Van Der Molen Pulls Up and Chats A While

Our typical interactions with the Indiana attorney and URC elder, who appears to be anti-2k all the time, have been of the drive-by variety in comm boxes at various blogs. But now Mark Van Der Molen has outdone himself and provided a substantial rendering of the history of the revision of the Belgic Confession, Article 36, on the civil magistrate. Particularly intriguing are the revisions’ emergence in the context of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, an international Reformed ecumenical body that offered to churches like the Orthodox Presbyterian Church a “conservative” alternative to either Carl McIntire’s International Council of Christian Churches or the liberal Protestant World Council of Churches. Readers should check Van Der Molen’s account on their own. They should also be aware of the debate over whether confessional subscription to the revised Belgic extends to footnotes.

Instead of weighing in on another communion’s internal debates, I want to challenge several implications that follow Van Der Molen’s narrative:

First, he claims that 2k advocates have used the revision of Belgic 36 to:

1. remove the magistrate’s concern with the first table of the Law,

2. remove the magistrate’s subjection to the authority of the Word of God, and

3. remove the magistrate’s purpose in the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.

I can’t speak for all 2kers (particularly Scott Clark and Mike Horton, who have subscribed the Three Forms of Unity), but I am not sure that Van Der Molen describes accurately their motives or the consequences of their position. This construction is again a common tactic among 2k’s critics, that somehow 2kers want to see God’s word flouted, and Christ’s kingdom reduced, and the gospel denied. In point of fact, and an attorney should know this, the arguments of 2kers do not prove what their motives are. Also, important to note, is that 2kers have denied explicitly having such anti-biblical, antinomian, and anti-kingdom motivations. Instead, they have repeatedly affirmed that they promote 2k for the good of the church, the defense of the gospel, and the rule of Christ among his people. Doesn’t such testimony count for anything with an officer of the court (I guess not when he is prosecuting alleged offenders)? Of course, 2kers could be confused, foolish, or simply wrong about the effects of 2k. But Van Der Molen once again engages in the overreach common among 2k’s critics (not to mention Rush Limbaugh or Fox News).

Second, Van Der Molen has a Netherlands-centric reading of Reformed history. For instance, he accuses 2kers of re-writing history to make it fit their view (meanwhile he does not notice how 2kers have written a great deal about the larger history of Reformed Protestantism than his narrow topic of revising Belgic 36):

What is not legitimate is a “two kingdoms” re-writing of history to suggest the entire first table has been entirely removed from the magistrate’s purview. Kuyper did not argue for a “table 1-ectomy”. More importantly, neither did our Reformed forbears when they revised the confession. Until we see a “two kingdoms” proponent successfully overture for a second-table-only revision, our confessional subscription today yet stands with the churchmen who adopted the RES Declaration and the revised Belgic 36 which retains the principle that the magistrate’s tasks are subject to both tables of God’s law.

This is a questionable reading of history on several grounds. First, Van Der Molen shows no awareness of the revisions that American Presbyterians made to their confession 150 years before the Belgic revisions. Last I checked, Presbyterians were part of the Reformed churches. The American revision includes this language, which I admit is different from the Belgic revisions:

Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance. (23.4, emphasis added)

But in narrowing his historical analysis to the Belgic’s revision, Van Der Molen gives the impression that the Presbyterians don’t count (or that when he cites VanDrunen or me, Orthodox Presbyterians are not bound by Belgic as church officers).

Also troubling about Van Der Molen’s references to the Belgic’s revision’s context is a complete disregard for what happened to the RES or its member churches. The GKN, one of the big players in establishing the RES, no longer exists, having run out of confessional steam in 2004 to join the national generically Protestant church of the Dutch monarchy. Nor does Van Der Molen observe that the RES itself no longer exists, having in2006 voted itself out of existence when it joined the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a body dominated by liberal Reformed and Presbyterian communions. So if Van Der Molen wants his church brethren to respect their forefathers, he may want to specify which forefathers they might be. The GKN? The CRC? The RES? Is Van Der Molen really pinning his hopes on that group of Reformed churches? Talk about re-writing history.

Third, and relatedly, Van Der Molen ignores the ecumenical relations that governed the churches that revised the Belgic Confession. He concludes by stating it is time now “for the Reformed churches to recover the Reformed confessions, Belgic 36 incuded.” Well, how about the American revisions to the Westminster Confession? Does Van Der Molen really want to recover that confession? Or how about the ecumenical relations that may bring tensions between the existing Belgic 36 and OP Confession 23? Did the CRC or GKN (or the Covenanters, for that matter) ever make teaching on the civil magistrate the basis for fraternal relations? Have the URC and OPC objected to the other communion’s teachings on the civil magistrate in attempting to produce a psalter-hymnal? Has Westminster California or Mid-America Seminary ever required its Orthodox Presbyterian ministers to own the Belgic’s teaching on the magistrate and forsake their own communion’s confession?

To my knowledge, the answer is no. But Van Der Molen seems to think that Belgic 36 now needs to govern all the Reformed believers. Why? Three syllables, two words: culture wars. Theonomy, the religious right, and certain varieties of neo-Calvinism (including the Federal Vision) are all reactions to the perceived secularization of the United States in a period known as “Post-Protestant America.” Conversely, 2k is a set of arguments with the aim of steering the churches away from “putting their trust in princes.” Both have developed at the same cultural moment. One has a very narrow reading of Reformed history. The other does not.

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292 thoughts on “Van Der Molen Pulls Up and Chats A While

  1. The fact that, despite evidence to the contrary, the anti-2Kers claim that somehow 2kers want to see God’s word flouted, and Christ’s kingdom reduced, and the gospel denied. may reveal more about the anti-2kers debatable agenda for the church than they realize.

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  2. Thank you DGH for realizing your limits on commentary on the 3FU, although you have as much right to comment as anyone who doesn’t subscribe to comment…

    If only another 100 people I could list would put such limits on themselves…

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  3. Thanks for this Darryl. As I said elsewhere, here we are fighting over an issue of Reformed social thought and how to apply principles. And now, out of nowhere, we are all getting beat over the head concerning the confessional binding nature of a footnote, it is claimed, that most have never considered let alone incorporated as that which “must” be preached.

    Our Church Order states that we are to preach the Word of God as summarized in the Three Forms. And as I have heard men (Dr. K) in our tradition suggest when it comes to catechism preaching, it’s a false dichotomy to say that our confessions are not Scripture since they are de facto the truth of Scripture. So I guess we’re all just to roll over and accept that this footnote must be taken as the binding authoritative interpretation of Scripture that we must preach exactly as VanderMolen and Kloosterman have “interpreted” it. Be curious to know how many have preached the footnote as part of the confession in the URCNA? Everyone after all should have been doing this from the beginning, I guess. Shame on all of us this wasn’t so clear.

    BUT, the real hypocrisy of all this is that those who are leading this agenda were those completely silent and actually fought against defending the URCNA against the Federal Vision (or NPP). These same people barked at giving any greater status (if they had to give any) to the Nine Points than “pastoral advice”? Last I checked, the FV was an issue of attack on the gospel itself. But all it got for status was “advice” since, it was argued, there was still too much fear of what the CRC did with hierarchal moves and extra confessional statements that ultimately drove many of us out.

    But that is not the case when it comes to Reformed social thought. Kloosterman and MVM have latched onto some insurmountable conclusion, they assume, and are charging that anyone who disagrees with them are taking exception to the confession. Didn’t Jesus deal a lot with people building fences around the law with their interpretations? And when we question, all we get are arguments from silence in our own adoption process. Kloosterman cannot provide direct evidence as to where in the minutes we adopted (except in telling us only “not” said) the particular version of Belgic or the 76 Psalter. Arguments from silence make me feel like I being bullied by a wordsmith. But I guess we’re just blowing smoke?

    If you want to go even further into the inconsistency, look at his committee report on the level of doctrinal commitment. Let me quote Kloosterman, “SINCE NO ENGLISH VERSION OF THESE CONFESSIONS HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY ADOPTED, WE ARE USING THOSE FOUND IN THE 1959 EDITION OF THE PSALTER HYMNAL” (Acts, London 2010, 693). Huh? Did he forget his own report??? This should settle this.

    But, hey, don’t let them stop him stop in defending MVM who is making a footnote from 1958 in the CRC the hill to die on. Take it to the courts!

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  4. There wasn’t much support for this cause in the blogosphere, I would much enjoy stating the extent of it, but that would make it too sad…

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  5. I would not enjoy seeing how many in my URC church would angrily demand a return to Constantinian civil rule…

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  6. “Or how about the ecumenical relations that may bring tensions between the existing Belgic 36 and OP Confession 23? Did the CRC or GKN (or the Covenanters, for that matter) ever make teaching on the civil magistrate the basis for fraternal relations? Have the URC and OPC objected to the other communion’s teachings on the civil magistrate in attempting to produce a psalter-hymnal? Has Westminster California or Mid-America Seminary ever required its Orthodox Presbyterian ministers to own the Belgic’s teaching on the magistrate and forsake their own communion’s confession? ”

    This is a great point. I know the following is informal and anecdotal, but on a number of occasions I have talked to URC folk about both the common ground and distinctions between the OPC and its standards over against the URC. Not once have I ever heard that we have differing perspectives on the role of the magistrate. I also highly doubt that the churchmen of the URC and the OPC see a difference here. I appreciate Rev. Gordon’s contribution and I wonder if there are other URC officers who could comment.

    I could be wrong, but my guess is that Mark V is putting himself out on the fringe of the URC.

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  7. Re: The URC. Keep in mind that a lot of URC Churches (at least in Iowa, I can’t speak for other places), are in counties that are probably at least 70% Republican. Some of these folks probably never encounter someone who disagrees with them on conservative Republican Party politics. Then these “pointy headed academics” (sorry D.G., sorry Van Drunen) come along and dare question their previously unquestioned assumptions on the relationship of church and state. They counter with their own pointy headed academics (Kloosterman, Venema) and it’s game on. This really doesn’t need to be something that splits our churches because it is really of interest to a minority and is over most people’s heads, but it probably at least deserves mention in the revision of Frame’s “Machen’s Warrior Children”. Oh wait, Frame already wrote “The Escondido Theology – A Reformed Response to Two Kingdoms Theology”. Such a humble title…

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  8. Ooh, the Bayly’s even get off an anti-Hart & Gamble blast in their introduction:

    “Why pay Hillsdale profs $100,000 to convert our children to Objectivism, R2Kism, or Roman Catholicism”

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  9. Bayly’s vision is a college for people who want to be in the same town as the Indiana University, going to a church that is near Indiana University, being involved in that church’s student ministry at Indiana University, taking some classes at Indiana University, yet be a student of a Christian College. It’s an idea, but this is why we go to church on Sunday, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel in a “Christian” fashion.

    When these students graduate and get a job are they going to also have a “Christian” shadow job at the same time?

    Bayly also takes some pot shots at Christian colleges — look out Dordt, Calvin, Central, Hope, Northwestern, etc. etc. Apparently only “little Christian brother” is the valid model now (New St. Andrews/University of Idaho/Washington State or Athanasius/Indiana).

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  10. “We believe that godly teachers are essential to student growth. This belief underlies our commitment to the tutorial model of teaching, which requires students to interact closely with an older scholar in a group setting.”

    Tim Bayly is one of the Theology “scholars”. If my kid “interacted closely” with “older scholar Bayly” for four years I don’t think I would be able to let him back in my house. He would be raging about “Sodomites” and trying to censor me every time I dared disagree with him.

    http://athanasiuscollege.com/

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  11. “a lot of URC Churches (at least in Iowa, I can’t speak for other places), are in counties that are probably at least 70% Republican.”

    Welcome to NW Iowa. Wikipedia says the following about Sioux County:

    The county is historically Republican in Presidential elections.[8] The last Democrat to carry the county was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.[9] In 1992, Sioux County was one of only two counties in the nation to give George H.W. Bush over 70% of their vote.[10] In the four elections since then, the Republican candidates has never received less than 75% of the county’s vote.[11] It is located in what was, up until 2013, Iowa’s 5th congressional district which had a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+9 and was represented by Republican Steve King. King won the seat in Iowa’s new 4th congressional district in the 2012 election[12] with 53% of the district’s vote, with 83% of Sioux County votes going for King.[13]

    But that can’t be the typical URC experience, can it?

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  12. Is that the school where they put one of those dog-shock collars on you if you want to instruct, then tell you not to worry about the reason for this.

    Erik, download and spin a Bayly sermon, you won’t believe your ears.

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  13. Erik, it’s a small world. James and I went to the same start-up PCA church in Iowa City when I was in law school. And we had some not-lame small group discussion as well.

