Locating the Source of 2K Objections (aside from theonomy and Neo-Calvinism)

I would prefer not to encourage these guys (don’t worry, discouragement is coming) since the Calvinist International provides a highly dubious reading of Reformed Protestantism. But because the Aquila Report (an equal-opportunity aggregator, they even link to Old Life) gave their views on Hooker, Calvin, and political theology a measure of respectability, some response is in order. For a better and more thoughtful response, continue to keep an eye on Matt Tuininga’s blog (with whom the Internationalists have been carrying on a fairly vigorous debate).

In their own words, here is the heart of the matter:

The matter of the controversy can be briefly summed up. We say that the Kingship of Christ is of universal extent, and in two ways: the first spiritual, invisible, immediate and pertaining to the just, though eschatologically and cosmologically universal; the second temporal, visible, mediate and pertaining to all. We say the original two kingdoms of the Reformers means those two modes, the invisible and the visible, not the ministry and the magistrates, both of which are on the visible side. They say that the church is a politically distinct group of people who have no real investment in the temporal realm, but are temporally governed by ordained leaders representative of God by divine right, and that Christ’s kingship is exclusively over it and not over creation or the commonwealth. We say that the church is primarily invisible, but that its temporal profile is a vast multitude, the corpus christianorum, which in situations where the whole community has not recognized the kingship of Christ, constitutes a voluntary schola, but in situations where the community has formally and representatively recognized Jesus’ Kingship, is basically coterminous with the commonwealth. They call our position “Erastian” or “Zwinglian,” and say that Calvin was up to something fundamentally different.

(I have finally figured out who this “we” is — I do find its repeated use by the Internationalists dumbfounding since when I claim “we” on my wife’s behalf I generally pay for it once the guests leave. It is Wedgeworth (W) and Escalante (E) who seem to have more agreement than most couples.)

This is, by the way, one of the oddest readings of church polity since it would seem to make the visible church a matter indifferent to the spiritual and invisible church. As long as you belong to Christ, it doesn’t matter what the preaching, sacraments, ordination standards, or worship patterns are in your own church. Of course, WE don’t say this, but it is an implication of THEIR view and seems to be how church life played out in the Church of England — a communion that their beloved Richard Hooker defended.

THEY go on to say:

In pointing to Hooker as the better reader of Calvin, and in saying that the idea of a Christian commonwealth is normative, we have been repeatedly, and despite repeated clarifications, misconstrued as “theonomist” or “Erastian” by Dr. Darryl Hart, who seems to think that we wish for an authoritarian State applying the Mosaic penal code, when the opposite is in fact the case. Neither Hooker nor Calvin is our regula fidei, and we are happy to adapt their principles appropriately within the context of the modern order of political freedom- an order which only follows from those Protestant principles. Still, we do claim the history for our side. We share the basic theological principles of the Reformation, and specifically those of Luther, Calvin, and Hooker. We hope our contribution can be the accurate genealogy and specific application of the older principles in the 21st century context.

What we have recovered is what seems to us the classical Protestant doctrine of politics. In particular, we have said that the two kingdoms do *not* directly correspond to the two estates of magistracy and ministerium, but rather, that both magistracy and ministerium are within the temporal kingdom.[4] Our opponents do, however, identify the two estates with the two kingdoms respectively.

What is important to see is that WE claim not to be Erastian and THEY also claim that Hooker is the better interpreter of Calvin than Thomas Cartwright or anyone else who holds to jure divino Presbyterianism. That jure divino view, by the way, was an effort to assert the autonomy of the church from the oversight of the state and to claim for the visible church the real keys of the kingdom and the power of excommunication. One of the reasons that folks like Hooker didn’t want the church to have such autonomy or power was that it might give back to the papacy authority that Anglicans understandably didn’t want the Bishop of Rome to have. A contemporary application for those associated with Federal Vision is that if the church doesn’t have such authority, then Federal Visionaries won’t face church discipline, because the magistrate sure isn’t going to do it.

