Protestants and Assimilation, Republican Style

One more thought about republican forms of government and what they require of believers who would be citizens. Analogies between twentieth-century France and the nineteenth-century United States suggest that Americans demanded conformity from “outsiders” in ways comparable to the French more recently. The great complaint about Roman Catholic Irish and German immigrants was that their submissiveness to the papacy (as if), a foreign prince, would make them unworthy and unreliable republican citizens. The United States made similar demands on Mormons who had their own civil authority in the office of the apostle, who at least in the days of Brigham Young was also the governor of the Utah territory. For Utah to gain admission as a state, Mormons needed to abandon polygamy. Republicanism makes its demands.

Conversely, have Protestants had little trouble acquiescing to the republic’s norms? One thinks of the Huguenots, for instance, who assimilated pretty much wherever they went without the slightest whiff of the dissent that characterized their days of resistance in the Old World.

And then one thinks about the tradition of covenanting in Scotland and Ireland, a variety of Reformed Protestantism that earned the reputation for submitting to no one except king Jesus. A. T. Q. Stewart observed in 1977 that the Presbyterian “is happiest when he is being a radical.” He went on:

The austere doctrines of Calvinism, the simplicity of his worship, the democratic government of his Church, the memory of the martyred Covenanters, and the Scottish unwillingness to yield or to dissemble — all these incline him to that difficult and cantankerous disposition which is character of a certain kind of political radicalism.

Of course, the United States did not demand Covenanters to conform to republican norms to be assimilated. Instead, the Covenanters until around 1980 self-selected and opted out of the republic’s political life — no voting, no vows, no running for office, and no service in the military, a form of Reformed Protestant Anabaptism.

But with the exception of the ideals of sixteenth-century Scotland, Protestants came to terms fairly easily with republican government. The reason stems largely from their not having a state or monarch who was their ruler and the chief executive of their faith.

The lesson: most Reformed Protestants are 2K and they don’t even know it.

Advertisements

77 thoughts on “Protestants and Assimilation, Republican Style

  1. Had individual Covenanters (instead of a corporate decision) come to the conclusions of “no voting, no vows, no running for office, and no service in the military” would they have been acting like 2kers? Or are those conclusions unacceptable for the 2ker?

    Like

  2. Uber-Calvinist Samuel Adams, called by many as the father of the revolution, launched the Solemn League and Covenant in 1774, echoing the original Puritan Revolution document of the “Covenanters” of 1640s Britain.

    I often don’t recognize Two Kingdoms arguments when wedged into the American context. The Puritans left “ecclesiastical” courts behind in Britain. But the most theologically desirable result of separating church and state is not that society is godless or amoral, but that the church is free from the interference of the state or of duties to it. But somewhere along the line, the door got stuck swinging the other way instead, keeping religion out of the public square, which was never the intention.

    Like the Pilgrims, the Puritans were English Protestants who believed that the reforms of the Church of England did not go far enough. In their view, the liturgy was still too Catholic. Bishops lived like princes. Ecclesiastical courts were corrupt. Because the king of England was head of both church and state, the Puritans’ opposition to religious authority meant they also defied the civil authority of the state.

    In 1630, the Puritans set sail for America. Unlike the Pilgrims who had left 10 years earlier, the Puritans did not break with the Church of England, but instead sought to reform it. Seeking comfort and reassurance in the Bible, they imagined themselves re-enacting the story of the Exodus. Like the ancient Israelites, they were liberated by God from oppression and bound to him by a covenant; like the Israelites, they were chosen by God to fulfill a special role in human history: to establish a new, pure Christian commonwealth. Onboard the flagship Arbella, their leader John Winthrop reminded them of their duties and obligations under the covenant. If they honored their obligations to God, they would be blessed; if they failed, they would be punished.

    Again, the lesson of the shining “City on a Hill”–it’s quite possible to blow the deal. Ask the Jews if being the “Chosen People” is really all that great. You’re actually held to a higher standard, while the heathens just merrily glide along under the radar.

    Dreisbach:

    What do Americans do with this Christian-religion DNA in them? Does Calvinism always lie dormant in them?

    One of the things that we know about Calvinism, from its origins in Geneva right through to the American experience, is it provides a rather comprehensive worldview.

    “Worldview”: Bold face mine. Heh heh. Good interview, BTW. I’m not big on the Puritans because they became quite unPuritan PDQ. But you can see their plan of wanting to live in a godly society. You can’t force godliness on people, this is true, but neither did liberty ever equal license:

    http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/interviews/daniel-dreisbach.html#puritans

    Like

  3. Tom, Thanks for that interview. I want to read that.

    Thx for listening, Erik. David Barton [BA, physical education, Jesus Christ College, Bumwart, TX] gets all the press–because he’s sloppy and easily punked. Hell, I could punk him in my sleep.

    Daniel Dreisbach is a D.Phil from Oxford, a JD [law degree] from University of Virginia, on faculty at

    http://www.american.edu/spa/faculty/ddreisb.cfm

    he gets no press. Serious cat. They don’t like serious cats. I reckon DGH knows him from Hillsdale. It’s a small world…

    http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2006&month=10

    Like

  4. I’m always struck at how quickly the Puritan imagineerings of how life in the New World should be mutated into Americanism [the missing theological link is that political liberty became as sacred as religious liberty].

    An interesting [although in my view not fully realized] take on the Puritans is Barry Alan Shain’s

    http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?a=418

    “In The Myth of American Individualism, Barry Alan Shain has furnished some provocative answers. Reviewing a vast and impressive literature, Shain simultaneously debunks both the Lockean liberal and civic republican theses. With the revisionists, Shain bears witness to the communal character of the founding era. In contrast to the civic view, however, he finds that Americans willfully gave themselves not to a spirited public life, but to the spirit of the Lord that dwelled within the breast of each believer. The republican tradition “insisted that full human development was only achievable through direct political participation.” But Protestant America “did not understand political life as having intrinsic worth or as defining the sole path toward full human development.”

    As “a largely Christian and overwhelmingly rural people, Americans…understood politics as instrumental in the service of higher religious and other publicly defined goals.” Their conception of liberty (which Shain denotes “English political liberty”) “emphasized the instrumental rather than the intrinsic value of political life.”

    The Founding 1.0, the “Planting” through the Revolution, was not about the nation-state–that would wait for 2.0 and 1787. The original conception of America was of autonomous and internally cohesive communities, loosely bound together as the several states, the states even more loosely bound by the Articles of Confederation.

