Escondido Theology Before Escondido

In his new book, John Frame argues that two-kingdom theologians represent a novel development in the history of Reformed theology. In his introduction, he goes out of his way to explain that Escondido theologians reject Christendom. But this rejection creates a problem for 2k because the theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries taught that the magistrate had a duty to enforce the entire Decalague. “The two kingdoms view,” Frame writes, “goes beyond the Reformation theology in important ways. Indeed, except for the law/gospel dichotomy, its distinctive positions are American, not European.” (Frame also acknowledges that the roots of two kingdom theology are in Augustine’s City of God and Luther’s On Civil Authority. Go figure.) In fact, Frame goes out of his way to locate Meredith Kline as the source of these views.

What is odd about Frame’s analysis is that the so-called Escondido Theology was a position that Edmund P. Clowney espoused. Clowney was not only Frame’s professor at Westminster during the 1960s, but he was also the president of the seminary when Frame received a teaching appointment. Apparently, Frame did not pay attention to Clowney’s teaching or memos. But Clowney clearly taught the main lines of the so-called Escondido Theology in an essay, “The Politics of the Kingdom,” published in the Westminster Theological Journal in the Spring, 1979 issue (helpfully made available by Ken Myers at Mars Hill Audio, a time when the property for Westminster Seminary California was only a twinkle in Clowney’s eye.

First, notice Clowney’s understanding of the cultural mandate and Christ’s fulfillment of it:

Christ the second Adam fulfills the calling of the first. Adam was charged to fill the earth and subdue it. Man’s dominion, lyrically described in Psalm 8, is realized in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, as the author of Hebrews declares (Heb. 2:5-8). Further, in his resurrection glory at the Father’s right hand Christ fills all things. Paul describes Christ’s filling both in reference to the church (his fullness as his body) and in reference to the world, which he fills with the sovereignty of his rule (Eph. 4:10; Jer. 23:23). In Jesus Christ man’s vocation of sonship as God’s imagebearer is completely realized. The final depth of the covenant relation is not “I will be your God, and ye shall be my people,” but “Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2:7; Heb. 1:5).

Notice next that for the church to engage in political and social activities is to secularize the church and therefore a betrayal of the church’s duty:

Because there is one true people of God on earth, there remains a “theopolitical” structure and calling for the church. It is not the structure of the kingdoms of the world. To apply to the world the form of the church is a sacralizing process that is just as illegitimate as the secularizing process that would apply to the church the forms of the world. Yet the fact that the church does not possess a worldly political structure does not mean that it possesses no political structure whatever. The “politics” of the kingdom are the pattern, purpose, and dynamic by which God orders the life of the heavenly polis in this world. Only as it conforms to this heavenly pattern is the church a city set on a hill, given as salt to preserve the world from corruption and a light to point the way to salvation.

Look also at the way that Clowney deals with so-called mercy ministries in the church (or how the spiritual aspects of Christian existence transcend the temporal):

As a heavenly community the church must deal with the temporal concerns of its members, yet its discipline remains spiritual, not temporal. For example, the church could require a Christian storekeeper to refund purchases that had been gained by misleading advertising, but if the member refused, the church’s final earthly sanction would be excommunication, not economic boycott.

The heavenly community of Christ is called to an earthly pilgrimage. The people of God may not abandon the program of his kingdom—”if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him” (Rom 8:18). Paul rebukes the triumphalists at Corinth: “ye have come to reign without us: yea, and I would
that ye did reign, that we might also reign with you” (I Cor. 4:8). We may not wish to condemn Christians who in persecution that seemed beyond endurance turned upon their persecutors, but Christ does not call his church to Camisard rebellion. Rather, he gives that grace that enabled the Huguenot galley-slave to call his chains the chains of Christ’s love.

Finally, look at the way that church and state authority are distinct because of the differences between Christ’s rule as creator and redeemer:

The distinction between the state as the form of the city of this world and the church as the form of the heavenly city remains essential. Christ’s heavenly authority controls the nations but they are not thereby made his disciples. His headship over all things is distinguished from his headship over the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all (Eph. 1:21-23). To be sure, the life of the worldly kingdoms is influenced by the life of the church in their midst; the people of God are like salt to preserve the world from its corruption; the kingdom works as a leaven, penetrating the world with the influence of Christian faith, hope, and love. . . .

To suppose that the body of Christ finds institutional expression in both the church and the state as religious and political spheres is to substitute a sociological conception of the church for the teaching of the New Testament. Christ does not give the keys of the kingdom to Caesar, nor the sword to Peter before the parousia. The church is the new nation (I Pet. 2:9), the new family of God (Eph. 3:15). The covenantal family of the patriarchal period and the covenantal nation after Moses demonstrate that
the people of God are formed in a way that respects the structures of life in the world, but they also demonstrate that the electing grace of God’s kingdom cannot be fulfilled within these structures.

Maybe Clowney’s problem is that he was not European but American. But the last I checked, Frame was not importing his suits from Switzerland.


213 thoughts on “Escondido Theology Before Escondido

  1. Brother Hart,
    For the love of God please just do a full review of the book in one go and then it’s all out. Attacking the book because of who published it and your dislike of Frame and his theology is just over the top.


  2. Darryl,

    I can’t imagine that the early Reformed theologians didn’t address this subject. I would think they would either be influenced by or want to address the Augsburg Confession of 1530?

    Augsburg Confession, Article XVI: Of Civil Affairs

    1 Our churches teach that lawful civil regulations are good works of God. 2 They teach that it is right for Christians to hold political office, to serve as judges, to judge matters by imperial laws and other existing laws, to impose just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to take oaths when required by the magistrates, for a man to marry a wife, or a woman to be given in marriage [Romans 13; 1 Corinthians 7:2].

    3 Our churches condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these political offices to Christians. 4 They also condemn those who do not locate evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but place it in forsaking political offices. 5 For the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart (Romans 10:10). At the same time, it does not require the destruction of the civil state or the family. The Gospel very much requires that they be preserved as God’s ordinances and that love be practiced in such ordinances. 6 Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to be obedient to their rulers and laws. 7 The only exception is when they are commanded to sin. Then they ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29)

    The different governance of the two kingdoms is implied when we hear of the judging matters by “Imperial laws or other existing laws” and the notion of “just” punishments and wars. This all is grounded in the understanding that God’s way of dealing with the civil realm is through civil righteousness founded upon the law God has written on the hearts of all people.


  3. “Our churches condemn the Anabaptists who do not locate evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but place it in forsaking political offices.”

    The Confessional support for cruelty to Anabaptists assumes a false alternative. It assumes that those churches which forbid their members from the attempt to overcome evil with evil identify that requirement with fear and faith in God. It assumes that the “come out” is the entire duty the anabaptist teaches.

    Could the anabaptists respond like this? “Our churches condemn the Reformed and the Lutherans who do not locate evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but place it in the execution of Anabaptists.”

    My point is not so much to rehearse the errors of Zurich (Conrad Grebel) or of New England (Roger Williams) but to caution us against attributing the confusion of law and gospel to those churches who interpret the law differently than we do. When the Lutherans opposed Charles the Emperor, that is not sedition, but when the Anabaptists do not obey the Lutheran magistrates, that IS sedition? When the Reformers dissent from the pope’s church, that is not “gnostic individualism”, but it is when Anabaptists form their own churches?


  4. Mark, I think you may misunderstand.

    1) Here a specific teaching of the Anabaptists is condemned and it is not a license to harm Anabaptists. Our Book of Concord also condemns Roman Catholic and Reformed teachings which Lutherans do not agree with. Our confessions set out not only what we believe, teach, and confess, but also make clear what we do not believe, teach, or confess in some areas. The Anabaptists’ could very well have condemned teachings that they did not agree with in their confessions of faith – if they had had any. If I understand it correctly, they did not adhere to any confessions or creeds.

    2) The opposition to Charles V was by German princes over the right to preach the gospel freely in the lands they ruled. They petitioned Charles V to do this and the Augsburg Confession was written to show him what they believed and taught. This was not insurrection by the peasants or citizens, but through the lawful rulers and it was over the gospel not a bid for independence or revolution from Charles V. It was definitely not individualistic.

    3) Yes, rebellion against German magistrates would be dealt with as civil disobedience.

    4) Lastly, to accuse Lutheranism of gnosticism is to completely misunderstand what Lutherans believe, teach, and confess. We’re the ones accused of emphasizing the humanity of Christ in his incarnation too much.


  5. Lily,

    Dr. VanDrunen in “NL and the 2K’s” writes on pages 190-191:
    “In other words, Christians are bound to obey ecclesiastical authorities only insofar as they command what Scripture commands, while Christians are bound to obey civil authorities in everything except when their commands contradict a responsibility that Scripture places upon them.

    WCF 20 teaches this doctrine, in a way more explicit and taut than Calvin did, as far as I am aware. WCF 20.1 begins by laying out… Christian liberty is of the essence of the believer’s salvation in Christ. Then WCF 20.2 offers… “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, in matters of faith, or worship.” The WCF, therefore, makes a sharp distinction between the liberty enjoyed by Christians in two different areas, “matters of faith and worship” on the one hand and everything else on the other. The former are the province of the church, not the state, and the latter are the concern of the state, not the church, as other statements in the WCF indicate.

    VanDrunen writes in footnote 141: WCF 23.3 prohibits the civil magistrate from assuming “the administration of the word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” WCF 31.3 gives church synods and councils authority over “controversies of faith” and “the better ordering of the public worship of God” while WCF 31.3 forbids synods and council “to intermeddle with civil affairs, which concern the commonwealth.” Also significant here is the emphasis… that ecclesiastical authority is exercised only “ministerially,” that is, merely declaring what Scripture says. … i.e. no sword wielded by the church.

    VanDrunen concludes the paragraph with: Thus, in both Calvin and Reformed orthodoxy one sees the significance of the two kingdoms doctrine for so central a theological matter as the Christian liberty bestowed in salvation.

    I think, given the historical context of the oppressive nature of the Anglican Church regarding the consciences of ministers, the WCF’s 2K statements are built around the concept of the “liberty of the Christian.” Yet, as VD shows there is a clear 2K understanding in WCF.


  6. Lily, I agree that “gnosticism” is an unfair accusation, be it against Lutherans or Anabaptists who teach the real absence of the humanity of the Lord Jesus. I suppose the group of Mennonites who agreed with the ex-Roman Catholic Menno Simons about the “celestial flesh” should be called docetic, but even that is not “gnosticism”.

    That was my point, that it would be unfair.

    As for the Roman Catholic emperor, I don’t think it made much difference to Charles 5 if those who wanted liberty to preach heresy were individuals or princes. It has often been the case that those who wanted liberty to preach for themselves were not all than keen about others having that liberty. Thus the accusations: we are not individualists but they are. We are not confession-less but they are. And so on.

    The relationship of Lutheran magistrates to anabaptist preachers in their dominions was not that different from the relationship of Hitler to preachers in his….no liberty….


  7. I just remembered my original point. We can disagree about what the law means, but that doesn’t mean that either of us is confusing law and gospel. For example, to leave anabaptists out of it, we could disagree about the liberty to have pictures of the Lord Jesus. But even if you disagree with me about disapproving those pictures, you should not say that my not approving the pictures has become my gospel.

    Schleitheim Confession 6: We are agreed as follows concerning the sword: The sword is ordained of God outside the perfection of Christ. In the perfection of Christ, however, only the ban is used for a warning and for the excommunication of the one who has sinned, without putting the flesh to death – simply the warning and the command to sin no more.

    Now it will be asked by many who do not recognize (this as) the will of Christ for us, whether a Christian may or should employ the sword against the wicked for the defense and protection of the good, or for the sake of love. Our reply is unanimously as follows: Christ teaches and commands us to learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart and so shall we find rest to our souls. Also Christ says to the heathenish woman who was taken in adultery, not that one should stone her according to the Law of His Father (and yet He says, As the Father has commanded me, thus I do), but in mercy and forgiveness and warning, to sin no more. Such (an attitude) we also ought to take completely according to the rule of the ban.

    Secondly, it will be asked concerning the sword, whether a Christian shall pass sentence in worldly disputes and strife such as unbelievers have with one another. This is our united answer. Christ did not wish to decide or pass judgment between brother and brother in the case of the inheritance, but refused to do so. Therefore we should do likewise.

    Thirdly, it will be asked concerning the sword, Shall one be a magistrate if one should be chosen as such? The answer is as follows: They wished to make Christ king, but He fled and did not view it as the arrangement of His Father. Thus shall we do as He did, and follow Him, and so shall we not walk in darkness. He Himself forbids the (employment of) the force of the sword saying, The worldly princes lord it over them, etc., but not so shall it be with you. Further, Paul says, Whom God did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, etc. Also Peter says, Christ has suffered and left us an example, that ye should follow His steps.

    Finally it will be observed that it is not appropriate for a Christian to serve as a magistrate because of these points: The government magistracy is according to the flesh, but the Christian’s is according to the Spirit; their citizenship is in this world, but the Christian’s citizenship is in heaven; the weapons of their conflict and war are carnal and against the flesh only, but the Christian’s weapons are spiritual, against the fortification of the devil. The worldlings are armed with steel and iron, but the Christians are armed with the armor of God, with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God.


  8. Being Reformed being open to revision. Original WCF ch. 23.3

    The civil magistrate hath. . . authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.

    dgh:This is fairly standard language in the Reformed confessions with some invoking Old Testament penal codes and some simply saying the magistrate should enforce both tables of the law.

    The American Revision

    . . . no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

    dgh: Not to be missed is that the revision not only drops entirely the magistrate’s responsibility for suppressing heresy and blasphemy, but it raises the stakes by forbidding laws that would prefer any denomination and insisting that magistrates protect the good names of all people no matter what their religion or their infidelity. It is an amazing change.


  9. Many thanks, Jack. I appreciate your help. Is there anything prior to the Westminster confessions? Any compatriots of Calvin or those who followed him up until the writing of the WC?


  10. Mark, I’m afraid I’m not in agreement with you in these matters. I do try to avoid debating about distinctives in the different traditions at Old Life so I will say no more other than to suggest that you may want to rethink or rephrase one sentence since I don’t think you mean it the way it comes off:

    “Anabaptists who teach the real absence of the humanity of the Lord Jesus.”

    In the passages below, Saint John is addressing the heresy of gnosticism.

    1 John 4:1-3

    Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

    2 John 1:7

    For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.


  11. Dr. Clowney’s remarks sound as if they could come straight out of Dr. vanDrunen’s work on “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms.” I guess this really is an Escondido conspiracy, huh?


  12. Lily, I agree that this is not the time or place. But I did mean what I wrote. I agree with Zwingli about what the ascension of Christ means.

    I should also say that “anabaptists” are not what they used to be. And that the Lutherans and Reformed who wanted toleration for themselves but not for anabaptists are not now who they used to be. This perhaps has both its pluses and minuses.

    Disagreement does not necessarily mean that we don’t understand each other. I hope you know, Lily, that I certainly do believe that Christ Jesus has came in the flesh. Christ has obtained in history a righteousness (there and then) for the elect which God will impute to every person for whom Christ died.


  13. I don’t think it would be good or even possible to deport all the Mormons and papists. But what about every politician who engages in a public display of religion while running for office?

    I guess that would be all of them.

    Sounds good.


  14. Mark,

    Not only is your theology complex and confusing but I bet your wife finds you a bit complex and confusing too; I hope you can laugh at that. BTW, your last post was quite funny. I never knew there was such a thing as a public display of religion.


  15. Mark, I appreciate the clarification that you are speaking in regards to Christ’s ascension. If you do not mind my asking, I’d like to understand if I’m understanding a few of your Anabaptist, Baptist, Reformed distinctives correctly and if this is what you hold to? I’d appreciate your help – it’s confusing trying to understand where you are coming from.

    1. You believe that the Lord’s Supper is empty which means there is no real or spiritual presence received?

    2. You observe the Lord’s Supper because it is commanded and receive a psychological benefit from it by remembering Christ?

    3. You believe the Schleitheim Confession’s 7 articles of refutation are sufficient for a confession of Anabaptist faith?

    4. Like the Anabaptists, you do not hold to the Chalcedon Creeds on the Trinity, Christ’s Two Nature’s, and so forth?

    5. You are not really Anabaptist, but Baptist and hold to parts of the Westminster Confession?

    6. Which parts of the Westminster Confession do you reject, besides the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

    7. Anything else you would volunteer would be appreciated.


  16. Thanks, Darryl, for the (MHA) link to the WTJ piece by President Clowney.

    I hope everyone takes the time to read Clowney’s article carefully. It contains, in typical Clowney fashion, some good biblical theology.

    And it is not saying precisely the same thing that David Van Drunen is, as Richard, above, alleges. Of course, there would be many points of agreement with David, as all the Reformed would have. But there are subtle differences.

    EPC, while distinguishing church, state, and family, sees the ultimate distinction to be, as he puts it, the church “contrasted, not with the family or with the state, but with the world as the corporate structure of unbelief.” This is the classic Augustinian distinction of the two cities, the city of God, built on the love of God to the contempt of self, and the city of this world, built on the love of self to the contempt of God. This is the kingdom of light and darkness.

    The two kingdoms of which you, Darryl, David, and others speak today, as a part of the NL2K project, is certainly related to the two cities of Augustine but is not precisely the same thing. Christians, rightly and joyfully, participate in the two kingdoms as NL2k defines them. It would be Anabaptist to disdain participation in the state (which no Reformed do), but it is Christian to disdain participation in the city of this world, which is not the state as such (though as Clowney admits more related to that than to the church) but which is the “corporate structure of unbelief” manifested wherever unbelief is found, in church, state, or family.

    There is much nuance in Clowney’s piece, because, after all, as Hodge said, this whole church/state business is one of the most complex things. BTW, I am making no comment here at all on Frame’s work as I have not seen it and do not generally find him nuanced with respect to these things.

