Back by Popular Demand

Okay, one person requested a return to this golden oldie, “What We Owe Presbyterians (or, Presbyterian Justice)” (Dec. 9, 2010):

Tim Keller’s new book, Generous Justice, has him giving answers to reporters and bloggers’ questions about his argument and reasons for writing. One of those interviews came out recently at Christianity Today, under the title, “What We Owe the Poor.” Part of his strategy, as he explains, is to move people who are not convinced by the Ron Siders and Tony Campola’s of the evangelical world about the institutional church’s call to engage in social and political affairs. As such, Keller hopes to show than experience of God’s grace will inevitably lead to actions on behalf of the poor.

What those actions should be in each person’s case could differ widely. Most Americans when hearing about the poor immediately think of soup kitchens, donations, what to do when greeting a homeless person, and possible charitable organizations that provide needed services. In other words, justice for the poor should involve selflessness, taking from what you have and giving to someone in need. For Keller, caring for the poor seems to be a matter of delegating to others. As he explained in his interview with Kevin DeYoung to a question about his own personal pursuit of generous justice:

we have an excellent diaconate that works with those in need within our community. In addition, years ago I helped a group of people establish “Hope For New York,” a separate but closely aligned organization, that helps our church members give of their time and money to the needs of the whole city. As I say in the book, many churches who work among the poor establish a 501(c)3 often a “community development corporation” to do much of the direct ministry to people in need.

I wish Keller had said what his answer implies, namely, that he does not do much beyond work with and encourage others who get their hands dirty. There is no reason for a pastor to be engaged with the poor directly since he is called to other work, holy work, and since God gives different gifts and callings to members of the body of Christ. But that kind of explanation might have given an out to every other Christian who reads Keller’s book, has a full-time job, but lacks a session or diaconate to whom he can delegate his compassion. Such a person might compare his pay stub with the budget of the federal government’s Health and Human Services and conclude that he is doing as much as his pastor for the poor.

Despite this anomaly, Keller does expound a useful definition of justice. Typically we think in terms of law and order, righteousness and wickedness, as in let’s rid Washington of injustice and institute a holy and godly society. But Keller hearkens back to a classical idea where justice is “giving people their due.” “On the one hand that means restraining and punishing wrongdoers. On the other hand it means giving people what we owe them as beings in the image of God.” In which case, justice involves everything from “law enforcement” to “giving to the poor.”

Law enforcement and giving to the poor seem fairly unimaginative ways of rendering justice in this fuller sense. Other examples might include how to treat a young boy with exceptional intellectual gifts who is deciding on schools, an older woman with years of experience in child rearing or professional service who is contemplating what to do with spare time, a Senator in his home-state office who has no time to meet with constituents on a given day, a professional baseball player during the off season in an encounter at the airport who appears to want anonymity over recognition, or an auto-mechanic (see I didn’t go with plumbing) on a hot afternoon who is flummoxed by GM’s engine computers and has yet to work on your car.

In other words, a fuller account of justice might actually lead Christians to think in terms of the Shorter Catechism’s explanation of the fifth commandment: justice is “preserving the honor and performing the duties belonging to everyone in the several places and relations as superiors, inferiors, and equals.” One reason Americans likely shy away from this part of the catechism as a guide to justice is that we don’t care for those bits about superiors and inferiors. Be that as it may, preserving the honor and performing the duties would seem to cover Keller’s fuller definition of justice and while allowing for specifics instances of civil law and care for poor persons.

But why does justice for Keller only seem to extend to matters of politics or society? What about an expansive view of justice for the church, as in Presbyterian justice? What would it mean for a Presbyterian pastor to preserve the honor and perform the duties belonging to him in relation to session, presbytery, elders, General Assembly, and deacons? What would it mean also for a Presbyterian church member to do justice to the laws of his communion regarding the teachings of the confession on worship, the Lord’s Day, and Christian liberty? Furthermore, what would it mean for a Presbyterian church planter to do justice to rich people who give for the sake of establishing churches that will adhere to Presbyterian teachings and practices? What would it mean for a Presbyterian elder to do justice to those communions with whom he is in fellowship by virtue of ecumenical relations? And what would it mean for a Presbyterian denominational executive to do justice to the work of Presbyterian ministers who labored in years past to create a certain pattern of church life and teaching ministry that followed biblical teaching?

Obviously, I have my own answers to those questions. But the bigger point is why a larger conception of justice, even a generous one, does not seem to extend across the board, all the way to the claims that bind officers and members of Reformed churches by the vows they have taken to be received into fellowship and to render certain services.

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87 thoughts on “Back by Popular Demand

  1. Darryl,

    Your expanded notion of justice that focuses on doing one’s duty in his respective callings and relations dates not only back to the Shorter Catechism but also to Augustine who noted that there are limits to loving our neighbor as ourselves, or in Keller’s parlance, helping “the poor.” As John Mueller points out in his ground-breaking book, Redeeming Economics (ISI Books, 2010), “we are simply unable to love all persons equally with ourselves when that love is expressed by the gift of scarce means.” In a section that will surely raise the ire of the social justice crowd, John notes that Augustine claims that loving one’e neighbor depends on “the observance of two rules: first, do no harm to anyone, and secondly, to help everyone whenever possible.”

    Augustine’s qualifier, “whenever possible,” is important because all of us have limited means and we cannot possibly meet the demands of, in Tim Keller’s situation, everyone in the Big Apple. As Augustine says, “Since you cannot consult for the good of them all, you must take the matter as decided for you by sort of lot, according as each man happens for the time being to be more closely connected with you.” Or as our Reformed confessions suggest, in our respective callings and relations.

    Mueller further notes that Aquinas, following Augustine’s lead, said that doing our duty inherently involves distinguishing between “benevolence” (wishing others good without actually providing it) and “beneficence” (actually providing for others our of our scare goods). And he quotes Aquinas, “As regards beneficence we are bound to observe inequality, because we cannot do good to all; but as regards benevolence, love ought not to be thus unequal.”

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  2. DGH, I’m surprised you didn’t comment on this quote from the interview:

    “I’m urging Christians not to be so certain that they know how the Bible translates into public policy.”

    That sounds very 2Kish to me. We’ve had discussions on here before about the degree to which Keller agrees with your 2K beliefs. I haven’t read his book yet, but I have a hunch that as someone who respects and admires Keller, but who also agrees with you when it comes to 2K issues, I will find a lot of common ground between you and Keller on this.

