Who's Afraid of the Means of Grace?

Well, Dr. K. has done it. His interminable review of VanDrunen’s Natural Law and Two Kingdoms has terminated and is now available as a booklet, free to anyone who cares to download it (even if you don’t have a w-w). I have heard of review essays, not review books.

Of late the good doctor seems to be backing away from some of his fear mongering. He wants to promote a “reasoned” discussion of 2k. He even tries to credit 2kers with some positive contributions. The latter is evident in the following quotation from this book:

Numerous fears can lead us to a fear of engagement with today’s culture. Fear of worldliness, fear of losing our very souls, fear of accommodation, fear of losing our children. Our NL2K friends are rightly trying to warn us against triumphalism—thinking and acting as though we are bringing in the kingdom of God. They seek properly to warn us against biblicism—throwing Bible verses at people, at issues, at opponents without regard for careful interpretation and proper use of Scripture. They seek passionately to warn us against devaluing the institutional church—minimizing worship, denigrating the means of grace, and falling for the religious gimmickry used for marketing today’s religious associations that go by the name “church.”

But fear can never be the source of power. Only faith can provide power.

Here Dr. K. misidentifies the fear associated with 2k. The 2kers I know are not afraid of engaging the culture. We do so daily in the variety of callings God has granted. The fears that lurk around 2k are those of its critics who seem to be afraid that the kingdom will not come without the culture wars or the redemption of “all things.” Surely, neo-Calvinists of Dr. K.’s stripe would have us believe, Christians can do more to contend against the forces of evil than by simply going to church, worshiping God, attending the means of grace.

In point of fact, the gates of hell will not prevail against word, sacraments, prayer, discipline, and offerings. Saddam Husseins come and J. S. Bachs go. 2kers are confident (though doubts afflict us all) that God’s word will abide. It is 2k’s critics who can’t seem to fathom that God is prevailing even when his people do not appear to be, as if they have not read or reflected on that Word.

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108 thoughts on “Who's Afraid of the Means of Grace?

  1. II Peter 2 For if God … did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly … then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials

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  2. “But fear can never be the source of power. Only faith can provide power.” What does this even mean? It sounds like something Robert Schuller would say. I don’t know how 2K leads to fear of “engagement with today’s culture.” Christians can’t help but engage with culture in their daily lives. What I fear is cheapening the church and the gospel by attempting to “partner” with those outside the church in order to reform culture through politics, as if hearts will be changed by having better politicians and better laws. I want better politicians and better laws but it’s not the task of my minister or elders to further those causes.

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  3. Erik Charter: I want better politicians and better laws but it’s not the task of my minister or elders to further those causes.

    RS: In light of the passage below, is it so far out of question to think that in some way those who have the greatest obligation to preach and interpret the Word do have something to say to those who make the laws? Of course their primary duties are the Word and prayer, but in doing that they are contributing to the saints being salt and light. Couldn’t we at least say they can inform those who make the laws?

    Mat 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

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  4. A most assured and relevant post, Mr Hart. I’m sure some will be inspired and illumined by a healthy discussion of these important 2(k) issues. Now, I know you might not like the language “relevant” but I thought it was a good turn of phrase. Suffice to say, there used to be a time when Word, Sacrament, and Worship where healthy measuring standards.

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  5. This could be Mojo Part Deux: The Conversation is Changing. And it is.

    If there is some kind of fear involved, maybe it is the fear of God, as in fearing to speak for God when he has not spoken. He has spoken on word & sacraments, not so much on other areas too often prefaced with the adjective “Christian.”

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  6. Jed, for those of alliterative propensity it’s Yahweh Yoga. If I did such a thing it would be Amenamaste. With Yoga relieving all my bodily antitheses, maybe that affects my worldview?

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  7. Hold on a minute. What is there to fear from Yoga by all you anti-worldviewists out there? It’s just a neutral exercise form right?

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  8. Jon, a person has to be ever-earnest to redeem Yoga. So when we do Downward Dog I think of Jezebel being eaten by dogs. For Wounded Warrior my meditation is the death of Saul. Then while everyone else is doing Child’s Pose I am doing Prayer Pose. Also, charismatics pray for me during Yoda so my spiritual deflector shield holds up. It’s tough claiming every square inch, but that’s what it’s like in the trenches.

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  9. Jon,

    No fear of yoga here, but frozen yogurt kinda gives me the creeps…long story. My dealings with the whole “natural” health movement only goes as far as my regular trips to the chiropractor.

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  10. MM: Also, charismatics pray for me during Yoda so my spiritual deflector shield holds up.

    Sean: No need for all that, just put your schwartz ring on.

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  11. Richard – If my pastor wants to tell me his political views in conversation I have no problem with that. It’s his right and I’ll listen to him and consider what he has to say. I won’t necessarily give his views any more weight than those of the next guy, though, because he does not have authority over me in the political realm as he does in the spiritual realm.

    I remember visiting an RCA church several years ago and hearing the minister speak from the pulpit in support for a sales tax increase on which a vote was upcoming. He favored it because it would help “the children”. In my opinion he was taking advantage of his office and speaking on an issue that he did not have any expertise. A sales tax increase would help some people and hurt others. His position as a minister does not give him the right to weigh in on an issue like this from the pulpit.

    The classic example from modern Presbyterian history is the church taking a position in favor of the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act. Machen did not favor this because he recognized that alcohol consumption was a matter of conscience for the Christian and was not something that the government should be legislating. Scripture did not forbid the consumption of alcohol so ministers were overreaching the boundaries of their office by taking a position on the issue as representatives of the church.

    If a minister is doing their job of preaching and administering the sacraments then his congregants should be able to make wise political decisions on issues that Scripture speaks clearly on. When it comes to issues that are more a matter of opinion then ministers should not abuse their office by weighing in as ministers.

    Imagine being a pastor in Madison, Wisconsin recently. Half your congregation works for the state and the other half works for the private sector. What does the Bible have to say about recalling Scott Walker? Maybe nothing — that’s why we have a political sphere — to work out these difficult issues as a society. We don’t necessarily need the church’s opinion to do that.

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  12. Richard, isn’t it possible that those who are ordained to preach the unfettered gospel actually run the risk of putting its light under a bushel by aligning it with one interpretation of laws or another? That seems to me the point of 2K, to keep from associating the gospel with a particular interpretation of laws which may end up alienating a hearer who has another interpretation.

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

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

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

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

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

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  14. Sean, sorry about that “Yoda” typo, although you must understand that yoga, yogurt and yoda are so metaphysically linked that one word tends to pop out when another is intended.

    And apologies to DGH. I always start off trying to be on topic but get distracted and end up doodling in the margins. Been doing that since about 2nd grade. Doodling, I mean, not commenting on Old Life.