    And not only do I have no interest in the personalization of this affair (and the unfortunate denominating of this as “Escondido theology”; what do Robert Godfrey and Dennis Johnson think about that?), but I think we need a real dialogue, with less vitriol and grandstanding.

    I take issue with some things in Clowney’s piece but there’s much good here. One thing: I agree with Clowney’s teacher Paul Woolley (yes, one can disagree with one’s teacher) that the state is not a strictly post-fall institution. I think that his discussion of this, and a few other things, is better than some of Clowney here. I am, for your readers, referring to Woolley’s work on Family, Church, and State: God’s Institutions. I think that work has some nuance that NL2K is missing. And I would also urge readers to look at what Clowney says in his piece about the Christian family.

    Yes, there’s much that we agree on as Reformed folk. It’s those sometimes small areas of disagreement that bedevil us, particularly depending on how we treat them.


  17. Lily, I thought you weren’t going to talk about things that divide us. I don’t want to make this about me. I have explained before— though I am “anabaptist” in my ecclesiology, I believe the five soteriological points of “Calvinism” as my gospel.

    Some might say that the gospel is more than the five points, and I would agree ( I do affirm the Nicene and Chalcedon creeds, as would most anabaptists and papists), but the gospel is not less than the five points. I have discovered that when “worldview Calvinists” say it’s more than the five points, they themselves don’t believe the five points (shelf doctrine, as Richard Mouw says). But I do agree that being Reformed is more than the five points, which is why I don’t call myself Reformed. I will leave it to the Reformed to decide if people who disagree with Calvin’s view of the presence are Reformed. (Is Hodge Reformed?)

    So I don’t want to have a discussion now about the Lord’s Supper, except to caution you that disagreeing with the Lutheran teaching of the “communication of attributes” does not mean that non-Lutherans don’t believe in the two natures of Christ.

    To end on a positive note, I could quote you the vast majority of the Westminster Confession with which I do agree. But let me highlight chapter 8:8—“To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.”


  18. Now, when a man has learned through the commandments to recognize his helplessness and is distressed about how he might satisfy the law–being truly humbled and reduced to nothing in his own eyes–he finds in himself nothing whereby he may be justified and saved.

    Here the second part of Scripture comes to our aid, namely the promises of God which declare the glory of God, saying, “If you wish to fulfill the law, come believe in Christ in whom grace, righteousness, peace, liberty, and all things are promised. If you believe, you shall have all things; if you do not believe, you shall lack all things.”

    Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty


  19. Mark, I did not ask you those questions in order to debate your beliefs, but to understand where you were coming from. It can be confusing because you are not part of a tradition whose doctrines hang together as a whole cloth, but is a personal faith that is it’s own authority. It is untethered from a church that is united in what it believes via their formal and personal adherence to specific confessions and creeds. It does not submit to a church tradition and it’s dogma on orthodoxy and orthopraxy. You often are hard to follow because your theology is determined by your own personal conglomeration of doctrines and thus it often seems disjointed and confusing as to what you really believe. I think this quote speaks well on the rights and limitations of conscience in matters of religion and why in trying to understand your points, there is a need to ask more and ask exactly what you mean, whereas with the Reformed, I can pretty much count on where they are coming from and what they believe.

    ‘We concede to every man the absolute right of private judgment as to the faith of the Lutheran Church, but if he has abandoned the faith of that Church, he may not use her name as his shelter in attacking the thing she cherishes, and in maintaining which she obtained her being and her name. It is not enough that you say to me that such a thing is clear to your private judgment. You must show to my private judgment that God’s Word teaches it, before I dare recognise you as in the unity of the faith. ..In other words your private judgment is not to be my interpreter, nor is mine to be yours. ..You have the civil right and the moral right to form your impressions in regard to truth, but there the right stops. You have not the right to enter or remain in any Christian communion except as its terms of membership give you that right.’ Charles Porterfield Krauth (1823-1882)


  20. Darryl,

    I suggest that Rev. Alan Strange has made an important point with regard to the Church as properly contrasted with the world as “corporate structure of unbelief” rather than the family or the state. I agree with him that this is the distinction which Augustine makes and which Clowney, and Ken Myers in publishing his essay, are also making.

    Ken Myers, in his new preface to his book “All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes” makes this exact point in the following quote:

    “The Church anticipates the form of the human race as it will be when it comes to maturity; she is the ‘already’ of the new humanity that will be perfected in the ‘not yet’ of the last day.” So conversion necessarily led to discipleship that had extensive consequences. “Conversion thus means turning from one way of life, one culture, to another. Conversion is the beginning of a ‘resocialization,’ . . . and ‘inculturation’ into the way of life practiced by the eschatological community.”


  21. Alan, I am not entirely sure what you are saying. You seem to suggest that 2k proponents identify the church with the city of God and the state with the city of man. I don’t know of anyone who has done this. What is the case, however, is that 2k theology identifies the kingdom of Christ with the church (as does WCF 25), thus not attributing redemptive categories to cultural activities (another affirmation in Clowney’s piece, especially his notion that Christ fulfilled the cultural mandate).

    So the 2 cities do not like up with the 2 kingdoms. But the 2 cities do teach a basic lesson about the difference between temporal and secular affairs on the one side, and spiritual and eternal affairs on the other. And when it comes to the two kingdoms, the state is temporal and secular and the church is spiritual and eternal.

    In other words, dualism reigns and most of the critics of 2k resist dualism in all forms (after Kuyper allegedly).


  22. But Don, if the world is identified with the corporate structure of unbelief, and culture is an expression of belief or unbelief, how are you ever going to redeem the culture or embody a new humanity apart from the church? In other words, how can you ever say something good about non-Christian art since it embodies “the corporate structure of unbelief”?

    And just to keep you aware of your theonomic impulses, where does your redeemed culture make room for unbelievers? Is tolerance of blasphemy or infidelity (free speech and freedom of conscience) really one of the consequences of a redeemed humanity or a prefiguration of the eschatological community?

    Or could it be that the culture and society of this age looks for an arrangement different from the eschaton even as the church foreshadows the world to come.

    If you blur the lines between culture and church you are going to wind up with a liberal church and a civil religion in the culture. Welcome to 1950s USA.


  23. Sorry, Darryl, for my lack of clarity. No, I don’t think that any Reformed are identifying the state with the city of this world and the church with the city of God, simpliciter (though Clowney does make an analogy, with which I don’t disagree, in his article).

    Rather, I am pointing out that Clowney’s ultimate distinction here is the two city distinction, between those who love God and those who love self. This cannot simply be put into the service of NL2K, however, which is what I understood you in this post to be doing. Clowney does distinguish family, church, and state (as do all Reformed and many others), but his ultimate distinction is not between civil and ecclesiastical kingdoms (as NL2K makes and in which all believers properly participate) but between the kingdom of God (manifested in the church) and the world (as the “corporate structure of unbelief”). His arguments go to the support of an Augustinian schema but not necessarily an NL2K one, NL2K having a related but different specific point than the “two-city” view of Augustine.

    Clowney’s two kingdoms, iow, are not civil and ecclesiastical but church and world (taking the latter in a bad ethical sense). My point was to say that Clowney’s article, while tracking with NL2K in places (as do many of us) is not getting at precisely the same thing as NL2K. And I also wanted to point out that I think Woolley, in his work on these institutions (of family, church, and state) has it better at places than Clowney.


  24. From Clowney’s article:
    The distinction between the state as the form of the city of the world and the church as the form of the heavenly city remains essential.

    How is the “corporate structure of unbelief” of the world expressed except through the organizing structures of the the world, the main one being the state? It seems to me that Clowney sees the state as the main organizing entity which conveys or represents the kingdom of the world, in the same way the church is Christ’s institution on earth that conveys, represents the kingdom of God. I think this is consistent with VanDrunen. People can, and do, debate how the 2K reality is to be practically dealt with as various issues present themselves, but doesn’t Augustine and Clowney both echo the reality of two kingdoms that have separate spheres of authority and purpose?


  25. Darryl,

    I agree with Augustine in the following quote:

    Thus the things necessary for this mortal life are used by both kinds of men and families alike, but each has its own peculiar and widely different aim in using them. The earthly city, which does not live by faith, seeks an earthly peace, and the end it proposes, in the well-ordered concord of civic obedience and rule, is the combination of men’s wills to attain the things which are helpful to this life. The heavenly city, or rather the part of it which sojourns on earth and lives by faith, makes use of this peace only because it must, until this mortal condition which necessitates it shall pass away. Consequently, so long as it lives like a captive and a stranger in the earthly city, though it has already received the promise of redemption, and the gift of the Spirit as the earnest of it, it makes no scruple to obey the laws of the earthly city, whereby the things necessary for the maintenance of this mortal life are administered; and thus, as this life is common to both cities, so there is a harmony between them in regard to what belongs to it.

    This might sound very much like the 2k theory that many subscribe to, but I suggest it is radically different in that the contrast between the 2 cities is a contrast of the object of the “love” of its citizens, not their created order. The 2 are able to live in some degree of harmony, because the desire for peace is a common goal. However, the Bible and history clearly show that the created order is more strongly influenced by one city or the other, such that it is not the arrangement or order of creation that needs to be modified in the eschaton, but the elimination of misordered love.


  26. Darryl, I’m glad to see engagement with Frame’s critique beyond “publications through independent publishers needn’t be taken seriously because they aren’t peer reviewed.”

    FWIW, given a commitment to Enlightenment principles I agree that blurring “the lines between culture and church” will get “a liberal church and a civil religion in the culture.” But I’d also argue that such a commitment will get you a liberal church and a liberal culture anyway.

    The problem I’ve always had with the Escondido Theology is the false conclusion it derives from the temporal nature of the state: that the state ought not to acknowledge the true God or Christ as head of Creation.

    When a church does not call *all* men *everywhere* to the obedience of Christ it has already sold out to the culture.

    And finally, do we really want to agree with Clowney that “the electing grace of God’s kingdom cannot be fulfilled” within / through the covenant family and covenant nation when this is exactly how the Redeemer came into the world (born of a woman, under the law) and accomplished our redemption (exalted on the cross as King of the Jews)?


  27. Alan, it seems to me that Clowney is affirming an ultimate (world and invisible church) and a proximate (church and state, as Jack Miller’s quotation indicates). But I don’t need to go to clowney for a distinction between the temporary and spiritual spheres — I can go to Machen, Robinson, Hodge, Witherspoon, Calvin, Luther, and Augustine (not to mention Gelasius or Gregory VII). The spiritual nature of the church’s ministry, contrasted with the temporal nature of the state’s responsibilities, is part of the warp and woof of the West. Only anti-dualists think otherwise (or that somehow the French Revolution discombobulated the entire heritage of church-state differentiation).


  28. Don, I’m not sure history is as clear as you suggest since Augustine was writing City of God to argue that Christians were not responsible for the fall of Rome. In which case, Christians suffer. Rome falls when Christians find freedom to worship (or even are the state religion). So your conclusion about the influence of Xianity on culture is not exactly evident in Augustine’s circumstances.


  29. Andrew, why, yes, we should agree with Clowney since Christ’s ministry sort of put an end to the monarchy, the temple, and even families — in the sense that any follower of Christ must be willing to leave his family behind.

    No 2ker ever said that a state ought not to affirm Christ as head. England, I believe, does so even to this day. I know of no 2ker calling for a war on England. What 2kers say is that affirming Christ as head is not necessary for a government to be legitimate. And what 2kers also ask is why those who want a state to acknowledge Christ don’t ever seem to acknowledge the problems that such an affirmation creates for Jews, Mormons, and Muslims.


  30. So, Darryl, if Jesus put an end to the monarchy how can he be king? And if the covenantal family is abolished, why do you practice infant baptism?

    Let me be the first theocrat *on your record* to acknowledge that Jews, Mormons, and Muslims pose a problem to the Christian state. But, these groups pose no less of a problem to the secular state, because the true religon always exercises control over how natural law cashes out in the real world (e.g., what holy days the state will respect, which marriages are licit, etc.).


  31. Darryl:

    I agree, of course, with what you say here and the sort of distinction that is rather widely made.

    If that’s all that NL2K was about it would be rather unremarkable. But I think that it’s about a bit more. It seems to be about an absolute dualism that has no integration point, a problem in any system. We must account for both unity and diversity, not simply diversity. I would say that the cosmic Christ who rules over all (and the church in a particular way) is the integration point.

    You may not think that Frame is getting it right, and that he’s all oneness without the proper distinction(s). But the solution is not diversity without unity, because God (who is three persons) is also one in His Trinitarian nature and Jesus Christ is one in the integrity of his theanthropic person in the Incarnation. A dualism that remains a true dualism will never do, any more than Tri-Theism or Nestorianism will.

    This one and many business is difficult stuff, I admit, but the Bible never solves it with an either/or but with a both/and that transcends our reasoning. That Christ is the head and king of the church does mean that He is not the king over all creation. And that the Scriptures teach us the way of justification does not mean that they do not teach us how to live as well (because sanctification is part of our redemption; not part of our justification or adoption, but part of our salvation).

    There’s so much good here that you brothers have brought forth. I am eager that folk learn about the proper spirituality of the church and that they understand the province of the church and of the state. I don’t want the two confused anymore than I want justification and sanctification confused. But the whole of life is addressed by the Word (at least principially) and the Christian, whatever explicit use he makes of that in all the spheres of life, is to be guided by it in all he does.

    I’ll stop here as I have become more and more aware of our propensity not to listen to each other and to talk past each other.


  32. Lily to mark mc: “You often are hard to follow because your theology is determined by your own personal conglomeration of doctrines and thus it often seems disjointed and confusing as to what you really believe….there is a need to ask more and ask exactly what you mean, whereas with the Reformed, I can pretty much count on where they are coming from and what they believe.”

    mark mc: Have you never ever met another “Calvinistic baptist”? Besides being a pacifist, my combination of being baptist and a “five pointer” is just not that unusual. Do you assume that all baptists are lonely individuals without congregations or confessions?

    As for the “Reformed” being pretty much all on the same page, I would think these pages would teach you not to assume that. Hodge and Nevin did not agree on what the presence of Christ meant in the Supper. And what DG Hart means by the “spiritual presence” of Christ in the Supper is probably not what your Lutheran pastor means by Christ’s presence or even what Peter Leithart thinks it means.

    Just because “limited atonement” is in the Westminster Confession of Faith (8:8) does not mean that all “Reformed” folks believe that doctrine or mean the same thing by it. In this present thread, I have affirmed that I do believe the doctrine of an effective atonement, in which all for whom Christ died are saved by Christ.

    Your difficulty in understanding me does of course concern me, especially it’s the case that I am the first “Calvinistic baptist” you have encountered. I certainly don’t speak for them all. But I stand in the tradition where Abraham Booth likes what John Owen says about the gospel, and where Robert Haldane in his commentary on Romans teaches clearly the doctrine of a definite atonement.

    Of course, Lily, it could be that you yourself don’t personally think about the doctrines your churches teaches but simply accept them all because they teach them all. But I don’t think so.

    I think this started with a bit from the Augsburg which seemed (to me) to assume that folks who disagree about ethics and ecclesiology must have a different gospel or no gospel.


  33. Darryl, on the Escondido theological model the confessional state is illegitimate because theocracy was solely for the oooooold testament. And, because Escondido 2K does not articulate a theory of legitimacy, practically, its exponents will always labor to undermine laws (especially constitutions) derived from Scripture in favor of laws derived from every and any alternative principle.

    In other words, the Escondido 2ker is a radical church-state separationist who wishes to renounce the Judeo-Christian foundations of European-American law and replace them with a new foundation based on unaided human reason guided by natural law alone.

    Darryl, am I wrong in believing that if you lived in the UK you’d be most sympathetic to those who work to disestablish the Church of England, abolish the monarchy, and completely secularize foundations of law?


  34. Alan, I know you’re gone, but with regard to your suggestion of an “absolute dualism with no integration point” amongst Escondidoittes. Does it help to suggest that the thorough-going dualism is tempered with an equally healthy triadalism? From Horton’s “God of promise”:

    After briefly sketching out the narrative of Cain in his “stay of execution that allows Cain to build a city,” Horton explains that:

    …we begin the story with one creation, one covenant, one people, one mandate, one city. Then after the fall, there is a covenant of creation (with its cultural mandate still in effect for all people, with the law of that covenant universally inscribed on the conscience) and a covenant of grace (with its gospel publicly announced to transgressors), a City of Man (secular but even in its rejection of God, upheld by God’s gracious hand for the time being) and a City of God (holy but even in its acceptance by God, sharing in the common curse of a fallen world). Just as the failure to distinguish law covenant from promise covenant leads to manifold confusions in our understanding of salvation, tremendous problems arise when we fail to distinguish adequately between God’s general care for the secular order and his special concern for the redemption of his people.
    Religious fundamentalism tends to see the world simply divided up into believers and unbelievers. The former are blessed, loved by God, holy, and doers of the right, while the latter are cursed, hated by God, unholy, and doers of evil. Sometimes this is taken to quite an extreme: believers are good people, and their moral, political, and doctrinal causes are always right, always justified, and can never be questioned. Unless the culture is controlled by their agenda, it is simply godless and unworthy of the believers’ support. This perspective ignores the fact that according to Scripture, all of us—believers and unbelievers alike—are simultaneously under a common curse and common grace.

    Religious liberalism tends to see the world simply as one blessed community. Ignoring biblical distinctions between those inside and those outside of the covenant community, this approach cannot take the common curse seriously because it cannot take sin seriously…everything is holy.

    …[But] the human race is not divided at the present time between those who are blessed and those who are cursed. That time is coming, of course, but in this present age, believers and unbelievers alike share in the pains of childbirth, the burdens of labor, the temporal effects of their own sins, and the eventual surrender of their decaying bodies to death…there is in this present age a category for that which is neither holy nor unholy but simply common.

