Was Paul In League with Wormwood?

Readers may be encouraged to learn that Dr. K. has recanted somewhat of his repeated attempts to associate the defenders of 2k with the views of Misty Irons on gay marriage. The exacts words are:

Having re-read both my original blog post and the ensuing relevant comments, I publicly regret insinuating that some advocates of 2K theology defend homosexual marriage. As the interaction made clear (I hope), I should have claimed only that the hermeneutical argument employed by one defender of homosexual marriage is identical to the hermeneutical argument employed by some current 2K advocates. Simply stated, that hermeneutic is this: the Bible governs the spiritual kingdom/church, unaided reason and natural law alone govern the civil kingdom.

But this welcome news only goes so far because Dr. K.’s website if filled with other inaccuracies and wrongheaded notions. For instance, in his long (boy was it long) series on w-w for Christian Renewal, he took several detours, one of which included a C.S. Lewis-styled epistle from Screwtape, written by David Naugle for BreakPoint. The letter included this paragraph:

But our crowning achievement has been in the churches. Under the well-intended influence of their hoodwinked leaders, they actually believe our lies are the truth! They think they came out of the Bible. The silly little Christians have confused creation with sin, and now they can hardly wait to evacuate the planet and head off to heaven where they think they really belong! How joyfully they sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” They promote heaven over earth, the spiritual over the physical, grace over nature, the soul over the body, the eternal over the temporal, faith over reason and so on. They see everything as essentially sacred or secular. They think that Christianity is its own distinct realm of life rather than a way of life for every realm. They separate their faith from the bulk of their lives, and set Christ in opposition to their cultures. How proud they are of their resulting super-spirituality, nicely ensconced in their cozy, well-fortified Christian ghettos. They have bought into our vision of disintegration. They are compartmentalists, par excellence.

Lo and behold, an hour of so later during family worship (TMI), I came across this passage from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5 ESV)

What is striking about this passage is that Paul seems to do the very things that are supposed by the neo-Screwtape to be devilish — distinction between the body and spirit, between the church and the world, between body and soul, and between the rules applying to Christians and non-Christians. Even more curious is what Calvin does with verse five, the one about delivering the evil doer over to Satan:

For delivering over to Satan is an appropriate expression for denoting excommunication; for as Christ reigns in the Church, so Satan reigns out of the Church, as Augustine, too, has remarked, in his sixty-eighth sermon on the words of the Apostle, where he explains this passage. As, then, we are received into the communion of the Church, and remain in it on this condition, that we are under the protection and guardianship of Christ, I say, that he who is cast out of the Church is in a manner delivered over to the power of Satan, for he becomes an alien, and is cast out of Christ’s kingdom.

I understand that neo-Calvinism inspires believers to take the world by storm. But the way they get there and the folks they throw under the bus in the process are — dare I say — unbecoming. This is all the more the case when the New Testament is littered with the very distinctions that neo–Calvinists denounce as dualistic and of the devil. Do ways exist to interpret these texts so that you avoid the errors of monasticism and fundamentalism? Of course. Calvin and Luther come to mind. But do you need to avoid texts like 1 Corinthians 5 to bolster your gospel of w-w? Apparently.


53 thoughts on “Was Paul In League with Wormwood?

  1. Dutch Neocalvinists criticizing “well-fortified Christian ghettos”?

    Ha, ha, ha, ha!

    2K folks are the ones you advocate joining with our nonbelieving friends and coworkers on the tasks that we share together as human beings. Neocalvinists are the ones who want the separate Christian institutions to rival secular institutions.

    From Wikipedia: “Pillarisation (verzuiling in Dutch) is the politico-denominational segregation of Dutch and Belgian society. These societies were (and in some areas, still are) “vertically” divided into several segments or “pillars” (zuilen, singular: zuil) according to different religions or ideologies. These pillars all had their own social institutions: their own newspapers, broadcasting organisations, political parties, trade unions, banks, schools, hospitals, universities, scouting organisations and sports clubs. Some companies even hired only personnel of a specific religion or ideology. This led to a situation where many people had no personal contact with people from another pillar”

    Part of the problem in this debate is we are aiming at an ever-changing target. I tried to listen to Kloosterman on 2K on Reformed Forum and I had no idea what he was talking about most of the time. It could be that I am just dumb, but I understood Van Drunen & Hart’s books really clearly and I have understood them really clearly when I have heard them interviewed. Horton is starting to confuse me, but let’s set that aside for now.

    I think Kloosterman at one point referred to something he had discovered that Bavinck had written that hadn’t been translated from Dutch yet that was relevant to his argument. It was as if he had uncovered some heretofore unknown Scripture. Maybe Neocalvinism is for geniuses and 2K is for dummies, but some of the 2K guys seem to be pretty bright, too.


  2. DGH, I thought of that exact passage today while pondering Dr. K & Co.; do you suppose we’re about to have an Edwardsean 2k revival?

    But you have put the argument on the proper footing – is the 2k point of view plausible in light of the scriptures? I’ve yet to see a substantial neo-Cal argument that the New Testament prescribes the kind of activities they mandate.

