If Critics of 2K Have So Much Time To Criticize 2K, the Culture Must Be Fine

Recent interactions with Dr. K. and his followers have confirmed at least to (all about) me that no end (or substance) is in sight for the fine tooth comb applied to two kingdom theology. In an earlier exchange, potential clarification of views went essentially nowhere. Dr. K. did admit finally that Misty Irons may not be the best evidence of 2k’s problems, though he continues to make gay marriage a test case for cultural engagement (when he is not banging the drum for Christian schools). Why blasphemy laws are not also not on the table for culture warriors is still up for grabs (at one point Dr. K. said that gay marriage and blasphemy were apples and oranges).

So too some clarification came in the realm of biblicism. Dr. K. went out of his way to say that the Bible is not sufficient for all of life. But then with the other hand he insisted that the Bible must provide the lens with which to interpret everything. I don’t know about you, but if a book is silent on plumbing and then I am told the book in question needs to be used to interpret plumbing, the drip in my mental faucet quickens.

Arguably, the only glove that landed on 2kers was our failure to be as outraged as neo-Calvinists were about the incident of a transgender man exposing himself (herself?) to co-eds at a Washington State college.

Now (okay, a little while ago) comes another assessment of Matt Tuininga’s effort to find a middle way between 2k and neo-Calvinism. Part of the annoyance of this post is the mind-numbing numbering of paragraphs the way that European academic books do (arguably nothing makes scholarship look more arcane than numbering and sub-numbering paragraphs in the manner of a automobile manual). After three articles of trying to explain 2k to people unfamiliar with it and a tad frightened, Tuininga receives a barely passing grade from Dr. K.:

This essay written by Matthew Tuininga is the third in a series seeking to explain the heart of the new movement known as “natural law and two kingdoms” (NL2K, R2K, or simply 2K). It remains to be seen, however, whether his numerous qualifications designed to safeguard his position and to effect rapprochement with worldview Calvinism will offer genuine clarity or generate more confusion.

With the culture in such bad shape as neo-Calvinists have it, you might think Dr. K. would see 2k as a rather minor concern. Do anti-2kers really think that a few book writers, who are by no means celebrities at the Gospel Coalition’s registrants count celebrity, are derailing the project to return the United States to biblical standards? If only Old Life were that popular.

Meanwhile, not to be missed is a good statement of 2k convictions on Tuininga’s part:

Perhaps the most obvious expression of this reality is Ephesians 4, the passage Calvin used to link his two kingdoms doctrine with its institutional implications for church government. Paul explains that the fruits of Christ’s ascension, in which he was made Lord of all things, is expressed in his pouring out of the gifts of the church’s ministry. It is as the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers equip the saints for ministry and build up the body into Christ that the saints “grow up in every way into him who is the head” (Ephesians 4:7-16). This is Paul’s presupposition when he declares in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, “For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

Thus, the church is the only corporate expression of the kingdom in this age. It is only as we join ourselves to the body of Christ, the body of those who hold fast to Jesus, that we participate in the kingdom that is coming. And although we witness to our citizenship in this kingdom in every single thing that we do in this age, doing everything “as unto the Lord,” the primary form this witness to Christ’s lordship takes is that of submission, service, and sacrifice in an often hostile and oppressive world. Only after believers, like Jesus and in conformity to his example, set aside the glory that they have been promised, take up the form of a servant, and humble themselves to the point of death, can they be confident that God will exalt them above every knee “in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:5-11). Only by following in the way of the Lamb that was slain, to the point of martyrdom if necessary, do the witnesses of the Lamb conquer with him (Revelation 12:11; 14:4).

My lone quibble with Matt is the sign of lingering neo-Calvinism (which I attribute to his Covenant College education, in part, and which he denies). For instance, he still believes that Christians will look or be different and noticeable when they apply the Bible to their daily lives:

The call of the Christian life is therefore not to establish the Lordship of Christ through conquest or external cultural transformation but to witness to Jesus’s lordship by imitating him in his sacrificial service. When we conform to Christ’s example faithfully the effect on our various vocations and communities will indeed be profound. Those in government will recognize the Lordship of Christ (Psalm 2) and seek to use their power to secure peace and justice for those under their charge, rather than self-aggrandizement, and to protect the church in order that it might fulfill its task (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Those in positions of economic power will serve those placed under them rather than dominate them (Ephesians 6:9). Husbands will sacrifice themselves for their wives in imitation of Christ, recognizing their equality together in him (Ephesians 5:25-33). Those who have been given gifts, talents, or riches will use those resources to provide for those who are in need (Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 6:18). About all of these cultural affairs, in which believers engage in common with unbelievers, Scripture has much to say.

I know Matt thinks I am less than moderate at times in my expression of 2k and part of my provocation stems from an unwillingness to grant culturally distinct ways to Christians based on biblical teaching. But I also know and I am sure Matt knows, plenty of non-Christians who believe government officials should serve the public, that businessmen should not ruthlessly pursue profits, that husbands should be considerate and loving toward their wives, and that those with resources will share them with those in need. In other words, I see nothing inherently distinctive or biblical in the Christian pursuit of these social and cultural goods. Do different motives exist for Christian businessmen compared to their unbelieving peers? Sure. Can I see those motives? No. And that is the point. The best stuff that Christians produce in public or cultural life is hardly distinct from non-Christian products. Where you do literally see Christianity at work is on Sunday.

Oh no, there goes 24/7 Christianity.

127 thoughts on “If Critics of 2K Have So Much Time To Criticize 2K, the Culture Must Be Fine

  1. Your post hints at this: the gaping disparity between talk and action, not to mention results, on the part of the transformers (and theonomists for that matter).

    On the other hand, the unredeemed community not being particularly persuaded by the language found in 2 Peter 3 has an impressive body of work to marvel at. The following link shows just one example.

    http://tinyurl.com/a5s6x57

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  2. I’m constantly struck by how the Neo-Cal description of discipleship relies on a kind of bourgeois privilege that excludes the vast majority of Christians in the world. Most of us aren’t smart, powerful, rich, or supremely gifted. (A lot of us are babies, who are notoriously stupid.) Even Matt’s description only mentions rich married males in government. For that matter, even rich married males in government have a pretty hard time changing the culture. There’s a scene in Season 3 of The Wire where Mayor Royce attends the demolition of the 221, only to have all the dust from the explosion envelop the crowd. I’m wondering what advice they’d have given Bodie and Poot, whose lives were full of more mundane questions like how not to get murdered by Marlo.

    Speaking of government, a Calvinist from South Carolina even resigned today to go run a think-tank, which was appropriate given that it’s the only kind of institutional available to do the work they seem to think exemplifies the Christian life.

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  3. A am sitting in continuing education today reading back issues of the Wall Street Journal and trying to stay awake and I had an idea for you: Write a short piece on 2K and see if they will publish it on their Friday Opinion Page where they usually have an article or two on religion.