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  15. Erik says: The classic example from modern Presbyterian history is the church taking a position in favor of the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act. Machen did not favor this because he recognized that alcohol consumption was a matter of conscience for the Christian and was not something that the government should be legislating. Scripture did not forbid the consumption of alcohol so ministers were overreaching the boundaries of their office by taking a position on the issue as representatives of the church.

    Doug says: While that’s true, Machen *also* felt when it came to punishing crime, in today’s contemporary society, we should look no further than God’s written Law. Hey Zrim! Put that in you’re R2K pipe and smoke it! If Machen *really* taught DGH his 2K theology, as he claims, why do you suppose Darryl *never* brings up how Machen felt crime should be dealt with? Machen wanted to look to special revelation for punishing evil doers. How does that jibe with Escondido’s version of 2K?

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  16. Doug, take a whiff of Machen for yourself:

    …you cannot expect from a true Christian church any official pronouncements upon the political or social questions of the day, and you cannot expect cooperation with the state in anything involving the use of force. Important are the functions of the police, and members of the church, either individually or in such special associations as they may choose to form, should aid the police in every lawful way in the exercise of those functions. But the function of the church in its corporate capacity is of an entirely different kind. Its weapons against evil are spiritual, not carnal; and by becoming a political lobby, through the advocacy of political measures whether good or bad, the church is turning aside from its proper mission…

    The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life — nay, all the length of human history — is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that He has revealed Himself to us in His Word and offered us communion with Himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whosever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth — nay, all the wonders of the starry heavens — are as the dust of the street.

    Then a swig of Dabney:

    God has reserved for our spiritual concerns one day out of seven, and has appointed one place into which nothing shall enter, except the things of eternity, and has ordained an order of officers, whose sole charge is to remind their fellow-men of their duty to God…But when the world sees a portion or the whole of this sacred season abstracted from spiritual concerns, and given to secular agitations, and that by the appointed guardians of sacred things, it is the most emphatic possible disclosure of unbelief. It says to men, “Eternity is not of more moment than time; heaven is not better than earth; a man is profited if he gains the world and loses his soul, for do you not see that we postpone eternity to time, and heaven to earth, and redemption to political triumph—we who are the professed guardians of the former?” One great source, therefore, of political preaching may always be found in the practical unbelief of [the preacher] himself; as one of its sure fruits is infidelity among the people. He is not feeling the worth of souls, nor the “powers of the world to come,” nor “the constraining love of Christ” as he should; if he were, no sense of the temporal importance of his favorite political measures, however urgent, would cause the wish to abstract an hour from the few allowed him for saving souls.

    Then a snort of Calvin:

    Therefore, in order that none of us may stumble on that stone, let us first consider that there is a twofold government in man (duplex esse in homine regimen): one aspect is spiritual, whereby the conscience is instructed in piety and in reverencing God; the second is political, whereby man is educated for the duties of humanity and citizenship that must be maintained among men. These are usually called the “spiritual” and the “temporal” jurisdiction (not improper terms) by which is meant that the former sort of government pertains to the life of the soul, while the latter has to do with the concerns of the present life—not only with food and clothing but with laying down laws whereby a man may live his life among other men holily, honorably, and temperately. For the former resides in the inner mind, while the latter regulates only outward behavior. The one we may call the spiritual kingdom, the other, the political kingdom. Now these two, as we have divided them, must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other. There are in man, so to speak, two worlds, over which different kings and different laws have authority.

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  17. Hippolytus of Rome, The Apostolic Tradition, 32:3-4—“All shall be careful so that no unbeliever tastes of the Eucharist, nor a mouse or other animal, nor that any of it falls and is lost. For it is the Body of Christ, to be eaten by those who believe and not to be scorned.”

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  18. Zrim, and Darryl, read it and weep.

    J. Gresham Machen: What education ought to be

    “The truth is that decency cannot be produced without principle. It is useless to try to keep back the raging sea of passion with the flimsy mud-embankments of an appeal to experience. Instead, there will have to be recourse again, despite the props afforded by the materialistic paternalism of the modern state, (to the stern, solid masonry of the law of God.) An authority which is man-made can never secure the reverence of man; society can endure only if it is founded upon the rock of God’s commands.”

    Zrim and Hart, please notice that Machen believed society can only endure if it is founded upon the rock of God’s command. And Machen is clearly talking about special revelation. Machen would have gone ballistic to hear R2K’s *cock and bull* pitting of God’s revealed Law, over against Natural law, attributed to him.

    More Machen: “We have indeed such a solution. Most important of all, we think, is the encouragement of private schools and church schools; a secularized public education, though perhaps necessary, is a necessary evil;”

    Me: Did you just read that? Public education is a necessary evil! Why didn’t Machen want public school teachers to teach the Bible? Freedom of religion? LOL! Of course not! He didn’t trust them! Machen felt they were a necessary evil. Until our society became more Godly, and Christianized.

    More Machen: “Surely the only truly patriotic thing to teach the child is that there is one majestic moral law to which our own country and all the countries of the world are subject”.

    Isn’t that a beauty? The only patriotic thing to teach a child “in public school, mind you” is that there is ONE majestic moral law. Hmmm Zrim, what law could that be? Hmmm? Can you say the written Law of God????

    These quotes give the *lie* to both of your attempts at painting Machen, sympathetic to your agnostic brand of R2K. So both you are flat out wrong! Machen believed with all his heart that our society needed to be founded on the Rock of God’s commands. And by that, Machen meant special revelation. Both you and Hart have portrayed Machen in a dishonest way. Shame on both of you!

    I waiting for an admission, AND an apology from both you and DGH.

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  19. @Zrim and Darryl;

    Before you mindlessly trot out more quotes from Machen, in a lame attempt to show him contradicting himself; try dealing with the ones I just posted, in context. You know, the ones that contradict a secular Christianity. How could Machen look to special revelation in the public schools? Hmmmmm? Doesn’t that drive the nail straight into R2K’s coffin?

    Machen would despise you’re radical 2K theology.

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  20. Erik says: What I fear is cheapening the church and the gospel by attempting to “partner” with those outside the church in order to reform culture through politics, as if hearts will be changed by having better politicians and better laws.

    That’s a false dichotomy, brother. Will things get better, with wicked laws? Is legalized abortion, making things better in America? Should we legalize murder, as well? After all, laws don’t change things, right? Zrim actually made that ridiculous statement once.

    No theonomist I know says, “If we had *just* laws everything would be hunky dory, and everybody would get saved”. That is patently absurd. But why throw the baby out, with the bath water? Don’t you love you’re neighbor? Then why wouldn’t you want *just* laws? If you do love your neighbor, then why not desire socio political justice? Shouldn’t the punishment fit the crime?

    Or, should everybody do what’s right in his own eyes?

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  21. Robert Bruce, The Mystery of the Lord’s Supper—“You get a better grasp of the same thing in the Sacrament than you got by the hearing of the Word. God has more room in your soul, through your receiving the Sacrament, than He could have otherwise by your hearing of the Word only. We get Christ better than before…for by the Sacrament the bounds of my soul are enlarged, and so where I had but a little of Christ before, between my finger and thumb, now I get Him with my whole hand….”