    I get the sense that the scriptures and confessions – though sometimes cited – are beside the point for the neos. It’s more like “transgressions of the culture war shall be punished.” If we simply agreed that the scriptures mandate every jot and tittle of the culture war, they’d overlook other stuff. They certainly seem to overlook differing ecclesiology, sacraments, and soteriology from culture war co-belligerents. But 2k’s with confessional ecclesiology, sacraments, and soteriology are thrown under the bus.


  3. MM – Kloosterman’s approach (to me at least) was to get me to agree that the Bible says something about preserving life, then about marriage, and then to make a leap that it also says things about doing art, doing science, etc. (see my comments above about all the things that fall into the Neocalvinist pillars.)

    Once you say that Scripture makes definitive statements about all of these sorts of things there is not much room left for Christian liberty. That’s Why 2K is seen as such a threat to the Neocalvinist program.


  4. FWIW I’ve enjoyed reading you guys sock it out. I hoping you all turn into soft theonomists like me.

    DGH: Can’t you answer Rev. McAtee’s basic question?

    Premise — The R2K hermeneutic allows Misty Irons and Todd Bordow to come to the conclusions they arrive at concerning social issues quite apart from whether or not other R2K aficionados agree with them or not. Hence, while Bordow and Irons may not be agreed with by Hart touching the issue of man love and puppy love, because of the R2K hermeneutic, they have the “Liberty of Conscience” to advocate for perversion.

    Query — If the R2K hermeneutic doesn’t forbid such a possible embrace (no pun intended) of rather queer positions, on what basis does the R2K hermeneutic rule out such possible conclusions arrived at by Bordow and Irons?

    I would be very interested to hear you flush this hermeneutical question.



  5. I’m not aware that Ms. Irons has ever “advocate[d] for perversion.”

    I believe that people ought to have the legal right to eat in excess. That doesn’t mean that I necessarily am advocating for gluttony (which is also a perversion).


  6. I came across a Mencken quote today regarding Woodrow Wilson’s writings and “its ideational hollowness, its ludicrous strutting and bombast, its heavy dependence on greasy and meaningless words …. faulty generalizing, childish pussyfooting, ludicrous posturing…”

    Seems applicable here but I’ll let you connect the dots.


  7. Doug, I answered the question. 2k doesn’t rule out such an interpretation. How could it since in Presbyterian churches we don’t require members to subscribe (Irons) and we believe in Christian liberty. If you noticed, and please be as careful at Dr. K. allegedly now is, Bordow did not advocate gay marriage. He said he did not have the grounds to discipline someone for adopting political views that would allow for gay marriage.

    You are doing what Machen’s critics did, assuming he was in favor or drunkenness because he opposed Prohibition.

    This is why you are a fundamentalist. You only see one side of an issue. Gay marriage bad. But legislating gay marriage, or the church taking a stand on gay marriage involves laws and officers and members in a host of organizational relationships that go beyond the morality of homosexuality. But for you, it’s a black and white issue and you don’t care what comes with efforts to oppose it, even if it means instituting some kind of political or ecclesiastical tyranny.

    To see how complicated these matters are beyond merely did you transgress the law, check this out.


  8. “Orthodox Reformed thinkers had always bound themselves to Scripture as interpreted by the church in the Reformed Confessions, but Neo-Calvinists abstracted from the Bible one idea, the sovereignty of God, and transformed it into an authoritative principle to which they made the Confessions submit.”

    James Bratt, “Dutch Calvinism in Modern America – A History of a Conservative Subculture” p. 48

    Doug- Neocalvinists aren’t embracing you, but they logically should be. When they try to differentiate themselves from you in explaining why they believe the Magistrate should enforce the second table of the law and not the first they are not very convincing. They offer things like “Our founding fathers made a pledge to Maryland and France to allow Catholics to worship freely so we can’t punish Catholic idolatry”. You need to go harass them.

    I think Irons’ error is that she says that Christians SHOULDN’T oppose gay marriage because it’s a civil issue, not a church issue. Christians have a right to vote their consciences in their role as citizens, however. Note that her ideas haven’t really caught on with anyone so its dumb for Neocalvinists to refer to her as if she is the 2K standardbearer. It sounds like Kloosterman has agreed that he shouldn’t lump all 2K people in with her anymore. I don’t know who Todd Bordow is.

    In reading Bratt it has become apparent to me that objections to Neocalvinism are by no means new. The CRC was fighting about this 100 years ago. The opponents of Neocalvinism shared 2K’s views on the role of the church and a focus on the Confessions, Word & Sacrament. They tended to be more pietistic than most 2K people are today, though. I’ll post more Bratt quotes in the near future.


  9. Kloosterman co-belligerent Darrell Todd Maurina sounding the alarm on 2K back in March. DTM is usually not succinct:
    Green Baggins, 2K, Westminster-West, gay marriage, and Calvinist politics
    (vanity) | 3/22/2012 | Darrell Todd Maurina
    Posted on Thu Mar 22 2012 09:58:02 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time) by darrellmaurina

    If you’re a Free Republic participant, I already know you’re a political conservative. If you’re a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America, or United Reformed Churches, and if you don’t know what “two kingdoms” theology is, you need to read this post.