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  4. Erik, Many thanks for your asking me, several Darryl posts back, for some self disclosure and then thanking me for sharing a bit. No, Richard, when I was OPC pastor in Garden Grove, CA, I did not start the crystal cathedral! Bob Schuller did that starting in one of those 1950s drive in theaters with speakers hanging on every car door. That big glass building came later and came upon hard times, now, in your day. Wasn’t Schuller RCA? Not Radio Corporation of America! I was also Elder (I’m just one of the elders here, since Nov.10, at Alexian Village… Alexian has a majority of female elders. 🙂 As I was saying… I was Elder at Redeemer OPC, ATL, 1968-1999. Resigned because I long felt that WE were not interested in involvement in Jesus’ world (fighting “wolves” like every good shepherd should), and I felt that WE were not even serious about Pastoral Care! Didn’t give our job for God “all that is whithin us”. (Psalm 103:1). Didn’t seem to care about what went on outside the OPC and New Horizons. Oh Erik, I see why you want to call me “Lazarus”, but my many resurrections from OLT are REALLY NUMBERED, what with Darryl calling ALL? PARAchurches… “PARAsites! Now I add a few details to my auto-bio. BTW, you gave a LOT less self disclosure than I ! I gave you my E-addr. if privacy is desired. Elaine and Young Bob spent all of summer 1953 on our honeymoon in Bend, Oregon. Under my boss, John Galbraith, Sec.y of OPC Home Missions. (John was close friend and still living, so far as I know). After putting up with my preaching for many weeks, the folks there asked us to come back after my last year @ WTS to be their Senior (only) pastor. Pleased me, but I didn’t feel God’s call. Still wish my suggestion of discussing the 4 types of “walls” had caught on @ OLT. For instance I am convinced that the wall between Church and State is (Contra ACLU and many Christians) a LOW wall, a la Lillback’s gift book (to us): “The Wall of Misconception”. I am also strongly convinced that there SHOULD BE a low wall between 2Ker and Neo-Calver Brothers. But I repeat myself! Love, The FORMER Lazeras. Soon, (I hope!)

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  5. Wow! Talking about our Neo-Calvinist Brothers having a lot of time. I am forever astounded about the time it must take for nearly daily, long, posts, and sometimes HUNDREDS of comments on a single post. Some OLT guys have endless numbers of, and size comments on EVERYTHING!—- Do you have families? Jobs? Ought to be time for just a few responses to Old Lazarus’ plea for a walls of misconception (high, low, no or maybes). For example, What kind of wall, if any, is between Sola Scriptura and Illumination of the Holy Spirit? Love, Old Lazarus—ugh, Old Bob. (Still love y’all but it is HARD!)

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  6. Thanks, Bob. Not too hard to pop in throughout the day so see what’s going on since I am at my computer most of the time I am at work. Don’t leave, just minimize your expectations and you’ll be happier. These are long, ongoing conversations. No hurry.

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  7. Bob Morris: Bob Schuller did that starting in one of those 1950s drive in theaters with speakers hanging on every car door. That big glass building came later and came upon hard times, now, in your day. Wasn’t Schuller RCA?

    RS: Since Schuller was part of a Reformed denomination, does that mean that people from his congregation would be accepted at PCA churches and OPC churches because they make a profession of faith, are members of a church, and commune at that church? Whatever happened to his new reformation?

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  8. Bob Morris: Wow! Talking about our Neo-Calvinist Brothers having a lot of time. I am forever astounded about the time it must take for nearly daily, long, posts, and sometimes HUNDREDS of comments on a single post. Some OLT guys have endless numbers of, and size comments on EVERYTHING!—- Do you have families? Jobs? Ought to be time for just a few responses to Old Lazarus’ plea for a walls of misconception (high, low, no or maybes). For example, What kind of wall, if any, is between Sola Scriptura and Illumination of the Holy Spirit? Love, Old Lazarus—ugh, Old Bob. (Still love y’all but it is HARD!)

    RS; Did anyone promise you that loving others would be easy? You must have listened too much to Schuller while you were in Grove City. Anyway, it sounds like you have read the book about the wall, but I know I have not read it. Maybe a short synopsis or main thesis with a few of his arguments would help get the discussion going.

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  9. Dear friends Erik and Richard, Many thanks for your early, even loving and interesting, responses. Richard, I think that in my 31 years as OPC Elder, we never had a visit from an RCA person. I guess our (in my view, right) handling of fencing the table (“fencing”?) 🙂 we would have missed out had an RCA visitor appeared. Only RCA (big experience) I had was in the RCA company. I worked for them as ATL Branch Training Director, 1966-1972, when they folded the Computer Systems Division. Family needed some tempory financial help from Dad and our Creator. Went back to my real calling. I see no response from OLT’s leader. I’d like to hear his comment on the nature of the wall between Sola and Inspiration. He always writes such short responses, and incomplete to Old Bob. Love, Old Lazarus (soon, I think) to return to plain Old Bob, elder along with 400+ male and female elders on Signal Mountain.

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  10. This desire for intellectual comprehensiveness, wholeness, etc., is a bit too Stoic for my taste. I prefer the focus of 1 John over the “agreement of one’s whole life” championed in Stoic ethics. Just me, maybe.

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  11. Unless I’m missing something, “worldview-all-of-life-calvinism” shades of a form of law based on the precepts of men, as opposed to the easy-yoke / light-burden of Him who “loved the Lord your God with all His heart and with all His soul and with all His strength and with all His mind” for us. Why the unnecessary burden on the flock, folks?

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  12. Darryl, with such a plain mistake, it’s no wonder that many think that your understanding of neo-Calvinism is not to be trusted. I continue to wonder whether your conversations with the Irish Presbyterians suffered from a similar failure. I’m guessing they thought you were talking about liberal social gospelism.

    Common grace is part of the equation. Unbelievers who do the good that you describe are living in God’s created world just as much as believers are. They are doing God’s good will (although they don’t know it, because of their status as unbelievers). Of course, unless they repent, they will be judged for not recognizing that the good that they have done was by God’s grace and was to his glory. But whenever they obey God’s law they are experiencing in some small measure the life of the kingdom. To quote a pop Kuyperian, “If there’s anything good that happens in life, it’s from Jesus.”

    As for plumbers, I think you jest when you say you don’t get it. Of course, the Bible doesn’t say much, if anything, about the technical aspects of modern plumbing. But, to get plumbing right religiously, you have acknowledge the God-ordained laws of plumbing and the God-created materials of plumbing and the God-created fabric of society that would allow the trade of plumber to come into existence and worship the God who made these things through the Lord Jesus Christ. No doubt many excellent practitioners of plumbing don’t get it right religiously, i.e. any who aren’t believers. Plumbers who don’t acknowledge the Creator God and the Lord Jesus may be excellent plumbers with respect to certain technical details, but they don’t know or practice the Truth. As Van Til says, they only have knowledge “after a fashion”. We’re not saying any more or any less than that.

    I hope that fixes your drip. Don’t know if Dr. K. or Matt T. read these comments, but perhaps they could comment if I’m on the right track here.

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  13. Randy, because it gives us a platform for culture wars. Think Kuyper in the 1880s and forming a political party. Think Schaeffer and How Shall We Then Live? Christians need a war plan with comprehensive guidelines. Voila! The Bible may not have it — unless it is one of those OT jihads. But now Calvinists have one. And get this. It is a program for a Calvinist civilization. Kuyper actually talks of such in his lectures. Tingles going down legs for some, raised neck hairs for others.

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  14. Terry, if all neo-Calvinism saying is that unbelievers don’t practice true faith then it’s not saying anything very profound nor anything with which 2k would take issue. At most it’s just redundant. But my own sense is that it thinks there’s more to it than that simple construction. It wants to say that unbelieving cashiers who give correct change not only don’t practice faith but somehow that correct change is tainted or lacking. Or take good but unbelieving fathers as another example–for those in that situation it may seem like neo-Calvinism tempts one to break the fifth commandment.