    Today, whatever remains of federalism is what remains of the original Planting, indeed perhaps of Puritanism itself.

    Like

  5. Tom – “insisted that full human development was only achievable through direct political participation.”

    Erik – I’m down with that as long as it doesn’t involve going to any meetings…

    Like

  6. Erik: I’m down with that as long as it doesn’t involve going to any meetings…

    And George Will : “Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”

    Actually, Erik, I’d written the above for the USIH blog, and plugged it in here for comment–it rather pulls together the Puritans and 2K: The City on the Hill [1629] was not a vision of a Christian nation-state as much as a Puritan-Calvinist-Christian community. Or as I put the modern culture war, the concern and desire that we not have to raise our kids in a whorehouse.

    Cromwell’s Puritan Britain [1653-1658] hadn’t happened yet; Calvinism was still finding its way to picturing what living a good Christian life would look like. Hence, it wasn’t a politics as we see it today, it was more about an autonomous Christian community. [Indeed, clergy were banned from holding office. Theocracy was not the plan.]

    I think I’m sorting out the “missing link” that Darryl’s work has always nagged me with, how religious liberty mutated into political liberty, the latter being what gives a DGHartist 2Ker the hives. The answer, I think is in Barry Shain’s thesis, and also in the existence of a tertium quid, the “third thing” between god and government. [And in our age, government as the guarantor of radical individualism, “liberty as license.]

    I have called this third thing “society,” but in the Puritan context, the more precise term is “community.” It’s not synonymous with government, the Kingdom of Man.

    Like

  7. It might take some kind of missing link to explain D.G.,,,,

    Heh heh, Erik. But I don’t want to minimize Darryl’s effect on my studies–the nettlesome question of how the Calvinist quest/necessity for religious freedom–remember, they were neither Catholic/Lutheran/ Anglican–transmuted into the fight for political freedom. The story of America cannot be told without Calvinism. Mark David Hall of George Fox U:

    I agree with most of what they say, but I think they, like many scholars who write on religion and the founding, err by focusing on the views of a few unrepresentative elites.

    Consider for a moment the background and experiences of these founders. Washington, Jefferson, and Madison were southern Anglican plantation owners. Hamilton was born and raised in the British West Indies, and in an era when few people traveled internationally, Jefferson and John Adams spent significant time in Europe. Franklin lived most of the last thirty-five years of his life in Britain and France. As adults, Franklin and Hamilton were nominal Anglicans, which means five of these six founders (83%) were Episcopalians (compared to 16% of all Americans in that era). Although 50 to 75 percent of Americans in the founding era may be reasonably classified as Calvinists, only one founder regularly referred to in these discussions worshiped at a Calvinist church—and John Adams is not a particularly good representative of this theological tradition.

    True, Noll and Marsden call these folks “major” founders, but it is easy to slip from a focus on a few to the views of many (e.g. “The God of the founding fathers was a benevolent deity, not far removed from the God of eighteenth-century Deists…” Search for Christian America, 73). They always note that “some” founders were orthodox, but I would suggest this is as misleading as noting that “some” African Americans are Democrats.

    I am not prepared to argue that many founders should be called “evangelical,” but how about Calvinists? If we expand range of founders to include folks like Samuel Adams, Elias Boudinot, Eliphalet Dyer, Oliver Ellsworth, Matthew Griswold, John Hancock, Benjamin Huntington, Samuel Huntington, Thomas McKean, William Paterson, Tapping Reeve, Jesse Root, Roger Sherman, John Treadwell, Jonathan Trumbull, William Williams, John Witherspoon, Oliver Wolcott, and Robert Yates, we get a very different impression of the founding generation (including folks like Roger Sherman who were key players in crafting America’s founding documents (unlike many, but not all, of the more famous founders).

    Like

  8. Tom, how exactly do you get the Declaration of Independence from Calvinism? If you look at Presbyterian inspired revolts in Scotland and Ireland, you’re not finding appeals to “nature’s God.” Now you’re going to tell me that the Declaration is not representative?

    Like

  9. That’s a good question DG. Part of the DOI reads like it is a document of “interposition,” explaining how under extant positive law technicalities the Continental Congress could do what it was doing legally under British Law.

    The rhetoric about Nature’s God and the natural right to revolt if government isn’t properly securing its natural “ends” is not the language of Calvinist interposition (it seems to me).

    Like

  10. Tom,

    I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly what your argument is, but if it’s a “Christian America” argument, consider that if there ever was a Christian America it really only lasted from 1776-1929. You’re about 3-4 generations too late. Consider this quote from Sydney Ahlstrom:

    “Protestant America, consequently, did not really face its great moment of truth until it marched onto the moral and religious battlefields of the twenties, the tumultuous decade of prohibition, immigration, evolution, jazz, the KKK, short skirts, the movies, Al Smith, and the Crash. Here, indeed, was the antipodes of the Great Awakening. Yet a general awareness of the painful fact that evangelicalism was no longer a culture-shaping power was almost miraculously delayed for another thirty years. Only in the 1960s would it become apparent that the Great Puritan Epoch in American history had come to an end.” – “A Religious History of the American People”, p. 8

    Like

  11. Tom, how exactly do you get the Declaration of Independence from Calvinism? If you look at Presbyterian inspired revolts in Scotland and Ireland, you’re not finding appeals to “nature’s God.” Now you’re going to tell me that the Declaration is not representative?

    Darryl, that the D of I was a recapitulation of facts already on the ground. The war for independence had actually started in 1775 when King George III made war on his own subjects at Bunker Hill:

    “He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.”

    Just as the Catholic King Charles II “abdicated” in 1688. This stuff had to pass theological muster. They just weren’t winging it.

    As for natural rights and Calvinism, who owns Calvinism, what was normative theology? Theodore Beza, we’d think.

    Witte on The Protestant Foundation of Rights and Revolution
    Posted by Mary L. Dudziak
    John Witte, Jr., Emory, has posted a new article, Rights, Resistance, and Revolution: The Protestant Foundations of Rights and Revolution. It is forthcoming in the Law and History Review. Here’s the abstract:

    This article discusses the development of rights talk in the pre-Enlightenment Protestant tradition, especially as formulated by the sixteenth-century Calvinist theologian and jurist, Theodore Beza. Responding to the horrific persecution born of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572, Beza mobilized classical, Catholic, and Protestant sources alike to develop a coherent Calvinist theory of rights, resistance, and revolution against tyrants. This article details Beza’s arguments, places his work in its historical and intellectual context, and highlights the innovations Beza contributed to the intersection of legal, political, and theological teachings. It concludes by showing how Beza’s theory of subjective rights and resistance to tyranny helped to plot the course of modern democratic and constitutional theory.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2412459/posts

    Like

  12. I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly what your argument is, but if it’s a “Christian America” argument, consider that if there ever was a Christian America it really only lasted from 1776-1929.

