Regeneration, Intelligence, and Philosophy

May we have a little clarity on the nature of regeneration, puh-leeze? Sorry to pick on the neo-Calvinists again, but a common construction of regeneration among those who stress the antithesis is to attribute to the supernatural work of the Spirit the intellectual genius of believers. This interpretation is strongest among the neo-Calvinists who are philosophically inclined. Because they can unearth the epistemological roots of an idea or argument, and because they operate in what at times seems like a Manichean universe divided between the knowers (of Christ) and the ignorant, these neo-Calvinist philosophers believe they hold the keys to discerning the work of the Spirit. Regeneration removes the noetic effects of the fall and now allows Christians to interpret reality correctly, and even see the philosophical basis for all things.

Never mind that the arguments for Christian schools contradict this understanding of regeneration. If regeneration does produce a new w-w, then why is education necessary? Shouldn’t the regenerate already have the tools, by virtue of the illuminating power of the Spirit, to understand all things correctly? But if covenant children and the w-w challenged need to appropriate the value added material that comes from the w-w cognoscenti, then is the Spirit’s work in regeneration really responsible for a new outlook on the world? Or could it be that a w-w is much more the product of human instruction about the fundamental truths of epistemology and metaphysics, or Christian teachers who give a faith-based reading of the arts and sciences?

Another wrinkle here, by the way, is the folly that apparently afflicts believers not only about the world but also about the faith. Remember that Paul call the Galatians and Corinthians foolish even while considering these folks to be saints, that is, people who had experienced the work of the Spirit in regeneration. Also, consider that a w-w does very little justice to catechesis. In fact, in communions where w-w has expanded, catechesis has generally declined. At the same time, regeneration is no solution to the hard work of memorizing a three-figure set of doctrinal answers. It takes time, discipline, and memory.

So what we need is clarity about the noetic effects of regeneration. And we also need to distinguish among those effects, the native intelligence of persons that comes providentially from genes, family environments, and temperament, and academic proficiency in a particular area of human investigation. Clarity may start with a reminder about the nature of the spiritual illumination in regeneration. According to the Shorter Catechism:

Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel. (WSC 31)

. . . when God carries out this good pleasure in his chosen ones, or works true conversion in them, he not only sees to it that the gospel is proclaimed to them outwardly, and enlightens their minds powerfully by the Holy Spirit so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God, but, by the effective operation of the same regenerating Spirit, he also penetrates into the inmost being of man, opens the closed heart, softens the hard heart, and circumcises the heart that is uncircumcised. He infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one compliant; he activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds. (Dort III/IV, 11)

What sure seems clear to me is that regeneration has a narrow effect — it allows a person who had no interest in Christ to understand his need and to trust the work of Christ. It is a kind of knowledge, but it is not even necessarily knowledge of well-formulated doctrine. At the same time, regeneration does nothing to take someone from a low to a high IQ. Nor does regeneration place someone all of a sudden as a graduate of a Masters-level curriculum in western philosophy. Regeneration removes the noetic effects of sin. It does not change the brain or a person’s mastery of a body of thought.

At the same time, neo-Calvinists enraptured by western philosophy may want to remember what Calvin and Kuyper, Mr. Paleo- and Mr. Neo-Calvinist, had to say about the learning of pagans.

If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how preeminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom Scripture [I Cor. 2:14] calls “natural men” were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good. (Institutes II.2.15)

. . . the unbelieving world excels in many things. Precious treasures have come down to us from the old heathen civilization. In Plato you find pages which you devour. Cicero fascinates you and bears you along by his noble tone and stirs up in you holy sentiments. And if you consider your own surroundings, that which is reported to you, and that which you derive from the studies and literary productions of professed infidels, how much more there is which attracts you, with which you sympathize and which you admire. It is not exclusively the spark of genius or the splendor of talent which excites your pleasure in the words and actions of unbelievers, but it is often their beauty of character, their zeal, their devotion, their love, their candor, their faithfulness and their sense of honesty. Yea, we may not pass it over in silence, not infrequently you entertain the desire that certain believers might have more of the attractiveness, and who among us has not himself been put to the blush occasionally by being confronted with what is called the “virtues of the heathen”? (Lectures on Calvinism, 121ff)

What is important is that Calvin does attribute to the Spirit the knowledge that pagans possess. Truth, wisdom, and intelligence do not exist independent from God. At the same time, the wisdom of pagans is spiritual work that does not include regeneration. It is in effect another iteration of the doubleness that 2K tries to maintain. In the same way that Christ rules the work of redemption differently from the order of his creation, so too the Spirit works upon the minds of people differently, with the illumination of regeneration providing a knowledge distinct from understanding politics, the liberal arts, or even neo-Calvinists’ beloved philosophy.

So once again, neo-Calvinism’s failure to follow Kuyper and figure out how to affirm a common realm that exists somewhere between the holy and the profane bites them in their argumentative backsides. Without that common realm, believers — whether fundamentalist or neo-Calvinist — will try to baptize everything and turn all truth and wisdom into the blessings of redemption and special grace.

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512 thoughts on “Regeneration, Intelligence, and Philosophy

  1. To be a GOOD TREE is first of all about being justified before God. There are two legal states before God. Either you are justified before God or you are condemned before God. To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new creation, and this mean first of all that the elect are given a new legal state, with the result that they begin to KNOW that assurance is not in what God does in us but rather in what God has done in Christ outside us.

    Romans 6, which explains about “justified from sin” and “sin shall not have dominion because you are not under the law” goes on to describe the resulting knowledge of those who have been justified. “Those who were once slaves of sin have become OBEDIENT FROM THE MIND TO THE STANDARD OF DOCTRINE to which God committed them” (Rom 6:17). Among the “things of which you are now ashamed” (6:21) is any idea that we are ever changed in such a way that we are no longer sinners like other people.

    Many who think of themselves as ontologically superior will be surprised on the last day

    Matthew 7:17 So every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree CANNOT bear bad fruit, nor CAN a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty WORKS in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you WORKERS of lawlessness.’

    Many “Calvinists” pay lip-service to “imputation” whose more basic hope is an ontological regeneration in them which they find to be more important than any “knowledge” about atonement, imputation, or justification. To them, the noetic effect of regeneration will produce in them “sanctification by synergism” which includes their works. The “federal vision” version of this is to speak of “covenant conditions” so that even the “elect” still have an “opportunity to fail”.

    So that you will not think I doing a caricature this exaggerated understanding of “regeneration”, let me quote one pastor.

    Regeneration Priority: “When the preponderance of my thoughts about my daily life with God are only seen from the perspective of Christ’s substitution and my unworthiness to merit his favor, I miss the motivation of knowing my deeds today can actually please God, and I can be left with a gnostic academic Sandemanian view of my relationship with God.”

    mcmark responds: Like the Galatian false teachers, those who prioritize ontological regeneration do not deny justification by imputation. But they minimize justification as “mere knowledge” and only one “perspective”.

    I quote Mr Regeneration Priority : “I can begin to assume that it is only the perfect Christ that “God sees” (as though it were all some virtual reality and not a ontological reality). It is as if I am now, at least theoretically, absent from the relationship and if not absent, in some way made so irrelevant that my thoughts and actions can neither please him or grieve God in any real way.”

    mcmark: To give the priority to a regeneration that effectively “ends the law-grace antithesis” is to move the emphasis from what Christ has done and put it on what WE (changed ontologically) can now do. It makes us a lot more “relevant”, at least IF WE use our new abilities to change the culture. This possibility makes success depend on us, and has the added thrill of warnings about potential defeat. Those who emphasize this concept of regeneration over justification want to be present in their relationship with God in such a way that their ability to understand things the Bible does not talk about can supplement “hearing what God says in the Bible”

    To those with this viewpoint, it’s irritating that 2 k (or anabaptist) folks don’t want to be relevant in that way. Why call anything “providential natural intelligence ” when you could call it “grace” instead? Is not the “grace” that changes us so that we can do what needs done also “grace”?

    If we respond to these claims of ontological ability by asking which Christian is now no longer experiencing the noetic effects of sin, our question itself proves to some Calvinists that we are antinomians.

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  2. Richard Gaffin, in Ordained Servant, reviewing Horton’s Covenant Union:

    “Horton voices reservations about the Reformed doctrine of regeneration. He agrees with its substance and intention but finds problematic the way it has been formulated, in particular the notion that regeneration produces a habitual change and involves the INFUSION of new habits. This he sees as a lingering residue of the medieval ontology that eventually made the Reformation necessary. These concerns, with his own proposal, are articulated especially in Chapter 10 (“Covenantal Ontology and Effectual Calling”). The promising alternative for him lies in adapting the Eastern Orthodox distinction between divine essence and energies, so that the activity of the Spirit in salvation is understood as an exercise of his energies that avoids “a causal scheme of infused habits” (213).

    Gaffin: “I share fully Horton’s concerns about the notion sometime present in Reformed treatments… that regeneration is prior to effectual calling and produces an antecedent state addressed in effectual calling. That notion is quite problematic and ought to be rejected. However, his view of “Regeneration as Effectual Calling” …prompts the following observations…. Having been called effectively involves having been regenerated, but the two are not identical. The exercise of the Spirit’s energies in calling produces an enduring change within sinners distinct from that exercise.

    Gaffin: “The result… is a permanent regenerate state marked… by a new and lasting disposition inherent in them, what Scripture calls a new heart. That is, at the core of my being, I am no longer against God and disposed to rebel against his will but, now and forever, for him and disposed in the deepest recesses of whom I am to delight in doing his will. In view of the undeniable reality of their own indwelling sin, believers need to be exhorted not to quench or grieve the Spirit at work in their lives. But his work in the justified ungodly does not merely consist of an ongoing countering activity within those otherwise only disposed to be thoroughly resistant and recalcitrant…. The Reformed use of “habitual” to describe this irreversible change, this radical dispositional reorientation in believers, seems appropriate and useful. I’m unsure whether and, if so, how these comments square with Horton’s covenantal ontology.”

    mcmark: If regeneration is by grace and justification is by grace, who cares? It’s all “union”. Or at least it all depends on “union”. And “union” depends on faith. Doesn’t it?

    http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=141

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  3. Darryl, methinks your stogie was doped before writing this one. As idolators create gods after their own imaginations, you seem to create neo-Calvinists after your own imagination. I can say that I’ve never met a neo-Calvinist that thinks like you’ve described. Of course, the Kuyper quote is proper neo-Calvinism. Common grace is one of the planks. I’d suggest that modern neo-Calvinism has a bit too much stress on common grace–as I like to say, transformationalism plus common grace minus the antithesis is social gospelism. Of course, you avoid that error by keeping transformationalism (and the antithesis?) out of the equation, so you just have “the common”.

    I’d love to see some quotes or references to your alleged brand of neo-Calvinism.

    Here’s a link to how I put it through the eyes of C. Van Til–The Similarity of the Christian’s and Non-Christian’s Science. I’m more than happy to say that worldview is part of philosophy and is by and large an academic discipline. Everyone has one whether they are conscious of it or not. Most people, including believers, can get along fine in the world and in the church without knowing anything about Reformed epistemology or who Herman Dooyeweerd is. They don’t even need to know what “cognoscenti” or “noetic” means. Of course, it’s better to say “In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song.”

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  4. “I’d love to see some quotes or references to your alleged brand of neo-Calvinism.”

    Me too. Notice his only quote from a Neo-Calvinist contradicts what he says Neo-Calvinists believe!

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  5. Who is the someone who is making sense? We are talking about regeneration. What’s confusing to me (and what does not make sense) is the quote from Dort and equating regeneration with some sort of infusion of grace. What the post is trying to determine is if regeneration does anything to counter the effect of sin on our minds and make us more clear thinkers- at least more clear and insightful thinkers than unbelievers. I thought that regeneration is the cause for believing faith in the Gospel. It has nothing to do with clearer or more insightful thinking. I am confused on what it means in Romans 12 to be transformed by the renewing of your minds and how we do this. That may effect our clear and insightful thinking more than regeneration.

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  6. Darryl,

    I’d love to see (or make) a full-length smack-down on how Neo-Calvinism renders unintelligible the religious lives of the mentally disabled. Most of the guys I serve love Jesus, pray to him nightly, worship him on Sundays, and do their manual work as best they can with dignity and little self-reflection. Being a Christian doesn’t make them more intelligent, yet even my most “severely retarded” clients have developed a vast body of knowledge/praxis: they know what to do, they learn the songs, they learn the stories, they know how to pray, etc. Most of the activities in the descriptions we have of heaven don’t require much intelligence, thank God.

    My tentative thesis is that by assigning so much meaning to the common realm, Neo-Calvinists risk demoting the mentally disabled from full participants/subjects of the Kingdom to some kind of object that more intelligent [read: real] Christians get to redeem. Retarded people become the target of “Kingdom Work,” not its laborers. In short, hardly any of the stuff that Neo-Calvinists say Christians should do apply to anyone with an IQ less than 80. That’s a feature, not a bug.

    PS: About 10 years ago I met you at the CFH in Indiana and got to hear you respond to Chris Shannon. I think that same lecture ended up in “Confessing History,” which I helped edit at Covenant. Anyway, you seemed nice.

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  7. John,

    “if regeneration does anything to counter the effect of sin on our minds and make us more clear thinkers- at least more clear and insightful thinkers than unbelievers.”

    All that’s needed here is to show that regeneration does *something* to counter the effect of sin on our minds and make us more clear and insightful thinkers than unbelievers. In the post, even *Darryl* admits it does *something* in this regard—namely, for matters salvific.

    But you may want to qualify and ask if it does “something” apart from matters salvific. The answer here is yes too. This was assumed by the majority of Reformed, for example, it was the key point of theologia naturalis regenitorium.

    But you may want to qualify further and say, “Okay, does regeneration do *something* outside these last areas.” Whatever you think the noetic effects of sin cover can be affected. So note here that Dort claims that there are *some* things outside the above two categories: “There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, or natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and shows some regard for virtue and for good outward behavior.”

    But more properly, the Reformed have said that regeneration and sanctification are what affect the intellect. but really, this isn’t a neo-Calvinist view, it’s rather a more catholic view. Take virtue epistemology. No doubt Augustine and Aquinas held to certain accounts of this, and the position is becoming more in vogue again. If we agree with some of the basic and fairly uncontroversial themes of virtue epistemology, we can see how conversion can affect matters epistemic: there are certain epistemic vices which affect us as knowers, and certain epistemic virtues positively affect us as knowers. As recognized experts in virtue epistemology, Roberts and Woods, have noted, these virtues include but are not limited to things like “love of knowledge and the virtues of epistemic humility, caution, courage, tenacity, openness, charity, and generosity” (Intellectual Virtues, Oxford, p.28). The go on, speaking of epistemic generosity, which “belongs, stylistically, to Christianity, and it does so because of the centrality of the Christian virtue of love. The centrality of love is a consequence of God’s generous love as revealed and embodied in Jesus Christ (ibid, 304). Christianity also fosters

    an intrinsic interest in important truths about history, nature, and human beings. Nature, including human beings, is God’s creation and reflects his intelligence and beauty; and he is the Lord of history. It is a natur- al extension of the worship of God to have reverence for and interest in the things he has made and rules. (ibid)

    Examples could be multiplied. We might, for example, wonder about the negative cognitive effects that cognitive idolatry has on our minds (the theme of cognitive idolatry is explored in great detail by renowned epistemology Paul K. Moser in The Ellusive God, Oxford). In his fascinating study he points out the truth that our whole person is involved in the knowing process, not just some disembodied mind. Accordingly, with the reorientation of our *wills*, this will affect our epistemic condition in at least *some* (to meet your criteria) way. When heart and mind are aligned, as many Christian and non-Christian have pointed out, this has a profound effect on the knower.

    This point is elaborated on when we consider the interrelatedness of *ethics* with knowledge. These form a “normative web” (as Terrance Cuneo has forcefully argued in Normative Web (Oxford)). Given a change in our moral dispositions and affections and knowledge (as *all* Reformed creeds and confession attest to), changes at the normative level are bound to have *some* consequence. For starters, go back to the virtues point. And this isn’t some “neo-Calvinist” rejoinder—which wouldn’t matter if it were, for that’s insufficient to defeat what I say—it’s recognized by neo-Confessionalists like David vanDrunen (see, e.g., his book on Bioethics (Crossway) and his discussion of how regeneration and sanctification affect traditional virtues, allowing Christians to have more trustworthy and correct views and answers to some bioethical problems. As regeneration and sanctification cause the sinner to accept and appreciate God’s word in the Bible, she now has access to a broader storehouse of philosophical concepts about the nature of man etc. Guided by the word—caused by regeneration and sanctification—her judgments on many important issues will be more sound, knowledgeable, and trustworthy than the non-Christian. Some of these new concepts are spelled out in his list of “givens” the Christian approaching bioethical decisions must take into account. For example, we *must* take into account and apply our philosophical concept of man qua imago dei when discussion bioethical questions, and this will affect the way we think and reason in this area. One more example of the many he presents is our changed view—again, brought about through conversion—on the nature of death, which, clearly, affects much of our thinking on many bioethical matters. In these senses and on these matters the Christian’s thinking is clearly *better* than the non-Christian’s (and note: I do not mean by ‘thinking’ some rote *process* that happens in the brain or discursively in the mind, a *process* or *mechanism* that operates, roughly, the same in all people).

    Anyway, yeah, the virtues. DVD discusses my point in chapter 3, showing how the Christian cultivation and development of virtues (both moral and epistemic, I say) affects how we think and reason about matter bioethical.

    Another example has to due with what logicians and psychologists have pointed out, that our set of background assumptions affects what we take to be good arguments. Different background assumptions might cause two people two view the same argument differently, one with appreciation the other with disdain. One might say, “The argument shows no such thing, for it is invalid.” But it might only be believed to be invalid based on certain assumptions. This can in part explain why some believers will see that an argument clearly supports belief in God, while an atheist that it clearly doesn’t, and that it’s a bad argument. Not recognizing good arguments can be an intellectual defect.

    Finally, another example can be taken from what Alvin Plantinga has argued for in his Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. Now, before touching on this argument, we should note that regeneration and sanctification brings about various philosophical changes for us (the extent differs on the starting place). But a Reformed Christian will not hold to physicalism, doxastic epiphenominalism, metaphysical naturalism, nihilism, radical empiricism, or the existence of gratuitous evils. Freed from these cognitively troublesome worldviews, the believer’s intellect is affected. But, more specifically, suppose you believe the conjunction of evolution + naturalism, E&N). On this conjunction, Plantinga argues, the probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable, R, on E&N, is low, i.e., Pr(R | E&N) < .5. Thus, holding to E&N gives a reflective person a *defeater* for all their beliefs. To put it mildly, this is cognitively disastrous! Conversion can affect this, and in defeating the defeater, some of one's beliefs now enjoy positive epistemic status, whereas before they did not have this property. Clearly, that's a change.

    I've only scratched the surface of a response, and only hi-lighted some of the moves I'd make. Notice, John, that Darryl and his followers won't interact with the actual *argument*, and if they do at all they will make inferences from what I *haven't* said and then try to draw out some alleged problem for me (something like, "So it looks like you think Christianity is only philosophy," or "You seem to be saying that unbelievers can't add," or some such other non-sequitur.

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  8. Paul,

    Please explain how any of the regenerative effects you describe (access to a broader storehouse of philosophical concepts, acuity in bioethics, bracketing out certain worldviews) would apply to anyone with a mental disability. I’m just imagining the Holy Spirit trying to work in a severely autistic person’s life and mind and throwing up His hands, “I can’t work with this!”

    I’m not trying to be anti-intellectual here, because we are both smart and I like that we are both smart. I think it’s safe to say that anyone reading this is smart, though they might be less so afterwards! However, I think the temptation for smart Christians is to attribute our smartness to regeneration–or even worse, to attribute various conclusions or methods of thought to the work of the Spirit.

    I will throw you a bone and say that I do often reflect on the relationship between my work with the mentally disabled and my faith. For instance, I back Hauerwas in claiming that Christians should never try to justify the existence of the mentally disabled, because we do not justify the existence of our friends. We can only delight them as gifts that require no justification. It’s possible that this kind of “common insight” (there is nothing explicitly Christian about it) is found in people like Hauerwas, Swinton, Reinders, Nouwen, and Vanier because of the work of the Spirit, but I think it’s just as explainable from Hauerwas’ obsession with Wittgenstein or Vanier’s ethics-as-first-philosophy. It’s also an example of motivated reasoning because all of these thinkers have friends who are mentally disabled, and people are usually interested in defending the dignity of their friends.

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  9. Abraham Booth, Glad Tidings

    p238 “According to fatalism, the word of truth having no influence, is of no use in regeneration, the salutary and important change being produced entirely without it..It is too hastily assumed that the mind is prepared to receive the light of spiritual knowledge before the truth have any influence on it.”

    p247 “Now the question is: Do the Scriptures lead us to conclude that the mind and the conscience are brought into the new state by an immediate divine energy, without the medium of either the law or the gospel? I think not. It is written: by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    p249 “For an ‘awakened sinner’ to be persuaded that regeneration is effected without the instrumentality of divine truth, is to give an injurious direction to his prayers and expectations. “

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  10. Jeremy, I don’t understand why the effects of regeneration have to be the same in every individual. In the CRC we speak of age- and ability-appropriate faith. Persons with intellectual disabilities can certainly love, worship, and serve the Lord. Their response to the gospel is the result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. But why wouldn’t the work of the Spirit transform all aspects of our lives whatever our abilities and gifts. So there might be consequences of regeneration in the mind of the bioethicist that aren’t there for anyone who doesn’t really think about the questions a bioethicist might think about. But there are other consequences of regeneration that are unique to the person with intellectual disabilities. It seems that the hotbed of neo-Calvinism, the CRCNA, doesn’t do at all what you suggest and has a very active ministry to persons with intellectual and other disabilities through their Disabilities Concerns ministry and Friendship Ministries. See http://www.crcna.org/pages/disability.cfm Neo-Calvinism in action!

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  11. Terry,

    I know of the good work that Reformed churches are doing with those members who are mentally disabled because I’ve done such work in both the PCA and the CRC. I think it disingenuous for you attribute such work to “Neo-Calvinism in action,” though, since what you linked to is just an example of church ministry. (By the way, if that’s your page put the Mental Illness Workshop in a separate page. It’s not the same thing.) Most denominations do work like that, and that’s a good thing. The best out there is probably L’Arche, and that’s mostly Catholic.

    Your claim that regeneration or effectual calling operates differently or at different levels depending on the person’s ability seems patently false. If this is true, you simply cannot avoid calling the mentally disabled second-class Christians. Everything that the WCF describes as happening to Christians happened equally to me and my severely autistic client. Same process, same result, same amount.

    My general axiom is that we can’t call something a Christian duty or a standard effect of being a Christian if the mentally disabled can’t do it. If you want to talk about what we do in grateful response to God’s grace, then yeah our abilities are all over the place and some are smarter. That’s fine. But the vast majority of disabled Christians I know live out their faith in a Two Kingdoms way.

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  12. Paul,

    That was a nice try and I appreciate the tone in which you responded. It made me actually want to try to get what you were saying which did require lots of mental effort. There has been a lot of ink spilled on what regeneration and inward renewal (which includes sanctification I think) is in the Reformed world and many are questioning the conclusions and inferences that many Reformed thinkers have come to. You find a lot of contradictory explanations in all the major theologians of the reformation. Can we really know about ontological changes or changes of substance in our inner being? Is that what regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit is really talking about?

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  13. To add another wrinkle to this question of inward renewal and what this means consider this quote from Berkfoff- how is this explained if justification comes after regeneration and faith:

    Louis Berkhof, History of Christian Doctrines, p220–”Calvin and Luther both described justification as a forensic act which does not change the inner life of man, but only the judicial relationship in which he stands to God. Moreover they deny that justification is a progressive work of God, asserting that it is instantaneous and at once complete, and hold that the believer can be absolutely sure that he is translated forever from a state of wrath and condemnation to one of favor and acceptance.”

    The important thing is that the guilt of our sin is dealt with in justification and that the believer has Christ’s righteousness in perpetuity. Regeneration is the seal that we will continue to believe this. What happens inside of us in the renewal is of secondary importance.

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  14. I have to say, this is a really disappointing post. DGH, you can never accuse anyone else of caricaturing. There’s not a single non-r2k’er that would fit the above description. I’m not even going to waste my time pointing out all the errors.

    A truly good scholar always tries to present their opponent’s view in the best possible light. This post didn’t even come close. This is a real sign of a weak argument.

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  15. Darryl,

    I suggest that your bias has shown throughout your argument. Both you and neo-Calvinists agree that God’s common grace works in non-believers as well as believers. You seem to want to conclude from this truth that the temporal/profane realm can and should be severed from the eternal/sacred realm. The neo-Calvinist will use the same truth to argue, as Dr. Schaeffer does, that creation must be the beginning of all Christian theology. He used to insist that every believer bows twice before God:acknowledging him first as Creator, and then as Redeemer. Dr. Schaeffer’s lifelong interest in the arts and humanities was a testimony to his conviction that the merely human, the merely created and unredeemed, had significance. He was especially concerned about recognizing the dignity that the image of God conferred upon man, even in man’s rebellion.

    This view does not mean that regeneration will render a believer to think more intelligently than a non-believer, but rather that whatever gifts and desires have been given will be transformed to glorify God, instead of man.

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  16. John, I never made a claim about “ontological changes.” Remember I said all responses to my post would be based off things I did *not* say, and there would be an intimation that I *did* say those things. So far, this has been the case in the two responses so far, yours and Jeremy’s. I don’t hold it against you; habits are cultivated often by imitation. Since responding to things interlocutors did *not* say but acting as if they *did* say those things is the M.O. of Hart, Zrim, &c., then those who spend a lot of time here will, consciously or sub-consciously, pick up those bad habits for themselves.

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  17. Guys, don’t be too hard on Darryl for his obvious and blatant straw men and caricatures. He’s not trying to be serious, he’s trying to be provocative. He’s being edgy. He’s trying to “stir the pot.” He’s trying to “drum up business” for Old Life. Make a name. Get attention. Be . . . controversial. This would be cute, but given all that he’s said about others who use such tactics, it’s actually sad.

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  18. Paul, I have to say – I agree with you. The problem is that I am not amused. I am seeking TRUTH. These are important matters. I want my children to grow up in a good country. So what’s my role in building and fighting for that? I lean heavily towards the theonomy camp because they take this situation more seriously and their answers are more clear and lucid. But I read and interact here because I really want to hear both sides out. But if DGH is just toying with me and using me, then I am wasting my time. I will have to find a place where they tke this debate more seriously.

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  19. Paul,

    You said: “given a change in our moral dispositions and affections and knowledge (as all Reformed creeds and confessions attest to), changes at the normative level are bound to have *some* consequences.”

    And this: “As regeneration and sanctification cause the sinner to accept and appreciate God’s word in the Bible.”

    And this: “Guided by the Word-caused by regeneration and sanctification- her judgments on many important issues will be more sound, knowledgeable and trustworthy than non-Christians.”

    Are not your assumptions giving you a much broader definition of regeneration and sanctification than how the scriptures define the terms? One of my main points of the original post I made was questioning the accuracy of the Dort statement. I was actually questioning the validity of a confessional statement. I thought you might pick up on that more than trying to prove to me that “all that’s needed here is to show that regeneration does *something* to counter the effect of sin on our minds and make us more clear and insightful thinkers than unbelievers.”

    And isn’t a “change in our moral dispositions and affections and knowledge” an ontological change?

    My point was that what is important in regeneration is that it causes faith in the Gospel- whether the inward work of the Holy Spirit changes our moral dispositions and affections and knowledge is of secondary importance. I am not sure if it does or if it is that important. Your argument may prove that it does but I think you are giving to broad of a definition of regeneration and sanctification. What seems to be biblically important is how regeneration and sanctification are related to the Gospel not to our moral dispositions.

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  20. Dear Darryl and other disputers (2K vs. whatever you call the supposed anti-2Kers)— I have long read much on the nearly dayly OLT offerings of Darryl Hart and comments thereon. Could anyone read it all?! Reminds me of a conversation I had in the early 1950s with a fellow student at WTS. I had just said, “John, we have to separate the essentials of our Christian Faith from the non-essentials.” John’s response: “Bob, there ARE NO non-essentials! ” School is out! I say that much of the stuff on OLT is brother fighting brother about the secret things (Deut. 29:29). I say, too, that we should be reading Job, who knew he wasn’t God! (Understatement of the century!) We should be fighting hard against Satan’s wiles in this, God’s world (yes the CHURCH too), ought to be involved in fighting for her survival—in Muslim lands and everywhere else.!) AND we must fight against Satan’s wiles in opposing us and God in evangelism. As Darryl says (Puh-leeze) notice, as Eric Metaxas did (great Bonhoffer book – we can learn from the sleepy church of Nazi Germany!), what Satan is doing to our nation, Our church, Truth, and our families. Stop gagging on matters too great for us (Ps. 131:1)! Stop battling Brothers! Let’s roll! Bob Morris

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  21. John, rather than get sidetracked I’ll simply note that I argued that regeneration and sanctification can and does affect the intellectual life. You continue to try to respond to my post by brining up things I did *not* touch on and then act as if that is a failure. I argued that regeneration and, more specifically, sanctification, has a broader consequences than Darryl suggests. There are positive intellectual changes, and I highlighted many of them. I did *not* say these were the primary or most important aspects of regeneration or sanctification. If someone said working out has a narrow benefit, affecting areas X and Y, and I pointed out it has psychological and intellectual benefits too, this could not be refuted by saying, “But it is X and Y that are most important.” Or if someone says, “Being an American gives you benefits P and Q, but probably not R,” and I point out that it gives your R as a benefit, you could not defeat this by saying, “But P and Q are more important than R!” You savvy?

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  22. Bob, I have often had the same feelings, but the question HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE can’t be put on hold. These aren’t merely academic musings for me. As the father of a large family in a decaying nation, I need answers and I need them now. I totally respect Hart’s intellect and contrary views, but I think he needs to take this seriously. To me, I don’t think this post takes the opposition seriously.

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  23. @Jon, yeah, you may not want to stick around. Hart has admitted that his blog posts are not meant to be arguments, and they are not meant to be taken seriously. So he will frequently grossly exaggerate and caricature, and when he’s called on it he has nothing but snark and smarm to offer in response.

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  24. “Jeremy, looks like you got me.”

    Paul, I appreciate your honest and humble admission. Did you learn this quality from Darryl G. Hart?

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  25. Jon: “I will have to find a place where they tke this debate more seriously.”

    Paul’s blog is a good place to explore: Triablogue.blogspot.com/

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  26. Jeremy – Paul already addressed the essence of your question about a believer with a mental disability when he said the following:

    “Now, before touching on this argument, we should note that regeneration and sanctification brings about various philosophical changes for us (the extent differs on the starting place).”

    Everyone’s “starting place” is different. Some (like the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, etc.) are much further advanced prior to regeneration & sanctification than are others. The difference is in degree, not kind.

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  27. Can the unbeliever love the Lord with all of his heart soul and MIND? No. Quite the opposite.

    Does a believer (even if imperfectly) love the Lord with his mind? Yes. Why? Regeneration & sanctification. He is a new creation in Christ.

    That’s my Cliff Notes version of an answer to this debate.

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  28. Paul+Andy,

    Perhaps it would more helpful to see the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration on the intellect in terms of direction/telos instead of improving/upgrading certain faculties. All of the examples that Paul gives (the philosophical insights) can be better explained as a reorientation of direction instead of an improvement in faculty. We should obviously say that the Holy Spirit directs the intellect (and any other faculty like emotion or mood) toward the glorification of God. That way, we can affirm the equality of the Spirit’s work in both geniuses and the mentally disabled while acknowledging the obvious difference between how this plays out in their lives. Both are equally “reoriented”

    However, referring to an unregenerate’s “starting place” seems quite un-Reformed, as if a genius gives the Holy Spirit more to work with. Hence my preference for “regeneration of the intellect as a reorientation of direction.”

    (Not that this observation helps with the 2K debate, since a Neo-Calvinist might just say that “reorienting the direction of activity toward its proper telos” is exactly what they mean when they speak of redeeming culture.)

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  29. Jeremy, I think of this in similar terms to what C.S.Lewis (ducks!) said in the chapter of Mere Christianity called “Nice People or New Men.”

    We might see two people who have very different dispositions or personalities and make a rather inaccurate judgment of each of them in relation to the other. One might seem to be a sweet old lady whom we esteem as quite saintly and far, far along in the way of sanctification. On the other hand we may meet a brother in Christ, but find him to be gruff, cantankerous, and generally not very pleasant. We could wrongly assume that he has made very little progress in sanctification, but we could be wrong on both counts.

    The sweet old lady might have already had a rather sweet disposition before coming to faith in Christ, and she may have actually made very little progress in sanctification, whereas the man we just met may have been marvelously saved from a life of absolute chaos and debauchery.

    That is similar to what I think Paul means by “starting point.”

    God doesn’t “have much to work with” even with the best among us. He used a dopey fisherman like Peter every bit as much as He did a powerful intellect like Paul. (But sometimes even Peter had difficulty “getting” Paul – 2 Peter 3:16.)

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  30. I can’t shake my Covenant education entirely! But seriously, a 2K-er wouldn’t deny that regeneration re-orients the entire believer toward the glorification of God, but other than serving the church, it just wouldn’t have all that much to do with the excellence of their work.

    To use my own example, I clearly see my work with the mentally disabled as related in some way to my being reoriented by the Holy Spirit, but to be honest you probably couldn’t tell while I’m at work. Lots of atheists are better than me at my job. My being regenerate doesn’t give me any special insights, either, other than “Because I am a Christian, I went to Covenant College, and met Jay Green, who made me read Hauerwas–and from there Vanier and the other L’Archians–and they are very insightful about the mentally disabled.”

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  31. @Andy, I think you’ve described Hauerwas’ personality very well! But seriously, I agree with everything you said, but only because your examples were clearly about sanctification and Christian virtue. In other words, sinful behavior and habits. That’s fine.

    The specific problem I have is with attributing to the Holy Spirit’s noetic work a kind of intellectual benefit that goes beyond the bare-bones knowledge described in Westminster Confession X. Paul seems to attribute an array of philosophical beliefs to the Holy Spirit’s work in regeneration, when I think it’s much safer to say that regeneration orients your natural faculties towards God without making them any better.

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  32. Good stuff, DH:

    What is important is that Calvin does attribute to the Spirit the knowledge that pagans possess. Truth, wisdom, and intelligence do not exist independent from God. At the same time, the wisdom of pagans is spiritual work that does not include regeneration. It is in effect another iteration of the doubleness that 2K tries to maintain.

    Although the back-benchers are having none of it… All part of the conversation. Thanks.

