A Proposal On Which All Anti-2kers May Unite

I know that not all anti-2kers get along. Heck, the Baylys seem to have banned Rabbi Bret from participating in all the fun over at their free wheeling discussions. Meanwhile, Dr. K., who may be the longest winded of 2k critics has appeal to Bret but may be too Dutch for the Baylys. Then there is the transformer of transformers, Tim Keller, who is not outspokenly critical of 2k but whose theology confuses the kingdoms on route to the polis. And despite Keller’s desire to Christianize the culture, it does not measure up to the standards set by the Baylys, Rabbi Bret, or Dr. K.

So I propose the following statement as a basis on which all transformers, left or right, theonomic or benevolently imperial, Geneva or Big Apple, may unite (no fair doing a Google search to look for its origins):

God’s redeeming work in Jesus Christ embraces the whole of man’s life; social and cultural, economic and political, scientific and technological, individual and corporate. It includes man’s natural environment as exploited and despoiled by sin. It is the will of God that his purpose for human life shall be fulfilled under the rule of Christ and all evil be banished from his creation.

Biblical visions and images of the rule of Christ such as a heavenly city, a father’s house, a new heaven and earth, a marriage feast, and an unending day culminate in the image of the kingdom. The kingdom represents the triumph of God over all that resists his will and disrupts his creation. Already God’s reign is present as a ferment in the world, stirring hope in men and preparing the world to receive its ultimate judgment and redemption.

With an urgency born of this hope the church applies itself to present tasks and strives for a better world. It does not identify limited progress with the kingdom of God on earth, nor does it despair in the face of disappointment and defeat. In steadfast hope the church looks beyond all partial achievement to the final triumph of God.

“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”


43 thoughts on “A Proposal On Which All Anti-2kers May Unite

  1. First post on oldlife, but I’ve been reading for a while.

    Merely a point of curiosity, but where does that excerpt come from?


  2. Maybe Charles Colson? If it is he has come a long way from being Nixon’s hatchet man to a man seeking ecumenical unity among those who would normally disagree about some very critical issues.


  3. I am pretty sure that I read this in the PCUSA Book of Confessions. Was it the 1967 Confession (I think that is the date)?


  4. It is 1967. Most writers in the PC(USA) just plagiarize Rauschenbusch anyway so I was half-right.

    This would not work though despite the chuckles from the R2K crowd. I sometimes think no one actually reads primary sources anymore.


  5. Rick, it is indeed. That is why I have a hard time reading neo-Cals and transformers without thinking what happened to liberal Presbyterians. You might think the anti-2kers would have enough sense at least to qualify their assertions of Christ’s Lordship — “well, we don’t mean what the liberal mainline meant.” But they don’t and consequently they don’t seem to understand that well-qualified statements about Christ’s Lordship or Christ and culture lead to liberalism. It did happen to the CRC and at least the good Rabbi and the bad Dr. you would think would know the potential problem.


  6. I think most who oppose R2K would best united on the following (no Googling):

    It is upon this brotherhood of twice-born sinners, this brotherhood of the redeemed, that the Christian founds the hope of society. He finds no solid hope in the improvement of earthly conditions, or the molding of human institutions under the influence of the Golden Rule. These things indeed are to be welcomed. They may so palliate the symptoms of sin that there may be time to apply the true remedy; they may serve to produce conditions upon the earth favorable to the propagation of the gospel message; they are even valuable for their own sake. But in themselves their value, to the Christian, is certainly small. A solid building cannot be constructed when all the materials are faulty; a blessed society cannot be formed out of men who are still under the curse of sin. Human institutions are really to be molded, not by Christian principles accepted by the unsaved, but by Christian men; the true transformation of society will come by the influence of those who have themselves been redeemed.

    Thus Christianity differs from liberalism in the way in which the transformation of society is conceived. But according to Christian belief, as well as according to liberalism, there is really to be a transformation of society; it is not true that the Christian evangelist is interested in the salvation of individuals without being interested in the salvation of the race. And even before the salvation of all society has been achieved, there is already a society of those who have been saved. That society is the Church. The Church is the highest Christian answer to the social needs of man.


  7. Eliza – Das ist too easy. DGH probably knew the answer before you even finished typing. I figured it out in the 1st two sentences. The last three clinched it for me. I guess those have resonated and percolated in the sub-conscious because I haven’t read the source in quite some time.

    Valuable citation.



  8. ” Human institutions are really to be molded, not by Christian principles accepted by the unsaved, but by Christian men; the true transformation of society will come by the influence of those who have themselves been redeemed.”