    In a word, if one listens closely enough, the 2k represented by Escondido makes a pretty big deal about the common life believers and non-believers share, even in the midst of their radical spiritual differences.


  35. Andrew, kudos for owning up to the clear problems implicated by a theocratic/theonomic state. But when you say things like “…the Escondido 2ker is a radical church-state separationist who wishes to renounce the Judeo-Christian foundations of European-American law and replace them with a new foundation based on unaided human reason guided by natural law alone” something tells me you are confusing Christian secularism with legal secularism. I don’t have the time at the moment, but I’m sure you have “A Secular Faith” on hand. You might review pages 14-17 to get a better handle on the differences.


  36. Mark, it seems that it shouldn’t be difficult to understand why someone would be hard-pressed to understand where you are coming from.

    The things you previously said you believed were: anabaptist ecclesiology, the five soteriological points of “Calvinism” as your gospel and possibly more points than 5 points but not less than 5 points, Zwingli’s ascension of Christ means a real absence of Christ’s humanity, empty sacraments, credo-baptism, a Schleitheim Confession form of pacifism, you affirm the Nicene and Chalcedon creeds, have a non-Lutheran view of the two-nature’s of Christ, and that you do not call yourself Reformed.

    Now you’ve added that you believe in limited atonement, asked if had heard of Baptist confessions, and say you are a Calvinist Baptist. I would ask which Baptist confession or confessions? Do you adhere to all or part of the confession(s)? The Calvinist part of the name seems very odd since some of the beliefs listed above are the antithesis of what Calvin believed… so the name does not make sense. When I googled to see if I could find more, the words Reformed and Calvinistic were used interchangeable and the mainstream agreed usage appears to be Reformed Baptist. As for churches, I am not surprised that there are churches for any kind of theology or mixtures of theologies or non-theologies. It would be strange to not be aware of the smorgasbord available in America. One of the main American religions appears to be an individualistic Cafeteria Christianity with each man his own authority.

    As for the Reformed, I am aware of the disparities within their ranks and learning more. The orthodox reformed churchmen have struggles similar to the ones that I see with orthodox Lutheran churchmen. So, no, I not blind to what is going on. There is always a high respect for the churchmen who work for orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and seek to remain faithful to their confessions and the creeds, and who are willing to take on the thankless work of preserving the faith so it can be passed on to the next generation.

    Re: I think this started with a bit from the Augsburg which seemed (to me) to assume that folks who disagree about ethics and ecclesiology must have a different gospel or no gospel.

    You took umbrage to an Anabaptist teaching being condemned in the Augsburg confession. Whether Anabaptist ethics and ecclesiology mute, hinder, twist, or negate the gospel, or create a different gospel was never on the plate. Best I can tell, you misunderstood what was condemned.


  37. Steve Z, There appears to be no principled distinction between the two. Both “Christian” and “legal” secularists alienate law with respect to religion. Despite talk of natural law, Christian secularists of the Escondido school separate human justice from divine justice in which it must participate, assuring the triumph of bestial tyranny.

    Neither secularism (Christian or legal) can provide a true non-religious account of the origin of the state, nor can they provide a basis for political loyalty without appeal to religion. The dream of secular government and law is a castle built on air.


  38. Alan, I agree that 2k is unremarkable and that God and his sovereign rule is the integration point. Where we differ is whether the Bible is also the integration point. It strikes me that Reformed Protestants have always conceded that the Bible did not reveal everything. No Christian liberty without it. So if God is the integration point, why does the Bible have to be the standard for all of life (if it wasn’t given to reveal all of life)?


  39. Lily:The things you previously said you believed were: anabaptist ecclesiology, the five soteriological points of “Calvinism” as your gospel and possibly more points than 5 points but not less than 5 points, Zwingli’s ascension of Christ means a real absence of Christ’s humanity, empty sacraments, credo-baptism, a Schleitheim Confession form of pacifism, you affirm the Nicene and Chalcedon creeds, have a non-Lutheran view of the two-nature’s of Christ, and that you do not call yourself Reformed. Now you’ve added that you believe in limited atonement, asked if had heard of Baptist confessions, and say you are a Calvinist Baptist. I would ask which Baptist confession or confessions?

    mark: The “empty sacraments” is something you are putting in my mouth, because I don’t believe in “sacraments” at all. In my view and that of many others (even some presbyterians who are either not informed of Calvin’s view or who disagree with it), the “take eat” of the Lord’s Supper and “be baptised” are Christ’s positive laws for Christians and not God’s acts toward us. We object not only to the word “sacrament” (which could be construed as “pledge” but usually isn’t) but also to the idea of divine agency. I am not asking you to agree, but to understand. Perhaps you should google the first London Baptist Confession (which I prefer) or the Second London (1689).

    I deny any doctrine of ubiquity which claims that the risen Christ is everywhere present in His human nature, but that denial is not unique to baptists. Some of us focus more on history (the first coming in the flesh, the ascension) rather than a metaphysical swap-shop where characteristics of the divine are packaged up and transferred to the “other nature”. When Luther says that the bread of the Supper just has to be the glorified body of the Exalted One, we just say no. Heaven is still heaven and earth is still earth.

    In point of fact, Lily, I believe the “extra” is not the “extra Calvinisticum” but something which should be (and has been) affirmed by all Christians.

    Calvin:Institutes 2:13:4—For even if the Word in his immeasurable essence united with the nature of man into one person, we do not believe that he was confined therein. The Son of God descended from heaven in such a way that, without leaving heaven, he willed to be borne in the virgin’s womb, to go about the earth, to hang on the cross; yet he continuously filled the world as he had done from the beginning.”

    What you call “Limited Atonement” is one of the five points of Calvinism, Lily. Have you been so long with the Reformed and not know that? I didn’t add something extra. I said I was a five pointer. If you didn’t know that I believed that Christ’s Atonement is Not Limited in Efficacy since it was never intended for the non-elect who will not perish, then you have not read many of my posts, since I try to get that neglected doctrine into just about everything I say. It’s good news. All for whom Christ died will be saved from the second death. All of them will come to believe the gospel!

    I am not offended that you disagree with anabaptists about bearing political office. I was simply pointing out that disagreement about the law does not mean disagreement about the gospel. We may very well disagree about the gospel, but it will not be because we disagree about holding political offices. Nor will it because Lutherans asked for tolerance for themselves but not for the anabaptists.


  40. Andrew, you are dealing in two-dimensions, but that’s the way with theory driven analyses. If 2k then no theory of whatever.

    What pray tell is the Judeo-Christian foundation of European-American law? Were the Greeks and Romans chopped liver?

    Also, I seem to recall that you had some Covenanter background. A Covenanter defending the Church of England?!!?? Now, that’s some real cult-culture confusion.


  41. Andrew, so if you don’t alienate law from religion, how do you tolerate blasphemers or infidels in your republic or monarchy? Maybe you don’t mind excluding Jews. But I know my life has been enriched by them (not just David and Abraham or Jesus).


  42. Don, I’ll take the bait — the bread and wine of the Supper are holy, the words of Scripture and preaching are holy, the water of baptism is holy, the people of God are holy.


  43. Andrew, Christian secularism simply isn’t as concerned for providing an account of the origin of the state (though it can and does, unlike legal secularism), as it is for wanting to ensure that the only institution ordained to propagate true religion does–the church, and that by Word and sacrament. And that’s because 2k denies that the kingdom of heaven comes as much at the point of a sword as it does by the power of the Spirit. It’s completely spiritual and non-political. I think this is where you guys cry, “Gnostic!”


  44. Don, what Darryl said. I’d only add the Sabbath–that day and the activities the people of God do in it are all holy. Is that not enough?


  45. Mark, I think you may misunderstand what I’m attempting to say. Whether I agree with your beliefs or not is not the point. The point is that it appears that what you believe comes from a variety of different traditions and it appears that you have confirmed this when I ask about it. Even with the Baptist confessions, you did not claim one that you would adhere to, but one you preferred over the other. I have yet to hear you quote from a Baptist confession to support what you believe. The quotes seem to come from Reformed or Lutheran sources.

    The point is that it is hard to understand what someone really believes or what they mean when they do not have a consistent theology tethered to one tradition’s confession. The personal conglomeration of disparate theologies you hold are often in conflict with the man’s name you do claim – Calvin. Again, whether I agree with you or not is not the point. The point is that you are hard to understand because of these things and there are no recognizable distinctives in a personal theology. And apologies, I can’t keep track of people’s personal theologies. I’m challenged enough trying to understand other traditions.


  46. Brother Hart,
    Your right this post is not an attack. Though it is a small review of a small section of the book. Hence my request for a full book review. Also you did try and brush the book off (or at least poke fun at the fact at it) because of who published it. Yes your right you didn’t do it in this blog post but in others you have. That being said I would be interested in reading a full book review if your willing to do one.
    God Bless,

    Your Brother, Andrew Caswell.


  47. No Covenanter background here, Darryl, just defending the civilization upheld by the two pillars of altar and throne for a thousand years.

    Incidentally, isn’t it interesting that the millennium of Christendom was brought to an end by the Reformation? Finitum non est capax infiniti. The anti-incarnational principle couldn’t be more plainly expressed.

    Thanks to the perpetual Revolution (whose fruits you seem to admire), we got Bolshevism and godless liberalism, America’s reigning political order. Hundreds of millions have died and continue to die for the cause–the cause of man’s escape from the presence of God, his refusal to have “this man reign over us.”

    Pardon me for not shedding too many tears over the misfortunes of blasphemers and infidels. Blasphemers assault the very foundations and are not guaranteed the protection of the order they attempt to destroy. Read the Crito. Quite simply, they are traitors and deserve the punishment treason requires. Various groups of infidels may receive some degree of toleration, but they are required to respect the laws or leave.

    Finally, by referring to the Judeo-Christian foundation of Christendom, I don’t mean to leave out the pagan contribution. The best of Greece and Rome were assimilated centuries ago into Christian theology, philosophy, legal theory, and art.

    When was the last time you can recall encountering a devotee of Plato’s doctrines? Of Marcus Aurelius’ Stoic philosophy? Need I mention Aristotle? They’re all (or nearly so that it makes little difference) in the Church!

    As a writer I admire recently writes, “The Church is becoming the repository of mankind’s spiritual sanity; She carries within Her all the admirable traditions of the West–and increasingly those of the East as well–and the reactionary finds that he can defend them all at the same time. It’s no longer necessary to denigrate Cicero to uphold Saint Paul; our enemy would obliterate both their traditions.”


  48. Darryl:

    What do you mean by the following? “It strikes me that Reformed Protestants have always conceded that the Bible did not reveal everything. No Christian liberty without it.”



  49. Augsburg Confession, Article XVI: Of Civil Affairs
    3 Our churches condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these political offices to Christians. 4 They also condemn those who do not locate evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but place it in forsaking political offices. 5 For the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart (Romans 10:10). It does not require the destruction of the civil state. The Gospel very much requires that they be preserved as God’s ordinances…..

    I pointed out that the confusion of law and gospel here is not by the Anabaptists but by the Lutherans. The Augsburg Confession says that it is the gospel which requires the preservation of the “civil state”.

    Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

    The gospel teaches a righteousness obtained by Christ outside the sinner, and not located in the sinner’s heart. With the heart, the elect sinner believes in the righteousness of Christ (His doing and dying) and is justified.

    First London Baptist Confession (1646), 6—.All the elect being loved of God with an everlasting love, are redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves, nor their own works, lest any man should boast, but, only and wholly by God, of His own free grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ, who is made unto us by God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and all in all, that he that rejoices, rejoices in the Lord.

    12:.Concerning His mediatorship, the Scripture holds forth Christ’s call to His office; for none takes this honor upon Him, but He that is called of God, it being an action of God, whereby a special promise being made, He ordains His Son to this office; which promise is, that Christ should be made a sacrifice for sin; that He should see His seed, and prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand; all of mere free and absolute grace towards God’s elect, and without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.

    16:.That Jesus Christ is God is wonderfully and clearly expressed in the Scriptures. He is called the mighty God, Isa. 9:6. That Word was God, John 1:1. Christ, who is God over all, Rom 9:5. God manifested in the flesh, 1 Tim. 3:16. The same is very God, 1 John 5:20. He is the first, Rev. 1:8. He gives being to all things, and without Him was nothing made, John 1:2. He forgiveth sins, Matt. 9:6. He is before Abraham, John 8:58. He was and is, and ever will be the same, Heb. 13:8. He is always with His to the end of the world, Matt. 28:20. Which could not be said of Jesus Christ, if He were not God. And to the Sone He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, Heb. 1:8, John 1:18.

    Also, Christ is not only perfectly God, but perfect man, made of a woman, Gal. 4:4. Made of the seed of David, Rom 1:3. Coming out of the loins of David, Acts 2:30. Of Jesse and Judah, Acts 13:23. In that the children were partakers of flesh and blood He Himself likewise took part with them, Heb. 2:14. He took not on Him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, verse 16. So that we are bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh, Eph. 5:30. So that He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified are all of one, Heb.2:11.

    21:Jesus Christ by His death did purchase salvation for the elect that God gave unto Him: These only have interest in Him, and fellowship with Him, for whom He makes intercession to His Father in their behalf, and to them alone doth God by His Spirit apply this redemption; as also the free gift of eternal life is given to them, and none else.

    23: All those that have this precious faith wrought in them by the Spirit, can never finally nor totally fall away; seeing the gifts of God are without repentance; so that He still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise, and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock, which by faith they are fastened upon; not withstanding, through unbelief, and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of this light and love, be clouded and overwhelmed for a time; yet God is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palms of His hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.

    24:Faith is ordinarily begotten by the preaching of the gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to any power or agency in the creature; but it being wholly passive, and dead in trespasses and sins, doth believe and is converted by no less power than that which raised Christ from the dead.

    33:Jesus Christ hath here on earth a spiritual kingdom, which is His Church, whom He hath purchased and redeemed to Himself as a peculiar inheritance; which Church is a company of visible saints, called and separated from the world by the word and Spirit of God, to the visible profession of faith of the gospel, being baptized into that faith, and joined to the Lord, and each other, by mutual agreement in the practical enjoyment of the ordinances commanded by Christ their head and king.


  50. Lily, it seems that your problem with me is that I sometimes disagree with Calvin and that you never disagree with Luther. In the interests of introducing you to the Calvinist tradition, I have quoted Calvin on the incarnation and the two natures of Christ, and the Reformed Confessions on the wonderful doctrine of definite and effectual atonement. My goal was never to claim to be Reformed or Calvinist, but to help you understand what I believe about the gospel (not the law).

    You asked about my personal theology and I answered your questions and then you told me you didn’t have time to think about personal theologies. I suppose that’s fair enough. If you have time, consider this from Calvin, who taught that Christ is present with His people but not in every respect in which He is the Christ. Calvin taught that Christ is present even when not bodily present.

    Not that this is Calvin’s personal theology!. Think of it as “the Reformed tradition”.

    Calvin, Institutes 2:13;4—“But some are carried away with such contentiousness as to say that because of the natures joined in Christ, wherever Christ’s divinity is there also is his flesh which
    cannot be separated from it…But from Scripture we plainly infer that the one person of Christ so consists of two natures that each nevertheless retains unimpaired its own distinctive character….He is said to have descended to that place according to his divinity, not because divinity left heaven to hide itself in the body, but because even though it filled all things, still in Christ’s very humanity it
    dwelt bodily (Colossians 2:9), that is, by nature, and in a certain ineffable way…We reject the absurd fiction of Christ’s carnal presence.”


  51. My point stands about creating your own personal theology and it’s conflict with the confessions you cite, Mark.

    First London Baptist Confession: L.

    It is lawful for a Christian to be a magistrate or civil officer; and also it is lawful to take an oath, so it be in truth, and in judgment, and in righteousness, for confirmation of truth, and ending of all strife; and that by wrath and vain oaths the Lord is provoked and this land mourns. Acts 8:38, 10:1,2,35; Rom. 16:23; Deut. 6:13; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 10,11; Jer. 4:2; Heb. 6:16.

    Second London Baptist Confession: Chapter 24:2

    It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called there unto; in the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain justice and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament wage war upon just and necessary occasions. (2 Samuel 23:3; Psalms 82:3, 4; Luke 3:14)


  52. Re: disagreeing with Luther

    Mark, Lutherans do not subscribe to Luther, but to the Book of Concord. We do not subscribe to Calvin or the Reformed confessions. The Lutherans and the Reformed have historical and ongoing distinctives that will not be agreed upon until Christ returns. I try to stay away from debating the distinctives, albeit unsuccessfully at times.


  53. So, Lily, when you disagree with something in the Book of Concord, do you “take exception” to it, or do you simply interpret it in a different way? For example, do you yourself think the Book of Concord teaches the “third use of the law”?

    At least now, I think, you have a pretty good idea of what I believe. I do not believe there is any gospel in the anabaptist Schleitheim Confession; I do not agree with the Baptist confessions about the magistrate but I do agree with what they teach about election and effectual atonement. The Baptists, btw, were very careful to say that they were NOT anabaptists, not only because of the false gospel of universal but ineffective atonement taught by the anabaptists but also because the anabaptists were still being put in jails by magistrates for daring to say that being a magistrate was not a Christian calling.

    Of course I do know some “five point” Baptists who are pacifist. And I know a lot of Baptists and “Reformed” and Lutherans who still teach an “objective universal justification” which does not actually justify anybody. Thus I have to prioritize. The gospel of WCF 8:8 is way more important to me than my pacifism. When I attend a Presbyterian church and don’t hear that gospel, I am disappointed. Too often justification gets mixed up with water baptism, and folks are being put on probation so that their future behavior will determine if they get to “stay in the covenant”. But thank God, I know a lot of Presbyterians who do still teach the gospel. Don’t you live in Texas, Lily? I know some there!