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  33. The Reformed epistemologists can maintain that regeneration and sanctification affect the intellect. What 2ker has any problem with this? I’ll see it and raise the affections and will and body. The problem is just how much or to what meaningful extent? And with something like HC 114, which makes it clear that even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience, it may well be that the Spirit’s affect on the faculties of any imago Dei creature is much more modest than the epistemologists seem to imply.

    It will likely draw howls, but if the Spirit does the kind of wonders neos and their philosophical helpmeets imply, is this not a sort of prosperity gospel for the intellectualists? When the neos talk about what the Spirit can do for the mind, I can’t help but see parallels to what some say he can do for the body. Surely, the Spirit is at work on our bodies, but does anyone here imagine that the TV preachers are onto something? If the body isn’t being improved with the sort of manifest acceleration the TV preachers suggest then why would it be any different for the mind?

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  34. Jon, you seem to way overestimate the powers of blogdom. The tick for overestimation may be what razzes you about this post and explains your admitted tilt toward theonomy. I appreciate that you take these things seriously, but is it possible to take them too seriously? Are you really pinning all your familial and political hopes on getting these points right? Isn’t there a difference between Jesus returning and the sky falling?

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  35. Zrim: “The Reformed epistemologists can maintain that regeneration and sanctification affect the intellect. What 2ker has any problem with this? I’ll see it and raise the affections and will and body.”

    —————————————–

    Amen. We are being renewed in the whole man.

    Likening Reformed epistemologists or Neo-Calvinists to prosperity gospel preachers? A stretch (even if a pretty funny one).

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  36. Zrim, it seems to me that the WSC’s description of the knowledge attained at regeneration is different than the kind of knowledge we gain through study and inquiry (which depends on innate intelligence): “convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.” It doesn’t say “and for those above an IQ of 70, here are some additional effects…”

    Descriptions of noetic regeneration in the Reformed confessions are extremely narrow, and it’s not hard for me to imagine my mentally disabled clients possessing such knowledge. Adding extra benefits (other than a reorientation of one’s natural abilities to a Christian telos) seems to create a two-tiered or scaled work of the Holy Spirit.

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  37. Zrim,

    So are you saying that I shouldn’t take anything you say here seriously? You’re doing it all for sport to flex your intellectual muscles, I presume?

    No, my family’s hopes don’t rest on talking sense into any full time ivory tower intellectuals. But we are losing liberty at an amazing rate in this country and we have Christians saying just to sit back and let them go. ALL our children will suffer while you stay safely nestled in your corner waxing eloquent about the virtues of escapism. But there I go being too seriously again. . . . .

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  38. Andy,
    we have Christians saying just to sit back and let them go.

    What 2K Christians (you know the dread Escondido bunch) are saying this? Can you quote a few of them for me? Who is saying that Christians as citizens of the state shouldn’t vote, can’t vote, or shouldn’t advocate for a preferred direction in their state?

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  39. Jon,

    But we are losing liberty at an amazing rate in this country and we have Christians saying just to sit back and let them go.

    I can sympathize with your concerns at the alarming erosion of liberty that is occurring in The Home of the Free, however I am afraid most well-meaning Christians are almost totally ignorant regarding the causes of such erosion, choosing to focus on symptomatic moral-cultural issues that only point to deeper economic and political causes. But here’s the rub, the erosion of liberty isn’t a problem that faces merely Christians in this society, it faces all.

    As far as I can tell, the US is in the late stages of Empire, which historically is an awful place for a nation and it’s people to be. Empire has leverages the economic model of extraction, where the power elites (in business, politics, and military), amass wealth and influence by extracting wealth and resources first from it’s vassal states (which the US does with energy and base resources), and from it’s population through outright fraud – which leads back into a sort of feudalism. Empire’s most fundamental problems lie primarily in greed and lust for power, and nearly every social problem branches out from there. And the problem in the current context is many of the best critiques against the avarice, and greed of the American Empire are coming from outside the Christian world – as they understand the economic impacts of a bloated Military Industrial Complex, and other over-reaching social institutions. More often than not, American Christians have allowed themselves to become the pawn of the political right that equates wars of choice with patriotism, regardless of the social and financial burden it places on the population (not to mention the populations we go to war against), and champions a “business first” mentality that allows corporate largess, profligacy, and at times outright fraud to flourish in our halls of industry. Republicans will throw the evangelicals a bone and remain pro-life (while not doing much about abortion from a political standpoint) simply to placate them into the belief that they have the best interests of the average middle class American at heart.

    And, here’s where 2k is such a helpful way of approaching Christ and culture – many of the problems I have just alluded to concern me as much as they do my atheist neighbor, and while addressing the issue of freedom in the public square may not bring him to faith, it can be a means of neighborly love that testifies to the true freedom offered in Christ, simply by identifying areas of common concern in the civic space that Christians and non-Christians can cooperate on. Unfortunately, many Christians are more concerned with legislating more broadly Christian politics, wherein they chase their tails, alienate their neigbors over issues that have nothing to do with the offense of the gospel, and pass up opportunities to work together with others for better local, state, and even federal governance. This is because 2k does not seek to impose the will of the church on the state, rather recognizes that the state is God-ordained and intended to be a minister for good for those within or outside of the family of faith. When the Christian right starts decrying greed, violent, costly, and unnecessary wars, and the follies of the “War on Terror” and the overreach of government power that has resulted, they might be taken more seriously, and not be seen as a mere “voting block”.

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  40. Jack, it must be the regeneration and sanctification kicking in and becoming manifest. PTL.

    Andy, you may laugh (Paul no doubt will spit, curse, mock, and crucify), but I am being serious. If the gospel is for every station of life then why not a prosperity gospel for the ivory tower as well as the trailer park (and suburb, for that matter), the cultured and learned as well as the crass and uncouth? Legalism isn’t only and ever about substance use, and prosperity gospel isn’t only and ever about cash and bling.

    Jeremy, I think you got me, and I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically (hi, Paul).

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  41. Jon, Paul says I don’t have any intellect to flex. But, no, my point isn’t about withdrawal and flippancy. It’s about retaining the dignity of this world but also lowering the stakes. Is there any NT precedent for overly worrying so about the state of this world?

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  42. Jed,

    You’re too quick to group me with the “religious right”, brother. I am completely against interventionism. I also see the problems with greed in the business world. I don’t agree with most Republicans as they are usually closet liberals. I am more of a Christian libertarian. The funny thing is that I bet you and I would agree on most political issues, but disagree as to WHY.

    However, there is something that inevitably leads atheists to big government politics MOST of the time. They must put their faith in something, and oftentimes it’s the State.

    I will continue to pray for this country and its leaders to repent.

    BTW when you say the state should be a minister for good, you imply a moral standard and the only reliable moral standard is the Bible. Sorry, natural rev just won’t do. But i guess this is where we part company.

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  43. Jon,

    Where did I imply you were a card carrying member of the Religious Right? I don’t know your political views. All I argued was that 2k allows for a means for Christians to be active in the public square without dragging the church into matters to which it hasn’t bern called. One of the more common groups detracting from 2k in thr Reformed camp are reformed members of the political right, that was the broad issue I was speaking to… you are assuming more from what I wrote than I intended to communicate. Trust me, if I wanted to disparage you as a toothless, bacwater, card-carrying member of the religious right I would have said so much more directly.

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  44. As an (innocent!) bystander, today I read this in an amazon review By “PresbyReader”
    Children and the Lord’s Supper

    “I recommend this book for all sides of the paedocommunion debate. Mind you, it is targeted to American Presbyterians but it is well worth the purchase and moves the debate forward for several reasons. First of all, it has the imprimatur of two luminaries of the Mississippi Valley Presbytery of the PCA. Thereby embossing these essays with a Good Housekeeping seal. This isn’t on the fringe.”

    “Secondly, it stakes out issues like Alzheimer’s patients. As Ian M. Duguid indicates in the second essay “Christ Our Passover”, not withstanding pastoral sensitivity and care, the Lord’s Supper should be withdrawn from Alzheimer’s patients. Fantastic. There has been trepidation to say so but I like Dr. Waters’ and Rev. Duncan’s boldness on the matter. ”

    mcmark: and no, I don’t know who the reviewer is….

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  45. Jon,

    I admit it does seem logical that atheists would be more inclined to support state power, but at least today that’s not the case. I don’t think the relationship between atheism and statism is as clear as you think. Atheistic anarchism and Randian libertarianism seem to be logically consistent and really prevalent.

    William Cavanaugh’s work on the rise of the state would support your general idea better. The growth of the state through bureaucratization came first, and required a civil religion to support its sovereignty. State theorists created the myth that the state existed to contain religious wars, and further stigmatized exclusive religions as dangerous. The state created (and perpetuates) civil religion and national society, which as MacIntyre wryly observed “gives atheists less and less to deny.”

    This is just a rough sketch, but if Cavanaugh is right that state power gave birth to civil religion, then the causation seems reversed. Statism may actually beget atheism, because only God (and the Christian’s refusal to invest the state with eschatological meaning) can threaten its power. The atheist is the one who fails the test Jesus passed when he refused to bow down in exchange for earthly power.

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  46. Mark,

    I really hope you aren’t quoting this review with approval. I’ve never heard of a church withdrawing communion from a believer afflicted with Alzheimer’s, nor have I seen them refuse it to those “of age” who are severely mentally disabled.

    Granted, the same principle would also seem to imply paedocommunion (which is why I accept it) but in my experience even anti-paedocommunion churches (like my own) make such exceptions. It’s not logically consistent, IMO, but in this case I prefer it that way.

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  47. Zrim: Is there any NT precedent for overly worrying so about the state of this world?

    RS: We are to love God and His glory above all. We are also to love our neighbor as ourselves. The greatest thing for a neighbor is to know God and obey His commandments out of love. Yes, we are to have concern for the world.

    1 Timothy 2:1 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

    Whatever one thinks of the parameters of “desires all men to be saved”, there is a link between the welfare of those in authority and our quiet lives seeking godliness. Then again, there is that great truth of the Great Commission where we are to make disciples and that includes going to all the nations. True, we are not to overly worry about that, but we are still to be part of carrying it out.
    “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor 10:31). If we are commanded to do that, then surely we are to tell our neighbors that they should do this as well. The commandments are for all people as all will answer to God for violating them. Surely a love for God and others will include warning others of the judgement to come upon them and their sin.

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  48. Jon, you may want to distance yourself from the religious right, but when you say that the only reliable moral standard is the Bible, and when you admit a sympathy for theonomy, it’s hard to see that distance. Honest theonomists will admit a co-belligerence with the RR. I also wonder why you’d disparage natural revelation as insufficient to rule natural life. Isn’t God its author?

    And how does Richard’s point forget the Lord’s Prayer? Praying for and living quietly among the earth’s inhabitants seems a far distance from the kind of transformation and takeover neos, theos, Protestant liberals, and religious righties envision.

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  49. Jed,

    You say, 2k does not seek to impose the will of the church on the state, rather recognizes that the state is God-ordained and intended to be a minister for good for those within or outside of the family of faith. When the Christian right starts decrying greed, violent, costly, and unnecessary wars, and the follies of the “War on Terror” and the overreach of government power that has resulted, they might be taken more seriously, and not be seen as a mere “voting block”.

    A non-2k would agree with Calvin and you that the state is the God-ordained minister for good, but would define the good as protecting the true religion proclaimed by the true King. How can you define good otherwise? Do you disagree with Calvin or my summary of his thinking?

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  50. Zrim: Jon, you may want to distance yourself from the religious right, but when you say that the only reliable moral standard is the Bible, and when you admit a sympathy for theonomy, it’s hard to see that distance. Honest theonomists will admit a co-belligerence with the RR. I also wonder why you’d disparage natural revelation as insufficient to rule natural life. Isn’t God its author?

    RS: But natural revelation shows us that we are sinners who do not keep the Law and points us to the need of a Savior who is the real and rightful King.

    Zrim: And how does Richard’s point forget the Lord’s Prayer? Praying for and living quietly among the earth’s inhabitants seems a far distance from the kind of transformation and takeover neos, theos, Protestant liberals, and religious righties envision.

    RS: It idoes not forget the Lord’s Prayer, but perhaps recognizes as aspect to it that you would disagree with. The first petition tells us to pray that God’s name would be honored, stood in awe of, and glorified. I would think that this would mean both believer and unbeliever. The second petition tells us to pray for His kingdom to come, that is, to increase. At least one way for His kingdom to increase is for those in the world to be transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son. But the kingdom is not apart from the reign and rule of the king which we are to pray for and seek. The third petition (from Jon’s point) tells us to pray for His will to be done on earh as it is done in heaven. It does not limit this to believers only.

    Zrim: Praying for and living quietly among the earth’s inhabitants seems a far distance from the kind of transformation and takeover neos, theos, Protestant liberals, and religious righties envision.

    RS: Would it be okay with you if the government passed a law forbidding the practice of Christianity and the violation would be punishable by death? Would it be okay with you if the government passed a law saying that murder was a crime in the Bible and it along with all laws that are in the Bible were no longer to be considered as crimes because they were religious laws? At what point do you move from saying that there are two kingdoms and never the twain shall meet? Why wouldn’t we prefer and seek righteous and just laws rather than unrighteous and unjust ones? The very heart of doing what the Lord commands is to do justice (Micah 6:8). If we desire peace in the church and our land, there is only one Peacemaker and that is the Prince of Peace. Surely the wisdom of God is wiser than the wisdom of men in setting out laws for human conduct even if the majority of people are not Christians. Surely it is not wrong to desire justice and peace for our fellow men even if they are not Christians. Surely it is not wrong to desire and seek for laws that are in line with the Ten Commandments which all men will answer to God for whether they believe that or not.

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  51. I’ve been away in Mongolia, so I missed the chance to comment early.
    Anyway, exactly who is supposed to be advocating the view that Darryl is arguing against here? Or, is this just another strawman?

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  52. Zrim, I have no need to curse, spit, and crucify—boy, you 2Kers sure do have a flair for the dramatic, I thought you were supposed to act with “comportment,” anywho . . . for you simply identified yourself with Darryl’s Neo-Cals when you say that regeneration and sanctification affect the intellect regarding matters outside salvation (and, how could you say otherwise given my post?). So, congrats, you’re the Neo-Cal of the year! (See, not cursing or spitting or crucifying, just props.)

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  53. Interesting to see the juxtaposition of “straw man” dissenters and Paul defending profound intellectual changes brought by the Spirit. So why isn’t this debate between Paul and the dissenters?

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  54. Paul said this:

    “Another example has to due with what logicians and psychologists have pointed out, that our set of background assumptions affects what we take to be good arguments. Different background assumptions might cause two people two view the same argument differently, one with appreciation the other with disdain. One might say, “The argument shows no such thing, for it is invalid.” But it might only be believed to be invalid based on certain assumptions. This can in part explain why some believers will see that an argument clearly supports belief in God, while an atheist that it clearly doesn’t, and that it’s a bad argument. Not recognizing good arguments can be an intellectual defect.”

    What are the “backround assumptions” about regeneration that have been expressed in these posts:

    1) Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel. (WSC 31); He infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one compliant; he activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds. (Dort III/IV, 11)- What a couple of the reformed confessions say; they are not saying the same thing

    2) To be a GOOD TREE is first of all about being justified before God. There are two legal states before God. Either you are justified before God or you are condemned before God. To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new creation, and this mean first of all that the elect are given a new legal state, with the result that they begin to KNOW that assurance is not in what God does in us but rather in what God has done in Christ outside us (notice that “new creation” is not about being changed internally but being put into a new legal state of “in Christ” from the old legal state of “in Adam.”) That tells me that new creation has nothing to do with regeneration; and this tells me that justification comes logically before regeneration; Many “Calvinists” pay lip-service to “imputation” whose more basic hope is an ontological regeneration in them which they find to be more important than any “knowledge” about atonement, imputation, or justification. To them, the noetic effect of regeneration will produce in them “sanctification by synergism” which includes their works; so is union with Christ a legal state or something which is caused by regeneration and internal changes brought about by the Holy Spirit? (This is McMark, which no one has addressed, who is questioning whether what the reformed confessions assumptions about regeneration are accurate according to what the scriptures teach).

    3) But more properly, the Reformed have said that regeneration and sanctification are what affect the intellect. but really, this isn’t a neo-Calvinist view, it’s rather a more catholic view;….. If we agree with some of the basic and fairly uncontroversial themes of virtue epistemology, we can see how conversion can affect matters epistemic: there are certain epistemic vices which affect us as knowers, and certain epistemic virtues positively affect us as knowers (I am taking conversion here to mean something similar to regeneration-the Holy Spirit changing someone in their epistemology); Given a change in our moral dispositions and affections and knowledge (as *all* Reformed creeds and confession attest to), changes at the normative level are bound to have *some* consequence (This is Paul who is arguing that regeneration not only affects believers in a salvific sense but also affects changes in our minds)

    These are three very different assumptions about regeneration. It seems to me this is a very important issue. We need to be sure we are thinking with correct biblical assumptions.

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  55. Richard, I’m not sure what your point is, but I was enlisting your point for 2k purposes to push Jon the would be theonomist. But if you’re now saying that it’s a good thing to seek laws patterened after the Decalogue–which includes outlawing idolatry and blasphemy and would seem to entail outlawing Roman Catholicism and Mormonism–maybe you want to join Jon in thinking only the Bible should norm society. Kuyper has some hard words for you.

    Paul, my point was to agree that the Spirit is at work in all human faculties, but to say that it’s not nearly as profound, manifest, and immediate as neos seem to think. It’s more mysterious, unseen, and mediate. It’s a glory versus cross point again.

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  56. Zrim: Richard, I’m not sure what your point is, but I was enlisting your point for 2k purposes to push Jon the would be theonomist.

    RS: I think I understood something of what you were doing, but simply used your words as a springboard.

    Zrim: But if you’re now saying that it’s a good thing to seek laws patterened after the Decalogue–which includes outlawing idolatry and blasphemy and would seem to entail outlawing Roman Catholicism and Mormonism–maybe you want to join Jon in thinking only the Bible should norm society. Kuyper has some hard words for you.

    RS: I do see your point, but am trying to point out that when men sin it is against God and against His Word. Nature itself leaves men without excuse regarding who God is and of their sin. If God is not the norm of society, then what other norm are we going to set up? As Christians, I would think that it is plain that any norm other than God would be an idol. I am not arguing that the Church should run the state, but that does not mean that the state does not answer to God and that the Church should not inform the state of that. The mission of the Church, however, in declaring the Law and the Gospel will always seek the glory of God and the good of its neighbors. If you call that transformationalism, then so be it. That is, however, different than trying to transform society by laws in and of themselves.

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  57. John Yeazel: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel. (WSC 31); He infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one compliant; he activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds. (Dort III/IV, 11)- What a couple of the reformed confessions say; they are not saying the same thing.

    RS: While they may be using different words in these two posts, are they really teaching something different at the heart of the matter?

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  58. John Yeazel: 2) To be a GOOD TREE is first of all about being justified before God. There are two legal states before God. Either you are justified before God or you are condemned before God. To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new creation, and this mean first of all that the elect are given a new legal state, with the result that they begin to KNOW that assurance is not in what God does in us but rather in what God has done in Christ outside us (notice that “new creation” is not about being changed internally but being put into a new legal state of “in Christ” from the old legal state of “in Adam.”) That tells me that new creation has nothing to do with regeneration; and this tells me that justification comes logically before regeneration;

    RS: If you read the book of I John carefully (and other books too), you will see that assurance has a lot to do with what God does in us. He writes His laws in us and puts them in our minds. He is the very life of our souls. His love abides in us and His Spirit abides in us, and we must not forget that Christ is our life. Believers are the temple of the living God. If the soul is not united to Christ then how is that soul declared just? Yet the soul is not united to Christ until that soul has been born from above and is now a spiritual being that can exercise spiritual faith.

    John Yeazel: Many “Calvinists” pay lip-service to “imputation” whose more basic hope is an ontological regeneration in them which they find to be more important than any “knowledge” about atonement, imputation, or justification.

    RS: Apart from regeneration no one can understand the truly spiritual nture of the atonement, imputation, or justification.

    John Yeazel: To them, the noetic effect of regeneration will produce in them “sanctification by synergism” which includes their works; so is union with Christ a legal state or something which is caused by regeneration and internal changes brought about by the Holy Spirit? (This is McMark, which no one has addressed, who is questioning whether what the reformed confessions assumptions about regeneration are accurate according to what the scriptures teach).

    RS: Can the Divine nature of Christ be joined to one that has not had the wrath of God removed from him or her by the cleansing work of the Spirit? It is not that regeneration causes a legal state as such, but in regeneration the soul becomes a believing soul and it is that faith by which one is united to Christ.

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  59. John Yeazel: 3) But more properly, the Reformed have said that regeneration and sanctification are what affect the intellect. but really, this isn’t a neo-Calvinist view, it’s rather a more catholic view;

    RS: No necessarily. How can one have the hardening influences of sin taken away from the mind without there being a difference? Scripture is quite clear that those with a pure heart will see God and that seeking a holy heart will indeed affect our spiritual insight (as you point out using different language below).

    John Yeazel: ….. If we agree with some of the basic and fairly uncontroversial themes of virtue epistemology, we can see how conversion can affect matters epistemic: there are certain epistemic vices which affect us as knowers, and certain epistemic virtues positively affect us as knowers (I am taking conversion here to mean something similar to regeneration-the Holy Spirit changing someone in their epistemology); Given a change in our moral dispositions and affections and knowledge (as *all* Reformed creeds and confession attest to), changes at the normative level are bound to have *some* consequence (This is Paul who is arguing that regeneration not only affects believers in a salvific sense but also affects changes in our minds)

    RS: Believers are given new hearts and minds. The spiritual realm is now opened to them in a different way and they have a different understanding of virtually everything. A regenerate person is said to be a new creature and as such will have new ways of thinking. Colossians 3:2 ” Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” One who does that is changed. We must not forget that the desires are changed and as such the things that a person wants to think about and the way a person views things will be changed. A person that hates sin will view sin differently than one that hates it.

    Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

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  60. RS: While they may be using different words in these two posts, are they really teaching something different at the heart of the matter?

    Is convincing, enlightening and renewing the same thing as infusing new qualities into a person? Using infusion language makes you think that the Holy Spirit is changing the substance of something internally in someone. And, as Paul said, that is more a Catholic concept than a Protestant concept. Horton was very leery of using infusion language as McMark pointed out in the first three posts. In fact, Horton wrote a whole chapter about it in his book COVENANT AND SALVATION- chapter 10, Covenantal Ontology and Effectual Calling. When you start talking about changes of substance (infusing new qualities) you are getting away from the Holy Spirit using the Law and the Gospel to convince, enlighten and renew. That seems like a significant difference to me.

    There are two distinct differences in how “new creation” is understood too. Is it a new legal state brought about by imputation and justification (which propitiates God’s wrath before the work of the Holy Spirit- does not God justify the ungodly before Christ gives the Holy Spirit?; Christ is always the one giving the Holy Spirit in the scriptures) or is “new creation” something the Holy Spirit does? Richard, your assumption is that new creation is a work of the Holy Spirit. Someone has to be made holy by the Holy Spirit before that person is justified. This is what you look for to determine if someone is justified. You then always point to the book of 1John. I’m not convinced you are understanding 1John correctly.

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  61. How do we makes sense of the fact that our bodies and minds are decaying in this life if regeneration and renewal involve changes of substance and infusing new qualites? This body of sin is still part of us after justification/adoption/redemption/regeneration/renewal. Our hope is in a future glorification where this body of sin will be done away with.

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  62. John Yeazel: Quoting RS: While they may be using different words in these two posts, are they really teaching something different at the heart of the matter?

    John Yeazel: Is convincing, enlightening and renewing the same thing as infusing new qualities into a person?

    RS: Perhaps they are not the same thing in and of themselves, but that does not mean that they contradict each other.

    John Yeazel: Using infusion language makes you think that the Holy Spirit is changing the substance of something internally in someone.

    RS: Not necessarily (see below).

    John Yeazel: And, as Paul said, that is more a Catholic concept than a Protestant concept. Horton was very leery of using infusion language as McMark pointed out in the first three posts. In fact, Horton wrote a whole chapter about it in his book COVENANT AND SALVATION- chapter 10, Covenantal Ontology and Effectual Calling.

    RS: Infusion is a Roman Catholic concept if it is used in terms of justification, but not in terms of sanctification. Horton can be leery as he wishes, but we are told (by Scripture) that the Spirit dwells in His people and that there are fruits of the Spirit. We are told that we share in the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). We are told that Christ lives in us and that He is our very life. None of these things lead us to being justified, but we are justified in order that we may be temples and vessels of His glory.

    John Yeazel: When you start talking about changes of substance (infusing new qualities) you are getting away from the Holy Spirit using the Law and the Gospel to convince, enlighten and renew. That seems like a significant difference to me.

    RS: Again, perhaps different but not contradictory. When one speaks of substance and it having new qualities, what can that mean? The spirit is of substance in the sense that it is something rather than nothing, but it is not substance in the sense that it is a physical something. What does the Holy Spirit convince? It is the physical brain or perhaps a non-physical part of the human being? In some way the sinner that was dead (spiritually) is born again and now has spiritual life. Could it be that the Spirit operates in a way different than human so and actually works in the perosn? Could it be that the Spirit actually does some cleansing and renewing in the soul and that gives a greater degree of light?

    John Yeazel: There are two distinct differences in how “new creation” is understood too. Is it a new legal state brought about by imputation and justification (which propitiates God’s wrath before the work of the Holy Spirit- does not God justify the ungodly before Christ gives the Holy Spirit?; Christ is always the one giving the Holy Spirit in the scriptures) or is “new creation” something the Holy Spirit does?

    RS: It is something that the Holy Spirit does. Jesus taught that in John 3:3-8. A person must be born from above in order to see or enter the kingdom. Who does this? It is the Holy Spirit who does this as He pleases (v. 8). Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” The work of the Spirit is the washing of regeneration and renewing.

    John Yeazel: ,Richard, your assumption is that new creation is a work of the Holy Spirit.

    RS: It is not just an assumption, but it is clearly taught in Scripture.

    John Yeazel: Someone has to be made holy by the Holy Spirit before that person is justified.

    RS: I am not exactly sure what you mean but that, but a person is made legally holy by God or God would be declaring a person holy who was not holy. But a person is not made holy in terms of his own holiness in order to be declared holy, but is declared righteous on the basis of Christ alone.

    John Yeazel: This is what you look for to determine if someone is justified.

    RS: But one can perform outward acts of holiness and be nothing but a Pharisee.

    John Yeazel: You then always point to the book of 1John. I’m not convinced you are understanding 1John correctly.

    RS: It is hard (impossible in my estimation) not to see that I John has a lot to do with the inward work of God in the soul. Those who love are those that the love of God abides in. Only those who love are born of God and know God. The very Gospel itself, the very glory of the mystery, is that of Christ in the person.

    1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

    1 John 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

    Colossians 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

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  63. John Yeazel: How do we makes sense of the fact that our bodies and minds are decaying in this life if regeneration and renewal involve changes of substance and infusing new qualites? This body of sin is still part of us after justification/adoption/redemption/regeneration/renewal. Our hope is in a future glorification where this body of sin will be done away with.

    RS: But it is our inner man that is being renewed day after day while our body is decaying. Indeed we have a carcass of clay and it is going down the hill, but the image of God has been renewed in the soul and it is what “has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph 4:24). The life of Christ and the Spirit can infuse life into the soul so that we are made partakers of the divine nature (not the ontological nature) as II Peter 1:4 teaches and our bodies can be decaying at the same time.

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  64. Don,

    A non-2k would agree with Calvin and you that the state is the God-ordained minister for good, but would define the good as protecting the true religion proclaimed by the true King. How can you define good otherwise? Do you disagree with Calvin or my summary of his thinking?

    I am not quite sure if your “true King” is referring to a good human magistrate, or if it refers to Christ as King, however I will assume the former, correct me if I am wrong. I think we have to look no further than the New Testament to answer this question, Paul and Peter are writing in the context of Roman rule when they affirm that the state and it’s system of governance is God-ordained. However both of these apostles were put to death by the same state they called Christians to obey. So, even though Rome was on and off as to how much protection it offered the Church, in general, it was an institution to which Christians were called to submit, the only point at which Christians did not submit is when loyalty to Christ was called into question, and here the historical precedent shows that Christians submitted to death and imprisonment rather than rebel politically against the state’s power. So, while the state was prone to evil, as it is ruled by fallen men, I don’t think the state, in the eyes of Paul and Peter was evil inherently, even if the people who ruled it were.

    Of course the NT critique of the state, especially Empire, in the eschatological witness of John’s Apocalypse adds more texture to Peter and Paul’s interpretation of human governments. Here, the Imperial impulse of human governments are susceptible to Satanic deception and influence, but even here the model for believers suffering under the tyranny of the State (under what we would call religious persecution) was martyrdom as opposed to revolt – And they have conquered him (Satan and his power mediated by the State) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Any sins of the State against the church, such as not protecting her freedoms, aren’t dealt with through the work or ministry of the church, but by the wrath of God poured out in final judgement.

    So, the state, as a God-ordained institution is still good, and in those times when it falls into oppressive tyranny, the Church is called to oppose the state, but in the same subversive manner in which Christ did, not by opposition through force, but through the willingness to hold fast to the gospel even at the cost of one’s life or freedoms. This has the dual effect of strengthening the other-worldly witness of the Church, which historically was one of the reasons why it grew so much in the face of sometimes fierce Roman opposition, and it also becomes the impetus by which God will judge those who participate in the persecution of the church. I think that Calvin, in many ways correctly describes the responsibilities, and limits upon the state’s power, but whether or not the state operates within these guidelines seems to owe to Providence rather than any power the Church has been given to enforce whether or not the State respects it’s proper role and boundaries.

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  65. Gaffin (Pentecost, Before and After)— “Likely, the verses in John 3:3-8 are not, at least primarily, a proof-text for the place of regeneration, particularly its causal priority to faith, in the ordo salutis.38 Rather, the birth from “above” is “new” in the sense of being brought by the coming of the kingdom of God that has (finally) arrived in Jesus. It explicates and is explicated by his claim, for example, that he is “the resurrection and the life” (11:25). Granting such a redemptive-historical, eschatological understanding of this passage, however, does not require calling into question the divine monergism involved in individual salvation prior to (as well as after) Jesus’ coming. ”

    38 See, representatively, the exegesis of J. Murray, Redemption—Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids Eerdmans, 1955) 98, 103f.

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  66. mark mcculley: Gaffin (Pentecost, Before and After)— “Likely, the verses in John 3:3-8 are not, at least primarily, a proof-text for the place of regeneration, particularly its causal priority to faith, in the ordo salutis.

    RS: Whether the text has this as the primary meaning or not does not negate the fact that it does teach this.

    mark mcculley: 38 Rather, the birth from “above” is “new” in the sense of being brought by the coming of the kingdom of God that has (finally) arrived in Jesus. It explicates and is explicated by his claim, for example, that he is “the resurrection and the life” (11:25). Granting such a redemptive-historical, eschatological understanding of this passage, however, does not require calling into question the divine monergism involved in individual salvation prior to (as well as after) Jesus’ coming. ”

    RS: One has to ignore some of the plain teaching of Jesus to arrive at that conclusion. The beginning of John 2 has Jesus doing his first sign (of being the Messiah, God in human flesh) of turning water into wine. The end of John 2 has Jesus doing miracles and many people believing in Him in some way, but of course He did not entrust Himself to them. One of the men who saw the signs was Nicodemus (saw the signs Jesus was doing (3:1-2) and so came to Jesus at night. He told Jesus that he knew that Jesus came from God as a teacher because of those signs. The reply was that no one could see or enter the kingdom apart from the new birth. Faith is the sight of the soul. It is by faith that one beholds or sees spiritual things (see Hebrews 11). But one has to be born again or from above in order to even see the kingdom. So one can argue about the primary meaning of John 3, but it is focused on the new birth and is clear to how important it is.

    It might also be added that John 1:12-13 can be looked at as well in the context. Men do not become a child of God by their bloodline (Jew or Gentile, thus shocking Nicodemus), nor by any act of the will of a human being, but by the will of God. In other words, God’s will is primary in the new birth. Spiritual faith cannot come from a person that is spiritually dead, so a person must be made spiritually alive in order to have a spiritual faith.

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  67. Jed,

    Sorry for the confusion — I actually referred to Christ, not the human magistrate, as the “true King.” Nevertheless, I agree with you in everything you have said. But I think you have falsely inferred from what I said that the Church’s responsibility is to impose its will on the human magistrate to serve God.

    Scripture is clear that the Church is to submit to the human magistrate whether good or evil, as it is God who has ordained the magistrate. Scripture also makes it clear that the human magistrate is judged by God as good or evil on the basis of his fear or lack thereof for God. Either way, the human magistrate is still responsible to God to protect the true religion, and the Church is responsible for praying for and proclaiming the truth to the world, including the human magistrate.

    Psalm 2 is written to the Kings of the earth for this very purpose.

    Now therefore be wise, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, For his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that take refuge in him.

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  68. Richard, I do not consider declaring law and gospel, living to glorify God, and seeking the good of neighbors transformationalism. I consider it Christian obedience, and I do agree that it is different from trying to transform society by laws. But I would suggest that if you think so then it may better not to talk about “seeking laws that are in line with the Ten Commandments.” That’s more or less how neos and theos talk.

    How about seeking laws that reflect how a republic has constituted itself? But even more than that, how about dialing down the overestimation of the power of politics and legislation and propping up the power of families, communities, and general civic rigor that actually create and sustain human beings and their endeavors?

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  69. Zrim: Richard, I do not consider declaring law and gospel, living to glorify God, and seeking the good of neighbors transformationalism. I consider it Christian obedience, and I do agree that it is different from trying to transform society by laws. But I would suggest that if you think so then it may better not to talk about “seeking laws that are in line with the Ten Commandments.” That’s more or less how neos and theos talk.

    RS: I guess what I am trying to get at, however, is if the basic moral laws of God are clear to all men by the light of nature in some way, then we are not telling them anything that they don’t already know. If we look at the second table, laws 6-9 are on the books. All laws will either reflect the character of God and be in accordance with Him or they will be toward the opposite of that. I am not sure why it is wrong to seek the most just laws that we can get from the wisdom of God as long as the Church does not have the power to enforce them.

    Zrim: How about seeking laws that reflect how a republic has constituted itself? But even more than that, how about dialing down the overestimation of the power of politics and legislation and propping up the power of families, communities, and general civic rigor that actually create and sustain human beings and their endeavors?

    RS: I am not sure that I have overestimated the power of politics and all of that. As a nation that is governed by laws (to a greater or lesser degree), which is what a Republic should be, we should have the most just laws possible. Since all judges and lawmakers will stand before the real Judge and Lawmaker, it is best for them to seek to have laws that reflect His perfect justice.

