Sean to one and bind you to only using the words visible and invisible once each.

  195. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    DTM, fair enough, but just as frustrating is when questioning the power of politics and legislation is read as “actively discouraging Christians from getting involved in politics.” All some of us are trying to do put more modesty in political and legislative hopes.

  196. Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    D.G. – Erik, warning: you may link to that cite only one more time and then you’re banned. I have my limits.

    Erik- O.K. Thanks for the warning. From now on I will confine myself to linking to less dangerous sites –sites having to do with handguns, explosives, toxic waste, Jihad — stuff like that.

    That reminds me of a clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNkpIDBtC2c

  197. Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    D.G. – Don, then explain your position. I have heard you cite a variety of authors in opposition to 2k. And yet, all I see is opposition (and confusion). So for what are you arguing? Federalism, agrarianism, Kuyperianism, Constantinianism with a dose of Reformed theology, generic cultural Christianity, Canada before 1960?

    Erik – I think Don is your average Maoist everyman with a dash of Kim Jong Il’s fashion sense thrown in. Wait, that’s CD-Host. Nevermind.

  198. Don Frank
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    Perhaps I can speak to you, Zrim, and Darryl at the same time instead of repeating myself and confusing you still more.

    So, I could quibble with what you said up to the point where you say “God rules one ‘sphere’……, but for the sake of argument, I will let it stand for now. When you say “God rules one ‘sphere’ according to NL(imago dei imprimatur) and under the auspices of the noahic covenant(providence-creation),” I diverge. NL was not established under the auspices of the Noaic covenant, but under the auspices of the covenenat of creation, in the beginning.

    The Noaic covenant was the wiping out of all mankind except one faithful man, Noah and, his family. Noah, in other words, was the earthly representative of the invisible kingdom in his time, just as Abraham, Moses, David, and finally Jesus Christ (for the rest of history) were God’s covenant representatives in their time. Consequently, God was setting up a temporal framework with the visible church to regualte the soul (internal) and the civil realm to regulate the body (external). God, and all His hosts continue to this day to live in the invisible framework, the spiritual kingdom. The visible church is not the spiritual kingdom (it is visible), but is regulated invisibly by Holy Spirit working through the visible means of word and sacrament.

    I have to stop for now. I’ll wait for your feedback.

    I

  199. Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    DTM – Hope you get well soon. To each his own, but I must say I do find a lot of Christian political activists (1) annoying, and (2) a hinderance to the spread of the gospel. Why are they a hinderance? Because they pick and choose from the law and the gospel to support a narrow political agenda and thereby turn off an awful lot of people for not much political gain. I used to listen to a Christian conservative radio host named Steve Deace daily until I finally saw the light. The final straw was how unwilling he was to have any dissent from or debate of his methods and agenda on his web site. I haven’t listened to him a day since and am a lot happier for it.

  200. Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Don explains his not-quite-coherent philosophy to Zrim (a.k.a. Turtle):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_KGkuLfsF0

  201. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    (Erik, Busey also gives me a Manata vibe.)

  202. sean
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Don, I’m gonna hold off on the visible/invisible discussion. I can’t tell whether I understand you or not on that issue. As regards NL, I agree with it’s creation origin(Imago Dei) so we don’t disagree on that point. As far as the Noahic Cov., maybe this is where we start to see some light between us. The big breaks in discontinuity between Noahic and Eden would be’; the fall has occurred. Full Stop…………………………..and when I reference Noahic cov. I’m referencing an understanding of a creation covenant, NOT a redemptive covenant, between God and the earth(I shall never again destroy with water-rainbow covenant) we also see within this context a SELECTION amongst even Noah’s family between redeemed people(elect) and unredeemed(This selection obviously was in effect before now-Cain and Abel). So, all human creation is Imago Dei, but now we have a radical break between cult(redemptive community) and culture(elect and unelect alike). This dichotomy doesn’t exist in the edenic situation but it does in the Noahic, and the elect are now living not only under God’s redemptive covenant but that, within the temporal and earthly Noahic covenant. Also, in the Noahic you see the broad outlines of state and family institutions(be fruitful and multiply-reiteration of creation mandate) with state penal framework(gen 9:5).

  203. Posted January 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    That’s a Leeeeaaaap. I have my own criticisms of worldviewism.

    Zrim,

    No problem with HC. Funny though, the term “Christian life” isn’t there. So again: What is the provenance of the term? Where does it come from? What does it mean?

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

    Erik Charter posted January 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm: (quoting me) “I pointed out that if I adopted a policy of banning comments critical of homosexuals, I would antagonize the large majority of my readers in a conservative American rural community.” Erik: “I’ve heard there are similar biases in your parts against people with all of their teeth. ‘Billy Bob just gone to the dentist. There he goes agin, puttin on airs…'”

    Oh, good grief, Eric. I couldn’t care less if Brother BillyBob has all his teeth. I think it’s patently obvious that dental care wasn’t exactly fantastic in first-century Judea, so Jesus must not have cared very much, either.

    Also, Sam Walton figured out long ago how to sell toothbrushes for a cheap price in his Arkansas and Missouri stores — of which our local Wal-Mart was one of the very first he built — so it’s mostly older people who lost their teeth as children. The stereotype of the toothless hillbilly is no longer true and hasn’t been for decades.

    What I do care about is whether Brother BillyBob has all the pages of his Bible and considers them to be God’s Word. If he does, he’s probably my brother in the Lord, and I need to sit him down with a copy of the Heidelberg Catechism so he can study it and decide whether it does a better job of explaining God’s Word than his Dake’s Bible Commentary or Scofield Reference Bible. Fundies can make great Calvinists with some hard work if the Calvinist talking to them knows his Bible and can back up everything he says with the written Word of God.

    But there’a a more important issue at stake. Intellectual and cultural arrogance is not appropriate for Christians.

    Erik, if I didn’t know you were making a bad effort to be humorous, I’d call you an arrogant, overeducated, and underintelligent snob who needs to get out of the North and realize how people live where snow is rare. I’d also start posting stuff about the history of Scots Presbyterian and Scots-Irish Presbyterian immigration to the American colonial frontier, and pointing out that the Scots and Scots-Irish were largely responsible for making it possible for both Yankee city folk and Southern plantation owners to live in peace by providing a buffer against the howling wilderness.

    But that fact is that the main thing Southern about me is my zip code. That’s not my culture and I can’t defend it effectively. I get questions “down in these here parts” about how I feel being a Northerner in the Ozarks, and my usual comment is to say that the main differences between us Italians and the Southern hillbilly culture are that we Italians dress better and carry shorter guns.

    When I say things like that and people look at me funny, I do one of two things. I either pull out my NRA card or I point out that my 5’2″ niece outshot two captains at the Fort Leonard Wood rifle range when one of them was stupid enough to tell her that he didn’t think women should be soldiers. Let’s just say I’m perfectly capable of using self-deprecating ethnic stereotypes myself, especially when the stereotypes have more than a few grains of truth. Having “hot blood” may be more of a shared characteristic between Italians and Southerners than between me and the Dutch.

    For the very few people around the Ozarks who actually know about Pella or Northwest Iowa, I point out that while I’m Italian, I grew up in a Dutch community, and I make a few jokes about how copper wire was invented by a Scotsman and a Hollander fighting over a penny. Generally, when people decide to treat me as a short black-haired Hollander, they’ve come pretty close to figuring me out, at least when it comes to some issues relating to faith and culture. I’m not Dutch, I’ll never be Dutch, I don’t want to be Dutch, and I could make a long list of things I don’t like about Dutch ethnocentric bigotry which I experienced firsthand for many years growing up in Grand Rapids, but the Dutch did historically do a very good job of Christianizing their culture, and many stereotypes of “Dutchiness” are actually stereotypes common to Reformed Christians anywhere that Calvinism has become the dominant culture or a locally significant subculture. Being financially frugal, having strong families, emphasizing work ethics, supporting an educated ministry and theologically knowledgeable laity, etc., etc., etc., are all key characteristics of being consistently Reformed.

    Erik Charter posted January 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm: “After seeing “Deliverance” I wouldn’t think those folks would be so down on gays.”

    You’ve hit on a valid point here — not about homosexual rape but rather lawlessness and resistance to authority.

    I’m the wrong one to be defending Southern culture, but I’m going to say what I routinely say to Northerners trying to understand the difference between their stereotypes of the South and the reality they find when they move here and scratch beneath the surface. While the South includes the Bible Belt culture, it also includes the rebelliousness and lawlessness depicted in Deliverance and the Dukes of Hazzard. The same spirit of willingness to resist authority that led to the lawlessness and immorality seen in such movies also led to the willingness of Bible-believing Christians to throw the liberals out of the Southern Baptist Convention and to lead the massive secession out of the PCUS that created the PCA.

    The SBC and PCA have tons of problems. I’ve written many things critical of them. But is it not obvious that they’re in far better shape than the CRC, the Northern churches in the PCUSA, or virtually any Northern denomination you can name?

    It’s pretty hard to look at the collapse of well-organized and well-educated Northern churches led by professional full-time seminary-trained pastors, compare it to what happened in the South, and not be a little envious of the Southern “fighting fundie” spirit. I’m a Calvinist, I’m not a fundamentalist, and I’m certainly not any sort of Baptist or Campbellite or Pentecostal who opposes a studied ministry and wants to see part-time semi-educated preachers as being normal or even preferable to “book learning,” but I’ll take any of those errors over the errors of godless liberalism.

    The perfect church exists in heaven, not on earth. I’ll take Southern “fighting fundies” any day over garbage from liberal seminary professors.

    Why? It’s simple.

    Fundamentalists usually will listen to the Bible. Liberals won’t. That is not a minor difference.

  205. Posted January 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    I have to admit that I get a more than a little amused over the prospect of discussing “Christian Plumbing”, being the son of a plumber, who was a son of a plumber, who was a son of a plumber, whose dad probably tired of using outhouses. Before my own dad went off the deep end, some of my favorite times with him were spent replacing cast-iron waste lines in the crawl spaces beneath various homes in Central Oregon, or burning up his solder with his acetylene torch in mechanical rooms here i Southern California. But Christian Plumbing is a great test case for “Christian _______”. While I see where you are going with this:

    Syllogism 1: The Bible has some things to say about plumbing.

    * The Bible gives some general commands whose scope is every activity of the believer.
    * Plumbing is an activity of the believer.
    * Therefore, those general commands apply to plumbing.

    The most you can prove here is that the Bible should norm – in way(s) unspecified so far – activities carried out by believers. However, I am not sure your assertions have proven that the Bible speaks to plumbing qua plumbing, which involves certain aspects of technical mastery in the implementation of plumbing systems, estimation of costs involved, billing, and collection, and warranty matters.

    Now, it would seem to me that it is eminently fair to say that the Bible has a great deal to say normatively about the moral, spiritual, and ethical conduct of Christians that does touch in some way, any and all activities that the Christian is involved in. However, whether or not any of these moral, ethical, or spiritual norms are unique to plumbing, or any other specific vocational or avocational activity is something that needs to be proven. Otherwise, the only way we can say that “the Bible speaks to Plumbing” or that there is a quintessential “Christian Plumbing” that can only be extracted from Scripture, is in a highly derived sense that has less to do with plumbing as a practical mechanical discipline, and more to do with the ethical components of work that are common to all vocations.

    So maybe it is less than helpful to defend (in any meaningful sense that actually affects the vocation in itself) “Christian Plumbing”, or to try to assert that the “Bible speaks to plumbing”; and instead simply state that the Bible norms the Christian’s ethical behavior in such a way that it touches the moral and ethical components of all of our lives, including vocations. In this sense we can speak of “Christian” or “Biblical” ethics, or morality, without imposing on the amoral components of a vocational discipline that materially distinguish it from other disciplines. By this I mean, what separates the job of the plumber from that of the electrician is predominantly if not exclusively distinguished along amoral lines – yet the ethical and moral components of each vocation are similar if not identical. And I would argue except in the capacity to glorify God, the ability to excel morally or ethically in a vocation is not exclusive to the Christian – but that is a different discussion.

  206. Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “I’d call you an arrogant, overeducated, and underintelligent snob.”

    Erik – Yeah, I can go with that description.

    My role model: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaoM0FyLmGY

    If the South isn’t responsible for Honey Boo Boo, who is?

  207. Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    DGH says Doug, you know what you’re supposed to prove (he wrote, taking a page out of his wife’s playbook).

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. All I’ve said, is that Don Frank read DVD’s book last year according to his own word. (About a year ago) You seemed to imply that he hadnt read either your book or DVD’s to start this debate. That according to Don is not the case. That is when I called you sloppy for either not reading Don carefully or just assuming it to be so and was rebuked for calling you sloppy by Sean. What that has to do with taking a page out of someone’s wife’s playbook is beyond me.

  208. Richard Smith
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Darrell Todd Maurina: I’ll take Southern “fighting fundies” any day over garbage from liberal seminary professors. Why? It’s simple.
    Fundamentalists usually will listen to the Bible. Liberals won’t. That is not a minor difference.

    RS: Well said, but I suppose with your vocation that is no surprise. If I may give a thought from the guardian saint of this site, Machen, liberalism is really a version of anti-supernaturalism. While non-education is not a good thing to support, that is the reaction of some when they would send their men off to be educated and they came back liberal. Before people blast away at those ignorant “fundies” with while looking down on them, they just might want to examine themselves and see if Machen wouldn’t consider them to be more anti-supernatural than biblical. After all, it is Christianity AND Liberalism which points to them as being two different things entirely.

    I was in a local church in the Ozarks of Arkansas a few years ago. The pastor, one of those ignorant fundies, was preaching a text of Scripture that had something about homosexuality in it. He said this, in his “hick” accent: “They call them homos now, but we used to just call them queer.” I suppose his sermon could have been better with a lot of “book learnin” and all, but he did speak the truth of Scripture on that text. At times speaking plainly and to the issue is better than beating around the bush and never getting to the issue in a very educated way.

  209. Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart posted January 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm: “DTM, My line about lying was in response to an Edwardsean, Richard, who said the very thing (or words to that effect). Do I believe that all professing Christians are truly Christians? How could I read the Bible and think that? But I’m not buying the Edwardsean scheme of spotting such nominal Christians. It cuts too wide a swath (and has even nicked me).”

    Okay, fair enough, Dr. Hart. You did use the word “Edwardsean,” not “Edwards,” and I was guessing right from the start that you had someone following Edwards in mind, rather than Edwards himself.

    I don’t want to get into the details of individual people’s theology here on OldLife unless I have the time to do it right, and that means some pretty major engagement with the commentary on this website. I’ll leave it to you and Richard to discuss and clarify whether you have correctly characterized Richard’s views, as long as we can both agree you’re not characterizing Jonathan Edwards’ views with those words.

    I am a Calvinist. That means I must respect your office as an ordained elder in a conservative and confessionally faithful Reformed denomination. You can be assured I will not level attacks on you which disrespect your office. Respect for duly constituted authority is not a secondary matter in Reformed theology.

    I need to go take some medicine and go back to other things. Be glad that my coughing on the computer keyboard can’t be transmitted to you, or you and everyone else on this website would be out of commission for a week or more. Not fun.

  210. sean
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    ‘If the South isn’t responsible for Honey Boo Boo, who is?’

    I don’t know, Texas is more western than southern, but I do know we don’t have a strange fascination or proclivity for wearing singlets or watching men in singlets wrastle other men in singlets, and this generationally. Jus’ sayin.

  211. Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    DGH: On the one hand, if you’re a librarian, is it possible to shelve the Bible in the section on plumbing because it speaks to all of life?

    That’s an interesting question. Where would you place the Bible? Dewey has it at 220, amongst world religions. Are you happy with that classification?

    DGH: But I also detect in your defense a view of the human person like that of a computer. As he contemplates an action he sorts through all the commands and finds several that apply in general terms and then has to sort through them to figure which is most germane. People don’t work this way.

    It would be better to say that I view Christians as trying to achieve goals that Scripture lays out, with means that are left to common grace. In the case under discussion, the goal is to use honest weights and measures. The plumber, the baker, the candlestick maker all achieve that goal in different ways.

    And people really do work in that way: they lay out goals, and then consider ways and means.

    On the other hand, I am opposed to two things.

    (1) Casuistry, in which people approach Scripture looking for a specific decision tree. I don’t sense that you are there, but it sometimes seems latent in your arguments: “If Scripture doesn’t give specific commands concerning plumbing, it has nothing to say about plumbing.”

    Forgive me, but if my children tried that tack, I would take it as passive aggression: “You told me to not hit my sister. You didn’t say I couldn’t swing a bat at her!”

    (2) A replacement of Scriptural commands with virtue ethics.

    And here, I am aiming directly at our conversation. You (and Erik and Zrim) have said that Scripture commands us to “be honest” — that is, to have the virtue of being honest — but does not give us commands concerning plumbing, etc.

    But the actual command in Scripture is an action verb: Use honest weights and measures. To carry out that action will require me to (potentially) change the way I plumb. I cannot “be honest while plumbing”; I must “plumb honestly.” I must take action to use honest weights.

    Your subtle replacement of action verbs with states of being or virtues troubles me. It suggests, for example, that we might “be loving” as we tell the brother in need to be warm and be fed. It also suggests that you might (possibly) be trying to avoid legalism by appealing to Aristotle. But that’s pure speculation.

  212. Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    @ Richard: Thanks for pointing out Machen’s “Christianity and Liberalism” approach. My 14-year-old adopted daughter is learning about Machen at her independent fundamental Baptist school, which is the only Christian school option in my area. Machen is still respected today for his role in the fundamentalist-modernist fight by people who do not necessarily share his Reformed theology, and I think it’s important that we follow Machen in exercising charity toward people who share our basic focus on Biblical authority and revealed (i.e., supernatural) religion, even when we disagree on important things that keep us from being in the same churches.