    Just so it doesn’t look like we are ignoring the others, I could ask. To the non-2 k folks, if you are in a place where the gospel is being most clearly taught by 2 k pastors, would you fellowship with that congregation? And to the 2 k folks if you are in a locality where the gospel is being most clearly taught by theonomist elders, would you gather together with that people? I am just hoping that none of you want to say that no theonomist ever knows or preaches the gospel!


  54. Mark,

    One difference between the two of us is that you subscribe to an individualistic faith where you are the sole authority to judge right from wrong, truth from error, and supposes the wisdom to not make your faith a shipwreck in creating your own theology. I am in submission to the LCMS Lutheran church where it’s pastors subscribe quia to the Book of Concord (which includes the catholic creeds), and submit to their authority in all matters of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I will gladly confess that I am not smart enough to create a coherent theology that is a whole cloth and thankful I don’t have to. I will gladly confess that I wrestle with understanding doctrines just like anyone else, but I am convinced that the BOC is not only correct, but the best explanation of what scripture teaches.


  55. Darryl,

    Regarding holy people, do they cease being holy when they are plowing the ground, enriching it with manure, planting the seed and growing and harvesting the wheat used to make the holy bread?


  56. Mark, no 2ker says that theos by virtue of their theonomy doesn’t know the gospel. However, what is sometimes said to relative chagrin is that theonomy is a variant of law-gospel confusion and is a fundamental misunderstanding of messianic fulfillment. So what I’d prefer to say is that theos may well know the stated gospel but their theonomy is getting in the way of their otherwise good confession.


  57. Don, can’t holy people exist on common ground without losing their holiness? But grace doesn’t leak out finger tips, so the common ground they work cannot be redeemed.


  58. Brother Caswell, I was not issuing a review. I was calling attention to Frame’s contradictory point that somehow 2k is marginal within the Reformed tradition. I’m not sure you can make that claim when publishing with a marginal press from a marginal seminary. But since much of Frame’s argument apparently hinges on the relationship of 2k to the Reformed tradition, it would be good for Frame to acknowledge his own position within the Reformed world.


  59. Andrew, sorry to confuse you with a Covenanter (sorry to the Covenanters as well). I guess I fundamentally disagree with your construction of the West. It does not recognize (or look recognizable to me) the real antagonisms that animated the West — among the Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Christians. Judeo-Christian is in my book a howler and its roots go to the civil religion of the 1950s and Ike — hardly the culmination of the West.

    As for Bonald’s quotation, that sounds similar to the German Christians who detested the Weimar Republic, pined for the Kaiser, and set into motion the Nazis. I don’t bring up Hitler as a scare tactic. I only use it to make the point that churches that identify with civilizations or cultures usually lose all powers of discernment.


  60. Alan, the spirituality of the church and the regulative principle hinge on the idea that Christians are bound to follow Scripture. But where Scripture is silent, the church may not speak. So the church can’t use candles. The Bible doesn’t speak to them. The church can’t establish hospitals. The Bible doesn’t speak to medicine. Etc.

    BTW, the dualism that 2kers advocate, which is unremarkable, is all over the pages of Scripture, especially in Paul’s writings about the differences between the things that are passing away and the things that abide.


  61. Don, no.

    But that’s not the issue. The issue is your claims and efforts to make things common that God never instituted to become holy. There are a limited number of holy things. But you seem to believe in the possibility of creating a holy civilization.


  62. Don, no, but their work does not become holy. Their work is still worldly or temporal or secular.

    Do you really mean to suggest that a church needs to buy bread for the Lord’s Supper from a Christian baker because that’s the only way to make it holy?


  63. Zrim: “So what I’d prefer to say is that theos may well know the stated gospel but their theonomy is getting in the way of their otherwise good confession”.

    Mark Mc: I would agree, although “the stated” seems a little cold. But I do think Rushdoony and Bahnsen knew the gospel. Of course it is the case that there are some theonomists who don’t know the gospel. But the “the federal visionists” don’t call themselves theonomists any longer. Maybe it was theonomy that got them to where they had no more law-gospel antithesis. But false gospel is not inherent in being theonomist.

    Baptists, theonomists, 2 kers, coalitionists, nobody has a monopoly when it comes to false gospel.


  64. I certainly agree that biblical distinctions abound between the kingdom of light and darkness, the transient and the eternal, etc.

    I also understand the doctrine of the spirituality of the church and the regulative principle, although to state the principle is not to answer all proposed cases, e.g., some would argue that candles are circumstantial not elemental, hospitals may be part of diaconal support of the preaching of the gospel, etc. To assert those things is not to argue the details, which must be argued. Some of my good Presbyterian brothers, e.g., strongly assert that the regulative principle means that we may employ no musical instrument(s) to accompany psalm singing. I disagree, but I still argue that I uphold the regulative principle. But you know all this and know that I do, too.

    I still don’t understand by what you mean when you say that the Bible does not reveal everything. It does reveal “all things necessary for …faith and life” (WCF 1.6). If you mean that there are things in the world in their details of which the Bible takes no clear cognizance, as to those details, well, of course. But whatever you mean here by saying that the Bible does not reveal everything, what is the relation of that statement to the one that follows?” “No Christian liberty without it?” One could take this a couple of different ways and I would appreciate it if you were able to clarify this for me.



  65. Mark, you say “cold” like it’s a bad thing, but “the stated” is just another way of saying what is formally confessed and subscribed. And since theonomy is mainly a P&R phenomenon where its adherents confess and subscribe WCF/TFU, charity demands that the gospel is formally embraced. That said, while it’s true that false gospel is not inherent in theonomists, my point is that what animates theonomy, namely a fixation on law of Corithian proportions, works against what animates the gospel, namely grace.


  66. Darryl,

    I am not making any claims. I am trying to understand how created “things” become holy. If bread or people can become holy, as you say, and yet retain their created nature, then you must accept that in and of their own nature, they possess the autonomous ability to become holy, which makes you a pelagian. Or perhaps you really believe that grace extrinsicly changes or reshapes their nature such that bread is no longer bread and the human being is no longer a human being, making you a closet dualist.


  67. I’m wondering if anyone has noticed that Escondido means hidden in Spanish. I just find it funny how the whole situation, down to the name of the city, can be incorporated into a conspiracy theory.

    I’m reading A Secular Faith, and am enjoying and agreeing with much of what is written.

    I’m going to have to read your new book, especially if you help demolish this ridiculous idea of Judeo-Christianty; I even heard John MacArthur mention how he was not not a fan of this concept of Judeo-Christianity.


  68. A. Strange: Haven’t you heard dgh wax eloquent rant about “Christian plumbing”? It’s a treat hoot. I think he’d agree the Bible is fine for “faith” but not “life” as you mean. Frame is much worse better on this point. See Escondido Theology.


  69. Eliza, why don’t you come and stay a spell instead of continually dashing in with nasty comment here and there? Are you afraid you’ll have to deal with your deadly case of pietism being diagnosed again?


  70. A female cat fight is a brewing- sorry Lily, I could not resist commenting. And I thought Eliza was a guy for a long period of time. Just like I thought the Baylays worship minister was a female.


  71. Nah, John. I got fed up with her hit and runs. I remember debating with her about pietism here on OL quite a while back. She has a pretty severe case of it, if I remember correctly – which may help explain her behavior or not. Kyrie eleison.


  72. Re: And I thought Eliza was a guy for a long period of time. Just like I thought the Baylays worship minister was a female.

    You are wicked. ;P


  73. Zrim,

    You misunderstand me. I reject the assumption that the word “common” is a suitable adjective for creation. Creation is a gift of God that is, by its nature, already graced. Remember that it was created from nothing and cannot persist apart from the Trinity. That is why God can stand on it and say to Moses, the ground you are standing on is holy ground. It is holy because God is standing on it, and it can “support” Him because it was made for that purpose. The fact that the city of God and the city of Man can both “use” it does not disgrace it such that it can be accurately described as common or neutral.

    I would encourage you to engage with theologians like de Lubac, Gunton, Torrance, von Balthasar, Boersma, etc. They are classified under Nouvelle Théologie, though their theology is certainly not new. Wikipedia describes them as advocates of a ‘return to the sources’ of the Christian Faith: namely, Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers. This methodological move is known by its French name, ressourcement (French, “return to the sources”). Along with this, the movement adopted a systemic openness to dialogue with the contemporary world on issues of theology. They developed also a renewed interest in biblical exegesis, typology, art, literature and mysticism.


  74. Mark Mc, I would find it impossible to sit under theonomist elders unless they had a restraint similar to GI Williamson’s regarding paedocommunion. It’s not a matter of whether they know the gospel, as even FVists can seem to channel Luther or Reformed Baptists while denouncing Rome. (although denying the covenant of works is impossible to reconcile with my understanding of the gospel.) But the law-gospel confusion per Zrim affects their exegesis, constrains the spirituality of the church, and suffocates liberty of conscience.

    That said, I was under one theonomic/reconstructionist elder that did demonstrate such restraint in the pulpit and over questions of church discipline. And I’ve found it difficult to distinguish between the sermons I’ve heard from WTS and WSC profs, except for the U-word.

    While I’ve embraced 2k theology as the major influence that allows me to love my work, stay sane in a secular world, and still have hope of salvation, I am grateful for the interaction in the comments, especially the ongoing discussion between Drs. Hart and Strange.


  75. Don, I know you asked Darryl, but the reason created things like people and bread get deemed holy isn’t that they make themselves holy but because God declares them holy. Big difference. Careful with that Pelagian cap gun.

    Re your point about the appropriateness of calling what is created common, it sounds to me like you presume the word “common” to be dirty. But it has six letters, not four. And when you say that creation is graced you continue to show your creation/redemption confusion. Creation is created, not graced. Creation is spectacular and awesome but it isn’t graced. Indeed, though it is conditionally fallen it is still essentially very good as-is and doesn’t need one whit of grace. And so when you say that creation is graced what you seem to be suggesting is that is somehow essentially deficient. But that’s more in alignment with medieval Catholicism (grace perfects nature) than confessional Protestantism (grace renews nature).


  76. Zrim,

    Trust me (I know you’ve heard that before), this discussion transcends the Catholic/Protestant debate, and I am not confusing creation and redemption. The key is how we view grace. If grace is viewed as purely extrinsic, you end up with a Thomist conception, a kind of two-storey view of the world, with a self-sufficient “natural” world at the bottom and an added “supernatural” world at the top.

    De Lubac challenged this reading of Thomas. In a summary of his thinking, which I read recently, de Lubac explored the history of Christian usage of the terms “nature” and “supernatural,” and concluded (Milbank’s summary) that “the essential contrast, up until the High Middle Ages, remained one between natural and moral and not natural and supernatural.” De Lubac argued that the former distinction was authentically Christian: “on the one hand there was created nature; on the other hand there was created spirit, which was free, and intellectually reflexive (‘personal’). This ‘moral’ realm was in some sense not just created; it bore a more radical imprint of divinity: the imago dei.” In this earlier paradigm, there is no “pure nature,” and de Lubac argued that there was no notion of “pure nature” in Aquinas either. He took Thomas’ statements about the natural desire for the supernatural end quite literally: Human beings exist only as creatures of God oriented toward their creator. As he said in a 1932 letter to Maurice Blondel, the problem with pure nature is “how can a conscious spirit be anything other than an absolute desire for God.” Instead of grace being an “extrinsic” addition to nature (as in Cajetan’s reading), grace brings natural abilities and natural inclinations and natural desires to their fulfillment.


  77. For the same reasons that I agree with Zirm about the “common” not being dirty, I have reservations about the language of “common grace.” I have not thought a great deal about it, but it seems to me to be confusing language (like “union”). Different folks mean so many different things with the language. Some are simply talking about talking God’s goodness and kindness and fairness. Others seem to be contradicting what the Bible says about God’s love being particular and definite.

    Ephesians 1:9-11–” making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…”

    My reservation about “common grace” language is not an objection to talk about two kingdoms. Talk of antithetical kingdoms does not suppose that God has an intermediate cultural purpose which has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. “All things were created for Christ”. (Colossians 1:16) Christ “is before all things” (Colossians 1:17).

    Jesus Christ is first in the counsel of God, logically before the decree of election (and non-election). The elect are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and this means that logically Christ was before the elect in the counsel of God.

    Arminians (those who say that Christ died for every sinner) think that they honor Christ by saying that the decree for Christ to die is before the decree to elect some sinners. They claim in this way to put Christ before election.

    Not only Arminians but many who call themselves Calvinists want to place election after the decree to make atonement, so that the atonement will not be restricted to the elect. They think of election as something that causes some to believe, but they will not teach an atonement only for the elect.

    But election in Christ is first! The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love. God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ. Jesus Christ is first. Jesus, the incarnate, the eternal Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election. “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.”

    Jesus is not simply the one who makes election work. Jesus Himself is first. Jesus Himself is chosen first, before all the other elect. All the other elect were chosen in Jesus Christ, and not apart from Jesus Christ. Those God loves are “chosen in Him”. Ephesians 1:4

    I Corinthians 3:22-23–”Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present; ALL ARE YOURS. And ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.”

    I came to agree with Zirm about the “common” being for Christ and “not dirty”. But with friends like me, who needs….


  78. Don, how we view grace is important, but just as key is how we view creation. If we believe that creation is indeed very good then we don’t say things like “creation is graced.”


  79. Mark, you have a fair point about the language of common grace. The older language was providence and, like all things older, it’s a term that captures better the point.


  80. Don,

    I haven’t read any of those authors you cite but it sounds like nothing more than French Post-Modern revisionist historicism. It doesn’t jive with actual Romanist history and praxis. I can’t imagine the contortions that are needed to account for Thomas’ doctrine of super added grace at creation. In sum, it sounds like one great big exercise in reader response.


  81. Mark, I don’t know if you will find this helpful, but each reformation tradition seems to have it’s own unique ways of using language where the same terms used by all Christians may have slightly different meanings, usages, or nuances. Plus there terms like common grace, interpretations of scriptures, and so forth that may be unique to them. Each reformation tradition’s theology seems to have a language to be learned (including shorthand phrases), a body of knowledge to be learned, traditions that are honored, and a pattern to be followed so it is woven into a whole cloth – if that makes sense? I think that those things may play a role in why it is easy for some outsiders to misunderstand or caricature them.


  82. Clowney piece really doesn’t contradict the critique of NL2k. Clowney makes proper distinctions between the state bearing the sword and the church employing spiritual means, distinctions Reformed folk agree on, including Frame. Given the focus of Clowney’s piece, understandably he doesn’t flesh out much how they *relate* to one another.

    Yet, he does suggest some ideas/ principles on the *relationship* of the church to the world which, depending on Clowney’s meaning of certain terms {“bearing witness”, “edification of nations”, “Word of God ministered”) may not find much support in the NL2k movement:

    Yet the church is not a retreat where the pious
    await the parousia. The church has an agenda, set not
    by the world but by the Lord. Christ commissioned
    the church to live for the purpose for which he lived
    and died. The urgency of the priorities of his Father’s
    will governed his earthly obedience. In his heavenly
    glory he sends his disciples to the nations with the
    same purpose. Christ’s great commission expresses the
    “political” objectives of his kingdom—the evangelization
    and edification of the nations in adoring fellowship
    with the Triune God.

    The church is organized for these ends: the worship
    of God, the nurture and growth of God’s people,
    and the bearing of witness to the world. For each of
    these ministries the church is endued with gifts of the
    Spirit by the exalted Christ. First, the Word of God
    must be ministered to these ends: Christ enables every
    Christian to confess his name before men and exhort
    his brethren in the truth. So, too, Christ grants gifts of
    order to discipline the church in love. The pilgrim
    church must also minister mercy, caring for the poor
    and the distressed among the brethren, and as God
    grants opportunity, to all men.


  83. Don, I’ll pass on the Keanu translation and just stick with WCF IV: “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.”


  84. Zrim and GAS,

    I will respond in the same way I used to in the Marine Corps when speaking to a senior officer: “Very good, Sir.”


  85. Mark V.,

    I’m baffled. What in Clowney’s words that you cite do you imagine any NL2Ker would have the slightest bit of trouble affirming? It’s Great Commision all day long and devoid of cultural mandate, which are the two things anti-NL2kers mix up all day every day.


  86. Alan,

    The Bible is silent about a host of matters. That affirmation and understanding is at the heart of Old School Presbyterianism. OS Presby’s may have been wrong, but the idea that the Bible does not reveal everything is not new. And where the Bible does not speak, Christians have liberty. The Bible does not reveal whether Christians should or should not play baseball, or whether they should or should not smoke. In that case, Christians are at liberty to play baseball (or not) or to smoke (or not). And anyone who insists that the Bible speaks to baseball or smoking is misusing Scripture and binding consciences illegitimately.

    I don’t take “faith and life” as you do. And if the Divines believed that life was as all encompassing as you, wouldn’t they have written chapters about physics, poetry, art, and plumbing, if the Bible really does speak to these matters. But if you say that the Bible doesn’t speak to the details of the areas or offer direct instruction, then I am not really sure how the Bible speak to all of life.


  87. Don, if a believer when he becomes holy has a new means of digestion (which is part of my created nature), they are you saying that Christians become non-human? I am not saying anything about the power of human beings to become holy. I am saying that when they become Christian they still have human bodies with all the limitations and strengths they had before conversion. Christians still bite their nails and fail physics exams.


  88. Zrim,

    Note that I said it depends on the meaning of various terms Clowney is using. If Clowney means the visible church is to bring the nations in subjection to Christ via the declaration of special revelation, as well as perform ministry of mercy beyond the membership of the visible church, fleshing out that meaning in concrete ways could very well rub some NL2k-ers the wrong way.

    Which serves to highlight the point that critics of NL2k would be equally baffled as why one would think critics of NL2k couldn’t generally affirm the Clowney quotes in Darryl’s orginal post and still not be critical of NL2k movement in some of its particulars.


