At Least 2k Doesn’t Produce Carrie Nations

Or, even our Lord told Peter to put the sword away.

So here is the strange sequence of events in BaylyWorld.

Last Thursday (April 11), Benjamin D. Curell, a deacon at Clearnote Church (where Tim Bayly is pastor), broke into a Planned Parenthood facility, apparently carrying an ax. His action was to protest the abortions conducted at the building.

The congregation responded by disassociating itself from one of its officers:

Yesterday morning the pastors and elders of Clearnote Church learned that Ben Curell, a deacon of the church, had been arrested for vandalizing Planned Parenthood. No one in the church knew about his plans. We are convinced Ben’s actions were not justifiable civil disobedience. The elders and pastors have met with Ben and admonished him.

Throughout history faithful Christians have confessed that from conception children bear the image of God. Therefore, we at Clearnote Church have encouraged and will continue to encourage Christians to peacefully and lawfully witness against the great evil of abortion.

We have counseled Ben to repent and submit to the civil authority that God has placed over us for our good. This authority reflects and points to the judgment of God before Whom we all one day must give an account.

Notice that the idea of “encouraging” Christians peacefully and lawfully to witness against abortion is precisely what 2k advocates approve. Such a witness goes on in all sorts of ways that avoids the breast-beating of a blog. But peaceful and lawful witness is not what the Baylys require of their 2k enemies. Typically the Baylys don’t encourage but demand, and if they don’t see evidence of objecting to abortion they question the faith of someone who is not as publicly outraged as they are:

Under the Third Reich, were the true shepherds silent in the midst of the slaughter of millions of Jews, sodomites, mentally handicapped, gypsies, and Christians? Then, what about us? When the day arrives and the light reveals our work as shepherds, will it be seen that we have been faithful witnesses against the anarchy and bloodshed all around us? Or will it become clear we have built with wood, hay, and straw?

There are many church officers today who are collaborators employing doctrine to justify their silence. Let me be clear: I am not saying these men are unconverted, but rather that they are unfaithful.

Notice as well that Clearnote’s statement on Ben Curell adopts an attitude toward civil authorities that comes directly from the 2k playbook — that God has placed even not so great authorities over us, for our good no less. That notion of civil authorities has not been one that you can discern in many Bayly posts. For instance:

Our presidents, governors, and mayors ceaselessly toil at enforcing the worship of their gods and the only thing up in the air is which gods the pinch of incense adores: the Only True God or Molech.

This is these United States today. On every street corner, we have altars to Molech where pagans and Christians alike sacrifice our own offspring to demons–something Scripture tells us is so very evil that it never entered the mind of God (Jeremiah 19:5)–and Christians drive by on our way to our church-house, silencing our consciences by assuring ourselves confessing Christians aren’t putting Covenant children in the fire, only pagans do that; that as Christians we have no duty to oppose the fire since the Westminster Divines told us not to meddle in affairs rightly belonging to the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate; that whether the civil magistrate should outlaw the slaughter is a question of public policy not addressed by the general equity of the Law; that pagans have always given their children to the fire, so what’s new; that if we speak up against Molech’s bloodlust, we’ll only alienate the pagans rendering them even more resistant to the pure, unadulaterated, scrupulously clean Gospel message; and on it goes.

But do we hear about any of this incident or Clearnote’s statement at the Bayly blog? No. Instead, it is business as usual when it comes to verbally tarring and feathering 2k. On April 15 the Baylys ran a long-winded piece by Darrell Todd Marina against 2k. Here’s a flavor of the verbal barrage:

However, the more radical “Two Kingdoms” people believe something much worse, namely, that once a question has become “politicized,” Christians ought to avoid preaching on it because it will identify the church with a political party or a political position and drive people away.

The key question ought not to be whether we will offend people and drive them away, but whether we will offend God and be driven by Him out of His presence regardless of how many people fill the pews of our churches. God has strong words to false prophets who seek to please people rather than pleasing God.

What we must ask is whether God has spoken to an issue in His Word. If God has spoken, the church must speak. If God has not spoken, the church must stay silent.

I have engaged Maurina several times before and he still can’t fathom the difference between policy and legislation, on the one side, and what the Bible says about a specific matter on the other. Christians may agree on certain moral norms and have completely different understandings of what the state’s role in executing such morality involves. It’s the same old myopia that afflicted Machen’s fundamentalist and modernist critics. Because he did not support the Progressive reform of the 18th Amendment, for instance, his friends and enemies thought he favored drunkenness. And Maurina has the audacity to suggest that 2k stems from ignorance about politics. It is his own ignorance that draws a direct line from biblical teaching — which may require some exegesis — to the law of the land. I oppose lying. Does that mean I advocate an amendment to the Constitution that adopts the ninth commandment? (When was the last time you heard 2k critics, by the way, oppose mendacity? How would they like hearing that their silence on laws opposing lying means they favor falsehoods?)

But the issue here is not Maurina, it is the repeated bellyaching of the Baylys against 2k in a way that misrepresents 2k advocates and that denies the implications of the Bayly’s shrill jeremiads, especially when all of their talk about Hitler, martyrs, persecution, and courage may actually encourage men like Ben Curell to pick up an ax, much like Carrie Nation, to uphold God’s law. Their rhetoric and logic is irresponsible but may actually be responsible for encouraging folks like Mr. Curell to think they are acting courageously and righteously when they vandalize private property.

Consider the following:

Now then, are the two Bush brothers up to the job? Are they faithful public servants? Will they do what is necessary to save Terri’s life? Will our civic fathers face down the cowardly legislators and judges? Will they show themselves men and rescue Terri from her oppressors?

Both men ought to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ We, the citizens of these United States deserve a straightforward answer to this question.

It would be easy for both the President and Governor to think their duties have been fulfilled and that no reasonable person could expect more from them. They’re wrong. We expect them to be men and stand–now!

If they are determined to abdicate their responsibilities and abandon the citizens under their care and protection, let them say so. Then we the people will have been put under notice that the rule of law is dead and we’re on our own.

The civil authority ceases to have authority when he abandons those at the margins of life to their oppressors. Are President and Governor Bush willing to acknowledge that the courts have betrayed their vows to uphold the Constitution? And will they do what is necessary to remedy the courts’ betrayals of those duties?

You know, “When in the course of human events” and all that.

Or this:

As it’s now against the law for Christians to do anything physical to stop the dismembering of the 1,300,000 unborn children slaughtered each year just down the street from us, soon it will also be illegal for Christians to preach or say anything warning the sexually immoral that their conduct is an abomination to God–and that, unless they repent, they will perish eternally.

Here’s a little prognostication: those believers and their pastors who find saying “No” to abortion distasteful and prefer to say “Yes” to crisis pregnancy centers are likely the same Christians and pastors who, as the cost escalates, will also find saying “No” to sexual immorality distasteful, preferring to say “Yes” to the joys of Christian marriage and morality. Those who feel most comfortable witnessing to the Faith in the “God loves you and has a wonderful man for your plan” or “God loves you and has a wonderful wife for your life” sort of way.

God’s “No” is already a stench in the eyes of Emergelicals, but soon it will become illegal, too. And those who have been timid in these days of the feminization of discourse and the slothfulness of cheap grace will turn and run for their lives when prison terms are added to the cost of biblical preaching and witness.

Or this:

I say it again: secularism is a religion that is utterly intolerant of true Christian faith. It started by privatizing Christian faith and now it’s moved on to removing privacy from our lives and obliterating every mediating institution that could put a check on its totalitariansim.
The day is quickly coming when followers of Christ will be hounded from jobs, business ownership, professorships, the practice of medicine, teaching in the state’s religious schools, owning rental property, preaching in public, publishing and selling books, getting letters to the editor published, getting a degree at the state-funded religious colleges and universities, and the list goes on and on. We will be utterly unclean and every effort will be made to bar us from the public square. When a federal judge forbids legislators from praying in Jesus’ name to open a legislative session, he’s not impeached in disgrace, he’s elevated to a higher court. But it won’t end there.

Even in the privacy of our homes, we’ll be imprisoned by the state. Its religious totalitarianism will seek to control our discipline of our Covenant children, our obedience to God in being fruitful, the way we give birth and die, our practice of church discipline, what’s preached in the privacy of our worship in our church-houses, what our children do sexually, whether our minor children are able to murder their unborn children, even the media we do or do not consume in our living rooms. You think I’m alarmist, but just watch–if you live long enough. And it should be a bit of a wake-up call for you to realize a number of the things listed above are already done deals. For instance, your minor daughter can have an abortion without your knowledge, and the religious educators of our secularist taxpaper-funded schools can help them hide the murder from you.

One more:

Brothers and sisters, we are citizens of a representative constitutional democracy with heavy privileges and duties that flow from that system of government. We are not under a Roman Emporer. We are under ourselves and we ourselves have the legal duty to guard the commons God has been pleased to bequeath to us from the hard work and shed blood of our faithful Reformed forefathers who created these United States.

If we learn anything from the Early Church under the Roman Empire, it’s that empires like Rome and the Secular West must oppress and kill every Christian who believes all authority in Heaven and earth has been given to the Lord Jesus and we must go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything He commanded knowing He is with us to the end of the earth.

Intolleristas are bloodthirsty for exclusivists. It was this way with the Early Church under Rome and it’s this way with the Late Church under Western Secularism. Separation of church and state is the death of Christian evangelism and discipleship unless Christian evangelism and discipleship becomes as vapid as the R2K monomaniacs.

Christian life, worship, evangelism, and discipleship are utterly incompatible with Western Secularism’s pluralism. Every single time a man under the Lordship of Jesus Christ tries to clothe our naked public squares, he will be shouted down by those convinced they don’t have gods and they don’t worship and they are as broad-minded and tolerant as can be.

The real wonder is that Mr. Curell or someone like him did not vandalize a seminary or a church where 2k views prevail.

Postscript: it looks like a pattern in the Curell family (and it looks like the Baylys may oppose civil disobedience only when conducted with a weapon — or they don’t respect deacons as much as pastors.)

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485 Comments

  1. Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    When someone is unfairly and inaccurately maligned out of political motivation he has been “Borked.” Will reformed blogs now say “you’ve been Maurinaed?” But DTM said something nice about me so I have to return the favor by opining that I think he sincerely believes what he is saying. Sometimes ideological journalists just get in over their heads.

  2. Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The Baylys – “Under the Third Reich, were the true shepherds silent in the midst of the slaughter of millions of Jews, sodomites, mentally handicapped, gypsies, and Christians?”

    Erik – Nothing like tempering your empathy…

  3. Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    DTM – “Christians ought to avoid preaching on it because it will identify the church with a political party or a political position and drive people away.”

    Erik – Yeah, just like we sing from the Psalter & Trinity Hymnal, have our minister say long prayers and preach long semons, fence the table, observe the regulative principle of worship and only baptize infants — we’re all about flexibility and attracting the masses on their own terms…

  4. Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    DTM’s starting to resemble my favorite Dilbert character:

    http://search.dilbert.com/comic/Illogical%20Scientist

  5. sean
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    How is it the Bayly blog isn’t sponsored by Old Spice or Pfizer? Somehow this is their wives’ fault.

  6. kent
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Erik, is there a clip on youtube of Homer carting his father Abe off to the nuthouse in a wheelbarrow?

  7. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Sean,

    No, but this one is quite apropos:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM3NSTbi4OQ

  8. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Oops, Kent, not Sean. One 2K wiseacre is as good as the next, I guess…

  9. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your post, Dr. Hart. I was actually thinking about the “Carrie Nation” parallel on my own and if you hadn’t said it, I might have brought it up myself.

    History shows us that most Christian movements generate some people who absolutize a principle of the movement and act in contradiction to other important principles of that movement. Engaging in physical violence by taking the sword of the state into the hands of individuals via vigilante justice is clearly contrary to Reformed doctrine on Romans 13. Just as Indiana Right to Life and Rev. Bayly’s church condemned the axe attack on the abortion clinic, every conservative Calvinist should condemn it. It belongs to the civil magistrate, not individuals, to shut down abortion clinics via laws against murder.

    On the underlying issue —

    You are asking the right questions when you ask me to consider whether my position is that of McIntyre and the fundamentalist side rather than the confessional side of the split out of the PC(USA) in the 1920s and 1930s. My essay was, in part, an attempt to respond to that question of what the confessions do and do not say.

    I am not unaware that Francis Schaeffer went into the BPC, not OPC, or that Machen’s views were more in line with the “spirituality of the church” viewpoint than the large majority of conservative Calvinists today. The large majority of modern conservative Calvinists clearly are more in line with men like Schaeffer, Joel Belz and D. James Kennedy than with Machen on political involvement, but majorities are not always right, and theological arguments deserve to be answered and argued against, not merely voted down by voice vote.

    One of the key questions is to decide whether this is an intramural debate among confessional Calvinists, an intramural debate among people who are truly evangelical and truly committed to sovereign grace (i.e., the basics of Calvinist soteriology) but disagree on important issues about what it means to be confessionally Reformed, or whether we’re dealing with people outside the bounds of biblical Christianity.

    Answering that question is not easy. I know the “Two Kingdoms” movement is a moving target. There is a wide variety of people on your side of the issue. Likewise, those who oppose the “Two Kingdoms” theologians are a mixed group. Both factors make analysis difficult.

    The public statements of Misty Irons are, in my view, outside the bounds of biblical Christianity. On the other hand, some of the “natural law” arguments I’m seeing made by some “Two Kingdoms” advocates are things on which I can say, “Well, I don’t agree with you, but I see your point and you get to the same place via a different line of reasoning.” I don’t see how a supporter of Van Til or presuppositional apologetics in the tradition of Westminster Seminary and the OPC can make such arguments, but Van Til’s views certainly are not the only way to be confessionally Reformed.

    The bottom line is that I simply do not see that the American revisions to the Westminster Confession accomplish what some of the “Two Kingdoms” advocates seem to claim, namely, making a clear break from the older Reformed views of civil government which prevailed in the 1500s and 1600s. The same is true for Kuyper’s revision of the Belgic Confession on the question of the state banning idolatry, i.e., forbidding the Roman Catholic Mass. There are certainly differences between the pre-revision and post-revision doctrinal standards, but especially for those in denominations which affirm the 1958 revision to the Belgic Confession, I don’t see that “Two Kingdoms” theology is the logical result of a plain reading of the confessions.

    Time will tell how this works out. My guess is that some versions of “Two Kingdoms” theology will eventually come to be considered antinomian or anabaptist. Other versions will probably be regarded as within the bounds of the Reformed tradition.

    Just as very few people want to declare certain Old Princeton theologians to be heretics for their views on creation but most agree that something must be said to respond to the damage being cause by the modern theistic evolution movement, something similar will probably end up happening to reject the more radical “Two Kingdoms” approaches while regarding at least some versions of that theology to be, at worst, within the bounds of tolerable error.

    Time will tell.

  10. George
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    “… We are under ourselves and we ourselves have the legal duty to guard the commons God has been pleased to bequeath to us from the hard work and shed blood of our faithful Reformed forefathers who created these United States …”

    Wait! Aren’t these the same people (Puritans) who had laws that put people to death for little more than spitting on the sidewalk?

  11. mark mcculley
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Don’t you know that “put away the sword away” was only

    a. for that specific situation, so that Jesus would be killed, thus an one time only thing.

    b. because Peter was not the magistrate but a private citizen. On the other hand, if Constantine had been close to hand, it would not only have been his right but also His duty to protect the preaching of the kingdom.

    Therefore, the footnote to “put your sword away” is a previous idea that two swords are enough, and the counter-explanation of the narrative is that one of these swords is not literal but the power of church and gospel, and the other sword is literal when your economy or your family or your neighbors are in anyway threatened, because it’s only good stewardship to make a show of pre-emptive violence in contexts where you being Christian has nothing to do with anything. Nor does it matter that those who take up the sword also die by the sword. So it goes….

    So the Christian cops who use swords to capture vandals of private property are not participants in the kingdom of darkness. But neither are they representing Christ or church. Better for them to do what naturally needs to be done in a secular fashion that to get religious about it….

  12. Zrim
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    And don’t forget this:

    A notorious murderer met what is certain to become a notorious end. By the goodness of God the witness of the Church was not entirely silenced in Dr. Tiller’s life. He had been excommunicated by his previous congregation, a church of the Missouri Synod Lutheran denomination. And so the judgment of God had been declared; not every watchman was silent, not every shepherd proved a hireling.

    But the point was reached where a man despaired of change through government and took matters into his own hand. I do not view the actions of Dr. Tiller’s killer as defensible, but not for many of the easy and often self-serving reasons advanced with alarm and indignation even by many Christians in recent days.

    Violence is not always wrong. Killing is not always forbidden. Opposition to abortion does not obligate us to oppose all forms of killing. In saying this I make a biblically defensible statement. God has given the power of the sword to the state so that it may judge and execute judgment. This is true internationally and locally. Condemnation of the vile sin of abortion, the murder of an infant, an innocent, in its mother’s womb is not the same as the death penalty, properly applied.

    Nor do I believe that Dr. Tiller’s killer necessarily acted inappropriately as self-appointed judge, jury and executioner. Like the couple who boldly went into the tent before the congregation at Peor and were immediately killed by Phinehas, Dr. Tiller’s bold practice of the indefensible, his brazen boasting of his practice rendered judge and jury superfluous. He was self-accused and self-convicted.

    It seems to me that a sermon designed to publicly rebuke a magistrate is at the very least not much at nurturing the spirit of the biblical law to submit to magistrates and seek to live in peace amongst the nations.

    And whatever condemnation of open murder might be explicitly given with one hand before or after this statement, it is taken away with the implicit suggestion in this statement that some open murder is defensible. How this isn’t a thinly veiled affirmation of violence toward certain medical practitioners (no matter how morally repugnant) takes a combination of supreme act of denial and D-grade reading skills.

    http://www.baylyblog.com/2009/06/a-sermon-for-the-presidentand-for-the-people-of-god.html

  13. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The article “The Bride of Mere Confessionalism” in the Nicotine Theological Journal 3.3 is relevant:

    http://cdn.oldlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/3.3.pdf

    “SINCE THEN, HOWEVER, various parties within the conservative Presbyterian fold have tried to provide a surer guide to Reformed orthodoxy than what the Confession and Catechisms offer. The lists vary, but from the requirements outlined by pastoral search committees to the views required for employment at Reformed seminaries, orthodoxy among conservative Presbyterians now consists of, for starters, belief in a young earth (many), a theonomic interpretation of OT law (too many), sending children to Christian day schools (more), the biblical theology of Geerhardus Vos (small but zealous), the biblical counseling methods of Jay Adams (huge!), urban evangelism and church planting (modest), Meredith Kline’s articulation of the covenant of works (few) and Cornelius Van Til’s presuppositional apologetics (the grand daddy of them all).

    Many of these different expressions of the Reformed faith are valuable and worthy of study and propagation. But they may not, in our humble opinion, replace or supplement Presbyterian
    confessional standards. If any of these views is clearly taught in the Westminster Standards, then they may be lawfully required for ordination and communion. But even then, the criteria for admission into fellowship has to use the explicit language of the Confession, not the emphasis of any given party that has appropriated the teaching of the Confession for its particular ends, no
    matter how worthwhile. In other words, a man is orthodox if he can affirm and articulate, under
    examination by a legitimate court of the church, the confessional teaching of the communion in which he is about to minister. He does not have to subscribe to any of the particular views of
    individual ministers, no matter how confessional those ministers may believe their respective views are.

    For instance, if a congregation of conservative Presbyterians want their next minister to send his children to a Christian day school, teach regularly about the necessity of Christian education, and challenge those parents who send their little darlings to public schools, they should amend the
    Westminster Standards to include a chapter on education. But until that happens, this congregation should not use the courts of the church, the process of calling and ordaining a minister, or their trust in fellow church members to promote views that do not find clear sanction in the Westminster Standards. To require more than the teaching of the Confession of Faith and Catechisms is to engage in the “bad” kind of Reformed sectarianism because it involves a position outside and, hence, narrower than the confessional standards.

    LEST WE BE MISUNDERSTOOD, we are not trying to impugn the motives of those who hold the various views that we listed as being supplementary to the Westminster Standards. In many cases
    the aim is the wholesome one of preserving and defending the Reformed faith. But such efforts to propagate the Reformed tradition betray a lack of confidence both in the Standards themselves and in Reformed believers, both living and dead. The dangers are so great, the theological subtleties so
    complex, the times so confusing, the sentiment runs, that we need a more precise statement or definition of the faith than that of the Standards. If that is so, then revise the Confession. Such a revision would have the merit of allowing the councils of the church, the appropriate vehicle for such reflection and debate, not individuals or cliques, to do the work they are called to do.

    Still, we do suspect that those who think the Standards need a little help do not understand or know the Confession and Catechisms as they should. We are convinced that the Westminster
    Standards express the system of doctrine taught in God’s holy word, that they approximate in systematic fashion the whole counsel of God, and that they contain all truth we may confidently
    assert about what man needs to know about God and what duty God requiresof man. Of course, to those Christians outside the Presbyterian fold, and even some in it, such convictions look about
    as naive as they sound smug. But we stand by our view that this is the“good” kind of Reformed sectarianism. Surprise!

  14. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Darrell, your claim is that 2k is a break from the way Reformed Protestants have engaged in politics (with the rather shabby guilt-by-association tactic of locating Old School Presbyterianism in a defense of slavery). So is Ben Curell in continuity with the Reformers? Maybe that’s too much for you. You repudiate his actions. But Dutch Calvinists in the 1560s, the ones who professed the original Belgic, engaged in acts of violence — they call it iconoclasm. So maybe Ben is not too far away from the sixteenth century.

    Then again, there is all that Bayly rhetoric and logic, all that resentment and egging on about cowardice and manliness. Is that they way Kuyper or Calvin or Owen or Winthrop talked?

    And then again, you yourself are a long way from Geneva. I doubt you would support laws that forbade the mass or ones the executed heretics.

    So why is your form of political engagement in continuity with the “Reformed tradition” and mine is in discontinuity? It looks pretty selective.

    And by the way, no 2ker is dodging and weaving on discontinuity. All of us has said Calvin was wrong on church-state matters (though his theology actually supports spirituality of the church, not to mention that his politics would also condone slavery). But no critic of 2k that I have read has actually said Calvin was wrong and here is the right historical alternative. The critics of 2k are in a no-mans land. Unless, as I suspect, they want a return to 1950s U.S. I wouldn’t mind that myself. But Leave It To Beaver is hardly going to do an episode on the execution of Joseph Stalin.

  15. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Zrim, thanks. I was looking for that one. You can’t throw verbal grenades and then repudiate the actual ones without sounding Jesuitical.

  16. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Erik, brilliant!

  17. Zrim
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Darryl, one also can’t point out the foibles of the Bayly’s on his own blog without getting banned by them from theirs. Talk about the long arm of Bayly Law.

  18. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    So when can we expect your (or your supposedly innumerable allies) overtures to change the Confessions to begin? Or will this all be done on blogs? Whenever I would debate you on Kloosterman’s site it was you and 3 other guys (including Kloosterman). I counted 1 in the ARP (you), 1 in the PCA (Kloosterman), 1 in the CRC (good luck), and 1 in the URC. Not exactly an overwhelming groundswell.

  19. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    From DTM’s own church website:

    “Membership and Baptism

    First, we would like to make it clear that we welcome everyone to our church. You don’t have to be a member, and you don’t have to be baptized. You can be a skeptic, a seeker, simply curious, or someone who believes differently on some issues yet enjoys the worship and people here best. You are welcome!

    We believe there is an “Invisible Church” and a “Visible Church”. Only God knows all the members of the Invisible Church. The Visible Church is easier for us as people to see. These are the people who are identifying with a local church through baptism and membership. We believe the Bible clearly teaches baptism and also being identified with a local group of believers whenever that is possible.

    One other comment that should be made: Everyone in the Invisible Church will eventually go to be with the Lord eternally, but not everyone in the Visible Church will–sometimes non-Christians join the Visible Church even though they have no relationship with Jesus Christ. Although this may seem rather confusing, as we watch people and their lives, it becomes easier to understand and make sense of what sometimes happens. It is also a reason for humble acknowledgement that we each rely totally on the grace of God.

    Our pastor, Zech Schiebout, has written a pamphlet that answers many questions about membership and baptism. You can view it here:”

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Belgic 28, which says that “We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and outside of it there is no salvation, that no person of whatsoever state or condition he may be, ought to withdraw from it…”

  20. mark mcculley
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    WCF 20: II. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his Word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

    IV. And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another; they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God…. they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the Church, and by the power of the civil magistrate.

    mark: so for example, if you oppose Hitler and Stalin, and if your church says this opposition is not Christian but “secular”, then Hitler and Stalin may lawfully call you to account?

    Do the Baylys want to make Muslim Americans swear “Christian oaths”, or to make Christians swear oaths, or both?

    WCF 22:3 it is a sin to refuse an oath touching anything that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority” — deleted by the 1903 Northern Presbyterian General Assembly with that deletion reaffirmed by the Second General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in November 1936.

  21. mark mcculley
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Erik, so doy are oppose the visible-invisible church distinction? If so, at that point, you would seem to be taking sides with the federal visionists against many 2 k folk. Much of the 2 k argument in the last 20 years against “covenant objectivity” has defended the visible/invisible distinction.

    Certainly that distinction is not the invention of Darby and dispensationalists. Many anabaptists have opposed the distinction as the wrong side of Augustine’s (the “visible pope and catholic bishop” side) two cities.

  22. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Alright, apparently I need to respond to the axe issue again. This is important and it’s more important than where I’m supposed to be right now.

    Dr. Hart, I’m not sure how Ben Curell’s efforts to use an axe to destroy property of abortionists are parallel to Reformed efforts to destroy idols and other Second Commandment violations in medieval churches at the time of the Reformation. With some important exceptions, Reformed Christians generally were getting rid of bad things in their own churches, not going into someone else’s buildings and destroying other people’s property.

    The main similarity I see is the use of an axe. I have every right to take an axe to something I own. I have no right as an individual to take an axe to someone else’s property, and the civil government can do so only after due process.

    Yes, I agree with you that iconoclasm was standard practice for Calvinists. The “war against the idols” was, as you know, virtually universal in Reformed churches throughout Europe. I’m sure you know the history of what happened in Zurich, Geneva, and the other cities, where the removal of statuary began with allowing individuals to remove items they (or their ancestors) had paid to build as memorials, and then moved either 1) into formal and deliberate removal of other items from the churches via due process and proper authority, or 2) rioting and mob actions of iconoclasm.

    Idols should be removed from churches. They should be removed in the right way, not the wrong way. Mass mobs and rioting are never the right way.

    I think what I’m saying is close if not identical to what Dr. R. Scott Clark, an avowed “Two Kingdoms” theologian, has been writing over on his own blog about Reformed worship and removal of idols at the time of the Reformation. I don’t see this as being a difference between “Two Kingdoms” people and others.

  23. mark mcculley
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    DGH: But Dutch Calvinists in the 1560s, the ones who professed the original Belgic, engaged in acts of violence — they call it iconoclasm.

    mark: and yes, I take Hart’s point that this kind of public resentment of the status quo is not endorsed confessionally. But it would do many of us good to rehearse the iconoclasm and the collaboration of the moderate Reformers with magistrates in trying to lead the masses that these Reformers were following. The confessional standards of course were put together with the public (magistrates) in mind.

    See the great book by Carlos Eire, War Against the Idols.

  24. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Hart’s point about opponents of 2K being in No-Man’s land are right on. 6 of the 107 questions in the Westminster Shorter Catechism deal with the Fourth Commandment, yet we don’t hear any of these people calling for the civil magistrate to enforce Sabbath observation. Why? Far more people break the Sabbath than practice homosexuality or bestiality.

    DTM’s own church does not appear to have a second service. To what degree is his own session enforcing Sabbath observance?

  25. kent
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    Not just for AA apparently.

  26. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    I don’t, but I also don’t advertise that it’s o.k. to not join a visible church because I’m a member of the invisible church since my Confessions don’t do so.

    We had a guy who often skipped Sunday services to go to his lake house. His excuse? He was a member of the invisible church. Not coincidentally he never bothered to join our church.

  27. sean
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The historical discussions are kind of interesting. But the most telling aspect of all this is the Bayly’s cowardice gets exposed;

    ……..”Nor do I believe that Dr. Tiller’s killer necessarily acted inappropriately as self-appointed judge, jury and executioner. Like the couple who boldly went into the tent before the congregation at Peor and were immediately killed by Phinehas, Dr. Tiller’s bold practice of the indefensible, his brazen boasting of his practice rendered judge and jury superfluous. He was self-accused and self-convicted.”

    …”We have counseled Ben to repent and submit to the civil authority that God has placed over us for our good. This authority reflects and points to the judgment of God before Whom we all one day must give an account”

    At least stand with the guy in the error you helped to foment. Something like “We can’t help but to feel some responsibility………………………….we repent of our poor pulpiteering and general aggrandizement of ourselves”

    Apparently being manly on the internet is different from being a man. Bunch of sissies.

  28. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Erik, I’ve said before that I am not a spokesman for my church and I will not act as one.

    There are reasons my church is in the ARP and not the URC. That’s no secret. But you wouldn’t want one of your members getting on a website representing your church with no authority to do so, and as an elder, you would not tolerate that, nor should you.

    The irony is that I’d like to respond to your criticisms and you’d probably like my answers. But I’m not going to go down that road.

  29. mark mcculley
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I get it

    i’m sect and you are church, no you are sect and I am church, no you….

    Things get a little more complicated if some liberal reformed persons agree that confessional credobaptists in “churches” indeed are part of “the visible church”, even though these foolish credobaptists don’t have right administration of sacraments and even talk about “churches” instead of “church”. Things used to be much simpler, when it was agreed that the sin of fornication (membership outside the Reformed church) continued was evidence of no salvation.

    As in– credobaptists think that they themselves are making covenants with each other, but we know that God put us in objectively, and not we ourselves….

    “A church that does not understand itself as the Church, outside of which there is no salvation, is not the Church but a denomination or sect.”

    http://pontifications.wordpress.com/ecclesiological-relativism/

  30. todd
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    “Apparently being manly on the internet is different from being a man. Bunch of sissies.”

    I once heard a police sergeant say that there are three types of cops; those that were bullies in high school and want a job where they can continue their bullying; those that were sissies in high school, made fun of, and now want a job where they can get even by bullying others; and those who genuinely want to do good and fulfill their calling as officers. I suspect that may also be true of those who desire the position of minister.

  31. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    We have Belgic 29 to define the marks of a true church.

  32. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    DTM, so you agree that Curell is doing what the original Reformed Protestants did. Then why distance yourself from him?

    Oh wait, now you claim Scott Clark to say that idols should be removed in the right way.

    But 2k is wicked and destructive.

    And you think 2k is confused?

  33. sean
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Todd, I like the sudden stance of humility the Bayly bros. engaged in, cowardly as it may be, by distancing themselves from Curell in action and word, as Darryl alluded to; it scared them enough to have an almost miraculous 2k conversion right on the spot. I guess the hope coming forth from all ‘oh sh%#’ moments, is that the dung hill will bloom a flower.

  34. wjw
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Maurina,

    ” I have no right as an individual to take an axe to someone else’s property, and the civil government can do so only after due process . . .Idols should be removed from churches. They should be removed in the right way, not the wrong way.”

    Wait, I thought the criteria for action was whether or not God has spoken in His Word?

    Defending property rights, delimiting individual rights, appealing to due process, and suggesting there is a right way and a wrong way to go about expressing a grievance when it might have legal consequences, are basic tenets of political liberalism. How do you fit your comprehensive biblicism so comfortably under the shelter of political liberalism? How can you appeal to rights when God has spoken?

  35. Zrim
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    At least stand with the guy in the error you helped to foment. Something like “We can’t help but to feel some responsibility…we repent of our poor pulpiteering and general aggrandizement of ourselves.”

    But, Sean, real repentance is pretty hard. Soap boxing is much easier.

  36. kent
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    My Canadian Constitution (1983) does not guarantee property rights, as fully intended by the writers of that document.

    Glad I don’t have that political card to play while dithering over how to live out my gratitude for the grace that saved me from my guilt.

  37. wjw
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Well, putting aside the fact that Canada has never really had a political card to play, I think it might be worth a “dither” (is that Canadian?) to figure out at what point gratitude for grace translates into political coercion. Or, at what point does gratitude for grace justify violence against any activity deemed a violation of God’s law? Antigone meet Creon.

  38. Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Dr Hart,
    Thanks for the post. The quotes that you provided from the Bayly blog resonated with you very deeply, and I am genuinely curious how you would answer them.

    Based on the trajectory of the “culture wars”, the conclusions that the Bayly brothers seem to draw do seem plausible. On any of the quotes that you reference, could you provide a reason for your disagreement?
    I want to know if I am missing something.. What they say seems to make sense.. It is always good to hear the other “side” as well.

    It will probably come as no surprise that you and I are on opposite spectrums of thought on this issue. But, I am always very interested in good dialogue and exchange.
    Of course, everyone has strong opinions and we should all be able to express them. I have mine, and you have yours.

    Thanks.

    (For the sake of charity, I do agree with you on your assessments on worship regarding your “gripes” concerning Tim Keller).

  39. Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    However, the more radical “Two Kingdoms” people believe something much worse, namely, that once a question has become “politicized,” Christians ought to avoid preaching on it because it will identify the church with a political party or a political position and drive people away.

    Is this an accurate charge? Merely finding inconsistencies in the Baylyites isn’t doing much for this disinterested reader. As they say in chess, play the board, not the player. Beating a duffer accrues no credit.

    At this point I’m fascinated at one big fulfillment of Godwin’s Law–each side can accuse the other of aiding and abetting Hitler.

    http://matthewtuininga.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/german-support-for-hitler-and-the-two-kingdoms-doctrine-chiding-american-vision/

    And this isn’t to say each might not have a point. Egads! =:-O

  40. Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Some responses:

    @ Rev. Bordow: Your comments about the three types of police officers are spot on. I’d add only one observation from many years of covering many different police departments, including one which is currently under investigation for allegedly covering up a fatal hit-and-run by an officer — the first two types are especially problematic in smaller departments which tend to have lots of first-job-after-academy officers and don’t have good chains of command and continuing education programs.

    @ Dr. Hart: No, I do not agree that what Curell did is the same thing that the early Reformers did, unless we want to say the iconoclastic mob riots that did happen in some Reformed cities were things generally approved by the Reformed ministers. Idols need to be removed, but that needs to be done in the right way. Mob action, apart from truly extreme circumstances when the government has totally broken down, is almost always wrong. God has appointed covenant heads in the spheres of the church (pastors, elders and deacons), the state (civil magistrates) and the family (parents), and with rare exceptions, those authorities are to be obeyed.

    @ wjw: I’m honestly scratching my head on your apparent belief that private property is not biblical, that due process is not found in Scripture, that the rights of individuals vis-a-vis groups are not delimited in Scripture, and that it is somehow unbiblical to believe that there is a “wrong way to go about expressing a grievance when it might have legal consequences.”

    Surely you have at least occasionally read through Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and the Old Testament narratives which show their implementation and created what today would be called “case law,” i.e., precedent. Surely you know such New Testament principles as saying that we are not even to receive an accusation against an elder unless it comes with the testimony of two or three witnesses. Surely you know that the father is not to be put to death for the sins of the children, or the children for the sins of the father. Many more things could be added to that list. While the Old Testament civil law code is certainly not as detailed as modern statute law and case law, and according to the Westminster Standards it is only useful in its “general equity” for modern legislators, the legal system of the Jewish people was neither arbitrary nor capricious.

    Even if you want to argue that these rights are not grounded in Scripture — which they are — surely you know that the English Common Law and the Roman law codes, which contain these principles as well, long predate the development of “basic tenets of political liberalism.”

    I honestly don’t know if you are serious. If you are serious, you seem to know nothing about the history of the development of the Western legal system, and maybe I can spend some time proving that concepts such as rights and due process long predate even classical liberalism, let alone modern liberal political theory.

    But if you’re joking, let’s drop the joke and try to deal with real issues.

  41. mark mcculley
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    When credobaptists join with other credobaptists and therefore ignore Belgic 29, they make the mistake of thinking they are in the visible church, and this is a pretty ordinary event, like a black person marrying another black person. They think they are married, despite their ignorant fornication.

    But when a paedobaptist joins a credobaptist “church”, either in ignorance or in open rebellion, they most certainly found themselves outside the visible church. It’s like a white person marrying a black person, and of course fornication. My point? It’s one thing to say THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN, another thing to say that there is no salvation for those outside the visible church….

    An Arminian is safer in a Reformed church than anybody in a credobaptist sect.

    (I do agree that anybody in a credobaptist church is not “Reformed”, but my query is about the nature of the true visible church.)

  42. Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    @ Tom Van Dyke: I am thinking of a specific Two Kingdoms advocate (not Misty Irons) who writes regularly on the internet. He’s certainly a radical 2Ker, but he’s not the only one. I plan to do some digging and see if I can give unquestionable proof of my statement from his quotes.

  43. wjw
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Darrell,

    Deuteronomy says a lot of things. You actually may be a little more indebted to Jefferson, Madison, Holmes, and Burger than you would like to admit. Appeals to Moses and Old Testament narratives just don’t fly as much this side of 1789 in American courts. I never said the legal system of the Jewish people arbitrary nor capricious. But I do say Christianity has no mandate to enforce Old Testament law through political coercion. And I also say that this is where anti-2k get all hot and bothered. So I ask again How do you fit your comprehensive biblicism so comfortably under the shelter of political liberalism? If God has spoken and the church must speak why appeal to rights?

  44. Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    DTM: I am thinking of a specific Two Kingdoms advocate (not Misty Irons) who writes regularly on the internet. He’s certainly a radical 2Ker, but he’s not the only one. I plan to do some digging and see if I can give unquestionable proof of my statement from his quotes.

    Thx, Darrell. Again, to beat the worst of the other side doesn’t tell us much. I look forward to clarity on this–for a non-litigant such as myself, there’s a lot of “inside baseball” here, and I’m just trying to see the best arguments engage each other. [The estimable Dr. Hart has certainly held up his end for decades.] FTR, I’m familiar with Romans 13 and Calvin on the role of magistrates, so I’m not starting from pitch black. Let’s say I’m gravitating toward the light wherever I see it.

    The link above, arguing that the Religious Right in America has something in common with German Christians allying [or tolerating] Hitler isn’t completely spurious; OTOH, I cannot overcome my continuing impression that if you scratch a 2Ker, you’ll find an Obama voter.

    I’ll continue to monitor this discussion with interest.

  45. Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Christopher clearly still has an open mind:

    Confessional Kingdom

    (Politics, faith, theology, creation/evolution, theonomy, R2K and everything in between)

  46. Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Tom, have you considered that DGH wrote a book about reclaiming conservatism?

    Christopher, I responded to you over at the Bayly blog.

  47. Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    You’re more likely to find a Republican voter, a third party voter, or a nonvoter here. Regardless of how we vote, though, we don’t import it into our churches and wear it on our sleeves.

    A few weeks ago at church we had some visitors. After the service I greeted them along with another church member. He is a good guy and we are pretty much in agreement on politics. After about 5 minutes of talking about what our church believes my fellow member started talking about “liberals”, politics, and how he couldn’t stand some liberal female attorney in town. We knew nothing of these people’s politics.

    My question is, why bring this up 5 minutes into a conversation with church vistors? What kind of impression does this give them about what our church is about? If he wants to talk to me about that, fine, I know him. When people get their politics mixed up with their theology and air their opinions to anyone and everyone it’s a turn off and borders on being rude in my opinion.

  48. Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    The thing I thank God for about being 2K is at any time I get sick of this discussion (and I do) I have the option of tuning it all out and going about my business. Not so the other side – they are compelled to constantly be stirring others up, blowing their trumpets, organizing, strategizing, or whatever. I feel sorry for them. What a way to live. I’ve actually been that guy at past points in my life.

  49. Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    mikelmann: Tom, have you considered that DGH wrote a book about reclaiming conservatism?

    I do know that Dr. Hart wrote a book explicitly attacking the Religious Right called From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism.

    EC: You’re more likely to find a Republican voter, a third party voter, or a nonvoter here. Regardless of how we vote, though, we don’t import it into our churches and wear it on our sleeves.

    Erik, see above. I see polemics on both sides of 2K.

    Now, I can see both sides. There was an elegant argument made back in the day by a guy named Wayland and I believe Locke made the same one–that had Jesus [or St. Paul] set Christianity explicitly against slavery, then Christianity would have become a vehicle for war, death and destruction in this world instead of salvation in the next. Still, how much opposition to slavery was enough–or too much?

    I’m unconvinced that we are to become moral eunuchs in this world, which is where contemporary attacks on the Religious Right seem to go–except of course when it comes to social Gospel politics, “Beatitudism” if you will—a reduction of Christianity to the concerns of the material world just the same. You must forgive at least for now my suspicion that 2K and Obama-voting are highly correlated.

  50. Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Tom – You must forgive at least for now my suspicion that 2K and Obama-voting are highly correlated.

    Erik – Say that were true. What would you expect the churches to do about it? DTM has lots of “suspicions” too but when you press him he has trouble (1) proving them and (2) telling you what the churches should do about them.

    Did people have a moral obligation to vote for ______ instead of Obama?

  51. Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    “Tom Van Dyke is a businessman and musician who is the longest-running champion of The Joker’s Wild and also won Ben Stein’s Money. Tom knows stuff, although not everything. TVD is an occasional contributor to The American Spectator Online and thenewswalk.com. He continues to write on matters of Great Importance from his mini-estate high on a hill above Los Angeles.”

    How would you fare on Jeopardy?

  52. Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Van Dyke on “The Joker’s Wild”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StWi58tRXO4

  53. kent
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    WJW: Well, putting aside the fact that Canada has never really had a political card to play, I think it might be worth a “dither” (is that Canadian?) to figure out at what point gratitude for grace translates into political coercion.

    Well…. being free of thinking my country’s political and man-made documents have anything to do with Word and Sacrament is something for which I am very grateful.

    It is cute and amusing to see other countries think they can declare themselves godly, especially based on such man-made documents from hundreds of years ago.

  54. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Christopher Lee, the quotes don’t resonate with me at all. They are hyperventilated utterances that would only have credibility if Tim and David were actually Isaiah and Jeremiah. The notions about secularism being a religion, intoleristas being bloodthirsty, the sacrifices to Molechs are all hyperbole. If surrounding such florid prose were some substantial arguments or analysis they might have me. But the Baylys seem like any number of fearmongerers who have regularly shown up in human history. I see no reason to take them seriously, except that they are officers in the church. And for that reason they should be all the more embarrassed.

    One of the lessons that history teaches is that 1930s Germany and 1990s USA are not the same. Does this mean the US is superior? It depends. But the Baylys flatten history, not to mention the people they oppose.

    So what exactly do you find plausible about the Baylys’ bloviation?

  55. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    DTM, then if Ben Curell is not in continuity with the Reformers, and if you are quoting Scott Clark for defense, how exactly is 2k not in continuity with the Reformed past? You can’t have it both ways — that your in continuity and then use 2k for defense. In fact, I think you’re in over your head.

  56. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Tom VD and DTM, DTM needs to show his cards. If someone is blogging about not speaking about an issue once it has become politicized, all DTM needs to do is supply a link. On the other hand, the Baylys fixation on sex and gender may have much to do with the politics of sex and gender. Why no outrage about lying or idolatry?

    What the Baylys and DTM have failed to do is actually give evidence from 2k preaching. My suspicion is that any good Presbyterian or Reformed pastor is preaching his way through a book of the Bible, in good lectio continuo fashion, and not really paying attention to what’s in the headlines. Here’s a great line from Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism (you know, the Old School, pro-slavery Machen):

    The [modern] preacher comes forward not out of a secret place and meditation and power, not with the authority of God’s Word permeating his message, not with human wisdom pushed far into the background by the glory of the Cross, but with human opinions about the social problems of the hour or easy solutions of the vast problem of sin. (180)

    With the exception of the bit about human wisdom, this description fits the Baylys blog like a T. I would be surprised if their preaching did not follow the headlines.