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  3. Darryl,
    I was wondering if there is room for civil disobedience under the 2K view? And if so, then in what contexts?

    May I disobey the Nazis by hiding Jews in my attic, for example?

    Aa a minister, may I instruct my congregation that it would be a sin to deny a Jew a hiding place?

    Suppose my wife is a Jew — would a 2K view oppose making such efforts in some sense obligatory? Would your answer change if she is a Jewish Christian?

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  4. Zeke, word and deed is not 2k. Word and sacrament is 2k. Keller sounds 2kish when he doesn’t want to sound Religious Rightish. But he likes the church engaging culture, society, public life, making a difference. He seems to me to be uncomfortable with the church as strangers and aliens.

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  5. Joseph,

    I believe civil disobedience is fine when I am driving and the speed limit is 55. Ba dop bop.

    I don’t like these questions. It’s like the sinking boat, 5 passengers, and only 3 life preservers. What do examples like this prove? They reveal the difficulty of situations that most of us never face. And then are they supposed to be the basis for all ethical decisions?

    It seems to me that civil disobedience is grave and sinful. It also seems to me that we are commanded to protect human life (and most other forms when possible). So whether or not to obey Nazi laws is a definite moral predicament. Simply knowing that the Nazis are wicked does not resolve the matter.

    In this case, I think preservation of human life trumps obedience to civil law, but only by a hair because God has ordained the civil law.

    But I see nothing about this example that would teach modern American Christian kvetchers about the greatest nation on God’s green earth.

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  6. Darryl,

    You’re right that most of us will never face these situations; however, your response was helpful to my understanding of 2K. So, thank you for that.

    Would you mind one more hypothetical (hopefully a little more realistic)? As I understand (and I may have this wrong), it is considered illegal hate speech in Canada to teach all those nasty parts in the Bible about homosexuals. What’s a minister to do?

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  7. DGH,
    Suppose I am a Christian Palestinian in East Jerusalem and not only Israel but immigrant settlers and their patron Christian Zionists/ dispensationalists were making plans to take over my property would it be okay for me protest these actions?

    Couldn’t help myself.

    Peace,
    Rana

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  8. Keller might well sound 2k-ish when he’s, well, thinking along the lines of 2k. Accusing him of not wanting to sound Religious Rightish seems to presume a lot about his motives.

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  9. Joseph,

    I think the minister should first meet with his magistrate to see what can be done. The meeting, ideally, would explain the difference between the spiritual and the civil kingdoms, and that preaching such texts applies to the spiritual realm, the location of the minister’s authority.

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  10. Jeff, it’s not impugning motives at all. It is actually reading what he writes and drawing conclusions. Keller is all about a middle way between the errors of the Social Gospel on the left and those of the Religious Right on the right. It’s clear he doesn’t want to be identified with the Religious Right. That’s not a bad thing. Neither do I. It’s also clear that Keller’s politics do not spring from an Old School Presbyterian spirituality of the church outlook.

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  11. (Joseph, maybe our Canadian friend Wout’s ears will ring soon and give us a tutorial on the lay of Canadian land, which I’m pretty sure would be that, while Fred Phelps would be squeezed, it is not considered illegal hate speech for any religious body to maintain prohibitive teaching on homosexuality.)

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  12. DGH, OK. I retract the “accusation” word. But my point is that perhaps Keller has more genuine 2-k stuff going on up there than mere avoidance of Religious Right-ness.

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  13. I’m not sure Keller has the preaching-against-sin bona fides to avoid sounding like a Social Gospel promoter (disregarding what he rights in his books — I’ve primarily on heard him speak from the pulpit). Last month at Redeemer, after a sermon on “The Life of Justice,” I was instructed to repent for not treating everyone as God’s children.

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  14. Dr. Keller,

    I do not believe for one minute that you would teach that all men are God’s children (and therefore have a right to my possessions), but Dave Bisgrove, one of your associate ministers, after his sermon The Life of Justice had the congregation confess the sin of not “treating everyone as God’s child.” That is neo-orthodoxy at best and universalism at worst. Either way it is problematic. I do realize that Paul quoted Aratas as saying that we are all “God’s offspring,” but 1 John is very clear that if someone does not belong to Jesus Christ, he is a son of the devil. In any respect here is a copy of the Prayer of Confession from that service.

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  15. Hello Dr. Hart,

    Forgive me for the “drive by”, I won’t be making it a habit.

    You said, “It seems to me that civil disobedience is grave and sinful.”

    So then for arguments sake, assuming Rosa Parks was a Christian, you would have advised her against or called her non-violent act of civil disobedience sinful when she refused to be relegated to the back of the bus, and acted against the unjust laws that systematically preferred one group of people to another?

    One more thing, if anyone knows of a response to Dr. Keith Mathison’s December 9 book review on 2k from a 2k proponent I would appreciate a link.

    Peace,
    Rana

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  16. Rev. Keller,

    When I said “after a sermon on ‘The Life of Justice,’ I was instructed to repent for not treating everyone as God’s children,” I wasn’t referring to anything you had preached. I was referring to this Prayer of Confession through which one of your assistant pastors led the congregation.

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  17. Rana, thanks for your response. I am not in the habit to telling anyone what to do (though my wife may have a different impression). So I can’t foresee a reason to tell Rosa where to sit. At the same time, I know her act is an iconic moment in American history and all, but can you suggest why her actions (if she were a Christian) were harmonious with biblical teaching on submission to the magistrate?

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  18. Rana, it looks like “Creed Code Cult” might be attempting a response to Mathison soon.

    Also, in addition to wondering how civil disobedience comports with commands to civil obedience, I wonder what you’d say to the idea that Parks’ America is one that allows citizens to work institutionally to correct laws one perceives to be problematic. My question is why the activistic “leapfrogging to the front of the bus” instead of making appeal to the magistrate? If CVD comes back, I believe his answer once to a similar question was that sitting at lunch counters was necessary to get laws changed so that one may sit at lunch counters. It was a good legal answer, but I was still left with spiritual questions.

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  19. Joseph Hansen —

    Thanks for showing me that line in the prayer of confession. That was a serious theological mistake, though inadvertent, and somehow it got through. I appreciate being told. However, I’m not sure how that brings into question how bona fide all of my preaching against sin. In our preaching at Redeemer we regularly make the Biblical case that not all human beings are God’s children.