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  15. Terry, common grace is an oxymoron. Grace is unique, special, to invoke a popular hymn, amazing. But neo-Calvinists turn it into something ordinary. Why would they do that?

    Neo-Calvinists also turn the faith into something only philosophers can appreciate. This is intellectual Wesleyanism. The reason. Plenty of Christian plumbers can’t perform the mental gymnastics required of Dooyeweerd and company. Does it cost them their salvation? Of course not. But does it prevent them from a higher (more philosophical) Christian life? Yes.

    Since you’re a card-carrying neo-Cal, maybe you could send a letter to neo-Cal headquarters and ask the authorities to work out the bugs.

    But short of that, why do neo-Calvinists spend so much time worrying about little old 2k when there are so many state legislatures (not to mention all those provinces in Canada) that have pending initiatives in need of a comprehensive biblical w-w?

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  16. Darryl, it’s not all that hard. Whatever you do, do unto the Lord. 2Kers think that, I think.

    We worry about you because we hate to see our fellow Reformed brothers fall short of the full confession of our faith (and teach others likewise). It’s our desire for the unity of our faith. I’m guessing we’re motivated by the same things that motivate you to strike out against us. It’s a shame we can’t join arms in articulating a properly bounded confessional Calvinism.

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  17. Zrim, who’s trying to be profound? Obviously, you can use the philosopher’s and scholar’s lingo (and even number your paragraphs). But the idea is pretty simple. It’s not really beyond plumbers even if Darryl can’t figure it out.

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  18. “to get plumbing right religiously, you have acknowledge the God-ordained laws of plumbing and the God-created materials of plumbing and the God-created fabric of society that would allow the trade of plumber to come into existence and worship the God who made these things through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Terry, Richard wants to tear open the chest cavity and peer into the heart to scrutinize religious affections. You want to do the same thing to the brain, like everyone has to be a mini-philosopher. Jeremy’s on the right track when he speaks of neoCal sprirituality resting on “bourgeois privilege.” A plumber has to think of God-ordained laws and the fabric of society? How about he intuitively does his job, does it well, then thanks God for providing for him? But you would put burdens on him that he cannot and need not carry.

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  19. Terry, whether it’s the neo-Calvinism of the baker or the philosopher it seems neither profound nor simple, just quizzical. And that’s because the idea seems to be that redemptive knowledge has some direct bearing on creational tasks. Whatever happened to modesty in Christian thinking?

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  20. Terry – Take note:

    Reformed Theology = a simple gospel

    Theonomy, Neocalvinism, Edwardsianism, Roman Catholicism = complicating a simple gospel

    If those of us who hear what Hart is saying should have one theme, this is it. We are defending a simple gospel and Christian liberty against those who want to take it away from people.

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  21. Erik Charter: Terry – Take note:
    Reformed Theology = a simple gospel

    RS: Erik, take note. The word “simple” does not always mean childish.

    Erik Charter: Theonomy, Neocalvinism, Edwardsianism, Roman Catholicism = complicating a simple gospel

    RS: State the Gospel and then how the above views (sans the RC) complicate the “simple gospel.”

    Erik Charter: If those of us who hear what Hart is saying should have one theme, this is it. We are defending a simple gospel and Christian liberty against those who want to take it away from people.

    RS: I guess that is not what I am hearing. In fact, I am not sure I have heard you or Dr. Hart really speak to the issues of the Gospel. By the way, that is not a knock on Dr. Hart, but simply noting that if you say his one theme is defending the simply gospel, then why doesn’t he talk about that?

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  22. A simple man can read & study the Three Forms and have a marvelous Christian faith. I will put no burden on that man beyond that who wishes to call himself Reformed. If he’ll study the Bible throughout his life using that confessional framework I have great confidence in his ability to manage his life, his family, his vocation, and his societal responsibilities. I don’t have to micromanage those things for him, either by probing his soul or by examining his political views or activism.

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  23. Terry – “We worry about you because we hate to see our fellow Reformed brothers fall short of the full confession of our faith (and teach others likewise).”

    Both Terry & Richard – The problem with Theonomy, Neocalvinism, and Edwardsianism is that they are extraconfessional, not the “full confession”. It’s human nature to want to go above & beyond what is required to feel good about ourselves and appear righteous to others. The point of the gospel, however, is it is about Christ and his work, not ours. As Theonomist Doug would say, “Rest in his completed work”. Now if only Doug understood what he was saying.

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  24. You all have such a low regard for plumbers.

    Erik, no extra-confessionalism here. Just good and necessary consequences of the Reformed confession–its doctrine of God, Creation, Fall/Sin, Person and Work of Christ, the Church, Vocation, Divine Election, Justification, Sanctification, the Eschaton. Those things make up our Christian confession and define our view of the world (our w-w). We do our lives as plumbers, bakers, historians, biochemists, pastors, husbands, wives, civil magistrates and citizens with all that in view. It’s really a shame that you all think that neo-Calvinism is more than that when most of the time you say exactly the same thing.

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  25. Erik Charter: quoting Terry – “We worry about you because we hate to see our fellow Reformed brothers fall short of the full confession of our faith (and teach others likewise).”

    Erik Charter: Both Terry & Richard – The problem with Theonomy, Neocalvinism, and Edwardsianism is that they are extraconfessional, not the “full confession”. It’s human nature to want to go above & beyond what is required to feel good about ourselves and appear righteous to others. The point of the gospel, however, is it is about Christ and his work, not ours. As Theonomist Doug would say, “Rest in his completed work”. Now if only Doug understood what he was saying.

    RS: Erik, the problem with the confession is that it is not the full Bible. In Matthew 22:29 Jesus told the people that they were mistaken because they did not understand the Scriptures or the power of God. You continue to read what Terry and myself say without understanding. Your misunderstanding does not say anything about our positions. Terry’s position and my position (yes, they differ) is not about feeling good about ourselves or adding to the work of Christ. Until you get those points you will not understand his position nor mine. Work a little harder on understanding what people are really saying rather than interpreting them through your own grid and then saying false things about them.

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  26. Erik Charter: A simple man can read & study the Three Forms and have a marvelous Christian faith.

    RS: It is also just as likely if not more likely that a simple man can read and study the Three Forms and be just as lost as he was before. Reading the Three Forms doth not a Christian make. Instead, we have Scripture telling us that it is the Word of God that is used in salvation.

    Erik Charter: I will put no burden on that man beyond that who wishes to call himself Reformed. If he’ll study the Bible throughout his life using that confessional framework I have great confidence in his ability to manage his life, his family, his vocation, and his societal responsibilities. I don’t have to micromanage those things for him, either by probing his soul or by examining his political views or activism.

    RS: But you are not the one that puts burdens on those men. To be a Christian a person must be born again and really and truly be united to Christ. If a person wants to have assurance of salvation versus a shallow deception, then a person needs to do some probing of the soul and most likely will want some who are more spiritually mature to help in that. A surgeon goes to school for many years to do surgery on the body, yet you want to let beginners loose to do surgery on their own soul. You can call that simple if you please, but there are other and more accurate words to describe that.

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  27. Terry, you left out epistemology and comprehensiveness. That’s what drives neo-Calvinism. Neither is in the confessions.

    As for implications, no one has to confess the implications of confessions. If we did, then Doug would be pope.

