If Not Two Kingdoms, Two Decalogues

double
In other words, you gotta serve some dualism.

I’ve had another worldview moment. I am struck that critics of the two-kingdom position, especially the ones who insist upon Christian schools, believe that a major issue in the disagreement is whether or not the Bible is the norm for public life (as well as other sectors outside the church). Fine, I get that. General revelation or natural law may not be sufficient to maintain the order that we desire in society. I suspect, though, that the objection is also that general revelation and natural law won’t yield a Christian society. But that’s another issue.

So let’s concede that the Bible should be the norm for political life. That would appear to solve the problem of abortion, same-sex marriage, and divorce. (Sorry, it doesn’t resolve the debate about Christian schools.) The sixth and seventh commandments would appear to be pretty handy for cleaning up American morality.

But what doesn’t seem to dawn on these Bible-as-norm-for-public-life folks is that we have not simply two but ten commandments. And the first four are particularly hard not on crime but on false worship, idolatry, blasphemy, and profaning the Lord’s Day. So if the Bible is to be the norm for public life, then all of a sudden not simply murder, divorce, adultery, fornication, lying, stealing are punishable offenses but so are Roman Catholicism and Mormonism, for instance, at least from the view of a Reformed world view.

I wonder if the implication of the whole integral law occurred to Dr. Kloosterman when he wrote the following in response to my piece in Christian Renewal. This summer he wrote:

The heart of my disagreement with religious secularism appears most clearly, I think, with this claim of Dr. Hart: “To suggest that Christian norms must be dominant in public life raises the threat of the very sort of religious warfare in which Protestants and Roman Catholics engaged in hopes of maintaining a uniform society.” A number of possible responses come to mind, but two will suffice.

First, if the worldly kingdom (public life) is to be governed by that natural law revealed
in creation, and if the Decalogue is nothing less than the republication of that natural law, then why would Christians not want the civil magistrate to proscribe what the Decalogue proscribes?

To play Rush Limbaugh for a moment: “stop the tape.” This is the heart of the disagreement over Christian schools – whether or not the magistrate enforces the Decalogue. So Christian schooling is really bound up with Christianizing America (and he quotes Machen for support – go figure). In other words, the whole debate over Christian schooling boils down to where one fights in the culture wars – is the Bible the norm for civil society, or is it not? Christian schooling is simply a way of fighting the culture war. We are very glad for the clarification.

“Mr. Snerdly, resume cut one.”

Kloosterman continuuueees.

Dr. Hart’s caution against having “Christian norms be dominant in public life” sounds very much like the warnings against “Christians legislating morality” and against “Christians forcing their religious convictions on others” that have become such common media mottoes in our highly secularized generation. What, in fact, is a “Christian norm”? Are the prohibitions “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and “Thou shalt not steal” peculiarly Christian norms?

Why is it illicit for Christians to appeal to the civil magistrate in the context of public policy relating to abortion, for example, using as only one among several arguments that the magistrate is called by God to honor the Sixth Commandment? If the magistrate’s authority comes from God, then why is it improper for Christians, as but one component of their public political testimony, to point the magistrate to God’s will revealed in Scripture (Ps. 2, Ps. 110, Rom. 13) for exercising that authority?

And if the civil magistrate’s authority comes from God, why go first to the seventh and eighth commandments. If the first and greatest commandment is loving God, why resort first to laws about love of neighbor? The answer appears to be straightforward. False worship and blasphemy do not trouble Dr. K. as much as sex and stealing. And always keep in mind that if you want to be tough on crime, send your children to a Christian school.

So again, to reiterate: if the law is good for the magistrate and it gives him (or her?) guidance about the culture wars, why does it not also give instruction about which religious groups to support and which to forbid? The good attorney from Indiana somehow thinks that this implication is silly because it reflects a complete misunderstanding of the Christian school lobby’s position. But which is more silly, to think that Christ governs the existing age through two kingdoms, one subject to Scripture the other to general revelation, or to think that we can have the Decalogue to prohibit the sins we most oppose but not to the point of making us look intolerant of other religions?

Last time I checked, both Israel and the church were to purge blasphemy and idolatry from their ranks – why – well, that first table of the Decalogue is pretty explicit. But somehow the Christian school advocates think that the state, which will be governed by the same Bible that governs the church, will be tough on sexual sins and murder but not on blasphemy and idolatry.

That leaves us with an interesting disagreement. The folks who condemn two-kingdoms for its dualism (among other things) have a dualistic view of the Decalogue. How integrated is that?

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164 thoughts on “If Not Two Kingdoms, Two Decalogues

  1. True, it is inconsistent application of one’s theology to only apply 1 or 2 of the commandments.

    However, your use of “public life” and “political life” do concern me. Is it not just one life we all have?

    I see many people adopting the 2k approach so that they can partake of the “world” and not feel guilty that they have done anything wrong, including but not limited to: sending our kids to public school to learn evolution, listening to in appropriate music or watching inappropriate movies, etc.

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  2. You keep trying to push Dr. K into the theonomist camp, despite his stated intention of articulating a distinct third way between your view and theonomy. The quotes you pull from his series need to be read in the context of his earlier critical examination of theonomy. Moreover, in an earlier post, you give a strained spin to a quote from Machen on his alleged view of the benefits of public education (benefits he apparently regarded as largely theoretical in his day–what would he say now?), arguing that Machen saw Christian schools as simply a safeguard against state tyranny, and “not a way to promote and maintain a Christian culture”, which goal you attribute to “Dr. K and his assistants”.

    In so doing, you wrongly characterize Dr. K’s advocacy of Christian education as fundamentally an act of culture war, designed to “promote and maintain a Christian culture”. Worse, based on your own strained reading of the short quote from Machen that you cite, you accuse Dr. K of bad scholarship and selective citing of Machen, allegedly for the purpose of coopting Machen as a comrade-in-arms in some theonomic culture war cabal. But as is clear throughout his entire series, Dr. K is not advocating culture war or theonomic dominionism, but counter-cultural Christ-and-Bible-permeated life. This is the Christian world-and-life-view that Machen eloquently praised as the goal of Christian education in “The Necessity of the Christian School”, the piece Dr. K cited. There, you will find that Machen offers not one, but two reasons for the necessity of the Christian school. The first is, as you have noted, that Christian schools safeguard liberty and resist the tyranny of the state. But the second, which you neglected to mention (what was that about quoting selectively?) is that Christian schools are “necessary for the propagation of the Christian faith”. Machen then goes on to extol the Christian school’s positive function as the context in which the implications of the Christian religion for every area of life are explored, learned and expressed.

    As a reminder of Machen’s (and Dr. K’s) actual view, here he is sounding very Neo-Calvinist in “The Necessity of the Christian School”:

    ***But what miserable makeshifts all such measures, even at the best, are! Underlying them is the notion that religion embraces only one particular part of human life. Let the public schools take care of the rest of life — such seems to be the notion — and one or two hours during the week will be sufficient to fill the gap which they leave. But as a matter of fact the religion of the Christian man embraces the whole of his life. Without Christ he was dead in trespasses and sins, but he has now been made alive by the Spirit of God; he was formerly alien from the household of God, but has now been made a member of God’s covenant people. Can this new relationship to God be regarded as concerning only one part, and apparently a small part, of his life? No, it concerns all his life; and everything that he does he should do now as a child of God.

    It is this profound Christian permeation of every human activity, no matter how secular the world may regard it as being, which is brought about by the Christian school and the Christian school alone. I do not want to be guilty of exaggerations at this point. A Christian boy or girl can learn mathematics, for example, from a teacher who is not a Christian; and truth is truth however learned. But while truth is truth however learned, the bearings of truth, the meaning of truth, the purpose of truth, even in the sphere of mathematics, seem entirely different to the Christian from that which they seem to the non-Christian; and that is why a truly Christian education is possible only when Christian conviction underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life — those are great central convictions that underlie the Christian school.***

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  3. >>”[I]f the Decalogue is nothing less than the republication of that natural law, then why would Christians not want the civil magistrate to proscribe what the Decalogue proscribes?

    When Christian morality is codified in civil law (at least in the United States), it forces our morality to be viewed within the context of a social compact. This waters down the idea that human morality is essentially between man and God and not man and man. By not having every aspect of the Decalogue codified, it reinforces the notion that sin is an affront to God and not a violation of a social contract. Consider these questions and what I think would be the most likely response from a typical Christian layman.

    Why should people refrain from stealing? Because in a free society we need to respect one another’s property rights. I don’t want people stealing my things, so I don’t steal others.

    Why should people refrain from lying in business transactions? Well we all need to tell the truth to one another, so that we can get all along. We’ve seen what happens when bankers lie: the whole economy suffers. And If everyone lies, then we won’t know what to believe, and life would be pretty hard.

    Why is homosexuality wrong? God forbade it. It’s an abomination to God. God created us male and female. Proper, natural human relations (as dictated by God) require us pursue male-female relationships and marriages.

    The first two questions contain codified Christian morality, but elicit a response derived from a common political philosophy. The last contains Christian morality that is not codified, and it elicits a response that appeals directly to God. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

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  4. Steve, I did not mention theonomy in my post. If it springs up in your thoughts, then you have a theonomic mind.

    What I did mention and quote was the place where Dr. K. says he finds the heart of the disagreement — and that concerns not Christian schooling but politics and the use of Decalogue by the magistrate. He said “heart,” not me. Whether you call it Christian America, theonomy, or a Dutch-Reformed Social Gospel, it is the issue between Dr. K. and me, as he describes it.

    And if you want to complain about my reading of Machen, go ahead. But I’ll put it up against yours or Dr. K.’s any day. After all, would either of you countenance Machen’s views on the rights of Communists in a free society, defend the South in the War between the States, testify before city government about the dangers of jay walking, or consider defending Warfield’s views on creation? If not, then maybe you don’t want to go there.

    Machen’s kind words about Dutch Reformed day schools, words with which I would agree, are not the ur-text in the Machen corpus.

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  5. The running joke when I was in a public high school was that you could get the best drugs at the Christian school in town (I won’t name names but it was a Reformed k-12 school). Maybe their advanced skill in Christian chemistry enabled them to grow superior weed. Some of my best friends growing up went to that school and they faced the same struggles as any Christian kids did in the public school systems. The idea that “true learning and true piety go hand in hand” seems dubious to me.

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  6. DGH:

    I’m pretty sure that I’m on your side in this debate, but out of curiosity, what was Machen’s views on the Civil War? I’m not as well studied on Machen as I should be.

    I think the Civil War can provide a very interesting context for a lot of political (theological and otherwise) debates. I’ve had the chance to learn from and talk with many prominent law professors, lawyers, and politicians about political philosophy. And when someone announces principles to supposedly guide international relations, I always find it informative to push them to apply that principle to the hard cases of international relations like the Civil War and the conflict between Israeli and Palestine. So, I’m curious about how Machen treats the Civil War.

    At the heart of most defenses of the North in the civil war, is the notion that slavery and the slave trade is an evil so serious that war was an appropriate remedy, even a war like the Civil War that resulted in over 600,000 dead Americans.

    If one finds the North justified, under a Bible-is-the-guide-for-politics approach, what do we do about anti-apostasy in Saudi Arabia. If a person born to a Muslim father in Saudi Arabia converts to Christianity, he is subject to the death penalty. Is this less evil than slavery? Does it not justify a war?

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  7. That when activists charge into the public square waving the banner of Christianity, they may start by stating that this or that should be outlawed because God declared it wrong, but they quickly abandon that argument, and resort to arguments that are more politically expedient. But they never announce that they have shifted from theology to sociology or philosophy. They continue to labor under the banner of Christian Morality and label their work as Christian activism.

    So to a typical observer, the font of their self-labeled “Christian Morality” or “Christian Policy” is not only God, but also whatever other political philosophy they are employing (liberal, progressive, conservative, libertarian, utilitarian, etc.). Then since it is a “Christian Morality” or “Christian Policy” it’s taught in the church. The two spheres are confused. An attempt to bring God into the public square has brought political philosophy into the church.

    Conflating revealed morality with political philosophy does more than bring political philosophy into the church it gives pride of place to political philosophy when any tenet of revealed morality is pursued in the public square and another is not. If an activist doesn’t fight equally for legislature prohibiting abortion, homosexuality, and idolatry, then he sends the message that he is picking and choosing among tenants of revealed morality and using as his guide a political philosophy that is both outside Scripture and superior to it.

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  8. Well, Machen was an advocate of states’ rights and took a high view of the sovereignty of each state. Many regard this as merely a cover for racism. But if you consider debates between the federalists and anti-federalists, and if you consider the effects of consolitation and centralization upon the American state, Machen had a point, if you ask me.

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  9. I agree. I’m a big proponent of state sovereignty. If only our current federal government was as limited as the federal government that Madison described in the Federalist Papers….

    The size and power of our present federal government would be a nightmare to both the federalists and the anti-federalists.

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  10. @dgh: Can’t one argue that state sovereignty was forged out of the Revolution, but *became* a pretext for covering over slavery? (Much as the right to privacy was written into the Constitution in response to British malfeasance, but has become a pretext for defending abortion).

    If so, then the question “War Against Slavery or War of Northern Aggression?” is answered with “Both.”

    RL:

    The size and power of our present federal government would be a nightmare to both the federalists and the anti-federalists.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this in light of recent developments (health-care; climate). It strikes me that we really only have two options: autonomously solve our own problems as local communities, or have someone else do it for us. The fact that government has the political ability to demand “health care for all” might well be an indictment of the church’s failure to get there first.

    In other words, dgh, perhaps the shoe is on the other foot: only activist churches have a chance of preserving liberty by keeping their own corner of the world competitively ahead of secular government? Hmm … Time to rethink Calvin’s Geneva as an experiment in local self-government.

    JRC

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  11. Dear Dr Hart –

    Please forgive a tangential comment;

    I’ve just come across an article from the New York Times magazine which profiled Catholic “New Natural Lawyer” Robert P George, apparently a key architect of the “Manhattan Declaration” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/magazine/20george-t.html?em=&pagewanted=all . If the Declaration has its roots in Natural Law, should 2Kingdomers take another look at it?

    warm regards and Christmas blessings,

    Ben P (regular reader of your blog and work, and usually in agreement with it)
    Melbourne, Australia

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  12. JRC: “I’ve been thinking a lot about this in light of recent developments (health-care; climate). It strikes me that we really only have two options: autonomously solve our own problems as local communities, or have someone else do it for us.”

    Here’s third option: We stop chasing adolescent Utopian fantasies.

    As to protecting liberty, I’ll stick with a robust second amendment and limited government.

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  13. Jeff, have you been hitting the egg nog early? New Englanders also thought about secession over states rights in the 1830s. There was a real crisis in federalism throughout the 19th century. Sorry, but St. Abe didn’t fix it. I’d argue Abe is responsible for Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Bush, and Obama — it’s called really big government.

    So you think Calvin’s activist churches protected liberty? How did that work out for Servetus? Or what about Roman Catholics in Geneva? At the same time, I see no signs that the federal government is at odds with the ministry of word and sacrament. What U.S. history provides plenty of examples of is churches jumping on board the federal project so they can think they are doing something really important.

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  14. Machen was an advocate of states’ rights and took a high view of the sovereignty of each state. Many regard this as merely a cover for racism.

    The contemporary parallel is that socio-political room-divider called abortion. If one has Borkian states’ rights views it’s seen as merely a cover for choice politics by those with life politics inclined to push back as hard as Roe shoved. But states’ rights can be distinguished from those who argue for the autonomous individual rights of either fetuses or females. It’s interesting how lifers reach back to our history in human slavery and deem everyone not on board as as tanatmount to being racist (paging John Piper).

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  15. Zrim, you mean the way Christian school advocates can’t distinguish the goal from the means? As in, you can be for Christian education, but unless you require Christian schools for church officers’ kids you are against Christian education. Sort of like what Machen faced with Prohibition. Because he opposed the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act (as breaches of state sovereignty), dry Presbyterians thought he favored drunkenness.

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  16. Ben P, knock off the titles (unless you want to refer to me as an elder — I prefer bishop since the OPC FOG since it refers to elders as overseers).

    I don’t see the Manhattan Declaration as a natural law document per se. I think it is compatible with that. But I think it draws more on a Christianization of American impulse that runs deep in American Protestantism and that Roman Catholics since Reagan have increasingly employed (quite ironically I would say since the Christianization of America was used for so long against Roman Catholics as not the genuine article of either being American or Christian).

    I’m not expert on natural law. I’d refer you to David VanDrunen’s fine little book for the Acton Institute, The Biblical Case for Natural Law. To my knowledge, Dave has not signed MD.

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  17. DGH,

    The damage done to states’ rights as a result of the Civil War can be clearly seen is a subtle linguistic shift. Before the War, politicians, Supreme Court Justices, and foreign diplomats referred back to the United States with the pronoun “they.” After the War, increasingly (and now always) they use “it.” The country had shifted from being viewed as a federation of separate but equal states to being viewed as a single empire with central authority and subordinate local authorities.

    I’ve read academic work on this. I’ll post a link, if and when I find it.

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  18. Ben,

    Note this tension between the article that you linked to and the text of the Manhattan Declaration. Here is how the NYT article described George’s position:

    “George is the leading voice for a group of Catholic scholars known as the new natural lawyers. He argues for the enforcement of a moral code as strictly traditional as that of a religious fundamentalist. What makes his natural law “new” is that it disavows dependence on divine revelation or biblical Scripture….”

    The article pointed to his disavowal of dependence on Scripture as a distinguishing mark. But the Manhattan makes no such disavowal. In fact, it reads (in the first paragraph under the heading “Declaration”:

    “We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture….”

    I challenge you to find me anything in the Declaration that can be read as a “disavowal of dependence on divine revelation or biblical Scripture.” Would you support it if it contained such a disavowal?

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  19. Right. It would seem that the inability to distinguish goals from means goes hand-in-hand with the moralizing of politics and the politicizing of faith.

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  20. Ben,

    To make sure that I was being as fair as possible to your position, I reread the New York Times article. If it accurately describes George’s position, you should be alarmed. Take these two paragraphs, which appear near the end of the article:

    “I asked George several times if he was really hoping to ground a mass movement in abstract principles of reason so at odds with the prevailing culture. It was a bet, he said, on his conviction about the innate human gift for reason. Still, he said, if there was one critique of his work that worried him, it was the charge that he puts too much faith in the power of reason, overlooking what Christians describe as original sin and what secular pessimists call history.”