    Well, I find that the most interesting part of this 2K stuff. But first things first–I think its claims on history are based on faulty premises, which I believe I’m doing an adequate job of showing.

    Neither do I agree with the date of circa 1929. I don’t think this one’s over, the bashes of Palin and the Religious Right notwithstanding. I don’t think we as parents need to surrender our kids to the whorehouse just yet; neither do I believe the Bible tells us to. I think that’s bad Bible interpretation.

    But I do think you may be correct soon, not in our lifetimes but perhaps our children’s, that we are no longer Caesar or the godly Prince or even the magistrate in any meaningful sense, that Christianity and living the Christian life as you know it is forced underground*. Then we’re into your 2K trip bigtime.
    ________________
    *I make it this would put the Baylys in jail. An appealing thought perhaps, but…

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/02/27/hate_speech_ruling_antigay_pamphlets_broke_law_supreme_court_of_canada_says.html

    Like

  13. Tom, I read DofI and I see a long British tradition, starting with Magna Carta, of English people defending their liberties. That was going on long before Calvin and the Covenanters.

    Like

  14. Darryl, I was most interested in your treatment of the paper on Beza. Yes, the Magna Carta sketches out one of the first acknowledgements of the Crown’s obligations to the people–and the Crown’s eventual breach of them nullifies its claim to rule both in 1600s Britain and 1700s America–but it’s arguments like Theodore Beza’s [“a coherent Calvinist theory of rights, resistance, and revolution against tyrants”] and then the Puritan Revolution of the 1640s that put that Calvinist resistance theory into action.

    The American revolution more than a century later is a replay. But it wasn’t the Magna Carta of 1215 that put the final nail in the coffin of the Divine Right of Kings–the Crown was still arguing for it in the 1600s–it was Calvinist resistance theory.

    Like

  15. Tom – I don’t think we as parents need to surrender our kids to the whorehouse just yet

    Erik – You seem hostile to Reformed theology so who exactly are you looking to to turn it around? Evangelicals? The last evangelical church I visited had a children’s church sign up video to the tune of “I’m Sexy and I Know It”. Good luck with that vehicle.

    Like

  16. Tom,

    You seem awfully protective of Sarah Palin. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but there might not be anyone home there. She has taken her 15 minutes and cashed in. I think she’s pretty much toast politically at this point.

    I have noticed that she is attractive and conservative, though, which I think was kind of the point.

    Like

  17. Erik – You seem hostile to Reformed theology so who exactly are you looking to to turn it around?

    Yo, hostile? You got me all wrong, brother. I’m trying to find out what “Reformed theology” even is. The Baylys, what you see is what you get. You guys hereabouts–whom I assumed would be the best and brightest, the most coherent and principled exemplars of Reformed theology–well, sometimes this seems like one big inside joke to you. The only way to get anything besides a smirk or a glib once-sentence drive-by is to give you the needle where it gets your attention. Is that how this “Elect” thing works?

    I spend a lot of my time defending people like yourselves from the savages. At least I should know what you’re about. At this point, I don’t even know what you mean by “Reformed”: who’s in, who’s out. Calvin, not Beza? Darryl has a book called “Calvinism” coming out, and if there’s one thing I’m 2K about, it’s scholarship on religion and history.

    Bishop Fulton J. Sheen had an unlikely prime-time TV show, catching whoever wasn’t watching Uncle Miltie, which perhaps you’ve caught on ETWN and even used to air on the Fundie Channel.

    “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

    Well, I’ve get my set tuned into you. I’m all ears. Here’s your chance. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, conversion or rejection. Just make some sense. Or if you’d rather talk basketball, you’ve got the ball. Fumble it away, walk off the court, whatever. Just don’t call foul all the time. You’ve still got to put the ball in the hoop at some point. 😉

    So how ’bout that Ted Beza? Could that dude shoot or what?!

    Like

  18. Erik, I don’t blame anyone for voting against John McCain for selecting Sarah Palin–not just that she was the least qualified candidate ever, but that it showed McCain’s abominable judgment. To this day, despise as I do their politics and divisive style, I cannot say that Obama-Biden was the poorer choice.

    But one thing I will say is that viewed from a distance, it appears to me that Sarah Palin has the more moral, more successful, happier and more admirable life than just about any of her critics, the miserable hateful wretches.

    [Not you, Darryl, but most everyone else.]

    So keep that sort of thing in mind when you’re trying to pigeonhole me, Erik. I find Calvinism the most interesting of the Reformation movements. I might be the only one in a room full of haters who gives a sympathetic explanation of your tenets someday. And you guys keep piling schism upon schism, so I doubt very many “Children of Geneva” can even keep it all straight. It might turn out some day I’m in a roomful of Calvinists and am the only one who can explain their theological history to them.

    So be gentle with me.

    Like

  19. Tom, the problem you seem to be having is that you expect modern Calvinists to argue the way that 16th c. Calvinists did. But 1789 happened, and it was not about instituting a new Calvinist order but one where the state was a “nursing father” to all faiths. (Check out the revision of the Westminster Confession by the American Presbyterian Church in 1789.) That was our Vatican 2. But a lot of the loud mouths, like the Baylys, theonomists, and some neo-Cals, are still wedded to pre-1789 Reformed politics (even while they are only interested in the second table of the law — abortion is bad, the Mass is okay). 2K is about trying to find in pre-1789 political theology a principled justification for the adjustments that modern Calvinsts have made. VanDrunen does it one way by showing how a 2k outlook was present before 1789. I do it by showing the costs among American Protestants of holding to a pre-modern conception (not literally, but intuitively) of church and state.

    Like

  20. Tom, Sarah has a moral, happy life? I don’t know. I don’t think you do either. But if you were a Calvinist, you might be wondering about the effects of celebrity on a moral life. (Plus, the Palin family is not one, it seems, that James Dobson would have approved.)

    Like

  21. Tom – I spend a lot of my time defending people like yourselves from the savages. At least I should know what you’re about.