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  28. Terry, talk about full confession. I don’t know how many neo-Cal’s I’ve run across who can’t believe the Confession of Faith says that the visible church is the kingdom of Christ. Most if not all neo-Cals follow Ridderbos and others and say the kingdom is bigger than the church. As I’ve said before, an important difference between 2k (kingdom, see? ding ding ding) and neo-Cals is over whether the kingdom is narrowly ecclesiastical or broadly cultural (with all sorts of complications in between).

    And you tell me I’m not being fully confessional?

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  29. Richard & Terry – Most of the men here hold to Confessions developed during the 16th & 17th centuries by men like Calvin, Ursinus, DeBres, Olevianus, the Westminster Divines, and the Theologians at the Synod of Dort.

    Richard seeks to modify these Confessions with ideas from the 18th century developed by men like Whitefield, Tennent, Edwards, and even Wesley. He might even embrace some 19th century men like Finney.

    Terry goes even further by modifying the Confessions with ideas from Kuyper, a 19th & 20th century thinker.

    You guys are entitled to your opinions, but people need to realize that we are closer to the understanding of Reformed theology that developed during the Reformation. You are the ones holding to newer and more novel ideas.

    Richard – Do you believe the doctrines developed in the Canons of Dort?

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  30. Richard – I think we know exactly what you & Terry are saying, which is why we fight you day in and day out.

    A Pentecostal to Richard – “The problem with Edwardsianism is that it is not the full bible.”

    The burden is on you, Richard, to show where the Reformed Confessions are incomplete in being a faithful summary of Scripture.

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  31. Erik Charter quoing Richard – ” Erik, the problem with the confession is that it is not the full Bible.”

    Erik Charter himself: At least Richard admits it.

    RS: I guess that means, then, that Erik thinks that the confession is the same things as the Bible but has been condensed some. Scary.

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  32. Richard,

    So should Reformed people be open to anyone who comes along and wants to add their pet doctrines to the Confessions and still call themselves Reformed? If Edwards gets added in by you then does John Frame get to add liturgical dancing and does the local Penetcostal get to add speaking in tongues? Maybe my hobby horse is family centered worship. Do I get to add that in?

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  33. It’s like mom going to the store to get meat, eggs, milk, and toilet paper. Kid #1 throws a box of Boo-Berry in the cart. Dad throws in a sixer of craft beer, teenage daughter throws in the latest issue of Tiger Beat, and grandma tosses in some Ex-Lax. Before you know it the cart is overflowing and no one can remember why we came to the store in the first place.

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  34. And soon the hobby horse becomes just about all the rider can talk about. Take Wilson & The CREC with being postmillennial culture warriors. Take Kloosterman’s blog with Neocalvinism. Take Doug with Theonomy. Take health & wealth gospel preachers with fundraising. Take Richard with revivalism. Unless we are unified and taking on Catholics the one-hit wonders here always go back to the same things. You could say Hart is a one-hit wonder in talking about 2K, but the whole point of 2K is to get people back to the gospel, the church, and the Confessions, so it is the anti-hobby horse.

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  35. Erik Charter: Richard, Show me these Edwardsian emphases that you advocate in the Three Forms.

    Canons of Dordt:
    Article 3: The Preaching of the Gospel

    In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the time he wishes. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they preach unless they have been sent? (Rom. 10:14-15).

    Article 4: A Twofold Response to the Gospel

    God’s anger remains on those who do not believe this gospel. But those who do accept it and embrace Jesus the Savior with a true and living faith are delivered through him from God’s anger and from destruction, and receive the gift of eternal life.

    Article 10: Election Based on God’s Good Pleasure

    But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad…, she (Rebecca) was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom. 9:11-13). Also, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

    Article 12: The Assurance of Election

    Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God’s Word– such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

    Article 13: The Fruit of This Assurance

    In their awareness and assurance of this election God’s children daily find greater cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless depth of his mercies, to cleanse themselves, and to give fervent love in return to him who first so greatly loved them. This is far from saying that this teaching concerning election, and reflection upon it, make God’s children lax in observing his commandments or carnally self-assured. By God’s just judgment this does usually happen to those who casually take for granted the grace of election or engage in idle and brazen talk about it but are unwilling to walk in the ways of the chosen.

    Second Main Point of Doctrine (of Dordt)
    Article 3: Total Inability

    Therefore, all people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin; without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform.

    Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature

    There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him–so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.

    Article 5: The Inadequacy of the Law

    In this respect, what is true of the light of nature is true also of the Ten Commandments given by God through Moses specifically to the Jews. For man cannot obtain saving grace through the Decalogue, because, although it does expose the magnitude of his sin and increasingly convict him of his guilt, yet it does not offer a remedy or enable him to escape from his misery, and, indeed, weakened as it is by the flesh, leaves the offender under the curse.

    Article 6: The Saving Power of the Gospel

    What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law can do, God accomplishes by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word or the ministry of reconciliation. This is the gospel about the Messiah, through which it has pleased God to save believers, in both the Old and the New Testament.

    Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All

    Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

    Article 10: Conversion as the Work of God

    The fact that others who are called through the ministry of the gospel do come and are brought to conversion must not be credited to man, as though one distinguishes himself by free choice from others who are furnished with equal or sufficient grace for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains). No, it must be credited to God: just as from eternity he chose his own in Christ, so within time he effectively calls them, grants them faith and repentance, and, having rescued them from the dominion of darkness, brings them into the kingdom of his Son, in order that they may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called them out of darkness into this marvelous light, and may boast not in themselves, but in the Lord, as apostolic words frequently testify in Scripture.

    Article 11: The Holy Spirit’s Work in Conversion

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

    Article 12: Regeneration a Supernatural Work

    And this is the regeneration, the new creation, the raising from the dead, and the making alive so clearly proclaimed in the Scriptures, which God works in us without our help. But this certainly does not happen only by outward teaching, by moral persuasion, or by such a way of working that, after God has done his work, it remains in man’s power whether or not to be reborn or converted. Rather, it is an entirely supernatural work, one that is at the same time most powerful and most pleasing, a marvelous, hidden, and inexpressible work, which is not lesser than or inferior in power to that of creation or of raising the dead, as Scripture (inspired by the author of this work) teaches. As a result, all those in whose hearts God works in this marvelous way are certainly, unfailingly, and effectively reborn and do actually believe. And then the will, now renewed, is not only activated and motivated by God but in being activated by God is also itself active. For this reason, man himself, by that grace which he has received, is also rightly said to believe and to repent.

    Article 15: Responses to God’s Grace

    God does not owe this grace to anyone. For what could God owe to one who has nothing to give that can be paid back? Indeed, what could God owe to one who has nothing of his own to give but sin and falsehood? Therefore the person who receives this grace owes and gives eternal thanks to God alone; the person who does not receive it either does not care at all about these spiritual things and is satisfied with himself in his condition, or else in self-assurance foolishly boasts about having something which he lacks. Furthermore, following the example of the apostles, we are to think and to speak in the most favorable way about those who outwardly profess their faith and better their lives, for the inner chambers of the heart are unknown to us. But for others who have not yet been called, we are to pray to the God who calls things that do not exist as though they did. In no way, however, are we to pride ourselves as better than they, as though we had distinguished ourselves from them.