    “It is a debate at least as old as the Reformation, when Martin Luther broke with the Catholic Church and insisted that reason was so corrupted that faith in the divine was humanity’s only hope of salvation. (Until relatively recently, contemporary evangelicals routinely leveled the same charge at modern Catholics.) “This is a serious issue, and if I am wrong, this is where I am wrong,” George acknowledges.”

    If this article is right, George rejects “faith in the divine” as humanity’s only hope of salvation. Instead, he posits that a mass movement grounded in human reason as an alternative means of salvation.

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  21. My point, RL, is that even if “we” do stop chasing utopian fantasies, *others* will not. If they can then point to perceived problems X, Y, or Z that “need” to be fixed in our society, that provides a pretext for jumping in with a “solution.”

    In other words, believing in limited government is not enough; actually keeping government limited requires a large degree of self-rule.

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  22. Whoa, Bishop Hart. I see you’ve been a busy bee for these last couple of days I’ve been away. Just got back from my niece’s birthday party, and I have something more substantive to say about Christian education and politics/government (has to do with reconciling the ought vs. the is), but don’t yet have time for it. Going to bed soon.

    In the meantime, I wanted to ask whether you agree with Zrim in his advocacy for public education. For example, Zrim wrote earlier, “As strong PS advocates, my wife and I wanted the PS.” Are you a public school advocate? Did I hear you properly say earlier that you were a libertarian? Does this square with advocacy for public education? Should orthodox/conservative Reformed/Presbyterian folk be public school advocates as Zrim is? Just wondering.

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  23. Jonah, nice try to separate Zrim from me. To answer your question, I am an advocate of Christian parents rearing their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and I believe that can happen in a variety of educational delivery systems. I also think it can happen without formal schooling — I welcome the uneducated to Christ’s church. If Zrim lived in Philadelphia he and his wife’s decision might be different, just as the situation in Grand Rapids like contrasts with the problems that big-city school districts face. Catechesis is required. The three r’s be optional.

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  24. To quote Bill Moomy (figure this one out and you get a prize), “you’re a bad man! You’re a very bad man!” 🙂

    Good insight, that prompts a follow up thought: how do you relate the Decalogue to the natural law (I’m thinking Rom 2 here)? It seems Dr. Kloosterman does not do so, putting the Decalogue in the master’s seat in the civil realm.

    Yet I’m curious about the relationship, as clearly there has to be one. Maybe the problem is not reckoning that there is a proper relationship between the two. Observing it might help to retain their necessary distinctions.

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  25. Not sure about Bill Moomy, but Michael Richards storms out of the room in So I Married An Axe Murderer yelling, “I’m a bad man! A very bad man! Everyone stop and look at the bad man!”

    JRC

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  26. DGH: Jeff, have you been hitting the egg nog early?

    Cider, actually — but I like it dry, like my eggnog.

    DGH: New Englanders also thought about secession over states rights in the 1830s. There was a real crisis in federalism throughout the 19th century. Sorry, but St. Abe didn’t fix it.

    I’m struggling to match your comments to mine … I think we failed to connect here.

    DGH: So you think Calvin’s activist churches protected liberty? How did that work out for Servetus? Or what about Roman Catholics in Geneva?

    Whatever was in my cider, it can’t hold a candle to your brew. Servetus? I’ll take his fate any day over the kidnappings, enslavements, lives, and deaths of the millions of slaves held in your beloved bastions of freedom, Jeffersonian democracies.

    But in any event, you missed my point. I wasn’t arguing that Geneva upheld individual liberties; rather, it was a community that was free to order its religious life as a community.

    DGH: What U.S. history provides plenty of examples of is churches jumping on board the federal project so they can think they are doing something really important.

    Right. What I’m suggesting is that churches ought to bypass the federal project so that the federal project has no excuse to come to them.

    JRC

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  27. Jonah, Zrim is also on the PS payroll, which may or may not affect his “advocating of PS”.

    dgh, wow, a 2ker who believes a parent can send their kids to private school or homeschool and this not equal Reconstructionist? Could it be?

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  28. Jeff, you said something like states rights was a cover for slavery. I was pointing out that New Englanders appealed to states rights in the 1830s and for them it was not a cover for slavery.

    At the same time, before you smear Jefferson with the indignities of slavery, keep in mind that lots of folks outside the south condoned and benefited from slavery. I see how it makes the unbeliever look bad. But selectivity is not a good thing.

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  29. Reed, the difficulty in relating NL to the Decalogue would seem to be the first table. WCF is right, I think, to say that nature reveals a god who deserves to be worshiped. But it doesn’t seem to be at all clear that creation reveals prohibitions against images, blasphemy, or sabbath observance. I can see possible implications from these from the created order. But no good and necessary consequence — from nature.

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  30. Jonah: “Zrim wrote earlier, “As strong PS advocates, my wife and I wanted the PS.”

    .DGH: “If Zrim lived in Philadelphia he and his wife’s decision might be different, just as the situation in Grand Rapids like contrasts with the problems that big-city school districts face. Catechesis is required. The three r’s be optional.”

    Jonah, you’ll recall that my point was that we wanted the PS but deemed it unacceptable. As Darryl suggests, part of that deeming had to do with “the problems of big-city life” (solved by moving to the smaller suburbs). So, unlike, most Christian school advocates, it’s not as if my public school advocacy goes so far to my core that I’d make blanket choices. We’d have had no trouble paying the Christian (Reformed) school bill if that choice showed itself to be the superior. I’d also happily send them to Baptist or Catholic schools as well. Heck, when the time comes, this rabid and radical 2Ker would have no trouble sending them to transformationalist colleges. They’re pretty darn good.

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  31. Reed,

    From the classic “Twilight Zone” series. That episode, with Bill Mummy as the kid whose wishes literally come ture, still gives me spooky chills.

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  32. Jonah, Zrim is also on the PS payroll, which may or may not affect his “advocating of PS”.

    Christian school principals and teachers are on the CS payroll. But I think it’s pretty cynical to suggest that their advocacy is a result of their remuneration. I may be on the PS payroll, but even if I weren’t it wouldn’t change my views. Heck, I had these views even as I was employed as a Christian school teacher. Maybe you’d call that duplicitous, but I call it providing for my family.

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  33. But somehow the Christian school advocates think that the state, which will be governed by the same Bible that governs the church, will be tough on sexual sins and murder but not on blasphemy and idolatry.

    I’ve read a little on this subject from the other side of the debate, and I think there’s a fairly easy way to resolve this without resorting to dualism, which is the belief that the state, while owing its obedience to God and to his revelation in the Bible, has a limited area of responsibility (as in the notion of sphere sovereignty). The state should follow the Bible in those areas for which the Bible gives it responsibility. But there are many responsibilities that fall not to the state, but to other authorities, such as the Church and the family. Calling people to repent of their unbelief and idolatry is the job of the Church, not the state.

    This could be described as ethical monism combined with institutional pluralism. The distinction (I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a dualism) between “sin” and “crime”, is at a functional, institutional level. Each and every area of society should be governed by the Bible, but the Bible gives different, limited responsibilities to different institutions.

    The big question I have about this possible answer (which strikes me as logically consistent, at least) is whether the Bible teaches such a distinction between church and state as institutions. In the nation of Israel, there was no such distinction, but our situation now, after the coming of Jesus Christ, as scattered Christians throughout the world, is very different. In the New Testament, the early church was a persecuted minority and not in a position to try and make the Roman Empire a “Christian society” except through evangelism.

    If you take the OT nation of Israel in isolation as normative, then you might come to a theocratic or theonomic position where the Bible’s teaching should be directly imposed as law. If you take the NT early church in isolation as normative, then you might conclude that Christians have no business trying to exercise any kind of influence except for personal evangelism. What’s needed is to put both halves together in context and to discern the underlying timeless principles in order to apply them in a timely way – I’m still trying to get to grips with this!

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  34. What I said was, States’ Rights as a concept in America had its origins in one place (namely, the colonial experience) but morphed into something else entirely. That is, the 10th Amendment was not passed for the purpose of protecting slavery; but by 1850, State’s Rights was practically synonymous with calls to “protect the Southern way of life.”

    Do you disagree?

    And in fact, the Civil War is a good illustration of my thesis concerning autonomy. If the Southern church had looked five moves ahead and eliminated slavery from among themselves (autonomy), then States’ Rights could have been preserved in other areas. Instead, States’ Rights became the whipping boy (“Those terrible Yankees, taking our property away! Let’s pass a fugitive slave law!”) that preventing them from recognizing the plank in their own eyes.

    The result was that they lost everything — slaves, states’ rights, autonomy.

    Communities that fail to police themselves are policed by others: there’s my tale.

    DGH: At the same time, before you smear Jefferson with the indignities of slavery, keep in mind that lots of folks outside the south condoned and benefited from slavery.

    Absolutely. The point is that “States’ Rights” can become just as corrupted, and fail to preserve liberties, as a theocratic state like Geneva can run off the rails.

    JRC

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  35. Yeah, I see this. I guess what I wondering is if it might not help to do some backing up first. Often when one first cements the nature of the continuity-discontinuity of such subjects all sorts of errors are corrected.

    Romans 1, then into 2, surely is the beginning point for understanding to what extent God’s law summarized in the Decalogue is present in nature. This is not to say that it is the Decalogue which is present in nature. This gets back to the issue of proper distinguishing.

    Am I making any sense here Darryl? I’m not really trying to engagethe specifics of your post, as I think you’ve hit on an actual flaw (not merely an apparent one).

    As I consider myself, and how I might go about making this clearer to someone who disagrees, I can’t help but consider the continuity-discontinuity distirnguishing process (ala Turretin for example). It was and continues to be exceptionally helpful to me as I continue to see my twenty+ years dispensational fractured study of Scripture be corrected by the covenantal hermeneutic.

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  36. Jeff: lol 🙂 See Richard’s response below. He hit it. A favorite of mine when I want to pick on someone else. Of course, I may need to adopt your’s here, as I always need a humbling reminder.

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  37. Jeff:

    Do you really think that slavery can be traced to Jeffersonian Democracy the way religious persecution can be traced to city-state government in Geneva?

    Do you really think that there would be no African slaves in 19th Century Atlanta, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina if they had the same form of government as Calvin’s Geneva?

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  38. The folks who condemn two-kingdoms for its dualism (among other things) have a dualistic view of the Decalogue. How integrated is that?

    This post title would have been snappier with one more T: Two Kingdoms or Two Tables?

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  39. No, clearly not. Rather, I was saying that even a positive good, like local and limited government, can become a cover for doing evil. We don’t need even to look at US history for that; consider how the Law was used in 1st century Israel.

    JRC

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  40. I remembered it wrong. Here’s the quote:

    “I’m insensitive! I’m a very insensitive man! Stop your job, look at the insensitive man! That’s what they’re paying you for! ”

    JRC

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  41. Caleb W., and what happens if you take the NT as fulfillment of the Old? The 2k position doesn’t look at the NT in “isolation” from the OT.

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  42. I disagree. States rights was fundamental to federalism. It also means that people in one state are willing to live with the wrongs in another state. It has existed for alcohol and gambling. And I’d argue that it would be better if 48 states abolished abortion rather than seeking national laws.

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  43. Darryl: same question for you I posted at Scott Clark’s blog.

    On the subject of two-kingdom doctrine, I’m struggling to know where to begin in my reading. I want to get a good handle on this:

    > First the exegetical base
    > Second the historical development
    > Third the modern reemergence

    This seems to be to be the only sound way of both developing my grasp and avoiding getting caught in the fart too often troll-like grip of opponents.

    Any advice?

    Also, Scott mentions a paper you gave him in 1998 (at a conference you were both speaking at). He says it was one of the beginnings for his development in this area. Remember what he is talking about it, where I might find it?

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  44. dgh: “So let’s concede that the Bible should be the norm for political life.”

    But not the Bible for the sake of the Bible so much as it is because of the One whom it reveals and the One who authored it. The norm for human beings is God Himself. God created us in His image and we are to live out this identity, to be like God. We are recreated in the image of God through Jesus Christ and called to live out this new image-bearing Christian identity. The Bible is the norm because God is the norm. We are to be holy as God is holy, and we know how to do this through general revelation and special revelation (the Bible). The nonChristian does not get a pass. The command to be imitators of God still stands. The nonChristian is not found to be innocent by reason of insanity when he rejects the word of God in Scripture. The Bible, along with general revelation of course, is the norm for all of life because God’s character is the norm for all human beings.

    dgh: “The sixth and seventh commandments would appear to be pretty handy for cleaning up American morality.”

    But commandments themselves can’t clean up anything. They are rather that by which we know what “clean” really is. And if we really want to know what “clean” is, are we to look only at God’s general but not special revelation?

    dgh: “But what doesn’t seem to dawn on these Bible-as-norm-for-public-life folks is that we have not simply two but ten commandments.”

    Yes! And why? Because we are not called to be image bearers of God only two-tenths of the way, but wholly and completely. We are to love God with heart AND soul AND mind entirely. (Now, I know we can’t and shouldn’t be God, but rather we are to be like Him – “analogously” as Dr. Van Til would say.)

    dgh: “So if the Bible is to be the norm for public life, then all of a sudden not simply murder, divorce, adultery, fornication, lying, stealing are punishable offenses but so are Roman Catholicism and Mormonism, for instance, at least from the view of a Reformed world view.”

    You are indeed bright. But should the state punish all of these sins? Has God given it the sword for that? It does indeed follow that if the Bible is the norm for public life that Mormonism is wrong, but it does not follow that therefore the government should punish people for Mormonism. (The question then is not whether Mormonism is wrong [which we know from the Bible], but what are the roles of the church and the state with respect to Mormonism?)

    dgh: “In other words, the whole debate over Christian schooling boils down to where one fights in the culture wars – is the Bible the norm for civil society, or is it not? Christian schooling is simply a way of fighting the culture war.”

    The worst part here is that even you know for yourself that this is not what Dr. K is saying. Likewise for this nonsense: “False worship and blasphemy do not trouble Dr. K. as much as sex and stealing.” Grow up, Dr. Hart.

    dgh: “So again, to reiterate: if the law is good for the magistrate and it gives him (or her?) guidance about the culture wars, why does it not also give instruction about which religious groups to support and which to forbid? ….. But which is more silly, to think that Christ governs the existing age through two kingdoms, one subject to Scripture the other to general revelation, or to think that we can have the Decalogue to prohibit the sins we most oppose but not to the point of making us look intolerant of other religions?”

    It is precisely to avoid the error of equating Church and state that Calvin’s distinction between two kingdoms is important. But the problem with the way you formulate the distinction is to say that general revelation applies to the one and Scripture to the other. That does not solve the problem but rather magnifies it. The genius of Calvin’s 2k formulation is in distinguishing between the unique office, unique authority, unique roles/duties, unique areas of jurisdiction, unique means of the Church on the one hand and civil government on the other. That’s how we avoid the problems you mention above. Yet this does not negate the fact that both the Church and the State are subject to God who reveals Himself in general AND special revelation – both! For whom is the Bible not God’s authoritative Word?

    I see you are concerned about how it’s possible to have the Bible as the norm for the government, and yet we have all these people who aren’t Christian and don’t care much for Scripture. But this tension between the two, this antithesis, is something unpleasant that we cannot do away with until Christ returns. Only Jesus Christ can completely and totally resolve this problem. He plans to do this at his second coming. In the meantime we have to just keep fighting the good fight.

    So when the dispute arises in the public square as to whether the state should submit to God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture, whose fault is this conflict? Is it the Christian’s fault for advocating the Bible as the norm form cultural life? Nonsense. It is because of sin. The fault is on the part of those reject special revelation, not on God for insisting men obey Him according to the entirety of His revelation.

    It will not do, then, to reach some kind of compromise with the unbeliever by suggesting that we’ll restrict the authority of Scripture to the “kingdom” or “sphere” of the Church as long as we can agree to have general revelation as the norm for cultural and civil life. Consider all the presuppositions behind such thinking that we’d have to construct in order to make this kind of reasoning sound. Do Scripture and general revelation contradict one another? No, you’ll insist. Is it possible to properly obey God according to only some of His revelation but not all of it? Must men obey God? – surely, you’ll insist. But why not according the entirety of His revelation? Must men only be image bearers and imitators of God according to this part of Him but not that part? Can God’s characteristics be so separated from one another? No. The unbeliever does not have a problem with the Bible as the norm for the state simply because it’s the Bible. He has a problem with it because he has a problem with God.

    The remedy we can apply until Christ returns is a remedy that the Church must apply in calling all men to repent and believe, not by asking Christians to set aside their obedience to Scripture when they step into the calling of senator, congressman, or president.

    To sum it up, then, the difference between the two kingdoms is not the standard to which they must adhere, i.e. God’s character as revealed in both general revelation and Scripture, but in the unique mandates, authority, means, offices, callings, jurisdiction, responsibilities they have.

    Anyways, Merry Christmas, Dr. Hart, and to everyone else reading.

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  45. Jonah, so you do admit that you disagree with Machen. You do think that we are obligated to devour each other in a religiously plural setting, constantly harranging the unbeliever about his lack of belief and his immorality. Fine. Just glad to get that on the table. The less you quote Machen, then, the better.

    But don’t take this the wrong way, you are a week-kneed theonomist. You somehow think American under the rule of special revelation will not exclude Mormons. By the way, Dr. K. also argued that his position will not lead to religious war (unlike Scripture does lead to religious war for Israel and for the church). Do you really mean to imply that Mormons would have found a place in Calvin’s Geneva?

    As for Dr. K’s concern for blasphemy and idolatry, I’d be glad for a reference to his writings on this topic. I did find it curious that in his own discussion of bringing the law to bear on the magistrate he went not to the first but the second table. I also find it slightly uncharitable for him in his series for CR — when will it ever end? does he think he’s Doestoevsky? — that he refuses to acknowledge that I am the co-author of a book defending Reformed worship that first appeared as a series in another favorite periodical of the Dutch Reformed – The Outlook.

    BTW, I don’t celebrate Christmas. Can you imagine the presuppositions of Reformed people who do? Instead, we celebrate Charles Hodge’s birthday — 12/28. That we use evergreens for decorations is entirely coincidental.

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  46. Reed, the best I can do about a bibliography is one that I prepared for David Strain’s blog. It will get you started. http://davestrain.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/interview-with-darryl-hart-part-iv/

    The paper Scott mentions, I believe, is the one I did for WSC’s Kuyper conference. It was on Machen and Kuyper. Never published. The neo-Calvinists have arranged conspiratorially to prevent it from seeing the light of day. I have to email you a copy.