  89. Lily, I agree with Zirm. “Common grace” is the new name for what Reformed people used to call “providence”. The term “common grace” is not in Calvin, but of course the idea of providence is in Calvin. Of course the folks who want to use “common grace” to sneak universal atonement and love in the front door will also think they find universal atonement and love in Calvin.

    My initial point was to agree with Zirm (and Mark Karlberg) that we don’t need the papist nature/grace idea which thinks unfallen creation needs “grace”. The common is not dirty. The common is not grace.

    If you want to read more about this in the Reformed tradition, Lily, I would suggest that you read the work of Engelsma (from the Protestant Reformed) and Rich Mouw (from the Christian Reformed, supporter of Mormon inclusion and of Rob Bell). I bet you can guess which side I take. But Mouw is pretty honest about the effect of “common grace” on the Christian Reformed. So is Bolt in a recent Calvin Theological Journal essay.

    Why use a word which is confusing (and which might just mean that special grace for everybody), when you already have a perfectly good work like “providence”? In Kuyper’s case, it was because he wanted Christians to take over the culture. And for many Reformed people, that means “take over the state” because many of them think there’s only one “the culture” (and only one “the kingdom” and only one “the culture”.) But Kuyper himself believed the gospel and did not intend for the term “common grace” to have any effect on the doctrine of grace for the elect.


  90. Thanks to those who answered my question about the possibility of hearing the gospel from a person who is confused on law and gospel and theonomy. It would be neat to hear from the other side of the question, from those who fear the antithesis. As for me, I think the difference between law and gospel is tremendously important because if they are not the same thing, they are not in competition.

    Did the Mosaic law announce clearly that it was a “killing instrument” and not the gospel? If it didn’t, who could blame any Jew for using the law wrong , so that they tried to be saved by keeping it? The text often discussed in this question is Romans 9:32–”They did not seek if by faith, as if it were by works of law.”

    The “federal vision” says that there is no difference between law and gospel, but only a right way and a wrong way of pursuing the law, and that the gospel is the right way of pursuing the law. A good rebuttal to that is an essay by David Gordon in WTJ (Spring 1992): “Why Israel did not obtain Torah Righteousness; A note on Romans 9:32.”

    Gordon writes that the verse should be translated not “as if it were”, but “because the law is not of faith” in line with Gal 3:12. “The qualification works-and-not faith in Gal 3:10-13 is parallel to the qualification works and not faith in Romans 9:32.”

    “If one group attained what the other did not, the difference between them might lie in the manner in which they pursued it…This is NOT what Paul says however. The two groups did not pursue the same thing (the gentiles pursued nothing)…Paul’s point therefore is NOT that the Gentiles pursued righteousness in a better manner (by faith) than the Jews. Rather, God’s mercy gives what is not even pursued.”

    “When Paul asks why the Jews did not attain unto the Torah, his answer addressed the NATURE of the covenant (Torah demands perfect obedience), not the nature of the PURSUIT of the Torah.”

    Those who say “we do it the right way, with the faith and not works” do not understand the gospel.

    We don’t do it ANY way. God did it. God finished it at the cross, for the elect alone.


  91. Sorry, but I left off a paragraph from David Gordon that applies to the present discussion: “Once the term “covenant” is defined in such a manner as to include grace and promise as part of the definition, then the historic, two-covenant structure of covenant theology is no longer possible; and it would be necessary to construct a “re-casting” of the covenant theology, one that removes from any covenant any true sense of conditionality on the part of the human party thereto. Once this conditionality is removed, faith inevitably blends with works, since each is merely the human response to grace. And so, Murray’s disciples inevitably move in a monocovenantal direction; all covenants become essentially the same: Norman Shephard cannot easily distinguish Abrahamic faith from Sinaitic works; Greg Bahnsen could not distinguish Israel’s laws from the laws of non-theocratic nations…and the so-called Federal Vision cannot easily distinguish the visible (the “outward Jew” of Romans 2) from the invisible (the “inward Jew” of Romans 2) church.”

    Mark Mc: Is the “Federal Vision” simply trying to be anti-pietist in a distinctive and “Reformed” direction? Who cares what you as a private person believe in your heart? What have you done lately together with us and God?


  92. Mark V., yes, if mercy ministry is interpreted with giddy impulse for transformation instead of a staid instinct for charity it could rub badly. But just as irritating is how “the visible church is to bring the nations in subjection to Christ via the declaration of special revelation” means “Christian education flows out from or is a direct application of each of the existing 3 marks”:


  93. Darryl:

    Given the serious nature of these posts and the relationship that we sustain in the mutual service that we render in the OPC, I am taking my part of this discussion offline and will be contacting you personally.


  94. Zrim,

    What I don’t understand is why they cannot understand that they are usurping parental authority. I see nowhere in the bible that the church is to usurp the authority or interfere with the headship of the husband with his wife and children. If I’m reading my bible correctly, I think the burden is upon the husband teach his wife and children. In that sense the church has become an interloper and become a busybody or meddler – which is clearly condemned in the bible.


  95. As far as I can tell, they have a lot of ‘splaining to do about why they are usurping the headship of the man and his responsibilities.

    1 Corinthians 11:3 – But I want you to understand that Christ is the ahead of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

    Ephesians 5:22-24 -The husband is head of his wife as Christ is head of the church. Neither his wife nor their parents are the authority in his family (cf. Gen. 2:24). Wives are to be subject to their own husbands (this is a clear boundary for interlopers).

    Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers should bring children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. This includes bringing the children to all meetings of the church, and also teaching them God’s word at home (Deut. 6:6-9).

    Training children is primarily the work of parents, rather than the church. When children grow up without a knowledge of God and His will, the parents will give account. (See also Prov. 22:6; Gen. 18:19; Deut. 4:9,10; 1 Sam. 2:22-25; 3:13; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15).


  96. Santorum traveled in 2002 to Rome to speak at a centenary celebration of the birth of “Saint “Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei. In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter while in Rome, Santorum said that the distinction between private religious conviction and public responsibility, espoused by President John F. Kennedy, had caused “great harm in America.”

    “All of us have heard people say, ‘I privately am against abortion, homosexual marriage, stem cell research, cloning. But who am I to decide that it’s not right for somebody else?’ It sounds good, but it is the corruption of freedom of conscience.” Santorum also said he regards George W. Bush as the first Catholic president of the United States:

    I suppose that’s why Santorum supported McCain in 2008.


  97. Oops, sorry Zrim. I got off on a tangent about the mandatory day school issue and the two kingdoms…. again, apologies. I need to drink more coffee and wake-up!


  98. Lily, the thing that strikes me about worldviewists of the anti-NL2K variety is the blind spot for the ordination of the home, believing or not, to make human beings and their viewpoints. It seems to me altogether modernist to think that somehow a school is even co-ordained for that task. Maybe there is room for another sola amongst confessional Protestants: sola familia. Not to mention the fact that the church isn’t called to curriculum but only to catechesis, which makes offerings taken up for day schools quite curious.


  99. Zrim, natch, I agree with you on these things, but I don’t think one can use being anti-NL-2k in order to justify what they are doing.

    I would reiterate what you said and also point to the dangers of those in authority who like to lord over others. Something the bible specifically says elders should not do. The church is not a nanny state dictating it’s own opinions or a busybody meddling in everyone’s personal decisions. It seems to me that the best question to ask about the legitimacy of the mandatory church schools is: Is this the doctrine of man or is it the doctrine of God?

    If we take seriously that scripture is the rule for the church, it seems plain from scripture that the father is lawful administrator, teacher, and curator of his children. Anyone who would be a teacher of his children is under his authority to be hired or fired as he sees fit. It is the father’s responsibility to decide who should teach his children if he is unable to do so. Nowhere in the bible is the church commanded to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic or to usurp parental authority over their children – even to catechize their children for them. I don’t see any scriptures that allow the church to usurp his place in catechizing his children.

    In my mind, there is not only a confusion about authority but about vocation. Is the vocation of the church – Word and Sacrament? I know the Reformed add discipline to their definition to the vocation of the church, but is this set below discipline? And, again, where does the bible give the church the authority to usurp a man’s authority over his family? I can see that it would be the church’s responsibility to discipline him only and only if he failed to fulfill his obligations to provide catechism for his children and even then, there is no mandate for a specific curriculum or specific ages to correlate with curriculum. The church has NO authority to discipline a man if he chooses to not teach his children the three Rs. The discipline for not teaching his children the three Rs falls under the civil authorities… right? So here, we start clearly seeing the confusion of the kingdoms… and on it goes… it’s wrong on so many levels…


  100. Mark, maybe you missed it, but students of Kloosterman and Frame have that habit. Clowney says that Christ fulfilled the cultural mandate. It’s no longer on the agenda.

    That sound you just heard was the wooosh of the wind coming out of the neo-Calvinist project.


  101. Lily, agreed. But I would also suggest that the subject of day schooling is a little more tied to 2k than you might be inclined to think. As you rightly suggest, issues of liberty are involved. I don’t know about you, but when I see legalism of any sort I have to think that whatever else is afoot kingdom confusion isn’t far behind. We Reformed typically have a pretty good sense for legalism (or at least like to think so), which is what makes one wonder how the formalized legalism of the Protestant Reformed Church goes relatively unnoticed. Probably something owing to thinking legalism is only and ever an issue involving substance use and worldly amusement. Baptists are silly, but we’ll never hand our children over to Molech.


  102. Zrim, sorry about the rant – can I plead too much coffee this time? You are very right about 2k, which is why I thought the best question to ask was: is this a doctrine of man or a doctrine of God? Using this question helps expose the 2k issues fairly quickly, IMNHO. There also is the legalism issue, but I’m not hearing it’s notes being played as loudly as some of the others. I’m hearing the illegal notes blaring garishly if they are using scriptural authority to justify mandatory schools and they are aggravating one of the bees in my bonnet. They moan, groan, and fume about the feminization of men and then go and emasculate them – they take away their authority over their own families in the name of God. How much mischief is done under the guise of the name of God? That ought to be enough to stop them dead in their tracks even if they are blind to natural law and the two kingdoms. (Molech and castration… IDIOTS! she mutters and harrumphs as she exits the com-box).


  103. Lily, from what I understand, when the local PRC sem dispatched some apostles to buttress the Synod’s decison and preach against the sins of non-PRC schools, a good number of homeschooling PRCers came over to the homeschool heavy URCs. But the $50K question is will the worldviewist homeschoolers feel the 2k public schooler’s pain? Or am I just being light in my loafers (the result of being effeminized)?


  104. Darryl, yes, I see Clowney mentioned Adam’s mandate as fulfilled in Christ, but not sure he equates “fulfilled” with “terminated” {or “no longer on the agenda” as you formulate it}. That interpretation would appear odd given his discussion of the church as salt and light, use of the Word to disciple the nations, bringing them in subjection to Christ, performing acts of mercy beyond church members, etc.

    In any event, I would concur with Alan’s sentiment that while there are many agreeable things in the Clowney piece.. There are areas I was hoping he would have provided fuller explanation. Certainly, there are a host of other works that provide more light on the *relationship* of the church and the world.

    From my vantage point, nothing in *this* Clowney piece provides any significant obstacle to the critiques of NL2k.



  105. Darryl,

    My hope in posing my question to you was that you might engage a bit in the theological debate. Your question as to whether grace is natural completely masks the profundity of the discussion on this topic that has been carried on throughout history. I am certain that you are aware of that. Granted that this is a blog which by its nature has a tendency to do just that, but many people are influenced by what goes on here, and I think if you (generically speaking) are going to raise these issues, you are obligated to think them through and discuss them a bit more thoroughly.


  106. Re: But the $50K question is will the worldviewist homeschoolers feel the 2k public schooler’s pain? Or am I just being light in my loafers (the result of being effeminized)?

    You are hilarious – light in the loafers? No cats, right? On a serious note, not a chance.

    I don’t have an answer to the $50K question. It doesn’t make sense for different decisions in how one decides to school one’s children should be up for judgment and I don’t see how we dare judge.

    Not all homeschool situations are that great. Many years ago, I knew several home school mothers. One was a university graduate and wife of a dentist who’s older child was in second grade and was put in charge of helping the younger child learn to read. When this older child went out to lunch with us, she could not read the menu, whereas my second grade child could and read the menu to her. The other mother, a high school graduate, was barely interested in teaching her kids and her home was constant pandemonium. She later put her kids in public school where they had to catch up. I have yet to meet those super star home school moms whose super star kids read latin, greek, and hebrew, and so forth.

    In another situation, a well-educated family I know put their son in a Christian school that excelled in teaching a classical education, but taught evangelical nonsense for catechesis. They ended up giving up the classical education that was extremely important to them for a Lutheran school with a regular curriculum and sound catechesis. Last I heard, they were very happy with the trade off.

    The one thing I’m a big fan for any family are the books (see link below): The Fallacy Detective and The Thinking Toolbox. I love a story I heard about one father using them to teach his kids thinking skills. He told his kids he would pay them a quarter for every fallacy they could find in advertisements. Well… the kids took him up on it and became so good at it that he had to quit paying them because they were breaking him. How fun is that!?!


  107. Alan,

    You wrote, Given the serious nature of these posts and the relationship that we sustain in the mutual service that we render in the OPC, I am taking my part of this discussion offline…

    As a member of the OPC and given that this topic bears directly on the calling and mission of the church, I would think it important for this to be discussed openly for the benefit of the the church members. I understand blogs are a bit messy, but they can serve a purpose not unlike the written published doctrinal arguments that took place during the Reformation.



  108. FWIW, Zrim.

    My son was a public school kid and since he died in a car accident, age 17, I can’t brag about how “brilliantly” he turned out because we made the right decisions raising him – lol! My other child would have been a public school kid too, but she died in infancy, so you knooow we never had a chance to make the right schooling decisions for her. My beloved husband died back in the 90’s and there were a few times I wondered where he went to school because of some of the decisions he made. Moral of this silly story? We all die. Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff compared to Christ crucified for you… if I may be so bold, I am convinced you will raise your children well and there is no way to avoid pain in this temporal life.


  109. Jack:

    I can appreciate what you are saying. I do think that there is a proper place for blogs.

    However, Darryl and I are fellow committemen (a few times over) and I believe that is more important than my having some differences with him and publically stating them, particularly before I have done so privately .

    This is Darryl’s blog and I think that I should be careful in disagreement, more careful than this forum often encourages. It is easy to give the wrong impression, for me to mischaracterize Darryl and vice-versa. I think, e.g., that I was mis-characterized in the last post. And rather than anything like tit-for-tat, I would prefer more carefully, and in private, to make sure that everything is understood.

    I plan to commit to writing my views on many of these things in the coming years but only after much careful study (in which I am now engaged). Because I am engaged in study of 19th c. Old School Presbyterianism, it is tepmpting to launch now. But the time must be right and Darryl has a considerable jump on me in this field so I am playing catch-up (I pastored a church for a decade).

    My differences involve details and subtilties that are hard to deal with in this forum. There are some real differences, but I need to be sure exactly where those lie and not to misperceive or misrepresent them. This may all be rather obtuse, but, for now, I need to retire from this blog and engage the differences otherwise.


  110. Don, I’ll take Paul over DuLubac. And I really don’t know if you have thought sufficiently about the contrast Paul draws between the wisdom of the world and the foolishness of the gospel. That distinction would at least allow for someone to make a distinction between a healthy marriage and a Christian marriage, or a wise steward of creation and a Christian. Your collapsing of the categories would seem to make wisdom, excellence, beauty indications of salvation.


  111. Lily, having been on both sides of the lecturn in various settings (except homeschooling) and knowing folks with all sorts of experiences, I could swap horror stories about all of it.

    But the dirty little open secret about education is that everybody, no matter their religious pedgogy, has an equal shot at doing education well. And that’s because it’s a creational task, not redemptive. And because education is creational it is liberty.


  112. Darryl,

    I’m perfectly fine with making those distinctions, but you have to make them in the light of all of scripture (including Paul), which as you say is foolishness to the world. Why is it possible that a non-Christian can be a wise steward of creation? Is it because creation is completely autonomous from God after having created it; or is it that the light of men is not overcome by the darkness of sin. Human nature, its very being, is given and sustained by Christ, so that even the pagan’s ultimate desire is oriented to the universal good, according to Aquinas. That is the sense in which man and all creation is “graced”. This is not the same sense of grace which is most often referred to as the unilateral grace of God, but in an inferior sense as the created spirit. The unilateral grace of God, or as Aquinas puts it, a second gratuity of God different from nature, yet presupposing nature, turns human beings from sin to God. This grace is the work of the Holy Spirit and Christ to begin the restoration of nature that liberates creation to once again fulfill its purpose, the glory of God, rather than the glory of man.


  113. Don, where does Scripture use “grace” with such a wide meaning? Either way, you don’t seem to be addressing the fact that this grace to which your appealing still breaks down into creational and redemptive distinctions. You may want to call the work of wisdom gracious and the work of election gracious — why you want to invite such lack of clarity I don’t know. But you still need to distinguish redemption from creation.


  114. Darryl,

    No problem with not using “grace” in the wider sense. I’ve explained the sense I was using it as I understand its use by Aquinas, i.e., the created desire (corrupted by the fall) for the ultimate good. I assume you are ok with that.

    Regarding the distinction between redemption and creation, I’m not sure where you are coming from. Per Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 177, the redemption word group in the New Testament is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity. So why can’t creation be redeemed iaw Romans 8:20-21. It seems like you are saying that creation and redemption are somehow opposed to each other whereas scripture refers to creation before the fall, after the fall, and as new creation. Though we know there won’t be marriage in the eschaton, we do know that we will have spiritual bodies like Christ who ate with His disciples.


  115. Don, the distinction between creation and redemption, between the earthly and the spiritual, between the temporal and the eternal is writ large in western Christianity. I understand you don’t seem to care for it. But it is there and it sure makes sense to me since my earthly body is going to die (pending Christ’s return). You see this distinction in Art. 35 of the Belgic on the Supper (and the differences between earthly bread and heavenly bread — which is holy earthly bread).