    Article 16: Regeneration’s Effect

    However, just as by the fall man did not cease to be man, endowed with intellect and will, and just as sin, which has spread through the whole human race, did not abolish the nature of the human race but distorted and spiritually killed it, so also this divine grace of regeneration does not act in people as if they were blocks and stones; nor does it abolish the will and its properties or coerce a reluctant will by force, but spiritually revives, heals, reforms, and–in a manner at once pleasing and powerful–bends it back. As a result, a ready and sincere obedience of the Spirit now begins to prevail where before the rebellion and resistance of the flesh were completely dominant. It is in this that the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consists. Thus, if the marvelous Maker of every good thing were not dealing with us, man would have no hope of getting up from his fall by his free choice, by which he plunged himself into ruin when still standing upright.

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  36. Erik Charter: Richard, So should Reformed people be open to anyone who comes along and wants to add their pet doctrines to the Confessions and still call themselves Reformed?

    RS: Which is why you shouldn’t do it. However, that is a different thing than someone coming along and saying that you should read your confessions where they teach you that Scripture is what should answer all theological questions. What you continue to ignore is that people who say that the confessions should interpret Scripture have just stepped back to punt and now the problem is interpretation of the confessions. The confessions teach that Scripture interprets Scripture and that the Spirit illuminates it for a true understanding. One can understand any of the confessions perfectly and still not be converted. Read the confessions on regeneration, read Edwards, and then see if a person should be considered to be converted if s/he is a member of a church.

    Erik Charter: If Edwards gets added in by you then does John Frame get to add liturgical dancing and does the local Penetcostal get to add speaking in tongues? Maybe my hobby horse is family centered worship. Do I get to add that in?

    RS: Erik, this is just silly (to put it nicely). Men in Scotland, during the time of Edwards, who were staunch fans of the WCF wanted Edwards to move to Scotland. The issue continues to be what Scripture teaches and not what you think some confessions teach. If you really believed Dordt, you might not be so hasty about certain aspects of 2K. I have tried to point out before that the light of nature is not adequate, but again I was shouted down. I am sure others will have a different way of reading it, but it is quite clear that men do not use the light of nature in a right way even in matters of nature and society.

    Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature

    There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him–so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.

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  37. And where is the part where you or Edwards are appointed the judges of these things?

    Article 15 – “we are to think and to speak in the most favorable way about those who outwardly profess their faith and better their lives, for the inner chambers of the heart are unknown to us.”

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  38. Erik Charter: It’s like mom going to the store to get meat, eggs, milk, and toilet paper. Kid #1 throws a box of Boo-Berry in the cart. Dad throws in a sixer of craft beer, teenage daughter throws in the latest issue of Tiger Beat, and grandma tosses in some Ex-Lax. Before you know it the cart is overflowing and no one can remember why we came to the store in the first place.

    RS: Erik, it would do you well to study the Scriptures and the confessions more rather than write stuff like you just wrote.

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  39. No one says Natural Law is equal to Scripture, only that is sufficient to govern mankind in this world. We are not utopians, neither of the theocratic or the secular variety.

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  40. Erik Charter: And where is the part where you or Edwards are appointed the judges of these things?

    Article 15 – “we are to think and to speak in the most favorable way about those who outwardly profess their faith and better their lives, for the inner chambers of the heart are unknown to us.”

    RS: I have never asserted that Edwards and/or I have been appointed judges of these things. What However, read Article 12 below and you will know that an experienced and spiritually-minded elder could help people in this way.

    Article 12: The Assurance of Election

    Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God’s Word– such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

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  41. You stumble again and again here because you apparently equate Confessionalism with some kind of cold, dead orthodoxy. You cite many objective things from the Canons, yet presumably still interpret them subjectively. You are stuck in a rut.

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  42. Richard – “I have never asserted that Edwards and/or I have been appointed judges of these things. What However, read Article 12 below and you will know that an experienced and spiritually-minded elder could help people in this way.”

    Erik – And guess what we do every Sunday? Hear the Law, examine ourselves, and confess our sins. Our sins are pronounced forgiven and we move on to the other parts of the service. You never seem to want to move on, though. You seem to be stuck.

    Richard – Erik, it would do you well to study the Scriptures and the confessions more rather than write stuff like you just wrote.

    Erik – I thank God for 24 hours in a day so I have time for both!

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  43. I have a former E-Free pastor who started out at RTS, quit, and ended up at Trinity. He is an Arminian. I think he grew up evangelical and I have no idea why he went to RTS.

    You also went to RTS. Did you grow up evangelical? Did you learn Edwards at RTS?

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  44. Erik Charter: You stumble again and again here because you apparently equate Confessionalism with some kind of cold, dead orthodoxy.

    RS: It is in many cases. By the way, Roman Catholicism is stuck on the ECF as being the standard of truth. Some today think that all the truth came out in the Reformation and that is the standard of truth. I simply say with the confessions that the Word of God is the standard of truth.

    Erik Charter: You cite many objective things from the Canons, yet presumably still interpret them subjectively. You are stuck in a rut.

    RS: No, you are stuck in a rut. The Canons are to be interpreted by Scripture and that is what I interpret them by and that is what they say they should be judged by. A Confessionalism that will not judge itself by Scripture is a form of a cold, dead orthodoxy because the Scriptures are alive in the hands of the Spirit.

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  45. Erik Charter: And guess what we do every Sunday? Hear the Law, examine ourselves, and confess our sins. Our sins are pronounced forgiven and we move on to the other parts of the service. You never seem to want to move on, though. You seem to be stuck.

    RS: Saying that you have sinned is not contrition for sin nor is it repentance. Roman Catholics have a priest that pronounces their sins forgiven and you have a pastor that does. I would argue that neither have the authority to do so. How can the pastor know your heart enough to know that you are forgiven?

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  46. Richard – “The Canons are to be interpreted by Scripture and that is what I interpret them by”

    Erik – Funny how no matter what the topic is it always eventually comes back to Richard being the interpreter — of Scripture, of the Confessions, of people’s spiritual state, of people’s fitness for church membership. I detect a theme here…

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  47. I take great comfort in the fact that if I am occupying your time, Richard, you are not off bugging someone else. You have your self-appointed ministry, I have mine…

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  48. Richard, the Pastor is merely repeating the Bible, and your sins are forgiven. Question, was all of Israel’s sins forgiven? Then why did God say, “and your sins shall be forgiven”? Would you indict God for making a statement that did not turn out to be 100% true from your perspective? Then why question Erik’s Pastor? All the promises of God are appended by faith, period, end of story.

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  49. Darryl, we’ve over that one already. Not sure there’s much more to say other than I think you’re reading the confession quite narrowly there. As I’ve said before, I don’t actually disagree with you when it comes to “the who” of the kingdom which is what I think the confession is referring to. So your trump card fails.

    So we only have to confess the words of the confession and not their meaning? Good and necessary consequences are just the meaning of the words. Of course we confess the meaning of the confessions.

    By the way, don’t you tell us that the “second” kingdom is also God’s and he just rules it in a different way. Seems that you’re using the word kingdom to mean something other than the church as well.

    Erik, I don’t think I’ve modified the confession. Just made explicit what’s already there.

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  50. Terry, God rules everything. The world is his kingdom. If you can’t tell the difference between God’s sovereignty and Christ’s special rule over his church, then you haven’t read the catechisms on the second petition of the Lord’s prayer or on Christ’s office as king.

    Your dismissiveness is unbecoming, especially since it spills on the confessions. You may think a w-w consists in creation, fall, redemption and consummation, but the confessions have a few more details than that — but I’m still looking for the chapters on plumbing, math, and painting.

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  51. Doug Sowers: Richard, the Pastor is merely repeating the Bible, and your sins are forgiven.