    @ Erik: Thank you for your well wishes on my illness. I can’t comment on Steve Deace; I know a bit about him but not enough to have an intelligent opinion.

    On the other hand, watching that four-minute video of Matt Foley talking about living in a van down by the river is time I will never get back.

    I should get mad at you for quoting only part of what I said. I didn’t call you a “an arrogant, overeducated, and underintelligent snob.” I said that “if I didn’t know you were making a bad effort to be humorous, I’d call you an arrogant, overeducated, and underintelligent snob.”

    But I’m still laughing too hard and I just can’t get mad at you.

    I am not, however, laughing about Honey Boo-Boo.

    You don’t want to get me started on the Southern beauty pageant scene, and the strange way in which some women enjoy obesity at the same time they insist their daughters stay thin to “get a good guy,” with the implication being that after they get married they can eat all they want. There are serious sin issues here with certain aspects of Southern culture.

    It’s bad enough when secular people act that way, but this being the South, I see numerous Christians in the beauty pageant scene trying to present a “nice girl” image by singing Christian hymns or praise songs in the talent competition, perhaps wearing a slightly-less-skimpy swimsuit in an effort to give themselves an “edge” with some less-lecherous judges.

    Even worse is what happens when people’s idea of the ideal candidate for youth pastorates in large evangelical Baptist churches may be a handsome young man with a “smoking hot” young wife because they will attract lots of teens. Sorry, but that’s the way to pack a nightclub, not a church. There is supposed to be a difference, isn’t there?

    I have a personal policy of refusing to cover beauty pageants — and we have a ton of them locally — or related appearances of beauty queens. Every year we have Miss Missouri come for a “get wet and get photographed with soldiers” event at Fort Leonard Wood’s tactical training swim pool. I simply will not go to such events and state that I do not believe male reporters should be covering them, while several of my (male) competitors consider covering them to be the highlight of their year.

    I’m not unaware of how many pageviews and per-copy newsstand sales such photos will generate. Sorry, but if I’m going to run exploitation photography, it will be car crashes and burning houses, not seductively posed half-dressed hometown girls. And yes, I do have a well-earned reputation for being an ambulance chaser, but skirt-chasing is something I refuse to do.

    I can defend a public purpose for showing the consequences of irresponsible or drunken driving, or of meth lab explosions in a trailer, or foolish use of fires in a home. I can see no valid reason for creating a PG-13 version of Rupert Murdoch’s Page Six girls, no matter how many papers will be sold by photos of the beauty queens.

    I probably should be glad that the pageant director of our local Miss America affiliate is a Tea Party activist and would call herself a conservative evangelical; she understands my views though she disagrees. I would have a lot more problems if she didn’t explain to our local pageant moms that even though I refuse to cover their events, several weekly competitors with lower readership are more than happy to do so. Again, with this being the South, I can get away with being pigeonholed as a right-wing fundie who insists that his wife and daughter dress modestly. (Actually, my wife and the school my daughter attends are even stricter than I would be on this.)

    Now I’ve written a lot of stuff and I really need to get off this website. I have work to do, I’m sick, and if Erik sends me any more videos like that thing about Foley living in a van down by the river, I’ll send him a doctor bill for treating my laugh-induced coughing fit.

  213. Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    I have never donned the singlet so my conscience is clear.

    Jeff,

    I just tell the plumber to be honest and trust him to figure out what that means in his world.

  214. Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    We have a member of our church who is a partner in a Big 4 accounting firm. One of our elders reads meters for the local water works. Good luck to that elder spelling out for the accountant what it means to do honest accounting on the next family visit.

  215. todd
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Got lost in daily life and forgot to respond. Not even sure what thread that was anymore. I characterized your views as hyper-Calvinist and you denied it. Do you believe in the free offer of the gospel and that God has a general, temporary love for the non-elect? If you affirm both I will take back the characterization.

  216. Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Erik wrote:

    My other beef with Christian schools is what if their is no thoroughly Reformed Christian school available? So the kid gets “Christian math”, “Christian science”, “Christian history”, and “Christian shop” (none of which even exists if you are 2K) and bad theology. All for several thousand dollars a year out of the family budget. Your kids also probably learn a “Christian good, secular bad” mindset from hanging around fundamentalists all day long. How about thorough catechesis at home and then going out and mixing it up with all of the other kids in the public school? That is what they are going to experience as a Christian for the next 60 years of their life.

    Which is why we homeschooled, even in Grand Rapids, through early high school after which we used the public high school and the state university.

  217. Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Terry,

    I have homeschooled all four of my kids at some point and have no beef with it. I have no beef with Christian school if people choose it. Just don’t view it as a fruit of the spirit or look down on me if I don’t (not you — Christians in general).

  218. Zrim
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, you got me, I don’t know the provenance of the term “Christian life.” How about repentance, sanctification, mortification of the flesh and vivification of the spirit? Still, isn’t the onus on you to sell “personal theonomy”?

  219. Richard Smith
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    todd: Richard, Got lost in daily life and forgot to respond.

    RS: So you once were lost but now you have been found. These things happen. It sounds like you became hyper-busy in with daily life.

    Todd: Not even sure what thread that was anymore. I characterized your views as hyper-Calvinist and you denied it.

    RS: I would say that Phil Johnson would view me as hyper. I simply view his views as less than Reformed and biblical.

    Todd: Do you believe in the free offer of the gospel and that God has a general, temporary love for the non-elect?

    RS: Before I can answer your questions in honesty, I would have to have you explain what YOU mean by a free offer and then the free offer of the Gospel. I would also ask you what it means to have a general, temporary love for the non-elect.

    Todd: If you affirm both I will take back the characterization.

    RS: I would simply ask for more specifics. Arminians and even Pelagians would affirm your questions in their own way.

  220. Posted January 5, 2013 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    I hope you feel better Darryl Todd Maurina, it’s a pleasure reading your wisdom on these matters. Please post as much as you’re able, your words are a breath of freash air. God bless you and keep pressing on!

  221. todd
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    Richard,

    To save time, why are Phil’s views not Reformed?

  222. Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Don,

    Please explain if you agree or disagree with the following chapters (because this is what 2k is arguing):

    CHAPTER 23
    OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE

    1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under him, over the people, for his own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers.

    2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the new testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion.

    3. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

    4. It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrates’ just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted, much less hath the pope any power and jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and, least of all, to deprive them of their dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretense whatsoever.

    CHAPTER 25
    OF THE CHURCH

    1. The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

    2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

    3. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.

    4. This catholic church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.

    5. The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a church on earth, to worship God according to his will.

    6. There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof.

    CHAPTER 31
    OF SYNODS AND COUNCILS

    1. For the better government, and further edification of the church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils: and it belongeth to the overseers and other rulers of the particular churches, by virtue of their office, and the power which Christ hath given them for edification and not for destruction, to appoint such assemblies; and to convene together in them, as often as they shall judge it expedient for the good of the church.

    2. It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in his Word.

    3. All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.

    4. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

    It seems to me that folks who object to 2k do so by trying to assert Christ’s Lordship over all things or the Bible’s claims about all of life in ways that don’t conform to these articles.

  223. Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Jed, and to add to your point, it is a great leap (of which Jeff is not necessarily guilty) to jump from biblical accounts of regeneration and illumination to theories of knowledge, as if Christians know about plumbing differently from non-Christians. This is the Kuyperian nose under the learning tent which leads to assigning the Bible in trigonometry classes.

  224. Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Jeff, I am always happy when people look at the Bible as a book about religion (specifically Christianity) and not a book about plumbing or baking.

    Where have I advocated virtue ethics?

    What would be so bad about virtue ethics for society? If non-believers can’t keep God’s law in Scripture — after all, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” is a command — why not some common system of morality?

    But does defending Christian plumbing really get you a barrier to virtue ethics?

  225. Richard Smith
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    todd: Richard, To save time, why are Phil’s views not Reformed?

    RS: I think the quickest way would be to ” have to have you explain what YOU mean by a free offer and then the free offer of the Gospel. I would also ask you what it means to have a general, temporary love for the non-elect.” Unless we are understanding to some degree what each other means on those questions, we couldn’t wade through Phil Johnson’s position.

    I would say, however, that whatever view of God’s temporary love for the non-elect is that it must be consistent with the following things:
    1. God hated Esau
    2. God shows His wrath day by day hardening hearts
    3. Psalm 5:5 The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.
    4. Joshua 11:20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
    5. 1 Samuel 2:25 “If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.”
    6. Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
    11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.
    12 “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.
    13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
    14 “In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
    15 FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’

  226. Don Frank
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Sean: As far as the Noahic Cov., maybe this is where we start to see some light between us. The big breaks in discontinuity between Noahic and Eden would be’; the fall has occurred. Full Stop…………………………..and when I reference Noahic cov. I’m referencing an understanding of a creation covenant, NOT a redemptive covenant, between God and the earth(I shall never again destroy with water-rainbow covenant)

    Me: I agree that this is where we seem to diverge. I also agree to put off the visible/invisible issue, but it is critical to an understanding of my position, and so it will probably lurk its head at points.

    To begin, I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “FULL STOP.” Do you mean that God gave up on creation at this point until the Noahic covenant, when He re-instituted a new creation covenant?

    I will stop at this point since understanding this premise seems rather critical to any further premises.

  227. todd
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    C’mon Richard. The debates between those who hold to a free offer and those who do not have been around for awhile and have been decided upon. You are fully aware of this, and it is not that difficult to express which side you are on in that debate.

  228. Don Frank
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    You say “It seems to me that folks who object to 2k do so by trying to assert Christ’s Lordship over all things or the Bible’s claims about all of life in ways that don’t conform to these articles.”

    I suspect you are looking for more than a yes or no answer to whether or not I agree to the articles you’ve cited. I kind of feel like I’m being examined for ordination as an elder. Well, the answer is a solid yes. I think, however, that you are trying to pin me down on whether I am a neo-Calvinist. If so, I’m not sure that I can be so easily pigeon-holed.

    The fact that the confession refers to the visible church as the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ does not mean that the civil realm has nothing to do with the visible church, for clearly it regulates the external behavior of believer and non-believer alike. It regulates the believer not only in the believer’s interaction with the world but also in certain visible aspects of the visible church’s worship and corporate life.

    It also does not mean that the visible church is a spiritual community, but rather a community of individuals who are led by the Spirit. What is reserved to the visible church’s sole responsibility is the role of administering the physical means of grace to those who profess the true religion.

  229. Posted January 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Good word Don!

  230. sean
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Don,

    No, what it means as that post-deluge(flood) God covenants with creation to not destroy it by flood again. The sign of this covenant with the creation is the rainbow. This is not a redemptive covenant. God is not going to redeem, let’s say, your cat, my dog through the shed blood of Christ nor was glorification or redemption ever held out as offer/opportunity to creation outside imago dei creation. Furthermore, you now have God making distinction among that same human creation(election) yet within the creation covenant(noahic) in which both elect and non elect human creation abides in this temporal life.

  231. Posted January 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Sean says No, what it means as that post-deluge (flood) God covenants with creation to not destroy it by flood again. The sign of this covenant with the creation is the rainbow. This is not a redemptive covenant.

    I not so sure about that Sean. Didn’t God instruct Noah make a clean unclean designation? That is clearly a foreshadow or type of God’s redemptive purpose in choosing what is to be clean and unclean until the consummation. I see God promising in Noah that he would preserve mankind and make a choice between his elect and the goats, as in clean unclean, and will not destroy the earth until God has accomplished his full purpose. I see all kinds of redemption in the Noaic covenant!

  232. sean
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    The question I answered as regards the noahic was not in regards to specific redemptive community direction that is certainly inlaid in Gen 9,i.e. lifeblood., but to the very designation of covenant formation described in Gen9:8 and forward which God makes with ALL Noah’s offspring(elect and unelect) and even all creation(non-imago dei) which He, God, then ‘signs’ with the bent bow or rainbow and makes with ALL creation-to not destroy with flood again. This is the noahic covenant which encompasses both the just(elect) and unjust who’s crops receive rain in season and God’s goodness is shown toward them in his providential care. This is no ‘saving’ love or goodness but a temporal or ‘common’ provision in distinction from the redemptive provision bestowed upon his children in Christ(seed of the woman). Otherwise you’d be prescribing some kind of universal salvation or by logical consequence ‘insufficiency’ in God’s redemption in Christ because in fact non-imago dei creatures are not ‘redeemed’ in Christ nor do ALL imago dei creation ultimately reconcile to God in Christ and go on to glory but instead enter perdition.

  233. Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Sean, what do you do with Genesis 7:1

    “And the LORD said to Naoh, Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righeous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals tht are not clean, the male and his mate and seven pairs.”

    Sean if that’s not redemptive, then what is? Noah’s whole family was saved from the flood becasue of the righteousness of Noah, a type of Christ, no? Notice clean and unclean animals? Doesnt that show God making a choice between his elect and the goats, within Noah’s own family? I see redemption everywhere in this story!

  234. Richard Smith
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    todd: C’mon Richard. The debates between those who hold to a free offer and those who do not have been around for awhile and have been decided upon. You are fully aware of this, and it is not that difficult to express which side you are on in that debate.

    RS: I am on the side of John Owen. The Latin word for Offer is Offero, Offero is defined as: to bring forward, place before, present, offer, expose.

    The debates have been around for a long time, but they the modern view is not exactly the same as the older one. So again, until I know what you mean by what you say how can I know what I am agreeing to?

  235. Jeff Cagle
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    @Jed: What you describe is precisely what I’ve been arguing for. The Bible doesn’t say anything different to plumbers than it does to bakers. For that reason, I have not argued (To my recollection) for any kind of Christian plumbing, But only for the scripture to norm the actions of Christians who are plumbers.

    Dictated on a non-sanctified semi smartish phone.

  236. Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Forget the smart phone. Yeck.

    Jed, if I may, this is a place where it would help to be heard more clearly.

    I’m simply arguing what I put forward in the syllogisms and no more: Namely, that Scripture norms the common grace activities of Christians to the extent that its commands apply.

    And no more.
    And no less.

    So we’re not talking about grand theories of Christian plumbing. I’ve never advanced such a theory, and I don’t have one.

    We’re simply saying that a Christian who happens to plumb will have to bring his plumbing, no less his banking, into conformity with Scripture. That’s it.

  237. Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    DGH: It is a great leap to jump from biblical accounts of regeneration and illumination to theories of knowledge, as if Christians know about plumbing differently from non-Christians.

    And there, we agree.

  238. Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Still, isn’t the onus on you to sell “personal theonomy”?

    Just ask. :)

  239. Posted January 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    DGH I do want to sincerely thank you for allowing me to voice my opposition to your brand of 2K at Old Life. I do consider you my brother in Christ even though I strongly disagree with your notion of divorcing special revelation from the magistrates consideration, I must give you props for letting me vent. I assure you that I’m not just looking for a fight just for the heck of it; I really think 2K is the wrong way. But the questions you’re asking are necessary for the greater body of Christ. I even agree with a lot of what you have to say! You have caused me to examine my beliefs to see if they are sound. I am even willing to be proved wrong, if it can be shown in Scripture. So even if you wind up being proved false in some of your major points of 2K, (as I suspect you will) you are still doing a great service for the Church. I will attempt to let the world know that you and I are brother first and that we debate 2K second, okay? God bless you and keep pressing on!

  240. Posted January 5, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Personal theonomy? Sounds cool! It sound very biblical, like Oh how I love your law, its my meditation all through the day and night. Have you written anything on PT Jeff? I’l love to hear more!

  241. sean
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    None of those examples are the covenant formation that is occuring in Gen 9 that God himself ratifies with a sign. No one is denying the redemptive covenant set forth in Gen 3 (seed of the woman) and God being faithful to that covenant, selectively through Noah, in this case, (redemptive covenant community) but as Gen 9 clearly delineates the covenant under consideration in Gen 9:8 is a ‘creation’ covenant that is set off with a covenant sign of rainbow and under this covenant is consideration not just of Noah’s family but ALL of creation, even unelect within Noah’s family for whose life, life will be required( And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
    (Genesis 9:5 ESV)) This is covenant stipulation inclusive of all mankind-life for life-the early origins of ‘state’ penal sanction(Rom 13-The state bears the sword and that not in vain) . Recollect sign and seal language with formal covenant formation. What’s in consideration here is all of Imago dei creation and non-Imago Dei creation(not destroy the EARTH again by flood).

  242. Zrim
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Well, Jeff, you just got the theo-sentimentalist endorsement. But that’s sorta easy. I know you’re just trying to bridge gaps, but I think I’ll stick with good old-fashioned repentance.

    But there you go again with “a Christian who happens to plumb will have to bring his plumbing…into conformity with Scripture.” Huh? Bringing plumbing into conformity with the principles of plumbing makes sense, as does bringing one’s life into conformity with Scripture, but plumbing into conformity with Scripture makes as much sense as one’s life into conformity with the principles of plumbing.