    BTW, Tom, I’ve had a chance to vote for Obama twice and haven’t given in to the temptation. I am a political conservative, after all. And political conservatives look at the Baylys the way that William Graham Sumner looked at Carrie Nation.

  57. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Erik, or they have to get one of their deacons out of jail.

  58. sdb
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    A couple of posts on gay marriage over at THE GOSPEL COALITION claim that it is sinful for Christians to support the legalization of gay marriage. I don’t understand why it is “sinful” (by which I understand to mean that one should be disciplined by one’s church for holding this view, and excommunicated if one does not repent). I’ve asked why it isn’t sinful for Christians to support things like the freedom of the press and religious exercise. The best I can figure is that it is tied to a rather odd exegetical treatment of the Noahic covenant – namely, this justifies state regulation behavior that harms other people, not behavior that is directed against God. So let’s allow that for sake of argument, and consider a couple of actual political cases right now.

    The states of Georgia and Louisiana are considering bills that allow parents to claim a tax credit for money they spend sending their kids to religious schools (similar to the AZ bill). Essentially, these bills subsidize religious education. These schools can be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Mainline Protestant, Wiccan, Unitarian, Independent Baptist, etc… Why is it acceptable for Christians to support a policy that will encourage people to sin by sending kids to receive blasphemous religious instruction? Is it that the policy is neutral and will also allow Christians to benefit by encouraging them to send their kids to Christian schools? I don’t want to argue the merits of these policies. What I don’t understand is how supporting a policy that will provide a subsidy to institutions that teach blasphemous doctrines is not problematic for so many conservative protestants (my understanding is that the main push for this in Georgia is coming from evangelical schools), but the position that while homosexual behavior is sinful, gay marriage is a just way to ameliorate the worst excess amongst gay men and women. This kind of accommodationalism seems to have some precedent in the context of divorce in the time of Moses.

    Speaking of divorce, why is it relatively uncontroversial for a divorced person to remarry. Why don’t we see Christian florists and photographers refusing to work the weddings divorcee’s? Why aren’t magistrates getting in trouble for refusing to extend marriage licenses to guys on their third or fourth wife? Why aren’t those clamoring against gay marriage also clamoring against the legalization of multiple serial marriages? Is there a principled difference between adultery and homosexuality or is it just political expediency? If the relative intensity of the fight against SSM (versus legalized serial monogamy) is about fighting the battles you think you could win, isn’t this already a pretty big concession to 2K?

    If Misty Irons judges that homosexual behavior is sinful, but that it isn’t politically wise to penalize unions based on their sinfulness, how is that judgement more sinful than someone who doesn’t work to outlaw adulterous marriages because it is a political nonstarter or someone who OKs subsidies for mormon schools because it will also mean subsidies for Christian schools. If I understand 2K correctly, the question isn’t whether homosexuality, adultery, or mormon worship are sinful or not. Nor is the question whether the various policies I described are good ideas. The questions on the table are:

    1) whether the Church should speak out on these issues as the church (not that anyone in DC or any statehouse in the country cares a whit what the OPC/ARP/PCA/URC/XYZ has to say about any issue)

    2) whether it is sinful to support a libertarian political stance on religious ethics, sexual ethics, economic ethics, etc…

    Maybe I’m just dense, but I don’t see any basis for binding the conscience of believers as it pertains to politics.

  59. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Tom, “attack”? Really? Critique?

  60. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    D.G.,

    I forgot about Machen’s slaves. How many did he own again?

    Did he own the plantation before or after he ate the oranges with the fellas in the dorms.

  61. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Erik, they were the ones who ran the still from which the Machen family made their illicit wealth.

  62. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    sdb,

    When I start to ponder those weighty issues I usually go get a beer and turn on a ballgame until the feeling goes away.

    Don’t try to reconcile all these things — they are irreconcilable — thus DTM’s essay rivaling the Unabomber Manifesto in length and tone.

    If someone says they are a Theonomist and they favor the Magistrate enforcing BOTH tables of the law, that is a man you can have an interesting discussion with. Short of that, read up on 2K, worship in a sound church each Sunday, and don’t worry about it.

  63. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I think I glimpsed the young Machen in some “Boardwalk Empire” scenes…

  64. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Can we really confirm that Machen was only handing out hot chocolate during his time with the Red Cross during WWI?

  65. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    DTM: Have you read Van Drunen’s “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in Reformed Social Thought”?

  66. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    TVD: You must forgive at least for now my suspicion that 2K and Obama-voting are highly correlated.

    BJL: I pastor a church in Washington, DC, and I hold to a two kingdoms view. Our church did a speaker series on “Christianity and Politics,” featuring DGH and a few other recognizable speakers (link below). A bunch of our members broadly agree with two kingdoms, and work directly in politics (serve as staffers in congress and other related callings). I generally don’t talk about my voting history, but my online bio points out that I was an appointee in a previous administration (the 43rd).

    It’s not only absurd to say 2K people are closet Obama voters, it’s irrelevant. We really mean it when we say we don’t mix our politics with our religion (though our faith and the Scriptures necessarily inform the former). It’s true… a lot of politically conservative people dislike the religious right, not for their politics, but for their religion. They besmirch the Gospel of Christ, and create unbiblical stumbling blocks to faith.

    [Unfortunately, I failed at my one attempt to qualify for Jeopardy… but I would have definitely gotten the Marge Simpson question.]

    Christianity and Politics audio is here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?sourceonly=true&currSection=sermonssource&keyword=christreformeddc&keywordDesc=&subsetcat=series&subsetitem=Christianity+%26+Politics+2011

  67. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Thx to all for their kind replies. In order:

    Did people have a moral obligation to vote for ______ instead of Obama?

    I’m still listening, Erik. There are certainly sets of moral/religious values that would mandate voting for Barack Obama, for instance a committed pacifism that was convinced Mitt Romney would be far more likely to lead us into war. One need not agree with someone else’s position to admit its validity.
    ___

    DGH: Tom, “attack”? Really? Critique?

    The word “Betrayal” in the title qualifies as an “attack,” I think, Darryl. “Critique” is far too pale for that level of polemic.

    And por favor, something instead of “Tom VD.” Tom or TVD will be just fine.

    BTW, Tom, I’ve had a chance to vote for Obama twice and haven’t given in to the temptation. I am a political conservative, after all. And political conservatives look at the Baylys the way that William Graham Sumner looked at Carrie Nation.

    I really do understand your embarrassment on behalf of Christianity at some of the wilder cards on the Right. However, there’s a tendency among the brighter lights on the right to attack rather than correct them–and in doing so, making a practical alliance with the amoralists. The result is that the left uses persons like yourself as a cudgel against your own “side,” and you help elect leaders such as Barack Obama. They are not your friends, you do not build credibility with them for your larger message: you are useful only as a weapon. I’m thinking there’s a problem there.

    And I don’t think it was fair to punk my point about slavery, which was actually in theological sympathy for your own position on apolitics.
    _______________

    How would you fare on Jeopardy?</i

    I was on it in my 20s, a musician with platinum blonde hair. I’d have won except the other fellow spied my Final Jeopardy bet and changed his own to accommodate it. As it turned out, 2nd prize was a trip to the Virgin Islands, which I used as an excuse to marry and honeymoon with the lovely Mrs. TVD, with whom I’m about to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary. I truly and sincerely attribute my loss to divine providence. 😉

    Thx for asking.

  68. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Brian – How dare you hide that audio under a bushel for so long. Who knew that was out there. Looking forward to hearing it.

  69. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    I’m pretty sure the slavery discussion after your comment was a dig at DTM’s essay, not your comment. He dismisses the Spirituality of the Church argument as being mostly about slavery.

  70. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    I think you’re looking at “sides” wrong. Does the reasonable Muslim in Afghanistan nurture his alliance with the Taliban just so the secular cosmopolitan types in Kabul don’t get a leg up on him? One is messing with his religion, the other is only messing with his temporal affairs.

  71. Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    DGH quips: “Does that mean I advocate an amendment to the Constitution that adopts the ninth commandment?”

    Me: Darryl, are you that dense? It’s already a capital crime lying in a murder case! Out here in California, if a police officer lies in a capital crime, he faces the death penalty. That is theonomy 101!

    Since it’s already illegal to lie under oath, I really wonder what your point was.

  72. Nate Paschall
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    What’s interesting about this is the overlap between the responses of the Baylay’s to Mr. Curell’s case and those of the Liberal writers to the Gosnell trial. Pro-choice folks, when once they actually had to confront the realities of their arguments are beginning to sing a different tune (I.e. jump ship and become pro-life).

    The Baylay’s in a similar vein when confronted with the consequences of their arguments find it quite hard to remain consistent. Thankfully they did and said the correct thing here and said we are to live in submission to the civil authorities.

    Let’s hope the Baylay’s can learn something from their common grace counterparts.

  73. Posted April 19, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Tom, is “betrayal” really a hurtful word? Imagine if the title read, “the betrayal of the gospel,” which btw is what animates the critique much more than politics.

    And if I am a cudgel for the left, I missed all the positive reviews.

  74. Posted April 19, 2013 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Erik and Tom, like Erik said. DTM is using slavery the way he treats Misty Irons.

  75. Posted April 19, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Doug, can you read? I said amendment to the Constitution. California does have marriage laws but DOMA is a different matter. For a guy who advocates the law, you don’t seem to be able to track of differences among laws.

  76. Posted April 19, 2013 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Nate, but do go to the Bayly blog and look at what the brothers say about David Curell’s civil disobedience. It looks like an ax maybe the difference.

  77. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    How did we go this long without anyone sharing a song from “The Carrie Nations”?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmuMA5hHLWo&list=PL48D5FB2CE0581747

    Screenplay by the late Roger Ebert.

  78. Mikelmann
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Egads, the Bayly Blog is unfun. It’s like an army of politicized zombies relentlessly attacking with talking points and demagoguery.

  79. Priscilla
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I wonder if this was brought on by the lectures on abortion that Clearnote hosted at IU a couple weeks ago. It appears the speaker was preaching there the following Sunday as well.

    http://jesusatiu.com/abortion-americas-holocaust

  80. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Dr Hart,

    That was a poor choice of words on my part.. I should not have used “resonate”… What I meant to say was that what the Bayly’s said really struck a chord in you.. (in a bad way).. (or grated your cheese…??)
    Brain fart on my part….

    In terms of your statements concerning 1930’s Germany and modern (1990’s) America, I am not sure where the Bayly’s (in your quote), were referring to simply 1990’s America.. In the end, it really doesnt affect the argument too much. We can easily say 2013 America instead.

    I can generally somewhat understand when you say that Americans might be “superior” than 1930’s Germans, but given what I read in the news and the fact that so many Americans cannot even use basic logic when presented with a proposition (whether from a “liberal” or “conservative” source), I would informally conclude that we as Americans generally are no “better” than the 1930’s Germans.

    We are the same as they in terms of being wretched sinners. And the level of non-thinking (among other things) that took place to let Hitler come to power and the doctrines that he pushed are eerily similar (if not identical in some places) to what is currently going on today, and Americans don’t even blink an eye.

    The atheistic or metaphysical naturalist worldview that serves as the basis for many Americans really does logically result in what the Bayly’s are talking about. Our favorite example of abortion… There is no real difference between abortion, and murdering babies that are born alive.
    The current trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell should be a confirmation of this. I know that sometimes people’s strong tones can turn people off.. But, I think given the seriousness of abortion and its logical conclusions of snapping babies’ necks as in the Gosnell situation, I personally believe the strong tone is warranted.

    With the quick quote about secularism being intolerant of Christianity. I think that we can all agree that the atheistic worldview is in fact antithetical to Christianity and therefore opposed to it. I am particularly reminded of 1 John 2:16 in which John says that all that is in the world is not of the Father.
    (and I think that they are using the term ‘secular’ in a different way from you.. ?????)

    Sure, the Bayly’s statements sound very jarring. But, given the logical implications of secularism and godlessness, in my assessment, their statements are exactly the trajectory that we are headed in, and in some cases, we are already there:

    The Kermit Gosnell case, the baker in Oregon being investigated for refusing to provide a cake for a lesbian’s wedding (and homosexual marriage isnt even legal in OR… yet…..), the case in San Diego about the local govt attempting to force a home bible study group to get a permit, the fact that Jay Carney had no idea how to answer the question of religious liberty and the understanding that rights come from God and not man all in the context of the administration’s generation of policy.

  81. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    EC: I think you’re looking at “sides” wrong. Does the reasonable Muslim in Afghanistan nurture his alliance with the Taliban just so the secular cosmopolitan types in Kabul don’t get a leg up on him?

    The Taliban, Erik? Really? That’s the best you’ve got?
    ______________________

    DGH: Tom, is “betrayal” really a hurtful word? Imagine if the title read, “the betrayal of the gospel,” which btw is what animates the critique much more than politics.

    Perhaps, Darryl, but I’ve been reading you for a couple of years now, and I see far more polemic than correction. My brother or my enemy, said an email I got today. Indeed, or Patton’s “I’d rather have a German division in front of me than a French one at be back.”

    Look, I see a liturgical objection to American flags in church as a completely valid, but in the end, a strict 2K targeted at only the right strips society of its moral defenses, leaving it at the mercies of “social gospel” perversions of Christian theology that turn healthcare for the poor into government-paid abortions–and a dozen other things we shouldn’t need to itemize.

    I’m not talking Culture War as much as a moral impotence that leaves good men doing nothing. That is not Christianity, this is Barney the Dinosaurism. This is not Nero’s Rome. We elect our “magistrates” and in a real sense as citizens of a democracy, we cannot shrug our shoulders and render onto Caesar because we are Caesar.

    Further, I’m speaking more of that third entity in between the Two Kingdoms of God and Government: “Society” exists in a palpable way, “how shall we then live.” What we’re on the crest of is a takeover of society by politics. It’s one thing to be born in a whorehouse, quite another to acquiesce in turning your own home into one—and have your children forced to grow up in it.

    Now perhaps you can make your case that Christ and the Bible demand that we do just that, but for your own part, it shouldn’t take volumes upon volumes to show those cards.

    To Rev. Brian Lee

    We really mean it when we say we don’t mix our politics with our religion (though our faith and the Scriptures necessarily inform the former). It’s true… a lot of politically conservative people dislike the religious right, not for their politics, but for their religion. They besmirch the Gospel of Christ, and create unbiblical stumbling blocks to faith.

    I’m not one to thump Bible in the public square either–but consider that there are those on the “social gospel” side who do, and training our fire at the Sarah Palins only lends aid and comfort.

    DGH:And if I am a cudgel for the left, I missed all the positive reviews.

    I’m not sure who your intended audience is. I would think the unconvinced are part of it at least. But what your brothers in Christ and the natural law [if you believe in such a thing] need is help with their arguments, not condemnation for making them badly. It’s a pity what Inherit the Wind did to William Jennings Bryan*. And in the end, although HL Menken thought Bryan a buffoon and J. Gresham Machen an intelligent man of principle, Mencken could hear neither of them. So what’s the difference anyway?

    If you’re afraid of Sarah Palin scaring people off from Christ, the lukewarm water of the morally impotent is even more appalling.
    _____________
    *From the actual Scopes Trial transcript

    Darrow–You think those were not literal days?
    Bryan–I do not think they were twenty-four-hour days.
    Q–What do you think about it?
    A–That is my opinion–I do not know that my opinion is better on that subject than those who think it does.
    Q–You do not think that ?
    A–No. But I think it would be just as easy for the kind of God we believe in to make the earth in six days as in six years or in 6,000,000 years or in 600,000,000 years. I do not think it important whether we believe one or the other.

    What Bryan was really fighting was modernity, the mechanical/materialist view of man that excludes anything metaphysical. That’s a different, although relevant discussion.

    Respectfully submitted. Darryl, I’ve been reading and thinking on your writings for quite some time now. I think the slavery question if answered honestly puts your position into too harsh and indefensible a light for public discussion, for which I apologize, but pulling back to less sensitive issues brings trivialization if not mockery, so we never really get to the meat of it either way. ;-P

  82. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Chris, here’s an important question. Which is the most important to teach: worldview or doctrine?

  83. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jeff,

    You said “Which is the most important to teach: worldview or doctrine?” I can understand that some will regard worldview and doctrine as separate items and the reasons for it.

    I think that it is more helpful to look at doctrine and worldview as inextricably linked to each other, and not focus so much on them being separate items (in the sense of being mutually exclusive). In other words, attempting to answer the question of which one comes “first” is probably not as helpful as it may initially seem. They are the same thing with different focuses in application.

    Your doctrine is affected by your worldview. While your worldview is also affected by your doctrine.

    Real world examples: a proper understanding of the covenant (doctrine), will help you in your motivations (worldview) for various actions that you take for your child (paedobaptism, teaching, raising them in the Lord, having them sit quietly in church as opposed to nursery etc…)
    And a proper worldview of say, sovereignty of God, would lead you to the right doctrine of sovereign grace (calvinism) etc…
    (these are simply examples.. you could probably come up with more)..

    But, you can’t get a proper worldview without proper doctrine.. But you can’t get proper doctrine without a proper worldview etc… It is, in a sense, an iterative relationship.

    All of rambling simply to say that ultimately, proper doctrine generates a proper worldview, while a proper worldview also generates proper doctrine. (This also speaks to CVT presuppositionalism and TAG.).

    So, to answer your question, it’s important to teach both because they are inextricably linked to each other and from certain perspectives, are in fact the same thing, just differing in application. They both depend on each other. They can be seen as distinct in certain cases, but they are not as separate as they might initially seem.

    For some reasons (which we can all name), this becomes a little controversial when attempting to apply this in the public square.. (ethics etc… the entire reason for this post and thread)..

    Let me know if this doesnt answer your question.

  84. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    MM – Egads, the Bayly Blog is unfun. It’s like an army of politicized zombies relentlessly attacking with talking points and demagoguery.

    I tried to submit a comment and their spam filter blocked it. I guess they define spam as any comment that disagrees with them.

  85. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Jeff

    Another real world example that might make it a little more clear.

    It is of course proper doctrine to acknowledge that God created everything..

    Yet at the same time, this is also a worldview because then this affects your understanding of creation, evolution, your subsequent actions, especially in the realm of studying biology etc…

  86. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Tom – we cannot shrug our shoulders and render onto Caesar because we are Caesar.

    Erik – What about when our guy or party loses the election?

    Tom – I’m not one to thump Bible in the public square either–but consider that there are those on the “social gospel” side who do, and training our fire at the Sarah Palins only lends aid and comfort.

    Erik – Are you o.k. with these folks providing special music on Sunday?

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

  87. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Christopher,

    I find that those who are taught proper doctrine can usually come up with the worldview on their own, but those who are sent away to “Worldview Weekend” without being catechized often struggle to know ascertain proper doctrine. Look at all the people who call themselves “Reformed” without knowing or agreeing with all that the Reformed Confessions teach.

    It’s the old “teach a man to fish” vs. “give a man a fish” dichotomy.

  88. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    “Know” or “ascertain”. Take your pick. You just can’t use both.

  89. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Jeez… I must be lucky that I am posting so much on oldlife!

    I should have defined my terms in the response to Jeff.. Such an elementary blunder of epic proportions.

    (Good old wikipedia)
    Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system. A comprehensive worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual encompassing the entirety of the individual’s knowledge and point-of-view.

    From this, you can see that both doctrine and worldview depend on each other.. We know that beliefs are not bare and they are affected by your worldview.
    At the same time, your worldview is affected by the individual’s knowledge (doctrine).

    They are essentially the same thing, with differing applications.

  90. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    My experience is that you’ll be much less likely to be taken for a ride if you focus on doctrine.

  91. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I take comfort in the fact that many of the culture warriors I interact with here who are between the ages of 25-35 will be with me in the next 10 years of their lives. The ones who are my age or older I’ve pretty much given up on. Once the testosterone levels begin to drop you change your mind on some things.

  92. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Chris,

    That does answer my question. Next question: would you agree or disagree with Erik that if doctrine is taught (and received), worldview will follow?

  93. Zrim
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    We elect our “magistrates” and in a real sense as citizens of a democracy, we cannot shrug our shoulders and render onto Caesar because we are Caesar.

    I am as amazed by this as the original theonomists were when Jesus said the opposite. (So Jesus had his fingers crossed when he said for citizens under authority to render to that authority his due, as in unless you are a 2013 American, in which case never mind.)

    But on top of an incredibly naive view of the American arrangement, it is also the widespread cultural default setting on political authority and citizenship. I thought we were supposed to be counter-cultural, as in you are to submit and render unto even the Caesar you loathe because there is no civil authority that God has not ordained–so quit making up asinine junk about you being your own authority to get around it.

  94. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Tom, but isn’t it in your court to show that the Bible teaches that Christian morality is the backbone of society? As Machen asked, how can you have Christian morality without Christian theology? Morality without theology is liberalism. I’m not calling your view another religion the way Machen talked about liberalism. Makes “betrayal” seem mild, no?

    Plus, if this is not Nero’s Rome, what’s all the urgency for Christians to do something. Nero’s Rome was bad and what did the apostles “do”? They didn’t fight a culture war or implement a social gospel.

  95. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Christopher Lee, the Gosnell case shows what? That America is going to the dogs? He is on trial. Did the Nazis put Gestapo torturers on trial?

    It seems to me that the Baylys (and you) only see evidence of a particular kind and that you are looking to condemn the U.S. I am not defending the U.S. or American exceptionalism. But I don’t see in the Baylys analysis any hopefulness or thankfulness. It’s all condemnation and conspiracy. It’s not convincing. Even wicked people are more likeable than we expect. Just think of Omar Little.

  96. Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Tom, but isn’t it in your court to show that the Bible teaches that Christian morality is the backbone of society?

    Who, me, Darryl? You got the wrong guy. I don’t go near that thump-stuff. However, that Biblical morality is in perfect harmony with the natural law is the contention of both faith and reason. Both come “from the same adorable source”: Truth cannot contradict truth. [This argument cannot be new to a person of your consummate erudition.]

    As Machen asked, how can you have Christian morality without Christian theology?

    See above. Right reason must be in harmony with Biblical truth–and we must add here that “theology” itself as you yourself use it is the product of reason applied to scripture. Otherwise the fundamentalists win and we stone all the gays. [Which the Hebrews never did.]

    Morality without theology is liberalism.

    I think I not only follow, but agree. However, one can arrive at natural law and its correlated morality with a decent metaphysics, say Aristotle’s. But, yes, not without one. This is a big deal in this modern age that discards metaphysics completely. “Morality” is a set of prejudices and sentiments.

    I’m not calling your view another religion the way Machen talked about liberalism. Makes “betrayal” seem mild, no?

    I’m not sure I’ve disclosed my “view” yet, Darryl, let alone my religion. I have just begun to express my reservations about what I perceive to be yours, and I could be wrong in those perceptions. It’s no secret you play ’em rather close to the vest yourself, brother. Neither do I know by what authority you pontificate, since these days even the Pope doesn’t use language like “betrayal of the Gospel.” Dude, that’s some heavy duty rock’n’roll. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I’ve made a good faith attempt to reason through your reasoning, but punking tomato cans like Palin or the Baylys has made your rigor flabby. ;-P It’s about time you’re obliged to exert yourself a little instead of cruising through the Bum of the Month Club to the hosannas of your Mini-Me[s], whom I’d appreciate you keep from underfoot, or at least ask to mind their manners a bit.

    Plus, if this is not Nero’s Rome, what’s all the urgency for Christians to do something.

    Being born into a whorehouse [Nero’s Rome] is not the same as acquiescing in having your home [America] turned into one, and having your children [children being a subject that pacifism, libertarianism and I suspect 2Kism elide] forced grow up in one. This was Locke’s argument, and Wayland’s about slavery, that Christ didn’t come to start a war of political-social equality or a dictatorship of the proletariat. These arguments I’ve picked out over the years with your own argument in mind.

    Nero’s Rome was bad and what did the apostles “do”? They didn’t fight a culture war or implement a social gospel.

    By bringing up Nero’s Rome in the first place, I had hoped to show an appreciation of Romans 13, which forms a foundation for your position

    Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

    In a democratic republic, we are those authorities. [And that’s not even going into the argument that if God put Nero in charge, why couldn’t he establish America as the City on the Hill?] I don’t argue from Providential History, but if we’re discussing theology—which we are now—neither do I think we should close our theological door on it.

    I appreciate your being open to defending your argument/thesis, Darryl. It’s only fair that you come out from behind your duck blind and risk a few shots yourself. I’ve given your writings much thought. Certainly, the City of God is not synonymous with “The United States of America” nor any of man’s kingdoms. And perhaps we’re seeing a turn of the page of history—right now in our lifetimes—that Christianity must return to the catacombs, as it were, as the minority religion per 2K. Your writings have left me open to that very real possibility that it’s Providence’s Will that “Christendom” as man’s history has known it is finished.

    [As I recall, when the Turks were storming the Gates of Vienna c. 1530, Martin Luther thought Christendom falling before the Muslim tide might be divine justice. As it turned out, Providence said no, but perhaps only decided to wait another 500 years or so, eh?]

    Respectfully submitted. Thank you.

  97. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Zrim quoting TVD: We elect our “magistrates” and in a real sense as citizens of a democracy, we cannot shrug our shoulders and render onto Caesar because we are Caesar.

    Zrim: I am as amazed by this as the original theonomists were when Jesus said the opposite. (So Jesus had his fingers crossed when he said for citizens under authority to render to that authority his due, as in unless you are a 2013 American, in which case never mind.)

    But on top of an incredibly naive view of the American arrangement, it is also the widespread cultural default setting on political authority and citizenship. I thought we were supposed to be counter-cultural, as in you are to submit and render unto even the Caesar you loathe because there is no civil authority that God has not ordained–so quit making up asinine junk about you being your own authority to get around it.

    RS: Perhaps it is not quite so asinine as you think. Think about some of the applications of reading the “render unto Caesar” in its historical context. Who would Caesar render unto? How would that apply to him? Caesar was thought to be a god and was to be sacrificed to, but at the least by that point had the power to do as he pleased. In the United States we are a Democratic Republic and are supposed to function by law. Who makes laws? Congress. Who votes people into office? The people do. So who should Congress render unto Caesar to? When they are waxing eloquent, they speak of answering to the people.

  98. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Tom, it’s no secret I play my religious convictions close to the vest? I’m not sure what you’ve read, but at OL I have never avoided identifying myself as an elder in the OPC (not that this blog is some kind of ministry — I blog as part of my vocation as a historian and writer). If you’ve read my histories of the OPC and American Presbyterianism, you’d also see some indication of my religion. And if you read A Secular Faith you’d also have an indication. The caution you see is largely invisible to people who hunt around in publications and the internet.

    As for punking tomato cans, do you consider Michael Gerson, or Billy Graham, or Francis Schaeffer, or Mark Hatfield, or Nick Wolterstorff, or George Marsden, or James Skilton, or Jim Wallis to be tomato cans? I’ve issued reservations about them all in various settings. Again, I don’t expect you to have read everything or tracked it down. But to characterize my arguments against the Religious Right or w-wism as “cruising through the Bum of the Month Club” is inaccurate (even if you disagree with the arguments.

    Then this business about American being turned into a whorehouse. Have you been reading the Baylys? Every society is a mixed proposition. I think we can discern some are better than others. I’ll still contend that the U.S. for all its woes is better — unless you think masochism is part and parcel of virtue or sanctification — than 64 AD Rome. I attend the means of grace every Sunday and no one threatens me for doing so. By that measure alone, the contemporary U.S. is better than any number of previous times, whether pagan or Christian.

  99. wjw
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Richard,

    You make good points. But, what happens when “the people” do not share comprehensive doctrines? What happens when geography, ethnic identity, class interests, personal interests, and competing comprehensive doctrines collide? Pluralism messes with a universal Platonic rendering of “the people.” Likewise Caesar wears a thousand masks. Social contract theory helps as long as it secures our material well-being, but try governing with special revelation and see what happens. Even demanding accountability in the name of special revelation will only resonate so far. Dearborn, Michigan is not Borough Park Brooklyn, is not Birmingham, Alabama.

  100. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Tom needs to hang in here and he will contribute some valuable things to the conversation. Right now he is a newbie and is trying a little too hard. I’ve been there, too.

  101. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    wjw: Richard, You make good points. But, what happens when “the people” do not share comprehensive doctrines? What happens when geography, ethnic identity, class interests, personal interests, and competing comprehensive doctrines collide? Pluralism messes with a universal Platonic rendering of “the people.” Likewise Caesar wears a thousand masks. Social contract theory helps as long as it secures our material well-being, but try governing with special revelation and see what happens. Even demanding accountability in the name of special revelation will only resonate so far. Dearborn, Michigan is not Borough Park Brooklyn, is not Birmingham, Alabama.

    RS: I do see what you are saying and it is a very difficult situation, and in fact one I cannot find precise answers to at all. I am simply arguing at this point that the “render unto Caesar” is not quite as obvious as some make it out to be and (as you note) we all have different versions and forms of Caesar. I am not sure we can demand accountability to men for each and every point of the Law in this life (an opening for Doug), but that is not opposite or a contradiction to the Church as having the obligation to declare what is true and not to give approval to what is evil. This is not the Church demanding that laws be passed and trying to control things through politics, but it is simply declaring the Word of God on the matter and not giving approval to those things which are sins against Him.

  102. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, it doesn’t appear that it’s enough for Gosnell to simply be on trial. What lifers want is his trial covered with at least as much media sensationalism as Tiller’s killer. For all the emphasis on law and justice, the thirst for space in the headlines is odd to say the least.

  103. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Richard, my point is pretty simple: citizens of whatever political arrangement live under authority. It doesn’t matter if the former put the latter into place by votes or not. Just because my wife said “I do” it doesn’t mean she’s my head, which is the familial version of the political logic I’m calling asinine.

  104. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Elder Hart,

    One of your commenters invited me over here and I’ve not visited you for awhle.

    Regarding:

    the sacrifices to Molechs are all hyperbole

    I’m assuming you mean in relation to abortion. Could you please expand on why you find a comparison of modern abortion to Molech worship to be hyperbole?

    David Gray

  105. mikelmann
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    David, sometimes the prosecutor has to politely ask for evidence, eh?

  106. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    David, sometimes the prosecutor has to politely ask for evidence, eh?

    If only.

  107. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, my point is pretty simple: citizens of whatever political arrangement live under authority. It doesn’t matter if the former put the latter into place by votes or not. Just because my wife said “I do” it doesn’t mean she’s my head, which is the familial version of the political logic I’m calling asinine.

    RS: I don’t think your analogy works in this case, however. But even more, “render unto Caesar” did mean something more at that time than it does today.

  108. Bobby
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Gray,

    For starters, our Anglo-American system of jurisprudence has always recognized a legal difference between the early-term fetus (which is the subject of nearly all abortions performed in the US) and a viable, living post-birth child. Protestants generally accepted this distinction until the advent of the Culture Wars. For example, Dr. Woolley’s minority report to the OPC’s statement on abortion is as cogent today as it was then.

    In Protestantism, and particularly in our Reformed communions, the burden of proof lies with those who seek to bind others’ consciences on an issue. Therefore, the burden of proof lies with those who seek to equate pagan child sacrifice with early-term abortion.

    I’m not suggesting that early-term abortion is necessarily morally permissible for members in good standing of a Christian church. But that doesn’t imply that abortion is necessarily murder in all instances.

  109. Bobby
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    “I am not sure we can demand accountability to men for each and every point of the Law in this life….” — Richard

    And what would ever make you think that any human institution has authorization to demand such accountability?

    I quote CS Lewis:

    I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber barron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.

    And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme — whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence — the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.

  110. Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    More enlightened thinking from Tim Bayly:

    Dear Erik,

    Concerning taking on all comers, it it’s unbelievers, yes. But if it’s Darryl Hart and his R2K men, no. Did it for a while and found it utterly useless. David and I are opposed to Baylyblog serving as a forum for the promotion of this terrible theological aberration.

    I notice you have been posting multiple comments again this morning, directly after I asked you to post your comments together in one comment. Please follow my instructions. If you have multiple things to say, pool them in one comment and then allow others to respond. There are plenty of ways of formatting your text in such a way as to make it clear to whom you are responding and what they had said that promoted your response.

    It’s not polite to monopolize a discussion. If you continue to do what I asked you last night to avoid, I will ask you to leave and I’ll make it clear to our readers why you are gone.

    There are several reasons I didn’t correct your errors. Mainly, it’s because I don’t have the time to do so.

    I’m a pastor.

    Sincerely,

    Tim Bayly

    And probably mediocre thinking from me:

    You would make a good dictator. Do what you wish but I won’t be bullied by you.

    “for the promotion of this terrible theological aberration.”

    That’s what you have to prove through rational argument, not bullying or censorship. Hart will let you say as much as you would like at his site if you have the courage and bladder control.

    If you just want to shut people up, so be it, but I don’t think you’ll win too many over.

    Erik

    So he’s a pastor. I’m an accountant. So what? Blog or don’t blog, it’s up to you regardless of your profession.

  111. Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    David,

    Thanks for coming. Grab a beer from the virtual fridge.

  112. Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Bobby,

    Fabulous Lewis quote. Thanks for that.

  113. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    David, if lifers want to actually persuade others in order to gain some ground then wouldn’t it help to dial down the hyperbolic rhetoric? Maybe you could take a cue from an actual judicial conservative:

    “I oppose abortion. But an amazing number of people thought that I would outlaw abortion. They didn’t understand that not only did I have no desire to do that, but I had no power to do it. If you overrule Roe v. Wade, abortion does not become illegal. State legislatures take on the subject. The abortion issue has produced divisions and bitterness in our politics that countries don’t have where abortion is decided by legislatures. And both sides go home, after a compromise, and attempt to try again next year. And as a result, it’s not nearly the explosive issue as it is here where the court has grabbed it and taken it away from the voters.”

    Judge Robert Bork in Newsweek, Jun 20, 2009 (from the magazine issue dated Jun 29, 2009).

    Nothing there about child sacrifice. Only a demonstrated capacity to live with a jurisprudence one opposes and recognize the virtue of compromise. But maybe the point isn’t do much to endure and persuade but to blow hard for righteousness sake?

  114. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Richard, leave it to a semi-revivalist to complicate a simple point and miss a straight-forward analogy (next time you convince your elected sheriff and judge to do your will because you put him in office, let us know). But the command to render still means as much today as it did then. Sure, our modern rulers may not think they are gods, but that’s even more reason to bolster the virtue of submission instead of indulging the asinine idea that citizens are the actual rulers which undermines biblical ethics. Wait, I thought you were the Bible guy?

  115. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    David, if lifers want to actually persuade others in order to gain some ground then wouldn’t it help to dial down the hyperbolic rhetoric?

    I remember you well I’m afraid. How does a man who uses the term “lifer” think he’ll be compelling in telling others to dial down the rhetoric?

    The actual question is why is it hyperbole. Nobody has really gone to bat on that yet.

  116. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, thank you for your reply.

    1) I don’t read the Baylys but perhaps I should, since I gravitate to apologetics rather than polemics. But I’m sure, as defense attorney Barney Greenwald says in The Caine Mutiny, I’d rather prosecute.

    2) I’d be interested in your critiques of Marsden [Noll as well?] and Wallis. But if you’re to do Palin, you’re obliged to do Barack Obama, who explicitly enlisted clergy and the Bible in pushing Obamacare.

    of Mr. Gerson, I like him, but again, Beatitudism isn’t all there is to Christianity.

    3) We still have not addressed the question of moral flaccidity, indeed hamstringing your fellow Christians [if you regard them to be] from speaking out on the transformation of America into a whorehouse.

    4) I fear I haven’t made my invocation of Nero’s Rome clear enough–it’s designed to acknowledge the Romans 13 argument, which was written in Nero’s time. What I’m saying, and Richard Smith has picked up on it, is that the political situation is not the same–as Francis Wayland said back in the
    day, had Jesus or St. Paul set Christianity against the political institution of slavery, Christianity would have been about this world and not the next–contra your Two Kingdoms argument.

    However, that didn’t mean Jesus and Paul approved of it or were indifferent to it–nor did it mean that Christians of a future age should be impotent or indifferent to it. And there’s the rub, one among many.

    Thank you for your reply. I shall try to make myself clearer in the future–I’m attempting to have this discussion on your terms, not just mine. I’m certainly not just saying Americ F*** Yeah, that it’s better than any other country ever, esp Nero’s Rome. [Although it is, but that’s not relevant here.] Soon it may become Amsterdam, and I just don’t see where the Bible commands we sit on our hands as it happens.

    As for the title of your post, there is a dynamic difference between a Carrie Nation banning something that wasn’t formerly banned, and legalizing something that has banned for a long time. Resisting radical change is “conservatism” of the Edmund Burke stripe, making Carrie Nation a radical, not a conservative, any more than the radical Taliban are conservative.

    Catch you down the line.

  117. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    For the record here, there exists a strong American consensus on abortion. Scroll down past the “pro-life vs. pro-choice” rhetorical fog and buried at the end you’ll find

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx

    61% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in the 1st Trimester
    64% of Americans believe abortion should be banned in the 2nd trimester
    80% of Americans believe abortion should be banned in the 3rd trimester

    The discussion should start there, or here

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2268815/UK-abortion-limit-Born-23-weeks-twins-modern-medicine-marvel-raise-questions-laws.html

    Anyone who opposes unrestricted abortion on demand should not let the discussion get dragged into the tall weeds of “choice.” First things first. [And as for hyperbole, perhaps we should call killing viable babies murder, because it is. “Reasonable” people can get far too “reasonable” at times. Wake up.]

  118. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    David, “lifer” is a self-described term, is it not? I don’t hear many “choicers” calling themselves “Ammonites” or homosexuals “Sodommites.” And this is why it’s hyperbole. You describe others with loaded language they would never of themselves, clearly designed to impugn and incite. What’s so inciting and impugning about “lifer.” You’re pro-life, right?

  119. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Tom – We still have not addressed the question of moral flaccidity, indeed hamstringing your fellow Christians [if you regard them to be] from speaking out on the transformation of America into a whorehouse.

    Erik – Is 2K about hamstringing fellow Christians or telling people who decide to opt out of the culture war, for whatever reason, that it’s o.k.?

    I don’t begrudge any pastor or Christian their free speech, but I do object when they want to tell me or my minister what we have to do for their particular cause on pain of being declared a coward or worse.

  120. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    Before you can convict anyone of moral flaccidity you have identify an alleged offense, identify the biblical principle at stake, identify the action that needs to be taken in light of it, identify that the person on trial is the one who needs to take that action, and then show they haven’t done it. The burden of proving these these five things is on you.

    A guy on Bayly bog (during my apparent 1 hour lifetime sojourn there) was basically calling church leaders derelict because they did not object, as churches, to people having to get social security numbers for their children). Prosecute that one if you wish.

  121. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    David Gray, because no physician or mother is offering up the baby for sacrifice to a god. Why is that not obvious?

  122. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Only one “m” in Sodomite. Get it right.

  123. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Bobby quoting RS: “I am not sure we can demand accountability to men for each and every point of the Law in this life….” — Richard

    Bobby: And what would ever make you think that any human institution has authorization to demand such accountability?

    RS: If you go back you might see that the quote you gave had a context. I was not asserting that as fact. When you take that point in context, it means something different when apart from the context.

    “I am not sure we can demand accountability to men for each and every point of the Law in this life (an opening for Doug), but that is not opposite or a contradiction to the Church as having the obligation to declare what is true and not to give approval to what is evil. This is not the Church demanding that laws be passed and trying to control things through politics, but it is simply declaring the Word of God on the matter and not giving approval to those things which are sins against Him.”

  124. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    The tricky part is that there is a strong American consensus on fornication. Therein lies the rub.

  125. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    We also like low taxes and generous government benefits.

  126. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, leave it to a semi-revivalist to complicate a simple point and miss a straight-forward analogy (next time you convince your elected sheriff and judge to do your will because you put him in office, let us know).

    RS: I don’t think that I missed the analogy at all, nor am I missing this one. I simply don’t think that they work in the context of “render unto Caesar.” I suppose I could say leave it to a lazy confessionalist to be so absorbed in the confession that he is not careful to read the Bible in its own context. But I won’t say that.

    Zrim: But the command to render still means as much today as it did then. Sure, our modern rulers may not think they are gods, but that’s even more reason to bolster the virtue of submission instead of indulging the asinine idea that citizens are the actual rulers which undermines biblical ethics.

    RS: If you will go back and read that text you will find that it is speaking of taxes.

    Zrim: Wait, I thought you were the Bible guy?

    RS: Indeed, but the text is limited to speaking of taxes. If one wants to draw principles, I suppose one can.

  127. Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    The tricky part is that there is a strong American consensus on fornication. Therein lies the rub.

    Erik, perhaps the Baylys had a point that you might go for quality and concision over, well, stuff like this. It must seem clever as you’re typing, but the fact is that Americans don’t favor banning fornication. And so, a very sincere reply to Darryl and to those here gathered that took half an hour to write and hours to compose mentally gets buried under reams of silliness. Think about it, OK? I’ve seen you write very worthy stuff, so I’m not asking for the impossible here. Peace.

  128. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Richard, Mark 12 includes taxes, but it really isn’t about that. It’s about submission. Take note that they marveled or were amazed at his teaching. The command to file honestly and timely is hardly amazing. But to teach submission to a magistrate who thinks he’s deity and tramples the people of God underfoot to people biting at the bit to be given a loophole to rebel against him will draw a few gasps.

    Besides, how does the point that it’s about taxes help the larger point that the governed are their own authorities? The mind boggles.

  129. wjw
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    You say America is being transformed into a whorehouse and Christians should not sit passively and accept this transformation. If America hasn’t always been a whorehouse it has at least been a burlesque show. My point is I don’t see how sounding the alarm of declension today is any different from the alarms of the past–Puritans, Millennialists, Abolitionists, etc. Sure the social gospel folks are annoying, but they actually share an ancestry with evangelical conservatives. Both like the idea of aggressive visible sainthood whether its fighting alcohol or saving the environment. If society is in such decline then where is the point from which it has fallen? Maybe The Fall? If we simply need to find a happy Aristotelian recovery to secure a softer political landing fine. But why agitate for the church to mediate this recovery. Christianity already has a mediator.

  130. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    David Gray, because no physician or mother is offering up the baby for sacrifice to a god. Why is that not obvious?

    Because Calvin correctly observed that our minds are idol factories and the Reformed concept of idolatry has never limited idols to wood and stone. Molech worshippers offered up their children to die so that their lives would be improved. So generally do people who kill their children in abortion. I’m not sure that self-worship and idolatry is better than Molech worship and idolatry.

  131. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I don’t hear many “choicers” calling themselves “Ammonites” or homosexuals “Sodommites.”

    Actually you don’t hear many sodomites calling themselves homosexuals either. What do you suppose the Sanhedrin called themselves when they were killing Christ?

  132. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    David, so how do you like it when you are characterized as a misogynist and oppressor for your moral and political opposition to elective abortion? I don’t much care for it. It seems to me that’s pretty loaded language and hyperbole on the part of my moral and political opponents to impugn my character for simply disagreeing with them. Have you ever heard the second greatest commandment?

  133. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    David, so how do you like it when you are characterized as a misogynist and oppressor for your moral and political opposition to elective abortion?

    I consider the source. Don’t you, if you were to become known as an abortion foe?

    I don’t much care for it. It seems to me that’s pretty loaded language and hyperbole on the part of my moral and political opponents to impugn my character for simply disagreeing with them. Have you ever heard the second greatest commandment?

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I describe them accurately and I would indeed like it if they did the same. But I have low expectations for people who find human beings to be disposable.

  134. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Tom – but the fact is that Americans don’t favor banning fornication

    Erik – You miss my point. Americans may not favor (some) abortion, but they also don’t favor restrictions on their sexual freedom, thus they have lots of abortions that they say in theory they are against.

    You need to lighten up or you’re not going to make it through the weekend here.

  135. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    Those of us who post here a lot seem really weird at first because we really do look at things inside-out as compared to 90% of Christians. You’ll catch on eventually, though. Maybe you can even become one of the resident scolds. Stick with it.

