Evangelicalism – Politics = Christianity?

Andrew Sullivan’s first experience with megachurch Praise & Worship worship came during the memorial service for David Kuo, an aid to president George W. Bush, who recently succumbed to cancer (thanks to John Fea). Sullivan was surprised by what he saw:

I have never been to a mega-church service – which is something to be ashamed of, since I have written so often about evangelicalism’s political wing. And it was revealing. The theater was called a sanctuary – but it felt like a conference stage. There were no pews, no altar (of course), just movie-theater seats, a big complicated stage with a set, and four huge screens. It looked like a toned-down version of American Idol. I was most impressed by the lighting, its subtlety and professionalism (I’ve often wondered why the Catholic church cannot add lighting effects to choreograph the Mass). The lyrics of the religious pop songs – “hymns” doesn’t capture their Disney channel infectiousness – were displayed on the screens as well, allowing you to sing without looking down at a hymnal. Great idea. And the choir was a Christian pop band, young, hip-looking, bearded, unpretentious and excellent. Before long, I was singing and swaying and smiling with the best of them. The only thing I couldn’t do was raise my hands up in the air.

This was not, in other words, a Catholic experience. But it was clearly, unambiguously, a Christian one.

That right there is enough to put any serious Christian off evangelicalism. How you go from Wesley and Watts to Shane and Shane is, of course, the wonder, genius, and idiocy of evangelicalism in North America.

But Sullivan goes on to wonder about evangelicalism without its political baggage.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that so many of us have come to view evangelical Christianity as threatening, and in its political incarnation, it is at times. But freed from politics, evangelical Christianity has a passion and joy and Scriptural mastery we could all learn from. The pastors were clearly of a higher caliber than most of the priests I have known – in terms of intellect and command. The work they do for the poor, the starving, and the marginalized in their own communities and across the world remains a testimony to the enduring power of Christ’s resurrection.

To be sure, finding a form of evangelical Protestantism after 1820 that is not tied to a political cause is difficult since immanentizing the eschaton was not a temptation that evangelicals resisted — until the Scofield Reference Bible. But Sullivan’s reflections do make you think that the means of grace, even in the diluted form that evangelicals use, is a better testimony to the truths of the gospel than all of that politicking.

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347 Comments

  1. Donald Philip Veitch
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Darryl:

    Entirely sophmoric, diminished, casual, trivialized and shallow…that is, the views from Andrew. A man without doctrine, old school worship or its related piety. Sheesh.

    Regards to all.

    DPV

  2. Philip Larson
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    More likely: Evangelicalism – 2K = Christianity.

    May Christians soon give biblical regard for our King, our Lord of all.

  3. mark mcculley
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    When was the last time, DGH, that you went to a mega-church, and what was your excuse? Was it PCA? Did it have a choir in robes? How many psalms were sung?

    Remove the theonomic politics from the “federal vision”, and what you have left are “sacraments” that come with sanctions for not performing enough works to prove that you are still married to Christ. So the politics has changed locations, but they have their own sanctions, and they will exploit the lack of sanctions in other groups’ courts.

  4. Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Hmm… reading the comments, the phrase “in the eye of the beholder” comes to mind.

    cheers

  5. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    So Phil, adding 2k to both sides yields

    Evangelicalism = Christianity + 2k

    Just playin’

  6. Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Phil, whatever.

  7. Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    I have been to several P&W type services but they weren’t megachurches. I did attend a couple of meetings at Willow Creek 20 years ago. I’ll never be the same.

  8. Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    I made out well at the free day at the library sale. One of the books I picked up (to hopefully resell) is
    “The Personality of Seminarians – A Study Guide and Reference Work” by a Jesuit. One of the chapters is “Trait Complexes that are not Well Stuited (sic) to Religion.” This chapter may explain everything. How did you score on the MMPI?

  9. sean
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    I’m Irish. We resist all such analysis, particularly from Jesuits.

  10. mark mcculley
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    You went to Jack Miller (new life) but never Tim Keller? You missed James Kennedy and “the moody church” and “wheaton college church”. You never lived in Rome or Colorado Springs? Several megachurches in Grand Rapids—–maybe Dobson Rob Bell Dehaan are on your local tv…

  11. Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    One thing that I learned from the library sale, in the midst what was certainly over 1,000 Catholic books, is that the Callers represent only a small, idiosyncratic sliver of Catholicism. From a sampling of these books one can conclude that many Catholics are as sentimental as the most sentimental evangelical and as heterodox as the most heterodox Mainline Protestant. The Callers act like former conservative P&R guys who have become Catholics (which they are) but this isn’t what it means to be a Catholic. If any “heed the call” they might feel at home with the Callers, but they won’t with Rome as a whole.

  12. sean
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Erik, they’re the QIRC. And like all QIRC, once you dig into the details-scripture, history, tradition, pew practice, the human condition, the realities of observation and practice, they turn out to be nothing more than guys who are impressed with the roundness of the circle they’ve drawn. Nobody particularly enjoys tension(life) and there is coming a day when faith and hope will be done away with, and we will know as we’ve been known, just not now. The better RC’s know this as well, they also end up being “bad catholics” as far as the traditionalists would be concerned, but seeing as the bishops keep admitting them and administering to them the sacraments, the CTC’s tend to put themselves in a pickle by even claiming that those not of their brand are ‘bad catholics”, the bishop hasn’t ruled them so. This human condition is hard to escape particularly for humans.

  13. Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    McMark, now that you mention it, I did go to Mars Hill but didn’t hear Rob Bell. I did hear the announcement that he was cutting back.

    I have been to New Life churches but don’t consider them megachurches, same goes for Keller (who is New Life on steroids).

  14. Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    McMark,

    I was a member at Moody Church during my MBI days, it’s a big church, but nothing like the megachurches of the Chicago suburbs (Willow Creek and Harvest Bible Chapel). Evangelicalism would be for the better if it were more like Moody Church, which isn’t affiliated with the Institute. Solid expository preaching, reverential worship, de-emphasis on the sentimentalism and sensationalism that haunts many megachurches. It plugs along Sunday after Sunday, with only the programming necessary to sustain a solid Sunday School program, and decent community outreach.

    There are two very solid churches on La Salle, one being First Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMS), which I attended for a year, and Moody Church. There was a PCA church that had bought out an old Catholic property out near Bucktown (near the Double Door for all you Hi-Fidelity fans), but other than that, I don’t think there were many Reformed churches in the downtown area then. I understand this has changed in the 10 + years since I left Chicago.

  15. mark mcculley
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/culture/2083/will_new_york_mega-church_pastor_tim_keller_redeem_publishing

    Question: How has your religious network changed since you founded Redeemer?

    Keller: When Redeemer was a normal-sized church, yes, I hung out with a lot of other ministers . But as the church has gotten bigger, we now have a network of, you know, I have a hundred staff people, and in order to be available to my own leaders, I now tend to hang out much more with the people inside the church. I wish that I could do more networking, but the fact is when you hire somebody, they move to the city or they come on your staff from the city, they’re really investing their lives in you and they want the boss this time, otherwise, you’re really not, you know, they put their life on the line to come in. So I have a responsibility to be doing an awful lot of social networking inside the ministries that we have now and there’s a lot of pastors in there. So, now, I’m not as available to the rest of the city as I used to be, I wish I was.

    Question: Will your numbers grow with the recession?

    Keller: We had 2,900 people a week coming. The week after 9/11 we have 5,300, 5,400 people show up.

    Mark: when you begin to address the mayor and other Americans as “us”, the Constantinian politics is on full display…

  16. MichaelTX
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Hart,
    Still listening. Thanks for the thoughts. I’ll try and catch the posts I can.

    Thanks guys. One throne, One King and Truth. May we seek Him with humble hearts and begin in the seats of our souls watching our lives changed by Him and then see the transformation of the world around. Even if it doesn’t change, but only the change we see of God working even though the veil of the world.

    In the peace of Christ,
    Mike

  17. Richard Smith
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/culture/2083/will_new_york_mega-church_pastor_tim_keller_redeem_publishing

    When the link above was clicked on, this came up:
    Will New York Mega-Church Pastor Tim Keller Redeem Publishing?
    As reported in Publishers Weekly, Dutton and Riverhead are launching a new imprint that will be solely devoted to books from evangelical Christian preacher Timothy Keller and his Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

    RS: Will Tim Keller redeem publishing? What a horrible question. It would be better if he would start preaching a solid Gospel with the foundation of election and particular atonement rather than a nice and mellow form of evangellyfish that would not offend anyone with the cross of Christ. I was also under the impression that there is only one Redeemer, and it ain’t Tim Keller. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Books don’t need redeeming, people need redeeming and only THE Redeemer can do that. Dutton and Riverhead may make a lot of money publishing Tim Keller’s fluff, but they will not be publishing the Gospel that thundered forth during the time of the Reformation.

  18. George
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Jed – Moody also has the benefit of a very talented and effective pastor, Erwin Lutzer. I find the sound of his voice a bit difficult to listen to after a while – he kind of drags the ending of various words which can be irritating. But other than that he’s great.

    His latest publication, “The Cross and the Crescent,” is also a good read. He cuts directly to the chase about some of the pretensions of Islam and points to the true purpose of some of their extremists.

  19. sean
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Jed; “I understand this has changed in the 10 + years since I left Chicago.”

    You and jesus

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN69GC2amTg

  20. Posted April 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    George,

    Dr. Lutzer was the senior pastor when I was there, I had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions. He is verrrry Canadian, sharp as a tack, and funny to boot. He was and is a fine preacher, with sure and steady Word based sermons, that are often quite insightful. I was very close some of the staffers there, Godly men. Moody is a church that fits the city of broad shoulders well.

  21. kent
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Jed: He is verrrry Canadian

    Oh please explain that one for me?

  22. sean
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Kent, it probably means he drinks beer, eats back bacon, and wears toques, eh.

  23. mark mcculley
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Lutzer: “Suppose I were to owe you a thousand dollars but was unable to pay my debt. But a kind friend intervenes and pays you what I owe. But you still elicit a payment from me, asking that I pay ever last cent. Would that be just? I think not. If my friend paid my debt, justice requires that I be free. The analogy is clear: if Christ’s sacrifice was for all men, then either all men will be saved or God will be unfairly demanding from sinners what has already been paid. If Christ died for people who will be in hell, his justice is in jeopardy. How could a righteous God demand a double payment for the same debt?

    Lutzer: ‘But,’ the protest, ‘the payment is no good unless it is accepted.’ Calvinists point out that the important point is that God has already accepted Christ’s payment on the cross. If this was a payment for the sins of the whole world, then the unbelief of the ungodly was also included in the sacrifice. No one should be expected to pay for his sins. If the treachery of Judas was included in Christ’s ransom, which the Father accepted, why should Judas be required to suffer for his sins?” The Doctrines That Divide, p.184,

  24. Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Kent,

    Do I really need to consult my rolodex of Canadian stereotypes to make the point? You should know my man. It wasn’t meant as an insult – just to say that all his years in America haven’t taken the Canada out of him. Besides, stereotypes are just easier than trying to dig down into the complexities of human particularity.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a killer swell rolling in, so I am off to Swami’s to cash in. Catch you later brah!

    See, we Californians are equally susceptible to stereotypes. They’re only funny because they’re true. Don’t get me started on what a bunch of can’t-hack-it-panty-waists folks from Philly are. Heck, maybe Zrim can chime in on the adventures of the commercial furniture business out of the heart of the state shaped like a mitten.

  25. mark mcculley
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Lutzer of course is a two wills (two faces) guy, like Piper and Spurgeon, and the majority of Calvinists, both old and restless young: “Similarly, God desires that all men be saved. Yet, on the other hand, God allows the greater part of humanity to perish. We simply do not know why God has chosen to forego his desire to see all men saved. We can be quite sure, however, that there is some ultimate purpose, for the Scripture says, ‘The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil’ (Prov. 16:4).” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.197)

    “Allow” me to quote a “rationalist” on this topic.

    John Calvin: “Solomon teaches us that not only was the destruction of the ungodly foreknown, but the ungodly themselves have been created for the specific purpose of perishing.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.207)

    Calvin: “…the wicked were created for the day of evil because God willed to illustrate His own glory in them; just as elsewhere He declares that Pharaoh was raised up by Him that He might show forth His name among the Gentiles (Ex 9:16).” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.97)

  26. kent
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Jed: Do I really need to consult my rolodex of Canadian stereotypes to make the point? You should know my man. It wasn’t meant as an insult – just to say that all his years in America haven’t taken the Canada out of him. Besides, stereotypes are just easier than trying to dig down into the complexities of human particularity.

    I almost always have a good sense of humour about the topic. No insult taken in the slightest.

    What 3 things would be Canadian traits that he hasn’t shaken?

  27. Richard Smith
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: Lutzer of course is a two wills (two faces) guy, like Piper and Spurgeon, and the majority of Calvinists, both old and restless young:

    RS: You better be careful or you will be tagged with the dreaded hyper-Calvinist label referring to Spurgeon like that.

    Mark Mcculley: “Allow” me to quote a “rationalist” on this topic.

    John Calvin: “Solomon teaches us that not only was the destruction of the ungodly foreknown, but the ungodly themselves have been created for the specific purpose of perishing.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.207)

    Calvin: “…the wicked were created for the day of evil because God willed to illustrate His own glory in them; just as elsewhere He declares that Pharaoh was raised up by Him that He might show forth His name among the Gentiles (Ex 9:16).” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.97)

    RS: So are you saying that Calvin was/is a hyper-Calvinist too?

  28. Zrim
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    How do you get Canadians to get out of the pool? You walk up to the edge and politely say, “Everyone, please get out of the pool.”

    But, Jed, I don’t think there is any place more fun than SW Michigan when it comes to predicting which vehicle is going to which church on Sunday morning. For example, the “Friends” haircut and hipster frames is going to the Baptist mega (or Mars Hill here in Grandville), and the white home school van with the “Dykema 9” plate the little Reformed church. Everything else is a toss up between the one Catholic and Methodist church. Or IHOP.

  29. todd
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    RS and MM: The majority of Calvinists have avoided your HC pitfalls for good reason. And you cannot claim Calvin for your Hyper position.

    “Seeing that in His Word He calls all alike to salvation, and this is the object of preaching, that all should take refuge in His faith and protection, it is right to say that He wishes all to gather to Him. Now the nature of the Word shows us that here there is no description of the secret counsel of God – just His wishes. Certainly those whom He wishes effectively to gather, He draws inwardly by His Spirit, and calls them not merely by man’s outward voice. If anyone objects that it is absurd to split God’s will, I answer that this is exactly our belief, that His will is one and undivided: but because our minds cannot plumb the profound depths of His secret election to suit our infirmity, the will of God is set before us as double.” (Calvin’s comment on Matthew 23:37)

  30. mark mcculley
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Todd, do you affirm that Christ died only for the elect alone, and that the propitiation Christ made was only for the sins of the elect already imputed by God to Christ? Or is that too “rationalist” for you? Perhaps you have another Calvin quotation in this regard.

    I certainly agree that the majority has been infralapsarian. But not all who have talked about God’s “wishing” have made an universal atonement the condition of condemnation (for refusing the offer). God’s command to believe the gospel (law) should not be confused with the gospel. Hopefully, Todd, you don’t either.

    John Murray: “God does not wish that any men should perish. His wish is rather that all should enter upon life eternal by coming to repentance. The language in this part of the verse is so absolute that it is highly unnatural to envisage Peter as meaning merely that God does not wish that any elect should perish…. The language of the clauses, then, most naturally refers to mankind as a whole…. It does not view men either as elect or as reprobate.”

    Turretin: “The will of God here spoken of ‘should not be extended further than to the elect and believers, for whose sake God puts off the consummation of ages, until their number shall be completed.’ This is evident from ‘the pronoun us which precedes, with sufficient clearness designating the elect and believers, as elsewhere more than once, and to explain which he adds, not willing that any, that is, of us, should perish.’”

    John Owen: “‘The will of God,’ say some, ‘for the salvation of all, is here set down both negatively, that he would not have any perish, and positively, that he would have all come to repentance….’ Many words need not be spent in answer to this objection, wrested from the misunderstanding and palpable corrupting of the sense of the words of the apostle. That indefinite and general expressions are to be interpreted in an answerable proportion to the things whereof they are affirmed, is a rule in the opening of the Scripture … Now, truly, to argue that because God would have none of those to perish, but all of them to come to repentance, therefore he hath the same will and mind towards all and every one in the world (even those to whom he never makes known his will, nor ever calls to repentance, if they never once hear of his way of salvation), comes not much short of extreme madness and folly … I shall not need add any thing concerning the contradictions and inextricable difficulties wherewith the opposite interpretation is accompanied…. The text is clear, that it is all and only the elect whom he would not have to perish.”

    John Gill: “It is not true that God is not willing any one individual of the human race should perish, since he has made and appointed the wicked for the day of evil, even ungodly men, who are fore-ordained to this condemnation, such as are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; yea, there are some to whom God sends strong delusions, that they may believe a lie, that they all might be damned…. Nor is it his will that all men, in this large sense, should come to repentance, since he withholds from many both the means and grace of repentance….”

    Does “hyper” mean “not in the majority”? Does “hyper” mean “I disagree”?

  31. Richard Smith
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    todd: RS and MM: The majority of Calvinists have avoided your HC pitfalls for good reason. And you cannot claim Calvin for your Hyper position.

    RS: What pitfalls do you see that we (RS and MM) have or have expressed?

    Todd quoting Calvin: “Seeing that in His Word He calls all alike to salvation, and this is the object of preaching, that all should take refuge in His faith and protection, it is right to say that He wishes all to gather to Him. Now the nature of the Word shows us that here there is no description of the secret counsel of God – just His wishes. Certainly those whom He wishes effectively to gather, He draws inwardly by His Spirit, and calls them not merely by man’s outward voice. If anyone objects that it is absurd to split God’s will, I answer that this is exactly our belief, that His will is one and undivided: but because our minds cannot plumb the profound depths of His secret election to suit our infirmity, the will of God is set before us as double.” (Calvin’s comment on Matthew 23:37)

    RS: Todd, a few verses for you to consider. You can call this a hyper-C tendence if you want, but there are a lot of passages of Scripture that speak of how God hardens and destroys according to His good pleasure. Would you say that Turretin and Owen were hyper as well?
    Romans 9:13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

    John 12:37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?”
    39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again,
    40 “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

    Deuteronomy 2:30 “But Sihon king of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land; for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today.

    Deuteronomy 20:17 “But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you,

    Joshua 11:20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

    1 Samuel 2:25 “If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.

    2 Chronicles 25:16 As he was talking with him, the king said to him, “Have we appointed you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” Then the prophet stopped and said, “I know that God has planned to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.”

  32. Posted April 17, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Jed,

    Nice “High Fidelity” reference. That’s an interesting movie with a star-making performance by Jack Black.

    D.G. – Did some Protestant Reformed dude get ahold of you on your movie posts? It’s been a long time.

  33. Posted April 17, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    We’re still in season 2 of “The Killing”. I think that series is a masterpiece of the detective genre. How often do you find a whodunit that takes two seasons to reveal the killer? That, the Seattle backdrop, and two hard-luck cases as the detectives make for some groundbreaking work.

  34. Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I probably ought to post this link here in case Dr. Hart hasn’t yet seen it, since his work and this website are mentioned by name:

    http://baylyblog.com/blog/2013/04/what-two-kingdoms-theology-and-why-does-it-matter

  35. Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    “Combined with the demands of the monsters of the id that no contrary voice be allowed to speak and Christians find ourselves in an increasingly untenable position…”

    So says a guy speaking freely on a blog…

    I’m having trouble sorting out who the biggest publicity whore is in this whole exchange.

  36. Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I’ll throw my hat into the ring. Excellent sermon from last Sunday with 2K implications. The wheat and the weeds grow together in the world not on accident, but by God’s design.

    “Parables of Kingdom Growth” – Rev. Jody Lucero

    https://ia601701.us.archive.org/19/items/April142013MorningSermon_201304/April%2014%2C%202013%20-%20Morning%20Sermon.mp3

    The universal, everlasting dominion of God through Christ had begun in a concealed way – which is why it was proclaimed in parables.

    (1) The Parable of the Sower and the Four Soils

    It may often appear that Christ’s kingdom fails, but the Word of the Kingdom will take root and produce fruit.

    (2) The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds

    It may often appear that Christ’s kingdom is delayed, but the King lets the wicked & righteous grow together until the last day.

    (3) The Parable of the Mustard Seed & the Leaven

    It may appear that Christ’s kingdom is way too small, but by His dominion will all the kingdoms of the earth be surpassed.

  37. kent
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Erik: So says a guy speaking freely on a blog…

    Montezuma’s Revenge is tenfold more backed up.

    Erik: I’m having trouble sorting out who the biggest publicity whore is in this whole exchange.

    hee

  38. Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Bayly’s introduction is ridiculous.

    The difference between a 2K minister and the Bayleyesque minister is that the 2K minister preaches through Biblical books, Confessions, and Catechisms while the Bayleyesque minister reads the newspaper and decides what to preach in light of it. This is where they become publicity whores. Just preach the Bible and you will be relevant to the “issues of the day” without even trying. I don’t know any 2K ministers who preach fearfully or avoid certain topics, they just aren’t captive to the culture war likes these guys are.

  39. Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Bayly – “This is an alarming departure from the Apostolic witness that was exceedingly public—think the Apostle Paul front and center in Athens speaking in the Areopagus—which public witness continued through two millenia into modern times when Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon signed our own Declaration of Independence.”

    Erik – Wow, that’s some stunning Biblical exegesis. What was Paul doing in Athens? Preaching the gospel.

    These guys think if a Newspaper doesn’t cover what the church is doing the church is being unfaithful. That’s not how the Kingdom grows, however. Jesus talked about leaven, not a megaphone, as how it grows.

  40. Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Darrell,

    Thanks for your link to your article on BB.

    Two questions.

    Don’t you think the following quote, from the conclusion of your article, is unfair, and indeed something of a slur?

    ““Two Kingdoms” theology at best comes from bad theological roots of Southern Presbyterianism that were once used to defend slavery, and at worst, has developed in a brand-new direction that will seriously damage not merely the church’s witness to the world but also Christian engagement with the world.”

    Related, Have you read Van Drunen’s “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms?” (this is a non-rhetorical, fact finding question). Hint: he doesn’t exactly start his survey in the antebellum South.

  41. Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Misty Irons?

    If I hire you to write an article on the current state of the Republican Party, will you lead off talking about Richard Nixon?

    Exactly what position of authority does Misty Irons hold? In what church is she ordained? In what Seminary does she teach?

    Can I find some militia members in the backwoods of Idaho to fairly represent your side?

  42. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    An interesting thought experiment is to ask yourself, If I reject 2K, what is required of me? Did I sin by not voting for John McCain & Mitt Romney? Did I have a moral obligation to support Ron Paul? Do I need to start a political action committee? Do I have to be involved in politics? Am I subject to church discipline if I don’t have the same political views as my ministers and elders? What am I required to do and what is the Confessional support for that notion?

  43. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Todd, Mikkelmann, and Zrim all get outed. Nothing on Jed waiting tables yet.

  44. kent
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Erik: If I reject 2K, what is required of me?

    Quit your day job, stop paying your bills and mortgage, sleep in till you FEEL like getting up, type in 1000 words a day on 15 different blogs?

  45. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    DTM keeps talking about how young (and presumably hip) we are. Last time I checked most of us were at least in our 40s and would probably be living in our parents’ basements if our wives decided they were tired of putting up with us.

    I know for a fact that D.G. danced to disco at his senior prom.

  46. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    DTM missed his calling. The way this piece is written he could make a fortune writing those political fundraising form letters.

  47. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    This piece is a bombshell that will deliver us from Richard’s revivalism & Doug’s theonomy for weeks.

    DTM – Fairness requires a clear statement that some of the “Two Kingdoms” people listed deserve credit for forcefully arguing against legalization of homosexual marriage and sex with animals.

    Erik – What if I only lazily and somewhat passively argue against the legalization of homosexual marriage and conclude that Bordow had a bad hair day when he said anything about bestiality?

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

    DTM – “Perhaps more of a concern is that this “Two Kingdoms” theology is leading its adherents, step by step and perhaps too slowly for them to notice, into some very bad places.”

    Erik – Yeah, like to blog comment sections…

  49. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “In other words, at the time I was converted and became Reformed, I fit the demographic profile of many of the young people from secular backgrounds who are now flocking to the types of churches pastored by “Two Kingdoms” advocates ”

    Erik – Can one “flock” at a snail’s pace? Who is flocking to conservative P&R churches?

  50. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    DTM starts to throw down the gauntlet:

    “There’s a problem, however.

    When we as Reformed Christians move from a focus on keeping “outsiders” away and change to a focus on making “outsiders” into consistent confessional Calvinists, it is absolutely critical that we not forget that our Enemy is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. While “outsiders” need to be viewed as opportunities, not as threats, there truly are threats out there.

    The real threat is not from people outside our Calvinist church circles who visit our churches, but rather from our Enemy who is outside the grace of God and seeks to lead astray, if it were possible, even the elect of God. That threat is all too real, and when we become welcoming to “outsiders” and work to disciple them, we must be sure to disciple them properly or we will find that we have brought dangers into the church.

    People who maintain serious doctrinal error without being carefully discipled can easily confuse, corrupt, and eventually destroy the same churches that welcomed them with open arms.

    Church history is littered with the sad results of churches, some of which were once Reformed, which forgot that truth.”

  51. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “It is my position that the amendments to the confessions did not do what some “Two Kingdoms” people think they did, and while most modern Reformed views of church-state relations do differ from the older Reformed position, at least the more radical versions of “Two Kingdoms” theology are unconfessional and are much closer to antinomian and Anabaptist views of the state which have always been condemned by Calvinists.”

    Erik – When do the formal charges & trials begin? I’m a URCNA elder so I’ll be first, I guess.

  52. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “Internet debates with one of the more prominent “Two Kingdoms” advocates have revealed that at least one of the “Two Kingdoms” proponents openly admits that he is not very familiar with Southern Presbyterian theology.”

    Erik – And then there’s Hart who has written books on Machen (a Southerner, if you count Baltimore).

  53. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Just to avoid any misunderstandings, TIm Bayly has not “hired” me to do anything. No money has changed hands nor had I ever considered the possibility of that happening before I read the comment about fundraising letters.

    I need to go pick up my daughter from school. I will look forward to reading the rest of this thread later tonight, but I didn’t want to let the money issue go without an immediate response.

  54. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    What this comes down to is that DTM, The Baylys, Doug Wilson, maybe Dr. Kloosterman, are all ticked off that the vast majority of American Confessional P&R Churches have changed their confessional statements on the Civil Magistrate. Their solution: Act like it didn’t happen and try to drive 2K people out of their already small churches. #1 – That’s probably not viable, #2 – That’s probably not necessary because the average church member isn’t even aware of this debate, #3 – If you’re that bent out of shape about it, join or start a church that hasn’t revised the Belgic & The Westminster.

    Just don’t claim that people who read the plain language of the revised confessions and who recognize that we live in a pluralistic American society with freedom of religion are “anticonfessional”.

  55. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “Tiny and largely irrelevant nations such as Scotland and the Netherlands became economic powerhouses after accepting the Reformation, and that happened too often in Europe to be merely chance. Nations such as Spain, despite having access to previously unknown resources of great wealth from their new South American colonies, were eclipsed by the rising economic and political power of Northern Europe.”

    Erik – So he’s arguing for some type of conservative reformed prosperity gospel now?

  56. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    On the way out the door… you didn’t hear me saying the confessional revisions were wrong. I’m not one of the people who advocates return to the original version of the Westminster Standards before the American revisions. Such people exist but I’m not one of them.

    I happen to have the same views of civil rights for Jewish people as Oliver Cromwell. He wasn’t in agreement with the Westminster Standards on that point, either, and fought hard — and ultimately successfully — to allow Jewish people to live in England.

    I think Rev. John Witherspoon was probably right though I am more familiar with the debates at the time of Westminster on these issues than I am with the debates on the American revision.

  57. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “The Westminster Confession of Faith was amended for a reason, namely, to reject official governmental establishment of a particular denomination of Christians.”

    Erik – This is the same revisionist, wishful, historical thinking that says that there is no way the founders (many of whom were basically secularists) meant to tolerate secularists, Jews, Muslims, or Hindus, but merely didn’t want to take sides between the various Christian denominations. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell called and said DTM has it right.

  58. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    DTM – However, it should be clear that members and especially ordained ministers and elders of the United Reformed Churches are confessionally required to believe that even if civil magistrates need not “prevent all idolatry and false worship,” civil magistrates who are members of denominations holding the versions of the Belgic Confession in effect since 1910 and 1938 are required to protect Christianity. If the revisions of the Synod of 1958 are considered binding, the task of the civil magistrate is to act “in subjection to the law of God,” removing hindrances to Christianity “in order that the Word of God may have free course, the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress, and every anti-Christian power be resisted.”

    It is hardly easy to argue that those words lead logically to a “Two Kingdoms” view of church-state relations, meaning that the current version of the Belgic Confession creates more problems for “Two Kingdoms” people who have signed the Form of Subscription than the current version of the Westminster Confession does for Presbyterians.

    Erik – Please cite examples of conservative P&R churches being restricted in their worship and work.

  59. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    One point that DTM overlooks in his historical analysis is that America has been primarily about two things going way back to the beginning: (1) Freedom of Religion, (2) Making a buck. Coincidentally, the two seem to go hand-in-hand. If I’m fighting religious wars I’m alienating (not to mention killing) potential customers. Some people came here to worship freely, some came here to make money, some came here for both. This has never been a Christian utopia and it never was meant to be or will be. It’s revisionist history or naivete to claim otherwise.

  60. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Another gauntlet thrown down:

    DTM – “Where the “Two Kingdoms” theologians err, I believe, is extending that change in the language of the Westminster Confession revision against “giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest” to argue that the civil government should give no preference to religion at all.

    That, bluntly speaking, goes beyond the confession, even in its amended form. It is neither required by the confessional change nor a logical development of doctrine from the change.

    On the contrary, it is a dangerous development which is unconfessional at best, probably is anti-confessional, and must be strongly opposed by Reformed Christians.”

    Erik – So as someone in a church who holds to the Three Forms, how do you justify tolerating Catholics and Anabaptists if you don’t embrace the changes on the Civil Magistrate? Wiggle around those prohibitions the way you wiggled around them using the Westminster.

  61. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “A Kuyperian theology of church-state relations is complicated and not all of it can be applied to an American context.”

    Erik – Or even to the Netherlands outside of that narrow historical context in which it was originally applied.

  62. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    DTM – ” Most American pastors are not well-trained in our own Reformed tradition of political engagement.”

    Erik – Which his own essay has just gone to great lengths to demonstrate (perhaps unwittingly) is varied, mixed, and far from monolithic, involving several countries and two continents over hundreds of years.

  63. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    DTM absolutely kills his own argument in section V where he discusses concrete political issues and has to hedge, qualify, clarify, draw lines, etc. He has to do this because, guess what, life is complicated and we can’t always draw straight, simple lines between the Bible and politics, which is pretty much what 2K people are saying.

    Neocalvinists know they don’t like 2K, but they have a really hard time affirmatively stating their own position in a coherent way that can be codified confessionally in the church and backed up with church discipline.

  64. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    DTM – Even the Old School Southern Presbyterians believed that Christian laypeople ought to be engaged in politics. After all, they fought a war and many of them died for their (wrong) beliefs in certain Southern distinctive positions.

    Erik – There was also something called conscription and capital punishment for deserters.

  65. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “What many of the modern “Two Kingdoms” people want to do is not only to stop the church as institute from taking liberal positions on social gospel debates — which would be entirely appropriate — but also to deter individual Christians from participating in conservative Christian “religious right” activism such as opposition to abortion and opposition to homosexual marriage.”

    Erik – Examples please. I have no opinion on what you do in your free time regarding these matters.

  66. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    DTM – But let those of us who live in places where the foundations have not yet been destroyed try to restore what is left of our Christian heritage in America.

    Erik – Which Christian heritage? You were decrying the 2nd Great Awakening early on in the essay, and that is the heritage that seems to have carried the day, no?

  67. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    DTM – 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.

    Erik – Cite examples please.

