Where Do Unbelievers Go for a Trial?

One of the other themes of the Twenty-Seven Propositions describing two-kingdom theology is the notion that the Bible is binding on all people:

7. Scripture is not given as a common moral standard that provides ethical imperatives to all people regardless of their religious standing.

The Reformed confessions testify that the moral imperatives of Scripture are binding on all men everywhere.

This does make the world safe for theonomy and for theocracy, since another common assertion of 2k critics is that special revelation must interpret general revelation, which implies that only those whose souls have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit may interpret general revelation, because only those with the eyes of faith can interpret Scripture aright, the necessary lens for interpreting the light of nature.

Aside from the covenantal implications of Scripture which make havoc of this critique of 2k, Scripture itself confounds this criticism. For if Paul were writing to the Corinthians with this anti-2k outlook, he could never write the following:

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Corinthians 6:1-9 ESV)

Notice that this is an imperative that according to the anti-2k outlook applies to all people (even though Paul is writing directly to the saints at Corinth). If Paul believed that Scripture was given for believers and unbelievers alike, then his admonition here would be to tell unbelievers to take their cases to ecclesiastical courts. And if unbelievers take their cases to those who rule outside the church, they are guilty of sinning. Talk about being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

But Calvin doesn’t fall for this folly.

. . . if any one has a controversy with a brother, it ought to be decided before godly judges, and that it ought not to be before those that are ungodly. If the reason is asked, I have already said, that it is because disgrace is brought upon the gospel, and the name of Christ is held up as it were to the scoffings of the ungodly. For the ungodly, at the instigation of Satan, are always eagerly on the watch for opportunities of finding occasion of calumny against the doctrine of godliness. Now believers, when they make them parties in their disputes, seem as though they did on set purpose furnish them with a handle for reviling. A second reason may be added — that we treat our brethren disdainfully, when we of our own accord subject them to the decisions of unbelievers.

In other words, Calvin, who ministered in a town very much unlike Corinth, where the rulers of Geneva were members of the church, still recognizes that these words Paul apply to Genevan Christians, that is, that they should not look for justice with fellow Christians but should bear each other’s burdens patiently and endure slights and offenses.

I acknowledge, then, that a Christian man is altogether prohibited from revenge, so that he must not exercise it, either by himself, or by means of the magistrate, nor even desire it. If, therefore, a Christian man wishes to prosecute his rights at law, so as not to offend God, he must, above all things, take heed that he does not bring into court any desire of revenge, any corrupt affection of the mind, or anger, or, in fine, any other poison. In this matter love will be the best regulator.

This is moral instruction, in other words, that applies to Christians not to unbelievers. Christians are capable, by the work of the Spirit, of not seeking revenge. Paul concedes that unbelievers are not.

What is also interesting to observe is that Calvin does not believe that Paul is invalidating the rule of ungodly magistrates, as if it were wrong to take certain civil matters to the courts, or as if the ungodliness of rulers invalidates their rule:

Paul does not here condemn those who from necessity have a cause before unbelieving judges, as when a person is summoned to a court; but those who, of their own accord, bring their brethren into this situation, and harass them, as it were, through means of unbelievers, while it is in their power to employ another remedy. It is wrong, therefore, to institute of one’s own accord a law-suit against brethren before unbelieving judges. If, on the other hand, you are summoned to a court, there is no harm in appearing there and maintaining your cause.

Calvin also goes on to distinguish in ways that would send neo-Calvinists, in the worlds of Ralph Kramden, “bang, zoom, to the moon” between the public matters before magistrates and private matters of Christians.

We must always keep in view what causes he is treating of; for public trials are beyond our province, and ought not to be transferred to our disposal; but as to private matters it is allowable to determine without the cognizance of the magistrate. As, then, we do not detract in any degree from the authority of the magistrate by having recourse to arbitration, it is not without good reason that the Apostle enjoins it upon Christians to refrain from resorting to profane, that is, unbelieving judges.

So if anti-2kers want to argue that biblical morality applies to all human beings, they may want to take up their case with the apostle Paul. Or they could reconceive their claims with the same scrupulosity they apply to 2k advocates.

148 thoughts on “Where Do Unbelievers Go for a Trial?

  1. Hi Guys, For 65 of my 85 years I thought that Commandments 5-10. were for ALL men. (“Men” not meaning “males” as one of my former co-profs, (anti-Christian) U.Sys of GA, taught his classes.) Tough world out there beyond OLT’s !!! Oh me, back to God’s work @ Alexian Village. Love, Old Bob

    Like

  2. Hi Old Bob.

    Why not 1-4 as well?

    “I acknowledge, then, that a Christian man is altogether prohibited from revenge, so that he must not exercise it, either by himself, or by means of the magistrate, nor even desire it. If, therefore, a Christian man wishes to prosecute his rights at law, so as not to offend God, he must, above all things, take heed that he does not bring into court any desire of revenge, any corrupt affection of the mind, or anger, or, in fine, any other poison. In this matter love will be the best regulator.”

    This is good advice on the basketball court, too.

    Like

  3. Just so we are clear Dr. Hart, you are quoting the same John Calvin who said it was the duty of “all who hold the office of magistracy” in his commentary on 1 Timothy 2:2 (which, unless you are a liberal was written by the same Apostle Paul) to maintain “Godliness” and “Godly worship” and promote the “true religion” (i.e. – Christianity) by the sword, and then applying Calvin’s words in 1 Cor 6 to agree with you that biblical morality doesn’t apply to unbelievers and that they cannot therefore rule in the way Calvin thinks Biblically they should?

    So to which John Calvin are we looking?

    Like

  4. But the passages quoted still represent a common moral standard for all, since all people everywhere are commanded to repent of their sins and believe the gospel, and become Christians.

    Like

  5. “Then let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”

    John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, sermon 87 on Deuteronomy 13:5

    Clearly Calvin did not agree with DGH’s perversion of 2K that states “The laws of Israel as a system for a political entity were done and finished when that Israel was done and finished.” Legion are similar quotes that could be provided from Reformed men from centuries past.

    Like

  6. Riley, how is it a common moral standard when Christians have a different standard for disputes among themselves? Or are you saying that the command for all people to repent should be enforced by the magistrate as part of a common moral standard? I’d like to see any ruler try that. Strike that. I prefer not to see that.

    Like

  7. Speaking of Calvin,
    “For there are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common laws of nations. Let other men consider how perilous and seditious this notion is; it will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish.”
    John Calvin
    This is a quote from Calvin that is repeatedly cited as proof that Calvin would have had no truck with Theonomy. However, this assertion needs to be examined in light of historical context. First, we need to keep in mind that if Calvin is really citing this against the abiding validity of the law then he is citing it against his friend and mentor Martin Bucer who wrote,
    “But since no one can desire an approach more equitable and wholesome to the commonwealth than that which God describes in His law, it is certainly the duty of all kings and princes who recognize that God has put them over His people that follow most studiously his own method of punishing evildoers. For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.
    Accordingly, in every state sanctified to God capital punishment must be ordered for all who have dared to injure religion, either by introducing a false and impious doctrine about the Worship of God or by calling people away from the true worship of God (Dt. 13:6-10, and 17:2-5); for all who blaspheme the name of God and his solemn services (Lv. 24:15-16); who violate the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14-15, and 35:2; Num. 15:32-36); who rebelliously despise authority of parents and live their own life wickedly (Dt. 21:18-21); who are unwilling to submit to the sentence of supreme tribunal (Dt. 17:8-12); who have committed bloodshed (Ex. 21:12; Lv. 24:17, Dt. 19:11-13), adultery (Lv. 20:10), rape (Dt. 22:20-25), kidnapping (Dt. 24:17); who have given false testimony in a capital case (Dt. 19:16-21).”
    Martin Bucer
    16th century Magisterial Reformer
    The Fourteenth Law: The Modification of Penalties
    It kind of strains credulity that Calvin would have referred to Bucer’s position as “perilous and seditious.”
    So, if Calvin is not aiming at Bucer’s position that the Mosaic judicials have contemporary application for Commonwealths who might Calvin’s comments be aimed at? The answer to that doubtless are the Ana-Baptists. Calvin had a ongoing quarrel with the Ana-Baptists (who doesn’t?) as seen in his Institutes. The Ana-baptists likewise advocated for the Mosaic judicials but in a revolutionary manner. When you consider all the positives Calvin penned touching the judicials and the magistrate,
    …“But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God’s honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves…Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.”
    Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542
    Calvin’s pen seems pointed at the seditious and perilous Ana-baptists whose application of the judicials gave not Godly commonwealths but anarchistic Münsters. The initial quote by Calvin must not be taken out of context to prove something that puts it in contradiction w/ other things that Calvin wrote. What Calvin is doing, especially when one considers what he said elsewhere on this issue,
    “And for proof thereof, what is the cause that the heathen are so hardened in their own dotages? It is for that they never knew God’s Law, and therefore they never compared the truth with the untruth. But when God’s law come in place, then doth it appear that all the rest is but smoke insomuch that they which took themselves to be marvelous witty, are found to have been no better than besotted in their own beastliness.. This is apparent. Wherefore let us mark well, that to discern that there is nothing but vanity in all worldly devices, we must know the Laws and ordinances of God. But if we rest upon men’s laws, surely it is not possible for us to judge rightly. Then must we need to first go to God’s school, and that will show us that when we have once profited under Him, it will be enough. That is all our perfection. And on the other side, we may despise all that is ever invented by man, seeing there is nothing but *fondness and uncertainty in them. And that is the cause why Moses terms them rightful ordinances. As if he should say, it is true indeed that other people have store of Laws: but there is no right all all in them, all is awry, all is crooked.”
    * fondness = foolishness, weakness, want of sense and judgment
    John Calvin
    Sermons on Deuteronomy, sermon 21 on Deut. 4:6-9
    “The let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”
    John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, sermon 87 on Deuteronomy 13:5
    In a treatise against pacifistic Anabaptists who maintained a doctrine of the spirituality of the Church which abrogated the binding authority of the case law Calvin wrote,
    “They (the Anabaptists) will reply, possibly, that the civil government of the people of Israel was a figure of the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ and lasted only until his coming, I will admit to them that in part, it was a figure, but I deny that it was nothing more than this, and not without reason. For in itself it was a political government, which is a requirement among all people. That such is the case, it is written of the Levitical priesthood that it had to come to an end and be abolished at the coming of our Lord Jesus (Heb. 7:12ff) Where is it written that the same is true of the external order? It is true that the scepter and government were to come from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, but that the government was to cease is manifestly contrary to Scripture.”
    John Calvin
    Treatise against the Anabaptists and against the Libertines, pp. 78-79
    “But it is questioned whether the law pertains to the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual and distinct from all earthly dominion; and there are some men, not otherwise ill-disposed, to whom it appears that our condition under the Gospel is different from that of the ancient people under the law; not only because the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but because Christ was unwilling that the beginnings of His kingdom should be aided by the sword. But, when human judges consecrate their work to the promotion of Christ’s kingdom, I deny that on that account its nature is changed. For, although it was Christ’s will that His Gospel should be proclaimed by His disciples in opposition to the power of the whole world, and He exposed them armed with the Word alone like sheep amongst the wolves, He did not impose on Himself an eternal law that He should never bring kings under His subjection, nor tame their violence, nor change them from being cruel persecutors into the patrons and guardians of His Church.”
    John Calvin
    Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses – p. 77.
    So, given the context of his times what Calvin seems to be doing in his literary methodological approach is that he writes against the Anabaptists who stressed the necessity to adopt the Mosaic judicials as a whole without making the necessary distinctions between the Mosaic judicials in toto and the general equity of the judicials. Once having done that Calvin embraces, for nations, what we would call the abiding “general equity” and insists that magistrates must have to do with the case law in their considerations.

