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?

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