Act Two, Scene Two: Cheap Shot

Actually, the title should be plural since in one of his first reviews of VanDrunen’s Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms Nelson Kloosterman decided to insert a [sic] after VanDrunen’s phrase, “the Reformed tradition of natural law and the two kingdoms.” Kloosterman explained, “Because we are in danger of annoying our readers, we shall now desist from using ‘[sic]’ [which abbreviates the Latin sicut, which means ‘thus’ or ‘such’] as our way of identifying the author’s repeated, persistent, and unqualified use of the definite article to identify his construal as ‘the’ Reformed natural law and two kingdoms doctrine.”

Aside from the small-mindedness among the Dutch-American Reformed when they hear of a “Reformed” tradition that does not follow their way of doing and thinking, this is a petty remark and reveals the lengths to which Kloosterman will go in condemning 2k. I wonder when he will mention the typos in the book (if there are any). To younger writers out there, these are the sort of criticisms that should be left on the editing floor and any good editor would have it deleted it on grounds of impropriety and triviality – improper because the level of disagreement is already high and this detracts from the main point; trivial because the use of a definite article is not essential to Kloosterman’s argument.

But the pettiness continues in Kloosterman’s most recent part of his review — I guess he is really going to go through VanDrunen chapter by chapter. (Kloosterman better be hoping that Harold Camping is wrong about the date of Christ’s return and that a significant theological controversy does not prompt the editors of Christian Renewal to reserve inches for more important business.) In this stage of his response to VanDrunen – specifically, the chapter on Calvin – Kloosterman faults the Westminster professor for poor scholarship. VanDrunen uses John Bolt’s discussion of Calvin’s Christology to make a point about the difference between Christ’s rule as mediator and as creator. But because Bolt uses Calvin’s Christology to affirm Kuyper and because VanDrunen — who hasn’t tipped his hand on his own use of Calvin — uses Calvin’s Christology to understand Calvin’s views of the two kingdoms (views for which Kloosterman cannot account), Kloosterman judges VanDrunen to be a poor academic. He writes:

Bolt’s own application of the Christological distinction is the very opposite of the use to which VanDrunen puts it in his NL2K discussion of Calvin! Surely readers deserve better scholarship than this!

Since Bolt’s application of Calvin was not the point of VanDrunen’s argument, I don’t see what is shoddy about this scholarship. It surely seems that Bolt takes the extra Calvinisticum in one direction — the Kuyperian one — and VanDrunen and Calvin take it in another direction, namely, to distinguish between the temporal and spiritual realms. VanDrunen is simply using Bolt’s language to explain the extra Calvinisticum, not to claim Bolt as a proponent of 2k. But since Kloosterman cannot tell the difference between a work of description — which is what VanDrunen’s book is — and one of prescription, he can’t see the different purposes to which an author may use a quotation. Talk about overexcited.

The problem for Kloosterman is that he exhibits the very impoverished academic work of which he accuses VanDrunen. This comes in his complaints against VanDrunen’s conception of the kingdom of God. Kloosterman believes that VanDrunen should have consulted creedal and catechetical material, and if he had, he would have found in the Heidelberg Catechism, for instance, no such distinction between the redemptive and creational rule of Christ. Mind you, the logic here is unclear since Kloosterman affirms the Kuyperian distinction between the church as organism and church as institute. This dualism, though, is a good one that disallows distinguishing between the rule of Christ inside and outside the church. Apparently, for Kloosterman, Christ rules everywhere and everything through the church, both as institute and as organism. He goes on to quote John Bolt to show that the purpose of the church is to restore the world to its creational, God-intended course – as if that could happen short of judgment day. This is another way in which the church is part of the means by which Christ rules all things.