    Like

  8. What is your point then?

    If Calvin thinks the Civil Magistrate, regardless of the spiritual state of the particular magistrate, has a duty to enforce Biblical morality on all men, believers and unbelievers alike (i.e. – “Godliness”), by the sword if necessary, how can he agree with your application of his quotation that all men shouldn’t be held to Biblical morality in both Kingdoms, since according to you only believers can be held to the standard of Biblical morality?

    Like

  9. How exactly does the magistrate (or anyone else) “enforce biblical morality”? A magistrate can enforce a law prohibiting rape, but can he enforce Jesus’ commandment to not even look at a woman lustfully?

    Does “biblical morality” that the Magistrate is to enforce include the first table of the Ten Commandments?

    Like

  10. Keep in mind that the historical context for the Magistrate enforcing biblical morality throughout most of Christian history is Constantinianism. How would a Catholic magistrate have evaluated your Reformed Protestant biblical morality?

    Like

  11. Ben, it’s always a pleasure reading your posts! Even the few times I might disagree with you. It’s a good thing for the greater reformed body to see you counter balance DGH’s antinomian tendencies. I like your common sense approach, dripping with wisdom, and your superior knowledge of Church history. I am also impressed by the even keeled way you comport yourself. I can only hope to aspire to the good examples you set.

    Keep pressing on brother!

    Like

  12. I’ve reached the point on this subject where it almost puts me to sleep. Next time I have insomnia I am going to call Hart and ask him to write a 2K post so I can read the comments. I think my new response to Neocalvinists & Theonomists is “Good luck. Let me know how your efforts turn out.” Then I’ll go take a nap.

    Like

  13. Erik, theonomy is about 7th on my list of top priorities, I just cant’ take confessing reformed Christians mock it like it was a laughable idea. Which is why I normally respond.

    BTW Erik carefully read Martin Bucer up above, does that sound theonomic or what?

    Like

  14. What if for a year every Christian decided to ignore politics and not worry about what the magistrate was doing or not doing? Instead, they used that time to focus on their own shortcomings and how they treated others. What might that accomplish?

    Like

  15. Erik says I’ve reached the point on this subject where it almost puts me to sleep. Next time I have insomnia I am going to call Hart and ask him to write a 2K post so I can read the comments

    LOL! As least you havent lost your sense of humor!

    Like

  16. Darryl:

    Entirely and totally off-topic. As a WCF and BCP man, by childhood rearing, by catecehtization, old school Presbyterianism, an old Canadian by birth, with Presbyterians and Anglicans on both sides (never mind American revivalists). Plus, grad degrees from Presbyterian and Anglican seminaries.

    What’s with this? http://books.google.com/books?id=G33ZAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

    That is, the “Westminster Divines” and the Prayer Book?

    You Presboes have lots of “splainin'” to do here. I understand the Scots rejection of the BCP, but the “Wesminster” divines? Of course, as always, the pity poor Church of England men have much to explain over the dispatch oif the WCF. “Both” traditions got some “splainin'” to do.

    Never mind the American revivalists and enthusiasts. Blah, blah on that front. This has to do with the “Westminsterian fathers.” Why the hell didn’t the WTS Professorial crowd teach otherwise? Why Mr. Frame during divine services in Phillie? Darryl, I am not amused to discover this late in life.

    Regards,
    Donald Philip Veitch
    AKA, compliments of Marine officers, “Viking”

    Like

  17. Erik if we lived in a dictorship you’d have a point, (what could we say?) but in America, *we the people* are supposed to be in charge. Our leaders are public servants, and can be voted out if we don’t approve of their actions. Obama is not a King or a ruler like Cesar was in days gone by, so the ostrich technique of putting our head in the proverbial political sand won’t work. In our Nation we have a civic duty to engage to some degree. Even though I agree it’s possible to be overly preoccupied with politics, since politics is not our top priority.

    Like

  18. Ben, your quote from Calvin didn’t say that the magistrate enforces biblical morality on all men. Paul doesn’t even say that. How else could you possibly make sense of 1 Cor. 6? So what is your point? I actually tried to reconcile Calvin. The magistrate promotes the true religion but doesn’t identify the kingdom with the magistrate. Have you actually reconciled Calvin or do you simply quote Calvin against Calvin? I don’t see the point of that.

    Like

  19. Doug, I suppose you’d also like to live in the sixteenth century, where people died if their faith was different from the magistrate’s. Or is it 9th c. bc Israel you’d prefer, where the Philistines were one of the many denominations.

    Like

  20. Viking, the, see Jack Martin’s comment about the make up of those Westminster Divines. My supposition is that some divines were prayer book men and willing to use them. They did not prevail at the assembly, so the Directory was a compromise, which is also what I suspect was going on here, some compromise with the religious policies of the restored monarchy.

    This apparent flip-flopping is what happens when you tie your wagon to the magistrate. They flip-flop, the church does. But oh how we want the magistrate to enforce both tables of the law. That’ll work.

    Like

  21. Lets see we’re going to apply scriptural ethical imperatives to all regardless of their religious standing!
    Somebody forgot to tell Paul;

    9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 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. 11 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. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[b] whom you are to judge? 13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    Silly Paul, scripture is for theonomists.

    Like

  22. Sean, Rome was not sanctified to God like Geneva was during Calvin’s day. Rome (as an Empire) wouldn’t confess that Jesus was Lord, let alone consider God’s law. That is a great sin. Since Rome wasn’t a democratic republic, it would be silly to talk about laws until she either confessed the truth or was judged by God. This is why Paul was executed; he told the Cesar that Jesus was Lord! Once Rome fell, and nations were sanctified to God, they soon fell in line.

    Like

  23. Sean, try to think logical order, one needs to confess that Jesus is Lord, *before* they will be open to enforcing God’s law. (If they are pagan dictators) You and Darryl are putting the cart before the horse asking ridiculous questions. Quit doing that!!! It makes you both appear foolish, getting your rhetorical punch lines, bass ackwards.

    Like

  24. Focus an Martin Bucer, and let his words sink down into your heart:

    “But since no one can desire an approach more equitable and wholesome to the commonwealth than that which God describes in His law, it is certainly the duty of all kings and princes who recognize that God has put them over His people that follow most studiously his own method of punishing evildoers. For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.

    Accordingly, in every state sanctified to God capital punishment must be ordered for all who have dared to injure religion, either by introducing a false and impious doctrine about the Worship of God or by calling people away from the true worship of God (Dt. 13:6-10, and 17:2-5); for all who blaspheme the name of God and his solemn services (Lv. 24:15-16); who violate the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14-15, and 35:2; Num. 15:32-36); who rebelliously despise authority of parents and live their own life wickedly (Dt. 21:18-21); who are unwilling to submit to the sentence of supreme tribunal (Dt. 17:8-12); who have committed bloodshed (Ex. 21:12; Lv. 24:17, Dt. 19:11-13), adultery (Lv. 20:10), rape (Dt. 22:20-25), kidnapping (Dt. 24:17); who have given false testimony in a capital case (Dt. 19:16-21).”

    Martin Bucer

    16th century Magisterial Reformer

    The Fourteenth Law: The Modification of Penalties

    Like

  25. DGH if you read Bucer carefully, you will see how he understands Israel’s civil laws had expired in one sense yet the general equity is left intact. Hopefully you can see how Bucer’s understanding of the Mosaic law was the foundation of the language used in the WCF 19.4

    If you concentrate hard enough, you will hopefully see that neither Bucer or Calvin needed reconciliation. They harmonize beautifully with Scripture and our Confessions.

    Like

  26. Doug,

    “Once Rome fell, and nations were sanctified to God, they soon fell in line.”

    This is a rather general claim, which nations did you have in mind exactly?

    Also, your claim that we ought to be “enforcing God’s law” in society made me wonder how you see this working out in the particulars. For instance, in terms of nuts-and-bolts policy how do you think the BIble would have us address drugs in the inner cities, or say, illegal immigration? What does sanctified, God glorifying policy look like in this specific areas?