  243. todd
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    By free offer, I mean,

    “We believe that God “unfeignedly,” that is, sincerely or in good faith, calls all those who are living under the gospel to believe, and offers them salvation in the way of faith and repentance…The offer of salvation in the way of faith and repentance does not pretend to be a revelation of the secret counsel of God, more specifically, of His design in giving Christ as an atonement for sin. It is simply the promise of salvation of all those who accept Christ by faith. This offer, in so far as it is universal, is always conditioned by faith and conversion. Moreover it is contingent on a faith and repentance such as can only be wrought in the heart of man by the operation of the Holy Spirit. The universal offer of salvation does not consist in the declaration that Christ made atonement for every man that hears the gospel, and that God really intends to save each one… It is not the duty of the preacher to harmonise the secret counsel of God respecting the redemption of sinners with His declarative will as expressed in the universal offer of salvation. He is simply an official ambassador, whose duty it is to carry out the will of the Lord in preaching the gospel to all men indiscriminately… ” (LOUIS BERKHOF, Systematic Theology BOT p.397-398)

    “Yet we honestly subscribe the Westminster Confession. We believe in Christ’s redemption of His chosen Church; in the efficacy of His blood and the perfection of His righteousness. We believe in human impotence, in the bondage of the human will, in the enmity of the human heart to God. We believe in the sovereignty of Jehovah, and His eternal purpose. We believe in the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit’s work, alike before and after conversion. At the same time we preach a free and world wide gospel; we proclaim a free and world-wide invitation to sinners; we present to every sinner a gracious welcome to Christ, without any preliminary qualification whatsoever. We bid no man wait till he has ascertained his own election, or can produce evidence of regeneration, or sufficient repentance, or deep conviction. We tell every man, as he is, to go to the Savior this moment, assured that he will not be cast out or sent away.” (HORATIO BONAR The Old Gospel booklet, reproduced in: Evangelism: A Reformed Debate reprinted by the James Begg Society p.56)

    And by God’s love for the non-elect I mean:

    “There is, however, still a third sense, in which Jesus leads us to ascribe universality to the divine love. This is done not so much in explicit form as by the implications of His attitude toward sinful men in general. We must never forget that our Lord was the divine love incarnate, and that consequently
    what He did, no less than what He taught, is a true revelation adapted to shed light on our problem.

    If the Son of God was filled with tender compassion for every lost human soul, and grieved even over those whose confirmed unbelief precluded all further hope of salvation, it is plain that there must be
    in God something corresponding to this. In the parable of the prodigal son the father is represented as continuing to cherish a true affection for his child during the period of the latter’s estrangement. It
    would be hardly in accord with our Lord’s intention to press the point that the prodigal was destined to come to repentance, and that, therefore, the father’s attitude toward him portrays the attitude of God toward the elect only, and not toward every sinner as such. We certainly have a right to say that the love which God originally bears toward man as created in His image survives in the form of compassion under the reign of sin. This being so, when the sinner comes in contact with the gospel of grace, it is natural for God to desire that he should accept its offer and be saved. We must even
    assume that over against the sin of rejection of the gospel this love continues to assert itself, in that it evokes from the divine heart sincere sorrow over man’s unbelief. But this universal love should
    be always so conceived as to leave room for the fact that God, for sovereign reasons, has not chosen to bestow upon its objects that higher love which not merely desires, but purposes and works out the salvation of some. It may be difficult to realize from any analogy in our own consciousness how
    the former can exist without giving rise to the latter; yet we are clearly led to believe that such is the case in God. A logical impossibility certainly is not involved, and our utter ignorance regarding the motives which determine the election of grace should restrain us from forming the rash judgment that, psychologically speaking, the existence of such a love in God for the sinner and the decree of
    preterition with reference to that same sinner are mutually exclusive. For, let it be remembered,we are confronted with the undeniable fact that this universal love of God, however defined, does not induce Him to send the gospel of salvation to all who are its objects. If the withholding of the
    gospel is consistent with its truthfulness, then a fortiori the withholding of efficacious grace must be. That there are good reasons for the former is true: but undoubtedly God has also His wise and holy
    reasons for the latter. The Scriptures do not assert that election and preterition are arbitrary decrees to the mind of God. All they insist upon is that the motives underlying them are inscrutable to us,
    and have nothing whatever to do with the worthiness or unworthiness of man.
    Neither this indiscriminate goodness in the sphere of nature, however, nor the collective love which embraces the world as an organism, nor the love of compassion which God retains for every lost sinner, should be confounded with that fourth and highest form of the divine affection which the Savior everywhere appropriates to the disciples. (Geerhardus Vos – “The Scriptural doctrine of the Love of God”)

  244. Posted January 5, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Sean, according to 1 Peter 3:19 new covenant baptism is a picture of Noah and his family who were brought through water, and baptism now corresponds with Noah and his family. It’s one of the main biblical reasons baptize our babies.

    I don’t know where you get this notion (probably Meredith Kline) that the Noaic covenant wasn’t redemptive, when the bible says that is how understand baptism, how much more redemptive can it get? You want to understand new covenant baptism? Then look to Noah and his family through eyes of faith, according to Peter.

    It seems you’re missing the forest through the trees, and missed the main point of the story, and got side tracked on side issues. Yes I agree that God promised not to destroy the earth again, and will allow both seeds to flourish hence the rainbow, but if you don’t understand what Noah symbolized, then you’ve missed the sacrament of baptism.

  245. Posted January 5, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Good stuff Todd! I loved everyone of them!

  246. Don Frank
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Sean says: No, what it means as that post-deluge(flood) God covenants with creation to not destroy it by flood again. The sign of this covenant with the creation is the rainbow. This is not a redemptive covenant. God is not going to redeem, let’s say, your cat, my dog through the shed blood of Christ nor was glorification or redemption ever held out as offer/opportunity to creation outside imago dei creation. Furthermore, you now have God making distinction among that same human creation(election) yet within the creation covenant(noahic) in which both elect and non elect human creation abides in this temporal life.

    Me: Ok, so FULL STOP in your previous post means that God’s covenant with Adam has come to a full stop, and now, in the Noahic covenant He is making His covenant with creation alone? I’m not trying to be difficult, I just want to be sure I understand what has come to a full stop before I respond.

  247. sean
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Doug, I’m talking about a new covenant that God institutes in Gen 9:8. The selecting of Noah and his family, besides some other designations and distinctions we could make and somebody like Kline DOES make, including the ark as the cosmic house of God and the picture of Noah’s family, in it, as a picture of eschatological glorification of the city of God plucked from eschatological doom, is in accord with what God has already BEEN doing since Gen. 3(seed of the woman). The NOAHIC covenant which is in fact Gen 9:8 and forward, God even signs it, is what is in view here. We could do an entire breakdown of Covenant and Genesis, but that is work better had in a book not a combox and would take us very far afield. What is at play is the difference that has come about since the original creation mandate in Eden and the changes that have occured, primarily the fall, in it’s reiteration in Gen 9.

    Don,

    What I’m saying is the situation, condition and temporal realities of Eden no longer exist, primarily a cultic theocracy. The fall has occurred. Full Stop. And God according to the Pactum Salutis(covenant between the father and the son) and under the prescription of Gen 3(seed of the woman) is bringing about redemption in a fallen world cursed by sin, which God is going to uphold, for the just and unjust alike, to bring about the salvation and enfolding of His people.

  248. Don Frank
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Sean,

    Thanks for that. I think I understand. You mention in response to Doug that God plucked His city from eschatological doom in accord with His plan (I assume you mean the Protoevangelium). Are you ok with saying that the city of God consists of the seed of the woman (Noah) and his covenant family, along with the world (creatures), in order to rescue both from the corruption preceding the flood and cleanse/baptize the world and Noah through the waters by means of the ark (think 1 Peter 3)?

  249. Richard Smith
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    todd: Richard, By free offer, I mean,

    RS: Just a quick note that Berkhof does not set out one part that appears to be essential to Phil Johnson’s view. In Johnson’s view the failure to view God as having an earnest desire for all to be saved is necessary to avoid being a hyper-Calvinist. Berkhoff does not present that.

    Todd quoting Berkhoff: “We believe that God “unfeignedly,” that is, sincerely or in good faith, calls all those who are living under the gospel to believe, and offers them salvation in the way of faith and repentance…The offer of salvation in the way of faith and repentance does not pretend to be a revelation of the secret counsel of God, more specifically, of His design in giving Christ as an atonement for sin. It is simply the promise of salvation of all those who accept Christ by faith. This offer, in so far as it is universal, is always conditioned by faith and conversion. Moreover it is contingent on a faith and repentance such as can only be wrought in the heart of man by the operation of the Holy Spirit. The universal offer of salvation does not consist in the declaration that Christ made atonement for every man that hears the gospel, and that God really intends to save each one… It is not the duty of the preacher to harmonise the secret counsel of God respecting the redemption of sinners with His declarative will as expressed in the universal offer of salvation. He is simply an official ambassador, whose duty it is to carry out the will of the Lord in preaching the gospel to all men indiscriminately… ” (LOUIS BERKHOF, Systematic Theology BOT p.397-398)

    RS: On the whole I would agree with Berkhof, but not in each part. I am not convinced that Berkhof is in line with Westminster on each part either. The Gospel, according to Westminster below, includes the promise of God “to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.” In other words, Berkhof and Johnson do not include that part. The command of the Gospel is to repent and believe, but the good news of the Gospel is that God makes sinners willing and able to believe. If by “offer” you mean that we are to set Christ out and say that He is available to all who want to be saved and that they must come to Him of their own will (or even imply that), then it is not a Gospel of grace alone.

    But if what one means by “offer” is the Latin idea of setting Him forth and proclaiming Him as the way of salvation, then I would agree that Christ is to be set forth as the only way of salvation and that the sovereign God alone can work in men to save them.

    Chapter VII Of God’s Covenant with Man
    III. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second,[5] commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved,[6] and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.[7]

  250. Richard Smith
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Todd quoting Bonar: “Yet we honestly subscribe the Westminster Confession. We believe in Christ’s redemption of His chosen Church; in the efficacy of His blood and the perfection of His righteousness. We believe in human impotence, in the bondage of the human will, in the enmity of the human heart to God. We believe in the sovereignty of Jehovah, and His eternal purpose. We believe in the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit’s work, alike before and after conversion. At the same time we preach a free and world wide gospel; we proclaim a free and world-wide invitation to sinners; we present to every sinner a gracious welcome to Christ, without any preliminary qualification whatsoever. We bid no man wait till he has ascertained his own election, or can produce evidence of regeneration, or sufficient repentance, or deep conviction. We tell every man, as he is, to go to the Savior this moment, assured that he will not be cast out or sent away.” (HORATIO BONAR The Old Gospel booklet, reproduced in: Evangelism: A Reformed Debate reprinted by the James Begg Society p.56)

    RS: There is some difficulty in the language of the above quote, but in a general way I would say that all men are commanded to repent and that Christ is the only way of salvation. Some of this might depend on what Bonar meant by telling people to go to the Savior and they can be assured that Christ will not cast them out. John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” 64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

    I would also take some umbrage with Bonar’s statement that there is no preliminary qualification whatsoever. Repentance is a qualifiation, so to speak. A proud heart must become humble. Only those who see their sin will see the need of the Physician. The Spirit came to convict people of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Unless a person is born from above he cannot enter. Unless a person is turned and becomes like a child he will not enter. A person must be taught of God in the inner man before that person will come to Christ. So there are things that must happen.

    Men must be drawn to Christ rather than just going to Christ in their own strength and with their own ability.

  251. Richard Smith
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Todd: And by God’s love for the non-elect I mean:

    Todd quoting G. Vos: “There is, however, still a third sense, in which Jesus leads us to ascribe universality to the divine love. This is done not so much in explicit form as by the implications of His attitude toward sinful men in general. We must never forget that our Lord was the divine love incarnate, and that consequently what He did, no less than what He taught, is a true revelation adapted to shed light on our problem. If the Son of God was filled with tender compassion for every lost human soul, and grieved even over those whose confirmed unbelief precluded all further hope of salvation, it is plain that there must be in God something corresponding to this. In the parable of the prodigal son the father is represented as continuing to cherish a true affection for his child during the period of the latter’s estrangement.

    RS: One must be very careful in ascribing everything we seein Jesus to God Himself. Jesus was hungry and thirsty, but we don’t say that those things are true of God Himself. Jesus suffered and died, but those things are not true of God Himself. I don’t deny that in some way God has something that we call love toward the non-elect, but I simply don’t see it clearly taught in Scripture. John Owen said that we never see in Scripture the love of God used in evangelism.

    If we do say that God loves all, we have to state it in such a way that makes sense of His wrath abiding on those He loves and that He sends those He loves to hell. We have to state it in such a way that we can make sense of Romans 1:18ff where God would then be hardening the hearts of those He loves and preparing them for eternal wrath. We will also have to explain Psalm 5:5 where it tells us that God hates all who do iniquity. We will also have to explain how it is that God loves those (Esau for example) that He says He hates. If God loves all sinners, then we will have to explain how the love of God is consistent with His heaping wrath on men in hell forever and ever while He loves them.

  252. sean
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Don, the type of the ark or even the type of Christ in Noah is not what’s in view when we are talking about Gen 9 and God’s covenant to not destroy the earth again by flood. However, even in paralleling Noah and the flood with 1 Peter 3, what’s in view is the salvation not of creatures or the creation but of the redemptive community then constituted of Noah’s family who later as it turns out, much like Jacob and Esau or Cain and Abel do not all constitute the elect of God. So no, the redemption of God’s elect anticipated in Gen 3(seed of the woman) is not inclusive of non-imago dei creation.

    “because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.”

    (1 Peter 3:20 ESV)

  253. Posted January 6, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Don, how does the state regulate the church’s worship and corporate life?

    The reason I quoted the confession is because 2k is based on such confessional teaching. In contrast, your views run along and outside such articles of faith. And yet you charge me as not being confessional.

    BTW, don’t miss that the confession says the church should not meddle in civil affairs.

    So what is your ideal church/state polity? I still have no clue.

  254. Posted January 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Bringing plumbing into conformity with the principles of plumbing makes sense, as does bringing one’s life into conformity with Scripture

    Yes. So is plumbing a part of a plumber’s life, or is it not?

  255. Posted January 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Doug S: Have you written anything on PT Jeff? I’l love to hear more!

    I used the term “personal theonomy” in my ethics classes — and not in my Sunday School classes — to describe something very particular that contrasts with two views of ethics: Kantian deontology and Bahnsenian theonomy.

    For Kant, the essence of being ethical is to do what is right for the simple reason that it *is* right — no fear of punishments, no promises of reward. He calls “doing what is right because it is right” by the term autonomy.

    Notice that ‘autonomy’ has come to mean ‘independence’, but for Kant it means something very different: self-rule. Autonomy is ruling oneself without being ruled by the punishments and rewards of others.

    You can see that there is much that is that is attractive about Kant’s moral vision in comparison to our modern society, in which we rely largely on fear of getting caught (“accountability”) to keep people in line.

    However, the Christian is to do what is right not ‘because it is right’ but because God is God. We are to be ruled by God and not ourselves. Further, we are to have self-control as a result of the work of the Spirit, not as an exertion of our own wills.

    So first of all, the term “personal theonomy” emphasizes that we obey God because He is God, and that we obey God not from strenuous personal exertion but from faithful trusting in the Spirit. The term is intended to describe Rom 6 – 8.

    But second, the term is intended as a refutation of Bahnsen. For Bahnsen, civil laws of nations should reflect the law of God, toward the end of regulating the behavior of all. For this reason, he took exception to WCoF 19.4. His argument, in essence, is that the Mosaic Law reflected the righteous character of the Law, and that we cannot have the “general equity of the Law” without having its particulars also. To be ruled by God is to be ruled according to His moral truth, and the Mosaic Law is the full exposition of that truth.

    He considered his own view to be “theonomy” and any other view to be “autonomy” (meaning, independence from God’s Law).

    What Bahnsen did not understand, however, are two things:

    (1) First, the Israelites are described as “being under the Law.” The civil Law of Israel did not merely reflect God’s righteousness, but it also was an administration of the Deuteronomic curses and blessings. By placing Christian citizens under the Mosaic Law, he was returning them to the fear of punishment that was inherent in the Mosaic Law.

    And while it is true that the magistrate holds fear for those who do wrong (Rom 13), it is also true that Christians are to do right primarily because of God’s commands and not because of fear of the magistrate (Rom 13.3, 5).

    That is, theonomy is a matter of the conscience coram deo and not a matter of the Christian in fear of the consequences of punishment.

    Bahnsenian Theonomy resurrects the fear of punishment as the primary motivator. He returns Christians to “being under the Law.”

    (2) I don’t go into this with my students, but it’s part of my view: Bahnsenian theonomy makes a hash out of the magistrate’s role in civil religion.

    If we place the magistrate in charge of religious enforcement, we give the magistrate the authority to make religious declarations. This was the continued history of the Middle Ages.

    So with my students, I try to draw attention to the fact that we are not autonomous, but theonomous; and our theonomy is not civil, but personal. Each individual, not from fear of punishment or promise of reward, is to be ruled by the Spirit of God and to obey the Law of God because of who God is. That is the essence of loving God with heart, soul, mind, and strength (of which we are incapable without the work of the Spirit, received by faith).

    In Sunday School, I describe the same thing using classic Reformed terms: sanctification, obedience, means of grace.

  256. Posted January 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    All you are arguing for at this point is that Christians should apply the ethical implications of their faith to all of their activities. Who do you think disagrees with this?

  257. Don Frank
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    I agree. I just wanted to make sure we both agree concerning the events immediately preceding Gen 9. It sounds like we do, at least in principle.

    Turning to Gen 9, God now speaks to the covenant family, who are the only living human beings left in the world. God encourages them by blessing them. He then gives them the mission to restore all mankind from death, through lawful procreation and reverence for life.

    God then speaks to Noah, the covenant representative and his children as subordinates, a covenant which applies to all Noah’s posterity (who alone may by faith find comfort in it) and to the non-human creatures who share the earth in common with man, that never again shall God send a flood to cleanse the earth.

    This covenant with Noah is most properly placed in the category of covenants defined by the WCF as a covenant of grace — in that it ensures the preservation of the “seed of the woman” and the continued unfolding of the the Protoevangelium, the first announcement of the Messiah Redeemer, until the end of the ages when, again and finally, consuming fire, instead of a flood, will purify heaven and earth.

  258. Posted January 6, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s amazing to see continued controversy over something as simple as “there is no Christian plumbing.” There is no Christian cross-over dribble, no Christian cranberry harvesting, and no Christian mole removal. Plumbing is a technique; I can’t think of any Christian techniques at all, notwithstanding what missionaries told natives about how to “do it.”