    Erik – First off, thanks. Second, to know what we’re about all you need to do is read our Confessions – The Three Forms or Unity and/or the Westminster Standards. That’s the point of 2K. We’re about those (because we consider them to be faithful summaries of Scripture) and anything we’re about beyond that is just personal opinion and is not binding upon you or anyone else who isn’t a wife or minor child in our homes.

    Like

  22. This is a local story, but to summarize it’s a spat over whether or not Central Iowa gets a new casino. An opponent (a pre-1789er) demonstrates how not to be a gracious winner:

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130510/NEWS/305100042?source=nletter-top5

    Has Tom Coates not heard of being a gracious winner?:

    “’I respect anybody who morally has something against gambling,’ Kirke said. “I have no problem with that. But I don’t respect preachers and (Tom) Coates getting up in front of congregations and filling them full of mistruths. I think that’s hypocrisy, and I don’t think that’s godly.’

    Coates, executive director of Consumer Credit of Des Moines and a longtime gambling opponent, defended his statistics, dismissing Kirke as ‘an angry man’ who bankrolled a losing election campaign. ‘If I spent $300,000 for the mental defectives and the moral cripples and the outright crazies that he ended up buying with this campaign, I guess I’d be upset, too,’ he said.”

    Who sounds like “an angry man”? Coates may learn that Central Iowans dislike casinos, but they dislike self-righteous moral grandstanding even more. In fact, pretty much the entire religious right should be learning that of late as they get their butts handed to them in Presidential elections and on gay marriage.

    Like

  23. Tom, the problem you seem to be having is that you expect modern Calvinists to argue the way that 16th c. Calvinists did.

    If I did, Darryl, that would be a theological opinion. I have my 2K history hat on, not the theologian one. When normative Calvinist theology was OK with the American Revolution, I think it’s bad history and revisionist theology to claim that the Founding era contravened Calvinist principles, and further, that Theodore Beza, putatively John Calvin’s successor, actually came up with a “Calvinist theory of rights, resistance, and revolution against tyrants.”

    So there’s my beef, a revisionism claiming for “Reformed theology” a criticism vs. the Founders that was never normative Reformed theology.

    But 1789 happened, and it was not about instituting a new Calvinist order but one where the state was a “nursing father” to all faiths. (Check out the revision of the Westminster Confession by the American Presbyterian Church in 1789.) That was our Vatican 2.

    Well OK, now we’re cookin’. The only remaining problem would be claiming the mantle of “Reformed” the way Mel Gibson claims the mantle of “Roman Catholic.”

    But a lot of the loud mouths, like the Baylys, theonomists, and some neo-Cals, are still wedded to pre-1789 Reformed politics (even while they are only interested in the second table of the law — abortion is bad, the Mass is okay).

    Well, I sort of understand the circular firing squad part of this, not embarrassing Calvin or Christ or whatever, but when you go at each other more over ritual than genuine evil, 2K or not that’s misplaced priorities. In my opinion, of course.

    2K is about trying to find in pre-1789 political theology a principled justification for the adjustments that modern Calvinsts have made. VanDrunen does it one way by showing how a 2k outlook was present before 1789. I do it by showing the costs among American Protestants of holding to a pre-modern conception (not literally, but intuitively) of church and state.

    Well, that’s all interesting. I was rather excited about my recent comment @ you that the Puritan [pre-1789] vision, the City on the Hill, was for a Christian community, not the Christian nation-state– nation states being more a product of modern times. I’ve been going in the direction of expressing where I think you’re spot on, indeed that we may be on the crest of a socio-political turn where its Back to the Catacombs for folks like us.

    This is a real possibility in the next century. Not literally, but close enough, straitjacketed into conforming with an immoral society. I can definitely feel the Puritans on this–get me out of here!

    I think there’s still a way to pursue living as a Christian community–federalism, perhaps–without controlling the entire nation-state ala Caesar [accepting Erik’s dates of 1776-1929 as an acknowledgment that we were indeed a Christian/Protestant nation until some point], and further that heavy theological lifting such as Beza’s may be invaluable in your task of

    “2K is about trying to find in pre-1789 political theology a principled justification for the adjustments that modern Calvinsts have made.”

    But first, getting the history and heritage right is of paramount importance, lest political theology become no more than a set of ad hoc sentiments, rather than a coherent and principled theology.

    [There is a separate problem that organized religion seems to be the only entity that has the intellectual/rhetorical resources to piece together any social opposition to modernity. A separate but pressing question in the City of Man.]

    Thank you for an exc reply, Darryl. Much more to work with here.

    Like

  24. Tom, sure, it’s a fair question of whether normative Reformed theology supported the revolution. But if the Presbyterians and Congregationalists who supported the Revolution actually deviated from the politics of 1550 Geneva and 1640 Boston, then you can’t claim that John Witherspoon or [insert your conservative Congregationalist here] were normative in the sense that you claim. Resistance to tyranny is one thing. But a revolution that leads to tolerance for religious practices that would have had you banned from Boston and Geneva is hardly representative of normative Calvinism.

    Like

  25. Well, I thought you were arguing that Calvinism can’t be frozen in time with John Calvin. “Normative” Calvinism would be the norm of the 1770s, and we can’t just pick one facet [religious tolerance] to use to throw Beza out with the bathwater.

    The Geneva that burned Michael Servetus simply didn’t exist by the 1770s. And now it looks like I gotta start learning your schisms. Geez, Calvinism is a tough town.

    http://theresurgence.com/2012/07/18/a-tale-of-two-theologies-the-dutch-and-scottish-reformed-traditions

    Like

  26. Whose Calvinism is it, anyway?

    That’s the question, Darryl. I would think at least Beza’s, at least up to 1789. And where that leaves Kuyper, well, that’s an intramural problem. But these days, the definition of “Reformed theology” seems highly idiosyncratic, based on the druthers of the idiosyncrat.

    ;-P

    Like

  27. Tom,

    If you don’t favor the killing of Servetus and you don’t favor the Salem Witch trials I assume you don’t favor any sort of theocracy (or theonomy). But you continue to say you don’t want your children to live in a whorehouse. Flesh out the “middle ground” that you are looking for that accomplishes your goals? What role to two kingdoms, conservative Presbyterian & Reformed people have in this “middle ground”?

    Like

  28. Tom,

    Have you considered that the early church began in the whorehouse of Rome? Constantine came along and put a stop to that, but the Roman Catholic Church was the result of Constantinianism and Roman Catholics in unity with the Civil Magistrate put our Presbyterian & Reformed fathers to death when they had the opportunity. Which is more tolerable, a physical whorehouse or a spiritual whorehouse? If you say we don’t have to put up with either, why are you not concerned with violations of the first four Commandments?