  68. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “With all due respect to people who call themselves conservative Calvinists — if the trumpet of the church gives an uncertain sound on murdering babies in the womb and advocating official state recognition of sodomy through marriage out of fear that we will offend people, the church has lapsed into cowardice.”

    Erik – Give Biblical & Confessional support for the notion of “the trumpet of the church”.

  69. mark mcculley
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    So why is it ok to give preference to “religion”, even if it sometimes turns out to be preference for the idolatry of Islam and the Judaism which rejects Christ? Because keeping us religious prevents the “spread of secularalization”. Thus the following argument from a British (not American) “evangelical”:

    Reformed Baptist Geoff Thomas: “There is a difference between the kingdom ruled by Caesar and the kingdom ruled by the Lord Jesus. You might argue that in the church which is Jesus’ kingdom there should be no oaths. I do not agree with that, but it is very different from saying that Caesar should not require his officials to make oaths. We all recognize that the Sermon on the Mount is not a series of laws which the nations of the world should put on their statute books. It is the royal law of the kingdom of God.”

    Thomas: “We give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. We are not to withdraw from the world: we are to be its salt and light. Holding public office, even using the name of our Lord before a judge is a good thing for the world to hear. Anyone who claims that you can have a just and good society without oath swearing is encouraging the secularization of life. This is the year in which new forms of government are going to take place in Northern Ireland and Scotland and Wales. There is debate going on now concerning whether the elected representatives in the new parliaments and assemblies are going to swear oaths of allegiance, and what form those oaths are going to take, and will they contain a reference to the living God? Will these parliaments and assemblies start the day with the reading of the Bible and prayer – like our own local government still does and the parliament at Westminster?”

    Better swearing an oath to Allah than to no god at all? History has yet to show that we can “take the religion out of” our approved violence, even when this killing is done for the good of certain multi-national corporations.

  70. sean
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    It’s not an issue of cowardice or uncertainty. Rather it’s one of calling and competence. One of the preeminent points of history that this site belabors to make again and again is that when you attach the gospel or use the authority of the church to speak to cultural and political issues it necessarily ends up confusing the gospel with law(the state ONLY bears the sword) and the cultural concern/s ALWAYS ends up swallowing the gospel. Second, it’s a matter of jurisdiction. God sovereignly rules the culture by the state with the sword, the church quite simply lacks the mandate to supplant God’s appointed means. If we want the state to stay within it’s bounds then it behooves us(church militant) to mind our own. Third, it’s a question of competence. We wanted the state out of ecclesiastical discipline and catechetical concerns because they weren’t competent to administer ecclesiastical discipline or adjudicate heresy or dictate catechesis. Likewise, the church militant aren’t trained political operatives or legislators. Individual christians, however, are free to pursue their own vocation in the culture, including politics, the church militant is not likewise free. Finally, but not least, there’s the obvious objection to being ruled by the likes of the Bayly’s or the Wilson’s or the North’s or the Rushdoony’s or the Jordan’s or the Leithart’s.

  71. Mike K.
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Sullivan sounds like he may have been wondering why the mainline (Protestant or Catholic) doesn’t have worship as emotionally gratifying as what he witnessed. I wonder what would happen to evangelicals if mainliners abandoned the high-church pretense for praise bands and activities.

  72. Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Let me get this straight: Doug Wilson writes “Southern Slavery As It Was” as an apologia for, well, souther slavery as it was. The Baylys embrace all things Wilson, serving as the Midwest satellite of Moscow, Idaho. DTM posts a lengthy essay on The Baylys site, questioning the doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church as a misguided defense of southern slavery as it was. If we repent of our 2K thinking exactly who are we supposed to be lining up behind?

  73. Mike K.
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    re: the off-topic link to DTM’s thing,

    It is unsurprising when an advocate for political solutions to spiritual problems addresses a spiritual matter with a filibuster.

  74. Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    We’ll let you be ruled by Sowers and/or Smith, o.k.? Either them or the Great Pope.

  75. sean
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    At least with Doug or Richard I can get an audience. Only in theory, and a poor one at that, did I or could I, or anyone else have recourse to the pope. I’ll take books over people all day, every day and twice on sunday.

  76. todd
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    DTM, it seems you desire this rather long clarion call against our views to be a sort of a manifesto the churches use to begin the purge of W2kers in the reformed churches. I have to agree with Eric, it does at times read like a political fund-raising mailer meant to frighten the uninformed. I wasn’t going to respond, but since you mention my name several times I responded to some of your points.

    DTM: As Calvinists, we’re not focused on seeking an emotional experience of exuberance but rather on careful exegesis and application of Scripture to our lives. That means we are used to reading, debating, and defending our positions.

    TB: I was actually hoping there would be some exegesis of Scripture to prove our error. If someone can show me where Scripture demands a Kyperian political theory I will gladly recant. Since you reject the civil enforcement of the first table I would be interested in your exegesis against our position. I’m looking forward to the careful exegesis you speak of.

    DTM: Among the worst views are those of Misty Irons, the wife of a former Orthodox Presbyterian minister who left the OPC and whose husband is now a PCA ruling elder. She describes herself this way on her blog:

    TB: Reads like fear-mongering. So if I find a few anti-2k reformed blogs that condemn inner-racial marriage (and I can), will that demonstrate the danger of your position, that it leads to racism? How do you know Misty is holding our views on 2k?

    DTM: That cannot be said of Misty Irons, who, with her husband, was driven out of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. She said this about her experience:

    TB: Misty was not driven out of the OPC. Lee was censured but later withdrew of his own accord.

    DTM: Men like Rev. Todd Bordow, pastor of an Orthodox Presbyterian congregation in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, are saying this about bestiality… But apparently, in Rev. Bordow’s world, not only is homosexuality a matter of moral indifference to the state, even the puppies are not safe, and we have no moral imperative to protect them from sexual perversion.

    TB: So being genuinely reformed means you have to have to desire the government to punish homosexuals? Hmm…According to which statement in the WCF? Or simply according to DTM’s politics? You simply have raised a political theory to a level of orthodoxy. You may be a big government man when it comes to moral issues, but I am a small government libertarian. I do not trust government to do what you want it to do. If it is your goal to expel out of the church all reformed ministers with libertarian political leanings, good luck with that crusade.

    DTM: Scripture also condemns sex with animals, so that sin clearly existed thousands of years ago. At least one case of bestiality happened in Puritan New England, where Calvinists in that day had very different views from Rev. Bordow on how to punish the lawbreaker.

    TB: Yes, they also punished idolaters and imprisoned Baptists preachers, yet the majority of the reformed world disagrees with the American Puritans on this.

    DTM: American culture has become increasingly accommodated to many practices, including but not limited to homosexuality, which were once illegal in virtually every state of the Union. The heat has been steadily turned up for decades on the kettle of homosexual advocacy, the water is now boiling, the frog never jumped out, and perhaps it should surprise nobody that we now have ministers in conservative Reformed denominations arguing that Christians should not “impose” the standards of Romans 1-3 on the civil state.

    TB: Sins listed in Romans 1 include not giving thanks to God, worshiping anything but the God of the Bible, gossip, arrogance, etc…. Please tell me the laws the state should impose to enforce against these sins, and please back each law up with Scripture?

    DTM: Why are we even discussing this in conservative and confessional Reformed circles where our ministers and members can be presumed to believe the Bible?

    TB: Because Christians need to know that they have liberty of conscience not to agree with DTM’s politic theories that he raises to the level of orthodoxy.

    DTM: The problem is that these “Two Kingdoms” people, while affirming Scripture and the confessions as understood by classic Reformed orthodoxy, and in some cases strenuously defending them against attacks, limit the authority of Scripture to the church and argue that we have no call to “impose” our confessional and biblical stances on those outside the church.

    TB: The Scripture is authoritative for all. That is why we preach the gospel to unbelievers You still haven’t shown from Scripture which sins non-theocratic governments outside OT Israel are to enforce and how, and where Christians are called to force unbelievers to obey God’s laws. It is not the fact that Scripture is authoritative that we are debating, but how it is authoritative.

    DTM: the Reformed faith through the influence of men like Horton and the role of the White Horse Inn and Modern Reformation, have been led to believe that “Two Kingdoms” theology is standard Reformed doctrine. They often welcome it as a relief from bad biblical exegesis in their prior evangelical churches by pastors who too quickly identified “Christian America” with the promises given to Old Testament Israel.

    TB: I would like to see where our views are presented as standard reformed doctrine and that those who disagree are not reformed. The only person saying such things are you.

    DTM: In other words, at the time I was converted and became Reformed, I fit the demographic profile of many of the young people from secular backgrounds who are now flocking to the types of churches pastored by “Two Kingdoms” advocates or those who have studied their theology under those advocates…. Today’s “young, restless and Reformed” movement is gathering many young people

    TB: Flocking to our churches? Where? They must have missed the fly-over country. Actually, the young, restless, and reformed movement for the most part are transformationalists; they like our views about as much as you do.

    DTM: The “Two Kingdoms” movement is also gaining numerous young people through aggressive internet advocacy,

    TB: Again, this is sounding more like a political fund-raising letter using scare tactics. I know of about four or five blogs from those with our views, and four or five hundred blogs promoting theonomy, theocracy, Christian Americanism, etc… Maybe you just can’t handle anyone who dares disagree with your views.

    DTM: We need more Reformed churches, we need to disciple people coming into those churches so they become Reformed and stay Reformed, and we need to repudiate the curse of sectarian bitterness and backbiting that has too often driven people out of the Reformed world

    TB: Ahem

    DTM: They cannot claim that their theology is compatible with the original versions of either the Westminster Standards of American Presbyterianism or the Belgic Confession of the Dutch Reformed churches.

    TB: neither can Kyperians

    DTM: Put bluntly, the American Old School Southern Presbyterian tradition was a theology developed to protect the “peculiar institution” of slavery from theological criticism by seeking to put political questions outside the realm of the “spiritual” concerns of the institutional church.

    TB: Is that why Charles Hodge opposed the Gardiner Springs resolutions, to protect slavery? Or was it to protect liberty of conscience. (Protest of Rev. Charles Hodge) “We have, at one time, resisted the popular demand to make total abstinence from intoxicating liquors a term of membership. At another time, the holding of slaves. In firmly resisting these unscriptural demands, we have preserved the integrity and unity of the Church, made it the great conservative body of truth, moderation, and liberty of conscience in our country. The Assembly have now descended from this high position, in making a political opinion a particular theory of the Constitution, however correct and important that theory may be, the condition of membership in our body, and thus, we fear, endangered the unity of the Church.”

    Looks like history is repeating itself with your desire to impose a certain religious political theory on all officers in reformed churches.

    DTM: Reformed Christians are well-known for having a high view of the law of God. While there is certainly room for differences on details, and it is certainly true that Old Testament Israel is not modern America, a theology which claims to protect the “spirituality of the church” by keeping it away from political questions on which God’s law has clearly spoken….

    TB: You mean like idolatry?

    DTM: It must be acknowledged that “Two Kingdoms” people have a point when they say that even though they reject what some have called the “Old Reformed” position on church-state relations,

    TB: Earlier you argued that the R2k advocates were falsely suggesting they held to “standard reformed doctrine.” Now you say the opposite.

    DTM: Where the “Two Kingdoms” theologians err, I believe, is extending that change in the language of the Westminster Confession revision against “giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest” to argue that the civil government should give no preference to religion at all.

    TB: This is where you are making your stand? You are going to need to expel about ¾ of all conservative reformed and Presbyterian ministers on this scruple. And you think the reformed world is small now!

    DTM: However, it should be beyond question that the “Spirituality of the Church” doctrine, as developed in the South, could not possibly have been on the mind of the Westminster Divines given their roots in a state church situation and their advocacy of, at an absolute minimum, state recognition of Christianity…

    TB: And yet nobody was seeking to expel from the Presbyterian church the proponents of the SOTC like you are.

    DTM: Christians can and will disagree on issues which are not clearly taught in God’s Word, and the institutional church has no business making declarations on disputable matters.

    TB: Apparently, unless you follow DTM’s views on which sins the state must enforce

    DTM: Many of the particulars of how to implement that in civil law, however, are beyond the competence of the institutional church and ought to be addressed by Christian civil magistrates, not by Christian clergy or by delegates to ecclesiastical assemblies.

    TB: That sounds like “R2K”

    DTM: Still worse, however, are the “Two Kingdoms” theologians who argue that there can be two different Christian positions on such things as whether homosexual marriage or abortion should be legal. This is the logical and perhaps inevitable result of relying on the uncertainties of natural law rather than the certainties of Scripture to make our decisions.

    TB: Sorry, saying that scripture condemns sin doesn’t resolve the debate of how the state should punish sins. You are moving back to your political theories again, which is fine, but there is a reason why we call them theories. I think fornication should be legal. I don’t want the government involved. So?

    DTM: Much of what has been written above presumes an underlying Kuyperian view of Christian political involvement…

    TB: At least you are admitting that you are promoting your Kuyperian theories.

    DTM: The problem here is that the “Two Kingdoms” movement coming out of Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido is going beyond saying that politics is primarily the work of laymen and nonecclesiastical organizations and is arguing that Christians ought not to apply Scripture in the civil realm, but rather use natural law principles.

    TB: No, it is saying the Bible does not give us the answers of which commands of God the state should enforce against and how, nor does it give the church the mandate to see to it that our religion is enforced by law. I’m still waiting for exegesis to demonstrate your points.

    DTM: But third, and sadly, the “Two Kingdoms” movement, especially as it has developed in its more radical forms, is not in line with traditional Reformed views of political engagement.

    TB: Yet you already admitted that your Kuyperian political views are not in line with traditional reformed views of political involvement, as Kuyper himself admitted.

    DTM: Even the Old School Southern Presbyterians believed that Christian laypeople ought to be engaged in politics.

    TB: Almost everyone in my church is engaged in politics

    DTM: What many of the modern “Two Kingdoms” people want to do is not only to stop the church as institute from taking liberal positions on social gospel debates — which would be entirely appropriate — but also to deter individual Christians from participating in conservative Christian “religious right” activism such as opposition to abortion and opposition to homosexual marriage.

    TB: I’ve never seen such a thing. Give one example. You seem to have a difficult time with the concept of freedom of conscience. My parishioners are free to be involved in any social or political cause they want, and many are.

    DMT: But let those of us who live in places where the foundations have not yet been destroyed try to restore what is left of our Christian heritage in America.

    TB: This may say it all. You have your own agenda – great – You are free to do what you want; who’s stopping you? You appear very threatened because some disagree with your agenda. It is interesting that you admit that theonomists are not exactly confessional, yet they are welcome into the reformed camp, but we are not. Is that because theonomists basically agree with your desire to “restore the foundations of Christian heritage in America,” but we may not?

    DTM: 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.

    TB: Or, as with the Pharisees, we fear offending God by forcing our political views on God’s people as requirements for being faithful believers.

    DTM: God will not look kindly on cowardice in the church.

    TB: Earlier you wrote that you were not judging motives.

    I will gladly change my views if you show from Scripture where they are unbiblical. Meanwhile, I hope you are not offended if I tell you your threats against us will not cause me to lose any sleep. I’ve got a gospel to preach to a dying world and Christians to minister to, and I don’t even regard my own political views with much seriousness, let alone yours.

    Peace,

    Todd

  77. Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    DTM: The “Two Kingdoms” movement is also gaining numerous young people through aggressive internet advocacy,

    TB: Again, this is sounding more like a political fund-raising letter using scare tactics. I know of about four or five blogs from those with our views, and four or five hundred blogs promoting theonomy, theocracy, Christian Americanism, etc… Maybe you just can’t handle anyone who dares disagree with your views.

    Erik: I’ve also heard that soccer will be putting the NFL out of business any day now…

  78. Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I’m reviewing your responses. I do want to thank you for taking the time to go through my comments, and in some cases, even where we disagree, I see your point. In others, I truly don’t.

    Thank you also, Rev. Bordow, for your response. I am reviewing it and I think you are a lot closer to identifying the real issues which divide us than Erik Charter is.

    Furthermore, Rev. Bordow, I’m glad to hear that you have members of your church who are actively involved in their communities as citizens. To be clear here, if all I saw going on with the “Two Kingdoms” movement was people taking the Old School Southern Presbyterian position that the church as institute ought not to be involved in political activism but individual Christians could and should do so, we wouldn’t be that far apart.

    For both of you and for others reading —

    It is probably clear to anyone who knows my history that I am reading this “Two Kingdoms” issue through the lens of the Christian Reformed denominational split. Problems with homosexuality and abortion were not minor issues in that split. The secession of the Korean churches happened mostly over homosexuality and only secondarily over women in office, and I was directly involved in that part of the battle.

    Please understand that from my perspective and a lot of people on the “other side” of the fence from the “Two Kingdoms” people, to say (as I do) that “Two Kingdoms” people are not liberals and to say that you are affirming lots of solid Reformed doctrinal points is to make a very major concession to you. I do not say such things lightly. It has become clear to me over the last decade that you are not the same as the liberals who destroyed the Christian Reformed Church, and even though you say some very similar things, you get there by a fundamentally different route.

    Before you say that’s ridiculous, let’s not forget that neither Barthians in the 1950s nor Christian Reformed denominational officials in the 1980s and 1990s accepted the label of “liberal.” On the contrary, they stoutly proclaimed their orthodoxy and their conservative credentials.

    I sat in the faculty room of Calvin Seminary back in the 1990s and listened to some very angry professors loudly and sternly affirming their orthodoxy and denying that they were liberals, while at the same time denying what I would consider to be core doctrines such as the inerrancy of Scripture. One of those men made the argument that liberalism is defined as the position of Adolf von Harnack and that I had no right to call anyone a liberal who didn’t hold views such as his. I trust that anyone in the OPC, especially those who agree with Cornelius Van Til’s view that Karl Barth was outside the bounds of orthodoxy, would have a different opinion.

    The bottom line is that just because somebody says they are conservative, orthodox, and confessionally Reformed doesn’t mean they are. And even if they are, they can be very seriously wrong on important issues.

    I know that you don’t agree with me. Whether you believe it or not, I’m trying to be gracious and give you the benefit of the doubt that you are trying to be faithful to an Old School heritage. I still believe a distinction must be made between “radical Two Kingdoms” and “moderate Two Kingdoms” views.

    However, there are a lot of people I know who are far, far more severe in their condemnations than I am, and I’m already taking flak for allegedly being too moderate in my criticism of the “Two Kingdoms” people.

    For better or for worse, this dispute is not going to go away anytime soon. There are real divisions over this in the Reformed world, and they need to be discussed.

  79. Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Do what degree to you, your church, and the RCUS unite yourselves to the work of the Baylys, Clearnote Fellowship, and the work of Doug Wilson and the CREC?

    Did you know that Clearnote considers the time and mode of baptism to be a “nonessential”?

    http://clearnotefellowship.org/WhoWeAre/DefiningPositions/EssentialsandNonessentials

    It’s dangerous for young people to attend a church with a 2K minister or elders but not to attend a church that is political, postmillennial, paedocommunist, credobaptist, Federal Visionist, and/or sympathetic with the Confederacy?

    Exactly what tail is wagging your dog?

  80. Posted April 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Correction – Not RCUS, ARP.

    When I peruse your pastor’s writings I find very few of your, the Baylys, or Wilson’s themes:

    http://www.gospelofgracechurch.com/ourpastorspen.html

  81. Posted April 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “To be clear here, if all I saw going on with the “Two Kingdoms” movement was people taking the Old School Southern Presbyterian position that the church as institute ought not to be involved in political activism but individual Christians could and should do so, we wouldn’t be that far apart.”

    Erik – When you talk about “Old School Southen Presbyterian(ism)” and “church as institute” in the same sentence you are mixing and matching two different traditions. That’s the trouble with all this — you’re picking & choosing, mixing & matching, drawing lines or not drawing lines as you see fit to meet your own goals.

    The Old School/New School debate was primarily a continuation of the 18th century debate over revivalism (with the added issue of whether or not to cooperate with Congregationalists), not over politics.

    Reformed people were not united around Kuyper, especially in the U.S. Have you heard of Foppe Ten Hoor? He was a leader of the Confessionalists who opposed the Kuyperians in the U.S. over 100 years ago.

    You’ve tried to take on so much in your essay that you’ve left yourself vulnerable on many counts.

  82. Posted April 17, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Erik, my theology is more or less that of Puritanism, which is today often associated with a “world flight” focus on individual Christian experience, but that most emphatically was not the attitude of the actual Puritans in the 1600s or 1700s.

    That won’t make me popular on Old Life and I’m not going to argue the point here.

    My reason for raising the issue of Puritanism is to point out Rev. Bayly and I have significant disagreements. We have moved in parallel courses for probably twenty years and have known of each others’ work, shared many of the same colleagues, and had many of the same friends. However, we have disagreements, and some of them are significant.

    That’s life. I’m used to working with lots of people with whom I disagree on some points and agree on others.

    As for issues like paedocommunion and neo-Confederate viewpoints, I have a very long history of fighting against those positions. I think the debates between post-mil and a-mil viewpoints are largely a waste of time, and while I’m certainly not in agreement with pre-mil theology, I can tolerate non-dispensational premillenialism.

    Regarding baptism, don’t forget I live in the Bible Belt. The position of Rev. Bayly on baptism is normal around here, even for people who affirm infant baptism. I don’t agree with him but he’s explained the history of how his church started and I can see why his church allows for both infant baptism and believers’ baptism. That’s not my view, but I’m not in his church.

    Remember, Erik, I believe in distinguishing between the different spheres of Christian endeavor. What you don’t know is there are actually a lot more similarities between my church and Rev. Bayly than you think, but to go into that, I would need to say things which go beyond my proper role. I do not speak in any way as a representative of my local church and even less so as a representative of the ARP. I’m not an elder or a deacon and I therefore don’t want to imply that I am writing as anything other than a layperson. I think most people who know me know that, but it probably should be said explicitly here.

  83. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    Two observations and a point, if I may. I read your article, though not with equal carefulness at all points. You and I seem to have a lot of points of contact, including a strong sense of Christian liberty.

    (1) “Natural Law” in Westminsterian 2k is not the same as “natural law” in philosophy.

    I share your discomfort with natural law to an extent. One man says “the natural law says this”, another man says “the natural law says that.” Who can tell? So I give Zrim a hard time occasionally about intuitionism.

    And I see from your article that you’re somewhere in that same neighborhood.

    But let me argue the other side for a minute, arguing against myself and you as well. When Bordow and Hart speak of natural law, they have something specific in mind: God’s Law, identical in content to the Decalogue, written on the heart of man.

    That is, the “natural law” is the Moral Law given to Adam. And as such, they would argue, it is sufficient for common grace endeavors.

    You may know this already, but I make this point because for a long time I thought they had in mind what philosophers call moral naturalism. But it turns out that this is not the case. The natural law is not, in 2k theory, coextensive with “the majority report of humanity”, but with the Decalogue, and the 2nd table in particular.

    [Aside: I strongly encourage 2kers here to read the linked article SO THAT you can understand how the appeal to natural law can sound if not adequately qualified. Sec. 4.1 is the closest match. But Sec 2.1 is bogus on the scientific example; skip it.]

    This doesn’t mean that DGH is fully off the hook. He recently opined that the best governments are the ones that provide stability and order, which needs a bit of exploration. Still and all, it’s important to understand the term “natural law” as it is meant, not as it is often used.

    So my plea is, as you continue to wrestle with 2kers (and I certainly do), understand them on their own terms.

    The point about natural law is not to make room for a completely different law, but to point out that believers and unbelievers both share a sense of the same law, which is God’s law.

    How that project is supposed to work out — I dunno. But that’s their hope.

    (2) Misty Irons is not a particularly good exhibit A in the parade of horribles.

    For one thing, she’s not an ordained minister of anything, and never was. Being married to a pastor doesn’t confer identity of views.

    For another, her blog posts (that is, the ones I read about 6 years ago — perhaps things have changed?) show a clear understanding of what it means to hate the sin but love the sinner. She is much better at articulating the grace of God in the real world than many of her critics whom I read about 6 years ago. That is to say, if we’re going to talk about Christian Worldview, she’s actually a fairly good example of it: “Grace means this in real life.”

    That doesn’t mean that I think she’s right on the question of marriage. It’s pretty hard to get around the Confession on that point.

    But it does mean I have a hard time being outraged at her error when there are so many more obvious errors in basic theology going on within the church being promoted by actual ordained folk. Wouldn’t you agree?

    (3) Now for the point. Suppose you lived in my state, where gay marriage is legal. And suppose you are a minor state official whose job includes certifying the marriage licenses of gays.

    What do you do? And why?

  84. Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your post, Jeff. You are raising some valuable points, particularly regarding the definition of “natural law.” I think you are right that I need to pay close attention to how that term is being used by different “Two Kingdoms” writers and it may well be a factor in why they come to different conclusions on the practical results of their theology.

    I am not as optimistic as you with regard to Misty Irons, nor do I believe her views are unrelated to the rest of the “Two Kingdoms” movement. I would encourage you to watch the video of her speech to the Gay Christian Network, in which (among other things) she severely attacked the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s treatment of her and her husband, and said that her actions made it possible for others sharing similar views to appear more moderate by comparison.

    On the issue of what I would do if I were, for example, a deputy clerk in the circuit court in Missouri and had to decide whether to keep my job or resign if state law changed and I had to register a homosexual marriage, my answer is based on my belief that Romans 1-3 teaches that homosexuality is a sin unto which God delivers people as a result of their wickedness in other areas, specifically the deliberate rejection of the knowledge of God available even to unbelievers through general revelation. Homosexuality is a mark of judgment by God against an entire society.

    I do not believe that I could participate in registering a homosexual marriage. I happen to personally know all the deputy circuit court clerks in my county since I deal with them on a weekly if not daily basis, and since I live and work in the Bible Belt, I know their views and pretty sure several of them would resign if they had to register a homosexual marriage.

    However, I am going to be very careful in applying that principle to others who may have a different view of the nature of homosexual sin. If I am going to tell someone they must quit their job, as opposed to advising them that they should seriously consider doing so, I need to have clearcut biblical proof. The issue of what a Christian should do when acting as an official in an increasingly wicked government is complicated and there are a number of relevant biblical precedents. It is a second-tier matter of doctrine — what does a person do who does not have the authority to change a sinful policy but must implement the illegitimate and sinful acts of others who have legitimate authority to command their obedience? — and there are Christians who take different positions on whether it is appropriate to voluntarily accept employment in occupations where such questions of compromise will come up.

  85. Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    DTM, so if you can tar 2k with Misty Irons, are you guilty of Ben Curell?

  86. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    DTM: However, I am going to be very careful in applying that principle to others who may have a different view of the nature of homosexual sin. If I am going to tell someone they must quit their job, as opposed to advising them that they should seriously consider doing so, I need to have clearcut biblical proof.

    Your caution does you credit. But you should be careful – someone will question your commitment to the cause.

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

    DTM – Erik, my theology is more or less that of Puritanism,

    Erik – That rarely goes over well here.

  88. Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    DTM – “I am not as optimistic as you with regard to Misty Irons, nor do I believe her views are unrelated to the rest of the “Two Kingdoms” movement.”

    Erik – Because your rallying cry would lose its shock value? If you had any chance of disciplining me or any other conservative P&R pastor or elder for 2K views in the OPC, URC, RCUS, or PCA (none of which you are a member of) I would take your essay more seriously. I don’t think you do, though, so I mostly consider it a novelty at this point.

    For context, DTM’s church was once a URC church plant but couldn’t hack it in Springfield, MO so they either dropped the affiliation or were dropped by their mother church. He can clarify those facts.

  89. Richard Smith
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    DTM – My theology is more or less that of Puritanism,

    RS: A breath of fresh air.

  90. todd
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    By the way, in saying that your article read like a fund-raising letter, I wasn’t suggesting someone might be paying you to write, just that your letter wasn’t a critique of a position as much as a call to action, and as with political fund-raising letters it contained the typical fund-raising scare tactics:

    This view will lead to approving same-sex marriage, we know one person who…
    Our culture is going to hell and these people are getting in the way of us restoring it, we must stop them…

    And my mention in the end of my response that I am too busy preaching the gospel to the lost to worry about it was meant to be polemical. I was trying to show how your engagement with the world you are so concerned about in your article had little or anything to do with preaching the gospel, which is the church’e mandate to the lost.

    DTM: For better or for worse, this dispute is not going to go away anytime soon. There are real divisions over this in the Reformed world, and they need to be discussed.

    TB: Your letter was not a discussion, it was a call for discipline. You are trying to move this way beyond discussion. I don’t think anyone here has an issue with discussing our differences.

  91. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I tried to respond to Erik Charter, Rev. Bordow, Jeff Cagle, and Dr. Hart, and lost the whole thing when hitting “send.” I’m already late for a meeting and won’t be able to retype that now.

    I do need to say two things now before I leave.

    First, Dr. Hart, I’ve already responded elsewhere on your website to the issue of vigilante justice. My guess is our posts crossed in cyberspace. You asked a very valid question about whether I endorse Ben Curell’s axe attack on an abortion clinic, and you were right to ask me that question. I believe it is a fundamental violation of Reformed principles of civil government for individuals to take the sword of the state into their own hands. Curell’s actions need to be repudiated, Rev. Bayly’s church has done so, Indiana Right to Life has done so, and every conservative Calvinist who opposes abortion should so so.

    Since Misty Irons has publicly claimed that her actions provided a service to more moderate proponents of similar views, I will be very interested in reading “Two Kingdoms” advocates taking on Misty Irons, explaining why she is wrong, and explaining why their views, if consistently followed, will not logically lead them to take Misty Irons’ position on homosexual marriage or civil unions.

    Second, Erik, you’re an elder in your church. You would not tolerate a member who is not a spokesman for your church speaking on behalf of your church, and you should not. I’m not going to do that… period.

    What I will say is that the church is doing very well in the ARP and is one of the larger churches in its presbytery. Different denominations exist for a reason in the Reformed world. Anyone familiar with the wide diversity among NAPARC denominations will understand why sometimes churches are a better “fit” in one denomination than another, and I think virtually all readers on this board will understand my point.

  92. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Darrell, it’s not against the law (civil or ecclesiastical) for a church member to talk about homosexual marriage. This isn’t the Spanish Inquisition.

  93. todd
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    DTM: Since Misty Irons has publicly claimed that her actions provided a service to more moderate proponents of similar views, I will be very interested in reading “Two Kingdoms” advocates taking on Misty Irons, explaining why she is wrong, and explaining why their views, if consistently followed, will not logically lead them to take Misty Irons’ position on homosexual marriage or civil unions.

    TB: The question is whether politics and civil law are so clearly expressed in Scripture that to differ on these is to reject Scripture. Misty has affirmed that gay marriage, as well as homosexuality, is sinful. She believes though that the state should recognize their civil rights in the matter of marriage. DTM believes that Mormonism and Judaism are sinful, yet believes the state should recognize their right to exist and be equally protected as Christians. Theonomists disagree with DTM. I disagree with Misty on gay marriage as well as with thonomists on preference. A 2K view sees politics and civil law as matters of the kingdoms of this world and thus no mandate in Scripture on how these matters are to be addressed.

    In the same way, even though there are very consequential results of following different medical practices (traditional medicine vs. homeopathy, vaccinations vs none, chemo vs.biological therapy, etc…), the Christian is free to follow the course he thinks best because the Scriptures are not written to solve our medical questions.

    So the question is not, does 2k lead to Misty’s views, but, does 2k allow DTM, theonomists, Bordow, DGH and Misty to disagree on politics and civil law without fear of church discipline? DTM argues no, 2K (and WCF XX:2) argues yes.

  94. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Since I’m sitting in my office anyway, I might as well retype what I tried to say earlier to Rev. Bordow and to Jeff Cagle.

    Jeff wrote: “Your caution does you credit. But you should be careful – someone will question your commitment to the cause.”

    Thank you. I think we agree. I have a history of taking a long time to try to evaluate people’s views before taking action, and while I believe that is biblically required, that has in the past gotten me in a lot of trouble with more militant conservatives.

    Rev. Bordow, I appreciate you clarifying that you are not “suggesting someone might be paying you to write.” (Erik Charter made a similar comment earlier about fundraising letters.) Neither of you know me personally and therefore you would have no way to know that is a red-flag issue with me. I spent far too much time watching conservatives in the Christian Reformed Church fights of the 1990s who, when push came to shove, decided they liked their big paychecks and nice parsonages more than they liked their professed adherence to conservative confessional Calvinism.