    Thus, to support the physical and earthly life God has prescribed for us an appropriate earthly and material bread, which is as common to all as life itself also is. But to maintain the spiritual and heavenly life that belongs to believers he has sent a living bread that came down from heaven: namely Jesus Christ, who nourishes and maintains the spiritual life of believers when eaten– that is, when appropriated and received spiritually by faith.

    To represent to us this spiritual and heavenly bread Christ has instituted an earthly and visible bread as the sacrament of his body and wine as the sacrament of his blood. He did this to testify to us that just as truly as we take and hold the sacraments in our hands and eat and drink it in our mouths, by which our life is then sustained, so truly we receive into our souls, for our spiritual life, the true body and true blood of Christ, our only Savior. We receive these by faith, which is the hand and mouth of our souls.


  116. Darryl,

    Thanks for the reference to the Belgic confession. Though it may seem like I don’t care for the distinction between earthly/spiritual, temporal/eternal, I actually care very much for it, but my fear is that if we aren’t very careful about how we make that distinction, we run the risk of a gnostic tendency that overvalues the spiritual, immaterial, abstract, and intellectual realm at the expense of the creation, material, concrete and behavioral realm.

    I acknowledge that western Christianity has largely focused on the eternal side of truth, and for that reason I can affirm the western based confessions of truth. But, that does not mean that our western confessions have fully addressed all truth, especially as it relates to what scripture reveals about the “materiality” of our “spiritual” existence both in the temporal and eternal sphere.

    So, I fully affirm what you have cited from the Belgic confession. But the confession also states that God has by His Spirit, and in the name of Jesus Christ given material bread (which as we have already agreed, does not change its natural essence as bread) its fullest meaning. This is what I am maintaining that scripture is saying that God will do with all of His creation beginning now but fulfilling eternally unobstructed by sin and death upon Christ’s return.


  117. John Bolt:

    “There is a formal similarity between the theonomist and Anabaptist point of view the world’s present governmental structures are evil powers to be repudiated by Christ’s followers who are subject to the uncommon law of God (either Old Testament theocratic law in the case of theonomists or, in the case of Anabaptism, the new law of Christ). I call attention to this similarity because on this formal level at least it was alleged by his opponents that Hoeksema’s denial
    of common grace was functionally Anabaptist, an espousal of world-flight Christianity. This particular charge was led by Van Baalen. In his brochure, The Denial of Common Grace: Reformed or Anabaptist?, he judged the common grace controversy to be “the most important struggle faced by the [CRC]” because it is the “conflict between Calvinism and Anabaptism.” Van Baalen cites a number of Reformed authorities as evidence for the proposition that a denial of common grace leads inevitably to Anabaptist world-flight. While Van Baalen acknowledges that there is an important difference between Hoeksema’s and the Anabaptist doctrine of grace, he still insists: “Nonetheless, both have this in common, that they know of only one grace and consequently judge the world in its totality [because] they can see no good in it.”

    In their response to Van Baalen, Hoeksema and Danhof deny the accusations and challenge Van Baalen to find even one place in their writing where such world-flight is advocated. Hoeksema and
    Danhof insist that they distinguish a positive sense of the word world as “nature” from the negative biblical sense of “world” as that which is in enmity against God.


  118. The book is still out at Amazon. I am wondering if Frame writes much about law and grace, and in particular about Daniel Fuller in relation to John Murray and Meredith Kline. I still don’t know if I want to spend the money on the book unless it has something else in it besides politics and ecclesiology.

    A bit more from Bolt, to remind us of how conversations come to a stop: “Hoeksema claimed that those who held to a doctrine of common grace thereby denied total depravity. His opponents denied the charge and concluded the opposite: Because Hoeksema denies common grace he does not take total depravity seriously enough. Examples of this sort of back-and-forth consequentialism can be multiplied in this debate. Even the original premise —could there be a link between denying common grace and a theonomic public theology?—was an example of consequentialist logical deduction: Denial of the third point implies denial of the legitimacy of non-Christian civil authority which furthermore implies theonomy. It was important to follow a number of such consequentialist leads that eventually turned out to be dead ends in order to illustrate one of the important lessons of this survey: Be wary of drawing grand conclusions from deductions, especially when those about whom you are drawing the inference deny it. When A concludes that B does not believe in total depravity because of belief X but B vigorously disputes the conclusion and may in fact even turn it back on A, then a breakdown of definition and communication has taken place and it is time to stop and go back to the drawing board. “


  119. Don, if the confessions are insufficient to fully express the truth (!) and it is the Bible you want, I wonder if you’d think it is being too Gnostic when Jesus discourses on the cost of being a disciple in the gospel of Luke:

    Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

    In other words, even the highest temporal institution—the family—and the highest temporal good—life itself—are to be subsumed under eternal quests. Jesus even uses the language of hating our parents and our own lives. And there are plenty of other places where the eternal is privileged over the temporal. How about John 18:

    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.

    Or more from Luke:

    I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law…The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive…The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

    None of this is to denigrate whatsoever the earthly (the fifth commandment still stands even if we are supposed to hate our parents should they come between us and Jesus). It would seem that if we would gain eternal perspective on the greatest of temporal blessings, even our very created life, we might do well to understand its penultimate nature instead of assuming its ultimate nature. And if we can do that, maybe all the other facets that make up the temporal order would come into better view. I think that’s what they call getting a perspective already—on the not yet.


  120. Don, I don’t see in the quotation I gave any reference to God giving earthly bread in the name of Christ. It does refer to material bread as common, something that those who profess Christ and those who don’t enjoy. And it is often the case that the Christ deniers make the better bread. But that better bread has no bearing on the bread maker’s eternal life or status.


  121. Matthew 12: 46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

    Mark 10 23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus
    said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”

    Who is Christ’s family? They are promised to get back, in this life, 100 fold, but it’s interesting to me that in this list, there is no promise about getting back any fathers. There is only one Father.

    There is some discontinuity between the covenants on this matter of God being father. I don’t deny that God is the father to the Esau, but I do say that this is not the same as God being the father of the elect to eternal life. Not all Israel is Israel. Not all the elect are elect for eternal life.

    Abraham is a father in more than one way. Without denying the genetic link of Abraham to Ishmael and to Jesus Christ, we can say that Abraham is father also (in a different way) to those who believe the gospel Abraham believed.


  122. Zrim,

    I noticed you roll out the passage about hating your family pretty often. Hope your wife and kids, if you have them, are not reading this. 🙂 Seeing as we are also told to love our enemies, the hinge on which this passage about family swings is how we love, not how we view our temporal life. The only way we can love perfectly is if we do so in Christ and by His Spirit. As you say, if we worship our family, as non-believers do, above Jesus, we will not love our family as we are commanded to.

    As for the passage regarding the kingdom not being of this world, certainly Christ was not saying that His kingdom is not for this world, as you seem to want to say.


  123. Don,

    Re: The only way we can love perfectly is if we do so in Christ and by His Spirit.

    If you wouldn’t mind my asking, are you Roman Catholic? This sounds an awful lot like Rome’s infused grace?


  124. I don’t think I was very clear in my confusion about what you wrote, Don, although I still think it does sound like an RC influenced statement. I’m confused by the ability to love perfectly… since even in Christ and with his Spirit we are still have original sin tainting everything in this life?


  125. Don, so none of that has to do with temporal life from eternal perspective? Then I wonder what it means to say that whoever would save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake will gain it? The only way any of that makes sense is to see how temporal life and eternal life are being played off each other.

    But what you suggested is that you “care very much for” earthly/spiritual and temporal/eternal distinctions. You then said the confessions are insufficient to articulate it then demanded some appeal to Scripture to make the case. I provided what I think are pretty clear and classic Scriptural texts to do so and you bat those away. So, if you’re so high on the distinctions and want some Bible to back it up, I wonder what you’d suggest? I’m getting the feeling you’re not as wild about the distinctions as you claim.


  126. Darryl,

    According to scripture, all things were created in Christ and He is the light and life of all men. So, yes creation and life are common in that they are shared in common by believers and non-believers, while redemption is only shared by believers. No argument there. But that is not the same thing as saying that eternal life, the reward of redemption, means our removal from creation. Why would removal from creation be a reward when creation exists in Christ. Scripture affirms that just the opposite will occur. Christ will return from heaven and remove sinners from creation, whereupon heaven and earth will co-exist and God will dwell with man forevermore. Then creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
    Romans 8:21 (ASV)


  127. Lily,

    No, I’m not RC. We will only love perfectly in Christ and by His Spirit after Christ returns. Until then, we stumble towards that goal.


  128. Zrim,

    I have been saying plenty about how scripture distinguishes between temporal and eternal life. The distinction that I am not agreeing with you about is regarding the essence of life. Both temporal and eternal life are in Christ, and not in and of ourselves. That is what is meant by whoever saves his life (i.e., whoever believes that he is autonomous and self-sufficient) will lose it but whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake (i.e., whoever believes that our life is in Christ living in us per Gal 2:20) will gain it. We are created, and we will always be created. Eternal life is not an escape from creation, but rather the fulfillment of God’s purpose for it in Christ and by His Spirit.


  129. Don, I’m not sure what has given you the impression that the point is some sort of escape from creation. All that is being said is that the eternal transcends the temporal. It seems like basic Christianity, as in, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
    (Hebrews 11:13-16 ESV)

    If it helps, how about eternally created life transcends temporally created life?


  130. Don, the point is not removal from creation but the difference between glorification and redemption. Lazarus was raised from the dead. But he still died again. When Lazarus is raised on the last day, he will not die again. The life of glory is fundamentally different from the life of creation, even when creatures are redeemed. (Don’t forget that marriage will cease in glory.)


  131. Zrim,

    Excellent point. I think you have given me something I can work with. Here is the Merriam-Webster definition of “transcend”: to rise above or go beyond the limits of; b : to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of : overcome; c : to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence). Given this definition, we need to put this scriptural passage you quoted into its proper context and examine what the Spirit is saying to us now.

    In his commentary on Hebrews, Calvin essentially agrees with your statement, but would say that the afar off promises refer to Christ’s first coming, which we see more clearly than our fathers did. Regarding the heavenly country, he would agree with you that it transcends this world. However, he goes on to conclude, just as Augustine does, that there is no place for us among God’s children, except we renounce the world, and we become pilgrims on earth because we are citizens of heaven. Notice that he does not say that we are citizens of this world (in Augustine’s vernacular, the city of man), but rather pilgrims.

    So, if you agree with this reasoning so far, the obvious question is how are we to live in this world, renouncing it as non-citizens, yet having to live in it. I hear you, DGH, Horton, et. al. saying that we do that by treating the material world as common. I’m actually ok with that, but only in the sense that it is common solely because it (creation and life) is shared by both the city of God and the city of Man.

    I also agree with what I believe to be your perspective that our true being and life are to be found only in, through, and by the Church which is the body of Christ. So the question becomes “how does the Church act as the means through, in, and by which our true being and life are cultivated? By using the word “cultivated”, I’ve somewhat revealed my hand. I suggest (not my original thinking) that because we are embodied creatures, we learn through our bodies, as well as our minds. Our confessions of faith and catechisms are excellent resources for aiding our minds in an intellectual appreciation of scriptures, but the Church must also attend to the cultivation of our bodies.

    This is what Ken Myers, and others have been devoting their lives to doing. This is the basis for the following quote in Ken Myers new preface to his book “All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes” which I have quoted previously:

    “The Church anticipates the form of the human race as it will be when it comes to maturity; she is the ‘already’ of the new humanity that will be perfected in the ‘not yet’ of the last day.” So conversion necessarily led to discipleship that had extensive consequences. “Conversion thus means turning from one way of life, one culture, to another. Conversion is the beginning of a ‘resocialization,’ . . . and ‘inculturation’ into the way of life practiced by the eschatological community.”


  132. Darryl,

    “Fundamentally different” can be defined in many ways. Please read my response to Zrim to better understand where I am coming from and why we have to take our embodiment, both in the already and the not yet more seriously if the Church is going to take on the formative role that God intends.


  133. Don, here is where we part company — “if the church is going to take on the formative role that God intends.” I believe you beg the question of what that role is — as if it is a spiritual theonomic kingdom that is all encompassing for the Christian. You say something about having our true being and life entirely from the church. Now that sounds fundamentalist. What about my neighborhood association, what about my family (especially if my family is unbelieving), what about my favorite writer (who is not a Christian)? If we take our entire identity from the church, then either we will be fundamentalists and isolate ourselves in a Christian ghetto — which you don’t want — or the church will be the commonwealth of Christian fellowship and begin to attract theonomists who long for the days of a Christian nation.

    What if the church is not designed to “change” the world? Or what if the change the church brings is invisible and spiritual (though it brings such change to embodied spiritual beings)? The keys of the kingdom are designed to open up and close heaven. They were not given to institute a new world order. The real difference here is how you seem to interpret the “all things” passages in the Bible as informing the explicit teaching of Christ and the apostles about the nature of the church as a sideline institution and group of people — aliens and exiles, a royal nation. They worship king Jesus and they submit to Nero.


  134. Darryl,

    I’d rather not part yet, if you don’t mind. I’m not begging that question at all. I’m just trying to get us to a point where we both agree before we decide to part company, and if we part company, what are we really parting over?

    I think I hear you agreeing with me that the Church needs to take on a formative role, but your solution differs from mine. I am not talking about how we are to “change the world” as you imply my position to be. I’ve already demonstrated my concurrence with Calvin that we are pilgrims who are to renounce this world. The formative role I’m talking about, and that I tried to communicate, is the formation of the hearts and minds of converted human beings, not this world that we presently live in, or as Alan Strange said earlier in this thread “the world as the corporate structure of unbelief” which, as he said “is the classic Augustinian distinction of the two cities, the city of God, built on the love of God to the contempt of self, and the city of this world, built on the love of self to the contempt of God.”

    That does not mean, as you imply, that we have to become fundamentalists, theonomists, isolationists, worldview transformationalists, etc. But it also doesn’t mean that the solution is, as you suggest, that the Church is to be just “a sideline institution.” There is a third way that the Church could take, and which I argue is consistent with Christ, the Apostles, and the Church fathers. That third way is the cultivation of our desire or love towards God and His heavenly city such that we can interact with the city of man, enjoying our common creation and life, but counteracting the desire and love that the city of man aims to satisfy us with. If the Church is nothing but a sideline institution as you suggest, I maintain that the Church will fail in enabling us to put on the armor of God and stand against the city of man.

    In the words of James K.A. Smith, the city of man employs liturgies (he describes them in his book Desiring the Kingdom) “that are fundamentally formative, and implicit in them is a vision of the kingdom that needs to be discerned and evaluated. From the perspective of Christian faith, these “secular” liturgies will often constitute a mis-formation of our desires — aiming our heart away from the Creator to some aspect of the creation as if it were God. Secular liturgies capture our hearts by capturing our imagination and drawing us into ritual practices that “teach” us to love something very different from the kingdom of God.

    By the same token, Christian worship needs to be intentionally liturgical, formative, and pedagogical in order to counter such mis-informations and misdirections. While the practices of Christian worship are best understood as the restoration of an original, creational desire for God, practically speaking, Christian worship functions as a counter-formation to the mis-formation of secular liturgies into which we are “thrown” from an early age.”

    So, we agree that the Church is a royal nation, but if it is merely a sideline institution as you say, the Church will become just another institution competing for the minds of its people and forgetting their hearts. We cop out if we say that the Spirit will take care of the heart through the mind because we are denying that, as humans we are both mind and body. That is why we are commanded to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and we must not let the city of man set the standard for the beauty of holiness. At the same time, since the city of man is animated by the same light of Christ as we are, we should not be surprised, and should embrace those things which the city of man produces that enable us to worship God properly.


  135. Let me correct myself. The Church will never “fail”. That does not mean that we should not continue to apply the wisdom of Christ in the ways that the Church should be ordered.


  136. Don, when you say things like “the Church must also attend to the cultivation of our bodies” I truly wonder what you imagine. Maybe I’m dense, but I can’t see how this doesn’t end up with Christian diets and Jazzercise. I am being serious. I suspect you find such things silly, but what keeps anyone from this kind of fubar if it’s really true that the church is called to cultivate our bodies?

    So, with Darryl, I part company here and wonder the very same things he does. The way I see it, simply put, is that the family (believing or not) is ordained to make human beings, the state (Christian or not) is ordained to rule them, and the church (Christian only) is ordained to save them. But the way you speak about the jurisdiction and calling of the church makes me wonder where in thee heck there is any room for my unbelieving family to have so indelibly made me, and continue to cultivate me in ways the church could never even come close to doing. Your theory just doesn’t comport with my actual experience.


  137. Don, Have you just read James K Smith’s “Letters to Young Calvinists”? It’s simply loaded with the old cliches of “liberalism”. Smith is so fixated on “the culture” that he has a truncated, myopic, arcane, and inordinate rejection of legal imputation. I think Smith needs to smooth out and mature a little, and learn to pick his battles so he’s not at war against those of us who teach God’s legal imputation of Christ’s righteousness to private individuals.

    Smith seems to think that Christians have a “tragic responsibility” to love the world in such a way that they learn to refuse the nonviolent example of the Lord Jesus. I speak not only of a conservative anti-perfectionism which wants to maintain the status quo (because discontinuity might only make things worse).

    I speak also of the desire to use “universal reason” in such a way that you get to say who is being “responsible” and who is not. If it takes violence to make us believe what “natural reason” has to say, then Smith thinks that’s inherent in the mandates of creation.


  138. Don, sorry but I still don’t see the kind of clarity and distinctions that are pretty important for sorting this stuff out. On the one hand you say we need to renounce the world. But then you explain that the light of Christ animates the world.

    Either way, I think it is hard to argue that Israel and the church as presented in Scripture were earth-shattering peoples or institutions. God ordinarily uses the small, the humble, the ordinary. And when the church or Israel became great, that greatness really didn’t work out so well (Solomon or Constantine).