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  22. Doug said: “That’s a false dichotomy, brother. Will things get better, with wicked laws? Is legalized abortion, making things better in America?”

    Exactly.

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  23. Jon, and who exactly here is saying that legalized abortion is making things better? Is it the people who don’t agree with you? But the people who don’t agree with you don’t say that. In your and Doug’s universe, there are only two options. That’s called manichean.

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  24. Doug, I know it would require you to read more than your attention can stand, but if you actually read the section of What is Faith? from where you draw these quotations you’ll see that Machen is actually making a Christian point (as opposed to a theonomic one). His reason for stressing the law is that it leads to a conviction of sin and a recognition of a need for Christ. Your stress on the law is either a tactical move (to show the folly of 2k) or it is to show that the law will make America better. Machen and no serious Christian thought that. Why? Because what makes people better is not the law but the gospel.

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  25. Erik Charter: Richard – If my pastor wants to tell me his political views in conversation I have no problem with that. It’s his right and I’ll listen to him and consider what he has to say. I won’t necessarily give his views any more weight than those of the next guy, though, because he does not have authority over me in the political realm as he does in the spiritual realm.

    The classic example from modern Presbyterian history is the church taking a position in favor of the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act. Machen did not favor this because he recognized that alcohol consumption was a matter of conscience for the Christian and was not something that the government should be legislating. Scripture did not forbid the consumption of alcohol so ministers were overreaching the boundaries of their office by taking a position on the issue as representatives of the church.

    RS: But if Machen did not favor this and thought that it was not something that the government “should” be legislating, isn’t that a minister telling/informing the government what it should or should not do? At the least it is saying that ministers should not take a stance because the government should not pass the law. It still seems that there is some informing going on.

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  26. Zrim: Richard, isn’t it possible that those who are ordained to preach the unfettered gospel actually run the risk of putting its light under a bushel by aligning it with one interpretation of laws or another? That seems to me the point of 2K, to keep from associating the gospel with a particular interpretation of laws which may end up alienating a hearer who has another interpretation.

    RS: You could be right, but since ministers are to proclaim the whole counsel of God and the Church is the pillar and support of the truth, it sure seems that ministers are to proclaim the law of God as well. It would seem that sinners in general are those who need to hear the law and the Gospel.

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  27. Doug said: “That’s a false dichotomy, brother. Will things get better, with wicked laws? Is legalized abortion, making things better in America?”

    Jon says: “Exactly”

    And I say: Thanks brother Jon! 🙂

    DGH says: Jon, and who exactly here is saying that legalized abortion is making things better?

    And I say: You do Darryl! 😦 Why?!? Because you don’t have an objective standard by which you can oppose same sex marriage. Your *silly*, *trite*, not to mention *shallow* argument was that same sexers” couldn’t pro-create. LOL! Earth to Darryl! That is NOT a Biblical argument! Now you sound just like Christopher Hitchen’s the famous atheists arguing, were he still alive.

    Machen, on the other hand, would have said, look to God’s revealed law! Machen believed in such a thing, as obligatory morality for socio political ethics. “And was *even* willing to let public school teachers, acknowledge that God’s *written* law was something to be reckoned with! You on the other hand, oppose that notion with all you’re might! Whose side are you on, I wonder?

    You have knuckled under, and given in, to the politically correct crowd. You stand by as on officer of the church, mute! To the most pressing *social* issues facing our culture today, in America. Why? Because you can’t define “natural law”. Queer Nation would love, and embrace you. Why? Because you’re singing their tune, what’s there tune? There tune is the Bible, has nothing to say to general society regarding socio political ethics, and I say it does!

    Finally Darryl, I see our disagreement, as a primarily philosophical divide. Can true morality or justice change? Not if you understand justice and morality like I do. My answer is, it’s impossible! For something to be intrinsically *just* means it’s universal. Therefore, attempting, as you have done, to say that the penal retribution required in certain Mosaic penalties, such as murder, sodomy, kidnapping, child molesting, beating ones parents, rape, blasphemy, and adultery, were ONLY for just penalties for Israel, fails to comprehend what the concept of true socio political ethics mean.

    In my humble opinion,

    Doug

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  28. Richard, but Machen didn’t tell the government that Prohibition was unbiblical. He said it was unconstitutional and his reasons were based on his views as a citizen. Becoming a Christian doesn’t change your legal status (unless you live in Doug’s world).

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  29. Doug, I thought our disagreement was over the law (you know, autonomy vs. theonomy). Now I hear it is philosophical. Wow! So much for the law, you autonomous and uncharitable law lover/breaker. Why don’t you go over to Greenbaggins and insult some of God’s faithful there.

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  30. Richard, my point wasn’t that ministers should hold back on the law and gospel of God, rather on any particular interpretation of the laws of lands. It seems to me that to do the latter is actually a way to obscure the former under a bushel.

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  31. Doug, if all of that is a humble opinion, I’d sure hate to see you on an arrogant day. Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere? But everything Machen ever said about liberalism vs. Christianity could be said about theonomy.

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  32. One day it’s general equity the next it’s Mosaic penal sanctions, wash, rinse, repeat. I know you think they’re the same thing, they ain’t

    Somebody is re-enacting Jeffrey Goines, I swear it;…………………………… “I’m a mental patient. I’m *supposed* to act out! Wait’ll you morons find out who I am! My father’s gonna be really upset, and when my father gets upset, the ground SHAKES! My father is God! I worship my father!”

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  33. All,

    I feel there is some sleight of hand taking place here and it begs clarification. See, we start out with “extreme” comments coming from the 2k crowd, such as: “The Bible says nothing about how the world should run.” In response, I (along with the vast majority of the Reformed world) choke at that because I believe that Jesus is King over every square inch of his creation. I believe we should balance “My kingdom is not of this world” with “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” I believe that God gave two pre-fall mandates directly regarding the created realm: SUBDUE and exercise DOMINION. The fall ruined our ability to properly perform these God-ordained functions, but Christ’s blood redeemed us, giving us eyes to see and ears to hear, and the ability to follow God’s wisdom in performing these functions once again. I in no way think that having dominion over the earth is somehow more important than being made righteous and holy, but I still think it is an important mandate.

    But going from the statement that “the Bible says nothing about how the world should run” to pastors giving specific political advice (vote for proposition 2!) is quite a leap. I believe that pastors should seek to instill a Biblical worldview that will help people frame the specific political issues. For example, I disagree with Dr. Hart when he says that it is a matter of Christian liberty to vote for or against wealth redistribution. I believe that stealing is wrong whether the government does it or a citizen does it. Just as I believe that murder is wrong whether the government does it or a private citizen does it. There is no difference. ALL of God’s moral laws are equal. (Wasn’t it also wrong when Bill Clinton lied to the public? Was he somehow exempt from the 9th commandment?) See I think that God’s moral laws apply to all spheres: church, family, individual, civil, corporations. (The mention of corporations brings up an excellent side note: does the radical two kingdom separation apply to corporations too? Should pastors never preach about business ethics? Does Thou Shalt Not Steal apply to businesses? If so, why businesses and not civil governments?) These questions seem to proliferate when we try to hold to this radical, extreme 2k separation.