  136. mark mcculley
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Rs says “render to caesar” means something in different situations.

    So how has the situation changed? The Christians are now in charge, and making history go the right way, even if that means no longer leaving the wrath to God?

    Or does “leave the wrath to God” NOW mean “leave it to God’s agents of wrath” which NOW means “leave it to us”?

    So now but not then, leave it to God means leave it to the good people (like us)?

    And Tonto asks, who’s the us?

    And which God are “we” talking about”?

    I Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the ecclesia whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside.

    But how can that distinction make any sense, if God forgives when we forgive, and if God is judging when we judge?

    Romans 12:19… give place to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  137. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Erik, but I’ve been reading this website for years now, including your frequent comments. I understand you just fine and don’t miss your point at all, because it’s not a true analogy.

    I’ll try some other time to get a straight answer on the theologico-political problem of slavery. As I said, I think an honest and forthright 2K answer would be indefensible to the angry and impressionable masses, and so I understand eliding the topic. However…

    As for corresponding with you, perhaps we should take each others’ advice and end this round and round right now. For my part, I’m only helping you bury a reply I spent virtually hours on, so I’m defeating my own purpose. Richard Smith has picked up an important part of my argument–that we are Caesar–quite solidly, although at this point I suspect he’s also co-operating in letting it be buried under sophistries.

    Absent something new that moves the conversation forward, i think you & I are done for now.

  138. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    David, I may be writing on the surface of lake here, but if you don’t want to be characterized as misogynist for your views then why do you characterize others as Ammonites for theirs? Bork (hello, conservative!) mentioned divisions, bitterness, and explosiveness in our politics, and he meant it as a bad thing, as in good for culture war but bad for cultivation of civil society. He’s talking about you who would conceive yourself as conservative.

  139. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    One thing I’ve observed (and experienced firsthand) is that once you are steeped in a culture war mindset it is really hard to get out of it, even if it is only temporarily to appreciate an opponent’s point. The first step is to turn off talk radio for a month.

  140. Bobby
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    I’m still confused by the “I’m not sure…” part of your quote. In what way are you unsure. I pretty darn sure that we have no business at all “demand[ing] accountability to men for each and every point of the Law in this life.”

    Also, what you propose in the latter half of the paragraph seems like nothing short of a type of indirect theonomism. Perhaps you believe that such a system is desirable. But it’s not the system we have. In general, laws passed by virtue of indirect theonomism would fail under either the 5th Amendment (if federal) or the 14th Amendment (if state), unless there is some other non-religious basis for the law that is related to a legitimate governmental function. Having the government reflect the religious views of the majority is not a legitimate governmental function, per the First Amendment.

  141. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    This isn’t aimed at DTM, but rather the Baylys, whose rhetoric on opposition to abortion seems to be at loggerheads with their denouncement of Curell’s actions. The Baylys often cite Doug Wilson as a culture ware ally, and see him as far more faithful than the Reformed ministers they so scathingly denounce for not adequately opposing abortion from the pulpit. But, how can they turn around and distance themselves from Curell’s actions, when co-belligerent Wilson says this:

    Now here is the problem. All of this is going on today, now. Is America today a hellhole? It still depends on who you are and where you are. 50 million dead and counting.

    My problem as a pastor involved in the culture wars has to do with the fact that just about every abortion mill in the country is within quick driving distance of an evangelical church, praise choruses and all. Do we have any responsibility to do something? I believe we do. What then? How shall we then live? If there were an underground railroad for the unborn black children, would we be heroes for running it? What principles are involved? Was John Brown a murderous thug? Should pro-lifers be praying for our own equivalent thug? Why or why not? Is there any way to appeal to the relevant principles (legal, constitutional, moral, historical, and biblical) without getting called a racist? Let me add to the mix the fact that our half-black, half-white president represents our two races very well. He is a ghoulish president, and we are a ghoulish people. Blacks are ghouls and whites are ghouls. Neil Young heard bullwhips cracking from over a century ago, but he can’t hear the silent screams from just down the street. North Dakota has just given the raspberry to Roe v. Wade. Are they heroes or chumps?

    Isn’t Wilson calling for the emergence of modern day anti-abortion Jayhawhers to courageously lead the charge against state-sponsored infanticide when he asks, “Was John Brown a murderous thug? Should pro-lifers be praying for our own equivalent thug?” While the Baylys have not employed precisely the same anti-abortion rhetoric, they have given equally fiery diatribes on the issue, directing Lord’s Day sermons to the President, and calling for drastic measures to combat the ills of abortion. However, when someone, an officer in their church – regularly exposed to their often heated addresses on the issues, decides to take their message to heart and show up at an abortion clinic wielding an axe, they distance themselves? Am I the only one who is confused here? Are they being duplicitous, or are they not really willing to back up their rhetoric with the drastic action it may take, given their own opinions on the matter, to combat the evil of abortion.

    Of course, we in the 2k camp are also opposed to the issue of abortion, but have elected to address the issue in a different way. There are alternative pregnancy centers that can help women choose better options than abortion (such as the one in Escondido), and there are legislative and legal means to seek the end of Roe v. Wade. But, since we do not make it a holy crusade, occupying the bulk of our Lord’s Day sermons, and since we don’t necessarily advocate the graphic means of some abortion clinic protestors, we are not sufficiently against abortion. What gives?

  142. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    It’s good to learn I have a public. Talk to you later.

  143. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Jed, and are we really supposed to believe that the man who wrote “Southern Slavery: As It Was” would have been righteously marching on Selma? Please. Talk about borrowing capital (to lend cultural hegemonic momentum to a preferred contemporary crusade).

  144. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    David, I may be writing on the surface of lake here, but if you don’t want to be characterized as misogynist for your views then why do you characterize others as Ammonites for theirs?

    As I previously noted all I want is to be accurately described. Which is all I’m doing when I refer to a sodomite as a sodomite. If it is good enough for Scripture it is good enough for me. When have you seen me use the term “Ammonite”? I don’t recollect using the term. But I don’t expect to be described accurately by people who find the image of God to be disposable.

    Bork (hello, conservative!) mentioned divisions, bitterness, and explosiveness in our politics, and he meant it as a bad thing, as in good for culture war but bad for cultivation of civil society.

    And when he title his book “Slouching Towards Gomorrah” was he increasing or decreasing civility? I respected Bork but I certainly don’t agree with him on everything (I don’t know of any Roman Catholics with whom I am in complete agreement).

    He’s talking about you who would conceive yourself as conservative.

    Perhaps he was talking about himself. And I’m a Christian before I’m a conservative.

  145. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Was John Brown a murderous thug?

    Yes.

    Should pro-lifers be praying for our own equivalent thug?

    No.

  146. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Tom, You say America is being transformed into a whorehouse and Christians should not sit passively and accept this transformation. If America hasn’t always been a whorehouse it has at least been a burlesque show.

    Perhaps, WJW–and I do enjoy your comments–but they’re not the same thing. Further, I don’t accept the implicit premise that America’s a big joke so one more won’t hurt–America’s moral norms were certainly formed by a Christian sensibility. However, “modernity” [utilitarianism, libertarianism, etc.], a development of the 1800s and beyond, negates the central premise of our natural law Founding, that “liberty is not license.” Everyone from John Locke to George Washington believed in that limitation, in those exact words.

    Indeed the concept of natural rights has been mutated into political rights and “rights talk,” so much so that the natural rights to life, liberty and property have been perverted into a right to abortion, liberty-as-license [the whorehouse], and a communal claim on private property [the whole welfare state-tax thing].

    My point is I don’t see how sounding the alarm of declension today is any different from the alarms of the past–Puritans, Millennialists, Abolitionists, etc. Sure the social gospel folks are annoying, but they actually share an ancestry with evangelical conservatives.

    that last argument I actually have a scholarly/historical sympathy for–that the Puritans mutated into today’s New england liberals. [The Unitarians took over the Congregationalist churches, and today’s Unitarian Universalist Church doesn’t even necessarily believe in God. As the Congregationalists still joke 100 years later, “The Congregationalists kept the faith; the unitarians got the furniture.]

    [But I digress, although not completely. The Unitarians won possession of the churches in court. But another time. Interesting story, I hope you’ll agree.]

    [T]he social gospel folks are annoying, but they actually share an ancestry with evangelical conservatives. Both like the idea of aggressive visible sainthood whether its fighting alcohol or saving the environment

    Well, the thing is, I don’t agree with social gospel politics, but I’m not God either so i don’t rule them as invalid. My point would be that the dynamics of Darryl’s equation get turned on its head–if those who disagree with left-Christianity simply remain silent per 2K, then the lefties win by default, and Barack Obama gets away with creating a welfare state. Gov’t-paid abortions in the name of Christ??????

    If society is in such decline then where is the point from which it has fallen? Maybe The Fall? If we simply need to find a happy Aristotelian recovery to secure a softer political landing fine. But why agitate for the church to mediate this recovery. Christianity already has a mediator.

    “Society” lies between the City of God and the City of Man. Sometimes you’re born into a political situation such as Nero’s Rome where political activism would only bring Christian sensibilities [you can read that as “natural law” if you want] into disrepute.

    On the other hand, id we are Caesar and flaccidly sit by and let liberty become license, let the city become a whorehouse, then that brings our own principles into disrepute, that we’re so lukewarm about them that we won’t open our mouths or get up off our asses to defend them.

    People admire moral passion, you know. It’s part of the human person as much as the intellect is. Getting too intellectual–say, about things like killing viable babies–is no virtue. What the hell’s wrong with us?

  147. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Before you judge Wilson’s book prematurely. From Amazon:

    16 of 18 people found the following review helpful

    4.0 out of 5 stars Doug Wilson’s Confession from a Paleo-Confederate July 24, 2012

    By Mathew Sims

    Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase

    Everyone kept telling me Doug Wilson supports slavery and they pointed to a book which he wrote over a decade ago, Slavery As It Was (there was a counterpoint written by two professors from Idaho University, Slavery As It Wasn’t). That book is out of print because of major citation errors by his co-author. In the interest of knowing exactly what he says on these issues I found and purchased Black & Tan: A Collection of Essays and Excursions on Slavery, Culture War, and Scripture in America (which may win the award for the worst font choice of any book I’ve ever read)–an expansion of his own part of the original Slavery As It Was. Racial reconciliation is important to me and racism must be rooted out in our country and especially in our churches. You can read what I have said about race related issues elsewhere.

    Summary: Slavery in the South was an evil that needed to be abolished and God judged our country for not doing so but the way in which slavery was abolished in the United States was contrary to Scripture and cost us over 600,000 lives. He argues against large scale violence to cure social ills. So for instance, he would argue we shouldn’t have killed each other to abolish the societal evil of slavery and so we must not kill each other to rid our society of equally contemptible societal ills like abortion. The Civil War allowed our Constitution to be turned upside down (limits on Federal rights move to limits on States’s rights) and allowed social evils like abortion, gay marriage, etc. to flourish in our current society.

    Here are his main points:
    1. Slavery was evil and part of the falleness of humanity.
    2. Scripture doesn’t condone slavery (as practiced in the South) but it also doesn’t excommunicate slaver owners in the early church.
    3. The United States didn’t abolish slavery according to Scriptural precepts.
    4. Jesus won racial reconciliation on the cross and it’s a positive good.
    5. Black “Confederates” fought for the South and contributed to Southern society; although resentment and sin (separation of families) was present, there was comparatively (to slavery in Caribbean or Brazil) genuine affection in some cases.

    Erik – There are some things there that 2K people can embrace. I do not think Wilson is a racist. He’s too smart for that.

  148. wjw
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    But is the church not doing something when it holds forth repentance, forgiveness, and faith to the abortionists, the woman who chooses an abortion? Is there not unspeakable power in that offering? I guess that is what I hear in 2k arguments. I share your instincts about natural law, I’m just not convinced supernatural grace and natural law always communicate the same things the same way. Even Aquinas hedges as much. Maybe political reasoning has to begin on terms a little closer to the City of Man even while the church exhorts the City of God. Again, how in the world do you convince millions of people who do not share a comprehensive doctrine and live in a struggle for security and resources to play nice? Locke and his intellectual progeny give us a hint, but we take it at a price that demands we share public space with people with whom we disagree. In return we eat, have running water, watch movies, admonish others not to look pornography, and drive to church on Sundays in Lexi. In short we live with a modicum of very imperfect peace and prosperity.

  149. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    David, you asked why your language of sacrificing to Molech was hyperbole. It doesn’t appear you like any of the perfectly good answers. Have you considered that being hyperbolic isn’t always a bad thing? Have you considered affirming your use of hyperbole for the conventional purpose, namely to make a point? But as long as you have a blind spot for figurative language, it appears you want to be taken literally. Say hello to fundamentalism.

    PS an Ammorite is one whose god was Molech and so sacrificed children to him. You may not have used the term but you have used the concept.

  150. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Erik, my point wasn’t that Wilson is a racist. It was that culture warriors like to borrow from the momentum of moral majority. And those who marched on Selma didn’t go on to write books that undermined the cause. Try a thought experiment: can you picture Wilson writing a book in 50 years that undermines the pro-life movement or give some credence to choice politics? I would imagine not. It works the other way around, the one who writes about how slaves loved their masters isn’t the same one who marched on Selma. And yet he wants to tie the civil rights movement and the pro-life movement together as one long line of evangelical righteousness. Like I said, please.

  151. Posted April 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    WJW, we are in substantive agreement. As a quick cut to the chase, I think modernity is the counterfeit of a true Christian [incl Aquinas] morality. What they call “social gospel” politics used to be social Gospel politics used to be “Christian charity.” Of course we owe the common good, our fellow man. We are social animals by nature as well and it’s perverse to ignore that fact.

    But modernity cuts out the foundations of natural rights [be it God or natural law, which Aquinas, Blackstone, Hamilton and even that infidel Jefferson agreed are inseparable: the laws of nature and of nature’s God], and that’s how the right to life becomes the right to abortion. It’s the modernists who are the radical individualists, not the Christian or the conservative [or both]!

    But is the church not doing something when it holds forth repentance, forgiveness, and faith to the abortionists, the woman who chooses an abortion?

    I’m not sure I follow this. My argument would be that the obscenity of abortion hurts not only the baby but the woman and in a larger sense, society, the reduction of the meaning of life to the merely material. Same of pornography, although if you’ve read Aquinas on prostitution, wisdom cautions us that the cure may be worse than the ill. [The latter two are not matters of life and death. We need to keep a sense of proportion.]

    What I think is that Christians, conservatives, conservative Christians and Christian conservatives need to get their moral thinking caps on and learn why certain things are proscribed by both scripture and natural law: God will be just fine whether we sin or not, but we won’t be. Sin harms us. Sin will harm your child, and that’s why you want him or her to grow up–as much as is possible–where they are not led into temptation, say in a whorehouse or an opium den.

    As for forgiving or condemning a woman who had an abortion, is that even an issue here per John 8? I would think there’s unanimous sentiment among those here gathered on that. [My moral/”rightstalk” question would be whether there’s a natural right for a doctor to perform abortions–or to cut people’s legs off if they want for that matter. But again, another time.]

    I’m sure in the cosmic scheme of God’s eternal love and mercy, the aborted baby will be all right. But I wouldn’t want my daughter to have an abortion because it might cause her psychological misery until her dying day. [Look up Patricia Neal.]

    Now perhaps there’s a theological argument that it’s all up to God so what’s the use anyway. But to quote Chesterton in a related context, that’s a theology nobody would be seen dead in a field with; or if the phrase be too flippant, would be specially anxious to touch with a barge-pole.
    _____________
    Aside to ErikC: Indeed, you do have a public! Catch you down the road, my brother.

  152. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    David, you asked why your language of sacrificing to Molech was hyperbole. It doesn’t appear you like any of the perfectly good answers.

    I don’t think I’ve encountered any good answers yet, at least not any effectively deal with the parallels that I pointed out.

    But as long as you have a blind spot for figurative language, it appears you want to be taken literally. Say hello to fundamentalism.

    No thanks, I already said good-bye to fundamentalism.

  153. Posted April 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Got it. Thanks.

  154. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    David, of course you don’t think you’ve gotten any satisfactory answers. That’s because the pro-life movement has had virtually unchecked suasion on Xns, including conservative Calvinists who should know much better and demonstrate more skepticism about movement mentality. And American jurisprudence is more or less the Third Reich and it’s all a holocaust and child sacrifices to Molech and yada yada yada at decibel 11 and here I am singing in the wind. Pardon, but I don’t think all the fundamentalism has been shaken off.

  155. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, Mark 12 includes taxes, but it really isn’t about that. It’s about submission. Take note that they marveled or were amazed at his teaching. The command to file honestly and timely is hardly amazing. But to teach submission to a magistrate who thinks he’s deity and tramples the people of God underfoot to people biting at the bit to be given a loophole to rebel against him will draw a few gasps.

    Besides, how does the point that it’s about taxes help the larger point that the governed are their own authorities? The mind boggles.

    RS: The text is about paying taxes. If you want to draw other principles from that, then that is fine. If that is the case, then the point about submission so Caesar must take into account who the Caesar was then and who the Caesar is now. The text of Scripture must not be twisted, but instead let it say what it says. Then there are principles that can be drawn, but then you have to deal with the historical reality of who the ruler(s) really is and what that means today.

    Mark 12:14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?

    RS: The question had to do with whether it was LAWFUL to pay a poll-tax to Caesar.

    15 “Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
    17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

    RS: What are the things of Caesar in this context? The money since it had his inscription upon it.

  156. Bobby
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I notices that Gray avoided my perfectly rational rebuttal to the utter stupidity of comparing abortion to Molech worship. The comparison suggests that the pulpit has the right to bind the conscience of believers on the issue of how early-term abortion is prosecuted by the state. The pulpit has no such authority because Scripture provides no clear answer on the question. This is consistent with Dr. Woolley’s minority report.

    Of course, within the cult of the so-called pro-life movement, this falls on deaf ears. It saddens me that Christians have given so much credence to a movement led by a former used-car salesman. I’m not suggesting that abortion isn’t sinful. But criminalizing early-term abortion is so fraught with complications that only the mentally feeble or misogynists could believe that it’s legally desirable.

  157. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    David, of course you don’t think you’ve gotten any satisfactory answers. That’s because the pro-life movement has had virtually unchecked suasion on Xns, including conservative Calvinists who should know much better and demonstrate more skepticism about movement mentality.

    Steve, I don’t think I’ve gotten any satisfactory answers because in point of fact nobody has actually addressed the argument I made. You assume far more than your level of knowledge should permit. I’m not a movement guy but neither am I a fellow who thinks that the mass taking of innocent life in my backyard can be whistled away.

    And American jurisprudence is more or less the Third Reich and it’s all a holocaust and child sacrifices to Molech and yada yada yada at decibel 11 and here I am singing in the wind.

    Out of tune to boot. Instead of shrilly wishing it away address my argument. Is the willful taking of a million innocent human lives every year really nothing to you?

    Pardon, but I don’t think all the fundamentalism has been shaken off.

    I guess that’s how you think you conduct a civil debate. Funny thing is you don’t debate, you bait.

  158. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I notices that Gray avoided my perfectly rational rebuttal to the utter stupidity of comparing abortion to Molech worship … But criminalizing early-term abortion is so fraught with complications that only the mentally feeble or misogynists could believe that it’s legally desirable..

    Careful, Steve will tell you that you aren’t being civil.

    The notion that the 10 commandments can’t be preached from the pulpit is an odd one. Criminalizing the taking of innocent life may well strike you as fraught with complications. I don’t find that this fazes me.

    I wonder how Elder Hart regards that notion.

  159. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    This is what the OPC teaches on abortion.

    The Orthodox Presbyterian Church takes a firm stand against abortion. Our reasons rest upon what the Bible teaches as to the sacredness of human life. And we hold the Bible to be the inspired, infallible Word of God.

    1. In Genesis 1:26 & 27 we are told that God created mankind in His image. In Genesis 9:6 God says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” That image distinguished man from animal creation. Once truly human, that image of God establishes the product of conception to be endless in its continuous, conscious existence.

    2. The Bible teaches the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3). The “death” threatened is more than the cessation of bodily life. It is not only separation of soul and body, but eternal separation from the goodness of God, with divine wrath on those who die under the curse of Adam’s fall as well as that which is due to actual transgressions. (See Romans 3:1-19; Mark 9:42-44; Jude (verses) 12 & 13; Revelation 20:13-15.)

    3. The Bible teaches that God sent His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save hell-deserving sinners (John 3:16; 6:14; Acts 4:12). It further teaches that children are born sinners and need to be taught their need of salvation through Christ (Psalm 51:5; Mark 10:13-15; Matthew 18:6 & 7).

    4. Finally, the Bible teaches that unborn children are human beings, beginning with conception (Luke 1:35), in which the Virgin Mary was told that when Christ was conceived in her, he was already “the Son of God.” And in verses 41-44, when Mary met Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, Elizabeth’s child leaped in her womb at the presence of Mary bearing the Christ Child.

    Consequently, the Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13) forbids the wanton taking of human life. If the unborn child is a human being (and medical evidence underscores the biblical teaching that it is), then abortion is forbidden. One other aspect of the difference between animal and human life is that, at creation, God gave man dominion over the sub-human creatures (Genesis 1:26), but God retains dominion over His image-bearers, so that the killing of animals is not forbidden, but the killing of man is (with the exception of murderers, who may be executed by civil authorities under God’s delegated authority to them as His ministers or appointed agents).

  160. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Richard, thanks for permitting me to draw principles from the command to pay taxes. Mine is that it’s about civil obedience. I’m still flummoxed as to how you get the more disobedient encouraging principle that the governed are their own authorities. Talk about twisting. It must be the same logic that thinks Romans 13 is prescribing limited government when it’s prescribing more civil submission and obedience.

  161. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Bobby, I’m not sure what’s so hard about being content to oppose political views with political means. Why spiritual threat needs to be used against political disagreement must have something to do with feeling politically and utterly defeated. Swinging for the groin is what the desperate do.

  162. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    So, David, there is no difference between what Xn Jane does with her own body and what she does in the voting booth? Like I said, what’s the problem with opposing her by pulling the opposite lever?

  163. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Bobby, I’m not sure what’s so hard about being content to oppose political views with political means. Why spiritual threat needs to be used against political disagreement must have something to do with feeling politically and utterly defeated. Swinging for the groin is what the desperate do.

    So if a member of an OPC church was a state legislator and he voted to legalize abortion you feel it would be inappropriate for the session to discipline him?

  164. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    David, I’m saying I’d like to see a compelling case for spiritually disciplining someone for simply having different political opinions than me. Spiritual discipline for spiritual error makes sense, but for political disagreement doesn’t.

  165. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    David, are you as worked up about the wanton taking of human life in modern warfare (that is, civilians)? Are you as opposed to nuclear weapons as to abortion?

  166. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    David, are you as worked up about the wanton taking of human life in modern warfare (that is, civilians)?

    No, I’m an orthodox Christian, not a pacifist. Civilians have always died in war, which just war theory recognizes. That is why one of the principles involves proportionality. Now if a party willfully targets civilians then yes, I’m worked up. That is morally different from targeting a combatant and subsequently civilians die. Many Dutch, French and Belgian civilians died when we liberated their countries in WWII. I think some of the strategic bombing in WWII arguably crossed that line.

    Are you as opposed to nuclear weapons as to abortion?

    No, although it is clearly a problematic area. The other part of reasoning through the matter is you must address what would happen if you were unwilling to use nuclear weapons (speaking in the context primarily of the Soviet Union which was the most applicable case). The consequences of not being willing to use nuclear weapons were arguably worse than being willing to use them. With abortion there is no such countervailing argument so it is a poor parallel.

    Are you still willing to discipline OPC legislators who vote to protect abortion?

  167. Eric Rasmusen
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    David Gray’s question is a good one. Even better, though, we might ask a question many Roman Catholic priests have had to answer:

    If a member of your church was a state legislator and he voted to provide free abortion, would it be inappropriate for the leadership to discipline him?

    I really am looking for an answer— and I think David is too— rather than being rhetorical. I think R2K people would answer “Yes”, but I might be wrong. And, of course, different individuals might answer differently. Having answers from each commentor would move forward a discussion that often doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

  168. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Eric, the onus is on those who want to discipline to show why, so if you want the discussion to progress then make the case for spiritually disciplining someone for his political views.

  169. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Eric, the onus is on those who want to discipline to show why, so if you want the discussion to progress then make the case for spiritually disciplining someone for his political views.

    Ask Elder Hart.

    Or consider if your church teaches that abortion is murder then for a church member to take the political act of promoting murder should be subject to discipline. Political acts can be more than just political acts. Political acts can, and often are, moral acts.

  170. sdb
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    “Political acts can, and often are, moral acts.”

  171. wjw
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    David,

    Can immoral political acts be forgiven? Dred Scott? My Lai? Abu Ghraib? Watergate? Monica Lewinsky? Or are they beyond forgiveness? Or perhaps reasons of state sometimes demand looking in the other direction (see water boarding). What about individuals in relation to these political events? The church really has to stay on its toes to address the moral reasoning behind every political act. Even more think about the effort needed to discipline those in the congregation who voted for someone involved in sanctioning these political acts. Busy busy busy! Some of just need to go to work on Monday.

  172. sdb
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    “Political acts can, and often are, moral acts.”

    Sorry, I hit enter too soon. David, a few pages back, I asked why it is OK for Christians to take a libertarian stance when it comes to religious ethics, but it is not OK for Christians to take a libertarian stance when it comes to sexual ethics. This was in response to Joe Carter’s post on TheGospelCoalition blog that declared that it is sinful for Christians to support the legal recognition of gay unions (even if they recognize that such unions are sinful).

    As an example of a libertarian approach to religious ethics, I brought up the cases in Georgia and Louisiana where the state is seeking to pass (or may have by now) a tax credit for private school tuition. This will encourage parents to send their kids to religious schools by subsidizing their education. Of course the law does not discriminate on the basis of religion, so the state is encouraging parents to send their kids to school where (in some cases) idolatry will be practiced, blasphemous teachings taught, etc… Should an OPC elder who passed a law that encourages parents to send their children to Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian, etc… schools be disciplined for promoting false teaching? If not, how is it different from a legislator who decides that a ban on first trimester abortion isn’t going to survive court scrutiny anyway, so votes against a law banning in exchange for getting an amendment added that expands adoption services? The yes vote wouldn’t have stopped a single abortion, but a no vote (with the accompanying amendment) may have encouraged more single moms to give up their child for adoption rather than killing her. So I can imagine that casting a vote in favor of abortion could in fact be acceptable for a Christian. Politics is a messy business, and clean cut yes/no votes with clear consequences are the exception, not the rule. Binding the conscience of believers with ham-fisted moralizing on political matters is not productive.

    Paul’s insistence that church discipline should not be extended to those outside of the church is telling. The scripture is not at all clear about what a Christian’s responsibility is regarding guiding the role of the state. This isn’t to say that Christian’s shouldn’t take political stands if they feel so led. But I think it is wrong for someone like Joe Carter to declare a particular political approach sinful. What am I missing?

  173. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    David, are you as worked up about the wanton taking of human life in modern warfare (that is, civilians)? Are you as opposed to nuclear weapons as to abortion?

    David,

    Can immoral political acts be forgiven? Dred Scott? My Lai? Abu Ghraib? Watergate? Monica Lewinsky?

    David, nobody can successfully argue with a laundry list. Only a fool tries.

    I thank ErikC for addressing the theologico-political problem of slavery in America above, here:

    http://oldlife.org/2013/04/at-least-2k-doesnt-produce-carrie-nations/comment-page-3/#comment-81429

    Otherwise, perhaps all we’ll try this again some other time. This has become an undifferentiated soup, and one cannot argue with soup. Or a laundry list, pick your sophistic poison. There has been some good discussion here.

  174. sdb
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Erik,
    Thanks for your response earlier. I’m in the PCA (not an officer), and I don’t think the issue has come up in the seven years I’ve been in my current congregation. I’m not overly worried, but when a couple of bloggers on group blog heavily populated by officers from my denomination unequivocally declare the sinfulness of a particular political stance, I pay attention. Frankly, I find their position incoherent, but I would like to be sure I’m not missing something. I poked around the TGC for a while, but I didn’t get any fruitful feedback (one guy was sure I couldn’t possibly be a Christian for even bothering to ask the question, another thought I hated Catholics because I pointed out that the Mass is idolatrous(???), and of course florists are going to prison. Oh well… I didn’t expect much and I wasn’t disappointed.

  175. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Can immoral political acts be forgiven?

    Yes. Repentance is involved as with other sin.

    Or perhaps reasons of state sometimes demand looking in the other direction

    It can be lawful to do certain things if you hold certain positions. Paul tells us that the state does not bear the sword in vain. A proper use of that sword is not sin for the one who wields it. But that same person acting privately is in a different position.

    The church really has to stay on its toes to address the moral reasoning behind every political act.

    If the church cannot address every political act does that therefore require the church to never address a political act?

    Even more think about the effort needed to discipline those in the congregation who voted for someone involved in sanctioning these political acts.

    See above.

  176. sdb
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    “Could you please expand on why you find a comparison of modern abortion to Molech worship to be hyperbole?”

    Modern abortions are killing an innocent life, but it stops there. Molech worship was an abomination mainly because it was the worship of an idol – importantly it was a counterfeit of the true worship demanded by God. I suspect a better modern analogy to Molech worship is Mormon worship – it has many of the trappings of Christian worship and is thus a particular temptation for some within the church. The analogy isn’t perfect of course, but I think to focus on the sacrifice of the kids is to miss the central point in these passages. Not every sinful killing is idolatrous.

    For all the ink spilt over the heinousness of killing innocent life, it is curious that this common practice is never mentioned in the NT. I don’t mean to suggest that this silence implies that infanticide isn’t really sinful (far from it!), but it should give us some perspective. Paul’s concerns seemed to be much more about worshiping properly, disciplining members in the church properly, organizing the church rightly, etc… I can think of lots of worthwhile things individual Christians can get involved with/fight against that I don’t think the church has any business getting involved with as the church or disciplining members for disagreeing about how to move forward.

  177. wjw
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    David and Tom,

    I’m just trying to figure out the limits of discipline. Abortion is a slow moving target. What about other political sins? When do you say its complicated? Difficult? Problematic? Hiroshima? Trail of Tears? Sterilization? Child labor?

  178. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Or perhaps reasons of state sometimes demand looking in the other direction?

    —It can be lawful to do certain things if you hold certain positions. Paul tells us that the state does not bear the sword in vain.

    Oh my, this David Gray person turns not only Romans 13 but Machiavelli’s Prince on their heads. What is your duty to the City of God, or to your family?

    I certainly must now make my way to the sidelines, at least for the moment. Such a brave fellow. If Darryl’s Mini-Mes get underfoot on him, I might step in to clear them out. Otherwise, sir, I yield the floor. Your reasoning is of the Finest Kind. I shall help patrol the tall weeds, keep this all off the crazy cliff. A catcher in the rye, if you will.

    See you all in the morning. This is worthy.

  179. David Gray
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Abortion is a slow moving target.

    Yet it seems too taxing for some here. Perhaps we’d best stay with the slow moving target till we find we can manage that.

  180. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    WJW: David and Tom, I’m just trying to figure out the limits of discipline.

    They call it wisdom. If you want truth, open your Bible. If you want wisdom, thank God for the sense he gave you, and pray that you use it to discover how to use it in accordance with His love and mercy.

    I used to delight in my cleverness, my intelligence, which were God-given. Now I’m ashamed of ever taking delight in it, as though I created myself. And I’m not done shaming myself just yet, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.

  181. Eric Rasmusen
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    Zrim said: “Eric, the onus is on those who want to discipline to show why, so if you want the discussion to progress then make the case for spiritually disciplining someone for his political views.”
    No– I’m not yet to the point of saying whether disciplining abortion-funding advocates is good or bad–I’m just trying to figure out your position on it. Are you for, or against? Once I know that, we can discuss which position is better. But first, are we in any disagreement on that point? (I do support church discipline in such a case).

  182. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Bobby: Richard, I’m still confused by the “I’m not sure…” part of your quote. In what way are you unsure. I pretty darn sure that we have no business at all “demand[ing] accountability to men for each and every point of the Law in this life.”

    RS: Think of it as a sort of hypothetical

    Bobby: Also, what you propose in the latter half of the paragraph seems like nothing short of a type of indirect theonomism. Perhaps you believe that such a system is desirable. But it’s not the system we have. In general, laws passed by virtue of indirect theonomism would fail under either the 5th Amendment (if federal) or the 14th Amendment (if state), unless there is some other non-religious basis for the law that is related to a legitimate governmental function. Having the government reflect the religious views of the majority is not a legitimate governmental function, per the First Amendment.

    RS: But I am not sure why the Church cannot and should not make the Word of God on matters like this known. While the government is not to set up or support a religious denomination, that is not the same thing as a government being instructed on what the Word of God says when it sets out to make laws.

  183. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, thanks for permitting me to draw principles from the command to pay taxes.

    RS: You are welcome, but still you might want to work a bit and show how it is a good principle taken from the text.

    Zrim: Mine is that it’s about civil obedience. I’m still flummoxed as to how you get the more disobedient encouraging principle that the governed are their own authorities

    RS: It seems like I have read a “we the people” that started a rather important document.
    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The document was established by the people and for the people.

    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Amendment II
    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    Amendment X
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    Zrim: Talk about twisting. It must be the same logic that thinks Romans 13 is prescribing limited government when it’s prescribing more civil submission and obedience.

    RS: No twisting at all. It is a simple recognition of the differences between Caesar and the government we are supposed to have today. But again, you might want to show how the text does indeed teach us what you are saying it does when it is rather limited to rendering to Caesar that which had his inscription on it.

  184. Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    David Gray, and what would the specification of charges look like with respect to this OPC legislator?

  185. Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Eric, how is this different legally from disciplining a church member for not attending church but then as a legislator repealing Blue Laws which require church attendance by citizens? Isn’t it possible for a church to require one thing from its officers regarding church members but to be agnostic about what church members who are legislators do in their professional lives? It is. We do it all the time. Our congregations don’t evaluate everything a physician or a plumber does. So why are you eager to change the expectations when it comes to abortion. I get it. Abortion is a horror. But if you value the rule of law, then you follow the law within the church as much as in society and there are rule which limit what churches may require of members and officers. Your having firm convictions or a proof text doesn’t change the Book of Church Order (unless you are prone to ecclesiastical vigilantism).

  186. Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    David Gray, the OPC does not teach that abortion is murder. A GA report is pious advice.

  187. David Gray
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    David Gray, and what would the specification of charges look like with respect to this OPC legislator?

    So you’ve changed your position? Or are you just answering a question with a question as a debating tactic?

    I answered your questions, why not simply state whether you’ve changed your position on this issue or you remain prepared to discipline such a member?

    The OPC says abortion is murder. Promoting or enabling murder would not be grounds for discipline? The OPC Book of Church Order states “Judicial discipline is concerned with the prevention and correction of offenses, an offense being defined as anything in the doctrine or practice of a member of the church which is contrary to the Word of God. ”

    So I think it reasonable to state that somebody who helps enable or promote what our church describes as falling under the sixth commandment should be subject to the discipline of our church.

  188. David Gray
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    David Gray, the OPC does not teach that abortion is murder.

    The OPC says “The Orthodox Presbyterian Church takes a firm stand against abortion. Our reasons rest upon what the Bible teaches as to the sacredness of human life. And we hold the Bible to be the inspired, infallible Word of God. ” So they take a firm stand against it and use the sixth commandment as justification for doing so but they don’t “teach” that it is murder. That is sophistry.

    A GA report is pious advice.

    Perhaps you should heed that advice. Can pious advice “teach”? Or is “pious advice” so feeble it cannot teach?

  189. David Gray
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    When the OPC GA states “Believing that unborn children are living creatures in the image of God, given by God as a blessing to their parents, we therefore affirm that voluntary abortion, except possibly to save the physical life of the mother, is in violation of the Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13)” it isn’t teaching? What pray tell is it doing?

  190. David Gray
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    The OPC Book of Church Order states “An offense which is serious enough to warrant a trial is: (1) an offense in the area of conduct and practice which seriously disturbs the peace, purity, and/or unity of the church…”

    How does a man promoting the violation of the sixth commandment not violate the purity of the church?

  191. Zrim
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    sdb, sure the NT mentions infanticide, as in when Herod went around killing all the first born under two years. Yet, the problem was that was an effort to prevent the advent of Christ. No hint of moral indignation over trampling to the so-called right to life.

  192. Zrim
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Richard, I am asking for the biblical case for why the governed are their own authorities, not the constitutional one. Have you ever considered that our secular texts may be in conflict with our biblical ones? Just how counter-cultural are you?

  193. Zrim
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Eric, what Darryl said. But David says: “So I think it reasonable to state that somebody who helps enable or promote what our church describes as falling under the sixth commandment should be subject to the discipline of our church.” So does this mean that somebody who helps enable or promote what our church describes as falling under the first and second commandments (i.e. idolatry and blasphemy) should be subject to the discipline of our church, as if he himself is personally guilty of idolatry and blasphemy? I affirm the right of Mormons and Romans Catholics and all manner of idolaters and blasphemers to openly practice their false religion without governmental molestation. Am I guilty of practicing false religion? Maybe you think this is a dodge of your bare-knuckled question, but the point is that there is a difference between what someone does personally and what his political views are. And the rules don’t change when it comes to the signature politics of evangelicals, abortion.

  194. Eric Rasmusen
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    As I said in my previous comment, David and I are not asking rhetorical questions. I know what *I* believe already, and I have various defenses I could make. But first, can you make a plain answer as to what *you* believe as a matter of policy? We can discuss what to do about your hypothetical later if you like.

  195. Eric Rasmusen
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Alternately, you can say, “I would rather not answer that question.” Ignoring a simple question is not polite, though

  196. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, I am asking for the biblical case for why the governed are their own authorities, not the constitutional one. Have you ever considered that our secular texts may be in conflict with our biblical ones? Just how counter-cultural are you?

    RS: I got that, but also understand that the Bible says that all governing authority is where it is because of the hand of God. Does the Bible give us a specific way of governing? I would say no, but then that leaves you to ask why our way of government is unbiblical.

  197. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Zrim: I affirm the right of Mormons and Romans Catholics and all manner of idolaters and blasphemers to openly practice their false religion without governmental molestation. Am I guilty of practicing false religion? Maybe you think this is a dodge of your bare-knuckled question, but the point is that there is a difference between what someone does personally and what his political views are. And the rules don’t change when it comes to the signature politics of evangelicals, abortion.

    RS: So a person can have political views and they are not what he does personally? I would argue that we are all beings and all we do is either out of love for God or it is not out of love for God. Our theology must be at the heart of who we are and all we do or it is nothing more than an intellectual notion.

    So abortion is the signature politics of evangelicals. Very, very interesting comment. So all who believe that the government should have laws regarding abortion are now evangelical? Should the government have laws regarding murder? Isn’t abortion really just one aspect of how we view and/or define murder? Since God is the Creator of life and the Owner of all, shouldn’t He be the one that tells us how we are to view life and death in any and all realms? You see, my belief is driven by theology and reality. At root all we believe about anything has to do with our deepest held beliefs about God.

  198. Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    David said “How does a man promoting the violation of the sixth commandment not violate the purity of the church?”

    David, FWIW, that’s not exactly what’s happening. The state is not causing abortions. The politician is not recommending abortions. Both have chosen to promote a society in which people are allowed to sin in this area. Your position might be the same regardless, but it’s a signficant difference. People are allowed to worship false Gods, promote sundry false ideas, read deceitful literature, lie, fornicate, etc. It’s over the top to suggest that the magistrate therefore is in favor of all that. Now apply that to the case at hand.

    Speaking of which, I wonder why the center of attention is the pregnant woman. What typically precedes that situation is another sin – fornication. So prolifers would theoretically help the institution of marriage and pre-empt the abortion issue entirely if they promoted criminal laws against fornication. And, using the logic here, anyone – politician or layperson – who does not agree with criminal sanctions against fornication thereby promote fornication and should be disciplined for it.

    But then, to mirror DTM’s rhetoric, maybe you are just cowards.

  199. todd
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Eric,

    The problem with “would you discipline for” questions is that it is impossible to answer. We don’t discipline people for sinning, but for not repenting of sin (Matt 18:17). That is not exactly the same thing. And what do you mean by discipline? Do you mean warn and rebuke, or do you mean more? So much depends on the situation. So for example, if someone asked me, would you discipline in cases of fornication? If you mean at least rebuke, yes. If you mean suspend from the Table, it depends on the situation.

    Advocating funding abortion is tougher. Certainly there is no area of a member’s life that the session is not allowed to inquire about if sin is involved, including politics. But if we were concerned with how a member was conducting himself in the political realm, we would want to know the reasons why he was doing so. Discipline involves the motives of the heart, not simply the action.

    Maybe, making up a scenario, this Christian legislator is in a district where many babies and young mothers were hurt or died obtaining illegal abortions, and he was supporting a law where only early abortions could be legal; he hated abortion but saw they would occur either way, sort of choosing what he believed where the lessor of two evils. Don’t pick apart the scenario, I’m just trying to make a point.

    After interviewing him the session saw that in his mind he really was trying to do what is best, in other words, there was no evidence to suggest he was acting in complete disregard for God and his word. We would not begin the process of ex-communication in that case, though we may offer counsel.

    On the other hand, upon examining him, we might find he was ignoring the commandments and only acting for his own political interests, then we would certainly begin the process of discipline.

    I’ve used this example before, but if I were elected president of Uganda tomorrow, and sought to outlaw polygamy because God condemns it in his word, but a wise counselor warned me that this action would result in the extreme poverty and deaths of thousands of women who would be divorced without means of survival, I might decide to seek to keep polygamy legal, while in my church still speaking of polygamy as a great sin.

    I think a better question in this abortion debate is, is a Christian who either votes for keeping abortion legal or as a legislator works to keep it legal automatically sinning? It seems that you and David would answer yes, while we would answer; maybe, but not necessarily.

    Does that help?

  200. David Gray
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of which, I wonder why the center of attention is the pregnant woman. What typically precedes that situation is another sin – fornication.

    Who is fool enough to think married women don’t get abortions?

  201. Zrim
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Eric, if I were ignoring your question I wouldn’t engage it all. But you should be quite able to discern what my answer is from what I’ve already said. And as Todd points out, despite popular opinion, there is also such a thing as a bad question and trying to take a conversation in a more profitable direction.

    But my guess is that the question is trying to discern moral and political opposition to abortion. The short answer is yes. The extended answer is that I fail to see how that implies not only a particular political stance but how one or another political stance is subject to ecclesiastical sanction. As a states rightser I am opposed to a big government solutions on abortion, as in outlawing elective abortion in every nook and cranny of the union—I say let the states decide and if it’s legal over there but not over here then fine, because diversity of governance signals a healthier republic. But I can’t imagine talking about disciplining another person for having a bigger government idea about how to regulate reproductive legislation.

  202. Zrim
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Richard, by signature politics I mean evangelicals have been quite clear that they want to be known as today’s abolitionists, for history to find them on the rights side of this particular political question. Confessionalists aren’t necessarily concerned for these things because they are more ecclesiastically oriented as opposed to socially or politically.

    PS still flummoxed how the command to render unto Caesar means the governed are their own authorities.

  203. Luther Perez
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I think I entered this conversation late. But I am really curious about the way critics of 2K understand the Christian roots of the United States. This thought is brought on by this comment by Tom Van Dyke:

    Further, I’m speaking more of that third entity in between the Two Kingdoms of God and Government: “Society” exists in a palpable way, “how shall we then live.” What we’re on the crest of is a takeover of society by politics. It’s one thing to be born in a whorehouse, quite another to acquiesce in turning your own home into one—and have your children forced to grow up in it.

    It seems to be the case that the US is a Christian nation, if by Christian you mean Protestant, and by Protestant you mean liberal Protestantism. It seems the Revolutionary Generation were proud Protestants who were hostile to Protestant orthodoxies and Roman Catholicism. They seemed to have created a political culture that sought to protect believers from power hungry clerics and overzealous congregations and to protect protestant sects from each other. (Not that there is anything wrong with that….).