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  14. MM,

    Fabulous teacher. His “Twentieth Century European Crisis” is the best course I took in 4 years there. Under the heading of what might have been, if Kennedy (he was just passing through) and Hart (almost got hired) had been my history professors there for 4 years I very well could have ended up a history Ph.D, instead of a money-grubbing CPA. I was a history major (twice) but graduated in business with stops in English (as a freshman) and biology (as a sophomore) as well. It’s complicated, but I did manage to get done in 4 years (plus a summer class at ISU after I went through graduation). I needed someone to pull me aside and say “settle down”. I still do.

    The best part was getting a pre-med scholarship as a sophomore, working at a nursing home over the summer, accompanying a guy who fell to the ER to get stitches, deciding on the basis of that that I didn’t want to be a doctor, and giving the scholarship back and changing my major back to history. It’s an interesting time of life. Someone needed to say, “You can be a doctor and not work in an ER”.

    Now I’ve been married to the same woman for 20 years and had the same job for 16 so it’s gotten better.

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  15. “Good to see positive news out of Pella.”

    There’s an OPC work in Pella and many in town don’t know what to make of it. Some think it is baptistic, others get confused over “orthodox.” Of course, many are deeply rooted in their churches notwithstanding theological drift. They say the OPC is the little church with the big mouth but maybe we aren’t loud enough. Or maybe there’s an insular tendency among the Dutch.

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  16. mikelmann, the OPC would be my second choice.

    Maybe would have been my first if there was a local viable option…

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  17. MM – They say the OPC is the little church with the big mouth

    Erik – Tom seconds that. Except he would substitute “itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, can’t even see it on a microscope” for “little”.

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  18. Study Committee Report Referred to the churches by Synod Escondido of the United Reformed Churches in North America, 2001

    Esteemed brothers, With gratitude to God we present to Synod Escondido 2001 this study of documents that form the official ecclesiastical identity of the United Reformed Churches in North America and of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Our study was conducted under the mandate issued by Synod St. Catharines 1997, namely, That synod appoint a committee to study the Confessional Standards, Form of Government, Book of Discipline, and Directory of Worship of the OPC with regard to the similarities and differences between them and the Confessional Standards and Church Order of the URCNA in order to work toward ecclesiastical unity with the OPC. . . (Minutes of Synod 1997, pp. 10-11).
    https://www.urcna.org/urcna/StudyReports/URCNA-OPC%20Study%20Committee%20Report.pdf

    There’s no mention of a difference on the role of the magistrate.

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  19. Matthew Tuininga tries to reason with Tim Bayly…with predictable results.

    http://baylyblog.com/blog/2013/06/can-you-see-real-me-me-me-me-me

    The most interesting exchange is the first two comments:

    Submitted by rcjr on June 5, 2013 – 10:14pm

    Just a guess but could he mean that the magistrate is duty bound to not disobey the ten commandments? That is, the magistrate, because he is human, is required to submit to God’s law. His office, however, is not required to enforce obedience to this table or that of others?

    Submitted by Tim Bayly on June 5, 2013 – 10:48pm

    Dear RC,

    I’m guessing that’s what he’s saying, but imagine the simple Christian trying to decipher such hieroglyphics. As I said, here’s a man who can simultaneously scoff at those Christians who call the civil magistrate to submit to the authority of God’s Law and Word in his work while not disputing that the civil magistrate should submit to the authority of God’s Law and Word in his play and while he sleeps at night.

    My comment – R.C. (Sproul?) Jr., gets it and summarizes it in three sentences. Bayly gets it, too, but then dismisses it because the “simple Christian” could never understand it. But it only took R.C., Jr. 3 sentences to explain it. This is priceless.

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  20. Erik, my analogy might date me (no one else does *rimshot*), but I’m thinking of William F. Buckley conversing with Snooki.

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  21. Erik that’s hilarious. Bayly is so controlling he is editing Matt’s comments:

    [NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: Mr. Tuininga here links to a blog where the bloggers don’t allow readers’ to question or correct what they write (as Mr. Tuininga has been allowed to do above). When the site begins to allow corrections and disagreement, Baylyblog will allow them links here.]

    Wouldn’t you just love to live in a country governed by a bunch of Tim Baylys? That smoke in the air is coming from burning books, with the works of VanDrunen, Hart, and Clark thrown on first.

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  22. [NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: Mr. Tuininga here links to a blog where the bloggers don’t allow readers’ to question or correct what they write (as Mr. Tuininga has been allowed to do above). When the site begins to allow corrections and disagreement, Baylyblog will allow them links here.]

    Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.

    Boy that is rich.

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  23. For the record, there is a duly constituted Liturgical Forms committee in the URCNA. For those of you with login-access to URCNA.org, there is an 83 page pdf posted with the committees work to date. “Still in Process” is the work of officially adopting English translations of 3FU for anticipated publication in the new URC/OPC Psalter Hymnal. FYI, this link probably won’t work for anyone, it goes directly to a pdf behind a firewall. Of course, if you’re nice to me (and like our church’s Facebook page), I might send you a copy.

    https://www.urcna.org/sysfiles/member/custom/file_retrieve.cfm?memberid=303&customid=6057

    The committee is chaired by Danny Hyde (Oceanside URC), and as he has pointed out recently, there are ecclesiastical routes available to settle any concerns about the official English text of BC 36. If you have a churchly dog in this hunt, you or your consistory is welcome to send him correspondence on the matter, and the committee will consider it (dandkjhyde_at_gmail_dot_com).

    By the way, I am a member of the committee, and if I am not mistaken I believe we are planning on bringing a report to the 2014 URCNA Synod making recommendations official English language versions of our confessional documents.

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  24. D.G. – Erik, Old Bob alert!

    Erik – Yeah, I had that one coming. Imagine me when I’m 80.

    “You young people are a bunch of punks. Me, my wife, and our 37 grandchildren would have shown you a thing or two back in the day!”

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  25. Brian – FYI, this link probably won’t work for anyone, it goes directly to a pdf behind a firewall.

    Erik – Tom would say that’s fitting for us as Calvinists.

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  26. Brian,

    By the time Dr. K gets done with his exegesis he won’t be satisfied unless you are making a Dutch version official. I’m a nerd and there is no way even I am reading everything he has posted on it of late.

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  27. We’d all be much better off if we were reading Calvijn in the original Dutch. Just saying.

    Speaking of which, wasn’t the Belgic written in French?

    What we really need is a church that conducts all its official business in Latin. That way there would be no confusion.

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  28. Erik: But with Randy, Dr.K, DTM, and Doug on his team Mark can move mountains!

    I see him trying to recruit a newly established URC man on Matthew’s site.

    If only I could grasp what the problem is without having to read 10,000 words from people who are clearly off on their own tangent…

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  29. Kent,

    If you’re referring to Godfrey, I think that’s Bob (President of Westminster Seminary) Godfrey’s son. If he’s new to the URC then Doug is new to Theonomy. I could be wrong, though.

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  30. Brian Lee posted June 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm: “We’d all be much better off if we were reading Calvijn in the original Dutch. Just saying. Speaking of which, wasn’t the Belgic written in French? What we really need is a church that conducts all its official business in Latin. That way there would be no confusion.”

    Come on, guys!

    Is there anyone anywhere in the URC arguing that anyone, even seminary students, should be required to read theological Dutch? That was the old CRC position at Calvin Seminary, I think it still is the position of the Protestant Reformed Seminary, and it may be the position of the Puritan Reformed Seminary. Mid-America could have gone in that direction when it started, and a lot of the older elders and ministers back in the 1980s would have been happy, but it didn’t choose that route.

    And arguing that somebody wants to see widespread resurrection of the use of Latin is just silly. I don’t know any Reformed people outside of the Moscow men who advocate that.

    There are real differences between the 2Kers and anti-2Kers, or if you prefer, neo-Anabaptists and neo-Calvinists, but use of Dutch and Latin isn’t one of them.

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  31. Kent, thanks for your concern 🙂

    There is a lot that MVM and I would probably not agree on, but I wanted to have as civil a conversation as possible since he is a brother in the Lord and a fellow office-bearer in the church. Not much meaningful dialog takes place otherwise, it seems to me.

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  32. No problem Bill, I”m just taking an observation seat on this deal. I don’t see what the tempest is about, and I’ve done all the reading I care to on it…

    Civil discussion is always to be sought, despite the terrible handicaps of doing it on the internet.

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  33. DTM,

    Not only having the Confessions in Dutch, but conducting worship in Dutch. And only allowing Dutch letters at coffee time.

    It reveals your conspiratorial mindset that you have no clue what is a joke and what isn’t.

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  34. Erik, you need to get out more.

    Three decades ago, there were people who really were advocating some of the viewpoints talked about here regarding use of Dutch. Narrowminded ethnocentric Dutch bigots existed who were still in that day decrying the loss of the Dutch language, and arguing that to be truly Reformed, dominees needed to know Dutch. Such views were present even among some of the moderate conservatives, and I had a discussion with one of them last month who still regrets loss of the Dutch language among younger ministers since he really does think that the Dutch theologians are much better than anything in English.

    Mid-America made a deliberate decision not to go in that direction, and to be an American seminary rather than following the model of the Protestant Reformed and Canadian Reformed of emphasizing the need for at least a reading competence in Dutch to be able to read Dutch theologians in the original languages.

    That, and several related decisions, made a major difference in the development of the conservative wing of the Christian Reformed Church.

    Maybe Dr. Lee was joking. I hope he was.

    But for some of us who were fighting those battles of whether the Christian Reformed conservatives would be Dutch first or Reformed first, they weren’t jokes back then. Some things which today would be unthinkable were back then being seriously debated. In hindsight, the answer may seem obvious, but I am not at all sure those decisions could not have gone the other way, knowing the people and personalities involved.

    Let’s just say if the conservatives had made a different set of decisions back in the 1980s, today’s URC would be much smaller, you would not be in it, and most though certainly not all of the CRC seceders in Canada would probably have ended up in the Canadian Reformed Churches.

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  35. If you want to flummox a critic of “Radical Two-Kingdoms Theology” (R2K, or as Mark Van Der Molen has taken to calling it, “Neo-2K” – no doubt a twist on the Neocalvinist label that he dislikes), ask them what just old plain 2K is. I have been asking this frequently lately and have yet to hear an answer, in spite of the critics constant assurances that they are only opposing the “radical” strain of 2K.

    About the only thing I’ve heard critics say is that they do not favor the Magistrate administering the sacraments or killing heretics. The former is no more affirming of 2K than Pope Boniface VIII’s “Unam Sanctam” and the latter still falls far short of the revisions of Westminster 23 or Belgic 36 on the Civil Magistrate. So I ask again, just what is plain old vanilla 2K?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unam_sanctam

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  36. Van der Molen’s analysis suggests that he envisions a government very different from that prescribed in our Constitution. I wonder then how he continues to maintain his standing to practice law, given that he has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Such an oath extends not just to his conduct in a representative capacity, but also to private conduct. After all, how can one advocate for theocracy (which he seems to be doing), and still say that one upholds the Constitution?

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  37. Okay, Erik, I’ll bite.

    What is a “plain vanilla” version of “Two Kingdoms” theology as opposed to “Radical 2K” or “Escondido 2K” or whatever we want to call it?

    Some Two Kingdoms advocates limit their objections to the church as institute taking positions on political issues but say they have no problem with individual Christians organizing political parties, political action committees, or other similar groups outside the institutional church. I heard that argument at the OPC General Assembly a couple of times in the 1990s.

    I’m sure we can both think of extreme cases where it would be sin for the church as institute not to take a position on political issues, but in general, that version of “Two Kingdoms” theology is fine with me. It seems to be in clear congruence with the intent of the Westminster Confession and the limits of the competence of the courts of the church, and it is certainly compatible with a Kuyperian view of sphere sovereignty, though not required by it.

    I’ve been saying that for a very long time.

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  38. David and Kent, but we INTJs are models of old-lifery:

    Other people may have a difficult time understanding an INTJ. They may see them as aloof and reserved. Indeed, the INTJ is not overly demonstrative of their affections, and is likely to not give as much praise or positive support as others may need or desire. That doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t truly have affection or regard for others, they simply do not typically feel the need to express it. Others may falsely perceive the INTJ as being rigid and set in their ways. Nothing could be further from the truth, because the INTJ is committed to always finding the objective best strategy to implement their ideas. The INTJ is usually quite open to hearing an alternative way of doing something.

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  39. Hey Doug,

    I wasn’t trying to make fun of you with my Billy Graham comment, more like making fun of the idea Billy Graham staying out of politics. Never been a big Graham fan if you haven’t guessed.

    Darrell: Some Two Kingdoms advocates limit their objections to the church as institute taking positions on political issues but say they have no problem with individual Christians organizing political parties,

    Todd: This is the only 2k view I am familiar with. Are there really pastors and elders out there in the name of 2k telling individual Christians they should not support certain conservative political causes? Seems to me that is not genuine 2k, but is this a straw man, or have you actually seen or experienced this?

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  40. Rev. Todd Bordow posted June 14, 2013 at 10:27 pm: “Are there really pastors and elders out there in the name of 2k telling individual Christians they should not support certain conservative political causes? Seems to me that is not genuine 2k, but is this a straw man, or have you actually seen or experienced this?”