    Darryl —

    Since I have materialized on your blog for this post—-You may be right that I don’t fully hold to the Old School’s view of the spirituality of the church, but maybe I’m closer than you think. I hold that the institutional church and its courts should be preaching the Word, not trying to directly make public policy more just. Acts 6 shows the priority of the Word, even over mercy ministry within the Christian community. The doing of justice etc should be done through the work of individual believers or voluntary organizations/non-profits that attack social problems, not through the courts of the church. (These views are all in the Generous Justice book, by the way.)

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  20. Pastor Keller –

    I was very encouraged to read your note above….” The doing of justice etc should be done through the work of individual believers or voluntary organizations/non-profits that attack social problems, not through the courts of the church. (These views are all in the Generous Justice book, by the way.)”

    The reason I found it encouraging is that I hear your name and work periodically invoked to support the “missional direction” of our local PCA church into social service ‘ministries’ that are not Christian. Of course, you should not be held responsible for all the ways that other folks ‘baptize’ their ‘ministries’ by referencing your name and work – you have no control over that. In our local case, these social service ‘ministries’ include…..

    1) uniting our local body, as a worshipping body, with congregations of other religions to serve the needs of homeless families. Of course, since it’s an inter-religion work, integrating proselytization (what we would call evangelization) as an integral part of the work is strictly prohibited as part of the ‘ministry’ by the sponsoring organization. We are publically united, as a congregation, in this work with congregations from Unitarian/Universalism, Reformed Judaism, ardently apostate mainline Episcopalism, Roman Catholicism, etc. Any religion can and does join up. We are told this is part of our ‘Mercy Ministry’ as a church body, showing Christ’s love to others, as a church.

    2) supporting, as a church body, a local secular (not in the Darryl Hart sense but in the ‘non-religious’ sense) food bank that is very indiscriminate in how it gives out resources – supporting situations no thinking Christian would ever directly subsidize. Yet, we are told that supporting this as a church is how we help to show Christ’s love to others. I think not.
    I think it would be helpful in your future writings if a more clear and overt distinction could be made between the ‘mercy’ work that individual Christians and their families are called to engage in on the one hand, and the limited mercy work the church as an institutional body is to render internally on the other hand. I think MIke Horton calls this making clear the distinction between the ‘Great Commission’ (the work of the church), and the ‘Great Commandment (the living out of the Christian life by believers day by day).

    I understand Dr. Horton’s upcoming book next spring (The Gospel Commission) may delineate this distinction, between the mercy work of the church and of the christian as individual/family, more thoroughly – I hope it does.

    Thank you for your ministry.

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  21. Dr. Keller,

    I, for one, am thankful for your willingness and maturity to engage on these subjects. These are difficult issues and perhaps we need to have more open and honest discussion in a spirit of Christian brotherhood. It would probably do us good, and help us to appreciate those who do not hold the same position.

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  22. Warren Hill–

    I don’t feel I know enough, even from your e-mail, to comment on these programs or your local church’s ministry. So I won’t.

    But I don’t think the distinction I am talking about should come as a surprise to anyone who has read much about or watched Redeemer’s work in this area. We have a diaconate that helps people who come to Redeemer. But since our early days, all other ministries to the poor out in the city have been through a distinct non-profit called “Hope for New York” that deploys lots of Redeemer members volunteer time, and is closely related to us, but is very much an independent organization. And this is not an innovation of ours. If you look into the “evangelical community development” movement inspired by John Perkins, it is typical for the urban church to establish an independent non-profit often called a “community development corporation” that engages in programs that help the needy and poor. Usually the membership of the board of the non-profit overlaps with church leadership, and much of the money donated to it comes from church members. But by being an independent corporation, it gets elders out of the business of trying to run social justice programs, and avoids some of the problems you feel. I have seen many inner city churches that ignore this distinction get overwhelmed by the “social ministries”, and they neglect the work of building up and nurturing the flock.

    Again, as I said, this is mentioned in the Generous Justice book.

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  23. The last paragraph of Deneen’s Front Porch Article intersects on the question of meaningful justice. The article also has overtones of the creative centers (which I guess includes NYC) vs. the rest of America tension that comes up during Redeemer discussions, although I don’t understand the issues there.

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  24. Dr. Keller –

    Thanks for materializing – brings to mind Frodo or Bilbo taking off the ring. I’m glad you posted above, because it confirms what I have been saying on here regarding your 2K beliefs. I’ve had multiple discussions on here with Dr. Hart and Zrim in which I’ve made the case that while not 2K (or Old School) to the same extent they are, you are much more in line with their thinking than they suspect. From my experience Redeemer does a good job helping its members serve the community while not straying into matters beyond the biblical scope of the church.

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  25. Zeke, there may be some overlap, sure, but when a church is given the chance to succinctly describe what she is all about there seems to be at once a fine line and wide distinction between Word and deed expressions and Word and sacrament expressions. Word and deed says the church exists “To spread the gospel, first through ourselves and then through the city by word, deed, and community; To bring about personal changes, social healing, and cultural renewal through a movement of churches and ministries that change New York City and through it, the world.”

    But Word and sacrament says, “We are a congregation that is diverse in background, vocation, and ethnicity, but very like-minded in matters of faith and doctrine. Our vision…has been that of a church that is God-centered in worship, with law-gospel preaching that directs worshipers to the story of our glorious and merciful God, who, through His Son, redeemed fallen humanity. We believe the word preached should boldly speak of our sin and depravity, followed by the grace of God and our utter dependence upon that grace. We believe that through the proclamation of the good news of the gospel, the Holy Spirit renews our faith, and fills us with gratitude and reverence so that we do those good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. In addition, the sacraments of baptism and communion are administered as ordained by our Lord to increase our faith and confirm God’s covenant promises.”

    And whatever else could be asked of Redeemer’s Word and deed outlook, and insofar as I never get an answer when I inquire, I remain very curious as to what exactly is wrong with NYC that it needs social healing and cultural renewal.

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  26. ZZ, I don’t know how you interpret what Tim said as 2k. 2kers are three office (some of us even four — pastors, elders, deacons, teachers). I see great confusion of office in what Tim replied:

    If you look into the “evangelical community development” movement inspired by John Perkins, it is typical for the urban church to establish an independent non-profit often called a “community development corporation” that engages in programs that help the needy and poor. Usually the membership of the board of the non-profit overlaps with church leadership, and much of the money donated to it comes from church members. But by being an independent corporation, it gets elders out of the business of trying to run social justice programs, and avoids some of the problems you feel. I have seen many inner city churches that ignore this distinction get overwhelmed by the “social ministries”, and they neglect the work of building up and nurturing the flock.