But the point that needs to be underscored is Kloosterman’s poor reading of Heidelberg:

. . . the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Q/A 50, deals with the session of Jesus Christ: “Why is it added, And sitteth at the right hand of God? Because Christ ascended into heaven for this end, that He might there appear as Head of His Church, by whom the Father governs all things.” Surely in the history of interpretation, the church has understood this answer to acknowledge that God the Father rules all things through Jesus Christ, the incarnate, risen, and ascended Savior of the church! Especially the Scripture references undergirding this answer, Ephesians 1.20-23, Colossians 1.18, Matthew 28.18, and John 5.22, teach us that this confession of Jesus as Lord of all is eminently biblical.

Moreover, such royal activity accords with what we confess in Lord’s Day 12, Q/A 31, that Jesus Christ is our eternal King, who governs and defends us. To my knowledge, no interpreter of the Heidelberg has argued that the incarnate, risen, and ascended Jesus Christ is eternal King 9 of 11 of the church only. Rather, this incarnate, risen, and ascended Jesus Christ is eternal King of the universe!

Well, VanDrunen (nor does any 2k advocate) say that Christ is lord ONLY of the church. What kind of reading skills do Christian day schools teach (and do they give refunds)? What 2k advocates argue is a distinction between Christ’s lordship over those who do not confess him as lord, who do not bend the knee in worship, and those who do trust in Christ and are members of his church. That would appear to be an important difference – for instance, how Christ is lord of both Tim Keller and Tiger Woods. 2k teaches that Christ is lord of each man, but not in the same way. And the different rule is apparently what the very author of the Heidelberg Catechism had in mind when he explained the second petition of the Lord’s prayer in his commentary:

A kingdom in general is a form of civil government in which some one person possesses the chief power and authority, who, being possessed of greater and more excellent gifts and virtues than others, rules over all according to just, wholesome and certain laws by defending the good and punishing the wicked. The kingdom of God is that in which God alone rules and exercises dominion over all creatures; but especially does he govern and preserve the church. This kingdom is universal. The special kingdom of God that which he exercises in his church consists in sending the Son from the Father, from the very beginning of the world, that he might institute and preserve the ministry of the church, and accomplish his purposes by it that he might gather a church from the whole human race by his word and Spirit rule, preserve and defend it against all enemies raise it from death, and at length, having cast all enemies into everlasting condemnation, adorn it with heavenly glory, that God may be all in all, and be praised eternally by the church. (Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, pp. 632-33) [emphasis added for the reading impaired]

So contrary to Kloosterman’s claim that “we” know of no interpreter of Heidelberg who says that Christ is lord only of the church, I know of one author and interpreter of Heidelberg who does something very comparable to what Calvin does and what VanDrunen observes in Calvin. Surely, we could expect better theological scholarship than this.

And we find better theological scholarship in another Dutch-American Reformed theologian. Louis Berkhof follows Calvin and Ursinus in making a distinction between the universal lordship of Christ (Tiger Woods) and the special rule that he extends over his church (Tim Keller).

The Kingship of Christ over the universe is subservient to His spiritual kingship. It is incumbent on Christ, as the anointed King, to establish the spiritual kingdom of God, to govern it, and to protect it against all hostile forces. He must do this in a world which is under the power of sin and is bent onthwarting all spiritual endeavors. If that world were beyond His control, it might easily fustrate all His efforts. Therefore God invested Him with authority over it, so that he is able to control all powers and forces and movements in the world, and can thus secure a safe footing for His people in the world, and protect His own against all the powers of darkness. These cannot defeat His purposes, but are even constrained to serve them. Under the beneficent rule of Christ even the wrath of man is made to praise God. (Systematic Theology, pp. 410-11) [more emphasis added for neo-Calvinists]

Unless I missed something, Berkhof is talking about a rule by Christ that governs the works of all men outside the church (Tiger Woods) in such a way that nothing will ultimately harm those whom he governs as redeemer (Tim Keller). That sure sounds like a rule as creator that is universal rather than a rule as redeemer that is particular. After all, Tiger Woods does not know Christ as lord and redeemer (such as we can tell from the media). But Christ is still lord of him, the PGA, and Woods’ sponsors. That lordship is substantially different from Christ’s rule over Redeemer Presbyterian Church NYC (even if I wish that rule were a little more on the order of Reformed governance).

