Defining Idolatry Down

Now that Roman Catholics have a pope, attention has turned to Washington D.C. and arguments before the Supreme Court over the Defense of Marriage Act. A couple of posts by the Allies caught (all about) my eye. The first came from Joe Carter who went all in by tying Christian tolerance of gay marriage to idolatry (I haven’t even seen the Baylys try this one):

The idolatry of Christian same-sex marriage advocates takes two general forms. The first group still recognizes the authority of God’s Word, or at least still believes in the general concept of “sin.” They will freely admit that, like other types of fornication, same-gender sex is forbidden in the Bible, and even excluded by Jesus’ clear and concise definition of marriage. Yet despite this understanding they still choose to embrace same-sex marriage because they have made an idol of American libertarian freedom. They have replaced Jesus’ commandment—”You shall love your neighbor as yourself”—with the guiding motto of the neopagan religion of Wicca, “Do what you will, so long as it harms none.”

In endorsing laws based solely on the secular liberal-libertarian conception of freedom (at least those that produce no obvious self-harm), they are doing the very opposite of what Jesus called them to do: They are hating their neighbors, including their gay and lesbian neighbors. You do not love your neighbor by encouraging them to engage in actions that invoke God’s wrath (Psalm 5:4-5; Romans 1:18). As Christians we may be required to tolerate ungodly behavior, but the moment we begin to endorse the same then we too have become suppressers of the truth. You cannot love your neighbor and want to see them excluded from the kingdom of Christ (Eph. 5:5).

The libertarian-freedom idol (LFI) has not been manufactured entirely by millennials, the generation of Protestants who seem most comfortable with laws that allow gay marriage. LFI was at least a factor in the baby-boomers implementation of worship forms that entirely capitulated to the aesthetics and impulses of music that these adolescents and young adults were listening to on the radio (music that was celebrating sex and drugs no less). In other words, Protestants outside the mainline churches (sometimes called evangelical) abandoned the restraints of Scripture when they turned to praise bands and 30 minutes of swaying and singing before the motivational speech (that used to be called a sermon). If they want the rest of the culture to resist the temptation of freedom, they might actually start to reflect such resistance in their own worship services, a branch of human activity that has much more to do with the first four commandments of the Decalogue than the seventh (sixth for Roman Catholics) that pertains directly to sex and marriage.

If readers think the parallels between P&W (for the charismatic challenged, Praise & Worship worship) tolerance of gay marriage are far fetched, they may want to consider Kevin DeYoung’s post which echoes Carter’s complaint. DeYoung expands the list of cultural factors that have made it impossible for Christians to oppose gay marriage meaningfully: “Gay marriage is the logical conclusion to a long argument, which means convincing people it’s a bad idea requires overturning some of our most cherished values and most powerful ideologies.”

DeYoung lists five such values:

1. It’s about progress. Linking the pro-gay agenda with civil rights and women’s rights was very intentional, and it was a masterstroke. To be against gay marriage, therefore, is to be against enlightenment and progress. . . .

2. It’s about love. When gay marriage is presented as nothing but the open embrace of human love, it’s hard to mount a defense. Who could possibly be against love? But hidden in this simple reasoning is the cultural assumption that sexual intercourse is necessarily the highest, and perhaps the only truly fulfilling, expression of love. It’s assumed that love is always self-affirming and never self-denying. . . .

3. It’s about rights. It’s not by accident the movement is called the gay rights movement. And I don’t deny that many gays and lesbians feel their fundamental human rights are at stake in the controversy over marriage. But the lofty talk of rights blurs an important distinction. Do consenting adults have the right to enter a contract of their choosing? It depends. Businesses don’t have a right to contract for collusion. Adults don’t have a right to enter into a contract that harms the public good. . . .

4. It’s about equality. Recently, I saw a prominent Christian blogger tweet that she was for gay marriage because part of loving our neighbor is desiring they get equal justice under the law. Few words in the American lexicon elicit such broad support as “equality.” No one wants to be for unequal treatment under the law. But the issue before the Supreme Court is not equality, but whether two laws–one voted in by the people of California and the other approved by our democratically elected officials–should be struck down. Equal treatment under the law means the law is applied the same to everyone. Gay marriage proponents desire to change the law so that marriage becomes something entirely different. Surveys often pose the question “Should it be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to marry?” That makes it sound like we are criminalizing people for commitments they make. The real issue, however, is whether the state has a vested interest in sanctioning, promoting, and privileging certain relational arrangements. . . .