    The way I read this, elders used to be involved in word and deed. Now they have a non-ecclesial body doing diaconal work. So it looks like there was confusion about what elders should do. And now it looks like Redeemer has delegated diaconal work to a community organization. When you combine this with reports that Redeemer no longer ordains deacons — in order to have male and female deacons (though I don’t know how you’re a deacon when not ordained) — then I am not getting a great sense of Presbyterian justice. And it looks like word and deed ministry is responsible for it.

    Sorry, Zeke, but 2k is keeping the offices and their ministries in place, and preserving the work of the church, not reconfiguring the church for some wider communitarian need. Granted, I’m not confusing Tim with Jerry Falwell. But I see great similarities between Redeemer’s word and deed trope and Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan.

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  27. “Presbyterian Justice” – I can see a whole line of coffee mugs, tee shirts, bumper stickers, etc. with that slogan in the offing.

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  28. Proper discipline is one of the marks of the church — and not just discipline of the members. Discipline also implies proper church order: a church constituted with the biblically mandated officers, properly selected, trained and ordained. Churches, including very successful ones, should be very wary of deviating from the biblical and confessional path in their church order. I fear Redeemer has done or is doing so.

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  29. Zrim said:
    “My question is why the activistic “leapfrogging to the front of the bus” instead of making appeal to the magistrate?”

    This action is meant to challenge the status quo because appealing to the magistrate which holds up the very Jim Crowe laws Parks challenged is like asking for water to pour out from a rock.

    DGH said:
    “At the same time, I know her act is an iconic moment in American history and all, but can you suggest why her actions (if she were a Christian) were harmonious with biblical teaching on submission to the magistrate?”

    Fine, given the Jim Crowe laws of the USA in the 60’s Parks action was not harmonious with biblical teaching.

    Back to Palestinian Christians, and you guys reading can mock the struggle of Christians in Palestine all you want.

    Christian Palestinians in East Jerusalem are 1. NOT citizens of Israel and 2. East Jerusalem is neither part of Israel (unless it is has been illegally annexed by Israel overnight which is entirely possible given Israel’s complete disregard for International Law) under International Law, even the USA does not recognize the lands Israel annexes through Israeli settlements/ settlers colonizing the West Bank. 3. Israel has NO Constitution, zip, nada, nothing, laws aren’t exactly clear and negotiating them is Kafka-esque.

    Christian Palestinians in the rest of the West Bank and in Gaza are also stateless peoples, holding no passport, no citizenship, but in heaven, living under no constitution. If Christians to live in peace, whether Palestinian, American or European, feel their conscience pulling them to support Palestinian survival (as opposed to the Huckabee supporters who support Palestinian forced migration/ethnic cleansing to Saudi Arabia -which btw would be throwing Christian Palestinians out of the frying pan and into the fire given Saudi’s laws at least in Palestine they have freedom to worship), and choose to spend a year volunteering in Palestine and see this as an act of loving their neighbor before jumping into the American rat race or spending their summers/ vacations volunteering in causes they believe in what’s the fuss?

    Maybe I am understanding you wrong, but it seems much is written to discourage interest in/ acts of social justice. I get the OPC history, read the book twice, even got choked up about the fight, but in this world those are not the only battles we fight. Would I rather be pleading for God’s mercy and justice in prayer with the church, actually I would, but I have yet to find a church (since our attendance in the Anglican church) where these prayers exist or where such prayers would be welcomed.

    DGH said in post:
    “But Keller hearkens back to a classical idea where justice is “giving people their due.”… On the other hand it means giving people what we owe them as beings in the image of God.” In which case, justice involves everything from “law enforcement” to “giving to the poor.”

    … a fuller account of justice might actually lead Christians to think in terms of the Shorter Catechism’s explanation of the fifth commandment: justice is “preserving the honor and performing the duties belonging to everyone in the several places and relations as superiors, inferiors, and equals.” One reason Americans likely shy away from this part of the catechism as a guide to justice is that we don’t care for those bits about superiors and inferiors. Be that as it may, preserving the honor and performing the duties would seem to cover Keller’s fuller definition of justice and while allowing for specifics instances of civil law and care for poor persons.”

    I’m not clear on how “giving people their due”/ “it means giving people what we owe them as beings in the image of God” is different than “preserving the honor and performing the duties belonging to everyone in the several places and relations as superiors, inferiors, and equals” given the discussion we’re having about obedience to the magistrate and those in authority, etc.

    Your comments on being engaged in the work of the church are greatly appreciated. The only problem I see is the focus of your exposited definition is on officers in the church, member involvement is limited (and I think this is where Zrim always likes to make points, what was that Karate Kid quote Zrim? something like “being still is not the same as doing nothing”), and in Keller’s defense, I’ve only listened to “The Reason for God”, his target audience was/ is not church officers but rather young, educated people who were coming to his church with a myriad of issues.

    Respectfully,
    Rana

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  30. And I should have added, in agreement with DGH, that properly ordering a local church is one of the ways we can “do justice” to those churches with which we are connected. Deviation or violation of denominational or confessional standards hurts/affects many churches besides the one doing the deviating.

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  31. Rana,

    Yes, I understand the “water from a rock” difficulties that may come with appealing to a magistrate who may also disagree with you. But that is actually part of my underlying point: with no disrespect intended for those who suffer, I actually see more dignity in obediently living with legal imperfections than in disobediently fighting them. I know, easy for someone to say who theoretically wouldn’t have to live with certain legal imperfections. But as you admit, Parks’ actions simply weren’t harmonious with biblical teaching.

    So, yes, being still is not always the same as doing nothing. Being still may actually the most active thing one can do.

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  32. Zrim,
    I am not advocating anyone disobey their magistrates but I am not going to condemn them when they do either, as I have a log in my own eye that blinds me so who am I to pick a splinter from the eye of another.

    I also agree with you that there are other legal ways to work within the laws of the magistrate and I in fact, utilize those venues as you may know, and I think in regards to Palestine most Christians organize, demonstrate and engage in non-violent actions within the framework of the ever changing laws Israel decrees because no one wants to see the inside of an Israeli prison.