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  34. Another note:

    Another sad byproduct of all the 2k thought is the anti-epistemological furor that it produces (perhaps the name of the movement should be AE (anti-epistemology) instead of 2K). Let’s face it: if we believe the Mosaic covenant was a restatement of the covenant of works, then it is surely abrogated with the advent of the New Covenant (since the NC could never be works-based). And if the Mosaic covenant is abrogated, then we have to rely on natural law to guide us. If natural law can guide us, then supernatural revelation really doesn’t do much of anything beyond individual soul redemption and thus, ergo there is no unique Christian epistemology. Cornelius Van Til was completely wrong on everything he said. He must just have been poorly mistaken as is the large body of Reformed folk whose worldviews he revolutionized. He was just wrong. Aquinas was right. There really is no antithesis. Grace sits atop nature and let’s just hope nature never eats it up (never happened before, right?). Therefore, there is no unique Reformed epistemology, let alone apologetic, and we must join the Arminians, since it is THEY who have the most Biblical apologetic. (Please don’t miss this point: 2k epistemology and Arminian epistemology are exactly the same. If I am wrong, please correct me, but I can find zero difference. Actually, I guess this is a moot point, since there is no such thing as epistemology – Hegel invented that (just like Aristotle invented philosophy in general, or so I was told.)) Christian schools, of course, are of no gain so we can get rid of those too. I mean, come on, the public school system (that was arrived at by the light of natural revelation) is a SCREAMING success and the coercive, redistributive tax laws that are necessary to support it are a neutral matter best left to Christian liberty. The fear of the Lord, after all, is NOT the beginning of wisdom, except within the walls of the church, and then only on the Lord’s Day. The other six days of the week belong to the spirit of the age, which is passing away, which somehow makes it morally neutral (if you are confused here, so am I. I’m just making the best sense of everything I’ve learned so far.)

    Do the above points make sense to anyone? Is there a reason why the vast majority of Reformed folk do not see things this way? Are they just mistaken?

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  35. Jon, I happen to think epistemology is fun, but it’s neither scripture nor confession. Let’s say it’s halfway between playing Scrabble and doing theology.

    Now you mention Christian liberty, and I do wonder where that fits in when epistemology is mandatory. Last time I checked our host wasn’t insisting that everyone be a history major, but we all have to be philosophers? I say neither philosophy nor Scrabble is mandatory.

    Hegel was Kiekegaard’s nemesis. 2k’s pick on Kant, or at least ask why his insights are taken to be foundational for Christianity.

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  36. Jon,

    It’s tough to read past this opening line;

    “See, we start out with “extreme” comments coming from the 2k crowd”

    Sean; Really, I’m not sure how to go forward when you start of with this perspective. Doug has called us atheists, questioned our faith, accussed us of blaspheming God through supposed mockery of his law, all the while spiraling off into left field on particular application of abortion, tax law, while making mince meat out of WCF 19:4. Come on Jon. Doug can’t even abide the 1788 WCF. But we make extreme comments?! You don’t have to agree but at least given an honest account.

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  37. Darryl, let me try to help you out. You’re agaisnt the notion, that the Bible speaks with authority on matters of socio political eithics. That is a philisophical position. You base your philisophical premise on arguments from silence found in two or three verses in the Bible. Hardly a sound exegetical practice, not to mention a tragic miss reading of the Bible, in my humble opinion. So you are against God’s written law, as having anything to say to our Magistrate. And you mock and ridicule people who feel otherwise. So yes, I do get very upset with you. In fact, I get more upset with you, than any other Chrisitan I know. I do however, appreciate you letting me rail against your positon, on your blog, and I will try to show you more respect for letting me express a counter view.

    Rest in his completed work

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  38. Jon, I recommend your reading VanDrunen’s Living in God’s Two Kingdoms for some help on covenant theology. You will likely disagree. But it’s hard to say that a minister of the OPC is simply a crackpot because of his view which he argues is confessional and biblical.

    As for the six days of the week being devoted to the spirit of the age, again who says this? 2k says that the six days of the week are common, not holy. They are common, not profane. Folks like you who emphasize the antithesis all the way down to every form of knowing, don’t seem to be capable of affirming what the Confession and Catechisms teach, which is that six days of the week are common. They are governed by providence, not by Christ as redeemer. That doesn’t mean Christ ceases to be king over his church during the week. He governs and orders all things for the sake of his people and his glory. It does mean though that during the week the keys of the kingdom are not in play the way they are on Sunday, the holy day. And during the week believers do all sorts of common things with unbelievers that if they did them on Sunday would be profane. So something that can be good on one day, can be evil on another.

    How’s that for moral changelessness?

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  39. Doug, you are full of horse-hockey. My argument is based on a reading of the Bible which you are incapable of doing because you believe that philosophy is more basic than revealed truth.

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  40. Jon, I’m not sure you’ve learned well because, as a 2ker, the implications you draw don’t make much sense. 2kers also believe that Jesus is Lord over every square inch of creation (and redemption). But it isn’t clear how that reality means the Bible says anything about to arrange civil polities. 2k also holds that the cultural mandate remains in place, but how does that translate into Christian dominionism, especially when non-Christians are a legitimate part of the cultural mandate equation? Do believers really have a leg up in creation because they have a foot in redemption? And how can God’s moral laws apply to anything but people? You don’t seem at all cognizant that spheres are not created in the imago Dei, but only people are.

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  41. DGH says: Because what makes people better is not the law but the gospel.

    Darryl, theonomy has never said “law makes people better”. So why import that to me? I do feel law and order makes a society better, don’t you?

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  42. Doug, to the extent that you are a co-belligerent with the Christian American gang, the idea that Christianity makes bad people good and good people better can be safely attributed to your theonomic inclination.

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  43. DGH says: And during the week believers do all sorts of common things with unbelievers that if they did them on Sunday would be profane. So something that can be good on one day, can be evil on another.

    Darryl, what do you do during the week with unbelievers, that would be evil on another day?

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  44. Doug, law and order do make society better and it can even happen when secular authorities catch theonomists in acts that would be punishable by death in the OT. Do you object to Ken Gentry still being alive?

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  45. Doug, have you ever heard of keeping the Sabbath holy? As Walter Sobchak would say, I don’t teach American history on Shomer Shabbos. Last I checked, teaching history is not profane (though you never know that a theonomist is going to do with a disagreeable w-w).