    Like

  27. Rome was not sanctified to God like Geneva was during Calvin’s day. Rome (as an Empire) wouldn’t confess that Jesus was Lord, let alone consider God’s law. That is a great sin. Since Rome wasn’t a democratic republic, it would be silly to talk about laws until she either confessed the truth or was judged by God. This is why Paul was executed; he told the Cesar that Jesus was Lord! Once Rome fell, and nations were sanctified to God, they soon fell in line.

    Doug, so when Paul and Peter pass on opportunities to enjoin the state to kiss the Son (and opt only to enjoin believers to submit, lead quiet and decent lives, and honor the Emperor) it was because they were limited by their time and place? Isn’t that the same hermeneutic the egalitarians use to explain away Paul’s instruction against female leadership? So just as once things become enlightened Paul can be set free from archaic readings and we may now ordain women, once things become theocratic he can be set free from his 2k readings and we can hold the state to enforcing true religion? But that’s a hermeneutic that makes has of the Bible and reveals a culturalist agenda.

    One of these days, Alice…

    Like

  28. Doug, you and the RC’s liberal hermeneutics keep undermining apostolic teaching. I understand the RCs not being terribly bothered by this, they have ongoing apostolic revelation……errrr……development, but who issued your Charism card? Moscow? SCCCS?

    Like

  29. Sean, what would you call Martin Bucer? Would you attach the dreaded “theonomic” label to John Calvin’s mentor? Will you admit before everyone at Old Life, that Bucer was a theonomist?

    Like

  30. Zrim, how many times to you need to be told that Rome was not a democracy, and that’s Christ’s kingdom is not advanced by the shedding of blood in war? In the book of Daniel God predicted that his Rock would bring Rome down, “in His time”. That doesnt mean once a majority of Christians make up a nation, it shouldnt look to God’s law, which was eye for and eye, as in perfect socio political justice. Where the punishment always fit the crime. When does the punishment fit the crime? Look no further than God’s law.

    Like

  31. With all respect, I believe you have misinterpreted both the passage from 1 Corinthians and the meaning of Scripture as a “common moral standard” or as a “moral imperative.”
    For example, the meaning of the ninth commandment is almost universally agreed upon in reformed circles not to simply mean “don’t hurt your neighbor’s reputation” but as a fundamental aspect of God’s character that ought to govern our whole approach to truth and justice. My point being that scripture cannot be taken merely at it’s face value. I assume we agree that at least the second table of the ten commandments applies to all men. Concerning the 1 Corinthians passage, I believe it applies to all men not in that it should be illegal to seek justice at the hands of a civil magistrate but instead, that the disputes of believers and non-believers alike should be settled between themselves peacefully. The command to love your neighbor as yourself is the essence of this passage, and the validity of the proposition concerning the application of Scripture to all men as a “moral imperative” is not challenged by this passage. The unbeliever cannot practically apply this scripture in the context it is given like we Christians can. But he can certainly apply the undergirding moral principle, according to which all men will be judged. My point being that all scripture, including 1 Corinthians 6, applies to all men. There aren’t two sets of rules.

    Like

  32. Doug, I have zero problem admitting that I don’t hold to establishmentarianism and side with both the apostle Paul and the American revision of the WCF. Now when and where will you start advocating capital punishment of heretics and idolators? Come on mr Bucer man! What? Whats that?! You and the pope are working out some contextualization issues?! Oh ok, well maybe if you touch your Charism rings together while the pope clicks his ruby house slippers all the while chanting ‘I wanna go home to medieval Rome’ maybe you’ll find yourself in Moscow.

    Like

  33. Sean asks Now when and where will you start advocating capital punishment of heretics and idolators?

    Sean, first you need to understand how God expected those laws to be enforced in Israel. Next you need to fall on your face asking God to forgive you, for mocking the justice exhibited in his law. (How disrespectful!) Then, after you’ve had a good prayer and a think, it might come to you.

    p.s. Read up on Martin Bucer.

    Like

  34. Adam asks lso, your claim that we ought to be “enforcing God’s law” in society made me wonder how you see this working out in the particulars. For instance, in terms of nuts-and-bolts policy how do you think the BIble would have us address drugs in the inner cities, or say, illegal immigration? What does sanctified, God glorifying policy look like in this specific areas?

    Great questions! We would have to change the direction are government is going at this moment. Drugs like Marijuana would be decriminalized and criminals would have to pay back restitution instead of being housed in Prison. Illegal immigration? I’m not sure, how I feel, but I don’t think we should blame migrant workers looking for work.

    Like

  35. Sean accuses Doug, you and the RC’s liberal hermeneutics keep undermining apostolic teaching.

    If there is any truth to your words, then Martin Bucer, and John Calvin had the same hermeneutic as liberal RC’s. I don’t think *you* believe your own diatribe.

    Martin Bucer equals liberal Roman Catholics? I think not!

    Like

  36. Doug, the reformers reasoning and your rationalizing away of Paul’s historical circumstance, bear no resemblance. Sorry. Swing batter batter batter sa-wing and a miss.

    Like

  37. Doug, but when will you grasp that the martyrdom which comes from confessing Jesus is Lord only comes from a magistrate who is thoroughly anti-2k? When will you grasp that Christianity made it possible to both obey the Emperor and worship God in a context that saw those two things as indistinguishable thus impossible? When will you grasp that in your theonomy you have more in common with the 1k pagan magistrate than with the 2k apostles?

    Like

  38. Sean, your reading of Paul in Galatians is so wooden it would make C.I. Scofield cheer. I know you want to say you’re deformed, but you’re really more dispensational. You dress up your lingo, so it sounds reformed, but you don’t see the covenant of grace during the time of the law, as the same in substance during the new. Strike one, two, and three! You should seriously take an exception.

    When you claim the covenant of works is smuggled into the Mosaic Law you’re joined at the hip with Cyrus, even if you don’t know it. Your slant on Galatians is an extreme minority view held by only a few of reformed writers, Kline went crazy and DVD has sown these bad seeds into an unholy mess.

    Read the reviews on Amazon.com of “The Law Is Not of Faith”. Two thumbs down! Then read John Frames critique of Escondido’s 2K. Let my summarize, (they’re both unbiblical!) Most of the reformed critics who reviewed The Law is not of faith, slammed the book, for speculating beyond the constrains of proper biblical exegesis. So go ahead, and cling to your self contradicting view of Paul, and look at Galatians like a dispensationalist. Just don’t call yourself reformed!

    Like

  39. Zrim, when are you going to understand theonomy?

    Pssst, I am 2K! So was Greg Bahnsen, as was John Calvin, as was Martin Bucer, as was J. Gresham Machen. We’re just not Radical Two Kingdom. You R2K fellows have managed to galvanize the whole body of Christ to stand against you, so keep up the good work!

    Like

  40. DGH asks Doug, so what exactly was Servetus’ crime if not one of thought?

    Darryl, the Lord Jesus said that if a man looks at a women with lust, he has committed the sin of adultery. (In the heart, Hart) But God’s law never taught that a man should be executed for *thought* sins. How could you prove he was lusting in his own mind? But if a married man acts on his lust and has sexual relations with a women, then he should be executed. Now both of his actions thoughts and actions are sins, but thought sins are not to be punished by the Magistrate.

    In Servetus’s case, the man wouldn’t shut up! If his only sin was unbelief, he would have been left alone. But he was attempting to usurp the one true religion. He deserved to be executed in my opinion. He was a stubborn idolater in a nation that had sanctified itself to Christ Jesus. Our nation isn’t there yet, although it once was, this is why I pray for God to heal our nation causing us to repent and return back to God. We are Priests unto God for the ministry of reconciliation.

    Does that help?

    Like

  41. Lincoln, so everyone should take the Lord’s Supper? And if they can’t, they should be excommunicated? But if they aren’t members of the church how can they be excommunicated?

    Like

  42. Doug, theonomists should not be passive-aggressive. They should be aggressive-aggressive. Answer Sean’s question on heretics and idolaters. Whenever anyone asks this, the response is always shock and outrage that anyone would challenge such a practice or consequence of an argument. You’re making Bryan Cross seem reasonable.

    Like

  43. Doug, in case you missed it, the whole Reformed world took a pass on theonomy. You know about the revisions to the Westminster Confession, right, revisions that practically all other Reformed communions have implemented. History and the churches left you behind. You sir are the radical one. Why not step up to the plate and admit it? You think recalcitrant adolescents should be executed. And you say we have divided the churches? You’re over in a corner, pouting at one minute and then shouting another. Keep pressing on. The corner might get bigger.

    Like

  44. Doug, it doesn’t help because no church now believes in coercion of conscience the way that Reformers and Roman Catholics did. We have changed and made belief a matter of something private, something that the state cannot coerce. Our view of liberty of conscience is different from the Reformers. For them, a free conscience was a rightly formed conscience. As such, a wrongly formed conscience could be coerced. Is that what you want?

    Like

  45. Doug, everybody is 2k since Augustine. What the natures are of the two and how they relate to one another is where things get dicey. But in your line up you forget neo-Calvinist patron St. Kuyper, who had indicting things to say about theonomy and who was willing to openly renounce being considered Reformed if it meant punishing false religion with the sword. His view was affirmed by the confessional revisions on the magistrate. So how exactly is that to “galvanize the whole body of Christ to stand against” 2k? Sure seems like the other way around more or less.

    Like

  46. No, unbelievers should not take the Lord’s supper. They should repent of their sins, become believers, join the church, and then take the Lord’s supper. Partaking of communion in an unworthy manner is a sin to unbelievers as well as believers. But I think our principal disagreement is on whether or not all men are called to worship God. Now, I’m not a theonomist, and I firmly believe that these ecclesiastical matters fall outside the scope of authority pertaining to a civil magistrate.

    Regardless, given the clear teaching of all of scripture concerning salvation, and therein even the ABILITY to perform any commands of God (even before we mention those that are directly worship-related) is that only in Christ’s strength can we obey the law in any capacity at all. But by no account does this justify any man who is not in Christ. Are only some required to worship, and the rest are encouraged to deny God? No, ideally, at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord. Why do we deny that these things should be so?