I don’t know why that is so hard to see. Calvin saw it. Ursinus saw it. Berkhof saw it. Kloosterman misses it. And that means that he is digging a deeper hole for himself the more he digs in against VanDrunen and 2k.


33 thoughts on “Act Two, Scene Two: Cheap Shot

  1. The bifurcation in HC50 is stark! Otherwise Ursinus might have written, “Because Christ ascended into heaven for this end, that through Him the Father governs all things.” I guess we all see what we want to see.


  2. David, your bumper sticker response is not exactly clear. But if you’re trying to suggest that 2k teaches that Christ does not govern all things, you haven’t exactly caught the point of the post. Christ governs Tiger Woods and Tim Keller. And he rules them differently.


  3. One has to be careful not to be overly harsh with the Dutch Reformed tradition as well. The Protestant Reformed Church in America has been sounding the alarm for years about how the three points of common grace leads to Amyraldianism, Arminianism and liberalism. If Westminster Theological Seminary is any example it would appear that the Dutch criticisms were on the mark.

    The Christian Reformed Church is now accepting ministers who are either Amyraldian or overtly liberal. What next?

    I am personally not a fan of Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, Norman Shephard or the Federal Visionists which evolved from their theologies.

    Sincerely yours in Christ,

    Charlie J. Ray


  4. Let us also remember what Jesus had to say about the “two kingdoms”:

    Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36 ESV)

    It does not seem to support the common grace doctrine of cultural transformation in the kingdom of the world.

    We should remember as well what 1 John has to say about loving the world or its “kingdoms”:

    (John 15:19 ESV) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
    (James 2:5 ESV) Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
    (1 John 2:15 ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
    (1 John 3:1 ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

    The fact that God is sovereign over the entire universe and in control of both good and evil (Isaiah 45:7) does not remove the fact that we are not to be part of the kingdoms of this world. We are to be prophetically calling the world to repentance, not jumping on the bandwagon of socialism, socialist reform, or political agendas of sinful rulers.



  5. Darryl,
    Sorry about being overly brief. When I looked at HC50 I personally saw the doctrine of 2K. I was trying to make the point that it was clear enough that the term “all things” includes the church, but Ursinus mentions the church, thus showing a special headship on one hand and a general headship on the other hand. I don’t know how I might have gotten across that Christ may not rule all things.

    Normally when ordering an omelet we don’t say, “I would like that with cheese, bacon, mushrooms, AND everything else.” We would be direct and say, “I would like that with everything.”


  6. Charlie, who says that the kingdom of God of the Kuyperians is the kingdom of this world? This is a grave error and a bit of question-begging, if you ask me. The kingdom of God, announced and inaugurated by Jesus, is anywhere where His kingdom authority is recognized, i.e. anywhere where kingdom citizens do what they do (everything they do) in the name of Christ and for the glory of God (whether eating or drinking, living according to their chief end). Indeed, there is still a kingdom of this world where opposition or indifference to the kingdom of God exists. And, even in the church and in the saints, the antithesis cuts through (wheat/tares, Romans 7:14-25) so that worldliness in the bad sense is present. (And, of course, God is sovereign in even the kingdom of this world!) But, please, let’s have a little more sensitivity to the diverse meanings of certain Biblical words: kingdom, world, etc.


  7. Terry, and it might be good for you to reflect on levels of meaning with the kingdom, as in the keys of the kingdom. Who has the keys of the kingdom? Why do some have them and not others? And what would the keys of the kingdom mean for “kingdom work”? I don’t see many neo-Calvinists dealing with the keys of the kingdom or taking seriously the kingdom those keys open and close.


  8. Darryl, not sure I see the problem. All members of the church are citizens of the Kingdom of God and all citizens of the Kingdom of God are members of the church. The keys of the Kingdom apply to both and are exercised by the church (elders and courts of the church). You don’t think neo-Calvinists practice church discipline? Huh?