  259. Zrim
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, yes, plumbing is a part of a plumber’s life. But I don’t see how that gets us to saying a plumber should bring his plumbing into conformity with Scripture without having to heavily qualify it. I know it’s not as fun as spilling a lot of ink, but simply exhorting believers unto obedience and letting the Spirit do his work is pretty effective.

    So does personal theonomy mean I take the OT law into my own hands and execute idolaters and blasphemers? I am confident you say no, but it seems to me personal theonomy invites that sort of confusion that repentance simply doesn’t (because it’s an inherently personal term, as opposed to the politically fraught term theonomy isn’t). And if, as you and I agree, theonomy is a return to the fear of punishment that was inherent in the Mosaic law—which I would add only serves to imply an undermining of Christ’s messianic fulfillment—why would you want to use personal theonomy to describe to describe repentance? Is it because it raises questions and creating confusions you get to have fun answering and straightening out? I’m all for fun, but when helping others grow in grace and knowledge of Christ it seems quite unwise.

  260. Zrim
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    M&M, I think the most sane neo-Cals can agree that there is no such thing as Christian knitting. But suggest that there is no such thing as Christian schooling and they’ll choke on their Wilhelmina Peppermints.

  261. sean
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Don, I disagree. As I stated before because of the promises attached to non-imago dei creatures and the non-elect themselves(for they too will receive justice from the state-life for life). The covenant of Genesis 9, signed by the rainbow, is not a redemptive covenant or gracious covenant in terms of making promise of glorification or redemption to the recipients or subservient party, but instead is a creation or common covenant promising temporal benefit and protection-state protection(judicial) and promise to not destroy by flood. I

  262. Don Frank
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    In many countries the church must worship underground lest the state interfere and sometimes incarcerate or kill its members. Where this is not the case, the state regulates the majority of the physical aspects of the church’s worship — the building it worships in, etc.

    As to my view on church/state polity, I’ve already told you I consent to the articles in this regard. You accuse me of being outside the confession and say that you have no clue where I stand. I think the problem is that you have taken it upon yourself to read the confession in a certain way, and assert that those who don’t read it in exactly the same way are outside of the confession.

    I have posted quite a bit on your blog, Darryl. Kindly tell me specifically where you think I stand on the outside.

  263. Richard Smith
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: M&M, I think the most sane neo-Cals can agree that there is no such thing as Christian knitting.

    RS: Actually, it is not wrong for Christians to knit.

  264. Posted January 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Hey M&M, I used to play in a Church basketball league. Is there such a thing as “Christian B Ball”?

  265. Don Frank
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    I tried to follow the bible pretty closely in what I said. I need to understand a little more specifically with what exactly you are disagreeing with.

    You seem to be defining a new type of covenant that does not fall into the 2 categories defined by the WCF. The WCF defined the creation covenant with Adam as a covenant of works. Is this a third type of covenant? Or since you call it a creation covenant, is it a covenant of works?

    It also seems like you want to disqualify this covenant as redemptive because it extends to Noah’s progeny (some who may be non-elect) and preserves non-imago dei creatures. Do you have a basis in the confession or elsewhere for doing so?

    Do you deny that the Noahic covenant establishes the temporal framework wherein God freely offers life and salvation by Jesus Christ to sinners?

  266. mikelmann
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Doug, I have seen the attempt. My son was in a Upward Something. For some reason there was a couple girls in the league. My son made a clean block on one of the girls and they made him apologize. Then there was a halftime sermonette from which the kids could only conclude that a foul is sin.
    That’s Christian basketball, or one more prescautionary tale about unifying what ought not be unified.

  267. mikelmann
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    On a related topic, my back was just killing me after a workout at the Y, so I went downstairs to see if there might be a yoga class going on. I say a class in there, but the door had been accidentally locked, so I just stretched outside the room. Then as I was walking past the room on my way out I say the sign “Yahweh Yoga.”

    Probably a kind providential hindrance, as I’m guessing there would have been some irritating CCM playing.

  268. mikelmann
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    No, I can’t explain how I typed “say” instead of “saw” twice.

  269. Posted January 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    MM,

    Hilarious story about Upwards Basketball.

    I’ve played in Christian softball & basketball leagues and found the behavior to be not much better than in city leagues. Of course there is no confessional subscription required to play on a team in the Christian league.

    I am a Christian and have been as ass on the basketball court more times than I like to admit. The whole question of competition and the Christian faith is a very interesting one that I have not solved.

  270. Posted January 6, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    I have never Tebowed on the court, though.

  271. todd
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    Richard,

    Thanks for your answers. They do confirm what I said earlier about your theology. You may not like the term, and I am not using it to offend you, but according to the Reformed churches you are a hyper-Calvinist. Your response to my questions, along with your lack of forthrightness in revealing what church you pastor/attend, and your criticism of other believers enjoying the good things of this creation, tells me all I need to know. You see, I have dealt with many Richard Smiths in my lifetime, and they are all detrimental to the health of the body, so I will say adios, The good news, you have made me look forward to debating my theonomist friend Doug Sowers again, who though our exchanges come off sharp, in his calmer moments grants the judgment of charity, which is the key to Christian fellowship.
    ,

  272. Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Sean, the WCF says Noaic covenant is part of the covenant of grace. You can disagree all you want, but I’m sticking with the WCF. I think Kline got this one wrong, as he departed from our confession.

  273. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    Jeff,

    I don’t think you are trying to argue that the Bible is a Plumbing handbook, and FWIW, I can live with a good deal of what you are talking about here. I just happen to think that there are clearer distinctions we can draw to avoid the truimphal excesses of some Christian worldview advocates.

    We’re simply saying that a Christian who happens to plumb will have to bring his plumbing, no less his banking, into conformity with Scripture. That’s it.

    This is where I would opt for more nuance – because with respect to Christian vocational conduct, I think that Scripture at a foundational is basically addressing ethical behavior, and only thereafter can this be later subsumed into the service we render “as unto the Lord” with our private worship being carried out in our daily activities as living sacrafices (Rom. 12:1). I would also say that, typically, there is both an ethical and a technical aspect (among others) to human vocations, and the ethical aspects governing vocation are largely transitive, applicable to all vocations, and yet the technical aspects are relatively intransitive and not transferrable from one vocation to the next. So, the Christian lumberjack and the concert violinist might both be bound by similar ethical norms, but they couldn’t switch places and expect their own vocational skills to help them succeed in the others place.

    Which is why I would be more comfortable simply saying the Bible is very concerned with our conduct as Christians, and presents us with an ethical code that reflects God’s own righteousness. In fact, Scripture is so concerned with our conduct that it demands that we employ it’s ethics as schoolteachers, lumberjacks, violinists, plumbers, and any other vocation a Christian might be found working in. However, Scripture doesn’t have much to say specifically about school-teaching, or lumberjacking, or plumbing, or playing the violin, which is why we need to seek God’s wisdom in how we might be obedient to him in our vocations.

  274. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    To my good old friend Jeff Cagle: How dare ye? LOL! Am I supposed to let that one slide by without a comment?

    You’re mixing up God’s penal sanctions which are ALWAYS punitive (theonomic or whatever else) with the Christian believers response to God’s moral law in general, as in

    “Oh how I love your law, it’s my meditation all through the day and night.”

    Theonomy only deals with a narrow section of law as it looks at the justice of our modern penal sanctions. Does the punishment fit the crime? Is adult time out a good form of punishment? No. Can God’s word give our nation some much needed guidance in the area crime and punishment? Of course my answer is a resounding yes!

    The rub, as I see it, is that theonomy calls certain sins, crimes, because God said they were crimes in the OT. I don’t see an ethical reason why kidnappers shouldn’t face the DP for the same crime that God said was worthy of death in Israel. I think God’s penal sanctions sent just the right message for society in general, yet I don’t want to bring back OT Israel, either! I just want to see justice in the socio political arena for all nations of the world. However, unless or until the church comes into theonomic agreement we aren’t going to see any changes towards theonomy in our immediate future. I realize that I am in the minority of Christian thought at this present hour.

  275. Posted January 7, 2013 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    Jed, how do you see yourself pleasing God in your vocation?

  276. Posted January 7, 2013 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    Jeff Cagle said: For this reason, (Bahnsen) he took exception to WCoF 19.4.

    Jeff, Greg Bahnsen did not take exception to WCoF 19.4 Come on broher! If you’re going to critique, get it right! Have you even read “Theonomy In Christian Ethics”?

  277. Posted January 7, 2013 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    (1) First, the Israelites are described as “being under the Law.” The civil Law of Israel did not merely reflect God’s righteousness, but it also was an administration of the Deuteronomic curses and blessings. By placing Christian citizens under the Mosaic Law, he was returning them to the fear of punishment that was inherent in the Mosaic Law.

    Jeff, we are under even greater curses and blessings in the new covenant! See Christ’s evaluation of the 7 churches in Asia Minor. Jesus warned these new covenant christian churches that he would curse them with a sick bed if they didn’t repent from their immorality, or even worse he would take they’re lampstand away! Where do you get this notion that the church no longer faces blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience? If you thought the Deuteronoic curses were bad, read what Jesus has to say to new covenant churches!

  278. Posted January 7, 2013 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Jeff, the reaon Paul says that Israel was under the law, (at one time) was for the forgiveness of their sins. The Mosaic provisions offered in faith made them right with God. It was good to be under the law at one time! “And your sins shall be forgiven”. What a blessing being under the gracious provisons of law!!

    But once Christ came and accomplished salvation, (the object of their faith) animal sacrifieces with the moons and festivals became obsolete. So for Jewsih Christians to force Gentile Christians under the Mosaic ecomonomy of the ceremonial law, was to deny that Christ came in the first place! It was denying the completed work of Christ!

    Moreover the ceremonial law seperated God’s people in a way (Jew and Gentile) that was no longer proper. We are one people in Christ through baptism and faith alone. While at one dispensation during the time of the law, it was good to be under the law, (ceremonial), but since Christ came in the flesh, no longer. I hope that sheds a little light brother Jeff, God bless.

  279. Posted January 7, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Todd – “so I will say adios”

    Erik – Once you stop reading & interacting with Richard you will find that you have enough free time to buy a plot of land and plant a vegetable garden to provide enough produce for a third world orphanage. I did, and they are enjoying the Brussels Sprouts & Kale as we speak. I also had time to plant a vineyard so I will be able to drink a toast in Richard’s memory once the grape harvest and fermentation is complete.

  280. Posted January 7, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry. If we all start ignoring Richard he’ll just start arguing with himself a la Gollum.

  281. sean
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Don,

    It’s possible I’ve missed it, but I can’t find any reference to the covenant in Gen. 9 anywhere in the WCF.

    The WCF does lay out these distinctions as to the nature of the covenant of Grace;

    the Lord was pleased to make a second,[5] commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved,[6] and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.[7]

    IV. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.[8]

    What seems particularly relevant to me in this discussion would be this last part;

    “in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.[8]”

    There is no reference in the covenant signed in Gen 9:8-17, to this type of covenant.

  282. Don Frank
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Darryl,

    Following up on my last response to you, I am aware that you hang a lot of weight on WCF 25.3.2 “The visible Church…..is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.” You seem to use this statement to raise the visible church as institution to the level of spiritual community. I, on the other hand, maintain that this statement should be taken to mean that the visible church is a community of spirit led individuals subject to the visible church as institution in matters related to the soul, and the state in matters related to the body.

    I believe the proof texts for WCF 25.3.2 support my claim:

    MAT 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. ISA 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

    Neo-Cals may use these proof texts as justification for the church as institution to wage cultural warfare, and your position would seem to accommodate theirs. However, I believe that the proof texts point to the church as an organism, invisibly working through the elect members of the visible church.

    If you care to respond, I would appreciate your interaction on these specific points, instead of a vague and general characterization of my position.

  283. Posted January 7, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Sean, you’re right, kind of the WCF doesnt explicitly say that it is.. What happened to this axiom? *all* of the post fall covenants are *one* covenant of grace. At least that’s what I was taught.. This includes Genesis 3:15 AND Noah later on. Therefore, the Noaic covenant must be included. FWIW my WCF study work book written by G.I. Williamsn explicitly mentions the Noaic covenant being a part of the covenant of grace.

    But as far as I can see, Sean is right in one respect, the WCF of faith doenst explicitly name the Noaic covenant is a part of the CoG however, but it certainly implies that it is.

  284. Posted January 7, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Sean, I apologize if I am not making myself clear, while it’s true the WCF doesnt name the Noaic Covenant as part of the CoG, it implies that it must be, or the WCF would have mentioned a third covenant made with mankind. So by implication we assume the Noaic covenant must be considered part of the CoG.

  285. sean
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Doug, Thanks for the response. I don’t think we want to treat the WCF as an exhaustive BT document, which is why I didn’t introduce the WCF into the discussion to begin with, but since Don brought it up, I did want to double check and bring out what I thought would be the relevant section. There is a sense in which all RH is taking place under the auspice of Gen 3:15 and maybe even more so the Pactum salutis. Still, even within those parameters, there doesn’t seem to be any coherence between the eschatological end anticipated in the COG and what God is promising in Gen 9. That doesn’t mean it’s not significant or doesn’t have a role to play more broadly speaking, obviously, and to the point, the Noahic cov. preserves the temporal world in which RH plays out, but the principle of the particular covenant itself does not fit within even the confession’s broad definition of the COG. This may be striking at more particular differences between maybe a Bahnsen who would speak about an ‘older’ and ‘newer’ covenant in an attempt to emphasize continuity and someone like Kline and I would argue the mainstream reformed understanding of an ‘old’ and ‘new’ covenant highlighting the discontinuity at least of a material working principle between the old and new(i.e. the Law is not of Faith). I don’t really want to sidetrack into that discussion, but I did want to at least briefly speak to a broader perspective.

  286. sean
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Doug, I didn’t see your second comment, but it’s answered in my response.

  287. Richard Smith
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    todd: Richard, Thanks for your answers. They do confirm what I said earlier about your theology. You may not like the term, and I am not using it to offend you, but according to the Reformed churches you are a hyper-Calvinist.

    RS: Then the WCF and John Owen are hyper-Calvinist in your view. I might add that the Bible is as well.

    Todd: Your response to my questions, along with your lack of forthrightness in revealing what church you pastor/attend,

    RS: I have been very clear that I am not presently a pastor. If you had ever had a contract out on your life, Todd, you might be a little hesitant to reveal a lot online as well. But again, you are making judgments based on things you don’t know much of.

    Todd: and your criticism of other believers enjoying the good things of this creation, tells me all I need to know.

    RS: Ah, but of course.

    Todd: You see, I have dealt with many Richard Smiths in my lifetime, and they are all detrimental to the health of the body, so I will say adios,

    RS: You have never met me and you certainly have not demonstrated that you understand what I am saying. If you think I am a hyper-Calvinist when I have said nothing in this conversation that is against the WCF or the Belgic either, then perhaps your understanding of Calvinism has been gained from modern versions that are more semi-Pelagian than calvinistic.

    Todd: The good news, you have made me look forward to debating my theonomist friend Doug Sowers again, who though our exchanges come off sharp, in his calmer moments grants the judgment of charity, which is the key to Christian fellowship.

    RS: Ah, yes, judgment of charity. You just might catch a little irony there if you think about it.

  288. Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Don, regulating a building and the magistrate calling a synod (original Westminster Confession) is entirely different. But again, I think you play word games.

    Please give me a historical example of the kind of church-state institution you think is most biblical.

    I don’t view you as outside the confession because I have no idea where you stand other than in the position of 2k kvetcher.

  289. Don Frank
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Sean,

    I don’t think you missed it. Regarding the covenant of grace, the WCF does not specifically cite any of the promises made to Noah, Abraham, Moses, or David as the covenant of grace. In 7.1, it generally defines the covenant as necessary to bridge the distance between God and man that man may have fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward.

    In the case of Noah, we must remember that he is a man of faith, and therefore trusts God for salvation. I maintain that God’s promise to Noah has reference to to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator in that God is promising to preserve the “seed of the woman” and the temporal world as the altar upon which the seed will be offered as an atoning sacrifice to God.

    In an effort to keep our debate focused on specifics,

    Are you saying that God’s promise to Noah does not fit into the WCF 7.1 definition of covenant?

    Are you denying that God’s promise to Noah has any reference to God’s plan of redemption in Christ?

    If yes to either of the above, are you therefore defining a new type of covenant not covered by the WCF?

    If so, this would constitute a radical deviation from the WCF. Can you point me to historically accepted reformed scholarship for this departure?

  290. Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Don, what is the difference between a “spiritual community” (my view, you think) and “community of spirit led individuals” (your view)? I see no difference but only semantics. And yet, you think you have arrived at some kind of insight about the visible church. What is wrong with a “spiritual community”?

  291. sean
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Don,

    I’ve answered the questions you’ve asked in response to Doug. No departures here.

  292. todd
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Don,

    Maybe this will help. The covenant of common grace in Genesis 9 is an administration of the covenant of grace, it ultimately serves the interest of special grace, but is not to be identified with the covenant of grace itself. Try this from Bavinck:

    “God made a formal covenant with all his creatures This covenant with Noah (Gen. 8:21-22; 9:1-17), though it is rooted in Gods grace and is most intimately bound up with the actual covenant of grace because it sustains and prepares for it, is not identical with it. It is rather a “covenant of long-suffering” made by God with ad humans and even with all creatures. It limits the curse on the earth; it checks nature and curbs its destructive power; the awesome violence of water is reined in; a regular alternation of seasons is introduced The whole of the irrational world of nature is subjected to ordinances that are anchored in God’s covenant. And the rainbow is set in the clouds as a sign and pledge (Gen. 8:21-22; 9:9-17).