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  47. dgh: “You do think that we are obligated to devour each other in a religiously plural setting, constantly harranging the unbeliever about his lack of belief and his immorality.”

    Devour? Constantly haranguing? No. But I’m sure you’ll agree that we are in the midst of a ferocious spiritual conflict against the Devil, the world, and the flesh. And God has put enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Surely you’ll agree. But not devouring the unbeliever does not mean leaving his unbelief unchallenged. If he refuses to submit to Jesus Christ after concerted evangelistic effort (the task of the Church not state), then I suppose you shake the dust off your sandals and move on. But this does not render the unbeliever free from the Word of God as revealed in Scripture. We should live at peace with unbelievers wherever possible. But not by scaling back the demands of God upon them and us, nor by hiding special revelation under a bushel.

    Conflict with the unbeliever. Peace with unbeliever. This is the tension we have to live with until Christ returns. But because of the existence of sin in this world until the Last Day I’m not going to choose peace over conflict, just as I will not choose conflict over peace. I’d rather simply have peace with the unbeliever, but many of them are hostile towards my Lord and Saviour, and therefore you and me. Common grace. The antithesis. Both. Get used to it.

    dgh: “…you are a weak-kneed theonomist.”

    But if we can play semantic games, then you too are a theonomist because you believe the unbeliever must submit to God in the civil realm according to GOD’S LAW revealed in general revelation. I’m just more consistent than you are in believing that people are subject to the authority of special revelation too.

    dgh: “You somehow think America under the rule of special revelation will not exclude Mormons.”

    What the Bible says about idolatry is one thing. What the Bible tells the Church to do about idolatry is another. What the Bible requires the government to do about idolatry is another.

    dgh: “Do you really mean to imply that Mormons would have found a place in Calvin’s Geneva?”

    If Calvin’s 2k distinction is exemplified in Calvin’s Geneva, then has Calvin been consistent with himself? Interesting.

    dgh: “…I am the co-author of a book defending Reformed worship that first appeared as a series in another favorite periodical of the Dutch Reformed – The Outlook.”

    And I’ve only ever heard good things about this book. In fact I think it was recommended to me while I was at MARS (seminary not planet). But not a Secular Faith.

    dgh: “BTW, I don’t celebrate Christmas.”

    You mean you celebrate Christmas every Sunday, along with Easter, Good Friday, Ascension – and indeed you celebrate such things throughout your life. Amen. Do they have significance for cultural life? Hehe! (Maybe I’m not joking when I ask that.) Well, Christmas dinner is soon, so I must be running along. I also have church tomorrow morning too – but only because my elders said so. Jesus Christ wants me in Church every Sunday but my elders are a little smarter than him, eh! Regards 🙂

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  48. You are not more consistent but the inconsistency grows larger. You say you believe the unbeliver needs to submit to special revelation. Hello!?! How can someone do that without the work of the Holy Spirit. What an unbeliever can do is submit to the laws revealed in the created order. Two kingdoms gives unbelievers that chance, and it also follows Paul’s advice about living quiet and peaceful lives.

    And the inconsistency is compounded, as this post argues, by your separation of one part of God’s law from another. Is it really divisible? Can one have the second table for the magistrate while overlooking the first table? How is that possible when it was not true for Israel or the church?

    And just to give you indigestion for following the non-Reformed practice of Christmas observance, if the unbeliever is supposed to submit to special revelation, aren’t the first four laws part of that revelation? So you’re back to your problem of what to do with Mormons and Roman Catholics, not to mention those who observe man-made ordinances. an.

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  49. dgh: “You say you believe the unbeliever needs to submit to special revelation. Hello!?! How can someone do that without the work of the Holy Spirit?”

    No disagreement here. The unbeliever is in a world of hurt. And even we – who by God’s grace have been regenerated and reborn – still do that which we do not want to do, and what we want to do we don’t. Who will deliver us from these bodies of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. H.C. Q&A 114: “But can those converted to God keep these commandments perfectly? No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with earnest purpose they do begin to live not only according to some but to all the commandments of God.” How dire, then, is the situation for the unbeliever. Everything about his life cries out for the need for special revelation.

    dgh: “What an unbeliever can do is submit to the laws revealed in the created order.”

    In light of what Scripture and the Confessions (Westminster too) teach about total depravity, I don’t think you can actually believe this. In fact, I don’t think you do. Here, then, is inconsistency. No. No man can keep God’s law after the fall into sin. Even common grace cannot be credited to man. Our best works are as filthy rags.

    dgh: “Two kingdoms gives unbelievers that chance…”

    No sinful man left to his own devices will take the opportunity to obey God.

    dgh: “… and it also follows Paul’s advice about living quiet and peaceful lives.”

    What Christian can disagree with Paul’s instruction to live quiet and peaceful lives? And what Christian can disagree with Paul’s instruction here: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

    dgh: “And the inconsistency is compounded, as this post argues, by your separation of one part of God’s law from another. Is it really divisible?”

    I was arguing the opposite. The law is not divisible. Each commandment presupposes the others.

    dgh: “Can one have the second table for the magistrate while overlooking the first table?”

    No. The diversity of the ten commandments cannot be separated from the unity of the ten commandments. Neither loving God nor loving neighbor can happen when you take away but one of the commandments.

    dgh: “…if the unbeliever is supposed to submit to special revelation, aren’t the first four laws part of that revelation?”

    Here’s what Paul says to Timothy right after instructing him that believers live quiet and peaceful lives: “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Of course the unbeliever is supposed to submit to special revelation, but this idea is not original with me but with God. And yes, the first four laws are part of that revelation.

    dgh: “So you’re back to your problem of what to do with Mormons and Roman Catholics…”

    But why does such a problem exist? Because we call on them to obey God as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures? Certainly not. What should the government do with Mormons and Catholics? Once again, this is the genius of Calvin’s 2k distinction in teaching that it is not the government’s role to do the work of the Church nor vice versa. Should the government punish people for being Mormon or Catholic? The Scripture does not teach that it is the role of government to do this. And notice that I go to the Bible to make this determination as I don’t have a clue what general revelation apart from special revelation teaches what the government should do with Catholics and Mormons. In fact, how would a sinful and totally depraved person even know that Mormonism is wrong apart from special revelation? Making the distinction between Christianity and Mormonism presupposes special revelation.

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  50. DGH: You say you believe the unbeliver needs to submit to special revelation. Hello!?! How can someone do that without the work of the Holy Spirit.

    This part of the argument does not work and should be abandoned. A moral obligation does not imply or convey ability to fulfill it. Therefore, the need of the unbeliever to submit to special revelation (“Hello?! Repent and believe the Gospel!”) is universal; ability is not.

    @ Jonah: DGH likes to distinguish (helpfully) between jurisdictions. That is, the church can proclaim the Law to those under its jurisdiction — that is, the Church — but not to those outside its jurisdiction. Do you admit to any separation of jurisdictions?

    JRC

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  51. Hello Jeff. You might not have read my whole comment above. Here’s a snippet: “Once again, this is the genius of Calvin’s 2k distinction in teaching that it is not the government’s role to do the work of the Church nor vice versa.” (Of course the idea is not original with Calvin but he’s rather recognizing the teaching of Scripture.) Kuyper also spoke of different “spheres” beyond Church and state (family, school, business, etc.) which is helpful.

    Does this answer your question?

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  52. dgh – thanks for taking the time to reply to my question re Robert P George, Natural Law, & the Manhattan Pronounceamifcation. I’ll be amused if the result is that people start calling you Bishop

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  53. Greetings RL – that’s a good question, but one which I am not currently qualified to answer

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  54. Jonah, be careful how you appeal to Calvin. Mark Van Der Molen might come after you with Article 36 of the Belgic if you try to read two-kingdoms into Calvin’s thought. (Oh the irony here, two-kingdom thought getting dinged by appeals to two-kingdom Calvin. As I say, the inconsistency, like Pinnochio’s nose, lengthens.)

    But let’s go with Calvin’s Geneva and the two-kingdom world of early 16th century. Did Geneva tolerate Roman Catholics? So how does this example prove your point that the magistrate does not enforce the first table of the law? I’ve tried to argue with MDVM all the good reasons for the American revision of the WCF, so that the state won’t have to do what Calvin’s Geneva did. Then the theonomist comes along and complains about the liberal impulse in that revision. But you don’t even make the revision. You somehow appeal to Geneva and think you can wind up with religious liberty for false religion. Huh?

    And if unbelievers cannot keep God’s law, and the state is supposed to enforce God’s law — somehow going easier on breeches of the first table — then why wouldn’t the state lock everyone up, unless unbelievers can obey in some fashion God’s law?

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  55. Jeff, the point is not about whether a command implies ability. It is this crazy and inconsistent appeal to God’s law as the basis for the state and whether or not the state will lock up people who do not obey that law. Folks like Jonah seem to think that the 2k position moves in a secular and liberal direction, and so his teacher, Dr. K., likes to try to point out the less than faithful dimensions of 2k teaching. And yet, when pushed, the critics of 2k will not produce an argument for a society any different from the secular liberal order that we have, that also grants lots of freedom for false religion. So they fault us for trying to show that God is in control and carrying out his purposes even in the midst of these times. Meanwhile, their own conception of God’s rule never goes beyond sexual crimes to first table offenses like those enforeced in Calvin’s Geneva.

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  56. Sorry, Dr. Hart. Another long one. Grab a coffee…..

    dgh: “Oh the irony here, two-kingdom thought getting dinged by appeals to two-kingdom Calvin.”

    The irony is that you appeal to Calvin’s 2k distinction to support your position, but turn around and criticize Calvin’s Geneva. Let’s just agree we shouldn’t be executing people for not believing in the Trinity.

    dgh: “So how does this example prove your point that the magistrate does not enforce the first table of the law?”

    But what do you mean by “enforce?” I was rather arguing that the government is not exempt from adherence to the first table of the law. (On a side note I was inKlined to think that Kline may have been correct in suggesting that the two tables should rather be thought of as one for the suzerain and the other for the vassal rather than the first corresponding to love God and the second to love neighbour. But I digress.) The question is not whether the government is subject to the whole Decalogue (for it is), but rather: what is the nature and scope of the government’s authority? I am saying that it does not include punishing people for not being a Christian. But it can “enforce” the first four commandments by maintaining a context and environment in which the Church can carry out the Great Commission. Another example: why should the government want people not to steal, not murder, etc? Because Allah says so? Because people just don’t like it? No, rather because the first four commandments are broken when the other six are broken. Each commandment presupposes the all the others.

    dgh: “You somehow appeal to Geneva and think you can wind up with religious liberty for false religion.”

    No I didn’t appeal to Geneva. And excuse my ignorance but I was not aware of any proposed change to the WCF. (Might I suggest you do a blog entry on this? I think it would generate some good discussion and would educate those of us not from Presbyterian circles.) I do agree, however, with the revision made to BC article 36. Speaking of article 36, perhaps you can understand why I believe the government is subject to the whole Decalogue, not only the second half: “…the civil rulers have the task, subject to God’s law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship” [emphasis mine]. I have to believe this otherwise I’m not being a good URCer. I also bring this up to once again make the point that the government can and must “enforce” the whole Decalogue, but the nature and scope of that “enforcement” is limited to what God has ordained. This means not burning people for not being Trinitarian.

    dgh: “…then why wouldn’t the state lock everyone up, unless unbelievers can obey in some fashion God’s law?”

    I’m sure you and I do not disagree over the unbeliever’s or believer’s ability (or lack thereof) to obey God’s law. The question is rather: what should be the foundation or standard of the state’s laws? General revelation only? NO!!! If you want to prevent people from being executed by the government for being Sabellians, then Scripture is required! Otherwise, how would we know what the extent or limit of the government’s authority should be? How would we even know what Sabellianism is if not for the Bible? How would we know that the state shouldn’t be doing the work of the church nor vice versa?

    dgh: “Folks like Jonah seem to think that the 2k position moves in a secular and liberal direction, and so his teacher, Dr. K., likes to try to point out the less than faithful dimensions of 2k teaching.”

    Depends what you mean by secular or liberal. My concern is a worldview concern. My concern is a philosophy of epistemology-ontology-ethics concern. Is it possible to have a rational, coherent worldview apart from presupposing the truth of Scripture? No. And if not, then why should we not insist that teachers, politicians, plumbers reason and behave accordingly? Why shouldn’t our schools and our governments be motivated, oriented, directed in accordance with the biblical Christian worldview so that they might seek to give glory to Jesus Christ, the King of heaven and earth? Some might argue that this doesn’t accommodate the unbeliever. I argue it does better than any other option.

    Dr. Hart needs to expunge those “less than faithful dimensions of 2k teaching” he refers to. I know that he too wants to have a biblical Christian worldview, but for him it seems to include setting aside the Scriptures when it comes to matters cultural and civil.

    dgh: “And yet, when pushed, the critics of 2k will not produce an argument for a society any different from the secular liberal order that we have, that also grants lots of freedom for false religion.”

    I am not a critic of making a 2k distinction a la John Calvin, but rather Dr. Hart’s formulation of it. We do produce the argument that Dr. Hart says we don’t. It just not one that’s entirely consistent with Dr. Hart’s, and therefore he doesn’t like it because that would mean having to humbly admit he’s made mistakes. But then again, I’m no angel either. This is why we need to keep going back to the Scriptures and our confessions.

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  57. Darryl,

    I have a series of legitimate questions I would greatly appreciate you answering. I am asking because I reject theonomy as a biblical system, and yet I am not fully on board with the WSC brand of “Two-Kingdom’s theology.” So, here we go:

    Was Hitler’s Nazi Germany a legitimate government? Does abiding by NL determine whether a government is legitimate or not? Did the Nazi party abide by NL? If so, is NL situational or socially determined?If not, how do you determine what NL is? In the political arena, why would the last six commandments and not the first four be deemed offensive to God? Who determines what is law in NL theory? If we say “God does,” where do we find the doctrine of NL, in more extensive detail than simply saying it exists, in Scripture?

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  58. Jonah,

    Well you brought Calvin up. Sorry for invoking Geneva.

    So you want a coherent world view? Then could you possibly exemplify one. Govt. is not exempt from the entire decalogue. To break one commandment is to be guilty of them all. Govt. authority is premised on special revelation. Govt. also will establish conditions so that the gopsel will be preached. But . . . none of this means that govt. will oppose false belief. That is simply incoherent. You could say all of the first four assertions about the church and not come up with the one about exempting the church from prohibiting false belief. So where is your special code that allows you to take part of special revelation for the state — enough to give 2kers a problem — and then reserve enough liberty, secularity, and equality for yourself so that you don’t have to be a theonomist.

    And while we’re talking about coherent worldviews. How do you come up with algebra or trigonometry on the basis of Scripture. I get it that theism of some kind is a big aid for establishing math. But I don’t get how the Bible is. Not to mention that lots of people other than Christians have been some of the greatest of mathemeticians. Is math false if it doesn’t start with the premise of the Trinity? I sure hope not because the chances of this comment being read depend on the truth of lots of works by non-Christians.

    And since we were talking about Calvin, have you read this from the Institutes, 3.19.15 (props to Scott Clark’s recent podcast):
    “. . . there is a twofold government in man: one aspect is spiritual, whereby, the consience is instructed in piety and in reverencing God; the second is political, whereby man is educated for the duties of humanity and citizenship that must be maintained among men. These are usually called the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘temporal’ jurisdiction (not proper terms) by which is meant that the former sort of government pertains to the life of the soul, while the latter has to do with the concerns of the present life — not only with food and clothing but with laying down laws whereby a man may live his life among other men holily, honorably, and temperately. For the former resides in the inner mind, while the latter regulates only outward behavior. The one we may call the spiriutal kingdom, the other, the political kingdom. Now these two, as we have divided them, must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other. There are in man, so to speak, two worlds, over which different kings and different laws have authority.”

    With this distinction in mind, it is possible to say that the unbeliever does obey God’s law — the laws that come from the created order and govern the political realm — and that he or she does so in an outward way. If the state were to try to enforce any of God’s law, first or second table, then it would need to look beyond external behavior to motives. That would be a scary place to live.

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  59. Well, great minds think alike, eh!

    If you’re like me, I look at Theonomy and think, no, that doesn’t make sense. I look at NL2K (or whatever we’re supposed to call it) and think, no, that doesn’t make sense either. I appreciate the zeal of the theonomists for Scripture, and I appreciate the respect of the Klinean 2kers for natural law/general revelation, but it seems like these are on different ends of the spectrum and are not entirely consistent with Scripture and Reformed theology. The good thing is that they both appeal to Scripture, the confessions and historical Reformed theology. At least we all share this common ground. I like to keep coming back here to Old Life to see what I can learn from Dr. Hart, even if I don’t entirely agree with the way he formulates the 2k distinction and what its implications are for our lives. I suspect that in the grand scheme of things he and I are not far off. But the fine points of disagreement nevertheless have significant implications for our political and educational philosophy.

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  60. Nick,

    That’s sort of a loaded way to start your questions, sort of like, how often do you beat your wife. If I answer, yes, about Germany, then lots of folks write off the the idea of 2k. If I answer no, well, that’s an interesting answer. What standard would you or I use for legitimacy? Does the Bible talk about legitimate governments? Think of the empire in which Paul wrote Rom. 13. I’d argue it was less just than Germany under Hitler, but that is debatable. So where does the Bible speak of legitimacy? Or is it that whatever regime is in place has been ordained by God.

    In which case, your notion of legitimacy may actually be a form of NL. You reason on the basis of the created order what a good govt. is and then deduce that one that doesn’t carry out this goodness is illegitimate. So it could be that we all resort to NL almost as much as Thomas Jefferson. Roberts Rules is a classic case of NL.

    Figuring out the norms of NL comes from experience, reason, and a lot more, sort of like Math or Roberts Rules. There’s no blue print out there. People simple have a sense of what is right. I know that sounds crazy for a Calvinist. Even our confession talks about the good works of unregenerate men for commands God requires and for the good of themselves and others. That doesn’t answer all your questions, but I’m not sure I could.

    What particularly do you find objectionalbe about 2k theology? Here’s something from Calvin that sums it up well:

    “. . . there is a twofold government in man: one aspect is spiritual, whereby, the consience is instructed in piety and in reverencing God; the second is political, whereby man is educated for the duties of humanity and citizenship that must be maintained among men. These are usually called the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘temporal’ jurisdiction (not proper terms) by which is meant that the former sort of government pertains to the life of the soul, while the latter has to do with the concerns of the present life — not only with food and clothing but with laying down laws whereby a man may live his life among other men holily, honorably, and temperately. For the former resides in the inner mind, while the latter regulates only outward behavior. The one we may call the spiriutal kingdom, the other, the political kingdom. Now these two, as we have divided them, must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other. There are in man, so to speak, two worlds, over which different kings and different laws have authority.”