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  70. RS: Infusion is a Roman Catholic concept if it is used in terms of justification, but not in terms of sanctification; Could it be that the Spirit actually does some cleansing and renewing in the soul and that gives a greater degree of light?;
    .
    RS: It is something that the Holy Spirit does. Jesus taught that in John 3:3-8. A person must be born from above in order to see or enter the kingdom. Who does this? It is the Holy Spirit who does this as He pleases (v. 8). Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” The work of the Spirit is the washing of regeneration and renewing.

    John Yeazel says: The issue was with “infusion of new qualities” not “cleansing and renewing in the soul.” Besides cleansing and renewing in the soul sounds like it is washing away the sin from our bodies of sin (the flesh- which includes disobedience to the Law of God in thought, word and deed and our propensity and bent towards self-righteousness- which includes help by the Holy Spirit to obey the commandments of the Law of God) so we can obey the Law of God. Cleansing in the scriptures usually means cleansing by the blood so we can believe that Christ obeyed the Law of God perfectly for us and continue to believe it. It is more related to believing than doing. This is what causes the “offense” of the Gospel. The self-righteous can’t stand it. Then they get all pious and sanctimonious or else lose it altogether like the Pharisees did on Jesus.

    I think you are close to Catholicism Richard. “Most Reformed folks end up saying that “definitive sanctification”(defined as a break with sin, and a release from sinning too much or too often) is a result of union, along with justification, but then fail to explain what union by the Spirit means if it’s not this very same “definitive sanctification”. If union results in justification and sanctification, but then sanctification is what union means, then it would be better to say straight out that sanctification (cleansing by the Spirit) results in justification, and that therefore justification is not of the ungodly. But I deny that new birth comes before justification, and say that it’s the righteousness imputed which results in having Christ and life.”

    The Spirit is a communicative agent not a causal agent- see speech/act theory. The Spirit does not force, coerce or infuse new qualities into the soul. The Spirit communicates the Gospel in such a clear and convincing way (illuminates the mind, renews the will and circumcises the heart) that we are enabled to have faith, repent and believe. If the Spirit did not do this there would be no effectual call. However, there is no infusion of new qualities into the soul. That is a Catholic idea whether it involves justification or sanctification.

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  71. The cleansing and washing is a cleansing of our guilt and a cleansing of our conscience by the blood. It is what happens when we are put into the atonement of Christ by God. The righteousness of Christ (which becomes ours) gives us a just standing so we can deal with our guilt and get our consciences cleansed.

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  72. Terry, like MikelMann says, Paul (along with Jon) would certainly give lots of evidence for thinking that the noetic effects of regeneration are far reaching. But if you and Baus are saying that regeneration doesn’t affect intelligence or w-w, and that people need smarts to be philosophical and instruction to be w-wish, great. Still, you have to admit that folks like Kloosterman say that gen. rev. can only be interpreted truly by Scripture, which implies that regeneration and illuminiation are essential for interpreting Gen. Rev., since you’re not going to interpret the Bible correctly without the work of the H.S. And Kuyper in his worse moments did draw the antithesis in a way that affected intellect — hence the whole need for a Free University where Christians would allow their different outlook affect their study of the arts and sciences.

    Are you really saying that regeneration (and antithesis) don’t matter when it comes to knowledge of math, literature, and medicine? Or it only matters when you want it to matter?

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  73. “Are you really saying that regeneration (and antithesis) don’t matter when it comes to knowledge of math, literature, and medicine? Or it only matters when you want it to matter?”

    This is where it gets confusing for me. Early Kuyper wants to say the hard disciplines are unaffected, but it’s the softer disciplines (philosophy, literature, art, theology) are directly affected by the antithesis and most subject to regenerative effects, though if your principles and institutions founded on those principles are well enough established then you basically don’t need a regenerative populace. Then Dooyewerd wants to push it back firmly into the hard and soft disciplines and Van Til, wants to say yes and no on both accounts, but with an emphasis on an ever-increasing antithesis as opposed to Kuyper who still wants to maintain(most of the time) a common grace realm. You’ll have to forgive us 2kers if we too feel like we’re always being given a moving target.

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  74. John Yeazel says: The issue was with “infusion of new qualities” not “cleansing and renewing in the soul.” Besides cleansing and renewing in the soul sounds like it is washing away the sin from our bodies of sin (the flesh- which includes disobedience to the Law of God in thought, word and deed and our propensity and bent towards self-righteousness- which includes help by the Holy Spirit to obey the commandments of the Law of God) so we can obey the Law of God. Cleansing in the scriptures usually means cleansing by the blood so we can believe that Christ obeyed the Law of God perfectly for us and continue to believe it.

    RS: So if this cleansing occurs during regeneration, then regeneration does precede faith. But you also have to deal with what true faith really is. It is not just a matter of believing three facts.

    John Yeazel: It is more related to believing than doing. This is what causes the “offense” of the Gospel. The self-righteous can’t stand it. Then they get all pious and sanctimonious or else lose it altogether like the Pharisees did on Jesus.

    RS: But believing is not just believing facts, it is having Christ as all. If believing is something we can do in our own power, then our salvation does rest in our own power.

    John Yeazel: I think you are close to Catholicism Richard. “Most Reformed folks end up saying that “definitive sanctification”(defined as a break with sin, and a release from sinning too much or too often) is a result of union, along with justification, but then fail to explain what union by the Spirit means if it’s not this very same “definitive sanctification”. If union results in justification and sanctification, but then sanctification is what union means, then it would be better to say straight out that sanctification (cleansing by the Spirit) results in justification, and that therefore justification is not of the ungodly. But I deny that new birth comes before justification, and say that it’s the righteousness imputed which results in having Christ and life.”

    RS: You may deny that the new birth comes before justification, but that leaves you (as above) with faith coming from the sinful flesh of man and leaves eternal life and grace in the hands of men to dispense to themselves. No, I am not Roman Catholic or even close. I might remind you that men like John Owen used the word “infusion” in terms of sanctification. I think that you are so afraid of God doing something in you that you flee from it, but we need to stick with Scripture rather than our fears. The Spirit Himself dwells in people and all of our love, joy, peace and so on are the fruit of His infusion in us. We can do nothing good apart from Christ our vine. All spiritual fruit comes from Christ our vine and by the Spirit. Yet none of that produces anything in us that causes God to declare sinners just in His sight.

    John Yeazel: The Spirit is a communicative agent not a causal agent- see speech/act theory. The Spirit does not force, coerce or infuse new qualities into the soul.

    RS: So when all of our love, joy, peace and so on are His fruit, do those things then come from somewhere other than our souls?

    John Yeazel: The Spirit communicates the Gospel in such a clear and convincing way (illuminates the mind, renews the will and circumcises the heart) that we are enabled to have faith, repent and believe. If the Spirit did not do this there would be no effectual call. However, there is no infusion of new qualities into the soul. That is a Catholic idea whether it involves justification or sanctification.

    RS: The communication of the Spirit is when the Spirit actually communicates Himself into the soul. The infusion is of the Spirit Himself who because Christ is united to the soul and He is the Spirit of Christ shares Himself and works spiritual fruit in us. That is a biblical idea and is not Roman Catholic.

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  75. Don,

    But I think you have falsely inferred from what I said that the Church’s responsibility is to impose its will on the human magistrate to serve God.

    The statement was in general about the church, not your personal beliefs, I certainly am not trying to misconstrue your convictions, so apologies for the confusion on that point. From your comments here the biggest point of disagreement I think we have is the amount of conscientious cultural transformation that the church, owing to her commission, should have in society. Most bona-fide neo-cals I know do not think the church can impose anything on society, but some theonomists do, and some prolific bloggers and commenters who may be sympathetic with aspects of neo-Calvinism think that the church should (via her ministers) speak to certain political issues, demanding change – even from the pulpit. This was the “imposition” I was speaking to – but the statement was a general criticism, not one of you per se.

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  76. All laws will either reflect the character of God and be in accordance with Him or they will be toward the opposite of that. I am not sure why it is wrong to seek the most just laws that we can get from the wisdom of God as long as the Church does not have the power to enforce them.

    Richard, I’m sorry but this sounds an awful lot like the theonomic worldview: either theonomy or autonomy. And theonomy doesn’t want the church to enforce the civil laws culled from the Bible either. It wants the state to enforce biblical law. So when I read you on this point it seems an awful lot like when I read you on revivalism, which is to say that you don’t want to give cover to revivalism or theonomy but then you essentially speak a lot like their adherents. The difference between neos and theos seems to be the dame one between the semi-revivalists and revivalists. Like Sean said, moving targets.

    And so if you think “…we should have the most just laws possible. Since all judges and lawmakers will stand before the real Judge and Lawmaker, it is best for them to seek to have laws that reflect His perfect justice,” then why not embrace the theonomic program more fully, by pass natural revelation, as well as the Reformed tradition altogether which holds that the civil and ceremonial laws are expired with Israel, and make the Bible the blueprint for political arrangement? If the Bible is the final word on what is politically and civilly just, why waste time with the allegedly semi-final word of natural revelation?

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  77. Zrim: Richard, I’m sorry but this sounds an awful lot like the theonomic worldview: either theonomy or autonomy. And theonomy doesn’t want the church to enforce the civil laws culled from the Bible either. It wants the state to enforce biblical law. So when I read you on this point it seems an awful lot like when I read you on revivalism, which is to say that you don’t want to give cover to revivalism or theonomy but then you essentially speak a lot like their adherents. The difference between neos and theos seems to be the dame one between the semi-revivalists and revivalists. Like Sean said, moving targets.

    RS: Just because two positions speak in similar ways at similar points does not in and of itself mean that they are the same all the way through. Look very carefully, however, and you will notice that I did not say that the state should enforce biblical law. I simply said that lawmakers should seek laws from the most perfect wisdom and justice. In my way of thinking there is a huge difference there. There is a huge difference between revivalism (man-focused and man-manipulated) and those who seek true revival which is to say that its is those who seek for God to be the focus and for God to do the work in the hearts of human beings.

    Zrim: And so if you think “…we should have the most just laws possible. Since all judges and lawmakers will stand before the real Judge and Lawmaker, it is best for them to seek to have laws that reflect His perfect justice,” then why not embrace the theonomic program more fully, by pass natural revelation, as well as the Reformed tradition altogether which holds that the civil and ceremonial laws are expired with Israel, and make the Bible the blueprint for political arrangement? If the Bible is the final word on what is politically and civilly just, why waste time with the allegedly semi-final word of natural revelation?

    RS: In terms of right and wrong, natural revelation is not speaking with a different message than special revelation. Both come from the same author who cannot change. The only way to escape the position that we should have the most just laws possible is the position that we should not have the most just laws possible. I am not sure how anyone could argue that. I am also not sure how any Christian could argue against (not that you are totaly) the fact that all men will stand before the infiinite Judge and Lawmaker some day and give account of themselves. If that is so, they should certainly be careful to seek the most just laws possible. That is not the same thing as saying that governments should follow the laws of Israel like a theocratic form of government. But in terms of basic morality, all will answer to God who speaks the same message in both general and specific revelation.

    Romans 1: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
    19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
    20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
    21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened

    Romans 2:12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;
    13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.
    14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,
    15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
    16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

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  78. RS; I simply said that lawmakers should seek laws from the most perfect wisdom and justice.

    Sean; O.K., what is this most perfect wisdom and justice, that is NOT Christological, and not theocratic(siniatic)?

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  79. sean: Quoting RS; I simply said that lawmakers should seek laws from the most perfect wisdom and justice.

    Sean; O.K., what is this most perfect wisdom and justice, that is NOT Christological, and not theocratic(siniatic)?

    RS: Finding just and wise laws would require obtaining them from the character and nature of God, but that is true of both natural revelation and specific revelation. That is not specifically theocratic in nature. That also does not mean that the laws should come specficially from the OT laws of Israel, but you do see Divine wisdom underneath them and you see perfect justice in them. I know a man who was not a believer (actually, and atheist) and he lived a long distance from where his wife wanted to go to church. So he convinced her to stay home with him if he would read the Bible. In reading the Bible he was amazed at the justice displayed in it.

    Is it more just to send a thief to jail for a few years and get free room and board or is it more just to make him pay back what he took plus quite a bit more to the person he took it from plus the expenses of the state? Do lawyers always seek for justice or do they want to convict one one side and on the other sider have their client exonerated? In other words, they want to win rather than seek for justice. Do we have a justice system any longer or something else? Those things do not require us to go back to following the OT laws as such, but surely they were far more just than what is going on in our legal system.

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  80. There are none who are justified by their doing of the law. John Fesko makes the case for Romans 2 being an empty set.

    “Richard Gaffin tries to argue, on the basis of the grammar involved in a similar Pauline statement, that works are not the ground of judgment: “It is not for nothing, I take it, and not to be dismissed as an overly fine exegesis to observe, that in Romans 2:6 Paul writes, ‘according (kata) to works,’ not ‘on account of (dia),’ expressing the ground, nor ‘by (ek) works,’ expressing the instrument” (By Faith, Not By Sithgt [Carlisle: Paternoster, 2006], 98-99; similarly, Venema, Gospel, 266). Though Gaffin’s comment concerns Paul’s statement in Romans 2:6, at the same time we find the same prepositional combination with the accusative in John’s statement in Revelation 20:12e, the only difference being in the use of the singular and plural pronouns (cf. Rom 2:6).

    “Relying upon the analysis of Ridderbos and Murray, Gaffin’s finer point is that the judgment kata works is “in accordance with” the works, and such works are synecdochical for faith in Christ (see Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. John Richard de Witt [1975; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992], 178-81; Murray, Romans, 78-79).

    Yet can such a fine distinction be supported by the grammar alone? The use of “dia” with the accusative means “because of, on account of,” and the use of “kata” with the accusative means “in accordance with, corresponding to” (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 368-69, 376-77). One must ask, what difference exists between the two? In fact, when we delve more deeply into the significance of “kata” with the accusative, we find that “often the noun that follows kata specifies the criterion, standard, or norm in the light of which a statement is made or is true, an action is performed, or a judgment is passed. The prep. will mean ‘according to’, ‘in conformity with’, ‘corresponding to.’ This use is common in reference to the precise and impartial standard of judgment that will be applied at the great Assize (Matt. 16:27; Rom 2:6; 1 Cor 3:8; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; Rev 2:23)” (Murray J. Harris, “Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament,” in NIDNTT, 3:1200).

    “The argument apparently fails to account for judgment kata works for the wicked. This point seems to be borne out by Paul’s own use of kata, as he says, “He will render each one according to [kata] his works” (Rom. 2:6), but this rendering kata works is for both the righteous (v. 7) and the wicked (v. 8). According to Gaffin’s interpretation, are the wicked judged according to their works, but are they not the ground of their condemnation (see 2 Cor. 11:15)? Again, note how Paul uses kata: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due [to de ergazomeno ho misthos ou logizetai kata charin alla kata opheilema]” (Rom 4:4; see also Brian Vickers, Jesus Blood and Righteousness [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006] 95; Yinger, Paul, 21-26, 89-90, 135-136, 175, 182, 186). Judgment therefore is indeed kata (in accordance with, or on the basis of) works – the evil works of the unbeliever and the good works, or righteousness, of Christ.

    “Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine” p. 315

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  81. Richard, part of the problem is that you seem to want exact or perfect justice instead of being content with provisional or proximate justice. All we can expect in this life is the latter because both still depend on sinful creatures. You may want to point to a current justice system and bemoan it, but nothing that is structured on natural revelation yields any worse society than what Israel had
    .
    You cite examples and say of an allegedly insufficient justice system: “Those things do not require us to go back to following the OT laws as such, but surely they were far more just than what is going on in our legal system.” This is where I wonder how much it would take for theonomy to woo you. If it’s a more perfect justice you want to see, and if you think OT laws surpass any law humans have devised, then why not vie for OT laws? And have you considered that the legal system by which God chose to display his perfect justice against sin was pagan, as in the Roman cross, and not a system based upon OT jurisprudence? Part of what makes a civilization like Rome great is a swift and just legal system; if one hung on a Roman tree it was because he belonged there. Sure, to the extent that it put down the only innocent human being, the cross demonstrates the folly of proximate human justice. But if God chose that system to carry out his eternal program then it must be sufficient to regulate provisional life.

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  82. Terry, there is a fellow here, Jon, who thinks that only believers are wise, and unbelievers can never be wise. It is a common view among many Van Tillians. Kloosterman also says that gen rev must be interpreted by spec rev. Is he not neo-Cal? Have you and Baus the sole keys to the neo-Calvinist kingdom?

    Even Baus’ beloved Clouster argues for the antithesis among scholars. The Kuyper project was premised upon the antithesis between Christian and liberalism.

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  83. Jon, you are a great example of a neo-Cal who can’t give an account of the intelligence, wisdom, and philosophy of unbelievers. For you it has been all folly. Please tell me where I am wrong about your underestimation of unbelievers (or the God who sustains them).

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  84. Jon, where have Christians in the U.S. lost liberty to worship?

    And have you considered that the militarization of the U.S. inevitably leads to consolidation, centralization, and uniformity — all of which destroy the liberty of persons and voluntary associations since the state needs the support of all citizens. Most Christians in the U.S. want a united United States. They fear diversity and difference. But real liberty means diversity and lots of differences.

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  85. Zrim: Richard, part of the problem is that you seem to want exact or perfect justice instead of being content with provisional or proximate justice. All we can expect in this life is the latter because both still depend on sinful creatures. You may want to point to a current justice system and bemoan it, but nothing that is structured on natural revelation yields any worse society than what Israel had

    RS: I don’t expect perfect justice, but I certainly think we should look at what perfect justice is if we are to strive for real justice at all. If you (not your personally) don’t aim at perfect justice, then what are you aiming at? No justice at all. The case of Israel, however, is that they did not seek justice but instead sought false gods.
    .
    Zrim: You cite examples and say of an allegedly insufficient justice system: “Those things do not require us to go back to following the OT laws as such, but surely they were far more just than what is going on in our legal system.” This is where I wonder how much it would take for theonomy to woo you.

    RS: But again, looking at the underlying justice of God in the OT is not the same as saying every jot and tittle should be the law in our land.

    Zrim: If it’s a more perfect justice you want to see, and if you think OT laws surpass any law humans have devised, then why not vie for OT laws?

    RS: The OT laws display a justice that we should look for, but not in keeping them exactly but in looking for the principles of them.

    Zrim: And have you considered that the legal system by which God chose to display his perfect justice against sin was pagan, as in the Roman cross, and not a system based upon OT jurisprudence?

    RS: Your point is sound, but it misses part of the issue as well. Jesus kept the Jewish law perfectly and earned a perfect righteousness for His people. His death, while under Roman law, was also the curse of the OT law carried out.

    Zrim: Part of what makes a civilization like Rome great is a swift and just legal system; if one hung on a Roman tree it was because he belonged there. Sure, to the extent that it put down the only innocent human being, the cross demonstrates the folly of proximate human justice. But if God chose that system to carry out his eternal program then it must be sufficient to regulate provisional life.

    RS: Or it could also demonstrate that it was very weak in what it did. After all, Pilate caved to the Jewish leaders out of his own self-interest and as such demonstrated a great weakness in the Roman law in allowing an innocent man to be put to death.

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  86. Zrim, re your comment. It’s good to see you using the neo-Calvinist Kuyper against the theonomists. I’m not sure I regard theonomy to be neo-Calvinist in all actuality. I think the pluralism of Kuyper’s neo-Calvinism answers theonomy. I still can’t figure out why you R2K folks lump them together. Pluralism recognizes worldviews and that different groups in society have different starting points for their thinking about all sorts of things. In Kuyper the state is to allow (and perhaps even to support in societal structures where the state has an interest as in schools) the various worldviews and their institutions to flourish. Christian schools, Christian journalism, Christian political parties, Christian labor unions exist side by side with secular ones, Roman Catholic ones, and nowadays I guess we might add Islamic ones. The number and brand depends on the history and composition of the particular society. (I guess 2K folks would identify with the secular worldview.) Common ground can be struck from time to time on particular issues and there might be cooperation. Neo-Calvinism does not advocate a monolithic Christian theonomic state (unless that is the composition of the particular society).

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  87. Darryl, re your comment. Of course, it only matters when I want it to matter. Just like you.

    Snarkiness aside–I think that the closer something comes to what is revealed in scripture the more regeneration matters. The WCF refers to “enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,…determining them to that which is good.” Let’s take the extreme case of the hard sciences–physics, chemistry, biochemistry–I’ve thought a lot about these topics. I grasp them. I teach them. I don’t think regeneration helped me understand the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation. Natural ability aided by good professors, textbooks, doing homework, and finally, being forced to teach it mattered most. By and large I don’t think regeneration matters a lot in most of what scientists do. The presuppositions of an orderly universe and an empirically derived theory is what is needed to do science. Theists presuppose this in a lawful creation where God was free to create how he pleased, thus we have order and we have a need to actually look at what God created in order to see what he did. Non-theists get there by saying that’s just the way it is. Either way you can do good science based on those foundations.

    However, part of the truth of science that gets to its spiritual dimension that is impacted by regeneration is the acknowledgment that nature is Creation. That it is created. That it has a Creator. This is actually quite fundamental religious/spiritual truth that some atheists deny. The denial of the Creator is a form of idolatry (Rom 1:18ff.) It seems to me that regeneration “cures” you of that particular intellectual (which is really a spiritual) problem. At least “the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed”–surely that includes the idolatry of Atheistic Naturalism. Admittedly, that idolatry like many others rears its ugly head even in believers–but, as WCF says, its “dominion” is destroyed. You may complain that this isn’t really science and I would concur, but to the likes of Richard Dawkins and the other new atheists, atheism is a consequence of science. In their darkened minds one of the conclusions of the hard sciences is atheism. But the “intellectual” enlightenment that I am talking about doesn’t require advanced degrees in the hard sciences. There is a sense in which the non-scientist believer who “knows” that God created the sun knows more about the sun (or at least has a more fundamental knowledge about the sun) than the astronomer who knows all the technical details about its luminosity, its chemical composition, the nuclear processes that take place there, its cosmic history, etc. but denies its divine origin and Providential upholding and purpose.

    The closer you get to revealed truths (spiritual matters) the more regeneration (which awakens our trust in revealed truths) matters. So in psychology, for example, a psychologist who does not recognize the reality that human beings are body/soul dualities, that we are fundamentally religious creatures, that human nature was created good and in God’s image, but is now fallen, that the work of the Holy Spirit sanctifies, etc., is going to miss the mark on the truth about human beings.

    I’m really not sure that Paul (not the apostle) is saying much different from this. Regeneration, having a Christian mind, being influence by Biblical teaching and the Reformed confessions, matter in our thinking when the thinking, theorizing, etc. get close to topics that are spiritual and religiously influenced. As you can see, even the hard sciences provide some example of that. I honestly think this allows for a consistent reading of Kuyper, Dooyeweerd, and Van Til.

    So the upshot is that it matters when it matters (not just when I want it to matter or when you don’t want it to matter). As for your reference to Kloosterman, I think there is a lot riding on that word “truly”. Can non-Christians do chemistry? Of course, “after a fashion” as Van Til puts it (see the link I gave in the previous comment in this thread). And you have to be pretty smart to do chemistry (at least people who can’t figure it out think so). Those kind of smarts aren’t the result of regeneration–they are the result of humans being created in the image of God and of common grace. But doing chemistry isn’t the same as “truly” interpreting the natural world. I actually resist the phrase “natural world” or “nature” because it connotes autonomy. To call the “natural world” Creation is much more religiously/spiritually rooted and recognizes the Creator. I realize that some may see that as mere semantics, but I think it makes a point.

    I think at some point it might be worth asking what do we mean by a Christian worldview. To me most of it is Biblical/Confessional. There is a God, he has revealed himself to us, he has such and such attributes, he made the world, he made humans, including me, humans have fallen into sin, Christ came to save us and initiated the new age with his death, resurrection, ascension, session, and giving of the Holy Spirit, he will come again to judge the world and usher in the fullness of the eschatological age. In one sense, thinking about all of life in light of those truths is all that we’re talking about. If that Christian confession is true, how do I now live? I honestly can’t see how you all can object to this.

    As for citations–I’d like to see something by Kuyper, Dooyeweerd, Runner, Spykman, Clouser, H. Hart, Goheen, Bartholomew that gives the radical denial of common grace that you imply in your original post. And, really, do you read Clouser to say anything more than what I’m saying here?

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  88. Terry, I think the human sciences are much closer to the hard sciences than you think. Everyone is interpreting. Facts aren’t simply out there. In which case, to use your examples, psychology is more like chemistry than your neo-Calvinism admits.

    I don’t necessarily object to your w-w. What I don’t see is why it needs to be turned on all the time for whatever a person does. Most neo-Cals speak of an epistemological self-consciousness that is impossible even to philosophers when they eat a meal or cross the street.

    Christian schools and the rationale for them are a classic instance of denying common grace — as if we need to send our children to Christian institutions so that they learn the right way (in contrast to Daniel). BTW, this rationale goes all the way to the top — it is called the Free University.

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  89. Terry, the reason for seeing neos and theos on a spectrum is that both seem to want Christianity to have direct and obvious bearing on the plight of the provisional age. Both seem incognizant of what it means that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, almost as if he had his fingers crossed when telling us this. Both lack a robust sense of otherworldiness, lack which seems to be what causes them to think 2kers are latent Gnostics and Dispesationalists.

    You mention schools. I was reminded of just how neos and theos fall along a spectrum yesterday when a neo-Calvinist friend from my former CRC communion approvingly passed along this paranoid piece:
    http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/public-schools-social-justice-education-cloaks-marxist-teaching/#.T-dUWSAe0_0.facebook

    But as conservative Calvinists, 2kers worry more about theonomic agendas in the church than Marxist ones in the world. I get that neos have their distinctions from theos, but it’s a distinction without a difference because you both think Christianity has to be relevant. But the doctrines of religious relevancy are a function of modernity, not the teachings of the NT. I appreciate the seeming affirmation of creation in the neo-Calvinist outlook, but when it moves from a robust affirmation of creation to a dubious form of redemption, you’ve gone off the rails.

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  90. Richard, you continue with a false dichotomy between perfect justice and no justice. There is a proximate justice and it’s what we should be content to live with.

    And if you want to cull principles out of OT laws in order to apply them to contemporary pursuits of justice then you’ve begun to employ a hermeneutic that is less than Christological. In other words, the OT laws were given to point to Christ alone, not give us pointers on how to arrange our public policies. Maybe you’re tempted to say it’s both, but that seems to be a form of “Jesus plus something else.” By his own hermeneutic, the Scriptures are about him alone.

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  91. John Yeazel: Psssst Richard, I was being sarcastic!!

    RS: I realized that which was why I didn’t reply.

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  92. Zrim: Richard, you continue with a false dichotomy between perfect justice and no justice. There is a proximate justice and it’s what we should be content to live with.

    RS: I don’t think that I am as I don’t think that a perfect justice will be found in practice on earth by men until heaven.. However, if one is not seeking true justice, what is one seeking? What is your proximate justice guided by and what is the goal of it? If there is no true standard for justice, then there is a false standard or not standard at all. I don’t think that leads to real justice but instead is a system that is set up for some civility rather than order. But that is not the same thing as setting up a false dichotomy.

    Zrim: And if you want to cull principles out of OT laws in order to apply them to contemporary pursuits of justice then you’ve begun to employ a hermeneutic that is less than Christological. In other words, the OT laws were given to point to Christ alone, not give us pointers on how to arrange our public policies. Maybe you’re tempted to say it’s both, but that seems to be a form of “Jesus plus something else.” By his own hermeneutic, the Scriptures are about him alone.

    RS: True justice always points to Christ in some way just like everything there is points to Christ in some way. All things were created through Him and were created for Him. While it may be accurate to say that all things point to Christ, that is not the same thing as saying that the OT laws cannot be used as a guideline for justice. Many things have more than one use. The Law was given to point to Christ, yes, but there are different ways that it did this. One way was in setting out what perfect justice and now men have a standard to show them their sin and need for Christ. So again, we are back to one use of reading the OT which is to show some practical ways that true justice works.

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  93. RS:Those things do not require us to go back to following the OT laws as such, but surely they were far more just than what is going on in our legal system.

    RS: The OT laws display a justice that we should look for, but not in keeping them exactly but in looking for the principles of them

    Sean: Richard, As Zrim has pointed out, a great deal of what you say tracks VERY closely with theonomy. To be fair to theonomists, they are not jot and tittle folk,as they work it out. They argue for an interpretive exercise accomodated to a modern context but looking for as much positive application as possible when applying siniatic case law. There’s a great deal of acovenantal interpretation and sphere bounding transgressions that NL2K folk object to when this is being championed and argued for, but that’s another discussion. You might really benefit from giving ground to the idea of ‘proximate’ justice and patience and lowered expectations. I understand you also want to argue for the principle of shooting for perfection but in reality ending up with something less but that STILL being better than what we have. But, is that really what ends up happening when you’re dealing with human political systems? Isn’t generally what occurs a deformation in the form of totalitarianism or despotic monarchianism or other such ‘ultimate’, often times theocratic, political systems? All in the name of aiming for Camelot, even a religious one, we end up with the Emperor’s cult. Despite all our supposed best intentions, we are a pretty sinful lot, and maybe, just maybe God’s intention is to keep us pining away for something better.

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  94. John Yeazel: Psssst Richard, I was being sarcastic!!

    RS: I realized that which was why I didn’t reply.

    That made me laugh Richard- I’m glad you can take it not to seriously too. We are both working on completely different assumptions about the nature of regeneration, renewal and our own inherent righteousness and holiness after justification and sanctification. I think we remain simultaneously fallen (sinful) yet justified. Our justification and sanctification is something completely outside of us. The Christ in us and the Holy Spirit in us has to do with cleansing our consciences and washing away our gulit which liberates us to good works. We cannot perform good works when we are under condemnation- these types of works are dead works. You think our inherent holiness is something which is progressive and changes us internally and makes us different internally than the unregenerate. I think this is dangerous and leads to subtle forms of self-righteousness, even when we convince ourselves that it is the Holy Spirit we are relying on for this internal change.

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  95. Zrim, I guess we’ll just have to disagree. You are putting a lot of weight on John 18:36. You read it “My kingdom is not of Creation.” Why isn’t it rather “My kingdom is not of this sinful evil age”? Or “My kingdom is not of the militaristic, power base of which your Roman kingdom is”? You use this verse to deny the relevance of the kingdom of God for Creation in general. Given the testimony of the rest of scripture, I think you are quite mistaken. If 2k (vs. neo-Cal) is based on this verse, then it’s a rather flimsy position. Of course, we both recognize that Jesus’s way is not the way of conquest and of force–that hearts are changed by the power of the spirit and faith in Christ ensues. We also know that redemptive victory and the setting right of all thing came through his death on the cross. I don’t think that Jesus is even suggesting the temporariness of Creation here. Earthly powers are subject to divine rule even though they don’t know it.

    When Christian citizens and politicians base their decisions on principles of God’s Word and his Kingdom rule, they are also not being of this world in the sense that Jesus referred.

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  96. Terry;
    ‘When Christian citizens and politicians base their decisions on principles of God’s Word and his Kingdom rule’

    Sean; Terry, what are these UNIQUELY biblical principles and how specifically do they do this in accord with ‘his Kingdom rule’ and how do they(politicians particularly, but otherwise as well) do this without transgressing the sphere bounds of the church?

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  97. Darryl, I think you’re missing my point. I did not say that the hard sciences were free from being impacted by the Christian worldview. The example about Creation is fundamental. And I think it applies across all disciplines. We could also think about literature–of course, much of literature is about the human experience. Of course, we have to interpret literature in light of the worldview (in the post-modernist sense) of the writer–his/her times, culture, personal history, corporate history. More or less anyone can do that. But do we evaluate that in light of truth–The Truth. Do we ask, “Is this a right reading of human experience?”

    I’m glad to hear that you don’t object to the Reformed Confession as worldview. Perhaps you’re more of a neo-Cal than you want to imagine. I think you overestimate the requirement for self-conscious reflection. Even Reformational philosophers recognize ordinary experience. Most that I know don’t have a problem enjoying God’s good gifts in Creation and thanking God for them. Of course, thanking God for them is an expression of their worldview.

    I disagree that Christian schools are a denial of common grace. Most of what is taught is the result of non-Christian scholarship and artistry. No denial of common grace here. Christian education says the Reformed confession (i.e. what we believe about God, humanity, history, the good, the bad, how it gets fixed, the end) is worth thinking about as we do the disciplines. The secularist (2K’s excepted , of course) thinks the same. Public education says the secular confession (see the Humanist Manifesto I & II) is worth thinking about as they do the disciplines. No doubt there’s lots of overlap because we live in the same Creation and even post-modernists can’t deny the relevance of gravity. Secularists (aside from 2K’s) are neo-Cals in the sense that they too live all of life include their schools in light of their worldview.

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  98. Darryl and all, Here’s a question. Do you think it’s possible to be a Reformed theologian and do Reformed theology without being converted? Remember the Gilbert sermon, “On the Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry”. Is it possible to rightly exegete, apply, and preach the Word of God without being regenerated? Is theology a science as Hodge and Warfield used to say (queen of the sciences)? How is our theologizing influenced by our regeneration? Why are there different theological traditions if the same Holy Spirit is influencing the thinking about all this?

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  99. Terry, in fact I do read it as not of this present evil age (not as a denial of Christ’s lordship over creation). Though it is not at all unusual for a neo-Calvinist to say this, it is odd to me that you’d think a 2k reading is a way to deny the very goodness of creation. 2k says it’s so very good that it doesn’t need to be redeemed, while neo-Calvinism seems to find something wrong with creation that it needs to be transformed. This is the irony of your last remark. When from out of your imprecise distinction between creation and redemption you guys talk about transforming the world, my 2k mind wants to know what is wrong with it. Sure, it’s got its problems, but it looks pretty good as-is to me. Are you sure it’s not neo-Calvinism that is in a state of denial?

    As to your question, I think Noe has shown that it is possible for an unbeliever to do Reformed theology. That it is preferred is another matter. And the Reformed tradition has always maintained that the efficacy of the means of grace does not depend on the whether their minister is regenerate. So be careful pointing to Tennant’s revivalistic sermonizing that was high on conversion and low on the means of grace.

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  100. Terry,
    1)yes
    2)yes
    3)yes, if you want to talk about a body of knowledge which can be known and/or needs to be known(intellectually)
    4)Well, we ‘know’ that body of knowledge but now ‘savingly’ . IOW, we exercise saving faith towards He of whom the scripture testifies.
    5) That same Holy spirit does not call all effectually, and even when he does, not all things in scripture are plain in themselves, nor clear unto all.

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  101. Sean, there are sphere bounds for the church. I’m not sure there are sphere bounds for the individual believer. He/she acts as a godly citizen in the sphere of the state, a godly parent in the sphere of the family, a godly scientist in the sphere of academia, a godly businessman in the sphere of the marketplace. In none of those spheres is there a need to go through “the church as church”. The principles are quite general. For example, the state is not ultimate. Does that have implications for how one does politics? There is evil in the world that needs to be constrained by the civil magistrate. Does that have implications for how one does politics. Nature is not autonomous and is Creation. Does that have implications for how one does science? Surely, the doctrine of Providence tells us that we can’t conclude Naturalism as a philosophical system from a successful mechanistic science. Etc.