What gets particularly difficult for WE’s interpretation of Calvin and Hooker — not to mention Calvin’s own discussion of church polity in Book Four or Ursinus Zacharias’ commentary on the keys of the kingdom in his companion volume to the Heidelberg Catechism — is the way THEY invoke W. J. Torrance Kirby, a scholar of Zurich and England’s political theology who teaches at McGill University. In his book, The Zurich Connection and Tudor Political Theology, Kirby would seem to regard Bullinger, Hooker, and WE as Erastian and as different — even hostile — to Calvin.

The influence of Zurich theology is particularly evident in the theory underpinning the political institutions of the Elizabethan Settlement, chief among them the Royal Supremacy, the lynchpin of the constitution. In his defence of the royal headship of the church in the 1570s against the attacks of the disciplinarian puritans Thomas Cartwright and Walter Travers, John Whitgift, then Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, relied closely on the political writings of Vermigli, Bullinger, and two other prominent Zwinglians – Gualter and Wolfang Musculus of Berne. Whigift’s so-called “Erastian” conception of society as a unified “corpus christianum,” where civil and religious authority were understood to be coextensive, takes its name from the Zinglian theologian Thomas Lieber . . . alias “Erastus” of Heidelberg. The controversy between Whitgift and promoters of the Genevan model of reform in England is in many respects a replay of the dispute on the continent between Erastus and Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor in Geneva. Richard Hooker’s celebrated defence of the Elizabethan constitution published toward the end of the century is an elaboration of the same Zwinglian-Erastian political theology. It is worthy of note that Hooker’s patron while at Corpus Christi College in the late 1560s and early ‘70s was John Jewel, Vermigli’s disciple and secretary who had earlier followed his master into exile at Zurich. . . .

The heart and substance of Bullinger’s prophetical office with respect to England was to defend, to interpret , and to promote the Civil Magistrate’s pivotal role as the supreme governing power in the ordering of religion in the realm. . . Strange though it may appear, the institution of the Royal Supremacy with its hypostatic conjunction of supreme civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the Prince, constitutes for Bullinger a vivid exemplar of the unitary character of Christian polity, and also of the distinction and cooperation of magisterial and ministerial power. From the standpoint of Bullinger’s unique covenantal interpretation of history, it is certainly arguable that the Old Testament exemplar is more completely realised under England’s monarchical constitution than under the republican conditions of Bullinger’s own city and canton of Zurich.

In other words, if Kirby is right, contrary to WE, Hooker is not following Calvin but is tracking with the Erastians, Bullinger and Vermigli. At this point, WE’s point about continuity between Calvin and the Church of England would seem to go up incense. Also, THEIR reading of the Reformed tradition, which virtually ignores the important disagreements between Zurich and Geneva, looks like another case of historical cherry picking.

But aside from the historical debates, what the disagreement between WE and Tuininga also reveals is that opposition to the contemporary recovery of 2K is coming not simply from theonomists or neo-Calvinists but from Zwinglians. And what all of these forms of protest share is a high estimate of the state compared to 2k’s assertion of the church’s legitimate access to the keys of the kingdom. Whether it’s a case of not trusting the church, or sensing that circumstances need a solution more effective than word, sacrament, and discipline, the critics of 2k enlarge the kingdom of Christ so that the officers responsible for guns and bombs have power to enforce a Christian community.

I understand the frustration with church power. I wouldn’t want to be disciplined any more than Peter Leithart, and I recognize that church discipline is hardly binding in a society where religion is largely private and personal. What I don’t understand is pining for sixteenth-century England or Geneva. Calling on the magistrate to help with church work, after all, did not work out so well. Don’t these folks ever consider the important connections between established religion and liberal theology? Bullinger and Hooker perhaps could not since they were only a handful of decades into a disrupted Christendom or the rise of the nation-state. But for folks living over four hundred years from Erastianism not to see its faults is stunning.

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33 thoughts on “Locating the Source of 2K Objections (aside from theonomy and Neo-Calvinism)

  1. “within the context of the modern order of political freedom”

    This situation ethic reminds me of a situation in which Tonto asked the Lone Ranger: “Who’s this WE, paleface?”