    This is the sentence which I think pc-2kers take issue with. Implied in this is that it is the Christians duty and responsibility to redeem society. Does salt and light really redeem a society? Do individual Christians redeem anything? Christ redeems his elect in the Church and Christ rules the world’s culture’s in his Providence. Salt and light preserves society and culture’s until Christ comes again in judgement. Can you refute that with anything that the New Testament teaches us about the Kingdom of God?


  9. It’s probably early Machen- but Machen while he was still partial to Kuyper. From what I have heard Darryl say to others is that Machen became less convinced of the Kuyperian agenda the older he got.


  10. Eliza, it is Machen and do you really want to abide by everything Machen writes in Christianity and liberalism, such as his libertarianism, such as his critique of utilitarian uses of Christianity, such as his brief for strict subscription?

    But I actually don’t think that all opponents of 2k agree with Machen because Machen is saying that the church is the basis for the transformation of society, and with what he says elsewhere about the difference between Christians and the visible church (not taking stands on political matters) the resemblance between Machen and anti-2k fades noticeably. Since Machen did not believe the church needed to redeem television or radio, and since he is saying here that the real change in society will come when all citizens are members of the visible church, I don’t see how you can get every square inch — from plumbing to politics — out of this quote.

    But nice try.


  11. Ben, I don’t know if you’re accusing 2kers of ignorance, but if you are I don’t think it will work very well for you in this case. You see, in 1967 the PCUSA (actually UPCUSA) was the most neo-orthodox that it ever was. That means they were tracking with Barth and Niebuhr who regarded Rauschenbusch’s Social Gospel and kingdom building as naive.


  12. DGH:
    Yes, of course it’s Machen.
    I think it’s a good explanation of the way liberals (like PCUSA) and conservatives differ in this matter.

    Worthy of a post may be either: Richard Gamble’s review of “To Change the Word: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World” by James Davison Hunter in The American Conservative Feb. 2011; or Hunter’s book itself.


  13. Dr. Hart,

    With all do respect I grew up in the PC(USA) and was within about 6 months of being ordained in the PC(USA) and graduated from a PC(USA) seminary.


  14. Eliza, come on. If it’s only conservatives or liberals, either converting everyone or the church redeeming society, then why do so many conservatives attack 2k? There is another option — conservative vs. liberal New Schoolers, and then Old Schoolers distinct from all those efforts to have the church or Christians take charge of social reform. After all, Machen was clear that the church should not take any stand on political or social matters. That was the Old School position throughout the 19th century.


  15. Dr. Hart,
    Be honest. There’s a wide gulf between “Anti-2k” and “Anti-R2k as espoused by Darryl Hart.”


  16. The neo-Cal of Kuyper is different and it continues to frustrate productive discussion that DGH and DVD is so insistent on conflating quite disparate alleged neo-Cal groups.

    Because it has the antithesis! Kuyper with common grace and no antithesis is good old liberal social gospel. I will grant that some (but not all) expressions of CRC neo-Cal seem to have forgotten about the antithesis and thus some of the critique is valid.

    Despite its liberal and neo-orthodox roots, the Cof1967 has much that an orthodox Reformed person could assent to, including the bulk of the passage cited. (How many of us have actually read it?) Remember, the genetic fallacy is a fallacy, so who cares if something true is affirmed in an otherwise problematic document. Of course, neo-Cal isn’t the complete Reformed confession. In fact, it was only 5 points of 18 (and one of those 5 was antithesis) that I used to summarize CRC faith and history in an Adult Ed course I taught last fall.

    I grew up in the UPCUSA and discovered conservative Presbyterianism only in my college days. While not a pro like brother Darryl, I have made the history of American Presbyterianism somewhat of a hobby. I do hope that all of us experience the sort of remorse that I experience. I’m not sure who first said it but the line goes something like this, “Mother Kirk may be a whore, but she’s still my mother.”


  17. Terry, not sure what your point is. The Conf. of 67 lacks the antithesis but has a lot that neo-cals agree with? If your hobby of American Presby. history includes Old School Presbyterians, you know the Conf. of 67 is a long way from the ecclesiology of the Old School. Those who agree with the Old School also have the most problem with neo-Cals.


  18. DGH:
    Wonder what Machen meant by “the church should not take any stand on political or social matter,” (as you characterize his view)?

    First, what did he (or you) mean by “church” 1. the members of the church acting as individuals or individuals who are members of a certain church; or 2. professors of a seminary or college who are members of a certain denomination; or 3. official statements made by a denomination (like a majority or minority report, which still aren’t binding on members; or 4. What? Since Protestantism has no Pope, what constitutes a “church stand”? As far as I can tell, the only thing my “OPC” stands for is singing.

    Or did he/you mean that the church should not bind the conscience where Scripture does not?