    Those who love money more than they love God will lose both.

    That’s also a response to Erik Charter’s earlier question about me “arguing for some type of conservative reformed prosperity gospel now.”

    Erik, if you spend much more time in a Dutch Reformed context you will find out a great deal about Dutch attitudes when it comes to work ethics and finances. There’s a lot of good to be said about the Dutch on that, and also a lot of bad. The same things can be said about traditional Scotsmen and about traditional Yankees about thrift, diligence and frugality, and for the same reasons. The Reformed faith has very clear social effects on members of Reformed churches. Some are good, some are bad — and I have spent a lot of time attacking the bad parts over the years — but the reality of those social effects is historically undeniable.

    Rev. Bordow, the other items in your post deserve more attention. Some very quick comments:

    1) I truly believe the gospel is at stake when we’re dealing with issues of homosexuality. The same is true with regard to abortion, and on top of that, physical as well as spiritual lives are at stake. If my premises are granted — which I realize you do not grant — my actions logically follow.

    2) So far, I think there is only one person whose views have become so extreme that they warrant a call for discipline. That person is Misty Irons, and her views, as well as those of her husband, have already been subjected to intense criticism in the courts of the OPC.

    As for the rest of the Two Kingdoms people, there’s a big difference between error and heresy, and I’m not yet convinced that some of the “Two Kingdoms” people advocating “natural law” are even people who I want to disagree with very strongly. Some of them are making a fair amount of sense and seem to be getting to the same place I am via a different path.

    I’m okay with that.

  95. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Todd says: A 2K view sees politics and civil law as matters of the kingdoms of this world and thus no mandate in Scripture on how these matters are to be addressed.

    That is exactly what makes 2K so odious. When the Bible says Jesus is Lord, it means Christ has claimed Lordship over both his church and the nations. Meaning Scripture norms all norms, period. When you insinuate that any nation can dismiss the written law of God, you make yourself an enemy of Christ. Stop it!

  96. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    DTM – My theology is more or less that of Puritanism,

    RS: A breath of fresh air.

    Amen and amen!

  97. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    DGH sarcastically quips: “Darrell, it’s not against the law (civil or ecclesiastical) for a church member to talk about homosexual marriage.”

    ‘Me: We know DGH, and you’re not your brothers keeper either, right?

  98. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Darrell,

    Should we start marking this on a calendar, because it seems like about once a year, you clear your throat and wax quixotic at all the windmills within earshot regarding the “grave dangers facing the Reformed world”. It’s always over the same core political issues. You might have a listening audience, but there are many who have a hard time taking any of your rhetoric seriously – if these views are so dangerous where are the complaints to the presbyteries of the regular cast of characters you impugn? All bark, no bite as far as I as this waiter, and bible college dropout is concerned.

    It raises the question, you claim fidelity to the WCF, yet seem to have a hard time when fellow believers exercise their liberty of conscience differently than you do. In the case of your favorite whipping post, the villainous Misty Irons, she affirms that homosexuality is a sin, and should not be exercised or supported in our churches, and yet, because she advocates a different political policy than you, she is decried as dangerous? Of course you don’t stop there, going after officers in the church, in good standing mind you, such as Horton, who is careful to make distinctions on how we might approach political issues over which Christians might disagree.

    Congratulations, you have the hearty approval of the Baylys, who go to great lengths to decry any and all reformed ministers who do not adequately oppose gays and abortionists from the pulpit. The same men who distance themselves from the actions of officers in their own church who have the audacity to apply their sermons, and blogosphere fodder literally. Frankly, I am shocked that they don’t see Currel’s actions as heroic, given their boiling rhetoric regarding the murderous practices of Planned Parenthood and those that support (or don’t adequately oppose) them. It’s duplicitous.

    So, are we to take your statement, God will not look kindly on cowardice in the church., to mean that all who don’t agree with you, not limited to Todd, MM, Zrim, Horton, Hart, VanDrunen, Tuininga, Clark, and those who support them are cowards?

    I know, I know, I am just a waiter and a bible college dropout, and as such my opinions don’t carry much weight, except when they are dangerous, and need to be pointed out to your e-mail group of brothers in arms… but it sure seems to me like you are attempting to defame and insult not only members in good standing of various Reformed communions, but also officers of the same with absolute impunity.

    I call shennanigans on the whole exercise.

  99. sean
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    Where’s your counter exegesis, point by point, on Gal. 3?! My grandma is slow too, but she’s dead. And when are you gonna stand in the gap for God? At least Curell, though wrongly, put his “axe” where his convictions are.

  100. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Hi Doug,

    I don’t know if you saw my question to you on the R-E-S-P-E-C-T thread?

  101. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    DTM and 2kers,

    It might be helpful for communication to understand your answers to these questions:

    1. True-False: There is a distinction between common grace issues (math?) and sacred issues (worship?).

    2. A Christian _________ use Scripture to help reason about common grace matters.

    (a) Must
    (b) May
    (c) May Not

    3. A Christian magistrate __________ use Scripture to help reason about matters of law.

    (a) Must
    (b) May
    (c) May not

    4. A society whose laws are not derived from Scripture is (circle all that apply)

    (a) condemned because of its rejection of God.
    (b) a mixture of condemned and justified individuals who will receive their respective judgments in the eschaton.
    (c) acceptable because laws are supposed to be derived from the natural law.
    (d) doomed because of its rejection of wisdom

    5. What is the chief end of the magistrate?

  102. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Guys,

    You missed the point. Curell was engaging in ironic commentary on the Kermit Gosnell case: Will the news media view his actions as a “local crime” story, or national news?

    😉

  103. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    My aim in discussing your church is to demonstrate the things that Neocalvinists cut people slack on and the things that they don’t. I would contend it reveals misplaced priorities about what is important in the church and in the Christian life.

  104. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “Second, Erik, you’re an elder in your church. You would not tolerate a member who is not a spokesman for your church speaking on behalf of your church, and you should not. I’m not going to do that… period.”

    Erik – And the reason you quote Misty Irons as some sort of authority is?…

  105. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    DTM – “I truly believe the gospel is at stake when we’re dealing with issues of homosexuality”

    Erik – But not Sabbath observance? How much does the Westminster say about homosexuality and how much does it say about the Sabbath?

  106. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Jed – All bark, no bite as far as I as this waiter, and bible college dropout is concerned.

    Erik – And Moody at that. Next thing we’ll discover you’ve been waiting tables at a Denny’s that denies service to minorities…

  107. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Doug, wonderful, pietists, theonomists, and neo-Calvinists together.

  108. Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, I don’t like the wording since the questions don’t address the specific context — are we talking about 1825 USA, 1665 Geneva, or 2013 Canada. But I’ll bite.

    1) True

    2) Must

    3) Must

    4) c (but because God ordained such a society and government)

    5) order and tranquility

    Anyone claiming to be a Christian must regard Scripture for all that he or she does. My point repeatedly is that a Christian is not going to find much in the Bible about most of what a plumber or Senator is called to do. But either way, the Bible is the first authority and when its silent Christians have liberty. The only way they know if they have liberty is by reading the Bible.

  109. mark mcculley
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    jeff: was providing ironic commentary on the abortionist….

    mark: good one

    not sure how performatively effective

    does it depends on how much media?

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

    Jeff, which is why “may” might be a better answer, as in yes you are a believer so it should figure in, but go ahead and try to find the answer to matters political but since the Bible is spiritual you’re probably not going to find it so you may be better off consulting natural revelation.

    Must suggests something more or less neo-Calvinist. May not is ridiculous.

  111. Posted April 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Jed,

    You hold your head up high. The wonderful thing about the internets is it provides an equal opportunity for each and every man to make an ass of himself without regard to his educational background, vocation, or station in life.

  112. Posted April 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    D.G. – Doug, wonderful, pietists, theonomists, and neo-Calvinists together.

    You guys just refuse to let me get any work done.

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

  113. Posted April 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    As a mere occasional lurker, I was quite proud to get the first question in about your article. I’m not often first to the draw.

    I’m far more disappointed to not have you answer my question. Apparently, I need to post 30 comments in a row to get heard.

    So I’ll ask it again:

    Have you read Van Drunen’s “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms?”

    Your article shows little to no evidence that you have.

  114. Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Sean asks: Doug,

    Where’s your counter exegesis, point by point, on Gal. 3?! My grandma is slow too, but she’s dead. And when are you gonna stand in the gap for God? At least Curell, though wrongly, put his “axe” where his convictions are.

    Me: First of all, I thought that was Gordon’s exegesis, no? I thought it was deplorable, but if you will lay it out for me, I will respond.

    Be careful what you ask for Sean, because Gordon’s exegesis is so weak, I feel very confident that I can tear it to shreds.

    Go ahead and make my day. I dare you! I double dare you!

  115. kent
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Have you read Van Drunen’s “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms?”

    Answer by “them”: It doesn’t matter. Van Drunen has a hidden agenda that he and his ilk are hiding, if only we were smart enough to figure it out… so reading him doesn’t answer any questions…

    Me: I give up…

  116. Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Brian,

    DTM has not read it, but he has concluded from the title that it is a very bad and dangerous book. I had a similar experience with the books, “Home Repair in 20 Easy Lessons” and “Celibacy: God’s Solution for a Pure Church”.

  117. Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Kent questions: Have you read Van Drunen’s “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms?”

    Me: If I thought one penny went to this useless, poor excuse for a theologian, (Van Drunen) I would repent with sack cloth and ashes for a month! Van Drunen is a snare to the body of Christ! And when we all come into agreement with that obvious truth, we can have a book burning party in his honor. Really Kent, you need to lay off of these R2K authors, they make you soft in the brain.

  118. Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Kent, in all seriousness, the whole premise of the book is ridiculous, and waaaaay off target! Van Drunen’s definition of 2K starts him off on the wrong foot. To make matters worse, he is a smart aleck. For me to take the time to read him, is time wasted on pure poppy cock!

  119. sean
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Doug, I never said it was mine.

    Dougiefresh; “Be careful what you ask for Sean, because Gordon’s exegesis is so weak, I feel very confident that I can tear it to shreds.”

    Me; Damn you’re reliable. Here you go; Remember read left to right top to bottom. He’s gonna ask you to hold a couple of concepts in your mind at the same time as you read, so take your time, take some breaks, don’t get kick the dog(it’s not his fault), you might want to light candles, mumble to yourself , rub your juju, whatever you need to do, and in the end, remember it’s o.k. to cry. You’ve been wrong before, so no biggie.

    http://www.tdgordon.net/theology/abraham_and_sinai_contraste.pdf

  120. todd
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    “When you insinuate that any nation can dismiss the written law of God, you make yourself an enemy of Christ. Stop it!”

    Doug calls me an enemy of Christ, DTM calls me a coward, and some OP pastor in Colorado called me a false shepherd because my kids attend public school.

    Don’t you just love modern Presbyterianism? It kinda gives you warm fuzzies all over, doesn’t it.

    I think I need a dose of Waiting for Guffman. Don’t tell anyone, but I think Corky is gay. shhhh…

  121. Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Todd,

    Some people ask me if I was the class clown. And I say no, but I sat next to him, and I studied him…”

    Or if this will make you feel better..

    But, but there wasn’t going to be swimming in m’show…You’re bastard people! You’re all bastard people, I am just goin to go home and bite my pillow!

  122. Zrim
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Todd, some days it’s enough to tempt one to pope (shhhhh):

    Catechism of the Catholic Church 2229: “As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.”

  123. todd
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    And Jed,

    I was shopping for my wife Bonnie. I buy most of her clothes and Mrs Pearl was in the same shop! And it just was an accident you know, we started talking… about panty hose, she was saying… whatever that’s not the point of the story…

  124. sean
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Todd, everyone is brave on the interweb. Even the Baylys. It reminds me of one of my dogs, who after the threat has been neutralized, by her sister, procedes to chuff and bark as if to say; “see what I did there! good thing I was here to thwart that!” Her sister meanwhile has returned to her post at the corner of the yard where she can eye the dogs at the houses to the back and side of us while simultaneously monitoring both gates to the yard. Just keep on trucking.

  125. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Sean: “Everyone is brave on the interweb…”

    Which shows how bad people are at assessing risk. Everything you’ve ever said, visible to everyone.

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

    Let me get this straight. I can go with Doug who is a frequent blog commenter who one time took a class from Bahnsen or Van Drunen who is an elder in the OPC (Doug’s denomination, I believe), a seminary professor, an attorney, and the chairman of the committee that crafted the OPC report on justification.

    There hasn’t been a decision this hard since http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiuCKv3tooc

  127. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    For some reason I’m hearing Lucille Ball: “do you pope out at parties? All your troubles can be solved with this biddle lottle. Vitameatavegemin … So tasty, too. Just like can’y. Honest.”

  128. Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    ““When you insinuate that any nation can dismiss the written law of God, you make yourself an enemy of Christ. Stop it!” Doug calls me an enemy of Christ,….

    Under Mikelmann’s Perspectivalism, all you need to deal with annoyance is a modified perspective. Personally, Doug brings a smile to my face as I consider that, if he had the magistrate he wanted, he would be in stocks within 90 days for abusive and slanderous language to those whom he owes 5th commandment honor. Then he’ll he find out that the civil law doesn’t make him more spiritual when he is banished to the neighboring 2K state for being a repeat offender. Yes, and then he will be continuously abusive to the 2K magistrate who gives him his very freedom

  129. sean
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    MM, that’s why it rarely pays to be easily offended. Between Old Bob and Doug, I get a guaranteed laugh most every day. Is there anything better than Old Bob’s biographic rants and sentence structure? It’s awesome.

  130. todd
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Sean,

    Thanks. Unfortunately, there are too many ministers out there using the gospel as another law – to control and manipulate others, and exalt themselves. (Not that I have anyone specific in mind of course.)

  131. Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Sean, that and OB’s denial that he loves visiting Old Life. Good stuff.

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

    I can’t make myself dislike Doug & Old Bob, even if I try. Still not crazy about Richard, but working on it.

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

    Rev. Bordow wrote: “Doug calls me an enemy of Christ, DTM calls me a coward, and some OP pastor in Colorado called me a false shepherd because my kids attend public school.”

    Just to avoid my misunderstandings, I have not said you are an enemy of Christ. I have not said that you are a false shepherd because your kids attend public school. My daughter attends a Christian school. I went to a public school. That is a parental choice, it often depends on local needs and circumstances, and I will only with great hesitation criticize a parent’s choice for their own children, though I may have strong views on what choices are better or worse than others.

    As for whether you are a coward, that is a word I used only in one place in the essay, right at the end, as follows: “With all due respect to people who call themselves conservative Calvinists — if the trumpet of the church gives an uncertain sound on murdering babies in the womb and advocating official state recognition of sodomy through marriage out of fear that we will offend people, the church has lapsed into cowardice. God will not look kindly on cowardice in the church.”

    If you are afraid that taking a stance on abortion and homosexual marriage will offend people, the word “coward” does apply, but I didn’t have you in mind when writing that phrase. I do know pastors — and you probably do, too — who are always concerned to avoid offending people in their church on a whole wide range of issues, sometimes covering up that with fine-sounding phrases like “not turning away seekers” or “letting only the gospel offend, not secondary issues.”

    There is some truth to those statements. Certainly we do not want to offend people over things that are not based on the Bible. But on things where God has spoken, I am much more worried about offending God than offending people.

    I hope you are, too. If you are, the word “coward” does not apply.

    Either way, I cannot know your heart.

  134. todd
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    DTM: explanation accepted, thank you. Though if you are not even sure that applies to us, it may not have been the best way to end your article on that which you were critiquing.

  135. Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, the word “common grace” carries connotations in Dutch Reformed circles that I don’t generally choose to get into. I am not Protestant Reformed, but I don’t think it’s helpful to get into fights with Protestant Reformed people or others who share their views. Also, the term “common grace” has been abused so greatly on the liberal side of the spectrum in Dutch Reformed circles that I’m not sure it’s as helpful in addressing political questions as it once was.

    However, I think I can answer the intent behind your series of questions by making two statements:

    1. There are many things the Bible does not address directly, and others which the Bible addresses only by implication.

    2. When Scripture is silent, the church has no business speaking.

    To amplify those two points, while individual Christians have more freedom than the institutional church when dealing with implications of Scripture (as opposed to good **AND NECESSARY** consequences), even individual Christians need to speak with great caution when we’re dealing with matters of implication rather than direct teaching of Scripture.

    To cite a real-life example from our English Reformed history, the Puritans in Parliament spent a tremendous amount of time debating whether the proper form of government was a monarchy, a republic, or some other system. I think that was asking a question to which the Bible does not give an answer. While the Bible does have a great deal to say about what justice means, and how a magistrate is to act, and how people are to obey their rulers in all things except those contrary to Scripture, and how the purpose of the civil magistrates is to protect their people from evildoers (who sometimes include the higher magistrates, by the way), arguing over whether a nation should have a king or a president or a parliamentary system is a matter of political prudence, not biblical principle.

    Does that help?

  136. Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    What is your Scriptural basis for the doctrine of “the trumpet of the church”?

    How is this to be carried out? In the mass media? Open air preaching? Hauling people into our services and making them hear our sermons? Press releases? I’m serious.

  137. Jed Paschall
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Here’s the crux of the issue – saying homosexuality is a sin is biblical, and in some circles offensive. I don’t think there is a person here who disagrees with this. You, however make an issue of orthodoxy over how the government treats the matter in terms of policy. Where is your warrant for calling someone a spiritual coward who disagrees with you politically?

  138. Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    DTM – While the Bible does have a great deal to say about what justice means, and how a magistrate is to act, and how people are to obey their rulers in all things except those contrary to Scripture, and how the purpose of the civil magistrates is to protect their people from evildoers (who sometimes include the higher magistrates, by the way), arguing over whether a nation should have a king or a president or a parliamentary system is a matter of political prudence, not biblical principle.

    DTM – 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.”

    Which DTM am I arguing with?

  139. Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    @ Rev. Bordow… thank you for your comment. I want to say more, but I need to leave soon. City council meets tonight and it will be a long and nasty meeting. Bottom line is the police chief and other senior officers in the department are being accused of covering up a murder by the third-ranking officer in the department several years ago. Civil lawsuits are certain, and a state investigation is underway that may lead to criminal charges. This is a horrible nightmare and it is not going away soon.

    I do believe, based on several years of reading Two Kingdoms people on the internet, that some of what I see is fundamentally a fear of offending people, couched in flowery language of not offending potential converts. Sorry, but that’s “seeker sensitive” stuff that belongs in broad evangelicalism, not Reformed churches.

    I also believe that the “Two Kingdoms” movement is a moving target. I need to deal with its advocates as individuals. Some of them seem to make a lot of sense. Others are off the dock. The whole movement is new, it’s in flux, and it will take time to sort things out.

    What needs to be done is to determine, based on the confessions and the Scriptures, where the limits lie. That is not going to be an easy task.

  140. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Yes, that does help. In Framian terms, I think we just agreed that the situational perspective is available to non-believers.

    So next question: can you imagine a situation in which a magistrate mightly *rightly* not outlaw a particular sin?

  141. Zrim
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    …some of what I see is fundamentally a fear of offending people, couched in flowery language of not offending potential converts. Sorry, but that’s “seeker sensitive” stuff that belongs in broad evangelicalism, not Reformed churches.

    DTM, first, 2kers are usually the same ones with a robust ecclesiology which has no use for the seeker-o-sity you mention, championing more staid and means of grace oriented doxology. You realize the Baylys lurch more in the direction of non-offense. They claim Reformed but here is what they say on baptism:

    Baptism was instituted by our Lord. It is a Sacrament of the Church marking those who are members of the New Covenant community. Like the other Biblical Sacrament, the Lord’s Supper, Baptism does nothing by itself. Saving faith is necessary for us to receive grace through this visible sign. This much we are agreed upon with Reformed Protestant brothers down through the centuries.

    However, Protestants have been divided over the proper time and mode of Baptism. Concerning time, a compelling Biblical case can be made for baptizing only those adults who make a credible profession of faith. But a compelling Biblical case can also be made for baptizing the believer’s children. Some of the most respected fathers of the Church have stood on opposite sides of this debate. Martin Luther and John Calvin believed children of believers should be baptized. John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon believed only adult believers should be baptized.

    Concerning the proper mode of Baptism (how and where the water is applied), Scripture is silent. Recognizing how divisive these issues have been across Church history, we are committed not to divide over them.

    How EV-Free, latitudinarian and unoffensive compared to the actual baptismal language of the P&R forms, particularly Belgic 34.

    Second, not so fast on impugning those of us who take seriously the offense of the gospel. I’ll be the first to join you in bemoaning the hyper-sensitive age of the easily offended. But there really is such a thing as giving wrong offense. 2kers don’t want politics to impede or obscure the gospel under a bushel. We want it to shine brightly and unfettered. We want its proclaimers to exercise due caution so that it might get tangled up in the traditions of men and the cares of this world. Can you seriously read “A Sermon to the President” and not see how the Baylys are simply Protestant liberals of the rightist variety?

  142. Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Jed, ding ding ding ding.

  143. Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Lee, I didn’t mean to ignore your post. I have just now seen it. I have been skimming this thread and the other similar thread, responding to the items which appeared to be the most problematic and which could cause serious problems if I didn’t respond immediately.

    With regard to Van Drunen, I have avoided saying anything about Van Drunen other than that he is a self-identified “Two Kingdoms” supporter. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think that is accurate.

    I am interested in Van Drunen’s work, but scanning a book and analyzing it in detail are not the same thing. I have talked to people in the camp of those who object to “Two Kingdoms” theology who think Van Drunen is probably the best of the “Two Kingdoms” advocates and makes the most sense, and say he also has a fair amount of the Roman Catholic “natural law” legal tradition on his side. I need to dedicate some major time to doing some serious study of his viewpoint and I don’t think it’s fair for me to characterize his views further until I have taken the time to do serious analysis of his work.

    My guess is that when I get done not only reading his work but also reading detailed reviews of his work by others who may have picked up things I would have missed, I’m going to end up saying that I don’t agree but that I can see his point. That’s pretty much the conclusion to which I’ve come with some other moderate “Two Kingdoms” people.

  144. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    So if Van Drunen is “moderate” 2K, who is “radical” 2K other than Misty Irons – boo!

    Can you give instances of “radical” 2Kers saying negative things about Van Drunen and other “moderates”? Surely there must be some, no?

    If Hart is your only “radical” who has published, I’m not aware of any problems between Hart & Van Drunen. They both seem to be on the same page and have both written on these issues in “New Horizons”, the OPC Magazine.

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

    You also say in your essay that you possibly foresee charges and church discipline coming out of all this. If you’re not an officer, how are you going to facilitate that as a layman? If not you, who will be? Name some names if you’re not just blowing smoke.

  146. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Jeff Cagle wrote: “So next question: can you imagine a situation in which a magistrate mightly *rightly* not outlaw a particular sin?”

    In practical politics, I can imagine virtually anything. Our state legislature, during the debate over requiring motorcycle helmets in Missouri, had people making arguments that car drivers should be required to wear helmets. I dealt with a candidate once a few years ago who seriously advocated putting a “seasonal Sea World” in, which produced guffaws of laughter with people joking that he wanted to use Army cargo helicopters to lift the whales out of the tanks and bring them to warmer climates in the winter. I ignored the guy after that crazy interview thinking he had no chance — and then he won his race, defeating the incumbent in a low-turnout election. I have seen elected officials seriously arguing that the solution to speeders is to threaten to shoot them from the roadside, and telling a humane society representative that the solution to dog problems is “shoot, shovel and shut up.”

    Some politicians act on the basis of principle — both wrong principles and right principles. Many politicians act on the basis of what they think their constituents want, viewing themselves as primarily answerable to the majority opinion of those who elected them. Ambition is not unheard of among elected officials, for obvious reasons, and corruption, incompetence and laziness are problems as well.

    The bottom line is that such phrases are “politics is the art of the possible” and “politics is the art of compromise” are very often accurate descriptions of how our laws get made.

    Trying to navigate those choppy waters while holding to Christian principles is not an easy task, and not uncommonly, politicians have to decide which vote will cause the least damage rather that which vote is the ideal solution.

  147. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I’m trying to go through your points and respond. It will take time.

    You wrote this: “Which DTM am I arguing with?” in regards to these two quotes from me. I don’t see any contradiction between the two things I said. Can you help me understand why these, in your view, are somehow contradictory?

    DTM – While the Bible does have a great deal to say about what justice means, and how a magistrate is to act, and how people are to obey their rulers in all things except those contrary to Scripture, and how the purpose of the civil magistrates is to protect their people from evildoers (who sometimes include the higher magistrates, by the way), arguing over whether a nation should have a king or a president or a parliamentary system is a matter of political prudence, not biblical principle.

    DTM – 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.”

  148. Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter Posted April 18, 2013 at 11:10 pm: “You also say in your essay that you possibly foresee charges and church discipline coming out of all this. If you’re not an officer, how are you going to facilitate that as a layman? If not you, who will be? Name some names if you’re not just blowing smoke.”

    Erik, I have no intention of filing any charges against anybody. Other people are perfectly capable of doing that, should it be necessary, and will do a better job since they know their denominational contexts and what will “fly” in specific presbyteries or classes.

    At this point, we’re in the stage of public debate to find out what people believe and why they believe it. Here’s my view, which could change and is only tentative.

    1) Some “Two Kingdoms” people truly do hold an Old School Southern Presbyterian view of the spirituality of the church. They hold the older view, once common in Southern Bible Belt churches — not only Calvinists but also fundamentalist circles — that politics should not be discussed in church. In many cases these people are pretty fiery right-wing Christians but are active in non-ecclesiastical organizations to promote their views of what Christians should be doing in politics. They don’t object to applying Scripture to politics; they just think it’s the job of laymen outside the institutional church and think ministers should stick to purely ecclesiastical issues.

    I have no significant problem with that position. I’m not sure I agree but in most cases I really don’t care whether the institutional church takes official stands or not.

    2) Some “Two Kingdoms” people hold basically the same views as the “Christian right” on the hot-button issues of modern social conservative politics, but believe the case should be made based on natural law and not Scripture.

    That group is divided into two categories, some who advocate the position as a matter of pragmatism — i.e., let’s do what works to get votes — and some who advocate that position as a matter of principle, arguing that in the civil realm, we must make our case based on a common core of “general revelation” moral standards.

    I disagree with the second version of that position and also to some extent disagree with the first version, but I can see their point. I don’t view either position as being grounds for discipline in our current American context. I would have a very different view if we had a formal national covenant or had officially established Christianity as the state religion, but that is not the case in the United States and that means I don’t have to go through the gyrations that conservative people face in Northern Ireland or Scotland over those issues.

    To the extent that “Two Kingdoms” people fall into one or the other of those two camps, I think we’re having an intramural debate in which one side or the other has to be wrong, but neither are heretical.

    I am not yet convinced all “Two Kingdoms” people fall into one or the other of those two camps.

    On the other hand, I’m certainly not saying everyone else is to be condemned, but rather am saying that these two groups constitute what I’m willing to call a “moderate Two Kingdoms” position and am not yet sure what I think about groups progressively more militant than what I have just described.

    I find it very hard to accept the idea that a Christian can endorse civil unions or same-sex marriage in the state under any circumstances. Ditto for abortion.

    Saying “I’m personally opposed to aborting babies but don’t think it should be illegal” is logically the same as saying “I’m personally opposed to lynching black people but don’t think it should be illegal.” As a society, most of us recoil in horror at the second, and quite correctly so, but have accepted the first, not for reasons of logic but because abortion has become common.

    That ought not to be.

  149. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Todd, when you ridicule christian men who are concerned with our culture, by calling us culture warriors you indict yourself! I do consider you my brother in Christ, but this R2K perspective is surely below the belt. Please remember I use hyperbole to drive home my points. I still love you “in Christ”. Sometimes one needs to shake the tree, so to speak.

  150. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    DTM states: “Saying “I’m personally opposed to aborting babies but don’t think it should be illegal” is logically the same as saying “I’m personally opposed to lynching black people but don’t think it should be illegal.” As a society, most of us recoil in horror at the second, and quite correctly so, but have accepted the first, not for reasons of logic but because abortion has become common.

    That ought not to be.”

    Me: I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for your level headed responses, they are much better than my blasts.

    Keep pressing on!

  151. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Sean, that is not exegesis, that is long boring mistake infested commentary, with a few Scriptures sprinkled in for good measure. Gordon’s writing is worse than mine! His thinking is simplistic and wrong headed. He make all the rookie errors that one would expect from a guy who wound up where he’s at. This is not to say, I disagree with everything Gordon writes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  152. todd
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Doug: Todd, when you ridicule christian men who are concerned with our culture, by calling us culture warriors you indict yourself!

    Todd: Give one example of me doing that

  153. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    When you deride us (PostMill, theonomist, NeoCals, as transformationalists. As if the kingdom of God, isn’t supposed transform the world! You ridicule, the very way Jesus said his kingdom would grow! I have heard Horton make the same bazaar case; namely, that the great commission is not supposed to transform the world. That is contrary to the what the Bible teaches us. So that puts you in opposition to Christ’s Great Commission, in some very important ways.

  154. Posted April 19, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    DTM, what you fail to consider is that 2k is not a political position. It is a reaction precisely against people like you who insist that Christians must engage politics and must do so in a certain way. I don’t know what VanDrunen’s politics are, though I can imagine. I don’t think you know what mine are. The point of 2k is not political. It is ecclesiastical. And that ecclesiastical point is to push back against Christians who make a political position an orthodox or moral one — as if I don’t line up on gay marriage or abortion, I am in sin and not to be trusted.

    Erik asked you why you identify a certain political stance as a moral or doctrinal certainty. It’s a good question. But the identification of Christianity with a political stand is worse than the New School Presbyterians. They simply advocated activism but were varied on the policies. You are a fundamentalist about a very narrow band of political issues. And what’s worse, you read your narrow range of hot-buttons back into the history of Protestantism and find that you stand in the line of the prophets, along with the Baylys and Francis Schaeffer. Puh-leeze.

  155. Posted April 19, 2013 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm: “DTM – “I truly believe the gospel is at stake when we’re dealing with issues of homosexuality” Erik – But not Sabbath observance? How much does the Westminster say about homosexuality and how much does it say about the Sabbath?”

    I am a Sabbatarian. I believe dispensationalism has done tremendous damage in American fundamentalist and evangelical circles, and one of the areas where that damage has been done is Sabbath observance. This is a case where the American conservative church world needs to clean up its own house before it can have a meaningful message to the modern world.

    So yes, in a better world I would advocate laws on Sabbath observance. Even today I would advocate laws protecting the right of believers not to have employers violate their religious beliefs by trying to force them to work. I’d point out, by the way, that “blue laws” were still fairly common up until the 1950s in America, and the US Supreme Court, likely out of fear of a backlash if they were overturned, ruled that they were legal as “common pause” days.

    Having said that, however, I believe abortion is legalized murder. The primary purpose of the civil magistrate according to Romans 13 is to restrain evildoers from such things as murder. I believe homosexuality is considerably worse than other sins of a sexual nature because according to Romans 1, it is a sin God sends upon people who have deliberately rejected the knowledge of God. There are many things the civil magistrate could and should be doing, but failure to protect unborn babies and formal endorsement of sodomy via homosexual marriage are both pretty horrible abuses.

  156. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Dr. Hart posted April 19, 2013 at 6:17 am: “I don’t know what VanDrunen’s politics are, though I can imagine. I don’t think you know what mine are.”

    Dr. Hart, you’re right that I don’t know for sure what your politics are, but teaching at Hillsdale is a good indicator. Also, I think you’ve said several times in recent posts that you are politically conservative. Was it you who posted some time back that you’ve resisted the temptation several times to vote for President Obama? If it wasn’t you, it was some other supporter of “Two Kingdoms” theology. I don’t remember for sure.

    I live in the South. Around here, it’s not uncommon for Democrats to be more conservative than a lot of the Republicans I knew in Michigan. The “flip” side of the coin is that because it was almost impossible for a Republican to get elected in this county until a decade ago, the Republican Party is fairly weak and sometimes runs really bad candidates for office who are incompetent, inexperienced, or both. The result is that I may have voted for more Democrats than you, Dr. Hart… and I can think of a fair number of Southern Baptist ministers around here who are strong Christian conservatives of a “Religious Right” model who are proud card-carrying Democrats and active members of the local Democratic Party. They typically vote Republican on the national level and Democrat for local offices.