5. It’s about tolerance. Increasingly, those who oppose gay marriage are not just considered wrong or mistaken or even benighted. They are anti-gay haters. As one minister put it, gay marriage will eventually triumph because love is stronger than hate. Another headline rang out that “discrimination is on trial” as the Supreme Court hears arguments on Proposition 8 and DOMA. The stark contrast is clear: either you support gay marriage or you are a bigot and a hater. It’s no wonder young people are tacking hard to left on this issue. They don’t want to be insensitive, close-minded, or intolerant. The notion that thoughtful, sincere, well-meaning, compassionate people might oppose gay marriage is a fleeting thought.

What is striking about this set of cultural assumptions is how much they were also part of the arguments for getting rid of “traditional” worship and ushering in the praise bands and worship leaders. With the exception of the notion of rights, contemporary worship was about updating the church (progress), reaching out to our children (love), a leveling of musical and aesthetic forms (equality, as in Shine Jesus Shine is as good as Of The Father’s Love Begotten), and making the church less elitist (tolerance). Even the notion of rights was evident in the arguments for contemporary worship even if the word did not show up in the sense that few critics of P&W argued that believers had no right to worship God contrary to Scripture or in ways that would harm the fellowship of Christians. Put another way, no one has a right to worship God irreverently, which is form of blasphemy. But whether contemporary worship triumphed or simply became a legitimate option along with older reverent forms, P&W opened up Protestants outside the mainline to levels of tolerance and related confusions that are also evident in the way that some Protestants make room for gay marriage.

DeYoung suggests several ways forward, though he rightly avoids the word solution. In effect, he says Christians need to be more thoughtful and less prone to employ ideas that dominate the culture. This is true. I suggest the way forward is to chant psalms. If Christians became accustomed to a different sensibility in worship on Sundays, if they saw a difference between what they do on the Lord’s Day and what they do during the rest of the week, if they got used to spiritually eating the religious equivalent of broccoli, they might have the stomach to resist trends in the wider culture. It won’t be effective before the Supreme Court rules, but it actually may be successful by 2040.

Postscript: Lest readers object that “traditional” worship was novel in its own right, they have a point. “Traditional” worship of the 1970s was largely the worship that prevailed from the 1920s. In other words, it was not the way that Calvin or Knox worshiped. But that so-called “traditional” worship did have a built-in sense that you didn’t not goof around in worship, and that frivolities of contemporary music and humor and this-worldiness were forbidden. Could that worship have been more biblical? Of course. Get rid of the choirs, the trumpets (which I sometimes played), and the observances of Mothers’ Day. But did those worshipers have a sense that they might offend God and should be careful not to? They did. That sense has vanished in most sectors of Protestantism in the U.S. thanks to contemporary worship.

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42 thoughts on “Defining Idolatry Down

  1. “When Did Idolatry Become Compatible with Christianity?”
    Perhaps it was when they made a coalition with the Republicans?

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  2. Calvin and Knox practiced traditional worship?

    My 20-something kids, who have grown up in what I will call a blended worship environment, a actually a bit freaked out by congregational unison readings of the Creed, psalms, Heidelberg Catechism Q&A’s, form prayers, etc. they think it’s very weird compared to the completely non-liturgical style of modern para church and evangelical/charismatic worship.

    Not sure your proposal helps. Lots of mainline Presbyerians/Episcopalians/Lutherans have opted for high church, liturgical worship. Doesn’t seem to influence their theology or cultural attitudes all that much.

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  3. Jeff,

    Christian nudists are slightly more representative of “natural law theory” than an article citing the sex lives of cherry trees as normative for humans. You might as well associate a long-day view of Genesis with a deep-seated desire to vote Democratic with a clean conscience. Why not point to VanDrunen, or CS Lewis, or the ISI catalogue, or even the Wikipedia entry?

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  4. Christian nudists, eh?

    I’m only pointing there because it is one example of many of the way in which natural law theory is being employed by pro-gay-marriage forces.

    I’m pretty sure they’re misreading the natural law because I am confident that natural law and Scripture don’t conflict. Scipture norms my understanding of natural law. I’m wondering how one thinks about this if one does not think that Scripture should function as such a norm.