    How can God have double standards? Salvation comes with freedom from the bondage of the law, not extra regulations. We will all be judge on our worship of God. Some of us must repent before we can even begin to properly worship him. But the ability of the unregenerate to fulfill commandments 1-10 is just as impossible as their inability to fulfill 1 Cor. 6 according to the letter. Only in Christ can any righteousness be accepted. But that does not justify those outside of Christ in any way.

    Like

  47. Lincoln, God doesn’t have double standards. The church isn’t God. Neither is the state. So to insist that these institutions, both established by God, apply God’s law equally and the same way, is a category mistake.

    Like

  48. Darryl, when you attack theonomy, you never use examples like the death penalty for child molesters or kidnappers? Why don’t you bring up the death penalty for violent rapists?

    You know what I think? You *know* most of God’s Church would agree with it’s theonomic conclusions, that’s why! You only bring up the DP for young men who beat their parents and idolaters, the two punishments that you feel are the hardest for our culture to accept. Shame on you Darryl! You’re not even honest with yourself!

    Like

  49. Lincoln, you originally suggested that there are not two sets of rules. But 1 Cor 5 precedes 1 Cor 6. And in that chapter Paul sure seems to suggest there is indeed one way to regard those inside and another for those outside the church: those within and judged by the church to be wicked (and presumably unrepentant) are to be cast out, those without are left to God to be judged.

    If there aren’t two sets of rules then what keeps anybody from following Paul’s prescription to draw distinct lines between the spiritual domain and the provisional, each with its own set of rules? What prevents the state being swallowed up by the church and excommunicating those who won’t stop breaking the speed limit?

    Like

  50. No, unbelievers should not take the Lord’s supper. They should repent of their sins, become believers, join the church, and then take the Lord’s supper. Partaking of communion in an unworthy manner is a sin to unbelievers as well as believers. But I think our principal disagreement is on whether or not all men are called to worship God. Now, I’m not a theonomist, and I firmly believe that these ecclesiastical matters fall outside the scope of authority pertaining to a civil magistrate.

    Regardless, given the clear teaching of all of scripture concerning even any ability to perform any commands of God (even before we mention those that are directly worship-related) is that only in Christ’s strength can we obey the law in any capacity at all. But by no account does this justify anyone who cannot obey the law because he is not in Christ. Man was created to glorify (read: worship) God. Are only some required to worship, and the rest are encouraged to deny the clear commands of God concerning worship? No, ideally, at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord. Why do we deny that these things should be so?

    How can God have double standards? Salvation comes with freedom from the bondage of the law, not extra regulations. We will all be judged according to God’s eternal and unchangeable law. And given the first commandment, we are all commanded to worship God and no other. Some of us must repent before we can even begin to worship him. But the ability of the unregenerate to fulfill commandments 5-10 is just as impossible as their inability to fulfill 1 Cor. 6 according to the letter. Only in Christ can any righteousness be accepted. This cannot justify those outside of Christ in any way. They will be eternally responsible for their lack of worship.

    That said, there is no denying that the Bible is primarily God’s word to his people, his chosen elect. But if anything the Bible says is true, it has to apply to all men. And since the free offer of the gospel is offered to all men, the call to repentance and proper worship also applies to all men.

    Like

  51. Mr. Sowers,

    Isn’t it a tad ironic wishing everyone a blessed Sabbath by going online and thus breaking the Sabbath? Does the Fourth Commandment not hold any sway over you? Is it only the homosexuals who rouse your zeal for law and punishment?

    Like

  52. Darryl, I freely admit that the theonomic perspective as advanced by Greg Bahnsen is a minority view in the church at present, and I’ve never claimed otherwise. But Old School Presbyterians who wrote our Confessions were clearly more on his side, than yours. Men like Perkins, Rutherford, Calvin, Bucer, Cartwright, and Turrentin were all theonomic according to Meredith Kline.

    I’ve heard you call Kline a genius; well if Kline was such a genius, why won’t you agree with him, that the WCF AND the American revision were both theonomic documents? Kline, hated theonomy with every fiber in his being, but he was honest enough to admit the truth, what’s stopping you?

    Like

  53. Todd, Kline comes close to saying that the revision was too ambiguous and gave room for (in so many words) in his first critique of theonomy in 79

    http://www.meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/comments-on-an-old-new-error/

    I’ve heard Greg Bahnsen mention that Kline thought both the original and the revision were too theonomic for his blood. I’ve also heard this from many other people on line, In fact on the blogosphere I’ve heard it bandied about so much I thought it was common knowledge. But I can’t point you exactly where it is, but I will start looking.

    BTW, I took your advice and read some of Kline’s stuff, so as to better understand where your coming from.

    Blessings Todd

    Todd, are you the same Todd that was at Greenbaggins a couple years ago?

    Like

  54. Todd, Kline comes close to saying that the revision was too ambiguous and gave room for chalcedon (in so many words) in his first critique of theonomy in 79

    http://www.meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/comments-on-an-old-new-error/

    I’ve heard Greg Bahnsen mention that Kline thought both the original and the revision were too theonomic for his blood. I’ve also heard this from many other people on line, In fact on the blogosphere I’ve heard it bandied about so much I thought it was common knowledge. But I can’t point you exactly where it is, but I will start looking.

    BTW, I took your advice and read some of Kline’s stuff, so as to better understand where your coming from.

    Blessings Todd

    Todd, are you the same Todd that was at Greenbaggins a couple years ago?

    Like

  55. Doug: Todd, Kline comes close to saying that the revision was too ambiguous and gave room for chalcedon (in so many words) in his first critique of theonomy in 79

    Kline writes here: It (Chalecdon) is in fact a revival of certain teachings contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith – at least in the Confession’s original formulations.

    He really does not say the revived standards were theonomic as you claimed, nor does saying ambiguities remain say the revised were theonomic.

    Doug: I’ve also heard this from many other people on line, In fact on the blogosphere I’ve heard it bandied about so much I thought it was common knowledge. But I can’t point you exactly where it is, but I will start looking.

    Thanks for your honesty here, but it is one of the weaknesses of the blogosphere, that if an untruth is repeated long enough…The blogsphere is usually a poor representation of reality; political or theological. I would recommend instead reading books and journals to understand theological positions and differences.

    Doug: BTW, I took your advice and read some of Kline’s stuff, so as to better understand where your coming from.

    Great to hear, you are to be commended.

    Doug: Todd, are you the same Todd that was at Greenbaggins a couple years ago?

    If you are referring to some theonomy – 2k debates three or four years ago, then, yes.

    Like

  56. Old School Presbyterian wisdom, from John Cotton who wrote An Abstract of the Laws of New England, and They Are Now Established.

    In Boston, John Cotton was a leader in Christian doctrine and ecclesiastical polity. His political influence is to be noted. In his work, A Discourse about Civil Government in a New Plantation whose Design is Religion, (published in Cambridge, 1663), Cotton (perhaps In association with John Davenport) wrote that a theocracy was the proper and best form of government to endorse, and he defined a theocracy as where the Lord God is our Governor and where the laws by which men rule are the laws of God (pp. 14-15, original edition). A theocracy did not mean the erasing of the distinction between church and state:

    “The best form was theocracy, which for Cotton meant separate but parallel civil and ecclesiastical organizations formed on the evidence of scriptures. Church and state, he believed, were of the same genus, “order,” With the same author, God”, and the same end, “God’s glory.” On the level of species, however, the two diverged. Here the end of the church was salvation of souls while that of the state was the preservation of society in justice.”

    The law of God was binding on the civil magistrate, then, and the government of the state ought to be molded in conformity to God’s revealed direction. “The laws the godly would rule by were the laws of God, and in all hard cases, the clergy could be consulted without danger of confusion of church and state.” Cotton’s attitude was that his Puritan contemporaries applied the revealed law of god to the state’s constitution and stipulations. If any provision of the civil code was not warranted by God’s word, then it had to be looked upon with great suspicion an accepted only with great caution. It should be remarked here that, just as Cotton’s theocratic ideal did not confuse church and state, neither did it blur the difference in Scripture between cultic or restorative laws which anticipated the redemptive economy of Christ and moral laws with eternal rectitude or holiness as their essence. “Moses” laws, Cotton affirmed, were ceremonial as well as moral, and the former were to be considered dead while the latter were still binding in a civil state.”

    From page 529-530 Theonomy in Christian ethics.

    Like

  57. Sean, when I said our nation was founded on theonomic principles I was referring to New Engaland and John Cotton. (Look up above) Remember me saying our nations was comprised of a large majority of Christians? Can you deny the obvious? Listen to the Puritans perspective on God’s law, it would make Greg Bahnsen say amen! This is around 1663, that’s what I call Old School Presbyterian!

    Like

  58. Doug: This is around 1663, that’s what I call Old School Presbyterian!

    Erik: “American Presbyterianism officially began in 1706, when the Presbytery of Philadelphia held its first meeting. But some accounts of the Presbyterian Church in the New World speak of Presbyterian congregations going back into the seventeenth century.” (Hart & Muether in “New Horizons”).

    Cotton, a New England Puritan, was Church of England, I believe.

    I don’t know if you can call any Presbyterian “Old School” before the First Great (Pretty Good) Awakening in the 1730s-1740s regardless.

    Like

  59. Doug,

    Have you read VanDrunnen on Cotton in NL2K? He gives a very fair treatment of Cotton and does a helpful job of showing Cotton’s struggle to maintain distinction between state and church, but in the end conflates the two. The polemic against Roger Williams is insightful. Cotton was not as clean on the Civil, Ceremonial, Moral distinction as presented in your Bahnsen quote. Cotton was also ‘guilty’ of quite a bit of appeal to NL. as rationale for civil law. You should be able to get some feel for the discussion from google books, but I highly recommend getting VanDrunnen’s book. It will fill in a lot of the gaps for your historically, it certainly did for me. You may not agree with what VanDrunnen ends up favoring, but you’ll at least have a broad sketch of the historical development.