    A humanity now appears that, by comparison with the preceding one, is much gentler in nature, diminished in power, and of a much shorter life span. The blessing of multiplication is again expressly stated (Gen. 9:1); the fear and the dread of humans is laid on every animal (v. 2); green plants and meat are given to humans for food (v. 3). Human life is safeguarded by the requirement of the death penalty for murder and by implication, in principle, by the institution of government (w. 5-6). And later when humanity in building the tower of Babel conceives a plan to continue to live together in one location and to start a world empire, God frustrates the plan, disperses it in peoples and languages, and in that way, too, counters the development and explosion of wickedness! The grace of God, accordingly, manifests itself much more forcefully after the flood than before. To it is due the existence and life of the human race; the expansion and development of peoples; states and societies, which gradually came into existence; religion and morality, which were not completely lost even among the most degenerate peoples; and the arts and sciences, which achieved a high level of development. Everything that after the fall is still good even in sinful humans in all areas of life, the whole structure of civil justice, is the fruit of Gods common grace.”
    (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics)

  293. David R.
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    For those who doubt the Reformed credentials of the notion that the Noachic Covenant is a temporal common grace covenant, check out Berkhof:

    “2. THE COVENANT WITH NOAH. The covenant with Noah is evidently of a very general nature: God promises that He will not again destroy all flesh by the waters of a flood, and that the regular succession of seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night will continue. The forces of nature are bridled, the powers of evil are put under greater restraint, and man is protected against the violence of both man and beast. It is a covenant conferring only natural blessings, and is therefore often called the covenant of nature or of common grace. There is no objection to this terminology, provided it does not convey the impression that this covenant is dissociated altogether from the covenant of grace. Though the two differ, they are also most intimately connected.

    “a. Points of difference. The following points of difference should he noted: (1) While the covenant of grace pertains primarily, though not exclusively, to spiritual blessings, the covenant of nature assures man only of earthly and temporal blessings. (2) While the covenant of grace in the broadest sense of the word includes only believers and their seed, and is fully realized only in the lives of the elect, the covenant with Noah was not only universal in its inception, but was destined to remain all-inclusive. Up to the days of the covenant transaction with Abraham there was no seal of the covenant of grace, but the covenant with Noah was confirmed by the token of the rainbow, a seal quite different from those that were later on connected with the covenant of grace.

    “b. Points of connection. Notwithstanding the differences just mentioned, there is a most intimate connection between the two covenants. (1) The covenant of nature also originated in the grace of God. In this covenant, just as in the covenant of grace, God bestows on man not only unmerited favors, but blessings that were forfeited by sin. By nature man has no claim whatsoever on the natural blessings promised in this covenant. (2) This covenant also rests on the covenant of grace. It was established more particularly with Noah and his seed, because there were clear evidences of the realization of the covenant of grace in this family, Gen. 6:9; 7:1; 9:9, 26, 27. (3) It is also a necessary appendage (Witsius: ‘aanhangsel’) of the covenant of grace. The revelation of the covenant of grace in Gen. 3:16-19 already pointed to earthly and temporal blessings. These were absolutely necessary for the realization of the covenant of grace. In the covenant with Noah the general character of these blessings is clearly brought out, and their continuance is confirmed.”

  294. David R.
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Doug,

    Jeff, we are under even greater curses and blessings in the new covenant! See Christ’s evaluation of the 7 churches in Asia Minor. Jesus warned these new covenant christian churches that he would curse them with a sick bed if they didn’t repent from their immorality, or even worse he would take they’re [sic] lampstand away! Where do you get this notion that the church no longer faces blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience? If you thought the Deuteronoic [sic] curses were bad, read what Jesus has to say to new covenant churches!

    Just wondering how you square that with WCF 19:6?

    “VI. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.”

  295. David R.
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Oops, Todd beat me by a minute….

  296. Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    But my question is, what does Bavinck think about the covenant with Noah?

  297. Posted January 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I see no conflict David R, take a listen to G.I. Williamson who wrote the WCF work book for study classes for Presbyterian Suday school.

    That section of the teach us (1) that trrue believers are not “under law” as a covennt of salvation, (2) but thta they are “under” it as (a) a rule of practice, (b) a means of knowing their sin and consequent need of Christ, and(c) a revelation of Christ’s perfection, (3) thta it is also operative upon the unregenerate (a) to restrain, (b) to warn, and (c) to reveal God to them, (4) thta “a man’s doing good and refraining from evil because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law, and not under grace, and (5) that htese uses of law are in no way contrary to gospel grace, but raher essential to it.

    Notice why we are no longer “under the law” means under it for salvation, as in the ceremonial law that gave provisions that would forgive sin.

  298. Posted January 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I would bet the house that Bavnick would see the Noaic covenant as an extension of Genesis 3:15 and part of the covenant of grace!

  299. Posted January 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    @David R.

    FWIW my Westminster confession of faith work book was printed in 1961 written by G.I. Williamson clearly understands the term, “being under the law” as meaning under the ceremonial provisons for salvation. Obviously since Christ accomplished salvation fulfillng the ceremonial law for the elect, the people of God are no longer “under the law” that way anymore. But we are still under the law for our rule of life!

  300. David R.
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    I see no conflict David R, take a listen to G.I. Williamson who wrote the WCF work book for study classes for Presbyterian Suday school.

    I don’t have Williamson handy. But you say, “we are under even greater curses and blessings in the new covenant!” But WCF 19.6 says that “the regenerate” are “freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law.”

    Maybe it would help if you explain who “we” are. Not the regenerate?

  301. David R.
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    FWIW my Westminster confession of faith work book was printed in 1961 written by G.I. Williamson clearly understands the term, “being under the law” as meaning under the ceremonial provisons for salvation. Obviously since Christ accomplished salvation fulfillng the ceremonial law for the elect, the people of God are no longer “under the law” that way anymore. But we are still under the law for our rule of life!

    Interesting. Just to make sure I understand, you’re saying that being “under the law” means being under the ceremonial law (as opposed to the moral and judicial), and that since Christ fulfilled the ceremonial law, we’re no longer under it anymore, but we’re still under the moral and judicial? Is that what you mean to say?

  302. Don Frank
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    I did not say that they are not entirely different. But both have regard only to the external conduct and regulation of believers in the temporal kingdom.

    Regarding synods, I agree with the Puritans that the final authority in all matters of church government should reside with the church as protector of Scripture, God’s method of communicating his requirements and demands to humanity. I agree with the Puritans that Scripture is not only a rule of conduct for the individual, but is also the ultimate yardstick against which all societies, institutions, and governments are to be measured. But the church has no power over the state apart from serving as guardian over Scripture.

    I do not go as far as you do with regard to the power of the church as institution over the individual believer. As an institution, the church is a polity, like the state, with the responsibility of regulating only the external conduct and affairs of believers.

    The visible church is the “spiritual kingdom” only in its hidden identity before God, taking visible form in the preaching of the word and administration of the sacraments.

    I believe your difficulty in understanding me is that you are conflating the separation of the spiritual and the temporal kingdoms with the separation of temporal power between the church and state. I insist on the necessity of distinguishing between them if our words are to have any meaning.

  303. Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    David, during the time of the law, sin was never dealt with at its root. The curse of the law was death. It was a gracious blessing to have your sins forgiven, BUT the sacrifices had to be repeated daily! Because sin demanded death! The blood had to flow for over 1500 years. So even though the ceremonial law provided forgiveness of sin when appropriated by faith, and also allowed access to God, it never really dealt with sin at its root because animals could never pay the price for God’s people.

    So when Christ Jesus died once for all, he did something the law couldn’t do, he broke the curse of the law which is death. He took on death, in his own person, purchasing a people for his own good pleasure at the cross. Now if *we* (meaning regenerate) refuse to walk by faith, Christ promises to spank us as any good parent would. Spank, meaning bringing temporal curses for disobedience, and blessings obedience. Just read Jesus evaluation of the 7 churches, he promises both blessings and curses for obedience and disobedience. This doesn’t change our justification, which was purchased once for all at Calvary.

  304. Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    David says Interesting. Just to make sure I understand, you’re saying that being “under the law” means being under the ceremonial law (as opposed to the moral and judicial), and that since Christ fulfilled the ceremonial law, we’re no longer under it anymore, but we’re still under the moral and judicial? Is that what you mean to say?

    Yes, that is what I mean. We are under the moral law as a rule for life, according to C.I. Williamson’s reading of the WCF. The judicial, has obviously changed since Israel no longer exists. And I say that as a theonomist lol! But there are still many judical laws like thou shall not kill that both you and I obey; at least I pray we do. In fact we are to obey all of our nations laws unless they contradict God’s commands.

  305. Zrim
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Doug, theonomy as you present it is still fuzzy on what it means to say: “To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.” Isn’t it more than “Israel no longer exists”? Obviously it no longer exists, so why make a confessional point about it? There has to be more meaning to this reality.

    But also, don’t you make any distinction between disciplining and punishing, as in God disciplines his people now but is done punishing?

  306. Don Frank
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, David R. and Todd for the helpful quotes from Bavinck and Berkhof.

    Sean,

    Can we both agree that the Noahic covenant establishes the temporal framework wherein God freely offers life and salvation by Jesus Christ to sinners, beginning with God’s covenant with Abraham? This seems to be in line with the quotes by Bavinck and Berkhof.

  307. Don Frank
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    There may be no difference if you agree that no human authority, either church or state, may interpose itself as the mediator of Christ’s mysterious and invisible reign.

  308. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Zrim asks obviously it no longer exists, so why make a confessional point about it? There has to be more meaning to this reality.

    This is important Steve! Because of the antibaptist! They believed that we should re-create another Israel, and since the WCF is a polemical document, they put 19.4 in the WCF to rebut the burning heretical issue of the day, the anti-Baptist! This is why Calvin is miss-quoted so often too *apparently* rebut theonomy, when in fact, Calvin was attacking the antibaptists.

  309. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Gentleman, we must come to grips with the FACT that the word *law* is used in different senses. Check out this John Calvin quote:
    “Then let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”
    John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, sermon 87 on Deuteronomy 13:5

  310. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Is antibaptist to Anabaptist what antipasto is to spaghetti?

  311. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Don, I don’t understand you because you are not identifying with any particular thinker or tradition. You cobble together a variety of views but also use terms in ways that are new. If you want to come up with your own political theology, fine. But it would help if you were more long winded about it so that you actually went from soup (introduction), to meal (chapters), to nuts (to bibliography).

    Since you seem to agree with the Puritans so much (which is odd since your view of the visible church sounds a lot like Hooker who opposed the Puritans — and you seem to like Brad Littlejohn), do you prefer British political arrangements before the Commonwealth Era, Cromwell’s England, or Restoration England?

  312. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Don, if a church has the power of excommunication, and if the visible church is the kingdom of Christ, I do not know what kind of church power you envision that does not come between in some way a person and God. Do you really think that each person determines on his own whether he is a member of the true church?

  313. Don Frank
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    I meant to say no human authority, either church or state, may interpose itself as the mediator of Christ’s mysterious and invisible reign over the kingdom of conscience. So, the ecclesiastical or institutional church is not the spiritual community.

  314. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    From Wikipedia:

    Thomas Hooker strongly advocated extended suffrage to include Puritan worshippers, a view which would lead him and his followers to colonize Connecticut.[5] He also promoted the concept of a government that must answer to the people, stating: “[T]hey who have the power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power, also, to set the bounds and limitations of the power and place unto which they call them” through “the privilege of election, which belongs to the people according to the blessed will and law of God”.[5] Thomas Hooker argued for greater religious tolerance towards all Christian denominations.[16]

    Hooker defended the calling of synods by magistrates, and attended a convention of ministers in Boston whose purpose was to defend Congregationalism.[5] He later published A Survey of the Summed of Church-Discipline in defense of Congregationalism, and applied its principles to politics and government.[8]

    Thomas Hooker was a strong leader of the contrition doctrine. He believed that much of God’s favor needed to be re-earned by men.[17] To Hooker, sin was the most crafty of enemies, defeating grace on most occasions. He disagreed with many of the predecessor theologies of Free Grace theology, preferring a more muted view on the subject. He focused on preparation for heaven and following the moralist character.[17]

  315. sean
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Don,

    I would actually tie it back to Gen 3:15 but I get what you’re trying to say and would agree that the abrahamic covenant is both an Admin of the COG and in material principle-eschatological end, a COG. So long as it’s understood that the Noahic is not in material principle-eschatological end a COG.

    Thanks to David R and Todd for the quotes. I need to start keeping stuff like that on my ‘puter.

  316. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    “the kingdom of conscience”?

    Why do I feel like Don’s next post it going to be about peyote?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1MwhrBtBhI

  317. Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    In America people are always welcome to have their own personal theology. The question is, why in the world would I care about what they are? At best history has shown that people who develop their own theology get some Hollywood types to follow them, at worst their followers end up ODing on Kool-Aid.

  318. Posted January 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    John Calvin

    “Then let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”

    John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, sermon 87 on Deuteronomy 13:5

  319. Zrim
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Doug, I understand WCF 19.4 important. My point was that you seem to downplay its importance by simply saying the point is that Israel doesn’t exist anymore. And you may want to attribute 19.4 to pushing back against the ANAbaptists for wanting to create another Israel, but I don’t see how theonomy escapes that charge either since it’s the mirror error of ANAbaptism—theonomy wants to judiciously embody the OT codes, ANAbaptism the NT ethics.

    As far as Calvin goes, I’ll take Kuyper over him on this score. And so do the WCF and Belgic revisions. Here he is on theocracy:

    We oppose this Confession [old Belgic 36] out of complete conviction, prepared to bear the consequences of our convictions, even when we will be denounced and mocked on that account as unReformed.

    We would rather be considered not Reformed and insist that men ought not to kill heretics, than that we are left with the Reformed name as the prize for assisting in the shedding of the blood of heretics.

    It is our conviction: 1) that the examples which are found in the Old Testament are of no force for us because the infallible indication of what was or was not heretical which was present at that time is now lacking.

    2) That the Lord and the Apostles never called upon the help of the magistrate to kill with the sword the one who deviated from the truth. Even in connection with such horrible heretics as defiled the congregation in Corinth, Paul mentions nothing of this idea. And it cannot be concluded from any particular word in the New Testament, that in the days when particular revelation should cease, that the rooting out of heretics with the sword is the obligation of magistrates.

    3) That our fathers have not developed this monstrous proposition out of principle, but have taken it over from Romish practice.

    4) That the acceptance and carrying out of this principle almost always has returned upon the heads of non-heretics and not the truth but heresy has been honored by the magistrate.

    5) That this proposition opposes the Spirit and the Christian faith.

    6) That this proposition supposed that the magistrate is in a position to judge the difference between truth and heresy, an office of grace which, as appears from the history of eighteen centuries, is not granted by the Holy Spirit, but is withheld.

    We do not at all hide the fact that we disagree with Calvin, our Confessions, and our Reformed theologians.

    And here is he is theonomy:

    Does it follow, therefore, that the sooner we stop our observation of life the better, so that we can seek the rules of state polity outside life in Holy Scripture? This is how some mistakenly think that we reason…However, the opposite is true. Calvinism has never supported this untenable position but has always opposed it with might and main. A state polity that dismisses and scorns the observation of life and simply wishes to duplicate the situation of Israel, taking Holy Scripture as a complete code of Christian law for the state, would, according to the spiritual fathers of Calvinism, be the epitome of absurdity. Accordingly, in their opposition to Anabaptism as well as the Quakers, they expressed unreservedly their repugnance for this extremely dangerous and impractical theory.

    If we considered the political life of the nations as something unholy, unclean and wrong in itself, it would lie outside of human nature. Then the state would have to be seen as a purely external means of compulsion, and every attempt to discover even a trace of God’s ordinances in our own nature would be absurd. Only special revelation would then be capable of imparting to us the standards for that external means of discipline. Wherever, thus, this special revelation is absent, as in the heathen worlds, nothing but sin and distortion would prevail, which would therefore not even be worth the trouble of our observation…However, if we open the works of Calvin, Bullinger, Beza and Marnix van St. Aldegonde, it becomes obvious that Calvinism consciously chooses sides against this viewpoint. The experience of the states of antiquity, the practical wisdom of their laws, and the deep insight of their statesmen and philosophers is held in esteem by these men, and these are cited in support of their own affirmations and consciously related to the ordinances of God. The earnest intent of the political life of many nations can be explained in terms of the principles of justice and morality that spoke in their consciences. They cannot be explained simply as blindness brought on by the Evil One; on the contrary, in the excellence of their political efforts we encounter a divine ray of light…

    …with proper rights we contradict the argument that Holy Scripture should be seen as the source from which a knowledge of the best civil laws flow. The supporters of this potion talk as though after the Fall nature, human life, and history have ceased being a revelation of God and As though, with the closing of this book, another book, called Holy Scriptures, as opened for us. Calvinism has never defended this untenable position and will never acknowledge it as its own…We have refuted the notion that we entertain the foolish effort to patch together civil laws from Bible texts, and we have declared unconditionally that psychology, ethnology, history and statistics are also for us given which, by the light of God’s Word, must determine the standards for the state polity.

  320. Posted January 7, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Don, I am having trouble following you. So the institutional church is what — a voluntary society? So you disagree with the confession about the church as the kingdom of Christ?

  321. Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Erik: All you are arguing for at this point is that Christians should apply the ethical implications of their faith to all of their activities. Who do you think disagrees with this?

    Search me. Every time I say it, and it explain it, I get tomes against “Christian plumbing” and large banners telling me that it makes no sense for a plumber to bring his plumbing into conformity with Scripture.

    Go figure.

  322. Don Frank
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    Yes, but it is a society under law to Christ. We are morally obligated to identify ourselves with the Church.