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  2. I know I have some homework to do if I am going to track the political difference between Calvin and Zwingli. It had seemed to me only circumstantial (situational) that Zwingli died on the battlefield in an attempt to kill those opposed to his religious regime and that Calvin did not.

    “sensing that circumstances need a solution more effective than word, sacrament, and discipline, the critics of 2k enlarge the kingdom of Christ so that the officers responsible for guns and bombs have power to enforce a Christian community…”

    When Calvin had the city council expel Bolsec (who was teaching a version of predestination now accepted in many PCA or CR churches) from the city of Geneva, surely that was more than “church discipline”. What would Zwingli (or Bullinger) have done differently?

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  3. “Don’t these folks ever consider the important connections between established religion and liberal theology?”

    I don’t know if I want to give three cheers or ask about somebody’s “inner fundy” coming out. Don’t these folks who want more ritual ever consider the important connections between sacramental religion (Nevin) and liberal theology ( the Reformed Churches of Pennsylvania)?

    Peter Leithart (Against Christianity, p75) explains why fundies tend to resist ritual gestures.

    “First, a spiritualizing reading of redemptive history. ‘When Jesus removed the special status of Jerusalem as the place where God was to be worshipped, he abolished all the material forms that constituted the typological OT system.’ (Terry Johnson, p157, in With Reverence and Awe, ed Hart and Muether).”

    “Second, Israel’s prophets inveighed against empty formalism, and some conclude that from this that the prophets condemned ritual as such.”

    “Third, the Reformers taught that the Word has priority over the Sacraments. Salvation comes by hearing the Word with faith, not by mechanical adherence to the sacramental system of the church. Sacraments are an appendix to the faith.”

    “Finally, privatization. Religion is a matter of ideology, ideas and belief. Public rituals can be faked, and so those who tie religion to public rituals tempt us to be hypocrites.”

    I quote this “us and them” from Leithart NOT to say that Hart is faking it when he claims not to be a fundy. But I do suggest that “connections” can also be made between a high view of church ritual and a high view of the state. Hey, if we could only get the state to say publically that Christ was its king, wouldn’t that gesture make a difference? And hey, if the ordained elders of the churches had the keys, and if the sacraments mattered to people such that these keys changed history, then wouldn’t the “high church” be able to better stand apart from the “high state”? And if a Constantinian Christendom is what it would take to resist liberalism and modernity, maybe it’s not so bad after all.

    Thus the theory. But history suggests otherwise.

    “From the standpoint of Bullinger’s unique covenantal interpretation of history…”

    Did Zwingli and Bullinger have a different view of law and gospel than Calvin? If so, what political difference did this make? If not, which is the cause and which is the effect? Law and gospel, or 2K?

    Does an unique covenantal interpretation of history do anything to or show anything about one’s view of law and gospel?

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  4. mark mcculley: When Calvin had the city council expel Bolsec (who was teaching a version of predestination now accepted in many PCA or CR churches) from the city of Geneva,

    RS: Mark, would you mind expanding on this a bit? I am referring to Bolsec’s version of predestination which differed from Calvin but now accepted in many PCA churches. How did it differ from Calvin’s and why do you think that many PCA churches are teaching this? Thanks

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  5. Andrew Richard See the Paul Helm article here;

    Richard: Thank you for the link, Andrew. That was a good and provoking article. I would still be interested in why Mark thinks that many PCA churches teach Bolsec’s view which is a clear denial of the Westminster Confession and is basically Arminian at best.

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  6. Calvin: “Some object that God would be contrary to himself if he should universally invite all men to him but admit only a few as elect. Thus, in their view, the universality of the promises removes the distinction of special grace; and some moderate men speak thus, not so much to stifle the truth as to bar thorny questions, and to bridle the curiosity of man. A laudable intention, this, but the design is not to be approved, for evasion is never excusable.(I, 22, 10).

    My interest now in this thread is the politics of banishing non-church members for the public sharing of their theologian opinions when they disagree with state paid clergy, and not an examination of some individual “reformed churches” where Arminianism is now being preached regularly.