    But the work of the church is narrower than the work of the kingdom. One is narrow and limited to the marks of the true church and regulated by scripture. The other is as broad as creation itself. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it!


  9. Terry, you haven’t yet grasped the difference between Christ’s lordship over Tiger Woods and Tim Keller. Surely there’s a difference. And surely the lordship over Tim Keller is eternal and spiritual and more important ultimately than the lordship over Tiger Woods. You make it seem like I deny Christ’s lordship over creation. I do think it is different and since Tim Keller will go to heaven and Tiger (from what we know) won’t, I tend to think the keys of the kingdom are far more important than any kind of dominion over putters and drivers. In sum, I believe that neo-Cal’s trivialize redemption by extending it to areas that don’t need to be redeemed. They are good and God providentially oversees them. Golf does not need to be saved.


  10. Interesting quotation from Sandy Finlayson’s book, Unity & Diversity:
    “He [James Begg] believed that the churches’ warrant for engaging in social action was a proper understanding of the Ten Commandments.”
    And quoting from The Record [The Free Church of Scotland magazine, Dec. 2010]
    “He included campaigning on issues as diverse as education, the suppression of drunkenness, improved housing, public washing houses and bleaching greens, land reform, and a more effective response to crime. Like Guthrie and Chalmers, Begg’s belief in Christ’s Kingship over Church and State meant that the Church should respond and be involved in different areas of life, not just the spiritual and theological.”

    Not sure if they meant the Church qua Church, or the members thereof, or the Church financially aiding enterprises for those purposes. Surely it doesn’t seem too radical to do this. And the point was not “transformationism” (or whatever the pejorative term is) but the point was obedience.


  11. I’m still not sure you’ve got neo-Calvinism quite right. I’m not sure that anyone would dispute your sense of priority here. That’s not to say that a Christian can’t glorify God by exercising dominion over putters and drivers. I must admit that the pietist in me wants to say that the way we exercise dominion over golf is to do less of it and to spend less money on it and to use the water in more just ways. Perhaps moderation is the keyword here. (And for what it’s worth, I am a golfer.)

    I’m reading David’s new book and I was glad to see that I didn’t have to go very far to find out where our differences are. Frankly, I’m shocked to find them. As he notes, it’s all beginnings and endings. And we disagree profoundly. He posits no continuity (other than the resurrection body) between the present age and the age to come. He sees that as God’s plan from the beginning, i.e. that Adam would have entered a completely different world than the one God originally created had he entered into eschatalogical glory.

    Indeed, this is a “low” view of creation. The new heavens and new earth are a renewed heavens and a renewed earth. Judgment of the old is a purging, a refining of the old (clearly stated in the Belgic Confession). No wonder culture isn’t important if it’s all going to go away. I’d like to see a defense of this protology/eschatology in Calvin, Hodge, Warfield, even Machen. This seems bizarrely novel.


  12. Terry,

    Isn’t the glorified resurrection body a different world from the garden, or do we return to a covenant of works where we are able to sin or not to sin? If the former, then it sounds like more than just renewal to me. Does the dissolution of the institution of marriage in the eschaton necessitate a low view of creation (or at least a low view of marriage)? If so, then our Lord himself has such a low view (e.g. Mark 12:25). Perhaps then we are better off sticking with Jesus’ “low views” than to posit “high views” of our own invention?


  13. Darren, yes, of course. No Kuyperian that I know of says that we return to the covenant of works (or that we are exercising dominion in a covenant of works fashion). Where VanDrunen got that idea is beyond me. Culture building is a response of gratitude as are all good works. We will be confirmed in our righteousness in eschatological glory. The glorified resurrection body is what Adam would have had had he passed his probation and been confirmed in eschatological glory. In the new heavens and new earth, we will be in a state of “not able to sin”. Why is that not possible in a renewed heavens and renewed earth where purged/refined cultural activity continues? And why does some change and discontinuity mandate complete change and discontinuity? That’s just a non sequitur. Yes, there is no marriage; yes, there is no sin and death; yes, there are resurrected bodies; and yes, some of this happens dramatically when Jesus comes again.