    Like

  60. “Todd, are you doubting that Kline said he thought the revision was too theonomic for his blood?”

    Saying there are still ambiguities is not quite the same as saying it is theonomic. No one is denying that the early reformers were in some ways theonomic in their desire to enforce the first table, and we have made it clear we disagree with them, as did Kuyper. But all they knew were national, or at best, city religions, the American experiment had not happened yet. Once it did it made Christians rethink the Scriptural relationship between church and state, and that pluralism is indeed biblical, even to the point of calling for a revision to the WCF on church-state matters. You are free to hold to the original WCF, but understand you are the minority on this. Most Protestants, reformed and not, have been living and breathing NL2k for more than 200 years. Now some may not like the way we NL2k express and explain NL2k, which is a legitimate criticism, but we all live and breathe it every day. And some of us actually think the American experiment was a good idea, all things considered.

    Like

  61. Sean, how did the church fit your model of “perpetual minority” and us verse them, during the early days of New England, when the overwhelming majority of the general population was Christian? It had to be upwards of 90%, no? Did *anyone* in New England say they were NOT a believer?
    During the seventeenth century, the American church was in a much more gracious position than the early church that lived under Nero. Under Nero, the church didn’t even comprise 1% of the general population, Saints were executed for being a known Christian. In 1660’s New England can we admit the Church was in a huge majority?

    And if you’ll admit that, why can’t God save the majority of mankind in our future? See Psalms 72. This is why I hold to a form of a Post Mill hope for the world’s future, when I see what God has already done; I know that He is able. I see an incredible improvement in this world from 70AD to 1663. The difference is a stark between night and day.

    Like

  62. No rose colored glasses here Erik, I concur that when the local church isn’t faithful, she won’t hold her lampstand for long; just look at the 7 churches in Asia Minor! Some twenty years after their founding, Jesus was warning 5 out of 7 that they were on the verge of being judged.

    Is it any surprise this happened in America? Look at Harvard University, when it was founded it was a Christian school that taught the Bible for the history, and our origin, but after a hundred or so years, they compromised, and now they are utterly secular, mocking the notion of God creating the world in six days.

    Like

  63. Doug,

    I’ve already admitted, along with Kuyper amongst others as Zrim and Todd point out, that as 2kers we reject establishmentarianism along with the American revisionists of the WCF. Your historical contextualization of Paul’s directions for dealing with the sexually immoral in and out of the church, is a liberal interpretation of Paul based on a deconstructionist hermenuetic. It just is, I don’t know what else to tell you about it. Basically, you want to argue that if Paul’s historical circumstance was puritan New England, he would’ve never argued what he argued in 1 cor 5, but instead would’ve argued for the state to be enforcing the church’s sexual mores on those outside the cult, or some such rendering, and wouldn’t have drawn the sharp distinction he draws in 1 cor 5 between those inside and those outside the cult. This argumentation is modernist, liberal and thoroughly unreformed. Now, I don’t for a minute think you’re a liberal but you’re putting forth a liberal case for interpreting Paul. Zrim pointed this out to you earlier.

    I’m not a post-mil but an amil, and I don’t even pretend to know how vast or narrow heaven’s population will be compared to hell’s population.

    Like

  64. Sean, look at your words a little closer. You said,

    “This argumentation is modernist, liberal and thoroughly unreformed.”

    Huh? Was Martin Bucer “unreformed”? Think about what you’re saying!

    Like

  65. Doug,

    I was referring to your argument for Paul instructions in 1 cor 5. I wasn’t talking about the establishmentarian position of Bucer.

    Like

  66. Sean opines, Basically, you want to argue that if Paul’s historical circumstance was puritan New England, he would’ve never argued what he argued in 1 cor 5, but instead would’ve argued for the state to be enforcing the church’s sexual mores on those outside the cult, or some such rendering, and wouldn’t have drawn the sharp distinction he draws in 1 cor 5 between those inside and those outside the cult.

    Sean, think about what you’re saying! If Paul was living under the laws of New England, the man would never have taken his fathers wife in the first place, lest he be put to death! And if the man did take his fathers wife, it would be done in secret, for the reason I just mentioned.

    You read Paul’s instruction to the church of Corinth as if there will never be a nation that esteems God’s law. As I just pointed out, New England proves your whole theory is specious! You are making an axiom out of Rome. When, even a cursory view of history should inform you, that that is not always the case. Therefore I humbly think it’s you who are reading Paul in a very odd way.

    Like

  67. Doug,

    Let’s try it this way, here’s the verses in contention;

    “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 5:9-13 ESV)

    Now according to your hermenuetic, how would Paul have directed the Corinthians in this regard, in puritan New England as opposed to how he directed them in his then historical circumstance?

    Like

  68. Sean, how does Paul’s instruction in 1 Cor. 5 negate the possibility of a future state being sanctified to Christ? This has actually happened in many nations, no? (Think early New England) So if adultery was a DP offense in Rome, do you think Paul’s instruction to Corinth would have be the same? Are you kidding?

    Would Paul hide criminals within the church?

    Like

  69. Doug,

    Here’s the hangup, I think; “a future state being sanctified to Christ” I know how that term looks for ethnic Israel, they failed miserably btw, I have no idea outside of the 2nd coming and the establishment of a new heavens and new earth how that works from a BT perspective. Cultic state/sanctioning is PRIVILEGED(not yelling btw) state. A nation can not presume upon itself, this side of glory, cultic status that ethnic Israel once had. All nations before, at the time, and since, postlapsarian, are ‘common’ or secular entities; good but not holy/sacred. The church itself, the cultic community administered through offices by the holy spirit through word and sacrament ARE the holy nation, a royal priesthood, a chosen people. All the titles of ethnic Israel are now formally and properly, the titles of the church. No longer any one particular tribe or land mass or state. IOW, states are not sanctified unto the Lord, but people(elect) of the cult are, the cult’s population majority, or minority, in a particular nation or population mass doesn’t mysteriously or magically make that entire population mass or state, “holy unto the Lord”.

    Like

  70. Sean, I do not deny that the church judges church matters, and the state uses the sword. But can there be overlap? Of course! In Paul’s day, Rome was not sanctified to Christ, in John Cottons day New England was, (for a time). Now, ironically New England allows legal abortion; could you imagine Cotton standing for abortion?

    Paul, to my way of seeing things, is simply saying, the church should be faithful, even when, or if, the state is Apostate. This doesn’t mean the state shouldn’t wield the sword with justice. Even *if* everyone in general population was baptized, we both know that there will always be goats among the sheep. Men fall out of covenant everyday. God always sets up challenges to test our heart.

    Like

  71. Sean, if all men are commanded to repent and bend their knee to Christ, then why is it wrong to feel that nations should follow suite? I just don’t see Kline’s notion of sacred/common taught in Scripture. If all men are indeed commanded to repent, then shouldn’t everything they do, be done for the glory of God? What you do for the glory of God, should not be called common.

    Like

  72. Sean, we (in the church) all called to be holy also, yet *we* don’t always look very holy. Why would it be any different for nations, than for individuals? After all, Jesus is the King of Kings, no? If Jesus is commanding all men, then I think nations should beware.

    This isn’t to suggest it’s going to be easy, but is our own sanctification, *easy*? Isn’t our own sanctification messy? Sin always messes things up!

    Like

  73. Doug,

    I don’t think it’s wrong to “feel” like nations should follow suit. We all hope for the return of Jesus and a new heavens and a new earth, it’ll be a theocracy extraordinaire. It’s just that for now, in this age, we live as a pilgrim people WAITING(not yelling) on a better city, looking forward to it. It’s why faith and hope in things not seen are such strong markers of our faith. In glory there is no more faith and hope. It will all be realized.

    Like

  74. Doug,

    It’s not an principled answer to 1 cor. 5 (I’m channeling Bryan Cross) but I’ll argue along with Luther that I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a stupid christian, and there is no more despotic form of governance than a theocracy this side of Jesus Christ returning.

    Like

  75. Doug, Luther quote or not I still agree with the sentiment. And the prescriptive against establishmentarianism has now been adopted in the WCF. You still haven’t produced a principled explanation for Paul’s distinctions in 1 cor 5, apart from enjoining an liberal hermenuetic.

    Like

  76. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV)

    Sean says now according to your hermenuetic, how would Paul have directed the Corinthians in this regard, in puritan New England as opposed to how he directed them in his then historical circumstance?

    Sean, I have seen the problem and it’s really starting to get under my craw. You are attempting to read Paul as saying, “it’s fine to hang out with unbelievers who are sodomites, just not confessing christians who are sodomites. That is not what Paul is saying; in fact I find that interpretation insulting! Let me prove it to you by Paul!

    2nd Cor. 6:14

    Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a deliver share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of god with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said

    I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    And I will be their God,
    And they shall be my people.
    Therefore go out from their midst,
    And be separate from them, says the Lord,
    And touch no unclean thing;
    Then I will welcome you,
    And I will be a father to you,
    And you shall be sons and daughters to me,
    Says the Lord Almighty.

    Sean, focus on this whole passage! Can we still touch something unclean in the new testament, according to Paul? Yes! A thousand times yes!

    Paul is using old testament allusions demanding Jew, and Gentile separations, and applying it to believer, unbeliever! This demolishes your shallow reading of Paul in 1 Cor. 5. and nukes it! Paul is not giving you the green light to go out and party with unbelieving sodomites every Thursday night at he local pub! What fellowship do you have with them, according to Paul?

    Unless you’re suggesting that Paul is contradicting himself from his first letter! Which is ridiculous, as we both know. When you spend your (free time) as we call it in America, you are not to intentionally hang out with unbelievers unless you wish to ignore both testaments of God’s Word.