    Dr. Hart posted April 19, 2013 at 6:17 am: “Erik asked you why you identify a certain political stance as a moral or doctrinal certainty. It’s a good question… You are a fundamentalist about a very narrow band of political issues.”

    You are right that this is a good question. Let me try to answer it.

    There are many political questions which Scripture does not address, or addresses only tangentially. I may have opinions on a wide band of political issues, but you are correct that I confine my statements about Christian values to a narrow band of those issues — issues on which I believe Scripture speaks clearly.

    Let’s take one example of an important local public policy issue — planning and zoning. That’s a hot-button issue in our county, which overwhelmingly rejected zoning in a countywide vote despite strong support from the business community and a number of local pastors who wanted to use zoning to regulate strip clubs and drive them out of business.

    What is the Christian position on zoning? An argument could be made that zoning is theft and is both unbiblical and unconstitutional because it is taking of private property without a compelling public purpose. Missouri was the last state in the United States to rule zoning unconstitutional on the state level before the US Supreme Court approved zoning, and it was that sort of argument that the Missouri courts used against it. But on the other hand, zoning has been effectively used to regulate immoral businesses in ways that honored God by shutting them down or at least driving them out of residential areas and putting them into bad parts of town.

    You won’t hear me advocating for or against planning and zoning as a compelling Christian issue on which churches should take a stand. You won’t even hear me saying individual Christians should take a stand on zoning based on Christian principles. I have an opinion on the issue — I would vote for zoning to create a tool to shut down strip clubs because I think it’s the lesser of two evils. I do not believe I can tell a Christian who objects to zoning on property theft grounds that he is wrong to do so. I also recognize that the large majority of residents in my county believe zoning is bad policy for secular reasons, and want zoning confined to the cities, not extended outside city limits in the county. In my “ideal world” I would agree with the majority of my county and would rather not have zoning laws, but that issue of property rights was lost many decades ago in the courts and I don’t see a practical way to “turn back the clock” today. I’d rather fight on issues like eminent domain than zoning since the average person understands the issues involved in direct taking of private property via eminent domain than restricting their ability to use their property via zoning.

    Dr. Hart posted April 19, 2013 at 6:17 am: But the identification of Christianity with a political stand is worse than the New School Presbyterians. They simply advocated activism but were varied on the policies.

    You are a student of the “New School” period of the development of American evangelicalism and you likely know the politics of the era better than I do. Is it really true that the New School Presbyterians “simply advocated activism but were varied on the policies” on the hot-button moral issues of that day, such as slavery?

    I’m asking not to challenge you but because I don’t know the answer, but what I’ve read in criticism of the New Schoolers by the Old Schoolers certainly seemed to indicate that while the Old Schoolers had a variety of political views, the New Schoolers were fairly uniform on slavery, differing on details of how to get rid of it, not whether it should be gotten rid of. Certainly there were advocates of incrementalism versus abolitionism, or the American Colonization Society sending former slaves to Liberia, but I’m not aware of a large New School contingent defending slavery. Perhaps the United Synod of the South (Southern New Schoolers) would be an exception; you may know the answer to that better than I do.

    Dr. Hart posted April 19, 2013 at 6:17 am: And what’s worse, you read your narrow range of hot-buttons back into the history of Protestantism and find that you stand in the line of the prophets, along with the Baylys and Francis Schaeffer. Puh-leeze.

    Dr. Hart, this is both inaccurate and unfair. Surely you do not think I claim prophetic gifts. The line of the prophets ended with the close of the New Testament canon.

    I’m not a charismatic. I do know charismatics who have told me stories about Schaeffer’s openness to the charismatic movement, but I can think of other things where I disagree with Schaeffer, so if Schaeffer had charismatic tendencies I would reject them. I do not know anything about the Bayly Brothers view of prophecy, but if they are charismatic or semi-charismatic, I would tell them they’re wrong and need to go back to reaffirming Sola Scriptura.

  157. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Dr. Hart posted April 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm: Anyone claiming to be a Christian must regard Scripture for all that he or she does. My point repeatedly is that a Christian is not going to find much in the Bible about most of what a plumber or Senator is called to do. But either way, the Bible is the first authority and when its silent Christians have liberty. The only way they know if they have liberty is by reading the Bible.

    Amazingly, Dr. Hart, I can’t find anything there with which I disagree. Perhaps we agree on the principle and differ on the application of the principle?

    I have said several times already on these two threads that when Scripture speaks, the church must speak; when Scripture is silent, the church must be silent as well. I do not think the Scripture is silent about abortion, about homosexual marriage, or a number of other issues.

    However, I concur with you that most of what a plumber or senator does is not addressed directly by Scripture. There may be implications. There may be specific applications of biblical principles. But I can’t tell a plumber or a senator that he can’t do something or that he must do something unless I have something in the Bible to back me up.

  158. Posted April 19, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Rev. Todd Bordow posted April 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm: “DTM: explanation accepted, thank you. Though if you are not even sure that applies to us, it may not have been the best way to end your article on that which you were critiquing.”

    You’re welcome, Rev. Bordow.

    As I’ve said elsewhere on these threads, we’re in the discussion phase. It’s important to find out what people believe and why they believe it. I firmly believe the consequences are serious and this is not an academic “ivory tower” debate that can be ignored by the laypeople in the churches, who even in Reformed circles which should take doctrine seriously. are often inclined to dismiss seminary professors and their disputes as being irrelevant to real life.

    Some things being said in the “Two Kingdoms” movement are, I believe, beyond what can be tolerated. But that doesn’t apply to everything being said or to everyone saying it.

  159. Posted April 19, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm: “DTM, What is your Scriptural basis for the doctrine of “the trumpet of the church”? How is this to be carried out? In the mass media? Open air preaching? Hauling people into our services and making them hear our sermons? Press releases? I’m serious.”

    I am confused by your question. Why would I have a problem with ministers using the mass media or open air preaching or sending out press releases? I don’t see those as being dividing lines between “Two Kingdoms” theology and “neo-Calvinists.”

    But if you want to argue that “Two Kingdoms” theologians should stay inside their church buildings, avoid using mass media such as the internet, and never send out press releases to tell local media what they are doing, I’m fine with that because it will limit your influence. Somehow that’s not the direction I think you meant to go with your question to me 😉

    As for “hauling people into our services and making them hear our sermons,” I am not aware of anyone advocating that today, or anything like it. Are you alluding to the practice in the Reformation and in Puritan days of punishing Sabbath breakers who refused to attend church services? If so, we have no legal grounds to do such things apart from a formal establishment of religion, we have no such establishment in America, and the Westminster Confession **HAS** been amended to address that issue.

  160. sean
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Doug,

    I’m sure you’re right. Can you point out where he’s wrong, and provide the exegetical alternative. I eagerly await your learned, thorough and measured response.

  161. Posted April 19, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Jed Paschall posted April 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm: “DTM, Here’s the crux of the issue – saying homosexuality is a sin is biblical, and in some circles offensive. I don’t think there is a person here who disagrees with this. You, however make an issue of orthodoxy over how the government treats the matter in terms of policy. Where is your warrant for calling someone a spiritual coward who disagrees with you politically?”

    I’ve addressed the issue of the word “coward” in a previous post to Rev. Bordow. Let me know if that answers your concern as well.

    Rev. Bordow and lots of other people here have agreed that homosexual marriage in the church is wrong. Even Misty Irons says that. But the Orthodox Presbyterian Church had a major fight over her views that just because homosexual marriage is not to be conducted in the church, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be conducted by the civil government.

    I’m not saying people here are pro-homosexual. I’ve dealt with that issue in the Christian Reformed Church. I’ve attended communion services with people wearing pro-homosexual T-shirts in a church that openly admits advocates of homosexuality to membership. I think the people here are in a different category from that.

  162. sean
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    I think you need to be more circumspect about what the OPC had a “major fight” over. It was the better part of charity that a number of OPC folk set aside their suspicion of their brothers and accepted that the issue with Lee Irons was in fact over the use of the law and NOT an excuse to punitively discipline him or his wife over her views on homosexuality.

  163. Zrim
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    At this point, we’re in the stage of public debate to find out what people believe and why they believe it. Here’s my view, which could change and is only tentative.

    1) Some “Two Kingdoms” people truly do hold an Old School Southern Presbyterian view of the spirituality of the church. They hold the older view, once common in Southern Bible Belt churches — not only Calvinists but also fundamentalist circles — that politics should not be discussed in church. In many cases these people are pretty fiery right-wing Christians but are active in non-ecclesiastical organizations to promote their views of what Christians should be doing in politics. They don’t object to applying Scripture to politics; they just think it’s the job of laymen outside the institutional church and think ministers should stick to purely ecclesiastical issues.
    I have no significant problem with that position. I’m not sure I agree but in most cases I really don’t care whether the institutional church takes official stands or not.

    2) Some “Two Kingdoms” people hold basically the same views as the “Christian right” on the hot-button issues of modern social conservative politics, but believe the case should be made based on natural law and not Scripture.

    That group is divided into two categories, some who advocate the position as a matter of pragmatism — i.e., let’s do what works to get votes — and some who advocate that position as a matter of principle, arguing that in the civil realm, we must make our case based on a common core of “general revelation” moral standards.

    I disagree with the second version of that position and also to some extent disagree with the first version, but I can see their point. I don’t view either position as being grounds for discipline in our current American context.

    DTM, so to summarize (I thought succinctness was a journalistic virtue, Scoop): you think we’re in sort-it-out mode. There are a couple of 2k groups. The first you have no significant problems with, the second you have some quibbles with but can see their point, and in neither case do you see any grounds for discipline. So what exactly is your major malfunction that you’re running around cyber space like Paul Revere and Chicken Little?

  164. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    DTM – Can you help me understand why these, in your view, are somehow contradictory?

    Erik – You seem to draw fine (and confusing) lines between what the Bible speaks to (private property rights, for instance) and what the Bible does not speak to (forms of government, for instance) and then have the audacity to suggest that people who recognize the complicated nature of these questions (2K thinkers) and extend Christian liberty to others need to be brought up on charges and driven from their churches if necessary. It’s absurd.

    Under an absolute monarchy what happens if the king decides he needs your property? Ask the Catholics who lived under Henry VIII.

  165. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    DTM – There are many things the civil magistrate could and should be doing, but failure to protect unborn babies and formal endorsement of sodomy via homosexual marriage are both pretty horrible abuses.

    Erik – Can you give Confessional support for these sins being more serious than not observing the Sabbath? If it’s just your opinion, why do I need to be bound by that and disciplined if I disagree with you?

  166. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    You need to adjust your grid regarding New School/Old School in order to take geography into account. You had New School and Old School Presbyterians in both the North & the South. Geography was the determining factor on how people viewed slavery, not whether they were New School or Old School. If this is not true, why were there separate Old & New School Churches in BOTH the North & South at the time of the war? You make a big deal about the doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church being tied up with a defense of slavery, but how does that explain Northern Old School Presbyterians who did not favor slavery? Hart’s “Seeking a Better Country” spells all this out in detail.

  167. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    I repeat my question that you tried to sarcastically dismiss without answering: What is your Scriptural basis for the doctrine of “the trumpet of the church”?

    Where do you see a responsibility put on the church to do anything but gather together to worship, to care for the saints, and to be planting churches? What political activism can you point to in the Book of Acts? In the Pastoral Epistles? In the Reformed Confessions?

    You take things for granted and act as a rabble-rouser. Are you sure we are the ones who should be disciplined? On whose authority are you speaking and launching accusations?

  168. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    DTM –

    “There’s a problem, however.

    When we as Reformed Christians move from a focus on keeping “outsiders” away and change to a focus on making “outsiders” into consistent confessional Calvinists, it is absolutely critical that we not forget that our Enemy is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. While “outsiders” need to be viewed as opportunities, not as threats, there truly are threats out there.

    The real threat is not from people outside our Calvinist church circles who visit our churches, but rather from our Enemy who is outside the grace of God and seeks to lead astray, if it were possible, even the elect of God. That threat is all too real, and when we become welcoming to “outsiders” and work to disciple them, we must be sure to disciple them properly or we will find that we have brought dangers into the church.

    People who maintain serious doctrinal error without being carefully discipled can easily confuse, corrupt, and eventually destroy the same churches that welcomed them with open arms.

    Church history is littered with the sad results of churches, some of which were once Reformed, which forgot that truth.”

    Erik – Seriously? So an “insider” is someone who was raised to the Christian Reformed Church (before it went bad, presumably) and an outsider is me, D.G. Hart, Michael Horton, R. Scott Clark, Sean, Jed, Zrim (not sure about him), My URC minister who didn’t become Reformed until college, etc. This is absurd.

    Obviously you believe that Peter was far superior to Paul & Timothy. I have some guys at Called to Communion you need to meet.

  169. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I was tempted to comment on all this at the Bayly’s blog but wisely thought better of it. I was going to ask them if I needed an axe or just fiery rhetoric to join their team. They aren’t getting much activity on DTM’s article there. Only 30-some comments. Their fans probably have a hard time reading anything that long, especially if it’s not written in all caps with lots of exclamation points.

  170. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I think I’ll send a copy of DTM’s piece to his session to ask if they are aware of it and if they stand behind it.

  171. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    DTM: I find it very hard to accept the idea that a Christian can endorse civil unions or same-sex marriage in the state under any circumstances. Ditto for abortion.

    Saying “I’m personally opposed to aborting babies but don’t think it should be illegal” is logically the same as saying “I’m personally opposed to lynching black people but don’t think it should be illegal.” As a society, most of us recoil in horror at the second, and quite correctly so, but have accepted the first, not for reasons of logic but because abortion has become common.

    That ought not to be.

    Actually, there is a profound difference between the abortion and lynching issues on the one hand, and gay marriage and civil unions on the other.

    Abortion and lynching are offenses against the 6th Commandment. That commandment requires, among other things, that we justly defend others against violence (see: WLC 135).

    Gay relationships, on the other hand, are mixtures of sinful (the sexual component) and non-sinful (care and concern, friendship) relational tendencies. The push for gay marriage and civil unions is fueled accordingly by two different concerns. One is to legitimize the sexual sin in society. This, as a Christian, I resist. The other is to allow a gay couple to designate each other as their partner in financial and legal matters. For example, to allow a partner to make end-of-life decisions.

    There’s nothing sinful about that, and there’s not even anything particularly sexual about it. If I were 90 and lived with my younger brother, I would want him to be able to be authorized to make decisions about me.

    So as a Christian, I can affirm that the gay couple’s desire to care for one another as human beings is legitimate and good, apart from questions of sexuality.

    For that reason, civil unions decoupled from sexual questions would have made a whole lot of sense. Allowing two people who live together, whether in a sexual relationship or not, to form a civil union would have allowed gays and others to have the legitimate and non-sinful rights-of-care for one another without making any kind of legitimating statement about their sexual behavior.

    If Christians had recognized this fact and rallied around it in the 90s, we probably wouldn’t be here today.

    What kept them from doing so? Well, in large part, overheated rhetoric from the pulpit based on sloppy arguments that failed to distinguish sexual sin from non-sexual non-sin.

  172. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    DTM –

    However, by the time I became Reformed, the few conservative Reformed churches I found in Grand Rapids were mostly filled with elderly white-haired people whose children had long since left any form of confessional Calvinism, either for the excitement of broad evangelicalism and Pentecostalism on the one hand, or on the other, for a liberal rejection of “old fashioned rules,” a rejection which had become typical fare in far too many liberal Christian Reformed and Reformed Church in America congregations. Names such as Robert Schuller, Jim and Tammy Bakker, and Bill Hybels — names from a Dutch Reformed background who deliberately rejected the Calvinist theology of total depravity with which they had been raised — were much more likely to be cited as good models of church life than John Calvin or any of the historic leaders of either the Dutch Reformed or the American Presbyterian traditions.

    It was not unusual for me to be the only person visiting a conservative Reformed church who had not come as a guest of a relative; mentioning the well-known liberal church where I was then still a member routinely generated shocked expressions and raised eyebrows. The Reformed churches I saw were not directed toward discipling young adults or teaching the Reformed faith to “outsiders,” and my own doctrinal positions back then were problematic enough that they too often generated an instinct toward self-preservation that, quite frankly, was legitimate. Conversion is the beginning of a process, and it often takes a long time to get rid of the baggage of seriously wrongheaded worldviews.

    Erik – And he faults us for being “outsiders” from that? It sounds like most of the people who were in those churches are dead.

  173. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Jeff,

    Another question to ask is, who linked “abortion and gay marriage” together? They don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. Not too many gay people getting abortions. The only thing they have in common is that the right can raise a lot of money around them.

  174. Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    The problem with this insider/outsider nonsense is that it is contrary to Confessionalism and also violates Galatians 3:28. If I subscribe to the Three Forms it does not matter in the least if I have a Dutch surname and if I subscribe to the Westminster Standards it doesn’t matter that I lack Old Bob’s pedigree.

  175. Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Erik,

    That’s true on the Right side of the equation. On the Left side, both are convenient issues to raise the “Conservative Christian” Boogeyman, which also raises lots of money. Check out Salon’s articles on Kermit Gosnell.

  176. Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Erik: Anecdotally, the “inside/outside” (meaning, “Dutch/non-Dutch”) framework can be strong and lasting.

  177. Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Erik, I am quite aware that there were Northern Old Schoolers and Southern Old Schoolers. That’s obvious to anyone who knows American Reformed ecclesiastical history.

    What is less well-known is that there were Southern New Schoolers — what eventually became the United Synod of the South. I do not consider myself an expert in the Southern New School denomination, which (as I understand matters) was confined largely to certain regions of the South, was not a major influence, and was absorbed at an early date into the PCUS with the intention not of accommodating New School positions or compromising with them but rather of shutting the New School influence down in the South. The only reason I know that much is that I used to be a freelancer for the Christian Observer magazine whose (now deceased) editor liked history and knew that his magazine had roots in the Southern New School tradition, even though he personally was not at all in agreement with those views.

  178. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 19, 2013 at 11:12 am The problem with this insider/outsider nonsense is that it is contrary to Confessionalism and also violates Galatians 3:28. If I subscribe to the Three Forms it does not matter in the least if I have a Dutch surname and if I subscribe to the Westminster Standards it doesn’t matter that I lack Old Bob’s pedigree.

    Erik, trust me on this. I know what I am talking about and you do not. I grew up in Grand Rapids. I have personally visited the majority of the early churches which seceded from the CRC and formed the URC. I spent many, many years in that world. I am no more Dutch than you are, but I know that community well.

    Spend some more time getting to know the URC. From what you have said, your church in Des Moines is not particularly ethnic. Outside Southern California, which in some ways is a whole different world from much of the rest of the denomination, it most definitely **DOES** matter if you come from a long family history of Dutch Reformed conservatives.

    Of course, having a Dutch name doesn’t guarantee acceptance. Actually, having the **WRONG** Dutch name can really hurt people, and I know a certain URC elder who used to apologize when meeting people for the first time because he was a relative of a well-known CRC liberal. Likewise, a non-Dutch person who takes the time to learn about and understand the Dutch Reformed community and subculture can get accepted despite being an outsider. There is a long history, for example, of Orthodox Presbyterians marrying into the CRC and getting accepted.

    But arguing that “it does not matter in the least if I have a Dutch surname” in a Dutch Reformed conservative denomination is simply not true, whether URC, PRC, FRC, NRC, HRC, CanRC, or something else.

  179. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    DTM, if you don’t know New School Presbyterianism then why do you base so much of your rejection of 2k on your understanding of Old School Presbyterian (i.e., defense of slavery)? If fact, you don’t know the history of Reformed Protestantism or its political engagements (and I’m still learning). So since a big part of your critique is that 2k is novel, your point requires some proficiency in history — which you don’t have.

    It’s fine to object to 2k. But do it on the basis of understanding. Try theology or the Bible. History is not going to cooperate. (But it sure does rile up the rank-and-file to think 2k has never been heard before.)

  180. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    DTM, you wrote: “Perhaps we agree on the principle and differ on the application of the principle?”

    Me: Duh.

    Double me: so how can you write so long-windedly and in such a shabby context about something you don’t know about but only speculate?

  181. Bob Morris
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Darrell TM doesn.t know how to spell his given name right, but otherwise I think he is more Biblical and correctly political than Darryl GH. I couldn’t spare my time from my complete unofficial Alexian attempts to minister to age mates to read ALL of DTM’s messages. What I scanned seemed right on. Was it he who said DGH’s job @ Hillsdale betrayed his political positions? I don’t think so! Sorry I now have to tell my dear mate that I fell into sin again after managing to ignore OLTS for quite some time! Love, BM Have fun with my sorry initials, everybody. Well, ‘most everybody.

  182. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, I’m glad we agree that aborting babies and lynching black people are both wrong. Would I be correct in concluding that you believe the church should be teaching its members that killing people is wrong, even if (maybe even especially if) they are members of despised minority groups or are babies in the womb who inconvenience their mother?

    If we agree on that, I think progress has been made in understanding each other.

    I’ve seen the “civil union” argument raised before in the format you raise it now and I think I need to spend more time trying to understand why some “Two Kingdoms” people think this would have been a good solution. My two quick answers are that

    1) all of what you propose as the benefits of a civil union can already be done via wills, durable powers of attorney, medical advance care directives naming someone as the person to make decisions, custodianships, guardianships, and similar documents, and

    2) the homosexual community is pushing marriage out of a goal of getting society to accept their relationships and treat them as normal, so getting us to agree to halfway measures only allows them to make progress toward their ultimate goal of social acceptance of homosexuality.

    But “Two Kingdoms” people are neither stupid nor naive. You already know this. Can you help me understand why you believe allowing non-sexual civil unions will be (or at least could have been in the 1990s) an acceptable compromise that would have satisfied the promoters of the homosexual agenda in society?

  183. sean
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Old Bob,

    since you seem flexible with your name, can we just call you; “Blue”? Maybe even “my boy Blue”? It’s a term of endearment, so it carries none of the bathroom connotations of BM, though I understand those are nothing to take for granted.

  184. sean
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    sb;………though I understand those are nothing to take for granted, nor be unthankful for.(sorry for the prep)

  185. Posted April 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Hart posted April 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm: “DTM, if you don’t know New School Presbyterianism then why do you base so much of your rejection of 2k on your understanding of Old School Presbyterian (i.e., defense of slavery)? If fact, you don’t know the history of Reformed Protestantism or its political engagements (and I’m still learning). So since a big part of your critique is that 2k is novel, your point requires some proficiency in history — which you don’t have. It’s fine to object to 2k. But do it on the basis of understanding. Try theology or the Bible. History is not going to cooperate. (But it sure does rile up the rank-and-file to think 2k has never been heard before.)”

    Dr. Hart, you have an earned doctorate and years of teaching. I respect the fact that you have at your fingertips things which most laymen — and even most seminary professors who don’t specialize in the subjects you have studied — would need to spend days if not months researching.

    I am not an expert. You know that and I know that. I’m a layman trying to argue against a trained professor of theology and that places me at a significant disadvantage. You know New School and Old School Presbyterianism better than I do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know it at all.

    I think you would have to agree that I care a lot more about both doctrine and church history than many of your critics. I think I might know a lot more about the subjects you have studied and on which you teach than a large majority of the laymen who object to your views, though certainly not as much as some of your critics. Regardless, I’m taking the time to try to understand you and respond to what I understand to be your primary contention, namely, that the modern “Two Kingdoms” movement is 1) a legitimate heir of the Old School Presbyterian position and 2) the proper confessional Reformed viewpoint.

    Speaking candidly, Dr. Hart, I’d rather talk “to” people and talk “with” people than talk “about” them. I’m taking the time to come onto your website and interact with you. I wrote an extended essay arguing that the Two Kingdoms position, as I understand it, is not correct. I know full well that you won’t agree with me. You may well be able to poke holes in my arguments. That’s fine and that’s what theological debate is all about.

    But if I were in your shoes, I’d at least appreciate the fact that one of your critics is trying to understand and interact with “Two Kingdoms” people rather than just talk about people with whom I disagree.

    Look, if I can figure out how to talk in a civil tone of voice with real liberals, certainly I can figure out how to have a reasonable conversation with an OPC elder. Have I always succeeded in doing that? Of course not. I’ve said some fiery things, particularly back in 2007 and 2008, which I would not say today because it has become clear to me that “Two Kingdoms” theology is not the liberalism I fought in the Christian Reformed Church.

    But I wouldn’t be reading and commenting on this website if I wasn’t willing to try to discuss things with the people with whom I disagree.

  186. sean
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Why is important that I or anybody know and interact with your particular brand of culture warring? And can you tighten it up a bit. I mean maybe you have or haven’t, but have you interacted with and read Van Drunnen’s books? How about Darryl’s? And if not, wouldn’t that be the place to start? Lots of spit balling gets done on blogs not to mention ‘Noise’ as someone else has already pointed out. So, why now and why you and why this medium? It doesn’t come off as if your doing in an ‘interview’, so that line doesn’t work. Where’s the thought; ‘that I’ll impune the character of and poison the well by making provocative if not unflattering associations and then play the ‘I’m just trying to have a conversation card.” If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly, but don’t stick a thumb in someone’s eye and then come back with; “I just wanna talk. What What”

  187. Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    A Trumpet Toot to Expose the Radical Two Kingdoms (R2K) Agenda

    by Donald Tom Mangino

    Recently a dense and ominous fog has descended over the Conservative Reformed & Presbyterian world. Led by Misty Irons and her husband, a defrocked minister named Mr. Misty Irons, a cadre of Mrs. Irons minions have been telling people it was o.k. to not vote for John McCain and Mitt Romney and that one’s political views on abortion and gay marriage should not be litmus tests for church membership.

    Lest you question my Reformed bona fides, rest assured that I recently used the restroom of the Calvin College library and let me tell you, the graffiti inside the stall was in no ways friendly to R2K.

    One need only look at the players on the R2K side to see that there ideas are not only not Dutch, they are down right offensive to anyone who has ever sent a check to Ralph Reed or Pat Robertson.

    Let’s start with the self-proclaimed ringleader, Darryl “D.G.” Hart. An elder in the (allegedly) Orthodox Presbyterian church, Hart not only does not have children, he doesn’t send his children to Christian schools! Rumor has it that his wife also works outside the home! Add to that a preference for cats over dogs and a self-professed penchant for watching films with subtitles and little doubt can be raised over the heterodoxy of this dangerous man.

    Hart’s chief protégé seems to be a main named Jed Paschall. Although little is known about this man, I have been able to ascertain that his theological training is limited to an incomplete Bible college degree. At last report he was making his living delivering pizzas in South Central Los Angeles while blogging from his IPhone in between runs. His posts are necessarily hard to decipher.

    Another Hart follower is Steven “Zrim” Zrimec, who not only has the nerve to live in the Grand Rapids area without being Dutch, but compounds the offense by having a surname that ends in “Z” without being prefaced by “Vander” or “Van”.

    A Hart follower who should know better because he is a member of the learned legal profession is Mitchell “Mikelmann” Mahan. Mahan’s dangerous ideas include the notion that homoesexuals seeking to be married in his native Iowa should not be locked up on sight.

    Further demonstrating the mendacity of these men is the manner in which their frequent opponents are treated on Hart’s “Oldlife” blog. Doug Sowers, a theonomist of the most impeccable credentials — the man learned at the feet of the great Greg Bahnsen himself! — has regularly had his jeremiads & vociferous rants disregarded rather than received with the submission and respect that they so obviously deserve.

    Richard Smith, a much-beloved (by me) fan of The Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, O’Doul’s, and “Little House on the Prairie” is regularly dismissed.

    Robert “Old Bob” Morris — a man who has been in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church so long that he has apparently forgotten that the Westminster Standards and not Fox News are the authoritative documents in the denomination is similarly cast aside by these scoundrels.

    If this menace is not stopped the singles will surely stop flowing into the offering plate of your Reformed Church, the Democrats may capture the U.S. House, and precious alliances between our P&R churches and the Baylys and the CREC could be in grave danger.

    Heed the call before it is too late! Ban people who don’t read the right Dutch theologians from your churches today!

  188. Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    All of your outsider/insider bull just makes you look like a gadfly and a troublemaker. If we are in violation of the Confessions we can be brought up on charges. We can’t be brought up on charges if we aren’t Dutch or if our church doesn’t look like the CRC circa 1945. You need to consider if your many words aren’t going to do real damage in people’s lives. This isn’t a game for your amusement. I joke around, but I’m not suggesting disciplining people who aren’t 2K. Our side lives and lets live. Yours seems to want hegemony.

  189. Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    For the record DTM does not speak for his pastor or his session (per his pastor). He has yet to produce a name as to who he does represent. If it’s just him, he’s not an officebearer in any P&R church.

  190. Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    It appears to be unanimous – DTM, Doug, Richard, & Old Bob agree. Lord help me if I ever have to appear before that Session.

  191. Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    DTM – Jeff, I’m glad we agree that aborting babies and lynching black people are both wrong. Would I be correct in concluding that you believe the church should be teaching its members that killing people is wrong, even if (maybe even especially if) they are members of despised minority groups or are babies in the womb who inconvenience their mother?

    If we agree on that, I think progress has been made in understanding each other.

    Erik – DTM picked this approach up in the Kloosterman School of Condescending Blog Interaction.

  192. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 19, 2013 at 9:53 am: “I repeat my question that you tried to sarcastically dismiss without answering: What is your Scriptural basis for the doctrine of “the trumpet of the church”? Where do you see a responsibility put on the church to do anything but gather together to worship, to care for the saints, and to be planting churches? What political activism can you point to in the Book of Acts? In the Pastoral Epistles? In the Reformed Confessions?”

    Erik,I’m not trying to sarcastically dismiss your questions without answering them. Maybe you do things that way. I certainly don’t intend to do them that way, or I wouldn’t be here at all.

    When I wrote that “I am confused by your question,” I meant it. I really do not understand your question. It seems that three of the things you said (ministers using the mass media or open air preaching or sending out press releases) are done by all sides in this debate and I don’t see those as being dividing lines between “Two Kingdoms” theology and “neo-Calvinists.” The fourth item on your list, compelling people to come to church services, is something that as far as I can tell nobody in the modern Reformed world in North America is advocating. I am quite aware that there were people who advocated exactly that — compulsory attendance at worship services — as recently as early American history but would appear to be contrary to the American revision of the Westminster Standards.

    I can affirm some of what you say in your response cited above. I would argue that the institutional church ought, in general, to limit its actions to those items covered by the three marks of the true church.

    However, you’re failing to ask the question of what a Christian who is a citizen or a public official should do in his role as a citizen or a public official.

    There was only one person among the apostles who was a Roman citizen and had any right at all to participate in the politics of his day, and even those rights were rather severely circumscribed. That was the Apostle Paul. Surely you know how Paul used his rights as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar, and also how he demanded that the Philippian jailers, who had beaten him contrary to Roman law, escort him out of jail publicly.

    Here’s the text, from Acts 16:35-40: “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”

    As far as I know, there was only one government official mentioned by name as a member of a New Testament church — Erastus, the city treasurer of Corinth, mentioned in Romans 16:23. At an absolute minimum, this proves, contra the Anabaptists, that Christians are allowed to hold civil office.

    The preaching of the Word is among the marks of the true church. Surely, Erik, you are not arguing that a pastor ought to let members of his church who are government officials go completely without any teaching whatsoever on what the Bible says about how to apply biblical principles to their roles as Christian civil magistrates. I happen to think that work is often done better by individual Christians than by the church as institute, but biblical principles do exist.

    Erik, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I remember that you’re an accountant. Is your work not governed by principles of honesty and of just weights and measures? Would you not want an accountant working in the government to be willing to “blow the whistle” when his employer wants him to cover up some sort of financial scandal or problem found in an audit?

    Scripture says a great deal about principles which Christians are to follow in their daily lives. It doesn’t address everything by any means, but when Scripture does speak we are not to stay silent.

  193. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    DTM: 1) all of what you propose as the benefits of a civil union can already be done via wills, durable powers of attorney, medical advance care directives naming someone as the person to make decisions, custodianships, guardianships, and similar documents,

    This is probably correct (to the limits of my knowledge. I am not a lawyer). Civil unions would have streamlined the process of accomplishing what is already legal.