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  46. DGH says: Richard, but Machen didn’t tell the government that Prohibition was unbiblical. He said it was unconstitutional and his reasons were based on his views as a citizen. Becoming a Christian doesn’t change your legal status (unless you live in Doug’s world).

    Ahhhh, wrong Darryl! Machen didn’t believe in Prohibition, first and foremost, because of his understanding of the Bible! He railed agaisnt a fundamentalist understanding of Scripture, as do I. Jesus turned the water into wine! Jesus even drank wine! Fundamentalists went w-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-y beyond God’s Word, in passing Prohibition, which is a form of asceticism. See Colossians 2:21 Prohibition was also unconstitutional.

    Machen favored “blue laws”. Why? Once again, he based his opinion, on his understanding of Scripture. Machen, unlike you, was not afraid to look to *special revelation*, when it came to socio political ethics.

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  47. Doug, and the PRC has gone waaaaaaay beyond God’s word in requiring Christian schools for her officers, which is a form of intellectual asceticism and worldview on steroids. I know theos weep and wail over the secularism in public schools, but it’s ironic for you to see legalism in the fundie’s eye yet ignore the plank in the worldviewer’s.

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  48. Darryl/Zrim,

    Didn’t mean to rattle you guys up. I don’t think you are “crackpots.” What I was trying to point out in my diatribe was that r2k takes some premises to their logical conclusions, but the conclusions end up being pretty extreme because the starting premises went wrong somewhere.

    Zrim, you may be right that I have not learned much. I will try to read Van Drunen’s book. In fact I guess I owe it to you guys to be able to dialogue about this.

    The quote about the Bible not having anything to say about how the world should run was taken straight from Zrim. I can’t remember the context, but I remember being shocked by it.

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  49. I also think that this quote from Richard gets to the heart of a major problem with r2k:

    “RS: But if Machen did not favor this and thought that it was not something that the government “should” be legislating, isn’t that a minister telling/informing the government what it should or should not do? ”

    Call it semantics if you will, but I think it reveals a problem somewhere.

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  50. MM,

    I wouldn’t say that being a professional philosopher or epistemologist is mandatory. But I DO believe that as we become more epistemologically self-conscious, in whatever capacity we find ourselves, it will help us see our mental reliance on God. What I CAN’T see is how epistemological self-consciousness could ever be a bad thing (unless it caused pride, but we could say the same for any good thing).

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  51. Jon:

    Councils, Synods, and German philosphers may err. The belief that order comes from what human beings impose on phenomena that are not inherently ordered changed the course of philosophy but it is a point of view, not self evident. (Play around with that sentence for a little while.) But what if it’s wrong? If it is, then that brand of epistemological self-awarenss is wrong. Then, what if there is an an inherent and objective order to which we all have access, but some of us goof it up more than others? That’s an opposing point of view epistemologically, but I don’t see how one or the other provokes us more to reliance upon God.

    When I read a confession, I see proof texts. What are the proof texts of Kantian epistemology?

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  52. MM,

    I’m not a Kantian, so I’ll let them speak for themselves. As for prooftexts for a Christian philosophy, here’s a start:

    Metaphysics: “In the beginning, God. . . ” (Gen 1:1)

    “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14)

    Epistemology: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (II Cor. 10:5)

    “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:2-3)

    Ethics: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3)

    I’d say there’s pretty good proof texts for a uniquely Christian philosophy/worldview. 🙂

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  53. Jon, not everyone has the capacity or inclination to study philosophy. On the other hand, those scriptures speak to even the simplest and least philosophical of believers, who are at not less able than philosophic types to benefit from them.

    Anyway, tell me how the Westminster standards are inferior to “philosophy” in setting forth the substance of your proof texts.

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  54. MM,

    “Anyway, tell me how the Westminster standards are inferior to “philosophy” in setting forth the substance of your proof texts.”

    The Westminster standards ARE a philosophy of life. That is what I’m trying to say. I think we’re just hung up on semantics here.

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  55. Jon, at least you show more willingness and less venom. But why so shocked by the idea that the Bible doesn’t reveal polity? Do you understand that the idea that it does is exactly what the Protestant liberals wanted to say? Sure, they reached for NT ethics whereas theos reach for OT codes, but do you see how either is a way to undermine what Jesus himself said the Bible was all about, namely the reconciliation of sinners to himself through Christ?

    And it seems to me that by making Christianity a philosophy instead of or even as well as a religion we begin to make it merely a human project as opposed to a spiritual remedy. Unbelievers can use a philosophy to navigate provisional life, but they are confronted by Christianity if they would have eternal life. Can you see the differences? The high mindedness of the Reformed epistemologists doesn’t seem to finally be any different from the suburbanite who wants the Bible for personal peace and principles to raise children and balance budgets. In a word, Christianity as philosophy is what the old timers used to call watering down the Christian religion.

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  56. Zrim,

    “But why so shocked by the idea that the Bible doesn’t reveal polity?”

    If you mean specific structural mandates, then yes, the Bible doesn’t speak to that. But it does give us so much to build upon regarding general principles. Here are a few:

    1) More government’s bad; less is better. First of all, this general principle can be gleaned from the Bible’s teaching on human nature. More power = more corruption. Then, you have the story of Samuel and his warnings about kings. Also, more localization = less power = less abuse which is a good thing.

    Also, while the Bible may not mandate a specific structure, certainly a monarchy would be less preferable to a constitutional republic since the former consolidates power more.

    2) The 8th commandment can be broadly applied to a wealth of issues.

    3) “If a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat.” again applies to many issues (which is why living off welfare and voting for workers to pay you more money is a sin and not up to liberty).

    4) Marxism is a system that was devised by a self-conscious atheist who sought to form a political system around his godless worldview. He sought to make the State god instead. What is the root principle of his system: absolute state power. What’s the opposite of that? Minimal state power.

    Marxism seeks to replace God’s prescriptions in many ways. How does God tell us to take care of the elderly? He tells US to take care of our parents. He tells the church to take care of widows and orphans. Marxism says, no the state should do it. It should play god in people’s lives.

    5) Murder is wrong. Even on the pre-born.

    Aren’t these all sound, Biblical principles that we can apply to the civic arena? I mean, we apply Biblical principles to spheres outside the church all the time – family, business, individuals – why not civil government?

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  57. Zrim,

    I disagree with the assertion that the problem with liberalism is not recognizing sphere sovereignty. Their problem is that they abandoned the gospel wholesale and turned it into a social program instead. They didn’t take the Bible seriously. Theonomists (or just plain politically conservative Reformed folk) take the Bible extremely seriously and apply it to all of life.

    I would actually argue that 2k’ers are the ones that are closer to liberals. They both don’t want to seriously apply the Bible to the world of here and now. Their boots never touch the ground, less they should get muddy.

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  58. “The high mindedness of the Reformed epistemologists doesn’t seem to finally be any different from the suburbanite who wants the Bible for personal peace and principles to raise children and balance budgets.”