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  61. dgh: “But . . . none of this means that govt. will oppose false belief.”

    Well, yes and no. It is the government’s job to oppose false belief only in so far as God has mandated, only to the extent of the limits of its jurisdiction, only according the means God has given it. Here are some examples of false beliefs: the government must disallow all churches from preaching the gospel; the government must allow abortion for any reason; the government must require all people to bow down to the statue of President Obama or, God forbid, the statue of Prime Minister Harper; the government must collect all earned wages and distribute them equally; etc. Now, I know what you mean by “false belief,” but how do we even know what false belief is if not for Scripture? Why should we not jail Mormons for believing in the book of Mormon? Because God has no eternal wrath against those who reject Jesus Christ? Rather, it is because He has not given that responsibility to government. We need to distinguish between how we know right from wrong and truth from falsehood on the one hand, and what the extent, duty, responsibilities of the government are on the other hand.

    I suppose we could go on ad infinitum about all the details of what each of the government’s laws should look like, and what the precise limits are of the government’s jurisdiction. But I’d like to make a more general observation that I find odd you don’t seem to embrace, or maybe you do and correct me if I’m wrong: given the noetic effect of sin, truth and justice cannot be known apart from Scripture. In your heart of hearts I’m convinced you embrace this. And if you do, then I’m quite content to agree to disagree about the finer points of a Reformed political philosophy.

    I know that unbelievers can have successes in their reasoning, but they only do to the extent they assume the truth of the Christian worldview. I know that unbelievers can have an outward form of good behaviour. But how do I know it’s good? Because of the Bible!

    As for your points and questions about algebra and trigonometry, they are worth discussing but I’ll have to get to them later.

    As for the quote you gave from Calvin, I like it. But how do you square it with this one: “I would have preferred to pass over this matter in utter silence if I were not aware that here many dangerously go astray. For there are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common laws of nations…” (IV.xx.14).

    dgh: “If the state were to try to enforce any of God’s law, first or second table, then it would need to look beyond external behavior to motives.”

    What is the standard for knowing whether the laws the state enforces are good? Has God given the state the responsibility to regulate motives?

    What should be the government’s motive? Should it be to serve Jesus Christ?

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  62. Reed said:
    “Yet I’m curious about the relationship, as clearly there has to be one. Maybe the problem is not reckoning that there is a proper relationship between the two. Observing it might help to retain their necessary distinctions.”

    Interesting. I asked Dr. Clark the same question on his blog before I saw you question.

    I’m still not clear why the magistrate could not be confined to the second table since his only mission is human to human relationships via Romans 13.

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  63. Jonah, Are you kidding me? That quote from Calvin goes on to contradict the point that you are trying to make. It says that the idea of denying the legitimacy of a commonwealth that does not follow the political system of Moses — that idea is “perilous,” “seditious,” and Calvin adds, “It will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish.” Sorry to be snarky here, but how is your scriptural outlook, the biblical lens through which you read Calvin, proving that a Reformed worldview reads well?

    As to this matter of what the state may enforce, your version of the state is found no where in Scripture. The OT follows Moses and you don’t want that. The NT submits to the Roman emperor, and you don’t want that. So you take a hybrid, a state that enforces the second table that won’t quite be theocratic, so that you have have your cake and eat it. But you haven’t shown anywhere from Scripture or from Calvin where such a blueprint for your state exists. If you say, neither have I, well that’s the point of 2k thought. It is possible to a legitimate state apart from Scripture. You’re the guy who keeps bringing up the foundational role of Scripture. But you have no biblical witness to your second-table enforcing state.

    You skip over my point about math but it bears directly on your point about the noetic effects of sin. I don’t understand how you can account for the fact that many non-Xians are smarter than Xians, how you can explain the sheer brilliance of an Aristotle or a Shakespeare, if you think that sin darkens all human thought and only regeneration clears away darkness sufficiently for human insight, wisdom and creativity. If that’s your view, I’d hate to send my kids to a school on which you were a board member, because the students would likely not read the best literature ever produced but would read the schlock that Xian writers regularly write. But if the Bible is your only standard for good literature, I guess you’ll take the moralistic, sentimental lit that sells in the millions to Christians over the sort of lit that is as ambigous and as profound as the stories that lay at the heart of the Old and New Testaments — as in, Jacob and Judah were not good guys but they are OT heros, because God chose them.

    What you need to consider is that a Christian worldview is not a theistic worldview. It is one thing to believe in a creator and that he has created creatures and the world, another to try to take every idea, action, and motive off the page of holy writ.

    For myself, authors such as Leon Kass and Wendell Berry are far wiser about the affairs of this world than any Christian I’ve read, except for those Christians who have read Kass and Berry. Are they Christians? Kass is not. He is a Jew. Berry is a kind of Baptist though likely not orthodox. But both are theists and the idea of creation and creator pervades their work. If that is foundational to wisdom, as the beginning of Proverbs suggests, then perhaps you need to adjust your Scriptural thermostat.

    I continue to believe that non-believers can be wise, good, great, in all sorts of ways that the created order reveals as wisdom, goodness and greatness — from Aristotle to Lebron James. And I also believe that none of this greatness is good enough for salvation. At the same time, my reading of church history indicates that whenever these categories — worldly greatness and salvation — are collapsed, liberalism or infidelity happens. I think you’d agree that liberal Protestantism committed such an error. What you don’t seem to recognize is that your own desire for continuity between the two-kingdoms heads in the infidelity direction (as it did with the Dutch Reformed Churches after Kuyper). By making the Bible the basis for culture, and by suggesting that non-Xian culture is sinful, you are headed for a fundamentalist version of the liberal Protestant error where Christian math, Christian science, Christian NBAs are the only places or cultural products for Christians because all else lackes a Scriptural foundation.

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  64. Darryl,

    It was a loaded question indeed! Sort of like Jesus’ loaded question about the origin of John the Baptist’s office. I hope you know I’m kidding! By the way, I never said Hitler’s government was illegitimate. I do believe that Hitler abdegated his Romans 13, God-gvien right to bear the sword, but you assumed that was my position on account of my loaded question. Perhaps you also recognize that it was not, and that WW2 was in fact a just war–overturning a tyrannical ruler who should have been removed from power. If Nero told the early Christians that they had to kill one another you would have to conclude that it was not longer a legitimate government and that you must disobey the governing authorities. Romans 13 is limited by the clear revelation of God in other places of Scripture. Do you pay taxes to Hitler? Certainly. Do you obey Hilter’s orders to kill Jews, Christians and individuals with disabilities? Absolutely not!

    I asked the question because of the ambiguity of the 2K (not Y2K) theology. Of course I believe that there is such a thing as “Natural Law” (not in the sense that RCs believe in NL). But, I believe, as did our Reformed forefathers, that it was simply the moral law written on the hearts of all men descending from Adam. This is the standard Reformed understanding of the “law written on the hearts of all men.” How that gets worked out in governments is dependent on “common grace.” But, the Klinian version of NL is way too ambiguous and unclear. With regard to church and state, I believe in separate functions and roles. The Westminister Confession of Faith’s section on Scripture (ch. 1) also explains that there are certain things determined by reason in regard to the way governments are ruled. I agree. I am simply asking what would be most pleasing to God, not what will suffice. That seems to be the real difference between our understandings. I actually appreciate a great deal of what Jason Stellman has to say. I just do not think you find it taught in church history–not even in Adrew Melville or the Southern Presbyterians of the 19th Century.

    I also have a problem suggesting that ethics in the political sphere is like mathematical principles. You don’t have a spectrum of mathematicians disagreeing on mathematical laws, because they don’t come as close to human nature and the divine right over men, as is true of the ethical sphere. If God clearly reveals His will in the Decalogue, why would we think He wants something different in society? That makes absolutely no sense. Now, as I say this, I also want to affirm that I do not think we need to put to death all the heretics (as was true of Calvin’s Geneva). The Church has an evangelistic mission. God turns His people from idols to serve the living and true God. This will never be done by the sword. So, I recognize the tension that you and other 2K guys wish to point out. I am called to be a minister of the Gospel, not a politician. But, if I have a politician in my congregation, who actually cared enough to ask me what would be pleasing to God, I am not going to say, “Whatever you sense is right, brother.” That is my point. At least argue that the last 6 commandments (i.e. those that deal with man to man relations) are the foundation of NL in the world. That is what I am asking for!

    Again, I do not

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  65. Nick,

    I can’t tell if you mean to disenfranchise Hitler from legitimacy or not, but it sure seems like you do. Which only goes to show just how dicey it gets to be when we turn that that tired template for evil known as the Third Reich.

    I’m as 21st century American as the next guy (and a Yankee to boot), so I like to think I know the impulse to disenfranchise Adolf from his legitimate seat of power and authority when I see it. But the problem is that this seems way more 21st century American than biblical. Consider not only who Paul had in mind when he commanded civil obedience but also Jesus in Mark 12. Chances are pretty good that we 21st century Americans would render Caesar and Herod men who “abdicated their Romans 13, God-given right to bear the sword,” what with all their trampling of rights, self-deification and baby killing, etc., etc. Yet Jesus says to submit to them without any qualification whatsoever; no amendments or Bill of Rights attached. If Paul’s and Jesus’ magistrates don’t pass our modern tests by long shots, yet we are called to their unqualified submission, it isn’t obvious to me how we can speak of ours any differently.

    In other words, to the extent that the Jews were like us in that they wanted to “speak to truth to power,” they were amazed in Mark 12 for good reason.

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  66. Nick,

    There are some political principles that are as clear as mathematical principles. For instance you probably cannot find a child who doesn’t understand that it is not right to punish innocent people while guilty people go unpunished. That’s pretty simple, and it goes a long way.

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  67. RL, I might not be able to find a child, but I can find a college professor or two.

    Take a look at this (rather standard) exposition of utilitarian theory. Take-home quote:

    What many people do … is attempt to apply a common moral principle to these uncommon situations. In the cases given, that principle might be “Don’t harm the innocent.” In most situations, following this principle will be best for utility, so even the utilitarian chooses to keep the principle and use it in moral education. However, there are rare situations where this principle yields the wrong answer – more good is done by harming an innocent person. It is merely a feature of our moral education that we believe the utilitarian answer to be wrong. One can even argue that moral education cannot avoid this problem because: 1) people cannot calculate utilities effectively, which prevents us from using the principle of utility in our moral education, and; 2) teaching any moral principles other than the utility principle will sometimes result in intuitions which do not match the recommendations of the utility principle, and will therefore invariably provide opponents of utilitarianism with objections like the ones given above.

    Take a look at his case-studies, especially the “Town Sheriff” thought-experiment.

    The overall point is this: in academia, the idea that ethics can be grounded in pure reason (either via natural law or deontologically as in Kant) has fallen on hard times. Instead, utilitarian thought reigns with relatively little challenge. The key feature of that meta-ethic is that there are no norms except to maximize utility.

    In turn, utilitarianism has filtered down into various professions, notably medical practice and bio-research. You can see some of the practical fallout here.

    I wish it were the case that we could just appeal to the conscience for our political principles. Unfortunately, we cannot. The Law written on the hearts was not ever given for that purpose (that I can find in Scripture).

    JRC

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  68. It’s interesting to me that you approve of nuance in lots of areas. But in the area of obedience to the ruler, no matter the ruler, you desire absolute obedience: “let God take care of him.”

    I respect the sentiment as echoing Calvin, but I wonder whether the Scripture and our Confessional history support your absolutism.

    Certainly Oliver Cromwell would register a protest!

    We have instances in the books of Kings and Chronicles where God ordains revolts against established kings. Samuel was committing treason against Saul when he ordained David as king; yet he did so with God’s authority. The prophets spoke out against the sins of the various kings (and not only in the area of cult, either … Amos spoke entirely against issues that would be labeled “culture” in the SOTC scheme.

    Here is a crystalline example:

    1 Kings 13: The king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.”

    But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the LORD : ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’ ” So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.

    In previous threads, I’ve already multiplied examples of godly disobedience, such as the Hebrew midwives who were righteous and disobeyed (and *lied*!?!) to pharaoh and his subordinate authorities. I mentioned this before and you tried to argue that the midwives were simply following natural law.

    But the Scripture records that they did what they did “because they feared God.”

    Apparently, a properly bracketed faith still includes considered moments of rebellion against ordained authorities, for reasons either cultic or cultural.

    This is no doubt why Calvin concludes the Institutes with this,

    Calv. Inst. 4.20.31: But in that obedience which we hold to be due to the commands of rulers, we must always make the exception, nay, must be particularly careful that it is not incompatible with obedience to Him to whose will the wishes of all kings should be subject, to whose decrees their commands must yield, to whose majesty their sceptres must bow.

    Things are further complicated because Calvin allows that some can be called of God to take up arms against the magistrate:

    Calv. Inst. 4.20.30: The former class of deliverers being brought forward by the lawful call of God to perform such deeds, when they took up arms against kings, did not at all violate that majesty with which kings are invested by divine appointment, but armed from heaven, they, by a greater power, curbed a less, just as kings may lawfully punish their own satraps.

    It’s a little unclear what Calvin would consider to be “the call of God” in the post-prophetic age, but he obviously includes this section for a reason. No doubt Mr. Cromwell thought this section justified the English Civil War.

    So could we agree that obedience is not absolute? That perhaps Bonhoeffer was justified?

    JRC

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  69. You’re right. I did make a blunder in misreading Calvin there. Quite frankly it’s embarrassing. My foot tastes better with pepper and oregano. Yikes.

    But I trust you’ll agree that it does not somehow settle the matter, for Calvin does not say that a commonwealth is duly framed only when it neglects the political system of Moses. Where I disagree with the theonomists is in believing that the concrete form of OT Israel’s civil/judicial laws have abiding validity. Where I disagree with you is in believing that their underlying principles or norms do not have abiding validity. Or perhaps you believe they do?

    Man, that was embarrassing. Speaking of embarrassing, you wrote: “What you need to consider is that a Christian worldview is not a theistic worldview.” Huh? It’s too easy for me to refute this. Take this to your colleagues at WTS Cal. and they’ll expressly rebuke you for suggesting it.

    dgh: “As to this matter of what the state may enforce, your version of the state is found nowhere in Scripture.”

    Well, in fact it is. You know what Paul says: “For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” What then is the good of which Paul speaks? What is the wrong that Paul says the governing authorities are to punish? The Bible has much to say about what is good and what is wrong. Are we to assume that Paul meant something other than the law of God when he here refers to good and wrong? And what does Paul say immediately before Rom. 13:4? “The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Rom. 13:1). If they’ve been established by God, then to whom are they answerable? Here’s something from Calvin, IV.xx.6 – “For if they [the magistrates] commit some fault, they are not only wrongdoers to men whom they wickedly trouble, but are also insulting toward God himself, whose most holy judgments they defile” [emphasis mine]. According to what standard will God judge these authorities if not His own “most holy judgments?” Given the noetic effect of sin, can we rightly know God’s “most holy judgments” apart from special revelation? No.

    I found something else in Calvin I’d like you to read where he discusses the jurisdiction of the Church in IV.xi.4 – “For, when emperors and magistrates began to accept Christ, this spiritual jurisdiction was not at once annulled but was only so ordered that it should not detract from the civil jurisdiction or become confused with it. And rightly! For the magistrate, if he is godly, will not want to exempt himself from the common subjection of God’s children. It is by no means the least significant part of this for him to subject himself to the church, which judges according to God’s Word – so far ought he to be from setting that judgment aside! ‘For what is more honorable,’ says Ambrose, ‘than for the emperor to be called a son of the church? For a good emperor is within the church, not over the church.’”

    So an emperor does not have to be from the church, but it is to be preferred since such a godly emperor will not set aside that judgment of the church which judges according to God’s Word. Not only is this contrary to any assertion on your part, Dr. Hart, that the magistrate may not make decisions according to God’s Word, but rather, judging according to God’s Word is precisely what a “good emperor” ought to do! And this does not confuse church and state, even as Calvin says!

    Whew! I hope that makes up for my previous blunder!

    dgh: “I don’t understand how you can account for the fact that many non-Xians are smarter than Xians, how you can explain the sheer brilliance of an Aristotle or a Shakespeare, if you think that sin darkens all human thought and only regeneration clears away darkness sufficiently for human insight, wisdom and creativity.”

    Let me respond to this from Van Til’s Apologetic: “Does this mean that for Van Til unbelievers know nothing whatsoever and cannot make any useful contribution to culture? Not at all. It means that the would-be autonomous man can never give an intelligible, coherent, or meaningful account of how he is able to know anything or accomplish anything culturally. The unbeliever’s failure is a rational or philosophical failure to make sense out of knowledge, morality, beauty, etc. But because the unbeliever is not actually what he thinks he is—and the world is not what he takes it to be—he can within God’s world, as a creature made in God’s image, make intellectual and cultural progress. Van Til held that ‘as for the cultural products of those who are not Christians, we would follow Calvin in ascribing this to the common grace of God that works in them. True, the natural man is not blind in every sense. True, he is not as bad as he could be and as he will one day be. Modern science, so far as it has been carried on by those who are not Christians, has made marvellous discoveries of the true state of affairs in the phenomenal world. But the whole point … is that unless it were for the common grace of God there would be no discovery of any truth and no practice for any goodness among those who are not born again.’ Even the achievements of the non-Christian contribute to the Christian’s apologetic, therefore, since such things would be unintelligible apart from the explanation of them which the Christian worldview can offer” (pp. 113-114).

    dgh: “What you don’t seem to recognize is that your own desire for continuity between the two-kingdoms heads in the infidelity direction (as it did with the Dutch Reformed Churches after Kuyper).”

    I’m not sure what you mean by continuity between the two kingdoms. They certainly do intersect one another and overlap. But this does not negate the distinction between the two. And the problem with a number of the Dutch Reformed churches after Kuyper is that they more and more abandoned Scripture and the confessions. The problem was not with Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty or concept of cultural transformation as you subtly suggest. Indeed Kuyper was not perfect (perhaps should have interacted with his buddy Warfield some more). But if only those churches like the CRC or GKN today would listen to Kuyper to be faithful to Scripture and the Confessions!

    dgh: “By making the Bible the basis for culture..”