    Isn’t the eschaton inaugurated with the coming of Christ? So we are living in the Spirit by the principles of age to come in the here and now. We are experiencing the first fruits of life in the age to come. Indeed, we are in unique times in that the old age is still with us. We “only” have the first fruits and not the fullness, but the age to come is already here and we wait the final end of the old and the fullness of the new. I think that’s another reason to argue for continuity. The breaking in of the age to come happened in the created realm. And Jesus himself brought the power of the kingdom to bear in the created realm.


  14. Terry, as Darren remarks, it’s hard to find greater discontinuity than between the creation of man and woman for marriage and procreation and resurrected bodies complete with genitalia and no marriage outlet in the new heavens and new earth. You seem to be incapable of envisioning a different order. You seem to cling awfully hard to the forms of the here and now. That sort of white-knuckling was not a good posture when Jesus came. I suspect it won’t work real well when he returns.


  15. Terry, it’s not low. It views creation as good. You’re the one who thinks it needs to be saved. That means it’s unregenerate. In avoiding dualism neo-Cals have failed to retain the common as opposed to the profane or the sacred. And given my time in the CRC, they weren’t doing a particularly good job of retaining the sacred. Can you tell me of one Dutch-Kuyperian tradition that has stayed on the straight and narrow after drinking the elixir of world and life view. (I actually think that most Dutch Calvinists like Kloosterman are in denial about the history of their tradition in the USA, Canada, and NL.)

    Culture is good. It’s not ultimate. And it doesn’t need to be ultimate to be good. I’m still waiting for that perspective to emerge among the neo-Cals. I’m content with creation. It’s you guys who want to change it into something redeemed.

    BTW, the novelty really is on the neo-Cal side. VanDrunen’s book on nat. law and 2k shows this definitively.


  16. Nice piece here:
    You seem to have changed your and Machen’s tune.

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say I think creation needs to be saved. The fallenness of man results in the spoiling of creation. The impact of that spoiling is resisted by the Kingdom of God. That which is good remains and should be received with thanksgiving. Who said anything about “ultimate”? Of course culture is not ultimate, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be part of the age to come.

    I’m also not sure how you know that resurrection bodies will be “complete with genitalia”. I can envision a different order–spiritual bodies floating on clouds like angels playing harps and singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” 24-7. I just gave up that vision when I became Reformed and learned that life in the age to come will be on the (re)New(ed) Earth.


  17. Terry,

    My examples were not meant to build an entire eschatology, so I’m not sure where you got the idea that I’m pursuing the case to non-sequitur ends. As far as I’m aware, I haven’t claimed that there is zero continuity. If you must know, I claim agnosticism on the exact level of continuity because that’s not terribly clear to me from Scripture, much seems quite speculative as far as culture is involved. I tend to like to focus on what is clearer and less speculative in Scripture, which as far as I can tell, happen to be the discontinuities.

    I wanted to see if you would acknowledge a mix of continuity and discontinuity and where the balance would fall. As it is, it sounds to me like you are claiming near-absolute continuity with a few exceptions. And I’m still wondering why the case for continuity is so overwhelming when the few exceptions are extremely clear and significant examples of discontinuity. Perhaps I can turn your question to you: Why does some continuity (and at risk of sounding like a fundy Biblicist, could you please point out some NT examples of cultural continuity so we have something concrete to ponder) mandate near complete continuity? Is that not at least as non-sequitur as some change mandating complete change (although again, it seems to me that glorified bodies and lack of marriage is at least very significant change)? Perhaps we can pursue things with a bit more circumspection?