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  102. Zrim, don’t assume I’m on Gilbert Tennant’s side.

    You seem to have a very limited view of Creation. Creation include societal structures and political systems and economic systems, etc. There’s a lot wrong with those. Creation includes the human soul. A lot wrong with that too as brilliant as we are. The Creation groans and waits for full redemption just like you and I do. If you think it’s pretty good now then I suggest that you are denying the effects of the Fall. The Fall had consequences for Creation and those consequences are part of what is renewed in the cosmic redemption of all things–Colossians 1. I do not suggest that you deny the goodness of Creation. You do deny the persistence of Creation. The Bible says that it will be renewed — the fires of Peter are purging fires not destroying fires. I’ve thought from first reading DVD that the problem is with the eschatology primarily.

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  103. John Yeazel:
    RS: I realized that which was why I didn’t reply.

    John Yeazel: That made me laugh Richard- I’m glad you can take it not to seriously too. We are both working on completely different assumptions about the nature of regeneration, renewal and our own inherent righteousness and holiness after justification and sanctification. I think we remain simultaneously fallen (sinful) yet justified.

    RS: But I agree that we are simultaneously fallen and yet justified.

    John Yeazel: Our justification and sanctification is something completely outside of us. The Christ in us and the Holy Spirit in us has to do with cleansing our consciences and washing away our gulit which liberates us to good works. We cannot perform good works when we are under condemnation- these types of works are dead works.

    RS: But Christians are created for good works, which means a person does good works when that person is converted (Eph 2:10). The context of that argument is that works do not save, but instead a person is saved for good works. Going back to Colossians 1:27 and Christ in the soul, just two verses later (29) he says this: ” For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Paul labored according to His power which worked within him. So the conclusion is not hard to see that something of sanctification comes from within the person.

    John Yeazel: You think our inherent holiness is something which is progressive and changes us internally and makes us different internally than the unregenerate. I think this is dangerous and leads to subtle forms of self-righteousness, even when we convince ourselves that it is the Holy Spirit we are relying on for this internal change.

    RS: Whether it is dangerous or not does not determine the truth of the matter. If I determine something is dynamite and therefore dangerous that does not make it stop being dynamite.
    Hebrews 12:10 “For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” My position is that when Christ is in a person and the Spirit makes them His temple, that person shares in His holiness rather than finding a righteousness of holiness of his own. Again, if our power and strength comes from another, it must come from Him who lives in us.

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  104. Terry,

    How about the short answer is it makes a subjective difference, unto the glory of God, but not an objective difference; a 3/4′ fitting can be objectively, optimally, threaded to a 3/4′ pipe, by a regenerate or unregenerate person. And I’m not sure the principles you have given are uniquely scriptural though maybe not inconsistent with scripture and seem readily available via general revelation. Certainly the roman jurists knew a thing or two about ‘good’ governance apart from special revelation and to the extent which one arrives at the state as a penultimate sphere, seems to me the theocrats violate this a lot more often than the pagan secularists, one can be said to ‘rightly’ understand the role of the sphere(whichever one under consideration, the state in this case) as a ‘created’ or temporal or contextualized opportunity as opposed to an eternal, ultimate one. I’m not sure how the neo-calvinist, seeking objective differentiation, doesn’t end up eclipsing the Imago Dei of all human creatures, albeit maybe unintentionally, and over-realizing the redemptive impact and scope of election. I mean, rom 2:14-15 is still true, and even the unregenerate sin and get it wrong fairly often.

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  105. Zrim,

    Zrim: “2k says it’s so very good that it doesn’t need to be redeemed, while neo-Calvinism seems to find something wrong with creation that it needs to be transformed.”

    Seriously? Have you heard of the fall? What about Romans 8 where it talks about creation groaning? Not to repeat Terry, but it’s such an obvious point. You seem to totally deny the fall, or at least radically compartmentalize it.

    Every time I start to think I can MAYBE KINDA start to see where some of the R2K guys are coming from (even if I don’t agree with them), one of them comes out with a totally radical statement like this and I go back to thinking they are waaaaaayyyyyyyy out of whack.

    How can you complain about the charge of gnosticism if you separate creation from human souls so radically?

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  106. Darryl,

    You must not be reading me too closely because I have already stated my fears of militarization and its centralizing influence.

    As far as losing liberty to worship (although I didn’t define liberty this narrowly), we haven’t lost it yet, but we may be headed that way fast. How long do you think it will be before you aren’t allowed to exegete Romans 1 in public (homosexuality)?

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  107. Darryl: “Jon, you are a great example of a neo-Cal who can’t give an account of the intelligence, wisdom, and philosophy of unbelievers. For you it has been all folly. Please tell me where I am wrong about your underestimation of unbelievers (or the God who sustains them).”

    Here you go:

    DGH “attribute to the supernatural work of the Spirit the intellectual genius of believers”

    Jon: I never said the HS makes believers GENIUS, or even smarter. What I did say it that he grants them the BEGINNING of true wisdom. If they ARE smart, then they can use their smarts in a God-glorifying direction. And if they aren’t smart, they can still possess a true wisdom of how to live life.

    DGH: “because they operate in what at times seems like a Manichean universe divided between the knowers (of Christ) and the ignorant”

    Jon: I never called unbelievers ignorant. They can be highly intelligent. But their worldview can never substantiate their proximate knowledge. Maybe using Calvin’s proximate/ultimate dichotomy and applying it to epistemology would be helpful.

    DGH: “If regeneration does produce a new w-w, then why is education necessary? Shouldn’t the regenerate already have the tools, by virtue of the illuminating power of the Spirit, to understand all things correctly?”

    Jon: This is just a gross caricature. No one has ever argued that the HS grants wisdom apart from means. In other words, wisdom is HOW knowledge is used. It’s how the facts are organized and interpreted. That’s why a pagan can be an expert at calculus, but never really understand or give an account for WHY calculus is possible in his random universe.

    DGH: “In fact, in communions where w-w has expanded, catechesis has generally declined.”

    Jon: Not in mine. Correlation is not causation.

    DGH: “At the same time, regeneration does nothing to take someone from a low to a high IQ. Nor does regeneration place someone all of a sudden as a graduate of a Masters-level curriculum in western philosophy”

    Jon: No one has ever argued this. Ever. That’s why I called it a straw man.

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  108. Terry, when I say creation I have in mind the things you list—it includes everything from rocks and rivers to societal structures to economic systems. But I also make a distinction between animated and non-animated creation, or that which is made in the imago Dei and that which isn’t. Rocks and economic systems are in the latter class. Only human beings are in the former and as such are the only facet of creation that can be said to be the target of redemption right now. Neo-Calvinism seems to want to include rocks and economies, but that would seem to suggest that Jesus not only lived and died for his PEOPLE but also their social, political, and economic systems (and rocks). And out pops something awkward about redeeming creation. This strikes me as quite odd for any Reformed to embrace, since, to the extent we agree it reflects the biblical witness, covenant theology is about God and his people. It also seems borderline sacrilegious to imply that Jesus lived and died for anything other than that which is made in God’s image.

    I agree that the non-animated aspect of creation groans for renewal. But a more precise way of saying it is that it groans for the sons of God to be revealed because it knows that the imago Dei creation has primacy over it—as goes the state of human beings, so goes the state of everything else created. Once the sons of God are revealed, all things will be set aright.

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  109. DGH: “What is important is that Calvin does attribute to the Spirit the knowledge that pagans possess. Truth, wisdom, and intelligence do not exist independent from God. At the same time, the wisdom of pagans is spiritual work that does not include regeneration. It is in effect another iteration of the doubleness that 2K tries to maintain. In the same way that Christ rules the work of redemption differently from the order of his creation, so too the Spirit works upon the minds of people differently, with the illumination of regeneration providing a knowledge distinct from understanding politics, the liberal arts, or even neo-Calvinists’ beloved philosophy. ”

    This last part regarding Christ’s rule being different in creation vs. redemption and the subsequent conclusion that politics, arts, and philosophy are therefore morally-neutral (or at least unaffected by regeneration), needs a systematic argument and Biblical support. This is a huge conclusion with a wide impact and merely asserting it is not enough. I need proof.

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  110. Jon, like I said to Terry, if you don’t make a distinction between non/imago Dei creation then it seems to me you end up having to say that Jesus lived and died for fish and government. Talk about way out of whack. Is it really so rrrrrrradical to suggest that only human beings are the target of redemption? My guess is that you don’t bring your dog to church.

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  111. Zrim,

    Your theology results in the most radical and extreme conclusions. I doubt that anything but a tiny minority of Reformed folk would agree with them.

    1) Christian schools are unnecessary. (This one is the most easily empirically disproven.)
    2) The fall didn’t affect creation.
    3) And the worst one: Reformed theology can be done by a unregenerate person. Theology is knowing God. If you claim you can know God, without really knowing him, something is off in your theology.

    I fear the radical two kingdom folk are starting with a conclusion perhaps (they don’t want to involve themselves in government) and working backwards into a theology. But it produces all kinds of problems and contradictions, which is why they have to write articles about why it’s okay to sound convoluted and self-contradictory. But I don’t think most Reformed folk would agree with this way of thinking. I think that if you start to contradict yourself, you need to take a hard look at where you went wrong.

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  112. Colossians 1:22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him

    mark: but wait wait, not yet, not now, not by Christ’s death alone, that was only the first step, that death and resurrection alone would not reconcile anybody, let alone cause them to be presented holy and blameless, this verse does not have the word “soul” in it, so we need to move on to other important stuff

    23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[g] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

    mark: and to continue means to move on, I don’t deny that business about now and about reconciliation by Christ’s body of flesh or by Christ’s death, indeed I agree with all that, I am reformed, so now lets assume that and shift to talking about the soul, which of course is also part of the hope, indeed, if we read on enough we shall see that when it comes to being holy then we shall need to talk not only about Christ in us, but also about what Christ is causing us to be and to do, so that we know that by His presence He is making us holy but not quite yet, He in our souls is making us blameless but of course not yet perfectly….

    24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

    mark: and of course that doesn’t mean Christ in you, we know from Edwards that it means Christ in your souls, and even Plato knew that our souls are not us, but something immaterial and invisible in us, and also remember that the hope is not merely Christ’s presence but also Christ’s presence as a means to an end, which is of course changing our souls, making us better than we were, and tomorrow better than we were yesterday, so of course we are not yet holy, not yet totally blameless, but nevertheless we can approach God with some assurance now not so much because of that death alone, that was only justification, but we can now approach God, or begin to, not because of a righteousness done already, but by means of a righteousness being done by us, because Christ is in us, and remember I am not talking about justification now, but don’t forget sanctification, and you can’t be really holy or truly worship God until in your soul God changes you so that you too can begin to fulfill the law and thus begin to approach, it’s not an either or because you can’t just be justified because now that your soul has been changed your work is not only accepted as not dead work but now accepted as some of the reason you are holy, not strictly of course, but in grace…..

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  113. “My guess is that you don’t bring your dog to church.” I’m taking that, thank you very much, and the cannolis

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  114. Zrim,

    I don’t even totally disagree with how you put it: “But a more precise way of saying it is that it groans for the sons of God to be revealed because it knows that the imago Dei creation has primacy over it—as goes the state of human beings, so goes the state of everything else created. Once the sons of God are revealed, all things will be set aright.”

    In a way you are stating federal theology (with regard to man representing creation, in a sense). I don’t disagree.

    But how do you go from there to concluding that creation is “just fine” as it goes and doesn’t need redemption? And then go from there and say that creation is so good that we don’t even need a uniquely Christian way of educating children? It’s your conclusions that seem radical to me.

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  115. Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

    mark: and of course that doesn’t mean Christ in you,

    RS: There are many verses that speak of Christ in you and of the Spirit being in believers. In fact, Jesus tells us that the Father will make His abode in them as well. Of course the text does mean Christ in you.

    McMark: we know from Edwards that it means Christ in your souls, and even Plato knew that our souls are not us, but something immaterial and invisible in us,

    RS: I think we should follow Scripture rather than Plato (or at least your intepretation of him) on this point. When the man Adam was given life, he because a living soul. What is it about my soul that can fail to heed a prophet and yet that is apart from me or not me? You may be flirting with some form of Gnosticism here. A human being is created body and soul.
    1 Corinthians 15:45 So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
    Acts 3:23 ‘And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’

    McMark: and also remember that the hope is not merely Christ’s presence but also Christ’s presence as a means to an end, which is of course changing our souls, making us better than we were, and tomorrow better than we were yesterday, so of course we are not yet holy, not yet totally blameless, but nevertheless we can approach God with some assurance now not so much because of that death alone, that was only justification, but we can now approach God, or begin to, not because of a righteousness done already, but by means of a righteousness being done by us, because Christ is in us, and remember I am not talking about justification now, but don’t forget sanctification, and you can’t be really holy or truly worship God until in your soul God changes you so that you too can begin to fulfill the law and thus begin to approach, it’s not an either or because you can’t just be justified because now that your soul has been changed your work is not only accepted as not dead work but now accepted as some of the reason you are holy, not strictly of course, but in grace…..

    RS: One is declared perfectly holy and righteous on the basis of Christ alone. However, the one that knows God and is united to Christ that soul now lives in love because love lives in him or her. It is the grace of God in the soul that grants that soul to share in His divine nature (II Peter 1:4) that we may become partakers or share His holiness (Heb 12:10). When a true believer is holy, it is not something done outside of Christ, but it is a sharing in the holiness of God through Christ and by the Spirit.

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  116. Terry,

    Something I’ve been wondering about, and this seems like a good opportunity to ask: Is it possible to hold to neo-Cal epistemology without also holding to neo-Cal eschatology? You say:

    I think at some point it might be worth asking what do we mean by a Christian worldview. To me most of it is Biblical/Confessional. There is a God, he has revealed himself to us, he has such and such attributes, he made the world, he made humans, including me, humans have fallen into sin, Christ came to save us and initiated the new age with his death, resurrection, ascension, session, and giving of the Holy Spirit, he will come again to judge the world and usher in the fullness of the eschatological age. In one sense, thinking about all of life in light of those truths is all that we’re talking about.

    Hard to argue with that. But then you also say (to Zrim):

    I do not suggest that you deny the goodness of Creation. You do deny the persistence of Creation. The Bible says that it will be renewed — the fires of Peter are purging fires not destroying fires. I’ve thought from first reading DVD that the problem is with the eschatology primarily.

    In your view, does one have to agree with the latter to agree with the former? Can one be neo-Cal without holding to a high degree of continuity between the present creation and the new one?

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  117. I hope it is OK to butt into the conversation so late. Terry, you wrote, “However, part of the truth of science that gets to its spiritual dimension that is impacted by regeneration is the acknowledgment that nature is Creation. That it is created. That it has a Creator.”

    How is this uniquely impacted by regeneration? I see that a regenerate person will acknowledge these things, but so will mormons, jews, muslims, and unitarians. It seems to me that these truths are less a consequence of regeneration than of common grace.

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  118. Jon, I take it you now see how I’m not saying the fall didn’t affect creation. Yes, my point about redemption being for human beings follows a federal theology.

    But how do you go from there to concluding that creation is “just fine” as it goes and doesn’t need redemption? And then go from there and say that creation is so good that we don’t even need a uniquely Christian way of educating children? It’s your conclusions that seem radical to me.

    Because creation is still very good. Are you saying it isn’t very good anymore? There is no question that humans are fallen and sinful. Rom 1-3 and Eph 1-2 (among other places) is abundantly clear about that. What is less clear to me that creation per se is fallen or sinful, nor is it clear to me that creation or creational enterprises need to be redeemed, though evangelicals and transformationalists speak this way routinely. Creation is subject to futility (Rom 8:19-23) and is groaning to be released from the bondage to decay and to enter into the consummate state, but that is not quite the same thing as to say that creation is “fallen.” Rocks don’t have any faculties. They don’t sin. I doubt that dogs sin. My Goldendoodle is stubborn. Certainly she suffers from the consequences of the fall, but whatever we say in that regard, nothing about the fall makes creation evil or even something that needs to be “redeemed.” I worry about the effect of equivocating about sin and redemption by applying the same terms to humans and creationally generally. The effect is to broaden thus weakening the ideas of sin and redemption.

    But how do you go from federal theology, which is about God and man, to redemption being about God and man and everything else? And how is to question the need for a uniquely Christian way of delivering the 3rs really so rrrrradical? I know it touches a third rail among P&R influenced more by modernity than catechetical religion, but I’ve yet to be convinced it’s as necessary as catechism.

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  119. Terry, let’s be clear. I do object to the confession being turned into w-w. A confession is an affirmation by the church. A w-w is something Hegel had.

    What I don’t get is how your w-w waxes and wanes. Sometimes it’s only doctrine. Then it goes cosmic. Neo-cals do need a little discipline and restraint.

    If not a denial of common grace, how do Christian schools affirm common grace? Isn’t there a lot of doubt raised by Xian schools about other kinds of schools? And have you not heard, Kuyper doubted the outlook of liberals and the schooling they provided. Sometimes the antithesis is hard to handle. Again, more restraint or clarity please.

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  120. Terry, if it is possible to conjecture that the sermon by an unregenerate minister is the word of God (as the second Helvetic affirms) it is certainly conceivable that Reformed theology could be done (though not ideally) by an unregenerate believer.

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  121. Terry, has it dawned on you that neo-Cals have an overly high estimate of creation, and that the categories for creation are not damnation and salvation but good and blessed. The original creation was only good, not blessed. Creation will not be blessed until Christ’s return (whether that means getting nuked or simply transformed). But ever since Al Wolters Creation Regained, neo-Cal’s have not done justice to the fact that Adam, even though created good, had another stage of existence waiting for him if he did not sin. The original creation was not as good as it gets.

    BTW, when is a neo-Cal ever going to do more than wave the wand over Col. 1? Calvin did not think that Paul’s appeal to the cosmos implied “all creation.” Do neo-Cals do exegesis?

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  122. Zrim, we’ve been here before. I guess it’s sort of an impasse. The scope of the Fall and the scope of Redemption and the scope of the Eschatological Renewal is the same as the scope of all Creation. It’s all things, cosmic in scope. Dogs don’t have eternal souls, but I’d guess there will be dogs on the New Earth. They don’t have to come to church get renewed. That’s the other part where we are at an impasse. You see everything happening via church as church. I see believers living out their vocation in the world bringing salt and light to every area of life (church as organism; believers expressing God’s rule in all of life).

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  123. Jon, good, so we agree. Regeneration has little if anything to do with intelligence or philosophy. I don’t think the rest of the w-wers will agree. Why establish a separate university run on Christian convictions if you think that philosophy and other forms of learning can be learned as well at a state university?

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  124. Jon, who used the word neutral? The word in play is common. But if politics, arts and philosophy are not morally neutral, then how can you say that regeneration is not the basis for genuine learning and wisdom? After all, if philosophy is not neutral, then an unbelieving philosopher cannot be telling the truth. Can he?

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  125. Jon, how could you “prove” that Christian schools are necessary? Also, creation did not sin. Creation may groan because it has to support sin. But it cannot be redeemed (and doesn’t need to be). It doesn’t have a soul. It wasn’t in covenant with God. There is a difference between wicked, good, and blessed. The original creation was not blessed, only good.

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  126. Darryl, Christian schools recognize common grace by using the fruit of unbelievers science, art, literature, philosophy, psychology, etc. Granted, they are subjected to scrutiny to see if any fruit of an unbelieving worldview produces any of their conclusions, but clearly, much of the science taught in a Christian school is the work of unbelievers. We’ve probably learned a thing or two about the psychology of learning from unbelievers. There are plenty of novelists, historians, artists, computer programmers, etc. worth studying and learning from. Don’t forget the CRC/PR battle in the 1920’s. Neo-Cals are advocates of common grace. You yourself quoted Kuyper in the lead post. Why do you keep acting like Kuyper is not a neo-Cal?

    Again, you’re making stuff up. Who says that Adam didn’t have another stage of existence–his eschatological reward for keeping the covenant of works? Why do you think that neo-Cals don’t recognize that there is a discontinuity (as much as I have been emphasizing the continuity)? There will be no more death, there will no sin, there will be perfect communion with God, as it would have been had Adam reached his eschatological goal. That’s a pretty substantial discontinuity and it will not come as a result of neo-Cal’s kingdom building efforts but by the coming of our Lord to put an end to the remaining rebellion. As the Vossians say, “eschatology precedes soteriology”. Who denies that? Why do you think the neo-Cal denies that? Why does kingdom in all areas of life and “redemption” of all things imply that there won’t be a Parousia where the drama dramatically ends? Who says that the original Creation was as good as it gets? Obviously not, especially if Adam was “able to sin”. Surely, “not able to sin”, our condition after the New Heavens and the New Earth are brought in is better. The threat of “you shall sure die” will no longer be over us as it was for Adam. That’s better too. But why the eschatological glorification implies the undoing of the Created order is beyond me. I just don’t see where you get it. The imagery of both the Old Testament prophets and the Apocalypse paint a picture of continuity–but not only a return to the original Creation but a eschatological emergence of everything as it was meant to be had Adam not sinned. Christ brings us to the glory that eluded Adam. Not only that but we get to see writ large God’s love, grace, and mercy toward Adam’s race that had at first failed–something we may have never known had Adam not failed the probation.

    As for your worry about Hegel–you trouble yourself with too much philosophy I fear. Just because the term originated in a certain context doesn’t mean that the concept hasn’t always existed. With Creation we have the Christian worldview. With the Fall we have alternatives.

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  127. sdb, I would never say that the creator god of “mormons, jews, muslims, and unitarians” is the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Maker of heaven and earth. Their god is an idol.

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  128. David R., I think they go together, but I suppose you could distinguish them. 2k’s seem to, although they might object to being said to hold to a neo-Calvinist epistemology. I’ve always distinguished between dispensationalists/fundamentalists eschatology and Reformed eschatology in terms of the stress on the goodness and continuity of Creation. Before running into these 2k folks I took as the dispensationalists/fundamentalists view that this world was going straight to hell, that the the only thing that would be saved was human beings, that references to a good, peaceable kingdom were only to the Millennial rule of Christ which would be rebelled against at the end only to have Christ come to defeat and judge the enemy, send them to hell and send Christians to heaven. There was no talk as far as I could see of a New Earth. People were discouraged from going to college because the Lord was coming soon and it would be a waste of time to study the things of the world.

    But it seems that that’s very close to the eschatology of 2K’s. I don’t get it. Amillenialism sees the good, peaceable kingdom as the New Heavens and the New Earth with the New Heavens (the place where God dwells) actually descending to the New Earth. Lots of original Creation language. The original experience of the good Creation and the experience of it today is not just because God made a bit of a way station for us on our way to glory, but because in its eschatological perfected state it’s the world God intended all along. That’s where we’re headed. And the mustard seed and leaven that was planted with Christ’s first coming is taking root, growing, and spreading to the ends of the earth.

    2k’s say they affirm the goodness of Creation. I accept that. But the image of polishing a sinking ship just so it’s a comfortable ride until the end doesn’t really work for me. 2k doesn’t make sense unless you promote an eschatology that makes a radical break with the original creation.

    It seems to me that there’s an either/or mentality. It’s either the church or it’s creation/society/culture. I won’t deny that some so-called neo-Cals have it to. 2k’s pick the church. These so-called neo-Cals pick society/culture. But there’s no either/or for the Bible. The church is the gathering of the called out ones who follow Christ (and their children). They gather for worship, are discipled by the preaching of the Word, are nourished by the Sacraments, and disciplined by the officers of the church. But they live out the gospel and Christ’s Word in Creation and bring their understanding of God and his purposes to bear on all things. So, it’s both the church and creation/society/culture

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  129. I agree which is why I don’t understand what regeneration gas to do with science. How will a nonregenerate theist view science differently from a believer? If the only difference is that they give credit to the wrong god, then while this has serious consequences for their soul, I don’t see how it is at all relevant to how they view science.

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  130. Mark Karlberg: “Through long years of controversy and debate , Protestant dogmaticians made increasingly heavy use of scholastic distinctions To speak about the ‘graciousness’ of the first covenant with Adam, most Reformed federalists employed the speculative and dualistic distinction between nature and grace. As a result, the covenant order was set over against the natural order of creation. This new development, or rather revision to an older view, appeared in the writings of Francis Junius, a highly respected Dutch scholar and professor. Junius emphasized the sovereign, electing purpose of God in creation. Although Adam was obliged to render complete and perfect obedience to the law of God by virtue of his debt as a creature (ex puris naturalibus), the covenantal reward of life eternal was one of ‘grace’…..”

    Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective:

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  131. Terry, if you go back to some other comments by your antithetical friend, Jon, you’ll see that he had real trouble answering that Christians can learn from non-Christians, as in take advice about a host of matters in this life. He would likely qualify that as you do so that wisdom and learning becomes a small little area that winds up not being as cosmic as the wave that neo-Cals make to Col. 1. But if Xians do learn so much from non-believers, what’s the point for separate schools? (Jon even insists that Christian schooling is so necessary that it is obvious.) If we use non-xians in Christian schools, what makes xian schools so distinct?

    As for the point about creation and eschatology, you really need to look at Wolters. His title pretty much says it all. Redemption is regaining creation. And Wolters has been the seed from which the integration of faith and learning has grown throughout all Christian colleges.

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  132. Terry, if you paid more attention to Peter when he talks about the burning of the world than you do to Paul’s language of cosmic salvation, you might be more circumspect about creation and where it’s going. I’d also be care to identify too much with this order and its good things since a major failing of the Israelites was their identification of “as good as it gets” with Jerusalem, the kingdom, and the Temple. This made even the apostles reluctant at times to go to a new stage of redemptive history where all of that passed away. Do you really think that this order may actually go away and something very different might come? If not, you may be too deeply attached to perishable things (to borrow a phrase from a paleo-Calvinist, John Calvin).

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  133. Darryl,

    Whoa, whoa. I said that math could be done competently by a pagan, but not philosophy. An unbeliever can rightly say 1 + 1 = 2, (though he can’t say WHY 1 + 1 = 2 in his random universe (multiverse?)), but philosophy deals with the basic foundations of belief, and can’t be done properly from an autonomous point of view. Once again, I could even agree FORMALLY with a pagan philosopher on a specific point, but I will never agree with his starting point, and thus the antithesis between our worldviews.

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  134. Darryl,

    Also, speaking of philosophy, let me ask you a question:

    Did philosophy start with Adam, or with the Hebrews, or did it not start until Thales? In other words, if I wanted to research the history of philosophy, would I start with the Hebrew Scriptures, or would I wait until the pre-socratics?

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  135. Darryl/Zrim,

    I agree that creation does not need redemption in any way even close to the same as man. My only point is that thorns, thistles, biting lions, and stinging mesquitos will not exist in heaven.

    As far as “proof” for the need for Christian education, here goes:

    “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

    “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5)

    “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
    (Colossians 2:2-3 ESV)”

    Can your child properly understand human nature if he is taught that man evolved from spacedust?
    Can your child understand logic if he is told that something came from nothing?
    History is nothing more than a pile of data without a philosophy to underpin it. Will we use Christian philosophy or autonomous philosophy? (If you say there’s no difference, you have never attended a government school.)
    Can your child understand sexuality aright when they are taught that their is no ultimate authority (other than man), that there are no pre-defined genders, and that pre-born babies are fetuses?
    Can your child be taught philosophy properly when he is taught that man is the measure of all things? And that autonomous thinking is the only REAL way of doing philosophy.
    English: is the meaning of a passage really determined by the reader?
    Sports: Are there really no differences between boys and girls?

    I could go on . . . .

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  136. Jon, the Greeks do philosophy (not banking, clearly). The Hebrews did God. I don’t see why neo-Cals don’t see that philosophy, the categories, the questions, the analysis, started with pagans, and yet neo-Cals want to use philosophy for Christian ends. Haven’t they ever heard of Tertullian? If so, they might give up w-w as a German concoction.

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  137. Jon, you could go on but before you ask your Sagan-esque questions, Aristotle and Cicero would not have framed any of your questions that way? If you have a problem with evolution, say so. That’s not the key to modern learning, any more than the French Revolution was the key (for Kuyper) to all modern social developments.

    As for thorns and thistles, how do you know what will be in glory? Have you not heard that weeds are a human construction, what some cultures call weeds are valuable plants to others. Also, the lion will lie down with the lamb. It doesn’t that lambs won’t have any lions around.

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  138. Terry, bingo on the differences turning on an institutional (2k) versus an organic view of church (neo-Cal). This is precisely DVD’s point in “Always Reformed.” In your response to David, you suggest that the 2k emphasis on church and the neo-Cal emphasis on culture is a false choice biblically. But if we claim the Protestant Reformation and its confessional tradition, and to the extent that this was a project in reclaiming Scripture, the case for emphasis on culture becomes weak. The Reformation was all about the reform of the church, not impact on culture. I’d suggest that neo-Calvinism is a Reformed slouch toward liberalism. You may want to say that 2k is a latent Fundamentalism, but since Fundamentalism is a non-churchly phenomenon it’s hardly clear what high church Calvinism has in common with low church revivalism.

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  139. Jon, what always strikes me about the defense of Christian education as necessary is the whiff of distrust. God has promised to instill and perpetuate faith his people and their children by way of things like Word, sacrament, discipline, catechism, and prayer. It’s almost as if Xian schoolers think God’s liturgical, sacramental, ecclesiastical, and doxological program is pretty good but just not quite enough; it needs to be supplemented with philosophy and worldview. This isn’t to suggest a sort of Pollyannaism about raising covenant children, but it is to wonder what neo-Cals think when God says he has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.

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  140. Zrim/Darryl,

    I am not a neo-Cal. I read Wolter’s book and was not impressed. I thought the structure/direction thing was way overused. (Anecdote: I was talking to a friend who was all hyped up about neo-calvinism and has just read Wolters. He was talking about Christian psychology and I explained how a lot of it is based on autonomous thinkers like Freud and Jung. He said “well what can be REDEEMED in these thinkers?” I said “Nothing! Throw them out. Why start with something bad?”)

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  141. Darryl,

    The categories of philosophy (or philosophy itself) was no more invented than Aristotle invented logic. It was DISCOVERED. Being, knowing, and doing are just fundamental aspects of the world and every religion/philosophy/group has wrestled with them (yourself included).

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  142. Zrim,

    I find nothing lacking in preaching, Bible, catechism, etc. The problem I have with your position is that it seems you are willing to throw your children to Molech, trust their impressionable minds to the State-run alters to secular humanism, and then sprinkle a little catechism and Bible reading on top and expect everything to work out well.

    I believe strongly in the Bible and catechism being the BASIS for their education. Which is exactly why they need a Christian one! How can the one hour per week your kids spend at church compete with the 30+ hours they spend at the State indoctrination camps?

    That is why 80%+ apostacize at age 18. They see all knowledge as neutral, with a little Christianity sprinkled on top, and you wonder why they discard the toppings?

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  143. Jon, discovered, then. It was the pagans, who had no beginning of wisdom moment, who established the categories that neo-Cals, theonomists, and all foundationalists use — not God’s people.

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  144. So they established a category, so what? What did they do with them? They had a piece of knowledge, but did they know how to apply it (wisdom)? Did they know how that piece fit into the rest of reality (wisdom)? Could they see things from God’s perspective (special revelation)? Or did they warp the sliver of truth they had into a false, God-dishonoring view?

    The history of autonomous philosophy is 4000 years of failure. The never agreed on a metaphysic, an epistemology, or an ethic. Why? Because they started with MAN THE MEASURE, rather than IN THE BEGINNING GOD. So can they really be said to possess true wisdom? I think not. Everything based on the initial assumption of man as ultimate, will ultimately be false, even if it contains fractions of truth here and there.

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  145. Jon, I’m glad for the explicitly stated faith in the things God has ordained, but it still does little to quell my worries that you overestimate the powers of philosophy. And the Molech meme does more to reinforce my suspicion that educational legalism lurks. I also seriously wonder about the tendency to compare numbers of hours with ordination of institutions. This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder about faith in the things God has ordained. Is it rrrrrrradical to suggest that 1 hour at home is worth more than 7 at school?

    The irony of your outlook is how it plays into the undermining of the home to make human beings (and the church to redeem them). Schools don’t really have that kind of power. You may want to rant about “State indoctrination camps,” but you’ve then already agreed with the statists that education is co-equal with the home, or worse, supersedes the home. But all schools do is educate minds, they don’t make people–there’s a huge difference. And even granting worldview, they don’t make that either. Homes do. Schools just teach them to think.

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  146. Jon, if the history of philosophy is a story of failure, why use their categories? I’m confused.

    BTW, Christians, with all their revelation and spiritual illumination, hardly agree. You establish a standard that no one can meet. I thought only God could do that.

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  147. Jon says;

    “The problem I have with your position is that it seems you are willing to throw your children to Molech, trust their impressionable minds to the State-run alters to secular humanism, and then sprinkle a little catechism and Bible reading on top and expect everything to work out well.”

    Jon says:

    “The history of autonomous philosophy is 4000 years of failure. The never agreed on a metaphysic, an epistemology, or an ethic. Why? Because they started with MAN THE MEASURE, rather than IN THE BEGINNING GOD. So can they really be said to possess true wisdom? I think not.”

    Calvin says;

    “If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how preeminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom Scripture [I Cor. 2:14] calls “natural men” were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good. (Institutes II.2.15)

    . . . the unbelieving world excels in many things. Precious treasures have come down to us from the old heathen civilization. In Plato you find pages which you devour. Cicero fascinates you and bears you along by his noble tone and stirs up in you holy sentiments. And if you consider your own surroundings, that which is reported to you, and that which you derive from the studies and literary productions of professed infidels, how much more there is which attracts you, with which you sympathize and which you admire. It is not exclusively the spark of genius or the splendor of talent which excites your pleasure in the words and actions of unbelievers, but it is often their beauty of character, their zeal, their devotion, their love, their candor, their faithfulness and their sense of honesty. Yea, we may not pass it over in silence, not infrequently you entertain the desire that certain believers might have more of the attractiveness, and who among us has not himself been put to the blush occasionally by being confronted with what is called the “virtues of the heathen”?” (Lectures on Calvinism, 121ff)

    Jon, it doesn’t necessarily prove the point, but I think you need to really give some reconsideration to your ‘scorched-earth’ version of epistemological antithesis. As I said before, Rom 2:14-15 is still in the scriptures as are numerous reminders of the continuing mark of the Imago Dei on all human creatures. And the idea of pure starting points and ferreting out epistemological foundations owes a great debt to unregenerate German philosophical idealism

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  148. Jon,

    The simple point is your aggressive use of antithesis regarding epistemology has a strong tendency to not give creedence to the goodness of God in creation, particularly Imago Dei creation.