    How do you interpret what I’ve said as disagreement with the confession?

  323. Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: So does personal theonomy mean I take the OT law into my own hands and execute idolaters and blasphemers? … why would you want to use personal theonomy to describe to describe repentance? Is it because it raises questions and creating confusions you get to have fun answering and straightening out? I’m all for fun, but when helping others grow in grace and knowledge of Christ it seems quite unwise.

    That’s awfully cynical.

    No, I use the term because it conveniently encapsulates two “not this, but that’s” – as good theology and philosophy (in their respective spheres) should do.

    * Not autonomy (self-rule), but theonomy (God-rule)
    * Not political theonomy (righteousness imposed by the magistrate), but personal theonomy (life lived coram deo).

    I think the term captures what van Til was after with his autonomy/theonomy distinction.

    Back at you: Erik has figured out in pretty short time that All you are arguing for at this point is that Christians should apply the ethical implications of their faith to all of their activities.

    Why have you disputed this for ever so long? Because it raises questions &c?

  324. Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Doug S: Jeff, Greg Bahnsen did not take exception to WCoF 19.4

    You may be correct. I was working off of memory when I wrote it, and I have a very clear visual memory of someone taking exception to 19.4 in a footnote. It may have been Bahnsen, but it may have been Rushdooney or another theonomist.

    I’ll try to hunt it down and get back to you.

    And yes, I’ve read some of Bahnsen’s writings on theonomy — several years ago.

  325. Richard Smith
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    A Poster: Thomas Hooker was a strong leader of the contrition doctrine. He believed that much of God’s favor needed to be re-earned by men.

    RS: Hooker did not believe that God’s favor needed to be earned or re-earned. Grace cannot be earned at any point or in any way.

    AP: To Hooker, sin was the most crafty of enemies, defeating grace on most occasions. He disagreed with many of the predecessor theologies of Free Grace theology, preferring a more muted view on the subject. He focused on preparation for heaven and following the moralist character.

    RS: His views of preparation had nothing to do with following the moralist character. His view of the preparation of the soul was that God had to prepare the soul by grace for grace. That did involve the sinner and some activity of the sinner, but it was not moralism as moralism. He was also a strong Calvinist who believed in the doctrines of free grace. Perhaps Dr. Hart was speaking of Richard Hooker.

  326. Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, it was Rushdoony not Bahnsen. Greg Bahnsen remained a Pastor in good standing with the OPC up to his death in 95. And he did not take an exception!

  327. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Doug, you may well be correct. It’s really annoying, though — I can see the quote on the edge of my mind’s eye…

  328. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    David R. check out this section of my WCF work book

    WCF class work book section on ceremonial law

    X1X 6,7.

    These sections of the Confession teach us (1) that true believers are not “under law” as a covenant of salvation, (2) but that they are “under” it as (a) a rule of practice, (b) a means of knowing their sin and consequent need of Christ, and (c) a revelation of Christ’s perfection, (3) that it is also operative upon the unregenerate (a) to restrain, (b) to warn, and (c) to reveal God to them, (4) that “a man’s doing good and refraining from evil because the encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law, and not under grace, and (5) that these uses of law are in no way contrary to gospel grace, but rather essential to it.

    G.I. Williamson

  329. Zrim
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Jeff, I have not disputed language that Christians should apply the ethical implications of their faith to all of their activities (I affirm it).What I have disputed is language that a plumber to bring his plumbing into conformity with Scripture. It is the distinction between people and tasks, e.g. I know what Christians doing education is but I don’t know what Christian education is. The latter gives rise to the idea that there really is such a thing as redemptive curriculum (or art, or economics, or medicine, or legislation). Fine if the latter is short hand for the former, but I really don’t think that’s what’s going on when people talk about “Christian education” (or whatever). What they really mean is that the Bible reveals principles and even imperatives for how to deliver the 3Rs.

  330. David R.
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Doug,

    That section from Williamson is on the moral law, not the ceremonial law. But none of that addresses the issue of whether or not there are curse sanctions in the new covenant. My point was that whille you insist that there are, the Confession says there aren’t.

  331. Don Frank
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Sean,

    I think I agree, but I’m not sure what you mean by material principle-eschatological end, and why the Noahic is not one, but the Abrahamic is one. And what about the succeeding covenants?

  332. sean
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Don,

    In simplest terms the covenant in Gen 9 is not conveying redemptive promises. The nature of the covenant is one of ‘common’ grace or providential care. It’s tie in to the COG, besides being made possible, because of God’s redemptive purpose in creation and history, is to provide a temporal world in which God’s redemptive plan Gen 3:15 is to take place. The abrahamic is directly identified in nature or essence with the promises set forth in Gen 3:15. There isn’t enough room or time to delineate all the other covenants in succession. I would recommend to you Kingdom Prologue to get a more detailed view.

  333. Posted January 8, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Jeff, I have not disputed language that Christians should apply the ethical implications of their faith to all of their activities (I affirm it).What I have disputed is language that a plumber to bring his plumbing into conformity with Scripture.

    I cannot see the distinction you are drawing, even with the surrounding explanation.

    Clearly, you want to refute this: What they really mean is that the Bible reveals principles and even imperatives for how to deliver the 3Rs.

    And I join you in that. Looking for the Bible to say things that it *doesn’t* say is no better than “the Bible Code” writ large.

    But “bringing into conformity” in normal usage does not mean “looking for things that aren’t there.” It means rather “obeying what is there.” If there is a speed limit, then driving in conformity to the speed limit means driving according to the speed limit, and nothing more. The cop does not have license to pull me over for some hidden rules that he feels are insinuated by the speed limit.

    If we agree that the plumber ought to obey what is there, then I can’t see why you object to telling the plumber to conform to what is there. And I can’t see why you can’t see my concern at your objection! See? :)

  334. Zrim
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, that’s just it. I don’t object to telling the believing plumber to conform to the biblical imperatives. I object to telling his plumbing to do so. God speaks to people, not tasks. See, people versus tasks? You may think it a negligible quibble, but to not make this distinction is what aids and abets making the Bible say things it just doesn’t say (an agreed objection). Like I’ve said before, it’s the sort of distinction that needs to be made between living the gospel and living in light of the gospel. Many howl at this, but I believe there really is at once a fine line and wide distinction in all of this that’s worth pushing on.

  335. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    Would you agree that it can be troublesome when those outside of a vocation think they know enough to determine what is ethical and unethical within that vocation? Could you foresee the problems with setting up a “worldview shop” and issuing pronouncements from afar about what it means for others to conduct their affairs ethically?

  336. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I find so few who claim to be “living the gospel” to be excited about dying on a cross to reconcile themselves to the Father. Living the gospel indeed.

  337. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Don, I truly do not know what you are arguing for. I asked you for a historical instance where church and state were measured out in proper proportions. You haven’t answered.

    Your words about societies, citizens, spiritual, temporal, souls, bodies are not adding up to a coherent picture.

    But it does seem to me that you do not regard the visible church as the kingdom of Christ with real power (as in the keys of the kingdom, as in admitting persons to membership and disciplining wayward professors).

  338. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: I don’t object to telling the believing plumber to conform to the biblical imperatives. I object to telling his plumbing to do so. God speaks to people, not tasks. See, people versus tasks? You may think it a negligible quibble…

    It’s an ungrammatical quibble, behind which may or may not lie some nonsense.

    Actions conform to imperative verbs. We cannot say that people conform to imperatives, except as a shorthand for saying that their actions conform to those imperatives.

    The plumber himself cannot conform to honest weights and measures; he must rather use honest weights and measures. The command is a verb.

    Here’s the nonsense that your disctinction can give cover to … not that you intend this, but I’ve things like this in pastoral settings.

    Bob is a businessman. His business practice includes, as it turns out, accepting a kind of bribe. When challenged, he says, “Hey, it’s just business. I’m an honest guy, but this is the way business is done. It’s not illegal.”

    What he’s done is to drive a wedge between the ethics of Scripture and the ethics of business. There are now two sets of ethical norms for his behavior, and Scripture “doesn’t apply” while doing business. There are two sets of rules: Scripture tells me right from wrong here; the civil law, or my ethical intuition, tells me right from wrong there.

    Your construction makes the world safe for Bob.

  339. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Erik: Would you agree that it can be troublesome when those outside of a vocation think they know enough to determine what is ethical and unethical within that vocation? Could you foresee the problems with setting up a “worldview shop” and issuing pronouncements from afar about what it means for others to conduct their affairs ethically?

    Hm. Here, I think you want to distinguish between good and necessary inference v. pious opinions.

    Whether my session is outside or inside, if the Scripture requires a position, then there it is. If not, then they need to steer clear.

    Think about family life. Are you disturbed at the thought of a session speaking to a member about his treatment of his children?

  340. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    David, forget the Confession for a second; what carries more weight with you, the Bible or our Confession? Number one, I haven’t seen one place where our Confessions teach that God will no longer curse his people for disobedience, how could they? Let me give you three examples of Jesus himself saying he will come in judgment for faithless works.

    “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, UNLESS YOU REPENT.”

    “Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you ACCORDING TO YOUR WORKS.

    “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

    Now David R. Notice two things, ONE Jesus is warning five out of seven churches that there WORKS were not complete, (Hello Sean!) and that Jesus himself would come in judgment on these local churches, and even KILL some of them, if they didn’t repent.

    What do you make of these warnings and temporal curses for disobedience and blessings for obedience? Isn’t this based on our works, or lack thereof?

  341. sean
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Actually Jeff, that is the way the world works. “A kind of bribe” that’s terribly vague. I take a potential client to dinner, I pay for it, a kind of bribe. We send out negligible holiday trinkets, a kind of bribe. People make all sorts of ’emotional’ decisions in business that have nothing to do with the merit of the product. An entire category of retail merchandising, impulse sales, is built on just such a response which has nothing to do with the relative value or quality of the merchandise. There is often a whole set of ‘unspoken’, ‘unregulated’, certainly not illegal, behaviors and practices that determine one’s relative success or failure in an industry. Opting out of the whole structure of ‘proximate’ justice is a theoretical opportunity I suppose but not a ‘real’ one. You patronize business’ that engage in crony capitalism in order to ensure market share and prevalence, you should, theoretically, opt out.

  342. Richard Smith
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    David Sowers: What do you make of these warnings and temporal curses for disobedience and blessings for obedience? Isn’t this based on our works, or lack thereof?

    RS: An interesting discussion, and I am not trying to enter into the fray. However, if I may insert one thought, the Lord’s Supper is a New Covenant meal and there are strong ramifications for not taking it in a worthy manner. Apparently some believers were sick and others died as a result of taking it in an unworthy manner.

  343. Zrim
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, if my nonsense includes that the believing business man should conform to the biblical imperatives, I don’t see how it leads to Bob. But I can easily see how your nonsense that Bob’s business should conform to the Bible leads to Bob thinking his business is redemptive leads to the nonsense about Christian enterprise and building the kingdom through righteous dealings. The other problem for you is that there a lot more neo-Cal Bob’s trying to transform business than there are cheating Bob’s deceiving themselves—even fewer 2kers encouraging duplicity in believers.

  344. Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    @Jeff Cagle:

    Great post Jeff! Your words just rang a bell, so to speak. I was working as a corporate recruiter a few years back, (99) and actually had a co-worker/boss who was an OPC man, (in good standing) tell me that I needed to “make up a story” regarding one of my candidates to help sell him to the prospective sales manager. I said, “But that’s not true”! And he said, “Doug this is business, don’t you have any guile”? “Make up a good story”! And I said, but I’m a Christian and so are you, how can you lie before God? And he said, “Doug that’s how business is done, what’s a little fib matter to God? Plus you’ll really be doing everyone a favor (if I lied) because your candidate is a good guy and this will be great opportunity for both him and the company!”

    Full disclosure: I wasn’t attending church at that time, because I struggling with my walk with God, but even in my weakened state I knew he was wrong. But he made a lot of money! And he claimed that that was proof that God didn’t care about trivial lies, when it comes to “business.” See, he said? Would God bless me with all this money if lying was wrong?

    Yet come every Sunday, this same fellow was on good behavior at his local church (no cussing or swearing). Because he was an officer! But come Monday through Saturday lying and cussing and swearing was just the way of the world. He wore his (embellished stories) like a badge of honor, once he got the deal. He lied and encouraged (almost demanded) everybody else to lie as well.

    He would heartily agree with DGH that there is no such thing as a “Christian recruiter”.

  345. Don Frank
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    I go with Calvin as to the true meaning of the keys and their power. The power is not given to mortal men to bind, but rather to men to preach so that “being loosed on earth by the voice and testimony of men, we may be actually loosed in heaven.”

    If you read Calvin on spiritual, temporal, souls, and bodies, you see my thought lining up with his. I would especially commend his commentary on rom 7:21-22.

    On societies and citizens, I rely on a broad set of material to include Augustine (City of God and Confessions) and recent books by James Smith (Desiring the Kingdom and Introducing Radical Orthodoxy), William Cavanaugh (Migrations of the Holy), Hans Boersma (Heavenly Participation)John Milbank (The Suspended Middle), and Colin Gunton (Act and Being).

    And of course, Ken Myers has opened my mind through his audiobooks published by Mars Hill Audio to think more holistically. Mars Hill audio is committed to assisting Christians who desire to move from thoughtless consumption of contemporary culture to a vantage point of thoughtful engagement.They believe that fulfilling the commands to love God and neighbor requires that we pay careful attention to the neighborhood: that is, every sphere of human life where God is either glorified or despised, where neighbors are either edified or undermined. Therefore, living as disciples of Christ pertains not just to prayer, evangelism, and Bible study, but also our enjoyment of literature and music, our use of tools and machines, our eating and drinking, our views on government and economics, and so on. Here is a link to an article in the Weekly Standard about him: http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/pop-goes-culture_693754.html

  346. Posted January 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Jeff – “Think about family life. Are you disturbed at the thought of a session speaking to a member about his treatment of his children?”

    Erik – Not if (1) they have the expertise, and (2) they are speaking on an issue about which Scripture clearly speaks.

  347. Posted January 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    If you are choosing to label anything “(blank) theonomy” you need a lesson in branding. This is like setting up a company and using the name “Enron”. Unneeded baggage.

  348. Posted January 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    I would say what your boss was doing was out-of-bounds and I do not think many here would disagree. I have worked for a Christian for close to 16 years now and he is shrewd and wealthy but I have never known him to be dishonest. He and I keep each other in line in that way and it’s been a great relationship. Lying doesn’t work in business long term because it catches up with you when you lie to people.

  349. Zrim
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Erik, or a country called the American Soviet Union.

  350. Posted January 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    Bob is a businessman. His business practice includes, as it turns out, accepting a kind of bribe. When challenged, he says, “Hey, it’s just business. I’m an honest guy, but this is the way business is done. It’s not illegal.”

    I understand your concern, but it still seems to be building a paper tiger that mitigates a 2k position. No 2ker that I know of has gone on record to conscientiously advocate shady ethics because there is no such thing as Christian plumbing (or fill in your vocational blank). Like Zrim says, scripture exerts authority over all of the Christian actions – and I even understand where your grammatical distinction comes in from. But, a similar (an possibly unfair) concern can be laid on your doorstep –

    “I am a Christian and the way I approach plumbing as a Christian is superior to the way the rest of the world plumbs.”

    When the fact of the matter, is even beyond the reality that Scripture speaks to all of the Christian’s life, Natural Law, and conscience also serve to norm secular activity. So much so that the conscientious pagan who engages skillfully and ethically in plumbing, that there may be no appreciable difference in the observable output (from a human POV) in the quality from a Christian who employs skill and ethical excellence.

  351. Posted January 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    He would heartily agree with DGH that there is no such thing as a “Christian recruiter”

    Only as a justification for his bad behavior. Conversely how many Christians have we all met, or even been at one point or another, that argue it’s okay to sin because God is gracious, and we aren’t justified on the basis of works? It’s not as if their abuses of grace undo the validity of the doctrines of grace. Nor, would those of us who hold to a 2k position argue that abuses of 2k theology somehow diminish its validity.

  352. Posted January 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Sean, I want you to know, that I enjoy hearing you descrbe the various aspects of justification, based on the completed work of Christ. It blesses my heart to try to comprehend Christ’s unspeakable gift! But I have something against you; why won’t you EVER deal with the many other Bible verses that exhort us to press on with all diligence and strive for the higher calling found in Christ Jesus? You act afraid of sanctification, yet it’s taught so clearly in Scripture.

    God didn’t save us for personal justification alone; he saved us so we could be pleasing in his sight a sweet savor to his smell RIGHT NOW. That we could be living sacrifices of praise to his glory. That we could do works, like Abraham. Was God well pleased with Abrahams sacrifice? Of course he was! But was Abraham saved on the ground of his works? God forbid! However Abrahams sacrifice was evidence of his justification at a heart level. So let’s embrace both justification and sanctification! You can’t fly a plane with one wing. (That’s for you Erik)

    We need to press on and seek His face everyday because of the frailty of our flesh! We look at great men in the Bible who fell for a season and we tremble. If it could happen to them, then we should be wary as well and walk circumspectly. God judges the heart, we don’t. So many of what we *think* are similar works done by various people, look quite different to God.

    Regardless, we should encourage each other to walk holy as he is holy. I agree that Richard might go a wee bit too far, (okay, way too far) questioning our devotion to God if we drink or have fun, and I still don’t buy his looking inward, but there’s always a balance, amen? But I would hope, we can still exhort each other to remember the reason God created us, *for* good works that he predestined us to walk in. While I exhort you, I will rest at the same time.

    Peace in Him,

  353. Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    Thanks for the one wing reference.