    What follows is the CO-URC version of posts I made today on the United Reformed and Orthodox Presbyterian listserves run by Christian Observer magazine. It responds to this thread on the Green Baggins blog owned by Rev. Lane Keister: http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/review-of-_the-escondido-theology_-general-considerations/#comments

    You can find the OPC and URC versions of my posts here:



    Brothers, what is being taught by some professors at Weatminster Theological Seminary in California simply is not in accord with our Reformed theological tradition of political engagement, and it isn’t even in accord with the old (and now largely discredited) Southern Presbyterian “spirituality of the church” doctrine. As I say below, it comes very close to raising the white flag of surrender in the face of Satan’s advances in society.

    I do not believe R2K theology is heresy, and thus it’s probably not something pastors should be prosecuted in the courts of the courts of the church for advocating.

    However, if you are a Calvinist and you are politically conservative, you need to be aware of this movement. You need to ask your pastor what he believes about it. If you’re an elder in your church and your pastor is not preaching on the major cultural problems confronting America today, you need to take him aside and find out why, especially if your pastor is a younger man or a Westminster-West graduate. If he’s honestly unaware of the issues, you need to get him good solid Reformed material on political action (pretty much anything by Marvin Olasky is a good idea), and perhaps buy him a gift subscription to World Magazine.

    If not stopped, the Two Kingdoms view will devastate the ability of Reformed Chriatians to respond to cultural wickedness, will capitulate in the face of the efforts of liberals to impose evil on the church, and will cause pastors to “hold their fire” when they need to be leading full-speed-ahead charges in their own congregations to prevent their members from developing seriously unbiblical or socialistic worldviews taught by secular college professors and schoolteachers — and by too many Christian colleges and high schools.

    Worst of all, when churches stop preaching against things like legalization of gay marriage, they often stop preaching against sinful behavior inside the church.

    We need to stop the 2K movement, and stop it now before it causes more damage to the Reformed faith. It’s embarrassing to have to say the Roman Catholics are doing a better job of standing up to President Obama’s unconstitutional abortion pill mandates than too many Protestants, and that is only the tip of the iceberg if we don’t make sure our pastors are leading the fight rather than waving white flags.


    Many of us here (on the United Reformed listserve) remember the controversy over the Heidelblog, the now-deleted blog run by a URC professor at Westminster-West where a number of people, including our own CO-URC participant and URC elder Mark Van Der Molen, spent a lot of time arguing against two-kingdoms views. He and others tried to get me involved in publicly criticizing the Heidelblog, and I participated to some extent, but at that point I thought the 2K movement was a minor and larely irrelevant discussion which wasn’t worth a lot of attention.

    I no longer believe that. I’ve become convinced that the 2K movement is not only a minor annoyance but also a significant distraction from the Christian calling to fight evil and wickedness in the world, and in some cases it’s even worse than that — there are professedly conservative Reformed people seriously arguing that the Christian church should not speak out against gay marriage.

    Over on Rev. Lane Keister’s “Green Baggins” blog, a discussion has been taking place recently that is at least as problematic as the old Heidelblog. It involves a number of people who are well-known in the URC community, and a number of URC people including Elder Van Der Molen and Steve Zrimec, a former deacon at Calvin CRC in Grand Rapids who has recently joined the URC and has a long history of advocating radical two-kingdoms views on the internet.

    Rev. Keister has closed comments on that section of his blog, which I didn’t see until yesterday. The debate started out as a review of Dr. Frame’s recent book on Westminster-West. That is not a subject that particularly interests me, and I didn’t realize until yesterday that the discussion had morphed into a very detailed discussion of the issues involving the “Two Kingdoms” theology.

    The discussion is here, and I’d strongly encourage people to read it: http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/review-of-_the-escondido-theology_-general-considerations/#comments

    There’s a lot of good stuff to help understand the issues with the “Two Kingdoms” view, especially that being advocated by some (not all) professors at Westminster-West. As is always the case with any internet discussion whose posts exceed 500 items, there’s problems, too.

    My concern is not Frame’s book but rather the comments on the blog.

    This whole “two kingdoms” discussion frequently confuses two very different issues: the role of the church as institute and the role of Christian citizens. If all 2K people want is for Christians to speak as individuals rather than through the institutional church except in cases extraordinary, I have no serious objection.

    The problem is that I’m reading comments like this from the pastor of Faith PCA in Cheraw, S.C.: “I do think that all language of cultural transformations tends to lead to either social gospel or thenomy/Christian reconstruction. In either case, it often leads to the exaltation of politics to kingdom-level interest, which I think is a form of idolatry, whether one’s politics are liberal or conservative.” (Jason Van Bemmel, March 2, 2012 at 9:55pm)

    Again, from OPC elder Dr. Daryl Hart: “2k critics are guilty of a theology of glory. 2k affirms a theology of the cross.” (March 3, 2012 at 8:14 am)

    Still another: “If you’re amil, cultural transformation as the expansion of Christ’s kingdom is, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, a misguided waste of kingdom resources and priorities. Actually, at worst, it is idolatry and spiritual unfaithfulness to Christ and His true kingdom, which He Himself said was not of this world and thus that His followers should not take up arms and fight for it. (Jason Van Bemmel, #158, March 6, 2012 at 8:35 am)

    To accuse people of idolatry, advocating a “theology of glory,” a “misguided waste of kingdom resources and priorities” or “spiritual unfaithfulness” is very serious and requires a serious response.