    I’m not choosing between Scripture and general revelation when it comes to culture. Culture should be directed, governed, and oriented according to both!

    dgh: “…and by suggesting that non-Xian culture is sinful…”

    In motive and goal it is sinful. Often times outwardly it is not sinful. Or to say it another way: In terms of structure it is not sinful. In terms of direction, non-Christian culture is sinful. By making this distinction, we can avoid the liberal Protestant error.

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  70. You invited me to “take a look at his case-studies,” but you left no link or identifying information. I don’t know to which utilitarian philosopher you are referring.

    Is his “Town Sheriff” thought experiment like this one:

    Imagine you are the sheriff in a town that is deeply divided among racial, cultural, and economic lines. You have rich whites on one side and poor blacks on the other. The sides are suspicious of one another, and hostility between the groups is growing. Things reach a boiling point when a white woman is raped and murdered. The white community becomes convinced that a particular black man committed the crime; this man is especially poor and has no living family. A mob is formed to lynch this man.

    As the sheriff, you discover evidence that this man is innocent, but you know it won’t convince the mob. You know that the only way to appease the mob is to publicly hang the innocent man. If you don’t the mob will kill him and ten other innocent people. (Assume that the evidence indicates that a person who is already serving a life sentence raped and killed the woman, so don’t consider specific deterrence). Utilitarian principles, strictly applied, means that you must hang the one innocent man to protect the other ten, right? Who can support that?

    I wouldn’t want to live in a town with such a utilitarian sheriff!

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  71. Jeff,

    It’s interesting to me that you approve of nuance in lots of areas. But in the area of obedience to the ruler, no matter the ruler, you desire absolute obedience…

    Nuance in the common realm, narrowness in the spiritual.

    So could we agree that obedience is not absolute? That perhaps Bonhoeffer was justified?

    I just don’t see any biblical category that allows for civil disobedience. I only see categories for civil obedience. As far as Bonheoffer goes, I don’t know how commands to obey Caesar and render him all his due, fear God, honor the emperor (Mark 12, Romans 13, 1 Peter 2) translate into conspiring to murder him.

    I think this is very hard for those of us nurtured in a polity that invites, expects and even rewards civil disobedience to the point that it is construed as a virtue. Biblically, civil disobedience is a vice. Could it be that American polity wars against Christian piety?

    To anticipate the common rejoinder at this point which appeals to Acts 5:29 (“We must obey God rather than men”), I think there is a difference between civil disobedience and cultic disobedience. Verse 29 is typically invoked for justification to resist civil authority over moral, cultural, social or political concerns, as if Jesus had his fingers crossed when he commanded rendering Caesar obedience, as in “Obey Caesar…but only to the extent that you agree with him.” But Acts 5:29 has to be read in light of verse 30 and following, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.” What we disobey and resist is being silenced on the gospel. The whole text has to do with fidelity to the gospel, not standing up to tyrants we don’t like. And for the record, I really, really don’t like Hitler. And this seems to be the test of a better submission and obedience, to submit to and obey those we detest instead of those we adore.

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  72. Nick,

    I’m not sure what you’re saying about Hitler or legitimacy. You say first that you never denied his legitimacy. Then you say that since he ordered the killing of Jews (and others), that is the sort of action that qualifies for illegitimacy. Either way, I’m not sure where you go in Scripture to find such criteria for legitimacy. Calvinist debates about rebellion are long and filled with inconsistencies. Certainly, the NT gives little ground for thinking any govt. is illegitimate.

    Mind you, I don’t think that Germany has been the only nation-state to ask Christians to kill other citizens or residents. The U.S.’s treatment of native Americans is not very honorable. And then there are those little blips like the federal government and the Branch Davidians. Do these things make the American state illegitimate? Does that mean I no longer have to pay taxes? Woo hoo!

    I am puzzled by your apparent understanding that 2k somehow denies the second table of the law. Who among those advocating 2k have ever suggested that disrespecting authority, murder, adultery, stealing, lying and (well, who talks about envy) are permissible? Just because someone doesn’t believe in a Christian America, doesn’t mean they are soft on these sins. Just like someone who does not require Christian schooling is not opposed to Christian education.

    On other comment: you write, “If God clearly reveals His will in the Decalogue, why would we think He wants something different in society? That makes absolutely no sense.” Why do you think the Law is a norm for society, as opposed to the covenant community? I suppose in other interaction that you think the church’s corporate acts of mercy are directed toward other believers, as opposed to word and deed models that take the commands for the church to care for the poor and extend them to all poor. Well, if mercy is meant for the covenant community, why not the law as well. The bigger question is why you think the Bible is given for ordering society.

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  73. JRC : It’s interesting to me that you approve of nuance in lots of areas. But in the area of obedience to the ruler, no matter the ruler, you desire absolute obedience…

    SZ: Nuance in the common realm, narrowness in the spiritual.

    JRC: So could we agree that obedience is not absolute? That perhaps Bonhoeffer was justified?

    SZ: I just don’t see any biblical category that allows for civil disobedience.

    I’m absolutely baffled. This seems a significant departure from your normal good sense.

    (1) The logic of it: Your slogan is, “Nuance in the common, narrowness in the spiritual.”

    OK, but obedience to the magistrate concerns the common realm, so what’s with the narrowness?

    (2) Even if we are going to be RPW-y about obedience and disobedience, there are a whole raft of Scriptural examples of godly disobedience. Some of them are NOT over cultic matters. I’ve waved them around and everything.

    So … !?!

    *head scratch*

    In this area, it seems like your paradigm has overwhelmed the evidence.

    JRC

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  74. Jeff,
    I’m absolutely baffled. This seems a significant departure from your normal good sense.
    (1) The logic of it: Your slogan is, “Nuance in the common, narrowness in the spiritual.”
    OK, but obedience to the magistrate concerns the common realm, so what’s with the narrowness?

    It has to do with the fact that a Christian’s obedience to the magistrate is a spiritual concern. That’s the whole point. A believer doesn’t stop being a believer when he’s dealing with the civil magistrate. Now, if he happens to be an American-Christian his plight is complicated, since, in some sense, his magistrate doesn’t distinguish between disagreement and disobedience and arguably encourages disobedience (“Hell no, we won’t go, chuck you, Farley!” “Well done, citizens!”). I see no problem with disagreement—it’s the good part of the American project. But I don’t think we think carefully enough about disobedience and how it is spiritual vice. It flows from a theology of glory, marked by impatience, greed and self-righteousness.

    (2) Even if we are going to be RPW-y about obedience and disobedience, there are a whole raft of Scriptural examples of godly disobedience. Some of them are NOT over cultic matters. I’ve waved them around and everything.

    Even if you interpret this raft as examples of civil disobedience instead of cultic, how do you square any of it with the NT imperatives to unqualified civil obedience? That is to say, speaking of being baffled, how do you interpret Bonheoffer’s plot to kill his magistrate to be a sound reading of “submit, honor” (e.g. Romans 13, Mark 12 and 1 Peter 2)?

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  75. As to the second: look at how Calvin handles it. The requirement to obey the Lord comes prior to the requirement to obey the magistrate. Your assessment of “unqualified” is in fact, false. There is an implicit qualification that obedience to God comes first, whether in the 1st Table (cultic) or the 2nd (common).

    Now, you might question how DB gets from the commands of God to “and therefore, we must assassinate Hitler.” I agree that he bears a high burden of justification.

    But the point is that he’s allowed to make his case. His proposed civil disobedience is not “out of order” (as it would be if civil disobedience is never justified), but rather a question that has to be debated.

    As to the first: You have smuggled spiritual concerns over into the common realm. Fie and for shame, you implicit theonomist! 😉 Any moment now you’ll be advocating executing all those who do not send their children to CRC schools.

    Irony aside, I agree with you that much of what passes for “justified civil disobedience” is more likely self-will dressed up in clerical robes.

    What is your opinion on the English Civil War?

    JRC

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  76. Now, you might question how DB gets from the commands of God to “and therefore, we must assassinate Hitler.” I agree that he bears a high burden of justification.
    But the point is that he’s allowed to make his case. His proposed civil disobedience is not “out of order” (as it would be if civil disobedience is never justified), but rather a question that has to be debated.

    I have no problem with debate. But my sense is that the justification of DB will look a whole lot like creative end runs egalitarians do around Paul’s clear instructions on who may or mayn’t be ordained to ecclesial authority. How one gets from “submit to authority” to “assassinate authority” seems as dubious as getting from “I forbid a woman to have authority” to “ordain her.” Paging CRC Rabbi McAtee.

    You have smuggled spiritual concerns over into the common realm. Fie and for shame, you implicit theonomist! Any moment now you’ll be advocating executing all those who do not send their children to CRC schools.

    Actually, 2K “theonomy” would say that public school should be thoroughly secularized and Christian kids ought to be in them. Good thing liberty rules the roost.

    Irony aside, I agree with you that much of what passes for “justified civil disobedience” is more likely self-will dressed up in clerical robes.

    Word to your mother.

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  77. Jonah, you show lots of chutzpah, just as I’d expect from a strong-headed Dutchman. Embarrassment will not prevent you from trying to assert your will. Way to go.

    But again, you have bitten off more than you can chew. If the magistrate is supposed to enforce the good, according to Paul, and the good includes special revelation, then what about idolatry and blasphemy? Somehow you keep stubbing your stubborn toe against the point of this piece. You don’t want to be guilty of a Christian state that prohibits false religion and yet you want a Christian state-lite, one that will impose Christian norms — minus the Servertus like moments. (BTW, this is exactly what liberal Protestants wanted. Welcome to the mainstream American Protestant club.)

    Also, if a magistrate is a member of the church, and the church forbids idolatry and blasphemy, and the magistrate is in submission to his church officers, how is he not going to impose the rules of his church on his polity? If not, isn’t he then in a situation like the Christian politician who belongs to a church that forbids abortion but he himself will not impose anti-abortion legislation on his constituents.

    In other words, in case you missed the beam that just hit you across the face, the redress you seek for abortion is no different from the redress that follows from special revelation’s prohibitions on idolatry and blasphemy. You can’t have the sixth commanmdent without 1, 2, 3, and 4.

    But if you do want a Christian-society lite, I’d encourage you to look into Natural Law. It might help you out here.

    As far as the difference between theism and Christianity, are you so deeply rooted in the Dutch REformed ghetto not to realize that lots of people believe in God but not in Christianity? Believing in God is a great incentive for trying to be a law-abiding citizen. Just look at the MOrmons. But I also make room here for Leon Kass, one of the wisest people I’ve read, a Jewish believer of some sort, who does not obviously believe in Christ. Even the WCF ch. 21 acknowledges that the light of nature shows that there is a god who should be worshiped. Now some people supress that truth. But others do not and for them it is the basis for reflecting on this world as a place created by a creator. Regarding yourself as a creature is pretty important in my book for living with some restraint.

    One more question, if the Bible is the basis for culture, what exactly is Christian cuisine? I know what kosher is and if you’re pastor Bret you may keep a kosher kitchen. But didn’t the abolishment of OT cermonies and laws do away with kosher and allow Christians to say Opa! and have flaming cheese?

    Since you like to appeal to Calvin, I’ll see you and raise you a quote. Can you appreciate the ancient philosophers the way that Calvin did? And please remember when reading this excerpt from 2.2.15, that Plato and Aristotle did not have Scripture as the lens through which to read nature.
    “we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how preeminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom Scripture [I Cor. 2:14] calls ‘natural men’ were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good.”

    This, as I see it, is THE difference between the 2k people and their critics — it is the capacity to live with non-believers in a plural society and to recognize their “goodness.” Critics of 2k think we have sold the farm for thinking unbelievers are good. But as Calvin shows, there are ways of holding on to the anti-thesis between the church and the world, or the difference between jurisdictions of church and state, without saying that all non-Christians are untrustworthy.

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  78. It seems that the debate could almost be boiled down to: What is the role of the church in secular society? Is it to be authoritarian and enforce the sword of the law upon society (the decalogue) or is the church to preach the gospel purely, to warn of sin and judgment, to baptize households of faith, and teach all that the bible says to her disciples? I believe Christ and the apostles taught the latter not the former.

    On the other hand: What are the responsibilities of secular society to the churches in it’s midst? I may be blind, but I don’t see that addressed in the bible. I do see warnings from Christ and the apostles that we will be hated, persecuted, and killed. I do not see any biblical unction to pursue a societal utopia and I find I must accept that sin is a permanent feature of this world until Christ returns. It looks like we are stuck with similar challenges as Daniel had living in Babylon and Luther’s concept of two kingdoms can be helpful in living out that reality.

    I may be wrong, but I see the majority of problems with Christian engagement in the culture wars as caused mainly by a lack of good ecclesiology. I also think that a lack of understanding of vocation (eg: citizens under Caesar) and a lack of understanding of our Christian liberty to employ wisdom and prudence in our personal decisions (eg: our choices of where to send our children for their general education) plays a role too. Natch, coming to agreement on these things and living out our convictions is much easier said than done. Marantha – come quickly Lord Jesus! 🙂

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  79. Almost. There are two differences.

    (1) There is a power (or jurisdictional) difference: *who* will be allowed to make the rules. Dr. Hart, you fear, rightly, that if we require laws to be grounded in Scripture, then laws will be subject to scrutiny from the Church, which will place elders in the office of the magistrate.

    This is, more or less, what happened in the Middle Ages in which there was theoretically a separation of church and state but practically a power struggle between the two *because* the pope could always play the Interdict card.

    If jurisdiction were the only issue on the table, we would all be REPTers.

    (2) There is a meta-ethical difference: *how* will our laws be justified? Jonah, I, and others fear, rightly, that natural law cannot serve as an adequate justification for laws.

    Put it this way: If the magistrate is required (as Calvin desired) to use the Scripture to justify his rulings, then there is an objective standard to which we may appeal for redress.

    But if the magistrate is following natural law, then where is that law written? On his heart. So there is no redress, no appeal.

    Now, maybe you think that justification is over-sold. Civilizations have existed for centuries with basically arbitrary monarchical laws.

    But the American experiment came about because the English and colonial experience proved that there was something *wrong* with that arrangement. That in fact, there are inalienable rights that the monarch must respect. The point of the Constitution was to create a basis for appeal for redress.

    Fast forward two-and-a-half centuries, and we are now at the point where people are arguing over *which* inalienable rights are actually rights. The right to marry whomever we want? The right to control our own bodies, even at the expense of the life of another? The right to privacy or the right to national security? The current food fight is over justification. If we cannot supply an adequate justification, then utilitarian theory stands ready to do it for us … and it is a jealous god, sweeping natural law and the Constitution away before it (think: “living document”)

    What has changed? Our underlying meta-ethic. Regardless of how the Constitution was written, it was culturally accepted in 1800 that the Good Book told us the difference between right and wrong. The success of “Natural Law” (reflected in common law) during this time was a function of underlying quasi-Christian assumptions.

    Those assumptions are gone now.

    (Clearly, I’m making a historical argument to a professional historian, so I expect you to take issue here and there. But try to hear the core thesis: Natural Law doesn’t function properly when God has been self-consciously rejected)

    JRC

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  80. (The “almost” in the post below is to Dr. Hart)

    @Lily: echoing my post below, I would say that the roles of church and state are *one* of two questions that must be asked.

    And with regard to that one question, I pretty much agree with you. Christians have never been given the keys to earthly kingdoms.

    But the other question, equally important, is “What must the Christian magistrate do?”

    In other words, if I am a Christian working at FDA, the written laws (which I must obey, unless they require me to sin, in which case I quit) only go so far. All manner of judgments must be made in executing those laws. Here’s our second question: Where do I turn for guidance, or a theory, that helps me make those judgments

    An inside baseball example: During the 1990s, there was debate within the FDA over whether or not to approve RU486, the abortion pill that was already in use in Europe. The director of CDER at that time, a political appointee, made the decision that approval was an administration priority. Some of her second-tier advisors demurred, some on health grounds and some on moral grounds. (They were overruled).

    So the question is put to you: Abortion is legal. But it is also wrong. Do *you* approve a drug that makes abortion easier to achieve? No? Then on what grounds? Yes? Same question.

    What is conspicuously missing in REPT (2k) theory is any account of how the Christian magistrate goes about his job.

    Some consider this a “feature”, others a “bug.”

    JR

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  81. Jeff,

    Your concern isn’t really any different from what DGH is suggesting. 2Kers can penultimately live with others who don’t share their ultimate devotions precisely because we think NL or general revelation is perfectly sufficient for ruling society (the way special revelation is perfectly sufficient for ecclesial rule). 2K critics can’t, or at least can’t even seem to bring themselves to admit that they live like 2Kers even as they plead these things.

    Your problem seems to revolve around the reality that at some point somebody screws up in the course of doing general revelation, as if that is a legitimate reason to call foul on the 2K claim. Your argument seems to have no category for the old-fashioned notion of making mistakes or getting things wrong. My insurance company currently wants to rip me off for a recent doctor’s visit. Should I appeal to what we all know to be right and wrong about promises made and dues paid, or should I quote the Bible over the phone when they keep maintaining I owe what I don’t owe?

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  82. Jeff,

    Are you kidding? An appeal to the Bible gives an objective redress? Hello! Have you heard that OT Israel had two kindgoms. Have you heard about this thing we call denominationalism. Have you remembered that the eastern and western churches split in 1054? So if the Bible doesn’t resolve creed, liturgy, and polity, you actually think it will solve health care, taxes, or state vs. federal power? I know you likely think that it will at least solve abortion. Well, if you actually think that is a question up in the air for this confused republic, remember that the pro-abortion party refuses to call it murder, why? Because they know murder is wrong.

    Consider also that the American revolution occurred between two God-fearing, Bible believing polities. And I’d really disagree with your interpretation of the Revolution. It sounds very whiggish, especially in its appeal to inalienable rights — a phrase used quite vigorously by our heterodox presidents, Jefferson and Lincoln. The American revolution was a conflict over local, provincial rule, and the rights of Englishmen according to English law. If you don’t see the common law and natural law traditions spilling all over the debates from the 1640s to the 1770s, you’ve been reading too much Frame.

    How is natural law not functioning well now. We have moral certainty in our culture about seat belts, smoking, health care, racial integration, equality of the sexes, freedom of speech, the wrongness of hunger, poverty, and war, the rightness of democracy and “people.” We also have a consensus on Tiger Woods. NL seems to be doing a heck of a job.