    Like

  29. Erik, have you done any study on the salem Witch trials, or was that more spaghetti thrown at the wall? For I take this stuff seriously. Serious as cancer. My erstwhile blogsister Lori Stokes wrote*:

    The upshot is that while the Puritans did believe in witchcraft and evil spirits, they rarely associated any real person with those beliefs, and even more rarely persecuted people as witches. And they put a lot more stock generally in real-world problems and solutions than spectral ones. And, finally, no belief in spirits would usually lead Puritan New Englanders to overturn their entire social order to let children persecute adults. Salem cannot be explained away as just another consequence of the Puritans’ terrible and ignorant religion. It was an anomaly, it was seen as one at the time, and should be seen as one now.

    IOW, since the Puritans left “ecclesiastical courts” [google ’em] behind in the Old World because they stank of Papism and Anglicanism, Salem was a failure of politics, not religion!

    Now, in the earlier days of Protestantism in Europe, over 100,000 “witches” were executed. Strangely enough, it would not have happened [and did not happen!] under the hegemony of the Inquisition, which provided those accused with not only an prosecutor, but a defender.

    I digress, but “The Black Legend” is a very interesting pointer that what we think we know about history isn’t always so.**

    And FTR, I’m not closed to any of your theological arguments around here atall, it’s just that my own studies suggest that many may be built on faulty premises regarding history, including your own–which I find far more interesting and relevant to the American milieu than the churches of Luther and Henry VIII. As historian Mark David Hall argues, 50-75% of the white persons in America at the time of the Founding were of Calvinist persuasion. This is no small deal.
    ________________

    *Links available on request. Posting more than one of them gets one caught in this blog’s moderation filter for an indeterminate amount of time. Like limbo, or purgatory. Whathaveyou. 😉

    **http://old.nationalreview.com/comment/madden200406181026.asp

    “For people who lived during those times, religion was not something one did just at church. It was science, philosophy, politics, identity, and hope for salvation. It was not a personal preference but an abiding and universal truth. Heresy, then, struck at the heart of that truth. It doomed the heretic, endangered those near him, and tore apart the fabric of community.

    The Inquisition was not born out of desire to crush diversity or oppress people; it was rather an attempt to stop unjust executions. Yes, you read that correctly. Heresy was a crime against the state. Roman law in the Code of Justinian made it a capital offense. Rulers, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw them as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath. When someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to the local lord for judgment, just as if they had stolen a pig or damaged shrubbery (really, it was a serious crime in England). Yet in contrast to those crimes, it was not so easy to discern whether the accused was really a heretic. For starters, one needed some basic theological training — something most medieval lords sorely lacked. The result is that uncounted thousands across Europe were executed by secular authorities without fair trials or a competent assessment of the validity of the charge.

    The Catholic Church’s response to this problem was the Inquisition, first instituted by Pope Lucius III in 1184…”

    Like

  30. “The great Boston minister Cotton Mather literally believed, in 1692, that the Devil was fighting to get converts in Salem and other Massachusetts towns, as a desperate means to save his empire in the New World from Christianity. Mather also believed the fantastic tesimony of the witch-accusers which he recounts in Cotton Mather on Witch craft.

    In this strange book, which was written to justify the Salem witch-trials, the credulous divine tells the reader how to discover Witches; how good Christians are tempted b ythe Devil to become Witches; and how to resist temptations. He also gives testimony from a number of the trials, stories of Witchcraft in other countries in other times, and explanations of the Devil’s dilemma in coping with Christianity.”
    – Cotton Mather’s book on witchcraft

    Like

  31. Tom – Salem cannot be explained away as just another consequence of the Puritans’ terrible and ignorant religion. It was an anomaly, it was seen as one at the time, and should be seen as one now.

    Erik – I’m sure the (at least) twenty people who were put to death took comfort that it was just an anomaly.

    “And now Nineteen persons having been hang’d, and one prest to death, and Eight more condemned, in all Twenty and Eight, of which above a third part were Members of some of the Churches of N. England, and more than half of them of a good Conversation in general, and not one clear’d; about Fifty having confest themselves to be Witches, of which not one Executed; above an Hundred and Fifty in Prison, and Two Hundred more acccused; the Special Commision of Oyer and Terminer comes to a period,…”
    —Robert Calef[1]

    Like

  32. Tom, a pretty good definition going all the way back to 1550 is the Reformed Confessions define the theology of the Reformed churches. Since practically all of those churches revised their confessions on the civil magistrate — liberal and conservative — it’s a pretty good case for continuity (minus the Constantinianism).

    Like

  33. Tom – Salem was a failure of politics, not religion!

    Erik – So what is your political solution to the problem of America becoming a whorehouse that doesn’t involve the mixture of politics and religion?

    Where do you find grounds for regulating sexual ethics apart from religion?

    If your grounds for opposing gay marriage are not based in religion, what are they based on? That it’s yucky?

    Like

  34. Hey, you want to go there, it’s all yours.

    http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/people/c_mather.html

    The Salem Witch Trials are not an area of great concern or interest to me: I see them as the product of superstition and mass hysteria, and as Lori wrote, an anomaly–the fact that it only happened in one town at a single time is more a vindication of the Puritans and their religion than an indictment of it.

    The link above says that Cotton Mather didn’t participate in the trials, his letter to the magistrates may have been misinterpreted, and he spent his final days deeply regretting the entire mad and tragic affair. Now that sounds right.

    Quite frankly, guys, I started studying American History with zero knowledge of Reformed resistance theology and not a terribly favorable impression of the Puritans. But like many things, the more you peel back the onion of “common knowledge” the more you see the people underneath. I just ran across a terrific Mark David Hall essay

    http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/2011/06/did-america-have-a-christian-founding

    where he writes

    …they neglect the traditional Christian teaching that even saints sin. If the standard of being a Christian is moral perfection, no one has ever been a Christian.

    Like

  35. Tom – Heresy was a crime against the state. Roman law in the Code of Justinian made it a capital offense. Rulers, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw them as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath.

    Erik – Thus the irony of guys like Doug Sowers and the Bayly’s who appear to being concerned about Sodomy leading to divine wrath against the U.S., while not being concerned about violations of the first four commandments. Be a family friendly Mormon or JW? No biggie. Be a “Sodomite”? The horror!