    Let’s ask Steve Zrimec (ZRim), for example. He posted this on another thread today, June 14, 2013 at 8:36 pm: “But there was a time when even Jerry Falwell was 2k-ish. During the 1950s and early 60s he refused to weigh in over civil rights on SOTC sounding grounds. But then the late 60s happened, and the cultural tide turned, and soon out popped the Moral Majority. One might say he was conveniently 2k when the culture was in his segregationist favor, as in go 2k when the particular forces you oppose are clamoring for the wheel and take the pious high ground, but once it begins appear they will gain cultural ascendancy go anti-2k culture warrior and fight fire with fire. But, Tom, a real 2ker doesn’t blow to and fro with the worldly winds. He sticks to his spiritual principles, even when his earthly side is winning. And that’s because he’s learned not to put too much stock in the cares of this world, not because he doesn’t care but because this world is fleeting. It’s a matter of putting provisional life into eternal perspective. Why is that so odious to you?”

    Let’s ask ZRim a few questions.

    Zrim, you were a deacon in the Christian Reformed Church. The CRC has explicit stances against abortion, not only against church members getting abortions but also against the state legalizing abortion. If you had been a delegate to synod, would you have voted for the CRC’s position on abortion? Why or why not?

    Zrim, you’ve just made some fairly critical comments about Jerry Falwell’s stances on racism and civil rights. Let’s ask what you would do in the 1860s or the 1960s.

    Would you support a resolution before the General Assembly of your denomination in 1861 arguing that slavery, as practiced in the United States, was sin and should be abolished by the government?

    Would you support an overture before the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church that it was sin for Timothy Christian School in Cicero not to admit covenant children from a predominantly black Christian Reformed church three miles away, forcing them instead to be bused 30 miles one-way to Des Plaines Christian School? And what would you have done, if you were a delegate to synod, when Timothy Christian School was hit with a civil rights lawsuit, and the Synodical Committee on Race Relations “gave its moral and financial support to the suit” against the school by the Chicago West Side Christian School Association, an action that led to calls by three Christian Reformed classes to reprimand SCORR for its action?

    These are real cases, not hypotheticals. I’d be very interested in your answer, and the rationale behind your answer.

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  41. Hi David R, pleased to meet you, thought there might be a few on an OPC/URC dominated forum.

    Erik might be one as well…

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  42. Thanks Zrim, most of the auditors at the big accounting firm were INTJs. When I have to sit down and stop stalling and get things done, I flip to a J.

    The NBA has taken to this testing and most scouted players have been rated for about 25 years now.

    The only INTP tested amongst thousands was Dikembe Mutombo, an interesting person, not a great player.

    They found that a large set of the greats from the 80s to present are ISTP.

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  43. Kent, it’s true; not too many INTP athletes. I think ’cause we’re not too aware of our surroundings. I think I heard Tiger Woods was an INTP.

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  44. David R., my teammates and coaches always told me that I was trying to think about all of the possibilities of a given situation instead of simply reacting as it occurred.

    It was and still is always nice to have other people conclude that I was more of a thinker than I truly was.

    Not sure that Erik is an extrovert; does typing a lot on the internet qualify as a social or isolated recharging of the batteries? I think the latter. but haven’t read an update on the test to see what they say about that hobby.

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  45. David R, a difficult time occurs when people find out that I’m “religious” and start asking how someone like me, who logically mulls over all the angles when I care to, could believe in God or an outside force that could direct me in thought and action in attempts to sanctify.

    It’s not easy coming up with a useful answer in those moments…

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  46. DTM, as I asked at Erik’s blog, what is the difference between the good and the bad 2k? I suspect it is going to be that the old 2k supported Falwell and company. The new 2k doesn’t see support for political conservatism or participating in the culture wars as a religious duty.

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  47. DTM, have you ever read Machen?

    On Prohibition

    In the first place, no one has a greater horror of the evils of drunkenness than I or a greater detestation of any corrupt traffic which has sought to make profit out of this terrible sin. It is clearly the duty of the Church to combat this evil.

    With regard to the exact form, however, in which the power of civil government is to be used in this battle, there may be difference of opinion. Zeal for temperance, for example, would hardly justify an order that all drunkards should be summarily butchered. The end in that case would not justify the means. Some men hold that the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act are not a wise method of dealing with the problem of intemperance, and that indeed those measures, in the effort to accomplish moral good, are really causing moral harm. I am not expressing any opinion on this question now, and did not do so by my vote in the Presbytery of New Brunswick. But I do maintain that those who hold the view that I have just mentioned have a perfect right to their opinion, so far as the law of our Church is concerned, and should not be coerced in any way by ecclesiastical authority. The Church has a right to exercise discipline where authority for condemnation of an act can be found in Scripture; but it has no such right in other cases. And certainly Scripture authority cannot be found in the particular matter of the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act.

    Moreover, the Church, I hold, ought to refrain from entering in its corporate capacity, into the political field. Chapter XXXI, Article iv, of the Confession of Faith reads as follows: “Synod and Councils are to handle or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical; and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.” . . .

    In making of itself, moreover, in so many instances primarily an agency of law enforcement, and thus engaging in the duties of the police, the Church, I am constrained to think, is in danger of losing sight of its proper function, which is that of bringing to bear upon human souls the sweet and gracious influences of the gospel. Important indeed are the functions of the police, and members of the Church, in their capacity as citizens, should aid by every proper means within their power in securing the discharge of those functions. But the duty of the Church in its corporate capacity is of quite a different nature. (1926)

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  48. As far as being an extrovert goes, out of 25-30 cell phone in our company I always have the lowest number of minutes and texts – usually 200-300. Whatever “extroversion” I have, you get it here.

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  49. kent,

    David R, a difficult time occurs when people find out that I’m “religious” and start asking how someone like me, who logically mulls over all the angles when I care to, could believe in God or an outside force that could direct me in thought and action in attempts to sanctify.

    I used to interact occasionally on a facebook INTP forum. When “religion” ever came up there, it was also to bash it. They were always surprised that anyone of their ilk could be a believer.

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  50. Understood DR, the forum at intpcentral isn’t encouraging (like that ever stopped me on a mission) and often reverts to extreme blasphemy upon any mention of God.

    2 Cor 2:14-17

    and I knew Erik was an I and T, or I wouldn’t keep talking to him…

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  51. Urk (how they would pronounce Erik where I live) — I actually left a on comment on the “Excorcist” post (which I tipped you on) at your blog…a video link no less. Did you miss it?

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  52. Bayly acts as if there was no sodomy or abortion in Machen’s day. There was.

    I have a distant relative who was likely introduced to sodomy at Princeton not long after WWII. He met Eastern blue bloods during the war and they helped get him in.

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  53. “A daily dose of Bayly is great for reinforcing your 2K convictions.” -Erik

    Really? Does a daily dose of pornography help one gain a better appreciation of one’s marriage? It strikes me that the Baylys are little more than cult leaders masquerading as Christians. Sometimes it’s better to leave fools to themselves.

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  54. Bobby, a lot of things on a site as well-meaning as this are obvious error.

    Seeing the bugbears and hobgoblins or anti-2K folk points out areas of comic concern. I then go back to Scripture and other good sources of help to see their error and sometimes realize they could be right.

    The real problems I have with my Reformed faith cannot be introduced or discussed with these people, their surface knowledge, and clownish antics, cannot hit those depths. That requires direct contact with people in my church, elders and members.

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  55. Dr. Hart, I believe the fundamental difference between abortion (and most other current issues in the “culture wars”) and the older fight on prohibition is that God forbids abortion but he does not forbid alcohol.

    A case can be made that Scripture not only recommends but actually requires use of alcohol in certain circumstances, i.e., for personal health and for communion. Personally I don’t drink alcohol (and I’m not convince it’s mandated for communion, though I don’t object either to its use or non-use) but I am not allowed by Scripture to condemn those who do use alcohol unless they become guilty of drunkenness, and then I can and should speak out strongly against their sin.

    I can think of a long list of political issues on which I think Scripture may have some bearing, but on which we don’t have sufficient certainty to say “thus says the Lord.”

    However, where God has spoken, we should not fear to speak God’s words after him.

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  56. DTM, try imagining what it was like to oppose Prohibition in Machen’s day. The PCUSA and Billy Sunday for that matter believed the Bible was clear about alcohol. Just because you have 20-20 hindsight does not make Machen’s position as easy as you think.

    Plus, if you with what the Bible requires — Doug’s territory — adultery is a capital offense. Now what do you do?

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  57. Are then Christianity and culture in a conflict that is to be settled only by the destruction of one or the other of the contending forces? A third solution, fortunately, is possible–namely consecration. Instead of destroying the arts and sciences or being indifferent to them, let us cultivate them with all the enthusiasm of the veriest humanist, but at the same time consecrate them to the service of our God. Instead of stifling the pleasures afforded by the acquisition of knowledge or by the appreciation of what is beautiful, let us accept these pleasures as the gifts of a heavenly Father. Instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God. J. Gresham Machem
    http://www.reformedliterature.com/machen-christianity-and-culture.php

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  58. Bobby – Does a daily dose of pornography help one gain a better appreciation of one’s marriage?

    Erik – The equivalent would be looking at gay porn featuring 350 pound men. That would help me thank my lucky stars for my marriage.

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  59. Context Randy, context. Machen is discussing scholarship and intellectual pursuits, not politics. You guys salivate when someone talks about making “the world subject to God”, but he’s not on your side. Read the whole essay.

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  60. Dr. Hart, you asked me, and quite justifiably, to imagine what it was like to oppose prohibition in Machen’s day.

    I think the Christian Reformed Church went through those battles over drinking and smoking with American church life in the form of Baptists, Methodists and (even) Presbyterians. I’ve read some of the old discussions by Dutchmen of the foibles of American church life and why parents ought to teach young people lest they be “lost to the world,” by which the Dutch often meant not becoming an atheist but becoming “Methodistical.” In those days, “Methodistical” was a term used by the Dutch about the same way Reformed people today use the term “broad evangelical.”

    I live in the Bible Belt where alcohol is still a live issue. I am married to a Korean whose church culture was defined by New School Presbyterianism of the late 1800s, including its teaching on total abstinence from alcohol, which has specific relevance in a Korean context with a massive rate of alcohol consumption among men in secular social and business life. My wife had to take Wheaton College’s pledge of no drinking when she went there; my daughter attends a Christian junior high school connected to a church where alcohol consumption is utterly verboten for members.

    Let’s just say it’s not easy for me to defend the doctrine of Christian freedom when it involves the right of Christians to drink alcohol. I avoid the fight when I can, but I can’t always avoid it, and I’ll defend Christian freedom when I need to do so, even if it marks me as a “second-class lukewarm Christian” in the minds of a lot of people. For others, they think (incorrectly) that my defense of alcohol is somehow retaining vestiges of my Italian Catholic cultural heritage. A few people who understand Iowa or West Michigan and who know my background say something like this: “Oh, he’s one of those Dutchmen. They’re sort of like Lutherans. Leave him alone; Hollanders aren’t liberals, they just have some funny views about things.”

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  61. One of the reasons that McIntyre left the OPC to form the BPC was he couldn’t handle it that the OPC was attracting Europeans like Van Til and Murray who smoked and drank. Go Europeans.

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  62. DTM, now go one step farther and imagine how it is right to protect human life but debatable how to do that as a society (much less requiring uniformity on the policy among Christians). Just because someone favors separation of church and state doesn’t mean they have no morals. Just because you appeal to Christian freedom doesn’t mean you condone drunkenness.

    In the words of Gale Snoats, “think about it.”

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  63. DTM, I’m not one much for the sort of hypotheticals you provide. I will say that I am both morally and politically opposed to elective abortion. The church has spiritual jurisdiction over her members and should bring discipline to bear on those who unrepentantly have or provide elective abortions. The church has no jurisdiction over the state and should remain entirely silent on how reproductive legislation is handled.

    I won’t weigh in on the Christian school hypothetical. The church isn’t called to academics in the first place. Maybe all that could have been avoided if that was understood.

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  64. Zrim posted June 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm: “DTM, I’m not one much for the sort of hypotheticals you provide. I will say that I am both morally and politically opposed to elective abortion. The church has spiritual jurisdiction over her members and should bring discipline to bear on those who unrepentantly have or provide elective abortions. The church has no jurisdiction over the state and should remain entirely silent on how reproductive legislation is handled. I won’t weigh in on the Christian school hypothetical. The church isn’t called to academics in the first place. Maybe all that could have been avoided if that was understood.”

    Okay, let’s focus on the abortion issue, not Christian education or a Christian response to racism. I’m okay with limiting the scope of the debate to how the spheres of the church and the civil magistrate should respond to a sin such as abortion, one which involves taking human life.

    Let’s unpack these sentences by you: “The church has spiritual jurisdiction over her members and should bring discipline to bear on those who unrepentantly have or provide elective abortions. The church has no jurisdiction over the state and should remain entirely silent on how reproductive legislation is handled.”