    The problem we face in the U.S. is not moral but political. If we were not so keen on preserving the union and keeping things centralized for the sake of coherence and integralism (beware dualism!), we might be able to let communities decide how to order their affairs. I recommend a piece my former colleague at ISI, Mark Henrie: http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=501
    But whether centralized or decentered, NL is working. And if it doesn’t sound too devilish, it seems to be working as well in the U.S. as the Bible is working in the church worldwide.

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  83. Jeff, we do have an account of how the Christian magistrate does his job. He puts on one leg at a time, goes to work, and does his job. Do you want a manual for everything?

    Along the way, I’d recommend Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and the Federalist Papers. Do you really think the Bible would tell the Christian magistrate more?

    Or is politics only about morality?

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  84. DGH: Hello! Have you heard that OT Israel had two kindgoms. Have you heard about this thing we call denominationalism. Have you remembered that the eastern and western churches split in 1054? So if the Bible doesn’t resolve creed, liturgy, and polity, you actually think it will solve health care, taxes, or state vs. federal power?

    No, I’ve actually never heard of any of those things.

    (Seriously — I’m not McAtee. Could we cool it a bit? The sarcasm and belittlement tests my sin nature too severely.)

    But seriously: I thought the Confession taught that Scripture was the basis for appeal in the church:

    WCoF 1.10: The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

    It seems to me that, despite all of the above, that Scripture is the go-to. So I’m confused about your argument. Are you suggesting that “These things prove that Scripture doesn’t work, so let’s use something else?” Or are you suggesting that Scripture won’t lead to utopia, so let’s use something else?

    I think you wish to conclude that Scripture is not the appropriate controlling authority in the civil realm, but I don’t see how your examples lead to that conclusion.

    JRC

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  85. DGH: Along the way, I’d recommend Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and the Federalist Papers.

    OK. But why not Mein Kampf or The Little Red Book? Somehow, you have a private assessing theory that allows you to sort what you would recommend and what you wouldn’t; which advice from Aristotle you would accept and which you would reject.

    What is that private assessing theory?

    DGH: Do you really think the Bible would tell the Christian magistrate more?

    I do. If the Natural Law is simply the Law writ on the conscience, then I think the Bible would make that Natural Law clearer.

    JRC

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  86. Jeff,

    I am arguing the following:

    NL is working. You don’t concede this.

    The Bible isn’t nearly as effective as you think. The church is in disarray. Why would the Bible solve the nation’s problems.

    The woes that we face may likely be political more than moral. The problems are centralization and homogenization. Christians in politics only add to this problem by wanting one standard to rule the nation. Federalism, my man, federalism — autonomy for local governments to order their own affairs. And that leads to diversity, and that leads to moral disapproval of gambling in Nevada and contraceptives in Connecticut.

    But for those who think that Christian plumbing is honest and respectful of property, Christian politics may be all about ethics. The trouble is that politics and plumbing are not first about ethics.

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  87. Jeff, do I go to the Bible before grading papers on Gilgamesh? Do I have a quiet time to figure out what a good essay is? Or do I have a lot of experience both as a student, teacher, and writer, that allows me to figure out a good paper from a bad one. The same “assessing theory” is in place for poltiical theorists. I read them, figure out the nature of what appears to be a good society, and then read more of those authors that fit with that good society.

    Why is this so hard?

    I go to the Bible to learn about Jesus and salvation from my sins. I know that sounds pietistic. But the effort to make every aspect of life a Christian moment is actually pietistic, as in not being able to recognize the difference between things holy, common, and profane.

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  88. DGH: NL is working. You don’t concede this.

    Correct, I have not conceded it. I don’t see NL as “working.” It may be a matter of definitions or personalities.

    DGH: I read them, figure out the nature of what appears to be a good society, and then read more of those authors that fit with that good society.

    Why is this so hard?

    Well, because it seems prone to making yourself the measure of all things. How does introspection or change in view work for you?

    DGH: I go to the Bible to learn about Jesus and salvation from my sins. I know that sounds pietistic. But the effort to make every aspect of life a Christian moment is actually pietistic…

    Since pietism is neither defined nor praised/condemned in Scripture, I hope you’ll allow me some latitude for difference here.

    First, by “salvation” are you talking justification or the broader package included in our union with Christ?

    If the latter, then is not all of life a matter of sanctification? You do believe, after all, that sin pervades all that we do, right?

    The bottom line for me is that the Confession claims this: “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture…”

    Somehow, you seem to be claiming that God’s counsel does not cover man’s life? I know you don’t desire to set yourself against the confession, but it seems that some nuance is called for here. It seems like you want to throw sanctification into the same bin as pietists.

    Gotta run, time to go see Avatar with my sweetie. Maybe I’ll see the Christian version 😉

    JRC

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  89. Jeff,

    Thanks for making the connection between union with Christ and the deficiency of Christ’s righteousness that we receive by faith. I sense that it is there, but your claim about salvation being bigger than Christ’s righteousness is helpful.

    So if the Bible teaches about all of life, why do we only have chapters in the confession on things pertaining to salvation. Not much there on health care, math, food and cooking, or child rearing. If the Bible teaches about everything, and the church ministers the Bible, then the church runs everything.

    You keep lapsing back into pietistic theonomy.

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  90. Jeff,

    You ask, “What has changed?” I’ll provide some events that I think reshaped the American political (and jurisprudential) landscape in drastic ways, and I agree that this change has not been for the better. But I disagree that the change was due to any more or less reliance on the Bible.

    We need only look at the Constitution itself. As you well know, it has changed sense it was first ratified. Here are the major Amendments that I think have contributed to the present state of political unrest and uncertainty:

    The 11th Amendment, which granted each state sovereign immunity vis-a-vis the citizens of any other state, was ratified in 1795. This amendment blocked the sort of “redress” that you talk about above.

    The 17th Amendment, which was ratified in 1913, injected much more populism into our politics by requiring senators to be elected by popular vote.

    The 26th Amendment, which was ratified in 1971, of course, lowered the voting age to 18. The impact of this amendment is self-evident.

    (I left out the 14th Amendment–perhaps the biggest culprit–because the issues surrounding it are so complex that I would have been writing till midnight just to cover the basics).

    I don’t see which biblical principles were abandoned when these changes were made. Can you point to any? Do you deny that these few changes had a major impact on our government?

    You seem to think that the Constitution was meant to end the debate about fundamental rights. Why then the First Amendment guarantee of free speech?

    Moving on. To see that natural law was central in the American Revolution, you need look no further than the Declaration of Independence. It’s explicit. The inalienable rights (unalienable in the Declaration) that you make so much of are said to be “self-evident.” Though revealed truth is never mentioned, the Declaration does make much of the “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”

    The English Common Law was not based on Christian principles. In fact, it is almost exclusively based on a retributive justice model, a model that Christ explicitly rejects in Matthew 5:38-42. The Common Law looks a lot more like “an eye for an eye” than “turn the other cheek.” Speaking of which, how does your model square Christ’s command to turn the other cheek with the Second Amendment right to own a gun?

    In that same passage Christ commands us not to defend ourselves if someone sues us for our tunic; instead, as I’m sure you well know, he told us to give our tunic to our oppressor and our cloak too! Does this not abolish all civil law in a biblical society? Christ seems to have little interest in a “right to redress.”

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  91. Hi Jeff,

    You seem to be tangled-up by a number of peripheral issues. Sometimes, we wrestle with things because we are looking at them from the wrong angle or because we have made what is secondary primary. May I make a suggestion? Drop the peripheral issues for awhile and change your focus. Shift to looking at Christ and seeing him as the central locus. Focus on the meta-narrative of the bible, the person and work of Christ, and remember that all of scripture is about Christ. Things become clearer when Christ is kept central and the peripheral issues begin to fall into place easier. Some questions even disappear. It may take some time and effort to change focus, but it’s immensely worth it. I hope you will find this suggestion helpful.

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  92. Exactly! Here are some examples of a political reliance on the Bible gone terribly wrong:

    President Clinton, while speaking to the Knesset in 1994, repeated this theologically charged gem of foreign policy advice that he received from his pastor: “If you abandon Israel, God will never forgive you!” He went on to add, “it is God’s will that Israel, the Biblical home of the people of Israel, continue forever and ever.” At the end of his speech, Clinton succinctly stated the policy to which his religion leads: “Your journey is our journey, and America will stand with you now and always!”

    Franklin Roosevelt often defended The New Deal by citing the King James Version of 1 Cor 13:13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” In fact, he quoted this verse in his 1933 inaugural speech.

    Let’s also remember two more recent examples of the Bible in the public square: the ravings of Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the apparently widely held belief that “Jesus was a community organizer.”

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  93. Ok, last comment on this post.

    dgh: “Embarrassment will not prevent you from trying to assert your will. Way to go.”

    *turns the other cheek* 😉

    dgh: “If the magistrate is supposed to enforce the good, according to Paul, and the good includes special revelation, then what about idolatry and blasphemy?”

    This is not an accurate description of what I was saying. I’m saying that the good the magistrate is to “enforce” (not necessarily the best word) is known from Scripture (in addition to and cooperation with general revelation, of course.) “Good” is to be measured against God’s holy character as reflected in the law of God which is revealed in general revelation AND SCRIPTURE! It is not the case, then, that special revelation per se is to be “enforced,” but rather, that which is to be “enforced” is revealed in and known from special revelation (the Bible for us). But it does not follow from this that God has given the state unlimited authority.

    dgh: “Somehow you keep stubbing your stubborn toe against the point of this piece. You don’t want to be guilty of a Christian state that prohibits false religion and yet you want a Christian state-lite, one that will impose Christian norms — minus the Servertus like moments.”

    Not quite. What kind of norms do you want the state to impose? Unjust ones? Certainly not, you’d say. But how do you know what an unjust norm is? From general revelation only? A good norm, a just norm, a true norm, a righteous norm – these cannot be such unless they measure up to the standard of the holy character of the Triune God, hence “Christian” norms. How does God reveal Himself? Reformed Theology 101: general AND SPECIAL revelation.

    dgh: “In other words, in case you missed the beam that just hit you across the face…”

    *other cheek not expecting that*

    dgh: “…the redress you seek for abortion is no different from the redress that follows from special revelation’s prohibitions on idolatry and blasphemy.”

    Indeed, but it does not necessarily mean that God has authorized the state to carry out that redress, just as God has not authorized parents, or the Church, or adjunct profs at WTSC to carry out that redress. “The soul that sins shall die.” But by whom and when is this to be carried out? – this is another issue.

    dgh: “You can’t have the sixth commandment without 1, 2, 3, and 4.”

    Amen. You break one you break them all, indeed. Each commandment presupposes the others. That’s what I was saying before. But in what way are these to be “enforced” by the state, as opposed to mom and dad, as opposed to the teacher, as opposed to my elders, etc.? It all depends on the nature and scope of the authority God has given to the different offices of authority. The redress may not be the same for each sin, and the kind of redress that one office of authority is permitted to mete out may not be the same as that of another.

    dgh: “As far as the difference between theism and Christianity, are you so deeply rooted in the Dutch Reformed ghetto not to realize that lots of people believe in God but not in Christianity?”

    *running out of cheeks to turn*

    dgh: “Believing in God is a great incentive for trying to be a law-abiding citizen ….. Regarding yourself as a creature is pretty important in my book for living with some restraint.”

    Ok, but this is the reality of situation, not the ideal goal. Enter the Great Commission.

    dgh: “One more question, if the Bible is the basis for culture, what exactly is Christian cuisine?

    Applying the structure/direction distinction, the cuisine per se is structure and thus not “Christian.” But since all things were created through the Word (Jesus Christ) and since in him all things consist, I suppose that in this sense cuisine can be considered “Christian” because it, along with the whole world, belongs to the Triune God, of which world Christ is King. The “Chrisian” identity or description would pertain to the direction part of the distinction — whether the actions of preparing, serving, and eating the food are done to the glory of God in accordance with His law as it applies to one’s motive and goal. The “Christian” part would also pertain to whether one’s preparing and serving the cuisine is done in obedience to the laws of nature which pertain to cuisine (which laws are upheld by God and reveal something about His character as per Rom. 1:20).

    dgh: “But didn’t the abolishment of OT ceremonies and laws do away with kosher and allow Christians to say Opa! and have flaming cheese?”

    LOL! And doubly funny since Opa is also the Dutch word for Grandpa, which, if my Grandpa burnt the gouda I’d be yelling ‘Opa’ at him too!

    *forgives wooden beam incident*

    dgh: “This, as I see it, is THE difference between the 2k people and their critics — it is the capacity to live with non-believers in a plural society and to recognize their ‘goodness.’ Critics of 2k think we have sold the farm for thinking unbelievers are good. But as Calvin shows, there are ways of holding on to the anti-thesis between the church and the world, or the difference between jurisdictions of church and state, without saying that all non-Christians are untrustworthy.”

    You have not sold the farm for proposing this. I agree with what you’re saying here. (Did you read the quote I supplied from Van Til’s Apologetic in my previous comment?) Flaming cheese might cover a multitude of sins but you are in danger of selling the farm in the way you go about arguing for your central thesis. You appear to be limiting the authoritative voice of God in the Scriptures to only 1k. But such is not possible for the Christian who is a citizen of 2k’s. The unbeliever might be quite “good” and gifted but we should not be content to leave him in his unbelief, as I’m sure you’re not, and we must not measure his successes (or lack thereof) against a standard other than God’s holy character, which He has not been content to reveal only through general revelation. Living a peaceful co-existence alongside unbelievers should never mean compromising the claims of Christ upon them (and us).

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  94. You forgot “Jesus is my favorite philosopher.” That went well. But I’m still trying to see Dubya having read enough Bavinck to have come up with that (as in Aristotle being the forerunner to Christ). Guess it naturally flows more from his Methodism.

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  95. DGH: “The woes that we face may likely be political more than moral.”

    I’d like to tack on an observation or two. Much of the debate surrounding the 2K idea is muddled by a confusion between political philosophy and moral philosophy. I’m afraid it’s a sign of the times. The prevailing political philosophy–on the left and the right–is that the ideal social arrangement involves universal submission to a single comprehensive morality. This leads to equating the rejection of a political philosophy with rejection of the stated underlying moral philosophy. Thus, when a 2K advocate rejects the imposition of Christian morality on non-believers, the typical 2K critic accuses him of rejecting Christian morality.

    This is the same mistake that liberals make when they equate rejection of affirmative action with rejection of racial equality. Compare “If you oppose affirmative action, you are a racist” with “If you oppose laws banning gay marriage (gambling, pornography, etc.), you are an antinomian (or you are using the 2K idea to justify your own sinful conduct).”

    In the end, 2K proponents and 2K opponents spend a lot of time talking past one another because the 2K opponents have internalized the prevailing political theory that sees the state as existing to impose a comprehensive moral philosophy on its citizens.

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  96. Hey Jeff,

    I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer on what I was attempting to say about keeping Christ as the locus. If I understand it correctly, the Lutheran distinction between the two kingdoms is basically a corollary of the proper distinction between law and gospel and foundational for our ethics. IMO, having a firm grasp on the meta-narrative of the bible, the person and work of Christ, and remembering that all of scripture is about Christ is the primary foundation in understanding the two kingdoms. At this point, I think it’s best I zip it. I do not know how the Reformed teach this doctrine. May God bless you.

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  97. Darryl,

    You have made some good points! Thanks for taking the time to interact on this. I do think it is a hard issue, partly because the Jews in Israel in Jesus’ day and the Christians in Rome in Paul’s day, did not have the privilege of living in a democracy. That changes everything. If we deny that it does, stop voting! I agree that there is a priority of the word of God for the covenant community. You and I would be on board on probably every application when we sat down and discussed them all. I am simply trying to sift through the 2K teaching on ethical standards for governments. That is the issue. We do not believe, as protestants, in a Roman Catholic understanding of NL (i.e. the “oughtness” of laws). We believe that man’s reason is tainted with sin and that it needs to be informed by the word of God. Where was the very first government? It was Eden. Who was the King, President, Governor, Mayor, etc.? Adam! How was he to govern? According to God’s word. This is pre-Moasaic, and yet, because special and general revelation were always meant to go together, Adam was always meant to act in accord with God’s special, revealed will. This is the point I am trying to make. I am arguing for the “best” possible government, not for the legitimacy of governments ruled by common grace and the moral law written on the hearts of men descending from Adam. I should not have raised the sticky issue of Hitler, although I do think it was right for other nations to remove him from power, since he abdegated his right to rule.

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  98. Jonah,

    You’re still in denial about inhaling dualism. You think the state needs special revelation for justice and righteousness. Why on earth — get it? — you’d expect eschatological standards of justice and righteousness is the big question here. Your estimate of life in this world is just too high. You expect the new Jerusalem. I think the old one and the current one are the ones we live with. If the state can establish a modicum of order, then fine. You really do sound like you expect a more perfect society than we even experience in our communions. Listen to Calvin — don’t be too deeply attached to earthly and perishable things.

    Okay, but again, so I’ll grant for the sake of argument that God ordained authorities must rule on the basis of special revelation. So Christian parents rule so, as does the church. But do families and churches only enforce in their ordained capacity only the second table of the law? Doesn’t a parent have as much an obligation to enforce the sixth commandment — “do not get an abortion” — as the fourth — “get your behind out of bed and get ready for church”. Same goes for church authority. It is spiritual, not civil. But the church admininsters and disciplines on the basis of both tables of the law.

    But in your “integrated” scheme, the magistrate is off the hook for enforcing commandments 1 through 4. Huh? (Watch out for that beam!)

    One difference between us is that you think the state is obligated to rule on the basis of Scripture. And you think I am not Reformed for denying this.

    Well consider these passages from the Westminster Confession:

    God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under him, over the people, for his own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers. 23.1

    Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto. 25.3

    It doesn’t take a theological scientist to see that the church and the state have different tasks and different rules. The WCF doesn’t say the state has the word for the basis of its rule. But the church is to administer the word.

    On your view the standards for church and state entirely overlap because they both have the same standard. This is theonomy in some odd form. From which a question follows, will your system allow for Christian liberty?