    Perhaps the problem some have with your view of sanctification is it is too “active” for some tastes. The way I think about it, if I focus on Christ and just live my daily life, Christ will work in me gradually in my sanctification. I don’t worry so much about getting fired up about it, pressing on, etc. I just wake up in the morning and live.

    At Christian college I got into the daily quiet time thing and it became a legalistic burden. Some things can’t be acquired by grasping for them. You just need to chill out and let it happen.

  354. Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    That being said I do try to maintain some good “habits” or disciplines”. Attending worship is one. Trying to pray alone each day is another. Trying to do some catechism and Bible reading with my wife & kids is another. If I have some glaring, obvious sin I try to confess it and deal with it, including changing routines, habits, or locations if necessary. But none of it is done in a military manner. Just relax.

  355. Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Erik:

    If you are choosing to label anything “(blank) theonomy” you need a lesson in branding. This is like setting up a company and using the name “Enron”. Unneeded baggage.

    Good point. On the other hand, if my goal is to innoculate teenagers without prior baggage against civil theonomy, then I reckon I’ve succeeded. Not this, but that.

  356. Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Just watched “Fireproof” with my son. I love it when Kirk Cameron takes his computer & monitor outside and beats the crap out of them with a baseball bat. I’m a sucker for the Kendrick’s movies.

  357. Posted January 8, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Jed: No 2ker that I know of has gone on record to conscientiously advocate shady ethics because there is no such thing as Christian plumbing (or fill in your vocational blank).

    The key word would not be “advocate”, but “condone.”

    What do you make of Sean’s comments?

    But I agree that abuses do not disprove the basic view. They may, however, qualify it. And in this case, since you all (or mostly) have agreed that the plumber must obey God’s Law in his plumbing, I’m asking you to drop your resistance to saying that “the plumber must bring his plumbing into conformity with Scripture.”

  358. Posted January 8, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Hey Erik, I was a sucker for Fireproof as well, even though it was arminian I still got emotional.

  359. Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Boy, that sentence didn’t scan. Let’s try again.

    JRC: On the other hand, if my goal is to innoculate teenagers without prior baggage against civil theonomy, then I reckon I’ve succeeded.

    JRC meant: On the other hand, teenagers don’t have prior baggage. And if my goal is to innoculate teenagers against civil theonomy, then I reckon I’ve succeeded.

    Erik, what do you do with van Til’s talk of theonomy? I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about civil theonomy. Do you throw him out because of the ‘T’ word?

  360. Zrim
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Jeff, re inoculation, how do you figure? Your project seems to be oriented toward the personal reality. Theos also believe man is a creature contingent on God and not an autonomous being. Isn’t the inoculation against civil theonomy 2k?

  361. Zrim
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Jeff, plus you’ve been using the word “theonomy” positively. How does this help with inoculation against “theonomy”? Switching out adjectives seems like weak medicine.

  362. David R.
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Doug,

    Now if *we* (meaning regenerate) refuse to walk by faith, Christ promises to spank us as any good parent would. Spank, meaning bringing temporal curses for disobedience, and blessings obedience. Just read Jesus evaluation of the 7 churches, he promises both blessings and curses for obedience and disobedience. This doesn’t change our justification, which was purchased once for all at Calvary.

    You are confusing curse sanctions with fatherly displeasure. Christ bore the curse on our (i.e. believers’) behalf, and therefore there is no more curse for us, whether temporal or eternal. We do of course face fatherly displeasure, which disciplines us for our good.

    David, forget the Confession for a second; what carries more weight with you, the Bible or our Confession?

    When someone pits the Bible against Confession like that, it tells me that they are probably not fully within the historic Reformed camp in terms of self-identity. If they were, they would be happy to view the Confession as our (i.e., the Reformed) account of what we believe the Bible to teach (while still recognizing the Bible as our only infallible rule).

    Number one, I haven’t seen one place where our Confessions teach that God will no longer curse his people for disobedience, how could they?

    Again:

    WCF 19.6: “It [the moral law] is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law.”

    WLC Q&A 97: “Q. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?
    A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.”

    Now David R. Notice two things, ONE Jesus is warning five out of seven churches that there WORKS were not complete, (Hello Sean!) and that Jesus himself would come in judgment on these local churches, and even KILL some of them, if they didn’t repent.

    What do you make of these warnings and temporal curses for disobedience and blessings for obedience? Isn’t this based on our works, or lack thereof?

    Yes, there are warnings and threats in the New Testament. The visible church is a mixed bag. Professing Christians who apostatize from the faith will face judgment. Churches that compromise the gospel are no longer qualified to be light bearers. False teachers and their followers will be cursed. But none of this mitigates against the crucial distinction between (1) being outside of Christ, and therefore under the law, and therefore under its curse, and (2) being in Christ, and therefore under grace, and therefore forever freed from the curse of the law. You don’t really disagree with this, do you?

  363. Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Jeff – I like Van Til’s apologetics, but anyone who Theonomists & Neocalvinists are trumpeting didn’t have it all together. I think his thinking was probably colored by his Dutch ghetto upbringing (similar to Dr. K). You need to know that when you use the T-word here you are joining hands with Doug.

  364. Don Frank
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Sean,

    I’m ok with your satement that “The nature of the covenant is one of ‘common’ grace or providential care. It’s tie in to the COG, besides being made possible, because of God’s redemptive purpose in creation and history, is to provide a temporal world in which God’s redemptive plan Gen 3:15 is to take place.”

    I would want to change “provide a temporal world” to “cleanse and sustain the temporal world.” The temporal world already existed, but it had become thoroughly defiled by men. God is now acting on His promise in Gen 3:15. To that end, the Noahic covenant is a promise that men would never again be destroyed by flood, and instruction to institute lawful marriage for the procreation of mankind and justice for the preservation of human life.

  365. Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    David R says When someone pits the Bible against Confession like that, it tells me that they are probably not fully within the historic Reformed camp in terms of self-identity.

    But David, I am not pitting the Bible agaisnt the Confesson! However, if we don’t understand our doctrine and how it’s taught in Scripture first, then the Confession becomes a bunch of empty meaningless words. Even our Confession says we go to Scrpture to end all disputes. So what’s the problem? Let’s look to God’s word to make our case. like good confessionalists should. The Bible is the final court of appeal, not the confession. Once we have the order right, we can use the confession to help support our understanding of the Bible. But the Bible carries more weight and authority than our confession, according to our confession!

  366. Posted January 9, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Erik: but anyone who Theonomists & Neocalvinists are trumpeting didn’t have it all together. no-one has it all together.

    Fixed it for ya.

    We (hopefully) do not do theology by celebrity or anti-celebrity, by factions and labels, but by critically examining arguments against Scripture, yes?

  367. Posted January 9, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Jeff says: We (hopefully) do not do theology by celebrity or anti-celebrity, by factions and labels, but by critically examining arguments against Scripture, yes?

    Hallelujah! That needed to be said! That’s what I’ve been advocating, when it comes to discussing theology. We look to Scripture first as the final court of appeal! We use our Confession to help guide us in understanding Scripture. But when we argue doctrine, we better use Scripture if we want to argue with any force.

  368. Posted January 9, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Jeff – We (hopefully) do not do theology by celebrity or anti-celebrity, by factions and labels, but by critically examining arguments against Scripture, yes?

    Erik – Not even D.G.? Must you leave me with no heroes?

  369. Zrim
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Jeff and Doug, fine. How does any of this comport with the Bible (“Foundations of Christian Education,” Presbyterian & Reformed, 1990):

    “Non-Christians believe that the personality of the child can develop best if it is not placed face to face with God. Christian believe that the child’s personality cannot develop at all unless it is placed face to face with God. Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum. In this vacuum the child is expected to grow. The result is that the child dies. Christian education alone really nurtures personality because it alone gives the child air and food.”

    “Non-Christians believe that authority hurts the growth of the child. Christians believe that without authority a child cannot live at all.”

    “No educational content that cannot be set into a definitely Christian-theistic pattern and be conducive to the development of covenant personality has any right to appear in our schools.”

    “What sense is there in spending money for teaching arithmetic in a Christian school rather than in a so-called neutral school unless you are basically convinced that no space-time fact can be talked about taught unless seen in its relationship to God? When speaking thus of the absolute antithesis that underlies the education policies of our schools, it is not too much to say that if any subject could be taught elsewhere than in a Christian school, there would be no reason for having Christian schools.”

    “The only reason why we are justified in having Christian schools is that we are convinced that outside of a Christian-theistic atmosphere there can be no more than an empty process of one abstraction teaching abstractness to other abstractions.”

    “No teaching of any sort is possible except in Christian schools.”

    “The ground for the necessity of Christian schools lies in this very thing, that no fact can be known unless it be known in its relationship to God. And once this point is clearly seen, the doubt as to the value of teaching arithmetic in Christian schools falls out of the picture. Of course arithmetic must be taught in a Christian school. It cannot be taught anywhere else.”

    “…if you cannot teach arithmetic to the glory of God, you cannot do it any other way because it cannot be done any other way by anybody.”

    “On the basis of our opponents the position of the teacher is utterly hopeless. He knows that he knows nothing and that in spite of this fact he must teach. He knows that without authority he cannot teach and that there are no authorities to which he can appeal. He has to place the child before an infinite series of possibilities and pretend to be able to say something about the most advisable attitude to take with respect to the possibilities, and at the same time he has to admit that he knows nothing at all about those possibilities. And the result for the child is that he is not furnished with an atmosphere in which he can live and grow.”

    “In contrast with this the Christian teacher knows himself, knows the subject, and knows the child. He has the full assurance of the absolute fruitfulness of his work. He labors in the dawn of everlasting results.”

    I hear more neo-Calvinism here than Bible.

  370. Don Frank
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Z says: Jeff and Doug, fine. How does any of this comport with the Bible (“Foundations of Christian Education,” Presbyterian & Reformed, 1990):

    Me: Easy – God made everything out of nothing. So, if anything exists, it not only reveals God, but it also persists because of Him. I may not go so far at say that this can only be taught in a Christian school, but it most definitely needs to be understood as the pre-supposition and context for learning.

  371. Zrim
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Don, and so how to explain Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah going to the University of Babylon and the Holy Spirit saying that as a result “God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom”?

  372. Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Great quotes. Amazing how people insist on taking the simple gospel message and attempting to transform it into some grand, overarching system that cannot possibly deliver the goods it promises. Last I checked Christian & homeschool graduates are putting their pants on one leg at a time and going to work alongside public school graduates. A little humility here, people.

  373. Don Frank
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Z,

    As I said, I do not go so far as to say that math can only be taught in a Christian school, but the church as a community must teach its children the presuppositional context for all subjects and learning. So, of course math as principle can be learned as well if not better in a non-Christian context, but God did not create the world, and natural law by which the world operates, to exist independently of Him.

  374. Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    He must have learned woodcarving in Christian school shop class:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETC82KEplac

  375. sean
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Well, It’s been an interesting couple of days gone by, all the neonomians have declared themselves. That saves a lot of ferreting out the truth. Rome is open for business, and they do faith and works much more cleanly and with the comfort of sacerdotalism. Last rites, confession, penance and all the assorted “wash, rinse, repeat” rituals certainly beats the heck out of trying to pull off saving faith as faithful obedience in a prayer closet or by really meaning it this time.

    Don,

    I thinks it’s o.k. as far as it goes. I have a feeling your ‘cleanse and sustain’ becomes a shibboleth by which you head in a transformational direction I wouldn’t subscribe to the Noahic cov. but maybe that’s just my cynicism coming to the forefront. I’m not sure where the lawful marriage bit comes from exactly and certainly God was already mandating justice, such as in the conflict between Cain and Abel (Gen 4:15-17). But, I guess we’ve got a tenuous agreement for what it’s worth.

  376. Don Frank
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    Cudos for your timely injection of humor.

  377. Posted January 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Don.

  378. Zrim
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Don, what you said was “…it [that God created ex nihilo] most definitely needs to be understood as the pre-supposition and context for learning.” But The Bible seems to imply that it doesn’t. Speaking of pre-supps, I presume the UofB didn’t have this presup in its curriculum. So how could Dan et al have ascertained learning and skill in all literature and wisdom?

    Though I do agree that the church as a community must teach its children the presuppositional context for all subjects and learning. It’s called Reformed catechism, and it can coincide any worldly curriculum, a la Dan et al.

  379. Don Frank
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    By now, both you and Darryl should have learned that I am not a “transformationalist.” Like Darryl, I am interested in the purification of the church, not the world. If we ignore the corrupting cultural influence of the world, as in Noah’s time (and ours), we, the church, will be too easily distracted and corrupted by it. Then, our lampstand will be removed.

    As far as marriage and justice, the presupposition is that when God says to do something, it means do it in accordance with His moral/natural law. Because we are so dense due to sin, He often spells it out for us more clearly, as he does here wrt murder and throughout the Pentateuch.

    We are just laying groundwork here for fruitful future dialogue.

  380. Don Frank
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Z,

    We may be talking past each other here. I already agreed that math as principle can be learned by anyone, anywhere. You agree with me that the church must teach its children the presuppositional context.

    You go further than I do however if you assert that this truth can only be taught by the Reformed catechism.

  381. Posted January 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Sean let me remind you of the wise words spoken by Jeff Cagle,

    We (hopefully) do not do theology by celebrity or anti-celebrity, by factions and labels, but by critically examining arguments against Scripture, yes?

    Sean, you would bless my heart, if you would deal with Scripture, and quit your incessant labeling of people. You seem unable to answer any question thrown your way by showing us in the Bible why you believe what you believe.

    Instead you speak Latin and start talking theologeeze with nary a Scripture for proof. So let me challenge you! Why not start using the language of Scripture? Because you seem like a great guy, but your opinions are utterly irrelevant, as are mine. The only authority any of us has is when our opinion is founded on the Rock of God’s Word. As much as I love Calvin, its Scripture not him, that is our standard rule of life.

    Let’s listen to our Confession, and go to Scripture as the final court of appeal, for any doctrinal dispute.

  382. Zrim
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Don, I would contend that while there are plenty of contexts in which one can learn that the triune God is the Creator, when it comes to teaching the whole counsel of God the Reformed tradition is the most superior on earth.

    But if you agree that the 3Rs can be learned by anyone anywhere then why are you tying learning to the presup that God created ex nihilo? What’s the Pythagorean theorem to do with the doctrine of creation?

  383. sean
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    Everything in a combox is shorthand as far as I’m concerned. If I can’t trade on accepted/presumed doctrine, then we’ve got problems that can’t be resolved in a combox. I could do it in person in about an eighth of the time it takes to parse every word or syllogism that gets leveled in a combox, Look how long it took Don and I to resolve what we mean in the Noahic cov. and it still is a bit tenuous. I think it’s much more telling that Sola Fide has to be hashed out at all among protestants who claim the reformation heritage. I have just a little more time on the weekends than I do during the week, which means I got about 2-5 minutes a shot. So, if I can’t shorthand it I’m sunk in this medium, and I try not to shorthand with my opinions but already recognized categories and doctrine. Plus, I’m just some slob who’s read a bit too much and happen to know more about how Rome works than 10 prot-catholics put together. So what scripture do you want to ‘dialogue’ about?

  384. Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I for one appreciate what Sean says and believe it to be biblical. His perspective as one who has come from Rome is very valuable. Throwing out Bible verses out of context actually does more harm than good most of the time. I can’t tell you how many times here I have looked up a passage that someone has quoted here in the context of the verses that come before and after and realized the whole passage refuted the person’s point (ahem, Richard). This is why we need Confessions. The Bible is a big book subject to manipulation by those who pick & choose to suit their agendas.

  385. Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Breaking News – Patrick Edouard, Covenant Reformed Church of Pella, and The United Reformed Churches in North America have been sued:

    Former URCNA Minister and convicted sex-offender Patrick Edouard is back in the news. He has been sued in Marion County, Iowa by Valerie Bandstra through her attorney, the prominent Des Moines trial lawyer Roxanne Conlin. The defendants are listed as Patrick Edouard, Covenant Reformed Church of Pella, the Board of Elders of Covenant Reformed Church, the United Reformed Churches in North America, Clarence Hettinga, Arnold Vandonselaar, Norman Van Mersbergen, and William Hartman. The last four are (or were) presumably elders on the Covenant Reformed Church Consistory (board of elders).

    Gunderson, Sharp, & Walke, L.L.P. appear to be the defense attorneys.

    The Trial Court Case ID is 05631 LACV094670 and the case was filed 12/7/12.

    The petition and the confidential information forms that were filed by Conlin can not be pulled up on the Iowa Courts site.

  386. Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Sean!

    Let’s take this one Scripture one at a time:

    “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good plesure.”

    Sean, I never hear you talk lke this! When I exhort us to press on, I get chractorized as smuggling works into salvation, BUT here we have Paul telling us to WORK out our OWN salvation. What do you make of this verse? And why havent I heard you talk about your salvaton with fear and trembling?

  387. Richard Smith
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    A Poster: I can’t tell you how many times here I have looked up a passage that someone has quoted here in the context of the verses that come before and after and realized the whole passage refuted the person’s point (ahem, Richard).

    RS: But then again, since the one trying to determine the meaning (A Poster) was so far off in understanding what Richard meant, it may be that when A Poster made a mistake as to what Richard meant that A Poster was far off in understanding the passage was well as trying to fit it in with his misunderstanding of what Richard meant.

  388. Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Being a Federation and not a Denomination the URCNA has no church buildings, large headquarters building, or even a Calvin College to attach a judgment to so good luck with that. I don’t think they have the right to demand money from the churches to pay a judgment (as it is they have to “ask”, not “demand” money from churches). This is not Rome we are talking about.

    The fact that elders are getting sued personally is a scary proposition. Elders, are you monitoring your minsiters and asking nosy questions? Is your pastor meeting with women alone? Wake up if he is.