    Given that, what is your objection, exactly? Would you advocate *disallowing* advance care directives for people who are gay?

    DTM: 2) the homosexual community is pushing marriage out of a goal of getting society to accept their relationships and treat them as normal, …

    Which point I acknowledged and addressed.

    DTM: …so getting us to agree to halfway measures only allows them to make progress toward their ultimate goal of social acceptance of homosexuality.

    Ah, the slippery slope. The question is, does this slope slip? See, halfway measures fall into two categories. The first category are “unstable compromises” that make progress towards a further goal. Don’t Ask was in this category. It was unstable because it was untenable to pretend that people don’t wonder about the sexual preferences of others. It made progress towards the goal because it created a safe haven for gays to become respected members of the military.

    So DADT was a stepping-stone towards a larger goal.

    The Kansas-Nebraska Act was another unstable halfway measure, and I don’t need to rehearse the details.

    Other compromises are stable compromises that hold up over time. One of those is the division of the legislative branch into Senate and House, with proportional representation in the House only. This compromise (which was instrumental in the ratification of the Constitution) has held up because states have a self-interest in preserving the status quo. It makes sense to keep it, despite rants from either side of the aisle that happen when votes don’t go their way.

    In my view, civil unions would have been a stable compromise. It would have allowed us as a society to say that relationships can take many forms (without regard to sexuality), but marriage is reserved for man and woman.

    DTM: But “Two Kingdoms” people are neither stupid nor naive. You already know this.

    Well, stop right there. I got to my view of civil unions from a Framean analysis of the situation in 2004 or 2005. At that time, I had never heard of Darryl G. Hart. My exposure to 2k as a theological movement was limited to Muether’s “Church and World” class through RTS — at which point I was entirely unable to swallow the concept — followed by Jue’s classes in church history, which helped me greatly to understand Kline.

    So the notion of civil union is actually independent of 2k thought. It comes down to the analysis I gave above: One can separate sexual issues from non-sexual.

    DTM: Can you help me understand why you believe allowing non-sexual civil unions will be (or at least could have been in the 1990s) an acceptable compromise that would have satisfied the promoters of the homosexual agenda in society?

    It may *not* have satisfied them. The goal, frankly, is not to satisfy them. I don’t agree with their agenda. The goal is to satisfy the consciences of those who recognize that gays cannot be married in God’s sight, yet should have the same rights in non-sexual matters as anyone else.

    Those people have been co-opted to favor gay marriage because they have been left with no alternative.

    The trick here is to know when to give ground and when to draw a line in the sand. In my analysis, the right line to draw is at the actual point of sin. Non-sexual relational matters between gays are not a matter of sin. So give that ground. That helps you to hold the line where it really counts.

  194. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    DTM: Would I be correct in concluding that you believe the church should be teaching its members that killing people is wrong, even if (maybe even especially if) they are members of despised minority groups or are babies in the womb who inconvenience their mother?

    Yes.

  195. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted on April 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm: “DTM picked this approach up in the Kloosterman School of Condescending Blog Interaction.”

    Erik, if you knew more about the history of the URC, and the personalities involved, you would know why the idea of me picking up ways of blog interaction from Dr. Kloosterman makes little sense.

    Dr. Kloosterman and I have had significant disagreements about quite a few things. Most of them are not public, but they are not unknown among URC ministers.

    I am not going to speak for Dr. Kloosterman, but I am going to say that I think interacting on the internet can be helpful in trying to understand what people are saying. If you think I’m being condescending, I can’t change your opinion, but I can tell you that you are wrong about my intent.

  196. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    If these guys succeed in taking over the OPC & URC the Missouri Synod Lutheran church where my daughter attends will be looking very appealing. Lutherans seem to have a constitutional immunity to this nonsense. It will take quite awhile for things to get bad, though, if they do. I know several good men in the Des Moines URC and OPC who would have to be driven out.

  197. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    DTM – However, you’re failing to ask the question of what a Christian who is a citizen or a public official should do in his role as a citizen or a public official.

    Erik – No, I ask the question and I have no problem with it. You are the one who is “sounding the alarm”. Who in the 2K movement is not letting people do things as citizens or public officials?

    DTM – Surely, Erik, you are not arguing that a pastor ought to let members of his church who are government officials go completely without any teaching whatsoever on what the Bible says about how to apply biblical principles to their roles as Christian civil magistrates

    Erik – What 2K pastors are refusing to do this? In my church it’s pretty simple. The pastor preaches through books or Catechisms/Confessions. Right now he’s going through the Canons of Dort. The only agenda is what comes up in the order of those books or documents. What’s so hard or mysterious about that? No topic is shrunk back from. My pastor has all of the boogeyman tendencies you are so animated by — Not Dutch, Not raised in Reformed churches, went to “Escondido”, took classes from Hart, Kline, Clark, & Horton, etc. and he’s one of the finest pastors and men I’ve ever known. Him & I even examined your minister. You need to stop the fearmongering about solid Christian people.

  198. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Until you have at least read Hart’s “A Secular Faith” and/or Van Drunen’s “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms” and “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms” you are really committing journalistic malpractice. You base all this on what you have read on blogs? You say things that sound utterly ridiculous to people that have actually read these books.

  199. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Erik, you’ve said things several places in several ways about filing charges.

    As I said before, I have no intention of filing any charges against anyone. I think that’s premature at best with regard to the vast majority of the Two Kingdoms people.

    The few people who I believe can be validly accused at this point of being outside the bounds have already received public attention, or in some cases, have received early-stage private inquiries. That has all been done by people other than me. Apart from the Misty Irons case, I have little knowledge of what is going on in that regard, other than that some people are a lot angrier than I am and are prepared to act when I am not.

    As far as I’m concerned, at this point we’re in the discussion phase. I’m not sure formal church discipline will ever be needed, but it’s certainly not time yet.

    The reason why is there is a big difference between error and heresy.

    Let’s take one example. People in the Reformed world have argued back and forth for several generations about presuppositional apologetics versus classical apologetics. I know some people who might want to make Van Tillianism into a term of communion, and some of my professors called Van Til’s views “nonsense.” However, most people on both sides of that debate consider the issue to be important and worthy of heated argument, but not worthy of discipline. From what I have been told by people who studied under Cornelius Van Til, he was horrified when he heard his supporters saying people on the other side of the issue should be disciplined, and if that anecdote is correct, it speaks well of Van Til.

    Opponents of “Two Kingdoms” theology also have to deal with the fact that there has been a precedent for a century and a half of the Reformed church world either tolerating or officially supporting the “Old School” position on “spirituality of the church.”

    I have no interest in declaring that position to be heretical. Wrong, yes. Heresy, no.

    That means if “Two Kingdoms” theology is ever to be formally repudiated by the church, it must first be proved that it is not in line with the Old School “spirituality of the church” position.

    I’ve made my views clear on that issue, but even if “Two Kingdoms” theology is not in line with the Old School “spirituality of the church” position, it could very well be a new error which should be argued against rather than cause for church discipline.

    Let me state this as clearly as I can, Erik.

    If I thought it was time for excommunicating “Two Kingdoms” people, you would know. I don’t speak lightly about such matters.

    When I say it’s time to discuss, I mean it. If you don’t believe me, that’s up to you.

  200. Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I’ll grant a point that you and Dr. Lee have both made. I need to go back and re-read, with some serious analysis, certain key books by Two Kingdoms advocates.

    You’ve taken the time to do a paragraph-by-paragraph, and in some cases line-by-line, analysis and review of what I’ve written. I appreciate that. I’m digesting what you’ve written because it helps me understand where you and I disagree and where we may actually agree.

    Mark Van Der Molen did something similar with Matt Tuininga last year.

    That kind of detailed analysis is the way to understand an important issue. I should be doing something comparable to that, though obviously most if not all of my notes would be for my own use only. Skimming and reading books quickly is not enough when the issues are this important.

  201. todd
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    “If these guys succeed in taking over the OPC & URC the Missouri Synod Lutheran church where my daughter attends will be looking very appealing. Lutherans seem to have a constitutional immunity to this nonsense. It will take quite awhile for things to get bad, though, if they do. I know several good men in the Des Moines URC and OPC who would have to be driven out.”

    Erik, I wouldn’t worry about that. You cannot take what appears in blogville as an indication of real life. All of us who frequent blogs are really a bunch of geeks. It would be like attending a Star Trek convention and worrying about the future of adult males in America.

    People like the Bayly’s like to huff and puff and scare people, but most men are sensible enough, like Jeff, that even when they may not agree with our brand of 2k, they see we are dealing in the realm of church-state theories. The majority of people in my church are conservative Republicans, but they could care less that I am a libertarian, if they even know. They know what is important. And while the majority of officers in my Presbytery probably would disagree with my church-state views, they also know what is important and Confessional, they are mature Presbyters, and would not be persuaded by these silly scare tactics. It helps not to take what you see on the Internet with much seriousness. You are basically getting push-back from some political wonks who do not like that we dare disagree with their agendas.

    Jeff, I have to hand it to you. In the face of threats and accusations from the theonomists and Bayly types, you present a case publicly for civil same sex unions. You do have guts (as I prepare the charges against you).

  202. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, what you wrote above (Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm and Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm) is helpful.

    I’m not yet sure I understand your views on civil unions with regard to homosexuality, and ironically I think I may actually have a more favorable attitude than you do toward “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (my former congressman was the primary author of that policy), but I am beginning to think you and I are discussing applications of principles, not questioning the core principle or its foundations.

    If you agree that abortion is murder, and something against which the institutional church should preach and teach, I think we’re making some real progress.

  203. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    DTM – Apart from the Misty Irons case, I have little knowledge of what is going on in that regard, other than that some people are a lot angrier than I am and are prepared to act when I am not.

    Erik – Such as who? And where do you get this? Or is it just gossip?

    You back off now, but in your piece you talk about “outsiders” and say “People who maintain serious doctrinal error without being carefully discipled can easily confuse, corrupt, and eventually destroy the same churches that welcomed them with open arms.”

    Which is it? You have no interest in disciplining people who are doing this to Presbyterian & Reformed churches?

  204. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Todd,

    So you believe DTM to be either lying or delusional when he says he knows lots of people who are ready to take action?

  205. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen one man from our URC Classis who is animated against 2K. A normal gathering of Classis usually includes 40-50 delegates I would guess. He has some work to do.

  206. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Sean posted April 19, 2013 at 8:29 am: “DTM, I think you need to be more circumspect about what the OPC had a “major fight” over. It was the better part of charity that a number of OPC folk set aside their suspicion of their brothers and accepted that the issue with Lee Irons was in fact over the use of the law and NOT an excuse to punitively discipline him or his wife over her views on homosexuality.”

    Based on this post, I plan to go back and review again the records of the Irons case. I’ve read them, and read them in considerable detail along with articles and discussion of the case, but it’s been a while.

    It is not unheard of for two sides to interpret the results of a political or judicial case differently, and sometimes those differences can color the actual decision in ways that are not correct. I have no desire to do that, and I think we can agree that “back to the sources” is a valuable method in such matters.

  207. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    If all this is just a bull session I have better things to do. You are the one who brought your piece here. Get back to me when there are some teeth behind it.

  208. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Erik asserts; “Another question to ask is, who linked “abortion and gay marriage” together? They don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. Not too many gay people getting abortions. The only thing they have in common is that the right can raise a lot of money around them.”

    Me: Earth to Erik! Let me give you something abortion and gay marriage have in common. Both were deemed death penalty offenses by the LORD. How can you miss the obvious? Have you read the old testament? If God thinks both are worthy of death, who are you to question God?

    As an aside Erik, God drove Israel out of the promised land for sacrificing their children to Moleck and for their sexual perversions. How you don’t see a link, to what’s going on today is remarkable. Wake up and read the Bible, bro!

  209. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    DTM: Thanks.

    I’m not yet sure I understand your views on civil unions with regard to homosexuality,

    Here it is in brief: Two people who live together (or possibly in close proximity) should be able to designate one another as a partner in matters financial and legal.

    The sexual relationship between the two people is of no import to this proposal. They could be lovers, siblings, next-door neighbors.

  210. Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I am not backing off of anything I wrote in my essay.

    If I were backing off, you would have no doubt about it because I would clearly say some version of this: “I was wrong, and here’s why.”

    Erik Charter posted April 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm: “You back off now, but in your piece you talk about ‘outsiders’ and say ‘People who maintain serious doctrinal error without being carefully discipled can easily confuse, corrupt, and eventually destroy the same churches that welcomed them with open arms.’ Which is it? You have no interest in disciplining people who are doing this to Presbyterian & Reformed churches.”

    Erik, I have stated principles which I affirm because I believe them to be true.

    Applying those principles depends on many factors, not the least of which are intent and attitude. A person may believe open heresy on key doctrines of the Christian faith, but if he is teachable, he should be treated much more gently than a rebellious person who maintains a minor doctrinal error and insists on teaching it.

    Surely you actually affirm the principle I stated.

    Let’s change the issue to which that principle applies to something where I think you, Dr. Hart, and I will all agree.

    The PCA is full of broad evangelicals who have not been properly taught what it means to be Reformed. Let’s apply my sentence — “People who maintain serious doctrinal error without being carefully discipled can easily confuse, corrupt, and eventually destroy the same churches that welcomed them with open arms” — not to the Two Kingdoms issue but to someone who comes into the PCA from a Baptist background.

    If that person doesn’t get taught what it means to be Reformed, starts advocating believers baptism by immersion only, and because he is a particularly winsome person, gets lots of members to join the church who agree with him, the church is going to have major problems.

    This is not theoretical. I know at least a PCA elder who advocates believers baptism by immersion. His church is now, at best, a Reformed Baptist church, and I’m not convinced the key leaders are even four-point Calvinists. As far as I can tell, the presbytery seems to be ignoring it because the pastor is a nice guy and the elders don’t make a big deal of their views. They’ll baptize babies upon request, but that is no longer the normal practice of the church and they don’t consider affirming infant baptism to be a requirement for office.

    I think that church should have the integrity to leave the PCA, but since the presbytery doesn’t mind, I start to sound like an old-fashioned stick-in-the-mud who is stricter than the denomination of which they are a part.

    I have personally handed a copy of the Westminster Standards to a person who was about to be ordained as a PCA deacon who had never heard of the Westminster Standards and knew nothing about the history of the PCA. I told him that if he was going to be in office in the PCA, God would judge him severely if he took an oath that he believed a confession he had never even read, let along agreed with. To his credit, he read the Westminster Standards, he read the church history books I gave him, and as far as I know, he’s been a good deacon. But there’s something really wrong when a church could choose someone as a deacon who doesn’t even know that the Westminster Confessions exists.

    I could cite far worse situations in the PCA than those. I suspect most people on this website could cite such situations as well. Many of the PCA’s problems are caused because many laypeople people have little or no idea what the confessions say and therefore get blown by every wind of doctrine. Elders who do not know the confessions cannot teach their people or call their ministers to account.

    With that example in mind, would you not agree that “people who maintain serious doctrinal error without being carefully discipled can easily confuse, corrupt, and eventually destroy the same churches that welcomed them with open arms?”

  211. todd
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    There is certainly a right-ward trend that has been slowly occurring in conservative R &P circles. (When I first entered the OP 15 years ago, a well-known minister who had been trained at old Westminster under Murray, Van Til, Young, etc… told me that when he entered the OPC 40 years ago he was considered on the far right, now he is considered on the left, and had not changed any of his views!). I imagine some of the younger 2k men training for ministry will have a more difficult time in certain Presbyteries and classis’ becoming ordained, but these things take years to develop. I don’t see anything getting decided in the courts, but more in pockets of Presbyteries simply not allowing certain men to get ordained there, something to that effect is already taking place in one of our Presbyteries who will not approve men who are not 6/24 hours on creation. I think our denominations have gotten an influx in the last ten years or so of more fundamentalist types who really do not understand American Presbyterianism, and they do not like the freedom we traditionally have allowed on matters of the days of creation, 2k, etc…

    IMO, this is really an effort to rid the reformed churches of any vestiges of Meredith Kline. For a good while it was his Framework view, and that didn’t go anywhere, so now it is 2k. Like I said, there are just too many men who have been around a long time either indebted to Kline, (like me), or who disagree with him but appreciate his contributions to reformed theology to get anything done officially. But I imagine when my generation dies off that may all change.

  212. sean
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I won’t speak for Todd but delusional is a word. Longascholngadonkle is another

  213. Posted April 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm: “Todd, So you believe DTM to be either lying or delusional when he says he knows lots of people who are ready to take action?”

    Erik, believe what you want.

    Listen to me when I say that not all errors are heresy. I can think of a lot of issues on which I have very strong theological views and on which I will make some pretty fiery arguments for my positions, but on which I would never dream of calling for discipline.

    I know what people are telling me. I am not lying and I will not lie to you. Some people are a lot father than me on this.

    What I don’t know for sure is where the current majorities lay on this issue, and even within denominations, that probably varies a lot from church to church, from presbytery to presbytery, and from classis to classis.

    Also, much probably depends on how the issue gets framed. In the PCA, a fight on disciplining a specific elder advocating a “pro-choice” position on abortion (not that I know of any such people in the PCA) likely would get lots of PCA people really, really, really angry, including those who are not necessarily very Reformed. A fight today on the “Two Kingdoms” issue in the abstract would probably get regarded by a lot of people in the PCA as an ivory-tower battle between theologians.

    By contrast, I think the OPC takes theology much more seriously and would think through the issues a lot more carefully, but would take a lot more time to act than the PCA even if that same hypothetical elder had far less support for his views.

    My training and experience both tell me that most people tend to talk to each other in their own circles of people who share similar interests and generally agree.

    The result is that in the absence of poll data, people are often very surprised when they see the vote totals on election night. Absent lots of prior discussion, the same is often true at a city council or school board meeting, or even a larger body like a state legislature.

    What I have said consistently in this matter is that when discipline is attempted before the average layperson in a denomination understands the issue, bad things happen. Sometimes they are really, really bad things.

    Now is the time for discussion so we understand each other.

  214. Posted April 19, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Doug,

    Thanks, as always, for the theonomy commercial. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

    By the way, Sabbath breaking was also a capital offense.

  215. Posted April 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    DTM – With that example in mind, would you not agree that “people who maintain serious doctrinal error without being carefully discipled can easily confuse, corrupt, and eventually destroy the same churches that welcomed them with open arms?”

    Erik- People advocating 2K are not P&R rookies. Hart, Van Drunen, Horton, even little old me are mature men in their 40s or beyond. The problem is your definition of 2K as “serious doctrinal error”. As Bryan Cross would put it, you’re begging the question by presuming that it is.

  216. Posted April 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    DTM – I know what people are telling me. I am not lying and I will not lie to you. Some people are a lot father than me on this.

    Erik – Just no one you are willing to name or that has gone public, I guess.

    When you are making serious accusations against people, by name, and are only willing to refer to hearsay support to strengthen your argument, are you not getting dangerously close to violating the ninth commandment?

    Q. 76. Which is the ninth commandment?
    A. The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    Q. 77. What is required in the ninth commandment?
    A. The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness-bearing.

    Q. 78. What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
    A. The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own, or our neighbor’s, good name.

  217. Posted April 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve found your banter mildly entertaining in the past, but now that you’ve taken it in a direction that could impact people’s lives and livelihoods I’m finding it less amusing.

  218. Posted April 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Rev. Bordow, I think we agree on what you posted April 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm.

    You are right that the Reformed world is moving to the right, theologically speaking. I have a feeling we both know the same church leader, and if we don’t, there are two different men with identical views who were once viewed as far right and are now far left without changing at all.

    Some of that move to the right is good, because people are taking the confessions seriously and studying their history.

    Some of it is bad because it involves the influence of fundamentalism imported into Reformed churches in violation of our confessions.

    I think sociology underlies a significant part of this. Three to four generations ago, Presbyterianism was still a religion of the upper-middle to upper-classes. Princeton was, after all, an Ivy League school. As the Christian foundations of our society have collapsed, people who take Scripture seriously in any sense of the word are now much more likely to be from social groups which are far removed from the Ivy League. The result is a rise of fundamentalism, not only in American church life as a whole, but also in Reformed circles.

    I have no problem with fundamentalists in fundamentalist churches. Churches need to enforce and be faithful to their doctrinal standards or statements of faith, and if a fundamentalist church wants to teach fundamentalism, that’s up to them.

    However, doctrines such as Christian freedom and the regulative principle are key to being Reformed and are incompatible with fundamentalism as traditionally understood in America. If we truly believe in total depravity, we aren’t going to be trying to make up man-made rules but will stick with what Scripture has said, and not try to go beyond what is written, out of the conviction that any man-made rule will be stained by our sin.

    Going beyond what has been written is a road that leads to Rome.

    Also, fundamentalism reduces dozens of pages of doctrine in the confessions to a few brief “fundamentals of the faith.” Reformed people are supposed to think and are supposed to take doctrine seriously. Reformed people can and should do better than that.

  219. Posted April 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm: “I’ve found your banter mildly entertaining in the past, but now that you’ve taken it in a direction that could impact people’s lives and livelihoods I’m finding it less amusing.”

    Erik, perhaps you know of some people whose “lives and livelihoods” could be impacted.

    I don’t.

    I’m assuming you didn’t actually mean that anybody is actually advocating taking anyone’s life for being a “two kingdoms” advocate.

    As for livelihoods, every prominent “Two Kingdoms” advocate I know is either 1) a pastor in a “safe” pulpit with people who agree with him, 2) in a seminary where his views are being tolerated, or 3) a layperson who is not paid by a church or a Christian organization.

    Maybe you know of a case, but I don’t.

    Could that happen in the future?

    Yes. But as I see things, we are a very long way away from anyone’s livelihood being affected, and I’m not yet convinced any of that is necessary.

  220. sean
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    DTM:”Yes. But as I see things, we are a very long way away from anyone’s livelihood being affected, and I’m not yet convinced any of that is necessary.”

    Me: DTM, I’m still confused how your being convinced one way or the other has any bearing whatsoever on the possibility of a pastor’s or professor’s or anyone outside your employ, livelihood being affected? This has been one of the more odd ‘tempest in a teapot’, snipe hunting excursions I’ve witnessed. Somebody bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!

  221. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    DTM, I am not claiming professional expertise. I am saying that you are basing a lot of your argument against 2k on history, and then you explain that you are not proficient in history. Don’t you see that’s a pretty weak argument to be going public with?

    Plus, I do not get the sense that you have read the books by 2kers. What you appear to have done is read a lot of blogs. If you want to be taken seriously, you should read more of the sustained 2k arguments. But, sorry for the ad hominem, I sense you take a certain delight in riling up the anti-2kers.

    Overall, your argument doesn’t make sense. You waffle, back away from your evidence, claim 2kers for support. But you are clear in your culture-war agenda.

    If you want to have a discussion to understand, why not ask questions rather than write long posts about 2k’s defects?

  222. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Sean, sorry to repeat your point.

  223. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Erik, do they have to read the Dutch theologians in Dutch?

  224. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    DTM, you can find honesty, just weights and measures among Buddhists and Muslims. This is crucial to a Christian w-w?

  225. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, Frame!?!

  226. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    DTM, if you have no intention of declaring Old School Presbyterianism to be heretical, they why do you associate it with a cover for defending something you claim to be sinful — slavery? You’re ducking and weaving again.

  227. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Doug, what was the penalty in the OT for badmouthing priests and elders? You know, the way you diss VanDrunen? Bet you’re loving secular liberty now.

  228. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    DGH: yes. Warts and all, he has some things to offer.

  229. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Sean – Somebody bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!

    Erik – That’s in my queue. Just started season 2 of “The Wire” today.

    DTM,

    “lives” meaning “quality of life”, as in, if I’m in a church that cracks down on 2K, that aspect of my life will stink.

  230. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    D.G. – Erik, do they have to read the Dutch theologians in Dutch?

    No, a Kloosterman translation, purchased from his site, will suffice.

  231. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone verified Doug’s church membership and shepherds? I would like to send them a bottle of Pepto-Bismol and a case of Scotch.

  232. mark mcculley
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    This just in from a disciple of the w-view guy who wore short pants in Switzerland (what’s the difference between image and effect?) You know, the one who defended “free-will” against “scientific determinism”.

    http://www.reformation21.org/articles/some-thoughts-on-gay-rights.php

  233. Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    When Doug sent me Bahnsen’s book the return address was a UPS Store in a community that looked something like this 40 years ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L3v8-poBa4

  234. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    DTM, you write: “Going beyond what has been written is a road that leads to Rome.”

    Fine. So where does the Bible say you must oppose gay marriage. The Bible condemns homosexuality. But it does not insist that a Christian must oppose gay marriage. It’s not even clear that you need to regard homosexuality as a sin to be a Christian (officers are different).

    So aren’t you leading people to Rome?

  235. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Erik, no!!! Not from Kloostermannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!

  236. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Mark Mcculley posted April 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm: “This just in from a disciple of the w-view guy who wore short pants in Switzerland (what’s the difference between image and effect?) You know, the one who defended ‘free-will’ against ‘scientific determinism’.”

    Thank you for posting the link to Dr. Edgar’s article on responding to homosexual advocacy.

    Is this an article with which you disagree? I wasn’t exactly clear on the intent of the comment.

  237. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Bob and DTM, have you ever heard about the differences between neo-cons, paleo-cons, Straussians, and libertarians? If not, then maybe you don’t know much about politics (and you’re not going to learn it from Fox News).

    But Fox may run a story that Old BM agrees with DTM. Dog bites man.

  238. Richard Smith
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: DTM, you write: “Going beyond what has been written is a road that leads to Rome.”

    D.G. Hart: Fine. So where does the Bible say you must oppose gay marriage. The Bible condemns homosexuality. But it does not insist that a Christian must oppose gay marriage. It’s not even clear that you need to regard homosexuality as a sin to be a Christian (officers are different).

    RS: The Bible does speak to this issue very clearly. The support (or support by silence) of gay marriage is a declaration that is in opposition to what God says about marriage and supports homosexual activity as normal or acceptable. The drive for gay marriage is a drive to have homosexuality seen as normal and okay. It is also a horrible twisting of what God has done in marriage and is an attack on the picture of the Church which is the body of Christ and is married to Christ.

    Romans 1: 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
    28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,…32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

    D.G. Hart: So aren’t you leading people to Rome?

    RS: At this point he is not. The Bible condemns giving hearty approval to homosexuality and any support of gay marriage is giving some degree of approval or at least asserting that it is normal.

  239. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Hart posted April 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm: “DTM, you write: ‘Going beyond what has been written is a road that leads to Rome.’ Fine. So where does the Bible say you must oppose gay marriage. The Bible condemns homosexuality. But it does not insist that a Christian must oppose gay marriage. It’s not even clear that you need to regard homosexuality as a sin to be a Christian (officers are different). So aren’t you leading people to Rome?”

    I think we agree on the principle and disagree on the application. Yes, going beyond what is written leads to Rome. Where we seem to disagree is whether the Bible speaks to civil magistrates acting in their official capacity.

    You said a few posts ago that I should be asking more questions to see if I’ve understood the people with whom I disagree. That’s fair.

    I’d like to ask some questions.

    Let’s focus the questions on where I think we can agree, and where I think we can agree to disagree, to see if I understand you correctly.

    First, we both agree that both Scripture and the confessions teach that homosexual practice is a sin that leads to damnation in hell. In addition to Romans 1:24-27, I Corinthians 6:9, and I Timothy 1:10, key confessional references would include WCF 24:1 “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman” and WLC Q/A 139: “The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts.”

    We do agree, right?

    Second, we both agree that all pastors, elders, and deacons, as ordained officers in the church, must either affirm the Westminster Standards’ prohibition on “sodomy and all unnatural lusts” and requirement in the belief that “marriage is to be between one man and one woman,” or take a formal exception to those sections of the Westminster Standards and have that exception approved by their session or presbytery.

    We do agree, right?

    Third, we seem to disagree on whether civil magistrates who are members of Reformed churches may consider things to be good and wholesome under civil law which God and the confessions consider to be sinful and wicked.

    If I understand your view, an elder of an Orthodox Presbyterian Church who is a member of the state legislature must affirm on Sunday morning that homosexual practice is sinful, and at his Monday night session meeting must vote to excommunicate an unrepentant practicing homosexual.

    However, when that elder goes to the legislative session on Tuesday morning, it is permissible for him, acting in his legislative rather than ecclesiastical role, to vote to allow the excommunicated church member to have a homosexual marriage with his live-in boyfriend, formally legitimizing the same relationship under civil law for which he was excommunicated under church law.

    Also, when the legislator comes back home on Saturday night and his constituents are in an uproar over his vote for homosexual marriage, his pastor should tell the church members that their elder has done nothing contrary to the confessions of the church and while they don’t have to agree with him, he has the right to vote the way he did. The result, of course, may be a headline in the local newspapers saying something along the line of “Orthodox Presbyterian pastor says local legislator’s gay marriage vote is okay under church doctrine.”

    Do I understand you correctly here?

    Fourth, I see a new issue that I haven’t seen before. You may well have been saying this for a long time, but I just noticed now. You wrote this: “It’s not even clear that you need to regard homosexuality as a sin to be a Christian (officers are different).”

    I get the point that Presbyterian churches, unlike Dutch Reformed churches, do not have confessional membership. You operate under a different set of membership expectations from what I’m used to, and I’m not going to tell an OPC elder to go against his denomination’s theological tradition.

    But am I understanding you correctly that you think just because the confessions say “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman” and “The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts,” it is possible for a member of the OPC, though not an officer of the OPC, to believe that marriage may be between two men and two women, or at least that homosexual practice is okay?

    I realize your next point may be that if I am going to be consistent, I need to say that civil magistrates ought to be passing laws against “adultery, fornication, rape (and) incest” as well as against homosexuality. I would agree, and would say that just as the ACLU has lots of long-term goals that can’t be accomplished today but for which they diligently work, we as conservative Christians ought to have a long-term goal and vision even if we know if can’t be accomplished today.

    But I’d like to challenge you with the same argument.

    If it is okay for a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to say that marriage is not “to be between one man and one woman,” is it possible for a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to say “adultery, fornication, rape (and) incest” are okay?

    It seems that both sides of this debate need to be pressed to be consistent with their principles.

    I have real trouble seeing an elder of the OPC saying it’s okay for a private member of the church to believe that men can marry men and women can marry women, let alone commit adultery, fornication, rape and incest. This just isn’t the sort of thing I’m used to hearing from people I know in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, or that I heard at numerous OPC General Assemblies and presbyteries which I attended in the 1990s during the Christian Reformed fights.

    Please show me how I misunderstood you.

  240. Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    D.G. – . It’s not even clear that you need to regard homosexuality as a sin to be a Christian (officers are different).

    The OPC Membership Vows

    Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?

    Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?

    Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve him with all that is in you, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?

    Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of this church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to heed its discipline? (Directory for Worship, V.5)

    Wikipedia: “Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual activity between members of the same sex or gender.”

    Is the sin the romantic attraction, the sexual attraction, the sexual activity, none of the above, some of the above, or all of the above?

    Just trying to help the discussion along before going to bed.

    Oh, and does one have to have a full understanding of all of the elements of the law of God before becoming a Christian?

  241. Posted April 19, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart posted April 19, 2013 at 10:04 pm: “Bob and DTM, have you ever heard about the differences between neo-cons, paleo-cons, Straussians, and libertarians? If not, then maybe you don’t know much about politics (and you’re not going to learn it from Fox News).”

    Yes, Dr. Hart. I realize you teach at Hillsdale and regularly see the fault lines and divisions in the modern secular conservative movement.

    I tend to be less interested in academic political philosophy and more interested in practical politics, but to use modern political categories, I’m a social conservative who generally (not completely) agrees with men like Francis Schaeffer, D. James Kennedy, Joel Belz and Marvin Olasky.

    I am emphatically not a libertarian. And yes, I know that means Machen and I would disagree. That’s fine. I think he did a lot of great work; none of us are perfect, and his greatest legacy was clearly in the sphere of the church rather than the sphere of the state.