    What about the high mindedness of the 2k’er who sits in his hermetically sealed prayer chamber all day, afraid to engage the outside world with any Biblical commands, lest they become compromised?

    Reformed epsitemologists are only high minded when combating erudite atheists. Otherwise, they are quite down to earth. Van Til was a farm boy and street preacher. Bahnsen has said that presuppositional apologetics are the easiest to understand, and I agree with him.

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  59. Maybe a good part of this is semantics, Jon. Philosophy is notoriously difficult to define, but I, at minimum, think of engaging certain texts, considering certain ideas, and doing so in a way that, is, um, well, I know it when I see it. I just don’t think the word fits what Christians are mandated to do or what the standards give us.

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  60. Jon:

    “Their problem is that they abandoned the gospel wholesale and turned it into a social program instead. They didn’t take the Bible seriously. Theonomists (or just plain politically conservative Reformed folk) take the Bible extremely seriously and apply it to all of life.”

    Jon,

    Let’s try distinguishing the politics of some 2kers from an actual approach to scripture. Both theonomists and old school liberals(new schoolers really, I read your stuff Darryl) , view the scriptures as opportunity to mine for principles of life, particularly socio-political life. Yes, there’s more that can be said, but let’s just stick with that plank. Just let that marinate for awhile. I’m not being condescending, I’m being sincere. You exhibited this tendency just a post ago in deriving argument against Marxism and the like. Just work with that ‘plank’ of continuity between liberals and theonomists for a while.

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  61. Jon, you missed my entire point with regard to what the Bible is all about—principles to be cultivated for this (personal to familial to civic life) to life as opposed a revelation for the life to come.

    Be that as it may, it seems to me that you demonstrate having ideologies first and biblical justifications for them second, which ends up in your case making you sound way more Republican than Christian. Sure, as an American I don’t like the sound of “absolute state power” either, but I have Paul who was under what 2012 Americans would consider tyrannical and worse than Marxist. He even considered himself deity, unlike many of our own leaders many would construe as “un-American.” And yet the biblical principle is actually Christian submission to him, not license to find ways to biblically undermine him because he’s not Republican.

    So I wonder what you think the Bible is telling believers who live under Mao? That their kings are unjust rulers and unfit for honor and submission?

    And if monarchies are so evil then why does the Bible employ its categories to describe our spiritual realities instead of Republican categories? Jesus is our President just doesn’t have the same ring, does it? King is better since is connotes sovereignty and power and dominion. Democracy is all about equality and rights and self-expression—not exactly biblical principles.

    Re the liberals, we disagree. They took the Bible just as seriously and wanted it to apply to all of life. You can’t really just wave your hand like that in order to circumvent the obvious problem. But give theonomy room to play itself out and the gospel would evaporate just as quickly in the face of being just as socially and politically oriented. Maybe taking the Bible extremely seriously and applying it to all of life is actually not as pious as it sounds?

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  62. Zrim,

    Just regarding the king concept for a moment (I’ll try to get the the rest later): Jesus is perfect with no sin nature. So he is the perfect King. There’s nothing inherently wrong with monarchy, just monarchy by sinners.

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  63. But, Jon, if as you say biblical principles clearly teach that sovereign kings are bad things and less and local civil power is better, then wouldn’t it be odd, even confusing, for it to use kingship to describe God himself?

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  64. Zrim and Jon, not to mention that the Old Testament, a favorite text of theonomists, prescribes a whole host of behaviors that the modern nation-state has yet to consider regulating (though Mayor Bloomberg may be reading his OT). Has any modern liberal godless state come close to prohibiting pork or crab?

    Jon, I am being mainly serious. You don’t see how your reading of the Bible for government sees what it wants to see. You are a limited govt. guy (as am I) and try to derive that from the Bible. I do not think the Bible describes a model form of govt. except that God rules all things. My own views about govt. follow the American framers of the U.S. who read a lot of the ancients and reasoned from the experience of 16th and 17th century British politics.

    I think my way of proceeding is better. But I think your view is especially flawed because you will bend Scripture to your own designs. There are plenty of serious Christians in the U.K. who would never come close to thinking about govt. the way you do. Because you believe all truth needs to come from the Bible (theonomy vs. autonomy), you try to derive all truth from the Bible. It is scary when the truth you derive from your own mind becomes the mind of God. Autonomy becomes theonomy.

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  65. Jon says “Aren’t these all sound, Biblical principles that we can apply to the civic arena? I mean, we apply Biblical principles to spheres outside the church all the time – family, business, individuals – why not civil government?”

    If by “we” you mean individual Christians I have no problem with that.

    If by “we” you mean ministers and the church (Synods, General Assemblies, Presbyteries, Classes, Consistories, Sessions) I would say it’s not their job. Why? Because their job is to facilitate preaching the law and gospel, to administer the sacraments, and to carry out church discipline. These activities are a full-time job. By doing these things some will be converted and as they become sanctified their politics may improve.

    Lots of entities can speak on political matters. No entity but the church has been given the unique tasks it has been given.

    Where in the New Testament do you see Jesus or Paul speaking to the civil authorities on the political issues of the day? Paul asserted his rights as a citizen, but where did he call the civil authorities to task on issues of public policy?

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  66. Jon, “the high mindedness of the 2k’er who sits in his hermetically sealed prayer chamber all day”? Look, I know you’re hearing, but this is just more evidence that you’re far from understanding.

    It’s actually 2k that gives believers more ground to be out and about the world. And it’s actually worldviewism that tends to create Christian ghettos. Think about it: if Christianity really does have principles to tell us how to create and maintain civil life then what keeps anybody from constructing one? And in case one is tempted to say that’s just a theory, I see it all the time in Little Geneva (not called that for no reason). Christian schools, sports, camps, businesses, etc. all serve to keep believers in their sealed off subcultures. Which is what makes it funny when the pastor encourages everyone to invite neighbors to church. Huh? Our neighbors are us and we already go.

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  67. Darryl,

    You are a theological conservative. You are also a political conservative. I am both these things as well. Is there not a connection? Ever notice how theological liberals are political liberals? Connection? I’d say yes.

    Yes our brothers over the pond are further to the left because they are immersed in a much more socialist culture. Give them time, they’ll come around. 🙂

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  68. Erik,

    I find very little to disagree with in your post. In fact when you say “By doing these things some will be converted and as they become sanctified their politics may improve.” that is my point exactly! Reliance on God will lessen reliance on state. It always does. (Ayn Rand may be the rare counter example. But even her selfishness requires a Christian populace to work.)

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  69. Zrim,

    The only ghettotization I engage in is in raising my kids. But once they’re past the impressionable stage, they are off to fight the world. I would bet good money I engage and relate with worldly people more than most Christians. Again, you keep confusing theos with the religious right.