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  5. Jeff, doesn’t this take us back to education-information not being the problem? Otherwise the argument in Romans doesn’t work as well as Paul would assert.

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  6. Terry, the RPW doesn’t take us to high church liturgical worship. It takes us to word centered worship — in what the minister does and in what the congregation sings. It also reminds us that worship with reverence and awe because we are worshiping a God who does not take lightly non-biblical worship, no matter how sincere.

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  7. The Easter Message of Religious Freedom

    The Bible’s resurrection tales show us faith based on peaceful persuasion.

    By JOSEPH LOCONTE

    As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Easter, they reflect on God’s purposes amid suffering and death. They look forward to the hope of the resurrection. Yet there is another aspect to the Easter story that should be as important to the skeptic as it is to the believer: its message of religious toleration. Whether read as history or allegory, the resurrection stories in the gospels offer an approach to faith that challenges the militant religions of our own day.

    Consider the account in Luke’s gospel about two disciples of Jesus, just days after his crucifixion, fleeing Jerusalem for their home in nearby Emmaus. They are fugitives: Jesus was executed on the charge of sedition, after all, and it is not safe for his followers to remain in the city. His horrific death has cast them into a storm of grief and doubt.

    Somewhere along the road to Emmaus, Jesus appears to the men as “a stranger”—they don’t immediately recognize him—and a conversation ensues. The stranger upbraids them for their politicized religion, that is, for thinking that Israel’s Messiah would be a military or political liberator. Rather, he explains, the Messiah was meant to suffer for the sake of his people in order to win them spiritual freedom: “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in the Scriptures concerning himself.” Finally, by the end of their journey—after talking and debating and sharing a meal together—the travelers recognize who the stranger is.

    The disciples have been guided, not coerced, out of their skepticism. Their objections have been met with reason, not force. The stranger has described the world they were meant to live in, a world drenched in beauty, peace, justice and love. They are cut to the quick: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scripture to us?”

    Realizing what has happened, emboldened by their new faith, the travelers rush back to Jerusalem to share the news about Jesus with their friends. Told with remarkable modesty and vulnerability, this account is one of the earliest conversion stories in Christianity. It helped to set the pattern for evangelism in the early church.

    In all of the New Testament’s resurrection accounts, the method of Jesus for winning hearts and minds—his emphasis on peaceful persuasion—couldn’t be plainer. All depict the patience and kindness of God in the face of human doubt. Yet, in one of the tragic turning points in the history of the West, this biblical ideal was rejected. The church, imitating the Roman state under which it had suffered and ultimately thrived, soon endorsed the methods of Caesar: the use of imprisonment, torture or death to combat unbelief.

    The church of the martyrs became the church of the Inquisition. Catholic thinkers as profound as Thomas Aquinas justified the use of violence to win converts and put down dissent. “Even if my own father were a heretic,” declared Pope Paul IV, “I would gather the wood to burn him.”

    Protestants soon followed suit. Leaders such as John Calvin, with Bible in hand, used the power of the state to brutally enforce the new religious orthodoxy.

    The advance of Christianity in the West brought with it many blessings: an ethos of compassion for children, the poor, the sick and the outcast. It established a basis for human dignity unknown in antiquity. Nevertheless, nearly everywhere the church went—whenever it encountered resistance or disbelief—a culture of suspicion and violence followed. Christian author C.S. Lewis once declared: “If ever the book which I am not going to write is written, it must be the full confession by Christendom of Christendom’s specific contribution to the sum of human cruelty and treachery.”

    Eventually, after a series of religious wars, the Christian church confessed its negation of Christian charity. By the late 17th century, a steady stream of tracts, pamphlets, sermons and books—disseminated by the explosive growth of the printing press—delivered a singular message about the sacred rights of individual conscience. Christian thinkers such as William Penn, Roger Williams and John Locke would help the church recover its older tradition of toleration, as old as the New Testament itself.

    Indeed, a firm basis for religious freedom would be found in the Bible, supremely in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. “I did not come to judge the world,” Jesus told his followers, “but to save it.” Here is an Easter story—a message of the grace of God toward every human soul—for believers and doubters alike.

    Mr. Loconte, a professor of history at The Kings College, is writing a book on the history of religious toleration.

    A version of this article appeared March 29, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Easter Message of Religious Freedom.

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  8. “that you didn’t not goof around in worship”

    I think this is a double negative.