    Was something done in Geneva differently than from what would be done in Zurich, and what does that have to do with the political theories coming from Geneva and Zurich?

    http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/calvin-bolsec-and-the-reformation

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  7. McMark, right. But if you need the state to give the church a lift, how high is your (i.e. Leithart) view of the church? And I’d argue that this high view of church and state is the special product of theonomy. Israel did, after all, have a high view of church and state. What 2kers are trying to take seriously is the difference between Israel and post-Israel.

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  8. Mark, it almost seems like you’re equating liturgical and sacramental faith with established religion and then suggesting the former slouches toward liberalism. But if liberalism is all about collapsing creation and redemption, and if liturgical and sacramental faith is all about pointing away from the temporal to the eternal, it doesn’t exactly add up. The line from established religion (e.g. theocracy and theonomy) to liberalism makes more sense since both are about bringing the two kingdoms into harmony.

    My hunch is that your Anabaptism, which is typically low church, is trying to find a way to impugn high church Calvinism. But the 2k in these parts is in the tradition of the Protestant Reformation, the one yours said didn’t reform nearly enough, part of which seems to mean a lower view of the church and her sacraments is in order. But it is possible to retain a high view and avoid the pitfalls.

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  9. Zrim, I think you are over-thinking my motives. I was simply agreeing with DGH about the difficulty of making connections between politics and gospel. To some who accuse him of a bad politics leading to a false gospel (Jason Stellman), he turned the suggestion back on the opponents. Perhaps good Reformation gospel will keep you “connected” to good (2k) politics. The “slippery slope” idea that one thing leads to another (the domino theory) makes things way too easy.

    Fundies like soundbites that make things simpler than they are. And yes, I know that’s a soundbite.

    I guess I think there is more than one way to read a return to ritual. Your way seems too simple, if it claims that all ritual is about being more about the eternal. In my own experience, that has not been the case. But then again I went to a liberal seminary. But I would be very interested, Zrim, in how you would read Leithart’s points about the Reformation’s claim to be recovering the new covenant by getting away from some rituals. Would you agree, for example, with his critique of Terry Johnson and Hart about a focus on redemptive-historical discontinuity causing people to become more “low-church”?

    I don’t find the high church/ low church spectrum all that helpful. If you believe the gospel and do “sacraments”, I don’t think that puts you “relatively” closer to Romanists who do the “sacraments” but don’t believe the gospel. “High and low” really doesn’t say much about even our ecclesiology, much less our gospel.

    Of course I know that some folks think that “grace” means a church cannot judge or have discipline. But I doubt that you would agree with Niehbuhr about that. I suspect that you would agree with anabaptists that discipline can be a function of grace.

    Not to get too personal, Zrim, but I always wonder about your autobiography. On the one hand, you seem to have a greater interest than most about things “anabaptist”, but then on the other hand, you often do the worst caricatures. I wonder if this is because you have a real past not simply with fundy baptists (church is a collection of individuals) or if you have known others (mennonites, brethren) who were more “anabaptist” and who put a great emphasis (too much I think) on “church”. You certainly don’t need to tell us that past stuff, but it would help me to understand your points.

    If you want me to say that it’s possible to do sacraments and puritan sabbath and still have the true gospel, let me say: yes. I very much agree with you on that.

    So I won’t bother you with the story of me shortly after my conversion (12 years ago) in a “high Reformed church” (gospel plus “sacraments”) where marriages were arranged, and where you were not allowed to either become a member or leave said congregation. (Any such “liberty” would be “free-will talking”) A very sad and painful story.

    As you suggest, there are pitfalls on all sides. The right kind of “church” is one way to avoid the pitfalls of the wrong kind of “church”.

