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. 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.

  2. 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”.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Posted April 20, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Erik, in Baylys Geneva you’d be in prison.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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”?

  16. 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…

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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.”

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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?

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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?

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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…

  34. 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.

  35. 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?

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

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