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  70. Jon, is it really confusion when theos and religious righties both talk about taking back America for Jesus? But previously you said 2kers, who are always theologically conservative, are closer to political liberals, now you’re drawing straight lines from theological conservatives to political conservatives. That’s confusing. And if your point is that conversion improves one’s politics, I could agree if that means one becomes more agnostic about the power of princes (as in Psalm 146 instead of the theonomic proof text of Psalm 2). But something tells me it means one becomes more rightist. And since 2k also includes a robust doctrine of Christian liberty, it applies to political inclinations, which means amongst brethren there can be political rightists and leftists and agnostics and none of it bears on piety.

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  71. Jon, LET THE WORLD KNOW!!!! A 2KER IS A THEOLOGICAL CONSERVATIVE!!!!!

    So why all the jazz about being radical, not having a philosophical foundation, or being confused?

    Still, thanks for the vote of confidence.

    At the same time, have you considered how many Roman Catholics are political conservatives? I am at a conservative conference where RC’s outnumber Protestants three-to-two. 2k can explain why theology does not explain politics. It has to do with the Bible not revealing everything, with Christ being king of his church in a way different from being lord of the U.S. Constitution. Theonomists and neo-Cals have no account of liberal Christian or secular Americans being conservative.

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  72. Interesting conversation. I would just like to take it back to the original post and say that I found VanDrunen’s book to be very helpful, answering many of my questions (along with Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms), as well as creating more questions for reflections. I like Darryl’s point about fear as well. I wish more people would take a stand to the false-characatures that are placed on 2K.

    While the comments thread here seems to be addressing much of the intellectual side of the debate, I do fear that we are missing how much of this plays out in regular life (aside from enjoying a nice glass of whiskey at night). As a housewife, I see many Christian mom’s who will only hire “Christian” business owners to work on their house, etc., only listen to so-called “Christian” music, and put their kids in “Christian” club sports. Is there such a thing as Christian soccer, Christian plumbing, and Christian guitar riffs? How about Christian math? Instead of being salt and light, families are forming their own Christian subculture to supposedly transform the culture of sports, business, and the arts. Consequentially, many well-intentioned people are not exercising their discernment and critical thinking skills while they read their so-called Christian books and do their Christian exercises.

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  73. Echoing Amy’s comments: I am an enthusiastic book scout and go to a lot of garage sales and church rummage sales. I can often times predict the church affiliation of the sellers by the books that they have for sale (not too hard when the sale is a church rummage sale :). Sadly the more liberal the church affiliation the better the quality of the books. Professor-types with no church affiliation often times have the best books. I am dismayed by the lack of intellectual curiosity of the average evangelical Christian today. I don’t venture into evangelical megachurches often these days because it takes too long for my blood pressure to return to normal. The last one I went to (for my nephew’s baptism — they did both baptisms and dedications at the same time) was very entertainment-focused. They even had a music video promoting registration for “children’s church” using the tune of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It”. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Did I mention this was an RCA church. Please, please remove the “R” from that denomination…

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  74. Three kind mice
    Three kind mice
    See what they’ve done!
    They helped a lost chick
    To find mother hen
    They brought some food
    To the church mice then
    They cleaned up the tree house
    For Jenny Wren.
    Those Three Kind Mice!
    – From Christian Mother Goose

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  75. Zrim,

    “Jon, is it really confusion when theos and religious righties both talk about taking back America for Jesus?”

    A common goal (though I would even disagree with the way you phrase it) does not mean common means. You also believe in trusting your children with the socialist school system, along with 90%+ of broad evangelicals who do it for pragmatic reasons. Yet you claim to do it on principle. I take you at face value, but it shows that two groups can do the same thing for different reasons.

    “But previously you said 2kers, who are always theologically conservative, are closer to political liberals, now you’re drawing straight lines from theological conservatives to political conservatives. That’s confusing.”

    The confusion arises because I still do believe there are many inconsistencies and diverging trajectories within the 2k camp. That being said, I bet most of you guys lean towards the limited gov’t side of things (I chalk exceptions, such as your public school beliefs up to an inconsistency somewhere. Or maybe I could argue you aren’t interpreting natural rev properly? :)).

    During the Reformed Forum debate on “Christ and Culture”, Douglas Wilson made the comment that if he or Darryl were to design a political system, it would probably look very similar. The only difference is that they would defend their system differently. I tend to agree with this.

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  76. Also,

    Going back to previous comments, many of you said that I am merely a rightist who cherry picks the Bible for passages to support my pre-existing political ideologies.

    There are a few problems with that argument (I’ve heard the same argument against Joel McDurmon’s book, “God vs. Socialism”, which I highly recommend):

    1) It is an ad hominem fallacy

    2) How could you know my motives? How do you know it’s not the Bible that shaped my political views?

    3) If you say it couldn’t be that the Bible shaped my political views because the Bible doesn’t speak to those issues, you are begging the question.

    4) Maybe, just MAYBE the Bible really does give those principles! Let that one marinate for a while. 🙂 <- (Sorry Darryl)

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  77. Jon, I am not talking about your motives. I am talking about which comes first, the Bible or your political convictions. Was Paul an advocate of republicanism, federalism, or limited government? If not, and you see limited government in the Bible, then maybe you are reading the Bible through conservative lens. That’s not a claim about motives but about eyewear.

    But I also think you may be blind to the problem of eyewear — get it? — because you are such a w-wist. Instead of looking at differences among ideas and putting them together in some sort of vocational way (as a believer who lives in America and goes to blogs), you think that all of your ideas must cohere and so your political ideas must follow from your Bible. What if the human person is never so epistemologically self-conscious? And what if the more a person claims to be epistemologically self-conscious, the less aware he is of how his personal convictions override biblical teaching?

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  78. Jon, are you in the CREC? Just curious. I’m in the PCA for what it’s worth. I’m just wondering if the loggerhead we are at here has translated into denominational and confessional divergence.

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  79. Jon, the more honest theos I’ve engaged will admit to being co-belligerents with RRs, even if there are some niggling differences.

    And what you call diverging inconsistencies with the 2k camp I would call the consistent result of liberty. Part of the point of 2k is intolerance in matters doctrinal and tolerance on matters indifferent.
    While Wilson’s and Hart’s civil society might look the same, their churches would be very different. A 2k church in Moscow wouldn’t have to meet with its residents in order to quell their fears of take over, like theocratic Wilson has had to do. All a 2k church does is administer the three marks, mind her own business, and send believers out into the world to participate.

    Re your last comment, the point is that it’s fine for a Christian to be a Republican or a Marxist. Just don’t use the Bible to justify your particular political views, because that’s speaking for God where he is silent. The particular doctrine of, say, baptism is different because the Bible does in fact reveal what to believe and practice. What’s curious is how neos of whatever stripe are willing to question another believer’s piety over his politics before his sacramentology. The 2k point is that it should be the other way around.