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  10. “The cold war between the Protestant and Catholic cantons of Switzerland suddenly became hot in 1531. Zwingli rode to battle as the chaplain of the Zurich troops, fully clad in military armor, wielding a double-edged sword. On October 11, 1531, as darkness fell upon the verdant fields surrounding the monastery at Kappel, Huldrych Zwingli was wounded and killed in battle. When the victorious Catholics discovered that the arch-hertic had fallen in battle, they mixed his ashes with dung to prevent their being collected as relics. All the same, a year later, Oswald Myconius, Zwingli’s first biographer, related the following bizarre story: “The enemy having retired after the third day, friends of Zwingli went to see if they could perchance find any remains of him, and lo! (strange to say) his heart presented itself from the midst of the ashes whole and uninjured. The good men were astounded, recognizing the miracle indeed, but not understanding it. Wherefore, attributing everything to God, they rejoiced because this supernatural fact had made sure the sincerity of his heart” So Zwingli’s heart, like that of Joan of Arc, was miraculously preserved from destruction! It wuold have been ironic, to say the least, for Zwingli, that staunch opponent of relics, to have himself become one! ”

    – Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers, pgs 158-159

    mcmark: Please do not take this quotation as my endorsement of Timothy George, who is not only an advocate of a turn to “baptist sacramentalism” but a leader in Evnagelicals and Catholics Together.

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  11. Let me try to agree with Zrim some more! He might start sounding like Hart’s wife–you are not speaking for me so stop saying “we”.

    Here’s what I want to say. People can say that ecclesiology is only a thing indifferent because it’s not the gospel, it’s not essential. But WE need to beware of that. Those little indifferent things almost always come up and bite us in our cabooses.

    The problem with anabaptists today (and maybe always) is that they think more highly of what “the church” says together in community than they do about what the Bible says.

    Paul Zahl warns that that (any) ecclesiology is trouble when it “places the human church in some kind of special zone — somehow distinct from real life — that appears to be worthy of special study and attention. The underlying idea is that the church is in a zone that is more free from original sin and total depravity than the rest of the world, but the facts prove otherwise” (p. 226, Grace in Practice). But if there is no inside and outside, we are simply not being faithful to what I Corinthians 5 teaches about how grace works.

    And to add something a little more “anabaptist”, something that Zrim would NOT say—-Yes, the gospel is both for Christians and for infants, but not everybody is in the church, which is for “as many as the Lord shall call”.

    I know that Stanley Hauerwas, for example, has elevated his “ideal non-existing too catholic to be Roman Catholic church” to a place way more important than Christ’s atonement for and justification of individual sinners. After all has been said about the historical claims of various churches, or the purity of their “shelf-doctrines”, or the formal beauty of their worship, the pitfall is that churches can and do often become ends in themselves.

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  12. Mark, sorry if I misread you, but it seemed like you were wanting to place more skepticism on the things of the institutional church: liturgy, sacrament, creed, and office. Sorry if you consider it a bad caricature, but this is what I’ve always understood the Radical Reformation to be about. And it’s no insult to read my read of ritual as a signifier of the eternal as too simple—simplicity is a Reformed virtue.

    You may not think high and low ecclesiology is a helpful taxonomy, but it can be useful for distinguishing between the experientialists (who elevate experience over Scripture) and the ritualists (who elevate church over Scripture).

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  13. Zrim,

    If theonomists want an established church, why do you think it is that they are some of the most staunch advocates of government keeping out of the church’s affairs and limited gov’t in general?

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  14. Jon, because they’re more neo-con rightists than Reformed. But make the government Christian and they turn into liberals.

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  15. Just as a point of clarification most of the “Big Name” Theonomists like R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Gary DeMar, Ken Gentry, and Greg Bahnsen were/are against an Established Church as the Covenanters and the 1646 Westminster Confession understands it.

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  16. Darryl,
    You say about WE’s position that “This is, by the way, one of the oddest readings of church polity since it would seem to make the visible church a matter indifferent to the spiritual and invisible church. As long as you belong to Christ, it doesn’t matter what the preaching, sacraments, ordination standards, or worship patterns are in your own church.”