    Like

  36. DGH: Tom, a pretty good definition going all the way back to 1550 is the Reformed Confessions define the theology of the Reformed churches. Since practically all of those churches revised their confessions on the civil magistrate — liberal and conservative — it’s a pretty good case for continuity (minus the Constantinianism).

    So is Beza in or out? “Calvinist” resistance theory? Scottish or Dutch Reformed? Kuyper? [OK, Kuyper can wait.]

    Be gentle and slow. I’m trying to hold up my end.

    Like

  37. Tom,

    I think you’re drinking some Catholic apologist Kool-Aid on the Inquisition. Inquisitions aren’t a problem unless the civil magistrate and the church are intertwined — on the local or national level.

    Some things are best to let God sort out after people are dead. As Gamaliel famously said:

    “if it be of men, it will come to naught, but if it be of God, ye will not be able to overthrow it; lest perhaps ye be found even to fight against God”.

    Like

  38. Erik – Thus the irony of guys like Doug Sowers and the Bayly’s who appear to being concerned about Sodomy leading to divine wrath against the U.S., while not being concerned about violations of the first four commandments. Be a family friendly Mormon or JW? No biggie. Be a “Sodomite”? The horror!

    I’m not joining the Calvinist circular firing squad, Erik. Although I find it fascinating. Depends on which tablet of the Decalogue you’re more inclined to open fire about, I make it.

    =:-O

    Like

  39. Tom, I think you’re drinking some Catholic apologist Kool-Aid on the Inquisition.

    I think you should do some reading on it, Erik. New [old] documents have surfaced just over the past decade or so, and I’m not sure you even followed the link I posted. There’s no question that elements in the Protestant world created and spread a “Black Legend” to discredit Spain and Roman Catholicism many centuries ago.

    For instance, it was King Ferdinand who started the Spanish Inquisition, not the Roman Church. Ferd wanted to steal the lands and wealth of the conversos, Jews who “converted” to Catholicism to keep their lands and place in Spain after Christendom drove out the Moors [and Muslim rule].

    Be a good sport, man. If you’ve noticed, I don’t butt heads about the facts, just their interpretation. I think we’re very good with the facts around here, that’s why I hang. This is a first-class operation. Cheers.

    Like

  40. Tom,

    Catholics killed people because of their religion. Protestants killed people because of their religion. I strongly disapprove of both. Not much more research needed.

    Like

  41. Tom,

    You’re making a lot of good arguments for the virtues of 2K everytime you bring up a magistrate who used religious pretenses to kill or oppress people.

    Have you noticed that contemporary Christian culture warriors like the Baylys encourage the magistrate to do lots of things on religious pretenses?

    Have you noticed that lots of Christians overlook personal sins of politicians because they think that once they are in office they will do things that these same Christians approve of on religious pretenses?

    Are you starting to get why we think the mixing of Christianity and politics inevitably stinks and puts the church in a bad light?

    Like

  42. Are you starting to get why we think the mixing of Christianity and politics inevitably stinks and puts the church in a bad light?

    Oh, Erik, you’ve cut to the chase all right.

    You’re making the same claim here as the people who hate Christianity and want to lock it inside the churches where it can do no harm.

    I completely reject your premise, and I think it’s built on accepting the same false historical premise as the religion-haters–not that it has been theism, natural law and then the Gospel brought us out of the primordial muck and mire, but that somehow they’re responsible for the depravity of the human condition, not a balm for it.

    Rubbish.

    Damn right I question your reading of history, of reality–and if it’s your theology that makes you deny reality, then sod that too. You’ve challenged every fact and argument I’ve made today without a single fact or counterargument, besides the simplistic

    Catholics killed people because of their religion. Protestants killed people because of their religion. I strongly disapprove of both. Not much more research needed.

    Now if that’s your theology, fine. If that’s what your brain thinks history and study are about [not much], fine. So you’ve had your say. So don’t gum up mine. The Salem Witch Trials don’t even move the meter. I was trying to discuss Theodore Beza with Darryl or anybody else interested. Teach us some Beza, brother. Or fire your guns on him. Whatever rings your theological bell.

    Again, in even responding to you, I’ve only co-operated in helping you bury my point, a dozen comments up. Silly me. Charlie Brown and the football.

    Like

  43. Tom – You’re making the same claim here as the people who hate Christianity and want to lock it inside the churches where it can do no harm.

    Erik – At least you’re finally starting to understand us!

    The mistake you make is not realizing that Christianity is not locked in the church as long as individual Christians are out in the world, interacting with all kinds of people in our common activities.

    Christianity is also always available to anyone who visits our churches — and when they do it is an uncompromising, Confessional Christianity that they experience.

    It is the fundamentalist culture warrior with his political agenda and his separatist Christian version of everything from schools to sports leagues who keeps Christianity locked inside the church. Who are these people really interacting with and influencing?

    The way we think about these issues is inside-out compared with 95% of Christians, but if you bear with us I think the light will go on eventually and it will make sense, even if you ultimately disagree with us.

    If you would attend a Confessional Reformed Church for six months, stop listening to conservative talk radio, stop watching Fox News, and stop reading the Wall Street Journal Editorial page you might see these things in a fresh light. At that point you can go back to those things, but you probably won’t be as excited about them because you’ll realize how much they pale in light of the gospel.

    Like

  44. Tom – not that it has been theism, natural law and then the Gospel brought us out of the primordial muck and mire, but that somehow they’re responsible for the depravity of the human condition

    Erik – “If by theism, natural law, and then the Gospel” (strange order) you are pointing to the Protestant Reformation, then I am in agreement with you. But you have to ask yourself to what degree the 21st century manifestation of Christianity is in line with the Reformation. A lot has happened over the last 500 years in the Christian church and most of it (with the exception of severing the tie to the civil magistrate) has not been beneficial.

    Like

  45. Guess what, Tom. It’s not your blog and you can’t ban me like the Bayly’s. Too bad.

    You say the Salem Witch Trials were minor — repeatedly — but you haven’t really made a case for why that is true. Shouting someone down is not making an argument. If the Salem Witch Trials were inconsequential, why were they the last of their kind?

    Like

  46. Erik, I’m trying to talk about Calvinist resistance theory and Theodore Beza’s Calvinist “system of rights.” You’re on about the witch trials and talk radio. Dial it back, bro, stick to the topic. Any topic. Pick one.

    Like

  47. Tom, out, not in the sense of being condemned, but in the sense that this is not what the churches profess or teach. It’s Beza’s opinion, not Reformed dogma.