    What did Paul mean in 1 Cor 5? We still have dealings with unbelievers, because we live in this world, (to which I say duh!) and they are part of God’s plan in this world. Believers aren’t to have fellowship with unbelievers, unless we’re crazy. We also are not to have fellowship with believers who are walking in gross sin. Both are true!

    So this highly specious notion, that Paul is teaching its fine to have fellowship with unbelieving sodomites down at the local pub is begging for trouble. Remember Paul’s admonition, “bad company corrupts good morals”.

    I only tell you this, because I consider you my brother in Christ.

    Like

  77. Doug,

    For the moment let’s set aside the overly provocative scenario of ‘hanging out with sodomites at the local pub’. You advocate the application of God’s law as summarized at Sinai for believer and unbeliever alike, as unavoidable application of Jesus’ reign as king, in the here and now. Correct? Maybe you’d phrase it differently, but that’s the thrust of it. As part of applying God’s law, you have penal sanctions for violation, that are argued for as part of this application. I’ll even give ground, for the sake of argument, that in the NT we are ‘modifying’ sanctions to accomodate a non-israel state and even just modernity. How do you explain in that scenario, consistent with your and others often cited rhetorical flourish; “God and God’s law never changes and everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, must bow the knee to King Jesus” (paraphrase-compilation) Paul’s direction for banishment for one who is named ‘brother’ but on the flip side CORRECTING against the notion that such a banishment is meant to apply to those OUTSIDE the church. At the very very least you have Paul applying two DIFFERENT sanctions in regards to the same sin based on making distinction between those in the church and those without and God’s application of sanction. Considered, at least from the aspect of sanction, Paul is applying 2 different standards of the law.

    Btw, note that my caps aren’t meant to imply yelling, and I am giving yards and yards of ground I wouldn’t generally cede, just to enable the discussion. IOW, I’m trying to discuss this in good faith.

    Like

  78. Mr. Sowers,

    What are you doing frequenting public houses in the frst place? Nothing virtuous or righteous will be found in those establishments. You should remember that as Christians we make a witness to the world. The world is always watching to pick fault and uncover hypocrisy. How are we meant to distinguish ourselves from the heathen if we do as they do, attend their frivolous and lewd entertainments, frequent their dens of iniquity? Imagine if Christ returned and you were to be found carousing in a pub!

    Like

  79. Erik, pretty funny. My wife, and I would concur, would tell you it’s singularly blonde and feminine ’till death’ or the ‘rapture’.

    Like

  80. Erik,

    My bride, amongst many other contrivances, now tries to infer similar notions about my sexuality when she doesn’t want to watch MMA. I won’t even mention her comments about singlets.

    Like

  81. Doug, if bad company corrupts good morals then why do you hang out here with dirty 2kers? Do you really want Jesus to find you living it up here?

    Like

  82. Sean thanks for taking my (provocative scenario) in stride 🙂

    I was pushing your example (hard!). and took liberties for artistic flourish. Forgive me for embellishing your story with antidotes, like “kicking it’, and “every Thursday night”. I hope you understand I was merely attempting to make an over all point, and not attacking you personally. Actually, I like you! Okay, I love you in Christ.

    Now, you ask: How do you explain in that scenario, consistent with your and others often cited rhetorical flourish; “God and God’s law never changes and everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, must bow the knee to King Jesus” (paraphrase-compilation) Paul’s direction for banishment for one who is named ‘brother’ but on the flip side CORRECTING against the notion that such a banishment is meant to apply to those OUTSIDE the church.

    Great question! First of all, we don’t judge the world. Men like Alec Baldwin, who are stridently against Christ, are not our concern. He can have all the weird sex he wants, and the church doesn’t have any jurisdiction. Should the state have a say? Of course, you know I would say yes, but that is a different question.

    But a confessing brother, who is walking in a sexual sin, is committing a great sin against the church! We are one body. All other sins, (besides sexual sins) are outside the body. But when a man joins himself to a prostitute, (next chapter) Christ is joined with the prostitute!! We as a body are compromised and weakened by this act!

    This is why this particular situation (in Corinth) was so dire. When a brother commits sexual sins, he is joining the local church in this act, (in a spiritual sense) according to Paul. This is why I feel Paul was so adamant that this man needed to be put out, and shunned. Now, should Christians shun unbelievers? No, we are to have a heart for the lost, we are to love our enemies. But we are not to have *fellowship* with them! But if I know of a brother who is on church discipline, I’d rather go to an unbeliever to say buy goods, than my wayward brother whom I’m hoping will soon come to his senses, and repent, and return to the Lord his God.

    Like

  83. You mean an anti-Baptist? Absolutely not. Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Which follows the practise of historic Reformed Christianity. Clearly you have fallen prey to the worldliness which has infected the church today. And clearly you only wish to enforce those laws which suit your American fundamentalist mindset.

    Like

  84. Doug, I was being mostly facetious, mainly because the point you seem to be trying to make to Sean comes off as a form of withdrawal. There is a place for withdrawal in the 2k scheme, namely the Sabbath. But you make it sound as if withdrawal also comes in our six days. Sorry, but that just doesn’t come through in 1 Cor 5, as in “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.” The implication seems to be that associating with the ungodly is a given. You seem to be pushing back against Paul, and the only room you make for associating with the ungodly is for redemptive purposes, i.e to witness or evangelize. This is a classic fundamentalist trait, to cause redemption to swallow up creation such that there can be no possibility for believers to relate to unbelievers as fellow creatures. And to add insult to injury, fundamentalists don’t really live as stunted as their theory would suggest–they associate with the ungodly. Yet when other Xns put their real lives in harmony with their world-affirming theory, the world-flightists piously hyperventilate.

    Like

  85. Zrim, you know the old; “let Scripture interpret Scripture”, no? I’m not pushing back from Paul in 1 Cor 5, I’m letting Paul set the context of that verse with 2nd Cor 6! Paul explicitly commands believers to not have fellowship with unbelievers. This doesnt mean we withdraw from society, or we would have to be out of this world. But this does mean, we need to *choose* our company carefully.

    Much of this is just common sense. When I’m at work, I don’t choose who I get to talk with, I’m working, not having fellowship. When I’m off the clock, I need to listen to Paul and not have fellowship with unbelievers. Quite frankly I was taken aback at the wooden, stiff understanding Sean presented of 1 Cor. 5. This is why 2nd Cor. 6 puts an end to any hope of Sean being correct.

    Full disclosure: I like Sean, and don’t hold that mistake agaisnt him nearly as much as the (teacher?) who taught him that mistaken slant on Paul’s first letter to Corinth. Whoever drew that application from 1 Cor. 5 needs a vacaton like nobodies bussiness! Please don’t tell Sean learned that silly take from DGH!

    Like

  86. Alexander, I wish for society to enforce the basic Godly moorings set forth in his law. Why? Because I love my neighbor, and I desire justice for all men, in the socio political sense. I know our society isnt there yet, but I pray that one day we will embrace God’s holy commands. Until then, I pray the Lord’s prayer!

    Like

  87. Doug, nobody over here would disagree with the wisdom of choosing company carefully. But have you considered the possibility that it may be unwise to choose the company of believers? You make it sound like choosing freely to associate with the ungodly is categorically out and the godly is categorically in. How is that not fundamentalist thinking, as in black and white and no middle ground (you know, where wisdom lives)?

    Like

  88. Doug – Alexander, are you aware that our reformed hero’s of the faith were theonomic?

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    Erik – I nominate Doug as Old Life’s official ambassador to our international commenters. Can I get a second?

    Like

  89. Doug,

    We’re making progress. You acknowledge God governs the cult differently than He governs those outside. I’m not trying to take a cheap shot, that’s big. The whole keeping bad company etc.., except for evangelical purposes is really fundamentalist, Bob Jones, kind of rhetoric. I’d be interested to know if your reality meets up with that stance. I bet it doesn’t. I hope it doesn’t. Imago dei considerations should blunt most of that fundie bias. If we can marry your acknowledgement of God’s governing the cult distinct from those outside the cult with the idea that the cult doesn’t extend to geographic land masses this side of AD 70 as ‘sanctified to the Lord’, we’d have nothing more to argue about other than a little fundie baggage you may carry around, and my propensity to imbibe of Ale or whiskey in public more than you might be comfortable with, including with people not in the cult.

    Like

  90. Sean, I am an outgoing person by nature, and have had all kinds of friends over the years. And no, I havent always been wise or discriminating. I have the scars to prove it, and I don’t mean physical scars either. We live in an age, where we can hop in our car, and “get around”.

    I was raised in a fundamental baptist church, “go figure”. So maybe I’m still tainted by the dreaded fundie desease, whatever that is, so help me out, please.

    How do you understand Paul commanding us to not have fellowship with unbelievers?

    Like

  91. Sean states We’re making progress. You acknowledge God governs the cult differently than He governs those outside

    Sean, are you saying Christ’s church is governed by a different moral standard than an unbeliever?

    Like

  92. “How do you understand Paul commanding us to not have fellowship with unbelievers?”

    Doug,

    Calvin is helpful here. On this passage he writes:

    “The word that Paul makes use of means — to be connected together in drawing the same yoke. It is a metaphor taken from oxen or horses, which require to walk at the same pace, and to act together in the same work, when fastened under one yoke. When, therefore, he prohibits us from having partnership with unbelievers in drawing the same yoke, he means simply this, that we should have no fellowship with them in their pollutions. For one sun shines upon us, we eat of the same bread, we breathe the same air, and we cannot altogether refrain from intercourse with them; but Paul speaks of the yoke of impiety, that is, of participation in works, in which Christians cannot lawfully have fellowship.”

    The verse is not about friendships with unbelievers, but participation in their sins. You should read this (below) to see a good example of a Reformed pastor befriending a lesbian:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/my-train-wreck-conversion.html

    Like

  93. Sean, drink your Ale and Wiskey to your hearts content, just don’t drink yourself into a drunken stupor. I’ve been known to enjoy a fine single malt in my day. And who doesnt enjoy a good ale? My concern was the company you keep, just gaurd your heart, bro.