    I mean, the biographies of the Revolutionary Generation are filled with the stories of believers I would recognize as liberal Protestants hostile to orthodoxy. The Presbyterian congregant, Benjamin Franklin, in his autobiography expresses hostility to Calvinism and seeks to elect church officials that would undermine and weaken “a Calvinist world-view.” He denies the miracles of the Bible like the Episcopalian Thomas Jefferson, and do any Episcopalians seek to discipline Jefferson for his Bible? The Protestant Christian political culture the liberal (and I use it in its classical sense) Revolutionaries created, would always be inherently hostile to orthodox sensibilities?

    I don’t know myself, I’m still trying to figure this stuff out, but it seems that many Cultural Warriors assume that the Framers were Orthodox/Conservative/Traditional/Evangelical Protestants, much like themselves, and the liberal Protestants are the aberration. However, the Framers purposely created a political system favorable to liberal Protestantism.

  204. Bobby
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I guess my comment is two-fold.

    First, I agree that the church has no business attempting to bind the conscience of the individual believer on what he or she is to believe concerning whether the state criminalizes abortion. The reasons stated in Dr. Woolley’s minority report provide ample support for that.

    Second, I speak as someone who is acquainted with criminal law. There is simply no practical means of enforcing criminal laws that define protectable human life to start at conception. The most popular oral contraceptives would have to be banned because they function as abortifacients some fraction of the time. Further, the state would be required to investigate every miscarriage as a potential homicide, which would require the would-be parents to hire lawyers to guide them through the investigation process. I can’t imagine that people would ever stand for these kinds of intrusions into their private lives. These conclusions have nothing to do with my religious convictions on the issue. I happen to believe that abortion is a sin, and that sessions have an obligation to discipline those who engage in this sin. But, at the same time, I believe that there are cogent reasons why the state should not criminalize early-term abortion. In my opinion, this is a question that ought to fall exclusively within the jurisdiction of religious courts. Evangelicals would do well to have a higher view of church courts. Perhaps then they’d stop trying to get the state to do the bidding of the bishop.

    For the same general reasons, I believe that the state has no business criminalizing gluttony, although I believe that sessions should be vigorous in disciplining gluttony in the church. It’s not the state’s job to criminalize everything that good Christians oppose, even in parts of the country where good Christians may make up a majority of the voters.

  205. Luther Perez
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Bobby: “Evangelicals would do well to have a higher view of church courts. Perhaps then they’d stop trying to get the state to do the bidding of the bishop.”

    But this would interfere with political solidarity. And I’m not being sarcastic. I am still struck by how fast divorce became normalized among “traditionalists.” Enforcing church discipline would become a nightmare for the organized religious-right, as it would break apart political solidarity.

  206. Bobby
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    What are you suggesting that the church proclaim?

    I have no problem with the church proclaiming that abortion is a sin. I do have a problem, however, with the church proclaiming that the state should criminalize abortion because abortion is a sin.

    In the latter case, the church is indirectly seeking to bind the consciences of believers on how they should vote, and are thereby asking them to vote to enact laws that criminalize certain conduct for no other reason than that the church disapproves of it. In that sense, you are suggesting that there is nothing wrong with theocracy, as long as it can be implemented by popular will. Of course, that is not consistent with our Republican system, which generally protects the rights of minority opinion-holders to dissent.

  207. Bobby
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Luther,

    So far, I’m not so impressed with the fruits of political solidarity. In most instances, the Religious Right has done little to protect family values. They have generally favored economic policies that destroy traditional communities. Further, they have generally ignored the issues that pose the greatest harm to family life, such as no-fault divorce and declining job prospects for non-college-educated men. Sometimes there’s not much difference between solidarity and mindless group-think.

  208. Luther Perez
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Bobby,

    I do agree with you there.

    However, the immediate distaste some have shown for Protestants who might have or did support Obama….it seems that some in this thread could only support the 2K position if it could bring Democrats under church discipline for their political policies. And it is a double standard. The overwhelming verbal and intellectual support for George W. Bush and his policies among “evangelicals” was an eye opener. If it can be proven that the Protestants within the Bush administration knowingly told falsehoods into the run-up to the war, would they press for church discipline?

  209. Posted April 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Ultimately Todd is right. Whether it’s civil or ecclesiastical, there’s a reason why you have the trial (or informal questions). There are circumstances, motivations, and arguments you may not have anticipated in advance, so blanket statements are really not appropriate.

    But for those who think it’s a no brainer, consider a specific scenario that isn’t too fanciful. Senator Smith counts noses and knows that a piece of pro-life legislation isn’t going to win. He has also assessed the temperament of the voters and decided that if he and his party are seen as the anti-abortion party they will lose seats and thereby lose the ability to affect legislation in other areas in which they might actually have the power to make a difference. So he could make a purely symbolic and ineffectual pro-life vote or he could vote the other way, politically live another day, and choose his fights elsewhere. He is morally opposed to abortion but makes the political judgment to pick other battles to take on; he votes against the pro-life legislation.

    I’ve given up trying to get David to answer tough questions, but anyone else is welcome to tell me if the church should discipline Senator Smith.

  210. Zrim
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Bobby, agreed, which is why, speaking of group-think, this ballyhoo about bringing discipline to bear on a certain set of politics seems like political correctness for the institutionally inclined. Rightists will call foul on that since they’ve fairly successfully have managed to define political correctness as the other guy’s politics, so how could they ever be guilty of it. But if political correctness is not only what the old timers called the opposite of Xn liberty but also an equal opportunity affliction, then you know what they say about shoes fitting.

  211. Posted April 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know myself, I’m still trying to figure this stuff out, but it seems that many Cultural Warriors assume that the Framers were Orthodox/Conservative/Traditional/Evangelical Protestants, much like themselves, and the liberal Protestants are the aberration. However, the Framers purposely created a political system favorable to liberal Protestantism.

    Thank you, Mr. Perez. This has been an area of intensive study for me. However, first it must be noted Two Kingdoms theology apparently recognizes no difference between living in Nero’s Rome or in a democratic republic, so the question is moot here.

    It is “flummoxed” by the argument that there is a theological difference, and unable to refudiate it fairly, slips to either ridiculing the argument or simply ignoring it. But Richard Smith stands unrefudiated here.

    But FTR, the religion [or irreligion] of Jefferson and Franklin are way overblown, resulting in a myth or at least impression that “the Founders were all deists.” Jefferson was, but Franklin’s faith was more a non-credal Judeo-Christianity, and the lion’s share of the rest were either orthodox like Roger Sherman or non-doctrinally liberal like James Wilson.

    And in shorter, religion was left to the states, which even had religious tests for political office:

    9 states demanded Protestantism,
    a 10th demanded Trinitarianism,
    and an 11th “Christianity.”

    that’s 11 out of 13.

    Even in Rhode Island, you had to be Protestant to vote, as admitted by Moore and Kramnik, the authors of the [in]famous “The Godless Constitution”, here.

    Now, this isn’t to say “America was Founded as a Christian Nation,” which is a formulation mostly used by opponents to box religious conservatives into an indefensible assertion. But it is to say that America was founded on an understanding of “natural law” that by definition is never in conflict with the Bible.

    James Wilson signed the Declaration, was one of the top 3 framers of the Constitution, and later was a Supreme Court justice. His sentiment is a repeat of Christian natural law theory that goes back to Thomas Aquinas, through the Protestants Hugo Grotius and Rev. Richard Hooker, to the English jurist William Blackstone, to Alexander Hamilton, and so on:

    “The law of nature and the law of revelation are both Divine: they flow, though in different channels, from the same adorable source. It is indeed preposterous to separate them from each other.”—James Wilson, Of the Law of Nature, 1804

    The term “Judeo-Christian” dates only to the 20th century, but it’s descriptive in that it leaves out doctrinal questions such as the Trinity and the Atonement, but recognized the monotheistic and providential Jehovah, and the Bible as divine writ, revelation, the Word of God. However, this is not enough for many orthodox Christians–and even more anti-religionists!–who use doctrinal differences [or indifferences] to “prove” that America is not and never was a “Christian nation.”

    Having been through this battlefield numerous times, I’m sick of the sophistries. I pass on the above info for educational purposes only, and urge the reader to investigate for his or herself–the truth of the matter, not just ammo for debating points. Cheers.

  212. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Bobby: Richard, What are you suggesting that the church proclaim?

    RS: That murder is sin.

    Bobby: I have no problem with the church proclaiming that abortion is a sin. I do have a problem, however, with the church proclaiming that the state should criminalize abortion because abortion is a sin.

    RS: So the Church is to remain silent on certain sins? Why should the Church not proclaim the truth about abortion?

    Bobby: In the latter case, the church is indirectly seeking to bind the consciences of believers on how they should vote, and are thereby asking them to vote to enact laws that criminalize certain conduct for no other reason than that the church disapproves of it.

    RS: Believers should have their consciences bound on issues of murder. The state should criminalize acts of murder because murder is against God. If you really want to boil it down, there is nothing inherently wrong with murder of anyone at any age other than it is against God. So the murder of the unborn or almost born is also against God.

    Bobby: In that sense, you are suggesting that there is nothing wrong with theocracy, as long as it can be implemented by popular will. Of course, that is not consistent with our Republican system, which generally protects the rights of minority opinion-holders to dissent.

    RS: I am not arguing for or against theocracy, but instead simply saying that the Church should proclaim the truth about the nature of God and of what sin really is. Since all people will stand before God to answer for sin, it is the compassionate thing to tell them about their sin and call upon them to repent.

  213. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: PS still flummoxed how the command to render unto Caesar means the governed are their own authorities.

    RS: The point, sir, is that rendering unto Caesar when Jesus said that has a different meaning in our day. The people then were to be ruled by law, but Caesar was more or less the law. In our day we are supposed to be ruled by law, but the law is by the people and for the people. But again, the passage about rendering unto Caesar was about a specific tax and the coin Jesus used had Caesar’s likeness and inscription on it. Let us also not forget that the text goes on to tell us to render to God the things that are God’s.

  214. Luther Perez
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Franklin would have been familiar with a term like “Judeo-Christian” and would have understood “evangelicalism” differently than the way it is used today. I think many of the revolutionary generation viewed their Protestant identity much like many secular Jews and Roman Catholics did. It was wrapped up into their ethno-racial identity, but it had to live comfortably with the trends emanating from the liberal enlightenment, which made a mockery of orthodoxy.

    Natural law, as it was understood under the “new and dynamic” liberal enlightenment may find itself in conflict with orthodoxy as well,… I’m not rejecting natural law, but I would not depend on it to refute SSM and a host of other subjects that are appearing more “natural.”

  215. David Gray
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Further, the state would be required to investigate every miscarriage as a potential homicide, which would require the would-be parents to hire lawyers to guide them through the investigation process.

    You really have to be rather simple to lap this sort of thing up. Abortion was illegal for many years and this was never the practice.

    Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools…

  216. Bobby
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Nowhere did I suggest that the church should remain silent regarding certain sins. In fact, I said: “I have no problem with the church proclaiming that abortion is a sin.” I would go a step further and say that the church ought to do it. I don’t believe that Scripture is sufficiently clear on the question of whether early-term abortion is murder. Therefore, I do not believe that a TE is entitled to bind the consciences of his charges on whether early-term abortion is murder. But I think it is at least a sin.

    But this does not imply that the church is entitled to ask that the state criminalize abortion on the basis of the church’s belief that it is a sin. The purpose of the criminal law is not to punish that which the church deems to be sin. That’s what church courts do, or at least used to do. If you suggest that the state should criminalize abortion based merely on the church’s judgment that it is sin (or even murder), then it seems that you are advocating for a type of theocracy. It may be an indirect theocracy, but it’s a theocracy no less.

  217. Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Then let’s clear the slate of preconceptions and try that again, Luther.

    1) Benjamin Franklin was an outlier on religion, not representative of the whole.

    2) Natural law morality was seen as in harmony with Biblical [Judeo-Christian, if you will] morality. You didn’t need the Bible to share that common ethos Because truth cannot contract truth. According to Romans 1-2, “even” the Gentiles stumble across the right thing now and then.

    Conflict between the Cities of God and Man is not always necessary, and indeed is often illusory.

    Alexander Hamilton in <i.The Farmer Refuted, citing William Blackstone:

    “[T]here is a supreme intelligence, who rules the world, and has established laws to regulate the actions of his creatures; and, still, to assert, that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appear to a common understanding, altogether irreconcileable.

    Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed, that the deity, from the relations, we stand in, to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is, indispensibly, obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.

    This is what is called the law of nature, “which, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid, derive all their authority, mediately, or immediately, from this original.”

    You note that “Natural law, as it was understood under the “new and dynamic” liberal enlightenment may find itself in conflict with orthodoxy as well.” This may be true, but the problem is with the “new” part. This is precisely how the natural right to life, liberty and property became the right to abortion.

    Something has gone wrong, and it’s time we say so.

  218. Bobby
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    David,

    Your dismissive comment only shows your own ignorance on the issue.

    Even before 1973, no state criminalized abortion as though it was murder. Thus, none of the laws at that time were based on the notion that protectable human life began at conception. And in most instances, the laws were passed well before the advent of oral contraceptives, and were primarily aimed at regulating midwifery. The notion that protectable human life starts at conception is a fairly novel concept in our Anglo-American system of jurisprudence, and has only been promoted to any substantial degree for the past 20-30 years. So, there’s not much correlation at all between the pre-1973 abortion statutes and those proposed in recent years by certain opponents of abortion.

    Of course, it strikes me that you’re the kind of guy on whom any degree of nuance is largely lost.

  219. mikelmann
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Well, my Bayly blog adventure is over. My sign-off:

    Yeah, this isn’t really working out. I’ve had dialogues in various blogs and there are plenty who are able to recognize central principles and work through them. But David is a good example of what happens here. Lewis writes about contrasting two forms of government and David says “Lewis is wrong on the psalms!” Er, OK, David. Chris talks as if moral coercion is the essence of the moral law but doesn’t see the relevance of discussing whether the WLC should then be enforced.

    I will thank DTM who can very frequently recognize and discuss core issues even if we sometimes reach different conclusions. I think the Bayly commenters on the whole need to interact with more folks outside your circle to get better at it.

  220. mikelmann
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    …and I repeated the same typo. It should read “Chris talks as if moral coercion is the essence of the CIVIL law…”

  221. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    David,

    Your dismissive comment only shows your own ignorance on the issue.

    Even before 1973, no state criminalized abortion as though it was murder. Thus, none of the laws at that time were based on the notion that protectable human life began at conception.

    David Gray didn’t argue any of that. It’s a straw man. What he did argue was

    Abortion was illegal for many years and this was never the practice.

    Gentleman, an informed conscience is an obligation. Did you know that NARAL* presented Justice Blackmun with a fraudulent history of abortion that was used to help justify Roe v. Wade?

    The truth hides in plain sight.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/336398/fictional-abortion-history-justin-dyer

    _
    * Cyril Means, Jr., general counsel for the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL).

    See also Bernard Nathanson, M.D., NARAL co-founder:

    “We persuaded the media that the cause of permissive abortion was a liberal, enlightened, sophisticated one,” recalls the movement’s co-founder. “Knowing that if a true poll were taken, we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls. We announced to the media that we had taken polls and that 60 percent of Americans were in favor of permissive abortion. This is the tactic of the self-fulfilling lie. Few people care to be in the minority. We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000, but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000.”

    ”Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans, convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law.

    “Another myth we fed to the public through the media was that legalizing abortion would only mean that the abortions taking place illegally would then be done legally. In fact, of course, abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the U.S. and the annual number of abortions has increased by 1,500 percent since legalization.”

    Migod, people. If you think there’s nothing wrong with abortion, that’s one thing. But willful blindness to the facts is a moral disgrace. I was shocked when I ran across this stuff fairly recently. We’ve been had.

  222. Bobby
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    “I think the Bayly commenters on the whole need to interact with more folks outside [their] circle to get better at it.” -MM

    Do you suppose that that’s the goal of anyone who comments there? People gravitate to echo chambers for a reason.

  223. mikelmann
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    David quickly pokes his head up, makes his comment, and then waits. Like a sniper, except he shoots the bad guy’s dog, the bad guy’s cat, and the bad guy’s nephew. Never the bad guy himself. Just once, David, try taking on the central concern of a comment.

  224. mikelmann
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Bobby, there is some snark and aguably too much fun, but I think central points do get engaged and real arguments are made here. Eventually. Well, at least by Cagle.

    If you have, like several days of free time you can peruse every argument that’s ever been made against theonomy (Doug) and the Edwardsean perspective (Richard) for example. There’s a bit of an echo chamber anywhere you go, but here people don’t, you know, get banned.

    I enjoy your comments FWIW.

  225. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Bobby: Richard, Nowhere did I suggest that the church should remain silent regarding certain sins. In fact, I said: “I have no problem with the church proclaiming that abortion is a sin.” I would go a step further and say that the church ought to do it. I don’t believe that Scripture is sufficiently clear on the question of whether early-term abortion is murder. Therefore, I do not believe that a TE is entitled to bind the consciences of his charges on whether early-term abortion is murder. But I think it is at least a sin.

    RS: So in your view the Church is to proclaim that abortion is a sin to the Church but not to the judicial system. I would argue that Scripture is abundantly clear on the issue of abortion at any point. But then again, I would approach it quite differently than you do.

    Bobby: But this does not imply that the church is entitled to ask that the state criminalize abortion on the basis of the church’s belief that it is a sin. The purpose of the criminal law is not to punish that which the church deems to be sin.

    RS: Okay, what is God’s purpose for the state and its criminal law? While the courts are not necessarily there to punish what the Church says sin is, that does not mean that the courts should not listen to the Church to find out what sin is.

    Bobby: That’s what church courts do, or at least used to do. If you suggest that the state should criminalize abortion based merely on the church’s judgment that it is sin (or even murder), then it seems that you are advocating for a type of theocracy. It may be an indirect theocracy, but it’s a theocracy no less.

    RS: I am arguing that the legal courts have no real basis or standard for crime and punishment apart from true justice. I am not arguing that the state should criminalize abortion just because what the Church says it is, but because it is murder and the Church should point that out. That is, after all, what salt and light does.

  226. Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Tom, maybe, but the more substantial error was the judicial philosophy that sees the Constitution as a document that is subject to change as the sensibilities of the people change. It’s the same philosophy that is being promoted in opposition to Proposition 8. As Justice Scalia asks “this didn’t used to be unconstitutional. When did it become unconstitutional? How are we to know when it changes?” (paraphrase)

  227. Luther Perez
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Tom Van Dyke,

    Sorry, I was using Franklin as a stand in for all of the Founders. I think I’m on sturdy historical ground if I assume all of the Protestant Christians of that era would have found the term “Judeo-Christian” foreign at best, and heretical at worse. But the use of the term today kind of proves a point. The term is born to satisfy ecumenical social and political trends within liberal Protestantism. (I think it was to undermine religious exclusivity, right-wing nationalism and fundamentalism). Today, in the U.S. it’s become another way to say “the West” or European, but in Israel and Europe it’s considered insulting. Ironies abound when dealing with religious histories, the “traditionalists” of today seem to be defending and forwarding ideas of yesterday’s liberals.

    And again, if you begin to look at the way the Founders practiced and understood their various Protestant traditions you see men who were uncomfortable with orthodoxy. They were far from anti-religious, and yet they were intent upon tempering the reach of church discipline and authority. Thomas Jefferson’s Bible is a testament to liberal Protestantism and humanism. John Adams’ and the army of Calvinist raised children becoming Unitarians,…this nation is so thoroughly liberal Protestant to its core. And their casual anti-Romanism still came naturally to them.

  228. Luther Perez
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Have some patience with me. After I posted my last remark, I noticed more comments. I need to catch-up!

  229. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    As Justice Scalia asks “this didn’t used to be unconstitutional. When did it become unconstitutional? How are we to know when it changes?”

    Exactly, Mikel, and well spotted. First we need to re-identify the natural law suppositions that “the right to have rights” was based on. One of them was “liberty is not license.” Now a good libertarian legal scholar named Randy barnett argues the Constitution has a presupposition of “liberty.” But the problem is that his definition of “liberty” has been hollowed out to include license–he has changed the meaning of the word, so that only the shell of it remains!

    Hey, I’m not saying that we are bound by the sensibilities and morals of 1776, 1787 or 1868 [the 14th Amendment]. But neither are courts empowered to “update” them by decree. If the people vote in the morality of gay marriage, abortion or whathaveyou, the Constitution allows that. But it doesn’t demand it either.

    Our first job is to clarify our thinking and our arguments. Too many of us–let’s say Sarah Palin for the sake of this argument–may have the right positions but via un-arguable reasons. The Bible tells me so, let’s say. Now, most Christians believe the Bible is divine truth but also admit that means nothing to someone who doesn’t accept the Bible as divine truth. So you need to argue “sin” not as something that offends God, but something that harms human beings–and a valid natural law argument does just that.

    “Revelation had indeed no weight with me, as such, but I entertained an opinion, that, though certain actions might not be bad, because they were forbidden by it, or good, because it commanded them; yet probably these actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in their own natures, all the circumstances of things considered.”–Ben Franklin from his youthful days

    So even if the Bible weren’t divine writ, it contains truth. So you work with that. They all arrive at the same place just as surely as 2+3 and 3+2 and 5+0 = 5. Truth is truth.

    Hugo Grotius:

    “What we have been saying would have a degree of validity even if we should concede that which cannot be conceded without the utmost wickedness, that there is no God.”

    And perhaps more to the point here:

    “Measureless as is the power of God, nevertheless it can be said that there are certain things over which that power does not extend. . . . Just as even God cannot cause that two times two should not make four, so He cannot cause that which is intrinsically evil be not evil.”

    What is evil is evil, whether in the City of God or in the City of Man. There’s nothing wrong with saying so, and in fact we’re questioning the validity of not saying so.

  230. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I think I’m on sturdy historical ground if I assume all of the Protestant Christians of that era would have found the term “Judeo-Christian” foreign at best, and heretical at worse.

    What I’m getting at, LutherP, is that it’s not necessarily so!

    Until the schism in 1830 or so, the Congregationalists sat cheek and jowl beside unitarians [who rejected the Trinity]. Unitarian John Adams and uber-Calvinist cousin Sam Adams!

    What they realized in a hurry by the early 1700s as Protestant sects proliferated by the sackful was that there was no way to enforce orthodoxy. As Gordon Wood wrote

    “There were not just Presbyterians, but Old and New School Presbyterians, Cumberland Presbyterians, Springfield Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, and Associated Presby­terians; not just Baptists, but General Baptists, Regular Baptists, Free Will Baptists, Separate Baptists, Dutch River Baptists, Permanent Baptists, and Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Baptists.”

    That’s why John Locke wrote his famous “A Letter Concerning Toleration” in the 1600s and how Sam Adams could write in 1771

    “And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society.”

    As for Jefferson and John Adams, we pay too damn much attention to their voluminous private and post-presidential writings. Like looking for your keys over where the light’s better, not where you dropped them. Adams and Jefferson kept their beliefs secret, and for good reason–the larger majority were quite orthodox.

    Where you and I agree is that America by necessity left soteriology [the business of salvation] off the table. But via the Christian natural law argument, both reason and the Bible can comfortably arrive at the same place when it comes to this world, there was little conflict.

    And also keep in mind that “religion” was left to the states, the smaller level of community. Virginia could have no official church if they wanted, but massachusetts had one [Congregationalism] until 1833, unmolested by the First Amendment, which applied only to Congress and the federal government.

  231. Posted April 21, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Tom, there is presently one member of the SCOTUS in whom natural law has a pulse, and that’s Clarence Thomas. My read on Scalia is that he would like consider NL, but natural law has been so hollowed out – perhaps along the lines that you suggest – that it’s been diminished to the gut-feeling of liberal judges.

    “Hey, I’m not saying that we are bound by the sensibilities and morals of 1776, 1787 or 1868 [the 14th Amendment]. But neither are courts empowered to “update” them by decree. If the people vote in the morality of gay marriage, abortion or whathaveyou, the Constitution allows that. But it doesn’t demand it either.”

    Bingo!

    A brief filed in the Prop 8 case makes a pretty good natural law argument:
    http://presbyterianblues.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/prop-8-brief-and-its-natural-law-argument-with-a-cameo-from-the-president/

  232. mark mcculley
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    gray: I’m an orthodox Christian, not a pacifist.

    mark: Is there some relationship between the two labels? You don’t know any pacifists who believe the gospel that Christ’s death and resurrection for the elect alone will be that which saves the elect? Or do you think it’s inherently impossible for us who oppose human sacrifice for the sake of the American empire to embrace and trust in the sacrifice God gave God in Christ’s death?

    gray: Civilians have always died in war, which just war theory recognizes.

    mark: whose just war theory? By which theory of “natural law”? What I am really asking for is a Bible verse. Even if you don’t want to be a “biblicist”, it still seems fair to me to ask BY WHAT STANDARD? Where do you find this standard? Is it the same over time? is it the same for the American empire now as it was for the British empire 300 years ago? And give me an example when a just war theory actually caused a nation to accept the deaths of their own civilians instead of killing the other?

    Why do you only talk about them “dying”, and not about those with the just war theory to support them KILLING THEM. As in, we “have always killed the enemy, instead of loving him.”. And our soliders are not there to die as a sacrifice, but to make sure that the “collateral damage” are killed if we need it to happen….

    gray: That is why one of the principles involves proportionality. Now if a party willfully targets civilians then yes, I’m worked up.

    mark: Now that you are “worked up” over these drones Obama is using, by what standard do you address him? As a church? As a private Christian? Do you address him as a Christian? Why should he listen to you if the American empire is not a Christian empire? Do you want the American empire to become a Christian empire? Or is it your job (vocation, calling) to tell pagans how pagans should act even if and when they want to ignore the impractical example of Jesus?

  233. Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    As a point of order, let’s say here that the history of abortion since the dawn of history drew a line between conception and “quickening,” where the fetus starts to move on its own. So I for one have never been discussing banning abortion in the 1st trimester: I have no moral certainty on the subject [except on the personal level], and in any practical sense banning abortion from the moment of conception is not on the table. Ain’t gonna happen. 61% of us according to the polls think it should be legal, and push come to shove, I bet even more.

    I do want to add a fresh point here that I’ve seldom seen anywhere else–social attitudes to unwed motherhood since 1973 and Roe v. Wade have changed almost 180 degrees–pro-life types realized that you can’t condemn unwed motherhood AND abortion at the same time: you have to make a choice as to which is the lesser moral evil, and the choice is blatantly obvious, the difference between life and death.

    So a lot of what drove illegal abortion 50 years ago doesn’t even exist anymore. We need to take a fresh look at all this. We know a lot more than we did then–how much pro-abortion forces like NARAL were lying about everything; what a baby experiences in the womb; the age of viability with modern science; what a mother may suffer psychologically by choosing to abort her baby.
    _____________

    “Hey, I’m not saying that we are bound by the sensibilities and morals of 1776, 1787 or 1868 [the 14th Amendment]. But neither are courts empowered to “update” them by decree. If the people vote in the morality of gay marriage, abortion or whathaveyou, the Constitution allows that. But it doesn’t demand it either.”

    Mikelmann: Bingo!

    I think that bingo made this whole 200-comment thread worthwhile, me brother. It was feeling a bit futile there for awhile.

    And quite right about Clarence Thomas being the last “natural lawyer” on the court and perhaps in American jurisprudence. Also think your guess about why Scalia has become a “legal positivist”–that judges should restrict themselves to the letter of the law more than trying to discern its “spirit”–is accurate. “Living Constitutionalism” usually means the Spirit of the Laws demand precisely what’s in the Democratic Party platform. Oy.

    No wonder Scalia prefers a “Dead” Constitution. At least human life has a chance.

    [I]t has occurred to me that this notion of an overarching moral law that is binding upon all of the nations of the world — and with which all the judges of all of the nations of the world are charged with interpreting — has replaced the common law. Those of you who are lawyers will remember that, in the bad old days, that is to say, before Erie RR v. Tompkins [304 US 64, 78 (1938)], the courts believed that there was a single common law, it was up there in the stratosphere. Now, the state courts of California said it meant one thing, the state courts of New York said it meant something else, and the Federal Courts might say it meant a third thing. But one of them was wrong!

    Because there really is a common law, and it’s our job to figure out what it is. So in those days, any common-law decision of one state would readily cite common-law decisions of other states, because all the judges were engaged in the enterprise of figuring out the meaning of what Holmes called “the brooding omnipresence in the sky” of the common law. Well, I think we’ve replaced that with the law of human rights.

    Which is a moral law, and surely there must be a right and a wrong answer to these moral questions — whether there’s a right to an abortion, whether there’s a right to homosexual conduct, what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and so on — surely there is a right and wrong moral answer. And I believe there is, but the only thing is, I’m not sure what that right answer is. Or at least, I am for myself, but I’m not sure it’s the same as what you think…

    There’s some 2K stirring around in there, food for thought.

  234. mark mcculley
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, I am asking for the biblical case for why the governed are their own authorities,

    mark: me too. Maybe for different reasons than Zrim, but I too want the BIBLE case. Quote us some verses, richard. Especially the ones giving us the standards for how a politician can ignore Christ and still do the right thing and avoid sin. Would these standards be from the legislation for the Mosaic economy? Instead of “rendering to God”, you are talking about getting Caesar to “render to God”. And if you are going to do that, you are going to need some standards. And if you yourself are now Caesar, and the law is now from you and for you (have you confused Lincoln and the apostles?), by what standard do you (Caesar now) legislate?

    rs: In our day we are supposed to be ruled by law, but the law is by the people and for the people. But again, the passage about rendering unto Caesar was about a specific tax and the coin Jesus used had Caesar’s likeness and inscription on it.

    mark: not all taxes, not all situations? So this passage is not the specific standard? So where is the standard, for all situations, even the specific one in which you are now in charge, and therefore under no need to leave the wrath to God, as Romans 12 commands? And also Romans 13 also seems to be for another situation, because it talks about us submitting to them, and now you tell us that we are them. So it can’t apply anymore!

    RS: Okay, what is God’s purpose for the state and its criminal law? While the courts are not necessarily there to punish what the Church says sin is, that does not mean that the courts should not listen to the Church to find out what sin is.

    mark: which church? Papists? Only credobaptists? The invisible church of those who’ve got it in their souls? The churches who have the right Bible verses, I mean the ones for today, not those verses for some other time place and culture….

    RS: I am arguing that the legal courts have no real basis or standard for crime and punishment apart from true justice. I am not arguing that the state should criminalize abortion just because what the Church says it is, but because it is murder and the Church should point that out.

    mark: But whose just justice, which true justice? The justice of Caesar—do you think it was true for then but not for now? if Caesar’s justice was not true even for then, why the command to submit (and not attempt to replace caesar, not attempt a revolution where you yourself become the caesar?) Remember that Caesar asked: what is truth? Since you are now Caesar, Richard, I want to ask you: what is true justice and by what standard do you know it? For now, I mean? Do you read Plato a lot?

    I Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the ecclesia whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside.

    Romans 12:19… give place to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

    I Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

  235. wjw
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    “But via the Christian natural law argument, both reason and the Bible can comfortably arrive at the same place when it comes to this world, there was little conflict.”

    So if natural law is so natural why aren’t more folk on board? And what happens when reason and the Bible fail to arrive at the same conclusion? Who corrects who? I’ll take Galileo for a thousand Alex.

  236. Zrim
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Richard, you said: “Okay, what is God’s purpose for the state and its criminal law? While the courts are not necessarily there to punish what the Church says sin is, that does not mean that the courts should not listen to the Church to find out what sin is.”

    What about WCF 31.5: “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.”

    Bobby keeps making the point that the church isn’t entitled to ask that the state criminalize abortion on the basis of the church’s belief that it is a sin. You keep pushing back, which suggests that that the church has something more to say than that elective abortion is sin. It seem to me that Bobby is taking WCF 31.5 more seriously here, as in he says don’t intermeddle with civil affairs and you don’t seem so sure. This might be the part where you try to find an escape hatch through the extraordinary clause (like most lifers do), but that typically only amounts to meaning “I’m really super dooper bothered by legalized abortion and really super dooper think it should be different because do you know how many unborn are sacrificed to Molech every year? It’s extraordinary. And Holocaust!” But cases extraordinary might be better understood to be cases where the church is potentially being pressed to violate her own conscience, e.g., the recent brouhaha over churches having to provide abortion coverage to employees. Otherwise, all sorts of hobby horse trucks are driven through the extraordinary clause.

    And last I checked, American courts aren’t asking the church for pious advice. So maybe silence really is golden.

  237. Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    David, I haven’t changed any position. I am wondering what your point is. The OPC also says idolatry is sin. So let’s go protest a Mormon church.

  238. Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    David Gray, I don’t disagree with the OPC on this. In case you didn’t notice, the OPC does not teach that vandalizing abortion clinics is the way to uphold the sixth commandment.

  239. Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Eric, I believe abortion is wrong. I also believe the Baylys are wrong in the way they oppose it. That’s not rhetorical. That’s the world of Christian liberty.

  240. Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    M&M, either you’re for the Baylys (David Gray and Eric) or you’re against them. That’s what the sudden presence of BB commenters is all about.

  241. Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Tom, don’t misrepresent 2k. Plenty of people here recognize a difference between Rome and the US. The similarity is that Christians are to honor Nero or Obama.

    Where did that come from?

  242. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: Zrim: Richard, I am asking for the biblical case for why the governed are their own authorities,

    mark: me too. Maybe for different reasons than Zrim, but I too want the BIBLE case. Quote us some verses, richard.

    RS: What was the BIBLE case for Caesar having power? What authority that there is has been established by God. That is the biblical case. When the US set up their law, it was “We the people” that started it. The government is supposed to govern for the people and there are steps in place to keep the government from stepping over its boundaries.
    Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

    McMark: Especially the ones giving us the standards for how a politician can ignore Christ and still do the right thing and avoid sin. Would these standards be from the legislation for the Mosaic economy? Instead of “rendering to God”, you are talking about getting Caesar to “render to God”.

    RS: Yes, that is correct. Caesar was under the Great Commandments and has answered to the living God.

    McMark: And if you are going to do that, you are going to need some standards. And if you yourself are now Caesar, and the law is now from you and for you (have you confused Lincoln and the apostles?), by what standard do you (Caesar now) legislate?

    RS: “One nation under God.” The government is to set up laws but how are they going to set up laws apart from a standard of true justice? Where will they get a standard of true justice other than from God since true justice requires true love?

  243. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    McMark quoting rs: In our day we are supposed to be ruled by law, but the law is by the people and for the people. But again, the passage about rendering unto Caesar was about a specific tax and the coin Jesus used had Caesar’s likeness and inscription on it.

    mark: not all taxes, not all situations? So this passage is not the specific standard? So where is the standard, for all situations, even the specific one in which you are now in charge, and therefore under no need to leave the wrath to God, as Romans 12 commands?

    RS: But the government is supposed to punish wrongdoers. The passage in Romans 12 is about personal wrongs done to us from others.

    McMark: And also Romans 13 also seems to be for another situation, because it talks about us submitting to them, and now you tell us that we are them. So it can’t apply anymore!

    RS: Of course it applies, but again notice the distinction between Caesar being the law and in the US the Constitution being the law but being the law of the people and for the people.

    McMark quoting RS: Okay, what is God’s purpose for the state and its criminal law? While the courts are not necessarily there to punish what the Church says sin is, that does not mean that the courts should not listen to the Church to find out what sin is.

    mark: which church? Papists? Only credobaptists? The invisible church of those who’ve got it in their souls? The churches who have the right Bible verses, I mean the ones for today, not those verses for some other time place and culture….

    RS: See the standard Confessions for what a true church is.

  244. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    McMark quoting RS: I am arguing that the legal courts have no real basis or standard for crime and punishment apart from true justice. I am not arguing that the state should criminalize abortion just because what the Church says it is, but because it is murder and the Church should point that out.

    mark: But whose just justice, which true justice? The justice of Caesar—do you think it was true for then but not for now?

    RS: Not the point. True justice can only be found in true truth and true love.

    McMark: if Caesar’s justice was not true even for then, why the command to submit (and not attempt to replace caesar, not attempt a revolution where you yourself become the caesar?)

    RS: But you have now moved the discussion to a different area. I have simply said that the Church should preach the truth and inform the civil authorities. Then I have said that the civil authorities will answer to God for all that they do. I am not speaking of a revolution at all, though your point does show something. Caesar was not informed about true justice by the Church and would have been better off if he would have listened.

    McMark: Remember that Caesar asked: what is truth?

    RS: I think that was Pilate, though you might be using the word “Caesar” in this case as standing for ruling authorities.

    McMark: Since you are now Caesar, Richard, I want to ask you: what is true justice and by what standard do you know it? For now, I mean? Do you read Plato a lot?

    RS: Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God is perfect justice and demonstrated that at the cross of Christ. I have read Plato in the past, but he did not know Him who is perfectly just. But again, it is not that each person is Caesar, but the American people are the real authority that the Constitution points to.

    I Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the ecclesia whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside.

    RS: But this verse is not talking about what I have been talking about. I have been saying that the Church is to inform and proclaim the truth. I have not been saying that they are to be judges based on their status as Christians or as a Church.

    Romans 12:19… give place to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

    RS: Yes, in terms of personal attacks and so on we are not to seek vengeance.

    I Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

    RS: Yes, that is true too. But this passage is not dealing with the Church proclaiming the truth about sin rather than being a Church that is like the false prophets who did not speak out because they loved their money and food.

  245. Eric Rasmusen
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    This is rather long, but I hadn’t looked into the discussion for a bit.

    (1) Mr Hart said,
    “Isn’t it possible for a church to require one thing from its officers regarding church members but to be agnostic about what church members who are legislators do in their professional lives? It is. We do it all the time. Our congregations don’t evaluate everything a physician or a plumber does. So why are you eager to change the expectations when it comes to abortion.”

    Every profession has its moral hazards. Consider Dr. Tiller, of Kansas. He was a late-term abortionist. One church disciplined him, so he left, and became a deacon in another church. Which church was wrong?

    Consider a more common example. A church member owns a convenience store that sells pornography. Should the church be indifferent about that, except, perhaps, if he fails to tithe from his profits?

    (2) Zrim wrote:
    “David says: “So I think it reasonable to state that somebody who helps enable or promote what our church describes as falling under the sixth commandment should be subject to the discipline of our church.” So does this mean that somebody who helps enable or promote what our church describes as falling under the first and second commandments (i.e. idolatry and blasphemy) should be subject to the discipline of our church, as if he himself is personally guilty of idolatry and blasphemy? I affirm the right of Mormons and Romans Catholics and all manner of idolaters and blasphemers to openly practice their false religion without governmental molestation.”

    One must look at the particular enabling or promotion. A Christian should not sell idols and blasphemous paintings. Wouldn’t you agree that this would warrant church discipline? He also should not vote to use foreign aid funds to help build mosques in Afghanistan. On the other hand, merely refraining from a quixotic attempt to hinder idolatry via legislation is not wrong at all. It would be a waste of his time, even if its success would actually save souls.

    (3) Todd, you’re being evasive. If I asked, “Should the church discipline someone for child abuse,” I don’t think you’d say the question is “impossible to answer”. My question obviously asks whether the usual processes of church discipline should apply to voting to subsidize abortion in the same way they do for child abuse or any other sin. As always, repentance would play a role, discipline would start with private talk, the elders would investigate carefully, etc.
    I do thank you for bringing in a particular example, but you avoid saying when you *would* have the elders rebuke someone who votes to subsidize abortion. Would you ever?
    With your example, you are trying to say that you can imagine circumstances in which a Christian legislator should vote to legalize abortion. I can too, and I won’t try to pick apart your example. Another one is a U.S. representative in 1930 voting against a bill to ban abortion because it was already illegal in all the states anyway. But normally, including every case I can think of that has ever happened, a vote to legalize or fund abortion is sinful. And I do wish to comment on one thing you said in your example:
    “After interviewing him the session saw that in his mind he really was trying to do what is best, in other words, there was no evidence to suggest he was acting in complete disregard for God and his word.”
    Beware of the sincerity defense! An evil act is still evil if meant well— the feeble parent murdered from pity, the boy abused because the abuser thought he was in love, the Jew killed because the killer thinks Jews are dangerous. And in all such cases, even the perpetrator may not know his own heart.

    (4) Zrim said he would discipline the pro-abortion legislator (I think you did?), but
    ” I fail to see how that implies not only a particular political stance but how one or another political stance is subject to ecclesiastical sanction.”
    The answer is that with political stances, as with any other behavior, a host of considerations enter into whether there should be ecclesiastical sanctions. Some cases are easy. It is displeasing to God to perform late-term abortions or to vote to legalize them. It is not displeasing to God to accept a contract to widen 6th Street or to vote for it. How about using birth control pills or voting to legalize them? That’s a tougher case, and I could imagine a church leadership deciding to abstain on the question, or to take a position but not to actively discipline based on that issue. It’s the same as with theological questions, which are often difficult— and often difficult even if important. Should church members be disciplined for wrong views about Christology? There are clear cases, and hard cases, and ones in between.

  246. Posted April 22, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Mikelmann posted April 18, 2013 at 8:24 am: “When someone is unfairly and inaccurately maligned out of political motivation he has been ‘Borked.’ Will reformed blogs now say ‘you’ve been Maurinaed?’ But DTM said something nice about me so I have to return the favor by opining that I think he sincerely believes what he is saying. Sometimes ideological journalists just get in over their heads.”

    Thank you, Mikelmann… I think 😉

  247. Posted April 22, 2013 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    Dr. D. G. Hart posted April 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm: “DTM, then if Ben Curell is not in continuity with the Reformers, and if you are quoting Scott Clark for defense, how exactly is 2k not in continuity with the Reformed past? You can’t have it both ways — that your in continuity and then use 2k for defense. In fact, I think you’re in over your head.”

    My point was that somebody on your side of the “Two Kingdoms” issue also agreed with removing idols from churches, so this isn’t an issue dividing the two sides.

    I’ve never said everything is bad that gets said by “Two Kingdoms” people, or for that matter, “Old School Presbyterians.” In fact, there are probably a lot of things you say with which I would agree. I can’t imagine, for example, that you and I disagree on the Five Points of Calvinism. I think everybody on all sides of this “Two Kingdoms” issue concurs on that, and given the realities of the modern evangelical world, agreeing on the Five Points is not a minor thing.

  248. Posted April 22, 2013 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Sdb posted April 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm: “DTM, A couple of posts on gay marriage over at THE GOSPEL COALITION claim that it is sinful for Christians to support the legalization of gay marriage. I don’t understand why it is “sinful” (by which I understand to mean that one should be disciplined by one’s church for holding this view, and excommunicated if one does not repent). I’ve asked why it isn’t sinful for Christians to support things like the freedom of the press and religious exercise. The best I can figure is that it is tied to a rather odd exegetical treatment of the Noahic covenant – namely, this justifies state regulation behavior that harms other people, not behavior that is directed against God. So let’s allow that for sake of argument, and consider a couple of actual political cases right now.”

    Thank you for the link to the Gospel Coalition article. I’ve read the article but need to digest the comments.

    It is helpful to remember that many of these questions are not new, and they were being discussed during the Reformation long before the development of modern liberal political theories.

    With regard to freedom of the press, for example, my view is more or less that of Milton’s Areopagitica, in which he argued before the English Parliament for unlicensed printing and stated (in summary) that if we believe in a sovereign God, truth and falsehood should be allowed to grapple because we need not fear that evil will defeat truth.

    Assuming we’re not talking about ordained officers in the church who have taken ordination vows, prior restraint on someone’s views is not necessary or helpful. However, that does not mean that once somebody has published heresy, they should not be disciplined for their published views, only that they should be allowed to publish without prior restraint.

    Sdb posted April 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm: What I don’t understand is how supporting a policy that will provide a subsidy to institutions that teach blasphemous doctrines is not problematic for so many conservative protestants (my understanding is that the main push for this in Georgia is coming from evangelical schools), but the position that while homosexual behavior is sinful, gay marriage is a just way to ameliorate the worst excess amongst gay men and women. This kind of accommodationalism seems to have some precedent in the context of divorce in the time of Moses.