    Like

  48. Tom, and it was the popes who claimed that God gave two swords to the pope, one civil one spiritual, and the church in turn handed the civil sword to guys like Ferdinand. When you make claims about all that power, you have to follow the power trail all the way up to the top.

    Like

  49. Tom, strange choice of words. Why would you want the churches to “do harm”? Looks like it makes sense for some folks to lock Christianity up if its advocates are bent on destruction (not exactly what Paul had in mind). You have more in common with the Baylys than you realize.

    Like

  50. It’s Beza’s opinion, not Reformed dogma.

    Is your theology “Reformed dogma” then?

    Tom, strange choice of words. Why would you want the churches to “do harm”?

    That was ironic tongue-in-cheek, Darryl. The “harm” churches do to the modern de-humanizing utilitarian and licentious secular project. Sometime I think you guys live in a tent.

    Looks like it makes sense for some folks to lock Christianity up if its advocates are bent on destruction

    I can’t believe you took that literally. Like Erik buying into the secular anti-religion narrative, which grabs stuff like the Salem witch trials or Southern Presbyterian biblical justification for slavery [and the anti-Catholic “Black Legend”]. But you’re buying into a false history. Christianity has been the great civilizing force for mankind, not its bane.

    You have more in common with the Baylys than you realize.

    Just because they’re wack doesn’t mean that you’re getting the better of the argument, Darryl. Their claim is that your version of 2K has no historical justification as normative Calvinism, and you haven’t done much to deflect that direct hit. In between their ravings about sodomites and all, they have some solid arguments.

    In fact picking the Baylys as your whipping boy is bottom-fishing, sort of like how the Democrats like to use Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck as an example of why Democrats are the better, saner, smarter party. But picking the worst on the other side is a corollary of the straw man fallacy.

    That’s why I picked you, Darryl. You’re the best.

    😉

    As for the papal “two swords,” that’s interesting. It deserves more than a spaghetti @ the wall driveby and I’m not quite sure you’re giving it a fair shake. Were the Church start excommunicating politicians who worked for abortion–and indeed they threatened segregationists with it in the 1950s south] I have no problem with that, and I believe that’s the current interpretation of “two swords,” that the Pope still gets the last word on morals, not the state.

    Further, not every Papal Bull is dogma. Gotta watch those claims: normative theology as normative is not the same as a claim to eternal infallible truth. It’s what Sheen said about people hating the Roman Church–what they hate is their misconception of it.

    *http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=36967

    “TWO SWORDS

    a medieval doctrine on the relation of Church and State, as explained by Pope Boniface VIII (reigned 1294- 1303): “We are taught by the words of the Gospel that in this Church and under her control there are two swords, the spiritual and the temporal . . . both of these,m i.e., the spiritual and the temporal swords, are under the control of the Church. The first is wielded by the Church; the second is wielded on behalf of the church. The first is wielded by the hands of the priest, the second by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the wish and by the permission of the priests. Sword must be subordinate to sword, and it is only fitting that the temporal authority should be subject to the spiritual” (Unam Sanctam, Denzinger 873). this doctrine was not refined by the Pope but reflected the mentality of the age, when both “priests and kings” were members of the same Catholic Church in whose name Pope Boniface was speaking.

    *http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=36967

    “when both “priests and kings” were members of the same Catholic Church in whose name Pope Boniface was speaking..”

    IOW, that the secular authorities were also Catholics under the spiritual authority of the Pope. This is not the necessarily case today and so Unam Sanctam is strictly applicable only to Catholics in government.

    Like

  51. Tom – I can’t believe you took that literally. Like Erik buying into the secular anti-religion narrative, which grabs stuff like the Salem witch trials or Southern Presbyterian biblical justification for slavery [and the anti-Catholic “Black Legend”]. But you’re buying into a false history. Christianity has been the great civilizing force for mankind, not its bane.

    Erik – These aren’t either/or questions, Tom, but you’ve got to get out of your culture warrior mindset to see it. It’s not a question of “us” vs. “them”. The world isn’t that simple.

    Like

  52. Tom, I’m not going to debate you on RC history. But it sure looks to me like Unam Sanctam is responsible for most of the papacy’s claims and continuing stature. It is God’s vicegerent. It’s power today is weak. Not so during the Inquisition.

    My theology is not dogma. I try to follow church teaching. When I opine, it is just an opinion. My wife knows that. Surely you can tell the difference. I mean, is everything Obama says an American norm? Or does he have to comply with a broader set of laws and structures? Same goes for Beza (and you’re reading of him).

    Just trying to put the church back in church history.

    Like

  53. Well, Darryl, I think you’re using an 800-yr-old papal bull as a weapon against the Roman Church, and not accurately. I dunno if my rebuttal is “debating,” but it is a necessary part of the discussion.

    You write

    My theology is not dogma. I try to follow church teaching.

    Well, it seems you lead, not just follow, Darryl, though I’m not exactly sure what “your” church is. Beyond the 30,000 member Orthodox Presbyterian Church, that is. Do you claim the mantle of Calvinism/Reformed theology, and is that any different from Mel Gibson’s and/or the “Old Catholics'” claim on the Church?

    Are the Baylys any more inside or outside your church than the gay marriage Presbyterians in PCUSA?

    http://covnetpres.org/category/covenant-network-news/

    Is there a reason to fire on one and not the other? Implicit in the Covenant Network of Presbyterians’ political activism for “marriage equality” is a rejection of your 2K theology–they just don’t bother with debating you like the Baylys do. And in the realm of action over rhetoric, this Covenant network is “conflating kingdoms” with boots on the ground, not just words in the air.

    Stuff like that. For it seems you’re firing on the Religious Right on behalf of, well, actually I don’t know on whose behalf, if you’re firing on people who are not even in your church, say a Sarah Palin. And if you are going to keep firing only on one side, it’s only fair that they fire back, at least that your theology is not fair-minded or even-handed.

    Now, me, I’m fine with social conservatism AND Social Gospel politics, if it’s sincere. And I respect your 2K thing as well–but if you’re not firing on the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, who claim the mantle of your church on behalf of gay marriage, yet you do fire on Sarah Palin, who’s not even a Presbyterian, well, I think there’s an inconsistency there.

    Like

  54. Tom, a church that believes its chief official is God’s vicegerent will not only claim both swords but also tell the rest of the world what is the right economic, politic, and cultural practice (read: Roman Catholic social teaching). The Vatican still thinks its responsible for the world.