    I don’t see how you draw that conclusion when WE specifically says that

    In the opening section of Book 4, chapter 11 of the Institutes, Calvin uses the expression “spiritual government” in connection with “ecclesiastical power” and the “jurisdiction” of the Church. This is clearly contrasted against “civil government.” Calvin goes on to explain that the Church is to have a sort of council, modelled after the Jewish Sanhedrin, and that this jurisdiction, which is again distinct from the civil magistrate, holds the keys to the kingdom, the oversight of morals, and the power of excommunication. This is Calvin’s distinct contribution to the question of Church polity, his emphasis on lay elders and the office of “ruling” in the Church. It is the one area where he most stands apart from Luther, Zwingli, and the English Reformed.

    Furthermore, WE points out that it can be shown that Calvin’s unique emphasis is still actually in the area of external and practical application. Even the keys are really a variation of the Word-ministry, and as such, they must also operate from within Calvin’s earlier qualified restrictions:

    We now understand that the power of the keys is simply the preaching of the gospel in those places, and in so far as men are concerned, it is not so much power as ministry. Properly speaking, Christ did not give this power to men but to his word, of which he made men the ministers.

    As opposed to indifference of the visible Church to the invisible Church with which you ascribe to WE, it seems clear to me that WE and Calvin are arguing that the visible Church is very much concerned with the power or ministry of the invisible Church through the visible Church to the temporal kingdom.

    The contrast that WE is drawing with the 2K position is that in the temporal realm, while WE agrees that the visible Church alone is distinctly related to the invisible Church, it is not separated though clearly distinguishable from the visible, civil order. While distinguishable, though, WE and Calvin maintain that both the Church and commonwealth serve the same end.

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  17. Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival – William L. de Arteaga

    I couldn’t help thinking of you, Zrim, when I was taking a look at this. His thesis is that sacramentalism will turn you onto revivalism, and that Wesley will turn you onto sacramentalism. He thinks they are both good because they both give folks an “experience of the eternal”.

    I’m guessing the book just shot to the top of your summer reading list!

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  18. Jon, but some theonomists do defend the original WCF which does call for an established church with the magistrate calling synods and presiding over them.

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  19. Don, actually, WE argue that the visible church is different from the spiritual kingdom. And WE and other internationals are critical of 2k precisely for doing what Calvin did — ascribing power to the visible church. That is why they accuse 2k and jure divino Presbyterians of clerocracy and violating liberty of conscience.

    Either way, they claim that Hooker is the proper interpreter of Calvin where Kirby traces Hooker’s ideas to Zurich.

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  20. Mark, what a bizarre thesis. Hard to imagine Nevin who tried to revive Calvin’s doctrine of the Supper and wrote against the anxious bench going all Great Awakening. Thanks, but I think I’ll stick with Vonnegut and Carver this summer.

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  21. Darryl,

    You have raised another point without addressing my original point that WE’s visible church is indifferent to the spiritual and invisible church, as you argued. I assume therefore, unless you prove otherwise, that you concede that WE does not argue that the visible church is indifferent to the invisible.

    Now to your new point that WE argues that the visible church is different from the spiritual kingdom, I think WE would agree, however, WE more specifically argues that they differ from 2K agreeing with Calvin saying that the visible church must be considered as one church in two ways, visible and invisible, with the essence of the invisible church ultimately being the “true church.”.

    Calvin states, “to God alone must be left the knowledge of his Church, of which his secret election forms the foundation.“ Later he adds:

    I have observed that the Scriptures speak of the Church in two ways. Sometimes when they speak of the Church they mean the Church as it really is before God—the Church into which none are admitted but those who by the gift of adoption are sons of God, and by the sanctification of the Spirit true members of Christ. In this case it not only comprehends the saints who dwell on the earth, but all the elect who have existed from the beginning of the world. Often, too, by the name of Church is designated the whole body of mankind scattered throughout the world, who profess to worship one God and Christ, who by baptism are initiated into the faith; by partaking of the Lord’s Supper profess unity in true doctrine and charity, agree in holding the word of the Lord, and observe the ministry which Christ has appointed for the preaching of it. In this Church there is a very large mixture of hypocrites, who have nothing of Christ but the name and outward appearance: of ambitious, avaricious, envious, evil-speaking men, some also of impurer lives, who are tolerated for a time, either because their guilt cannot be legally established, or because due strictness of discipline is not always observed. Hence, as it is necessary to believe the invisible Church, which is manifest to the eye of God only, so we are also enjoined to regard this Church which is so called with reference to man, and to cultivate its communion.