    RS: The Roman Catholic priest declares that your sins are forgiven. A Protestant minister cannot and should not declare sins are forgiven as he has no way of knowing if God has forgiven them. For example, in a non-salvific way, according the the Lord’s Prayer we can only ask for forgiveness to the degree or in the same way that we have forgiven others. But if we have not forgiven others, we are not forgiven. As people here constantly tell me, though usually in the wrong context, a pastor cannot read a person’s heart. So how can a pastor tell a people that their sins are forgiven? We might also add of the confusion with people who are not believers being told that as well.

    Doug Sowers: Question, was all of Israel’s sins forgiven?

    RS: The Israelites sinned as a nation as well as the individuals. So a person could have personal sin that was not forgiven and yet the sins of the nation forgiven.

    Doug Sowers: Then why did God say, “and your sins shall be forgiven”? Would you indict God for making a statement that did not turn out to be 100% true from your perspective?

    RS: I am not indicting God. I would argue, however, that with a group of people repeating what was written for them on a bulletin or on a screen above is not what constitutes a real confession.

    Doug Sowers: Then why question Erik’s Pastor? All the promises of God are appended by faith, period, end of story.

    RS: I question the practice of priests and pastors proclaiming to a group of people that their sins ARE forgiven. Again, they cannot read the hearts of the people and so they cannot know that their sins ARE forgiven.

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  52. “The world is his (God’s) kingdom.” — Darryl Hart

    I think I’ll save that one. It seems we agree.

    Indeed, I can tell the difference. Christ rules his church by His Word and Spirit through the officers and courts of the church executing the keys of the Kingdom.

    God executes his decrees and hence rules over all things in the works of creation and providence often via second causes of creational law and/or the actions of free agents. This same providence also works the the good of his church.

    I’m guessing we agree on this as well.

    I wonder what it is we disagree about.

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  53. Terry, Great. I didn’t hear you mention common grace, w-w, or epistemology (or for that matter, the French Revolution) once. See how good things can be without all those recent imports.

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  54. A previous owner of our home (or representative thereof) used caulk on the PVC connecting the bathroom sink’s p-trap to the wall and only went about a third of the way in. So a 20-minute routine cleaning turned into two Home Depot runs and several days of grueling procrastination. If anyone has suggestions on how to bring the perp up on worldview charges, I’d be grateful.

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  55. Darryl, nice that we can be so agreeable.

    How about Canons of Dort, 3rd & 4th Main Points, Article 4? Seems that both common grace and epistemology are there. I’d be interested to here how confessionalists Erik and Zrim weasel around “man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society.” Must be one of those Kuyperian innovations. Oh, wait, 1618? Perhaps it’s a Dooyeweerdian anticipatory phenomenon.

    Do you reject the OPC report on and John Murray’s treatment of common grace?

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  56. Terry, surely a guy tried for teaching contrary to “in the space of six days” should be wary of reading too much into a confessional statement. Interesting to see that you go for Dr. K.’s favorite confessional proof text. But Dort isn’t saying anything as w-wish as you think. Unbelievers can’t use creation aright, as in to honor and glorify God. You need Hegel to understand that?

    I haven’t read the Common Grace report in a long time. Believe it or not, I don’t agree with all OPC reports. Think women in the military. I don’t think men or women should serve in our military (unless fighting a war of national defense).

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  57. Terry, this weasel begins by distinguishing between creation and redemption (because that’s what Article 4 does), then reads the Article plainly to say that the light of nature is entirely inadequate for salvation and that man is so fallen that he doesn’t always use the light of nature correctly even for that which it was designed. The point is the depravity of man, as the subtitle of the third and fourth heads of doctrine and the emphasis of the first few Articles.

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  58. One larger question: To what degree does the church have a duty to advocate for the law of God in the public sphere vs. within the church (I guess that’s pretty much the whole debate). For example, if as a Christian I do not commit adultery, abort my unborn children, practice homosexuality, marry someone of the same sex, or do research on embryos — and everyone in my church does likewise — do we not send a message to the world that transcends us trying to force them to not commit adultery, not abort their unborn children, not practice homosexuality, not marry someone of the same sex, and not do research on embryos? Evil people will always practice evil deeds — it’s in their nature. Changing laws might restrain them, but at that point all we are talking about is utilitarianism in that there will be less of this or that evil. The only way things really change is if men’s hearts are changed. Might not a better way of changing hearts just be doing what we do as Christians and letting that be a silent testimony to the world that there is a better way? As it stands now we have this constant culture war going on with both sides just getting hardened in their positions. Maybe we should surrender the culture war, watch the other side flounder, and see if some of them are humbled and go looking for better answers. When they do, the church will be there for them, testifying to the truth from a humble standpoint vs. a militant standpoint.

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  59. Who needs Hegel? It’s all in the Confessions and in the Bible.

    Check your notes and the record. “the space of six days” had nothing to do with my trial. Neither the standards as far as I can tell. I was found guilty of disagreeing with John Murray. you better be careful.

    Zrim, i hope you noticed that you agreed and disagreed in the same sentence. Weasel par excellence.

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  60. Zrim: Terry, this weasel begins by distinguishing between creation and redemption (because that’s what Article 4 does), then reads the Article plainly to say that the light of nature is entirely inadequate for salvation and that man is so fallen that he doesn’t always use the light of nature correctly even for that which it was designed. The point is the depravity of man, as the subtitle of the third and fourth heads of doctrine and the emphasis of the first few Articles.

    RS: Article 4, in my simple reading of it, seems to go beyond what you are indicating in your post. At least it sure seems like it.

    Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature
    There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior.

    RS: At this point it is speaking of a light of nature that remains in man after the fall. In light of that light of nature, man only retains some notions about God and the difference between what is moral and immoral. He also demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. So it would appear to me that it is talking about more than salvation at this point and would include such things as morality and the passing of laws.

    Article 4 continues: But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him–so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society.

    RS: Indeed this light of nature does not enable man to a saving knowledge of God, but man does not even use this light of nature rightly in mattes of nature and society. In other words, man cannot use the light of nature rightly in the areas of morality and of society.

    Article 4 continuted: Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.

    RS: The reason that men do not and cannot use the light properly is that man COMPLETELY distorts the light and suppressed it in unrighteousness. In other words, a society that is developed or continued at any point on the basis of natural light will, in the light of Scripture, completely distort the light and suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. The light of nature is suppressed because man is suppressing the truth of God in unrighteousness. The the laws of nature cannot be trusted because of man’s continual hatred of God and the suppression of the laws of nature and that includes morality and society.

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  61. Richard, what I am saying is that the Article is saying that natural light cannot bring salvific knowledge, and that’s because human nature is totally depraved. It’s so depraved that even when man uses natural light for its ordained purpose (ordering civil society) he often screws it up. But that isn’t the light of nature’s fault, it’s the fault of man. Looks at Article 5 about how the law is inadequate. It’s because of abiding sin, not because of any fault in the law. Same thing with the LoN.

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  62. Zrim: Richard, what I am saying is that the Article is saying that natural light cannot bring salvific knowledge, and that’s because human nature is totally depraved. It’s so depraved that even when man uses natural light for its ordained purpose (ordering civil society) he often screws it up. But that isn’t the light of nature’s fault, it’s the fault of man. Looks at Article 5 about how the law is inadequate. It’s because of abiding sin, not because of any fault in the law. Same thing with the LoN.