    Doug Wilson would take your analysis a step further and say the reason we have gay marriage is that our worship is flawed, but that’s just him.

    Who outside the Mainline is arguing for gay marriage?

    I don’t argue for it, but as a Christian I also realize that I don’t have the calling or the ability to dominate the rest of society on gay marriage or anything else.

    We need to realize that God is constantly exalting and bringing low people in this age. Sometimes things that appear to us to be a victory for “our side” is actually God’s judgment. Sometimes things that appear to be a victory for the “other side” are actually God’s judgment. Regardless, He always gets the last word.

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  9. Terry – Not sure your proposal helps. Lots of mainline Presbyerians/Episcopalians/Lutherans have opted for high church, liturgical worship. Doesn’t seem to influence their theology or cultural attitudes all that much.

    This reminds me of some people I know who are big Wilson enthusiasts. They were unsatisfied with evangelicalism then they went to the PCA and were dissatisfied with that as well. The main reason they were dissatisfied because their efforts to convert their churches into CREC churches were not successful. Their solution? Attend an Episcopalian Church. What? I guess they liked the fact that at least it looked “churchy”.

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  10. Erik: Who outside the Mainline is arguing for gay marriage?

    Non-denoms aged < 30. It's the hottest thing.

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  11. Jeff,

    How would you distinguish what you’re calling natural law theory from an appeal to nature? The wiki definitions of each are fine by me.

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  12. DGH in his postscript wrote:

    In other words, it was not the way that Calvin or Knox worshiped. But that so-called “traditional” worship did have a built-in sense that you didn’t not goof around in worship…

    Or in other words they “goofed around” with worship, substituting counterfeit psalms for real ones, and then redefined the RPW to include their own uncommanded innovation. Or even more bluntly, they messed with the RPW and then equivocated about claiming to follow the RPW. Or was it more about making sure their own style of worship was beyond being questioned, so not only are they idolaters, but confessional equivocators and elitists. After all, the first rule when speaking about the Emperors New Clothes is that you don’t mention the fact he is actually naked.

    If it is OK for Presbyterians to redefine psalms in WCF21 to mean the songs of Isaac Watts, the Wesley brothers and Fanny Crosby instead of the 150 psalms of the scriptures, why get so hung up when others want to redefine the term “marriage”. It’s not so much they object to language being malleable, they just want to be the only ones with the hammer.

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  13. Jeff – Erik: Who outside the Mainline is arguing for gay marriage?

    Non-denoms aged < 30. It's the hottest thing.

    Erik – On what grounds? How do they get around biblical teaching? Do they say it's o.k. in the church as well as in society? Are they making a 2k argument a la Misty Irons?

    Apparently I need to get out more.

    It's one thing to say it's not the church's fight. It's another thing to say it's o.k.

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  14. Darryl:

    Goofing and absence of gravity, decorum and decency in worship, as always, touches a profound nerve.

    Easter Even.
    The Collect.
    GRANT, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with him; and that through the grave, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection ; for his merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    For Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we sang this:

    Ah, holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended,
    That man to judge Thee hath in hate pretended?
    By foes derided, by Thine own rejected,
    O most afflicted.

    Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
    Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
    ’Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
    I crucified Thee.

    Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
    The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
    For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth,
    God intercedeth.

    For me, kind Jesus, was Thy incarnation,
    Thy mortal sorrow, and Thy life’s oblation;
    Thy death of anguish and Thy bitter passion,
    For my salvation.

    Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay Thee,
    I do adore Thee, and will ever pray Thee,
    Think on Thy pity and Thy love unswerving,
    Not my deserving.

    That is, substitionary, penal, efficaceous and definite atonement, reconciliation and redemption by the perfect, sinless, and blameless Lamb, fully and truly God and fully and truly man sin excepted. “Justice put the Hand to His Majesty.” All we contributed was our crimes, treasons, guilts, neglects, foolishness and manifold insolences and wickedness. Or, as Machen would have said of this active and passive obedience, “No hope without it!”

    May we hear and receive HM’s Word, Christ Himself, and His written word with meekness, reverence, contrite hearts and…as always…while kneeling in prayer.

    No goofin’ around.

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  15. “They will freely admit that, like other types of fornication, same-gender sex is forbidden in the Bible”

    It’s a bit odd to bring the topic of “fornication” into a discussion about gay marriage because, by trying to be married, homosexuals are actually seeking to avoid the sin of fornication (whether knowingly or not). The sin in question is having sexual relations with a member of the same sex, not fornication.