    Like

  94. Zrim, stop reading me in such a black/white manner. I concur that, hanging out with “christians” who aren’t sold out for God, (on fire for Christ) or (walking by faith) can be just as dangerous as hanging out with an unbeliever. The point is, *whomever* you hang with, you naturally tend to “like” and grow “fond” of them. Once you grow fond of someone, you give them the benefit of the doubt. Love covers a multitude of sins, no?

    “Birds of a feather flock together”. “Water seeks it’s own level”. The last two aren’t Scripture, yet they are true none the less. You see Steve, the Bible calls us sheep, meaning we’re easily led astray. We already battle the flesh not to mention Satan, the last thing we need, is to have continued fellowship with someone living in high defiance to God, which is *every* unbeliever.

    This is why many God fearing men, compromised in the old testament, take King Solomon as a case in point. Finally, I am not saying that going out with an unbeliever is a sin per se, (I may in the future!) but I am saying that we *should* be careful, and don’t make a habit out of it. And I think that’s what Paul is saying in 2nd Cor the sixth chapter. To make a habit out of hanging out with unbelievers is begging for trouble.

    Like

  95. Zrim, stop reading me in a black/white manner. I concur that, hanging out with “christians” who aren’t sold out for God, (walking by faith) can be just as dangerous as hanging out with an unbeliever. Maybe even more dangerous! My point is, *whomever* you hang with, you naturally tend to “like” and grow “fond” of unless they’re a complete jerk. Once you grow fond of someone, you give them the benefit of the doubt. Love covers a multitude of sins, no?

    “Birds of a feather flock together”. “Water seeks it’s own level”. The last two aren’t Scripture, yet remain right as rain. You see Steve, the Bible calls us sheep, meaning we’re easily led astray. We already battle the flesh not to mention Satan, the pressures the world brings on, last thing we need, is to have continued fellowship with someone living in high defiance to God, which is *every* unbeliever.

    This is why many God fearing men fell, in the old testament, take King Solomon as a case in point. Finally, I am not saying that going out with an unbeliever is a sin per se, (I may in the future!), see, I”m it’s not a black and white issue with me, but I am saying that we *should* be careful, and don’t make a habit out of it! And I think that’s precisely what Paul is saying in 2nd Cor the sixth chapter. To make a habit out of hanging out with unbelievers will cause fellowship, and that is begging for trouble.

    Like

  96. Doug, it’s the enthusiasts I actually have in mind that prudence might advise more caution for the believer. To take a page from your play book, revivalist company could corrupt confessionalist morals. In fact, that seems to be a premise of OldLifery, which is to say that P&R are anymore at least as shaped by revivalism as Reformation.

    Still, while you concede some wisdom, I still wonder about your point about habit. Are you suggesting that my regular time spent with unbelieving friends and family from childhood is ill advised? Not only does that suggest more categorical thinking but a poor understanding of the nature of human relationships.

    Like

  97. Doug,

    Sorry I’m being delinquent in responding, between work and family I’m running. I think Cotton is with all zeal and good intention desiring to champion the cause of God. He wants a nation that reflects the glory of God, purposefully from tip to toe. The problem with the intention, is that it doesn’t appear to be the manner in which God is manifesting his Kingdom. Jesus talks about his kingdom being not of this world. He tells Peter to sheath his sword, should he(Jesus) desire it He could command twelve legions of angels to rescue him. The apostles are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. The way of the cross reads as a way of persecution, trial, suffering. There is lots of ‘laying down’ and not out of cowardice but out of ethos. Are we greater than our teacher? Living quiet lives, praying for the peace of the city, working with your hands, minding our own business, worry about keeping our own house(church) in order-1cor. 5- Paul exhorting; “what do I have to do with judging outsiders?!” let God judge them. IOW, that’s God’s business. God’s ruling the world outside the cult just fine. The church isn’t being called on to render verdict on the outside or administer discipline. God has established the state and is ruling it just fine through that channel. The ethos of the church is one of being a minister of reconciliation-even our discipline is intended to be restorative not punitive-the state’s IS intended to be punitive. The rub, is the matter of coercion. The state’s character is one of coercion. They bear the sword for a reason. The church’s character is one of sheathing the sword in favor of mercy, and abiding the rule of the state in matters pertaining to the ruling of this temporal world. For the church militant to engage in the administration of the state is to NECESSARILY bear the sword. It’s an act of power and coercion, even considered just on the level of a christian political party, and there’s been more than a few of those, it’s a game of power and rule. Which while appropriate for the state and political factions sans abuse, is not the role and purpose of the church in this age. We are waiting on a better city and we are called to pursue it according to this christian ethos, of even suffering loss for the sake of the kingdom. Even to the degree of forsaking family- the absolute primary institution of any culture for the sake of the Kingdom, should God require it.

    Like

  98. Sean: Here is Bahnsen on John 18:36

    “‘My kingdom is not of [ek: out from] this world,’” is a statement about the source – not the nature – of His reign, as the epexegetical ending of the verse makes obvious: ‘My kingdom is not from here [enteuthen].’ The teaching is not that Christ’s kingdom is wholly otherworldly, but rather that it originates with God Himself (not any power or authority found in creation.)”

    Like

  99. Sean opines “I think Cotton is with all zeal and good intention desiring to champion the cause of God. He wants a nation that reflects the glory of God, (you don’t?) purposefully from tip to toe. (You don’t?) The problem with the intention, is that it doesn’t appear (appear to who?) to be the manner in which God is manifesting his Kingdom.”

    Earth to Sean! They were all Christian!!! What’s wrong with wanting God’s law for justice in the socio political realm? That was the Old School Presbyterian perspective of New England! Will you admit the population was made up of over 90% confessing Christians? What does that do to your “theory” that the church is in perpetual exile?

    Do you realize how preposterous your perspective, of perpetual pilgrimage in exile, is? Even a cursory view of history should disabuse you of that notion. The church IS in exile as we speak within certain nations; I think of parts in China and the Islamic countries. But in the last 500 years especially in the West, the church has been given positions of reverence, and even prominence. Look at Geneva! Think of New England. Think Old School Presbyterians like John Cotton!

    P.S. I’d be willing to bet you haven’t read anything on John Cotton other than stuff your R2K buddies have written, like VanDrunnen.

    Like

  100. John Cotton would not have agreed with Doug’s optimistic view of “Christian” New England in his day. Here is how Cotton described his own times:

    “Did we ever have more reason to stand trembling before God under fearful apprehensions of impending vengeance when we consider the many scandalous, provoking evils abounding among us including oppression, injustice, fraud, deceit, falsehood, evil speaking, pride contention, intemperance, drunkenness, unchastity, excessive and inordinate love of the world, and may I add, the rudeness and profaneness of young people? God Himself, and our duty to Him, is evidently neglected and forgotten by many, and a form of godliness is maintained and kept up without the life and power of it. The sacred and dreadful name of God is dishonored and blasphemed by profane cursing and swearing. His holy Sabbaths, instead of being strictly observed and sanctified, are very much profaned by idle, vain, trifling and unsuitable conduct. Some forsake the house of the Lord, frequently neglecting and needlessly staying away from the public worship of God. Has not manifold contempt been put upon the Lord’s holy ordinances and institutions? Are there not many who disregard coming to them in a serious and worthy manner? Must we not acknowledge that mutual Christian love and charity grow cold? Are not both the love of men to God and the love of men to their neighbors treated with a visible coldness and indifference that clearly mark the lack of the power of godliness? Alas, for this people!”

    A Holy Fear of God and His Judgments
    by John Cotton

    Like

  101. Todd, You’re making MY point! I have been saying for some month, that *we* (the body of Christ) should walk in the fear of the Lord, personally, in family, the church corporately, and nationally! You know Paul’s admonition, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”? That was true for John Cotton personally for the church and state! All men have been commanded to repent and bend the knee to the King of Kings.

    Like

  102. Todd, do you have any idea what the crime rate was in New England when John Cotton wrote that article? When I said, “Christian New England” I meant confessing Christians, not necessarily the elect. That’s just a historical fact. Nevertheless, Christians still sin, yes even commit crimes. So I fail to see how Cottons words disagreed with mine.

    Do you still sin Todd? Does that mean, you have no reason to be optimistic? Remember, John Cottons opinion was relative to what he could see, what do you think Cotton would say regarding America today? I have a hunch; he would be appalled that his state has legalized abortion on demand.

    Quick question Todd, where did you get that quote from Cotton?

    Like

  103. Doug,

    The point is that the good old days when American society was under God’s law is a myth. Cotton could be describing our day, we just have more people, thus more unbelievers. Barely a generation after Cotton; this is how preachers described religion in America:

    “But what a dead and barren time has it now been, nor a great while, with all the churches of the Reformation. The golden showers have been restrained; the influences of the Spirit suspended; and the consequence has been, that the gospel has not had any eminent success. Conversions have been rare and dubious; few sons and daughters have been born to God and the hearts of Christians not so quickened, warmed and refreshed under the ordinances, as they have been. That this has been the sad state of religion among us in this land, for many years…” (Rev W. Cooper)

    You can read some of Cotton’s sermons here: http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Puritans/Misc-Puritans/John-Cotton/

    Like

  104. Todd, you have never heard of me refer to the good old days! I do think its a myth! What you seem to be missing is that this site is called “Old life reformed Presbyterianism”. They thought a lot more like Bahnsen, than Hart! Moreover, “when” did John Cotton make that statement, if history is any gauge, Cotton was probably spot on!

    And to draw an even finer point, some churches founded by Paul, didn’t all last one generation! Did they receive good instruction from Paul? Yes they did, so we can’t indict Paul, but things never stay the same, we are either growing in blessings, or we will be cursed for disobedience, see Revelations the second and third chapters. Jesus said some very harsh things to come of those churches, much harsher than anything Cotton said.