    I share some points of similarity with the neo-conservative movement but cannot identify myself with it. Probably the biggest area where I concur with the neo-cons is the approach toward interventionism rather than “Fortress America” isolationism. But when I say that, I speak not based on a set of Wilsonian semi-Christian views of international engagement, but rather because I believe in the modern world we are fools if we think the oceans will protect us as they once did, and we now have no choice but to be aggressively involved in politics beyond our borders. I might have had a very different view given the technological capabilities of the 1800s and the first third of the 1900s. This is an area where I think Christians have only general guidance rather than specific directions from Scripture and I don’t claim my foreign policy views are based on Christian mandates.

    The people I know who like to call themselves “paleo-conservatives” are a mixed bag, and seem to be unified mostly by who they disagree with (i.e., the neo-cons) and the fact that they think the “neo-cons” have kept too much baggage from their former liberal views.

  242. Posted April 20, 2013 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    DTM’s getting a little bit of love at Bayly Blog…but not much:

    Submitted by Nathan Schumacher on April 17, 2013 – 12:33pm

    What a good article in many ways, yet so unfortunate in its conclusions. It purports to be anti-R2K, but in its conclusions it actually promotes the same practical outcomes as the wicked R2K heresy does when it ratifies a legitimate kingdom for Satan that then must deny that Christ has ALL authority on earth, a heresy affirming a “common kingdom” of good and evil that would perforce require co-regents – you know, Christ and Satan ruling together.

    Unfortunately, just like R2K, this article appears to ratify the silence and acquiescence to evil of our Christian leaders in their official capacities. What do we conclude in this article except that our official Christian leaders, pastors, elders, and denomination heads may be excused for official silence in the public square and failure to speak truth to power as God’s Law is everywhere overthrown? That’s right – we seem to learn that it is the individual sheep that are to take on the wolves that have arrayed themselves in battle against the church and the Kingdom of God – this article seems to argue that it is the duty of the sheep – never the shepherds, or officers, or representative covenant heads of the Christian people to act or speak in any official capacity when God’s Law is overthrown in the land. Yes, when the President runs open murder teams, openly tells us he can murder anyone including our children anytime he wants, when he commits illegal war and war crimes, runs illegal prisons and torture programs, oversees incorrigible theft and fraud programs and bankrupts the country for our children, when he assaults the Constitution and tears down the safety of us all, well, official churchmen as the moral authorities in the land are to be officially silent. Let the sheep address the issues – not the official church.

    This idea is more than nonsense – it is wicked. With regards to the debacle we are living thru in America, official churchmen should have one phrase constantly running through their minds: mea culpa maxima. Forget about any esoteric parsing of the WCF that excuses any silence and acquiescence to evil, the long vested principles of the Common Law of the Christian people still speak to the root of the whole matter: Qui non improbat, approbat [He who does not disapprove, approves], silence is consent and Consentientes et agentes pari poenf plectentur [Those consenting and those perpetrating are to be caught in the same punishment] and Legem terrae amittentes perpetuam infamiae notam inde merito incurrunt [Those who do not preserve the law of the land, then justly incur the ineffaceable brand of infamy]. 1 Kings 22 tells our story – the Christian people are left to just go home and endure evil – they are not ready to face the enemy. Why? For the exact same reason that Micaiah gave: God’s people are scattered on the hills – they are sheep that have not shepherds.

  243. Posted April 20, 2013 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Part of DTM’s response to this temperate fellow:

    In responding to the challenge of “Two Kingdoms” theology, I believe it is crucially important that we:

    1) understand the roots of the “Two Kingdoms” theology,

    2) recognize that it is related to but in important ways has deviated from both the broader doctrinal implications of the American revisions to the Westminster Confession and the narrower doctrines of the Southern Presbyterian Old School theological tradition, and

    3) take action against Two Kingdoms theology without needlessly antagonizing people who are not only self-identified “Old School” theologians but also are legitimately part of that tradition.

    Men such as Dr. Darryl Hart have accused me in the past of holding the same position as the Bible Presbyterians and Carl McIntyre. That is an important accusation and it needs to be rebutted. If men such as Clark, Horton, Hart, and Van Drunen manage to successfully argue that they are in the heritage of Old School Presbyterianism while their opponents are New Schoolers, great damage will be done to the cause of those who oppose “Two Kingdoms” theology within the conservative Reformed world.

    Erik – Taking action against Two Kingdoms Theology?

  244. Posted April 20, 2013 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Just to get a taste of how they roll at Bayly Blog, DTM had to jump in and say:

    “Just a quick point… I don’t want people to read this comment section and think I am one of the people who opposes social security numbers. I don’t want to discuss that issue beyond saying that we are to obey the government in all things not clearly contrary to Scripture.”

  245. Posted April 20, 2013 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Mikelmann has some helpful comments on DTM at Bayly Blog:

    I think it’s helpful to first delimit what we are talking about. We are not talking about the legalization of homosexual behavior, which has been legal for quite some time. We aren’t talking about legalizing the cohabitation of gays either. As for gay rights in general – outside of what traditionally attaches to marriage relationship – I don’t think (though I’m not certain) those are being affected either; my state already had gender alongside race, etc., as a protected civil rights status. We aren’t talking about gay behavior or marriage within the church. If one pauses to digest what we are not talking about it may be easier to talk about in a rational way.

    What we are talking about is a bundle of rights and obligations that the magistrate attaches to marriages. As far as mere civil unions are concerned, we’re talkiing about things like inheritance, tax status, and the necessity of divorcing to terminate the bundle of rights and obligations. The current case before the SCOTUS on the Defense of Marriage Act, for example, boils down to whether a lesbian will be heavily taxed on what she will inherit from her gay spouse.

    I oppose gay marriage in the church obviously and also oppose gay marriage by the magistrate. I believe “marriage” tends to give tacit approval of the relationship, and that giving that approval may make it more of a stigma than it currently to morally opposed homosexual behavior. But I could be wrong. It may well be the case that public opinion is moving fully in the direction of fuller acceptance and that label would do little or nothing that won’t happen anyway.

    But even given my opinions against gay marriage, I don’t think it should be a test of orthodoxy. Consider the WLC on the 7th commandment:

    “The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections;all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.”

    The moral law of God says a lot about what is forbidden in the broadly sexual realm. Is it a matter of orthodoxy that a man must be in favor of the magistrate sanctioning all of them? If not, why is one being selected? Probably because “we” are taking our marching orders from the culture warriors and have become so politicized that we have lost the ability to consider things biblically.

    As far as responded to Darrell – with whom I have had many conversations (some profitable) I am reminded of petitions that prisoners draft and send to judges. They raise, in rambling form, all kinds of legal issues some of which are outlandish and some of which are kinda sorta plausible. The judge has to address all of them. Well, DTM gets his pixels from a big barrel, and I just don’t have the time to address all of what he says. Suffice to say I think his persepective is highly politicized and more intended to stir people up than to inform.

  246. Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    RS, you admitted that the Bible does not speak to the issue of approving gay marriage. Your inference is that the Bible’s condemnation leads to condemning gay marriage. But your inference is not binding, unless you are the pope and I am a Caller.

  247. Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    In his piece DTM acts as if all he needs to do is discredit (R)2K as being the legitimate heir of the Presbyterian doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church (by linking us with an illegitimate defense of slavery).

    He forgets that within Dutch American Calvinism there were factions that were not enthused about his solution — Kuyperianism — even at the time of Kuyper.

    On page 47 of :”Dutch Calvinism in Modern America – A History of a Conservative Subculture”, James Bratt has a table, “The Four Mentalities of the Dutch-American Community”. On the x-axis are “Seceders/Pietists – ‘Infras'” vs. “Neocalvinists/Kuyperians – ‘Supras'”. On the y-axis are “Outgoing/Optimistic” vs. “Defensive/Introverted”. The Seceder/Pietist/Infra/Defensive/Introverted wing is summarized as being “Confessionalists”, as reading “De Gereformeerde Amerikaan”, and as being led by Foppe Ten Hoor and L.J. Hulst.

    If DTM going to be successful rooting out a faction of the Dutch Reformed Church that was in existence at least 100 years ago when the Dutch Reformed Community was far smaller and more insular than it is today?

    He’s taking on a two-front war against Reformed & Presbyterian history.

  248. Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    DTM, on point three, how is what you describe – an elder excommunicating someone one day for homosexuality and the next day voting for homosexual marriage — any different from one day excommunicating someone for not attending worship services consistently and repeatedly and then next day voting to repeal legislation that required citizens to attend church?

    In other words, you make assumptions about inferences you draw from biblical morality. We agree on biblical morality. We don’t agree on inferences from it. But you assume that your inferences are the only option. Can you say Judaizer?

    On the fourth point, do you really mean to say that I am going to deny the Lord’s Supper to a recent adult convert who has been to the U. of Michigan, was a member of NOW, and is a member of the Democratic Party, who has yet to be convinced that homosexuality is a sin? Really? We actually administer the supper to polygamists in Reformed churches around the world.

    Again, the lines you draw from morality to application make you into a pope. But it goes with the moralist territory to think that everyone who follows the Bible is going to read it and apply it the way that you do.

  249. Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Submitted several comments to the Bayly’s blog last night — most of which are deleted this morning. Those guys are doing the legacy of free speech as established in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and Kim’s North Korea proud.

    Once somebody proves themselves to be a censor I have no problem just writing them off as propagandists.

  250. Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    The beauty of Presbyterian & Reformed polity is that all of your church members don’t have to have all of their ducks 100% in a row on day one because they have minimal authority in the church. Maybe a single vote for a pastor or officers or a vote on a budget that officers have proposed. As long as a member is not disruptive the officers can give them time to hopefully mature in their deficient theological views.

    Potentially deficient theological views among non-pastors and non-officers is a good reason to be wary of a denominational seminary being required for all ministerial candidates within the denomination, however, unless it is tightly controlled by Consistories, Sessions, Classes, and Presbyteries.

  251. Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    On your (interesting) question three the pastor would be free to say “no comment”. Pastors and churches don’t have to have “positions” on every “issue”– that’s the point of 2K. You seem to view all of life like a political campaign where you are keeping a scorecard on candidates.

  252. Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    An e-mail for that paragon of free speech, Tim Bayly:

    Dear Mr. Charter,

    Seven comments within a few minutes, five in a row under one post and most of them taunting, was a bit much. I’ve left two of them up and unpublished the other five. If you want to debate and argue, have at it but please limit yourself to one or two comments at a time and actually make a case.

    Also, if you’re going to make declarative statements about your hosts and the churches we serve, please be accurate. There were several things you said that were objectively wrong, but quite easy to get right.

    Cordially,

    Tim Bayly
    ClearNote Fellowship
    ClearNote Church, Bloomington

    and my response:

    Your site, but for someone with as fiery rhetoric as you and your commenters employ that is pretty weak in my opinion. Come to Oldlife.org if you ever want some real, uncensored debate.

    You let a guy ramble on about not getting a social security number for his kids, but you don’t let me comment on the post itself.

    Thanks for the explanation, at least.

    Erik

    Let’s keep this on file for the next time they post anything that is “taunting”.

  253. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: RS, you admitted that the Bible does not speak to the issue of approving gay marriage.

    RS: I will argue that the Bible does speak to the issue of not approving gay marriage in the same way it speaks clearly of the Trinity. Scripture is clear that there is one God and that one God subsists in three Persons, but it never puts it that way in a tight little statement. The Bible is also clear on what marriage is (one man and one woman) and it is clear that homosexuality is sin. It is also clear that we are not to approve of that which God condemns. My argument is that the Bible is clear in what it says agaisnt homosexual marriage.

    Will each and every person that has ever been born (unbelievers too) answer to God for the laws of God that s/he has broken? Are the two Great Commandments binding on each and every person (including unbelievers) in all of history? Romans 1:18ff teaches us that people know that homosexuality is wrong and that by nature. Natural law (revelation in nature) and Scripture teach the same thing on this issues. Those who practice those things are worthy of death, but what of those who give approval of them (by approving of marriage)? Does the Bible specifically condemn sex with minors? Should a 25 yoa man be able to marry boy as young as 11 or 12? Does the Bible specifically condemn a human being trying to marry an animal? If we follow Westminster in how to interpret the Ten Commandments (Larger Catechism) I don’t think we will always have to have a specific word spoken in order to see a clear condemnation.

    D.G. Hart: Your inference is that the Bible’s condemnation leads to condemning gay marriage. But your inference is not binding, unless you are the pope and I am a Caller.

    RS: While you think what I say is mere inference, I would argue that it is a deduction based on Westminster’s way of interpreting the commandments of the living God. As long as God condemns an act as sin, we have no right to be seen as approving those acts. The Bible is also quite clear about the guilt that is brought about by changing the Law of God by detracting from what it means as well as adding to it. It is also clear about the gravity of being the cause of others to stumble.

    Matthew 5:19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

  254. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: RS, you admitted that the Bible does not speak to the issue of approving gay marriage. Your inference is that the Bible’s condemnation leads to condemning gay marriage. But your inference is not binding, unless you are the pope and I am a Caller.

    RS: I would argue that if you read what the WLC says about the moral law and its application to the unregenerate and then on the ways to interpret and apply the moral law, it is clear that we should not approve of gay marriage in any way. Notice in particular sections 6-8 under question 99, though the other points apply as well. I might also add that that it might be helpful to note that Westminster sure seems to think that the 24/7 application of the Law applies to both believer and unbeliever and the Law requires perfection if it is to be kept. In standing for the perfection of the law this shows us our utter and absolute need for Christ in justification and in sanctification.

    WLC: Q. 93. What is the moral law?
    A. The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he oweth to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it.

    Q. 94. Is there any use of the moral law to man since the fall?
    A. Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law: yet there is great use thereof, as well common to all men, as peculiar either to the unregenerate, or the regenerate.

    Q. 95. Of what use is the moral law to all men?
    A. The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and the will of God, and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly; to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives: to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.

    Q. 96. What particular use is there of the moral law to unregenerate men?
    A. The moral law is of use to unregenerate men, to awaken their consciences to flee from wrath to come, and to drive them to Christ; or, upon their continuance in the estate and way of sin, to leave them inexcusable, and under the curse thereof.

    Q. 99. What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?
    A. For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:

    1. That the law is perfect, and bindeth everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience forever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.

    2. That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.

    3. That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments.

    4. That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.

    5. That what God forbids, is at no time to be done; what he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times.

    6. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.

    7. That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places to endeavour that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.

    8. That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.

  255. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Erik, in Baylys Geneva you’d be in prison.

  256. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    In addition to responding to specifics raised by numerous people on this website, I think I need to make a few more general observations.

    1. Rev. Bayly and I do not know each other well, but we have known each other’s work for at least two decades. I was aware of his work and he was aware of mine all the way back when he was still a conservative Presbyterian Church (USA) minister who had a good relationship with rural Christian Reformed conservative ministers in Wisconsin, some of whom are now ministers in the URC, though they left the CRC years later and in other states.

    2. Biography counts. Rev. Bayly is the son of the former head of the David C. Cook publishing company and he is very much a product of the Wheaton environment, agreeing on some points and disagreeing on others. I am a Grand Rapids native, I am the son of a NCO in the Army and later Air Force who became a Republican politician, and while I am not at all Dutch, most of my life has been spent interacting with the Dutch Reformed world. Given our different backgrounds, it is not surprising that he is comfortable moving in broader evangelical circles than I do, and I’m much more strictly Reformed in some ways than he is. Likewise, there are reasons why he lives and works in a college community and I live and work outside an Army installation.

    3. Rev. Bayly has some views I do not share and he attracts some supporters with whom I do not agree at all. He’d probably say the same about me. That’s life.

    If we only cooperate with people after agreeing with them on virtually everything, we will move in very small circles. I’ve seen the results of that in the Dutch Reformed world, and while there are a lot of people I know and like in groups like the Protestant Reformed Churches, Canadian Reformed Churches, Free Reformed Churches, and Heritage Reformed Congregations, I’m not going to go down that road.

    It is possible to be theologically conservative without being ecclesiastically narrow. Furthermore, the spirit of bitterness too often blossoms in narrow pots.

    4. Ironically, when it comes to Reformed worship, I probably am much more in agreement with people over here on Old Life than with what is done in the ClearNote Fellowship community, and I’ve had some friendly but pointed discussions on that issue with a former member of Rev. Bayly’s church who has moved to Missouri.

    I’ve read enough of Dr. Hart’s views about worship that I think the one significant area on which I disagree with him is that my ideal church would be exclusive psalmody with no instrumental accompaniment — and I’m not going to fight on that issue which I consider to be not just secondary but tertiary. Once a church decides to use man-made hymns and instruments, it needs to know that Reformed music has a history and developed in certain ways for a reason. I believe that musical style is not neutral, and adoption of the methods of modern Christian contemporary music will inevitably lead churches into the sort of experience-focused approach to worship which is proper in charismatic churches but incompatible with a Reformed view of teaching, pulpit ministry, and worship. The same could be said of a significant part of the hymnody of the 1800s and early 1900s which was intended to support an emotion-laden revival methodology, part of Finney’s “right use of the duly constituted means.”

    And by the way, this is coming from a person who back in seminary was working in an inner-city church which was in the process of transitioning from predominantly white to predominantly black, reflecting the earlier change in the neighborhood. We changed our worship style to reach the community, and while it worked, it had many unintended consequences. I know what I’m taking about when I speak of the effects of music on church life, both good and bad. My views on worship today are very different from those I held back in the 1980s when I was rejecting the Reformed tradition of worship as “dead orthodoxy,” and when I believed that what comes out of the pulpit is the only thing that is biblically mandated and worship should be based on culture, not church doctrine.

    So where do we go from here?

    The bottom line here is that I believe that if we were talking about some other areas of the Reformed faith besides church-state relations, I’d probably be agreeing with a lot of people here on Old Life and disagreeing with people on my side of the political questions. There are reasons I’m coming on here to discuss rather than just leveling accusations. We agree on a fair amount, but the disagreements are important.

    Again, that’s life.

  257. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Tim Bayly: Seven comments within a few minutes, five in a row under one post and most of them taunting, was a bit much.

    RS: Sounds like a fair standard.

    Tim Bayly: I’ve left two of them up and unpublished the other five. If you want to debate and argue, have at it but please limit yourself to one or two comments at a time and actually make a case.

    RS: It is always nice to focus the comments and then to actually make a case. It is one thing just to sling some mud and deride another position, but it is quite another to actually make a case. That actually takes thought.

    Tim Bayly: Also, if you’re going to make declarative statements about your hosts and the churches we serve, please be accurate. There were several things you said that were objectively wrong, but quite easy to get right.

    RS: It is in accordance with the Ten Commandments to get declarative statements about churches and others correct. This sounds quite balanced in theory, but it could be different in practice.

  258. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    DTM: I’ve read enough of Dr. Hart’s views about worship that I think the one significant area on which I disagree with him is that my ideal church would be exclusive psalmody with no instrumental accompaniment —

    RS: That sounds like the RPCNA position. What church group (name, denomination, or whatever) do you attend now and what is their musical “preference” is this area?

  259. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    DTM is in a fierce competition with Old Bob for the Old Life Autobiography Prize.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eExuISyunw

    I need to go coach a 4, 5, & 6 year old tee ball game. In other words I’m making a seamless transition from the Old Life comment section.

  260. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Tim Bayly: Seven comments within a few minutes, five in a row under one post and most of them taunting, was a bit much.

    RS: Sounds like a fair standard.

    Erik – Yeah, Richard. You wouldn’t do well there, either.

    Nice how you’re clairvoyant and can comment without even knowing what I said. As always, the thoughts on the top of your head are ridiculous.

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

    Erik Charter quoting Tim Bayly: Seven comments within a few minutes, five in a row under one post and most of them taunting, was a bit much.

    Erik Charter QUOTING RS: Sounds like a fair standard.

    Erik – Yeah, Richard. You wouldn’t do well there, either.

    RS: You might take note of the taunting point he made. You might also take note that there is a difference between just throwing out a series of comments on something and actually dealing with something.

    Erik: Nice how you’re clairvoyant and can comment without even knowing what I said.

    RS: You might notice that I only responded to what he said. I did not comment on anything you said and as such your charge just above is simply false.

    Erik: As always, the thoughts on the top of your head are ridiculous.

    RS: In order for your statement to be true, several things would have to be true. One, you would have to be clairvoyant and be able to read my thoughts. Two, you would have to be clairvoyant and know which thoughts were on the top of my head as opposed to other areas. They could also be from the heart since Scripture speaks of the thoughts of the heart. Three, for your statement to be true it must always be true that the throughts on the top of my head are always ridiculous. I can probably just stop there as your statement is the one that is ridiculous.

    You might also note the last part of my post: ” It is in accordance with the Ten Commandments to get declarative statements about churches and others correct. This sounds quite balanced in theory, but it could be different in practice.” I simply said that what he said sounded fair and balanced in theory. How is that ridiculous? I also said that the practice of that theory could be different (than the stating of the theory). How is that ridiculous? Oh, you are taunting and saying things that are not in accordance with the spirit of the Ten Commandments. Some people like a more reasoned discourse and have no appreciation for those that are not. Why not just try some reasoned discourse with him or simply refrain from blasting away for what he does not want on his own site?

  262. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm: “Bayly’s introduction is ridiculous. The difference between a 2K minister and the Bayleyesque minister is that the 2K minister preaches through Biblical books, Confessions, and Catechisms while the Bayleyesque minister reads the newspaper and decides what to preach in light of it. This is where they become publicity whores. Just preach the Bible and you will be relevant to the “issues of the day” without even trying. I don’t know any 2K ministers who preach fearfully or avoid certain topics, they just aren’t captive to the culture war likes these guys are.

    Erik, I’ve seen this theme in your comments several times. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, and I’m still not sure I understand.

    I have no problem with lectio continua approach of preaching through books of the Bible in a verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter. I have yet to hear or read any “culture warrior,” to use your term, object to that method. It was used at the time of the Reformation with great profit to bring the laypeople up to a high standard of biblical knowledge.

    On the other hand, it was Karl Barth, not modern conservative Christians, who advised young theologians “to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” (Time Magazine, May 31, 1963). I would not be surprised if somebody in the American “Religious Right” has said something like that — evangelicalism is a pretty big tent, after all — but I have never personally heard that from a professing Calvinist, though apparently Spurgeon and Stott made similar comments.

    Having said that, if pastors aren’t listening to their people and what concerns them and what questions they have, there’s a problem. Sometimes those issues are best addressed in one-on-one conversations, sometimes they’re best addressed in small group Bible studies, sometimes they’re best addressed from the pulpit.

    But they need to be addressed somehow.

    I’m certainly not endorsing everything Dr. Bryan Chapell wrote, and I would not consider Covenant Theological Seminary to be a good example of either the Christian conservative movement or strictly Reformed education, but I think what Dr. Chapell wrote on this point makes sense: “Evangelicals may believe that the advice to prepare sermons with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other reflects a contemporary social agenda. However, great preachers such as Charles Spurgeon have also urged this practice, which makes the preacher and the people integrate the eternal truths of Scripture into the daily patterns of their lives and thoughts.” (Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching; Redeeming the Expository Sermon, p. 68).

    Isn’t the best answer here not “either-or,” but “both-and”?

    Lectio continua is useful. But if people in the congregation have questions and concerns that are not being answered, preaching risks falling on deaf ears.

  263. Posted April 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Brian Lee posted April 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm: “Darrell, Thanks for your link to your article on BB. Two questions. Don’t you think the following quote, from the conclusion of your article, is unfair, and indeed something of a slur? ‘”Two Kingdoms’ theology at best comes from bad theological roots of Southern Presbyterianism that were once used to defend slavery, and at worst, has developed in a brand-new direction that will seriously damage not merely the church’s witness to the world but also Christian engagement with the world.””

    Dr. Lee, I’ve responded to your second question… you’re right and I need to go back and do a detailed analysis of Van Drunen. I sense that he’s in a somewhat different place from some others in the “Two Kingdoms” movement, and people need to be understood as individuals.

    With regard to your first question, which I’ve quoted above, I do believe that my statement is fair with regard to the broader “Two Kingdoms” movement, though certainly not with regard to everyone in that movement.

    Dr. R. Scott Clark, for example, has written that he hasn’t spent a lot of time reading Southern Presbyterian theology and history. Okay. His reasons for being a “Two Kingdoms” supporter come from different roots.

    But is it not clear that when somebody self-identifies themselves as being an “Old School” theologian on questions of political involvement, they are placing themselves in the theological “spirituality of the church” tradition not only of Old Princeton but also of Dabney and Thornwell?

    In some ways that’s good. In some ways it’s not so good.

    The last thing I want to do is affirm idiocies like the Gardiner Spring Resolutions of 1861 — the Northern Presbyterian Old School responses out of Princeton Seminary seem generally correct to me.

    But on the other hand, it seems beyond question that the “spirituality of the church” tradition of Old School Presbyterianism was historically used to silence the church on the question of slavery, and at least arguably was developed for that purpose. That tradition continued to cause serious problems in the South well into the modern era, and led to the silencing of the church on all sorts of wickedness and evil, pretty much up until the 1970s and 1980s in conservative circles.

    Doctrine has consequences, and it is not uncommon for the teaching of influential theologians to have effects far beyond their own circles.

    I think it is patently obvious, for example, that the “Old School” views on the “spirituality of the church” had a profound effect not only on Southern Presbyterians but also on Southern Baptists and many other evangelical bodies in the South of the 1800s and at least the first half of the 1900s.

    It’s sometimes hard to determine whether the “world-flight” attitudes in conservative Christian circles of the last century were due more to the influence of premillenial dispensationalism or the “spirituality of the church,” but I think it’s a good thing that the influence of both movements is much less today than a few decades ago. Between the influence of Francis Schaeffer and Dr. James Kennedy, I think that battle is pretty much over in broader Reformed and evangelical circles.

    It obviously continues to be a battle in more conservative Reformed circles which, unlike most broad evangelicals, understand and value the importance of their theological tradition.

  264. Posted April 20, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    “Lectio continua is useful. But if people in the congregation have questions and concerns that are not being answered, preaching risks falling on deaf ears.”

    It’s more than useful. It’s a way of sticking to what God had seen fit to reveal to us and keep us from riding hobby horses and becoming an activist organizatin with sacraments rather than the church we are called to be.

  265. Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    DTM – I have no problem with lectio continua approach of preaching through books of the Bible in a verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter. I have yet to hear or read any “culture warrior,” to use your term, object to that method.

    Erik – Not even this guy from Bayly Blog? He seems to favor “topical preaching”, to say the least!

    “Unfortunately, just like R2K, this article appears to ratify the silence and acquiescence to evil of our Christian leaders in their official capacities. What do we conclude in this article except that our official Christian leaders, pastors, elders, and denomination heads may be excused for official silence in the public square and failure to speak truth to power as God’s Law is everywhere overthrown? That’s right – we seem to learn that it is the individual sheep that are to take on the wolves that have arrayed themselves in battle against the church and the Kingdom of God – this article seems to argue that it is the duty of the sheep – never the shepherds, or officers, or representative covenant heads of the Christian people to act or speak in any official capacity when God’s Law is overthrown in the land. Yes, when the President runs open murder teams, openly tells us he can murder anyone including our children anytime he wants, when he commits illegal war and war crimes, runs illegal prisons and torture programs, oversees incorrigible theft and fraud programs and bankrupts the country for our children, when he assaults the Constitution and tears down the safety of us all, well, official churchmen as the moral authorities in the land are to be officially silent. Let the sheep address the issues – not the official church.”

    Erik – What if the biblical text just doesn’t lend itself to a discussion of the President’s “open murder teams”?

  266. Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    DTM – Having said that, if pastors aren’t listening to their people and what concerns them and what questions they have, there’s a problem.

    Erik – That’s the beauty of our Confessions. They address it all as we work through them, even if that doesn’t leave time for a “30 Days of Marital Sex” program like the evangelicals have been known to put on.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsUa1-HbwVw

    Hey wait, maybe evangelicalism isn’t so bad…

  267. Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    So let me get this straight, you’re citing Barth and Chappell, neither of whom you are very excited about, as authority for your position? You’re starting to sound like Dan the Illogical Scientist again.

  268. Posted April 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    DTM – Isn’t the best answer here not “either-or,” but “both-and”?

    Erik – No. It’s preaching through biblical books and Confessions.

    It’s kind of like the exclusive Psalmody question. I don’t demand it personally, but I have no problem with it because you really can’t go wrong. Same thing for preaching through biblical books and Confessions.

    The Bible-belt is wearing you down.

  269. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Have you lost sight of the possibility that maybe the Southern Presbyterians didn’t condemn slavery because Jesus didn’t?

    Aren’t you presuming the political application of your biblical interpretation again?

  270. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Explain to me how I make sense of Doug Wilson, the Baylys, and you on slavery at the same time.

    http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Slavery-As-It-Was/dp/188576717X

    “Book Description

    Publication Date: June 1, 1996

    “How is it that a pervasively Christian culture could have supported slavery? While opposing the South’s abuses and racism, this essay seeks to correct some of the gross slanders of that culture. It explains Scripture’s defense of a form of slavery against evangelicals who are embarrassed by it.”

  271. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm: “DTM, So let me get this straight, you’re citing Barth and Chappell, neither of whom you are very excited about, as authority for your position? You’re starting to sound like Dan the Illogical Scientist again.”

    That’s not what I said, Eric.

    You are the one who said this three days ago: “The difference between a 2K minister and the Bayleyesque minister is that the 2K minister preaches through Biblical books, Confessions, and Catechisms while the Bayleyesque minister reads the newspaper and decides what to preach in light of it.”

    I thought you were alluding to the statement often attributed to Karl Barth, which he actually didn’t say quite the way the “quote” gets repeated, that a pastor needs to prepare his sermons with his Bible in one hand and newspaper in the other.

    I’m just trying to respond to what you said, Erik, about the supposed practices of “Baylyesque” ministers.

    I don’t think I have ever heard a Bayly sermon, and I think have only read one of them which got posted on the internet, but you’re describing something I have never personally seen or heard in neo-Calvinist or Christian conservative circles.

  272. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    I need you to go away because you raise way too many good questions — honestly. I can’t get any work done.

    Let the site get back to Richard, Doug, and Old Bob so I can hit the snooze button.

  273. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    On this subject I’m willing to call any minister who preaches topical sermons as a rule “Baylyesque”, even if he is Presbyterian & Reformed.

    You’re not ashamed of “Baylyesque” are you? You are their featured writer this week, no?

  274. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    I would allow a few exceptions for what is going on in the church — a sermon on baptism when there are baptisms being done, a sermon on officers when officers are being elected, etc. We won’t be having any sermons on terrorism, bombing, or violence this week, though. I’m still scarred when I remember Doug Wilson speculating on how many workers in the Twin Towers were planning adulterous affairs the day the Towers went down. He had a topical sermon that Sunday, of course.

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

    Consider this question for a second. Slavery is going on. A Christian in the South owns slaves and treats them well. He goes to a slave auction and his neighbor, who is cruel to his slaves is bidding against him. He sees a slave who seems to be less than healthy and knows that his neighbor will be cruel to this slave if he buys him, so he bids more than market value for him so he can treat the man with kindness.

    This is how Christianity works in the real, fallen world. Christian people don’t always have the luxury of looking back 150 years with their noses held high and dictating how the world should have been.

  276. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm: “DTM, Explain to me how I make sense of Doug Wilson, the Baylys, and you on slavery at the same time.”

    Erik, my position on slavery and the Old School Southern Presbyterian “spirituality of the church” tradition has been clear, open, and in public for a very long time. I have said some pretty fiery things about that issue to conservatives in the PCA who were most emphatically not pleased with my views.

    You won’t see me defending Doug Wilson’s views of the South. You won’t see me defending Doug Wilson’s views on paedocommunion, either. I have a history on both of those issues going back to the 1990s.

    I don’t think Doug Wilson and I are on the same page about very much anymore. There was a time that I appreciated a lot of his work in promoting classical Christian education — that’s not a high profile issue for me, but he did a lot of good things there — but either I didn’t understand his views very well back in the early 1990s or he has gone in some radical directions over the last two decades. The Federal Vision issue sealed the door on that for me, and I think it’s pretty clear that Federal Vision theology comes out of the same wrong view of covenant children that leads to paedocommunion, to which I have been objecting, whether in Doug Wilson’s church, in the Auburn Avenue church, or in the Christian Reformed Church, for more than two decades.