    Peace,
    Rana

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  33. Rana,

    I see where you are coming from here, and where I usually am in agreement with Zrim and DGH on a whole host of issues, I take the concept of civil disobedience or conscientious objection in a slightly different direction. I am not totally against all forms civil disobedience, or even revolutions. There may be some cases where obeying a nation’s law violates either NL or one’s conscience, in which case an individual under extraordinary circumstances or severe duress may exercise their liberty and choose disobedience. Practically, change can happen through these sort of measured or timely actions. One must understand that this-world affairs are precisely that, and must determine if the passing realities of this world are worth the risk inherent to civil disobedience. This precondition of civil disobedience entails that the one contemplating this must accept that they are rebelling against a God-appointed authority and they should not be surprised if things go badly, and they must also accept that the conditions for which they rebel might actually get worse. So, they must have a clear sense of what the consequences of their actions might be and whether the “higher good” they seek is worth the consequences they (or those associated with them – e.g. family, friends, etc.) might incur.

    And I have got to say, the divine right mentality among so many who engage in civil unrest is highly unfortunate. The fact is that those who seek some sort of divine approval for political action of just about any kind engage in a sort of “Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty” as if they understand the role of Providence in the governing of the world. We have to remember that for every Rosa Parks and Boston Tea Party, there is also a Tienanmen Square, or LA Riots of 1992 LA Riots and scores of lynchings (and similar silencing tactics). Revolutions, political reform, etc. might sometimes the byproduct of a few who are bold enough to stand to prevailing authority, but these are the province of this world, and as such it’s nearly impossible to justify them as an absolute good or to explain away some of the unintended or unfortunate consequences of revolt.

    With all of this said, and I suppose this might sound ironic, I am generally not in favor of most civil unrest. After all options are considered, civil disobedience rarely results in bringing improvements to the secular realm that could not be brought by legal means. For Christians, this is always the best option, since we risk rebelling against God when we rebel against the authority he has invested to human governments, even though they are fallen. So while it is a viable option, it is not desirable, and it should be an option pursued in only the most dire circumstances. So when Schindler defies the Nazi’s to save the lives of not a few Jews I think he does a good thing – when a religious zealot opens fire on an abortion clinic, more harm than good is done. FWIW, that’s my two cents.

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  34. Jed,
    “We have to remember that for every Rosa Parks and Boston Tea Party, there is also a Tienanmen Square, or LA Riots of 1992 LA Riots and scores of lynchings (and similar silencing tactics).”

    Are you citing the civil disobedience of the Boston Tea Party as a generally positive example and the civil disobedience at Tiananmen as a generally negative example of civil disobedience? I’m a little curious what your criteria is.

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  35. Darren,

    I am not passing judgment here, simply contrasting “successful” instances of civil disobedience with “unsuccessful” ones. The successful ones seem to be celebrated, and a source of inspiration to some who contemplate this sort of activism. But, my guess is more often than not civil uprisings end more like Tienanmen than they do like our Tea Party.

    In terms of revolutions that work, it seems the American founders were willing to put their money where their mouth was and assemble an army, form a government, etc. in order to see their civil action through. As far as the validity of the American revolution – that’s the real question. Was it valid, or were the Americans guilty of disobeying the magistrate? I tend to think it actually was valid, since all other forms of diplomacy had failed and the Colonies were unable to obtain fair representation in the British gov’t. It wasn’t as if their first resort was war or declaring independence. By the time you have a movement willing to form an alternate government you aren’t talking about lawlessness or anarchy. The lawfulness of this political conflict was decided along generally agreed upon modes of dispute between governments – war. They won, legitimizing the legality of their actions – had they lost the war, the founders would have been convicted on treason charges and hanged like petty criminals. The founders knew what they were risking and they went ahead with their plan. In terms of historical precedent, the American Revolution was fairly unique.

    Tienanmen seemed to be more of an ad hoc proposition. The students were ill prepared for the Chinese response. Does that make Tienanmen wrong or right – no. It does demonstrate the lack of planning and leadership to affect lasting change – so right or wrong it failed.

    Does that help?

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  36. Zrim: So, yes, being still is not always the same as doing nothing. Being still may actually the most active thing one can do.

    Just to throw a wrinkle in here: It’s one thing to turn one’s cheek (commanded!). It’s another thing entirely to stand aside when one’s family is threatened (not commanded, seemingly discouraged).

    So civil disobedience on behalf of oneself seems fairly crystalline. Civil disobedience for the sake of one’s family, less so.

    For example: we agreed earlier that a runaway slave simpliciter may well have not been justified. But a slave who runs away with her child, in order to protect her child, might well have been.

    Ditto a slave who refuses to acknowledge her first marriage broken just because the master sells her.

    What I’m getting at is that competing norms can arise and one may well have to prioritize.

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  37. Jed,

    I don’t see anything in the nature or the scriptures that entitles people to a representative form of civil government. And the “we won, so we were right” argument seems to lack a certain something normally present in convincing arguments.

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  38. Joseph,

    The problem is that Scripture isn’t clear on what form of government any particular nation ought to have. The monarchies, empires, and city-states contemporaneous to Israel were never condemned for their forms of government. I realize that this is a sticking point and I don’t begrudge those who disagree with me, but I don’t see the formation of new nations or new forms of governments as something forbidden in Scripture. Those who do this usually have to go to war for it, and I unconvinced that a Christian cannot participate in the formation of a new nation, so long as they are willing to pay the consequences should they fail. In a certain respect the political legitimacy of their action hinges upon their success, and should they fail, submission to God would be manifest in surrender to the magistrate and the consequences of revolt. So long as a Christian understands the dire stakes, and conscientiously sees the risk as worthwhile, I would have a hard time calling his action sinful – from a wisdom standpoint I would call it risky. Like I stated earlier, there are very few conditions where I would actually support this sort of action, but it isn’t inconceivable that there are scenarios out there that I would under the right conditions. Had I been a Colonial American, I would have a hard time disagreeing with the founding fathers, their political arguments carried a lot of weight then, and they still do today. But this is my opinion as an American, as a Christian my priorities lie elsewhere.