    Unlike the Christian Reformed Church in which you previously served as a deacon, the United Reformed Churches in which you are now a member do not, as far as I know, have an official position on abortion, so there’s not an official position statement of your synod to which I can refer you on the matter.

    If I read you right, you are saying:

    1) A member of the URCNA should be disciplined who obtains an abortion.

    2) A member of the URCNA should be disciplined who provides an abortion.

    So far, so good. Do we agree that I have I understood you correctly?

    What concerns me is this sentence: “The church has no jurisdiction over the state and should remain entirely silent on how reproductive legislation is handled.”

    I want to know what you mean that the church “should remain entirely silent” on this issue.

    In your view, since the church “should remain entirely silent” —

    1) It is acceptable for a URCNA member to say that he or she is personally opposed to abortion but does not believe the government should make abortion illegal?

    2) It is acceptable for a URCNA officebearer (pastor, elder or deacon) to say that he is personally opposed to abortion but does not believe the government should make abortion illegal?

    3) Is it acceptable for a URCNA member who holds political office to vote for a “pro-choice” position on abortion, i.e., that abortion should be legal for reasons other than the standard exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother?

    4) Is it acceptable for URCNA churches to take offerings for pro-life organizations?

    5) Is it acceptable for URCNA churches to put pro-life literature in the church foyer for members to take?

    6) Is it acceptable for URCNA pastors to preach sermons saying that the civil government should forbid abortion?

    7) Is it acceptable for URCNA pastors to preach sermons saying that the civil government is not required to forbid abortion?

    To answer questions in advance, I will define my own terms.

    By citing the standard three exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother, I am not endorsing abortions on the basis of rape or incest. What I am trying to do is to use the broadest possible definition of what it means to be “pro-life,” allowing for two exceptions which I do not believe are biblically warranted, but which, if we could get laws passed to forbid all abortions except in those three cases, would greatly reduce the number of abortions being performed. I am not including the “health of the mother” exception, which case history has shown beyond doubt has and will be used to include “mental health” and thereby allow elective abortion for mild levels of psychological distress to the mother. This was one of the standard ways abortion was permitted in some states prior to Roe v Wade. This is not an innovative use of terms but rather is standard fare in the pro-life movement, at least as an interim step toward eliminating all abortions except the tiny number, chiefly ectopic pregnancies, which truly are necessary to save the life of the mother and in which current medical technology does not allow saving the life of the unborn child via steps such as a C-section.

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  65. Darrell,

    I havent read the URC’s position on abortion, do they delve into the political aspects, or are they dealing with it as a sin, or both?

    There is nothing wrong in the mainstream of 2k thought for the church to say that abortion, homosexuality, etc. are sinful, and that church members can expect to be held accountable for such sins by the session/consistory. All 2k is saying is that while there is certainly a political component to these sins in the political and cultural landscape, the church is to deal with the sin aspect, calling transgressors to repentance and unbelievers to faith, and from there leaving church members free to approach these matters in the culture or via political activity as their conscience allows.

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  66. and from there leaving church members free to approach these matters in the culture or via political activity as their conscience allows.

    Sounds more like John Locke than John Calvin. Which side were you on again?

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  67. Tom,

    Which side were you on again?

    The Dark Side….of the Moon. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am on my way to a 2k acid dropping party. Erik said he is bringing the black lights, MikelMann has the lava lamp and the Record player.

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  68. Jed Paschall posted June 15, 2013 at 6:46 pm: “Darrell, I havent read the URC’s position on abortion, do they delve into the political aspects, or are they dealing with it as a sin, or both? There is nothing wrong in the mainstream of 2k thought for the church to say that abortion, homosexuality, etc. are sinful, and that church members can expect to be held accountable for such sins by the session/consistory. All 2k is saying is that while there is certainly a political component to these sins in the political and cultural landscape, the church is to deal with the sin aspect, calling transgressors to repentance and unbelievers to faith, and from there leaving church members free to approach these matters in the culture or via political activity as their conscience allows.”

    Jed, as is often the case with relatively new denominations, the URC does not have a lot of “case law” or formal position statements on the books. To my knowledge, the question of abortion has never come before the synod of the URC or any of its classes.

    On the other hand, it is very possible that there may be statements made on abortion by the URC’s predecessor body, the Consistorial Conference/Christian Reformed Alliance/Alliance of Reformed Churches during its many years of URC “prehistory.” While those would give the “sense of the churches” on the matter, I am not sure they would be viewed as having formal authority in the URC today.

    However, the Christian Reformed Church had a solid position on abortion dating back many decades, one which was explicitly pro-life in a political sense, and there were numerous fights over abortion in the CRC by conservative churches trying to force the CRC to enforce its own synodically adopted standards. A number of the people fighting in the CRC on the abortion issue later left the CRC to begin the URC.

    What I think is fairly clear from that history is that the lack of an official statement on abortion — at least lack of one I can find — reflects a consensus in the early days of the URC that abortion was wrong **AND** that it should be prohibited by law. For better or for worse, it is not standard practice in the Dutch Reformed world to adopt position statements apart from a specific need for them to address problems which already exist in the churches, and the URC was clearly unified on its views of abortion in the early years.

    It does not appear that consensus still exists in the URC. What will happen next is anybody’s guess.

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  69. Darrell,

    I think Jed summed up the 2k position fairly well.

    There are a variety of issues where the church and the state have overlapping jurisdictions, meaning that certain conduct may have religious implications (i.e., that it may be sinful) and also have political implications (i.e., that it may be harmful to society). But this does not imply that the jurisdictions necessarily merge. The 2k position is nothing more than the simply proposition that the church’s jurisdiction is independent of the state’s jurisdiction, even if they may overlap in certain respects.

    The opponents of 2k seem to conflate the church’s jurisdiction and the state’s. They seem to advocate that the state should have criminal sanctions that mirror everything that the church condemns as sin, and that Christians are conscience-bound to advocate for the enactment of such criminal sanctions.

    As far as I know, every advocate of 2k on this blog believes that the church should discipline any members who obtain or provide abortions. So, in that sense, we are all “pro life.” But with regard to the question of criminalization (which is within the state’s jurisdiction), we believe that the church has no business seeking to bind the consciences of its charges on such political questions.

    In the same way, the church ought to discipline gluttony. But this certainly doesn’t imply that the church should urge the state to fine people for being overweight. Even the opponents of 2k seem to take a 2k approach to the issue of gluttony. Why is it so hard for them to extend this reasoning to abortion and same-sex marriage? (Of course, I’d guess that advocates of 2k probably have lower BMIs on average than the Culture Warriors.)

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  70. I’m not sure what is accomplished with this endless diatribe against the URCNA.

    If you don’t want to go, don’t bother. If you left, well I guess that’s a good thing.

    Best wishes in finding a church that will meet all your needs…

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  71. Darrell,

    I’ll consider answering your questions, but first:

    (1) What do you mean by “the government”? The Federal government? State governments? How does abortion “become illegal”? If the state governments, how do I lobby state governments in which I do not live?

    (2) Do you favor Presbyterian & Reformed churches disciplining people for being a member of the Democratic party?

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  72. Consider this on Wikipedia regarding Federal law on murder:

    “In the United States, the principle of dual sovereignty applies to homicide as to other crimes. If murder is committed within the borders of a state, that state has jurisdiction. Similarly, if the crime is committed in the District of Columbia (otherwise known as Washington, D.C.), the D.C Superior Court (the equivalent of a state court in the District) retains jurisdiction, though in some cases involving U.S. government property or personnel, the federal courts may have exclusive jurisdiction.”

    Lawyers need to help me out here. Can the Federal government decide that abortion is murder in all fifty states without the consent of those states?

    If not, it’s odd that they can declare it to be legal in all 50 states, thus the bad law that is Roe vs. Wade.

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  73. It may be worth mentioning that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church does have a position on Abortion. This position is directed not only to members of the OPC, or to Christians in general, but to society. Please note that, unlike many reports, this statement was actually adopted by the GA as an official statement of our denomination. The OPC position equates most abortion with murder. If we can not call on the civil magistrate to prevent murder what can we call on civil government to do? http://opc.org/GA/Abortion_GA39.html

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  74. David, GA positions are pious advice. And this one, I believe, generated a protest by other commissioners (who believed the church should not speak on political matters.

    The 1972 Assembly also received a protest regarding the adoption of the majority report’s recommendation signed by Don Duff, Robley Johnston, and Cornelius Tolsma. The protesters asserted that solving ethical problems with “statements of pious advice” was “impossible.” The church needed to deal with concrete rather than abstract or general situations. As such, passing the “Statement on Abortion” set a “dangerous precedent for the passing of other general statements on ethical matters in the future and is regrettable.” In turn the Assembly appointed a committee to draft a response to the protest. Here the appeal was to the Book of Church order and the Council of Jerusalem regarding the power of synods and councils to make determinations for the good of the church. “Granting that resolutions on such cases should be made with discretion and only in matters of great concern,” the response added, “the Assembly reaffirms its right and duty to declare the truth ministerially to the people of God and the world in which we live.” Between the Times

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  75. Bobby, the problem I see with the approach that I see you and Jed articulating is that it appears to leave room open for Bill Clinton’s position that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” as well as the standard liberal Roman Catholic position of “I’m personally opposed to abortion but don’t want to impose my values on others.” That makes room for Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Would any of us want people like that as members of conservative Reformed churches?

    Both positions have been rejected, and quite correctly so, by virtually everyone in conservative Calvinism outside the “Two Kingdoms” movement, as well as by most other evangelicals. Those positions may not be pro-abortion, but they certainly **ARE** pro-choice, and the end result is dead babies.

    I readily grant that some in the “Two Kingdoms” movement, to their credit, take the position that natural law requires the civil government to protect unborn babies, so even if special revelation doesn’t require criminalizing abortion, general revelation does. I don’t agree with that rationale, but to answer previous questions by Erik Charter and Dr. Hart about how I distinguish between different types of 2Kers, that is an example of the distinction I would make between “moderate 2K” and “radical 2K.”

    To name names, I do not believe that Dr. RS Clark and Matt Tuininga are in the same position on this issue of abortion — to their credit — as Dr. Darryl Hart and Steve Zrimec. We need to recognize differences within the “Two Kingdoms” movement.

    “Moderate 2Kers,” as I see things, are those who say that based on the teaching of Romans regarding natural law, the civil magistrate has enough of God’s law written on his heart to implement God-honoring laws via general revelation. I don’t agree with that line of argument — my short answer is that “common sense is not so common” — but I think I can live with it despite my problems with the underlying theology.

    My real problem is with arguments which say, quoting Steve Zrimec, that “the church has no jurisdiction over the state and should remain entirely silent on how reproductive legislation is handled.”

    Or, as Dr. Hart has put things more incisively: “DTM, On the church intermeddling, check out WCF 31.4. On the state and my body, do you favor the prohibition of super-sizing? I thought you were a small govt. conservative. (If so, please explain how a state law against abortion squares with that. Where do you draw the line between a woman’s uterine and my stomach or lungs? ‘It’s obvious’ is not an option.) If you think that abortion is wrong, as I do, how do you what the state is supposed to do? Idolatry is wrong, right? So the state shuts down mosques and cathedrals and synagogues? You still haven’t understood the difference between politics and Christian morality.”

    And yes, Dr. Hart, I am aware of chapters in a book written many years ago by some Westminster-East professors arguing for something similar to your view on abortion. Your view, or at least something similar to it, has been around for a while. That doesn’t make it right. I think it’s fairly clear that the OPC has shifted considerably to the right on the abortion issue over the years, and I think that’s a good thing.

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  76. Tom, so your on the side of the Calvin who had heretics burned? That’s an odd way to defend political rebellion.

    No, it’s that I just figured out your game, Darryl. Perhaps you don’t even realize its contradiction—You play Locke’s influence as corrupting the “true” Calvinism of American Calvinists when it suits your argument against the Revolution, but turn around and argue as Locke would against John Calvin to escape liability for Calvin’s actual theology, which burned heretics.

    FTR, I’m not sure even Locke would be as inert as your theology urges when it comes to enforcing the natural law. [See Chap. 2, Second Treatise.]

    I do think that Locke would leave the First Tablet of the 10 Commandments out of the magistrate’s hands–as they concern man’s duties to God, but would leave the Second Tablet in the magistrate’s hands, as they are the matters of men, and reflect the Natural Law.

    http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/17thcontc.htm

    [In answer to your previous question. I shall continue to hold up my end of the discussion as though you’re holding up yours. The truth seeps out despite the monkey wrenches. Do what you must.]

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  77. DTM, you wrote: “Both positions (Clinton and Pelosi) have been rejected, and quite correctly so, by virtually everyone in conservative Calvinism.” Prove it. I missed the mailing which polled conservative Calvinists on the views of specific theologians.