    Jeff Cagle, a ruling elder at Mt. Airy (Md.) PCA, is entirely correct when he worries “that the “anti-transformationalist” net will sweep up more than just fish.” (#115, March 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm)

    Jed Paschall, who dropped out of Moody Bible Institute and now waits tables while being a member of Christ PCA in Temecula, Calif. and prolifically blogging on the “two kingdoms” position, summarized the situation correctly, though coming to the wrong conclusion: “The 2k position is not meant to downplay the importance of the politics of this world, rather it seeks to maintain the spiritual and other-worldly call of the church. I realize that there is much controversy surrounding this issue, but 2kers are not calling on Christian’s as citizens to abdicate their responsibilities as such, or to withdraw their duty to neighborly love which does entail some concern for this world, we simply are asking the church to take her calling as the church seriously. Maybe the 2k position seems like an over-correction to many…” (#339: March 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm).

    That’s not too bad, but just a few comments later (#343, March 12, 2012 at 5:52pm) Jed Paschall makes the astounding argument that while churches may correctly bar pastors from performing gay marriages and bar such ceremonies from being performed inside the church buildings, it would be wrong for the church to say “…Furthermore, we call upon the state to maintain the biblical, creational norms regarding marriage, by banning all possibilities of gay marriages, etc, etc.” He goes on to say, “I would say that the church qua church has overstepped itself, because they now are seeking to exercise power in the civil realm by enacting or endorsing policy. I do not believe that this lies within the charter of the Church given by Christ in the Great Commission. Now if an individual believer, speaking as a citizen were to petition the state in this manner, I would argue that he is fully within his freedoms to do so.”

    Again, Jed Paschall wrote: “If the church is issuing these kinds of statements in order to sway the vote one way or the other or pressure legislative change, they are in effect overstepping the constraints of their call of gospel proclamation and disciple making.” (#361: March 13, 2012 at 3:56 am)

    I do not see how this can be regarded as anything other than an abdication of responsibility by the church. If calling members to oppose gay marriages is not a legitimate “case extraordinary” in the modern American political context where the church can and must speak out against evil, I don’t know what is.

    Unfortunately, that’s not clear to others. The poster “Sean” (#347, March 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm) wrote with regard to Rev. Jason Stellman of Exile PCA in Woodinville, Wash., whose church is in a state that recently legalized gay marriage: “utter waste of credibility and misuse of office it would be for Jason or any other minister/s of the gospel to sacrifice/marginalize the redemptive office and ministerial function of the church to be just another of a few million salvos in the so-called culture war.”

    The stakes on this are high, and not only in one direction. Not only is the civil magistrate under the Escondido version of the two kingdoms doctrine free to be latitudinarian, he is also free to be wildly extreme in his punishments. As “Tom” said: “The fact is that under Escondido-style two kingdoms (ES2K) the state is left to make any law and any punishment it wishes. It is free to execute murderers, adulterers, child molesters, or habitual jaywalkers. It is free to cut off the offending hand of a thief. Or tatoo an “A” on the forehead of a wayward spouse. The ES2K magistrate can jail practicing homosexuals or grant them a marriage certificate. And you can forget about anything having to do with blasphemy, heresy, or Sabbath-keeping. There is nothing in the ephemeral “natural law” of ES2K to instruct the magistrate which laws are God-pleasing orwhich punishments are just. There is no natural law version of lex talionis. Obviously the magistrate under a ES2K system is far more arbitrary, ruthless, and fearsome (in a negative sense, not a Romans 13 sense) than anything the most militant theonomist could ever envision.” (#358: March 12, 2012 at 11:42pm)

    As another poster said with regard to “ZRim,” otherwise known as Steve Zrimec, a former deacon of Calvin CRC in Grand Rapids and prolific internet supporter of the Two Kingdoms doctrine who recently joined the United Reformed Churches, ” no wonder Escondido 2K is not well-regarded, and must be treated and seen as an aberrant, defective form of the historic 2K position.” (Truth Unites… and Divides, #373: March 13, 2012 at 9:43 am)

    ZRim, now a URC member, asks this: “Do we all need to be reminded that no-fault divorce is unbiblical, that fornication will not be tolerated? Or is there no similar concern for those things because they don’t exactly inhabit the public mind?” (March 13, 2012 at 11:13 am)

    Such a statement is simply shocking to me. Look at the percentages of young people and even older people in our churches involved in immorality. If our churches are not preaching on such matters, it is our own fault.

    Quite frankly, if churches are not preaching on the major sins of American culture, they aren’t doing their jobs.

    Brethren, the stakes in these matters are serious. We can say all we want about pastors not being professional politicians and not being the best-equipped people to make political pronouncements. I might very well agree with that in many cases.

    But the culture wars are real, they’re deadly serious, and if we’re not going to fight back we can’t assume the devil is going to stop fighting just because we try to raise the white flag.


    Darrell Todd Maurina, Member Gospel of Grace ARP, Springfield, Mo.