    I have personally gone back and forth on the implications of Romans 13 to our own American Revolution, not because I am so radically committed to justifying America, but because the issues surrounding our independence from Brittan are so complex in terms of Biblical warrant. The fact of the matter is that Brittan lost its sovereign prerogative to prosecute the Americans as treasonous insurrectionists because they lost the war. America legitimized the legality (in human terms) of their actions by winning on the field of battle. It wasn’t as if they were overthrowing a government to then allow anarchy to prevail, they were intent on forming a new nation, and they did just that. Whether or not this was right or wrong is up for legitimate debate. However, as soon as the Treaty of Paris (1783) was ratified some time after Cornwallis was defeated at Yorktown the US became a sovereign nation, and her Christian citizens owed her submission where only a few years later they had owed submission to the crown. So in temporal terms it isn’t too much of a reduction to say that America was legitimized because she fought for and won her independence. Christians at the time of the Revolution were divided on the issue, and they continue to be – I chalk this up to a difference of conscience rather than Scriptural mandate. I am also open to changing my position if I see a compelling reason to do so.

    But the fact is that over the last 2000 years Christians have been involved in conquests, revolutions, and the formation of new nations. Whether they served in the Roman army, the Holy Roman empire, the Anglo-Saxons, the Normans, Americans, etc, etc, etc, they had a hand in the ever changing map. I am not so quick to write this off as rebellion to scripture since Christians can serve as soldiers, or as legislators. The distinction between a 1000 year old empire or a fledgling group of revolutionaries with aspirations of founding a new country is a bit arbitrary in terms of legitimacy, possibly the younger one has a better reason for existing than the new one and a form of government more just and conducive to the citizens.

    The arguments for the legitimacy of the American Revolution are political ones, not Scriptural ones. I personally don’t think one could or should give Scriptural justification for this-worldly affairs, because I don’t think Scripture (or the general equity of Romans 13 more specifically) apply here. Romans 13 seems to have more to do with how one should submit to established governments, not the means or basis by which one would go about establishing a new government.

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  39. Jeff, I’ll see your wrinkle about civil disobedience and raise you one about cultic disobedience: competing loyalties may well demand that one disobey her magistrate for her family’s sake, but she may well have to abandon or disobey her family for her Lord’s sake (Luke 14:26). So the slave who runs away with her child in order to protect her child might also have a child who rejects the faith and bids her mother to do the same but must choose her Lord over her daughter; or the child may have a mother who doesn’t share her faith and is antagonistic so must rebel and choose her Lord over her mother.

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  40. Right, also agreed.

    I was thinking about it in the car and realized that protecting one’s family is the lowest level of “subordinate magistrate civil disobedience” as Calvin talks about in Inst. 4.20. Which in turn caused me to reassess Frame’s thesis that government is an extension of the family — not quite as “out there” as it first seems.

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  41. It’s still out there for me, since in my 2k mind while sovereign spheres may overlap one over another they do not extend one from another. This latter notion seems to be what allows some to think that schools are also extensions of the family and thus play some part in co-creating human beings along with the home. But sorry, sola familia means that only parents make human beings, not teachers. Homes make, schools educate, governments rule and churches redeem human beings.

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  42. I know what you’re saying. The biggest defeater for me had been that God sanctions government seemingly without reference to family in Rom 13. And that’s still true, but it’s less of a defeater. For if we consider how government develops, both historically and in Scripture, it appears to be along family lines.

    AND

    Most importantly, the parents are authority figures, a legitimate government over the family unit (think about how important this is for your slogan of sola familia)

    AND

    Intriguingly, the Westminster divines took the 5th commandment as the departure point for duties owed to superiors.

    So there’s more to Frame’s concept than meets the eye. Not saying he’s fully right; it still doesn’t pass the gut check test. But at least now I can appreciate what motivates the idea, whereas before I was saying “What?!”

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  43. Lots of talk about justice by Christians who confess the Westminster Standards and live in twenty-first century America; fifty comments with the eminent Bob Patterson leading out, followed by his host, Darryl Hart; then the man presently known as Prince; they all subscribe to the Larger Catechism which states the duties required by the Sixth Commandment: “The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.”

    Fifty comments by the most eminent among us filled out with accolades from their admirers and nary a word about the 1,300,000 unborn children slaughtered on our doorsteps, blood running in our gutters and bones in our dumpsters year after bloody year, decade after obscene decade.

    When the question of conflict with the civil magistrate is brought up, examples are sodomites, Palestinians, African Americans, and Third Reich Jews.

    Not a word about the unborn. Not a word about the greatest injustice in the history of man.

    Well over a billion victims felled by this bloody oppression and neither Darryl Hart nor The Prince can quite remember it. The murders are carried out on their doorsteps day after day, many by souls in their congregations, but in a discussion of justice and civil disobedience, that particular injustice doesn’t quite make the cut. It’s not in their memory bank. It doesn’t tug at their minds or hearts.

    This silence screams.

    Love,

    Like

  44. Tim,

    I understand and appreciate your hatred for abortion and this isn’t merely lip service to what follows, it is a hateful and ugly reality that colors the dark underbelly of our culture. I used to use the same sort of rhetoric as you, but there is a problem with it. It has been utterly ineffective in stopping abortion. If it were effective, I would be the first to stand up and applaud you for your bravery in addressing such a grotesque evil. However, the reason why it doesn’t work is because you are trying to indict a culture that is utterly inoculated to your rhetoric. You can picket abortion clinics, hold up graphic images of mutilated bodies, speak of the ills it inflicts on the whole of society, and you know what – they do not care!!! However truthful your message might be, it falls on deaf ears. What makes this worse is that you assume that if someone, a minister, a historian, a theologian, or an average Joe like me doesn’t match your level of “commitment to the cause” they are willingly complicit of the crime. It is borderline bullying and it’s not convincing.

    I have read enough of your blog to know you are adamantly against abortion, and feel free to correct me if I misrepresent you here since that is not at all my intent, but you seem to leave little room for other modes of dissent. The problem is that there are other valid ways to be against abortion. One can support alternative pregnancy centers (which I know many 2kers do so in that virulent hotbed of evil dualism in Escondido) which actually saves lives. Others realize that this secular problem can only be overturned by secular means. The task of establishing arguments for personhood and human rights for the unborn have to be won in bioethical and legal arenas. These venues will likely have no tolerance for prophetic rhetoric or over-the-top condemnations, it is already an uphill battle to begin with. This involves persuading the very people you are burning at the stake with your rhetoric. It might appease your conscience to be shouting mad over abortion, but it isn’t saving lives and it hasn’t been since the inception of Roe v. Wade. From my own limited perspective, those who are making the most progress are comparatively making the least noise.