  19. Eliza, he meant the church passing resolutions in support, for instance, of the federal government, at the time of the Civil War (which Hodge opposed on the grounds of the spirituality of the church), and the church passing resolutions in support of Constitutional Amendments (which Machen did in the case of Prohibition). In both cases, the institutional church was going beyond what Scripture reveals. That’s a no no, whether it comes to insisting that to be faithful you must protest abortion or in order to be Reformed you must support Christian day schools.

    But really, if you’re going to hunt in Machen for citations to criticize 2k, isn’t it selective to avoid the quotes that support 2k?


  20. It’s a no no to insist that faithfulness means protesting abortion?
    Are Christians supposed to support it? Be silent?
    Or you mean that one’s church cannot insist on my being present at the Jan. 22 March for Life DC on?
    Not even the RCC demands that.
    Would you agree that a church should discipline a Senator for voting pro-abortion? Just wondering…


  21. Darryl, I know that you will find it hard to believe but I actually do consider myself Old School. I adhere to the spirituality of the church. I don’t believe that properly developed neo-Calvinism is inconsistent with that. It seems to me that you are interpreting neo-Calvinism through the eyes of social gospel liberalism or theonomy. 3 of the key planks of neo-Calvinism (antithesis, common grace, sphere sovereignty) seems quite compatible with your 2k vision.

    There is a difference between the church and what the business of the church is and the rest of life. Christians in all spheres of life are called to carry out kingdom living in those spheres. But this is not the church qua church.

    If I remember correctly, C. Hodge opposed the Gardiner-Spring Resolution not so much because he thought the Unionists were wrong, but because he thought the church qua church shouldn’t take a stand on this issue.

    I’m not defending PCUSA or Cof1967. Though she gave me birth, I’ve long concluded that the departure from the gospel is too severe. The relativistic confessionalism of the PCUSA results in virtually no confession. So, no, I’m not at all supportive of the “eccesiology” of the PCUSA or Cof1967. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t find ome of the language Biblical. I think in general among neo-Cals there’s sloppy use of the word “church”. It was interesting however at the CRCNA synod last year that when the discussion of the church’s response to the environmental crisis came to the floor that there were many willing to distinguish between church as church and church as organism and that church as church really had no authority to address the question. In the end synod shied away from any declarations on the particulars of the climate change debate and stressed environmental problems as a consequence of sin and our call to be stewards of God’s gifts in creation (both clear teachings of scripture in my opinion).


  22. Eliza, what do you think? Do you think a church as church must support abortion? Do you think a church should discipline a senator for “voting pro-abortion” (though I’m not sure legislation comes packaged exactly that way)?


  23. Terry, I’m interpreting neo-Calvinism through the lens of what has happened to the CRC and Kuyper’s own church and university in NL. Glad to hear the CRC stayed clear of environmental policy. But I’d say their batting average on Old School matters is not high.


  24. DGH: According to you apparently the church qua church can neither support nor oppose abortion. Why? Because it is a “political or social issue”. Once an issue becomes politicized or is a matter of social controversy, it seems that you want the church qua church to be silent. Is that your position?


  25. Eliza, what have I ever said that would lead you to say that I think the church should not oppose abortion? I believe that the church should proclaim and minister God’s word. God’s word prohibits murder. dot, dot, dot — I think you can connect them.


  26. So the church should proclaim that abortion is evil…but only to those who enter the doors of the auditorium on Sunday morning or evening?

    You seem to move between–the church can’t take a stand because it binds the conscience of its members to you can’t take a stand because it’s a political or social issue. Hard to figure.


  27. Eliza, what have I said or written that would make you think I believe the church should not proclaim that murder is a sin? Do you answer a question?

    You seem smart enough to be able to figure out a thing or two. You quote Machen. You cite J.G. Vos. So why don’t you actually engage in a dialogue rather than simply try to catch me in a dilemma?

    If a minister proclaims the law on Sundays, and if a communion confesses the Decalogue, why would you actually think that abortion is not covered?


  28. Dear DGH,

    I dropped by to read your blog and see how you were doing (you seem to still be full of vim and vigor from your blog entries!) and say hello, but… it was too much temptation to not comment here and tease you about being a rascal about questions on abortion and the church. 😉

    Personally, I kinda like R.C. Sproul’s solution to what Christians could do about abortion: picket the churches that support abortion. His idea keep growing on me. It’s a solution that might remove the charges of passivity against the 2k Christians in the public square? ;P

    You old turtle-soup friend from Lutherville,

    In case you have not seen this touching interview with R.C. with his son, you can find it here:

    P.S. Have you read Frank Beckwith’s book: Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft and if yes, may I ask your opinion on it?


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