    RS: So if man is so depraved that he cannot use natural light for its ordained purpose such as ordering civil society, then it seems to imply that natural light was given to order society properly which means God does have a purpose for society. Since men are depraved that they cannot use natural light, shouldn’t we preach the truth from Scripture to them so that they can see the purposes of God are for society and then order it correctly?

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  63. Zrim: Richard, nobody needs the Bible or its preaching to order society. Natural law is sufficient.

    RS: But it sure seems that Article 4 is teaching us something different since it teaches us that after the fall of man the light of nature is inadequate for what is moral or immoral or the ordering of society.

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  64. Terry & Richard – Would you affirm that our confessions say that the light of nature is sufficient so that an unbeliever can perhaps unclog my toilet, make my pizza, and play a mean bass guitar? You know — common things?

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  65. Erik Charter: Terry & Richard – Would you affirm that our confessions say that the light of nature is sufficient so that an unbeliever can perhaps unclog my toilet, make my pizza, and play a mean bass guitar? You know — common things?

    RS: According to Dordt they could not do that in a moral way, though perhaps you only want them done for the sake of convenience. But according to Dordt, they cannot make laws in a moral way and sooner or later that will inconvenience those who love God since all natural men hate God. Not only that, if we are to proclaim the Gospel of God to all around us that includes pointing out the sin that they must come to be convinced of in order to be saved from.

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  66. Richard, no, it’s teaching us that MAN is inadequate to read aright the LoN:

    “…but man does not even use this light of nature rightly in mattes of nature and society.” Man is the problem, not God’s natural revelation.

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  67. Zrim: Richard, no, it’s teaching us that MAN is inadequate to read aright the LoN:

    “…but man does not even use this light of nature rightly in mattes of nature and society.” Man is the problem, not God’s natural revelation.

    RS: Of course man is the problem, which means that natural revelation is not sufficient to overcome the problem of man’s sinfulness and so man is not able to discern right and wrong or how to run society properly apart from someone proclaiming the truth to him. Sort of like what happened to Nineveh (a very secular city) as they went on in their sin operating according to how they interpreted natural law. But God sent Jonah to them to preach judgment and the light came in and they repented.

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  68. Richard, the point isn’t to “overcome man’s sinfulness.” Neither special nor general revelation do that for either of their respective purposes (i.e. govern spiritual life or govern common life). Sinners always twist either one, and just because they twist natural revelation when trying to order society doesn’t mean the Bible will solve that problem, because sin still abides. The logic coming from your side of this exchange implies that the Bible will overcome human sin and the tendency to screw up. The RCC reads the Bible and still gets things wrong. What makes anybody think cracking open the Bible will correct civil society?

    So the point is SR for spiritual life, GR for common life with the understanding that even when the right book is used for the right purpose it’ll still get screwed up because sinners are reading them.

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  69. Zrim: Richard, the point isn’t to “overcome man’s sinfulness.” Neither special nor general revelation do that for either of their respective purposes (i.e. govern spiritual life or govern common life).

    RS: But the Holy Spirit can and does work through special revelation and unbelievers can receive much benefit from following basic principles, though indeed without spirtiual insight and power. God uses the Word to restrain sin as well as convert sinners.

    Zrim: Sinners always twist either one, and just because they twist natural revelation when trying to order society doesn’t mean the Bible will solve that problem, because sin still abides.

    RS: Sinners do, but that is why they need those with the truth to proclaim it to them.

    Zrim: The logic coming from your side of this exchange implies that the Bible will overcome human sin and the tendency to screw up.

    RS: No, that is not the logic coming from my side. It is simply saying that the Word of God is the standard and that the Holy Spirit can and will use it as He pleases to restrain sin and convert some.

    Zrim: The RCC reads the Bible and still gets things wrong. What makes anybody think cracking open the Bible will correct civil society?

    RS: Cracking it open will not, but declaring the glory of God and of His coming judgment still has restraining power to it.

    So the point is SR for spiritual life, GR for common life with the understanding that even when the right book is used for the right purpose it’ll still get screwed up because sinners are reading them.

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  70. Richard, I understand that the Word and Spirit of God are powerful things to effect salvation, but I still wonder just what kind power you think natural revelation and providence have to keep the creation order humming along. God is author of the latter just as much as the former. And, the way it keeps getting pushed aside, I can’t help but get the sense that you think that by “The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature” you think the point is that the latter is somehow inherently flawed.

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  71. I read Tuininga’s response. Here is his closing:

    “Christianity makes a difference in the life of anyone who is regenerate. When Christians rightly apply the Bible to their lives, following Christ, their actions will look different than they would have if they had not become Christians, a reality the New Testament explicitly associates with the calling of Christian witness. Does Darryl really disagree with this, understood rightly (rather than facilely)? I doubt it.”

    Erik – What about when we compare ourselves to Mormons? 9 times out of 10 they will beat us at the family values game. They also avoid caffeine & alcohol while we’re swilling coffee & Guinness. I think we affirm the doctrine of sanctification but we need to keep the focus on the doctrine of justification. It is our faith in Christ & His imputed righteousness that separates us from the world (and those nice Mormons).

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  72. Erik,

    DVD makes a distinction on ‘subjective’ consecration-soli deo gloria but not a necessary one on objective differentiation as you’ve pointed out. Good carpentry is good carpentry. But even on the subjective, how tainted with sin is that claim.

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  73. The horrible shootings in Connecticut today are a painful reminder of the primary purpose of the Christian faith — to prepare us to die. Everything else is a distant second.

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  74. Here’s a great new greeting for every health & wealth gospel church, every Neocalvinist church, every Theonomist church, every church that acts like a country club, every church that attempts to be hip & happening, every church that is obnoxiously postmillennial, every church that is all about being culture warriors, every social-gospel church, every church that is all about affirming alternative lifestyles, every church that tells you to work your way to heaven, every church that is off-on-a-tangent, period — “Welcome to Sunday worship. Our goal today is to prepare you to die”. Tell people that and then preach the righteousness of Christ and how that must be imputed to us by faith in order to be acceptable to the Father. See if people keep coming back.

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  75. Erik Charter: The horrible shootings in Connecticut today are a painful reminder of the primary purpose of the Christian faith — to prepare us to die. Everything else is a distant second.

    RS:
    Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
    A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]

    Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
    A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God,[1] and fully to enjoy him forever.[2]

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  76. From Tuininga’s site:

    Brian Lee: Erik, I don’t understand your post. Why isn’t swilling coffee and Guinness more sanctified than not?

    Erik: Brian – My point is, if we want to talk about how being a Christian makes us “look different” (i.e. look morally superior) to the world, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. I debate a lot with a revivalist/Edwardsian on Hart’s site. This guy doesn’t watch movies, read fiction, or drink any alcohol because he thinks they are a waste of time. I watch movies, read fiction, listen to rock music and drink an occasional beer. He looks at these things and draws the conclusion that there may be doubt as to whether “King Jesus is living in my heart”. I would point to my confession of faith, he would point to how I “look”. Now I affirm sanctification and I affirm church discipline for serious sins, but this “looks different” thing can easily get out of hand.

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  77. I think the biggest vulnerability that Neocalvinists have is the tendency to overgeneralize and to make grand, sweeping statements. When I read NDK’s posts I am generally in agreement with much of what he is saying for the first 90% of the post, but then at the end he always tends to overstate his case and use buzzwords to try to wrap everything he has been saying up into a coherent, overarching system. Hart comes along and pokes holes in the system, saying, “what about this?, what about that?”. At that point NDK goes back to the drawing board and the cycle repeats.