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  80. Darryl,

    Right. But it still could be that my theo beliefs come before my political ones. Just maybe. 🙂

    Also, I could be blind, but then how would I know? What if you’re blind? 🙂 <-(sorry)

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  81. Jon,

    How do you read the FV purging in the PCA? Are there CREC’s close to you? Not trying to paint you into a corner, but you would seem to have sympathies with at least the schooling aspects that Wilson champions. How do you work out currently, WCF 19:4? What’s the ‘temperature’ like in your church as it regards theonomy, or christian reconstruction? I’m curious on a number of levels, but also trying to evaluate for my own benefit the nature of our consensus in the PCA. Keller, thinks we can all live in harmony, ‘checking’ each other, I’m not sure how you reconcile such a divergent group without losing the bulk of our ‘particularities’ both from a doctrinal and polity standpoint. Anyway, if you got the time, I’d like to hear your take on those questions. Again, I’m not interested in ‘ambushing’ you, I’m sincerely curious.

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  82. Doug, like I say you are full of horse-hockey (and bile to boot.) https://oldlife.org/2010/01/the-two-kingdom-case-for-blue-laws/

    Darryl you must have bumped your head, because that post did not say that Machen was against blue laws. It merely said he was okay with the NFL playing on Sunday. Surely not Machen’s finest hour, but how did Machens comment contradict what I said? Are you saying Machen was against all blue laws?

    Looks like you slipped in a puddle of your own bile this time 😦

    Even though accuracy has never been your strong suit, as an officer in Christ’s church, you should know better: Thou shall not lie.

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  83. Zrim,

    “Jon, when secular pro-lifers come to the same conclusions as religious pro-lifers, it’s hard not to think the correlation theory isn’t a lot of worldviewist fantasy.”

    Why? Nothing that common grace and borrower capital can’t account for. Perfectly consistent within the Van Tillian system.

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  84. Sean,

    A thoughtful reply will take more time than I have right now. Will try to respond later, although I can’t promise the most insiteful answer…..

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  85. Jon, I’ve never been at ease with accusing people who have every created right to reach into the common reservoir with stealing. And can someone really borrow what belongs to him?

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  86. Zrim says: Jon, I’ve never been at ease with accusing people who have every created right to reach into the common reservoir with stealing. And can someone really borrow what belongs to him?

    It seems as if Zrim is incapable of understanding Van Til. Not surprising in the least, just rather sad.

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  87. Doug, CVT also said: “Non-Christians believe that authority hurts the growth of the child. Christians believe that without authority a child cannot live at all.” More unease, but thanks for your sympathies.

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  88. Doug, what hole? The point from which one claims that unbelievers are just as created imago Dei as believers and so have equal access to creational norms and so cannot be construed as borrowers or thieves? More like a mountain top.

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  89. Zrim,

    “Jon, I’ve never been at ease with accusing people who have every created right to reach into the common reservoir with stealing. And can someone really borrow what belongs to him?”

    Zrim, this is where you go very wrong. Yes, man initially had the created right to think God’s thoughts after him, but then he fell. As fallen men (in Adam) we have committed cosmic treason against the creator. We were booted out of the garden and have no rights to it anymore. Through the blood of Christ, converted man may now go back to his original mandates of subduing and exercising dominion. He can correctly claim a basis for reason, because he acknowledges the real source of all true reason. He has a basis for moral theory because he believes in a God who determines right and wrong and is himself the standard.

    The God-denying unbeliever has no right to claim a basis for epistemology or ethics, both of which can only be grounded in the triune God of Scripture. Without Him, none of this reasoning makes sense.

    Hence the antithesis. In a truly reformed apologetic we have to show the unbeliever why he can lay no claim to what is God’s alone. He cannot reject God and at the same time use God as his foundation. This is absurd. Hence the analogy of the child who has to sit on her father’s lap in order to slap him.

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  90. Jon, how would you amend this statement if your car was stolen: “The God-denying unbeliever has no right to claim a basis for epistemology or ethics, both of which can only be grounded in the triune God of Scripture. Without Him, none of this reasoning makes sense.” Would you not call the police?

    2k is not making claims about epistemology or ethics. It is simply following the instruction of Paul and Peter and Jesus himself who instructed believers not to make inquiries about epistemology or ethical foundations before submitting to and honoring the emperor.

    If you also submit to and honor the United States government, which I assume you do as a good Christian, then how exactly is the antithesis a help to Christians living out their calling? I understand it’s potential for apologetics. But it makes no sense of a court of law or a cop’s jurisdiction.

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  91. Jon, there has to be a distinction between temporal and eternal capacity, which I actually see as confused in your last comment. Nobody, believer or not, has the capacity for eternal righteousness. But we all have the capacity for provisional goodness. Paul couldn’t be much clearer when he explicitly tells us that unbelievers show they have the law written on their hearts by doing what the law requires. So how can they be called borrowers or thieves of natural law if they show themselves natural knowers and doers?

    I understand that worldviewry is good for winning epistemological contests. But back on plant earth it’s not much use. Unless unbelievers have just as much capacity for provisional good then I don’t know how we all get from day to day together, including how they can be held accountable for wrongdoing: “I plead not guilty by reason of not being a Christian.” Uhhmmm.

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  92. Darryl,

    I was thinking more along the lines of epistemology and apologetics, though Old Life does speak quite a bit about these issues, so I don’t think they’re irrelevant.

    Also, I don’t see a contradiction in submitting to authority that you don’t believe is righteous. In fact, I think that’s the implication of Jesus’ command. Otherwise, why would he have to give it?

    But it also doesn’t preclude us from seeking to change unjust laws via the proper channels that our system of government has granted us. (Submitting throughout the process, of course.)

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  93. Zrim,

    I see the apologetic and epistemological concerns as quite relevant to planet earth. Do you not ever engage in apologetics with unbelievers? If so, do you appeal to “neutral” evidence like the Arminians?

    Also, don’t forget that Romans 3 (“There is none who does good.”) follows Romans 2. I do not deny the moral laws inscription on the heart, but I do deny the perspicuity thereof if it’s not Biblically interpreted.

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  94. Jon, when it comes to the antithesis, I do give reason for the hope that lies within. But when it comes to commonality, I appeal to what everybody already knows by nature. Neutrality has nothing to do with either.

    But I don’t see how one can affirm the law written on every human heart and then qualify his affirmation of its clarity by biblical interpretation. That is to say, the law of God is both written on every human heart and it is clear to every human heart. And while the law written on both heart and stone is the same, the former does not need the latter’s help because both are authored by God. So, for example, while there’s nothing wrong with telling someone who claims his sexual deviancy is natural that the Bible opposes it, appealing to the Bible isn’t as necessary as some imagine because the natural conscience God has implanted is sufficient to persuade him. My sense is that those who disagree don’t give nearly as much credit to the divinely made conscience as Paul does. And I’m not sure telling our friend whatever conscience he does have is borrowed or stolen from us, because that would seem to push him even further away from owning up to HIS failure. After all, listening to someone else’s conscience doesn’t tend to compel as much as listening to one’s own.

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