    Here’s why I go after the Presbyterian and evangelical right and not the left. The right is supposed to understand the gospel. But their politics are just the last version of Protestant activism (see A Secular Faith), and that activism has always confused social righteousness with the righteousness of Christ, imputed by faith. You didn’t like the claim earlier that evangelicals “betray” anything. But they are the people who are supposed to be the soul winners, the people who unlike the mainline, still takes conversion, the atonement, Christ’s resurrection seriously. The implicit point of some of my history (and the explicit point of 2k) is that Protestant political activism betrays the gospel.

    For my part, I don’t give a rip about political conservatism compared to the work of Jesus Christ to save sinners. If I lead on that point, fine. And if you don’t see some of Machen’s influence on me (both politics and anti-liberalism) then as Erik says, you’re not reading very carefully. I do believe that the religious right is the Protestant liberalism of our day.

    Capiche?

    Like

  55. I do believe that the religious right is the Protestant liberalism of our day.

    Capiche?

    Not yet, Darryl. What does that make liberal-liberalism?

    See, I understand 2K if you fire at both sides, but you claim to be conservative yet save your wrath only for the Catholics and the Baylys. There’s no real hazard in that–the Baylys are easily dismissed in the elite secular circles you’re tolerated in [the Porchers, the academy, Yale Press], and the Roman Catholics are not going to fight you to the dirty death.

    Now, go after the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, who work for gay marriage in the name of the Presbyterian Church, and then we’ll see what 2K is made of.

    http://covnetpres.org/category/covenant-network-news/

    People like that play to win, and stop at nothing. That’s why they beat you, and now own your churches–hell, they own “Presbyterian” itself. So I get it. OTOH, I don’t get it. If you’re defending the Gospel, or defending your church/Reformed theology, well, you haven’t.

    Like

  56. Tom,

    You are asking good questions.

    Hart’s answer at May 13, 2013 at 6:05 am is on point as far as an answer goes.

    The reason I (we) don’t spend a lot of time combatting the secular and religious left is because Scripture and our Confessions already answer them. Additionally, we foresee their ultimate fate if they do not repent. Their projects will eventually come to nothing. Pick a contemporary hot-button topic and most likely the Confessions address it. For instance, both the Westminster and the Heidelberg address the Ten Commandments in depth (in great depth when it comes to the Westminster Larger Catechism).

    Like

  57. Battling the left is like playing “whack-a-mole” with an infinite stack of quarters. It’s a futile battle and we’re always on the defensive, constantly reacting to their latest foolishness.

    Preserving and renewing Christ’s church is a worthwhile endeavor, however. This is an entity that will continue on forever.

    Like

  58. I read you charitably, attempting to understand you in your terms, not my own. To the outsider–and judging by your battles all over the Christian/Calvinist internet, including Darryl’s own blog here–your standards are contradictory, if not incoherent.

    It’s not about fighting the left about politics, it’s about using 2K vs. Social Gospel, Jim Wallis, the Presbyterian gay marriage activists who use “Presbyterian” on their banner. Your standards, not mine.

    Like

  59. Tom,

    Who is “you”? Darryl or me?

    Give an example of contradictory standards.

    “Presbyterian” doesn’t mean much more than the Presbyterian form of church polity. There have been different kinds of Presbyterians since not long after the first Prebytery was formed in Philadephia (in 1706, I believe). The First Great Awakening caused major upheaval. D.G.’s Orthodox Presbyterian Church came out of Machen’s struggles with liberal Presbyterians in the PCUSA in the 20’s. The reason we don’t fight with liberal Presbyterians is because that fight took place around 90 years ago. We’ve moved on. Plus, their churches have been dying for the last 40 years without our input.

    Like

  60. Notice that most of the people we fight with are in our churches — The URC, the PCA, the OPC. We throw in the Bayly’s, Theonomists, Revivalists, the Christian Reformed Church, and the occasional evangelical because it’s fun and usually easy pickings. Again, liberals and secularists are adequately covered. Have you heard how big Rush Limbaugh’s bank account is? Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal editorial page is doing fine. They don’t need us. We have few insights to contribute to those conversations.

    Like

  61. “Presbyterian” doesn’t mean much more than the Presbyterian form of church polity. There have been different kinds of Presbyterians since not long after the first Prebytery was formed in Philadephia (in 1706, I believe). The First Great Awakening caused major upheaval. D.G.’s Orthodox Presbyterian Church came out of Machen’s struggles with liberal Presbyterians in the PCUSA in the 20′s. The reason we don’t fight with liberal Presbyterians is because that fight took place around 90 years ago. We’ve moved on. Plus, their churches have been dying for the last 40 years without our input.

    Erik Charter
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
    Notice that most of the people we fight with are in our churches — The URC, the PCA, the OPC. We throw in the Bayly’s, Theonomists, Revivalists, the Christian Reformed Church, and the occasional evangelical because it’s fun and usually easy pickings. Again, liberals and secularists are adequately covered. Have you heard how big Rush Limbaugh’s bank account is? Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal editorial page is doing fine. They don’t need us. We have few insights to contribute to those conversations.

    The argument for your irrelevance. Whoever “you” might be. You lost your church. You lost the culture. You lost your church to the culture. And now you want to castrate anyone else who’s still left and make them just like you.

    And you’re not even beating the evangelicals, the “easy pickings,” so quit sneering.

    Like

  62. Tom – The argument for your irrelevance. Whoever “you” might be. You lost your church. You lost the culture. You lost your church to the culture. And now you want to castrate anyone else who’s still left and make them just like you.

    And you’re not even beating the evangelicals, the “easy pickings,” so quit sneering.

    Erik – I would have had a hard time losing my church since I wasn’t born until 40 years after Machen left the PCUSA to form the OPC. Likewise losing the church to the culture.

    The thing you fail to realize (again and again) is that we are not impressed or concerned with large numbers. Who are your great army of allies? Secular conservatives? Theologically stunted evangelicals? I’ll take the 20 sharp reformed guys I interact with every month here over whoever you can come up with. Plus, I can be friends with your friends if I choose because I don’t have a test of political orthodoxy to determine who I associate with. That’s the nice thing about being 2K. You can go through life without acting like an angry, middle-aged white guy who has been sucking on a pickle.

    Like

  63. Don’t leave, though, Tom. We need a culture warrior of dubious theological affiliation to go along with the resident revivalist and theonomist. You help round out the cast.

    Like

  64. Tom,

    If you’re going to hold me responsible for what went on 40 years before I was born, I’ll hold you responsible for the Jazz Age and the Scopes Monkey Trial. You lost the culture — nice going.

    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.