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  78. Erik Charter: Brian – My point is, if we want to talk about how being a Christian makes us “look different” (i.e. look morally superior) to the world, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. I debate a lot with a revivalist/Edwardsian on Hart’s site. This guy doesn’t watch movies, read fiction, or drink any alcohol because he thinks they are a waste of time.

    RS: Not just that, Erik, we are commanded to redeem the time and we are commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. By the way, I do read fiction because I read your posts on here.

    Erik: I watch movies, read fiction, listen to rock music and drink an occasional beer. He looks at these things and draws the conclusion that there may be doubt as to whether “King Jesus is living in my heart”.

    RS: I have never said that. That fiction thing you know. I did say that you could not have real assurance based on the way your were approacing it, but I have expressed doubt about whether you are a Christian or not. For the internet thing, I think it is highly unlikely that a person could tell about another one way or the other. But the theory and practice of assurance is another thing.

    Erik: I would point to my confession of faith, he would point to how I “look”. Now I affirm sanctification and I affirm church discipline for serious sins, but this “looks different” thing can easily get out of hand.

    RS: Anyone can point to a confession of faith. In the time of Jesus many pointed to Jesus Himself. Judas even spent a fair amount of time following Jesus, listening to Jesus, and preaching to the people. But I would not argue that your looks determine your salvation or not, but instead of that it is whether one has been regenerated by God or not.

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  79. RS from the previous post: : I have never said that. That fiction thing you know. I did say that you could not have real assurance based on the way your were approacing it, but I have expressed doubt about whether you are a Christian or not.

    Should read “I have NOT expressed doubt about whether you ARE a Christian or not.

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  80. Erik, if the pizza guy doesn’t do it unto the Lord, then he doesn’t get it right regardless of how technically excellent it is. This is what C. Van Til would call knowledge after a fashion. I’m quite happy to make use of such knowledge and abilities in my practical day to day affairs, but that doesn’t diminish its shortcomings.

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  81. Terry,

    As long as I get my Pizza on time and it’s hot, I don’t really care what the pizza guy’s motivations are. I require competence of those I deal with in society, not correct theology. What about Mormons? Bad theology, excellent appearance & performance.

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  82. Erik Charter: Terry, As long as I get my Pizza on time and it’s hot, I don’t really care what the pizza guy’s motivations are. I require competence of those I deal with in society, not correct theology.

    RS: But commands that the person do all he does out of love for God. So you don’t care what God thinks about the guy’s motivations and you don’t care that this guy is sinning in the way he is delivering you pizza and will suffer for that in eternity? Your pizza is more important than those things?

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  83. Richard – Not really. My church preaches the law and gospel twice each Sunday and he’s always welcome there. If he wants to talk to me about being a Christian, great. Otherwise, I mind my own business. I try to worry about the things I can actually control. I have enough trouble managing those.

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  84. Erik Charter: Richard – Not really. My church preaches the law and gospel twice each Sunday and he’s always welcome there. If he wants to talk to me about being a Christian, great. Otherwise, I mind my own business. I try to worry about the things I can actually control. I have enough trouble managing those.

    RS: The epitome of the frozen chosen perhaps? Is that something like “give me my pizza so now go on and hurry off to hell” approach?

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  85. Richard, back at you. If you were truly worried about the sins of the world — including pizza deliverers — would you be spending so much time at Old Life?

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  86. D. G. Hart: Richard, back at you. If you were truly worried about the sins of the world — including pizza deliverers — would you be spending so much time at Old Life?

    RS: I am worried about the sins of Old Lifers as well.

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  87. Yes, Richard, all that laze and disobedience. Must be so thankful you weren’t made like tax collectors and old lifers.

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  88. Erik, I guess it’s all about you and whether you get your pizza on time. That’s usually what I care about too, practically speaking.

    But notice, you’ve changed the subject. I was not really addressing the question of whether or not the pizza guy makes society function well. I’m addressing the question of whether or not the pizza guy gets it right. My assertion is that if he doesn’t do it unto the Lord, he doesn’t get it right. In fact, his technically excellent action is an act of self-sufficient or other sort of idolatry that doesn’t acknowledge God as God nor gives thanks.

    He can get it right as much as he does because of objective creational law (although he would never acknowledge the Creator) and by common grace where God allows him to use his God-endowed abilities well despite his rebellious heart.

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  89. Zrim, “man is so fallen that he doesn’t always use the light of nature correctly even for that which it was designed”. Yep, that’s what we’re saying. It seems to me that you frequently say that sinful man does just fine by the light of nature. I don’t see those two viewpoints as being compatible.

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  90. Erik Charter: Richard – Winter has been mild thus far. Not frozen yet.

    RS: Erik, it is still the fall season.

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  91. Zrim: Yes, Richard, all that laze [laziness) and disobedience. Must be so thankful you weren’t made like tax collectors and old lifers.

    RS: I am thankful that I am not like some of the old lifers, but perhaps am somewhat like the tax collectors.

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  92. Terry, I do, and I don’t think it’s any different from how Calvin and Kuyper (and others) laud pagans for their temporal works. But as I’ve said throughout here, the point of the Article doesn’t seem to be the inherent insufficiency of LoN anymore than the insufficiency of the law. It’s really about the inherent insufficiency of man to employ them for their designed purposes.

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  93. Terry,

    The whole distinction centers around the adequacy of LoN or fallen imago dei to order temporal things adequately according to GR but that same’s inadequacy to cultic activities apart from SR and illumination by the Holy Spirit. Even in cultic activities the WCF commends the LoN for it’s adequacy in ordering certain things in the worship of the cult(church).

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  94. Zrim, yes, of course, it’s sinful humanity’s problem. That’s why neo-Cals say it takes the Holy Spirit to get it right. Holy Spirit regeneration is necessary for the person to do it unto the Lord, i.e. to get it right in the sense that I’m talking about. But, of course, the regenerate pizza guy or plumber isn’t always technically excellent.

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  95. But, Terry, the confessionalist has HC 62 and 114 ringing in his ears, telling him that even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin and that even the holiest men in this life have only a small beginning of this obedience. The Holy Spirit may well indwell, but sin still still clings, which is why the 2k confessionalist can’t help but wonder if neo-Calvinism is the Reformed version of prosperity gospel.

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  96. Zrim, “a small beginning”. That’s all we’re talking about. Whatever can be said of personal sanctification (please see Scott Clark’s recent posts on progressive sanctification) can be said of our corporate impact in Creational spheres.

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  97. Terry, I can barely get my drive-through orders not to return to me void, and despite what even the Bible suggests, I often question whether I have any real impact on my own offspring or influence on she who is said to be bone of my bone. Maybe it’s just me as an ineffectual man, but something tells me it’s also a function of what it means to be a sinful man. Maybe unlike me neo-Cals are made up of largely gifted and influential men (and women), but I know for a fact they are also just as sinful as me. And if that’s true then maybe they are over-estimating their actual ” corporate impact in creational spheres.” The other option is that they are more victorious over their sin than me, which brings us back to the scent of cultural prosperity gospel.

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  98. Erik, Dos Equis was my first beer–senior trip to Mexico. Now there’s a country that clearly has no Christians in it. Effective ones anyway.

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  99. @Zrim, regarding the ineffectual man:

    “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10 ESV)

    From one unworthy servant to another.

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