    Valid question. Two responses:

    First, I am not necessarily an advocate of vouchers. Government funding creates strings for government control, and I am not sure I like the idea of expanding government control into the funding mechanisms of private Christian schools. I haven’t fully thought through this issue but I see some real concerns.

    Second, I am not clear that homosexual marriage will do much if anything to reduce what, using your words, are “the worst excess amongst gay men and women.” I’ve seen the statistics on infidelity among homosexual men who consider themselves to be in committed relationships, and while it does appear that lesbians are capable of something more than mere “relatively monogamous” relationships, the promiscuity levels among male homosexuals are horrific. Even if homosexual marriage did accomplish that, it would also accomplish a very different goal sought by homosexuals, namely, normalizing of homosexuality in the eyes of society. That is simply unacceptable from a Christian perspective.

    Sdb posted April 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm: Speaking of divorce, why is it relatively uncontroversial for a divorced person to remarry. Why don’t we see Christian florists and photographers refusing to work the weddings divorcee’s? Why aren’t magistrates getting in trouble for refusing to extend marriage licenses to guys on their third or fourth wife? Why aren’t those clamoring against gay marriage also clamoring against the legalization of multiple serial marriages? Is there a principled difference between adultery and homosexuality or is it just political expediency? If the relative intensity of the fight against SSM (versus legalized serial monogamy) is about fighting the battles you think you could win, isn’t this already a pretty big concession to 2K?

    We agree! I’ll be happy to defend Christian florists and photographers who refuse to work the weddings of people with unbiblical divorces.

    By the way, my mother had a biblical divorce from her first husband, a television reporter who got a Dutch girl pregnant and whose Christian Reformed pastor, long before the era of “no fault” divorce, defended the pregnant adulteress who was a member of his church, so you’ll get no argument from me on the problems caused when churches and civil government don’t follow biblical standards in marriage and divorce matters. I raise this matter only because all the people involved are now dead, but really bad things happen when we try to be “nicer” than God’s law. I think it’s pretty clear that God knows better than we do what’s best for us.

  249. Posted April 22, 2013 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    Dr. Brian Lee posted April 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm: “I pastor a church in Washington, DC, and I hold to a two kingdoms view. Our church did a speaker series on “Christianity and Politics,” featuring DGH and a few other recognizable speakers (link below). A bunch of our members broadly agree with two kingdoms, and work directly in politics (serve as staffers in congress and other related callings). I generally don’t talk about my voting history, but my online bio points out that I was an appointee in a previous administration (the 43rd).”

    Thank you for posting this link to the speeches by you, Dr. Hart, Dr. Michael Horton, Dr. Van Drunen, Dr. David Coffin, and former White House speechwriter Michael Gerson. This is well worth listening to. I’m posting the titles since I think some may be more inclined to listen if they see what is offered out there:

    1
    Great Commission & Social Justice Q&A
    Dr. Michael Horton | Christianity & Politics 2011
    1 Corinthians 16:1-14; Romans 15:22-29
    360+ downloads | 25 min

    2
    The Great Commission
    Dr. Michael Horton | Christianity & Politics 2011
    Matthew 28:16-20; Isaiah 60:1-14
    180+ downloads | 34 min

    3
    The Great Commission and Social Justice
    Dr. Michael Horton | Christianity & Politics 2011
    1 Corinthians 16:1-14; Romans 15:22-29
    320+ downloads | 44 min

    4
    Michael Gerson & Darryl Hart: The Future of Evangelical Politics
    Dr. D. G. Hart | Christianity & Politics 2011
    Romans 13
    160+ downloads | 62 min

    5
    The New Testament on the State: Govern Well or Be Governed?
    Brian Lee | Christianity & Politics 2011
    Romans 13; Jeremiah 29
    Conference | 39 min

    6
    The New Testament on the State: Govern Well or Be Governed? Q&A
    Brian Lee | Christianity & Politics 2011
    Romans 13; Jeremiah 29
    Conference | 24 min

    7
    The Primacy of Church in Church & State
    Brian Lee | Christianity & Politics 2011
    Romans 12; Deuteronomy 32:34-43
    Conference | 34 min

    8
    Natural Law and Christian Politics
    David Van Drunen | Christianity & Politics 2011
    Romans 1-2; Exodus 20
    160+ downloads | 28 min

    9
    Natural Law and Christian Politics Q&A
    David Van Drunen | Christianity & Politics 2011
    Romans 1-2; Exodus 20

    10
    The Biblical Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church
    David Coffin | Christianity & Politics 2011
    John 18; Jeremiah 29
    Conference | 40 min

    11
    The Historical Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church
    David Coffin | Christianity & Politics 2011
    John 18; Jeremiah 29
    SUN 10/23/2011
    100+ downloads | 42 min

    12
    The Historical Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church Q&A
    David Coffin | Christianity & Politics 2011
    John 18; Jeremiah 29
    100+ downloads | 24 min

  250. Posted April 22, 2013 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    Tom Van Dyke posted April 18, 2013 at 9:57 pm: “I really do understand your embarrassment on behalf of Christianity at some of the wilder cards on the Right. However, there’s a tendency among the brighter lights on the right to attack rather than correct them–and in doing so, making a practical alliance with the amoralists. The result is that the left uses persons like yourself as a cudgel against your own “side,” and you help elect leaders such as Barack Obama. They are not your friends, you do not build credibility with them for your larger message: you are useful only as a weapon. I’m thinking there’s a problem there.

    I think we agree, Tom.

    I have no problem explaining my differences with people with whom I generally agree when that is either necessary or appropriate. I have made some pretty severe criticisms of the Dutch Reformed over the years, for example, as well as various individual ministers and church leaders in the conservative movement. People are individuals and need to be treated as such; viewing people merely as members of collective interest groups is Marxist sociology that ought not to be used by Christians or even secular conservatives.

    However, we need to be careful to distinguish between constructive criticism of colleagues, which helps us all, and attacking allies, which does nothing but help the other side.

    For those people who don’t think we are in a culture war, I guess they can consistently attack whoever they want. After all, if there is no war going on, there is no enemy who is being helped by attacking allies.

    Those of us who **DO** believe we are in a culture war need to be careful about giving ammunition to our enemies. Sometimes direct attacks are unavoidable because the alternative would be that Christians would be accused of hypocritical cover-ups — an obvious example would be World Magazine exposing problems with Dinesh D’Souza of King’s College during the last presidential campaign — but it needs to be done with care when it is done.

  251. Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Tom Van Dyke posted April 20, 2013 at 5:03 pm: “And so, a very sincere reply to Darryl and to those here gathered that took half an hour to write and hours to compose mentally gets buried under reams of silliness. Think about it, OK? I’ve seen you write very worthy stuff, so I’m not asking for the impossible here. Peace.”

    Tom, I think you’re raising an important point here that is much bigger than Erik Charter’s rapid-fire blogging. It’s not just him. It’s a problem of American secular society that has affected the church world.

    As Reformed Christians, we’re supposed to care deeply about doctrine and serious biblical and confessional analysis. That takes time and space. I expect broad evangelicals to act as if nothing which can’t be explained in two sentences is worth believing, but I think Calvinists can — and must — do better.

    Read the types of articles and essays which were standard in the Reformed world as recently as the 1800s. Then compare them to modern theological debates.

    I am afraid that those of us in the Reformed world are not immune to the influences of the television age with soundbite theology.

  252. Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    David Gray posted April 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm Who is fool enough to think married women don’t get abortions?

    They do, but a survey a number of years ago by the Alan Guttmacher Institute showed that the majority of women getting abortions up until a relatively late age in the mother’s life — age 35, I think — were single. I can’t find that survey quickly online, but a 2011 survey reported that “women who have never married and are not cohabiting account for 45% of all abortions.”

    Part of the reason crisis pregnancy centers are important is because a very large percentage of women getting abortions are young, single, think a baby will destroy their life, and think they have no place to turn for help.

  253. Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Tom Van Dyke posted April 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm: “Until the schism in 1830 or so, the Congregationalists sat cheek and jowl beside unitarians [who rejected the Trinity]. Unitarian John Adams and uber-Calvinist cousin Sam Adams!”

    The split began nearly three decades earlier with the appointment of a heretical professor to the Hollis Chair of Divinity at Harvard, but you’re certainly right that it took a long time for the secession to straighten itself out.

    Tom Van Dyke posted April 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm: What they realized in a hurry by the early 1700s as Protestant sects proliferated by the sackful was that there was no way to enforce orthodoxy. As Gordon Wood wrote ‘There were not just Presbyterians, but Old and New School Presbyterians, Cumberland Presbyterians, Springfield Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, and Associated Presbyterians; not just Baptists, but General Baptists, Regular Baptists, Free Will Baptists, Separate Baptists, Dutch River Baptists, Permanent Baptists, and Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Baptists.’”

    I am not unfamiliar with American church history, but you managed to send me to Google to look up “Springfield Presbyterians.”

    It turned out that this was the Stone group which seceded from the Synod of Kentucky to create an independent Springfield Presbytery, which dissolved the next year. The churches which were formerly members of that presbytery eventually became one of several groups in the Stone-Campbell movement that is now represented by the Churches of Christ, the independent Christian Church movement, and the Disciples of Christ.

    Thanks for sending me on a learning trip…

  254. mark mcculley
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    RS: In our day we are supposed to be ruled by law, but the law is by the people and for the people. But again, the passage about rendering unto Caesar was about a specific tax and the coin Jesus used had Caesar’s likeness and inscription on it.

    mark: not all taxes, not all situations? So this passage is not the specific standard? So where is the standard, for all situations, even the specific one in which you are now in charge, and therefore under no need to leave the wrath to God, as Romans 12 commands?

    RS: But the government is supposed to punish wrongdoers. The passage in Romans 12 is about personal wrongs done to us from others.

    mark: The question before us is who “is the government”? A church has a government, a family has a government, a college has a government. But I presume that you are talking about an empire, a nation-state, something which claims a monopoly on violence. The passage which extends from Romans 12 through chapter 13 is about the wrongs done to us by empires, by magistrates. And Zirm is correct to say that there is no liberty there for Christians not to submit to them. There is no test, no standard we can apply to them, that tells us “in this case we don’t submit”, and we are going to find some “lesser magistrates” (so that it’s private and personal, you see) and then we are going to replace you and become the magistrates ourselves and take over and then make history go the right way (you know, the way God would if God were still sovereign).

    RS:The passage in Romans 12 is about personal wrongs done to us from others.

    mark: no it’s not. Your distinction between wrong done wrong to us personally and done to us as magistrates is absolutely not in the text. You read it in, as I am sure you do in Matthew 5 when the sermon on the Mount commands us to go the extra mile when the soldiers commands us etc.

    But to get back to the basic point, which was your claim that we ourselves are Caesar now.(which is a joke on every level, voting for the magistrate makes you a magistrate?, the congress is a “direct democracy” at least for those who vote but don’t have money to donate etc). Look at your phrase–wrong done to us by others. Richard, you are saying that the other (the ones we were commanded to submit to) are now us. If we are Caesar now, and if Romans 12-13 is about the situation in which Caesar is not us, then it doesn’t seem of much use anymore.

    I notice you have not answered any question about where you get the standards. Whether the standards are for yourself (the new Caesar) or for the other Caesar. But why you should care? After all you ignored God’s command in replacing Caesar with yourself, so why should it bother you to tell us where the Bible tells you what to do now that you are the new magistrate? Maybe you just know what the “true truth” is in your soul….

    The magistrate is “supposed to” punish wrongdoers. It’s a simple question, Richard. What is your standard for wrongdoing? What the Mosaic law said? Or do you agree with Calvin that you Caesars are not bound by that. Do you agree with Luther that a magistrate who is helpful to the Reformation should keep his bigamy private?

    Romans 13 does not assume that what God has predestined (ordained, exousia) was not sin. It’s not an inductive theodicy–since slavery exists, God must approve it. Since abortion exists, God approves it. No, what is in the sovereignty of God should not be equated with what God has commanded morally. But Romans 13 still commands US to submit to THEM. If we are them, Richard, you can forget Romans 12 and 13.

  255. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    RS, you wrote: “Where will they get a standard of true justice other than from God since true justice requires true love?” Now you’re preaching to mcMark’s anabaptist side. If true justice must come from true love, than Christians may not live in a mixed society and must withdraw to a Christian commune.

    Or you could live in the Augustinian world and recognize that all claims to truth and justice are partial.

    Or you could retreat to your prayer closet with Phebe Bartlett.

  256. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Eric, sure a church should be concerned about a store owner/church member who sells porn. But you and the Baylys make it seem like selling porn is the same as using porn. You blur practically all morality into the seventh commandment. But I am not sure I could charge the store owner with violating the seventh commandment. It could actually be a violation of the ninth commandment — pornography doesn’t tell the truth about the exhibits of desire.

  257. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    DTM, I know that you have said positive things about some 2kers. But my issue with you is your characterization of the history, a field about which you say you don’t know. You state that 2k is in discontinuity with the Reformed tradition and you believe that your position is in continuity. Both of those ideas are wrong. Admit it.

  258. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    DTM – Tom, I think you’re raising an important point here that is much bigger than Erik Charter’s rapid-fire blogging. It’s not just him. It’s a problem of American secular society that has affected the church world.

    Erik – So says DTM in the midst of seven blog comments.

    Have you noticed that secular sensationalistic journalism has affected you?

    Are you trying to be Woodward or Bernstein in your Quixotic adventure to expose “R2K”?

  259. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I would love to stop commenting and get back to real life but you throw softballs every time you comment. Tee-balls even.

  260. mark mcculley
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    RS: But you have now moved the discussion to a different area. I have simply said that the Church should preach the truth and inform the civil authorities. Then I have said that the civil authorities will answer to God for all that they do. I am not speaking of a revolution at all, though your point does show something. Caesar was not informed about true justice by the Church and would have been better off if he would have listened.

    mark: No, I am trying to stay focused on your point that “we are now Caesar”, unlike back in them there old days when Christians weren’t in charge. I am saying Christians are still not in charge, and it’s good that we are not under that Constantinian illusion anymore. So the point was not about Assyria answering to God for what it does to Israel. Of course that will happen.

    The point is about you claiming that Israel is now also Assyria, your claiming that Christians are now Caesar. It’s not true. Caesar is still Caesar. Christians are still commanded to submit to Caesar. This is not about “retreat”. This is about sheer numbers. Richard, do you think there are enough Christians who are part of Caesar to make history go the right way? Of course, to answer that question, you are going to need to come up with a Bible standard for the right way? Where are you going to find your laws which tell you (and the rest of Caesar) what to do? Are they going to be the commands of Jesus Christ, or do you relegate Jesus to a mere exegete of Moses, or even worse, find some kind of consensus “practical” common law which you can get enough “right thinking” muslims and papists to agree with you about?

    RS: I am not speaking about revolution….

    mark: You said the situation has changed. So before (Romans 12-13), we weren’t Caesar. Now you say we are Caesar. How did that happen? By revolution? By replacing the existing magistrates with ourselves? Drop the point about us now being Caesar, and then this turns into a typical anabaptist-theonomist-natural law conversation (and I am bored with that, and I drop out, which of course even hart would agree is my right–why complain about anabaptists retreating when it’s a good thing that people who think like that are retreating?)

    But as long as you, Richard, keep telling us that you are Caesar, I will keep asking: have you read the papers recently? When the drones go out, that’s you? When W Bush smirks again, that’s you?
    If you are Caesar, then tell us what your standard is. Is it the will of the people or is the will of God?

    Caesar would have been better off if he had not killed Jesus? But Jesus submitted to Caesar. But Jesus is not our example, God, one time thing. and now we are Caesar?

    Maybe it wasn’t Caesar’s fault? The true church didn’t tell him what to do. (I will consult the confessions to find out who the true church was then, but I am pretty sure they say that credobaptists are not, and that credobaptism is to be hated, and that even paedobaptists who attend credobaptist churches are outside the true church, which ordinarily….)

    But of course you think the problem has changed now, Caesar doesn’t need a true church now to tell him what to do, because the true church is part of Caesar, at least for now, at this time, and in this holy and exceptional place.

    Let me ask you, Richard, when do you think you became Caesar? Would you be Caesar if you lived in Russia, or would you have to fall back on Romans 13 (and submit) if you lived there?

  261. mark mcculley
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    dgh: mcMark’s anabaptist side. If true justice must come from true love, than Christians may not live in a mixed society and must withdraw to a Christian commune.

    Or you could live in the Augustinian world and recognize that all claims to truth and justice are partial.

    mark: and here I thought I was anabaptist all the way down! Anabaptists don’t presume to tell pagans what justice is. We don’t tell magistrates how to kill right. We tell magistrates to believe the gospel about God’s love for the elect, and that those who are called out by the gospel need to submit to magistrates (and not be magistrates)

    This is how anabaptists “seek the peace of the city” in which we find ourselves exiles and sojourners. The Bible tells us we don’t need our own magistrate, that citizens of heaven can live on earth in diaspora, in a mixed society. We don’t have a problem living beside Iraqi baby killers and infant baptizers. The problem is on the other side. Those who claim they want a “mixed society” tend to tell us to vote or get out, or to approve the magistrates (support the troops) or get out. Or water baptise our infants or get out (or get out of the true church, outside of which ordinarily…of course some reformed do allow us to be members but not the essence of the church -clergy-but at least our being members keeps hope alive that we are saved as long as we pass that test….)

    I sound like one angry dude despite my claim to be pacifist? Well, let me tell you, anybody as cynical (realistic, Augustinian, ie Christians are still sinners, even in their souls) as me needs to claim to be pacifist. So maybe I will be.

    But my point: anabaptists don’t have a problem submitting in a mixed society. Mixed society tends to have a problem with us. They don’t want mere submission. They want Tonto to say that he endorses the white man. They want Tonto to baptise his infants so that Tonto’s family will be the white man.

    Those who say that “we are all anabaptists now” are the same folks who tend to say ‘we are all Caesar now”. I am thankful that dgh at least knows that he’s still not anabaptist. I am also thankful that DGH knows that Presbyterians are not the same on the magistrate as they used to be. I wish more people knew that…

    All claims are partial. I agree. That’s not “postmodernity”,as the right-wing would have it. Anybody who claims to be anabaptist needs to be patient enough to agree that even the claim to be caesar is partial. That’s why we submit, even when we cannot in good conscience prosecute the wars the majority has decided would be good for their economy….

  262. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    McMark, I feel your pain. No need for a monastery to feel ill at ease with the world.

  263. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: RS, you wrote: “Where will they get a standard of true justice other than from God since true justice requires true love?” Now you’re preaching to mcMark’s anabaptist side. If true justice must come from true love, than Christians may not live in a mixed society and must withdraw to a Christian commune.

    RS: I don’t think your conclusion is the only one that can be drawn. If the standard of true justice can only come from God, then the more a mixed society looks to the true source of wisdom the closer it will get to justice. After all, God created all things for His own glory and purpose. God alone is perfectly just and all men are His image, so the way to pursue true justice is to look to the One who alone is just.

    D.G. Hart: Or you could live in the Augustinian world and recognize that all claims to truth and justice are partial.

    RS: While on earth Jesus claimed to be the Truth. His claim was not and is not partial. The Church is the body of Christ and in fact how person A treats believer B is how one treats Christ. While it is the case that no one is perfect on this planet now, that does not mean that the claim to truth is partial. We can still seek Him who is perfectly just and ask Him to give us insight into what true justice requires.

    D.G. Hart: Or you could retreat to your prayer closet with Phebe Bartlett.

    RS: Jesus certainly retreated to places in order to pray for long periods of time.

  264. todd
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Eric: Todd, you’re being evasive. If I asked, “Should the church discipline someone for child abuse,” I don’t think you’d say the question is “impossible to answer”.

    Todd: Again it depends on what you are meaning by church discipline. If you mean the elders investigate the situation, ask questions, admonish, etc…then of course. But if the child abuse was one spanking the state considered too forceful, that would certainly be dealt with differently than a child in the hospital with serious injuries. We always investigate and ask questions, examine pattern, evidence of repentance, motive, sincerity (yes, we examine it but it is only one element to consider) and then make a judgment call on the proper course to pursue. That is why it is difficult to answer a question like, would you disciple someone who commits,,, Obviously there are some sins so premeditated and heinous you would discipline (at least suspend from the Table) right away, even if they claim to be repentant (rape, etc…), but voting to fund abortion is not one of those.

    Eric: My question obviously asks whether the usual processes of church discipline should apply to voting to subsidize abortion in the same way they do for child abuse or any other sin.

    Todd: Not in the same way, for we already established the principle that voting for the state to not punish a certain sin is not tantamount to approving of that sin. So the answer is no, but that does not mean we might not meet with him and inquire whether he is personally approving of that sin by his vote. In good churches elders already know their people so you often know the person enough to determine whether you might need to discuss this or not.

    Eric: I do thank you for bringing in a particular example, but you avoid saying when you *would* have the elders rebuke someone who votes to subsidize abortion. Would you ever?

    Todd: I did answer that question, and it was yes, if we determine the reason he is voting to legalize a certain sin is because he approves of the sin and disregards God’s commands.

    Eric: With your example, you are trying to say that you can imagine circumstances in which a Christian legislator should vote to legalize abortion. I can too…

    Todd: Then we agree

    Eric: Beware of the sincerity defense! An evil act is still evil if meant well— the feeble parent murdered from pity, the boy abused because the abuser thought he was in love, the Jew killed because the killer thinks Jews are dangerous. And in all such cases, even the perpetrator may not know his own heart.

    Todd: (Where would a good 2K debate be without mention of Nazis) If you knew how many times we have disciplined members in our churches regardless of the insistence of their sincerity you would not feel the need to warn me of this. Nevertheless the elders are to consider sincerity in their examinations. For example, if a young girl falls into fornication one time, says she is repentant and will not do it again, we may deem her sincere and only rebuke her. Because she seems sincere we may give her the benefit of the doubt, but of course looking for genuine fruit of repentance in the coming months.

  265. Zrim
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Eric, you wrote: “The answer is that with political stances, as with any other behavior, a host of considerations enter into whether there should be ecclesiastical sanctions. Some cases are easy. It is displeasing to God to perform late-term abortions or to vote to legalize them. It is not displeasing to God to accept a contract to widen 6th Street or to vote for it. How about using birth control pills or voting to legalize them? That’s a tougher case, and I could imagine a church leadership deciding to abstain on the question, or to take a position but not to actively discipline based on that issue. It’s the same as with theological questions, which are often difficult— and often difficult even if important. Should church members be disciplined for wrong views about Christology? There are clear cases, and hard cases, and ones in between.”

    For the most part, I appreciate the sense of nuance you show here.

    Still, I don’t know why you seem so at ease proclaiming that God is displeased with casting a certain vote. I know I am displeased with a political effort to protect this practice. But instead of speaking for God where he is silent and enlisting heavenly sanction against my political opponent, I express my opposition by casting an opposing vote. I might lose, but the fear of losing that political contest pales in comparison to the fear of speaking for God where he is silent. Like I said before, Od Schoolers simply don’t have the political tick New Schoolers do. You guys seem to glide easily over older Reformed virtues that inform something like the RPW, or the ethic affirmed by something like Belgic 13 about providence and discerning the secret will of God. I guess you think that some spiritual things are negligible because certain political situations are so dire, but that only helps make my point about the New School tick.

  266. Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart posted April 22, 2013 at 8:05 am: “DTM, I know that you have said positive things about some 2kers. But my issue with you is your characterization of the history, a field about which you say you don’t know. You state that 2k is in discontinuity with the Reformed tradition and you believe that your position is in continuity. Both of those ideas are wrong. Admit it.”

    Clarification: I have **NOT** said that I don’t know church history. What I **HAVE** said is that you are a recognized expert in the history of Machen.

    Anytime a layman tries to debate a professor, there are going to be issues of gaps in the layman’s knowledge. Furthermore, I don’t have access to a major theological library. There are reasons why I used to spend many hours in the Calvin library doing historical and theological research. I can’t do that today.

    What I am going to say is that writing my essay did not get done overnight, or on my own. It involved months of work and prior review by theological professors at several different institutions who either know or should know not just the general outlines but also the fine points and details of the church history involved.

    As is often the case with church history, there is more than one interpretation of the key facts at issue.

  267. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    McMark: RS:The passage in Romans 12 is about personal wrongs done to us from others.

    mark: no it’s not. Your distinction between wrong done wrong to us personally and done to us as magistrates is absolutely not in the text. You read it in, as I am sure you do in Matthew 5 when the sermon on the Mount commands us to go the extra mile when the soldiers commands us etc.

    Romans 12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;…
    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
    20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”
    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    RS: Mark, the text is quite clear in its context. It is speaking to individuals as opposed to speaking to magistrates. No, the text does not mention magistrates as such, but it is speaking to people who are Christians and it speaks to them as to what they as individuals are to do. The only part I can find in the context speaks to individuals and nothing that speaks to people as magistrates.

    McMark: But to get back to the basic point, which was your claim that we ourselves are Caesar now.(which is a joke on every level, voting for the magistrate makes you a magistrate?, the congress is a “direct democracy” at least for those who vote but don’t have money to donate etc).

    RS: Sorry you are unable to see some basic facts through what you see is a joke. I am not arguing that voting for a magistrate makes a person a magistrate, nor am I arguing that we are not to submit to the magistrates as far as one can. Read a little more closely without “the joke” in your mind. The text in question (originally) had to do with the words of Jesus to a specific question asked of Him. He was asked if it WAS LAWFUL to pay a poll-tax. His answer, which was a trick question by those who hated Him, was to hold up a coin (which had the likeness of Caesar on it) and say “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”. He then went on to say “and to God the things that are God’s.”

    The question had to do with a poll-tax and nothing else. However, if you want to assert (regarding that passage) that there is a lot more there and that we are to submit to Caesar, then you have to ask something about who Caesar was at that time and then ask who Caesar is at this point and time. The Romans were supposed to rule by law but Caesar was above the law and his word was law. In some cases he was thought of as a god and people sacrificed to him. But that is not the case today. We are supposed to be a government that operates by the rule of law but the laws of our land were originally intended to be “we the people” and were to be for the people. The rules regarding government was a recognition that government is necessary but the real authority was to be with the people. No joke.

    McMark: Look at your phrase–wrong done to us by others. Richard, you are saying that the other (the ones we were commanded to submit to) are now us. If we are Caesar now, and if Romans 12-13 is about the situation in which Caesar is not us, then it doesn’t seem of much use anymore.

    RS: I am saying that you are misreading or you are leaping to conclusions. I am not saying that people are to submit to us (people), but to the law. I am trying to get at the real issue of what America was supposed to be like and the reasons for the laws. I am not arguing that we are not to submit to governing authorities as such, but Romans 12 is speaking of personal enemies as opposed to national ones. The context is clear.

    McMark: I notice you have not answered any question about where you get the standards.

    RS: But I did answer that, or at least I thought I did. All authority that is in place is in place by God, or we can say that all governments that are in place are in place by God. We could also say that the place of government is to punish those who do evil and reward those who do good since the Bible is also quite clear on that and leave the question to the side if a government is legitimate that does not do those things.

    McMark: Whether the standards are for yourself (the new Caesar) or for the other Caesar. But why you should care?

    RS: But I am not the new Caesar. There is no Caesar in America, or at least there is not supposed to be one. We are a nation that was originally set up to be a nation ruled by law but it was set up by the people and for the people and the Constitution was set up to protect the people from a government that wanted to take too much power from the people and use it for themselves.

    McMark: After all you ignored God’s command in replacing Caesar with yourself, so why should it bother you to tell us where the Bible tells you what to do now that you are the new magistrate?

    RS: But again, more careful readers they can see that I have not replaced Caesar with myself. I have said (following Scritpure) that the only authority is the authority that God has established. Then I have said that the real authority in America (which God has established) is a government that is to be ruled by law and is a law that was established by the people and for the people. That was in clear opposition to a king.

    McMark: Maybe you just know what the “true truth” is in your soul….

    RS: While that may be true in one context, the Bible is quite clear. Once again, there is no true authority that God has not established. The American government, then, has been established by God. This is not to say that it is the only one that has been established by God, but it is one that has been established by God. That statement is established on the Word of God.

    McMark: The magistrate is “supposed to” punish wrongdoers. It’s a simple question, Richard. What is your standard for wrongdoing? What the Mosaic law said? Or do you agree with Calvin that you Caesars are not bound by that. Do you agree with Luther that a magistrate who is helpful to the Reformation should keep his bigamy private?

    RS: To cut to the heart of the issue, of course magistrates are supposed to punish wrongdoers. But what did God mean when He breathed forth those words? What standard did God have and what did He mean by wrongding? There is no objective standard for wrongdoing other than true justice and that can only be found in the Word of God, though indeed all men have something of the moral law written in the fabric of their being. The only way for anyone to find out what a true principle of justice truly is would be for that person or persons to seek it humbly from the God who created them and in whom alone resides all perfect justice.

    McMark: Romans 13 does not assume that what God has predestined (ordained, exousia) was not sin. It’s not an inductive theodicy–since slavery exists, God must approve it. Since abortion exists, God approves it. No, what is in the sovereignty of God should not be equated with what God has commanded morally. But Romans 13 still commands US to submit to THEM. If we are them, Richard, you can forget Romans 12 and 13.

    RS: No, McMark, you are reading into what I have been saying. The text clearly says that the authority that exists has been established by God. I am arguing that the real authority in America, or at least that was the way it was supposed to be, was the people and the Constitution was to keep the government from intruding into the lives of a free people and that the free people were to operate by the rule of law rather than by a government. That is far from saying that I am Caesar. It does, however, have a great influence on how we view our submission to authorities. Indeed we are to do so, but when the government assumes more power from the people to itself, it is not in obedience to the law which was established by God. So I am not forgetting Romans 12, but simply saying that it is to individuals. I am not forgetting about Romans 13 either. We are to submit to the magistrates. But I am also saying that the Caesar of biblical times is not the Caesar of our time.

  268. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    mark mcculley quoting RS: But you have now moved the discussion to a different area. I have simply said that the Church should preach the truth and inform the civil authorities. Then I have said that the civil authorities will answer to God for all that they do. I am not speaking of a revolution at all, though your point does show something. Caesar was not informed about true justice by the Church and would have been better off if he would have listened.

    mark: No, I am trying to stay focused on your point that “we are now Caesar”, unlike back in them there old days when Christians weren’t in charge. I am saying Christians are still not in charge, and it’s good that we are not under that Constantinian illusion anymore. So the point was not about Assyria answering to God for what it does to Israel. Of course that will happen.

    RS: I would agree that Christians are not in charge as such, but we are also citizens of a nation that we pledge allegiance to as a Republic that is indivisible, and with liberty and justice for all. I am not arguing that I am Caesar (wow), but that the Constitution that was written by “we the people” and was for the people is one that sets out a system of law that is far different than that of the Caesar of biblical times. Where have I ever said that Christians are in charge? No, the people of the nation (Christians and non-Christians) are what is in the Constitution. The Constitution limits the power of the government to rule over the people but instead it is to be for the people. That is the government that was established and so has been established by God (Romans 13).

    McMark: The point is about you claiming that Israel is now also Assyria, your claiming that Christians are now Caesar. It’s not true. Caesar is still Caesar. Christians are still commanded to submit to Caesar.

    RS: But I have never argued that Christians are now Caesar.

    McMark: This is not about “retreat”. This is about sheer numbers. Richard, do you think there are enough Christians who are part of Caesar to make history go the right way? Of course, to answer that question, you are going to need to come up with a Bible standard for the right way? Where are you going to find your laws which tell you (and the rest of Caesar) what to do? Are they going to be the commands of Jesus Christ, or do you relegate Jesus to a mere exegete of Moses, or even worse, find some kind of consensus “practical” common law which you can get enough “right thinking” muslims and papists to agree with you about?

    RS: I assume you had a dream last night and are writing from it rather than from what I have said. I have never argued that Christians are the new Caesar. But again, the “render unto Caesar” remark was an answer to a specific question about a poll-tax. But if one wants to stretch that out of the context or draw principles from it, one has to take into account the true nature of authority today. In our day that is the rule of law as set out in the Constitution which was written by the people and was for the people. Remember the first words? “We the people.” But at no point have I said that Christians are the new Caesar. Yes, I did say that if anyone wanted to make laws in accordance with true justice that person would have to get them from God.

  269. Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    DTM, the point of your irresponsibility still stands. I don’t care whom you had read your piece. Historical treatments with a 2k narrative — VanDrunen, Clark, Gamble (the OP one), and me are widely available and yet you have not read those accounts, accounts which should make you tentative about what your claiming about 2k and about Reformed history.

    This isn’t a question of historical expertise. It’s one of responsibility.

  270. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    McMark quoting RS: I am not speaking about revolution….

    mark: You said the situation has changed. So before (Romans 12-13), we weren’t Caesar. Now you say we are Caesar. How did that happen? By revolution? By replacing the existing magistrates with ourselves? Drop the point about us now being Caesar, and then this turns into a typical anabaptist-theonomist-natural law conversation (and I am bored with that, and I drop out, which of course even hart would agree is my right–why complain about anabaptists retreating when it’s a good thing that people who think like that are retreating?)

    RS: Sigh. McMark, all of this could have been avoided if you would simply have read carefully or simply asked a question if I really believe that I (as an individual) or Christians as a whole were Caesar.

    McMark: But as long as you, Richard, keep telling us that you are Caesar, I will keep asking: have you read the papers recently? When the drones go out, that’s you? When W Bush smirks again, that’s you?

    RS: Ask a question next time and stop repeating something I have never made. As for drones, you are droning on and on about something I have never said and I certainly didn’t send that out.

    McMark: If you are Caesar, then tell us what your standard is. Is it the will of the people or is the will of God?

    RS: One standard this non-Caesar has is truth. I will try not to misread others and make false deductions and then go on and on about it.

    McMark: Caesar would have been better off if he had not killed Jesus? But Jesus submitted to Caesar. But Jesus is not our example, God, one time thing. and now we are Caesar?

    RS: Please read more carefully.

    McMark: Maybe it wasn’t Caesar’s fault? The true church didn’t tell him what to do. (I will consult the confessions to find out who the true church was then, but I am pretty sure they say that credobaptists are not, and that credobaptism is to be hated, and that even paedobaptists who attend credobaptist churches are outside the true church, which ordinarily….

    RS: Didn’t say it wasn’t his fault. But as a way of illustration, what if he would have listened to the true Church? If any person at any time was saved by Christ, yes, since Christ is the only way of salvation for all history, then that person is part of the Church.

    McMark: But of course you think the problem has changed now, Caesar doesn’t need a true church now to tell him what to do, because the true church is part of Caesar, at least for now, at this time, and in this holy and exceptional place.

    RS: Nope, I have never said that the true Church is Caesar as such.

    McMark: Let me ask you, Richard, when do you think you became Caesar? Would you be Caesar if you lived in Russia, or would you have to fall back on Romans 13 (and submit) if you lived there?

    RS: I have never been Caesar and will never be Caesar. I have also never claimed to be Caesar, though if I could be one (like the one in the time of Jesus in terms of power) I would assign all subjects remedial reading classes and make them live on bread and water until they learned to read with discernment for the real intent of the author. I would also assign logic classes to all my subjects to learn the difference between proper deductions and jumping to conclusions.. I would also make D.G. Hart read Jonathan Edwards until he loved him and would weep with Phebe Bartlett.

  271. Mikelmann
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    “What I am going to say is that writing my essay did not get done overnight, or on my own. It involved months of work and prior review by theological professors at several different institutions who either know or should know not just the general outlines but also the fine points and details of the church history involved.”

    Sorry, DTM, no anonymous double top secret authority allowed. If you don’t name them you can’t claim them

  272. Zrim
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Richard, Tom VD kicked this all off by saying “…we cannot shrug our shoulders and render onto Caesar because we are Caesar.” I dissented on this sentiment as asinine, but you’ve been defending it all along, so what are you talking about that you’ve not been arguing that? Your point that the political arrangements of Jesus’ day are very different from ours isn’t disputed. But how you get from that that “we are Caesar” is convoluted. I know it’s popular to cast “we the people” this way, but it is for the same reason world-and-life-view and all-of-lifery is: it sounds good to well intentioned but unsuspecting minds.

  273. mark mcculley
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    RS wants to change “we are Caesar now” to “we are part of Caesar now and we have a duty to use our influence”. But RS still hasn’t even given us any Bible verses to tell us (and the rest of the Caesars) who to kill according to God’s law. Disappointing. He wants to sound like Gary North but without doing the necessary casuitry, case by case. (btw, North is glad that we “come-outers” have gone out….)

    Check out this essay against the the political rhetoric of Francis Schaeffer and Samuel Rutherford.
    D. J. Engelsma, “Conditional Submission?” in Reformed Witness, Volume I, July 1993, Number 7 – two online articles at http://www.hopeprc.org/reformedwitness/1993/RW199307.htm#part2

  274. sean
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Wait, so let me get this straight. Somebody writes a hit piece on 2k theology, names names, but then admits he needs to still read the published works of the folks he shot?! I remember hearing about this thing they call journalistic integrity, I was young at the time but I’m pretty sure it still means the same thing. So, this doesn’t even qualify for a tempest in a teapot but is in fact a snipe hunting excursion. Congratulations, that’s a nice rack on that Jackalope you shot there.

  275. Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Mikelmann, I can’t do that without permission of the people involved.

    Even in the academic press, it is not uncommon to have people review a pre-publication draft without being credited for doing so. That can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, I’ve been asked a number of times by professors to review drafts of their academic papers on issues related to the history of the CRC-URC secession, sometimes for fact-checking, sometimes for input on their basic thesis, and sometimes for referral to primary source documents which were not readily available. I think my assistance to them was always on a not-for-attribution basis. I was pretty insistent that my name not appear in professors’ credit lines in academic papers back when I was working at Christian Renewal, though I may have forgotten some example where I got put into the paper’s credit line because I forgot to ask that I not be credited.

  276. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, Tom VD kicked this all off by saying

    RS: If you think that TVD is a believer, then you must also realize that what you do unto him you do to Christ. Perhaps it would be better to refer to him as Tom or TVD. But then again, I do believe very strongly in the 24/7 version of Christianity and that all words do matter. In fact, Jesus said that every careless word we speak will be brought into judgment. I would assume that He was speaking of every word as meaning every word of the entire week and every word concerning all things that a person does, even when one is plumbing.

    Zrim quoting TVD: “…we cannot shrug our shoulders and render onto Caesar because we are Caesar.” I dissented on this sentiment as asinine, but you’ve been defending it all along, so what are you talking about that you’ve not been arguing that?

    RS: I am not saying that I am Caesar and I am not saying that Christians are Caesar. What I am saying is that the text you brought up had a specific context (toll-tax) and it had a specific idea of Caesar at that time. The Rome of that time was supposed to operate by a rule of law but Caesar more or less was the rule of law when he wanted to be. In our day we are to operate by a rule of law and that rule of law is set out by the people and for the people. Our rule of law is to keep the government from acting like Caesar. When I defended the statement “we are Caesar” that was nothing but shorthand to say that the rule of law is the Constitution that was set out by the people and is to be for the people. Caesar is not the rule of law in our day.

    Zrim: Your point that the political arrangements of Jesus’ day are very different from ours isn’t disputed. But how you get from that that “we are Caesar” is convoluted.

    RS: It is not that convoluted at all. Both nations supposedly were to operate under a rule of law. Caesar basically took the rule of law and was the rule of law as he pleased. In our day the Constitution is to be our rule of law and yet it was written by the people and for the people. So who wrote the constitution and what was its purpose? It is not convoluted, but simply takes the reality of the situations and looks at them.

    Zrim: I know it’s popular to cast “we the people” this way, but it is for the same reason world-and-life-view and all-of-lifery is: it sounds good to well intentioned but unsuspecting minds.

    RS: But all of life is well-intentioned because it is biblical. It is just that suspecting minds want to change the obvious teaching of Scripture to something else.

    1. God created all things for His own glory (humans too)
    2. The Great Commandment is to love God with all of our heart, minds, souls, and strength.
    3. The Great Commandment covers all of life at all times, and as such it is all-of-lifery.
    4. If even the most mundane and/or necessary things that we do are to be for the glory of God (I Cor 10:31, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God), then all of life is to be to the glory of God.
    5. If every careless word we speak will be brought into judgment, then all of life is to be lived and spoken to God.
    6. All authority was given to Jesus.
    7. Every knee (secular, Caesar, each and every) will bow and answer to God for all that they have done, spoken, loved, thought, intended… I am not sure how you can escape the all-of-lifery view that all is to be done out of love for God and to the glory of God. By the way, read Westminster’s Larger Catechism on what it means to have no other God’s before Him (questions 104-106). The concept is that we are not to have any other gods in His presence. When are we to have no other gods in His presence? In all of life and at all times. The great I-dol is the self and doing what we do, whether specifically religious or not, for Him and not for self. There are no holes regarding time in the Great Commandment nor the Ten that flow from it. At no point of the day or week should we covet, lie, steal, commit adultery, or murder. At no point of the day or week should we have another god in His presence.

  277. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: RS wants to change “we are Caesar now” to “we are part of Caesar now and we have a duty to use our influence”.

    RS: I did not say it is our duty to use our influence now, but rather that we are to proclaim the character of God and His moral and just laws that all people will be judged by at the end of their life and judgment day. You can twist words or meanings around, but the point is clear to those who wish to think through the issue rather than just react.

    McMark: But RS still hasn’t even given us any Bible verses to tell us (and the rest of the Caesars) who to kill according to God’s law. Disappointing. He wants to sound like Gary North but without doing the necessary casuitry, case by case. (btw, North is glad that we “come-outers” have gone out….)

    RS: Interesting that you claim to know that I want to sound like Gary North, which I don’t. Perhaps we could just stick to the facts and arguments or reasons instead of trying to impute motives. The point at hand is not about who should be killed or anything like that, so why would I get off the subject and try to set out things like that? The original point had to do with “rendering unto Caesar.” One, I made the case that Jesus was answering a specific question in the context rather than making a sweeping statement. Two, if you do wish to apply that as a sweeping statement then one needs to ask who the Caesar was in that context and why Jesus brought him into the point at hand. By the way, it was because the money had the likeness and inscription of Caesar on it. Three, then one has to decide the real issue of who Caesar is in our day.

  278. Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Jeff Cagle,
    Sorry for the late reply.
    You asked me about Erik Charter’s comments, and whether I agree with his statement:
    “I find that those who are taught proper doctrine can usually come up with the worldview on their own, but those who are sent away to “Worldview Weekend” without being catechized often struggle to know ascertain proper doctrine. Look at all the people who call themselves “Reformed” without knowing or agreeing with all that the Reformed Confessions teach. It’s the old “teach a man to fish” vs. “give a man a fish” dichotomy.”

    I think that what Erik says is very significant.
    First, what he said seems to not exactly be what you are asking me. I would say that regardless of whatever doctrine (proper or not) is taught, everyone “comes up” with a worldview of their own. Everyone has a worldview, Christian and non-Christian. So, doctrine really isnt the key to generating a worldview.. Doctrine is the key to generating a *particular* worldview (and vice versa).
    Perhaps Erik actually did mean that the worldview would logically follow from doctrine, given the context of what he said afterwards. He simply said that people come up with their worldview on their own, and so it seemed a little unclear due to the choice of his words. But, I will assume that he meant that correct worldview follows correct doctrine.

    You asked: “Next question: would you agree or disagree with Erik that if doctrine is taught (and received), worldview will follow?”

    There are several aspects to this question, and I dont think that it can simply be answered statically in one way.
    1) Based on what I said previously concerning how worldview and doctrine depend on each other, and how worldview and doctrine are in fact the same thing (yet the “application” and extent of focus are different), the question presupposes that worldview logically follows doctrine, which I mentioned before is not how we should look at the relation between doctrine and worldview.

    2) Your question leads us to observe this in reality. Theoretical musings can only get us so far. Theoretically, of course, we can probably all agree that proper doctrine leads to proper worldview and proper worldview leads to proper doctrine etc… This is what ***should*** happen.