    Calvin;

    “But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom Scripture [I Cor. 2:14] calls “natural men” were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good. (Institutes II.2.15)”

    Jon;

    “The history of autonomous philosophy is 4000 years of failure. The never agreed on a metaphysic, an epistemology, or an ethic. Why? Because they started with MAN THE MEASURE, rather than IN THE BEGINNING GOD. So can they really be said to possess true wisdom? I think not. Everything based on the initial assumption of man as ultimate, will ultimately be false, even if it contains fractions of truth here and there.”

    Calvin’s conclusion seems to differ quite dramatically from your conclusion. Not to mention your, maybe unbeknownst to you, dependence upon pagan philosophers for the categories and formulations upon which you now decry their efforts and conclude them as failures. This attempt to re-invent the wheel, if you will, is unnecessary, unbiblical, and runs the very real risk of not being ’round’. To paraphrase Calvin; ‘ It smacks of ingratitude toward God himself for the good gifts that he has given the unregenerate, not as an admiration of underived excellence, but a failure to not recognize God’s gifting of his creature. Even the now fallen and unregenerate sort.’

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  149. Darryl,

    “Jon, if the history of philosophy is a story of failure, why use their categories? I’m confused.”

    Because the categories are sound. The way they are used isn’t.

    “BTW, Christians, with all their revelation and spiritual illumination, hardly agree. You establish a standard that no one can meet. I thought only God could do that.”

    We may disagree on the non-essentials, but we agree on the primary issues. Even you and I agree on the issues most pertinent to the faith: God, man, salvation, etc.

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  150. Jon, still confused. The Greeks were smart/wise enough to come up with the categories basic to W. Philosophy but not to use them. That doesn’t make sense or acknowledge how important categories are for shaping an area of learning.

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  151. So, Zrim, you could observe a week of public (statist) school education and exclaim, “That’s just the thing for my covenant kids! Please, sir, may I have some more?”

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  152. 2866oa, yeah, you nailed it, that’s exactly the point. But in case you’re sarcastically challenged, the point actually has more to do with the ordination of the home to make human beings, the upshot of which is that Christian parents can employ secular schools and 2k parents can employ transformationalist schools without too much worry. And for those who love irony, note how the co-belligerents of the family values crowd miss this point about the ordination of the home.

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  153. (Shouldn’t the regenerate already have the tools, by virtue of the illuminating power of the Spirit, to understand all things correctly?)

    Ahhhh no. Take you and Zrim for example, neither one of you can understand virtually anything correctly.

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  154. Also, the lion will lie down with the lamb. It doesn’t that lambs won’t have any lions around.

    Darryl, I suggest you read Gary Demar’s “Myths, lies, and half truths”.

    This (lion and the lamb) is a common canard. The Bible does NOT say that the lion will lay down with the lamb. I know you tend to get sloppy, but puleeeeze try to get you’re facts right, especially when you’re miss-quoting (in your case) God’s Word! If you’re going to correct Bret for miss-quoting Machen, how is it, you can’t even quote the Bible aright?

    @Jon: Keep pressing on bro! You’re doing a great job! Keep shining the light of truth to our mentally flummoxed R2K brothers.

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  155. Darryl,

    You’re right that the categories are important. I’m not saying pagans can’t come to important truths, like 1 + 1 = 2. But look at what they do with the categories. They totally mess them up.

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  156. Zrim,

    I don’t know what you mean by “co-belligerents of the family values crowd miss this point about the ordination of the home.” That’s totally my problem with public schools – parents turn their kids out of the home over to the state. We homeschool our kids. Deut 6 & Eph 6.

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  157. Jon, are you saying that Christians don’t mess them up? This is where the antithesis leads to breast beating for Xians, and just plain beating up pagans.

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  158. Jon, as one who employs public schools for his covenant children, I don’t consider it “turning my kids out of the home over to the state.” Your rhetoric is the convoluted flip side of those who portray homeschoolers as isolationist wingnuts. But my point about the ordination of the home isn’t necessarily to buttress homeschooling, though I’ve nothing against it (would that homeschoolers returned the favor to public schoolers). It’s to say that the home is ordained with such power that its children can withstand more than modernists of whatever ilk seem to think.

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  159. Darryl,

    Again, we’re not talking outcomes here, we’re talking foundations. Sure, the prodigal son can blow his inheritance, but that’s only because he had an inheritance to blow. Unbelievers CAN’T be truly wise in the Biblical sense. They can’t have the right foundation. They’re worldview just won’t support it.

    I don’t beat my chest any more than I would due to the fact that God sovereignly chose me for salvation, but left others in their sins. It wasn’t a work of me, but a gift of God lest I should boast.

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  160. Zrim,

    I don’t know what state/city you live in, but I sure hope it’s conservative. I would NEVER let my kids attend a public school. What would you do if you were in Massachussets where a father was NOT ALLOWED to opt his 5 or 6 year old son out of homosexual storytime? Please tell me how you could control that from home? Don’t you have any duty to protect your kids from harmful exposure?

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but I often wonder if peoples’ theology doesn’t sometimes arise to support their life choice, i.e., they are anti-Sabbitarian because they like to eat out on Sundays. Is it at least possible that many parents support public schools simply because they’re convenient (and economical)?

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  161. Doug, of course. But isn’t it also possible that some choose public education because they esteem the virtue of living and learning along with their neighbors and want to instill that virtue into their children? Isn’t it possible that some choose it because they want to instill from an early age the understanding that it’s possible to have strong religious and moral convictions and practices that are at odds with many of one’s neighbors but that they nevertheless have to find a way to live in the common arena, because that’s actually what they have to do with the greater balance of their lives after age 18? And that maybe creating nothing but a Christian bubble in a child’s formative years does very little to instill a sense of what it means to take seriously the command to “be in the world but not of it”? I understand you don’t like it, but isn’t it possible that some want to put their real world practice where their 2k theology is?

    And couldn’t I just as easily return the favor and employ the least charitable read on homeschooling as a way to justify a dubious theory? Sure, some homeschoolers are isolationist wingnuts, but from my experience amongst them, most aren’t. Sure, they’re fun to tease sometimes, but they are people with particular and respectable convictions on a matter indifferent. Can you at least try to grasp my point and return the favor?

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  162. Jon says;

    “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I often wonder if peoples’ theology doesn’t sometimes arise to support their life choice, i.e., they are anti-Sabbitarian because they like to eat out on Sundays. Is it at least possible that many parents support public schools simply because they’re convenient (and economical)?”

    Sean; Oh, come on Jon. Is this some version of Ricky Bobby’s; ” I said with all due respect……..” And to put the shoe on the other foot, how about your theology being born of your choice to homeschool?”

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  163. Sean,

    Actually, no the argument couldn’t be reversed. Homeschooling is more work, money, and effort. So someone would never do it from expediency.

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  164. Zrim,

    Would you train a soldier how to fight on the battlefields abroad or safe at home? Why are kids any different?

    The formative years are important, IMO.

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  165. Great battlefield comment, Jon. By the way, Zrim, in our area Christian school children have plenty of interaction with public schoolers through sharing bus rides to school, interscholastic community events, neighborhood socials, summer work, and not to mention all the social media. I think the day of your “Christian bubble” is gone and covenant parents need to arm their children with right-thinking education for the battle, as Jon says.

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  166. Jon, if it’s about being principled, try being a public schooler advocate in at ground zero for all things Reformed world-and-life view. I agree that homeschoolers are principled. I’m still waiting for returned favors. As far as training, again, why so little faith in catechism and regularly attending the means of grace? And who said formative years aren’t important? On top of catechism and the means of grace, I’ve been instilling 2k theology from their birth for that very reason.

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  167. Two thousand eight hundred sixty sixoa, here in worldview-laden Little Geneva world religions is a required course in the CSIs while catechism is regarded as a quaint but entirely outdated and unnecessary practice. Gotta be equipped to know the wider world, I suppose, before transforming it. Good on your area for mingling with the heathen. But dd you know the early church went a little further and schooled their kids amongst them? Then along came modernity and, amongst other things, helped everyone conclude that children are too delicate to live in the world but not be of it.

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  168. Jon:

    “Actually, no the argument couldn’t be reversed. Homeschooling is more work, money, and effort. So someone would never do it from expediency.”

    Sean: You’re the one alluding (throwing stones) to the idea that people who utilize public schools are really just kinda lazy and maybe cheapskates. But, of course, you precluded that idea with; “don’t take this the wrong way”. So, I guess you’re covered. I must live in the wrong part of the country, when did christian schooling become a confessional mandate? Much less a biblical imperative. I’ve got plenty of war-stories about homeschooling gone wrong, as if homeschooling were some panacea against sin. It’s just like everything else in this life, it can be done well or poorly, same goes for public education or Christian schools.

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  169. sdb, I think you need to read my post more carefully (as does Darryl). Didn’t I already say that given the presupposition of an orderly universe that has to be discovered empirically that Christian scientists and non-Christian scientist have most in common? The answer is “yes” if you don’t want to scroll up and read it again (or maybe for the first time). My point is mainly that the truth of science includes the religious truth of there being a Creator and Sustainer. And truth about Creation requires the rightful response of acknowledgment of the true Creator, thankfulness to the true Creator and worship of the true Creator. Now if you want to define science narrowly to mean what Van Til calls knowledge “after a fashion” then we have a simple semantic issue and we will be in agreement. But surely, in light of Darryl’s most recent post on our common psychological disorder we wouldn’t want to call our disagreement mere semantics. Of course, our differences are large enough that we should have separate Reformed/Presbyterian denominations–the neo-Cal version and the 2K version.

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  170. Darryl, I pay plenty of attention to Peter and have already talked about that. The Creation is purged and renewed by these fires, not completely destroyed and made again from scratch. The old age and the effects of since are destroyed.

    But, I’ll take you up on your challenge to study Colossians 1 more carefully. It’s a fantastic passage even if I come out on your side after studying more carefully. Can’t help but be edifying. Anyone else I should read besides Calvin?

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  171. Darryl, I’ll look at Wolters again with this question in mind because I agree that had Adam passed the probation there would have been some sort of eschatological transition similar to what we expect at the Parousia.

    My first suspicion however, is that you are gleaning all of the book’s content from the title.

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  172. Terry, so is your point that true science goes from knowledge of creation to worship of creator and doesn’t stop with mere knowledge of creation’s stuff? That’s fine and I understand it. But as you well know, that’s now how the world of scholarship defines science and that world, for all of its problems and pride, produces some pretty remarkable stuff (including this machine I am now using and the supporting apparatus of the blog). My point is that none of us lives all of life in the “true” or whole way that you describe true science. And in fact, none of us can because we are finite and some of us aren’t even inclined to philosophical (wholistic) categories. What I see neo-Cals doing is an intellectual version of pieties where you as a true Christian have to wear your faith not only on your sleeve but also on your mind. Mind you, I see the value of philosophical and wholistic schemes in limited doses. But the appeal to the antithesis is never limited. It groups all people and their entire beings according to faith or unbelief. I just don’t see that as a very productive way of operating either in the academy or the public square. But I do see how it inspires the faithful and makes them feel more important than their beleaguered status allows.

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  173. Terry, reserve some of your suspicion for Wolters. And look for this — his narrative goes from creation, to fall, to redemption. He doesn’t include consummation, which if you read VanDrunen’s chapters on the Dutch tradition is revealing because the Dutch have a habit (post Kuyper) of collapsing everything (creation and consummation) into redemption.

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  174. Zrim, I’ll try to be nicer 🙂

    It seems unrealistic (to me) that you would expect you’re children to be mature enough to withstand being taught ethics that contradict God’s Word. Take for example, in public schools, they teach children that “homosexuality” is a gender issue, just like being born male or female. Why would you allow you’re children to be *molded* by an unbeliever?

    After all, the Bible calls mankind *sheep*. Why? It’s not a compliment; we’re stupid, and easily tricked, and can let sin entangle us. Why put you’re covenant child in an environment that contradicts God’s Word before they’re even secure in the faith?

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  175. Zrim, okay. I’ll try again…You wrote:

    And who said formative years aren’t important? On top of catechism and the means of grace, I’ve been instilling 2k theology from their birth for that very reason.

    Sounds like worldview to me.

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  176. Darryl, I’ll look at DVD again as well, but my first reaction is to say that it’s picking up on the Biblical language of renewal (rather than re-creation). So we might write: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Renewal (Renewal is to be preferred to the sometimes used Restoration because it can include an eschatological enhancement.) I also see: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation. If Consummation goes beyond mere Restoration, then I think we can easily get our eschatological enhancement. Thus, Wolters’ “Regained” includes “Consummation” rather than mere “Restoration”. I may also write Al Wolters and ask him directly. I don’t have a copy of Spykman’s Systematic Theology but I would suspect that he engages this point.

    Let me say that I agree with you that if the Dutch theologians are talking mere Restoration then it falls short. I don’t particularly remember that being a deficiency in Ridderbos or Berkhouwer. I’ve not read enough Bavink since much has just only recently come out in English translation.

    I do admit to having had a few conversations with Calvin College folks and with broader evangelicals who aren’t nearly as wedded as we Presbyterians (yes, I still count myself as one) are to the Covenant of Works, the notion of an eschaton following Adam’s probation. I get the impression that they think the probation was indefinite and that Adam would have always been in this state of being able to sin. I wonder if they think that about our state in glory.

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  177. Darryl, I think you capture what I’m saying

    that true science goes from knowledge of creation to worship of creator and doesn’t stop with mere knowledge of creation’s stuff

    and I agree that that’s not how science is commonly practiced (although it’s clear that sometimes a Naturalistic philosophy slips in between the lines and perhaps not so in-between-the-lines in cases like Richard Dawkins). No doubt it’s a form of piety…but there is a place for piety (you once listed several pieties that you perform: family devotions, ordering 2-7 so you can observe the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath, weekly worship, etc.).

    Personally, I think that it’s one of the things that Christian academics should do to varying degree. Granted, meta-thinking about your discipline is a discipline in itself and can take you away from other pursuits. In part I attribute my not getting tenure at Calvin College to my spending more time on the Creation/evolution debate and the controversy in the OPC than on my protein folding research. This blog functions as a similar distraction on some days like today when I should be getting to compiling the new protein dynamics software that we just purchased.

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  178. Zrim, I’m talking about your indoctrination of 2k theology. That’s what I don’t get about you guys. It’s not that you don’t have a worldview, you just have a different worldview than neo-Calvinists. The way you apply Christian theology to life in general gives a worldview.

    Of course, the 2k and the neo-Cal worldview have a lot in common. Really! View of God, humans, revelation, sin, Christ, etc. Just a few differences which we accentuate (perhaps in a bad-mannered way) on the implications for life in this world and aspects of eschatology.

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  179. Terry, if you want to wrangle over a word, fine, it’s a (2k) worldview. But the larger point really is that there is more than a polite, even negligible, difference between 2k and neo-Calvinism. And from where I sit (which was the last 15 years in the culturalist CRC), “worldview” is the language you guys use which is function of esteeming philosophy over doctrine, culture over confession, curriculum over catechism, and theorizing the faith over simply confessing and practicing the faith. When you say “worldview” with that meaning, I take exception.

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  180. Zrim, curious…I’ve never meant that.

    Reformed philosophy flows out of Reformed doctrine. Cultural activity flows out of confession, “Curriculum” (whatever you’re talking about) includes and build upon catechism, 24/7/365–all of life is “practicing the faith”.

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  181. Yes, Terry, I know the all-of-life drill. But you’ve already put your finger on it up above somewhere when you observed that the differences turn on an institutional (2k) versus an organic view of church (neo-Cal). What arises from such a taxonomy is that 2k wonders if all-of-lifery is basically a function of Reformed narcissism: I am Reformed, I think X, therefore X is Reformed. “Reformed philosophy,” then, flows out of the organic church’s own mind, not Reformed confession, which flows from the Bible. The latter is infallibly inspired, the former, not so much.

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  182. Wow, Terry got Zrim to admit he has a worldview! I failed to do that free repeated effort. Who’s next, DGH?!

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  183. Zrim, you misread what I wrote earlier. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. Believers are members of the institutional church which operates to do the limited things the institutional church does under the authority of its officers and assemblies: preaching of the Word, administration of the sacraments, church discipline. I agree whole-heartedly with that.

    But believers are also in the world in their vocations, 24/7/365. This is “church” as organism. I’m not sure I really like the designation of that as “church” because it’s confusing and tends toward equivocation, but it’s got a history. (Anyone here read R.B. Kuiper’s The Glorious Body of Christ?) (I used to distinguish between church and kingdom, but with you 2k folks church and kingdom are identical.) Even in the CRC there is acknowledgement (weakly) that the church shouldn’t do some stuff. (See my “Thoughts on Synod 2012” at http://grayt2.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/thoughts-on-synod-2012/ ) What churches do through its officers and assemblies is sphere sovereignty limited. However, individual believers and groups of believers function in other spheres. It’s not either/or. It’s both in each one’s respective place. I keep sensing that you always think in terms of institutional church (as in your “bring your dog to church” example). But believers function as believers in all of life not just in the institutional church.

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  184. Terry, but is the kingdom both/and? Is the church as organism as responsible for kingdom work as the keys of the kingdom or the sacraments? This is where both-and rhetoric does not help and why church as organism can bleed into fuzzy notions of redeeming television or plumbing. And just so you have this straight, 2k did not invent church as kingdom. It is right there in the confession you once subscribed (and everywhere implicitly that Reformed Protestants explained the keys of the kingdom).

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  185. Darryl, church as institution is responsible for the keys of the kingdom and the sacraments. No quarrel there. Those determined by church officers to be believers function in the world in their vocations–that’s church as organism. I don’t see where there has to be any confusion. The institutional church does its sphere limited work and believers work in all of the other spheres.

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  186. Terry;

    But believers function as believers in all of life not just in the institutional church.

    Sean;

    And they either do it well or poorly or otherwise, according to creational standards,(NL, common grace categories of temporal life) in the objective while subjectively their ambition is; “unto the glory of God”. These “w-w” attempts at objective differentiation is so much wish-fulfillment, it doesn’t exist. Christian’s do creation well, poorly and otherwise just like the unregenerate do it well, poorly or otherwise, in the objective. The ‘organic’ distinction is one of sanctified ambition(subjective), not objective accomplishment.

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  187. Terry, despite the ostensible agreements with other worldview advocates, your conclusions regarding creation and scientific methodology — assuming you reject intelligent design as scientific — would make it very hard for you to teach in most worldview academies, if not on the verge of church discipline. Of course, I’m not saying anything you don’t already know. But given the insistence on the Christian worldview leading to the Christian view of science, how do you explain this dichotomy within neocalvinism? And how do you determine who wins?

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  188. Terry, it’s not that 2k has a problem with the idea of the organic church. To pick up on Sean’s point, it’s the overestimation of just what it can do. Neos talk as if just because the Spirit indwells believers have some sort of leg up in common endeavor. That just doesn’t resonate with actual experience. But leg uppery is legit, and the institutional emphasis gives believers a legit way of realizing it: only the Spirit indwelt can be raised into the heavenlies each Lord’s Day in ways unbelievers can’t–and isn’t being so raised the precise point of faith? Here is where the antithesis makes sense. Sure, wheat and tares are mixed each Lord’s Day, but that makes more sense then the narcissistic idea that believers can do philosophy (and everything else pertaining to creation) better than unbelievers the other six.

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  189. Terry G.said:

    “Personally, I think that it’s one of the things that Christian academics should do to varying degree. Granted, meta-thinking about your discipline is a discipline in itself and can take you away from other pursuits. In part I attribute my not getting tenure at Calvin College to my spending more time on the Creation/evolution debate and the controversy in the OPC than on my protein folding research. This blog functions as a similar distraction on some days like today when I should be getting to compiling the new protein dynamics software that we just purchased.”

    John Y says: that is not very progressively sanctified of you Terry, but I got a kick out of the candor

    Why is it that discussions of regeneration on Calvinist web sites usually end up in discussions of culture and education. There has to be some quirk or connection in Calvinist soteriology to regaining and redeeming culture. I am pretty sure Van Drunen addressed this issue in a not so indepth way in his book NATURAL LAW AND THE TWO KINGDOMS. Can anyone comment further on that?

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  190. Also, why all the battle metaphors with unbelievers? I thought Christians were supposed to bare the burden of afflictions from unbelievers when they reject the Gospel and remain enemies of the cross of Christ; not overtake the culture that is passing away. I guess that is the difference between a amillenial and postmillenial eschatology.

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  191. Zrim,

    Let’s just zero in on one thing you said for a minute:

    “Sure, wheat and tares are mixed each Lord’s Day, but that makes more sense then the narcissistic idea that believers can do philosophy (and everything else pertaining to creation) better than unbelievers the other six.”

    Are you really ready to defend the statement that unbelievers can do philosophy as well as believers? Let’s break down the implications of your assertion:

    Metaphysics: physicalism is equally true as supernaturalism.

    Epistemology: autonomous epistemologies, such as rationalism and empiricism, are equally true as revelationalism.

    Ethics: might makes right is equally true as “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

    Please defend the above implications. Please be specific and detailed. Thanks

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  192. Terry, but you dodged WCF on the visible church as the kingdom of Christ. I suspect that this is where lots of confusion and evasion lies and sorry but the neo-Cals introduced it.

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  193. John Y.: my hunch is the dominance of neo-Calvinism in twentieth century Reformed Protestantism. Sanctification, education, and culture generally go together in the neo-Cal mind, and it may have had a point in 1890s Netherlands. But the problem that 2kers face is that we have discovered a Calvinism prior to neo-Calvinism and the neo-Cals, who assumed theirs is the most consistent most philosophical most active version, are shocked, just shocked, to hear that someone things a better and more conservative brand of Calvinism exists.

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  194. There are different ideas of worldview being batted around, and I think the difference leads to confusion.
    1. Worldview = people tend to have ideas that more or less hang together.
    2. Christian worldview as endeavoring to apply biblical ethics and faith extensively.
    3. Christian worldview includes epistemological reflection borne of Kant’s Copernican Revolution, an endeavor to “claim every square inch,” an emphasis on an intellectual antithesis between believers and nonbelievers, and a tendency to promulate “the” Christian position in matters cultural and academic.
    a. of the Evangelical/Baptisic type.
    b. of the Kuyperian/Reformed type.

    I’m not trying to pontificate here, but it’s hard to butt into conversations at this point. I’m sometimes seeing worldview defended as if it’s #1, but no one really denies that. Then a worldviewist on his high horse sometimes acts as if #2 is all the argument is about. But the argument is really about #3.

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  195. Jon, and you are really prepared to say that believers do philosophy better than unbelievers? Does that include me? Or if I decline philosophy, I’m unregenerate? Careful. You may start sounding like Gilbert Tennent, the Danger of Unconverted Philosophers.

    For the record, aside from Wolterstorff and Aquinas, which Christian philosophers do philosophers study?

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  196. Jon, have you missed Noe’s line of reasoning? If so, you’re welcome (sheesh, so many favors and so much love unrequited):

    http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=302&cur_iss=Y

    But my point was that, instead of earth, only Christians can do heaven categorically, absolutely, and unequivocally better than unbelievers–most notably 52 Lord’s Days a year (as opposed to the immodest 24/7/365 claims of neos). Even dim and under-tutored ones. The implications of that are staggering if you’d ever care to contemplate them. What do you think it means to say that God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise?

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  197. “Are you really ready to defend the statement that unbelievers can do philosophy as well as believers?”

    Jon, since you talk of doing philsophy the answer is “yes, absolutely.” If I was presented a paper with “correct” positions that is weak in argumentation and fails to understand what it argues against, I would have to give it a poor mark. On the other hand an “incorrect” paper that is rigorously analytical, well-argued, and understands what it argues against would get a high mark.

    “Epistemology: autonomous epistemologies, such as rationalism and empiricism, are equally true as revelationalism.”

    But Jon, in worldview epistemolgy the subject imposes order on what may be out there but can’t really be sure if it’s out there because he is so commited to his worldview. Are you a worldviewist or not?

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  198. D. G. Hart: Jon, and you are really prepared to say that believers do philosophy better than unbelievers? Does that include me? Or if I decline philosophy, I’m unregenerate? Careful. You may start sounding like Gilbert Tennent, the Danger of Unconverted Philosophers.

    RS: Yes, but there is a danger from unconverted ministers. We are also specifically told by Paul to “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col 2:8). So there may be some danger from unconverted philosphers.

    D.G. Hart: For the record, aside from Wolterstorff and Aquinas, which Christian philosophers do philosophers study?

    RS: Alvin Plantinga, Louis Pojman, Malebranche, Thomas Reid, Paschal, Kierkegaard, and Jonathan Edwards (who also wrote a great work on the Religous Affections).

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  199. Sean and Zrim, did I ever say that Chistians do their disciplines “better” than non-Christians? This was the claim of Darryl’s original post (that neo-Cals claim this) and I think I accused him of being under the influence of a mind altering drug for saying so. I don’t think I’ve said such a thing and I don’t think that’s what the epistemological claim is. What I am saying is that because the believer has the fundamental orientation right (due to Revelation and Regeneration) and responds faithfully in thanksgiving, worship, and obedience, he/she is closer to the Truth in his/her thinking than the unbeliever. This is why I think Jon is fundamentally correct in saying what he said about metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, despite the possibility that in a technical philosophical paper, he/she might committ errors. Many of you know that I am a theistic evolutionist (or an evolutionary creationist) and think that Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design are both flawed science. In terms of technical science Richard Dawkins has it much more together than Duane Gish or Bill Dembski. But, Gish and Dembski are closer to the Truth in their thinking about Creation because they acknowledge, based on their Christian faith, the Creator and Richard Dawkins is an idolator. Gish and Dembski’s starting point when thinking about the world is rooted in truths that come by revelation and regeneration. This is what we neo-Calvinists mean when we say “life is religion” and “the myth of neutrality” and “every square inch” under Christ’s Lordship. It has very little to do with “after a fashion” technicalities. Unbelievers, by virtue of common grace, (as indicated in the original Kuyper quote) are often very good at what they do, but even the grace- and image of God-endowed efforts may be “of good use” but “because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God” (WCF, XVI, 7). I do not hesitate to make the religious/moral claim as part of my epistemological claim.

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  200. John, for what it’s worth I got my program compiled in spite of my high horse spewing on Darryl’s blog today. Perhaps it was the result of all the prayers uttered on my behalf by Old Lifers who read my confession and prayed for my work.

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  201. Darryl, indeed I avoided the use of the word “kingdom”. As I’ve said before I don’t have any qualms about calling the church the kingdom. The members of the church are the citizens of the kingdom. Christ rules as Kng over the church and over His citizens. So I have no issue with what WCF affirms.

    You, however, take that affirmation and say that the kingdom is limited to the church. I think otherwise. The kingdom is the realm over which Christ is King. That would be all of heaven and earth. That would be over members of the church and citizens of the kingdom as they serve their King in all of life, 24/7/365. Citizens of the kingdom (members of the church) acknowledge Christ’s kingly rule. Period. They are ultimately subject to him alone and they bear witness to his kingship to all. The earth is the Lord’s (not just the Christian people of the earth). Even rebel sinners are called to obey him as King, and they will bow the knee in faith or will be judged and condemned for their disobedience. Either way he is king over them.

    Of course, the church expresses the kingdom most purely. The church is governed by Christ’s revealed Word. But don’t forget where we are heading–“the kingdom of this world shall become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ and he shall reign forever and ever” and Christ teaches us to pray for that kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

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  202. Terrry, first of all I’m a bit frosted at you for making me set up a separate category of worldview to accomodate your view over against what tend to come out of baptistic circles these days. I’ll even call yours a “higher” view. But I would appreciate clarification on something. You say

    ” In terms of technical science Richard Dawkins has it much more together than Duane Gish or Bill Dembski. But, Gish and Dembski are closer to the Truth in their thinking about Creation because they acknowledge, based on their Christian faith, the Creator and Richard Dawkins is an idolator.”

    Now, this strikes me as a very modest statement and not terribly worldviewish. Gish and Dembski have are closer to a Big Truth but have no advantage in their academic discipline. Kumbaya, but is that all you are arguing for? And why wouldn’t you say the Holy Spirit enables them that far?

    Richard, you say
    Alvin Plantinga, Louis Pojman, Malebranche, Thomas Reid, Paschal, Kierkegaard, and Jonathan Edwards (who also wrote a great work on the Religous Affections).

    I haven’t done a recent survey of undergraduate philsophy curricula, but the only one of those men likely to be included at any given institution is Kierkegaard, and he is the butt of worldview critiques such as Schaeffer’s. Certainly Plantinga has the skill set to be in The League (sorry, I’ve been distracted by the NBA draft), but I doubt there are many classes on Reformed Epistemology at State University.

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  203. Richard, Edwards was a philosopher? Wow!

    BTW, I believe Paul was writing not a general missive to believers but to a specific church or set of congregations. In which case, not wanting philosophers to lead the church is smart instruction. Over at university, an unregenerate philosopher is a different matter (that is, unless you think believers should be presiding over all activities — the theonomist option).

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  204. Terry, your version of the kingdom is standard neo-Calvinist fare. It also ignores the older Reformed distinction, exposited well by VanDrunen, of the redemptive and creational aspects of Christ’s rule. 2kers have no trouble saying Christ is king over all things. But then the my-kingdom-is-not-of-this-world needs to kick in. Which is why the Confession can say that Christ’s kingdom is the visible church and why older Calvinists never talked about kingdom work other than word, sacrament, and discipline.

    In my estimation this is the crucial debate between neo’s and 2kers. And it would help if neo’s could acknowledge how historically derived their construction of the kingdom is. When you’re trying to Christianize a nation, and in the Netherlands, you might actually want a cosmic rationale. Funny how that feeds the Religious Right.

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  205. Mikelmann, if you had a Xian w-w, you wouldn’t waste your time on the NBA. (Which team do the folks in Iowa follow, Minnesota, OK, or Chicago? And why can’t Burlington get a franchise?)

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  206. Richard, if there is no danger from unconverted ministers how can there be from unconverted philosophers? But to back up a bit, the Reformed confess that the state of the minister does not impact the efficacy of the Word and sacraments he administers. And so here is another glaring difference between the confessionalists and the epistemologists: the former look to the foolish things God has ordained, the latter to the wiser things the world esteems.

    And so it’s little wonder to me that the experientialists join up with the epistemologists here in pushing back on the confessionalists. Whether it’s the intellect or the affections, the sacraments and power of God are given lower esteem.

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  207. Terry, I invoke Sean’s previous point about moving targets. From one side of the mouth, you want to say that we don’t do earth better. From the other, you claim “that because the believer has the fundamental orientation right (due to Revelation and Regeneration) and responds faithfully in thanksgiving, worship, and obedience, he/she is closer to the Truth in his/her thinking than the unbeliever.” It seems fairly clear that the implication of the latter is that believers do earth better than unbelievers. How can we be closer to truth and yet not be superior in our thinking?

    The necessary distinctions, again, are creation and redemption. Neos tend to be very sloppy here and give the impression that because we are closer to eternal truth we are superior in our temporal thinking. But my point remains about heaven and how our confession is always superior to the unbeliever’s. The sloppiness of neos makes it seem like they find this ho-hum.

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  208. Terry says:

    “But why wouldn’t the work of the Spirit transform all aspects of our lives whatever our abilities and gifts. So there might be consequences of regeneration in the mind of the bioethicist that aren’t there for anyone who doesn’t really think about the questions a bioethicist might think about.”

    Sean; I’m sure there are other instances, and certainly if any of us talks enough we end up contradicting ourselves eventually, but this sounds like regeneration, as it’s utilized in a neo-cal w-w having implication for objective differentiation.

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  209. Terry, for what its worth would you have begun to doubt your salvation if you did not get your work done on time and those at oldlife refused to pray and fellowship with you because of your neo-Cal views?

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  210. DGH, I cut my teeth watching Jo Jo White sinking pull up jump shots and Dave Cowens doing belly flops to get loose balls. Now it’s Rajon Rondo calling out The Heat for crying to the refs and Kevin Garnett banging his head against the basket support. KG is Presbyterian, isn’t he?

    I once attended professional basketball in Des Moines. The point guard had a beer gut and the girls with pom poms danced like stripper wannabes.

    Burlington? There’s something creepy about those towns over by the river.

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  211. MM,

    I was going to ask the same question as Darryl but he beat me to it. Who do the folks in Iowa follow in the NBA? I can’t picture you as the run-of-the-mill Iowainian either. Do many of the farmers in Iowa do yoga and read philosophy like you do? I’m thinkin they might think that creepy. Anyways, I think the Celtics did well in the draft- they got 2 good big men to help replace the ageing Garnett. It looks to me that they may rebuild and say goodbye to Pierce, Garnett and Allen.

    Darryl, I meant to ask you about a comment you made in regards to confessional documents in a post awhile back. You stated that they were living and breathing documents rather than static historical relics (those were not the exact words but I think you said something close to this- I could not find the post). Does that mean that you believe some statements in the confessions can be a bit misleading and confusing and need to be amended and updated due to better scriptural insight, newer theological controversies and changes in culture?

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  212. JY, I was wondering if there is something about Lutheran soteriology that makes it difficult for Lutherans to understand the NBA…

    KG is back on a 3 year contract, which is a good thing because he became a 20/10 center in the playoffs, is still one of the most valuable defensive players in the game, and we need him to scare the bejeebers out of either of this year’s draft picks who have any thoughts about being lackadaisical about guarding the pick and roll. Pierce is on board for a couple years as well. I’d like to keep Ray if he’s content to come off the bench but if he leaves it won’t be apocalyptic.

    Anyway, I’m a transplant from the Northeast. It took me a loooong time to learn how to talk Midwestern.

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  213. MM,

    That’s too bad on KG. We stole Duncan from you in the lottery 13 years ago and we were hoping to have the geriatric twin towers down here in the Air Force retirement village, errr San Antonio. Maybe we can swing a deal, have KG go ‘bounty’ on Lebron’s knee, and we’ll have Cap’n Jack break Durant in half and we can have a greybeard-off in the Finals next year. That, or KG and Timmy need to book a flight to Germany and get their blood spun and heated up and shot back into their knees. We’re also trying to grow him some knees on the backs of mice down here in the ‘lab’, see if we can get another 5 years out of him.

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  214. Yeah, Sean, we brought in ML Carr as coach with specfic instructions to tank the season so we could get Duncan. Those were grim years. But you have a great franchise down there. I’ve gotten out of my Lebron loathing thanks to better devotionals, but Wade is a punk.

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  215. John Y., the short answer is that the Confession means what the professing church says it means, or the way that the church uses the confession. So instead of looking at the Westminster Divines and their private correspondence, which is a historical task, we look at a different history — the way the OPC has adopted and based decisions on the Confession of Faith. So in the case of the length of the days of creation, we look to 1936 and beyond, not to the 1640s.

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  216. Can we stop the NBA chatter? It’s a screwy league, with byzantine legal and financial rules, and a degraded brand of basketball (at least until the Sixers contend again).