  389. Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I’m not hating on Sean, (he’s got a lot of good info) and I’m not big on dumping twenty Scriptures on someone, as if that settles the issue. But we should be able to talk about Scripture in context, no?

  390. Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I expanded that a bit:

    Being a Federation and not a Denomination the URCNA has no church buildings, large headquarters building, or even a Calvin College to attach a judgment to so good luck with that. I don’t think they have the right to demand money from the churches to pay a judgment (as it is they have to “ask”, not “demand” money from churches). This is not Rome we are talking about.

    The structure of the URCNA does not seem to lend itself to the suit being upheld against them. Authority rests in the Consistory (group of local church elders), not in the Federation. The Federation had nothing to do with ordaining Edouard or overseeing him. He was presumably ordained by the Central Classis (group of churches) at the request of his Consistory, but the ongoing Classis oversight over him after that would have been minimal (all of these churches are in different cities and the ministers/elders only get together twice a year formally). There may have been (should have been) church visitors (pastors/elders) from other churches visiting Covenant Reformed at various intervals and some questions should have been asked, but if local elders didn’t figure out what was going on, it is highly unlikely these visitors would have figured it out.

    The fact that elders are getting sued personally is a scary proposition. Elders, are you monitoring your minsters and asking nosy questions? Is your pastor meeting with women alone? Wake up if he is. A rogue minister is hard to detect and control (much like a company insider in a position of high authority), but elders need to do their best to not just assume everything is being done decently and in good order. Elders and pastors need to be able to ask hard questions of each other and to be mutually accountable.

  391. Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Doug – But we should be able to talk about Scripture in context, no?

    Erik – Yes, we do it every day. It is false to set Confessions against Scripture, however, as (most of us) believe the Reformed Confessions to be faithful summaries of Scripture. Otherwise we wouldn’t use them.

  392. sean
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Erik, thanks.

    Doug,

    You probably never hear me talk that way, because there always seems to be a greater need to push back against encroachments on Sola Fide or monergistic salvation. Our God is a ‘terrible’ God, and none of us in our own piety or language should be either careless or ungrateful with who He is and what has been gained for us in Christ. If I could steal the sentiment; ‘He’s good, but He’s not safe’. I happen to be pleased that He is not a God to be trifled with, HOWEVER apart from Christ I want nothing to do with Him. So, without looking at the surrounding context, I would say that is largely what Peter is driving at.

  393. sean
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    And true to my point earlier about not having time, it was Paul not Peter.

  394. Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, good quote on education. And that’s a good test – anyone who can’t see that quote is poppycock has a whole lot of neo-Cal unlearning to do.

    “Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum,” but there is no vacuum in all creation. There are still people living in God’s world under his natural law and with consciences, both of which can be resisted but not erased. Teachers can be substantially responsive to those, and are never totally unresponsive.

    “He knows that he knows nothing and that in spite of this fact he must teach. He knows that without authority he cannot teach and that there are no authorities to which he can appeal.” It’s quite a leap to go from an alleged necessity of presuppositions to knowing what is in the mind of the unbeliever. This is sheer arrogance and presumption that would not be affirmed by any teacher.

    To put some legs on this, my adopted son has some real challenges in both learning and behavior. And, though there are elements to his public schooling that make me roll my eyes, his teacher has some true insight into how to deal with him and regularly goes beyond what can reasonably be expected from a teacher with her number of students. We have her email address and her personal phone – she has communicated with us on weekends to help us all to be on the same page. I wonder if the author of that essay has ever given thought to how those thoughts are not only inaccurate but insulting to many a teacher.

  395. Don Frank
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Z,

    And a baptist would say the same thing.

    You agreed that the church as a community must teach its children the presuppositional context for all subjects and learning. How would you answer your own question?

  396. Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Erik, good advice. Elders must respect and honor their pastors but they are all mutually accountable. Pastors should not counsel women alone, period.

    Roxanne Conlin is no slouch – she got $75 million in attorney fees alone for suing Microsoft. It was filed almost a month ago but I don’t see where anyone has been served yet. I’ll get the petition and see what’s going on. One would expect the church and the denomination to file motions to summarily dismiss charges against them at some point.

  397. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Sean, how do you understand this verse?

    Revelations 2:4 The Lord Jesus speaking to the church at Ephesus

    But I have this against you that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and DO THE WORKS YOU DID AT FIRST. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

    Sean, how do you understand Jesus demanding works done in love, or else? And how do you incorporate your understanding of Sola Fide with Jesus demanding good works or possibly removing they’re lampstand?

  398. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    @Sean: Here is the one I really want your input on:

    Revelations 3:3

    I know your works. You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, FOR I HAVE NOT FOUND YOUR WORKS COMPLETE IN THE SIGHT OF MY GOD. Remember, then what you received and heard. Keep it and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

    How do you understand this passage Sean?

  399. sean
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    I’ll do a little reading tonight/tomorrow on it. But, at first glance, you know how as reformed we ding the Lutherans for sometimes talking about the law in an acovenantal way? “This is a law word and this is a gospel word”? and while I generally appreciate the conclusions they come to, I don’t always agree with how they got there hermenuetically or even exegetically? Well, this is how I think maybe you view the word “works”. I think you might be viewing that term flatly in these contexts and reading them infused with a meaning they may not have upon closer examination. I honestly would read this verse Rev. 3:3 and the first thing I think is not works done as evidentiary or even necessary as if to fill up what was lacking in my faith, but rather, that ‘work’ of knowing the love of God(what is the work we are to do? believe in Him whom He has sent) for me in His son, and ‘living’ in that truth such that my piety was once again filled with gratitude and hope. This was largely the conclusion of someone like Owen when he would argue for weaponry to be used in Mortification of Sin; “get a sense of the Love of God for you in Christ Jesus”, this sentiment or inclination ties in well for me when I regard Luther’s spontaneity of faith or when I think of Walter Marshall(Marrow men) laying out the means by which a christian would keep the law.

  400. Zrim
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Don, a Baptist would say what, that the Reformed tradition is what the Bible teaches? Then he should be Reformed and not Baptist. My question was rhetorical and so implying that one doesn’t have nearly as much to do with the other as neo-Cals think.

    But back at you: how would you respond to CVT’s bizarre conclusions which fly in the face of not only the Bible but also common sense (but lapped up by neo-Cals)?

  401. Zrim
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    M&M, my particular favorite is: “Non-Christians believe that authority hurts the growth of the child. Christians believe that without authority a child cannot live at all.” Two words: Amy Chua (Tiger Mom).

  402. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    That was CVT? Ouch.

  403. Don Frank
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Z,

    I think the key to understanding how one could arrive at such “bizrre” conclusions is contained in this quote which you posted:

    The only reason why we are justified in having Christian schools is that we are convinced that outside of a Christian-theistic atmosphere there can be no more than an empty process of one abstraction teaching abstractness to other abstractions.

    The motivation I think is good, but the method is madness. What the writer of this statement fails to grasp (btw, I don’t think this is true only of neo-Cals), is the truth of Calvin’s words in his commentary on 1 Cor.10:31-35:

    If the fullness of the earth is the Lord’s, there is nothing in the world that is not sacred and pure. Now, what things the Lord has in his hands, he preserves by his power, and consequently sanctifies them. The sons of God, therefore, have the pure use of everything, because they receive them no otherwise than from the hand of God.

    He addresses the objection that the earth is cursed on account of sin with the following:

    He [Paul] has an eye to its [the earth’s] pure and perfect nature, because Paul is speaking of believers, to whom all things are sanctified through Christ.

    If this is true, and understood by the believer, there is no such thing as an abstraction. So the Pythagorean theory reveals the sacredness and purity (what in medieval times was called mystery) of the world because God holds the fullness of the earth in His hands.

    Consequently, it makes no difference whether the pythagorean theory is taught by a non-believer or a believer who understands and can communicate the truth of the theory to the student.

  404. Zrim
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Don, thanks. So now it sounds like you agree that none of CVT’s statements comport with the Bible. Your initial response seemed to suggest otherwise, i.e., that learning can’t really take place without also understanding that God made heaven and earth.

    So I think Erik’s previous remark that CVT’s “…thinking was probably colored by his Dutch ghetto upbringing” is closer to the mark. When it comes to education, what CVT and those who affirm these sorts of statements really end up doing in a glorified way is prop up a Christian environment (which is really a form of Christian culture). It is said that CVT was enormously frustrated with the state of Christian schools by the end of his life, that he didn’t see his theory really being put into practice. I wonder if that’s because there really is no such thing as Christian education as he imagined it, and the fact that real people couldn’t cobble it together to his satisfaction only proved it.

  405. Don Frank
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Z,

    I think it depends on what you mean by “comport with the bible.” I agree that his methods do not comport, but his motivation that God be glorified certainly do. And, not to be a word quibbler, but the word “learning” needs to be properly understood.

    What I said in my initial response assumed the meaning of “learning” to be in line with Calvin’s thought, versus “learning” the skills, which I called “principle.”

  406. Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    John T and Doug S: We look to Scripture first as the final court of appeal! We use our Confession to help guide us in understanding Scripture. But when we argue doctrine, we better use Scripture if we want to argue with any force.

    I would agree with this. However, I want to tighten it up. For John T wants to use the notion of sola scriptura to throw out any use for the Confessions, so we need some clarity on the matter.

    Scripture (in the original languages, and the original text, no less) is the final court of appeal. That is the objective yardstick against which our doctrines are measured.

    The Confession acts as a secondary yardstick: it is calibrated against the Scripture, and we may take it as a non-final authority on sound doctrine.

    If we want to dissent from the Scripture, this is disallowed.

    If we want to dissent from the Confession, this is potentially allowed, BUT we must be upfront and clear-headed about our dissent. I say “potentially allowed” because an exception to the Confession flags to the rest of us the possibility of an exception to Scripture itself.

    When we take exception to the Confession, we have the obligation to (a) defend our exception rigorously from Scripture, and (b) be in subjection to our brethren as much as conscience will allow — included demitting an office if our brethren deem the exception to be out of bounds.

    John T, while I share your desire that we might argue directly from Scripture, I allow sense your desire to be unshackled from any creed. This suggests that you discount the collected wisdom of the church on the meaning of Scripture, but without requiring of yourself the high bar of rigorous proof from Scripture.

    No creed + non-rigorous proof ==> doctrinal errors in the wings.

    Doug S, I don’t get the sense that you’ve interacted with the “merit” side of the argument very much.

  407. Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, in short: I don’t accept CVT’s absolutism. I certainly don’t teach math or physics in that way.

    At the same time, I can appreciate an over-arching point that he makes: If we teach the chapters of life called “math” and “physics”, but we teach them as short stories that stand on their own (and are not a part of the creation-redemption tale), then are we really teaching the same story?

    Jurisdictionally, I think it’s more the church’s job to teach the big picture. But it needs to be someone’s.

  408. Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Sean:

    Lev (18:5) is analogous to Jesus saying, “if you love me, then keep my commandments” which is just another way of saying “do this and live”. How can we “do this and live”? By grace through faith! It’s called faith working itself out in love! When we walk by faith, (that is life!) because Christ delights in a broken and contrite spirit! Moses could have just as easily said, “the just shall live by faith” Hey, I think he did, and that was in the law!

    Could the Israelites “do this and live” in there own strength? No, but God’s elect did walk this way by grace through faith. Was Moses faithful and pleasing to God? Did Moses, “do this and live”? Of course! Was it by works? God forbid!! Moses was saved by grace through faith, just like we are! His obedience was the fruit of a humble heart before God.

    Moses proved the law was to be appropriated by faith, (sorry Sean) because he was a man of faith! Moses, “did this and lived” for 120 years with the vigor of a man in his twenties. What was Moses secret? He was the most humble man in the world!

    Both the old and new administrations are the same covenant in substance in that they require God’s people to trust and obey. Both the old and new administrations have blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. On that point, they differ not.

    How can anyone deny this, when there is overwhelming Biblical evidence?

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

    Jeff, what merrit argument did I miss?

  410. Zrim
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    At the same time, I can appreciate an over-arching point that he makes: If we teach the chapters of life called “math” and “physics”, but we teach them as short stories that stand on their own (and are not a part of the creation-redemption tale), then are we really teaching the same story?

    Jeff, it seems to me that the chapters on the 3Rs correspond to creation and not redemption. So I don’t know what you mean when you say they are part of the –redemption tale. But to teach/learn the 3Rs as corresponding to creation doesn’t necessarily imply some sort of autonomy. This is what I suspect is going on in many a neo-Cal mind (and those influenced by it): to say that the 3Rs correspond to creation and not redemption is to open the way to godless autonomy, so out pops something about redemption to ward off the autonomous demons. But what the 3Rs have immediately to do with the Three Persons remains less than obvious to me.

    Still, I don’t think it is any more necessary in an educational setting to draw straight lines from the 3Rs to an orthodox doctrine of creation than it is in any other common vocation, trade, enterprise, or discipline. All that is necessary is that the respective principles are followed. I think if that were better understood we’d have fewer bizarre statements like CVT’s and more willingness to examine educational presuppositions.

  411. Posted January 16, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Jeff, it seems to me that the chapters on the 3Rs correspond to creation and not redemption. So I don’t know what you mean when you say they are part of the –redemption tale.

    I mean the standard Reformed understanding of history as the story of Creation, Fall, Redemption.

    And significant for this understanding is that creation stands in a particular logical relationship to redemption: God created in order to redeem.

    It seems that what you want to do is entirely decouple the two, yes?

    Zrim: Still, I don’t think it is any more necessary in an educational setting to draw straight lines from the 3Rs to an orthodox doctrine of creation than it is in any other common vocation, trade, enterprise, or discipline. All that is necessary is that the respective principles are followed.

    Is not one of the respective principles that “The work of creation is, God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.”?

  412. Zrim
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Jeff, I understand the standard Reformed teaching on creation-fall-redemption. And I understand how the 3Rs correspond to creation. What I don’t understand is how the 3Rs correspond to redemption.

    I also understand that creation is inherent to redemption. So I don’t know that I’d characterize my point as a “decoupling” of creation and redemption as much as to say that, first, they need to be distinguished in such a way as to be able to speak of “re-creation gained instead of creation re-gained” (a la DVD). Second, if so distinguished then what is inherent to the original creation really cannot be aligned to the new creation to come, e.g. everything from marriage to the 3Rs. Neo-Calvinism wants to speak of creation re-gained, which explains why it thinks there is such a thing as redeemed math.

    So, yes, one of the principles of creation is that God made all things very good, from math to marriage. But that’s why it doesn’t need any redemptive gloss, because it’s very good as-is.

  413. Posted January 17, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Zrim: What I don’t understand is how the 3Rs correspond to redemption.

    Right, and I’m not suggesting that they do — beyond some basics like being able to tell “good and necessary inference” from the other kind of inference.

    Zrim: So I don’t know that I’d characterize my point as a “decoupling” of creation and redemption…

    Well, the pushback you’ve been getting from me has been on that specific point. I’m happy with a general 2k scheme, but when you begin to suggest that “bringing plumbing into conformity with Scripture” is nonsense, then you are driving a decoupling wedge between creation and redemption.

    The fact is that our redemption takes place within the created order: Fallen flesh-and-bloog men proclaim the gospel, fallen flesh-and-bloog men receive it, fallen flesh-and-blood redeemed men carry out their vocations coram deo.

    It should be possible to make those basic and seemingly unobjectionable observations without devolving into a discussion of “Christian plumbing.”

    Zrim: they need to be distinguished in such a way as to be able to speak of “re-creation gained instead of creation re-gained” (a la DVD).

    I’m happy with that.

    Zrim: So, yes, one of the principles of creation is that God made all things very good, from math to marriage. But that’s why it doesn’t need any redemptive gloss, because it’s very good as-is.

    Agreed: Doesn’t need redemptive gloss.

    Disagreed: Very good as-is.

    What about the curse?

    But my larger objection is that there are actually two issues in play, and your focus on the neo-Cal issue masks my own concerns.

    The first issue is neo-Calvinism: Does Creation need redeeming from the curse? Generally speaking, we would agree: No. People need redeeming, and God Himself will set the curse right in the eschaton.

    But the second issue is one of vocation: Does a Christian carrying out his vocation need to understand that “God made all things good and in the space of six days” (not specifying length of days here) as the framework or context for his vocational story?

    I would argue Yes. And here’s where the rubber meets the road. A Christian working in the biological or geological (or even physical) sciences has a certain amount of freedom to accept arguments about origins or mechanisms. But he does not have the freedom to accept conclusions that entail Deism or atheism. The fact of creation ex nihilo is a part of the framework of the story that he tells — or else he is unfaithful to his Lord.

    Likewise, the 9th Commandment is a part of his framework, so that he is not free to promote specious arguments about creation to others as if they were true.

    Our Christian beliefs have ethical implications for our practice of the 3Rs: not necessarily the lower story of what the 3Rs *are*, but the upper story of *how they are to be used.*

    Another example. I find several features of postmodernism to be admirable. But one feature that I do not find admirable is the insistence that all discourse is actually word-play with the aim of exerting power over another. At a fundamental level, I cannot reconcile this theory of discourse with Eph 4, “Speak truthfully one to another.” That does not mean that I utterly reject all considerations of rhetoric-as-influence, but it does mean that I am constrained, because I am a Christian, to believe that There is Truth.

    And in that way, I am compelled to bring my own practice of discourse into conformity with Scripture.

    The bottom line is that 2K generally is very worthwhile, but the rhetorical excess, denying that “a plumber should bring his plumbing into conformity with Scripture”, seems a bridge too far.

  414. Zrim
    Posted January 19, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Jeff, if you agree that creation doesn’t need redemptive gloss then how do you disagree that creation is very good as-is? If it’s not very good as is then what keeps redemptive gloss from being applied? But you also ask about the curse. I distinguish between the essence of creation (very good) and its condition (marred).

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