    But what actually **is** the reality is:
    This then ends up causing us to question what exactly is meant by proper doctrine? Of course, many folks here at oldlife would say that neo-calvinism or theonomy or kuyperianism etc.. is not proper doctrine.
    Folks at, say, bayly blog, would sharply say the opposite.. Your understanding of “proper” doctrine would then invariably influence how you apply that to different situations (worldview)..
    At the same time, in certain cases, people come in with a pre-conceived (proper or not) worldview, and this causes their understanding of “proper” doctrine to be affected.

    Case in point, at one of my previous churches in California from years ago, it was a PCA church. The pastors were from WSCAL.
    For arguments sake, let’s say that they were teaching “proper” doctrine (although based on my stance on certain issues, we could easily debate this point also)..

    But, my observations of most of the members were that either they didn’t understand the doctrine fully, or if they did, they weren’t making proper connections to how this should be integrated with their larger worldview.
    At the same time, given their background and their pre-conceived worldview, this clearly affected how they viewed key teachings from the pulpit.
    In certain cases, “proper” doctrine will help “develop” the “proper” worldview, but in others, it is the other way around.

    I cant really comment on Erik’s experience with people and their worldview camp. But if he indeed had a bad experience with those folks, I would say that this speaks more to the method of teaching and how the doctrine and worldview concepts were approached and taught, not that necessarily teaching worldview is wrong. (fallacy of association).
    We need to make a **moral** and proper judgement on something not based on the perceived results but on the standards and principles of the Bible and logic.
    I could easily say that all Calvinists are arrogant religious jerks (and to Arminians, this is true) and therefore, Calvinism is wrong.. Clearly this is an absurd statement.

    So again, the question really involves understanding the relation between worldview and doctrine, which I already talked about.
    This question also involves understanding what we mean by proper doctrine and proper worldview. Also, your understanding of proper might be different from someone else’s.. (eschatology, NL2K vs non-NL2K etc..)
    It also involves understanding that simply because proper doctrine (whatever you take that to mean) is preached, this doesnt always mean that the member will receive it properly, understand it properly, or apply it properly.
    This also involves the fact that a member’s preconceived worldview can affect his understanding of doctrine or be influenced by it or both.

    Finally, this also should speak to the fact that if one is to have proper doctrine and a proper worldview, preaching isnt simply only redemptive-historical.. useful and vital as this is…
    ***Christ-centered*** application must also be preached as well. Simply saying “I will let the Holy Spirit teach to their hearts, so I dont have to preach application” is taking a very myopic look at the counsel of God that is presented before us in the entire Bible.
    If this were true, then, there the book of Proverbs should never exist.

  279. Zrim
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    When I defended the statement “we are Caesar” that was nothing but shorthand to say that the rule of law is the Constitution that was set out by the people and is to be for the people. Caesar is not the rule of law in our day.

    Is that like the Christian you-name-it short hand? I get it, but like worldviewese cadence, the language is sloppy and confusing.

    But you also go on to claim that self-autonomy is the great idolatry. Have you considered that this language about the governed being the real authority might be the political version of autonomy? The familial version is when it is said that husbands might be the head but wives are the neck which turns the head. It’s all cute enough in a folksy sort of way. But when people like you and Tom start to seriously suggest them, one seriously wonders.

  280. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Zrim quoting RS: When I defended the statement “we are Caesar” that was nothing but shorthand to say that the rule of law is the Constitution that was set out by the people and is to be for the people. Caesar is not the rule of law in our day.

    Zrim: Is that like the Christian you-name-it short hand? I get it, but like worldviewese cadence, the language is sloppy and confusing.

    RS: It may be confusing to some, but it is not sloppy. It gets a real point across and with minimal explanation (one would think) it is not that difficult to grasp. On the other hand, a worldview can be thought of as consisting of a person’s most basic beliefs or the beliefs that we all have in some way. The most basic beliefs have to do with the being of God, the nature of God, the nature of human beings, how human beings know things, and then the nature of morality. Every person interprets information with some idea of those things. So person A and person B can have a great and heated discussion about whether fact A is true or not and actually be arguing about a little piece of ice that is out of the water and ignore the huge amount of ice that is under the water that determines a lot about the little piece of ice above. In other words, arguing about the tip of an iceberg while ignoring the iceberg itself is not getting to the real issues at hand. Which, then, shows that a worldview can be very important to all discussions, even discussions about Caesar.

    Zrim: But you also go on to claim that self-autonomy is the great idolatry. Have you considered that this language about the governed being the real authority might be the political version of autonomy?

    RS: But of course, but that would be ignoring the issue of the Constitution.

    Zrim: The familial version is when it is said that husbands might be the head but wives are the neck which turns the head. It’s all cute enough in a folksy sort of way. But when people like you and Tom start to seriously suggest them, one seriously wonders.

    RS: The problem for you, however, is that while you don’t like it and have given some cute little illustrations and all, you have not really dealt with it. So I seriously wonder if you have seriously wondered about it. It may be the case that we have a different view of the world and you will not admit that there is a worldview and so you will continue to argue about the tips of the iceberg while ignoring the massive issues underneath.

  281. Zrim
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Richard, so my problem is that I’m not deep or high enough to understand and grasp your real points. Glory alert.

  282. sean
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, it’s roughly equivalent to CTC inspired RC’s claiming that protestants are rank rationalists who don’t trade enough on Narnia, middle earth and magic to explain their faith. It’s enough to make me go visit my old priest and see if he still drinks all the wine out of the cup to make sure Jesus’ blood doesn’t go to waste or if his Thomism worked that right out. I think I’ve heard everything today; a journalist who doesn’t read the source material of work he criticizes, Richard arguing for McMark to stop imputing motives and stick with the facts, and a Thomistic RC accusing protestants they’ve lost their inner child.

    Y’all knock it off and get back to regular programming.

  283. Posted April 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    In our system we have these things called “elections”.

    The winner of those elections gets to wear the Caesar toga for a term, the guy who lost the election gets to be a lobbyist or a cable TV talking head.

    Saying otherwise is like a church member demanding to be seated at the Session meeting after citing the “priesthood of all believers” as authority.

  284. Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Tom, don’t misrepresent 2k. Plenty of people here recognize a difference between Rome and the US. The similarity is that Christians are to honor Nero or Obama.

    Where did that come from?

    And whgere did that come from? Darryl, a gentleman of your intelligence can’t possibly believe that’s my argument. Even if you don’t agree with my argument–and you can’t without reevaluating the position you’ve invested your career in–it deserves to be stated honestly. Being a citizen in a democratic republic is a qualitative difference from being the subject of a king or emperor.

    We have a say: we have political power. Contra your statement here, and Erik’s above, although it feels that way lately, Barack Obama is not our emperor.

    Neither do we need to control all the levers of government–conservatives control the House, have a veto [filibuster] in the Senate, and on the state level, just banned abortions after 12 weeks in Arkansas.

    We’re a long way from the simple choice of submit or revolt.

    After 300 comments resulting in a misstatement [or charitably, a misunderstanding] of my argument–others here seem to grok it just fine–we’ll try again elsewhen. Respectfully submitted.

  285. George
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Yikes! This thread reminds me of the behavior of a pinball machine during a power brown-out.

    Well, at least a new acronym has been spawned in the process: ABERRANT; Angry Bitter Evangelicals Rejecting Reformed Acceptance of Normative Theology.

  286. Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    ABERRANT; Angry Bitter Evangelicals Rejecting Reformed Acceptance of Normative Theology.

    FTR, I’m personally none of the above. And we’re I, I’d be insulted at such a jejune dismissal.

  287. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, so my problem is that I’m not deep or high enough to understand and grasp your real points. Glory alert.

    RS: Which is not an argument or giving a reason, but I will give my own non-argument. Sometimes, Zrim, I think I am trying to reason with a woman with PMS when I discuss things with you. No matter what I say the interpretation is going to be taken in a negative and personal way.

  288. wjw
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Pssst. Guess what, I don’t have to have vote for anyone and I still get to go to heaven. Even better, people who did vote for someone or something have to share heaven with me. Me! And maybe even better, heaven will be full of glorified souls who slugged through life illiterate, apathetic, unhygienic, and full of rickets. By golly there may even be some poor bastard who spent his best years hallucinating from syphilis, shooting marbles with his own feces, wearing his mother’s underwear, and keeping a journal of the number of new vowels he discovered. They say he voted for Warren G. Harding, but he loved the Lord. Christianity is neat that way. No intellectual strings. I don’t have to have an opinion about one damn thing and Jesus loves me as much as the guy writing editorials every week.

  289. Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    wjw,

    I know the debate well enough (and the opponents well enough) that I can give you their response. To whom much is given much will be expected, don’t hide your light under a bushel, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, etc.

    Until you show me your poop marbles (or expand your argument) you’re still on the hook.

    Although somehow one can never get off the hook with these guys.

    Reminds me of the CCR song “Fortunate Son”:

    Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
    Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
    And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
    Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! yoh,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ScisGFllPY

  290. Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Actually, here’s what you do to get off the hook with them: Put some political signs in your yard during campaign season, wear a political tee shirt to the church picnic, talk about politics with them once a month at coffee time at church, and say something negative about liberals from time-to-time. They’ll assume you’re on their team, check you off the list, and go bother someone else.

  291. Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Clever, Erik. Then again, most of the goats seem certain they’re the sheep, complimenting each other on their wool.

  292. Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Tom, the emperor is not the president. It is Washington, DC. The resources and tentacles of the US federal govt. for matters in the nation and around the world are matters that Rome’s most dictatorial emperors could never have imagined.

    You and I have votes. If you read someone like Mencken on democracy you know that a vote is a fiction.

  293. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    So you would apply a political litmus test to separate them? Will judgment day be pretty much on party lines?

    The funny thing about all this is I have never voted for a Democrat in my life. Ron Paul in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012. I just take Sundays off to focus on things that are more important.

  294. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    There’s more to being a citizen of a democratic republic than one’s own single vote. We can lead, we can contribute, we can support, we influence others simply by giving witness to the truth. I’m gratified to have you answering my objections directly, Darryl. In order to accept your practical theology of a 2K disengagement I also have to accept your worldview of America as a Leviathan even worse than Imperial Rome, over which today’s Christian has as little influence as he did 2000 years ago.

    But your worldview is not self-evident, Darryl. This “Mencken,” what book of the Bible did he write?

    [Should you choose to engage directly, I’ll keep monitoring this thread. I had actually given up on a direct engagement with my point, in hopes you might at some future date. Either way, cheers, sir.]

  295. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    WJW: No intellectual strings. I don’t have to have an opinion about one damn thing and Jesus loves me as much as the guy writing editorials every week.

    RS: But there are intellectual strings. We are to love God with all of our minds. We are to have the mind of Christ. We are to think the thoughts of Christ after Him. We are to fix our minds on heavenly things. If you don’t have an opinion of one thing, then that sounds like there is no conviction of much of anything either. Surely you are just using hyperbole. We are also told, you know, to contend for the faith.

  296. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    The funny thing about all this is I have never voted for a Democrat in my life. Ron Paul in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012. I just take Sundays off to focus on things that are more important.

    I have no problem with any of that, Darryl. I have no problem if someone’s informed religious conscience advises them to vote for Barack Obama. I have an opinion to the contrary, but I’m not God, and even the Popes have [finally] learned that the Church cannot divine political policy any better than it can pick lottery winning numbers. It cannot state whether welfare statism/communitarianism or free-market capitalism is the smarter play.

    So I’m not talking about that, never was. What I am talking about is that condemning a Sarah Palin without doling it out equally to Barack Obama’s [rather clumsy] invocations of scripture has the practical effect of electing Obama.

    Me, I think what we need most are more pro-life Democrats. The Republican end is covered.

  297. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Tom – This “Mencken,” what book of the Bible did he write?

    Erik – Gasp! Old Life heresy! Blasphemy! Blasphemy!

  298. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    TVD: But your worldview is not self-evident, Darryl. This “Mencken,” what book of the Bible did he write?

    RS: Dr. Hart does not like the idea of a worldview and usually refers to it as w-w or something like that. So, be prepared for something different than you had hoped.

  299. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    I personally found Sarah’s recent take on gay marriage to be very learned:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H_KTyKUSG4

  300. mark mcculley
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Mencken: The American of today is fast succumbing to the new dogma that certain theories of government are virtuous and lawful, and others abhorrent and felonious. Laws limiting the radius of his free activity multiply year by year: It is now practically impossible for him to exhibit anything describable as genuine individuality, either in action or in thought, without running afoul of some harsh and unintelligible penalty. It would surprise no impartial observer if the goddess of liberty were taken off the silver dollars to make room for a bas-relief of a policeman in a spiked helmet. Moreover, this gradual (and progressive) decay of freedom goes almost without challenge; the American has grown so accustomed to the minute regulation of his conduct by swarms of spies, letter-openers, informers and agents provocateurs that he no longer makes any serious protest.

    The American Credo: A Contribution toward the Interpretation of the National Mind (1920)

  301. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    I just listened to a sermon on the Parable of the Sower that even you might like:

    https://ia601701.us.archive.org/6/items/April72013MorningSermon_201304/April%207%2C%202013%20-%20Morning%20Sermon.mp3

  302. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    McMark,

    Silver dollars. If only…

  303. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Erik – Gasp! Old Life heresy! Blasphemy! Blasphemy!

    RS: Dr. Hart does not like the idea of a worldview and usually refers to it as w-w or something like that. So, be prepared for something different than you had hoped.

    I told you guys, I’ve reading this blog for years.

  304. wjw
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    A touch of hyperbole. But I’ll bet heaven is full of illiterates who haven’t thought much about politics. Maybe they even loved Jesus with their minds. I can’t read hearts or minds. Mind, as the pagan Greeks and C.S. Lewis teach us, is more than intellectual assent. I’m not even convinced most of the Apostles could read, and I bet they would have felt a little out of place at an Eagle Forum rally–too many WASPS for their Jewish sensibilities. I don’t think conviction translates neatly into social and political opinions, and I continued to be amazed at the number of Christian conservative types who decry the expansion of the state, and then never allow a moral frame of reference apart from the state.

  305. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Listening to Ambrose’s history of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. It didn’t take much time before every member of the expedition had contracted syphilis from sleeping with Native American women, many of them the wives of Native American men who offered them to the soldiers. Ah, the unquestionable Christian virtue of our founding generations.

  306. Posted April 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    RS: But again, more careful readers they can see that I have not replaced Caesar with myself. I have said (following Scripture) that the only authority is the authority that God has established. Then I have said that the real authority in America (which God has established) is a government that is to be ruled by law and is a law that was established by the people and for the people. That was in clear opposition to a king.

    That works. “We are Caesar” was my formulation which I’m willing to defend, but Richard Smith’s has some dimensions such as “Our rule of law is to keep the government from acting like Caesar,” and the concept that sovereignty resides with the people, who in turn delegate to governors and magistrates but who, by the concept of popular sovereignty are not our rulers, merely the administrators of the state.

    Rex lex, the law is king. This is getting even more promising.

  307. Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    “This is getting even more promising.”

    Don’t get too excited. Your hopes may yet be dashed on the rocks. Your theory is that, because we can vote for a number of political offices, that we are Caesar, no longer owing obedience to the magistrate, just to law in the abstract? So every citizen bows his knee only to his idiosnycratic view of the law. By analogy, if we vote on elders and vote on calling a pastor we owe them no fifth commandment honor or obedience, right?

    This is goofball stuff, really, but I always get a charge out of someone using “jejune.” I wonder if Pele Le Pew ever said “jejune, mon amie.”

  308. mikelmann
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Dang, I’m a typo machine….”Pepe,” not “Pele.”

  309. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    wjw: Richard, A touch of hyperbole. But I’ll bet heaven is full of illiterates who haven’t thought much about politics. Maybe they even loved Jesus with their minds.

    RS: Good, I thought it (hyperbole) was there. Yes, I would imagine there are many illiterate people who love Jesus and have never read Dr. Hart on 2k.

    WJW: I can’t read hearts or minds. Mind, as the pagan Greeks and C.S. Lewis teach us, is more than intellectual assent. I’m not even convinced most of the Apostles could read, and I bet they would have felt a little out of place at an Eagle Forum rally–too many WASPS for their Jewish sensibilities.

    RS: I have been reading an interesting biography of a preacher who was born in 1773. He thought he was too rough and could hardly read at all and yet thought he was called to the ministry. He received comfort from the text that God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise and was a greatly used minister for many years.

    WJW: I don’t think conviction translates neatly into social and political opinions, and I continued to be amazed at the number of Christian conservative types who decry the expansion of the state, and then never allow a moral frame of reference apart from the state.

    RS: It is an interesting contradiction in thinking, but a contradiction does not stop people from doing what they want to do. The expansion of the state is bad for me and yet morality is great for the state to enforce as long as they don’t touch me.

  310. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Mikelmann: Don’t get too excited. Your hopes may yet be dashed on the rocks. Your theory is that, because we can vote for a number of political offices, that we are Caesar, no longer owing obedience to the magistrate, just to law in the abstract? So every citizen bows his knee only to his idiosnycratic view of the law. By analogy, if we vote on elders and vote on calling a pastor we owe them no fifth commandment honor or obedience, right?

    RS: Keep reading and thinking. You are not quite grasping it yet.

  311. Richard Smith
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: Richard, I just listened to a sermon on the Parable of the Sower that even you might like:

    https://ia601701.us.archive.org/6/items/April72013MorningSermon_201304/April%207%2C%202013%20-%20Morning%20Sermon.mp3

    RS: I am not sure about the “even you” part, but you are right that I certainly heard a really good sermon at that site. In fact, I think I will go back and listen to that one again. It has been a while since I heard someone preach like that. Good stuff.

  312. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    This is goofball stuff, really, but I always get a charge out of someone using “jejune.”

    That was a courtesy, bro, instead of saying what it really is.

    I gotta escape from this thread now with my skin still intact. No good can come of continuing. Thanks to all.

  313. Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Tom, as RS says, I don’t have and don’t sanction w-w. But I will say this. I have hope. It is in Christ and the work of his church. 2k teaches me to put my hopes not in princes but in God. That is in the Bible. Political idealism is not.

  314. Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Tom, if I’m writing a book on evangelicals and politics, do I include Obama?

    As for more pro-life Democrats, been there, wrote that.

  315. Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Erik and Tom, I’m still suspecting that Mencken wrote Ecclesiastes. The book certainly has HLM’s skepticism.

  316. Zrim
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Richard, I feel your pain. When some 2kers yawn when other Reformed figures declare that abortion is “…the most serious ethical issue that the United States has ever faced” and “…it is the sacred duty of the church and of every Christian to voice opposition to it” because it just feels like a foisting of a particular opinion upon the collective conscience of the church, we get tagged with all sorts of nasty epithets. Even those of us who would characterize our views with a curmudgeonly anti-abortion instead of the more flowery and affirming pro-life.

    http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/voice-church/

    But while I appreciate the snark, isn’t it sort of personal and ironic to suggest I am like a woman with PMS? All I’m saying is that you’re more a theologian of glory than of the cross.

  317. Zrim
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    That’ right, M&M, keep thinking about it and maybe you’ll grasp how because your wife took vows she is now your head.

  318. Richard Smith
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    RS: Zrim, what is wrong with the statement below or in what way do you disagree with it?

    “The state is an instrument ordained by God. It is also governed by God. The church does not need to be the state, but it must remind the state of its God-given duty. The principal reason for the existence of any government is to maintain, sustain, and protect the sanctity of human life. When the state fails to do that, it has become demonized. And it is the sacred duty of the church and of every Christian to voice opposition to it.” R.C. Sproul

    Zrim: But while I appreciate the snark, isn’t it sort of personal and ironic to suggest I am like a woman with PMS?

    RS: What I meant by that is that at times you take a statement I make, take it and make some deductions based on feelings, and then attribute what you have done with it to me despite the fact that is little resemblance between what I said and what you have done with it. I am glad you appreciated it.

    Zrim: All I’m saying is that you’re more a theologian of glory than of the cross.

    RS: A true theology of glory is a theology of the cross and a true theology of the cross is a theology of true glory.

    Zrim: That’ right, M&M, keep thinking about it and maybe you’ll grasp how because your wife took vows she is now your head.

    RS: Hence the PMS comment, though this one is not as bad as some. There is nothing in what I have really said, and that repeatedly, that can correspond to the wife taking vows and is now the head.

  319. Zrim
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Richard, I already suggested what my criticism of Sproul’s words is—they speak in such a way as to foist a particular opinion onto the rest of the church. Maybe some of us don’t agree that certain American legislation in 1973 embodies the most serious ethical issue that the United States has ever faced and thus don’t feel that it is our sacred duty to voice opposition to it. Maybe some of us find think it’s fine for others to feel very strongly about it but hesitate on being made to feel impious if we’re not quite as moved.

    And if the politically ruled can be called the Caesar then why can’t the familial submissive be called the head?

  320. Mikelmann
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Jejune derives from the Latin word jejunus, “empty stomach; fasting”, that has also given us jejunum as the anatomical name for the small intestine (so called because it was said to be always empty at death, which I’ll leave you to think about). Via French intermediaries it’s also the origin of dinner, it seems from an unrecorded Vulgar Latin verb disjunare (from jejunus plus the negative prefix dis-) hence the meal at which one breaks one’s fast. The fact that etymologically dinner therefore means “breakfast” is just one of those oddities that happen as language evolves, and which should desensitise us to the awful fate which Simon Hoggart’s friend thinks has befallen jejune.
    When jejune first appeared in English, in the seventeenth century, it had at first this literal meaning of fasting, though it became obsolete within a century. But almost immediately it took on a figurative sense of something meagre or unsatisfying, or of land that was poor or barren. (Such figurative senses had long before been attached to its Latin original.) It was also soon applied to stuff that was equally unsatisfying to the mind or soul: “dull, flat, insipid, bald, dry, uninteresting; meagre, scanty, thin, poor; wanting in substance or solidity” as the Oxford English Dictionary has it, trying to turn itself into a thesaurus. Mr Hoggart’s friend still believes this to be the main meaning, and I have to say that all my own dictionaries agree with him.
    However, at about the end of last century, the figurative sense was taken a step further by adding the idea of something immature or callow, so causing dictionaries to begin to add a subsidiary sense of “puerile; childish; naive”. The first recorded instance in the OED is in George Bernard Shaw’s play Arms and the Man of 1898: “His jejune credulity as to the absolute value of his concepts”. Some writers have attempted to justify this shift through a confusion with the unrelated French word jeune, “youth”, though it might also have been a move from “insipid” towards “puerile”. For whatever reason this sense came into being, it is now firmly attached to the word. The evidence from sources such as the British National Corpus is that in recent years it has become the dominant one, mistaken or not. Collins is merely among the first to show this, but other dictionaries will no doubt follow as revised editions are prepared.
    Despite the implied stamp of approval by such as Shaw, writers have been railing against what they see as this ignorant misuse of the word for many years. Kingsley Amis famously did a hatchet-job on it in an essay in The State of the Language in 1980, describing it as his “favourite solecism of all time”. But such counterblasts are Canute-like in their lack of effect.

  321. Tad Otis
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I read Mr. Maurini’s wonderful piece and loved it. Keep opposing those people who don’t even know who to baptize and don’t even see fit to display our American flag proudly in their houses of worship, Mr. Maurini. If they have their way Emperor Obama will be dictator for life and God’s church will be relegated to the scrap heap of history. Keep on keepin’ on, man! America, love her or leave her!

  322. Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    The only “Two Kingdoms” are the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. I know which team Mr. Maurini & I are on! This deceptive heresy of the evil one must be stopped at all costs!

  323. Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    See how easy it is to use a pseudonym and distort “history”?

  324. Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Do we really know that Richard & Doug aren’t just fake caricatures of a Baptist revivalist & a theonomist? I suspect Doug’s a real guy, but attempts to pin Richard down to an actual place & church have been unsuccessful. I think I know who he is and where he was trained but he has denied it:

    “Richard Smith is the Associational Missionary of Spurgeon Baptist Association.� Richard lives in Lawrence KS.� He has a B.A. in Philosophy from Kansas State, a M.A. in Theology from Reformed Theological Seminary.� He is married with five children and is a huge fan of Jonathan Edwards.� He has been a part of two church starts and is presently serving as an interim pastor.”

    If I was going to pick a pseudonym, though, “Richard Smith” would be a good one. How do we know Smith isn’t Hart pulling our chains (other than the fact that Hart has a life & it would take a tremendous amount of time to write all those fake posts).

  325. Richard Smith
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: Do we really know that Richard & Doug aren’t just fake caricatures of a Baptist revivalist & a theonomist? I suspect Doug’s a real guy, but attempts to pin Richard down to an actual place & church have been unsuccessful. I think I know who he is and where he was trained but he has denied it:

    RS: What I have denied is that I am an associational missionary for anyone and I am not a church planter. I will not deny, however, that Dr. Hart (a very brilliant and insightful man) has a large influence in what I say.

  326. Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Do you also deny the other parts of that biography (Kansas State & RTS)?

    I won’t ask about your residence & children because I understand the need for some privacy online.

    “I am” and “was” are different.

    If Hart is very brilliant and insightful how could he also be the ringleader of a cabal peddling the dangerous “R2K” teachings? Maybe you are not on board with DTM on that one.

  327. Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    How do we know Smith isn’t Hart pulling our chains (other than the fact that Hart has a life & it would take a tremendous amount of time to write all those fake posts).

    I had someone else bring up this theory to me as well, they also theorized that Old Bob was also one of Darryl’s creations. He cited DGH’s love for Phil Hendrie, who would often uses fake guests to stir up controversy and discussion on his show, as inspiration for Old Bob and Richard. With the Dude, I am presently of the opinion that some things are better left a mystery.

  328. Richard Smith
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Erik: If Hart is very brilliant and insightful how could he also be the ringleader of a cabal peddling the dangerous “R2K” teachings? Maybe you are not on board with DTM on that one.

    RS: Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, and Richard Dawkins were/are also brilliant and insightful.

  329. sean
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Jed, it’s a thought. Maybe Richard’s ‘Darryl’ slip has been showing lately with his focus on ‘facts'(McMark) and diminishing of feelings(Zrim) and reprimanding McMark for “imputing motives”(basically a rebuke of divination). That, or Old Life is beginning to creep into Richard’s psyche through his dreams(twilight).

  330. Posted April 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Jed and Erik, that’s a great idea. A Phil Hendrie blog where I make up the characters. I only wish I were clever enough to have even conceived of that. It’s brilliant. And then there is Erik’s point about time.

    Plus, could you make up Old Bob? But he is our equivalent of Lloyd Bonafide. And Richard Smith is our Larry Grover.

  331. Posted April 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    Should we start looking at new guys in the combox with suspicion now? Maybe my first retort will be, “do you even exist, or are you a figment of DGH’s comedic imagination?”

  332. Posted April 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Tom, if I’m writing a book on evangelicals and politics, do I include Obama?

    There’s an odd theory out there that one has only the authority to punk their own. However, “evangelical” being such an elastic term, I wonder who has the authority to punk whom.

    As for Mr. Obama’s clumsy if not downright cynical use of Christian scripture and theology [“my brother’s keeper?”], it should be noted for the record. Often and loudly.

    As for more pro-life Democrats, been there, wrote that.
    http://eerdword.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/abandon-the-gop-join-the-democratic-party-by-d-g-hart/

    Sort of, but not really. If you give one barrel to the righties, the other should go to the gutless Democrat evangelicals who won’t raise the slightest protest at their party’s full throated support of abortion on demand. Frankly, they’re the ones who have earned a good punking.
    __________

    Mikel: Your theory is that, because we can vote for a number of political offices, that we are Caesar, no longer owing obedience to the magistrate, just to law in the abstract? So every citizen bows his knee only to his idiosnycratic view of the law.

    ¿Huh?

    I see my work here is not yet finished.

  333. Mikelmann
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Then explain, tvd: “we are Caesar,” “lex est rex.” Are you merely saying we have more opportunities as citizens to influence Caesar, or are you also promoting that we have less of a mandate to submit to the magistrate?

  334. Posted April 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Hart’s in the company of Nietzsche, Darwin and Dawkins. As somebody who’s only in the company of Alfred E. Neuman, Bart Simpson, and Napoleon Dynamite I’m extremely jealous.

  335. sean
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s an disheartening reflection on the lack of discipleship going on in most christian churches, that 2k is largely opposed on grounds of political activism and utopian aspirations and not on biblical piety. The idea that the ‘right’ politics and the ‘right’ people is what we need, is not only at least an implicit complaint of God and how He has chosen to order things, but a strangely un-american advocation of the heavy hand of government to enforce our ‘view’ of things even at the expense of liberty. What ever happened to being suspicious of most government intervention as being wrought with. potentially corrupt, ham-fisted, less than precise, much less nuanced, application/provision of anything but the most basic of services and purposes. I can’t tell you how much I object to the idea of the gov. policing sexual intimacies and procreative intents and purposes of individuals. Be afraid.

  336. Posted April 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    a strangely un-american advocation of the heavy hand of government to enforce our ‘view’ of things even at the expense of liberty.

    Liberty is not license. America was founded on liberty under the natural law, not of subjective morality and “if it feels good do it.”

    ___

    Then explain, tvd: “we are Caesar,” “lex est rex.” Are you merely saying we have more opportunities as citizens to influence Caesar, or are you also promoting that we have less of a mandate to submit to the magistrate?

    I’m not “merely” saying anything–that’s a rhetorical diminution of my argument. The “law” angle is actually Richard Smith’s, which he’s advanced and defended ably–and with a lot more patience with his hostile interlocutor than I’d have trifled with.

    As for my own argument, asked and answered–we do not “submit” to the magistrate, or to Obama as our Caesar. They are “merely” the administrators of government, and in a larger sense that I think RS has been getting at, of justice. But they are not our rulers, Barack Obama is not a “higher power.”

    Not yet, anyway. ;-O

    The role of the magistrate in Calvinist resistance theory, well, that can wait for the appropriate time. Moi is not just shooting from the hip here: I’ve kept DG Hart’s arguments foremost in mind for the quite a few years now I’ve studied America’s religious history. I have a few reservations.

  337. wjw
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    Be afraid indeed. The axe wielding presbyterian deacon brings to mind a fine observation from Robert Nisbet: “When suffused by popular spiritual devotions, the political party becomes more than a party. It becomes a moral community of almost religious intensity, a deeply evocative symbol of collective, redemptive purpose, a passion that implicates every element of belief and behavior in the individual’s existence.”

    Or perhaps this,
    ” . . . And external power, especially political power, comes to reveal itself to many minds as a fortress of security against not only institutional conflicts, but conflicts of belief and value that are internal to the individual. A peculiar form of political mysticism is often the result.”

    Politics as religious moral community, surely not amongst those suspicious of the state? Surely political mysticism is an impossibility for the “conservative” mind. After all as Darrell Todd Maurina and Glenn Beck remind us the issue is if God has spoken. Clearnote’s Lizzy Borden is obviously an anomaly.

  338. mikelmann
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    “with a lot more patience with his hostile interlocutor than I’d have trifled with.”

    Tom, I do hope you can lighten up a tad. Richard and Zrim have been dialoguing for quite a while now, rarely agreeing. But they have the discussion. Have the discussion.

    “I’m not “merely” saying anything–that’s a rhetorical diminution of my argument.”

    Here’s a good example. “Merely” is also a term to delimit the field being considered. If’ I’m having a dialogue with you I have already appraised you as someone worth talking to. And if I do use rhetoric, feel free to dish it back in lex taliones fashion.

    “As for my own argument, asked and answered–we do not “submit” to the magistrate, or to Obama as our Caesar. They are “merely” the administrators of government, and in a larger sense that I think RS has been getting at, of justice. But they are not our rulers, Barack Obama is not a “higher power.” ”

    Well, that’s a position. But if you are doing this against the backdrop of Romans 13 and WCF 23 (are you Presbyterian?) you need an argument. And I thought that argument was based on the idea that Caesar’s subjects had no choice or influence over Caesar whereas we, as voters, have virtually become Caesar. If that is the case, my argument stands against this point in your argument. If that isn’t your argument then fine,but you need an argument to get around Romans 13 and the numerous other scriptures that address the duty to submit. Or perhaps you find your theory in the “penumbra” of Romans 13 like Harry Blackmun found abortion rights in the Constitution.

    Now, notice that last sentence. Rhetoric? Perhaps, but it has a point and its kind of fun to say. Fun is OK too. An overabundance of seriousity is stifling.

  339. sean
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Tom, you’re right. It was liberty at the expense of monarchy and it’s heavy hand of oppression and tyranny, which also sought it’s justification in the name of religion and what was right. I’ll take liberty and decentralization of power and the norms of a given community.

  340. Richard Smith
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    WJW: After all as Darrell Todd Maurina and Glenn Beck remind us the issue is if God has spoken.

    RS: Surely you would admit, however, that DTM and Glenn Beck don’t mean the same thing even if they use the same words. DTM and Glenn Beck worship a different G/god.

  341. Posted April 23, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Tom, you’re right. It was liberty at the expense of monarchy and it’s heavy hand of oppression and tyranny, which also sought it’s justification in the name of religion and what was right.

    Of course I’m right, Sean. As a matter of fact, the role of Calvinist resistance theory against The Divine Right of Kings is almost as big as the Jesuits’. More, even. The Jesuits only talked about it–the Calvinists led two revolutions.

  342. Richard Smith
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Mikelmann: Then explain, tvd: “we are Caesar,” “lex est rex.” Are you merely saying we have more opportunities as citizens to influence Caesar, or are you also promoting that we have less of a mandate to submit to the magistrate?

    Samuel Rutherford (Presbyterian):

    Lex Rex Question 16
    Whether or no a Despotical and Masterly Dominion of Men and Things Agree to the King Because He is King.
    Assert 1. The king hath no proper, masterly or lordly dominion over his subjects; his dominion is rather fiduciary and ministerial, than masterly.

    Question 21
    What Power the People and States of Parliament Have Over the King and in the State

    Argument 9: Those who make the king, and so have power to unmake him in the case of tyranny, must be above the king in power of government; but the elders and princes made both David and Saul kings.

    Argument 10: There is not any who say that the princes and people (I Sam 14 did not right in rescuing innocent Jonathan from death, against the king’s will and his law.

    Last Answer: . They [the people] reserve the power of self-preservation out of a parliament, and a power of convening in parliament for that effect, that they may by common counself defend themselves.

  343. wjw
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    O.K. But I am still afraid. Words matter. John Brown talked about God’s will and then he killed a bunch of people.

  344. Posted April 23, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    If that is the case, my argument stands against this point in your argument.

    I’ve rested my argument numerous times, Mikl, to the point of I can’t do it anymore. Your counterargument consists of nowt but negation: “No it’s not.” [Mr. Zrim adds “Your argument is stupid/laughable/invalid/whathaveyou, so much that I’ve stopped wasting time reading his facile negations. Mr. Smith has kicked him to the curb quite substantively.]

    For the 4th time, we do not “submit” to the magistrate or to Barack Obama. In fact, we haven’t even gotten to the role of the magistrate, even under John Calvin’s understanding–let alone Beza’s or the rest of the Reform tradition. I’m fine with attempting to use the Calvinist vocabulary, but if it’s to be an idiosyncratic one–the schism of a schism of a schism, a little leeway surely must be granted, or a scorecard provided.

  345. Richard Smith
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    wjw: Richard, O.K. But I am still afraid. Words matter. John Brown talked about God’s will and then he killed a bunch of people.

    RS: And of course you are right, but Jesus actually did the will of God and died to save a bunch of people. As most likely you will agree, the problem is not the will of God, but those who claim it with words without the hearts in which Christ works and dwells.

  346. wjw
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Careful. Tom’s man crush might fade a bit what with his appeal to natural law and your appeal to the heart.

  347. mikelmann
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Tom, stating a position is not making an argument. Here is a position: “We don’t submit to O; he is an administrator of justice.” Here is an argument: “Today we are not like the Christians Paul was addressing. They were simply subject to Caesar without any input as citizens. Today, we vote and therefore have become Caesar. Therefore O is an adminstrator to whom we do not owe submission.” I think Richard is making an argument. You are just stating a position over and over.

    But maybe it goes back to the roots. Do you think Romans 13 is even something that must be addressed?

  348. mikelmann
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Richard, I just said you had an argument, but now you appeal to an authority. But, hey, it’s not Edwards.

    So is that your exegesis of Romans 13? Or, if you were Presbyterian, does it fit with “It is the duty of the people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake”?

  349. Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Man-crushes on Richard don’t last long. When I was new to Old Life I admired him taking on the Papists. Shortly thereafter he began talking about Edwards, revivalism, not watching movies, not reading fiction, not drinking beer, telling lame jokes, etc.

    It’s like seeing what you think is a cute girl in a dark movie theater and then noticing once you’ve walked out to the lobby that she has no teeth, a neck tat, a pierced nose, and halitosis.

  350. Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm: “If Hart is very brilliant and insightful how could he also be the ringleader of a cabal peddling the dangerous ‘R2K’ teachings? Maybe you are not on board with DTM on that one.”

    Anyone with an academic doctoral degree can be presumed to be very smart — after watching my wife spend five years getting her doctorate I’m quite aware of how much work that takes. Someone like Dr. Hart who spent at Harvard and Johns Hopkins can be presumed to be not just smart but brilliant. You don’t get into schools like that without being either very smart or very well-connected, or survive there long enough to get any sort of degree, let alone masters and doctoral degrees, without proving that you’re a very smart person.

    Dr. Hart is also insightful into many things.

    I’m picking on an important area where we disagree. I’m not criticizing his intelligence or insightfulness. I have no doubt that he’s a lot smarter man than me.

    Tad Otis posted April 23, 2013 at 10:42 am: “I read Mr. Maurini’s wonderful piece and loved it. Keep opposing those people who don’t even know who to baptize and don’t even see fit to display our American flag proudly in their houses of worship, Mr. Maurini.”

    Don’t be silly. I won’t fight on flags in church but I’d prefer they not be there. And under the Belgic Confession you have different standards than the Westminster Confession with regard to baptism and admission of people to church membership.

  351. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    My man-crush is on how Richard is winning the argument. I adored Christopher Hitchens, although disagreeing on most all things. To business then:

    “Today we are not like the Christians Paul was addressing.

    Almost. The predicament of the Christian in Nero’s day is different than it is now as a citizen of a democratic republic.

    They were simply subject to Caesar without any input as citizens.

    OK, as far as it goes.

    Today, we vote and therefore have become Caesar.

    Yes, but voting isn’t the only reason. We also have constitutional rights like freedom of expression–although the agreeable cowards among us use them all too sparingly in the face of evil. And if it takes a Biblical argument to get other Christians to vote against evil, I have no problem with that.

    Therefore O is an adminstrator to whom we do not owe submission.

    Hurrah! We’re almost there.

    I think Richard is making an argument. You are just stating a position over and over.

    Think what you want. Believe me, I’m not happy with the “over and over” part. I never know if people are being obtuse or obstinate, so I have no idea what to think of you, either. At one point it looked like you were getting it, then I watched my argument get mutated into something I don’t recognize, and nothing I’d want to be caught dead in a field with.

    YOU can be the difference between the triumph of good or evil. [Sometimes.] If you could have made a difference, but didn’t, if Luke 14 doesn’t leave the ox in the pit for religious reasons, Roman 13 certainly doesn’t require us to do nothing in the face of evil.

    I can’t be the first one to point out that the Holocaust was completely legal by the laws of Germany. Geez.

  352. Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    DTM – Anyone with an academic doctoral degree can be presumed to be very smart — after watching my wife spend five years getting her doctorate I’m quite aware of how much work that takes.

    Erik – That’s why you don’t win any arguments with her either.

  353. Tad Otis
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    If you won’t fight for our flag in worship, Mr, Maurini, then all your high fallutin talk is to no avail with this Missouri coon hunter. America, love her or leave her, baby!

  354. Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    The role of the magistrate in Calvinist resistance theory, well, that can wait for the appropriate time.

    We have discussed Reformed Resistance Theory (RRT) at length here a little over a year ago:

    The Bible is Not Off Limits But Only Settles So Much

    There is not consensus amongst 2kers on how the issue of Civil Disobedience should be handled, Zrim and I spent a good amount of time throwing haymakers at each other over the issue.

  355. Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm: “Listening to Ambrose’s history of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. It didn’t take much time before every member of the expedition had contracted syphilis from sleeping with Native American women, many of them the wives of Native American men who offered them to the soldiers. Ah, the unquestionable Christian virtue of our founding generations.”

    A few years ago on the anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Army did a lot of day-by-day, week-by-week recaps of the history of the Corps of Discovery. (People sometimes forget that this was an official Army expedition.) I’m quite aware of the low moral standards of these people, and it was pointed out periodically that Lewis and Clark’s personal conduct should **NEVER** be viewed as an excuse for similar moral failures when a soldier is thousands of miles away from home and when nobody is watching.

    However, you may perhaps be pointing out unintentionally something crucial about the differences that different religions have on a culture.

    Lewis and Clark knew what they were doing would not meet with approval back home. However, the Native Americans sharing their wives at the Mandan Villages (and elsewhere) were not in some backwater area; the Mandan Villages were winter quarters and had a peak population comparable to some of the major American cities of the day. In one culture, people far away from home decided to “have some fun” because they could get away with it. In the other culture, wife sharing was supported by the spiritual beliefs of the people since they thought sexual relations with powerful people would somehow increase their own spiritual power.

    Religion affects culture. Which religion do you think is better? Which culture do you think is better? I’m all but certain you’ll say Christianity is better than the spiritual beliefs practiced in the Mandan Villages, and I think it should be pretty obvious that a culture which not just tolerates but formally encourages wife swapping is not a good culture.

    We agree, don’t we?

  356. Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Tad Otis posted April 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm: “If you won’t fight for our flag in worship, Mr, Maurini, then all your high fallutin talk is to no avail with this Missouri coon hunter. America, love her or leave her, baby!”

    Erik, stop being silly. I’ll deal with real arguments, not jokes from fake Missourians and fake coon hunters. However, even though I’m an NRA member and a Second Amendment supporter, if you hunt on any kind of regular basis you are a better shot than me so I’ll grant your right to bragging rights about coon hunting if you really are a coon hunter. For all I know maybe you really did grow up in the “Show Me State,” unlike a Northern transplant like me.

  357. Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    DTM – I believe the Americans had a lot more guns and people than the Native Americans. That and resistance to smallpox. That’s probably the main lesson to learn from the history of the frontier.

    I have a hard time with “this culture was better than that culture” arguments for the same reason I have a hard time with the notion of “Christian America”. History is always a mixed bag and man is always to some degree sinful.

    Religion was at a generally low ebb at the time of the Revolution.

  358. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    >>>The role of the magistrate in Calvinist resistance theory, well, that can wait for the appropriate time.

    JP: We have discussed Reformed Resistance Theory (RRT) at length here a little over a year ago
    http://oldlife.org/2012/02/the-bible-is-not-off-limits-but-only-settles-so-much/

    Exc, Jed. Bonhoeffer, Barth and Barmen loom. I shall read that and the 168 comments and get back to you promptly. Darryl’s note that there’s no definitive biblical way of “delivering education, a base-ten system of math, or a commitment to free markets” was written in almost those exact words by moi several hundred comments ago. I’m not just here to debate. As much as people show their cards, I get it, I get. Darryl does a riff on biblical plumbing. I get it, I get it.

    There is not consensus amongst 2kers on how the issue of Civil Disobedience should be handled

    Well, that’s what’s troubled me the most. On the important parts, it’s like thumbwrestling in jello and for the unimportant parts, I say let ’em fix my plumbing according to their understanding of the Bible. Can’t hurt. [Unless they’re going to pray over it instead of install new washers. Lemme get back to you on this one…]

    Zrim and I spent a good amount of time throwing haymakers at each other over the issue.

    I don’t mind saying I could argue Mr. Zrim’s position well enough y’d think he’s me and he’d think I’m him. I get it, I get it.