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  217. No worries Darryl. Apparently Collins and Thorn have a deal worked out with the devil; Rose, Noah, Pierce, Bradley, Allen………………….yeesh. And we all know what kind of bad mojo is going on in the stands.

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  218. Darryl, perhaps you should be reminded of the other reference to the kingdom in the Westminster Standarsds. The exposition of the Lord’s Prayer in LC seems to go to the full blown neo-Cal definition of kingdom (all the earth) in addition to the church and her mission. It also includes rule over our hearts.

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  219. Sean, why is there a contradiction? The sort of consequence of regeneration that I envision is at the level of Implications of one’s religiious commitments as in Jon’s list: existence of God (metaphysics), revelational epistemology, or ethics influenced by Biblical teachings. Becoming a Christian causes these to function in your thinking. This is similar to my example with Gish, Dembski, and Dawkins.

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  220. Zrim, redemption occurs in Creation. That’s why resurrection is so important. This old body will be made new. If you think I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth then you’re not getting my point. Regeneration/Revelation influences the fundamental religious root of our being and that influences our understanding and interaction with creation including ourselves. But it’s the religious ground primarily not the technical, superficial, “after a fashion” details.

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  221. Mikelmann, that’s pretty much what I’m arguing for and I do think it comes from the Holy Spirit. But if you build on such foundations with academic rigor (good philosophy, good science, etc. — given also to unbelievers in creation, image of God, and common grace) you might in some disciplines actually get to a different place where it’s clear that the theorizing is influenced by one’s religious commitments. I don’t really think this happens much in my discipline (because the hard sciences are so superficial, i.e. “after a fashion”-like) but see its potential in principle elsewhere.

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  222. O.k. Terry. So, as you frame it, all regenerative influence exists on the level of subjective consideration, i.e. our ambition is soli deo gloria? With no distinction in objective execution as it regards creational activity, outside, appparently, some potential ethical adjustments based on special revelation? I assume those influenced ethics as introduced to creational activities, have been thoroughly vetted for siniatic, church exclusive, privileged people, state, elect in Christ considerations? So, you wouldn’t hold to a ‘leavening’ effect of the ‘organic’ church in the common grace realm elevating it to it’s potentialities, beyond it’s preserving aspect? So subjectively we function even in creational tasks, including philosophy(education), as creatures bounded by our finiteness and with no distinction from the unregenerate in these tasks, besides our own innate gifting distinctions from other imago dei creatures but now with renewed or new found ambition(religious consecration)? I ask because I’m trying to make sure I understand your particular ‘flavor’ of neo-cal.

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  223. Terry, now you’re couching redemption in human terms, as in bodies and their resurrection. 2k couldn’t agree more, but it wants you to stop there because that’s where the confessions, creeds, and catechisms (which flow from the Bible) stop and to cease making more out of a wider groaning creation than is warranted.

    But even if you could stop at the human level, what you say about the regeneration-revelation influences on the mind just seems like what the Pentecostals say about the body. They want to believe that we don’t have to live with the limitations of our created and fallen bodies, and the neo-Calvinists say the same about the mind. Regeneration somehow has immediate cash value on both faculties. I wish both of you were right, but my Reformed instincts tell me a lot over over-realizing is going on, as well as a fashioning of things from a merely human perspective.

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  224. MM,

    Actually, I am a Lutheran who believes in particular atonement, grace that cannot be resisted and election like most Calvinists do (McCulley has convinced me of this). But, in my readings of various contemporary theologians, I think a lot of popular theologians are confused about these doctrines. I also have my doubts about baptismal regeneration. However, I like Lutheran churches better than Calvinist ones. Subtle self-righteousness does not run rampant in Lutheran churches, ie., I think the Lutheran doctrine of sanctification is more scripturally sound and the Calvinist doctrines of sanctification and perseverance of the saints (as some understand it) have their scriptural problems. So, maybe your right MM, Lutheran soteriology is causing me problems with an analysis of the Boston Celtics. I don’t blame it on that though and I am willing to bet you some good midwestern sawbucks that the Celtics will get rid of 2 out of the 3 old guys. I have my doubts they will keep Garnett around for 10 million just to scare the beejeebees out of the rookies. Besides he is a free agent and will probably go when the Celtics won’t match a ridiculous price some other team will be willing to give to him.

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  225. I’m glad to hear that Terry. And it’s good to have a neo-Cal with a decent sense of humor who can fight sarcasm with sarcasm back. Plus you don’t get the sense that you’re going to pull the Howitzer out like you do with a lot of the theonomists.

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  226. Sean. subjective-objective is language you introduced. I’m not sure I’m using those categories. For example, whether there is a God or not is not subjective, whether there is revelation or not is not subjective. Human worth as a divine image bearer is not subjective Creational law (natural law, laws of nature, etc.) is not subjective. Acknowledging those realities comes as a result of our conversion. So I’m not sure I’m just speaking of subjective response (motive, thanksgiving, worship, etc) exclusively although I readily admit to subjective elements in knowing those things as there is subjectivity in all knowing (“everyone has a worldview”).

    I do think it’s odd that you all think I have a peculiar brand of neo-Calvinism. My experience on this blog is that you all have twisted it beyond recognition as in Darryl’s opening post where he quoted a neo-Calvinist approvingly to show how messed up neo-Calvinists are or you look at liberal neo-Calvinists who don’t understand their own heritage and who have turned transformationalism into social gospelism. I’m not saying that I’m the only spokesperson for neo-Calvism. There is Baus, after all, but I get the impression you all don’t think that I’m quite mainstream.

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  227. Terry,

    It’s ok. I think I understand how your distinguishing your points in your responses to Zrim and MM.

    ” I don’t really think this happens much in my discipline (because the hard sciences are so superficial, i.e. “after a fashion”-like) but see its potential in principle elsewhere.”
    You seem more inclined to find the ‘softer’ sciences more amenable to regenerative effects.

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  228. Terry, I see nothing about the redemption of television or plumbing in WLC 191. It’s all about the church, with some help from the magistrate. But I’d expect a neo-Calvinist to see the cosmos in there.

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  229. Terry, please acknowledge that of the interlocutors here, there is no Neo-Cal position. On the one hand, Jon says that believers will be better philosophers than non-believers. His version is partly why someone might quote Kuyper’s regard for the pagans positively. I don’t agree with Kuyper on the noetic effects of regeneration (and I doubt many Kuyperians agree with him on baptismal regeneration, but who’s counting). Then there is Baus who says there is no neutrality, even though you suggest that in some disciplines an overlap exists between believers and unbelievers. Of course, you’d never use the n-word. Still, the point stands that the neo-Cals are hardly on the same page. (Then there is also the gap between your Klineanism and Wolter’s eschatology sans consummation).

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  230. Zrim: Richard, if there is no danger from unconverted ministers how can there be from unconverted philosophers?

    RS: There is a huge danger from unconverted ministers and from unconverted philosophers, though things can be gleaned from both. For what it is worth, I did say there is a danger from unconverted ministers in the former post.

    Zrim: But to back up a bit, the Reformed confess that the state of the minister does not impact the efficacy of the Word and sacraments he administers.

    RS: Which is quite inaccurate. According to Calvin the efficacy of the sacrament is in the preaching rather than in the sacrament itself. If the minister is not converted, then that minister is not preaching the truth and is not preaching with the illumination, power, or love of the Spirit.

    Zrim: And so here is another glaring difference between the confessionalists and the epistemologists: the former look to the foolish things God has ordained, the latter to the wiser things the world esteems.

    RS:Actually, it may be quite the opposite. One can have a false epistemology that leads them to a false view of the sacraments.

    Zrim: And so it’s little wonder to me that the experientialists join up with the epistemologists here in pushing back on the confessionalists. Whether it’s the intellect or the affections, the sacraments and power of God are given lower esteem.

    RS: The power of God is not given lower esteem, but perhaps some of us don’t put the stress on the sacraments because Scripture don’t put the stress that the hyper-confessionalists do. But again, epistemology is at work here again though it may be hidden. Who gives spiritual understanding? The confession or the Holy Spirit?

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  231. Richard, “quite inaccurate”? WCF 27.3 says: “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.” Which also seems to answer whence spiritual edification–the Spirit. Sure sounds like Westminster saw no problem with an unconverted ministry.

    And “hyper-confessionalist” for stressing the sacraments over the intellect and the affections? But WCF and Belgic have no less than three chapters each on the sacraments, and nothing on religious epistemology or affections. And Calvin said he’d rather partake of the sacraments than understand them, and that at least weekly. Is that hyper-confessionalist?

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  232. You’re right again MM- I just saw that the Celtics gave Garnett a new 3 yr. contract today. I had not heard that and I thought you were mistaken about a new contract. He got more than 10 million a year too (34 million for 3 years). That is hard to believe for a guy who works as hard as does and who has been in the league for 17 years.

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  233. Darryl, LC Q&A 191 “and that he would be pleased to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world.” Sounds like cosmos to me, especially after already talking about the church and our hearts.

    LC Q&A 45 talks about Christ as king and includes the phrase “and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their good…” If Christ is king over all things in his Messianic office, why aren’t all things part of his kingdom.

    By the way, I read both Calvin and Henry on Colossians 1 and I don’t get where you see them just talking about people and angels. The “all things” of reconciliation seem to be the same “all things” of creation in the passage.

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  234. Darryl, why would there be many neo-Cals here? And it’s not as if any of us here are the intellectual movers and shakers of the movement. Jon actually claimed not to be one and didn’t really like Wolters’ book. It’s hard to be a neo-Cal and dislike Wolters. (Both the incoming new President of Calvin College and the new Calvin Seminary professor of missions, Michael Goheen, pointed to Creation Regained as being instrumental to their understanding of Reformed theology and sang its praises at their synod interviews.)

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  235. Zrim: Richard, “quite inaccurate”? WCF 27.3 says: “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.” Which also seems to answer whence spiritual edification–the Spirit. Sure sounds like Westminster saw no problem with an unconverted ministry.

    RS: I guess I have a hard time believing that you actually wrote that last sentence.
    Chapter XXV Of the Church

    III. Unto this catholic visible Church Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and does, by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto.[7]

    RS: Christ has given three things to the Church. The ministry, the oracles, and the ordinances. The reason for this? For the gathering and perfecting fo the saints. It is His presence and the Spirit that makes them effectual. God does not dwell in unconverted men and His Spirit does not teach them spiritual things.

    IV. This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less visible.[8] And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.[9]

    RS: The Church is pure to the degree that the Gospel is taught and embraced. An unconverted man cannot preach the Gospel in truth and love.

    VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.[13] Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.[14]

    RS: We can certainly see that they were very much against this unconverted man as a minister.

    But even if Westminster did not have a problem with that, Scripture does. All you have to do is look at the qualifications for elders and deacons in Timothy and Titus. When the church at Phillipi wanted Paul to send them a minister, he said this (in chapter 2): “20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.”

    Zimri: And “hyper-confessionalist” for stressing the sacraments over the intellect and the affections?

    RS: No, for stressing the sacraments and the confessions more than Scripture does.

    Zrim: But WCF and Belgic have no less than three chapters each on the sacraments, and nothing on religious epistemology or affections.

    RS: But Scripture mentions the Lord’s Supper when Jesus instituted it, then only twice more and that in the same book. It speaks a lot about religious affections and epistemology.

    Zrim: And Calvin said he’d rather partake of the sacraments than understand them, and that at least weekly. Is that hyper-confessionalist?

    RS: But he sure spent a fair amount of time striving to understand them. I am sure there is more to the context than the statement you are quoting might communicate. But as to doing the externals without understanding just because they are in a confession, then that could be hyper-confessionalism. However, I don’t think that described Calvin. He was too wedded to Scripture for that.

    I Cor 14:12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.
    13 Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.
    14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
    15 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.

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  236. It is this profound Christian permeation of every human activity, no matter how secular the world may regard it as being, which is brought about by the Christian school and the Christian school alone. I do not want to be guilty of exaggerations at this point. A Christian boy or girl can learn mathematics, for example, from a teacher who is not a Christian; and truth is truth however learned. But while truth is truth however learned, the bearing of truth, the meaning of truth, the purpose of truth (even in the sphere of mathematics) seem entirely different to the Christian from that which they seem to the non-Christian; and that is why a truly Christian education is possible only when Christian conviction underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life—those are great central convictions that underlie the Christian school.

    is this really from one of Darryl’s books? Sort of what I’ve been trying to say.

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  237. Terry, the neo-Cal blinders you have on is astounding.

    Here is the context for the LC on Christ’s mediatorial kingship:

    Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.

    Powerfully ordering all things refers specifically to Christ’s redeemed peoples. Yes, it’s called providence and it includes ordering Saddam Hussein and Barack Obama. But it is not here some kind of cosmic salvation.

    And here is Calvin on Col. 1:20, particularly how “all things” applies to “both heaven and earth” (notice how long he goes on about angels and not technology or astronomy):

    If you are inclined to understand this as referring merely to rational creatures, it will mean, men and angels. There were, it is true, no absurdity in extending it to all without exception; but that I may not be under the necessity of philosophizing with too much subtlety, I prefer to understand it as referring to angels and men; and as to the latter, there is no difficulty as to their having need of a peace maker in the sight of God. As to angels, however, there is a question not easy of solution. For what occasion is there for reconciliation, where there is no discord or hatred? Many, influenced by this consideration, have explained the passage before us in this manner — that angels have been brought into agreement with men, and that by this means heavenly creatures have been restored to favor with earthly creatures. Another meaning, however, is conveyed by Paul’s words, that God hath reconciled to himself. That explanation, therefore, is forced.

    It remains, that we see what is the reconciliation of angels and men. I say that men have been reconciled to God, because they were previously alienated from him by sin, and because they would have had him as a Judge to their ruin, had not the grace of the Mediator interposed for appeasing his anger. Hence the nature of the peace making between God and men was this, that enmities have been abolished through Christ, and thus God becomes a Father instead of a Judge.

    Between God and angels the state of matters is very different, for there was there no revolt, no sin, and consequently no separation. It was, however, necessary that angels, also, should be made to be at peace with God, for, being creatures, they were not beyond the risk of falling, had they not been confirmed by the grace of Christ. This, however, is of no small importance for the perpetuity of peace with God, to have a fixed standing in righteousness, so as to have no longer any fear of fall or revolt. Farther, in that very obedience which they render to God, there is not such absolute perfection as to give satisfaction to God in every respect, and without the need of pardon. And this beyond all doubt is what is meant by that statement in Job 4:18, He will find iniquity in his angels. For if it is explained as referring to the devil, what mighty thing were it? But the Spirit declares there, that the greatest purity is vile, if it is brought into comparison with the righteousness of God. We must, therefore, conclude, that there is not on the part of angels so much of righteousness as would suffice for their being fully joined with God. They have, therefore, need of a peace maker, through whose grace they may wholly cleave to God. Hence it is with propriety that Paul declares, that the grace of Christ does not reside among mankind alone, and on the other hand makes it common also to angels. Nor is there any injustice done to angels, in sending them to a Mediator, that they may, through his kindness, have a well grounded peace with God.

    I don’t here too many neo-Cals talking about the redemption of angels when they talk about redeeming all things.

    Does regeneration extend to good reading skills?

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  238. Richard, the point isn’t that converted men aren’t preferred. Everybody wants a Christian man preaching and administering. Nor is it that the sacraments work ex opere operato. The point is that God is the power in any preaching and administering. Even Paul had no qualms with those who preached correctly but with ill intentions. God works through orthodox means, not orthodox faculties. The irony of the spiritualists is that they don’t seem nearly spiritual enough, but actually fairly more human.

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  239. Terry, I wonder: if it’s possible for Kuyper to not hide the fact that he disagreed with Calvin, the Confessions, and our Reformed theologians on the magistrate enforcing true religion (i.e. the revision of Belgic 36), is it not also possible for some 2kers to wonder about Machen’s all-of-lifery?

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  240. Terry, yes, when all is lost trot out a few quotes from Machen on Christian schooling. Problem is, the neo-Cals don’t quote from Machen when it goes against them, like his defense of Communists to have schools (under the banner of civil liberty), or his evidentialist apologetic (that Van Til objected to at least in the form that Warfield used), or his statements about the work of ministers and the role of the church:

    Meanwhile, however, we are living in a drab and empty age. The law of God has been forgotten or despised, and dreary slavery is the result. Do you think that his is a happy or blessed age? Oh, no my friends. Amid all the noise and shouting and power and machinery, there are hungry hearts — hearts thirsting for the living water, hearts hungry for the bread that is real bread.

    That hunger you alone can still (graduates of Westminster). You can do so not by any riches of your own, but as humble ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Remember this, at least — the things in which the world is now interested are the things that are seen; but the things that are seen are temporal, and the things that are not seen are eternal. You, as ministers of Christ, are called to deal with the unseen things. You are stewards of the mysteries of God. You alone can lead men, by the proclamation of God’s word, out of the crash and jazz and noise and rattle and smoke of this weary age into the green pastures and beside the still waters; you alone, as ministers of reconciliation, can give what the world with all its boasting and pride can never give — the infinite sweetness of the communion of the redeemed soul with the living God.

    If I ever heard a neo-Cal make such a distinction between the temporal and the eternal, and put the Christian school several pegs behind the ministry of the word by Reformed pastors, I’d not only drop my blog but I might also sign on. But what I hear instead is a blurring of these categories and a lot of preoccupation with the things that are seen.

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  241. Mikelmann: Richard, you say, Alvin Plantinga, Louis Pojman, Malebranche, Thomas Reid, Paschal, Kierkegaard, and Jonathan Edwards (who also wrote a great work on the Religous Affections).

    I haven’t done a recent survey of undergraduate philsophy curricula, but the only one of those men likely to be included at any given institution is Kierkegaard, and he is the butt of worldview critiques such as Schaeffer’s. Certainly Plantinga has the skill set to be in The League (sorry, I’ve been distracted by the NBA draft), but I doubt there are many classes on Reformed Epistemology at State University.

    RS: Plantinga has written on far more than just epistemology. As the chair (perhaps former by now) of the department at Notre Dame and having written many books on various subjects, he is read. Pojman has published multiple books with the specific intent of being used as undergrad philsophy curricula. They continue to be published by those who only publish those things that sell or they think will sell. You may be correct about Malebranche, but some may read his stuff in relation to Descartes. Again, his works continue to be published. There have been a handful of people writing about Reid in the last few years, most notably Plantinga and Wolterstorff. I suppose Paschal may not be used all that much, but he is at least mentioned in a few settings. I did fail to mention Richard Swinburne and Augustine as well.

    D.G. Hart seemed surprised that I listed Edwards as a philosopher, though he was certainly among the greatest of theologians. Some of the men behind the Yale edition of Edwards’ works considered him to have the finest philosophical mind in the history of America. They considered him a bit tainted because he talked about God too much, but they still saw his brilliant mind and philosophical ability.

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  242. Zrim: Richard, the point isn’t that converted men aren’t preferred. Everybody wants a Christian man preaching and administering. Nor is it that the sacraments work ex opere operato. The point is that God is the power in any preaching and administering.

    RS: But God uses instruments in preaching and the sacraments. There is a huge difference in the power of God that works in and through godly ministers and those who are not. There is a reason that godly men have been used by God through the years to bring the truth and the message of glory to His people. The godly men have the power of God in them and that power of God produces the godliness in them and as instruments of His power as He works in them the preached Word is truly powerful as it is of God.

    Zrim: Even Paul had no qualms with those who preached correctly but with ill intentions.

    RS: In one spot it may appear that way, but the intention was to cause him (Paul) personal problems. It was not that they were necessarily unconverted.

    Zrim: God works through orthodox means, not orthodox faculties.

    RS: Wow!!!!!!!! There are no orthodox means apart from orthodox men with enlightened faculties that are united to Christ. We are to have the mind of Christ, the affections of Christ, and our life is to be the life of Christ. Every person is to examine him or herself before they take the Supper or it may bring sickness and then death upon them. That includes the minister.

    Zrim: The irony of the spiritualists is that they don’t seem nearly spiritual enough, but actually fairly more human.

    RS: I guess I thought the irony from your last few posts is that you don’t see any need for anything but some person (converted or not) to read and/or preach a sermon (orthodox or not) and then hand out the sacraments (no orthodox way to do this?). As long as those two things are done, and in a confessional church, all things are okay. I call that human, way too human without enough of the Divine.

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  243. Richard, you’re still missing it. The point is not to buttress human banality but to highlight the power of God.

    And are you just as shocked by Westminster when it says: “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it…” I wonder how you reconcile Westminster’s point here about sacramental efficacy and yours that it depends on “orthodox men with enlightened faculties that are united to Christ”?

    And when you say that in the words of institution there is “a lot about religious affections and epistemology,” I think about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he says he came not with eloquence or human wisdom but only Christ and him crucified, and then pits human wisdom against God’s power. I’m sure the experientialists and the epistemologists (and their cohorts) have clever ways of harmonizing two things Paul pits, but the plain reading is that there is the program of God and then there is everything else.

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  244. And the power is in the Gospel. It is this which inspires Paul within; the continuing fact that his guilt continues to be washed away and his conscience can be continually cleansed. When someone starts banking on their progress in sanctification and the power that seems to derive from this progress, that person is no longer trusting in the Gospel. The power within waxes and wanes, the power in the Gospel does not.

    The believer’s sharing in Christ’s holiness cannot be interpreted as a lesser degree of holiness in the believer which gets progressively more pronounced and in greater degree with time.

    RS: Whether it is dangerous or not does not determine the truth of the
    matter. If I determine something is dynamite and therefore dangerous
    that does not make it stop being dynamite.
    Hebrews 12:10 “For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best
    to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His
    holiness.” My position is that when Christ is in a person and the
    Spirit makes them His temple, that person shares in His holiness
    rather than finding a righteousness of holiness of his own. Again, if
    our power and strength comes from another, it must come from Him who
    lives in us.

    Colossians 1:22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his
    death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach
    before him

    mark: but wait wait, not yet, not now, not by Christ’s death alone,
    that was only the first step, that death and resurrection alone would
    not reconcile anybody, let alone cause them to be presented holy and
    blameless, this verse does not have the word “soul” in it, so we need
    to move on to other important stuff

    23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not
    shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been
    proclaimed in all creation[g] under heaven, and of which I, Paul,
    became a minister.

    mark: and to continue means to move on, I don’t deny that business
    about now and about reconciliation by Christ’s body of flesh or by
    Christ’s death, indeed I agree with all that, I am reformed, so now
    lets assume that and shift to talking about the soul, which of course
    is also part of the hope, indeed, if we read on enough we shall see
    that when it comes to being holy then we shall need to talk not only
    about Christ in us, but also about what Christ is causing us to be and
    to do, so that we know that by His presence He is making us holy but
    not quite yet, He in our souls is making us blameless but of course
    not yet perfectly….

    24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am
    filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his
    body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according
    to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the
    word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and
    generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to
    make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of
    this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

    mark: and of course that doesn’t mean Christ in you, we know from
    Edwards that it means Christ in your souls, and even Plato knew that
    our souls are not us, but something immaterial and invisible in us,
    and also remember that the hope is not merely Christ’s presence but
    also Christ’s presence as a means to an end, which is of course
    changing our souls, making us better than we were, and tomorrow better
    than we were yesterday, so of course we are not yet holy, not yet
    totally blameless, but nevertheless we can approach God with some
    assurance now not so much because of that death alone, that was only
    justification, but we can now approach God, or begin to, not because
    of a righteousness done already, but by means of a righteousness being
    done by us, because Christ is in us, and remember I am not talking
    about justification now, but don’t forget sanctification, and you
    can’t be really holy or truly worship God until in your soul God
    changes you so that you too can begin to fulfill the law and thus
    begin to approach, it’s not an either or because you can’t just be
    justified because now that your soul has been changed your work is not
    only accepted as not dead work but now accepted as some of the reason
    you are holy, not strictly of course, but in grace…..

    You have to read McMark’s comments knowing that he is being sarcastic with Richard’s responses.

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  245. Richard wants to continue to try to take the good news out of the Gospel and give himself some of the credit for progress in holiness in his soul. Of course, he will not admit to this and continues to convince himself that it is the Holy Spirit who is doing this within him (he has admitted to infusion in sanctification though). I am wondering if he looks upon himself as one of those godly ones he described in his last post who carries around the power of God within himself. I continue to believe that this is a dangerous way to think- dynamite and all.

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  246. Darryl, interesting that the catechism puts Providence and God’s ordering of Creation under “Thy Kingdom come”. I’m not so sure you “got me” on that one.

    “When all is lost”? If we’re talking about winners and losers, I kind of think I’m winning this argument 😉 The quote was no act of desperation. Just reinforcing the point. Glad to have Machen on board as a neo-Calvinist.

    If you’ve read the Skillen stuff, you would know that APJ advocates public funding for all sorts of worldviews (as did Kuyper). Only theonomists would protest the public support of Communist or Catholic or Islamic or Secular schools. Kuyperian pluralists have no problem with it and see it as consistent with each worldview being allowed to live out the implications of its position in a common society. In fact, one of the roles of a just state is to see to it that such freedoms for religion are guaranteed (see the current version of the Belgic Confession 36 “They should do this while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them, with the means belonging to them”). Obviously, there would be limits since the promotion of pluralism is antithetical to Communism or Islam. Reformed theology has no problem with pluralism in this common grace, in between era. Don’t forget Kuyperianism is not theonomy.

    The vocation of Christians in Creation in this age is utterly dependent on the work of the church and its ordained gospel proclaimers. The keys of the kingdom belong to the church and her ordained officers. So, in order to even be a neo-Calvinist that exercises his or her vocation in Creation, you have to be a member of the church and under the authority of her officers and under the preaching of the Word.

    And, indeed, neo-Calvinists are not working for this fallen, sinful age. We’re working for that which is eternal–creation restored, renewed, and consummated. If you think neo-Calvinists are working for this passing, sinful, temporal age, you’re mistaken. Perhaps a more appropriate expression of two kingdom-ism is differentiating between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of This World. In this age they exist side by side. The Kingdom of This World with its death, sin and rebellion will pass away. The Kingdom of God will endure.

    Neo-Calvinists can affirm the Machen line just as much as you can. So, I’d love to have you sign on. No need to drop your blog though.

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  247. Darryl, I’m tracking with you now on Colossians. There was a translation issue that kept me from recognizing your Calvin quote.

    I do notice that Calvin is not opposed to the “cosmic” interpretation even if he himself does not go there.

    There were, it is true, no absurdity in extending it to all without exception; but that I may not be under the necessity of philosophizing with too much subtlety, I prefer to understand it as referring to angels and men;

    The “all things” also occurs in verse 17, making reference to Christ’s role in creation. Calvin refers to angels “but also of the whole world” and “all creatures in heaven and on earth.” This seems cosmic. Why wouldn’t the “all things” of creation be the same as the “all things” of reconciliation? (Universalism aside as most evangelical commentators note, including Calvin.)

    The Colossian heresy must have included an angelology that called into question the primacy of Christ. I have no argument with this being the chief concern as indicated by the terms throne, powers, principalities, and dominions. Paul is asserting that Christ is over all things, including these angelic powers. But in his zeal to include the highest invisible heavenly authorities, he included “all things.”

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  248. John, I do think you should read the Westminster Confession’s chapter on sanctification (XIII) and good works (XVI). I don’t know if what you are arguing is confessional Lutheranism but I suggest that what you say is at odds with Reformed confessionalism. We are sanctified “really and personally”–“the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified.” “This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man…–“the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” “good works…are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith”

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  249. Terry, where has a neo-Calvinist ever said what Machen did to prospective ministers? In case you’re still following developments in the NL or the CRC, the neo-Calvinist vision went right where the Christian schools are going, taking every square inch and leaving the church behind (not to mention that Kuyper himself was no paragon of a communicant member in the last decade of his life when his church attendance dropped off).

    As for WLC, the second petition is talking about God’s people and his kingdom, and how he orders all things to protect them and for his glory. Again I say, reading should be an important part of an education, Christian or not.

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  250. Terry, because Calvin explicitly refers to all beings with souls (angels and men), that’s why he guards against universalism. He was talking about all things as in plumbing, astronomy, or statecraft. Remember, reading.

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  251. Darryl, …neo-Calvinist blinders…2K blinders…I guess that why we say that we all have a worldview that even influences our reading. When I read “kingdom of his power in all the world”, I see a lot more than the church. Indeed, it’s for His people–no argument that WLC 191 is saying that. My point is that the catechism is using the word “kingdom” much more expansively that just as a reference to the church.

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  252. Zrim: Richard, you’re still missing it. The point is not to buttress human banality but to highlight the power of God.

    RS: No, not missing it but trying to get you to see that God’s power works in and through human beings. For example, Colossians 1:29.

    Zrim: And are you just as shocked by Westminster when it says: “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it…” I wonder how you reconcile Westminster’s point here about sacramental efficacy and yours that it depends on “orthodox men with enlightened faculties that are united to Christ”?

    RS: It is because I agree with Calvin that the power is in the Word preached when the sacrament is given. The sacraments have no power other than that they are accompanied by preaching. God speaks through men who are set apart for Him rather than those who are not. God uses men who are full of His Spirit rather than those who are full of self.

    Zrim: And when you say that in the words of institution there is “a lot about religious affections and epistemology,” I think about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he says he came not with eloquence or human wisdom but only Christ and him crucified, and then pits human wisdom against God’s power.

    RS: You might want to read what I have previously written in this and then the passage in I Corinthians 2 again. We are to preach Christ crucified, yes, but according to Paul it was a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. He then goes on to say that he did speak a message of wisdom to the mature, but it was a hidden wisdom that the rulers of the world could not understand. In other words, there is a Christian epistemology but it cannot be separated from the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Zrim: I’m sure the experientialists and the epistemologists (and their cohorts) have clever ways of harmonizing two things Paul pits, but the plain reading is that there is the program of God and then there is everything else.

    RS: But only if you limit your plain reading to less than the biblical parameters the text itself gives us. I did not mention anything about human wisdom previously, but you just assume that was what I meant. No, the way that Christians come to know God’s Word is the work of the Holy Spirit in them and true preaching (according to the text you quoted from) is a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Now you can continue to think of experientialists as you please, but the Spirit does reveal great truths to the whole person and one who beholds the beauty and glory of God will have some inner feeling about the matter. A person that the Spirit works love and joy in will have some feeling of joy as well. By the way, the word “experience” means to learn by practice. In other words, all Christianity should be experiential in that sense. We learn by practice and one thing we practice is the joy that the Spirit works in His people.

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  253. John Yeazel: Richard wants to continue to try to take the good news out of the Gospel and give himself some of the credit for progress in holiness in his soul.

    RS: Sheer and utter nonsense. By the way, it certainly appears that in this post you are judging motives and so on. The glory is all of God’s and of course holiness in the soul is by grace rather than works and so holiness is all to the glory of God as well. God uses holy vessels rather than unholy ones, but He is the Potter and we are the clay.

    John Yeazel: Of course, he will not admit to this and continues to convince himself that it is the Holy Spirit who is doing this within him (he has admitted to infusion in sanctification though).

    RS: I don’t need to convince myself. Remember, however, the believer has the Spirit Himself infused into his or her soul and the Spirit works His fruit in the believer. That is the kind of infusion I am speaking of and that fits very well with what I am saying here. God uses holy ministers for His purposes rather than unholy ones.

    John Yeazel: I am wondering if he looks upon himself as one of those godly ones he described in his last post who carries around the power of God within himself. I continue to believe that this is a dangerous way to think- dynamite and all.

    RS: God is the One who chooses and God is the One who decides in these things. All who truly believe have Christ in them and all that don’t have Christ in them don’t have Christ. You can continue to think of that as dangerous, but it is the good news of the Gospel.

    Romans 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

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  254. John Yeazel: And the power is in the Gospel. It is this which inspires Paul within; the continuing fact that his guilt continues to be washed away and his conscience can be continually cleansed. When someone starts banking on their progress in sanctification and the power that seems to derive from this progress, that person is no longer trusting in the Gospel. The power within waxes and wanes, the power in the Gospel does not.

    RS: You might want to check your Bible again. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). A person that trusts in Christ alone is trusting in Christ for all things and all moments. But again, the power of the Gospel is not in and of itself disconnected with the power of God who speaks through His chosen instruments. By the way, you might want to check Calvin’s view of preaching if you don’t like what I say. He said that a minister who is preaching by the Spirit is speaking the words of God.

    John Yeazel: The believer’s sharing in Christ’s holiness cannot be interpreted as a lesser degree of holiness in the believer which gets progressively more pronounced and in greater degree with time.

    RS: Having a greater degree of the HOLY Spirit is by definition to be holier than before.

    John Yeazel: You have to read McMark’s comments knowing that he is being sarcastic with Richard’s responses.

    RS: Yes, Colossians 1:27 and context says that the very mystery of the Gospel is that Christ dwells in the believer. Mark is sarcastic and denies that. You believe McMark and I believe the Bible.

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  255. Terry, I think there are some confusing statements in the Westminster confession about sanctification and the mortification of sin which have their source in some Puritan theologians. What I am questioning is how much subjective introspection should someone spend time on in order to determine if their body of sin is slowly being destroyed and their lusts are being more and more weakened and mortified. There are times in our experience where these lusts and our sin wax and wane. Are we to determine our progress in growth in grace by our subjective experience or by our trust in the work of Christ when everything inside of us is screaming you really are not that sanctified? Should we expect these times that our sin and lusts seem to be in remission to grow in greater lengths of time as we progress in sanctification? I find that to be confusing and whether it is even worth my time to give much reflection to it. How then does someone not compare his mortification with someone elses?

    Plus there is the whole issue of infusion and synergism in sanctification which seems to have creeped into some of the confessional statements. How does one go about making themselves more sanctified if they have their doubts about how far they have progressed in sanctification? Is sanctification an either/or or is it something we have to put effort towards? What I hear most Calvinists saying is that it is something you have to work at and put effort in. How does this not lead to pietism then? I could go on put will stop with that. I have only touched the surface.

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  256. John, in Reformed theology infusion and synergism are not bad words when it comes to sanctification. Justification, yes. But not sanctification.

    Now I’m fully agreed that we should flee to Christ when seeking assurance of our salvation, but the Confession does say that our good works “strengthen our assurance” (XVI, 2). Interestingly, the WCF says in XVIII,3 that “assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith” and in XVIII,4 that “true believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted”. Bob Godfrey used to see this as a critical difference between the Westminster Standards and the Heidelberg Catechism which defines faith in terms of assurance.