    My view has precedent and may be wrong. Can you say the same about your view? Why are you making not simply whether I have an abortion a matter of orthodoxy, but how my opposition to it should read? I affirm the confession and catechisms of my church. You keep changing the rules for ordination. That was the issue that led to the founding of the OPC. Your tactics and arguments are exactly those of the PCUSA (whether fundies or liberals).

    Get acquainted with history. Turn of your computer. Read some books.

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  78. Tom, you still misunderstand the argument. I am not necessarily opposed to the Revolution. I am opposed to invoking God’s name or Calvinism to bless it. That’s bad theology and bad history.

    All this time, you thought I opposed independence. I am grateful for it everyday. But I know it’s not because of my Calvinism.

    Look Tom, you should get this better than you do. You expect some kind of consistency from 2kers (even though your own arguments are hardly consistent — are you like Tara?). My politics do not directly flow from my theology. For the Calvinists at the time of the Revolution to have thought so was to misunderstand the Bible and their theological tradition (you know, all those Calvinists who did not support revolution).

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  79. DTM – Both positions have been rejected, and quite correctly so, by virtually everyone in conservative Calvinism outside the “Two Kingdoms” movement, as well as by most other evangelicals.

    Erik – How do you know? You think everyone in Evangelical megachurches is pro life? How would the leaders of those churches know?

    You’re becoming Dan the Illogical Scientist again. Precision, DTM, precision.

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  80. Erik Charter posted June 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm: “Darrell, I’ll consider answering your questions, but first: (1) What do you mean by “the government”? The Federal government? State governments? How does abortion “become illegal”? If the state governments, how do I lobby state governments in which I do not live? (2) Do you favor Presbyterian & Reformed churches disciplining people for being a member of the Democratic party?”

    Fair questions.

    To answer your second question first, no, and here’s why.

    A key difference between both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, on the one hand, and many European parties on the other hand, is the relative lack of party discipline in America. I would say something different if the Democratic Party were, for example, to adopt a national rule requiring all Democrats to formally and explicitly pledge their support for legal abortion on demand. That is not the case and I have trouble seeing it ever become the case without a radical shift in the American political scene.

    The simple fact of the matter is that I know quite a few Southern Baptist, Campbellite, or Pentecostal Democrats here in the Ozarks who are far more conservative than a lot of Republicans — even Christian Reformed Republicans — who I knew up in Michigan.

    In America, candidates — even presidential candidates — are free to dissent from their party platforms. Lots of people, even elected officials, have never even read the official Republican and Democratic party platforms. By contrast, some European political parties will kick an elected official out if he or she votes contrary to the party’s stated stances. Of course, both American political parties have ways to punish people who dissent from the leadership, but especially at the state and local level, being a Republican or Democrat may not mean much agreement with the national agenda of the party.

    On your first question, regarding what I mean by “government” — in principle, Romans 13 is pretty broad, and I mean whatever governing body has authority over the issue. I suppose theoretically that could include even low-level magistrates such a health board or a zoning board implementing regulations which restrict abortion clinics, or a county hospital board deciding whether or not to allow abortions to be performed in their facility.

    However, for our purposes here, let’s narrow the issue to state legislatures and the federal Congress which is where most of the abortion battles get fought.

    Backtracking slightly, do we both agree that abortion is killing a living human being rather than a woman choosing to cut off part of her tissue that is part of her body, just like a woman would have the right to pierce her ears or amputate an infected toe? If so, we agree, from a biblical perspective, that abortion is murder.

    The question, if we agree that abortion is biblically defined as murder, is what the state should do about it.

    Biblically speaking, murder is to be punished by civil authority, is it not?

    You asked me this: “How does abortion ‘become illegal’?”

    Under the American system of government, laws on murder are passed by state legislatures and by Congress, and by longstanding precedent, are subject to review by the courts as to their constitutionality.

    To make abortion illegal, one of two things must happen first: 1) the Supreme Court must change its ruling on Roe v Wade, or 2) a constitutional amendment must be passed to change the constitution and overturn Roe v Wade.

    Option 2, the so-called “human life amendment,” is exceedingly unlikely to pass under current political conditions, which means the only viable methods today to implement Option 1 are to get the Supreme Court justices to change their views (unlikely), to remove bad judges via impeachment (even less likely) or to get good new justices appointed when sitting justices retire, resign, or die. The method of getting new justices appointed requires electing a pro-life president who will appoint pro-life justices and electing senators who will confirm those nominees.

    If Roe v Wade were overturned by the Supreme Court, it wouldn’t immediately make abortion illegal nationwide. Some states have laws which were written with “triggers” to take effect immediately if the Supreme Court changed its rules, but in most cases, states either have very outdated pre-1973 laws which would need to be updated to be enforced, or have deleted their laws on abortion. Unless the Congress were to pass a law making abortion illegal nationwide — which is unlikely but not impossible — we would end up with a checkerboard of abortion laws, with some states allowing abortion more or less the way it’s allowed now, some states putting significant restrictions on abortion, some states putting severe restrictions on abortion, and still other states outlawing abortion except to save the life of the mother.

    I trust it’s clear that there are a lot of practical questions which need to be answered to make abortion illegal. Many of those questions are questions of practical politics which are not the proper province of the institutional church. I don’t have a problem with Christians disagreeing on, for example, whether the best strategy is to push for a Human Life Amendment long-term while using other methods in the short-term, or whether the goal is to replace Supreme Court justices when they retire, or some other method. That is not a question for the institutional church to address, but rather for individual Christians to address.

    What **IS** the proper province of the institutional church is to say that abortion is murder and the civil magistrate needs to prohibit murder. **HOW** the civil magistrate goes about doing that is a matter for legitimate debate, but **WHETHER** the civil magistrate should prohibit murder should not be a question in doubt for Christians.

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  81. No, Erik… you don’t hear crickets. What you hear is that I had dinner with my wife and then fixed her computer when I discovered it got hit by a virus.

    Want some Vietnamese food? I can’t pronounce what we had tonight but it tasted good. One of the nice benefits of being married to an Asian is that it’s like eating out at an expensive restaurant every night. She and her mother (as is typical for Koreans, her elderly parents live with us) are both excellent cooks, and are both good at cooking other types of Asian food, not just Korean food.

    When you ask me a question I will try to answer it. If I don’t, then remind me. But I am not on this website 24-7 and maybe I just didn’t see your question — though in this case I did see your email and was using antivirus software to clean the viruses off my wife’s computer since that was a higher priority.

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  82. DTM,

    You still didn’t answer it.

    I will stop in for some good Asian food should I make it to south central Mo. My boss used to have a house in Branson that I would vacation at. Unfortunately that is no more.

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  83. “Lawyers need to help me out here. Can the Federal government decide that abortion is murder in all fifty states without the consent of those states? If not, it’s odd that they can declare it to be legal in all 50 states, thus the bad law that is Roe vs. Wade.”

    They declared it legal because the US Constitution gives minimal liberties to all US citizens, and abortion is deemed to be one such right. When I say “minimal” I mean state constitutions or statutes can give more liberties.

    Generally criminal matters are decided by state law and in state courts. The potential limits of federal criminal law is murky from my vantage point due to that blasted commerce clause.

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  84. DTM,

    Sorry, I missed your answer up above.

    When you say:

    “Many of those questions are questions of practical politics which are not the proper province of the institutional church”

    and

    “That is not a question for the institutional church to address, but rather for individual Christians to address.”

    and

    When we point to our confessional statements on the 6th commandment.

    What more do you expect from us?

    Anyone who accepts our Confessional statements and understands basic embryology can figure abortion out for themselves.

    A question for you:

    Has your wife ever taken birth control pills? (no written answer required). Birth Control pills can make the womb hostile to pregnancy so that after a woman has stopped taking them there is a chance of miscarriage if she conceives. Are Christian women who take birth control pills potential murderers? Should our churches be speaking against them? Disciplining women who take them? Should this be a question asked on elder visits?

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  85. Darrell,

    Thanks for responding. I have several follow-up comments.

    First, you did not respond to my analogy about gluttony. Conservative Christians are in general agreement that the church has no business urging the state to enact laws that criminalize gluttony. They are quite content to permit this and a number of other political issues to be debated with exclusive reference to general revelation. So, why is abortion different? Why is same-sex marriage different? Why do these particular issues require the church to jettison the 2k approach it employs for every other political issue? What is so special about these issues that requires the church to adopt a different approach and to begin asking the state to enact laws on the basis of God’s special revelation to His covenant people? I don’t see one.

    Second, I believe that all 2k advocates would say that the political propriety of criminalizing abortion ought to be settled with reference to general revelation. Where one ends up on these questions has nothing to do with whether one is “moderate 2k,” as you suggest. I suspect that there’s a fair bit of political disagreement among advocates of 2k on any number of issues, but we don’t carry these disputes into the church and we don’t permit our differences on these issues to undercut our unity in Christ. Because we debate them with reference to general revelation, no one’s faith has to be questioned and no one need fear being tossed out of the church.

    That being said, there are probably certain political views that are inconsistent with a profession of faith. For example, if one were actively promoting abortion in the political realm, then I would probably question whether that person’s faith is genuine. But most of us who disfavor criminalizing abortion do so for reasons similar to those expressed in Dr. Woolley’s minority report to the OPC’s report on abortion. And let’s not forget that erstwhile prohibitions against abortion were difficult to enforce and violations of those laws were difficult to prove. Prosecution was often selective and haphazard, at best. Further, if we were to define life as legally starting at conception, the state would need to investigate every single miscarriage as a potential criminal act. It’s not that I want to promote abortion. To the contrary, I believe that it’s a terrible practice. Yet I believe that efforts to outlaw early-term abortion would require us to create a legal regime that would be even worse than the post-Roe world that we currently live in.

    Third, I don’t understand what you’re getting at by referring to Nancy Pelosi, et al. You seem to be testing the merits of 2k by asking whether it gives you an axe to wield against politicians you dislike. In that sense, it seems that you’re primarily interested in the politics of social conservatism, and are only willing to give credence to the Gospel insofar as it accedes to your political goals. Your implicit admission says more about you than it does about proponents of 2k.

    Lastly, you seem to want a bright line. But tough political issues are tough for a reason. I suspect that many Christians have abandoned 2k arguments on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage precisely because general revelation doesn’t give us the kind of bright-line answers that certain people may desire. For you and many others, this is seen as a deficiency of the 2k position, and it therefore leads you to reject it. For me, I simply see it as part of the reality of living in a fallen world, where we can’t ever create a legal regime that guarantees that every social ill be punished. On something like abortion, I think it makes better sense to take alternative approaches to combat this social ill. The criminal law is not the answer to everything.

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  86. DTM, we’ve actually discussed the last set of questions you put forth (at M&M’s place, as I recall). Not to be a dodgy tool, but I think you know the answers to those questions, and they render my views dangerous and radical to you. But you say this:

    Bobby, the problem I see with the approach that I see you and Jed articulating is that it appears to leave room open for Bill Clinton’s position that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” as well as the standard liberal Roman Catholic position of “I’m personally opposed to abortion but don’t want to impose my values on others.” That makes room for Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Would any of us want people like that as members of conservative Reformed churches?”

    As I’ve said before, I have no problem communing spiritually with those whose politics are not mine. In fact, I bet I do this all the time. What I wonder about someone such as yourself is what is so insufficient about simply opposing another political view with political means, same way one does bring spiritual means to bear on spiritual views and practices? Why bring spiritual means to bear on political views? Square pegs and round holes, seems to me. Try a thought experiment. What would you think of those with opposing political views bringing spiritual means to bear on yours (and mine), i.e. to oppose the legalization of elective abortion is unChristian? I can imagine it can and has been done. As a matter of anecdote, my choicers have implied my political views are misogynistic, etc., which is intended to morally impugn and suggest spiritual hypocrisy. Yawn.

    What 2k helps to do is rise above the confusing of moral and political categories which end up simply baptizing particular politics and demonizing others. I can see how this doesn’t appeal to those convinced their politics are also heaven’s and the other guy’s are from the bowels of hell. But for those of us who fear God and speaking on his behalf where he is silent (RPW alert!) and have no need to have our own politics baptized, as well as those of us who are agnostic on the power and import of politics and legislation, 2k is a balm in Gilead.

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  87. My profession of faith involved the means of Word, Sacraments, and submission to the discipline of the officers of my church.

    I guess one can still pretend they are a believer even if they don’t care to be involved in those matters, or they see them as kind of pathetic and secondary to worrying about the culture at large.

    But my Confessions speak very clearly about that kind of person…

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  88. Zrim – as well as those of us who are agnostic on the power and import of politics and legislation

    DTM,

    If you would seek to discipline those who disagree with your abortion politics, what do you seek for those who are merely apathetic about them? This describes an awful lot of Christian people.

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  89. Tom, you still misunderstand the argument. I am not necessarily opposed to the Revolution. I am opposed to invoking God’s name or Calvinism to bless it.