  277. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I got the “Bayly boot”. That relationship lasted all of 12 hours. Very grateful to Hart for the latitude he grants people, although it took me awhile to appreciate.

    Tim Bayly:

    Dear Erik,

    I’m grieved by this response. I’ve been respectful in my requests and your response doesn’t reflect what I think you owe an officer of Christ’s Church. Of course, it’s also not truthful.

    Since you refuse to abide by our requests, you may not post again on Baylyblog.

    Warmly in Christ,

    Tim Bayly

    Me: I’ve never been ejected “warmly” before.

    I need to know, Does Bryan Cross get to post there?

  278. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    In light of that how do you feel about your piece being featured on their site when they also bring Wilson to town to do conferences? That conference was fascinating, though.

    In fairness, I think Hart has spoken in Moscow. Maybe you guys are all just greedy profit whores.

  279. Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm: “DTM, I need you to go away because you raise way too many good questions — honestly. I can’t get any work done. Let the site get back to Richard, Doug, and Old Bob so I can hit the snooze button.”

    Should I take that as a compliment? 😉 If so, thank you.

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm: You’re not ashamed of “Baylyesque” are you? You are their featured writer this week, no?

    No, I’m not ashamed of Tim Bayly. I don’t agree with him on everything, and he doesn’t agree with me on everything, either.

    That’s life.

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm:DTM, On this subject I’m willing to call any minister who preaches topical sermons as a rule “Baylyesque”, even if he is Presbyterian & Reformed.

    Eric, you and Zrim are drawing your circles narrower and narrower. Your positions on baptism have already rejected nearly the entire PCA, much and maybe most of the OPC, and even some of the URC. That’s probably also true of worship practices. Now you’re accusing ministers who preach topical sermons as a rule of being “Baylyesque.”

    I don’t have any idea how either of the Bayly brothers organize their sermons. I can’t defend, explain, or rebut wrong views on the subject of how the Baylys preach because I don’t know. For all I know, maybe they preach through books or confessional statements on a regular basis and only occasionally preach on major topics of concern for the members of their churches. All I can say is that would be my preference, for whatever it’s worth.

    However, could I suggest that before you draw your circles so narrow that you concede virtually the entire Reformed and Presbyterian world to the supposedly malign influence of the Baylys, that you ask whether you’re being more narrow than you need to be?

    I am not aware of anything in the confessions that requires lectio continua preaching. It’s a good idea. But it’s not biblically or confessionally required. The closest thing I can think of in the confessions to a requirement for lectio continua is one sentence in the Westminster Directory for the Public Worship of God, which has never had confessional or even constitutional status in American Presbyterianism, and even in Puritan days lectio continua wasn’t regarded as a hard-and-fast rule, just a good way to preach.

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

    DTM,

    What’s my position on baptism?

    If I have one it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what the Confessions that I have subscribed to teach.

  281. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    DTM – I am not aware of anything in the confessions that requires lectio continua preaching.

    Erik – Fair point. I am just expressing my preference on that one and the only way that has any teeth is in the church I choose to join and the vote I have as in elder in that church if I am in office.

  282. mikelmann
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    What? So DGH, Zrim, and Charter get banned from the Bayly Blog but I don’t? What’s wrong with me? Don’t I deserve to be banned, too? I’m starting to doubt my salvation now. Richard, please don’t analyze me, I’m hanging by a thread.

  283. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Wow, the Baylys have power. Once you’ve been banned you can’t even see the site (at least from a computer they can identifty). What if they had run Geneva…

  284. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    MM,

    I suspected you were a false shepherd.

    The answer probably lies in your cat-like infrequency of posting vs. my dog-like obnoxiousness.

  285. mikelmann
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Really, though, help me out here. I know nothing about the Baylys and their churches. Are they hyper neo-Cals? Theonomists? D. James Kennedy-like? What’s their deal?

  286. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    RS, I don’t believe the state is responsible to teach or apply the moral law. If it were and we were in the Ottoman Empire, Phebe Bartlett would be up the proverbial river.

  287. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    M&M, it’s also in keeping with Reformed habits of preaching. DTM faults 2k for not following the Reformed tradition of political engagement (whatever that is). But he can cut and paste tradition as he sees fit.

  288. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm: “DTM, In light of that how do you feel about your piece being featured on their site when they also bring Wilson to town to do conferences? That conference was fascinating, though. In fairness, I think Hart has spoken in Moscow. Maybe you guys are all just greedy profit whores.”

    Erik, Most people active in politics understand the need to work with other people even when we don’t agree on everything. That’s life. People involved in ecclesiastical battles don’t always understand that.

    On this point, I agree with Dr. Hart. I probably would do the same, depending on details of the circumstances.

    My view is that if we can’t or won’t talk with each other, we won’t understand what the people with whom we disagree are saying.

    The comment about being “just greedy profit whores” is offensive. You would be receiving a very different response from me if you hadn’t included Dr. Hart as a target, making clear that it was not to be taken at face value. You do not want to accuse me of being a “greedy profit whore.” ‘Nuff said? Let’s move on and I’ll try to forget that comment if it is not repeated.

  289. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    M&M, their statement on baptism sure seems to suggest they’re at least more E-Free than Reformed. I think this is the part where DTM says I’ve rejected nearly the entire PCA, much and maybe most of the OPC, and even some of the URC. Is that what subscribing Belgic 34 does? But my Reformed Baptists tell me baptism matters and that they should be kept from membership in confessionally Reformed churches. Strange how credo-Baptists and paedo-Reformed can agree more than some paedo-Reformed and other paedo-Reformed.

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

    Erik, if Bryan Cross booted you, I’m sure it would be “in the peace of Christ.” Be warm and filled.

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

    M&M, the BB’s are sons of Joseph Bayly, a writer for most of his career for Eternity Magazine (a dispensationalist alternative to Christianity Today). The Baylys are evangelicals, as far as I can tell. Wheaton and Gordon-Conwell pedigrees. They (or one of them) started ministry in the PCUSA (that must have been interesting) and then they jumped ship to the PCA (but one of them now may be entirely independent).

    If you had to identify their theological memes, it would be Billy Graham, David Wells, Doug Wilson, and RC Sproul, Jr., I think. Good providence putting that together into a song book.

  292. Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm:What this comes down to is that DTM, The Baylys, Doug Wilson, maybe Dr. Kloosterman, are all ticked off that the vast majority of American Confessional P&R Churches have changed their confessional statements on the Civil Magistrate. Their solution: Act like it didn’t happen and try to drive 2K people out of their already small churches.

    Not true. I don’t object to the Westminster or Belgic revisions.

    The point of my essay was that the revisions did not do what some Two Kingdoms people think they did.

    The civil government is not, under the American revision of the Westminster Standards, to give preference to any specific denomination of Christians. That doesn’t mean the civil government shouldn’t act in accordance with Christian values.

    Establishing a state church and promoting Christian values are two very different things.

    The American revisions of the Westminster Confession were not drafted by the ACLU.

  293. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    mikelmann: What? So DGH, Zrim, and Charter get banned from the Bayly Blog but I don’t? What’s wrong with me? Don’t I deserve to be banned, too? I’m starting to doubt my salvation now. Richard, please don’t analyze me, I’m hanging by a thread.

    RS: Deep down you are asking for this or you wouldn’t ask me not to do so. Maybe you are more reasonable and a nice guy on the Bayly front who simply follows the rules without the taunting. But as for whether you are saved or not, if something like this can cause you such doubt, maybe there is a reason you should doubt.

  294. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: RS, I don’t believe the state is responsible to teach or apply the moral law. If it were and we were in the Ottoman Empire, Phebe Bartlett would be up the proverbial river.

    RS: But my point, though, is that they are answerable to God for the moral laws they do make. All laws that a state passes is a law that is in accordance with the law of God or it is opposed to it. The Church, it sure seems to me and the way that the WLC sets it out, is supposed to proclaim the truth to the state but not run the state. I still love the story of Phebe Bartlett though you malign it. It is a story of the grace of God.

  295. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    DTM: The civil government is not, under the American revision of the Westminster Standards, to give preference to any specific denomination of Christians. That doesn’t mean the civil government shouldn’t act in accordance with Christian values.

    Establishing a state church and promoting Christian values are two very different things.

    RS: A very important distinction.

  296. Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    D.G.,

    Will you go to the post “Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink” and delete Bayly’s contact information? He objected to me posting his e-mails. I think there is a valid reason to have done that, but there is no need for his phone numbers, etc. to be there. You can delete the whole post if you need to.

  297. Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    DTM – The civil government is not, under the American revision of the Westminster Standards, to give preference to any specific denomination of Christians. That doesn’t mean the civil government shouldn’t act in accordance with Christian values.

    Erik – Without me wading back through your essay, what is your historical evidence for that?

    It sounds eerily similar to what evangelicals are always saying about why America is indeed a Christian nation.

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

    Erik Charter posted April 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm: “So as someone in a church who holds to the Three Forms, how do you justify tolerating Catholics and Anabaptists if you don’t embrace the changes on the Civil Magistrate? Wiggle around those prohibitions the way you wiggled around them using the Westminster.”

    Erik, I’ve had this discussion before with other Two Kingdoms people though I don’t remember if I’ve had it with you.

    Let’s start with Anabaptists. The Belgic Confession is surprisingly narrow in its focus there, given the tenor of the times. One would have expected a much broader condemnation against the Anabaptists than what actually got written. Maybe that was an act of God’s divine providence through foreknowledge. I don’t know; God alone knows that. But it was certainly a good thing.

    The Belgic Confession requires you, as a URC elder, to “Detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and magistrates and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order which God has established among men.”

    Before you say too much on this, Erik, consider carefully that you have signed the Form of Subscription, just as I did many years ago, and this section of the Belgic Confession **HAS NOT BEEN AMENDED.** You are still required by your ordination vows to “detest” those who fall into this category. You are not, however, required by your ordination vows to call upon the state to punish Anabaptists, and as a matter of actual historical fact, by the early 1600s within living memory of the time the Belgic Confession was written, Mennonites were being tolerated by the Dutch government while being excommunicated from the Dutch churches. If I had access to the Calvin College Library, which I do not, I could show you specific examples of that happening in the English Reformed Church in Amsterdam.

    As a related but secondary issue, you might also like to ask the question of what modern Anabaptists actually believe and whether they “reject the higher powers and magistrates and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order which God has established among men.” That sounds more like a condemnation of modern Communism and Socialism than a condemnation of modern Mennonites and Amish.

    Yes, you are required by a different article of the Belgic Confession, Article 34, to “detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, who we believe ought to be baptized…” But you are not required by anything in either the amended or unamended versions of the Belgic Confession to call for civil penalties against Anabaptists.

    Original intent counts, and the clear history of the Dutch government on this matter from very early days shows that civil toleration was extended to those Anabaptists who did not “reject the higher powers and magistrates and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order which God has established among men.”

    Now with regard to Roman Catholics, your amended version of the Belgic Confession does not require you to call upon the state to punish Roman Catholics, either. I would suggest you take a close look at the Synod 1958 revision of Article 36 of the Belgic Confession, which has quite a few things to say about the duties of the state officials.

    Civil magistrates are called, according to the ordination vows you have taken, “to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God.” Also, “the civil rulers have the task, in subjection to the Law of God, while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them and with the means belonging to them, to remove every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship, in order that the Word of God may have free course, the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress, and every anti-Christian power may be resisted.”

    Erik, that the the **AMENDED** version of the Belgic Confession. It sure looks like sphere sovereignty to me.

    Perhaps you can explain to me how “Two Kingdoms” theology affirms that civil rulers “are called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God.” and affirms that civil rulers are to be “in subjection to the Law of God.”

    I think “Two Kingdoms” people in the URC have a much more serious problem with the Confessions of your church than Orthodox Presbyterian and PCA “Two Kingdoms” people have with the Westminster Standards.

    But as I’ve said numerous times before, Two Kingdoms people are not stupid and you are not slipshod about confessional integrity. I really would like to hear how you interact with what appears to be some pretty clear sphere sovereignty language introduced to the Belgic Confession by Synod 1958.

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

    I’ve joined Hart & Zrim in the Bayly Blog Hall of Shame:

    “Dear Brothers,
    At 5 AM last night, I made several requests of Erik Charter concerning his method of posting comments. He responded by posting more comments in which he did what I asked him not to do on Baylyblog. My central request had nothing to do with the substance of his comments. In other words, it was not an attempt on my part to keep his arguments off Baylyblog.
    He not only continued to do what I’d asked him not to do, but he treated me with a disdain and called me names which were not respectful of my hosting this forum nor my calling as a minister of the Word. After several back and forths privately in which I continued to speak to him with respect, I just wrote him to say he is forbidden to comment again on Baylyblog. I regret that he is the third proponent of the R2K theologically-aberant novelty that we have had to remove from commenting on Baylyblog—the first and second being Darrl Hart and Zrim.
    These men are not trustworthy in their doctrine or charity and David and I continue to warn our readers and the souls of our congregations to have nothing to do with them, not simply because of their efforts to gag preachers of God’s Word, but also because of their methods of argumentation.
    Of course, they say that they’re banned for the simple act of disagreement. Like much that they say, this is not true and the proof is above and all over Baylyblog. There are countless comments on Baylyblog disagreeing with what we write and we welcome those disagreements. We do not welcome these men or their methods.”

    Erik – Actually 5 of my 7 comments were deleted before I even read his first e-mail. 3 of those comments were my DTM spoof (which DTM didn’t even flinch at) that I broke up because when I tried to post it yesterday it was flagged as spam.

    I think I recall being asleep at 5 a.m. “last night”. I think Bayly is in Indiana, not overseas. What a funny experience. This is who we are dealing with in this ongoing debate.

  300. Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    DTM – , by the early 1600s within living memory of the time the Belgic Confession was written, Mennonites were being tolerated by the Dutch government while being excommunicated from the Dutch churches

    Now with regard to Roman Catholics, your amended version of the Belgic Confession does not require you to call upon the state to punish Roman Catholics, either.

    Erik – Hmmm. Sounds like R2K.

    O.K. You’ve made a case for why you can tolerate a Magistrate who does not punish Anabaptists or Catholics. What is your case for why the Magistrate should not punish people who break the first four commandments?

    You embrace “sphere sovereignty” while at the same time decrying “R2K”, but it seems like they have an awful lot in common.

  301. Zrim
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Erik, since my name has come up, let me clarify what the good pastor has suggested. A few years ago I did engage at the BB with what I consider charitable dialogue. Of course, many of the points weren’t well received, so a minion went hunting and found some posts/comments on my own blog about their published preaching that the good pastors really didn’t like. But before I may post there I have to apologize for comments with which they strongly disagree made on my own blog by me. The problem is that none of the things I wrote were cause for remorse on my part–I’d say them again and have no trouble letting my mom or elders read them. I just want to be clear that I wasn’t a gadfly, just someone who takes strong reservation with their teaching.

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

    The valuable lesson I’ve learned is, when you book a vacation in the Culture Warrior Fever Swamps, pack lightly, make sure and buy a round trip ticket, and only reserve your hotel one night at a time. You may be coming back home soon.

    Old Life is more like a long-term stay hotel on a temperate island paradise.

  303. Posted April 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Zrim – Well Hart has NO hope of getting back on then…

    I only went there because of the DTM link. He is to the Christian blogosphere what Jimmy Carter is in the political realm — ambassador to the world.

    I have no interest in posting stuff on sites where I know they disagree with me. Who needs the hassle?

  304. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm: “Reformed people were not united around Kuyper, especially in the U.S. Have you heard of Foppe Ten Hoor? He was a leader of the Confessionalists who opposed the Kuyperians in the U.S. over 100 years ago.”

    I am definitely aware of the difference between the earlier Afscheiding and later Doleantie traditions, and how things worked out in a North American context when Kuyper’s Doleantie followers emigrated and joined the pre-existing Christian Reformed Church which had been founded by leaders of the Afscheiding.

    I think you will find that Ten Hoor was considerably more opposed to Kuyper’s views on presumptive regeneration than to his views on politics. However, I am handicapped by the fact that I cannot read Dutch and many of the Dutch Reformed discussions in the 1800s and early 1900s by CRC and RCA ministers and political leaders regarding politics in an American context have not been translated into English. I must only rely on what I have been taught in my church history classes at Calvin by professors who could read Dutch and have written on these subjects. Perhaps you are aware of works by Ten Hoor on Kuyper’s view of politics which had not been translated into English when I was at Calvin, or which my professors chose not to emphasize in their classes.

    I can make your own case better for you by pointing to the political divisions between the Anti-Revolutionary Party and the Christian Historical Union and especially the GH Kersten split over government attitudes toward Roman Catholicism. Kuyper was a dominant figure in the Dutch Reformed world of the late 1800s and early 1900s, probably the pre-eminent conservative Calvinist for most of that period. But he was not the Dutch Reformed “pope” by any stretch of the imagination.

    For whatever it’s worth, if it were not for the fact that this blog is well-known for opposition to Puritanism, I’d be arguing against Kuyper on some key points of his theology where some on this blog would probably agree with Kuyper. I think Kuyper was right on his theology of the state and wrong on his theology of personal conversion, though I certainly acknowledge he was trying to be Reformed in both areas of his teaching. Kuyper’s doctrine of covenant children certainly has numerous parallels in a North American context to the teaching of the anti-revivalists in both Old School Presbyterianism and Old School Congregationalism, though in his case he was responding to Dutch Puritanism and Dutch Pietism, which persisted much later in the Netherlands than in North America, rather than to Finney and the Second Great Awakening.

  305. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Tim Bayly is trying to fix it so I can at least see his blog again. That was inadvertent. I give him credit for that. The Wilson Conference he put on that I watched there was extremely interesting (the Q&A, anyway) so I’m glad I can at least still see stuff like that if they post it there.

  306. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    DTM – For whatever it’s worth, if it were not for the fact that this blog is well-known for opposition to Puritanism, I’d be arguing against Kuyper on some key points of his theology where some on this blog would probably agree with Kuyper.

    Erik- Yeah, that probably won’t help your case, but Richard will get all warm & fuzzy.

  307. Richard Smith
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    DTM: Yes, you are required by a different article of the Belgic Confession, Article 34, to “detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, who we believe ought to be baptized…” But you are not required by anything in either the amended or unamended versions of the Belgic Confession to call for civil penalties against Anabaptists.

    Belgic 34: In this way he signifies to us that just as water washes away the dirt of the body when it is poured on us and also is seen on the body of the baptized when it is sprinkled on him, so too the blood of Christ does the same thing internally, in the soul, by the Holy Spirit. It washes and cleanses it from its sins and transforms us from being the children of wrath into the children of God.

    This does not happen by the physical water but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God, who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharoah, who is the devil, and to enter the spiritual land of Canaan.

    So ministers, as far as their work is concerned, give us the sacrament and what is visible, but our Lord gives what the sacrament signifies– namely the invisible gifts and graces; washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving us true assurance of his fatherly goodness; clothing us with the “new man” and stripping off the “old,” with all its works.

    For this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it– for we cannot be born twice. Yet this baptism is profitable not only when the water is on us and when we receive it but throughout our entire lives.

    Belgic Article 7: The Sufficiency of Scripture
    We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it. For since the entire manner of service which God requires of us is described in it at great length, no one– even an apostle or an angel from heaven, as Paul says–ought to teach other than what the Holy Scriptures have already taught us. For since it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Word of God, this plainly demonstrates that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects.

    Therefore we must not consider human writings– no matter how holy their authors may have been– equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.

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

    Therefore we reject with all our hearts everything that does not agree with this infallible rule, as we are taught to do by the apostles when they say, “Test the spirits to see if they are of God,”^4 and also, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house.”^

    RS: Regulative Principle of Worship:
    Worship is that only those elements that are instituted or appointed by command in Scripture are permissible in worship,

    There is no example or command in Scripture that infants are to be baptized, but instead the only command we have is that disciples are to be baptized. So if we follow Belgic 7, we should be very wary of Belgic 34.

  308. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Do you object to the Bayly’s fiery rhetoric and calling Christian ministers who don’t agree with their politics cowards publicly?

    If so, why do you feed their fire by posting your piece on their site?

    Are you not selling out people which which you are in closer ecclesiastical communion for the sake of people with which you are in more distant (or perhaps nonexistent) ecclesiastical communion?

    Are you presenting your Presbyterian & Reformed brothers in the best possible light to the wider world?

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

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm: “You embrace ‘sphere sovereignty’ while at the same time decrying “R2K”, but it seems like they have an awful lot in common.”

    There are similarities and some things in common.

    I am not an establishmentarian; I am not a theocrat; I am not a theonomist. Since “Two Kingdoms” people also reject those three positions, it is certainly true that “sphere sovereignty” may have some parallels with “Two Kingdoms” people, especially the more moderate versions. However, people in all four of those theological camps will have serious problems with key aspects of Kuyperianism.

    The bottom line issue is how Christians who are civil magistrates learn what is right and what is wrong so they can act in God-honoring ways in government. The Bible doesn’t give all the answers, certainly not in exhaustive detail, but where it does speak, I believe we have our answer.

    Civil magistrates are not to be calling things “good” in the statehouse which God requires them to call “evil” in the church.

    It seems clear that “Two Kingdoms” advocates believe otherwise.

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm: “O.K. You’ve made a case for why you can tolerate a Magistrate who does not punish Anabaptists or Catholics. What is your case for why the Magistrate should not punish people who break the first four commandments?”

    You have not heard me saying that, in principle, the civil magistrate should not enforce both tables of the Law. I would point out that with regard to the Fourth Commandment, the United States Supreme Court still says that blue laws against Sabbath breaking are legal.

    We are constrained in the United States by our Constitution. Look at what the Westminster Confession 22:4 says about lawful oaths, using the proof text of the Gibeonites: “Nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.”

    The cited proof texts are these: Ezekiel 17:16-19: “As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die. Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head.” Joshua 9:18-19: “And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them.” II Samuel 21:1 “Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.”

    In some theoretical “de novo” Christian nation founded out of a wilderness, I might be saying different things. But we need to deal with the actual political situation in which we have found ourselves, and that means we have to accept that our national covenant is the United States Constitution. It is not a perfect document, it was written specifically to paper over some very serious problems in society (forbidding a ban on slave trading for a specified period of time, for example), and in principle it can be amended.

    Our Constitution was written specifically to prevent the establishment of a national church, while permitting the existing colonial state churches (three of which still existed) to remain in place. The Roman Catholics of Maryland were accepted right from the beginning, and an increasing number of states were admitting Jews to full civil rights.

    Under those circumstances, because of the terms of the Constitution, I can work with traditional Roman Catholics and Orthodox Jews just as the Old Testament nation of Israel was bound not only to tolerate but actually come to the military defense of the Gibeonites. In fact, God punished the nation of Israel when King Saul, hundreds of years later, broken the covenant with the Gibeonites and killed many of them. I think I could make a good biblical argument not only that I am permitted to cooperate with Roman Catholics but also that I am actually forbidden from using the sword of the state to persecute Roman Catholics due to the terms of our national covenant, the Constitution.

    Was the decision by men like Rev. John Witherspoon to cooperate with Catholics in Maryland, or with Jewish merchants and shipbuilders who, like the Roman Catholics, correctly decided that an independent America would give them much greater freedom, or with freethinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, a good thing? I don’t know, and while I could make a case that it was a pragmatic decision which was unavoidable to secure American independence, it doesn’t really make much difference now.

    We’re bound by that covenant, once made, and that means some things are “off the table,” so to speak. We are the heirs of people who made commitments to recognize the freedom of religion of Roman Catholics, Jews, and various types of “freethinkers,” and based on biblical principles, we have to keep those commitments.

  310. Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    DTM – Civil magistrates are not to be calling things “good” in the statehouse which God requires them to call “evil” in the church.

    It seems clear that “Two Kingdoms” advocates believe otherwise.

    Erik – Clear based on what?

    Civil Magistrates who get it wrong will stand before God in judgment just like every other man.

  311. Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    DTM – We’re bound by that covenant, once made, and that means some things are “off the table,” so to speak. We are the heirs of people who made commitments to recognize the freedom of religion of Roman Catholics, Jews, and various types of “freethinkers,” and based on biblical principles, we have to keep those commitments.

    Erik – But earlier you told me the Constitution is subject to amendment. You bring so much pragmatism and qualification to your arguments that it is hard to take you seriously in a theological debate. When I say that I can take a Theonomist who favors strong enforcement of both tables or a Covenanter who finds the Constitution to be seriously deficient to be far superior to you in this debate I am being serious. You can’t raise a ruckus about 2K with such a long, convoluted argument and expect to be successful.

    I’m probably the only big enough nerd here to have read your whole essay which means I am a nerd par excellence. How in the world are you going to filter all of this down to the Presbyterian & Reformed masses?

    Consider briefly the preamble to the Irish Constitution:

    In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred, We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
    Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation, And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,
    Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.

    Maybe you need to move your project over there?

  312. Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    So exactly what standing do Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Hedonists have under your scheme of Constitutional interpretation?

    Who goofed and let them in?

  313. Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 19, 2013 at 9:26 am “Under an absolute monarchy what happens if the king decides he needs your property? Ask the Catholics who lived under Henry VIII.”

    I don’t remember saying anywhere that I supported absolute monarchies.

    Under the American system of government, citizens have tremendously more rights and freedoms to be politically involved and to criticize the government than they have historically had in most nations. We need to be grateful for that.

    When Christians have few or no freedoms — as none of the Apostles had except Paul, and even his rights as a Roman citizen were limited — the rules are different.

    You asked what happens if an absolute monarch decides he wants your property. John Knox’s doctrine of the lesser magistrates applies in some cases, but sometimes the only thing a Christian can do is pray for an end to persecution by removing a persecutor. God is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and all civil rulers will have to answer to Him in eternity.

    If you knew my background, which you probably don’t, you might know that I’ve spent a fair amount of time listening to stories of older Korean Presbyterian ministers who watched women they knew being dragged off by the Japanese to be used as sex slaves (“comfort women”) by the Japanese army, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying what conservative Korean Christians did under the Japanese occupation when the government was ordering the churches to participate in Shinto shrine worship.

    Talking church politics is easy here. The worst thing that could happen to anyone in this debate if the General Assembly does something bad is they might lose their pulpit or have to join another denomination.

    Imagine a situation where a General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church has been called to decide whether to endorse worship of the Japanese Emperor as god. All over the country, Japanese soldiers were watching the trains to keep conservative commissioners to the General Assembly from getting there. Once the commissioners arrived, soldiers were stationed along the walls of the assembly hall watching the commissioners who did get to the Assembly to see how they voted. Then, once the General Assembly decided shrine worship was acceptable, the Japanese went throughout the entire country arresting, torturing, and sometimes murdering faithful Christian pastors and elders on the grounds that they were rebels against not only the Japanese occupation government but also the native Korean Presbyterian church.

    The president of Chongshin Theological Seminary in Seoul, which is now the largest Reformed seminary in the world, has a poster on his wall with the pictures of all the graduates of his seminary who were martyred either by the Japanese or later by the Communists. The persecution was horrible, and the worst part was that a fair number of Korean ministers compromised, agreed to cooperate with Shinto shrine worship, and installed shrines in their churches. One of the few good things that happened as a result of the persecution was that it put Christians on the same side as anti-Japanese patriots, and ended for Koreans the stigma that Christianity faced in much of the rest of Asia as a so-called “foreign faith.”

    Theology has consequences. There are reasons why most of the mainline Presbyterian missionaries to Korea “caved” and decided to say Shinto shrine worship was acceptable.

    Not all did, however. Among the refusers was Rev. Bruce F. Hunt, an Orthodox Presbyterian missionary who was born in Korea to missionary parents, worked among Korean-speaking Christians in Manchuria which was at that time also under Japanese occupation, was arrested, came close to being killed, and was eventually kicked out of the country during a prisoner repatriation. I can’t quickly find verification of this online, but I’ve been told by OPC ministers who knew Hunt that rather than submitting to Japanese intimidation, Koreans lined the streets as he was being taken to the courtroom shouting support for him, seeing (to their surprise) an American missionary who was willing to stand up for his faith.

    Years later, once the Japanese lost World War II, the Korean collaborators in the Presbyterian Church were kicked out of the church. They had cooperated with the Japanese and had created a new liberal seminary replacing an older conservative seminary that the Japanese had shut down. The Koreans badly needed to reopen a seminary to train minsters and to get help from missionaries to rebuild their denomination. Who did those Koreans call? A tiny denomination known as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which was known to Koreans almost exclusively because one missionary was willing to stand up for his faith.

    It wasn’t too long before the Orthodox Presbyterians realized they were totally overwhelmed, and had no way to raise enough resources to help a group of Koreans which was already dozens of times larger than the total membership of the entire Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The OPC went to the Christian Reformed Church, which, at the same time it was spending large amounts of money to resettle Dutch refugees in Canada and the United States, took offerings in lots of rural churches that were used to rebuild the campus of what is now Chongshin University in Seoul.

    My wife happens to have her bachelors’ degree from Chongshin’s undergraduate program. It might interest you to know that the pastor of what was once the CRC’s second-largest church, Los Angeles Korean Christian Reformed Church, left the CRC in significant measure due to my work exposing homosexual activism in the CRC, took about 40 percent of the Korean CRC membership with him and all but one of what were at the time five Korean CRC “megachurches,” and a few years later was called to become president of Chongshin University. He’s the pastor who conducted our marriage and found it rather interesting that one of the American conservatives who had convinced him to leave the CRC was marrying a Korean.

    Now Erik, what you don’t know, because I haven’t said it here, is that my father-in-law was a sergeant first class in the South Korean Army and a combat medic fighting the Communists during the Korean War. My brother-in-law was the South Korean Special Forces. I have relatives who were dragged North by the Communists as “enemies of the people” and have not been seen since the end of the Korean War. My Korean relatives served the South Korean government at a time when it was fiercely anti-Communist but not necessarily very Christian.

    I might know a little bit about what it is like to live in a country where people can be killed for their Christian faith, and to serve bearing arms under a government which does not have American laws on civilian control of the military.

    Christianity has a lot to say to people facing very difficult circumstances and very hostile governments.

    Theology has consequences, Erik. So do political decisions. Rev. John Witherspoon was not playing games when, as president of what is now Princeton, he decided to become a member of the Continental Congress and join the American Revolution. Bruce F. Hunt was not playing games when he openly defined the Japanese and refused to participate in Shinto shrine worship. My relatives were not playing games when they knew whatever they did was being watched by the Japanese, and when, during their service in the South Korean military, they understood that their lives and the lives of their families and extended families were at stake based on their actions.

    I don’t know about you, Erik, but as a Christian citizen, I’d like to do what I can via the ballot box so neither I nor my children have to face from the American government the sorts of conditions my family in Korea had to face in the none-too-distant past from Japanese occupiers, North Korean Communists, or South Korean dictators who were their own commanders.

  314. Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Richard, you lost me on “all laws a state passes” are either in accord with God’s law or opposed to it. Does that mean speeding laws? Does that mean the order of creation or biblical teaching?

  315. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    DTM – If you knew my background, which you probably don’t

    Erik – I must have missed it the 10 times you told me about your background. I’m joking (kind of). Have a good Lord’s Day and shoot me if you see me here on it.

  316. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    One last thing…

    DTM – It might interest you to know that the pastor of what was once the CRC’s second-largest church, Los Angeles Korean Christian Reformed Church, left the CRC in significant measure due to my work exposing homosexual activism in the CRC

    Erik – Please tell me you didn’t have to go undercover…

    Your story about Korea, while moving, has little to do with this debate. Neocalvinism would have had no impact on whether or not the Japanese invaded Korea.

    I also doubt if our political activism or lack thereof has a tremendous impact on whether or not we have freedom of worship. God controls these things and we press on regardless of the political climate. Besides, the best way to further robust Christianity is to focus on the health of the churches, not the health of our legislatures, court houses, or executive branches.

    Or are you saying it is coincidental that evangelicalism has shrunk theologically at the same time that its political influence has grown?

    Fight for your right to have praise bands and seeker-sensitive sermons?