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  257. Here is an interesting quote that I ran across again in my reading of Horton’s book COVENANT AND SALVATION. Bruce McCormack, a Barthian theologian, says this:

    “I think it is accurate to say that there are no hotter topics in Protestant theology today, than the themes of theosis, union with Christ, the de Lubacian axiom ‘the Eucharist makes the church,’ etc……In the process, the churches are slowly coming under the influence of a concept of ’participation’ in Christ that owes a great deal to the ancient Greek ontologies of pure being…..In truth, forensicism (rightly understood!) provides the basis for an alternative theological ontology to the one presupposed in Roman and Eastern soteriology. Where this is not seen, the result has almost always been the abondonment of the Reformation doctrine of justification on the mistaken assumption that the charge of a ‘legal fiction’ has a weight, which in truth, it does not.”

    So, what worries me is when the emphasis shifts from our forensic standing in Christ to “Greek ontologies of pure being” which infusion and Holy Spirit type union with Christ seems to imply. This is why I am attracted to McMark’s emphasis on our union with Christ being a legal and forensic union (justification). After our legal and forensic union, which occurs when God places us into the atonement of Christ and transfers Christ’s righteousness to us, thus declaring us righteous (the imputation) and causing our ability to hear the Gospel; the Holy Spirit then immediately regenerates and faith is given as gift which unites us to Christ through faith. Legal imputation being the basis for all of this happening simultaneously.

    So, I am not denying the work of the Holy Spirit in a elect person but I am putting more priority on the legal and forensic. It is this which preserves us in the faith and regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Spirit makes sure we continue to believe it. The basis is then always the imputation rather than how much progress we seem to be making in the mortification of our sin.

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  258. Terry, I am not so sure that infusion and synergism are “not bad words” in sanctification. That would take a lot of explaining which I do not have much more time to do tonight. However, this is a constant theme which always pops it head up at old life from time to time. I certainly have been working on it for sometime now and need more clarity, theological and scriptural support.

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  259. John, here is one passage to chew on. Remember, Paul is praying for believers when he prays that God would grant them 1) to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man 2) so that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith. 3) In this work of the Spirit and indwelling of Christ this meant that they would be rooted and grounded in love. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is love. 4) It is this inner work that enabled them to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge and would fill them with the fulness of God. 5) In someway this is connected with (v. 20) God doing more than we can even think or imagine, but He does this according to the power
    that works within us. In all of that inworking it is all to His glory in the Church and in Christ.

    Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

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  260. Richard, there is no disagreement that the Word has priority to the sacraments, nor that God speaks through men who are set apart for him rather than those who are not. Instead of priority, the dispute is the matter of efficacy. You’re saying that the spiritual condition of those set apart has bearing on the efficacy of the Word and sacraments. I am siding with WCF and saying no, it doesn’t: efficacy depends solely on the power of the Spirit (and the word of institution). Your semi-revivalism is a form of “Christ plus something else.” But Reformation Christianity is the sola tradition and says sola christus, or in this case sola espiritu santo.

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  261. Wesley’s response to James Hervey’s Theron and Aspasio argues that Hervey’s doctrine of imputation of Christ’s righteousness will produce antinomianism. The gift of righteousness for Wesley was “the righteousness which God gives God works in us.”

    Tom. Nettles, “John Wesley’s Contention with Calvinism: Interactions Then and Now,” in The Grace of God and The Bondage of the Will, II:297ff.

    “For Wesley it was not imputation but impartation of righteousness that was important. This is very reminiscent of the debate between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism; the debate was over infused righteousness.The influential Methodist Richard Watson argued that imputation of Christ’s righteousness “as to be accounted as our own, has no warrant in the Word of God.”

    “The idea of a transfer of righteousness from Christ to man ( imputed righteousness) is the exact antithesis of the biblical concept of holiness. It relieves man of the necessity of any real heart change….”

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  262. Darryl,

    To make the logical leap that because metaphysical supernaturalism is utterly superior to materialism, therefore you are unregenerate if you are poor at philosophy, just doesn’t follow.

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  263. Zrim: Richard, there is no disagreement that the Word has priority to the sacraments, nor that God speaks through men who are set apart for him rather than those who are not. Instead of priority, the dispute is the matter of efficacy. You’re saying that the spiritual condition of those set apart has bearing on the efficacy of the Word and sacraments. I am siding with WCF and saying no, it doesn’t: efficacy depends solely on the power of the Spirit (and the word of institution).

    RS: I don’t think you are on the side of the WCF, not am I asserting what you think I am asserting. Let me try to explain by using an analogy from another teaching of Scripture. John 16:27 “for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” I would argue that the surface reading of this verse would lead people to think that the Father loves people because they love Christ and believe that He came from the Father, but that would lead us to God’s love being earned in some way or at least contradicting I John 4:7-8. Instead of that, however, we should understand that when we see a person that loves Christ, we can know that God loves that person because He has given them a love for Christ.

    The analogy is true with preachers and preaching. God uses holy men, but He Himself must make them holy. They are not holy and therefore He uses them, but instead He has decided to use them so He makes them where He can use them by making them holy. He makes His mouthpiece holy so that the mouthpiece can proclaim the Gospel. This is no system of works in the slightest, but simply a recognition that a thrice holy God will make those He wants to use to be holy.

    Zrim: Your semi-revivalism is a form of “Christ plus something else.” But Reformation Christianity is the sola tradition and says sola christus, or in this case sola espiritu santo.

    RS: Not in the slightest. It is nothing like anything plus Christ, but instead is Christ alone. It is just that I recognize that when God wants to use a man, He breaks that man. Notice how He worked with the prophets and then the apostles to prepare them. For example, when He wanted to use Isaiah He gave him a sight of His glory and broke him. Notice what was said about Paul by the Lord when He was telling Ananias to go to Paul (then Saul). Acts 9:16, “for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Why did Paul have to suffer? Because that is God’s prescribed method of teaching people obedience. After all, that is also how Jesus learned (yes, learned) obedience. Hebrews 5:8 “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”

    Jesus also grew in wisdom and stature, but He learned obedience by suffering. So men of all times who were used of God have had to learn through the hard things and trials (being made holy in practice) because that is the method of God. It is not a system of works to get God to use you, but it is the method that God uses for those He has decided He will use.

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  264. mark mcculley: Wesley’s response to James Hervey’s Theron and Aspasio argues that Hervey’s doctrine of imputation of Christ’s righteousness will produce antinomianism. The gift of righteousness for Wesley was “the righteousness which God gives God works in us.”

    Tom. Nettles, “John Wesley’s Contention with Calvinism: Interactions Then and Now,” in The Grace of God and The Bondage of the Will, II:297ff.

    “For Wesley it was not imputation but impartation of righteousness that was important. This is very reminiscent of the debate between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism; the debate was over infused righteousness.The influential Methodist Richard Watson argued that imputation of Christ’s righteousness “as to be accounted as our own, has no warrant in the Word of God.”

    “The idea of a transfer of righteousness from Christ to man ( imputed righteousness) is the exact antithesis of the biblical concept of holiness. It relieves man of the necessity of any real heart change….”

    RS: Indeed the biblical teaching of justifiction has no concept of the infusion of righteousness from Christ to sinners, but that is a far different thing than what happens in sanctification. It is not that a person becomes holy apart from anything he does in and of himself, but his righteousness and holiness (after salvation) while also by grace, is also being made a partaker and sharer of the holiness of God. This is not what Wesley said, though one could argue the context of that as well. Notice the verses below that speak of this. We are partakers and sharers of grace, of Christ, holiness, and of the divine nature. Again, we are said to share and partake of these things. This contributes nothing to justification and it earns no merit. But it is something that happens in us and through us. After all, Christ Himself is our life and we are temples of the living God.

    Philippians 1:7 For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.

    Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;

    Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,

    Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

    2 Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

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  265. Terry,

    I didn’t mean to crack to hard on Wolter’s, the book just didn’t jump out at me as particularly groundbreaking. I might not have been reading very closely. A lot of things you say here resonate with me, especially regarding epistemology. However, there are a lot of trajectories that neo-cals follow that scare me, or at least concern me. For example, the instance I wrote of earlier about redeeming Freud instead of throwing him out. The CCO is heavily neo-Cal and many of them go a very politically liberal direction – big government, earth worship (environmentalism), and even some Marxism.

    I lean much more towards the theonomic camp, but don’t feel like I’ve put in enough research to take a firm position yet. I listened to the Christ and Culture podcast (put on by ‘Christ the Center, from WTS P) on law and gospel. The four contributors were Douglas Wilson, Nelson Kloosterman, Bill Dennison, and Darryl Hart. I found the most rapport with Wilson, and no offense, but the least with Hart. Nothing against him, but I just didn’t agree with his views.

    I also read “Five View on Law and Gospel”. Not surprisingly, I found the most rapport with Bahnsen, but I also liked Kaiser. Has anyone else here read that book and who did they agree with most? I’m curious if DGH would take the modified Lutheran view proposed by Moo.

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  266. Richard,

    I am not saying that the Holy Spirit does not work in the inner man. I am saying that it is not the common experience that this “felt” presence of the Holy Spirit is constantly there. If the Spirit both convicts and comforts by Law and Gospel then we cannot expect Holy Spirit goosebumps 24/7/365. Our constant source of assurance is the imputation which both justifies and sanctifies permanently. Since we remain simul iestus et peccator in this life this can be our only source of assurance not our progress in holiness.

    Chew on this short essay by AW Pink: http://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/sanctification-is-not-more-and-more-by-aw-pink/

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  267. Terry, you have missed the context again, it is the kingdom of grace that WLC 191 is talking about, in which case, the power of his kingdom refers to where Christ’s rules in hearts. His power is everywhere whether or not redemption happens. Or do you think we need to remind him to maintain his providential control over all things?

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  268. Jon, fine. But I’m not sure what you’re actually saying. First it’s you need to be regenerate to be wise. Then it’s the pagans who established the categories for philosophical wisdom. Then I hear from Terry that believers and non-believers share lots of things in the knowledge world. Then you tell me that you can’t do “true” philosophy unless you’re regenerate.

    That’s a lot of worry about matters the Bible doesn’t reveal (or by good and necessary implication the church has never confessed).

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  269. Jon-Ron, a return volley which suggests that “In principle, believer and unbeliever disagree over 1+1=2” isn’t the sort of favor I had in mind. Let me be more blunt: can you concede that a believer can choose secular schooling for covenant children for principled reasons, or is that always and ever subject to spiritual scrutiny to greater or lesser degrees?

    Also, Ron says: Does the unbeliever have “half an orange” (Francis Schaeffer) or does he have an entire, rotten orange (Reformed view of the effects of the fall)? It is precisely because he only has the latter that believers often add to, rearrange and try to improve upon any secular attempt to communicate truth, goodness and beauty. This is why it is often said that “we must watch this play, or read that literary work, from a distinctly Christian perspective of redemption etc.” But after the story has been critiqued through the lens of Scripture, does it really resemble truth, goodness or beauty? No, because the story itself needs to be redeemed from faulty notions and presuppositions. When the story is examined from a Biblical perspective, it should include the observation that what was depicted as good was actually a counterfeit good (all things considered), or a “counterfeit atonement” as was recently pointed out in my hearing.

    But Calvin says: If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how preeminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom Scripture [I Cor. 2:14] calls “natural men” were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good.

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  270. Richard, all pious platitudes from one clearly more influenced by revivalism than Reformation. But I’d like to know just what you think WCF 27.3 means when it says plainly that: “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.”

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  271. Zrim,

    I never meant to say that YOU public school your kids for unprincipled reasons. I’m sure you have principles, I just disagree with them. However, of broad evangelicals, at least 90%+ public school their kids for UNprincipled reasons, which puts you in odd company. But you could reply that I’m bedfellows with the religious right and I don’t have much of a comeback for that, other than we get to some of the same conclusions for different reasons.

    I do believe that the covenant family is the basis for discipling their children, but HOW we educate our kids flows directly from this. I don’t doubt that your kid’s chemistry teacher can do a great job explaining the periodic table, but you’ll never stop his autonomous worldview from seeping through at every level. I hope the 2k proponents rethink this particular issue carefully.

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  272. Zrim: Richard, all pious platitudes from one clearly more influenced by revivalism than Reformation.

    RS: But of course I would insist that there is no true reformation without true revival and no true revival apart from true reformation. The period of the Reformation was also a period of revival.

    Zrim: But I’d like to know just what you think WCF 27.3 means when it says plainly that: “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.”

    RS: But once again, of course it all DEPENDS on the work of the Spirit rather than the person that administers it. However, that is not the same thing as saying that God does not work in the person preaching the Word and in some the godliness He works in them correlates with the grace He works in the listeners. But look at the last part of what you quoted from the WCF. “A promise of benefit to worthy receivers.” Look at that in context of the whole. It says that God gives grace in the sacrament, but now He gives it to worthy recipients. Does that mean that Westminster is teaching that people can make themselves worthy recipients and therefore receive grace? So according to your stated view (putting two things together), it does not matter whether the minister is converted or not, but those receiving the Supper must be worthy. Hmmm

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  273. Zrim: Richard, there is nothing whatsoever about men having to be “broken” for God to work through them.

    Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.

    Isaiah 66:2 “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

    Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

    Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

    2 Kings 22:19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD.

    Luke 18:11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

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  274. John Yeazel: Richard, I am not saying that the Holy Spirit does not work in the inner man. I am saying that it is not the common experience that this “felt” presence of the Holy Spirit is constantly there. If the Spirit both convicts and comforts by Law and Gospel then we cannot expect Holy Spirit goosebumps 24/7/365.

    RS: I would agree with you on what you have written. It seems that you think that I limit the work of the Spirit to feelings as such, but that is not correct. The work of the Spirit is the work of the Holy Spirit. He convicts of sin, or righteousness, and of the judgment to come (John 16). These things are not feelings only, but He instructs the mind and the conscience.

    John Yeazel: Our constant source of assurance is the imputation which both justifies and sanctifies permanently. Since we remain simul iestus et peccator in this life this can be our only source of assurance not our progress in holiness.

    RS: Yet this (source of assurance) is not totally in line with Scripture. Yes, I would go to I John and show you the places where it is taught that this is how you know. Many times it does have to do with something other than the specific work of Christ in history. But those works of Christ in history work out in the hearts and lives of His people as He is their life and what He did in history has to be applied to those alive at the time. Progress in holiness is simply Christian maturity and the objective work of Christ becoming more and more part of that person by the life of Christ in that person.

    John Yeazel: Chew on this short essay by AW Pink:

    RS: This is a quote from that work: “Third, it is that work of God’s Spirit which, by His quickening operation, sets them apart from those who are dead in sins, conveying to them a holy life or nature, etc.” I would like to point out that the word “conveying” has a lot in common with “infusion” in this context. While I really like Pink, I would tend to be somewhere in between him and Westminster on this point. Of course he is correct in saying that it is Christ alone that makes us stand in perfect holiness before God in our justification. However, it is also the work of Christ by His Spirit that makes us grow in our sanctification. Maybe Westminster and the 1689 could have put things a little better or with more thoroughness at this point, they do recognize that apart from holiness no one will see the Lord. Unless a person is growing in sanctification, what evidence does that person have of eternal life (Christ Himself) in him? Can King Jesus remain unknown and hidden in part of what He rules over in His kingdom? No, King Jesus came to kill sin and He does so in His people. Where King Jesus is there will be death to sin. No, that does not mean a person is perfect at any point, in any thing or things, but it does mean that eternal life in a soul will grow.

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  275. Come on Darryl, God doesn’t need to be reminded of anything. Is that what we’re doing when we pray?

    I understand that most of the explanation of “Thy kingdom come” has to do with the church and its missionary expansion. I don’t even have a problem with that as that’s how the broader kingdom in the neo-Calvinist sense fundamentally comes. It’s through the work of believers obeying their Lord in all of life. But you have to be a believer and so the expansion of the church is critical to the neo-Calvinist task. But the phrase “kingdom of his power in all the world” is not referring to the work of the church but to his all-powerful operations in all Creation including the work of the civil magistrate, other societal entities, individual persons, beasts, droughts, famine, disease (and their opposites). In other words this phrase includes a more expansive notion of the kingdom that we will come.

    It’s helpful to think in terms of the next petition as well. “on earth as it is in heaven” simply means without opposition (no back talk according to one translation ofthe Heidelberg). Thus the prayer itself sees God’s will (and we’re not talking about his decretal will here) being more and more accomplished as the prayer is answered I the course of the time between the first and second advent.

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  276. Terry, why introduce a new thought into a sentence — not a paragraph, mind you, but a sentence, which is what the answer to 191 is. But your selective reading also leaves off the last phrase that modifies your favorite — “and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.” These ends refers to what went before in the answer. So whatever the kingdom of his power means, it is in the context of establishing and extending Christ’s church, which according to 25.2 is the “kingdom of Christ.”

    I get it that you want a bigger kingdom. But this is really the difference between neo- and paleo-Calvinists. And the neo’s have given life to evangelicals who aren’t especially careful on distinctions, not that neo-Calvinism has worked out all that well for the CRC or the former GKN where an expanded kingdom — much like it was for liberal Protestants — is a recipe for a social as opposed to a personal gospel.

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  277. Richard, you really need to give up the Reformation-as-Revival line. Your buddy Jonathan Edwards was not particularly careful to follow in the paths of the Reformers but you think that all that Edwards did was good. In which case, Reformation is not nearly as important to you as Revival. That’s fine. Just don’t act like the neo-Cals and cherry pick.

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  278. Hebrews 10:14–“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified..”

    The second “being sanctified” in this verse is still not “progressive”. As the elect are “being justified” one by one (one is imputed with Christ’s righteousness, then another, and so on), so also they are (at the same time) “being sanctified”, set apart, placed into Christ and His holiness.

    Of course not all uses of the word “sanctified” in the Bible refer to this either/or perfection by the death of Christ. For example, either sinners are born from above or they are not. But even in this meaning there is no such thing as “part way” born again or “more than you” born again. Either God by His Spirit causes a sinner to believe the truth OR that sinner continues to love unrighteousness. To not believe the truth is to love unrighteousness.

    II Thess 2:10-13 “with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they believe what is false, 12 in order that all will be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

    Again, no infusion. Even if you have a confession which says that “sanctification” sometimes means “infusion”, that should not prove to you that “sanctification” means that in this verse. Nor does it mean a “snyergism” in which humans do 100% and God does 100%. Nor does it mean that the law-grace antithesis has now been overcome by the noetic effects of regeneration.

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  279. WCF, chapter 13. ” the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,c and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified,d and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces,e to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.f”

    c Rom. 6:6,14.

    Is the dominion of sin eliminated by the work of the Spirit or because we are not under the law? What does Romans 6:14 say? How was the dominion of sin over Christ eliminated? Was it by gradual infusions or by His death? How do those who were “free from righteousness” become “free from sin” in Romans 6?

    d Gal. 5:24 ; Rom. 8:13.

    When Galatians 5:24 teaches that “those who belong to Christ HAVE crucified the flesh”, should the living confession interpret the meaning as “those who more and more crucify the flesh, as they are enabled by infusions by the Spirit”? When Romans 8:13 instructs us “by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the body”, does that mean to eliminate any idea that our doing (or not doing) will either justify or sanctify us, or does it mean “stop your sinning or prove that you were never justified”? See Robert Haldane’s commentary on Romans 8.

    e Col. 1:11; Eph. 3:16-19.

    Should we read Colossians (the Father has qualified you) to read “is qualifying you by giving you the Spirit to start qualifying you” to share in the inheritance? And lest we misunderstand “He has delivered you”, should we read “because the Spirit will be delivering you”? And “transferred” us as “is more and more beginning to get us ready to one day be transferred”? The problem with having the wrong references for what the Confession says is also that we tend to miss out on what those references actually are saying.

    Ephesians 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

    f 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14.

    It would be helpful to exegete the entire chapter of Hebrews 12. Can it be proven that the holiness without which we cannot see the Lord is that “more and more” variety of which the Confession speaks? Or is our hope Christ’s holiness plus also an incremental holiness? And if Christ’s holiness is not enough for present access to God, just how much additional holiness will the Spirit need to give us?

    I don’t presume that my asking these questions answers them. Do the Scripture references given for the confessional statements have the same authority as the propositions themselves? If so, maybe we can figure out what the Bible references mean by reading back to see what the Confessions say.

    But just because chapter 13 does not say that “fullness is infusion”, of course that doesn’t mean that Edwards was wrong.

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  280. Jon, thanks. I think. Not to be ungrateful for the effort, but you still seem to talk about employing secular education the way Fundamentalists talk about consuming beer. My Fundies can concede that my beer drinking isn’t the function of some form of personal or spiritual disorder, but it is for the 90% of those who do, which puts me in dubious company, which always seems to take away with one hand what was given with the other. You talk about “autonomous worldview” seepage with the same worry that Fundies talk about the residual nefarious effects of alcohol. But I thought Jesus said it’s what comes out of the body (and mind) that is wicked, not what goes in.

    I’m not sure how you can speak for the principles of 90% of such a broad group though. Neither do I see what is to be gained by impugning those principles. Christian liberty includes staying silent.

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  281. Richard, if WCF meant to say that “God works in the person preaching the Word and in some the godliness he works in them correlates with the grace he works in the listeners” then saying “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it,” and not taking any opportunity to correlate the grace within the administer and the recipients for efficacy, sure is an odd way to do it.

    But my point isn’t that the state of the recipient doesn’t matter for efficacy, because it does. My point is that the state of the administrator doesn’t. And what is the point of all this in terms of the subject at hand? Again, it’s to say that confessionalism wants to extol the power of God in the things he has ordained, and this is in direct contrast to the experientialists and the epistemologists who want to esteem things in men.

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  282. D. G. Hart: Richard, you really need to give up the Reformation-as-Revival line.

    RS: Why do I need to do that and on what basis should I do that?

    D.G. Hart: Your buddy Jonathan Edwards was not particularly careful to follow in the paths of the Reformers but you think that all that Edwards did was good.

    RS: But he was careful to follow in the paths of Scripture which the Reformers thought was even more important.

    D.G. Hart: In which case, Reformation is not nearly as important to you as Revival.

    RS: It is hard to understate the importance of the Reformation, but the Reformation was not a time when perfect and complete truth was restored on the earth. The Scriptures were brought back to the front of the line during the Reformation. If we are to be faithful to the Reformation, instead of blindly following each jot and tittle that the Reformers taught we must be faithful to Scripture.

    D.G. Hart: That’s fine. Just don’t act like the neo-Cals and cherry pick.

    RS: Hmmm, I though that was a common to all in the human predicament. Edwards taught that the heart of sin was self-love. That being true, we all want to be right when discussing/arguing with others rather than having discussions as a means of discovering the truth or growing deeper in the truth.

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  283. John Yeazel: Along with the book of Hebrews Richard, you might want to chew on Phillipians chapter 3 too. This one really got to me last week after I read it.

    http://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/the-belly-problem-philippians-3/

    RS: However, Jesus said several times that if you love Him you will obey His commandments.
    Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,

    RS: Notice that the grace of God itself instructs us to deny ungodliness and to life righteously and godly in the present age.

    Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. 15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

    RS: The text is quite clear on what Christ gave Himself for: 1) to redeem us from every lawless deed and 2) to purif Himself a people for His own possession, zealours for good deeds. The text then goes on to tell Titus that he was to speak these things. Christ died to save sinners, yes, but also to redeem them from lawless deeds and purify them. When people are growing in holiness, they are not against the Gospel of grace alone, but instead it is being done in them what Christ died to accomplish.

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  284. Richard, if the Reformation was about being biblical, then Wesley, Arminius, and Billy Graham are all in line with the Reformers. You see, some of us actually believe that the Reformers were on to biblical truths when they didn’t go gaga over affections and simply tried to reform the church and restore a faithful ministry of word and sacrament.

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  285. Zrim: Richard, if WCF meant to say that “God works in the person preaching the Word and in some the godliness he works in them correlates with the grace he works in the listeners” then saying “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it,” and not taking any opportunity to correlate the grace within the administer and the recipients for efficacy, sure is an odd way to do it.

    RS: You might also consider that they were writing against Roman Catholicism and the Anglicans at the same time. It is not that they did not believe that ministers should be converted or be pursuing holiness, but they were fighting against elements of Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism that took the ministry beyond what it should be.

    Zrim: But my point isn’t that the state of the recipient doesn’t matter for efficacy, because it does. My point is that the state of the administrator doesn’t.

    RS: But remember that the the administrator also takes the sacrament as well. The state of the administrator matters because of the preaching that goes along with the sacrament. The promise of God is that ths pure in heart will see Him, but on the other hand those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure (Titus 1:15).

    Zrim: And what is the point of all this in terms of the subject at hand? Again, it’s to say that confessionalism wants to extol the power of God in the things he has ordained, and this is in direct contrast to the experientialists and the epistemologists who want to esteem things in men.

    RS: You are separating things that should remain together. I cannot speak for all experientialists, and indeed many of those are as you say, but there should be no real separation between the power of God and the things in men. All that is holy and good in any man is there because of the power of God. When confessionalism extols the power of God and yet denies the experience of that in man, they are not extolling the power of God as they ought. If God is not sovereign in power over the hearts of men, then what is He sovereign over?

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  286. D. G. Hart: Richard, if the Reformation was about being biblical, then Wesley, Arminius, and Billy Graham are all in line with the Reformers.

    RS: Allow me to heartedly and emphatically (with great affection I might add) disagree with that statement. Arminius, Wesley, and Billy Graham (in descending from the truth order) were not biblical and were not in line with the Reformers.

    D,G, Hart: You see, some of us actually believe that the Reformers were on to biblical truths when they didn’t go gaga over affections and simply tried to reform the church and restore a faithful ministry of word and sacrament.

    RS: So what is truth without love? What is a faithful ministry that is not like Paul? II Cor 1: 24 “Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy.” What in the world was Luther the earthly one if not a man of powerful intellect and affections in his drive for truth and love? The affections are part of the truth that Luther discovered. I don’t know how anyone can read Luther and not see the power of his affections at least bubbling a bit. But what does Lady Ga Ga have to do with this? I know you 2K guys who focus on Word and Sacrament will listen to things that some of us think are over the line, but her?

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  287. McMark: Again, no infusion. Even if you have a confession which says that “sanctification” sometimes means “infusion”, that should not prove to you that “sanctification” means that in this verse. Nor does it mean a “snyergism” in which humans do 100% and God does 100%. Nor does it mean that the law-grace antithesis has now been overcome by the noetic effects of regeneration.

    RS: If Christ dwells in His people and believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit and of the living God, then they dwell in His people for a reason. If there is such a thing as fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) and sharing in the divine nature (II Peter 1:4), then in the realm of sanctification or life after justification God infuses something in His people. This is not synergism in the sense you are using it either.

    Romans 3:31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

    RS: After a person is justified by grace alone through faith alone, that person establishes the Law and wants to live in accordance with the holiness of God that is manifested by the Law. In fact, that is the work of the Holy Spirit in the person.

    Romans 8: 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
    8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
    10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
    11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
    12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh–
    13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
    14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

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  288. Zrim,

    I’m not sure I can go much further than that. I also don’t know if I agree with the analogy.

    Public education, at a prior point in history, could be considered to fall under Christian liberty. However, we now live in a day when a dad gets arrested for trying to speak to the principle of a school that insists on teaching his son about the normalcy of homosexuality at the age of 6 WITHOUT parental consent. (http://www.wnd.com/2005/04/30070/) How can a Christian under good conscience allow their child to go through that?

    I am sure there are still many parts of America where the public schools are not as corrupt and you could legitemately make a case for Christian liberty.

    But let me ask a different question: What about stealing? Is it okay to engage in a system that is based upon legalized theft? What do you think about your single or childless neighbors having to pay for your childrens’ education? I don’t think breaking the 8th commandment falls under liberty. I think Christian parents need to think long and hard about this point.

    All that aside I will make a strong statement: I don’t think there’s another government institution that is responsible for as much evil and the decay in our country as the socialist school system. I’m sure many people will scoff at this, but I’m open to being proven wrong.

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  289. What has established and fulfilled the law in Romans 3:31, our living or Christ’s death as the good news of the gospel? If both, why isn’t Christ’s death by law enough? If our living perfectly fulfills the law, then why did Christ need to die? If Christ’s death does not satisfy the law, Christ died to NO purpose. Galatians 2:21. Why would anybody think that our imperfect living establishes or fulfills the law?

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  290. mark mcculley: What has established and fulfilled the law in Romans 3:31, our living or Christ’s death as the good news of the gospel? If both, why isn’t Christ’s death by law enough? If our living perfectly fulfills the law, then why did Christ need to die? If Christ’s death does not satisfy the law, Christ died to NO purpose. Galatians 2:21. Why would anybody think that our imperfect living establishes or fulfills the law?

    Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

    Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

    RS: Of course the death of Christ is enough to fulfill the demands of perfect justice for the broken law. However, God saves His people for a purpose. What are people saved from? They are saved from hell, the bondage of the devil, and the slavery of sin. We are saved for freedom and part of that freedom is now by the Spirit we are free to keep the Law of love. But of course no human can love unless that human being has been freed from the curse of keeping the law by the power of self and the love of self. Remember, we serve a resurrected Savior who Himself is the life of His people, even the eternal life of His people. When those on this earth pass into heaven, is there a purpose for them to keep the law there? Of course there is. Heaven will be a world of perfect love and in doing that the Law will be perfectly fulfilled. But the source and origin of true love is always God Himself.

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  291. Bruce Mccormack, p109, What’s at stake in current debates over Justification?

    “Since the gift of the Holy Spirit is itself a consequence of adoption (Romans 8:15) and not the condition of adoption, a legal metaphor is used to describe the objective side of the act in which God turns toward the individual in his grace without respect for the subjective consequences of that turning IN US. Union with Christ, biblically considered, refers to an union of wills. I do not participate in the historical humanity of Christ (a thought which would require an unity on the level of “substance” in terms of a Platonic realism which holds that universals are more real than particulars).

    mccormack: “At first glance, the image of the vine and the branches (John 15) might be seen to connote an organic connection between Christ and the believer. Some in the early church thought of the union as an “ontological person in whom being is mixed with non-being”. On that view, why would the Holy Spirit still be needed—once the Spirit had joined our humanity to Christ’s, the life that is in Christ would flow directly.

    mccormack: “But the vine-branches analogy is only for describing a legal and ethical relation. The flow of life-giving nutrients from the vine to the branches takes place naturally, automatically; it does not require
    an act of will on the side of either the vine or the branch. But in the case of the relation of Christ and the believer, we are dealing with a willed relation. As John 15:3 says, “You are ALREADY CLEAN
    BECAUSE OF THE WORD I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU.”

    mccormack: “For much of theological history, the work of the Spirit has been thought of along the lines of a kind of divine surgery. The will, on this view, is thought of as something quasi-substantial, a “thing”
    that can be operated on by God to effect an “healing”. But what we call “will” is in truth the mind. It is not something special “in us” as a distinct power of “faculty”. Given that this is so, it is a real
    question what there might be “in us” upon which God might operate.

    mccormack: “We would be better off thinking of the work of the Holy Spirit in terms of an encounter of divine person with human person whose point of entry is the mind. (Romans 12:2, Eph 4:22-24, Col 3:10).
    Sanctification of the mind results in the “divine image” which consists of true knowledge of God….though we make a huge mistake if we think the knowledge of God is so special that it bears nothing in common with what everywhere else passes for cognitive knowledge. The Holy Spirit is very concerned with what people think (Phil 4:8, Col 3:2). The power of the Father’s declarative word is the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the human mind.”

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  292. mark mcculley:
    Bruce Mccormack, p109, What’s at stake in current debates over Justification?
    “Since the gift of the Holy Spirit is itself a consequence of adoption (Romans 8:15) and not the condition of adoption, a legal metaphor is used to describe the objective side of the act in which God turns toward the individual in his grace without respect for the subjective consequences of that turning IN US. Union with Christ, biblically considered, refers to an union of wills. I do not participate in the historical humanity of Christ (a thought which would require an unity on the level of “substance” in terms of a Platonic realism which holds that universals are more real than particulars).

    RS: So is marriage to a person simply a union of wills? The gift of the Holy Spirit was purchased at the cross by Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:13-14) and the Holy Spirit is the one who works regeneration in those for whom Christ purchased salvation. But back to the union part, it is a red herring to say that we cannot participate in the historical humanity of Christ in context of union with Christ. Christ represented all His people in His historical humanity, but remember He was God in human flesh. In fact, the asencion of Christ tells us that He is stil in bodily form. Christ and His people are considered one. As the human body of the Son suffered and died, so Acts 20:28 tells us this: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” The hypostatic union of the divine nature and of the human nature of Christ was such that the blood which Christ shed was considered the blood of God. That was more than a union of will. Now believers are one with Christ and we are His bride. We are one to the degree that it is His live in us and when the Father beholds us He beholds His Son.

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  293. mark mcculley: Bruce Mccormack, p109, What’s at stake in current debates over Justification?

    mccormack: “At first glance, the image of the vine and the branches (John 15) might be seen to connote an organic connection between Christ and the believer. Some in the early church thought of the union as an “ontological person in whom being is mixed with non-being”. On that view, why would the Holy Spirit still be needed—once the Spirit had joined our humanity to Christ’s, the life that is in Christ would flow directly.

    mccormack: “But the vine-branches analogy is only for describing a legal and ethical relation. The flow of life-giving nutrients from the vine to the branches takes place naturally, automatically; it does not require an act of will on the side of either the vine or the branch. But in the case of the relation of Christ and the believer, we are dealing with a willed relation. As John 15:3 says, “You are ALREADY CLEAN BECAUSE OF THE WORD I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU.”

    RS: But the text does go on to say that we can do nothing apart from Him and any fruit that we bear has to come from Him to be true fruit. We are to abide in Him and He in us or we cannot bear any fruit at all. This is more than a union of wills. How does one abide in Christ and that for those who were already clean in a positional way?
    John 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

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  294. mark mcculley: Bruce Mccormack, p109, What’s at stake in current debates over Justification?

    mccormack: “For much of theological history, the work of the Spirit has been thought of along the lines of a kind of divine surgery. The will, on this view, is thought of as something quasi-substantial, a “thing”that can be operated on by God to effect an “healing”. But what we call “will” is in truth the mind. It is not something special “in us” as a distinct power of “faculty”. Given that this is so, it is a real question what there might be “in us” upon which God might operate.

    RS: Thus begins the denial of what Scripture so clearly teaches and is at the very heart of Christianity. It is not so much what there might be in us, but a Whom is in us. This is part of Christ’s teaching in John 16, His prayer in John 17, and then said by Paul to be at the very heart of the Gospel in Ephesians 1-3 and Colossians 1. It is also the very heart of I John.

    I have given just a few verses from Ephesians 1. Remember also that God is omnipresent and is everywhere. I am not sure why people think that they have to posit a legal standing alone and not a real indwelling by Christ. He is everywhere anyway and when people are cleansed of their sin (like the OT temple) He dwells in them in power, love, and glory by grace. I didn’t give any verses on it, but remember He is said to be in us in many places as well. He is more than just in us legally, but in reality.

    Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

    Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

    Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

    Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

    Ephesians 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him

    Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,

    mccormack: “We would be better off thinking of the work of the Holy Spirit in terms of an encounter of divine person with human person whose point of entry is the mind. (Romans 12:2, Eph 4:22-24, Col 3:10).