  10. Do Neocalvinists (and similarly motivated advocates of Church-based political activism) ever consider the legacy of abolotionism, which solved the problem of slavery with a war that killed 625,000 people, or of prohibition, which solved the problem of drunkenness with a bad solution that was later reversed? As we consider abortion and gay marriage maybe we should look at different types of solutions — like churches being solid and making disciples of Jesus Christ. Consider the story of a former slave named John Gloucester (by D.G. Hart):

    “Presbyterian minister and founder of the first African-American Presbytrian church. Born a slave in Kentucky and converted by the preaching of a Presbyterian minister, Gideon Blackburn. Gloucester began to receive training for the ministry when Blackburn purchased him and took him to his home in Tennessee for instruction in Presbyterian divinity. After Gloucester preached to the nearby Cherokees, Blackburn advocated in 1807 that the Presbytery of Union license him to preach. At the same time, Archibald Alexander, then pastor of Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, who met Gloucester at the 1807 general assembly, asked him to go North for the purpose of serving in the Evangelical Society, an agency that evangelized blacks in Alexander’s hometown. Blackburn agreed to free Gloucester to comply with Alexander’s request. Gloucester’s preaching led in May 1807 to the organization of the First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. he was finally licensed to preach in 1810 by the Presbytery of Union and a year later transferred his credentials to the Presbytery of Philadelphia.

    In addition to pastoral duties and overseeing a sabbath school and a day school, Gloucester traveled frequently to raise funds for the manumission (freeing) of his wife and four children. In 1818 he went as far as England to secure the remainder of the fifteen hundred dollars he needed. His trip was successful, and upon his return to Philadelphia he was reunited with his family. Gloucester’s two sons, Stephen and James, followed in their father’s footsteps, the former founding the Central Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia in 1844 and the latter organizing the Siloam Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn in 1849. Gloucester’s admirers remembered him as an excellent preacher and an even better singer. Consumption (tuberculosis) contributed to his death.”


  11. This is a cliche, and Neocalvinists won’t get it, but maybe Christianity is more about making the best of the situation in which we find ourselves than it is trying to make the situation in which we find ourselves ideal. I read a book in college by Chinua Achebe called “Things Fall Apart”, and that title has always stuck with me. Things in this world will never be right because of sin, so if we are always reacting to what the world does we will never have any peace. Obama was re-elected! What will we do?! The same things we would have done if Romney had been elected, or even if the ideal Christian candidate had been elected. The church’s work transcends all of them.


  12. Doug,

    It’s been awhile since I mentioned gay marriage, so what exactly are you referring to? I am against gay marriage, but I wouldn’t ex-communicate a member who saw homosexual lust and behavior as a sin as the Scriptures do, but voted for the state to allow gay marriage. Is this what you are criticizing?


  13. @DGH Thanks for the reply, however I am most certainly NOT a fundamentalist. I, like Machen would oppose prohibition with every fiber in my being, because it goes beyond God’s Word.

    Colossians 2:16

    Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.

    So of course I’m not a fundamentalist!! DGH, and shame on you for implying I am!

    @Erik, I loved watching you go Bahnsenian on those Neo Cals. FWIW, you’re right! Their answer was fairly weak on the first table, ALTHOUGH, they did provide good Scriptural evidence for allowing Catholics to worship today, as with the Gibbonites example. But they didn’t have a good answer, as to why Blasphemy’s not longer a crime.


  14. D.G. – The local CRC church student ministry brought Bratt to the Iowa State Campus 5 years ago or so. I wish I knew then what I knew now and I would have asked him a lot more questions. We need to get Hart to Des Moines or Ames at some point. Mikkelmann & I are both at conservative P&R Churches in Des Moines. We need to talk about how much we would need to raise to get you here for a weekend. That would be great. I would set aside my offerings for awhile to make that happen (ha, ha)!

    I could get you some golf on my boss’s course, too. Rates are going up to around $150 a round next summer so that’s worth something. Speak Friday & Saturday, worship on Sunday, golf all day Monday — something like that.


  15. Erik, a cooperative event like that might actually work. Pre-event publicity might include an interview with Mickelson on WHO radio. Email me if you’re serious.


  16. Could someone recommend to me the best books, chapters, or articles written by Reformed writers on why the Reformed should oppose same-sex marriage? Preferably scholarly works (you know, citing and interacting with the work of other scholars etc.). ty


  17. @DGH I’m still have my nose out of joint being called a fundamentalist, by you of all people! How dare ye?! I’m a Presbyterian, like Roger Walters, and Greg Bahnsen, who were and are OPC.

    Colossians 2:21

    Do not handle, Do not taste. Do not touch (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teaching? These have indeed and appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and *asceticism* and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

    What you’ve done, in my humble opinion, is confuse legalism with asceticism. Legalism (in the reformed community) used to describe a fellow who believed that Christ’s sacrificed wasn’t enough, that we needed to *add* our good works to get to heaven. As in works, rightheouness.They weren’t even considered Christian! That’s the legalism which we all must reject. I rest in the completed work of Christ, alone for my Salvation! He paid the price in full!!

    Asceticism, on the other hand, is saying “we know drunkenness is wrong, therefore let’s not drink at all”. “Let’s nip it off in the bud”. That describes a Fundamentalist to a tee, which I am not! However, even most fundamentalists believe in the perseverance of the Saints, although they would call it “eternal security”, therefore, we shouldn’t call our “fundie” brothers legalists. Although they are a tad legalistic as we all can be some times. Let’s choose our words carefully.