    [As for free markets and such, I simply plant here that the natural law isn’t just derived a priori from our best shot at understanding scripture and its underlying principles, it’s informed by “demonstrations” in society or in the natural world. The first 1000+ years of Christianity would have found free-market capitalism contrary to any sense of decency, both according to their understanding of God’s word and via man’s reason, but as it turned out, it’s arguably more suited to human nature than are any previous or modern redistributive/command economy schemes. Albertus Magnus, c. 1200 CE, “The fair price of something is that which someone else is willing to pay.”

    Radical. Who’d-a-thunk-it!? But you have to take the world and the people in it as you find them. After all, gentlemen, we are not Communists.]

    [I digress, but it beats having to repeat myself yet again. Cheers, Jed.]

  359. Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    “YOU can be the difference between the triumph of good or evil. [Sometimes.] If you could have made a difference, but didn’t, if Luke 14 doesn’t leave the ox in the pit for religious reasons, Roman 13 certainly doesn’t require us to do nothing in the face of evil.”

    This, finally, is an argument from you.

    Your premise is a moral imperative based on the hope of efficacy. You would use taking an ox out of a pit as an illustration for that activism. That text helps us to understand Romans 13.

    All I’m doing at this point, Tom, is clarify the difference between stating a position and an making an argument. This is your argument. I’m just going to say it needs a lot of work and bid you adieu from our current dialogue.

  360. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    “YOU can be the difference between the triumph of good or evil. [Sometimes.] If you could have made a difference, but didn’t, if Luke 14 doesn’t leave the ox in the pit for religious reasons, Roman 13 certainly doesn’t require us to do nothing in the face of evil.”

    This, finally, is an argument from you.

    That’s my conclusion. The rest was the argument.

    All I’m doing at this point, Tom, is clarify the difference between stating a position and an making an argument. This is your argument.

    See above. But I thank you for the coaching. Someday I hope to return the favor. The argument is calling into question whether 21st Century Christians in the United States should “obey” Barack Obama as they would Emperor Nero.

    I say, well, no—for reasons given. What you should do is try to stop him when he contravenes the Bible and the natural law, and it’s in your power to do so—because in this democratic republic God invests the people with sovereignty, not Emperor Barack I.

    I’m just going to say it needs a lot of work and bid you adieu from our current dialogue.

    That’s not an argument, a counterargument or even a rebuttal. That is a litigant declaring himself the winner by default. You were doing well there for awhile, Mikel, and if you read back, I tried to help you with your arguments, not strangle them in their crib. Yes, there’s a certain iron sharpening iron dimension to gathering here at Darryl’s blog, but the search for truth is a cooperative one, not an adversarial one.

    Surely neither of us will get a better place in heaven for having won or lost this argument. heaven ain’t that kind of party. Peace, bro, and thank you.

  361. Richard Smith
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    mikelmann: Richard, I just said you had an argument, but now you appeal to an authority. But, hey, it’s not Edwards.

    RS: If my appeal to authority was Rutherford, that was not my intent. It was to show that a man who was a strong Presbyterian and was a main force in writing the Westminster had views that were close to mine on this.

    MM: So is that your exegesis of Romans 13? Or, if you were Presbyterian, does it fit with “It is the duty of the people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake”?

    RS I don’t think that I have offered a real exegesis of Romans 13, but I would certainly agree with the latter duties of the people you set out (in accordance with WCF).

  362. Posted April 24, 2013 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm: “DTM – I believe the Americans had a lot more guns and people than the Native Americans. That and resistance to smallpox. That’s probably the main lesson to learn from the history of the frontier. I have a hard time with ‘this culture was better than that culture’ arguments for the same reason I have a hard time with the notion of “Christian America”. History is always a mixed bag and man is always to some degree sinful.”

    Well, Erik, you really have surprised me here.

    Let’s first grant your point about firearms and smallpox. I wasn’t trying to argue that the moral inferiority of the Native Americans led to their destruction. That argument could be made based on a lack of work ethics in traditional Native American culture which caused many (not all) Native American tribes to fail to understand the benefits of settled villages and cultivated land which over time lead to larger populations and more ability to defend one’s land, but the Mandan tribes were settled farmers.

    However, do you really believe that a culture which encourages wife swapping based on its perceived spiritual benefits has no fundamental differences from a culture which values strong marriages for raising of children? How about a culture which treats women as human beings with the right to say “no” to an arranged marriage, versus a culture which allows men to beat their wives, to rape them if they refuse consent to sex, and force daughters into early marriages?

    If you don’t agree on that point, maybe I understand more about why you seem to think that homosexual marriage in the civil society is a point of indifference on which Christians can disagree, so long as they affirm that homosexuality is a sin and inside the church should be disciplined as such.

    You will get no argument from me that every predominantly Christian culture was full of sin and bad examples. But I certainly think the culture of New England was far better than that of the contemporary native Americans, and that the Wahhabi culture of Saudi Arabia is far worse than almost any predominantly Christian society that you can name.

  363. Posted April 24, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm: “Religion was at a generally low ebb at the time of the Revolution.

    Erik, I am not sure I want to grant that point as readily as you do. I realize that what you say is repeating what is often said by church historians, but the more I read of primary sources as opposed to the interpretations of those primary sources given by historians from the late 1800s and the 1900s, the less I am convinced it is correct.

    The more I read history of the mid-to-late 1700s, the more I realize that this claim is being made by two types of people — first, supporters of the Second Great Awakening, who (with Finney) have an agenda to attack what they regarded as “dead” churches but which were in fact the sort of churches that most Old Schoolers would support, and second, liberals who want to attack the concept that America had Christian roots.

    I can’t quickly put my finger on the quote, but Finney, with respect to the German Reformed in one area where he was conducting revivals, noted that most of the residents of the area were members of churches but severely criticized those churches for failing to have such practices as regular prayer meetings and therefore regarded the churches as dead. Sorry, but I think it’s patently obvious that by Finney’s understanding of what makes a church “dead” or “alive,” the churches in which most people reading this Old Life website hold membership would be regarded as very dead. Saying it does not make it so.

    Apart from subjective impressions of “aliveness,” the primary empirical evidence for the decline in religious commitment from the 1600s to the 1700s and from the First Great Awakening to the Revolutionary War consists of 1) low percentages of people who were church members, and 2) the presence of significant numbers of people who advocated views such as non-evangelical Arminianism, Arianism, and Unitarianism.

    Church membership statistics need be read in the context of church membership standards, and with awareness that in New England and in the more settled parts of the middle and southern colonies, church attendance was far higher than church membership — the reverse of the situation which prevails today where membership on the rolls is usually far higher than actual attendance at worship.

    For some reason, too many church historians seem unwilling or unable to understand that very high standards of church membership existed in the 1600s for communicant membership in Congregational churches, and the same was typically true in the 1700s for conservatives in Congregational, Baptist, Methodist, and to some extent Presbyterian churches, and even for those portions of low-church Anglicanism in which Whitefield’s preaching had an influence. Church membership figures in 1600s and 1700s colonial America simply cannot be compared on a one-for-one basis to church membership figures in the mid-1800s following the introduction of Finnney’s “new methods.”

    Yes, it’s true that relatively small numbers of people in colonial America were church members compared to the mid-1800s, but that may be due mostly to higher requirements for church membership in the 1600s and 1700s compared to those of the 1800s.

    Also, outside New England, large numbers of people on the frontier in the 1600s and 1700s still lived in communities where there was no organized church, often due to the shortage of pastors, whereas by the 1800s, a combination of lowering of ordination standards in the historic denominations and the proliferation of Baptist churches with minimally trained pastors and Methodist circuit riders with somewhat better but still substandard training serving multiple churches led to a great expansion in the number of churches on the frontier, and therefore of church membership.

    With regard to the proliferation of liberalism in the churches of the late 1700s, very few people who know the writings of the Founding Fathers are going to deny that men such as Jefferson and Franklin held seriously aberrant views. (I’d like to say “nobody,” but we’ve seen a recent example of a prominent evangelical who tried to reclaim Jefferson for orthodoxy. Sorry, but that doesn’t cut the mustard.) I’m not going to dispute that in the rarefied elite upper-class of colonial life, “freethinker” ideas coming out of Europe were having a seriously damaging effect by the last third of the 1700s, and by the first third of the 1800s those ideas had become a major influence in wealthy New England circles.

    What I am going to question is whether, apart from New England, those liberal ideas had much effect, or whether they percolated down to the typical laypeople.

    I don’t see that Jefferson was very successful in promoting his radical ideals of religion in Virginia, apart from managing to get state subsidies for Anglican clergy disestablished in the middle of a war with England and then disestablishing the church by working in cooperation with Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists who had their own reasons to oppose an established Episcopal church in Virginia. Much the same could be said of the Carolinas; I see very little progress of radical “freethinking” ideas, apart from decisions to become officially neutral with regard to denominations, and that could just as easily be explained by Bible-believing Christians getting the upper hand over Anglicans.

    I grant that Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire had a different history. Disestablishment in Connecticut was promoted by the relatively liberal Episcopalians who wanted toleration for their non-Calvinist views, while in Massachusetts disestablishment was promoted by the orthodox conservatives who, by the 1830s, were sick and tired of Unitarians using the establishment laws to take over their church property when the majority of the “society” which provided the financial support for the meetinghouse and church building, and for which no profession of faith was required to be a member, disagreed with the majority of the church membership on calling of a minister or use of the meetinghouse for religious worship.

    Rhode Island and Pennsylvania certainly tolerated all manner of unorthodoxy, but they were founded on principles of religious tolerance from the beginning. Also, New York and New Jersey were forced from early days by the variety of denominations among their citizens into accommodating a wide variety of denominational beliefs. Maryland had been founded as a Roman Catholic colony, though in the recent past at the time of the Revolution, the toleration for Roman Catholics had been thrown into doubt with official harassment of Roman Catholics caused by a combination of opposition from the mother country and the Protestant lower- and middle-class majority in Maryland itself, and the wealthy Roman Catholic landowners of Maryland were quite happy to officially advocate a policy of religious toleration since in the English-speaking world at that time, Roman Catholics in England and Ireland were under severe official disabilities as to their rights to vote or hold office.

    Bottom line: I am not convinced that America in the days of the Revolutionary War was as profligate and irreligious as it is frequently described as being. I don’t deny that church membership percentages were lower in 1780 than in 1840, and I don’t deny that some prominent people at the time of the Revolutionary War were notorious heretics who might have had a hard time getting elected or into public life a couple of generations later, but those facts roves less than the Finneyites or the liberals want to make of those facts.

  364. mark mcculley
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I certainly don’t think “efficacy” is an either-or to faithfulness. But my question remains: by what standard do we decide if we are being faithful? Was Calvin right or wrong about the Mosaic legislation not being the standard for the powers claiming a monopoly of violence? After you get done talking about being Caesar now, or your duty to try to get Caesar to do the right thing, how do you know what the right thing is? If it’s not all or nothing, then does the “ceremonial” part of the Mosaic law become simply that which you don’t want enforced? As in, no that’s not the “moral law” but the “positive law”. And why not? Because it was only for that time? And why not? Because it’s not the “moral”. And why not?

    It almost seems like you would need a church to make such a distinction without being arbitrary. And we know that for Presbyterians, a church is its clergy, and we know that clergy are never arbitrary.

    I suggest that citizens of heaven live now live on earth in exile, in analogy to the exiles of Joseph and Daniel. This does not mean that the kingdom of Christ is in heaven. This does mean that we are waiting for Jesus Christ to come to earth. The plan is not for us who are left behind (not destroyed in the judgment) to go off to heaven. For God’s elect, exile is not a curse but our vocation. Diaspora is not a punishment but an opportunity to sing the songs of Zion in strange lands.

    This means we should not appeal to the paradigm of Exodus 32 in which people ordain themselves as priests to God by means of slaying their ethnic brothers.

    But for now, forget the difference between the Mosaic covenant and the new covenant. Forget the difference between David and Daniel. This should be easy for most of you guys, since you lump the covenants all into one “the covenant” most of the time anyway.

    Do you think that Daniel acted as agents of the sword for his magistrates? Was Daniel a Caesar but without any authority to use violence? How could Daniel be a magistrate if he couldn’t kill anybody? Why would foreign magistrates trust an alien with the sword?

    Jeremiah 29 reads: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream.”

    I take it that Jeremiah was referring to the jewish prophets of his own time who taught a duty to not submit to those with the power. Of course those prophets were wrong about the efficacy of their violence to change their situation. But that was then, their situation, and now is different.

    The earth is and always has been the Lord’s. The point is that those of us who are no longer exiles from the kingdom of God are still addressed as exiles in the New Testament. But if “things have changed now” (Bob Dylan) so that we are no longer exiles even when it comes to our “second kingdom” (our second Master is ourselves now, in the civil realm?), by what standard do we know if we are being faithful?

  365. mark mcculley
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Why did the risen Jesus Christ show Himself only to believers (or at least to people like Thomas who had already met Him)? Why was Dorcas raised from the dead, but not Stephen?

    What kind of church was Stephen in when he was killed? What kind of public was Dorcas in when she was raised from the dead?

  366. Tad Otis
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Dr. Maurini – “Someone like Dr. Hart who spent at Harvard and Johns Hopkins can be presumed to be not just smart but brilliant.”

    It was that doggone “affirmertive action”. They saw he was light in the loafers and snapped him right up.

  367. Posted April 24, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    DTM – “However, do you really believe that a culture which encourages wife swapping based on its perceived spiritual benefits has no fundamental differences from a culture which values strong marriages for raising of children?”

    You obviously didn’t spend much time at Plato’s retreat in the 70s:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX_YJP0YaGs

    You confuse virtue with guns, germs, and steel as being the key factor in military conquest. The Nazis must have been really family friendly in order to overrun Europe so quickly in WWII according to your logic.

  368. Posted April 24, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    DTM – “Bottom line: I am not convinced that America in the days of the Revolutionary War was as profligate and irreligious as it is frequently described as being. I don’t deny that church membership percentages were lower in 1780 than in 1840, and I don’t deny that some prominent people at the time of the Revolutionary War were notorious heretics who might have had a hard time getting elected or into public life a couple of generations later, but those facts proves less than the Finneyites or the liberals want to make of those facts.”

    Now if we can only get you to read the actual 2K books the way you have read up on 18th Century American religious history.

    In rebuttal I would note that Solomon Stoddard introduced the Halfway Covenant and he died in 1729.

    Not everyone here (besides Richard) would embrace the way his grandson, Jonathan Edwards, re-raised the bar on church membership, however.

  369. Zrim
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Tom (if you’re still around, you keep signing off and resurfacing) and Richard, what I have asked for is a biblical warrant for your assertion that “we are Caesar.” So far I haven’t really seen a compelling one, which is little surprise since the Bible overwhelming esteems obedience over disobedience. What I’ve seen is mainly appeals to things like the so-called Reformed Resistance Theory or other thinkers who share your view. To that end, I’d submit DVD’s read on Calvin:

    Calvin’s convictions on this subject [civil disobedience] were, on the whole, strikingly conservative. In an extended series of discussions toward the close of the Institutes, he hailed the honor and reverence due to magistrates as a consequence of their appointment by God [ICR 4.20.22-29]. Calvin exhorts Christians that they must “with ready minds prove our obedience to them, whether in complying with edicts, or in paying tribute, or in undertaking public offices and burdens, which relate to the common defense, or in executing any other orders.” [ICR 4.20.23]. He goes on to make clear that this applies to bad rulers as well as good: “But if we have respect to the Word of God, it will lead us farther, and make us subject not only to the authority of those princes who honestly and faithfully perform their duty toward us, but all princes, by whatever means they have so become, although there is nothing they less perform than the duty of princes.” [ICR 4.20.25]. “The only thing remaining for you,” Calvin adds shortly thereafter, “will be to receive their commands, and be obedient to their words.” [ICR 4.20.26].

    Granted, he may not have been able to predict the sort of arrangement we have, but if Calvin is right then I still don’t see any room for this idea that the governed are the real authorities. I can see how in our polity the governed have a unique status in relation to their civil authorities as opposed to those in other set ups, but to say they are the real authorities remains oxymoronic.

  370. Tad Otis
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Caesar?! Are you talkin’ about that Caesar Chavez labor leader/rabble rouser! Good American capitalists need to unite against all of these “Caesars”, “Manuels”, and “Jesuses”, if you know what I mean.

    If Richard and Tom are sayin’ we are all Caesars, too, you need to renounce them as the Commie Pinkos they obviously are.

  371. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Tom (if you’re still around, you keep signing off and resurfacing) and Richard, what I have asked for is a biblical warrant for your assertion that “we are Caesar.” So far I haven’t really seen a compelling one, which is little surprise since the Bible overwhelming esteems obedience over disobedience. What I’ve seen is mainly appeals to things like the so-called Reformed Resistance Theory or other thinkers who share your view. To that end, I’d submit DVD’s read on Calvin:

    RS: But to remind you, my real purpose in getting in on this was to challenge or question the typical (here) reading of “render unto Caesar.” The text in its own context does not support the weight you (and others) are putting on it. Then, secondarily, even if we assume that your point from the text can be used as a principle, I raised the question/point as to the difference between Caesar then and Caesar now. The point, then, at that point, was not necessarily to show what the Bible says about Caesar now.

    My point to that, however, was that Scripture (Romans 13) says that “there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” My point, then, is that the Bible declares (with some qualifications about what a legitimate authority is) that the authority that one has is the one that God has extablished. The real authority in the United States, then, is the one that the Bible teaches is the authority we are to submit to.

    Then, if we move to where that authority is, we have to move to the Constitution which was written by the people and for the people. The Constitution can be seen as the real authority, but it was written to limit government and keep it from taking the power from the people while leaving the power in the hands of the people. You can argue, at least from that point, whether the power is in the Constitution or in the power of the people, but the authority we have is clearly and beyond dispute (IMO) either in the Constitution or in the hands of the people depending on your vantage point. I prefer to think of it as a system of law and that the real authority is a system of law in our land. The law, however, is to protect the people and give rights to the people as opposed to a big government or special interests groups.

    Indeed the Bible esteems obedience over disobedience, but that does not get at the real issue at hand. The people in New Testament times were a people that lived under the authority of a foreign power that had taken them over. In our day we are supposed to go by the Constitution and are bound to stand for it as our real authority. In fact, we used to take a pledge of allegiance to just that. The Pledge of Allegiance is listed below, but I would argue that if we pledge our allegiance to our Republic we are pledging allegiance to our Constitution. Since these are the established authorities in our nation, they have been established by God.

    “I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

    “I pledge allegiance” (I promise to be true)
    “to the flag” (to the symbol of our country)
    “of the United States of America” (each state that has joined to make our country)
    “and to the Republic” (a republic is a country ruled by law. The government is “of, by and for” the people)
    “for which it stands,” (the flag means the country)
    “one nation” (a single country)
    “under God,” (the people believe in a supreme being and live in His presence))
    “indivisible,” (the country cannot be split into parts)
    “with Liberty and Justice” (with freedom and fairness)
    “for all.” (for each person in the country…you and me!)

    The pledge says you are promising to be true to the United States of America and to its Constitution.

  372. Zrim
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Tad, if we mean Cesar Millan then ok–I dig those dog whispering skills. But like he always tells the owners, it’s all about establishing authority and obedience (instead of indulging the affections, which makes me think Richard’s dogs must run his household. And Tom’s canine’s must just get confused when they watch Cesar: “Wait! Who’s Cesar and who’s the dog again?”).

  373. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Granted, he may not have been able to predict the sort of arrangement we have, but if Calvin is right then I still don’t see any room for this idea that the governed are the real authorities. I can see how in our polity the governed have a unique status in relation to their civil authorities as opposed to those in other set ups, but to say they are the real authorities remains oxymoronic.

    RS: But the Bible is the real authority and not Calvin. The Bible tells us that God is the One that has established the authority that we have. The real authority that we have is the Constitution and the rule of law that flows from that. The Constitution and the rule of law is to protect the people and their right to pursue liberty and holiness (yes, I meant that since there is no true happiness and justice apart from holiness). If the goal of the Constitution is for each person to have liberty and justice and to protect the people from the government so that they may have those things, then in some way I don’t see how Tom’s “We are Caesar” can be faulted. The authority is the Constitution and the rule of law and yet those things are to give us a system where the power is in the people.

    Wikipedia: The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America.[1] The first three Articles of the Constitution establish the rules and separate powers of the three branches of the federal government: a legislature, the bicameral Congress; an executive branch led by the President; and a federal judiciary headed by the Supreme Court. The last four Articles frame the principle of federalism.

  374. Zrim
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Richard, believe it or not I have followed your line of reasoning. I’ve seen it plenty of times in others as well, and it just never resonates. The problem is that it tends to leave Mark 12 in something of an irrelevant position, as if the thrust of the text (obey your magistrate as you would God) is more for Jesus’ immediate listeners than for us, who are really just left with “pay your taxes.” And I fail to see why that would be so amazing. Unless we’re dealing with folks who are looking for a way to circumvent the virtues of civil obedience and submission, just like his immediate listeners were looking for a justification to resist Rome. And given how our own republic is built on the virtues of rebellion and the vice of submission, little wonder some of the interpreters whittle Mark 12 down to a more effete and polite “pay your taxes.”

  375. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Tad, if we mean Cesar Millan then ok–I dig those dog whispering skills. But like he always tells the owners, it’s all about establishing authority and obedience (instead of indulging the affections, which makes me think Richard’s dogs must run his household. And Tom’s canine’s must just get confused when they watch Cesar: “Wait! Who’s Cesar and who’s the dog again?”).

    RS: But if Zrim’s kids find a 20.00 bill they run around trying to find Jackson so they can render unto Caesar what is Caesars. We must be Confessional after all. It must really confuse them when they find some Benjamin’s laying around and try that with him. But of course this would be hard on a person’s finances as well.

  376. Zrim
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Richard, you say that the Bible is the final authority but speak as if the Constitution is. I get that the latter is the way we govern the land, but my point is about which text governs our personal Xn ethics. Any polity that engenders its citizens to actually think the governed are more in authority than the actual authorities runs up against biblical ethics that say otherwise.

  377. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, you say that the Bible is the final authority but speak as if the Constitution is.

    RS: The Constitution is our supreme authority in terms of how the government is to operate. God declares to us in the Scripture that the authority we are under has been ordained by Him. Of course He is the supreme authority over all, which is part of previous discussions about plumbers and the like. All authority has been given to Jesus and that means all authority in heaven and on earth.

    Zrim: I get that the latter is the way we govern the land, but my point is about which text governs our personal Xn ethics.

    RS: You mean which is to govern the way plumbers are to plumb and things like that?

    Zrim: Any polity that engenders its citizens to actually think the governed are more in authority than the actual authorities runs up against biblical ethics that say otherwise.

    RS: But the Bible tells us that the authority that we have has been established by God. The Constitution is the authority over us at the moment in terms of government. It appears to me that you are wanting to retreat from 2k thinking at the moment and flee to biblical ethics over what the Constitution (our real authority) tells us. I must admit that my mind is having a hard time wrapping around this one. The Bible is telling us (from the principles you have drawn) to render unto Caesar and yet you don’t want to render unto the Caesar that the Bible tells us we really have.

  378. Tad Otis
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Richard Smith,

    As one of the few fellow foot-washin’ Baptists here you are a gem and a true friend to Mr. Tad Otis. Anything you say I receive with the respect and recognition it fully deserves. We are kindred-spirits, my brother-from-another-Baptist- mother!

  379. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    mikelmann: Richard, I just said you had an argument, but now you appeal to an authority. But, hey, it’s not Edwards.

    RS: Something has been bothering me about your statement above, so I thought I would go ahead and “voice” it. If what I did in quoting Samuel Rutherford is an appeal to authority, then is it the case that Confessional thinking as a while is simply an appeal to authority? Would it be the case that what modern scholarship does by the ceaseless quoting of others is nothing more than an appeal to authority?

  380. Posted April 24, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 24, 2013 at 8:51 am: “DTM – ‘However, do you really believe that a culture which encourages wife swapping based on its perceived spiritual benefits has no fundamental differences from a culture which values strong marriages for raising of children?’ (Erik): You obviously didn’t spend much time at Plato’s retreat in the 70s:”

    That’s dredging up old memories, but yes, I know what Plato’s Retreat is. Long ago, I lived in New York City and I am not unaware of its nightlife. I steered clear of that stuff, and I certainly hope you did, too.

    One of the “common grace” benefits of growing up as an unbeliever in a place like Grand Rapids is that my non-Christian father warned me that I needed to avoid foolish mistakes along the lines of visiting places like that, even when far away from home. My pre-conversion sins, like those of virtually any of other non-Christian, are as scarlet, but that is not on the list. Dutchmen have their “acceptable sins,” many of them having to do with bad business practices, bigotry, and covetousness, but one thing you most emphatically do **NOT** want to do in politics in Grand Rapids is get tangled up with moral failures.

    Erik Charter posted April 24, 2013 at 8:51 am: “You confuse virtue with guns, germs, and steel as being the key factor in military conquest. The Nazis must have been really family friendly in order to overrun Europe so quickly in WWII according to your logic.”

    Erik, I am not unaware that once actual warfighting begins, the work of the quartermaster (your reference to guns and steel) and of the medics (your reference to germs) are both critical in keeping any military force in motion. I am quite aware that combat, combat support and combat service support (now called sustainment) are all essential to large-scale military movements, whether ancient or modern.

    That’s not my point.

    Maintaining a strong military requires a strong economy over the long term, though not necessarily over the short term. A culture which has a lousy work ethic, given enough time, will be unable either to produce or to purchase the “guns and steel” which are needed to support its military, and it will have great difficulty recruiting the sort of people who make disciplined soldiers. A culture with major moral failures will face a collapse of its family structure and that will bear bad fruits in the second and subsequent generations, of which fruits poor work ethics, lack of personal discipline, and lack of respect for proper authority are only a few examples.

    I don’t know many people who think the pre-war Prussian culture, or even the cultures of Bavaria or other parts of Germany, was undisciplined. Germany prior to World War II had plenty of problems, but undisciplined laziness was not on the list. German families had plenty of problems, but the iron discipline of the German father predated Protestantism (look at the way Martin Luther was raised as a boy) and the collapse of a Christian cultural consensus in Germany merely resulted in a reversion to secular cultural patterns of non-Christian discipline.

    Erik, I want to give you credit for perhaps thinking several steps ahead of your words.

    If so, I’ll anticipate what I’m guessing may be your next argument. I am quite aware of the “Fuhrer’s brides” (so-called “Aryan” women of good bloodlines who were encouraged to become unwed mothers after relationships with Aryan young men). Hitler believed in encouraging “virility” of Aryan men to promote motherhood by Aryan women to generate more members of his “master race,” and in his view, being married was helpful but not essential to good Aryan motherhood.

    None of us have any way to know how that would have worked out since Hitler lost the war.

    Perhaps Hitler realized large numbers of Aryan soldiers would lose their lives in war and that would leave lots of unmarried women, leading to a population collapse for a generation as happened following the Boer War in South Africa.

    Perhaps he wanted to involve large portions of the population in moral conduct that was inherently incompatible with Christian principles to pave the way for a large-scale attack on the Christian faith which at least some of the Nazis believed was inherently weak due to its Judaic and non-Aryan origins.

    Or perhaps Hitler and his henchmen were simply twisted perverts who wanted to violate the Seventh Commandment against sexual immorality just as flagrantly as the Sixth Commandment against murder.

    We don’t know.

    What I think we can know, based on Western sociological experience, is that large-scale unwed motherhood is not good for a culture. Children need not only mothers but also fathers as role models for childhood development. Certainly it’s true that widespread belief in Christianity is not the only way to avoid that problem — several other religious systems have strict moral codes — but it is beyond dispute that some of the key Native American cultures with which Lewis and Clark interacted had virtually the opposite moral code of family life as it applied to extramarital sexual relationships by married people.

  381. Zrim
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Richard, don’t let Doug hear you say the Constitution is our supreme authority in terms of how the government is to operate–he might subject you to his noetic counseling.

    But your confusion owes to what you think our provisional authority implies, namely that the governed are in charge. They aren’t. They may have some limited say as to who governs them, but once in place the citizens of the republic are more or less as governed as those in those in a dictatorship. So while we agree that the Bible says that the authority in place is from God, we disagree insofar as you say that’s us and I say it’s Obama.

  382. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, don’t let Doug hear you say the Constitution is our supreme authority in terms of how the government is to operate–he might subject you to his noetic counseling.

    RS: But he would understand that the “supreme” part is in a context.

    Zrim: But your confusion owes to what you think our provisional authority implies, namely that the governed are in charge. They aren’t. They may have some limited say as to who governs them, but once in place the citizens of the republic are more or less as governed as those in those in a dictatorship. So while we agree that the Bible says that the authority in place is from God, we disagree insofar as you say that’s us and I say it’s Obama.

    RS: The Constitution does not agree that our authority is Obama. You position seems to place Obama above the Constitution while mine places him under it. I would argue that the Constitution did not take any vows to uphold Obama while Obama did take vows to uphold the Constitution. A purpose of the Constitution is to save the people from politicians who want the government or themselves to have ruling power, which is one reason that politicians are supposed to take an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution. Obama will be done in a few more years, but the Constitution will still be there (though under attack) and another man (hopefully not Hilary) will take an oath to defend and uphold it.

    Congress is supposed to pass laws that are in accordance with the Constitution and the Supreme Court is supposed to interpret laws by the standard of the Constitution. The President is not supposed to be passing laws or enforcing them. We have certaintly been on a slide down the hill for a while.

    As one that believes in the rights of individual states, I would also argue that Obama is not the standard of authority over the states. So I would argue with you regarding that on several fronts, but this is getting a little off the path of “render unto Caesar” which is in the context of a poll-tax.

    “The Preamble to the United States Constitution is a brief introductory statement of the Constitution’s fundamental purposes and guiding principles. It states in general terms, and courts have referred to it as reliable evidence of, the Founding Fathers’ intentions regarding the Constitution’s meaning and what they hoped the Constitution would achieve as it pertains to all of the people of the United States. As the phrase, “we the people” suggests that the new government originates from the people of the United States and it sets into motion a question as it pertains to that vast population concerning the individual rights and equality among all people; this can be seen most broadly in the divide between republicanism and social democracy.”

  383. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: But your confusion owes to what you think our provisional authority implies, namely that the governed are in charge. They aren’t. They may have some limited say as to who governs them, but once in place the citizens of the republic are more or less as governed as those in those in a dictatorship. So while we agree that the Bible says that the authority in place is from God, we disagree insofar as you say that’s us and I say it’s Obama.

    RS: Below is the wording of the Preamble to original Constitution

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    RS: Below is what the Constitution limits the powers of the President to. Notice that the President can be removed from office for certain reasons, which have to do with a violation of the law. The President is not above the law or the Constitution. In Rome, during the time of the NT, Caesar was virutally a law to himself. In our day we have the Constitution that all laws are supposed to be checked against in order that the law may be the law of the people and for the people.

    Article II of the Constitution
    Section. 2.
    The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

    He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

    The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

    Section. 3.
    He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

    Section. 4.
    The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

  384. Tad Otis
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Preach it Richard! No unjust, foreign born Barack Hesssian Obama is gonna tell you & Old Tad what to do, just like no elder board or pastor is gonna tell us what to do. We are the master of our own domains, the captain of our own ships! With the Spirit and our own insight into what the Spirit is doing we don’t need no stinkin’ unrighteous government in or out of the church. Of the people, by the people, and for the people, both in the world and in the church, baby!

  385. Tad Otis
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    One kingdom, Richard baby, just one. And you and I are prophets, priests and kings. The whole shootin’ match!

  386. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Tad Otis: Preach it Richard! No unjust, foreign born Barack Hesssian Obama is gonna tell you & Old Tad what to do, just like no elder board or pastor is gonna tell us what to do. We are the master of our own domains, the captain of our own ships! With the Spirit and our own insight into what the Spirit is doing we don’t need no stinkin’ unrighteous government in or out of the church. Of the people, by the people, and for the people, both in the world and in the church, baby!

    RS: You are wearing more than just a tad too thin with more than a tad too much.

  387. Zrim
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Richard, I’m not saying the President is above the law. I’m saying he governs us. How you get from the latter to the former is just bizarre. Unfortunately, not uncommon.

    Tad, masters of our domains? Are you suggesting a contest?

  388. todd
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    RS:

    I am somewhat intrigued by your understanding of the government, but am not sure where you are going with it. You write, “Congress is supposed to pass laws that are in accordance with the Constitution and the Supreme Court is supposed to interpret laws by the standard of the Constitution. The President is not supposed to be passing laws or enforcing them. We have certaintly been on a slide down the hill for a while.”

    We would both affirm this above, but are you suggesting that once you do not agree that the President or SC passed or interpreted a law according to the constitution we do not need to submit as Christians to that law? I am not asking if you can legally file a protest or lawsuit, but beyond that are you suggesting we do not need to submit to our government officials in that situation because the Constitution is our only real authority?

  389. Tad Otis
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Tad, masters of our domains? Are you suggesting a contest?

    Richard and I are obviously the alpha-males around here and you latte-sipping, loafer-wearing R2Kers would be no match for us.

  390. kent
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    If one if going to pointlessly copy and paste US founding documents, at least make it as hammy and corny as this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b56e0u0EgQ

  391. Tad Otis
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I know, Richard. I know. Old Tad is starting to sound like Doug Sowers or Tim Bayly. Just getting a little too excited.

  392. Posted April 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Kent,

    As a human/Vulcan hybrid was Dr. Spock bound to obey the Constitution?

  393. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    RS quoting previous post by Zrim: But your confusion owes to what you think our provisional authority implies, namely that the governed are in charge. They aren’t. They may have some limited say as to who governs them, but once in place the citizens of the republic are more or less as governed as those in those in a dictatorship. So while we agree that the Bible says that the authority in place is from God, we disagree insofar as you say that’s us and I say it’s Obama.

    Zrim: Richard, I’m not saying the President is above the law. I’m saying he governs us. How you get from the latter to the former is just bizarre. Unfortunately, not uncommon.

    RS: You said (in your previous post) that “once in place [the Constitution] the citizens of the republic are more or less as governed as those in those in a dictatorship.” Then you say that the authority in place is Obama. In the context of the discussion, I am saying that the authority in place is the Constitution and/or the law. It certainly appears that you what you said is consistent with Obama being above the law in some way. I am arguing that the Constitution is our authority and it only gives authority to others in order to serve as ministers (not in the Church) of the people for the good of the people.

  394. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Tad Otis: Richard and I are obviously the alpha-males around here and you latte-sipping, loafer-wearing R2Kers would be no match for us.

    RS: I make no claim to be an alpha-male but instead bow to the One who is both Alpha and Omega.

  395. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    todd: RS: I am somewhat intrigued by your understanding of the government, but am not sure where you are going with it. You write, “Congress is supposed to pass laws that are in accordance with the Constitution and the Supreme Court is supposed to interpret laws by the standard of the Constitution. The President is not supposed to be passing laws or enforcing them. We have certaintly been on a slide down the hill for a while.”

    Todd: We would both affirm this above, but are you suggesting that once you do not agree that the President or SC passed or interpreted a law according to the constitution we do not need to submit as Christians to that law? I am not asking if you can legally file a protest or lawsuit, but beyond that are you suggesting we do not need to submit to our government officials in that situation because the Constitution is our only real authority?

    RS: I am saying what I am saying as a matter of interpretation about the Constitution and the intent of it as citizens as a whole and not as Christians only. I am not arguing that Christians should not submit to the law, but that all citizens should submit to the law. However, because of the rights that supreme earthly authority of our Land as given us, we do have the right to challenge those things in court as citizens and to have our grievances addressed in accordance with the Constitution which limits the power of government. “We the people” set out the Constitution as a rule for the government and for the people “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    If the people did decide that the officials of the government went beyond the Constitution and were using too much authority, they should use the means of the Constitution to cast the guilty people out of office and perhaps into jail.

  396. todd
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    RS,

    Thanks, I do not disagree with you, but may be missing something others are seeing.

  397. Bobby
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that I can agree with Richard’s tortured reading of “render unto Ceasar.”

    Within the context, the passage is clearly drawing a comparison between actual persons, namely earthly authorities versus heavenly authorities. The analogy makes no sense if “Ceasar” is interpreted to be a document. There can be no doubt that the passage refers to earthly authorities, without regard to their means of obtaining power. Any other interpretation makes a mockery of the passage. This is especially so when Richard further limits the document’s authority to his own private interpretation of it.

  398. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    If the people did decide that the officials of the government went beyond the Constitution and were using too much authority, they should use the means of the Constitution to cast the guilty people out of office and perhaps into jail.

    The role of the magistrate. This was how they defended the American revolution theologically, that the Continental Congress were duly empowered magistrates.

    Interposition.

    http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2012/11/17/carts-horses-and-secession/

  399. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Bobby: I’m not sure that I can agree with Richard’s tortured reading of “render unto Ceasar.”

    RS: Not tortured by me, but by those who try to make it mean for more than what is in the text.

    Bobby: Within the context, the passage is clearly drawing a comparison between actual persons, namely earthly authorities versus heavenly authorities.

    RS: No, the text is not drawing a comparison between actual persons. The text (Mark 12) tells us that some Pharisees and some Herodians came to Jesus trying to trap Him, and in doing so they brought a coin that bore the likeness and inscription of Caesar on it. They asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay the poll-tax or not. His answer was “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The question and the answer was specifically about the poll-tax. My point is that the text is not specifically teaching submission to the authorites in all things. Now, it may be that a person can find some principles to draw from that.

    Bobby: The analogy makes no sense if “Ceasar” is interpreted to be a document.

    RS: But I am not interpreting Caesar to stand for a document.

    Bobby: There can be no doubt that the passage refers to earthly authorities, without regard to their means of obtaining power. Any other interpretation makes a mockery of the passage. This is especially so when Richard further limits the document’s authority to his own private interpretation of it.

    RS: I guess I could make way and let the Pope interpret it, but I don’t think that would be good either. Instead, my point is that if you want to go beyond the poll-tax and draw some principles from it, then you would have to figure out what Caesar would mean in our day and time. In that day and time there was supposed to be a rule of law and yet Caesar was able to rule as he pleased. Israel was under the thumb of Caesar as a defeated nation. The question, then, is what the rule of law is today that we are to go by. We don’t have a Caesar, so what is our rule of law? It is the Constitution. But again, I think the text should be limited to a poll-tax rather than draw a line from Caesar to Obama.

  400. Posted April 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s not that Richard objects to rendering unto Caesar, it’s that the only thing he is willing to render is his middle finger.

  401. sdb
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    OK, we are a government of the people, for the people, by the people (or however it goes), ergo we are Caesar. So which morals should Caesar enforce? Here are a couple of issues before voters in various states now:

    Is it sinful for a Christian to vote for state recognition of gay unions?
    Is it sinful for a Christian to vote for tax credits for parents who send their kids to Mormon schools?

    Joe Carter has written that the first vote is unequivocally sinful on the Gospel Coalition blog. He hasn’t said anything about the second even though a number of evangelicals have been at the vanguard of advocating for these tax credits. So here is my question for the critics of 2k…why is it OK for evangelicals to support a policy that will encourage unbelievers (and perhaps some believers) to engage in sinful activity (supporting policies that will subsidize idolatrous practices), but it is not OK for believers to support legalization of other practices that we deem sinful (gay marriage, abortion, etc…)? I don’t mean to argue for or against the relative merits of these policies, rather what is the principle that give the church the authority to declare a particular political stance sinful or not?

    Someone earlier asked if a member should be disciplined for casting a vote to legalize gay marriage (or was it abortion? I forget). But of course in the legislature (particularly at the federal level), votes are never so tidy. What if there was a federal bill to recognize gay marriage, and a senator had enough votes to add on an amendment prohibiting all abortions except to save the life of the mother? A yes vote means gay marriage is now recognized by the feds and that abortion is now criminalized. A no vote means gay marriage remains outlawed (at the federal level), but abortion remains legal. For the non-2kers, which vote gets keeps the believing senator out of trouble?

  402. Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    SDB – Here are a couple of issues before voters in various states now:

    Is it sinful for a Christian to vote for state recognition of gay unions?

    Erik – Funny. Gay marriage is legal in Iowa, but I don’t remember be asked to vote on it.

    At some point this issue will be decided (albeit unwisely) by the judiciary. The Supreme Court really doesn’t want to decide it, but they will be forced to.

  403. Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Highly hypothetical question, but I’ll vote for life and allow gay marriage any day of the week if they are tied together. One is life & death, the other is about consenting adults with whom I happen to disagree, which is why it’s dumb for the right to always tie the two together as if they are of equal weight.

  404. Tad Otis
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    There you go, Eric, spoutin’ off in favor of the gays! I knew you R2Kers were all about the gays. Marriage is sacred and only for a man & a woman. It’s so important that it takes some Christian folks like Old Tad three tries to get it right. Third times, a charm, though. Bess says “hi”. She’ll be home from her shift at the truckstop round midnight.

  405. todd
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    ” I don’t mean to argue for or against the relative merits of these policies, rather what is the principle that give the church the authority to declare a particular political stance sinful or not?”

    Great question! As I read DTM, Bayly and other critics, they seem to be under the impression that we are actually advocating for certain sins to be legalized, such as bestiality, homosexuality, etc… when we have been clear that we as the church cannot tell the state which sins they must enforce against, and that a Christian may vote a certain way on these matters and it is not automatically sinful to do so. The accusation against me was that when I gave an example of a how a Christian like me might so distrust government’s obtrusiveness that we may not want them enforcing against certain sexual sins, I was accused of actually saying that it would be wrong for government to do so as a matter of principle, which is missing the entire point.

    If I lived in Iran, and a referendum to establish the death penalty was held out to the people, I might vote no, knowing what Ahmadinejad might do with such power, even though I recognize the government has a right to use the death penalty in principle.

    I wonder if our critics are able to see the distinction between freedom to disagree on a matter of civil law and advocacy for or against a certain policy. I wonder if they are purposely distorting this point, or they are so used to thinking of their politics as clothed in religious garb that they cannot possibly imagine freedom on these matters apart from advocacy and religious cowardliness.

  406. Erik Charter
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Todd – I wonder if they are purposely distorting this point

    Yes, although if you are going to use bestiality as a talking point be aware of its inflammatory nature and make sure to stress the intrusiveness factor and the cost factor.

    These folks are not playing to the most sophisticated audience around.

  407. Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    ‘At some point this issue will be decided (albeit unwisely) by the judiciary. The Supreme Court really doesn’t want to decide it, but they will be forced to.’

    All options are on the table. The SCOTUS could punt altogether on a “standing’ issue, they could let the states work it out by basically holding there is no right to gay marriage or they could take it away from the states by finding there is a right to gay marriage. Then it could be more limited in scope, affecting some some states & scenarios but not others. Keep your eye on the Prop 8 case, with a decision due this summer.

  408. Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    MM,

    If they “punt” will cases keep being sent up to them that they’ll be under pressure to keep taking? Or can they make it clear that they don’t want to decide the issue and they won’t take more cases.

    You also have to consider the makeup of the court could change from year to year. If they get a solid majority of liberal justices I would assume they would be happy to decide the issue.

  409. todd
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    Yes, but they always go to the more extreme cases to look for consistency, and there is nothing wrong with that. If we say Christians can disagree on the Iraq War, they do not sound an alarm. What surprises them is the consistency, that even on those issues they are most politically adamant about, usually having to do with sex, we allow freedom for Christians to disagree whether the state (our state, not an idealized state), should enforce against these sins. What we do not allow is Christians to get away with committing these sins, or pressuring our people to advocate politically for or against a political position in the name of God.

  410. Posted April 24, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Todd – Yes, but they always go to the more extreme cases to look for consistency, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Erik – O.K. What if I argued that it was o.k. to pass a civil law to walk up to whomever you want and shoot them in the head, but it was not o.k. in the church? At some point can elders not bar someone from the table for their political stands pending a trip to a psychologist? Are there any limits to the political positions that we would allow our members to hold?

    How about a white supremacist? How about someone who thinks laws should be lifted that would punish people to burn down mosques?

    Do someone’s political views ever reveal an evil soul that we need to deal with as officers?