    You simply struggle with the doubleness that is writ large in the Reformed creeds and catechisms that follows the doubleness that afflicts the human condition — of struggling between body and soul. You insist they cohere. The Bible doesn’t. Ecclesiastes especially doesn’t. But Paul doesn’t when he talks about the unseen things having the power of God unto salvation, compared to the wisdom of the Greeks and the power of Israel. The Bible constantly teaches about looking beyond the seen to the eternal, and that is why Calvin taught his disciples to pray not to be too deeply attached to earthly and perishable things. They are fading, they are temporal. You want to invest them with the permanent and the eternal. That is why you struggle with Calvin when he writes:

    “. . . there is a twofold government in man: one aspect is spiritual, whereby, the consience is instructed in piety and in reverencing God; the second is political, whereby man is educated for the duties of humanity and citizenship that must be maintained among men. These are usually called the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘temporal’ jurisdiction (not proper terms) by which is meant that the former sort of government pertains to the life of the soul, while the latter has to do with the concerns of the present life — not only with food and clothing but with laying down laws whereby a man may live his life among other men holily, honorably, and temperately. For the former resides in the inner mind, while the latter regulates only outward behavior. The one we may call the spiriutal kingdom, the other, the political kingdom. Now these two, as we have divided them, must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other. There are in man, so to speak, two worlds, over which different kings and different laws have authority.”

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  99. RL,

    Exactly. This confusion of the moral and political is the default setting for the greater balance of western religion, which is why 2K is rejected even within conservative Protestantism. Take the third rail politics of abortion amongst conservative Protestants. If they want anything to be their signature politics it would be this, and they way they talk about it is revealing about how they understand the nature of and relationship between the moral and the political. And it’s a good entry point by which to begin talking about the very things two kingdom theology wants to say.

    But suggest that the political answer to this political question is something akin to states’ rights and both the lifer and the choicer cringe. This is because they think of this issue in moral terms, and to allow a local magistrate to decide means that he might decide against their morality. Whatever their disagreements, the rightist-lifer and the leftist-choicer both heartily agree that “the ideal social arrangement involves universal submission to a single comprehensive morality,” if’s just a question of whose. Unfortunately, for those who see more virtue in local rule, there is no place at the table. Depending on which modernist you ask, too much misogyny or not enough love for youth.

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  100. Perhaps I’ve misread the situation, but didn’t Bonhoeffer readily admit that he couldn’t square his plans to kill Hitler with God’s Law–he admitted that plotting to kill Hitler was wrong in God’s eyes?

    As I understand it, he saw his participation in the assassination plot as a temptation that he couldn’t resist, for which he needed to flee to Christ for forgiveness just like any other murderer. The act was against his Christian principles, not grounded in them.

    Even while I admire his courage, I wonder how different Germany would be had he lived to aid in the post-war efforts to rebuild German society.

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  101. RL,

    That may well have been DB’s ultimate confession, I don’t know. But whether he did or not, my point is that typically DB is held up by western Christians as a hero for his active resistance, up to and including his involvement in the plot to kill his magistrate. Given the unqualified biblical commands to submit to him and seek his profi, it would seem that this should be more troubling than inspiring. It’s one thing to resist Caesar when he demands we stop witnessing to the unfettered gospel, another to meet him on his own political grounds to tell him to stop (or start) whatever he’s doing (or not doing).

    I think it’s telling that Bonhoeffer is a household hero, while a figure like Stuart Robinson is a virtual unknown. But I suppose going to the gallows for active resistence is more exciting than fleeing to Canada to save one’s skin standing up for the spirituality of the church.

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  102. DGH: Thanks for making the connection between union with Christ and the deficiency of Christ’s righteousness that we receive by faith. I sense that it is there, but your claim about salvation being bigger than Christ’s righteousness is helpful.

    What I said was this:

    JRC: First, by “salvation” are you talking justification or the broader package included in our union with Christ?

    It is not controversial that salvation is larger than justification only. Not “larger than Christ’s righteousness”, larger than justification.

    The Confession makes clear that sanctification is also an application of the righteousness of Christ to us (13.1, 16.3).

    I was saying nothing more nor less than what WCoF 14.2 says:

    But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.

    Salvation is all of Christ and all through grace by faith alone. It includes (among other things) our justification, our sanctification, and our eternal life.

    Just for the fun of it, I pull down some random books off the shelf. Here’s a blurb by that arch-heretic, R.C. Sproul:

    RCS: Justification is only one part of salvation…Salvation is the word that covers all of the process by which God fully brings us to total redemption. (“Now That’s a Good Question”, p. 127)

    I suppose that Sproul, also, thinks of Christ’s righteousness as deficient?

    On a more serious note, Robert Reymond’s Systematic Theology includes the entire ordo salutis under the rubric of “Our Great Salvation.” Reymond, like Hodge before him, considers salvation to include the benefits of Christ applied to us, from regeneration to glorification.

    Anthony Hoekema is explicit about salvation including all of the benefits of our union with Christ.

    And speaking of ordo salutis, how is it that justification is but one part of the classic ordo? Did the scholastics think Christ’s righteousness was deficient?

    Dr. Hart, you leveled a serious charge of heresy in my direction. I don’t think it was at all warranted by the facts.

    JRC

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  103. Jeff,

    I hear a lot from folks who advocate union that salvation is bigger than justification. This claim, and particularly where it leads, is of great concern to me. The reason is that generally what I’ve heard is that a bigger understanding of salvation is needed so what we don’t fall into the antinomianism that seems to follow making justification central.

    I see this move on your part here as well. You move from a narrow view of salvation with justification at the center, to a broader view which include justification under the umbrella of union so that you have the justification (no pun intended) for engage in all sorts of works of righteousness, both personal and social. And this is why the centrality of justification usually goes with a strong condemnation of all forms of works righteousness.

    So to answer you question, I do think the Bible reveals a saving righteousness that comes from Christ alone. I do not think it reveals a personal holiness — beyond the third use of the law — that reveals righteous plumbing. If the word of God is suppose to direct our entire life, why not plumbing, math, banking, farming — not just with ethical guidelines — but how to do those things well. It doesn’t. And that is why our confessions, which attempt to summarize the teaching of Scripture, have nothing about the arts, sciences, engineering, and agriculture.

    I have brought this up before: https://oldlife.org/2009/04/18/if-the-bible-speaks-to-all-of-life-why-not-the-confession/

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  104. DGH: I do think the Bible reveals a saving righteousness that comes from Christ alone. I do not think it reveals a personal holiness beyond the third use of the law

    I agree with you. The third use of the Law is sufficient. It was on this basis that I defended you on GB against charges of antinomianism.

    I do not consider myself repaid in kind.

    DGH: I hear a lot from folks who advocate union that salvation is bigger than justification. This claim, and particularly where it leads, is of great concern to me.

    I have no idea what your sample consists of, but the notion that salvation comprises more than justification is standard Reformed theology.

    In some cases, that notion has been stretched beyond bounds (as we saw with the Federal Vision).

    But arguing from abuse is no argument against the truth. Sanctification as a part of salvation is boilerplate. “Union with Christ” is not some theological novelty. It’s in the Confession (11.4). It’s in Calvin (Inst. 3.1.1). It’s in the Scripture.

    As for “where it leads”, well, you know full well the perils of slippery-slope arguments. Sometimes they work out, sometimes not.

    DGH: The reason is that generally what I’ve heard is that a bigger understanding of salvation is needed so what we don’t fall into the antinomianism that seems to follow making justification central.

    You won’t hear that from me. Antinomianism is a fruit of the sin nature, and shares that trait with legalism. It is a spiritual, not intellectual, malady.

    DGH: I see this move on your part here as well.

    See above.

    DGH: You move from a narrow view of salvation with justification at the center, to a broader view which include justification under the umbrella of union…

    Yes, I feel quite comfortable in taking this traditional Reformed view. Anthony Hoekema is a particularly helpful expositor of it (Saved by Grace). “Centrality of Union” is not the only Reformed view, but is certainly one of them. In my case, I am persuaded that our forgiveness of sins is received “in Christ” per Eph. 1.7,8: that is, justification is received by our being in Christ. I agree with Calvin in Inst. 3.1.1 that the blessings Christ procured for us become ours when He dwells in us.

    DGH: …so that you have the justification (no pun intended) for engage in all sorts of works of righteousness, both personal and social.

    This is dead wrong. My view is that to the extent that we engage in good works, we do so (a) through faith, (b) adding no merit thereby, and (c) empowered by the Spirit. WCoF Chap. 16 describes my view exactly.

    DGH: And this is why the centrality of justification usually goes with a strong condemnation of all forms of works righteousness.

    Even were your analysis of my spiritual state correct, (and it is not), this would be an illogical argument. Other views also condemn all forms of works righteousness.

    Likewise, just because some forms of “union” are corrupted into forms of works righteousness, it does not follow that all forms of “union” are so corrupted.

    I should speak more personally here. In our discussions, I have deliberately focused on *ideas*. At all times, I have tried to assume the best motives of you, even when I’ve been uncomfortable with some of your ideas. That may not have come through perfectly, but my desire is to be the “loyal opposition.” I have reasons for this both ecclesiastical and personal.

    In exchange, you have here accused me of something vile: a desire to promote works-righteousness. This, based on your “sense” of my meaning in a particular phrase, coupled with the fact that I believe the Bible speaks, in degrees greater or lesser, to all of life.

    Do you think this is right? If a member of your church were so charged by another, would you entertain this charge based on a “sense” and a particular construal of where a phrase might lead based on your experience with others?

    Baffled and saddened,

    Jeff Cagle

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  105. Thanks for your thought-provoking points.

    To answer your last: I don’t consider that Christ’s commands given to individuals must apply in the same way to governments writ large.

    (Nor even on a smaller scale. If I were attacked, then turn the other cheek is the command. If my children are attacked, it isn’t.)

    JRC

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  106. Nick,

    Since you asked me about Hitler, I’ll ask you about theonomy. I suspect that you think your view is not theonomic. I am curious as to why you think yours isn’t. I’m not trying to be provocative. I’m really trying to understand where this desire for the Bible to be the rule for all of life, including the magistrate’s activities, comes from. And I’m also curious to see how those who advocate it think they are different from theonomists.

    I know that a comment in a blog does not afford the space for compelling exegesis. But your rendering of Adam in the Garden is hardly convincing to me. In fact, I am not sure you find lots of support within our tradition, even among the Covenanters for that interpretation. Not only did Calvin think the ancient pagan philosophers got a lot right about politics, but I’ve heard that Samuel Rutherford believed conflating Christ’s mediatorial (church) and creational (the state) rule was to commit the Roman Catholic error.

    But my biggest gun is a point that David VanDrunen made in his inaugural lecture on the two kingdoms. The church administers the Word of God. And the church does this by preaching the forgiveness of sins. That’s because the Bible reveals how sinners are forgiven. The state does not administer forgiveness. It administers justice. But if the state is to make the Word — which reveals forgiveness of sins — its standard, then the state cannot execute justice.

    I think you can see some of the problem with blanket claims about Scripture as the basis for the state.

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  107. Jeff,

    I apologize if you think I’ve gotten personal. I too have been talking about ideas. You and I hold ideas. So the ideas are personal. I disagree with some of your ideas. I didn’t say they were vile. But I regret that you took it personally.

    I do get worked up about justification and union, and I wish you would consider something that I’m sure Frame would brand a genetic fallacy. Norman Shepherd’s views have been defended and are on-going in various circles. John Frame used to defend Shepherd. Frame is also a favorite of various defenders of FV. Now you are also something of a fan of Frame. And you, like him, maybe not personally, but intellectually, go down a number of paths that blur important distinctions, like worship and vocation, church and the world, and possibliy alien and personal righteousness. I am not accusing you of anything vile. What I am doing is raising questions about resemblances. People love to beat up on Federal Vision and then they adopt positions both on soteriology, and on reforming society, that are a lot like the Federal Vision. I wonder if you have thought about that, or why someone like Frame who has influenced you is highly regarded in certain FV circles.

    Now the response to me might be, well Hart, you have lots of resemblances to Lutheranism. And my response is, so? When did Lutheranism become something worthy of anathemas?

    But again, I apologize for offending you.

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  108. Thank you. I forgive you and apologize if I’ve provoked you in any way (please let me know).

    I have actually thought a fair amount about the nexus of Frame – van Til – Murray – Shepherd – FV, and about my points of contact and points of departure with each.

    Explaining my connection to Frame is not simple. I think these bullet-points would have to suffice:

    * Perspectivalism is a helpful method for increasing one’s level of confidence in one’s conclusions. That is: if the normative, situational, and existential perspectives are in harmony, one can have a high degree of confidence; if not, then knowledge remains incomplete. It is not, however, the be-all and end-all of epistemology.

    Importantly, perspectivalism is a good stab at recognizing the role of *inductive* reasoning in theological method. Van Til also shoved an oar in this direction, which led to his famous confrontation with Clark. It is unsurprising that the more vigorous “Frame is a heretic” memes that circulate on, say, the Puritan Board, find their source in the Trinity Review.

    * I partially agree with RS Clark that Frame is latitudinarian, in that he gives others wide berth for disagreement. Put it this way: Frame would be the last to pull the trigger on a heresy charge, instead of the first. I consider that a function of personality, and not necessarily always a bad trait. I take Barnabus’ side in Acts 15.

    * However, I disagree with RS Clark that Frame’s method is subjectivist. I believe he has mis-read Frame at this point. Easy to do, I suppose; while teaching Frame for an ethics class, I’ve had more than one student miss the whole point of perspectives. One poor lass represented it as “What does the Bible say? What does the world say? What do I say? Best two out of three.”

    So I would criticize Frame in this regard: MP could be explained better by clarifying its relationship to induction over against deduction.

    * The only defense of Shepherd I’ve seen from Frame is point 9 in the infamous Machen’s Warrior Children article, in which he complains about the justice of the process, not the rightness of the outcome. Hard to fault Frame for that.

    * I am not monocovenantal. I agree with the confession’s traditional “covenant of works/covenant of grace” formulation in ch. 7 and so would take Kline’s approach more readily than Murray’s in this regard. (Actually, I think O. Palmer Robertson gets it just right, if my memory serves). I don’t know where Frame stands on this issue, and I’m not concerned to discover it; but I definitely depart from Shepherd in this regard.

    * I agree with the Confession that “This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. ”

    And so I would say that good works are a logically necessary consequence of salvation, but not a causative of it. That is: good works are necessary result of having been saved (post facto), but not a necessary precondition for it.

    I would agree with the formula, “the indicative precedes the imperative.”

    Or put another way: “They, whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. ”

    I’m sufficiently allergic to works-righteousness that I dislike Gaffin’s terminology of “future justification”, even though I understand it and can sufficiently distinguish it from the FV doctrine that goes by the same name (I would prefer “future vindication” or “eschatologically revealed justification”). I also was uncomfortable with Sproul’s book, Lordship Salvation, although my memory of it is now … hm … about 20 years old.

    I much prefer Jack Miller’s formulations that connect justification to sanctification, and I tend to teach Galatians in that manner. Obviously, the Sonship course didn’t entirely take; I just can’t seem to get past needing to defend myself sometimes. 🙂

    Ironically, I view Union with Christ more as an antidote to legalism than to antinomianism. That is, only by seeing our sanctification as an application of Christ to us, can we avoid various legalistic tendencies. (Notwithstanding: legalism is a spiritual, not an intellectual issue).

    * I admire and agree with Frame’s important separation between the word of God and the word of man. I think he is right to preserve the distinction between Scripture and everything else, even the Confession. NOT that we want to pit one against the other; we just need to be clear about the distinction between absolute truth and relative truth, as indeed the Confession requires (1.4,6,9,10).

    * I agree with Frame that knowledge contains a component of application.

    * I agree with Frame that all of life is governed by a framework of Scripture. However, there are times when he makes it sound as if that framework is a comprehensive Theory of Everything. I would place a greater accent on Christian liberty.

    I don’t know whether this confirms or “disfirms” your suspicions about resemblance, but I yam what I yam. I’m not Frame, but I have points of contact with Frame. (So do you, for that matter)

    Bottom line: I’m not a “fanboy” type of guy. The Scripture stands apart from the ideas of men, and judges them; and our job is to test those ideas, even if they come from our personal favorites or even our own intuitions. If tomorrow, Frame were to deny the Trinity, then my life would continue apace.

    DGH: People love to beat up on Federal Vision and then they adopt positions both on soteriology, and on reforming society, that are a lot like the Federal Vision. I wonder if you have thought about that, or why someone like Frame who has influenced you is highly regarded in certain FV circles.

    For a clearer picture, flip that around: the reason that FV was able to take root in Reformed circles is that it has substantial overlap with genuine Reformed doctrine. The problem is the differences. So it’s unsurprising that someone might latch on to certain legitimate ideas, like Union with Christ, and run out the door with them.

    For what it’s worth, the central FV error in my book is their ecclesiology, identifying “the historical church” with the visible church. Frame would never have done this. (For a more Framian treatment of the church, see here). Out of that misidentification, all of the rest flows.

    You’ve probably noticed that Calvin gets a lot more air-time in FV publications than Frame does. If we applied your logic, we would have to be suspicious of anyone who likes Calvin.

    (Of course, I don’t “love to beat up on the FV” either. I disagree with them, and find the goings-on to be tragic. I genuinely like, for example, Xon Hostetter and have learned a thing or two from Jeff Meyers.)

    DGH: Now the response to me might be, well Hart, you have lots of resemblances to Lutheranism. And my response is, so? When did Lutheranism become something worthy of anathemas?

    I’m allergic to tu quoque arguments. I make them at times for effect, but I consider them to be a low form of humor, slightly below puns.

    In any event, I’m just ecumenical enough to let Lutherans in the door. 🙂

    But more seriously: if Frame’s blurring of distinctions between cult and culture causes him to mess up the RPW, then how is it that Luther’s hard distinction between cult and culture didn’t save him from messing up the RPW much, much more? You gotta admit, you would rather worship in Frame’s church than in a Lutheran church, no?

    This is an argument about causation. We take away the putative cause (blurring of kingdoms), and the effect (bad RPW) continues. Doesn’t that undermine your view of the cause?

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

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  109. Dr. Hart, I appreciate you pointing out this issue, but you did not answer Kloosterman’s point:

    First, if the worldly kingdom (public life) is to be governed by that natural law revealed in creation, and if the Decalogue is nothing less than the republication of that natural law, then why would Christians not want the civil magistrate to proscribe what the Decalogue proscribes?

    This is precisely where modern 2K theology is utterly incoherent. I strongly affirm that there are two kingdoms and that we must not confuse the spiritual kingdom with the kingdoms of this world. If you want to say that the Bible should not play any role in determining the laws of the land, then I would be willing to entertain and discuss the issue with you. But when you then go on to say that natural law should be the norm, you completely lose me. It is incoherent and inconsistent. Natural law is the Decalogue written on the heart of man. To appeal to one is to appeal to the other. Stop being irrational and let’s make some progress in this debate.