    I’ve acknowledged that argument numerous times and from the first, Darryl. Perhaps you didn’t notice. However, there is also the argument that Romans 13 forbade the American Revolution. I have presented numerous arguments from the Founding era as to why it does not. God only knows if they’re valid.

    Further, it was a school of theological-political argument that arose from Calvinism that finally broke the hold of “Divine Right of Kings” on Western history. Roman Catholics such as Suarez and Bellarmine argued against it for their own purposes, but the dynamic that revolted against the pope was the same one that revolted against kings.

    The question of revolution is pretty much abstract, academic. The live question is your [radical?] 2K theology. It has a fatalism in common with the Loyalist position, that man should accept whatever comes his way in this world, and that God has no real preference whether we choose this or that in the doings of this world. Afterall, we’ll all be dead soon enough, sent Up or Down; in the long run every concern of this world is a petty concern, and if God wants Y instead of X, then Y will happen, not X.

    True enough, I suppose, but that’s more eastern than western. We are instructed to “offer the other cheek as well,” but that doesn’t mean if someone rapes your wife, you offer him your daughter as well. Mighty Jehovah did not incarnate as Barney the Christosaur.

    For an opponent of your [radical?] 2K theology–for exactly the same reason as Frederick Douglass–I think I’m quite appreciative of your argument: Christ did not come to fix the problems of the world, to wave a magic wand on the human condition. But neither did he come just to bleat platitudes and beatitudes: He healed.

    I respect your abstention from the Manhattan Declaration for theological reasons. But I do not think your mockery is self-evidently in accordance with God’s will either. I don’t see how anyone could be so sure of the correctness of their theology to mock that of others. I guess it’s really my point in all this, Darryl. The mockery part is what they did to Jesus, He didn’t do it to them. He could only say that they know not what they do.

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  90. “Lawyers need to help me out here. Can the Federal government decide that abortion is murder in all fifty states without the consent of those states? If not, it’s odd that they can declare it to be legal in all 50 states, thus the bad law that is Roe vs. Wade.”

    The answer to your first question is probably “no.” The Congress does not have general lawmaking authority. Rather, every law passed by Congress must rest on some explicit power given to Congress in the Constitution. I’m not aware of any provision of the Constitution that would give Congress authority to make such a law. Various pro-life politicians will put such bills forth, but this is done for political show. The lawmakers understand that these laws are flatly unconstitutional. Those who donate to pro-life groups are often ignorant of that fact, however. Often, the offering up of such bills is timed to be coordinated with the fundraising efforts of certain pro-life groups.

    The rights accorded to individuals under the Bill of Rights are generally viewed today as protecting individuals from exercises of federal and state power. Until 1897, federal courts held that the Bill of Rights only protected individuals against exercises of federal authority, and NOT state authority. In 1897, in the Chicago Railroad case, a conservative Supreme Court introduced the “incorporation doctrine,” which held that certain individual rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights also protected individuals against state power.

    So, you are right to recognize the asymmetry. There’s a Wikipedia page on “incorporation of the Bill of Rights” that fairly summarizes the issue.

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  91. Erik, I trust you are aware that birth control pills are a controversial subject for precisely the reasons you raise, i.e., that they may induce early miscarriages. It is not irrelevant that the so-called “morning after pill” is essentially a high-dose birth control pill.

    The science is not clear enough for me to be absolutely certain that the Pill is sinful murdering of babies, and therefore I cannot forbid its use, but the science is more than clear enough for me to strongly discourage its use. Why should we do something which has a realistic chance of killing people for no reason?

    You asked whether elders should ask about birth control during house visitation. That might be a good idea, but at least from what I’ve seen over the years, that’s typically a question which gets asked in a less formal setting — sometimes very rudely, if a young married couple is not yet having children. Spend more time around traditional Dutch churches, Erik, and you’ll see some real horror stories of older women rebuking younger women for not staying home and having lots of children, even if there are medical or other physical issues which make childbearing difficult or impossible.

    We are at the very edge of what I feel comfortable talking about without getting my wife involved. I am not going to get into the issue of our personal marital practices at any level of detail without involving my wife, and I think she will tell me to tell you it’s none of your business since you are not in authority over us. She’s a lot blunter than I am about these matters. Let’s just say you don’t want to deal with her. I would strongly advise you to leave my wife out of online discussions since she, unlike me, is not a public figure.

    What I will tell you is that both of us would strongly discourage the use of the Pill for the reasons you described. But if you ask more questions than that about our personal marital practices, you are not going to get answers — though I think if I had the liberty to answer those questions without giving offense to my wife, you would find my answers — our answers — to be quite consistent and quite conservative.

    My wife is a strong woman in her own right, and we don’t agree about everything, but abortion is a hot-button issue for her. Let’s just say as a clinical psychologist in private practice working almost exclusively with military wives and families, she sees the personal pain and heartbreak that happens when people defy God’s law, much of which she cannot talk about with anyone outside of counseling sessions due to confidentiality issues. I will go no further than that, Erik, and I trust that as a married man you will understand why I do not and would not involve your wife in public discussions of personal marital practices.

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  92. TVD,

    Keep your stick on the ice! DGH is not referring to revolutions in general, but to the one that occurred in the late 1770s in the United States. We can all agree that the Bible does not unequivocally condemn participation in a political revolution, and that there is such a thing as Calvinist resistance theory. But so far you’ve not pointed us to any evidence that there was any substantial causative nexus between these concerns and the American Revolution.

    I’d agree that the principles that animated the American founding were at least partly influenced by various Calvinist thinkers. But Thomas Reid, for example, was as much a humanist as he was a Calvinist, and certainly didn’t view his ideas as particularly bound to a Calvinist religious context. But such an attenuated influence is too remote to support your averment that there’s a causative nexus between Calvinism and the American founding.

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  93. Bobby, I didn’t mean to ignore your question about gluttony. Old Testament civil law, which while no longer binding still has a certain “general equity” about it, did not punish gluttony in most circumstances but did have rules for food practices “in the camp,” i.e., during siege situations or military maneuvers.

    Since I am not a theonomist and do not study the Old Testament civil laws in detail, it has been a while since I reviewed those Old Testament laws on siege conditions in any detail.

    I do think we can agree that God administers his law through different covenant heads — the family, the church and the state — and some laws need to be administered primarily by one covenant head and not by another. While I would grant that the civil government has the right today to use such systems as ration coupons under extreme situations of military necessity, such as prevailed during the Second World War in the United States and were much worse in Europe, and that follows the Old Testament principles for different rules under siege conditions, some biblical principles are not primarily the province of civil rulers under ordinary circumstances.

    Murder, however, is something which is clearly under the authority of the civil magistrate.

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  94. abortion is a hot-button issue for her. Let’s just say as a clinical psychologist in private practice working almost exclusively with military wives and families, she sees the personal pain and heartbreak that happens when people defy God’s law

    It’s also the natural law, Darrell. [In fact the Bible is nowhere explicit on abortion.] God gave us reason, gave us the ability to discern “general” revelation. If you noticed animals in the wild destroying their own offspring as we do, you would suspect something’s really wrong. And it is. We’re messed up in the brain, a mass psychosis, destroying our own babies.

    But we pro-lifers have completely blown it on the politics of condemnation and “sin.” The natural law says that what the Bible calls “sin” also injures you in the real world. It works on both the physical and metaphysical levels in parallel.

    Perhaps we’ll get it right and start talking about the harm that abortion does to women. That is the loving, the Christian, argument. One thing we can do is work for laws that make it as hard as possible to get an abortion. Read this article.

    http://spectator.org/archives/2013/06/14/the-grey-ladys-grudging-aborti

    The truth–Of the women who sought abortions but for some reason couldn’t get one, only five percent regret having the baby afterall.

    If you blink, you might miss the decisive quote from the researcher, Diana Greene Foster. It comes very late in the piece: “About 5 percent of the women, after they have had the baby, still wish they hadn’t. And the rest of them adjust.”

    Put less grudgingly, Foster’s conclusion is that almost all the women in the study were happy they gave birth. That should have been the headline of the piece. Instead, the headline strikes a foreboding note: “What Happens to Women Who Are Denied Abortions?” One waits and waits for the answer and at last it comes, appearing at the conclusion of a rambling anecdote about a disadvantaged woman whom the author labels “S.”:

    S. now says that Baby S. is the best thing that ever happened to her. “She is more than my best friend, more than the love of my life,” S. told me, glowingly. There were white spit-up stains on her green top. “She is just my whole world.”

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  95. TVD: If you noticed animals in the wild destroying their own offspring as we do, you would suspect something’s really wrong.

    Your contention is that animals never reject their offspring?

    Is there a topic you aren’t an expert in for theology, science, politics, history?

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  96. Darrell,

    If you’re going to accuse me of turning a blind eye to murder, then please at least substantively respond to my arguments. This is why you and other sycophants of the Baylys are so difficult to deal with. When you have no cogent response to make, you simply resort to the ad hominem.

    Please at least read Dr. Woolley’s minority report to the OPC’s report on abortion. Surely you don’t believe that he maintained a teaching position at WTS spanning four decades if he was the kind of person who had a calloused disregard for murder.

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  97. TVD, Keep your stick on the ice! DGH is not referring to revolutions in general, but to the one that occurred in the late 1770s in the United States. We can all agree that the Bible does not unequivocally condemn participation in a political revolution, and that there is such a thing as Calvinist resistance theory. But so far you’ve not pointed us to any evidence that there was any substantial causative nexus between these concerns and the American Revolution.

    I’d agree that the principles that animated the American founding were at least partly influenced by various Calvinist thinkers. But Thomas Reid, for example, was as much a humanist as he was a Calvinist, and certainly didn’t view his ideas as particularly bound to a Calvinist religious context. But such an attenuated influence is too remote to support your averment that there’s a causative nexus between Calvinism and the American founding.

    Bobby, I’m not overshooting my evidence; you’re overshooting my claim. And I’m not pointing you to anything.

    What I am saying is that–to its credit or blame–the American Revolution would not have happened as it did without Calvinism.

    If you look at the Roman Catholic milieu, you get the chaos, murder and near-anarchy of the French revolution, and ironically after the blood dries, a return to Napoleon and empire.

    In the Lutheran milieu, you get Luther supporting the slaughter of the [anarchic] Anabaptists. There is a historical irony that Protestantism succeeded best where the Catholic Church had been strongest–Spain and France’s monarchs had tamed the Church; the rulers in Germany, Britain and Scandinavia used the reformation to dislodge Rome.

    If you missed one of my previous comments here, I started studying the American revolution for “rights theory.’ I expected Aquinas [and found him] but what I really found was Calvin. I didn’t know a damn thing about him 5 years ago. I figured colonial America was Lutheran and Anglican.

    Nope. In fact, after Henry VIII’s death, Calvinism even got its hooks into the Church of England, which originally was just Roman Catholicism with a change of management. So I started catching up on Calvinism. Not just the theology, but that it was responsible for the course of the English civil wars of the 1600s.

    As neither Catholic or Anglican but a “third thing,” it was the X-factor in England/Scotland religion and politics. In colonial America, the Puritans left Britain because it was too damn Catholic, even the Church of England. And the Baptists are going, what about us? Are we chopped liver? [And the Jews are going, no, that’s us.]

    No Protestantism–and its splitting of sects–no America as we know it. Actually, I just wanted to know if anybody had read any Theodore Beza. Apparently not, or if they have, they’re not telling.

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  98. TVD: If you noticed animals in the wild destroying their own offspring as we do, you would suspect something’s really wrong.

    Your contention is that animals never reject their offspring? Is there a topic you aren’t an expert in for theology, science, politics, history?

    Kent, is there any topic you want to discuss sincerely, or is your participation to be limited to nasty drive-bys with no conceivable purpose? Just asking. Here’s where I offer you the other cheek in return for petty insults. The shame is yours, not mine, if you choose to strike again.

    In reply, was that an honest question? No, animals don’t destroy perfectly healthy babies that otherwise would live, grow, and have babies themselves. No, they sure don’t. And even if they did, we know better. Yes, we do.

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  99. Tom, you write: “But I do not think your mockery is self-evidently in accordance with God’s will either.” Buzz. Theology.

    Your mocking of 2k is based on theology. I thought you didn’t do that. Yes, you bring up historical arguments. So do I. But you reject 2k because it goes against God’s will.

    So you’re a pietist. Finally, clarity. Did you choose breakfast today in accord with God’s will?

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  100. Tom, let’s be clear. The American Revolution doesn’t happen without BRITISH Calvinists as you admitted at your blog. So it is the British ingredient that is more important than Calvinism since Calvinists outside England did not support revolution. And in that case, it could be Calvinists reading their theology through their politics (Whig). You don’t ever seem to consider that conflicted aims might color one’s theology.

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  101. Can’t wait for the topics to turn to quantum electrodynamics or the War of Jenkins’ Ear, so I can get Tom’s insider views on the real truth of what it is all about.