    As for worshiping God in the beauty of holiness, have you not heard that Reformed Protestants try not to beautify worship because it distracts from God’s word? Calvinists did destroy the statues and whiten the walls. And they only sang psalms to simple tunes.

    I fear you are doing to Protestantism what “Greatness” conservatives are doing to conservatism.


  139. Zrim,

    This is not meant as an insult, since you yourself characterized the way you see it as “simply put,” but we need to get beyond the simple to understand how very religious and heart/body engaging our so-called “secular” liturgies are. You are obviously welcome to part company with me, but you need to understand that you are parting company with a host of saints who have gone before us.

    The burden of proof is on you, Darryl, et. al. to justify your 2 kingdoms theory which declares that we are to believe and behave as though we are citizens of both the city of man and the city of God when scripture clearly proclaims that God hates the world (the city of man as described by Augustine) and all the saints before us have clearly exhorted us to be pilgrims, foreigners, strangers, etc. NOT CITIZENS of the city of man.

    You have demonstrated by your comment regarding Christian diets and exercise that you do not appreciate the importance of how to cultivate the Christian’s heart/body, and you want to cling to a false hope that all you have to do is enforce doctrinal subscription to western confessions and catechisms which only address the mind (I think, therefore I am). If you truly want to understand what is meant by cultivating the heart (body and mind) read or listen to what other respectable and knowledgeable theologians who have given serious reflection to the subject: people like Jeremy Begbie, Nigel Cameron, and of course, Ken Myers.


  140. Mark Mc,

    Sorry, but I have not read Smith’s book that you reference, only the one I mentioned. I would have to understand what he says in context to know whether or not I can agree or disagree with your characterization of his writing.


  141. Darryl,

    The statements “renounce the world,” “the light of Christ animates the world,” “worshiping God in the beauty of holiness” come straight from scripture. Surely I don’t need to cite the scriptural references for you, do I?

    And what have I said about the Church being an “earth-shattering” institution? What I have said is that the Church should exert a formative influence in the lives of its people such that their body/heart/mind desire is to glorify God, and not the world as an autonomous Christ denying, city of man. I don’t see how you can possibly disagree with this, or how you can possibly exhort us to be citizens of the city of man in this light.


  142. Don, this seems like a very petty point. Granted, the Bible does not tell us to be citizens. In fact, one of the points of 2k is that the Bible says little to nothing about how to be a citizen of earthly realms. You seem to think that the Bible does (at times) when you talk about the light of Christ animating the world. So if you really mean to deny citizenship to Christians, you are once again imitating fundamentalists.

    But I wonder if you’ve considered that Paul and Augustine were citizens of the Roman Empire. Were they sinning?


  143. Don, well, John 3:16 says “world.” Does that mean Christianity is fundamentally universalistic?

    You have repeatedly argued for redemption and grace as renewal of all things. Sometimes you invoke the Lordship of Christ in N.T. Wright and Newbiggen ways. Then after a few exchanges you back away and argue for a reduced Christian presence.

    I sense we still disagree about what redemption means for bodies and creation in this period of redemptive history. I believe those bodies and structures will still pass away and fade like the grass. I also believe bodies will be resurrected. That seems to discomfort you, otherwise you wouldn’t keep coming back and trying to correct.

    I also believe that just because our bodies are going to die does not mean that we shouldn’t take care of them. Exercise and medicine are good parts of God’s providential care. They are not means of grace. Remember, you keep arguing for an expansive view of grace.


  144. I am beginning to wonder how dgh defines “fundamentalist”. I sometimes think he’s talking about me, but then again the paranoid style is part of being a fundy. Does “fundamentalist” mean a person who thinks we can only be a citizen of one kingdom at a time? Well, that’s me, but are all anabaptists fundamentalists? Does it mean somebody who talks about human ordinances and not about divine sacraments? Again, would that make Zwingli a fundy? (You see, fundamentalism is a form of modernism, we are reminded)

    Does being a “fundamentalist” mean that you still haven’t read enough books to doubt young age creationism? Again, that’s me, but surely I can’t be fundy because I have watched every movie Woody Allen ever made. So, not about me, I am asking for a definition. Does it take more than one thing to make you a fundy? Does it take more than one detail to prove that you are NOT a fundy?

    Let me give you the definitions I learned from one of my teachers, Don Dayton. A fundamentalist is a person who doesn’t think hermeneutics is necessary. An “evangelical” is somebody who kinda likes Billy Graham. Given those definitions, my interpretation is that I am neither fundy nor evangelical. I could so so more negative theology ( I am not Arminian, I am not Reformed) but I will stop for now.

    Before Lily accuses me again of “making my own theology”, I will notice that the labels we use to name our boundaries are “interpreted”. Two people both subscribe to the Westminster Confession. One reads the paragraphs on assurance to teach that we should look to Christ alone. Another reads the same paragraphs to teach that we need to look more than one way, and don’t forget to watch the union in you with the Spirit who unites you to Christ and thus makes you basically a better person. Is that second look a threat or is it self-righteousness?


  145. Don, I think you’re mistaking the points of a Reformed confessionalist for those of a Reformed logician. But the point of prioritizing the confessions, creeds and catechisms has more to do with nurturing an ecclesiastical faith than an intellectual one (Paul M. is howling somewhere at the suggestion that the resident 2kers are all about intellectualizing faith).

    But am I really so impoverished about how the Christian is nourished by saying it’s all about Word and sacrament? Talk about parting company with a host of saints who have gone before us. Have you actually read something like Belgic 35?

    Article 35: The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

    We believe and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ has ordained and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Supper to nourish and sustain those who are already born again and ingrafted into his family: his church.

    Now those who are born again have two lives in them. The one is physical and temporal– they have it from the moment of their first birth, and it is common to all. The other is spiritual and heavenly, and is given them in their second birth; it comes through the Word of the gospel in the communion of the body of Christ; and this life is common to God’s elect only.

    Thus, to support the physical and earthly life God has prescribed for us an appropriate earthly and material bread, which is as common to all as life itself also is. But to maintain the spiritual and heavenly life that belongs to believers he has sent a living bread that came down from heaven: namely Jesus Christ, who nourishes and maintains the spiritual life of believers when eaten– that is, when appropriated and received spiritually by faith.

    To represent to us this spiritual and heavenly bread Christ has instituted an earthly and visible bread as the sacrament of his body and wine as the sacrament of his blood. He did this to testify to us that just as truly as we take and hold the sacraments in our hands and eat and drink it in our mouths, by which our life is then sustained, so truly we receive into our souls, for our spiritual life, the true body and true blood of Christ, our only Savior. We receive these by faith, which is the hand and mouth of our souls.

    Now it is certain that Jesus Christ did not prescribe his sacraments for us in vain, since he works in us all he represents by these holy signs, although the manner in which he does it goes beyond our understanding and is uncomprehensible to us, just as the operation of God’s Spirit is hidden and incomprehensible.

    Yet we do not go wrong when we say that what is eaten is Christ’s own natural body and what is drunk is his own blood– but the manner in which we eat it is not by the mouth but by the Spirit, through faith.

    In that way Jesus Christ remains always seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven– but he never refrains on that account to communicate himself to us through faith.

    This banquet is a spiritual table at which Christ communicates himself to us with all his benefits. At that table he makes us enjoy himself as much as the merits of his suffering and death, as he nourishes, strengthens, and comforts our poor, desolate souls by the eating of his flesh, and relieves and renews them by the drinking of his blood.

    Moreover, though the sacraments and thing signified are joined together, not all receive both of them. The wicked person certainly takes the sacrament, to his condemnation, but does not receive the truth of the sacrament, just as Judas and Simon the Sorcerer both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it. He is communicated only to believers.

    Finally, with humility and reverence we receive the holy sacrament in the gathering of God’s people, as we engage together, with thanksgiving, in a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Savior, and as we thus confess our faith and Christian religion. Therefore no one should come to this table without examining himself carefully, lest “by eating this bread and drinking this cup he eat and drink to his own judgment.”

    In short, by the use of this holy sacrament we are moved to a fervent love of God and our neighbors.

    Therefore we reject as desecrations of the sacraments all the muddled ideas and damnable inventions that men have added and mixed in with them. And we say that we should be content with the procedure that Christ and the apostles have taught us and speak of these things as they have spoken of them.

    That’s how we’re nourished, through simple and ordinary elements set apart as holy by God: words, water, bread and wine. Your advice that if I “truly want to understand what is meant by cultivating the heart (body and mind) read or listen to what other respectable and knowledgeable theologians who have given serious reflection to the subject” is not only arrogant but more importantly ignorant of how the church has always understood how God’s people are truly nourished and sustained.


  146. Zrim,

    I’ve already responded to Belgic 35, and completely embrace what it teaches. But, as I said earlier, it’s perspective is from God’s omniscience as it applies to those who are already born again. Do you know who they are? Is it really arrogant to think that we can learn wisdom from others who teach us how strong the world’s influence is on us. Or are pastors’ responsibilities simply to say “as long as you just keep eating the bread, drinking the wine, singing a few tunes, listening to a half hour lecture, go to Sunday School, avoid sinning if you can, and repent and return to church after that, you’ll be saved, brother.”

    If so, I wonder why Solomon wasted all that time writing the Proverbs?


  147. Darryl,

    I’m sure you would differentiate the meaning of the word “world” as it is used in John 3 versus 1 John 2.

    I would disagree that my view of grace is expansive, as you say. Instead, grace, along with its other benefits, is given to enable the people of God to discern the different telos of the city of man from the city of God. Again, the burden is upon you to prove that we are to behave as citizens of another kingdom when God has said that we are to live as foreigners. How do we live as foreigners and citizens at the same time.

    The state may say we are citizens, and we are certainly required to submit to the authority of man when it does not interefere with god’s authority. But all authority is from God, and to say that we should count ourselves as citizens of this world is to endorse what God hates: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These are the things that are passing away, and if you are encouraging your people to be citizens of this city of man, you are encouraging them to become part of what is passing away. This is fundamental, not fundamentalism.


  148. McMark, fundamentalism stands superficially for withdrawal from the world — no smoking, drinking, movies, etc. But if there is one thing you’ve proved, you’re not superficially anything.

    Don’t go Tebow on me.


  149. Don, you are overreading — more expansion (have you not invoked Newbiggen and Wright and DuLubac and a host of theologians who regard redemption as renewal and recreation?). A citizen is a political category. Paul was a citizen of Rome. When he appealed his trial to Rome was he engaging in the lust of the flesh, etc.? No. Duh. So you need to pot it down on this distinction between citizens and foreigners. Plus, to invoke a position that you should appreciate, God has instituted states and polities. They are good (though I don’t think they are recreational or renewing). So to be a part of a civil polity is not sinful.

    Where did this pietistic streak come from? Have you been reading Charles Sheldon?


  150. Don, it’s pretty clear that we are putting the accent on different things. What I am saying is that learning from Spirit-filled individuals is fine and all, but the real spiritual action is in God’s ordained means of grace. What you are saying is that God’s ordained means of grace is fine and all, but the real spiritual action happens by learning from Spirit-filled individuals.

    Affirming Belgic 35 is one thing, but allowing it to inform one’s theology, piety and practice is a whole different thing. One might even say that merely affirming Belgic 35 but speaking and behaving as if the writings of Begbie, Cameron and Myers are at least as edifying is a good example of rote and intellectualized faith where confession and praxis are fairly well disconnected. I’m glad you’re not as antagonistic toward the means of grace as the typical evangelical, but at the same time your apparent privileging of a few favorite individual writers over God’s ordained means is still a lot more evangelical than it is confessional.


  151. Mark, you suggested that an eeeevangelical is someone who kind of likes Billy Graham. But I’ve always liked Bill Clinton’s political thumbnail for how to determine Republicans from Democrats: if you think the 60s were mostly a good thing, you’re probably a Democrat; if mostly a bad thing, probably a Republican. The religious version is if you think Billy Graham is mostly a good thing, you’re probably an eeeevangelical; if mostly a bad thing, probably a confessionalist.

    But another feature of fundamentalism is the inability to discern overlap and shades of gray. That’s why Reformed notions of already-not yet, dual citizenship and common ground are jagged little pills. Everything is black and white. There is no difference between an alcoholic and a heavy drinker, bad judgment and sin. There is only righteousness and evil. The reason Don seems to edge in this direction is that he can’t seem to conceive of how any redeemed person could be cultivated and edified by unredeemed people. Creation gets swallowed up by redemption, which is classically fundamentalist.


  152. Well, I do think Billy Graham is and has been a very bad thing. And that’s not because Graham sits on the platform with Mormons and papists. (Hey, Tim Keller will do that when his american parish is involved.) I think Billy Graham is a bad thing because he taught the same false gospel as spread by separatists like those at Bob Jones. (In the old days, I think BJU withdrew from electoral politics but now I think they support a Mormon.) That false gospel conditions salvation on the sinner.

    I have not only repented of that false gospel, but have also withdrawn from those who believe the false gospel. Of course I have also withdrawn from those who think they have been called to become agents of God’s wrath. I suppose you could say that makes me pretty “withdrawn” (except in the workplace and in the economy, but some of us front porch folk boycott even some of that)

    If I am a “confessionist”, it must be an “union” between the Schleithem and the first London. And I have been told that people are not allowed to do hybrids. Of course I have been told that some “Reformed” are nothing but “hybrid Lutherans”.

    Go New England and Tom Brady!


  153. But, Mark, as a shot at paedobaptism Graham once said that God has no grandchildren. A natural feature of confessionalism is paedobaptism. I think you’ll have to start sprinkling babies before I’m convinced your repentance and anti-Grahamery are complete.


  154. Billy’s grandson Tullian seems to want the grace of a finished atonement but without the effective and definite atonement for the elect aone of the Reformed confessions. I won’t call him a Lutheran, but grace is bankrupt if there’s to be no mention of election in Christ and Christ having died for the elect alone.

    Romans 11:5-6 So too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, then it is no longer on the basis of works.

    As for grandfather Billy, the last I heard he now says that God to all of us, even to a thousand generations, but that it’s best to be “sincere in your heart” whatever your faith happens to be. Or as your fellow paedobaptist NT Wright has it, justification is not about getting your sins forgiven. It’s the status you get when the church baptizes you and makes you a Christian. Time will tell if you stay in the covenant….

    Zirm, are you saying that those who subscribe to baptist confessions are not “confessionalists”? If being paedobaptist is required, does that make the holy father of Rome a “confessionalist”? Or is Trent not a confession? No picking and choosing between folks just because they happen to have different reasons for the inherited praxis.


  155. Mark, I’m saying that to be confessional is to be ecclesiastical and that to be ecclesiastical is to be covenantal and that to be covenantal is to be paedo. In that sense, yes, the Bishop of Rome is more confessional than the Pride of Charlotte, but it’s also an infallible confessionalism that the heirs of Geneva (and Wittenberg) cannot abide any more than the anti-ecclesial circuitry riding of the heirs of Whitefield. I know the default setting is that there are Catholics and everybody else is Protestant, but there’s more to being Protestant than not being Catholic, and being Protestant includes being paedo.


  156. Well, I would agree that being Protestant is paedo. I am not Protestant. Lots of both baptists and anabaptists agree that we are not Protestant. A Protestant accepts the pope’s baptism. I know (and very much like) Thornwell on the sorcery of accepting Romanist baptism, but I think even Thornwell thought that Calvin had been baptized in a legitimate “laver of regeneration”.

    But thanks, Zrim, for clearing everything up with that word “covenantal”.

    Do you follow Gary North’s five point model for “covenantal”?

    Are you saying that baptists don’t believe the Bible has covenants?

    Are you saying that “covenantal” means that you know that all the covenants (besides the covenant of works) are all one “the covenant of grace”? And that if you don’t agree with that, then of course you think there is more than one gospel which is the object of faith?

    And the circumcised ones said to John the Baptist: we have already been covenantally initiated, so are you saying that our covenantal privilege has been reduced now that the kingdom is coming unless you also baptize us?


  157. Mark, all I mean by covenantal is to contrast Protestant piety with the strong individualist streak that runs through modern evangelicalism.


  158. I get it,Zrim. So don’t say “covenantal’. Say anti-individualistic. And anti-individualism is what students are being taught in almost every college in this country, even at Grove City but perhaps not at Hillsdale. Anti-individualism is like becoming “more robustly sacramental” and not so taken up with your own private salvation. It’s what you learn to say in the academy. And if you don’t say it yet, well, maybe you are not educated yet.

    I do remember that there is a group of folks out there who don’t do things by consensus and “in community”. They are independent baptist pastors who even sometimes own the buildings.Ok, I agree that we need to get over that. And we do some mediating institutions which don’t presume to kill folks who disagree.

    But please don’t call me “covenantal”. Those independent baptists covenanted together to watch each other to be sure nobody was drinking wine or going to see the movies.

    Zrim, what has been your worst encounter with a bad kind of individualism? Did somebody pour himself a Dr Pepper and call it the Lord’s Supper? My wv disapproves of that kind of thing.


  159. Mark, does being re-baptized count as a worst encounter with the bad kind of individualism? But my confessionalism disapproves and names it sin (Belgic 34), and I have since repented.


  160. I don’t know anybody who has been rebaptized. I know some folks who think that what papist and Arminian churches did to them was not baptism. Hey, I would think there might even be some folks whose “churches” think they were baptised with whom you don’t agree. Do you call it “re-baptism” when you baptize Mormons? I guess it would be “re-baptism” if you objected to what the liberal methodist clergy happened to think “Trinity” meant. You got to accept their baptism, or we get to call you Donatist.

    But the Donatists of course also initiated their infants with water.