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  110. I don’t have time to read all the comments, but I read the first page and found this from you Dr. Hart:

    Reed, the difficulty in relating NL to the Decalogue would seem to be the first table. WCF is right, I think, to say that nature reveals a god who deserves to be worshiped. But it doesn’t seem to be at all clear that creation reveals prohibitions against images, blasphemy, or sabbath observance. I can see possible implications from these from the created order. But no good and necessary consequence — from nature.

    This is the heart of the issue and until you 2K advocates can think properly about this, I cannot join you. The WCF does not simply say that nature reveals a god who deserves to be worshiped. The Scripture reference the divines provided for 19.1 is Romans 2:14-15. The law of God is written on the hearts of all men. That is what natural law is and it is summarily comprehended in the Decalogue.

    You do not determine what “natural law” is by snooping around in your or your neighbor’s fallen mind to see what remnants of God’s law remain written on the heart. This is theology 101 Dr Hart.

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  111. But my biggest gun is a point that David VanDrunen made in his inaugural lecture on the two kingdoms. The church administers the Word of God. And the church does this by preaching the forgiveness of sins. That’s because the Bible reveals how sinners are forgiven. The state does not administer forgiveness. It administers justice. But if the state is to make the Word — which reveals forgiveness of sins — its standard, then the state cannot execute justice.

    Are you serious?? That is your biggest gun? That is the kind of logic being advocated by the leading natural law scholar in the 2K camp? Is VanDrunen aware that the Word also reveals justice? The depth of ineptitude astounds me.

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  112. So Brandon, if you’re so rational and theological, what do you say about burning heretics? They did in Calvin’s Geneva. You want the magistrate to follow the ten commandments. Well then what do you do with the first commandment and how do you keep your magistrate from driving out of the land the Mormons and Roman Catholics? That’s what Israel was supposed to do, republication style. And that is what the church is supposed to do under the keys of the kingdom. So again, what authority ordained by God to maintain the standards of Special revelation is allowed to pick among which laws to enforce.

    If I sound irrational, you sound liberal the way you pick which laws are convenient for your theory.

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  113. Dr. Hart,

    It’s that kind of attitude that doesn’t progress the discussion at all. It might very well be the case that none of the 10 commandments should be enforced by the civil government. That’s not what makes your view incoherent. What makes 2K nonsensical is this insistence upon “natural law” as the standard for civil government as opposed to the moral law. Natural law is the moral law. Special revelation further clarifies general revelation (which, according to Reformed theology, is distorted by sin). General revelation does not provide any information that special revelation does not. If you want to say the Bible does not apply to the civil government, then we can have a nice conversation about that. But stop trying to prop up your arguments on natural law. You just sound silly.

    If I sound irrational, you sound liberal the way you pick which laws are convenient for your theory.

    I’m not saying you sound irrational, I’m saying you are irrational.

    I’m also not saying I have all the answers, but I am saying your answer is contradictory and wrong, so you need to come up with a different one. If you do not believe the Bible speaks to civil government, then you must also believe that God does not speak to civil government. You must maintain that God is ambivalent regarding civil government. And if that’s the case I’ll go with anarcho-capitalism.

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  114. And, btw, the nation of Israel was not the church (they were the nation of Israel). So, contra theonomy, whatever form of government or legislation they had is irrelevant to a discussion today about the role of God’s law in civil government.

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  115. Brandon, Well the assertion that I am irrational certainly clarifies things. Thanks for keeping it real. (But doesn’t the Bible say something about charity?)

    The Bible says nothing about plumbing. How could a plumber possibly do his work by only consulting the Bible? And I’m irrational?

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  116. Brandon,

    -> “General revelation does not provide any information that special revelation does not”

    This seems implausible given the fact that special revelation says nothing about the laws of gravity, the axioms of mathematics, the general principles of engineering et al. Moral Law speaks with great particularity to moral issues, but it doesn’t really cover civic issues like speed limits, tax codes, building codes, etc. Whether or not you buy into 2k or not these realities seem inescapable.

    Calling Dr. Hart irrational is a bit out of bounds don’t you think? There are plenty of godly men out there who have devoted themselves to theological training at a level that you have not attained who have taken these views through honest study and hold them in good conscience. Are you accusing guys like VanDrunen and Clark irrational or worse just because they disagree with you? Cmon. Nobody is calling you an irrational person for your Baptist, neo-Calvinistic convictions, we just disagree. Name-calling subverts any meaningful dialogue, and it makes it really hard to take anything you say seriously.

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  117. Dr. Hart,

    Irrational is a word that accurately describes your view. I used it as a description, not an invective. If you think there is something wrong with being irrational, perhaps you should change your view 😉

    Your assumption is that someone learns how to be a plumber through general revelation. He does not. He learns how to be a plumber by observation (which is not how general revelation works).

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  118. Jed,

    The fundamental problem here is assuming that anything we learn through observation is “general revelation.” We do not learn about the wrath of God from looking at trees. The wrath of God is revealed to us innately. General revelation is innate revelation written on the heart. (and Romans 1 clearly shows that this natural law shows men they deserve to die for being disobedient to parents – so I suppose a government founded on natural law would require such a death penalty?).

    Moral Law speaks with great particularity to moral issues, but it doesn’t really cover civic issues like speed limits, tax codes, building codes, etc.

    Well then I suppose the conclusion is that the government shouldn’t have anything to do with speed limits, tax codes, and building codes 😉

    (And to clarify, I strongly support 2K in the sense that the kingdoms of this world are not Christ’s spiritual kingdom. My simple point of objection is the argument that one is founded upon natural law, the other upon moral law.)

    Calling Dr. Hart irrational is a bit out of bounds don’t you think?

    I apologize if I called Dr. Hart irrational. I intended to communicate that his view of 2K is irrational.

    There are plenty of godly men out there who have devoted themselves to theological training at a level that you have not attained who have taken these views through honest study and hold them in good conscience.

    I suppose that says more about theological training than anything else 😉

    Are you accusing guys like VanDrunen and Clark irrational or worse just because they disagree with you? Cmon.

    No, I’m not accusing their view of being irrational because it disagrees with mine. I’m accusing it of being irrational because it is not rational.

    Nobody is calling you an irrational person for your Baptist, neo-Calvinistic convictions, we just disagree.

    That’s because my views aren’t irrational. And if they are, please let me know, because I have no intention of being irrational and if I am holding a contradictory view, I would appreciate exhortation.

    Name-calling subverts any meaningful dialogue, and it makes it really hard to take anything you say seriously.

    As said above, it is not name calling. I specifically chose my words to communicate something particular about Hart’s argument. Perhaps his argument should have been separated from his person, but the language regarding the argument is not name calling.

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  119. Your assumption is that someone learns how to be a plumber through general revelation. He does not. He learns how to be a plumber by observation (which is not how general revelation works).

    Observation of what?

    You seem to admit that there are two kingdoms (which ought not be confused). That must mean there are two books governing each. If one doesn’t learn a general skill through a general book then the only thing left is a special book. So, what does a plumber observe?

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  120. That must mean there are two books governing each.

    Uhm, no, that does not follow. That is your presupposition. The Bible can speak to both. You may say the Bible does not apply to earthly kingdoms, but then you must conclude that no revelation does, that it is a free for all. Which, again, if that’s the case I’ll go with anarcho-capitalism.

    A plumber observes nature. But general revelation is not to be equated with observing nature.

    And aside from that issue is the simple fact that you cannot derive an ought from an is. A plumber may observe from nature that clogging toilets causes them to overflow. But he cannot then say it should be against the law to clog your toilet.

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  121. isn’t that part of creation and isn’t God revealed in creation?

    General revelation is innate and propositional, revealed in the hearts of men directly. Men do not learn about the wrath of God by observing leaves on a tree.

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  122. Brandon,

    Ah, so your 2K is of the 1K variety: two kingdoms, one book.

    So when 2Kers say that very different poli-econo-ideologies can legitimately co-exist you think that’s the same as an illegitimate “free for all.” So when you and have lunch and the bills come, and I choose frugality in my tipping choice, and you choose generosity, both perfectly biblical virtues, the one of us who can live with the other’s view/practice is irrational? Fine, but when people tell me I’m being either a tight-wad or too loose in my tipping I just consider plain old rude. Paying our bill’s is a matter of legitimate scrutiny, but what we tip isn’t. I’m fine with your anarcho-capitalism, just remember to pay your bills.

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  123. Brandon,

    Your understanding of law and how it is to be administered is too narrow. Violations of natural law do not always have moral consequences unless it is there is a violation of natural law that pertains to morality.

    Anyway, Christian plumbing is my turf here, your talking to a 4th generation plumber (I worked on the business end mostly though). I would argue that observation and natural revelation and all true domains of human knowledge are inextricably linked. General revelation functions to point to a Creator who sets up a functional cosmos; it also informs us on how the cosmos functions. All cosmic functions necessarily operate within the laws of nature whether they are moral or amoral. Plumbing is entirely dependent on natural revelation/natural law even though it is amoral. Let me explain…

    There are many laws of nature that have to me navigated in even the most simple plumbing process such as soldering copper pipe which has taken mankind a few thousand years to master. It takes a understanding of the metallurgical properties of copper that make it desirable as a potable water delivery system: copper is malleable and resistant to corrosion and relatively abundant and easy to extract (which makes it inexpensive in relation to other non corrosive metals). Soldering itself requires an understanding of welding, which in this case requires the binding of two different metals to form a seal sufficiently tight so as to be impenetrable by water molecules, which again is governed by fundamental laws of chemistry. I could go on to explain how hydro-mechanical principles govern waterflow, but I won’t bore you with more details. I am sure though that nearly every vocational discipline, including the justice system interact so much with natural law that it would be staggering to draw out the processes in entirety.

    The problem with arguing against general revelation as a governing principle for human knowing is that you don’t have many defensible alternatives. Even at a moral level, general revelation is sufficient to convict men of wrongdoing, or of acting in a way that violates the cosmic order as God created it. This is true of amoral laws as well. If you violate an amoral law of hydrodynamics you will necessarily have a breakdown in the function of a plumbing system, which means the breakdown must be properly addressed to restore function. Similarly, if you violate a moral law you have a breakdown in the moral-legal system bound up in the function of the cosmos, which again must be addressed to bring resolution. Yeah, there is overlap between natural law and the Decalogue, but the Decalogue, in its moral-spiritual particularity is not comprehensive enough to govern the natural realm in entirety. Natural Law is capable of governing the secular realm sufficiently, even if it is administered imperfectly by fallen humans. Natural Law however is insufficient to govern the Church which is why we have special revelation to guide us.

    Is the 2k position really that irrational?

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  124. Brandon,

    I browsed through the links you posted. I doubt many self-respecting scientists or mathematicians would agree with the authors of these articles. The peer-review process would likely dismantle Clark’s statements like “Science is False.” I seriously doubt that his propositions are even falsifiable, which would necessarily make them unscientific. Sorry, but this article is garbage science at best. Clark is probably a great guy, but his science isn’t.

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  125. Zrim,

    So when 2Kers say that very different poli-econo-ideologies can legitimately co-exist you think that’s the same as an illegitimate “free for all.”

    I see you’re eager to categorize and discard me Zrim. I haven’t even made the argument that a free for all is illegitimate. I have only said that claiming the Bible does not say anything in regards to the civil government leaves you with a free for all. Appeal to “natural law” is meaningless. What you are saying is that civil government should be determined by the preferences of individuals. That’s fine, just don’t call that “natural law.”

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  126. Your understanding of law and how it is to be administered is too narrow. Violations of natural law do not always have moral consequences unless it is there is a violation of natural law that pertains to morality.

    A law by definition has regards to morality. It is a statement of what ought and ought not to be done. Please do not confuse the “law” of gravity with what we are talking about here. They are two very different things.

    Your entire post says nothing against anything I have said. All you have argued is that people observe lots of things in order to do lots of things. That’s irrelevant.

    The problem with arguing against general revelation as a governing principle for human knowing is that you don’t have many defensible alternatives.

    Perhaps you should re-read what I have said. Nowhere did I argue against general revelation as a governing principle for human knowing. I have simply taken care to properly define and understand what general revelation is. General revelation is not “observing water in pipes.”

    Is the 2k position really that irrational?

    Yes. The Bible teaches that “natural law” = “the law of God written on the heart of man.” If you want to make your argument that earthly kingdoms should govern based upon their observation of the created world, then go for it. But, once again, don’t call that “natural law.”

    In regards to Clark and general revelation being innate and propositional: You do not need to accept that point for my argument against your use of natural law to stand. Even if you think natural law is something we observe by looking at plants, at the very least it includes the law of God written on the heart (that’s where you’re getting the word “law” from – otherwise its just “natural information”), even if it also includes other information. The most explicit discussions of general revelation in the Bible (Rom 1-2) say that man knows he deserves death for violating the 10 commandments. Thus, if you are going to be consistent, and Biblical, you must argue that natural law teaches us to execute those who raise a hand against their mother.

    Again, you may rationally argue that 2K requires civil government to not be informed by the clarity of the Bible, but you cannot at the same time hold that they should be informed by general revelation.

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  127. Brandon,

    We must be using different dictionaries. I am really not sure how you can maintain that functionally physical laws and moral laws operate on different planes. They can be violated, but there are consequences. Yes, I do agree that natural law includes the moral code written on the human heart, but that is simply because these exist in a larger cosmic system where God created a good universe that worked just as he designed it to. It is precisely because of this that governments operate off of general revelation even if imperfectly and/or unknowingly. Why else would we have similarities in Hammurabi and Moses, Roman law and American law. Discontinuities are a given, but the commonality of law, and prevasively political nature of human history even in the absence of special revelation testifies to the sufficiency of natural law in the political arena.

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  128. Now you’re starting to get it Jed. Yes, you are equivocating on the word “law” if you think it equally applies to the law of God and to the “law” of gravity.

    And since you mentioned dictionaries, let’s look at Meriam Webster:

    law: 1a: a rule or order that it is advisable or obligatory to observe
    synonyms law, rule, regulation, precept, statute, ordinance, canon mean a principle governing action or procedure. law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority

    Precept: 1 : a command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action
    2 : an order issued by legally constituted authority to a subordinate official

    That is what law means when we talk about the law of God and natural law.

    way down in definition 6 is a different definition for things like the “law” of gravity:

    6 a : a statement of an order or relation of phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under the given conditions

    synonyms: see in addition hypothesis

    God’s law is not God’s law because God saw what would naturally occur if we committed adultery and he wanted to protect us from those natural consequences. It is God’s law because He sovereignly imposed it on those bearing His image as a rule for what ought and ought not to be done.

    Furthermore, are you suggesting that the “law” of gravity is just a statement of what ought to be done? Are you suggesting that we should all obey the law of gravity, meaning we should not violate it by floating around? I didn’t think so.

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  129. I am not arguing for equal application here a am arguing for congruence even if the moral law has greater precedent in God’s political economy. This doesn’t diminish the coherence between natural laws and God’s revealed laws, they both speak of a competent, just Lawgiver. They are bound up in cosmic function physically and morally respectively because they are reflective of the coherent nature of God himself. It’s not as if prohibition against adultery is somehow arbitrary, it is reflective of the character of God. So in a sense God’s prohibition of adultery is to prevent us from the natural consequences of acting in a way that is at odds with his intent in creation. The prescriptive nature of moral law is something that I believe flows from the descriptive nature of natural law. In other words “don’t act out in a way that is at odds with the way God designed creation to work.”

    As to gravity, of course it’s a descriptive law, and one that in fact can’t be broken. However many have attempted to break it at their own peril, thus confirming the irrevocability of the law. I would advise all gravity delinquents to be sure to land on something soft.

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  130. Jed, I don’t think I can make it any plainer than simply quoting the dictionary. If you can’t see the obvious distinction there’s really no point in discussing the issue.

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  131. Ahh, I see. You are on a discussion board voicing a contrary opinion that when disagreed with you either a) accuse others of being irrational because they are not rational in Brandon’s universe or b) you no longer wish to discuss a disagreement you bring up because someone is unconvinced by your arguments. It’s the classic heads I win, tails you loose scenario. Nicely played.

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  132. Jed, the distinction here is not between God’s law and natural law, but between descriptive laws and prescription: is v. ought.

    The law of gravity cannot be broken (better: has not been broken to date) because it is a fundamental property of the way things are.

    The law, “Do not murder” … the law, “Don’t eat the fruit!” … can be and was broken.

    That’s because the character of ethical oughts is to say, “one should do X”; the character of scientific is is to say, “If one does Y, then Z will occur.” … but there is no corresponding way to say, “If A happens, then one should do B”

    If you’re interested in further research, here are some leads:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is-ought_problem
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-non-naturalism/
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/metaethics/#NatNonNatSup
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism-moral/

    JRC

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  133. Jeff,

    It took me a while to sift through the resources, and while I can appreciate what you are arguing here I am still not in agreement. I think it can be reasonably demonstrated that there are very few oughts that do not flow from ises, if any at all. This seems to me to be the argument of Romans 1:18ff. where humans suppressed what can be known about God based on what could be known of Him in creation (what is), and followed down a path of engaging in lives replete with ought-nots. It was the loss is-ought distinction that described the fallen condition that Paul describes.

    The prescriptive command: “Don’t jump off of a cliff” presupposes (the is) gravity. Assuming a person values his life, the moral implication of the isness of gravity is that one ought not act out in a way where gravity becomes a life-threatening reality. I would argue that the Decalogue extrapolates its prescriptions from the ises of God’s character and from the world he creates.

    How else can the psalmist claim that the heavens tell of the glory of God if there is no revelatory value in nature itself that cannot be extracted from even cursory observation?

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  134. But which is more silly, to think that Christ governs the existing age through two kingdoms, one subject to Scripture the other to general revelation, or to think that we can have the Decalogue to prohibit the sins we most oppose but not to the point of making us look intolerant of other religions?

    It sounds like you natural law 2K folk need to have a pow-wow and get on the same page. If your criticism applies to Kloosterman’s view of the Decalogue, then it also applies to R. Scott Clark’s view of “natural law”

    It is not the magistrate’s duty to police every sort of violation of natural law and sin. For example, no one but theocrats want the state enforcing obedience to the first table of the law. The magistrate’s natural sphere of concern and authority is in the second table.
    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/natural-law-the-two-kingdoms-and-homosexual-marriage/

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  135. Brandon, that would also mean it applies to Kloosterman, or that Kloosterman and Clark agree. But Kloosterman is critical of NL and Clark. So what’s your point? Clark isn’t making this distinction to avoid NL.

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