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  102. Kent,

    Just don’t ask Pietist Tom to do theology, it’s above his pay grade. He will readily put our theology down, however. He’s just flummoxed when it comes to proposing a viable alternative.

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  103. Good thing for the internet, so people think they are contributing mightily to man’s search for truth, when in fact they are the reason the “page down” button was invented.

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  104. DGH admonishes: “Get acquainted with history. Turn of your computer. Read some books.”

    Me: Practice what you preach, Darryl! Your view of history is SO tethered to your theology you can’t even think straight. Your radical two kingdom slant forces you to view history in a favorable light to that proposition regardless of the facts on the ground. This is why you can’t admit that Calvinism encompasses both church and state. I have one of your books written in 08 before I knew you personally. I read it back then, and hated your chapter! The book is called “John Calvin: A heart for devotion, doctrine & doxology. I remember thinking back then, “where is this guy coming from”? Now; I know! I just re-read your chapter very carefully last night, and it was pure bunk!

    Your chapter was a biased peace of propaganda! Let me quote your last paragraph:

    Daryl Hart: “If Calvin’s reforms played a pivotal role in the history of the West, they did so not as organizing principles that shaped political and economic developments, but rather because of their demands that individual believers and congregations conform their lives to God’s Word.” DGH!

    Me: What a crock! Tom has already proved that Calvinistic thought was a driving force for political civil disobedience and our Revolution. Our Revolution was the “Presbyterian Revolt” for crying out loud! How can anybody trust a word you say? You refuse to admit that Calvin was instrumental in BOTH!

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  105. Kent, are your sarcastic one liners helping anyone arrive at the truth? I have never heard you make an argument, you just whine because you *think* I’m trying to shake your faith. Well, if Jesus warnings are causing your faith to be shaken, you need to be shook.

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  106. Doug,

    Are you always this consistently aggressive and rude with people you disagree with? Is it just a lack of maturity, or something deeper? You may want to consider counseling. I’m not joking either.

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  107. No Doug, I’m just a humble pilgrim, relatively new to the Reformed faith after a few decades of unsatisfying dispy and evenagelicalism.

    Word and Sacraments and doing my best to live a decent life with a professional career.

    No attempts to tell everyone how they better behave according to any crazed or impossible pietistic views.

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  108. Todd,

    Are you always this consistently aggressive and rude with people you disagree with? Is it just a lack of maturity, or something deeper?

    No, it’s just his theonomy…. kidding Doug! I think Doug has a lot of Walter in him, I hear he doesn’t even roll on Shomer Shabbaz, and heaven forbid you commit a line foul on his lane. He’s pretty handy when/if you find yourself in a brawl with roving gangs of nihilists.

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  109. But Jed, what about when Walter throws a man out of his wheelchair?

    Seriously, I hate to be the heavy but I do think our friend Doug could use some help of some sort. Counseling might be a good start. I guess I’ll leave it there.

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  110. Todd, it’s not an excuse but I am far outnumbered, and get a ton of ridicule and snark thrown my way. Kent has been especially hard on me, not wanting to engage in argument, just harsh put down.

    Todd, you read DGH’s last paragraph in that book, and see if that sums up Calvin’s life in a fair way. As has been noted, much of Calvin’s thought about the role of church and the Magistrate had an enormous influence on the West in regards to politics.

    Thanks for the warning on my tone. I will tone it down, the last thing I want is to be tuned out, because I am so bombastic. Keep me in your prayers, please, God’s not done with me yet.

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  111. Has anyone at Old Life, read Martin Luther’s, “The Bondage Of The Will”? I am not saying I’ve never gone over the top, (I have.) but next to Luther’s scathing attacks on Erasmus’; I’m a pussycat.

    I know, he was fighting for the heart of the gospel, and our division is not that black and white, still…. I’m just saying, Luther was brutal!

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  112. Douglas,

    Here’s a few nuggets for you:

    “(Calvin) dismisses as ‘most absurd’ the objection that the judicial law of Moses is insulted when other laws are adopted instead.”

    “(Calvin) insisted that the judicial laws are not to be considered binding today nor obligatory for contemporary civil law.”

    “Some held that commonwealths had to be governed by the law of Moses rather than the ‘common law of nations’, but Calvin condemned such views as ‘perilous and seditious’, ‘stupid and false’. Instead…each nation is free to enact the laws that it deems beneficial, judged by the rule of charity and equity, for the Lord ‘did not deliver it [the Old Testament law] by the hand of Moses to be promulgated in all countries, and to be everywhere enforced.”

    – Van Drunen, NLTK, pp.109-110

    Three strikes and you’re out.

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  113. As we speak I am trying to figure out how to put up a Pay Pal link. All donations will go toward purchasing Doug some Nouthetic counseling. Either that or some extremely strong barbiturates.

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  114. Doug – the last thing I want is to be tuned out, because I am so bombastic.

    Erik – Can we really put that genie back in the bottle?

    The only way that could possibly happen is if you could make an extended, calm, rational, exegetical case for Theonomy from the ground up, with no outbursts. I don’t think you can last two days on that mission, however.

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  115. Erik, are you playing a game? Those quotes of Calvin, by VanDrunen are deceptive. Plus, We have already covered this ground; Calvin was surely railing against the Anabaptist of his day on your quotes. Quit trying to make an equivalence with Calvin’s opposition to the Anabaptist, to him being against theonomy. Why? Because it’s not true, that’s why!

    It’s been established that Calvin wanted the first four tables enforced by the Magistrate. Pssssst, that’s theonomy 101 on steroids. So strop the subterfuge, already!

    Calvin believed the Magistrate should punish crime according was for the “general equity” found in the Mosaic law, just read his letters on Deuteronomy. It’s as plain as the nose on your face.

    Erik I have already posted some telling statements by Calvin a few months ago; have you forgotten?

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  116. Bruce, I think we might have talked in the courtyard at the GA. If you comment over at my blog I can email some relevant information. Or however you want to give me your email.

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  117. Erik, as long as you continue to open your heart and believe VanDrunen’s miss-leading quotes of Calvin, you will remain in the dark. He is not telling the whole truth. It’s much like reading Hart on Presbyterian history, and never hearing our Revolution was a called the “Presbyterian revolt. Thank God Tom showed up!

    A man sounds right until he’s cross-examined, now that DG is undergoing a little cross-examination, he reminds me of the wizard of Oz getting caught behind the curtain. Darryl is asking us not to look behind the curtain. To late Darryl, we’re looking!.

    VanDrunen and DG have never interacted with Martin Bucer, Calvin’s mentor. Why not, if they want to understand Calvin? Who was a bigger influence on Calvin, than Bucer? It’s inconceivable by reading Calvin’s other writings that he would taking the opposite position of the man who influenced him more than any other.

    Something smells rotten in DenMark.

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  118. Darryl Hart:

    “Daryl Hart: “If Calvin’s reforms played a pivotal role in the history of the West, they did so not as organizing principles that shaped political and economic developments, but rather because of their demands that individual believers and congregations conform their lives to God’s Word.”

    Me: Can any of us take that statement slightly seriously now? Calvin didn’t play a big role in shaping political principles? He didn’t play a big role in how the church and state should interact?

    Todd, I have taken a few breaths, and am very calm. Can you defend Darryl’s assertion of Calvin? Why did he omit Calvin’s role in politics?

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  119. Today was a blessed day. Great sermons at my URC church on 1 Thes 3&4 in the morn, and then Heidelberg Day 9 in the afternoon.

    Got to call my father and tell him I love him and am grateful to God that he did his best to provide for his family.

    I’m in no mood to hear any nonsense and garbage from someone just trying to ruin the goodness we have in church and family, as the board’s leadership clearly seeks to represent.

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  120. Doug,

    I’ll admit you’re onto something. Calvin saw the Ten Commandments and Natural Law as being basically the same thing (you mean the first four commandments, not tables). The trick is that he had a relatively low view of the Judicial law of Israel at the same time. So how do we square this? And how do we deal with the first four commandments in a society that is committed to freedom of religion? What does equity mean in our society? This is something that our society (like every society) has to work out and we have a say in that as Christians, but not the only say.

    When you bluster about Theonomy in the same way that Pietistic Tom blusters about Presbyterians being responsible for slavery, people tune you out because they realize you’re being utopian and not dealing with reality as it exists today (or existed, in the case of slavery). Nobody appreciates a utopian or a moral grandstander, except for their fellow utopians and moral grandstanders.

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  121. Doug,

    I think you have overstated what TVD is trying to prove. TVD clarifies his point just a few comments ago. Perhaps you should spend more time reading and digesting what people write before you start hurling darts. So, I think it’s fair to say that DGH’s statement is not inconsistent with what TVD is saying.

    Apparently your hiatus hasn’t helped temper your hair trigger.

    Further, your statements about Calvin’s teaching on general equity are patently false. Calvin nowhere suggests that the teachings of general equity are confined exclusively to the Mosaic law. Calvin freely acknowledges that principles of general equity are primarily gleaned from careful observation of God’s general revelation. While God’s general revelation is distinct from His special revelation, the two are not inconsistent, as they are both a reflection of the character of the same God. Thus, aspects of God’s special revelation (e.g., the Mosaic law) may reflect certain general equitable principles that are also revealed in God’s general revelation. That’s all that Calvin is saying. Calvin, contra the theonomists, is not saying that God reveals principles of general equity exclusively (or even primarily) through the Mosaic law.

    Before you start chastising others for their analysis of Calvin’s thought, maybe you should read Calvin. It seems that your knowledge of Calvin is largely limited to second-hand knowledge gained from guys like Bahnsen and Gentry.

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  122. Doug,

    Part of being a churchman, or just a thinker, is you have to be able to take information, often conflicting information, and be able to weigh it in relation to other information. I think you struggle to do this, which gets you out of balance. Hart and Van Drunen are not rookies. I think they do well at what you are struggling to do. You can make a principled case for Theonomic ideas, but you lose credibility when you get out of balance and fly off the handle frequently. Start by resolving not to attack their character or their minds if you want to be taken seriously. Their credentials are better than yours so you’re fighting an uphill battle without shooting yourself in the foot. The debate should be about facts, not emotion.

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  123. Just finished a 6 week study of Book I of the Institutes at church, led by the pastors.

    There is no way to come out of that ocean of Calvin with a pithy answer for any topic.

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  124. “I am not saying I’ve never gone over the top, (I have.) but next to Luther’s scathing attacks on Erasmus’; I’m a pussycat.”

    Doug,

    That is a common response, but it is important to remember, you are not Luther. If modern evangelicalism hasn’t almost obliterated the distinction of ministerial callings from secular vocations, the Internet pretty much has. We have lost a theology of calling, and respect for calling, and it will take years to see the effects of misusing the Internet this way.

    Luther was not only called by God to teach and refute false doctrine, but he was called by the church to do so for them, confirming God’s inward calling. Just because the Internet gives one the ability to publicly rebuke, disparage and challenge officers in God’s church, as well as those called to teach, that doesn’t make it right.

    If my son in his college class is taught by a radical liberal atheist, short on facts but long on propaganda, my son is still to remember that he is not the teacher, he is the student, and must address his teacher respectfully. Can he challenge assertions he thinks untrue? Yes, but with respect, giving honor to the office of teacher. Even more are we to give respect to church officers, agreeing with them or not.

    Calvin often reminded the people, that though it is at times appropriate to publicly criticize government, it should be done be those charged with such a task, and not to assume such a calling for oneself.

    Here is Calvin on Luke 12:13, the passage where the man asks Jesus to decide on a civil matter between them;

    “our Lord intended to draw a distinction between the political kingdoms of this world and the government of his Church; for he had been appointed by the Father to be a Teacher, who should
    divide asunder, by the sword of the word, the thoughts and feelings, and penetrate into the souls of men, but was not a magistrate to divide inheritances. This condemns the robbery of the Pope and his clergy, who, while they give themselves out to be pastors of the Church, have dared to usurp an earthly and secular jurisdiction, which is inconsistent with their office; for what is in itself lawful may be improper in certain persons.”

    Here even pastors are to limit themselves to their calling and not assume to tell the government how to govern. It is not that nobody had that right, but it did not fall to pastors.

    So when you want to go on-line and challenge a teaching, you might ask yourself some questions, – such as;- who am I writing to or about, what office does he hold, how does Scripture instruct me to speak to and about Christ’s officers or any office over me, has God or his church called me to rebuke or expose this teaching I think is false, or does this calling belong to someone else?

    The irony is that with the Internet, most who rant against modern egalitarianism in the church are most egalitarian when it comes to the distinctions between superiors and inferiors, whether in government, ministry, or those superior in age.

    The WCF sums it up well:

    Question 124: Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?

    Answer: By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.

    Question 127: What is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors.?

    Answer: The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behavior; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defense and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government.

    Question 128: What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?

    Answer: The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against, their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking, and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonor to them and their government.

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  125. Todd,

    Careful. Doug’s going to interpret “WSC” as “Westminster Seminary California” and use that as an excuse to ignore it.