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  16. Do Christian individuals have the free/dumb to kill for the sake of their nation- state just so long as they don’t do it the name of church but kill in the name of “rights”? Once you make that distinction, it seems other anti-Christian personal vocations are bound to emerge.

    Is a church a voluntary association? Is the nation-state a voluntary association?

    And who cares if those outside the covenant abort their infants? As Gary North reminds, pagans don’t have covenant children….

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  17. There’s three strands of argument: social justice; “it’s not a choice”; and Boswell.

    The social justice argument is the most 2k-ish. Even if you have religious views about marriage, there are still myriads of legal benefits available to married couples that are not available to gay couples. Therefore witholding marriage is witholding legal rights.

    The “it’s not a choice” argument is based in Arminianism. If homosexuality were actually sinful, we would be able to choose not to feel that way. We can’t, so it isn’t.

    The Boswell argument is that the strictures against homosexuality are ceremonial (OT) and directed against pederasty (NT). The textual gymnastics are particularly appealing to people with no Biblical language background.

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  18. Darryl, no beef with you there. But you see the problem isn’t the content but the form. Chanting Psalms and reciting scripture/creeds/Scriptural prayers in unison is just weird in the contemporary scene (not to me though). When we use contemporary tunes but use the same words doesn’t that accord with RPW. Are you sure you’re not baptizing a particular time and place rather the Biblical content?

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  19. Erik: How do they get around Romans 1?

    They could not possibly care less what Scripture says.

    It’s nice when they admit it, instead of pretending that they are believers.

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  20. Speaking of idolatry, I wonder what Joe Carter thinks about the Catholic mass. Is it loving to legalize this blasphemous form of worsship? On what grounds can the Christian support the repeal of blue laws and laws legalizing idolatry (the first amendment?) and be forbidden from concluding that for the good of civil society gay couples should have their partnerships legally recognized? In other words I can see why one might disagree with Misty Irons for political reasons, but I don’t see why her view is anymore problematic for a Christian than one who supports the first amendment. Rather than criticize crackpot attention whores, I’d like to see someonne like Joe Carter engage Irons. If there is a principled difference between a libertarian approach to freedom of worship and libertarian approach to freedom of sexual conduct I’d like to hear it.

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  21. Terry, possibly, but how are you any less guilty of baptizing a particular time and place? If you play the historicist card, you wind up getting trumped by it.

    Plus, plenty of good musicologists could argue for the fittingness of certain tunes to certain texts. Do you, as a student of nature, want to deny general revelation?

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  22. If Joe is an Ally I hate to think what the Axis would propose. Maybe an old fashioned inquisition would convert the fags. Next, we’ll be stoning whores as an act of love- no doubt Jesus would approve. yikes!

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  23. The tradition of icons came before the iconoclasts, and the tradition of “sacraments” came before the “sectarians”. And now, even though some of us still identify icons and idolatry, we are “tolerated” This “liberty” is what the anti-icon Muslims granted John of Damascus while he was blogging to get the old icons back. The surrounding “Christian” iconoclasts would have killed him….

    Or as Luther said, stop the practice of infant baptism, and what becomes of marriage and Christianity itself?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/29/weekinreview/the-nation-us-and-them-the-burden-of-tolerance-in-a-world-of-division.html

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  24. At least as regards anabaptist/evangelicals, how can you expect the world to be up to snuff on the creation ordinance of marriage/7th commandment, if the church can’t figure out the sabbath/4th commandment? (Every day/marriage is the same/equal?)

    DeYoung has some good points, but arguably fails to note the French Jacobin definition of equality to mean equal outcome, not equal opportunity.
    Thus if Ward and June have a right to get married, so too Laurel and Hardy.
    And if that is so, the Three Stooges can also get in on the act, while Groucho presides over the union of Harpo and Zeppo.

    But if Lucy can marry Ethel, so too, Thelma and Louise. Before or after the car goes off the cliff? And why may not Ethel then marry Merman?
    Even further if it used to be that fathers could not marry their daughters and ditto mothers their sons, now Cher can marry … Chaz?

    I know, I know, we’re off topic. Jay Leno is not only AWOL on the subject, the RPW is as meaningless to him even as it is to many Christians. Nevertheless as per Schaeffer on Romans and Jeremiah in Death in the City, just as promiscuity precedes perversion, spiritual adultery and fornication precedes the carnal.