  317. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm: “DTM – We’re bound by that covenant, once made, and that means some things are “off the table,” so to speak. We are the heirs of people who made commitments to recognize the freedom of religion of Roman Catholics, Jews, and various types of “freethinkers,” and based on biblical principles, we have to keep those commitments. Erik – But earlier you told me the Constitution is subject to amendment. You bring so much pragmatism and qualification to your arguments that it is hard to take you seriously in a theological debate. When I say that I can take a Theonomist who favors strong enforcement of both tables or a Covenanter who finds the Constitution to be seriously deficient to be far superior to you in this debate I am being serious.”

    Erik, yes, the Constitution is subject to amendment. That’s obvious.

    I would argue that based on the Gibeonite principle, which is affirmed by the Westminster Confession, a deal is a deal and even if the United States became an overwhelmingly evangelical nation, we don’t have the right to break that deal with Roman Catholics. Same for Mormons, by the way, after admission of Utah to statehood.

    The situation with Jewish people and what at that time were called “freethinkers” is less formal but I’d argue that the same principles apply. Nobody but a fool would argue that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were not legitimate heroes of the American Revolution. The same is true for a number of Jewish people at the time of the Revolutionary War.

    Things changed between 1620 and 1776, and we can’t just draw a straight line back to Plymouth Rock, as some evangelicals do, and act as if all those who fought for American independence were conservative Christians.

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm: “DTM, So exactly what standing do Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Hedonists have under your scheme of Constitutional interpretation? Who goofed and let them in?”

    Practically, because of the First Amendment, they have the same rights today as any other American. That is not going to change anytime in the foreseeable future.

    Realistically, America is so far away away from the point that we could pass a constitutional amendment to change the First Amendment that, with all due respect to my Covenanter friends, it is silliness to even discuss it. We’re talking about theoretical possibilities that are all but impossible in the real world, barring radical changes that none of us can expect based on what we see today.

    Since you’re persistent and are going to push me anyway, I’m going to act against my better judgment and answer your theoretical question.

    First, I will point out that opposition to the introduction of foreign faiths, not just raw racial bigotry, was a factor behind the Chinese Exclusion Act. There was a day not that long ago in American history that Chinese and other Asian immigration was viewed as an utterly foreign influence bringing people to American shores who could never be Americanized. That looks kind of silly now that several Asian countries are considerably more Christian than most European countries, but there was a day that religious affiliation of a culture was a factor in setting immigration policies.

    Second, I agree that theoretically, unlike the situation with Roman Catholics, Mormons, and probably “freethinkers” and Jewish people, some future Christian American government would have the biblical right to amend the Constitution and expel Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.

    That might be a really good idea with adherents to Islam who refuse to renounce Sharia law — we do have precedents with illegal Japanese Shinto shrines in California during World War II, when Shinto meant worshiping the Japanese emperor, the head of an enemy government.

    So yes, an amendment like that would be possible in theory. I think it would be biblically permissible to pass an amendment barring any Muslim from coming to the United States unless he formally rejects Sharia law and renounces the concept of holy war or jihad on behalf of his faith. However, the chances of amending the Constitution to allow such a law to be passed are about equal to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church ordaining a practicing homosexual minister or amending the Westminster Standards to create an office of bishop. Theoretically either of those things could happen, and we can discuss in the abstract what would need to happen to allow those changes to occur, but neither is even remotely on the realistic horizon.

  318. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 19, 2013 at 9:34 am: “DTM – There are many things the civil magistrate could and should be doing, but failure to protect unborn babies and formal endorsement of sodomy via homosexual marriage are both pretty horrible abuses. Erik – Can you give Confessional support for these sins being more serious than not observing the Sabbath? If it’s just your opinion, why do I need to be bound by that and disciplined if I disagree with you?”

    With regard to murder, whether of unborn babies or of adults, I would point out that under civil law at the time the Parliament was reviewing and adopting the Westminster Standards, Sabbath breaking was treated differently from murder. Original intent counts.

    With regard to homosexuality, I’m not aware of a great deal of case law in England or Scotland on homosexuality at the time of the adoption of the Westminster Standards. If you want to argue that my interpretation of Romans 1 does not have confessional standing, you have a point. Homosexuality simply wasn’t a major problem at the time of the Westminster Assembly, as it is today.

    However, is it not clear from Romans 1 that God sends homosexuality into cultures which have rejected him? If that is not true, is it not clear that homosexuality is in a worse category of sins because it comes about as a punishment for disobedience.

  319. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 1:23 am: “DTM: 3) take action against Two Kingdoms theology without needlessly antagonizing people who are not only self-identified “Old School” theologians but also are legitimately part of that tradition. … Erik – Taking action against Two Kingdoms Theology?”

    Yes, taking action.

    Writing my essay is action. So is interacting with y’all here on this website so I can learn more about what you believe and why.

    I can think of a lot of wrong views against which I have take action over the years. Not all actions mean formal charges, if that your underlying question.

    When I saw a PCA friend arguing that Roman Catholics need to be rebaptized if they join his church, I took action by telling him that while he does have part of the Southern Presbyterian tradition on his side, he needs to seriously reconsider whether that part of the tradition was influenced more by John Calvin or by the Baptist culture of the 1800s, combined with virulent anti-Catholicism. I pointed out that there is only one case in Scripture where rebaptism happened — the disciples who knew only the baptism of John and had never heard of the Holy Spirit. I pointed out that if baptism is in the name of the Trinity, God is the prime agent in baptism and all the miscellaneous errors that men add to the baptism don’t change that.

    Since you are a URC member, I expect you will agree with me and believe I was right to act.

    Since the person involved is in the PCA, he’s acting in accord with part of his denominational tradition and that means my actions were all I could or should do. He’s not required to rebaptize Roman Catholics but he’s within his rights to do so.

  320. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart posted April 20, 2013 at 8:43 am: “DTM, on point three, how is what you describe – an elder excommunicating someone one day for homosexuality and the next day voting for homosexual marriage — any different from one day excommunicating someone for not attending worship services consistently and repeatedly and then next day voting to repeal legislation that required citizens to attend church?”

    I’d argue the difference is that I see the state punishing people for working on the Sabbath in the Old Testament, but not for failing to attend religious worship.

    Mandatory church attendance laws are wrong because they cross over from the proper sphere of the state and move into the sphere of the church. The civil magistrate does not have the right to force churches to admit people into their buildings. Therefore, a mandatory church attendance law actually is a backhanded mandate of the state on the church.

  321. Posted April 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart posted April 20, 2013 at 8:43 am: “On the fourth point, do you really mean to say that I am going to deny the Lord’s Supper to a recent adult convert who has been to the U. of Michigan, was a member of NOW, and is a member of the Democratic Party, who has yet to be convinced that homosexuality is a sin? Really? We actually administer the supper to polygamists in Reformed churches around the world.

    This is helpful, Dr. Hart. I may need to think through the implications of the Presbyterian opposition to Dutch Reformed views of confessional membership, and what it means to have a credible profession of faith.

    I would have major problems with admitting the person you describe to church membership, not based on being a NOW member or a Democrat, or based on questions about whether homosexuality is a sin, but based on open denial that homosexuality is a sin.

  322. Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm: “DTM – The civil government is not, under the American revision of the Westminster Standards, to give preference to any specific denomination of Christians. That doesn’t mean the civil government shouldn’t act in accordance with Christian values. Erik – Without me wading back through your essay, what is your historical evidence for that? It sounds eerily similar to what evangelicals are always saying about why America is indeed a Christian nation.”

    I was referring to the Westminster Confession, not what is being said by a modern evangelical.

    The civil magistrate’s task is “to protect the church of our common Lord” but not to give “preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest.”

    The relevant text is taken from WCF 23:3: “…Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger….”

  323. Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm: Have you lost sight of the possibility that maybe the Southern Presbyterians didn’t condemn slavery because Jesus didn’t? Aren’t you presuming the political application of your biblical interpretation again?”

    I don’t know how I missed this comment by you earlier.

    Do you believe that slavery, as practiced in the American South, was biblical? Do you not believe it needed to be abolished?

    If you’re serious in that position, then I guess I am correct in linking at least one Two Kingdoms advocate to slavery. I’d like to use you as an example, but I’d rather change your views.

    Please read the biblical exegesis against Southern chattel slavery in this essay by Jonathan Edwards Jr. and then let’s talk about slavery:

    http://www.gilderlehrman-announcements.org/teachers/scholars/HSP03.EAA6.Gamertsfelder.pdf

  324. Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter posted April 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm: “Consider this question for a second. Slavery is going on. A Christian in the South owns slaves and treats them well. He goes to a slave auction and his neighbor, who is cruel to his slaves is bidding against him. He sees a slave who seems to be less than healthy and knows that his neighbor will be cruel to this slave if he buys him, so he bids more than market value for him so he can treat the man with kindness. This is how Christianity works in the real, fallen world. Christian people don’t always have the luxury of looking back 150 years with their noses held high and dictating how the world should have been.”

    Short answer: how about buying the slave and letting him go free, on the grounds that stolen property does not legitimately belong to the person who purchased it?

    Longer answer:

    I truly can’t believe I’m debating this argument here. I rarely see such comments outside League of the South circles. I didn’t expect them from a “Two Kingdoms” advocate. Y’all usually run from any suggestion that “Two Kingdoms” theology can legitimately be used to defend slavery.

    But in any case, please read the link I posted to the essay on slavery by Jonathan Edwards Jr.

    I hope after reading, you will decide that there is at least one example of gross evil and wickedness in the state which was correctly opposed based on Christian principles.

    Abortion and homosexuality are horrible evils. I cannot think of any other evil in American society which we have ever officially tolerated which was that bad, except for slavery.

  325. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, you lost me on “all laws a state passes” are either in accord with God’s law or opposed to it. Does that mean speeding laws?

    RS: That would be included, yes. Just and wise speeding laws fit under the sixth commandment for the well-being of people and also of the eight commandment regarding the state (you shall not steal).

    D.G. Hart: Does that mean the order of creation or biblical teaching?

    RS: The laws that a state education committee passes would indeed reflect something of that.

  326. Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    DTM, if mandatory church attendance laws are wrong, then Calvin and the Puritans were wrong, then you are R2K in comparison to Calvin. Yet you don’t see that you imbibe from the waters of political liberalism. You think you carry the same torch of Kuyper and Calvin (as if they agreed). And you fool lay people into thinking that Calvin and Kuyper agreed and that the lay people agree with Calvin and Kuyper. It’s a lie. Don’t you worry about breaking the 9th commandment? (I don’t mean to be heavy handed in invoking God’s moral law, though you and the Baylys aren’t reluctant to do so. I actually don’t think you have lied. But you have misrepresented 2k and the history of Reformed Protestantism. At some point it might be better for you to think before you write — I mean “act.”)

  327. Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    DTM, what is wrong with your brain? Just because someone does not declare slavery to be sin (we are slaves of Christ, right, and he bought us with a price, right?) does not mean that someone advocates slavery as a social, political or moral good. This is fundamentalism — black or white, good or evil, no sense of living in a world of moral brights and darks.

  328. Posted April 21, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    DTM, sure, by the slave, let them go free, and fast forward to Atlanta in 1970. What about the liberated African-American who has to live with Jim Crow, etc.? You make it seem as if manumission solves all problems, as if laws against abortion are going to stop abortion. I am no fan of abortion. I am also not prepared to live in a society where women who don’t want their children take to back alleys. Laws don’t fix anything. (Don’t tell Doug.)

  329. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: DTM, sure, by the slave, let them go free, and fast forward to Atlanta in 1970. What about the liberated African-American who has to live with Jim Crow, etc.? You make it seem as if manumission solves all problems, as if laws against abortion are going to stop abortion. I am no fan of abortion. I am also not prepared to live in a society where women who don’t want their children take to back alleys. Laws don’t fix anything. (Don’t tell Doug.)

    RS: But we also don’t argue about laws against murder just because people who murder at times do it in alleys.

  330. Posted April 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    DTM – If you’re serious in that position, then I guess I am correct in linking at least one Two Kingdoms advocate to slavery. I’d like to use you as an example, but I’d rather change your views.

    Erik – Go for it. I would love to own your newspaper after I sue you for libel. I’ll turn it into the local shopper.

    You’re an excellent demagogue when your pious sense of moral outrage overtakes your ability to think rationally.

    Use the adjective “advocate” of me regarding slavery, I dare you. I know lots of high-powered attorneys.

  331. Richard Smith
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter
    DTM – If you’re serious in that position, then I guess I am correct in linking at least one Two Kingdoms advocate to slavery. I’d like to use you as an example, but I’d rather change your views.

    Erik – Go for it. I would love to own your newspaper after I sue you for libel. I’ll turn it into the local shopper.

    You’re an excellent demagogue when your pious sense of moral outrage overtakes your ability to think rationally.

    Use the adjective “advocate” of me regarding slavery, I dare you. I know lots of high-powered attorneys.

    RS: DTM, now you know why rational debate/discussion is not always possible with certain people. It is sort of like when a person without a real rebuttal resorts to yelling.

  332. Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Dick,

    People with good attorneys don’t need to yell. They just cash checks when other people act like idiots at their expense. As an unemployed minister I suspect you’re pretty much judgment proof so I’m content to ignore the inane things you say.

  333. Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Imagine a session that consisted of D.G., Zrim, Sean, myself, Mikkelmann, and Todd. We would have a blast together.

    Now imagine a session that consisted of Theonomist Doug, Old Bob, Revivalist/Baptist Richard, and Gadfly Bible-Belt Presbyterian Darrell Todd Maurina. Wow, that would be an adventure. I would give them a week together.

  334. Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Good grief. I wake up early Monday morning and find legal threats.

    Erik Charter posted April 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm: “DTM – If you’re serious in that position, then I guess I am correct in linking at least one Two Kingdoms advocate to slavery. I’d like to use you as an example, but I’d rather change your views. Erik – Go for it. I would love to own your newspaper after I sue you for libel. I’ll turn it into the local shopper. You’re an excellent demagogue when your pious sense of moral outrage overtakes your ability to think rationally. Use the adjective ‘advocate’ of me regarding slavery, I dare you. I know lots of high-powered attorneys.”

    Erik, please calm down.

    You’ve misread my post. I did not say and do not believe that you are an advocate of slavery. I’ve never believed that.

    Even if I had written what you seem to think I wrote, under New York Times v Sullivan (the key case in modern libel law) you are either a public figure or a limited public figure, and that means it is all but impossible for you to win a libel lawsuit against someone who criticizes you in public for your publicly expressed views. Even before New York Times v Sullivan, the legal doctrine of “fair comment and criticism” has been in force for more than a century.

    In case you want to argue that I am wrongly appealing to secular legal standards, go back and research the John Peter Zenger case, a colonial New York libel lawsuit from the generation prior to the Revolutionary War. The Zenger case underlies our modern First Amendment as well as our constitutional rights to non-excessive bail and several other rights we now take for granted but which were not always firmly fixed in statute law or constitutional law. You’ll find that Zenger was an organist in a Dutch Reformed church in New York City, and a newspaper publisher, who won a libel lawsuit filed by a colonial governor whose activities had been exposed by Zenger’s anti-government newspaper. Zenger’s case used the English common law principle of jury nullification to create a right for reporters to criticize the government, but there are solid biblical principles underlying that case and its overturning of the false doctrine upon which criminal libel was based, namely, that criticizing the government is inherently wrong because it causes people to lose respect for government officials.

    But even if none of that were legally true, the fact of the matter is that I did not say and do not believe that you are an advocate of slavery.

    Words mean things. Grammar counts. However, since you and perhaps others misunderstood my meaning, let’s get that out of the way right now. In no way, shape or form do I believe now, or did I believe on Saturday, that you are an advocate of slavery.

    Here’s what I did write: “I truly can’t believe I’m debating this argument here. I rarely see such comments outside League of the South circles. I didn’t expect them from a ‘Two Kingdoms’ advocate. Y’all usually run from any suggestion that ‘Two Kingdoms’ theology can legitimately be used to defend slavery.” And again in the section of my post which you quoted, “DTM – If you’re serious in that position, then I guess I am correct in linking at least one Two Kingdoms advocate to slavery. I’d like to use you as an example, but I’d rather change your views.”

    Are you not a “Two Kingdoms” advocate? That’s what I said. Not that you advocate slavery. There is a very big difference between those two things.

    It is beyond dispute that the Southern Presbyterian “spirituality of the church” doctrine was linked to slavery. As you yourself posted on April 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm: “Have you lost sight of the possibility that maybe the Southern Presbyterians didn’t condemn slavery because Jesus didn’t? Aren’t you presuming the political application of your biblical interpretation again?”

    Erik, I’m going to ask again that you read the essay by Jonathan Edwards Jr. against slavery. You will find detailed biblical exegesis and historical facts arguing that slavery, as practiced in the American South, was unbiblical and needed to stop.

    I am emphatically **NOT** saying that you advocate slavery. I never did say that because I don’t believe you believe that.

    What I am saying that the “spirituality of the church” doctrine was used, historically speaking, to silence critics of slavery. I think that is beyond dispute. It is also beyond dispute that at least some “Two Kingdoms” advocates claim to be in that Southern Presbyterian “spirituality of the church” tradition. In this case A=B, B=C does not necessarily mean A=C, but it does mean they are linked.

    Maybe you are a “spirituality of the church” advocate as well as a “Two Kingdoms” advocate. Maybe you aren’t. I don’t know. The two are not identical.

    Furthermore, just because somebody thinks that the “spirituality of the church” doctrine means the institutional church shouldn’t discuss slavery doesn’t automatically mean they support slavery. I have never denied that lots of Northern Presbyterian “spirituality of the church” advocates were opponents of slavery.

    What really I’d like to find out is what you think about the Jonathan Edwards Jr. essay giving exegetical grounds from Scripture to oppose slavery as it was practiced in the American South.

    That, as I see things, is the key issue. Do you believe that there were good biblical grounds for the church to oppose slavery, or do you believe that Christians shouldn’t oppose slavery because Jesus didn’t? I don’t know what you believe and I’d like to hear it from you rather than guessing what you believe.

  335. Posted April 22, 2013 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    It may be of some relevance here that Joel Belz and other conservative “culture warriors” were on the right side of a recent and quite nasty fight over racism in the PCA’s Western Carolina Presbytery from 2007 until 2010, while some solid conservative “Old School” Southern Presbyterians such as Dr. Morton Smith were on the wrong side.

    Interestingly, the Bayly Blog received some serious criticism from the supporters of Dr. Neill Payne, the former PCA elder who was run out of his PCA church for racist views, because the Baylys also took the right side on this issue.

    Here are the links.

    Church Confronts, Expels Member For Racist Views
    By Adelle Banks, Religion News Service (via Huffington Post)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/04/church-confronts-expels-m_n_671083.html

    Church Denomination Roots Out Racism
    By Sonia Scherr, Southern Poverty Law Center
    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/summer/rooting-out-racism#.UXSt6aJJOAg

    A Denomination Confronts its Past
    By Sonia Scherr, Southern Poverty Law Center
    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/summer/rooting-out-racism/a-denomination-con#.UXSty6JJOAg

    Disciplining racism: It all came down to just a couple votes…
    By David and Tim Bayly, BaylyBlog
    http://baylyblog.com/blog/2010/07/disciplining-racism-it-all-came-down-just-couple-votes

    And for those who want to see how bad the “Old School” tradition can get, here’s another link:
    http://bradley.chattablogs.com/archives/2010/07/why-didnt-they.html

    Let me be crystal clear that I am most emphatically **NOT** saying all Old Schoolers are racist bigots, let alone defenders of slavery or racial segregation. That would be nonsense and contrary to historical fact as well as present reality.

    I know too many self-described Old School people in very conservative Southern churches who aren’t racists. Maybe they stay quiet in their own circles; I don’t know. But they certainly had no problems telling me they supported my interracial marriage and my background working in a black inner-city church, and I take that at face value, especially when one of them asked me years to write an article on inner-city missions. (I declined because I didn’t think I had much to offer and better material was already available by others on the same topic.)

    What I **AM** saying is that I believe that the Old School Southern Presbyterian doctrine of “spirituality of the church” hamstrings the church’s witness when it comes to rebuking evil in society, and both slavery and racial bigotry are among those evils that need to be rebuked because they are contrary to Scripture.

  336. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    DTM,

    You’ve been warned. If I see you writing about me being an advocate of slavery or a racist in one of your many posts on one of your many blogs, lawyer up. I see how you continually smear good men like Michael Horton even after you have been corrected. Since you’ve revealed yourself to be a cheap demagogue once you can’t win an argument through reason I’m done talking to you. I’ll await the charges in church courts against 2K thinking. Until then, bug off.

  337. Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    I realize that you are not at all on board with the libertarian platform, possibly you see too many moral entanglements entailed in their emphasis on broad personal liberty. I can understand this, and I appreciate where you come from, as a more or less reluctant libertarian, I am not necessarily “on board” with the way many people exercise their civil liberties, and I am in disagreement with the Libertarian platform on abortion in particular.

    But, what I don’t see in your comments here, or in your essay over at the BB, is an understanding that no matter what political position, aside from highly obscure idiosyncratic groups, “picking a side” is going to involve moral trade-offs – if not in one’s own eyes, then at least from those who approach politics from a different side. So, in my case, where I believe that homosexuality is a sin, and should be dealt with accordingly in the church, but in society, gays should be accorded equitable liberties in the civic realm – my views are morally abberant, and even dangerous, because I have not though through the theological/moral implications of such a view?

    However, you say, I believe in the modern world we are fools if we think the oceans will protect us as they once did, and we now have no choice but to be aggressively involved in politics beyond our borders. which aligns you with neo-cons, and those on the left who are more hawkish – at least on the issue of foreign and military policy. I am not here to argue that you are wrong to hold these views, just to point out that in such a stance there are very significant moral implications. The US has engaged in torture, and even when such policies have been directly dropped, we have farmed out “enhanced interrogation” operations to other allies. The US has employed a policy of using drones to carry out counter-terrorism measures that kill many innocents. There are also questions about the propriety of a pre-emptive war in Iraq. Questions of our foreign policy creating unnecessary blowback in terrorist producing regions, etc.

    I am sure you have addressed the morality of war issues adequately in your own mind, and well enough to defend your position against those who would question the moral implications of such policies, and even clear up what you would perceive as misconceptions surrounding the morality of a more proactive military policy. But, there is a significant number of people who are not persuaded by these arguments, and view US foreign policy as morally hazardous. There are even many Christians that believe that the US has failed to uphold the 6th Commandment, engaging in unjust wars.

    I bring up this example not to argue over your position here, but to bring up the point that political stances are often going to entail complicated ethical reasoning – for example to justify when it is OK for the state to engage in warfare; or how much the state should be involved in matters of sexual preference, marriage, religion, etc. Given the complexity of such matters, don’t you see a real danger in turning a political position into a matter of doctrinal orthodoxy? Does this run the risk of absolutizing politics in the church, and endangering the meaningful exercise of liberty of conscience that we confess as Reformed Christians?

    In other words, what criteria are you employing to decide that some of the political implications of 2k are so dangerous as to need to sound the alarm? Is it just issues that you passionately disagree with, or is there an objective standard? Because it sure comes across in your essay, or in the e-mail that went out a year or so ago, that the reason you are sounding the alarm is because you don’t like the politics of certain 2k advocates.

  338. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Jed, you’re asking some really good questions.

    Scripture does not address every issue of statecraft, and in some cases only general principles are given.

    You raise the issue of overseas torture and other abuses of American power. I think you may know that I live and work outside Fort Leonard Wood where one of our former commanding generals, David Quantock, was, at his earlier rank of colonel, the man assigned to clean up the mess at Abu Ghraib. He later became the head of the Army’s military police school as a one-star general, was promoted and sent back to Iraq to be in charge of all detention operations there, then came back to Fort Leonard Wood to command the installation. He is now the provost marshal general (i.e., top police officer) and head of the Army’s CID (criminal investigation division). I add this to indicate that I am directly aware of how bad things can get when people wearing the American uniform and representing the United States bring disrepute on our country by doing evil things.

    Some people think we made the right decision to go into Iraq. Some people think we made a terrible decision. That’s a question which probably can’t be answered one way or the other by Scripture.

    On the other hand, it is very clear from Scripture that some of the things done by our soldiers over there, such as sexual abuse of prisoners, was totally wrong. The junior NCOs and junior enlisted people in that renegade unit were hiding their actions from officers because they knew they’d get in trouble if caught, but the simple fact is that Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the person in charge of that prison system, allowed a command climate to develop in which lower-level people could get away with really bad things because they knew they wouldn’t be carefully watched.

    Surely you and I can both agree that Scripture teaches that sexual torture and humiliation of prisoners is wrong, regardless of whether we agree on the invasion of Iraq.

    It seems to me this is a clear example of where Scripture does and does not speak to issues of government. One decision — whether or not to invade — is a very difficult decision which requires wisdom and application of moral principles, but the answer is not clear and evident from Scripture. Another decision — whether or not to sexually humiliate prisoners — is clear and obvious. You just don’t do that kind of thing.

    Hope that helps.

  339. Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    DTM,

    Thanks for the response. Hopefully we can move closer toward at least a solid mutual understanding of where each-other stand.

    It seems to me this is a clear example of where Scripture does and does not speak to issues of government. One decision — whether or not to invade — is a very difficult decision which requires wisdom and application of moral principles, but the answer is not clear and evident from Scripture. Another decision — whether or not to sexually humiliate prisoners — is clear and obvious. You just don’t do that kind of thing.

    I am in full agreement with you here. And I think it goes to illustrate a broader point. Scripture certainly assists us in evaluating the morality of what happened at Abu Ghraib, but one needn’t be familiar with Scripture at all to understand the moral breach that some of our troops committed. Scripture would be highly beneficial in calling these perpitrators to repentance and faith in Christ, but their court martial employed their own military codes of conduct (stuff you would be more familiar with than I) to adjudicate their cases. One of the major tenets of 2k is that Scripture’s primary use is within the church to minister to her people, and to call those outside to repentance, but it doesn’t function well as a treatise on political policy.

    So, I want to draw on a couple of illustrations of the point that Scripture isn’t used to determine political policy, and I think these are areas in which we probably agree:

    – Scripture forbids blasphemy – our government allows it
    – Scripture forbids idolatry – our government allows for the free exercise of all religion, idolatrous ones included
    – Scripture forbids fornication and adultery – our government criminalizes neither

    Now, I am sure that we both agree that all of these issues are sins, and they should be dealt with using appropriate disciplinary measures in the church, regardless of what our government deems legal or society deems permissible. We wouldn’t want our churches disciplining members because they are against society criminalizing these sins.

    On the other hand, what do we do on more controversial issues, like the current debates over gay marriage, where a Christian agrees with Scripture that homosexuality is a sin, but doesn’t think the state should forbid same sex marriage, or a civil union arrangement? Obviously there is going to be sharp political disagreement over the matter amongst Christians who land on one side of the issue or the other. But, assuming all sides agree on how the church should handle the sin of homosexuality in discipline matters, and that it should be called a sin in the pulpit (when it is addressed in passages being preached on), should Christians be held to account by the church for holding divergent political views on the matter? My answer is no, Christians can disagree, even profoundly, over political and cultural matters and still come together peacefully in the Church, without fear of spiritual oppression for their views.

    What I have seen happen over this issue is quite the opposite from this at times. In the case of Misty Irons, she has become a byword over her stance on gay marriage, even though she maintains homosexuality to be a sin, having her reputation trashed by some (I am not accusing you of this) who have a duty according to our confessional standards to protect her reputation. To be associated with such views is to invite the very public derision of not only bloggers, but church officers. This matter, probably more than any other I have witnessed has demonstrated that liberty of conscience is only valuable in some Reformed circles if you walk in lock-step with certain party lines. Whether or not it is intended, political matters have risen to become standards of orthodoxy, and there are segments in the Reformed world that seek to rid Reformed churches of those who hold divergent political views on certain hot-button matters. To me this serves only to undermine the fundamentally spiritual mission of the church.

  340. John Sizer
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Erik, In the words of Sgt. Hulka, “Lighten up, Francis!”

  341. Posted April 24, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    John,

    You just made the list, buddy.

  342. Posted April 25, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Jed Paschall, you make some important points in your comments posted April 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm.

    We’re close but not in complete agreement here, however.

    You say that the government allows blasphemy, idolatry, fornication and divorce. Your conclusion from that seems to be that if we agree on some areas where the government tolerates sin, there’s no logical reason for the government not to tolerate even more sin.

    Using your words, “Now, I am sure that we both agree that all of these issues are sins, and they should be dealt with using appropriate disciplinary measures in the church, regardless of what our government deems legal or society deems permissible. We wouldn’t want our churches disciplining members because they are against society criminalizing these sins.”

    Three responses:

    First, I grant the “slippery slope” logic that once we have granted the premise, we will unavoidably move from granting the premise to ending up and the logical conclusions, but I don’t grant the premise. We actually are **NOT** in agreement that “we wouldn’t want our churches disciplining members because they are against society criminalizing these sins.” Many of those decisions were made long ago, but I could very easily imagine the elders of a Reformed or Presbyterian church getting very upset with a legislator who was a member of their church who voted to decriminalize fornication or adultery. In our modern world, church discipline is rare anywhere, but that’s the fault of the churches involved.

    Second, even as bad as our society has gotten, we have not actually endorsed fornication or adultery, as we would be doing with endorsing homosexuality if we approve homosexual marriages. There’s a big difference between government failing to do something it should be doing and government actually endorsing sin.

    Third, it is factually incorrect that we have no civil penalties for any of those sins. We do still have some cases where adultery can result in criminal charges.

    For example, the Uniform Code of Military Justice **DOES** allow prosecution of adulterers. The concept is that if people cannot be trusted to be faithful to their vows to their spouse, they cannot be trusted with potentially life-and-death decisions in a military command context. Seems like pretty good logic to me.

    Prosecutions for adultery are rare but they do happen, and the threat of losing one’s military pension and benefits is far from irrelevant in restraining bad behavior. Yes, bad things definitely do happen, but the threat is there and the fact that the penalty is sometimes applied, often in very high profile cases where senior leaders lose everything due to their lack of zipper control, makes those bad things less frequent and less serious than they otherwise would be. That’s the purpose of a criminal law — restraining bad behavior by people who can’t or won’t control their own behavior without external compulsion to do so, and providing an example to others of the consequences of bad behavior.

    I would argue that even in our current highly debased society, we can and should work for laws which create negative consequences for sinful behavior. For example, it should be possible for people to cite the adultery of a husband or wife in controversies over child custody and financial arrangements during a divorce. I like the idea of a “covenant marriage” in which an engaged couple would have to decide whether they want to agree to much higher standards for divorce, thereby forcing the engaged man and woman to ask each other some tough questions if one or the other doesn’t want to do so.

    We also need to deal with the reality that in certain circumstances, the civil government cannot and **SHOULD NOT** apply laws in specific cases which do apply in general situations.

    Even under the Old Testament, there were situations where the Israelites were required to protect people who belonged to false faiths. The most obvious example is the Gibeonites. Once they made a treaty with the Israelites, even though they did so under false pretenses, the Israelites were not only forbidden from attacking the Gibeonites but actually required to come to their military defense. Hundreds of years later, God severely penalized the Israelites because Saul killed the Gibeonites. This principle is cited as a Scripture proof by the Westminster Confession, which in WCF 22:4 says this about lawful oaths: “Nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.”

    Because of our First Amendment, and because of the agreement more than two centuries ago to tolerate Roman Catholics in Maryland, we are forbidden from doing some of the things which a hypothetical Christian nation might otherwise do, and which **WERE** being done elsewhere at the time of ratification of the United States Constitution. Maybe that agreement was good; maybe it was bad. It really doesn’t make a difference today. Much as the Israelites had to not only tolerate the Gibeonites but also come to their military defense, and were severely penalized by God for breaking their word centuries later to the Gibeonites, America is restrained by our national covenant, the Constitution, in what we can do with regard to false worship.

  343. Posted April 25, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Typo alert. I wrote “You say that the government allows blasphemy, idolatry, fornication and divorce.” I meant to say “You say that the government allows blasphemy, idolatry, fornication and adultery.”

    Divorce is a different question and I didn’t mean to raise that here, except in the context of covenant marriages.

  344. Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
    topic to be really something which I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.

    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  345. Chortles Weakly
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    That spam comment is money!

  346. Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Chortles, the spam sticks. Like Homer said, “it’s funny because it’s true.”

  347. Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Sweet. This is the string where I threaten litigation against DTM. An Old Life instant classic.

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