    In Him,


  18. @ pa you personify the problem with this new fangled Escondido 2K hermeneutic. Its *new* but not improved lol! Not even DGH can explain how his hermeneutic doesn’t open the door wide open for this abomination.

    What’s the best book that speaks against legalizing sodomy?

    The best book I can think of is the Bible! God has judged Nations for sexual depravity in times past; see Exodus as in the 7 Nations. God also destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their sexual perversions, including sodomy. God also told Israel that if they committed sexual depravity and sacrificed their children to Moleck, like the 7 Nations did; the land would vomit them out. They did, and God did. Our God is not fickle. If homosexuality caused God to judge whole Nations in times past, he most certainly will in the future. Only a fool would think that God was arbitrary in judging homosexuality backing then, but not now. Our God does not change! So if we love our neighbor, and our Nation, then we should see that legalizing sodomy as a great threat. “Whoa to any Nation that calls evil good”!


  19. Doug, you wrote about “getting to heaven”. Where is that in the Bible? Someday Jesus Christ is coming from heaven to earth. Christ reigns until then and will justify all for whom He died. Justification is apart from our works. “Getting to heaven” is a very curious (and unbiblical) way for you to talk about eternal life, bodily resurrection, and all the other blessings of adoption and justification.

    John 3:13 Nobody has ascended there except the one who descended from there.


  20. Gives you some sympathy for the PRCs right? (Don’t get Zrim started.)

    mark: I am used to being out of the loop, but I don’t mind getting Zrim started. What’s the deal? Zrim, do you agree with Bolt that there are many valid objections to both the concept and use of “common grace”? I do. We have a perfectly good word for “providence”. Evil trees bear evil fruit. It does not make Herman Hoeksema an “anabaptist” for reminding us of that antithesis.


  21. Mark Macculley, I was describing a fundalmentalist, using thier lingo, so to speak. “as they would say”

    If your going to admonish me, at least read what I wrote correctly.


  22. Mark, re the PRCs, I believe Darryl was referring to my problem with their formalized educational legalism. Don’t get me started on that or our local leash laws.


  23. I came across this passage earlier today on a Reformed blog. Maybe DGH will be shamed into revealing his secret cultural Marxism now:

    “Misty [Irons] also is a great example of the connection between radical two-kingdom thought and cultural Marxism. By denying the authority of Scripture over the realm of civil government, “R2K” thought gives legitimacy to the most spurious of pluralist arguments and thus must cede on all points to egalitarian dogmas. Misty’s explicit approval of sodomite marriage – before an audience of sodomites and sodomite-lovers, no less – is the clearest of examples anyone could request for the ugly affinity between the two schools of thought.”

    Well, all I know is that if proof-texting and free association arguments won’t convince you, the TR won’t be of much help.


  24. pa, thanks for that. It sounds like vintage Rabbi Bret even though authored by someone with a pseudonym who supposedly goes to college in Ohio. I’ve often thought that the Rabbi needs to go back to school — in Ohio or anywhere.


  25. I’ve always wondered what Reformed anti-dualists do with the Reformed doctrine of the sacraments. Sign and thing signified, anyone? Or the Church; visible and invisible. It all appears, for people seemingly obsessed with consistency, strangely inconsistent.


  26. Wow. That was a long read (at least the majority of the comments…didn’t read them all because its late).

    Isn’t it possible for a believer to say that an action is not morally right but should not be prohibited by the state? Or isn’t it possible for a believer to say that while two parties engage in immoral activities, they should be given equal legal protections to enter into a legally binding contract if they so desire? Is it conceivable that a two heterosexual men or women can draft a legal contract that would give them the legal rights accompanied by marriage, and yet never have a romantic relationship with one another? Can such a contract not be extended to two homosexuals?

    Maybe I’m way off base here, but being for marriage equality (as in equal legal rights) does not necessitate that you have to advocate the lifestyle as a moral norm or moral good. I want Buddhists and Muslims and Atheists to have the freedom to worship, or not, according to their own conscience, but I do not believe they are anything less than Sabbath breakers and Idolators.

    Tagging onto DG’s reference to Machen and the prohibition, I think one could make a parallel for a Christian who is against the prohibition on marijuana as well. A broader question seems to be, is it sinful for a Christian to be Libertarian (a pro-life Libertarian at that)?

    Maybe I should take the easy way out and just become a theonomist and make my politic and theology the same…


  27. ” Is it conceivable that a two heterosexual men or women can draft a legal contract that would give them the legal rights accompanied by marriage, and yet never have a romantic relationship with one another? Can such a contract not be extended to two homosexuals?”

    A contract is one thing. Changing the definition of marriage, which God arguably established in the Garden of Eden, is another. A contract between two people that has little or no impact on me is something I can probably accept.


  28. Huh? Where am I? Some kind of alternative universe? Since Machen opposed the prohibition of drinking, which is scripturally lawful, his epigones can claim his mantle of authority in opposing the prohibition of homosexuality, which is scripturally unlawful. But then what’s next? Opposing the prohibition of of snuff films? Does it not logically follow in principle, never mind what is practically possible for or against in a depraved or more civilized society?