    Did Van Drunen say we return to the covenant of works? I’m unaware since I haven’t read him yet. Although I know Van Drunen and Horton and Johnson, and while you seem to think Van Drunen is way different, they seemed pretty much the same to me, last I interacted with them, though maybe I’m wrong. But it does seem like unequivocal talk of restoration without major qualification implies returning to the covenant of works. That is why I asked the question because all the language you were using did not seem to discount that possibility until you clarified in your last post (thanks for that, btw… it shows to me that your position is actually not as far from the 2Kingdoms as your protests would seem to imply). Maybe something in your initial presentation can demonstrate the strong discontinuity in this regard?

    I agree that for a Christian, culture-building (as any activity) should be a response of gratitude, as all actions of Christians should be, to his glory. But what should be isn’t always what is; is not legitimate culture building happening through believers and unbelievers alike regardless of their gratitude? I’m not even sure we can count gratitude as a major factor in culture-building, as self-boasting idolatrous ambition seems to have worked pretty well in the academic, corporate and technology sectors at least. As far as I can tell, that was Kline’s point about the common sphere and common grace — a high view of creation precisely because legitimate culture still arises, despite the fall, apart from redemption.

    Although we have to be careful with “high” and “low” since those are relative terms. I think we’d agree that we want to be Biblical, and both “high” and “low” become undesirable places to land, relative to the Bible’s teaching!

    Yes and amen to your last paragraph, except “I think that’s another reason to argue for continuity.” Yes, but continuity in what? In the heavenly kingdom/the age to come, yes continuity there; while this present age is passing away, discontinuity there. I’m sure you’re aware of the Vossian bi-stability plot/hysteresis graph/Schmidt trigger that diagrams the overlap of ages. You acknowledge that something continues and something discontinues; isn’t that the responsible way to present things? But to insist that continuity is culture-building, and anyone who doubts it is absolutely wrong, seems non-sequitur to me.

    Yes, Jesus brings the power of his kingdom (which is not of this world; John 18:36) to bear in the created realm, but how does that power come to bear? In the political conquest of geographic territory and dropping of bombs? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s even in the reconstruction projects after all the bombs have fallen; those too shall pass away. It’s in terribly ordinary Word and Sacrament on the day of the week sanctified as holy that Christ is primarily building the lasting New Creation in his holy people.


  18. DGH:
    I think Jesus may have done more “social action” than you give Him credit for. As for Paul, I think he obeyed the commandments pretty well, once he was converted. We are to do good to all men, esp. those of the household of faith. A Proverb states, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” However, I don’t think Paul had a superfluity of funds to do a lot.

    Is social or political action outside the realm of the Christian man or woman? You’ve said it’s OK. Even your hero (and mine) J. G. Machen stood up for his libertarian viewpoint politically. Nothing wrong with that. And he was a very generous man.


  19. “Eliza,” well, no it’s not wrong. But you have avoided the concern. 2kers are defective for not advocating transformation. Paul and Jesus did not advocate transformation. 2kers are wrong for following Jesus and Paul. And again I say huh?

    As for Jesus’ social action, where, when? Do neo-Cal’s ever invoke Scripture or is it just a lot of inspiring Reformed historical action figures who believed in Jesus?


  20. The problem with all liberals is they are more concerned with this world, theology from below than with the eternal destiny of the soul. This life is temporary and God’s absolute predestination will not change no matter how arrogantly idolatrous man becomes.

    For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ESV)

    All of our efforts to transform culture and the world are vain in comparison with eternity. We fight to ignore our mortality and our impending death. I was amused recently to witness a debate between three atheists and three theists. William Lane Craig and Richard Dawkins were among those who were in the debate. The logical conclusion of this life from below is of course atheism.

    Without divine revelation from above and a reminder that this brief life will soon be over there is no purpose to the universe or life here below. It is essentially an exercise in futility.

    Neo-Calvinism, if history proves anything at all, leads to Socinianism, Universalism, and Atheism.

