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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

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

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

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

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

    If only.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

    David,

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

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

    Bobby,

    Fabulous Lewis quote. Thanks for that.

  13. 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?

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.]

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

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

    Zrim,

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

  23. 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.”

  24. 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.

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

    We also like low taxes and generous government benefits.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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?

  32. 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?

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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?

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

    Tom,

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

  43. 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).

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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?

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

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