    Same goes for John Knox and the specious argument for “marriage equality”.
    That is, you cannot reasonably privilege same sex unions while at the same time denying the same to same family unions (incest) or more than one person at the same time unions (polyamory).
    IOW the equality/fairness/justice argument is bogus from the word go.

    We either legalize every and all kinds of marital unions – which is where the “equality” position is headed whether it is honest/intelligent enough to admit it – or we pick and choose what we want to allow and forgo the window dressing of “equality” and just admit that the whims of the media/ majority is the bottom line or what? the natural law has nothing to say about monogamous heterosexual unions.

    Further in all this, if the WCF 19:1,2 considers the Ten commandments to be the republication of the moral law given in the Garden – and the moral law is the natural law, no – what’s the beef? How else does the magistrate in Rom. 13 know what is the good in order to do it.

    I don’t see that being addressed in all the to and fro, but then again, homophobe and (racist/sexist/anti-semite) hater that I am, maybe I missed it.


  29. I understand the creation ordinance bit, but does one then expect that all creation ordinances are to be enforced by the state? To be against allowing same sex unions (and all the legal ramifications that go with it in our society) of such a union on creation ordinance terms, why does one not also then oppose Sabbath violations and idolatry, or false religions, with the mechanism of the state? I submit I have not gone through all the possible reasonings here, but perhaps someone can explain why the purity of marriage from a governmental perspective trumps that of the other creation ordinances?

    And again, I don’t see how arguing that the state should not forbid it is an argument that endorses it. Divorce is a much more common, and universal breach of the creation ordinance, but so few of the people yelling and screaming about gay marriage yell and scream about divorce bring legal.

    This all has nothing to do with the church changing its view on homosexuality. Homosexuality is sinful and should never be endorsed by the church. I don’t think that’s the debate here.

    Pardon me if I’m missing something here. Trying to work through my own politics and the correlation of that to my theology.


  30. John, you didn’t answer the question.
    If “equality” is the basis for legalizing homosexual unions, incest and polyamory should get the nod first. At least they got the basic biological plumbing issues figured out.
    What’s going on at the present is the privileging of perverted homosexual marItal unions over – as it were – perverted heterosexual unions. What gives? I think they are all wrong, but Scripture/creation is not the issue or basis here for questioning the rationale.

    Further, what sabbath the state acknowledges, if any at all is another question, however interesting the discussion of that can of worms promises to be.



  31. Bob

    Sorry, the last response was aimed at Erik.

    Per your question, I’ve honestly never though about it. Usually people throw out bestiality and marrying your pet as the next stage, which is ridiculous because an animal has no property that would be brought into consideration, no health insurance, taxes nor any other legal concern with two consenting parties. To answer your question I will play this card first. Politically I’m of the libertarian mindset so part of my answer here is from strictly a political point that I do not believe the state should interfere with consenting parties beyond enforcing legal contracts and protecting one from having their rights violated. So in that sense, if two cousins or siblings want to legally be bound together, as perverse as it is, that is their choice. To the polyamory question, all parties must be willing participants of the contract. Once again, still very much sin.

    How should the church respond to this? The church should preach the law/gospel, Wprship with word/sacrament. The church can say sin is sin and stand for truth and let each believer apply that truth to their lives. I don’t think it is a contradiction to say islam is an idolatrous religion, or atheism is a idolatrous religion of self, and still maintain the state should not forbid the existence of Islam or atheism or hold the state should enforce contracts between them. I’m also not saying every Christian should be libertarian. I’m saying, whatever your political theory may be, your duty as a Christian is to obey the great commandment and the role of the church is to build up and grow believers in the spiritual nurture of God (isn’t that the point of the confession in 25.3?)

    The problem I saw with what Misty Itons advocated was that it appeared as though in her legitimate concern to love her neighbor she sacrificed, it seemed to me, the biblical moral view of homosexuality. The danger of arguing as I have is that it’s a thin line between saying “should not be illegal” and “is not sinful” (or downplaying it’s sinfulness, as I think Misty did).

    Perhaps further study will change my mind. The OPC church I was recently attending (as I’m looking for a place to settle in) was very good at making me think. I know the pastor there disagreed with me on this point, and also with my libertarianism but he did make me think. Anyway, I’m not sure that will satisfy you for an answer, but that’s what I’m thinking now.

    (sorry for any typos, on my iPhone)


  32. Bob, have you ever noticed that the moral law is different from federal or state legislation? The U.S. and Michigan don’t use OT law. So please follow the bouncing balls — I oppose homosexual marriage. I would probably also favor legislation that restricted or prohibited it. But opposition to gay marriage is not indicative of one’s orthodoxy or moral soundness. The reason is that civil legislation is not moral law.


  33. Pets & minor children can not give consent to sexual relations with adults. I do agree that polygamy is probably the next domino to fall. I just don’t feel the need to fight to my dying breath to prohibit two men or two women to contract to leave their property to each other or to visit each other in the hospital. I don’t approve of marriage for them, but this is not the hill the church lives or dies on. It is a good way for Christian political activists to raise a lot of money, though.