    RS: Why does this make us better off than what the Bible teaches which is that we are temples of the living God? Was the human body of Jesus a tabernacle of the glory of God or did His divine nature just have an encounter with His divine nature who had a point of entry in His mind?

    mccormack: Sanctification of the mind results in the “divine image” which consists of true knowledge of God….though we make a huge mistake if we think the knowledge of God is so special that it bears nothing in common with what everywhere else passes for cognitive knowledge.

    RS: But we must also remember that knowing God is eternal life and Jesus Christ Himself is said to be eternal life. We must also remember that only those who are born of God and know God (I John 4:7-8) actually love. So there is something about knowing God that is far more than cognitive knowledge. Adam knew Eve and she conceived. There was more than cognitive knowledge involved in that knowing.

    mccormack:The Holy Spirit is very concerned with what people think (Phil 4:8, Col 3:2). The power of the Father’s declarative word is the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the human mind.”

    RS: The Holy Spirit is also concerned about working His spiritual fruit in people and that requires more than just illumination. The Holy Spirit who is God and as such is a God of love works the fruit of that triune love in the hearts of His people. That is more than a mere illumination. That is to be a partaker of the love of God.

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  295. Jon, one step forward, three steps back. Yeow, now we public schoolers are likely guilty of breaking the eighth and Xian liberty hinges on horror stories and sensationalism. I know you don’t buy the analogy, but that’s like my Fundies saying my drinking beer contributes to the drunkenness of the chemically pathological. I’m sure I could cite plenty of sensationalistic stories about home schools or Xian schools (or any school) to suggest how misguided those choices can be, or I could blow hard about how public schools should be thoroughly secularized and Xian kids should be in them, but that would be pretty uncharitable, disingenuous and unbecoming. Hint hint.

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  296. So we are “united” to Christ LIKE the human nature is united to divine nature in Christ’s person? Where does the Confession say that? Where does the Bible say that? In what way would the union of two natures be LIKE the union of two persons?

    Nobody was talking about how the two natures of Christ unite. But what other people were talking about never stopped RS yet….

    McCormack: Sanctification of the mind results in the “divine image” which consists of true knowledge of God….The Holy Spirit is very concerned with what people think (Phil 4:8, Col 3:2). The power of the Father’s declarative word is the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the human mind.”

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  297. D. G. Hart: Richard, Luther showed lots of emotion. I wouldn’t call it love. I also wouldn’t classify it as affection. You’re making this up, right?

    RS: You call what you want as emotion, but all true love has some affection. I am not making this up at all. Luther was a man of great affection. He was not an academic who believed that the less feeling the better. Luther was not lukewarm and so was not about to be spit out by Jesus, but instead by grace he was a man of great warmth and even fire.

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  298. mark mcculley: So we are “united” to Christ LIKE the human nature is united to divine nature in Christ’s person? Where does the Confession say that? Where does the Bible say that? In what way would the union of two natures be LIKE the union of two persons?

    Nobody was talking about how the two natures of Christ unite. But what other people were talking about never stopped RS yet….

    RS: Perhaps you would note that we are human beings with human natures and we must be united to the Divine if we are to be saved. I would think that the unity of the two natures in the one Divine Person would certainly give some insight. Others have sure seemed to note how these things are related.

    McCormack: Sanctification of the mind results in the “divine image” which consists of true knowledge of God….The Holy Spirit is very concerned with what people think (Phil 4:8, Col 3:2). The power of the Father’s declarative word is the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the human mind.”

    RS: I have given several verses below. Over and over again we are told that we are the temple and the dwelling place of God. In the OT there was the tabernacle and the Temple. In the Gospels Christ was where God tabernacled. Now, the Church (the body of Christ) is the dwelling place of God and where He shines forth His glory. As in the OT tabernacle there had to be a sacrifice with blood on the mercy seat and the goat had to be led away for God to come and fill His place with glory (see Exodus 40), so now souls have to have their sins propitiated (mercy seat) by the blood of the Lamb of God and be declared just because of the imputed righteousness of Christ so that God may come in to dwell in His temple. God does not dwell in the outer places, but in the inner places which had to be washed and cleaned. He resides in glory in His dwelling place. As such, the believer is the temple of the living God. It is not just something that happens in someones mind, but it really happens.

    I Cor 2:10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
    11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
    12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
    13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
    14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
    15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
    16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

    1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

    1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

    2 Corinthians 6:16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

    Romans 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

    Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

    Ephesians 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

    2 Timothy 1:14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

    1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

    1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

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  299. mark mcculley: Bruce Mccormack, p109, What’s at stake in current debates over Justification?
    mccormack: “At first glance, the image of the vine and the branches (John 15) might be seen to connote an organic connection between Christ and the believer. Some in the early church thought of the union as an “ontological person in whom being is mixed with non-being”. On that view, why would the Holy Spirit still be needed—once the Spirit had joined our humanity to Christ’s, the life that is in Christ would flow directly.

    RS: Mark, would you agree with the Bible on what true religion/Christianity is?
    James 1:26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

    Notice that James does not mention justification at this point, but he speaks of true religion in the sight of our god and Father. Since justification by grace alone through faith alone is the Gospel, which I think James goes on to address in chapter 2, the practice of true religion is at least connected with the truth of justification. Three main points of true religion is given in the text: 1) A man’s religion is worthless if he does not bridle his tongue. 2) Visititing orphans and widows in their distress. 3) Keeping oneself unstained by the world.

    True justification is to be legally declared just or righteous by God on the basis of the life, cross, resurrection, and the imputed righteousness of Christ alone. But according to James there is a true religion that follows that or flows from that. As James says in chapter 2, “what good is it, my brothers, if someone says that he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” A few verses later on he goes on: “17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
    18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
    19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
    20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?”

    RS: A soul that is justified is a soul that will love holiness and pursue it. It does not justify one and it adds nothing to the work of Christ, but it demonstrates that the work of Christ has taken place in that soul.

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  300. Zrim,

    Why would you allow the secular humanist worldview to dominate public schools? It is antithetical to the Christian worldview. I am used to debating this with atheists. It’s weird to have the same debate with a Reformed Christian. That’s why 2k always leaves me scratching my head. . . .

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  301. Zrim;

    “I’m sure I could cite plenty of sensationalistic stories about home schools or Xian schools (or any school) to suggest how misguided those choices can be”

    Sean; How about just the offense given from a fashion perspective; I got the vision forum homeschoolers down the road and the unofficial/official uniforms are boys in knickers with knee socks and patent leather shoes, there’s probably a brass buckle somewhere on the shoe, and women in floor-length khaki skirts, and blouses with lace bibs. Apparently, the female’s uniform doubles as the work out attire, just add tennis shoes(white ones). I’m offended daily.

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  302. RS keeps talking about what’s in his “soul”. But none of them there verses in his post above ever talk about “souls”. I guess he needs a different Bible translation, where the words “in” or “indwell” always add the word “soul”.

    Genesis 2:7 “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. ”

    Now that’s certainly not going to work. That would give us the impression that living souls are persons, and we know that a “soul” is more than that.

    Hint: when we say “more than that”, what we mean is “not that”.

    More than imputation….

    More than sanctification by the blood of Christ….

    More then either being born by the Spirit or not…..

    “More than that” means “I don’t deny that BUT some other thing is more real”.

    And sometimes “fuller gospel” is false gospel.

    The ancient Roman Catholic church has more—not only impartation but also infusion….

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  303. Jon, how can I disallow something over which I have no control? But you say “secular” and “humanist” as if those are naughty words, contra old school Protestantism. And debating this topic with Reformed Christians is as head scratching for me as debating with Fundies about substance use and worldly amusement. Legalism, whether soft or hard, sure is confusing.

    Sean, my oldest will have a dress code in her new college prep public charter next year. She’s daily offended by this, but maybe I should tell her just how bad it could be: blue collared tops and khaki bottom sure beat Pollyanna polyesters.

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  304. c Rom. 6:6,14.

    Is the dominion of sin eliminated by the work of the Spirit or because we are not under the law? Or both? What does Romans 6:14 say? How was the dominion of sin over Christ eliminated? Was it by gradual infusions or by His death? How did Christ “die to sin” and become “free from sin” in Romans 6?

    10 For the death Christ died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God IN Christ Jesus.

    12 Let not sin therefore reign IN YOUR MORTAL BODY, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who HAVE BEEN BROUGHT FROM DEATH TO LIFE, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you ARE NOT under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

    17 But thanks be to God, that you who WERE ONCE slaves of sin HAVE BECOME obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, HAVING BEEN set free from sin, HAVE BECOME slaves of righteousness.

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  305. Zrim,

    I share your daughter’s sensibilities on the issue, but at least she can look forward to a day of ‘graduating’ from such attire, the girls uniform apparently carries on into adulthood. I think the boys are probably beaten into sensibility shortly after leaving the house, and immediately start growing beards(if capable) and flaunting their ‘freedom’ in Christ(Taxes! I don’t pay no stinkin’ taxes) as they plot to inherit what the unregenerate have ‘illegitimately’ acquired.

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  306. Jon, also, here’s some more love and favor for you: you’re expressing the larger balance of the P&R world’s views, even many 2kers who may eschew worldviewism when it comes to just about any other facet of creation, but when it comes to education all of a sudden turn into neo-Calvinists.

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  307. Zrim,

    Also, with all due respect, you have atheistic educational principles. You kinda suck. The blog’s startin’ to spin real fast…cuz of ….cuz of all your atheism..ism.

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  308. mark mcculley: RS keeps talking about what’s in his “soul”. But none of them there verses in his post above ever talk about “souls”. I guess he needs a different Bible translation, where the words “in” or “indwell” always add the word “soul”.

    RS: But of course that is a common word for referring to man as a whole (both material and immaterial) or sometimes just the immaterial.

    McMark: Genesis 2:7 “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. ”

    RS: You might want to look at that again. In the KJV it is “man became a living soul.” The word is nephesh which means soul or living being, but of course human beings as living souls are living beings.

    McMark: Now that’s certainly not going to work. That would give us the impression that living souls are persons, and we know that a “soul” is more than that.

    RS: In terms of human beings, it is hard to be a person and not have a soul and it is hard to have a soul and not be a person.

    McMark: Hint: when we say “more than that”, what we mean is “not that”.

    More than imputation….

    RS: But the Gospel is more than imputation, though it certainly includes that.

    McMark: More than sanctification by the blood of Christ….

    RS: Sanctification certainly includes that, but it has to do with more than those words.

    McMark: More then either being born by the Spirit or not…..

    RS: Of course the Gospel includes that, but it is certainly more than that.

    McMark: “More than that” means “I don’t deny that BUT some other thing is more real”.

    And sometimes “fuller gospel” is false gospel.

    RS: And sometimes lesser gospel is a false gospel as well. We must let the Bible speak as to the wholeness of the Gospel rather than theologians that want to have a gospel that fits their systems. This is not an attempt to knock on all theologians or systematic theologies, but simply to note that one can try to condense the biblical teaching of the Gospel down more than that Bible does.

    McMark: The ancient Roman Catholic church has more—not only impartation but also infusion…

    RS: Indeed, but Roman Catholicism places infusion as part of justification. Reformed theologians of the past have placed infusion in sanctification. The differences are huge, like the difference between a false gospel and the true Gospel.

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  309. sean,

    I’m surprised Darryl allows trolls in here. Do you have anything useful to add?

    I am amazed that you are mocking sisters in Christ who are just trying to be modest. Yes, I think some homeschooler’s clothes can be outdated, but I respect what they are trying to do. It’s infinitely better than the utterly immodest dress that is so popular today. But here I am dignifying your vitriol with a reply. All you do is mock and sneer. Shame on you.

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  310. Zrim,

    I do admire that you are taking a very unpopular position, and holding to it on principle. I don’t know what else you want me to do though. I can’t make myself agree with your principles. Yes, you may be the 5% that is in public schools for principled reasons, but it doesn’t mean I have to agree with those reasons. Call it legalism, but I can’t think of a single good reason to put one’s kids in the government schools (unless it’s a single mom who has no other options. Even then, she should ask her church for help.)

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  311. Jon, thanks. The point of Christian liberty is not to agree on matters indifferent. It’s to allow another his convictions or principles that lead him to zig when you zag without suggesting anything uncharitable or impious. I have to say, though, when worldviewism is as embraced as it is, that liberty on education is a matter indifferent seems virtually impossible. Again, I know you don’t care for the analogy, but when personal holiness is the starting point, it seems impossible to think of substance use and worldly amusement as a matter indifferent. I know neither P&R nor Fundamentalists care for the suggestion of legalism, but so long as either worldview and personal holiness are in overdrive, I don’t see any way to avoid the ditches.

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  312. The verses RS cited referenced us as temples and our bodies, but not something in us called “souls”. But that doesn’t keep him from claiming that “souls” are our immaterial stuff.

    As for nephesh….

    Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving nephesh/soul that has life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
    1:21 And God created great whales, and every living nephesh/soul that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
    1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living nephesh/soul after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
    1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creeps upon the earth, in which there is living nephesh/soul, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
    2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living nephesh/soul
    2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living nephesh/soul, that was the name of it.
    9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the nephesh/soul of man.
    9:10 And with every living nephesh/soul that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
    9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living nephesh/soul that is with you, for perpetual generations:
    9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living nephesh/soul of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
    9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living nephesh/soul of all flesh that is upon the earth.
    14:21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the nephesh/souls, and take the goods to yourself.
    17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that nephesh/ soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.

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  313. Jon,

    Get a sense of humor. I live half a mile away from where the Phillip’s sect congregates. I’ve talked to Doug a few times, he’s committed( to something), but fairly unlearned historically and theologically and more a political animal than a preacher much less a theologian. Their (vision forum) objective seems more to become a costumed, quaint, renaissance-fair type group harkening back to some mix of the Louis L’amour west mixed with French ideas of chivalry ( yes, an odd cocktail I know), couched in Christianese language that they claim has some grounding in ‘how God intended things to be.’ Don’t get upset with me for noticing their oddity, I assume they do it to draw just such a reaction (think Amish) and consider it a distinctive of their practice. I certainly don’t deride the younger girls or boys for that matter, but after having to deal with the residual effects of this group in our own church and these same children apostatizing from the sect, thinking this was the christian faith, I’m less than sympathetic to what their parents think they are accomplishing.

    As regards your particularities, I gave you reasoned responses which you presumably found less than adequate, which is fine, and Zrim and others are more than adequate to the task of answering your inquiries and more capable of doing so.

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  314. Is there no difference between us “in Him” and Him “in us”? We do not need to deny one to affirm the other, and we certainly don’t need to give the priority to the “in us”. But RS seems to think that “in Him” means the same thing as the “in us”.

    When RS claims that “He is more than just in us legally but in reality”, by good and necessary inference, he is claiming that the legal is not real, and that the real is something other than the legal. RS is also ignoring the fact that some sinners are by election “in Christ”, and by legal imputation (transfer and declaration) “in Christ”. RS flips this, interchanges the words, makes it “in us legally”.and then says there’s another “in us” which is not simply “more” real, but “but real”! In the meanwhile, he has forgotten the “in Christ”

    Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

    Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

    Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

    Ephesians 1:7 IN HIM we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

    Ephesians 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth IN HIM

    Ephesians 1:13 IN HIM, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed IN HIM with the Holy Spirit of promise,

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  315. mark mcculley: The verses RS cited referenced us as temples and our bodies, but not something in us called “souls”. But that doesn’t keep him from claiming that “souls” are our immaterial stuff.

    RS: Remember that I said that the Bible used it as referring to both material and immaterial. At least listen to Jesus and Paul though you won’t listen to me.

    Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Note that there is a body and the soul. Human beings can kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul. But only God can destroy both.

    Matthew 12:18 “BEHOLD, MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL is WELL-PLEASED; I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES.

    RS: God does not have a body like men, but here His soul is well-pleased.

    Matthew 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

    Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’

    Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

    Acts 2:27 BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.

    1 Corinthians 15:45 So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

    Acts 4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.

    1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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  316. mark mcculley: Is there no difference between us “in Him” and Him “in us”? We do not need to deny one to affirm the other, and we certainly don’t need to give the priority to the “in us”. But RS seems to think that “in Him” means the same thing as the “in us”.

    RS: Yes, there is a distinction. However, all that are in Christ also have Him in them. There is a mutual in-being. For there to be one there is the other.

    McMark: When RS claims that “He is more than just in us legally but in reality”, by good and necessary inference, he is claiming that the legal is not real, and that the real is something other than the legal.

    RS: Your inference is not good and it is certainly not necessary. The word “just” can also mean “not only” as opposed to a sneering diminishing of something. The legal is real, but it is not the only real. Sinners must be declared legally just for Christ to dwell in them as His temple.

    McMark: RS is also ignoring the fact that some sinners are by election “in Christ”, and by legal imputation (transfer and declaration) “in Christ”. RS flips this, interchanges the words, makes it “in us legally”.and then says there’s another “in us” which is not simply “more” real, but “but real”! In the meanwhile, he has forgotten the “in Christ”

    RS: No, overly critical sir who sees things that are not there, I have not forgetten in Christ at all. I am simply arguing for the actual and real indwelling of Christ along with an actual and real legal declaration of sinners as righteous and the actual and real location of sinners in Christ. It appears that you want everything to be either physical or a very mystical legal in which no difference is made to the sinner.

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  317. Here is something else for you to chew on Richard- I found this while reading Horton’s book COVENANT AND SALVATION this morning. It is in the chapter on Radical Orthodoxy p. 158 in a footnote:

    “The Cambridge Platonists sharply rejected Reformed orthodoxy, and although Edwards represents the closest thing to a synthesis of Platonism/idealism and Reformed theology, it has been subjected to criticism within the tradition at those very points. The Protestant scholastics displayed various influences: Aristotelian-Thomist, Platonist, Ramist and a few Scotists. However, these influences do not seem to have played any significant role in their systems and certainly failed to provoke any serious debates. In any case the proscription of any magisterial role given to philosophy (adopted by all of these theologians) cautioned against anything more than an ad hoc appropriation of such terminology. Edwards, however, does seem to be an exception, giving more space to philosophical speculation in theology- and with conclusions that are more explicitly Platonic than the tradition would affirm. For example, he writes, ‘Matter….is truly nothing at all, strictly and in itself considered. The nearer in nature beings are to God, so much the more properly are they beings, and more substantial; and that spirits are as much more properly beings, and more substantial than bodies.”

    This tells me that Edwards believed that the new nature the Christian has is something that changes and grows closer to God as The Trinity works on the soul. Horton is arguing in his whole series that this is different than God declaring, transfering and communicating to his elect through Law and Gospel. Does the “new nature” change and grow within us? I think this is hard to prove scripturally but perhaps someone has more insight than me on this.

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  318. It has also been argued at this site that the “new creation” talked about in 2Cor. chapter 5 is more a collective word than individual. New creation means being justified by God through imputation and then being placed in the redeemed community. But Richard has already rejected that interpretation of the passage.

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  319. Sean,

    I recently watched a really good video against feminism. I noticed that all the anti-feminists (who were mostly home school moms also) were dressed in the old fashioned apparel you speak of. But I chose not to comment on it because I know their greater purpose in what they are trying to accomplish and so I don’t focus on their external appearance. That is called wisdom. Wisdom is also not chiming in with a smart allecky comment every chance you get, but really taking the time to answer questions with sincerity. I try to imagine if I would say the same thing to someone on a blog as I would if they were a fellow church member in person. This helps me when I am tempted to go overboard. Of course, I still fail sometimes.

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  320. Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    rs: “Note that there is a body and the soul. Human beings can kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul. But only God can destroy both.”

    mark: You don’t believe in the inherent immortality of the “soul”? Good for you! I don’t either. But this verse still does not prove what you keep saying, that inside us there is some immaterial (union with the divine?) stuff and that the word for this is “soul”. As Genesis 2:7 teaches that the body plus God’s breath is “living soul”, so you have not proven that the body is not a necessary factor in the souls who will be “destroyed” by God in the second death. Even if other humans kill the bodies of the non-elect, those non-elect persons can and will be raised by God for the purpose of destruction.

    I hope you can see that this in no way proves that we should define “soul” as non-material. Do you mean to teach that God does not destroy the bodies of the non-elect but only their non-material stuff?

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  321. Again from Horton:

    “Radical Orthodoxy easily risks conflating creation and redemption, election and providence. In this view, the generic “en-gracing” of creation that is synomonous with ontological participation (methathexis) differs from salvific reconciliation only in degree. Grace is viewed as a substance rather than as God’s favor shown to those who are at fault. However, in our account creation and redemption are alike the result of Trinitarian speech-acts. I agree with Milbank’s insistence that covenant and participation are not themselves incommensurable concepts. However, I remain unconvinced that a covenantal account of participation can be assimilated into the metaphysics of Platonism/Neoplatonism.”

    If I am interpreting this right than Edwards is on the fringes of Reformed theology if in the Reformed camp at all. His ideas of participation in Christ are at odds with Reformed theology.

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  322. McMark: RS is also ignoring the fact that some sinners are by election “in Christ”, and by legal imputation (transfer and declaration) “in Christ”. RS flips this, interchanges the words, makes it “in us legally”.and then says there’s another “in us” which is not simply “more” real, but “but real”! In the meanwhile, he has forgotten the “in Christ”

    RS: No, overly critical sir who sees things that are not there,

    mark: I don’t just copy and paste verses. I attempt to read and understand what is said. When you write “in us legally”, I would like to know what that means and what Bible verse says something like that. If indeed you are not confusing the “in us” with the “in Christ”, what does “in us legally” mean, and how is it that you think you keep your legal from being “mystical” but I can’t? Does your “legal” have some “supplement” (also real) which removes the scandal from the idea of God being just and yet justifying the ungodly?

    Instead of suggesting that you are being overcritical of those who judge to be overcritical, I would remind you that the Reformation difference comes down to being accepted into God’s holy presence by the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ, and your attempt to point to what’s in the sinner is a diversion from that Reformation gospel.

    RS:It appears that you want everything to be either physical or a very mystical legal in which no difference is made to the sinner.

    mark: I make no apology for agreeing with Genesis 2:7 that the body is necessary along with God’s breath/life for a “living soul”. I believe in both the bodily resurrection of those who have been justified and in the “destruction” of those who have not been justified.

    As for this “legal” of mine, which “makes no difference to the sinner”, well, there is this little matter of the assurance of the forgiveness of sin, joy in no condemnation before God, and no possibility of destruction at the judgment. I claim that this “difference” is considerable.

    If we are not yet made perfect by the blood of Christ, all our works are dead works and an abomination to God. We can do nothing acceptable to God without assurance that what we do is not what makes us acceptable to God.

    Hebrews 10:14–For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified..

    The second “being sanctified” is still not “progressive”. As the elect are “being justified” one by one (one is imputed with Christ’s righteousness, then another, and so on), so also they are (at the same
    time) “being sanctified”, set apart, placed into Christ, either are or are not…..

    OBrien’s commentary on Hebrews 10:14, p357—
    “Some have taken the present passive participle as a remark about the ongoing process of sanctification for the believer. (Attridge). But the notion of being made holy in Hebrews has to do with a definitive consecration to God through the effective cleansing from sin (Heb 2:11; 9:13-14;10:10, 29;13:12) that qualifies them for fellowship with God. It is better, therefore, to regard the participle as timeless, and thus a general designation of believers as sanctified. This is consistent with the stress on sanctification as something that has already been effected by the blood of Christ.”

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  323. Darryl, I wrote Al Wolters to inquire as to his views on the question of mere restoration vs. consummation. Here is his reply (posted with his permission):

    The questions you raise are good ones. My position on these matters is that God will restore creation to the consummated state that he had always had in mind for it. This does not rule out various kinds of development in humankind and creation as a whole. That is why I make such a point of distinguishing between “restoration” (good) and “repristination” (bad), and try to illustrate this with the example of a child who contracts a debilitating disease in infancy, to which a cure is not found until he is a teenager (Creation Regained, Second Edition, pp. 45-46, 77-78). The teenager will lack certain things that he had as an infant (e.g. baby teeth), and will have certain things which he lacked as an infant (e.g. the beginnings of a beard). Consequently his restoration to health will exclude baby teeth and include beardedness, but it will not bring anything beyond what the child was meant to have from the beginning.

    My guide in all these matters is Herman Bavinck, and his fundamental theme that “grace restores nature.” As he writes in his Reformed Dogmatics (English translation 3.577): “Yet grace does not give us any more than what, if Adam had not fallen, would have been acquired by him in the way of obedience. The covenant of grace differs from the covenant of works in method, not in its ultimate goal. It is the same treasure that was promised in the covenant of works and is granted in the covenant of grace. Grace restores nature and takes it to its highest pinnacle, but it does not add to it any new and heterogeneous constituents.” For more on this read my translation of Jan Veenhof’s excellent discussion “Nature and Grace in Herman Bavinck,” Pro Rege 34 (2006) 10-31, also printed as a separate brochure (Sioux Center: Dordt Press, 2006).

    This is how I had always understood it, but your and DVD’s questions made me want to check it out. The restoration is not “back to the garden” but “back” to the eschatologically confirmed state now attained as a result of Christ’s fulfilling the covenant that Adam failed to fulfill. I picked up the Bavink volume when it first came out in English–I’ll have to check out the details now.

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  324. John Yeazel
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink
    Here is something else for you to chew on Richard- I found this while reading Horton’s book COVENANT AND SALVATION this morning. It is in the chapter on Radical Orthodoxy p. 158 in a footnote:

    “The Cambridge Platonists sharply rejected Reformed orthodoxy, and although Edwards represents the closest thing to a synthesis of Platonism/idealism and Reformed theology, it has been subjected to criticism within the tradition at those very points. The Protestant scholastics displayed various influences: Aristotelian-Thomist, Platonist, Ramist and a few Scotists. However, these influences do not seem to have played any significant role in their systems and certainly failed to provoke any serious debates. In any case the proscription of any magisterial role given to philosophy (adopted by all of these theologians) cautioned against anything more than an ad hoc appropriation of such terminology. Edwards, however, does seem to be an exception, giving more space to philosophical speculation in theology- and with conclusions that are more explicitly Platonic than the tradition would affirm. For example, he writes, ‘Matter….is truly nothing at all, strictly and in itself considered. The nearer in nature beings are to God, so much the more properly are they beings, and more substantial; and that spirits are as much more properly beings, and more substantial than bodies.”

    This tells me that Edwards believed that the new nature the Christian has is something that changes and grows closer to God as The Trinity works on the soul. Horton is arguing in his whole series that this is different than God declaring, transfering and communicating to his elect through Law and Gospel. Does the “new nature” change and grow within us? I think this is hard to prove scripturally but perhaps someone has more insight than me on this.

    RS: Horton has an axe to grind against Edwards, so unless he can convince me by Scripture or evident reason… It is interesting how Perry Miller thought Edwards followed John Locke and Horton things he followed Plato. Perry Miller, however, was utterly fascinated and in awe with the brilliance of Edwards and wished he had not been so enslaved to the Bible, yet Horton things Edwards had too much philosophy. I guess I will just continue to read Edwards and believe that he was a slave to the Bible even when he did philosophy. After all, if we are not to be deceived and captured by bad philosophy, we might as well read some from a man who was enslaved to the Bible.

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  325. John Yeazel: It has also been argued at this site that the “new creation” talked about in 2Cor. chapter 5 is more a collective word than individual. New creation means being justified by God through imputation and then being placed in the redeemed community. But Richard has already rejected that interpretation of the passage

    RS: You are right again. I have rejected that interpretation because it does not fit the context. Indeed God justifies sinners and indeed they are to be part of a redeemed community, but that is not what the totality of what it means to be a new creature. The langage is singular rather than plural in verses 16-17. This new creature is new because (at least partially) the old things have passed away and new things have come. This is why we don’t recognize people according to the flesh any longer.

    II Cor 5:13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
    14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;
    15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
    16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one [singular] according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.
    17 Therefore if anyone [singular] is in Christ, he is a new creature [singular]; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

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  326. Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    McMark: I hope you can see that this in no way proves that we should define “soul” as non-material. Do you mean to teach that God does not destroy the bodies of the non-elect but only their non-material stuff?

    RS: “Prove” is a rather hard thing to do, but I do consider it as very strong evidence, not to mention the many other verses that I gave you. I think we would have to come to a mutual understandig of what it means to destroy in this passage as well as a few other things. I think that the idea is something like God will give all a new body at the end of time. Some receive a body fitted to receive glory and others receive a body fitted for suffering. A body fitted for suffering and as the house of the soul (so to speak) will be destroyed, that is, like the second death which is an eternity of dying or an eternity of conscious torment.

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  327. John Yeazel: Again from Horton: “Radical Orthodoxy easily risks conflating creation and redemption, election and providence. In this view, the generic “en-gracing” of creation that is synomonous with ontological participation (methathexis) differs from salvific reconciliation only in degree. Grace is viewed as a substance rather than as God’s favor shown to those who are at fault. However, in our account creation and redemption are alike the result of Trinitarian speech-acts. I agree with Milbank’s insistence that covenant and participation are not themselves incommensurable concepts. However, I remain unconvinced that a covenantal account of participation can be assimilated into the metaphysics of Platonism/Neoplatonism.”

    John Yeazel: If I am interpreting this right than Edwards is on the fringes of Reformed theology if in the Reformed camp at all. His ideas of participation in Christ are at odds with Reformed theology.

    RS: You can interpret Horton as you please and will not get much response, but be careful about interpreting Edwards as you please based on what Horton says. You might also remember that Horton is on the Continental side of theology and by no means speaks for all of Reformed theology. Edward may be at odds with what Horton believes, but that is not the same thing as putting him at odds with the Reformed theology that came from the English Puritans and some Dutch Puritans as well.

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  328. McMark: Instead of suggesting that you are being overcritical of those who judge to be overcritical, I would remind you that the Reformation difference comes down to being accepted into God’s holy presence by the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ, and your attempt to point to what’s in the sinner is a diversion from that Reformation gospel.

    RS: My attempt to point to what happens in the sinner is not a diversion from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His grace. Allow me to quote from Calvin on Ephesians 3:17. “He explains the nature of the strength of the inward man. For since the Father placed in Christ the fulness of all gifts, so he who has Christ dwelling in him can want nothing…Paul well defines those who are endowed with the spiritual power of God as those in whom Christ dwells. Also, he points out that part which is the true seat of Christ, our hearts, to show that it is not enough for Him to be on our tongues or flutter in our brains.”

    “He dwells, he says, by faith. He also expresses the method by which so great a benefit is obtained. A remarkable praise of faith, that through it the Son of God is made our own, and has His dwelling with us…The substance of it is that Christ is not be be viewed from afar by faith but to be received by the embrace of our minds, so that He may dwell in us, and so it is that we are filled with the Spirit of God.”

    RS: I hope you can see that what is in a sinner is not a diversion from the Reformation Gospel, but instead Calvin teaches this. I might in reading the whole context that the above quote came from makes that point even more clear. I hope John Yeazel reads this and also sees that Calvin and Edwards were at the very least not that far apart about participating in Christ. Nevertheless, the Bible does clearly teach this.

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  329. McMark: As for this “legal” of mine, which “makes no difference to the sinner”, well, there is this little matter of the assurance of the forgiveness of sin, joy in no condemnation before God, and no possibility of destruction at the judgment. I claim that this “difference” is considerable.

    RS: But apart from Christ in you there is no way to have assurance of sin and apart from the fruit of the Spirit who works in sinners there is no joy. Many heathens could have great joy based on what is in their own minds and what they believe to be true. Jesus told a parable about those who received the word with great joy, and we can safely make the deduction that they believed they were really saved. But if there is no new creation and no indwelling of Christ, then how can one really believe that he is saved if there are no signs of the work of God in him?

    McMark: If we are not yet made perfect by the blood of Christ, all our works are dead works and an abomination to God. We can do nothing acceptable to God without assurance that what we do is not what makes us acceptable to God.

    RS: But again, how is one to have that assurance? Assurance cannot be a belief based on my belief, but instead it is to be a real and true faith in Christ alone. How does one know that he has Christ other than his own belief of some propositional facts if one does not look to see the evidence of Christ in him? II Cor 13:5

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  330. McMark: The second “being sanctified” is still not “progressive”. As the elect are “being justified” one by one (one is imputed with Christ’s righteousness, then another, and so on), so also they are (at the same time) “being sanctified”, set apart, placed into Christ, either are or are not…..

    RS: It sounds like you are asserting that there is no progressive growth in the believer. But the Bible does speak of growth and a maturing process in the believer.

    1 Corinthians 2:6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;

    1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.

    Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

    Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

    1 Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

    2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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  331. Craig Blomberg on II Cor 5:17;
    Paul regularly looks forward not just to individuals becoming new creatures but to the arrival of a new creation (see esp. Rom. 8:19-23). How, then, would Paul have expected his audience to understand his meaning at the end of verse 17?—presumably by his language in the first part of the verse. The Greek does not actually supply a subject and verb before “new creation/creature,” which is unusual for Paul if he is saying simply that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. It is more likely that he is getting his readers’ attention by a staccato-like construction that makes them realize that he is talking about more than just the expected results of conversion—personal transformation—but about the arrival, even if only in part, of a whole new creation. Thus the Holman Christian Standard Bible writes, “there is a new creation,” as does the New Revised Standard Version and the New Century Version. Clearer still is the updated NIV: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

    The KJV, the NKJV, the old American Standard Version, and the New American Standard Bible all put “he is” in italics to show that they were adding something that corresponded to nothing in the Greek.

    Aside from the singular vs plural question, the context of II Cor 5 is forensic reconciliation by Christ’s atonement, God not imputing sin. But of course RS has determined apriori that any “creation” must not be legal imputation but must be some other real thing, like, for example, regeneration.

    RS: The word “just” can also mean “not only” as opposed to a sneering diminishing of something.

    mark: would that be something like a “sola” but without any antithesis? As in by faith alone, but never in antithesis to faith which is not alone?

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  332. II Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

    rs: How does one know that he has Christ other than his own belief of some propositional facts if one does not look to see the evidence of Christ in him?

    mark: I take it that RS is not denying that the gospel consists of propositional fact and meaning, information and news about Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. So if RS is not denying that assurance is of the essence of agreement and trust in propositions, what is this other evidence inside us which RS wants to test?

    I am not denying a test or a need for examination. I myself had a false faith and assurance for a long time. I am asking what the test is. RS seems to assume that the test is some kind of “practical syllogism” in which God’s work for the elect is held hostage to future confirmations of God’s work inside the elect. If the elect have come to believe the gospel, is not that effectual call evidence enough?

    If we must work to show that we believe, how much must we work? if we must decrease our sin, how much we stop our sinning before we know that our other sins are forgiven? To quote Augustine from his exposition of Psalm 32, the beginning of wisdom is to know oneself as a sinner.

    That David fellow, he must have been self-deceived, not only about sin but about being already a justified saint!

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