    I wonder, if indeed abortion is such a burning burden for you, which it is clear from what writings of yours I have read, maybe it is time to step down from the pulpit and into a more active role in seeing it addressed. But you will still face the same balancing act between passion, practicality, and reality. Maybe this could mean short term compromises, or achieving smaller victories in order to save lives before the whole problem is solved. This is just one guy’s opinion (and not a very important guy at that), but heaping a whole lot of guilt upon those here, who with little exception oppose abortion, even if differently from how you do is quixotic at best and a fools errand at worst and it ends up being wasted words to us and to the unborn that you are so intent on saving. But accusing your brothers of blood-guilt because we don’t apparently hate this evil as much as you do seems over the top, and frankly unproductive.

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  45. Tim, so are you saying that you are more righteous and holy than all of the eminences here? Seems so. But what if I trump your righteousness with my own protests about the deafeningly silent disregard for the first table of the law, the way that pro-life people will desecrate the Sabbath, or allow Mormon and Roman Catholic idolatry to go unchecked in this greatest nation on God’s green earth? Or what of the strange fire of praise bands? I understand that love of neighbor is important. But where’s the love for God?

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  46. >>Tim, so are you saying that you are more righteous and holy than all of the eminences here?

    No. Rather, I’m warning against the worship of men that’s crossed over from Evangelicalism to the Reformed world.

    Concerning the Sabbath, my brothers and I have made it a habit to observe the Sabbath as our parents did before us. In the past ten years, though, I’ve been conforming my own practice more to that of John Calvin than the Puritans.

    Concerning Mormon and Roman Catholic idolatry, I’m with you and have seen a number of souls turn away from our congregation because we preach against Roman Catholic heresy.

    Concerning praise bands, one of these is not like the other.

    As for the love of neighbor and the love of God, keep in mind the discussion concerned love of neighbor, hence my raising of the absence of love for the unborn.

    Love,

    Like

  47. Tim, you sure are cryptic in your love. I thought the point of your comment was to point out that no one here mentioned the wickedness that is abortion. Turns out your point was more about taking down the eminences who commented here so that no one worships them. Fair enough. But the last I checked the OPC had not turned me into the poster boy for the denomination the way that your communion has esteemed Tim Keller.

    I too see a difference between praise bands and taking innocent human life. But I’m not sure the example of Nadab and Abihu would let any of us take too much comfort from that distinction.

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  48. Dear Darryl,

    Sorry. In the future I’ll try to stay moron point.

    Concerning praise bands, I’m no advocate. But worship should be in the vulgar tongue.

    Merry Christmas, dear brother.

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  49. Tim Bayly, it seems sort of passive-aggressive to storm in and rage irrelevantly about abortion, have someone respond to it and then stomp back home to respond for fear of highjacking. And confusing.

    But your standing beef here and at your house is over alleged silence. It’s weird how activists conceive of a different way of engaging to mean silence and then re-define silence to mean tacit approval, which is a variant of “if you don’t care the way I care then you don’t care.” Huh? This is exactly how my old Bible fundamentalists used to behave and speak, yet I’m sure you’d snort at the idea of Reformed fundamentalism. But if your MO isn’t Reformed fundamentalism then I don’t know what is.

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  50. Steve Zrimec,

    It’s rare for me to be accused of being passive aggressive, but you know, you may be right.

    As I see it, those Reformed pulpits that are silent in the face of the slaughter of a billion unborn babies do not indicate the minister’s silent approval. He’s almost certainly against abortion, philosophically, but his opposition to abortion is trumped by his terror of being perceived to be moralistic or a chest-thumper or a member of Jerry Falwell’s fan club or broadly evangelical or zealous or pious or stupid.

    Under God’s mercy,

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  51. Tim Bayly, the thing is though that you have said, and to my knowledge haven’t retracted, that those who practice silence (which I take to mean don’t do things like preach sermons to Presidents about their political policies like you do) are unfaithful. So maybe you don’t take the tack that “silence is tacit approval,” but it seems to me you make up for it by suggesting something even more potent, unfaithfulness.

    But it may be that some consider things like sermons to Presidents about their political policies to be a gross violation of a doctrine they hold dear, the spirituality of the church. You know, there are some who feel more or less about current American war policies the way you do about current American reproductive policies. But they also wouldn’t dream of preaching a sermon the President about it. Are they too unfaithful cowards?

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  52. Dear Kate,

    Church of the Good Shepherd was founded in the Spring of 1996. Six months later I was called as pastor. We are confessional, subscribing to the Westminster Standards with an exception allowing freedom of conscience on time and mode of baptism. About half of us are credo and half paedo-baptist. With fifteen to twenty births a year, we’re regularly able to celebrate the baptism of covenant children in our Lord’s Day worship.

    Love,

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  53. Rev. Tim Bayly,

    How would you characterize Federal Vision theology? Federal Vision theology is (please, select one or more options):
    a.) false doctrine
    b.) no big whoop
    c.) true, depending on what one means by “FV theology”
    d.) true
    e.) [fill in the blank:__________________________]

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  54. Joseph, do you consider your question to be:
    A) irrelevant
    B) irrelevant
    C) irrelevant
    D) (fill in the blank)_____________ & irrelevant

    Also, an error isn’t very serious if it simply requires a pastor to “leave” a Confessionally Reformed denomination rather than come under some form of discipline….hmmmm…so now I’m wondering about your anti-FV street-cred.

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  55. Craig,

    It’s irrelevant because this wall is devoted to the topics: justice, Reformed Protestantism, Tim Keller, Word and Deed? Or because Darryl’s post was about ecclesiastic justice?

    You should question my confessionally reformed street-cred (I’m getting there), not my anti-FV street-cred (I’m already there).

    In any case, the topic of the Baylys & FV did surface recently on this blog, and since one of the Bayly brothers surfaced as well, I thought I’d put it to him. My question was phrased poorly, I admit. So, if it pleases you, excuse the digression.

    Rev. Bayly?

    Like

  56. >>It’s irrelevant because this wall is devoted to the topics: justice, Reformed Protestantism, Tim Keller, Word and Deed? Or because Darryl’s post was about ecclesiastic justice?

    Perhaps you’d like to explain the connection between Tim’s opinion of FV and the post and discussion at hand?

    >>You should question my confessionally reformed street-cred…

    Thanks for the heads up. Now I’m definitely questioning your anti-FV street-cred.

    >>In any case, the topic of the Baylys & FV did surface recently…

    Okay. Neither of them are FV. You asked a broad question that doesn’t have a universal answer. There is no unanimity among FVers on certain things…except maybe a near denial (or actual denial) of the Covenant of Works…which has implications regarding the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer. Since there is no unanimity, the FV should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, not on the ambiguity of “being FV”, but on the distinctives that may deny biblical truths expressed in the Confession. This requires understanding and knowing at what point a man is “outside the bounds”.