    We are in a war, Todd, Jesus has already won the battle, and we are in mop up mode. But the way to victory in Christ, is to lay down our lives, daily as a living sacrifice. When we do, its Christ who lifts us up. And that is true for every realm in life, in my humble opinion. This doens’t mean I’m saying if we’re good for a year, everything will get better. I’m just saying God knows how to judge his people, as he does the nations.

    Like

  105. Doug,

    I have read many of your comments about how we as a nation have strayed from God’s laws, how we once were a nation of godly people, now you are agreeing it is a myth. I can’t keep up.

    Like

  106. This is one of my favorite Post Mill passages.

    Ecclesiastes 7:10

    “Say not, why are the former days better than these. For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

    Like

  107. Todd, America *has* drifted from our Godly moorings established in New England, of that there can be no doubt. Even an idiot can see that. (Legalized abortion, and the legalizing of sodomite marriages are devastating for any nation. But I am unable to appraise one culture against another like Christ the King, who sees the thoughts and intentions of mans heart. I can’t judge the heart of one man, let alone appraise a church, or a city, or a state, or nation; and neither could John Cotton. I think the older we get, the more we see the evil of man, and tend to think things are worse than they have ever been. I’ll leave that evaluation to God.

    Moreover I have never said, living in the 1700th century New England was a panacea. I’m thankful God caused me to be born in 57. I lean Post Mill in my eschatology (although I’m teachable) and believe in the general progress of the world through the obedience of the gospel. I see ups and downs throughout church history with various leaders, churches, states and nations. Didn’t Jesus tell us that’s how his kingdom will grow, like leaven? How does leaven grow? Just like Christ’s kingdom grows *slowly*, through the faithfulness and his sheep. Yes we pick up our cross daily, but when we do, it’s not in vain; God will lift us up, and moves with power, through our suffering.

    But none of that precludes me from seeing obvious sins that our culture has embraced. Sin/crimes like (sodomy and abortion) have caused God to destroy nations in days gone by. Since God gave us Scripture for our instruction and correction, I think it’s my Christian duty to point this out.

    Like

  108. Sean, yes Jesus sacrificed, but to what end? His death of all things broke the power of sin and purchased a people for himself! You see, God advances his kingdom through obedience and covenant faithfulness. *Jesus* is our example of how we are to live, and he learned obedience by what he suffered, becoming King in exaltation! Jesus is now the King of Kings!

    Do we have a different standard? Since Jesus was faithful, can we slack off? God forbid! So how will God’s kingdom advance? The exact way Jesus procured salvation, “through covenant faithfulness and obedience. Jesus was our example on how we are to walk, doing the will of the Father!

    Jesus said his kingdom would be like the tiniest seed that falls to the ground and dies, but then grows into a giant tree that allows the birds to roost in its branches! How does a tree grow? SLOWLY, that’s how. With branches being removed when God sees fit. That would be unfaithful church branches.

    Who planted the 7 churches in Asia Minor? Was it not Paul? Yet, within a generation 5 out of the 7 churches were in were being warned by the leader of the church the Lord Jesus, (not the Pope, sorry Bryan) with Ephesus being in danger of having Jesus remove her Lampstand.

    Notice, that no church authority was needed to correct the 7 churches. The council at Jerusalem wasn’t notified; moreover Jesus didn’t fault Ephesus for confusing the salvation ordos. They had lost their first love! And if they didn’t repent, Jesus was going to give them the death penalty, by his own means!

    That has ramifications for everything! Since all men have been commanded to repent and bend their knee that has implications for the Magistrate. He is called a minister of God, by Paul! Once the Magistrate obeys the Gospel, who’s law *should* he obey if not the law of God?

    When we humble ourselves, God lifts us up! It’s the same for your personal life, as it is for the churches corporate life, as well as a nation’s life. Each in there own order. Christ purchased eternal salvation for his people, but he also inherited the world, which has ramification for EVERYTHING! Even the way a nation punishes crime!

    Like

  109. How Old School Presbyterians felt about God’s law! This is good stuff!

    The attitude of the Puritans in founding the new land was governed by the model set by Calvin in Geneva. They were convinced of the dire need for godly politics and determined to let God’s infallible word guide their endeavors. The renewed emphasis we see in this day on the application of Christianity to every area of life and human activity is the heritage of Reformed theology; much can be learned from the New England Puritans in this regard. Their goal was to see the kingdom of Jesus Christ come to expression in society as well as the private, inner heart of man. Due to their zeal for a righteous political structure they “preferred a wilderness governed by Puritans to a civilized land governed by Charles I….Here in truth, was a self-governing commonwealth, a Puritan Republic… The New England Puritans agreed on a great deal….The wanted a government that would take seriously its obligation to enforce God’s commandments.

    The Puritans were foremost men of the word of God written. They acknowledged the authority of Scripture for all things and this naturally led to their affirmation of the full validity of God’s law. A dispensational antagonism between law and grace was abhorrent to them. Hence Samuel Bolton wrote in the Epistle Dedicatory for this 1645 masterpiece, The True bounds of Christian Freedom, that his purpose was to hold up the Law, as not to in trench upon the liberties of Grace, and so to establish Grace, as not to make void the Law, nor to discharge believers of any duties they owe to God or man.” The law was integral to every area of theology. Sin is the transgression of God’s law, for the law itself reveals the holiness of God. Christ’s death was the satisfaction of the law; justification is the verdict of the law, and sanctification is the believers’ obedience to the law.

    Since God’s law reflects His immutable character it was impossible that the law should be abrogated; so speak of the law’s abrogation, said the Puritans, was to dishonor god himself. Thus in Regula Vitae, The Rule of the Law under the Gospel (1631) Thomas Taylor said “A man may break the Princes Law, and not violate his Person; but not God’s: for God and his image in the Law, are so straightly united, as one cannot wrong the one, and not the other.” The moral law was viewed as “consonant to that eternal justice and goodness in (God) himself” so that God could turn it back only if He would “deny his own justice and goodness”

    Theonomy in Christian Ethics page 525-526

    Like

  110. Doug, does your awareness of historical developments come from any source other than Theonomy in Christian Ethics? Does the book tell the history of Federal Vision or N.T. Wright? I ask because the notion that the kingdom comes through obedience and covenant faithfulness is straight from the Visionaries and Wright. It does not jive with the Westminster Standards either. Remember, the keys of the kingdom.

    Like

  111. Doug,

    No offense, and I’m too busy to try to keep up with your multiple posts, but you’re going off in rhetorical flourishes again. God is ruling the world, He’s established the institutions to govern it. What I can’t find in any of what you’ve said is where is the scriptural warrant for ascribing to nations titles of cultic status , like Godly nation, Christian nation. Then after agreeing that God governs the church differently from those outside the church, you slip back into statements like; “They wanted a government that would take seriously its obligation to enforce God’s commandments.” “That has ramifications for everything! Since all men have been commanded to repent and bend their knee that has implications for the Magistrate. He is called a minister of God, by Paul! Once the Magistrate obeys the Gospel, who’s law *should* he obey if not the law of God?” So, now we’re back into establishmentarianism at the very least, if not a complete conflation of the role of the church with the state. I’m with Todd, I’m lost. And more so, no longer bears any resemblance to Paul’s admonitions and distinctions in 1 Cor. 5, we spoke of earlier.

    Like

  112. Sean, it’s not really hard to understand, Jesus has inherited the whole world, and has commanded all men to repent and bend the knee to his Lordship in all areas of life, which encompasses how a society punishes its evil doers! Jesus is Lord, and we aren’t to rest until all things have come into conformity to the obedience of Christ, which won’t happen in perfection until the resurrection. But until then, we seek more and more light until the final day.

    We are ambassadors of God reconciling this world back to Christ the King. The field is the world, and Jesus taught that his kingdom would grow like leaven, until it’s all leavened. So we pray that the Triune name of God (Jesus Christ) would be hallowed, and that his kingdom would come more and more each passing day, by the power of the Holy Spirit

    Like

  113. Doug, there you go expanding the kingdom and blurring the spiritual and the temporal. Look at the Catechism on “thy kingdom, come.” You don’t see criminal laws as part of how the kingdom grows. Then again, you are transfixed by law.

    Like

  114. DGH, I don’t believe criminal laws expand the kingdom, and I have never made such an ridiculous statement. But laws with their penal sanctions keep the maintenance of society. Law’s that reflect justice discourage wicked behavior. Wicked laws (like legal abortion) encourage evil to expand. Can you deny the obvious? If you love your neighbor, shouldn’t you yearn for our nation to esteem God law?

    Like

  115. Doug, can you speak clearly? Here is what you said:

    Jesus has inherited the whole world, and has commanded all men to repent and bend the knee to his Lordship in all areas of life, which encompasses how a society punishes its evil doers!

    You may understand why I thought you identified the magistrate’s work with the coming of the kingdom. I’m just the messenger.

    Like

  116. DGH, when we say, that Jesus is Lord, that has ramifications for everything! Jesus is the leader of his Church, and amen! But Jesus is also the ruler of the kings on earth, (King of Kings) so it follows, that once enough believers are placed in areas of influence, they would want to exercise justice according to God’s precepts, not Nero’s. As I pointed out, the first settlers who came to America, were majority Christian, yet they saw a separation of church and state, even in New England, where they implemented theonomic laws.

    Like

  117. Doug, so New England is your model. Fine. They wouldn’t tolerate Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams. Fine. And you think your application of God’s laws is going to make room for theists like Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jews, and Muslims. Think again (and read something other than Bahnsen).

    Like

  118. DGH, New England is not my model, but it’s clearly heading in the right direction. My model is the revealed word of God, when it comes to the basic Godly moorings which must found any nation that will last and not fall into God’s displeasure. See, the Bible.

    Zrim, once the church comes into agreement, then she will baptize her children. There are men with more training in God’s word than you or me, who don’t believe the Bible teaches padeo baptisim. Until then, *we* that’s the both of us, need to pray that Christ’s body will come into agreement on this issue.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.