    If so, might not this be the case with bestiality?

    Or does it always depend on that particular individual and how they arrive at their position?

  411. todd
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Erik: O.K. What if I argued that it was o.k. to pass a civil law to walk up to whomever you want and shoot them in the head, but it was not o.k. in the church? At some point can elders not bar someone from the table for their political stands pending a trip to a psychologist?

    Todd: I have already answered this question, but, yes, elders can discipline any member who is living in unrepentant sin, whether that is revealed in politics, home life, work, etc…

    Erik: Are there any limits to the political positions that we would allow our members to hold?

    Todd: yes, there could be, and I am sure historically have been

    Erik: Do someone’s political views ever reveal an evil soul that we need to deal with as officers?

    Todd: Yes, they could

    Erik, If so, might not this be the case with bestiality?

    Todd: It might, or it might not. If a man votes to repeal bestiality laws because of a perversion, sure, but if he thinks a bumbling and overbearing government intruding into into more and more of our personal lives is a bad idea, and knows people who were falsely accused and punished, he may not be in sin simply for such a vote against those laws I have no problem myself with laws against bestiality in principle, but I wouldn’t discipline a member who thought differently as to the political question.

    Erik: Or does it always depend on that particular individual and how they arrive at their position?

    Todd: Usually. In real life this side of glory, these principles of political freedom in the church always have limits and exceptions and fuzzy areas. NL2K, like theonomy and Neo-Calvinism, do not have all the answers to these questions; ultimately each case must be dealt with on its own merits.

  412. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: It’s not that Richard objects to rendering unto Caesar, it’s that the only thing he is willing to render is his middle finger.

    RS: Which, though ever so crude, points to another question that I have not stressed. Just what is it that the text (Matthew 12) tells us to render to Caesar? By the way, have you ever studied just what it originally meant to wave the middle finger at some one? The original meaning would escape the condemnation of the passage below. The usual meaning would not.

    Ephesians 5:4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

  413. Richard Smith
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    SDB: I don’t mean to argue for or against the relative merits of these policies, rather what is the principle that give the church the authority to declare a particular political stance sinful or not?

    RS: If we remove the politics from the question and let it stand for what it is apart from any political stance, homosexual activity is a wicked act in the presence of God. If you look at it for what it is, then the political stance is seen for what it is. The “gay” community is pressing for their sinful behavior to be accepted as normal and as okay. The problem is that many do look at this as political rather than moral. So in fact it becomes twisted. What is wrong with the Church declaring that homosexual activity is sinful and that it is not normal and is an abomination before God? Oh, well, that is politically incorrect?

  414. Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Todd,

    I can go there with you on all of those. The Baylys and DTM have a hard time with grey, though, and lack the patience to ask questions. We’ll just keep trying to reason with them, I guess.

  415. Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Tim Bayly’s going off again over at baylyblog:

    “This is the reason R2K men are currently arguing for the repeal of sodomy laws and the passage of sodomite marriage rites instead of arguing for the repeal of laws against incest and bestiality.”

    Craig French adds:

    Submitted by Craig French on April 24, 2013 – 8:24pm
    “FYI –
    Over the last week or so, I’ve been perusing the appropriately titled “Old Life” blog and have found R2K proponents arguing, not merely that sodomy laws ought to be repealed, but all laws associated with sex ought to be repealed…bestiality was specifically listed.”

    Yeah, right. These guys are certainly being honest.

    http://baylyblog.com/

  416. sdb
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    RS: “If we remove the politics from the question and let it stand for what it is apart from any political stance, homosexual activity is a wicked act in the presence of God…What is wrong with the Church declaring that homosexual activity is sinful and that it is not normal and is an abomination before God?”

    I hope everyone here agrees that idolatry and homosexual activity are wicked, the Church has the obligation to declare this, and the Church has an obligation to discipline members who practice such things. I don’t think that is in dispute here.

    The question is what we should do about outsiders. Paul indicates that we aren’t to judge those outside of the Church (1 Cor 5:9-13). So the question I’m still left is why is it OK for a Christian to support a political policy that encourages idolatry, but it is sinful for Christians to support a policy that encourages homosexual behavior? In other words, I can see why someone would think that Misty Irons is wrong (I’m inclined to agree), but it is hard for me to see how her political position is worthy of censure by the Church (my understanding is that she advocates for gay marriage, even though she believes that homosexual behavior is sinful). If it is sinful for Misty to advocate for gay marriage, then why isn’t it sinful for Ralph Reed to advocate for vouchers? How do we decide which sins the Christian must work to get the state to discourage?

  417. Posted April 25, 2013 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    sdb,

    A lot of the answer comes down to what the right considers to be politically viable and can raise money around.

    On the voucher issue, people are willing to compromise to get their hand in the government till even if it means people who they disagree with with get theirs, too.

  418. Posted April 25, 2013 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    I wonder if Darrell Todd Maurina is beginning to regret getting Tim Bayly all fired up? He’s going way beyond Maurina’s assertions in his essay.

  419. sdb
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Erik,

    In my more cynical moments, I’m inclined to believe that this righteous anger about abortion policy, gay marriage, etc… is more about branding and fund raising than a concern for the purity of the church and God’s glory. But, I try to remain charitable and concede that it is possible that I’m just missing something.

  420. Zrim
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    So the question I’m still left is why is it OK for a Christian to support a political policy that encourages idolatry, but it is sinful for Christians to support a policy that encourages homosexual behavior? In other words, I can see why someone would think that Misty Irons is wrong (I’m inclined to agree), but it is hard for me to see how her political position is worthy of censure by the Church (my understanding is that she advocates for gay marriage, even though she believes that homosexual behavior is sinful). If it is sinful for Misty to advocate for gay marriage, then why isn’t it sinful for Ralph Reed to advocate for vouchers?

    sdb, I believe the conundrum is helped (not solved, all you strict logicians) by making a distinction between personal behavior and political views. It is one thing to say what Xn Jane may do with that unwanted pregnancy, but quite another to say what she may do in the voting booth. He who has ears let him hear.

    I’d love to say that advocating for vouchers is sinful and enlist the church to back me up, thereby lending heavenly sanction for political view. But I’m content to simply maintain that vouchers feed the further atomization of society as well as an educational consumerism, that in my day we all had one school and we all had to find a way to make it work, that we couldn’t just pick up our taxes and stomp off the proverbial playground, that a more communitarian conservative posture would be to resist vouchers. I mean, what’s next, I don’t like the manhole covers in my neighborhood so I want a voucher to build my own outhouse? (See what I did there?)

    So all this brouhaha about disciplining others for not sharing certain political views is just a function of our over-politicized age where nobody has any problem enlisting heaven for his politics. Pushing back against political views with differing political views and means simply isn’t enough for the blood thirty, must reach for the bazooka to kill a squirrel. And these are the same people who complain about the over-reaching of the government. Please.

  421. Posted April 25, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 25, 2013 at 12:37 am: “I wonder if Darrell Todd Maurina is beginning to regret getting Tim Bayly all fired up? He’s going way beyond Maurina’s assertions in his essay.”

    I don’t think Tim Bayly needed me or anyone else to get him “fired up.”

    I’ll say the same thing I said for a decade at Christian Renewal. I will answer for what I write. What other people write is their own business. Sometimes I will agree; sometimes I won’t. That’s life.

    It’s obvious that the “Two Kingdoms” movement is diverse. I recognize differences in its advocates and in its critics.

  422. Posted April 25, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    Is it not a matter of integrity for you to comment on his site to rebut these kinds of claims:

    This is the reason R2K men are currently arguing for the repeal of sodomy laws and the passage of sodomite marriage rites instead of arguing for the repeal of laws against incest and bestiality.”

    Craig French adds:

    Submitted by Craig French on April 24, 2013 – 8:24pm
    “FYI –
    Over the last week or so, I’ve been perusing the appropriately titled “Old Life” blog and have found R2K proponents arguing, not merely that sodomy laws ought to be repealed, but all laws associated with sex ought to be repealed…bestiality was specifically listed.”

    Who here is “arguing for” these heinous things? And can they cite those comments? (it’s only been a week)

    Or did you just light the match and can’t be responsible for the flames?

  423. Richard Smith
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    sdb quoting RS: “If we remove the politics from the question and let it stand for what it is apart from any political stance, homosexual activity is a wicked act in the presence of God…What is wrong with the Church declaring that homosexual activity is sinful and that it is not normal and is an abomination before God?”

    SDB: I hope everyone here agrees that idolatry and homosexual activity are wicked, the Church has the obligation to declare this, and the Church has an obligation to discipline members who practice such things. I don’t think that is in dispute here.

    The question is what we should do about outsiders. Paul indicates that we aren’t to judge those outside of the Church (1 Cor 5:9-13). So the question I’m still left is why is it OK for a Christian to support a political policy that encourages idolatry, but it is sinful for Christians to support a policy that encourages homosexual behavior? In other words, I can see why someone would think that Misty Irons is wrong (I’m inclined to agree), but it is hard for me to see how her political position is worthy of censure by the Church (my understanding is that she advocates for gay marriage, even though she believes that homosexual behavior is sinful). If it is sinful for Misty to advocate for gay marriage, then why isn’t it sinful for Ralph Reed to advocate for vouchers? How do we decide which sins the Christian must work to get the state to discourage?

    RS: But why is it so wrong to think that the Church should declare what is sinful regarding all things? The Church is not to make the laws and the Church is not to enforce the laws on outsiders, but it is to proclaim what is sin against God. The state certainly has the legal right to define marriage how it pleases, but it does not have the moral right to do so. God defines what is truly marriage and only “fools” (“the fool has said in his heart”) will dare to go against that. How the Church cannot stand (by proclamation) anyone who dares define marriage in a way that is totally opposite of what God says and in a way that makes room for a sin that God hates is simply beyond me at this point. It is not to say these things in hatred, but in love for God and for the eternal welfare of human beings.

  424. Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 25, 2013 at 9:47 am: “DTM, Is it not a matter of integrity for you to comment on his site to rebut these kinds of claims: ‘This is the reason R2K men are currently arguing for the repeal of sodomy laws and the passage of sodomite marriage rites instead of arguing for the repeal of laws against incest and bestiality.’ (SNIP) Who here is “arguing for” these heinous things? And can they cite those comments? (it’s only been a week) Or did you just light the match and can’t be responsible for the flames?”

    Erik, I need to be out the door for county commission and am now already late.

    It would make no sense for me to blame you for “lighting the match” and generating something Dr. Hart wrote. Dr. Hart has been writing and advocating his views for a very long time. So has Rev. Bayly. Neither Hart nor Bayly need any encouragement by other people writing on their blogs to write the things they have been writing for many, many years.

    I’ll say the same thing I said for a decade at Christian Renewal. I will answer for what I write. What other people write is their own business. Sometimes I will agree; sometimes I won’t. That’s life.

    Since you asked for citations, I am, however, going to point out that I have now seen a specific citation of a professor not just theoretically advocating the possibility of repealing sodomy laws but who, it is said, “called publicly for the repeal of sodomy laws.” You can read about it in Rev. Bayly’s post entitled “Simple truths about the R2K error (II): Sodomy now, incest later…” at April 24, 2013 – 7:06pm.

    I know nothing about that case but it looks like he has cited the names and persons requested.

    While I know nothing about that case, I would definitely be interested to learn more. Maybe you can do some digging and give us your understanding of what happened.

  425. Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Erik, another verbal hatchet job. Is it any wonder when real hatchets follow?

  426. Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    I’ll stand behind what Hart writes pretty much all the time. That’s why I post here.

    What percent of the time will you stand behind what Bayly writes? If it’s not high, why did you post your essay on his site?

  427. Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    DTM, what is so scary about someone calling for the repeal of sodomy laws? You have voted for politicians who voted to repeal sodomy laws (but probably did not know it). By the Baylys’ twisted reasoning, you’re guilty of sin.

    How’s it feel?

  428. Tad Otis
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Derrell Tod Maurini,

    Don’t listen to what that lib Eric says! You got these R2K libs on the run! They’re afraid of The Rev. Dr. Tim Bayly’s parishioners taking an axe to their churches or homes. And their right to be afraid — Baylys own church officers do those kinda things!

    You hold your head up high when people link you to the Rev. Dr. Tim Bayly! You are both prophets making profits (if you know what I mean). Don’t worry if people are using your great essay as a springboard for exaggerations and lies about what R2Kers are saying here. It’s not important what they say, it’s important what we IMAGINE they say based on what We know about em!

    Keep the libs on the run my Missouri Ozarks brother!

  429. Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Tad, so apparently it is okay to violate the ninth commandment if protecting the sixth.

  430. Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    You’re quickly becoming useful.

    Google “covenant seminary david jones sodomy laws”

    You find this article: http://www.presbyteriannews.org/volumes/v5/4/ethics-professor-opposes-anti-sodomy-laws.html

    followed by seven baylyblog posts.

    The artcle pertains to something that happened over 13 years ago.

    What does that have to do with David French saying:

    Submitted by Craig French on April 24, 2013 – 8:24pm
    “FYI –
    Over the last week or so, I’ve been perusing the appropriately titled “Old Life” blog and have found R2K proponents arguing, not merely that sodomy laws ought to be repealed, but all laws associated with sex ought to be repealed…bestiality was specifically listed.”

    You’ve become the pawn. Congratulations!

  431. todd
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Tad, er…I mean Erik, you can probably knock it off now. Ridicule is not really a godly means of debate, regardless of what Doug Wilson thinks.

  432. Tad Otis
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    D.G. Heart,

    Why don’t you just go back to Sweeden or whatever commie pinko country you come from!? A Southern man don’t need you around anyhow!

  433. Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Come on Todd. We pretty much all checked that at the door when we decided to debate theology on the internets.

  434. Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    How does one reason with a Bayly? The only way to point out how ridiculous he is is to go one step further, and Tad doesn’t even surpass him by much.

  435. todd
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    “Come on Todd. We pretty much all checked that at the door when we decided to debate theology on the internets.”

    Out of curiosity, why would the medium dictate how we conduct ourselves?

  436. Posted April 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Until debate online is done in the same manner we would face to face, sitting in church, the medium does dictate how people conduct themselves. No one debates that way online (o.k., maybe Jeff Cagle).

    You yourself don’t even use your full name and link to your church website or personal blog.

    There are two choices: stomach the sordid nature of online debate or avoid it entirely. I’ll eventually get to #2, but not yet.

  437. todd
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    “Until debate online is done in the same manner we would face to face, sitting in church, the medium does dictate how people conduct themselves. No one debates that way online (o.k., maybe Jeff Cagle).”

    I get that there are looser rules for on-line debate, a bit stronger language, more humor, etc.. than used in articles, journals, books, etc… but I don’t see how we avoid observing certain charitable rules of debate even on-line

    “You yourself don’t even use your full name and link to your church website or personal blog.”

    Don’t have a personal blog – and I’m not sure why the former matters, I’m not hiding anything.

  438. Posted April 25, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Let’s get this timeline straight:

    (1) David Jones controversy at Covenant Seminary – 1999

    (2) Misty Irons controversy in the OPC – 2003

    (3) Hart publishes “A Secular Faith” – 2006

    (4) Van Drunen publishes “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms – A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought” – late 2009

    (5) Van Drunen publishes “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms – A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture” – 2010

    (6) Darrell Todd Maurina writes an essay on “R2K”, leading it off by discussing Misty Irons 2003 incident. When questioned, Maurina admits that he has not read the Hart & Van Drunen books. – April 2013

    (7) Tim Bayly publishes Maurina’s essay on Baylyblog and adds his own blog posts in subsequent days, citing David Jones 1999 incident as evidence that R2K involves arguing for sodomy laws to be repealed. I do not believe that Bayly has read the Hart & Van Drunen books – April 2013

    Wouldn’t it make sense for Maurina & Bayly to read Hart & Van Drunen’s books before criticizing them for Irons and Jones statements that took place years before they even wrote their books?

    Could these guys use a good editor?

  439. kent
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard too many laments over the years from colleagues on their dealings with women named Misty…

  440. Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Erik, if they were married to real women, they’d have some accountability.

  441. Mikelmann
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Well done, Erik.

  442. sean
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Erik, there’s something to be said for facilitating discussion and keeping the conversation going. I think you do that, as well as adding insightful commentary. I also agree that the medium has it’s own inherent limits, and I’ve stated my own opinion on that matter a number of times so I won’t repeat it. I do think Todd is making an equally relevant point about maintaining and even lifting the manner and type of dialogue to resemble the behavior of a scripturally informed conscience. At the very least, NL coherence, to say nothing of scriptural prescription shouldn’t suddenly be retarded once we hit the combox. It’s that lack of perspective that has plagued us all at one time or another on the interweb and what allows for at least half the heat that emanates off something like the Baylyblog. I think in addition, the better blogs take on a “personality” that facilitates a certain type of interaction. If you’re terribly sensitive or don’t get or enjoy sarcasm, I wouldn’t recommend Old Life or maybe just suggest sticking with the posts and skip the comments. That’s not a fault of OL or it’s participants, in fact it’s why I comment here and not other places by and large. I enjoy this type of interaction. If I don’t enjoy the back and forth and don’t additionally find it edifying or at least entertaining, there’s probably not good justification for me interacting at all. As with most things in a combox and in keeping with the medium, it’s just an opinion, and hopefully it’s short and sweet and to the point.

  443. Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    This just in: Reports from Southern Missouri of a loud explosion and fireball coming from a van down by the river. Van is registered to a “Thaddeus ‘Tad’ Otis”. Otis’s wife, Bess, when contacted at the local tattoo parlor, reports that Otis was indeed home at the time of the blast. Tad Otis- RIP.

    Now there is the matter of Otis’s illegitimate son, Chad, who has been known to comment on blogs…

  444. Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully I made my point that most of what we are doing here is of limited value because we don’t know for sure who people are, what their motives are, and who is being genuine. I’m questioning if I am going to keep doing it all in light of Maurina & Bayly’s ridiculousness. I now have a fellow URC elder & friend of Maurina’s (those who are familiar with these debates can probably figure out who it is), taking me to task on my blog for “personal attacks” against Maurina. I feel like someone needs to stand up to him and Bayly, but maybe the answer is just ignore them, see if they gain traction to the point that these issues come to charges and church courts, and then rebut them in a setting where actual evidence and due process are valued. It would sure save me a lot of time (and money). Every minute I spend doing this literally costs me money because of what I do for a living.

  445. sean
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I should add, redundant as it may be, that since it’s my opinion it’s particularly erudite, brimming with excellence and profound insight and by far exceeds what someone like MM might contribute. Jus sayin. Then there’s ‘Blue’ or ‘OB’ or ‘BM’, who just puts us all to shame for sheer entertainment value, and sentence construction not to personal history.

  446. Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    That may be the answer – Todd – have at it on citing bestiality to people who don’t draw distinctions well and call me when the day comes that you are brought up on charges. I’ll be an expert witness at your trial for a reasonable fee and travel expenses. Until then, adieu!

  447. todd
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    As long as you are a witness to the defense and not the prosecution!

    If it helps, I just don’t take guys like the Bayly’s very seriously and lose no sleep over their inane accusations. What would they do without the Internet? It also helps to only read and comment on blogs once a week or so and stop reading them and live life the rest of the week; it one gives balance. But that’s just me, apparently a cowardly anti-nomian, so what do I know?

  448. Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Todd,

    That’s good advice.

  449. Richard Smith
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    sean: I should add, redundant as it may be, that since it’s my opinion it’s particularly erudite, brimming with excellence and profound insight and by far exceeds what someone like MM might contribute.

    RS: You forgot the pearl of all virtues (humility) which shines in this post as in all of them.

  450. Zrim
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Erik, it also helps to think of the Bayly’s as Reformed evangelicalism’s Westboro Baptist.

  451. sean
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Richard. It’s never near as relevant or helpful when someone like yourself acknowledges what I already know about myself but I’m willing to condescend and receive gratitude from my lessers for their sake.

  452. sean
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m resisting the emoticon.

  453. Mikelmann
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    “I’m resisting the emoticon.”

    Thank you.

  454. Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Maybe Maurina should have published his piece there. Maurina & an ally are complaining about my post today on my blog and my response is centered around Maurina’s lack of judgment in (1) publishing there, and (2) rubbing our noses in it here. When are the Neocalvinists going to get their own house organ?

    On another note, we finished season 2 of “The Killing” two nights ago and I still maintain it is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I didn’t guess the killer. What a writer or writers to plot that out. I’m telling my son who is an aspiring writer that if he can learn to write like that he’ll be a millionaire someday. Fabulous show.

  455. Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    I don’t think anyone is going to bring up charges against a 2ker. Probably the most radical anyone in the 2k camp gets is not being against the government allowing for same sex marriage, and even this is a minority view amongst 2kers. Because 2k is so closely associated with confessionalism, they would have a hard time coming up with an actionable charge that any 2k advocate is out of line with the confessions or the Reformed system of doctrine. Every 2ker I have ever interacted with believes homosexuality and abortion are sins, and should be dealt with using appropriate measures of church discipline if it occurs with our church members.

    As far as I can tell, you have the hard core Evangelical political activists like the Baylys who see 2k as a threat to their sociopolitical agendas, and they are heavy on heated rhetoric, low on intelligent debate. Then you have those influenced by Kuyperianism, which has become tantamount to orthodoxy in some circles, to some (certainly not all) of these 2k also is viewed as a threat, but usually they will hang in and have meaningful debate with 2kers. The only folks who might contemplate issuing charges are those in the first group who elevate politics (always of the most conservative kind) to the levels of doctrinal orthodoxy – this group is loud, but relatively small and they seem to be more interested in sabre rattling than bringing actual complaints before the church courts.

    Then there’s the theonomists, but they don’t count right (Kidding Doug!!!!)

  456. Posted April 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Sean, good. Your sanctification is increasing.

  457. Zrim
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Erik, next up is “House of Cards.”

    Jed, you said a mouthful about Kuyperianism being tantamount to orthodoxy. Around here, there isn’t even any meta-cognition for cultural transformationism. It’s as given as the Trinity. And Xn schools.

  458. Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I think we’re going to try “Wallander” and some of the other Scandinavian detective stuff.

    I’m also through two episodes of season 2 of “The Wire”. No kids watching that, though.

  459. sdb
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    @EC I highly recommend Wallander. I caught a few episodes on PBS Mystery last year and was hooked.

    @RS – I don’t think anyone here is saying that church shouldn’t speak out against homosexuality and gay unions. The question is whether it is sinful for a Christian to support political policies that have the effect of promoting sin. One example of course is gay marriage, and I laid out an argument a Christian might follow to conclude that she should support state recognition of gay unions. Another contemporary example are the proposals in various states to set up tax credits for donations to private schools and tuition. Such credits have been created to entice people to give more money to religious schools (including Mormon, Muslim, Jewish, Mainline, and Catholic schools). If it is sinful for a Christian to support state recognition of gay marriage (Joe Carter’s position), why isn’t it sinful for a Christian to support tax credits for Mormon schools? Or to state it more generally, why is a libertarian approach to religious ethics (the state should not interfere with the free exercise of your religious regardless of whether it blasphemous or not unless there is a compelling secular reason of general application like outlawing human sacrifice) acceptable, but a libertarian approach to sexual ethics (the state should not interfere with the way that consenting adults order their sexual relationships unless there is a compelling secular reason of general application) is sinful?

    Is it because you think toleration of homosexual behavior among unbelievers provokes God’s wrath in a way that toleration of the worship of false gods among unbelievers doesn’t? If so, why is that?

  460. Bobby
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    “I don’t think anyone here is saying that church shouldn’t speak out against homosexuality and gay unions.” -sdb

    No. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

    On the issue of homosexuality (i.e., sexual orientation), I’m not sure what why there’s a need to speak out at all. Some 3% of the population is gay. We don’t exactly know why. But we know that it is generally involuntary, and that no amount of “praying the gay away” is going to change it. So, I see no reason for the church to speak out against homosexuality, unless it also plans to speak out against gravity, etc.

    As to same-sex marriage, I see no reason why the church ought to concern itself with how the state establishes default rules for the ownership of real and personal property. After all, that all that civil marriage is. So, I believe that the church has as much interest in speaking out against same-sex marriage as it has in speaking out in favor of the rule against perpetuities.

    The church should preach Christ…and not a whole lot else.

  461. mark mcculley
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    What is the practical difference between a w-view which produces “Christian soldiers” and a w-view which produces “Christians who are soldiers”?

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/04/26/is-there-a-distinctively-christian-way-to-be-a-bus-driver/

  462. sdb
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Bobby,
    I didn’t see your earlier comments I guess. Your comment is incoherent – are you really suggesting that a minister should avoid topics he comes across in the scripture if they are only relevant to a few percent of his congregation? If so, what’s the cut off? 10%, 20%, 30%? Nor am I sure what being voluntary has to do with anything. My attraction to nubile co-eds on campus may be involuntary, but that doesn’t mitigate the sinfulness of adultery (even if I can’t pray the attraction away). It looks like you are falling prey to Venus envy – the certainty and empirical basis for physical science isn’t conferred to confirmation biased, ideologically driven, poorly sampled, “studies” by appending the word science to them (don’t forget that 2/3rds of social “scientists” admit to sampling practices that invalidate their results, 10% falsify data, and 50% don’t report null results – hard to escape the conclusion that the entire field is pseudosicence garbage). But allowing that social “science” can achieve even a pale imitation to science, it isn’t clear what your analogy means. Is it OK to throw bowling balls off of overpasses because of the fact of gravity? Pastors shouldn’t preach against anger if someone has a natural, involuntary short-temper?

    Finally, what does it mean to “Preach Christ” anyway? Is it just repeating his name over and over? Is it exegesis of his Word (even the parts that only apply to 3% of the population)? Can pastors mention the sins Chirst is saving us from? Should we be exhorted to turn from our sins (including gay sex for those who are thus inclined)? In short I have no idea what you are talking about, nor why it is relevant to this conversation.

    What I’d like to hear from someone who believes it is sinful for a Christian to advocate for a libertarian politics as it regards sexual ethics, is how support for a libertarian approach to religious ethics is any different. So far, the responses have been incoherent or non-responsive. I know I’m a terrible writer and comm boxes aren’t exactly known for encouraging thoughtful dialog, but I’ve been hoping however naively that a 2k critic could explain how they distinguish these.

  463. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    SDB: the certainty and empirical basis for physical science isn’t conferred to confirmation biased, ideologically driven, poorly sampled, “studies” by appending the word science to them (don’t forget that 2/3rds of social “scientists” admit to sampling practices that invalidate their results, 10% falsify data, and 50% don’t report null results – hard to escape the conclusion that the entire field is pseudosicence garbage).

    Oh, you’re way on top of this one, brother. Props. The social science academy is corrupt. Social “science.” It never looks for what it doesn’t want to find, and destroys anyone who finds it.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

    [Short version: when it comes to homosexuality, science knows next to nothing.]

  464. Bobby
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    sdb,

    I’m simply saying that there is no clear Scriptural teaching directed to the question of whether the state ought to extend the bundle of legal rights we call “civil marriage” to same-sex couples. And because Scripture provides no clear teaching on it, ministers indeed should not be preaching about it. Sure, the Bible condemns homosexual sex acts. It also condemns gluttony. It also condemns no-fault divorce.

    We seem to have an easy time recognizing that, despite the church’s condemnation of gluttony, the state doesn’t need to toss fat people in jail until they lose weight. Nor do we demand that the state punish those who obtain divorces for improper reasons. Thus, we accept that Scripture does not compel us to seek state intervention to punish every sin condemned by the Bible. Why then is it so difficult to apply the same principle to same-sex marriage? The Bible clearly forbids the church from marrying a same-sex couple. But the church doesn’t have a monopoly on civil marriage. So what makes you convinced that the Bible unambiguously teaches that the state shouldn’t grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples?

    Also, I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a libertarian approach to religious ethics. Libertarian ethics is essentially a harm-based ethic, meaning the state should only seek to punish conduct that directly harms others without their consent. In this context, “others” refers to persons and business entities. No consideration is given to the indirect effects of such conduct on the general social order. Religious ethics is different. In orthodox Christianity, for example, we believe that all sin harms God, even if it harms no one else.

    Before the 1960s, the state probably did tend to punish a certain amount of conduct that was perceived to cause indirect harm on the community as a whole. But in a more mobile, rootless society, such an ethic is bound to fall away. For example, none of my colleagues at work grew up in the metro area where we all work and live. We all came from somewhere else, and we probably won’t live here in another 5-10 years. In such a society, libertarian ethics seems to work a lot better.

  465. sdb
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Bobby,I think you are confused. I don’t think the church should weigh in on political questions (including the legalization of SSM). However, a pastor who comes across a text about sexual purity shouldn’t refrain from stating that folks with SSA should remain celibate (gay marriage is a no-no). Still not sure what gravity has to do with this.

    “So what makes you convinced that the Bible unambiguously teaches that the state shouldn’t grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”

    I’m not at all sure of this. I think we’ve undergone quite a revolution in our understanding of marriage the past 50yrs, and it hasn’t all been good – for kids, the fabric of society, or for the folks in the relationships (of course not every development has been bad). It’s been a wild ride, and we still don’t understand all the consequences of our decisions. We gone from a society that punished homosexual behavior, to one that saw it as a mental defect, to one that now sees it as a positive good. That’s quite a shift. I’m not sure gay marriage is a good idea – it confirms a particular view of marriage that may indeed weaken it considerably which could be a bad thing for a lot of people. Or maybe Rauch is right and it will create space to increase the stigma associated with promiscuity. I dunno… no one does. My instinct is to go slow, but I think people of good will can disagree.

    “Also, I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a libertarian approach to religious ethics. Libertarian ethics is essentially a harm-based ethic, meaning the state should only seek to punish conduct that directly harms others without their consent. In this context, “others” refers to persons and business entities. No consideration is given to the indirect effects of such conduct on the general social order.”

    A libertarian approach to religious ethics would be that one can worship (or not) however they please unless it is harming someone. We don’t go quite that far in the US, but there is still a pretty high bar before the state can interfere with religious practice – there has to be a law of general applicability that advances a compelling government interest. So a law banning weed still applies to Rastafarians even if smoking pot is part of their religion and it doesn’t hurt anyone.

    My question is to folks like Joe Carter (and I think Richard Smith on this thread), why is it OK for a Christian to take a libertarian stance as it applies to religious ethics (I don’t think they want people who practice false religion or teach their kids to practice a false religion penalized by the state), but it is sinful (Joe Carter’s word not mine) for a Christian to advocate a libertarian approach to sexual ethics. So far, I’ve gotten nothing.

    “In such a society, libertarian ethics seems to work a lot better.”
    Tell that to Michael Vick.

  466. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    In orthodox Christianity, for example, we believe that all sin harms God

    ¿Really?

  467. Bobby
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for clarifying.

    I’m not so sure that we disagree. Yes, I expect a faithful Christian pastor to preach to his congregation that homosexual acts are sinful. In my opinion, Scripture is pretty clear on this point. But that same pastor has no business preaching to his congregation about what the state should do regarding those same sins (e.g., whether and how to criminally punish those sins). The Bible’s statements on governance and statecraft are pretty general and offer no specific guidance on how to deal with specific issues.

    I also now see what you’re saying about religious libertarianism. I agree that Carter’s and Richard’s position suffers from certain intellectual inconsistencies. They believe that people should be free to adopt whatever bizarre religious practices they choose, so long as such practices don’t harm others without their consent. But they want to carve out sexual practices, and have the state take an active and aggressive role in punishing sexual practices that are inconsistent with Christian beliefs, even when those practices don’t harm others without their consent.

    A couple of weeks ago, The American Conservative ran an article entitled “Gay Marriage Derangement Syndrome” that made a similar observation. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what the late 20-something guy next to me does in his bedroom at night, as long as I can’t hear it through the walls. And the same goes for the gay couple three doors down and across the hall. There’s a lot to be said for minding one’s own business.

  468. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Bobby, it’s not about private conduct–that’s a settled issue since Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. No, it’s about forcing public acknowledgement that all sexualities are created equal–which they’re not.

    Further, it means taking over the schools and inculcating our children that having 2 mommies [or eventually 6 mommies] is just as good or better than having one daddy and one mommy.

    There’s a lot more going on here than what people do in private when the lights go out. Gay marriage is a completely public issue.

  469. Richard Smith
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Bobby: Frankly, I couldn’t care less what the late 20-something guy next to me does in his bedroom at night, as long as I can’t hear it through the walls. And the same goes for the gay couple three doors down and across the hall. There’s a lot to be said for minding one’s own business.

    TVD: Further, it means taking over the schools and inculcating our children that having 2 mommies [or eventually 6 mommies] is just as good or better than having one daddy and one mommy.

    There’s a lot more going on here than what people do in private when the lights go out. Gay marriage is a completely public issue.

    RS: Bobby, you might want to think deeply about what TVD posted here. Let us remember what happens when something like our Federal Government says something is legal and then tries to push it on the rest of us. It must be taught in a positive way at school and on television. You must not say that it is wrong even in the church or risk the weight of the government coming down on you. This is not a simple privacy issue in the slightest. There are real consequences for all.

    Taking this one step more, but very related, there is now a push for gender rights. My gender is what I feel like I am on one particular day, so who are you to tell me not to go into a certain bathroom just because it says it is for male or female? Do very many men really want to send their young daughters into bathrooms with biological males in there? No, there are consequences to your views. If we are what we are according to our “urges”, then when our urges change we can say that is the way we are as well. Or some would even argue that my gender is simply my choice. The gender battle is here and is getting bigger and more pervasive by the moment. I can assure you that this will also have a big influence on all the public. This is not just what people do in private.

  470. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    RS: Or some would even argue that my gender is simply my choice.

    It’s impossible to even come up with a decent reductio ad absurdum anymore.

    http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/04/officials_fight_taxpayer_funded_sex_change_ruling

  471. Richard Smith
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    TVD: It’s impossible to even come up with a decent reductio ad absurdum anymore.

    RS: It is interesting (appalling) how what we once thought was absurd is now reality and pushing to be normal. Even our logic is being stretched by our morality.

  472. Bobby
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    TVD:

    Yes, but when Richard and his cohorts bandy about accusing gay people of being like pedophiles, it only lends further credence to arguments that schools need to make efforts to counteract such misinformation.

    In my view, the Religious Right has largely fought the battle against gay rights by delivering one below-the-belt punch after another. I think that we’d be in a much different place today had social conservatives not fought such a dirty fight. Now that the cultural winds have changed, I sense that a lot of casual bystanders are ready to see a bit of wrath sit down on social conservatives as punishment for their misdeeds. And frankly, I don’t feel sorry for them, although I suspect that some of these efforts will be constitutionally objectionable.

  473. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Bobby, I agree that the Religious Right has made poor and inaccurate arguments. However, the pro-gay agenda has told just as many lies under the guise of “science.” And I’ll further admit–if you followed my recent adventures over at BaylyWorld–that the poor arguments and overheated rhetoric on the right has helped let the left get away with it.

    Here’s what we know, and more importantly, what we don’t know about homosexuality [hardly anything]:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

  474. Bobby
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    TVD,

    Agreed. There’s been a fair bit of misinformation tossed out by both sides. But in our society, efforts to limit personal liberty will receive greater scrutiny, as they should.

  475. Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    But in our society, efforts to limit personal liberty will receive greater scrutiny, as they should.

    I reject the premise, but accepting the premise is why social conservatives have been losing the rhetorical war.

    Lawrence v. Texas, the striking down of sodomy laws as unconstitutional, was successfully framed as a question of individual liberty. Arguable, but not invalid.

    However redefining marriage–establishing a new institution of gay marriage–claiming the ratification 100+ years ago of the 14th Amendment created gay marriage in principle–this isn’t a question of liberty as much as using the strong arm of the law to remake society and its mores.

    That’s why I touch on in the other thread that successfully equating “gay” and “Negro” was the structural eureka! By accepting the premise that one’s conduct/urges is the equivalent of being the abolished practice of using race as a noun [Negro], the argument, especially for the dishonest or weak-minded seems quite reasonable.

    http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.2058/article_detail.asp#4-4-2013

    You would think that, since marriage was not designed to accommodate homosexuality and never has done so through millennia of Western history, the burden of proof would fall on the innovators. It does not. You would think that, since the main justifications of traditional marriage through the years have involved children, and since gays cannot produce children, recasting the demand as one for “marriage equality” would ring hollow. It does not. Gay marriage is advancing on the basis of something other than the expected rational arguments.

  476. todd
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    “In my view, the Religious Right has largely fought the battle against gay rights by delivering one below-the-belt punch after another. I think that we’d be in a much different place today had social conservatives not fought such a dirty fight. Now that the cultural winds have changed, I sense that a lot of casual bystanders are ready to see a bit of wrath sit down on social conservatives as punishment for their misdeeds. And frankly, I don’t feel sorry for them, although I suspect that some of these efforts will be constitutionally objectionable.”

    Bobby,

    I read a book recently where the author takes this view. I wish I could remember the author or title, but he is a professor at Liberty University, and he basically takes a 2K position and is critical of Falwell. Anyway he argues that in the 70’s most homosexuals either wanted to be left alone, or they wanted social acceptance, but they stayed out of the political arena. Then the AIDS epidemic hit, and most gays had at least one close friend die. The response from the Christian right was to speak of God’s judgment on gays; the homosexuals saw little compassion from evangelicals for their suffering. (Of course southern conservatives never equated the regular destructive floods and hurricanes in the south to God’s anger against them, so their reading of providence was very selective and convenient.)

    Thus the author suggested the response to AIDS from the evangelicals awoke a sleeping tiger, and they were mad; fighting mad. Then through the eighties the evangelicals fought against every attempt for gay civil rights with a ferocity they had not seen against other groups they disagreed with. For example, though evangelicals seemed indifferent to drugs, adultery, abuse, etc… in the U.S. military, when gays asked for the right to fight for our country evangelicals starting speaking of the end of the military as we know it. Then when they only wanted civil same sex unions, not asking for marriage, evangelicals went full force against that, so in response to what they read as selective hatred and discrimination, they decided to go for it all – full-fledged, in your face, marriage.

    His thesis is that evangelicals have themselves to blame for igniting a group of people who only forty years ago just wanted to be left alone. I think it is an interesting thesis, and I suspect with a more careful, compassionate response to these matters that we eventually would have gotten to gay marriage as an issue, but many years from now.

  477. Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Rev. Bordow, I cannot at all agree that homosexuals before the rise of the Christian conservative movement wanted mostly to be left alone.

    Think of the Stonewall Rebellion. Think of the gay pride parades. Think of the self-designation as “queer” or “rainbow people.” Think of groups like ACT-UP. Cries of “we’re out, we’re proud, deal with it” have been part-and-parcel of the gay rights movement pretty much since day one. These are not the marks of a movement whose leaders want to fit into existing society, and it should be noted that such activities are most common not in the Bible Belt, but rather in places like Greenwich Village and San Francisco which for generations before the rise of the gay rights movement have had rather low percentages of evangelical Christians.

    I readily grant that homosexuals are all over the map when it comes to temperament, culture, and even politics. To cite an extreme example, a graduate of one of the rural high schools in my county now works in Branson, is a secular Tea Party conservative, and wrote a fiery attack on Christian conservative dominance of the Republican Party. However, note that even in his case, he’s trying to remake the Republican Party as a secular conservative party which is libertarian and has no place for Christian conservatives.

    Certainly there are some homosexuals who once just wanted to be left alone and have become radicalized by the Christian Right. The leadership of the “gay rights” movement, however, has been radical right from the start. It’s the agenda set by that leadership with which we have to deal, and those leaders wouldn’t be leaders if they didn’t have a lot of people following them.

  478. todd
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Darrel,

    Yes, that’s what the author meant by some wanting social acceptance. Those who marched or flaunted back then did not have a specific political agenda as much as just making a statement about their existence, and those who flaunted and marched were a small minority and didn’t represent the majority, who simply wanted to live their lives. But that has all changed, and the charge that evangelicals are mainly to blame for this change is an interesting thesis that cannot be too easily dismissed.

  479. Posted April 29, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Todd – Thus the author suggested the response to AIDS from the evangelicals awoke a sleeping tiger

    DTM – Think of groups like ACT-UP

    ACT-UP doesn’t rebut Todd’s point because they were post-AIDS. “AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACT_UP

    Yeah, I know DTM, now you’ll say I’m in favor of slavery and ACT-UP.

  480. mikelmann
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    DTM, political activism is not something one tinkers in, like doing crossword puzzles. It changes the participant as it powerfully seduces its devotees into employing manipulation, empty rhetoric and actual or borderline slander as a means to political victory. So there will be a mirror-like reflection as strident gay rights activists and strident social conservatives clash on their respective sides.

    Meanwhile outside the intensely political realm there will be people on both sides both minding their own business and trying to engage in more substantive discussion.

    PS. And folks that have become politicized tend to take their political habits into other realms, like discussions of 2k.

  481. sdb
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    “There’s a lot to be said for minding one’s own business.”

    I seem to recall Paul saying something about that… “aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” and along the same lines “…insofar as it depends on you, live at peace with all men…”

  482. Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    sdb – I seem to recall Paul saying something about that… “aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” and along the same lines “…insofar as it depends on you, live at peace with all men…”

    But what about rattling the liberals’ cages and taking back every square inch?

  483. sdb
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    “But what about rattling the liberals’ cages and taking back every square inch?”

    Oh yeah, I forgot about that verse. Was it in Hezekiah 3 or 3 Peter 2? Maybe it is in the apocrypha….

    By the way, what is the record for the number of comments on a post? I don’t think I’ve seen it top 500 before… We only have a dozen comments to go!

  484. Bobby
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I just got home from work. I’ll see if I can help it get to 500.

    Anyway, I concur with Todd’s comment above. I’m old enough to remember a time when people just didn’t make that big of a deal about someone being gay.

    I grew up in a fairly conservative, fairly religious mid-sized Midwestern town. One of our neighbors was a single man who was in his 40s at the time. We all understood him to be gay, although he wasn’t the type to march in a gay pride parade. In fact, he was a two-term Republican state senator, a former city councilman, and head of the social studies department at the high school. Then, when the AIDS crisis hit, the tables were turned. Politically oriented evangelicals tried unsuccessfully to unseat him in a primary, and then supported a corrupt liberal Democrat in the general election. The whisper campaign around town was absolutely vicious. The same folks then tried and tried to get him fired from his teaching job, which he had held for nearly 20 years. A couple of years later he moved away. The injustice perpetrated against this man by the evangelicals in town was outrageous.

    But it didn’t stop there. I swam in high school (and still swim about 10 miles a week). In the summer, we’d have swim practice in the morning, and then hang out at the pool all afternoon. I just kept wearing the same suit, and never thought a thing about it. Then, the same religious zealots decided that we could no longer wear competition swimwear outside of swim practice because they viewed speedo-wearing as “partaking of aspects of the gay lifestyle.” Really? We were 16-year-old boys living in the rural Midwest; we had no idea what the gay lifestyle even was.

    This set of a 30-year period during which gay people became Public Enemy #1 to evangelical America. And evangelicals have continued to make utter fools of themselves on this issue again and again and again, as they carried out one malicious and vindictive campaign after another.

    So, in a sense, I hear you. I think there’s a good case to be made that evangelicals made the mainstream gay rights movement as we know it today. Until about 1985, average gay folks were quietly going about their business, serving their communities, and being all-around good citizens. Then the pogroms began. Evangelicals have blamed gay people from everything from AIDS to the 9/11 attacks.

    Now that the cultural winds have changed on this issue, a lot of people are going to believe that it’s time to take the playground bully (evangelicals) behind the woodshed and dole out some recompense. And while evangelicals will deem their coming suffering to be a kind of persecution, most people will simply see it as delayed justice.

  485. Posted April 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Bobby – Then, the same religious zealots decided that we could no longer wear competition swimwear outside of swim practice because they viewed speedo-wearing as “partaking of aspects of the gay lifestyle.”

    Don’t tell these folks some of our own Reformed Seminary Professors go to the Opera or all heck will break loose!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b0p9mTJOJI

    Next time Alan comes around remind me to ask him if he’s ever seen Herzog’s “Fitzcarraldo”.

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