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  57. Craig, the explicit denial of FV is fine and good. But what I find interesting amongst most 2k critics of whatever degree is that most demonstrate a latitudinarianism as opposed to precisionism on baptismal sacramentology (i.e. Tim’s reply to Kate). This coupled with the idea that notions of cultural redemption are implicit variants of law-gospel confusion make explicit denials of FV less comforting. That, plus generally propping up ministries of known FV sympathies.

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  58. >>But what I find interesting amongst most 2k critics of whatever degree is that most demonstrate a latitudinarianism as opposed to precisionism on baptismal sacramentology (i.e. Tim’s reply to Kate).

    Throw it against the wall, lets see if it sticks. Maybe instead of having FV sympathies, Tim is too baptistic.Of course, if he was gung-ho “you gotta baptize them babies pronto!” he’d be labeled a baptismal regenerist…after all “why be so insistent?” Everything will always point to where you want it to, Steve Zrimec.

    >>This coupled with the idea that notions of cultural redemption are implicit variants of law-gospel confusion make explicit denials of FV less comforting. That, plus generally propping up ministries of known FV sympathies.

    You have the onus to demonstrate the former “notion” and explain what it means and how Tim’s views express that.

    As for the second: take some pepto.

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  59. Zrim,

    The latitudinarianism as to sacramental theology in some anti-2K folk I think may be more historical than necessary. Doug Wilson’s church in Moscow, Idaho (formerly Community Evangelical Fellowship, now Christ Church) went through an confusing period where Doug became paedo-baptist and began instructing his church along those lines, but then he was swayed back to a baptistic position and pushed the congregation the other way. Finally he returned to a paedo position and has been paedo ever since. So, even to this day, there may be certain families at Christ Church that are baptist (not sure about that though). In any case, it’s easy to see how this sort of waffling likely went a long way to the CREC allowing member congregations the same flexibility as to baptism. I don’t know that other neo-cals (ones who lack FV sympathies) would show the same sacramental latitudinarianism as those who are related to the Moscow-Idaho-centered movement. All that to say that, I think there is a coincidence here of postmillenialism (making them ardently anti-2K) and the sacramental latitudinarianism (coming from the historical anomaly explained above).

    Moral of the story: even smart guys should probably go to seminary, seek ordination from an established ecclesiastical body, not plant a church in their mid-twenties, and not found their own denomination.

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  60. Craig,

    I think the FV advocates are being dealt with on a case by case basis – in the church courts of their respective denominations. Most have simply decided to leave for the CREC instead of standing before their respective ecclesiastical bodies. Also, we all know that Tim Bayly and his brother have stated that they are “not FV-ers.”

    Suppose there rose up among the reformed, a group who advocated the Book of Mormon as another source of divine leading. Of course, the reformed denominations would not tolerate that and ministers would be brought up on charges or would leave voluntarily. Those who never signed-on to that error will stick around. Some of them might disagree with the error, but also think that it’s not worth fighting about and not worth disciplining ministers over. I was hoping Rev. Tim would help us understand if he considers FV theology bad enough error that a minister who adheres to it should rightly come under discipline.

    To me, this does seem relevant to a discussion of ecclesiastical/ Presbyterian justice.

    FV leaders never stop with their claim that “we are not all the same,” yet they remain affiliated with extreme advocates in the movement. They never stop claiming that they have not been understood, yet a decade of listening (by some of the brightest theological minds in the Church) has passed and the verdict is in.

    You may think Cannon Press is swell, but the leaders in the NAPARC churches think there is real danger.

    For what it’s worth, I have found these resources helpful (and fascinating). Throughout these materials there are references to the fact that not all FV advocates believe everything expressed (thought you’d like that): http://clark.wscal.edu/fvnpp.php

    Btw, I also have friends connected with the FV. So it’s sad to see the division, but I believe the danger of FV is worse than the division. Regarding confessionalism, I’d like to say that I’m there, but right now I don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be “confessionally reformed.” It’s something that I am committed to studying more.

    Blessing.

    Rev. Bayly?

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  61. You have the onus to demonstrate the former “notion” and explain what it means [notions of cultural redemption are implicit variants of law-gospel confusion] and how Tim’s views express that.

    Craig, OldLife once made this argument about cultural redemption being a variant of law-gospel confusion:

    https://oldlife.org/2009/10/03/do-tim-keller-and-norman-shepherd-live-in-the-same-neighborhood/

    As far as how the Bayly’s views are of the culturally redeeming bent, it seems to me that all the huffing and puffing over abortion specifically and general cultural decay sort of speaks for itself as the hard transformative answer to Keller’s softer versions. I know you’re not convinced of that, probably because you’re not 2k.

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  62. A word on usage: it’s improper to write “Rev. Bayly.” If you must use the title, it should be used with both first and last name: “Rev. Tim Bayly.” Otherwise, it’s perfectly proper to write “Pastor Bayly,” “Mr. Bayly,” “Tim Bayly,” or in the give and take of a blog, simply “Tim.”

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  63. Interesting that Tim Bayly came to this thread and made a tangential (at best), inflammatory, self-righteous post, then made a series of responses that didn’t really defend his main point, but focused squarely on his church, his family, his title, and of course, himself. Furthermore, he retreated to his own blog where he can be surrounded and protected by his partisans rather than engage his opponents on their own turf. Seems like someone with courage would stand and fight rather than flee, especially if he really believed his own words. A real man would have the moxy to fight on foreign soil, rather than paper-airplane posts from the safety of his own turret.

    Be that as it may, by Tim Bayly’s logic on the “silence” regarding abortion, Jesus would be a pretty sorry Reformed man as well. He never mentions infanticide or abortion, and in the Greco-Roman world there was plenty of both. Not to mention murder, rape, or homosexuality. I guess those issues just didn’t “tug at His heart or mind” either. Maybe Christ needed a refresher on the LC.

    Of course all of those things listed above are sins, but the point is that they need not be mentioned EVERY single time justice is discussed, and don’t necessarily deserve the attention of an entire sermon or series of sermons. Simply because abortion wasn’t mentioned in this thread doesn’t mean the commenters here support it or don’t consider it an injustice. Flouting the men in this thread for not incessantly railing against the injustice of abortion is a creepily garish display of moralism.

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