    When does the crusade against lustful looking start? Make a few fundraising calls on that one.


  34. Daryl,

    Well, I’m glad you are not using the Machen/Prohibition argument any longer, but who said anything about OT law?
    Further the moral law is the basis for civil law – at least the general equity thereof, so what gives?

    Evidently Christians may oppose homosexuality, but whether the civil magistrate allows, represses or is indifferent to homosexuality is adiaphora for the church, much more Christians can morally oppose homosexuality – by being in favor of having it further legalized? Hmmm. That really is a new kind of kool aide.

    Again, the argument for HU, based as it now is on equality/equal rights, is a contradiction of its own terms. Is it to much to ask that at least the church doesn’t fall for it, never mind the world?

    Not that some persecution might be good for the church, but maybe the real reason why true freedom/equality across the board is not included in the whole charade as it is being argued now is because that great god Tolerance, the current reigning deity in the self professed secular pantheon, is intolerant of Intolerance.

    IOW maybe we need to talk some of these secularists into incorporating 2k into their own ideology.
    Ya think?


  35. So then, if something is sin, it should be illegal? Always? That is at least consistent with theonomic standards. Hate to be the catholic in theonopolis though. Come so close, and still not close enough to escape the sword. Just curious if your going to say the state should always punish every sin and chastise every sinner, or I’d you grant there are certain sins it would possibly be out of place for the state to punish.


  36. Bob, do you really mean to imply if not assert that the OT is not part of God’s moral law, or that if you talk about the Bible you are not talking about the OT. Did Marcion create kool aid?

    The Bible requires resting on the seventh day. The church teaches this. Our society disregards this part of God’s moral law. In other words, there are plenty of instances where our society disregards God’s moral law.

    But you choose gay marriage as the hill on which to die and show the decadence of our society? Are you obsessed with sex?

    In case you missed it, I oppose gay marriage. I also oppose playing professional sports on the Lord’s Day. I just don’t think the church needs to make a big deal of it.


  37. Evidently Christians may oppose homosexuality, but whether the civil magistrate allows, represses or is indifferent to homosexuality is adiaphora for the church, much more Christians can morally oppose homosexuality – by being in favor of having it further legalized? Hmmm. That really is a new kind of kool aide.

    Bob, it’s actually a question of intermeddling (WCF 31.5), something the church shouldn’t do. Is it really that hard to morally oppose but remain politically silent (and extend liberty to those members whose politics differ)?


  38. I used to get on a conservative Christian talk radio host who was basically a Neocalvinist without knowing it. Finally it occurred to me that I was asking the guy to give up what he does for a living. Similarly, isn’t worldviewism what Dr.K currently does for a living? It’s like someone coming to me and trying to talk me out of the concept of accounting. I’ve decided to give up on both projects and am sleeping quite well.


  39. Daryl et al,

    The ad hom cheap shots on obsession aside, one gets a little tired of hearing fellow believers repeat by rote the world’s same old tired mantra for legalizing homosexual unions: that it is all about “civil/equal rights/equality” yadda yadda yah. (Those who are not guilty can sit this one out.)

    It ain’t no such thing. The argument is a contradiction in terms. You cannot arbitrarily privilege same sex marriages over same family marriages or more than one person at the same time marriages – incest and polyamory – because it is discrimination/unequal according to the Jacobin definition.

    But wait, in private/family worship above we are told somebody read 1 Cor. 5 where Paul chides the church at Corinth for tolerating what the world doesn’t even name, incest – arguably an appeal to natural law/light which he didn’t need to spend a lot of time on.

    But now we seem to be told it’s no big deal when the world of our day is more “progressive” than the world of Paul’s day. Get used to it.

    But why can’t believers complain – according to the natural law – if the world wants to trample on it big time?

    IOW what I see in the name of 2k is the baby being thrown out with the bath house water.
    Granted, some hills aren’t worth dying for, but that doesn’t mean we are supposed to give away the farm.



  40. 1 Cor 5? Really? That’s your chapter/verse for the church to condemn/confront the world for sin? Isn’t such an interpretation turning the biblical text on its head?

    “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”

    How are you not saying we should apply this in the exact opposite manner Paul does? Hey, if there’s people clamoring to be gay married in the church, yeah. That’s a battle to fight. The church has an obligation to purify its own ranks. You seem like you want to purify the entire world, unless I’m greatly misunderstanding you.


  41. Bob, if you read the Bible the way you read blog comments, I pity those you lead in family worship. Where did I ever say I favor legalizing gay marriages? Because I don’t want to run someone out of the church if they do, doesn’t mean I favor what they support. After all, I don’t try to run tee-totalers out of the church even though I disagree with their piety.


  42. If we teetotal but not for self-righteous reasons, is our piety still suspect? I mean, if I like Dr Pepper better, are my motives questionable? Of does a proper definition of tee-totaling have inherent in it an element of self-righteousness? I mean, you can say you are a vegetarian only for health reasons (a desire to avoid heart surgery), but should we really believe your profession of reasons?

    I can be “strong” (non-influenced) without pitying you for your suspect piety. You also can be strong without feeling sorry for me not having learned to appreciate wine. And if we say “yet”, have we assumed a trajectory for the other that imitates our own?


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