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  25. Erik, Wilson may say that because being Constantinian he thinks the church is the soul of society, thus as goes the former so goes the latter (I believe I once read him describing the church as societal engine). This pops up in popular evangelical sentiments about the church needing to “get her act together” before expecting the world to. But what it misses is the fact that instead of the church, the family is the soul of society.

    I don’t know what that means in relation to the current and fashionable buzzfest, but if DeYoung wants us to stop employing ideas that dominate the culture, another way forward might be to resist the spiritualizing of creational norms and institutions. R(obust)2k comes in handy for that.

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  26. If family were the basis for ecclesia, there would have never been a need for circumcision or water baptism. Call no man father.

    Mark 10:29-30 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time; houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”

    You don’t have to be Christian to have a real family. You don’t have to be a father or a mother to be a real Christian.

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  27. http://gospeltranslations.org/wiki/The_SBJT_Forum:_Issues_Relating_to_the_Family

    DA Carson: I would argue that marriage is not a church ordinance. I rather like the practices that have developed in France There, every marriage must be officiated by a state functionary. Christians will then have a further ceremony/celebration, invoking the blessing of God . But the legal act of the wedding is performed exclusively by the state. That is one way of making clear that marriage is not a distinctively Christian ordinance (though it has typological significance calling to
    mind the union of Christ and the church). Marriage is for a man/woman pair everywhere, converted or not, Christian or not

    Carson: Ideally the state should adopt the same standards for marriage and divorce as those demanded by Scripture. But where that is not so Christians will be the first to insist that because we take our mandates from Scripture, our own standards for what will pass for an acceptable marriage will not necessarily be those of the state. Those who perform marriages should remember that when they do so, they are not performing a sacrament, or making a marriage union more holy.

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  28. Jeff,

    So God is cool with homosexual acts as long as they are not committed by heterosexuals? That excuse wouldn’t have gone over too well in Doug’s theocratic Israel.

    People make a lot of wrong assumptions when they don’t take original sin into account.

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  29. Coveting is only wrong if it is not my natural inclination to covet. If I am born with a bent to covet it must be o.k. because when I covet I would not be going against my inborn nature. So much for objective definitions of sin.

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  30. Ah yes, the liberal-libertarian neopagan religion of Wicca I’ve read so much about in the history books. We all know Machen was a high Wiccan priest with his opposition to prohibition and the establishment of the Department of Education. It’s obvious that Machen was channeling his Wiccan worldview in support of drunkenness and dumb children. And let’s not forget the Wiccan founding father’s who were dancing naked in the forest when they wrote the Articles of Confederation.

    In all seriousness, has anyone over at TGC ever considered that just maybe the federal government, or any government for that matter, is not the best place to deal with societal ills. There are other institutions besides the government (families, local communities, etc.) that are perfectly capable of peacefully handling these matters.

    But I guess when your religion is “all of life” then the easiest, most efficient means of “transforming” society is the federal government. When one has a low view of the church in enforcing spiritual matters, one seems to have a high view of the government in enforcing such matters. It seems like TGC would have us exchanged our vinegary church elders for vinegary lobbyists for the next moral crusade.

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  31. Who ever denied that text and tune should fit? I doubt there’s a contemporary worship song writer that would disagree with you. Straw man.

    Also, I don’t deny that our practice of the faith occurs in a particular cultural context, so I don’t get your accusation. What I deny is that I must adopt 16th or 17th or early 20th century cultural expressions to dictate my practice.

    Cultural adaptations (like much musical form) are akin to reading the Bible and preaching in a common language. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to educating folks in good hymn tunes and hymn texts (just as I’m not opposed to teaching them a bit of Greek or Hebrew or ANE culture or the subtleties of ancient creed texts). But such education has to be seen in the context of a broader Christian discipleship that recognizes that much of our faith and life as followers of Jesus can be lived without those things.

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  32. Terry, but who is a better judge of whether text and tune fit? Someone trained in music or someone who knows what they like (and listens to it non-stop)? In other words, if a person trained in one of the natural sciences knows more about his field than the average citizen, isn’t the same true for someone trained in music?

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  33. Darryl, Huh? I thought I was agreeing with you on the text/tune issue. BTW one can become “educated” in a subject without getting a degree. There can be expertise without credential.

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