    Sincerely yours,



  21. 1. Jesus did care for the material needs of people, but naturally spiritually needs were/are paramount. The feeding of the 5,000 comes to mind. Miracles also served the purpose of attesting to Christ’s deity, but I don’t think He only had this as His “ulterior motive”. I think He was genuinely good.

    2. Machen said, “Instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God.” Not sure if that qualifies for the blog’s definition of “transformation” or not, but it doesn’t not appear to be quietism.

    3. Machen even recommended “Church schools”, something I think you and/or many of your colleagues would eschew, as the running of schools being not part of the calling of the church.


  22. After listening to those who lean towards life and culture transforming Neo-Calism I am beginning to think that giving up the idea of life and culture transformation is like a substance abuser giving up his addiction. And like the person giving up the idea that the Holy Spirit’s work is not confined to Law, Gospel and Sacrament. They squirm and come up with some sophisticated arguments of why this is not so in order to hold on to their precious ideas and convictions. I am not sure who is more faithful to the truth of scripture, confession and historical Christian faith convictions. VanDrunen seems to have made his case pretty clearly that R2K is what the Reformed have adhered to historically and is not the novelty here. Now Kloosterman and other Neo-Cals are saying they are more faithful to the confessions and historical Christian faith. Is a divorce eminent or is a theological council necessary to discipline one side of the debate? And what will prevent a power struggle from taking place at that theological council? Seems like intense problems are looming on the horizon to me. Or, because this is not a matter of critical salvific debate do we allow ourselves to differ on the matter without any discipline coming into play?


  23. “Eliza,” Jesus would have cared for the needs of a lot more people had he not been crucified. Then there is the problem of the perfume and how much money could have been raised from its sale to support the poor.

    I too with Machen would recommend Christian day schools, if that’s what you mean by “church” schools (a no no for any serious Kuyperian). What I object to is people making support for church schools an article of faith.


  24. John, my own sense is that the anti-2ks talk a good game about how these disputes are a matter of the gospel. But it’s like their rhetoric about transforming culture. When you look at what counts for transformation, it’s very thin. So the rhetoric is important, not the reality. Which suggests to me that these disputes will go on and nothing ecclesiastical will happen because the anti-2ks are more content to use rhetoric than to do anything.


  25. I hear you Darryl- now how about that football question I have over at Good and Necessary consequence. I want to be able to harass you when the Bears beat up on the Eagles today. Although my confidence is holding up on thin ice.


  26. DGH:
    1. Jesus did show His compassion by His good deeds, and immeasurably by His death. The latter is not our calling. I’ll refrain from commenting on what I consider your snide remark about selling perfume for the poor.
    2. I’m not sure what Machen meant by “Church schools.” I presume he meant schools somehow associated with particular churches, perhaps financed with the help of them, or run in accordance with the doctrinal standards of the churches.
    3. My name is Eliza, so no need to use quotation marks around it. I’m just not giving my last name.


  27. Eliza, but healing the blind is our calling?

    Look, you brought up the Free Churchers doing work of social betterment. Now you’re trying to carve out some basis for that in Christ’s work. So what about Paul and the rest of the apostles. What agencies did they establish that are the basis for what Presbyterians committed to the establishment principle did in the 19th century?


  28. As you well know, showing compassion is certainly part of our calling.
    Jesus went about “doing good”. So should we. Paramount is the proclamation of the gospel, but while we are still on this earth, if we do not show compassion for others, we have no right to call ourselves Christians. How that works out in different people’s lives will be different. Was Machen doing social good in opposing tyranny or was he just looking out for himself? Probably the former. What about “Church schools” he recommends? I don’t see Paul telling folks to set them up. Do you think that means that “Church schools” are therefore wrong?


  29. Eliza, Machen was acting as a citizen. He was not trying “to show” compassion.

    Right, Paul doesn’t tell people to set up church schools. But Nelson Kloosterman does and he questions whether 2k folks are Reformed if we don’t tell people to set up Christian schools.


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