    Peter Leithart: “Calvin was fatally wrong in suggesting that Galatianism was found wherever there is an emphasis on ritual. Calvin not withstanding, the redemptive-historical move that the New Testament announces is not from ritual to non-ritual, not from an Old Covenant economy of signs to a New Covenant economy beyond signs.” Against Christianity, p80

    Zrim, I have been thinking of your image of the mirror, where you suggested some kind of inverse relationship between credobaptism and paedo-communion. I am not exactly sure what you meant with that. But it occurs to me there is something mirror-like in the relationship between baptism and the Lord’s Supper. On the one hand, if I say that the symbol points to the past, the historical death and resurrection of Christ, and is not to be confused with a present “union” with the humanity of Christ, I get called a Zwinglian and worse (reductionist, liberal, modernist, nominalist, gnostic, Arian, you name it). But on the other hand, when it comes to baptism, at least some of you paedobaptists stipulate a difference between the sign and the time of the efficacy of the sign, so it’s not a mistake to divide the symbol from the present reality.

    I am of course not speaking of Anglicans and Lutherans who think God makes Christians with water (with the word). But if I understand most op guys, you do divide symbol and reality when it comes to baptism. Is that a “mirror”, an inverse to what you think happens in the Lord’s Supper?

    I have not yet understand why we begin with the concept “sacrament” and then talk about baptism and communion. Since baptism and communion are in the Bible, why not start with them and then see if we inductively get to “sacrament”?

    ok, I cheated. I think I know the answer to that last question. But the mirror question is genuine. I don’t know.


  161. Mark, some of us were baptized as babes in Trinitarian churches, enticed away from ecclesiatical Christianity and persuaded that our baptisms were false and needed to be re-done by individualist Christianity.

    Re the mirror, I take baptism to be the initiation of the Christian life with an eye toward the Supper to affirm and sustain the Christian life (sorry, Don, I like my spiritual nourishment in the form of bread and wine, not hard cover and paperback).


  162. Any suggestions on the “sacramental” disconnect between symbol and resulting efficacy in baptism, and that disconnect not being allowed between bread and wine and present union with the humanity of Christ? Are you saying there’s no such disconnect on baptism either?

    It might always be a mistake to assume that my trajectory of repentance toward the gospel is the same as yours. Not all of us were born Arminians; some of us were very carefully taught Arminianism. Some only see the gospel after they see the law. And I know some who never learned to fear God and feel the law until they learned the gospel.


  163. Mark,

    Since Zrim invoked my name above, I felt compelled to respond to your question about sacramental disconnect. To do so, I will start where Zrim left off when he said “I take baptism to be the initiation of the Christian life with an eye toward the Supper to affirm and sustain the Christian life.” I agree with Zrim, but would want to “flesh” it out a bit. Scripture reveals that the Spirit was hovering over creation at the beginning, and that He was also hovering over Christ in the “new Begiinning, at christ’s own baptism. But even though the Spirit was hovering the first beginning, Adam was still able to sin. With Christ however, we read that the Spirit continued to lead Christ.

    In our baptism, which is a type of Christ’s, the Spirit also hovers and, if we are elect, He will continue to lead us. If we are not, we will resist the Spirit. So like Zrim and Calvin, I would say that baptism is the initiation of the Christian life, though he would probably say only nominally for the non-elect, while I would say truly, though resistably in the non-elect.


  164. I find Dr. Frame’s new book hypocritically ironic. Several years back, he wrote a piece about “Machen’s Warrior Children” (, bemoaning the sorry state of present Reformed intolerance. He lists 21 areas where his “children” have been warring with one another. He writes, among other things, “Reformed people need to do much more thinking about what constitutes a test of orthodoxy” and ” Scripture often condemns a “contentious” spirit.” His position seems to reflect that of Jack Nicholson’s President in Mars Attacks, “Little people, why can’t we all just get along.” His great dream is for these children to stop bickering over what amounts to basically non-essentials. Then, he goes out of his way to write a book about his former employer: The Escondido Theology. The book cover says, “they are not simply Reformed,” ” idiosyncratic,” and “sectarian.” Given these two mutually exclusive views held by Dr. Frame, I wonder, how can I take seriously anything he writes in this book?


  165. I’m no expert in the 2k view but I’m leaning in that direction. I don’t believe in withdrawing into a fundamentalist ghetto and I’m definitely not a reconstructionist or a theonomist. On the other hand, I don’t agree with the idea that we ought to sit back and allow the socialists and the atheists to take over the government, force immorality on the church, and transform society into some sort of gay/lesbian/transgender utopia for the heathen. Call me old fashioned but it seems to me that one can be 2k without buying into the idea that we should let the pagans force us into a ghetto with the use of the state and the military. Such naivete is the sort of thing that led to the Papists persecuting the Hugenots and the Arminians persecuting the Puritans.

    The fact is there is no such thing as a complete value neutral secular society. Someone’s values will be legislated. The church can never be neutral on these issues. But that is different from saying the mandate of the church is social transformation or political in nature. It means that the church should stand for religious freedom.

    A good example of what I’m talking about is a recent story where the government is going to force Roman Catholic hospitals to give out free contraceptives to women. Please. The political left is trying make atheism and relativism the “religion” of the state. The government has no right to force any religious group to do what is against their religious beliefs. It’s not only a violation of Scripture but a violation of general equity and natural law. When the Reformed churches over-emphasize the 2k view to the point of withdrawing from these kinds of issues they are in fact becoming a fundamentalist ghetto.

    I’m no fan of the Papists but I think it is wrong for the government to violate their freedom of religion. When their freedom is violated, ours will be next.

    I haven’t read John Frame’s book but I can guess where he went with some of his views. I’ll have to read it before I can comment.

    Sincerely in Christ,


    P.S. You have a typo in the article. Decalogue and not “decalague”.


  166. Charlie,

    As an aside, the Romanists will, I repeat, eat Obama and the Army Generals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s coming vis a vis a SCOTUS ruling, Rigdon v. Perry (1997). I vacillate on a continuum of causes: hubris, insensitivity, stupidity, or a combination thereof. I incline to the hubristic view.

    Dr. Hart:

    I suppose I’ll have to get John’s book, despite my disciplined frugality. You say of John: “In his introduction, he goes out of his way to explain that Escondido theologians reject Christendom.” That is an intense, exceedingly wide, and substantial allegation. It indicates not just apostasy (weakening categories) but “heresy.” “Reject Christendom?” I’ll get it.

    Regards to all.


  167. Charlie, do you really think 2kers advocate letting atheists and socialists take over the government (though I’m not aware of any legal requirements that prevent non-theists from holding office in the United States)? The question is whether Christian involvement springs from Christian or citizenly grounds. Do you oppose socialism because it is sin? Or do you do so because it is at odds with the American form of government? I oppose it for the latter reason. That means that I don’t draw attention to myself in politics as a Christian.


  168. If I were the kind of person who liked to “draw attention to myself”, but not as a Christian, I would want to know which “socialism” it is that’s inherently “at odds with the American form of government”. All “socialisms”? But since I could only ask that sort of thing if I admitted to being “American”, then perhaps I should draw the attention to this statement:

    Westminster Seminary California Faculty Response to John Frame

    All of us on the faculty of Westminster Seminary California are shocked and saddened by John Frame’s book, The Escondido Theology. Several of us were colleagues with John and several had been his students. We have appreciated particularly over the years his teaching of the apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, his critique of open theism, and his strong defense of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. (The statement of Andrew Sandlin on p. xxxi of this book claiming that John had been a polemicist against inerrancy is surely a mistake.) We are very troubled, then, to find John so utterly misrepresenting and misstating our views. We do not wish to engage in a protracted discussion of these things with John, but we do find it necessary to set the record straight.

    Perhaps the simplest way to do that is to refer to the thirty-two bullet points with which John has summarized our views at the beginning of the book (pp. xxxvii-xxxix). He introduces these bullet points by claiming: “Below are some assertions typical of, and widely accepted among, Escondido theologians. Not all of them make all of these assertions, but all of them regard them with some sympathy” (p,xxxvii). In response all of us on the WSC faculty wish to state clearly that we reject all of these thirty-two points as a fair or accurate presentation of our views.

    We have the most sympathy with the bullet point which says “There is no difference between being biblical and being Reformed” (p. xxxviii). Yet we would state it differently: we are Reformed because we believe that the Bible is most faithfully understood and taught in Reformed Christianity. In relation to most of John’s bullet points we believe and teach the very opposite of what is attributed to us. We hope that those interested in our work will read some of the many works written by our faculty and see for themselves the inaccuracy of John’s book.

    mark: please don’t anybody call Bob Godfrey a “biblicist”.


  169. McMark, since private property is pretty basic to the American polity — check the original bill of rights — that would pretty much rule out all socialisms. And see, I have the Bible tied behind my back.

    What any of this has do to with WSC and their statement is beyond me.


  170. Darryl, I don’t believe Christians need to hide their faith. I can oppose theonomy/reconstruction without hiding that I am a Christian when I enter the world of politics. We are supposed to be salt and light. In fact, Jesus’ 2k views got Him crucified precisely because He preached the Gospel openly, not because He thought we ought to be secret Christians. Jesus meddled with politics without preaching political transformation and it was just this sort of meddling that will cause modern Christians to be persecuted.

    I did read Edmund P. Clowney’s, “The Politics of the Kingdom” and I can fully affirm everything there. However, it seems to me that one of the dangers of over-emphasizing keeping Christianity absolutely separate from the other realm is that we withdrawn into fundamentalist and Reformed ghettos. The two kingdoms are distinct but it is God who is sovereign over both kingdoms.

    I reject common grace, btw, as a semi-Arminian doctrine that really has no basis in any of the Reformed standards or in Calvin himself.

    You will find that I am no fan of theonomy whatsoever. That’s because I have come to a more Scripturalist understanding of apologetics.



  171. Socialism is inherently materialistic and godless. But then, so is pure capitalism. Our republican form of democracy is founded on a Christian worldview. “All men are created equal” is not incidental.


  172. Darryl, there is nothing to prevent Mormons or Satanists from being President of the United States either. But can you with a straight face pretend that if the majority of the office holders are hostile to Evangelical and Reformed Christianity that they will not oppress the church?

    Be that as it may, you are correct about one thing. God is absolutely sovereign and even if it comes to the point of real persecution or the outright apostasy of Christian churches, it is still God’s decreed will.

    The Gospel does not depend on our abilities or our performance but on God, who ordains everything.

    I’m trying very hard not to be as polemical as I have been in the past.

    May God’s peace be with you,



  173. Charlie, there is a difference between hiding your faith and wearing it on your sleeve. Jesus did say that you should pray in private, partly so that you would avoid looking self-righteous like the Pharisees. I think this is a danger any time Christians go into the public sphere, calling attention to their faith. What is a non-believer to do? Go into exile?


  174. Charlie, I’d have an easier time answering your question if I thought that Evangelicals were not hostile to Reformed Christianity. Calvinists have plenty of worries apart from the Obama administration. And we don’t seem very charitable if we are griping about the government that does preserve liberties that Christians in other parts of the world are in some cases dying for.

    How about some perspective here?


  175. Charlie, socialism is man exploiting man. Capitalism is the same thing only in reverse. Ta-da!

    But do you really want to say that our republican form of democracy is founded on a Christian worldview? I thought it was founded on the Greco-Roman worldview. And if being opposed to Reformed Christianity is the basis for wanting to prevent Mormons from holding office (because they’ll oppress the church) then doesn’t that mean you also want to prevent Catholics and Baptists from holding office?


  176. Most evangelicals are hostile to any proclamation of John 3:16 which denies that Christ died for every sinner. The idea that none for whom Christ died will perish is NOT good news to the evangelical book market. This means that evangelicals have something much more fundamental from which to repent than “Telbowing their faith”. There are many sincere folks who nevertheless have a faith in a false gospel, and need to repent of that idolatry.

    A godly change of mind can come only in light of the Gospel wherein Christ and His righteousness obtained for the elect alone is revealed as the only reason for salvation . This godly repentance is a change of mind concerning Christ (Who He is and what He accomplished) and the efficacy of His obedience unto death (His righteousness). This repentance involves a change of mind about changes of mind making the difference in removing the guilt and defilement of sin

    What the evangelical now sees as pleasing unto God and as the work of the Holy Spirit, he needs to see as “flesh” (Philippians 3:3-4). What the evangelical once highly esteemed, when he repents of the gospel, he becomes ashamed of (Romans 6:21) and now, in light of the true Gospel, counts his experimental evangelical religion as fruit unto death, DEAD WORKS, evil deeds. He doesn’t look down into the toilet bowl of his history to see what can be reformed or redeemed. He flushes.

    The distinction between kingdoms is important knowledge, because it exposes the Idolatry of those who would give “spiritual reasons” for killing the enemies of their American property. But a more fundamental distinction is between the gospel in which Christ satisfies God’s law for the elect, and the false gospel in which God’s law is compromised and ignored.

    Matthew 5:16–“let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

    The light is not our good works. The light is the gospel, and the gospel teaches us which works are good and give glory to God.

    John 3:19 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it will be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”


  177. Darryl, those liberties were purchased by the blood of the American revolutionaries, most of whom were Protestants. Will you sit back while the neo-Evangelicals sell out to the Papists? From the looks of it, you and Mike Horton will do so. Horton thinks Anglo-Catholics are Christians even though their doctrine is Papist through and through. If you’re going to complain about how Evangelicals are oppressing the Reformed faith, at least consistently stand for the Gospel and stop compromising with Arminians, Van Tilians, Theonomists, and Anglo-Papists.

    There is only one Gospel. Pretending there is a village green or a big tent is just naive, imo.

    The Evangelical Theological Society only requires that you believe in biblical inspiration and inerrancy and the trinity–as if the Gospel were unimportant. How about the five solas?

    Even worse, The Society for Pentecostal Studies does not even believe that the trinity is essential doctrine since they allow oneness Pentecostal modalist membership. For the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement the only thing essential is the gifts of the Spirit and Spirit baptism.

    Ecumenicalism has reared its ugly head even among the “Reformed”. As if Arminians are not closer to the Papists in theology than the Reformed? Please.

    I would that you guys would be consistent with the two kingdoms theology. If you were, you could never endorse false denominations and false religions as if they were part of God’s kingdom.

    Sincerely in Christ,



  178. zrim, absolutely. I would prefer Reformed men to be office holders. Given a choice I choose the lesser evils. As for the government being Greco-Roman, I would say there are influences on western civilization from that form of government. But let’s not forget that John Locke social contract theory, the Magna Carta, and the ecclesiology of the presbyterian church polity have all influenced our political form of government as well.

    Furthermore, there is an influence of the Christian worldview evident in the appeals to divine authority in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I’m no fan of “civil religion” but historically the idea of an absolute separation between Christian faith and the political realm is just revisionism. The Church of England was an established church. The Americans did not have in mind an absolute separation of church and state that we see today argued by the socialists and liberals. No, they wanted religious freedom without an established church.

    The fact that the Decalogue is engraved on the face of the Supreme Court and other evidences of Christianity ought to proof enough that there was no idea of a godless secular government that we see pushed today. Jefferson was a Deist, not an atheist.

    When the 2k view is made to support godless and atheistic government then I have to strongly disagree. If by the 2k view you mean that we should have no established church supported by taxation and military might, then I agree. If you mean that government should not uphold natural law and a general equity, then I disagree. The Protestant Reformers one and all believed that the Decalogue should be applied in the realm of civil government. It was a magisterial Reformation.

    I believe that is what the term “general equity” means in the Westminster Confession.

    It seems to me that some interpretations of the 2k view are distinctly American. I’m wondering which political party you and Horton and the gang belong to? I’m guessing the socialist party.



  179. Charlie, yeow, so much for your efforts to avoid polemics. Do I really type like a socialist? Paging Senator McCarthy.

    But Jesus and the apostles supported godless governments–you know, render unto (godless) Caesar his due and all that. To my mind, what is distinctly American is the notion that our civil office bearers must share our religious convictions. Why is that? Do our doctors, librarians, store clerks and cops have to as well? How about our politicians more or less share our polical views and our other servants only a capacity that is relative to their craft? Or is that not glorious enough?


  180. Charlie, a little consistency from you may also be in order. The American Revolution drew great support from Calvinists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists, who too often equated political liberty with Christian liberty. Such support for nation has fostered various forms of liberalism because it confuses the eternal and temporal realms. Clerical support for the Revolution paved the way for the Social Gospel.

    As for my own ecumenism, I’ve been outspokenly critical of the Manhattan Declaration. I have also wondered about Protestants who can’t tell the difference between spiritual and political matters and so are willing to overlook Roman Catholic teachings and practices for the sake of a public morality.

    Also, you may be interested in a series of Articles that John Muether and I wrote against Roman Catholicism.

    2kers are more consistent than you realize.


  181. mcmark: I agree with Zrim that’s it better to have “secular friends” to remind us that we don’t have to
    join with religious friends with their false gospels. I think this is consistent.

    But to copy Zrim for himself–“But maybe we don’t want to take public stands on issues about which we agree with fellow religionists because it doesn’t take too long before “those issues” become confused with the essentials of faith. Secular friends help keep religionists from getting confused.”


  182. Obeying civil laws in a godless realm is different from supporting what those godless governments choose to do. Jesus didn’t advocate insurrection but neither did He tell the Jews to commit idolatry by worshipping images. What He said was, “Pay your taxes.”

    Jesus and Paul condemned homosexuality. They didn’t support what went on the pagan world.


  183. Charlie, when he said “Pay your taxes” he meant “Submit to the ungodly.” His hearers understood that and was why they were amazed. What’s so amazing about telling people to be practice good citizenship 101? Did Jesus really have to die for giving innocuous citizenship lessons?


  184. So what does Escondido theology mean? It seems to mean “Calvinists who are NOT terrorists, or have no desire to be terrorists” whereas opposing Escondido theology seems to imply a sort of “terrorist Calvinism” or the idea that Calvinists should use terrorism to take over he government and use the secular sword to force everyone to be Calvinist. Does that about sum it up?


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