    Previously, I emphasized how WE does agree with Calvin in ascribing power to the visible church, but that does not translate into a 2k position that wants to subsume the visible church in the invisible. Rather, the “true church” is both invisible/eternal, known only by God, and visible/temporal, including “a very large mixture of hypocrites, who have nothing of Christ but the name and outward appearance.”

    Is this what you mean when you say that WE says the visible church is different from the spiritual kingdom?

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  22. What I take to be the two main conclusions in the latest from WE.

    “Calvin’s commitment to evangelical theology means that ecclesiastical discipline too must be understood as operating in the realm of sanctification, so that the two differ not in fundamental nature, but in form–‘Ecclesiastical discipline cannot make men righteous either, but this in no sense restricts its competence as an agency which facilitates the task of sanctification’.

    “The only really decisive point of conflict concerned what was in fact a fairly narrow question, that of excommunication, and this rested primarily on the rather narrow theological question of whether the Table was objectively defiled and Christ blasphemed by the presence of unworthy partakers. Calvin, with a stronger emphasis on the objectivity of the sacrament than Bullinger, considered that it was, and hence considered that the minister had a weighty responsibility before God to attempt to fence the Table.”

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  23. Don, I mean what they say, which is that the visible church is part of the temporal order, that Christ rules exclusively in the invisible church, and that jure divino Presbyterianism is a departure from Calvin.

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  24. The snips at neo-Cals IMHO is a little ridiclous. I would say it is an error to suggest that neo-Cals are ubiquitously uniform and that Van Til as well as Bavinck can be termed as neo-Cals. In addition, to suggest that the the present hope of redemptive history has nothing to so with the present order of creation smacks something of Lessing’s Ditch. Naturally, there are differing Reformed views on the relation of the present order of creation to the new creation. But it does seem that the view that the view of a re-newed new creation has significant representation among major Reformed theologians. It would seem to me Wendell Berry can only be of value of this present order precisely because it will be a re-newed creation.

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  25. Rob deRoos, well that’s seems pretty convenient to claim that re-creation has representation among Reformed theologians when all the theologians you cite are Dutch. Couldn’t they be wrong? I’ve tried to say repeatedly to certain neo-Cals that the spirituality of the church has representation among many Presbyterian theologians and all I hear is that these “Presbyterians” were really fundamentalists.

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  26. Darryl, I do agree with you the re-creation view of the new heavens and new earth has perhaps its strongest precedence among the conservative Dutch Reformed. I could be wrong but I don’t think it is only there; I think it can be argued that in the seminaries like WTS, Covenant RTS and Mid-America Ref., it is gradually becoming the majority report. No doubt, the recent trend at Calvin Seminary in terms of embodiment, creation and common grace can go too far. And Neo-Cals of a transformative bend that de-centralize the church and seem to only talk to common grace and even social work as ministry is incorrect. The WTS-CA critiques of evangelicals and transformatives need to be listened to I think here. But the view that this present world is a complete loss and our hope is a complete “heavenlies” RH perspective is perhaps too far the other way. I think I understand the spirituality of the church in terms of being ministerial and declarative but may I ask if you could further explain what you mean by your statement, “I’ve tried to say repeatedly to certain neo-Cals that the spirituality of the church has representation among many Presbyterian theologians and all I hear is that these “Presbyterians” were really fundamentalists”? Thanks …

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  27. Rob, the neo-Cals (especially Dutch) who hear spirituality of the church think this means that — to use your words — this world is a complete loss and our hop is a complete heavenlies. So it seems that you yourself suffer from such associations. Sp of the church does not mean anything like this if you take vocation seriously. Believers are to be engaged in the world because they live here on planet earth. But if they think the kingdom is coming through Christian art or Christian banking or Christian nation-building, they haven’t learned much from history and I don’t think they’ve read the NT or OT (in an RH way) very carefully. Christians may and can work to make the world better. Better is a far distance from the kingdom.

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