    I don’t think Doug’s problem is an inferior/superior issue as much as it is a disregard for common courtesy. That being said, we all give it to him so we have to be able to take it in return. He just goes a bit too far at times (as we all do). His “at times” just seems to be more frequent than most.

    Thin-skinned pastors and officers should probably stay off of the internet, lest they come off like the Baylys.

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  126. The irony is that with the Internet, most who rant against modern egalitarianism in the church are most egalitarian when it comes to the distinctions between superiors and inferiors, whether in government, ministry, or those superior in age.

    Todd, which typically reveals that the former are actually more paternalists than elitists, since for them egalitarianism is inevitably only about…what for it…sex. Anyone else see a pattern here? But one wonders if Doug endures his wife speaking to him the way he does some officers around here who endure him.

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  127. People still show up in the bleachers at Yankees Stadium in Red Sox hats and shirts, and are loud and obnoxious throughout the game, then wonder why they get the treatment they do by the entire section during the time that YMCA goes over the stadium speakers…

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  128. Kent, speaking of baseball games and obnoxiousness…

    Three nuns were attending a baseball game.

    Three men were sitting directly behind the three nuns. Because their habits were partially blocking the view, the men decided to badger the nuns hoping that they’d get annoyed enough to move to another area.

    In a very loud voice, the first guy said, “I think I’m going to move to Utah. I hear there are only one-hundred nuns living out there.”

    Then the second guy spoke up and said, “I want to go to Montana. I hear there are only fifty nuns under the Big Sky.”

    The third guy said, “I’m leaving for Idaho. I hear there are only twenty-five nuns there.”

    Mother Superior turned around, looked at the men and in a very calm voice said, “I think you should go to hell. I know for a fact there aren’t any nuns there.”

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  129. Zrim – one wonders if Doug endures his wife speaking to him the way he does some officers around here who endure him.

    Erik – Doug has a wife? Do we grant sainthood as protestants?

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  130. Dear Dr. Hart,

    To call an adopted position of the General Assembly “pious advice” when it is seeking to declare the word of God on a matter is to say less than our form of government does. There is intended to be a distinction between the “pious advice” that you and I might give each other and what is being declared by the gathered representatives of our denomination. See FOG XV.8 noting the expression “but also because of the nature of the general assembly as the supreme judicatory of the church.”

    “The general assembly is not invested with power, by virtue of its own authority, to make pronouncements which bind the conscience of the members of the church. Yet the deliverances of the general assembly, if declarative of the Word of God, are to be received with deference and submission not only because of their fidelity to the Word of God but also because of the nature of the general assembly as the supreme judicatory of the church.”

    Best wishes,

    David

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  131. It’s a public relations problem in the bleachers, they could solve it with never playing that song again…

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  132. “I don’t think Doug’s problem is an inferior/superior issue as much as it is a disregard for common courtesy. ”

    Erik,

    I wasn’t only addressing Doug, but addressing a problem the Internet has created for all of us, where there is now a public forum where anyone can say anything to anyone else, no matter their station in life. I guess I am nostalgic for the days of theological debates in books and journals, and on the floors of assemblies, but it is what it is.

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  133. Todd – but addressing a problem the Internet has created for all of us

    Erik – Definitely pros and cons. After spending a year here I’ve learned a lot, though.

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  134. Erik exclaims: “I’ll admit you’re onto something. Calvin saw the Ten Commandments and Natural Law as being basically the same thing (you mean the first four commandments, not tables). The trick is that he had a relatively low view of the Judicial law of Israel at the same time. So how do we square this? ”

    Thanks, I am on to something. I know Calvin wasn’t contradicting himself, and I really think all these statements can be reconciled, once we fully grasp the scope of the Anabpatist debate. Greg Bahnsen didn’t want to recreate another Israel, the Anabaptists did. So when Calvin railed agaisnt the Anabaptist he didn’t think there was any contradiction advicing the Magistrate how to enforce the first four commands.

    I will try to look for some of those quotes from Bucer, that leave no doubt.

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  135. Doug, did you happen to notice that the quotation you’re going ape blank over actually gives credit to the Bible rather than to a person? It’s actually a positive description of Reformed Protestantism. Calvinists follow Scripture not a man.

    Are you so biased you can’t even see a compliment?

    Stay charitable, my friend. Sheeesh.

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  136. Todd, Listen to David T. Gordon, who wrote one the snarkiest, unchristian, opening statement on theonomy one could imagine. Let me refresh your memory, this is Gordon on theonomy.

    “Theonomy is not merely an error, though it has manifestly been regarded as erroneous by the Reformed tradition. It is the error du jour, the characteristic error of an unwise generation. It is the error of a generation that has abandoned the biblical mandated quest for wisdom on the assumption that the Bible itself contains all that we need to know about life’s various enterprises. It is the proof-textual, Bible-thumping, lilteralist, error par excellence. It is not merely the view of the unwise, but the view of the never-to-be-wise, because it is the view of those who wrongly believe that the Scripture sufficiently governs this arena, and who for this reason will never discover in the natural constitution of the human nature or the particular circumstances of given peoples what must be discovered to govern well and wisely.”

    Me: This is a Westminster Professor? Does that sound like a church officer? Does that sound like a humble servant? Todd, do you think Gordon was WAY out line with his opening salvo? He’s calling anyone who agrees with theonomy, “the unwise and never to be wise”? So Bahnsen was of the never-to-be-wise? And you wonder why I ridicule him? He might as well have put a (“hit me”) sign on his head.

    David Gordon is a smart aleck du jour, and his words aren’t fit to be considered proper for a Professor at Westminster Where-ever-he-is. And to add insult to injury, his opening salvo was riddled with inaccurate statements about theonomy to many for me to mention. How can he get away with this? Why wasn’t he called to the carpet for acting like such a wiseacre? This wasn’t even on the internet! This was in his book!

    Last but not least, Gordon should be held to a higher standard than me. I’m just a layman, what’s Gordon’s excuse? He should have been forced to step down from being a church officer, and as a teacher, after writing those bombastic words, imho. Plus, his book fell WAY short, and was discredited by Ken Gentry in 05 with a very thoughtful powerful counter. Gentry took Gordon apart piece by piece until there was nothing left. It’s there for you to fully examine, but you look at the way Gentry comported himself compared to Gordon.

    It’s no context!

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  137. DGH, when I say I hated your book, I really meant, I didn’t enjoy it. I was wondering what your agenda was and this was before I had even heard of 2K, a year before we started posting with each other.

    What got me so exercised was this part of your sentence:

    ” if Calvin’s reforms played a pivotal role in the history of the West, they did so not as organizing principles that shaped political and economic developments.”

    Balderdash! His writing had a HUGE impact on political development! He advised Magistrates! He played a role in political thought, in that most of our Presbyterian leaders had read him. Calvin shaped political and economic developments because his writings were read by many important people! For you to make such a bold *untrue* statement is very troubling.

    FWIW, I didn’t have a problem with what you said Calvin did, it’s what you say he didn’t do. Why would you say that Darryl?

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  138. Speaking of Calvin,

    “For there are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common laws of nations. Let other men consider how perilous and seditious this notion is; it will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish.”

    John Calvin

    This is a quote from Calvin that is repeatedly cited as proof that Calvin would have had no truck with Theonomy. However, this assertion needs to be examined in light of historical context. First, we need to keep in mind that if Calvin is really citing this against the abiding validity of the law then he is citing it against his friend and mentor Martin Bucer who wrote,

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

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

    Martin Bucer
    16th century Magisterial Reformer
    The Fourteenth Law: The Modification of Penalties

    It kind of strains credulity that Calvin would have referred to Bucer’s position as “perilous and seditious.”

    So, if Calvin is not aiming at Bucer’s position that the Mosaic judicials have contemporary application for Commonwealths who might Calvin’s comments be aimed at? The answer to that doubtless are the Ana-Baptists. Calvin had a ongoing quarrel with the Ana-Baptists (who doesn’t?) as seen in his Institutes. The Ana-baptists likewise advocated for the Mosaic judicials but in a revolutionary manner. When you consider all the positives Calvin penned touching the judicials and the magistrate,

    …“But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God’s honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves…Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.”

    Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542

    Calvin’s pen seems pointed at the seditious and perilous Ana-baptists whose application of the judicials gave not Godly commonwealths but anarchistic Münsters. The initial quote by Calvin must not be taken out of context to prove something that puts it in contradiction w/ other things that Calvin wrote. What Calvin is doing, especially when one considers what he said elsewhere on this issue,

    “And for proof thereof, what is the cause that the heathen are so hardened in their own dotages? It is for that they never knew God’s Law, and therefore they never compared the truth with the untruth. But when God’s law come in place, then doth it appear that all the rest is but smoke insomuch that they which took themselves to be marvelous witty, are found to have been no better than besotted in their own beastliness.. This is apparent. Wherefore let us mark well, that to discern that there is nothing but vanity in all worldly devices, we must know the Laws and ordinances of God. But if we rest upon men’s laws, surely it is not possible for us to judge rightly. Then must we need to first go to God’s school, and that will show us that when we have once profited under Him, it will be enough. That is all our perfection. And on the other side, we may despise all that is ever invented by man, seeing there is nothing but *fondness and uncertainty in them. And that is the cause why Moses terms them rightful ordinances. As if he should say, it is true indeed that other people have store of Laws: but there is no right all all in them, all is awry, all is crooked.”

    * fondness = foolishness, weakness, want of sense and judgment

    John Calvin
    Sermons on Deuteronomy, sermon 21 on Deut. 4:6-9

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

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

    In a treatise against pacifistic Anabaptists who maintained a doctrine of the spirituality of the Church which abrogated the binding authority of the case law Calvin wrote,

    “They (the Anabaptists) will reply, possibly, that the civil government of the people of Israel was a figure of the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ and lasted only until his coming, I will admit to them that in part, it was a figure, but I deny that it was nothing more than this, and not without reason. For in itself it was a political government, which is a requirement among all people. That such is the case, it is written of the Levitical priesthood that it had to come to an end and be abolished at the coming of our Lord Jesus (Heb. 7:12ff) Where is it written that the same is true of the external order? It is true that the scepter and government were to come from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, but that the government was to cease is manifestly contrary to Scripture.”

    John Calvin
    Treatise against the Anabaptists and against the Libertines, pp. 78-79

    “But it is questioned whether the law pertains to the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual and distinct from all earthly dominion; and there are some men, not otherwise ill-disposed, to whom it appears that our condition under the Gospel is different from that of the ancient people under the law; not only because the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but because Christ was unwilling that the beginnings of His kingdom should be aided by the sword. But, when human judges consecrate their work to the promotion of Christ’s kingdom, I deny that on that account its nature is changed. For, although it was Christ’s will that His Gospel should be proclaimed by His disciples in opposition to the power of the whole world, and He exposed them armed with the Word alone like sheep amongst the wolves, He did not impose on Himself an eternal law that He should never bring kings under His subjection, nor tame their violence, nor change them from being cruel persecutors into the patrons and guardians of His Church.”

    John Calvin
    Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses – p. 77.

    So, given the context of his times what Calvin seems to be doing in his literary methodological approach is that he writes against the Anabaptists who stressed the necessity to adopt the Mosaic judicials as a whole without making the necessary distinctions between the Mosaic judicials in toto and the general equity of the judicials. Once having done that Calvin embraces, for nations, what we would call the abiding “general equity” and insists that magistrates must have to do with the case law in their considerations.

    Erik, I hope that helps you understand what Calvin was getting at. I copied that from Frankin Harding over at Greenbaggins. What a writer, and what a good brother.

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  139. But, David, as the language of the position itself suggests, a Presbyterian view of authority isn’t authoritarian–we aren’t Catholics or Fundamentalists. And so while members of the church might be obliged to receive it with a certain measure of deference and submission to the extent that the general assembly is the supreme judicatory of the church, they may also hold out exceptions to it. After all, if councils can err then assemblies can be misguided, too.

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  140. Doug, why would you say balderdash? Geneva was a small time place. Calvin didn’t write in English or German or Dutch. You assume everyone in Europe had Calvin’s works as readily available as we do today. You also assume most people could read.

    So which political and economic thinkers read Calvin? When? What works did they read? Which ones did they ignore? Which works of Calvin were available to which thinker?

    I don’t think you know the first thing about tracing historical development and influence. That’s okay. I’d simply be glad if you read some history.

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  141. Doug – Balderdash! His writing had a HUGE impact on political development!

    Erik – Then why so little about religion in the Declaration of Independence (as Hart pointed out on Saturday)?

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  142. Doug – Calvin shaped political and economic developments because his writings were read by many important people!

    Erik – Have you heard the saying that correlation does not imply causation?

    Did those people have many leatherbound books and did their apartments smell of rich mahogany? Were they as well known as DTM? When I first started interacting with DTM online he told me to look him up on the internets to acquire some needed background on his importance.

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  143. Isn’t it a bit odd for a ” supreme judicatory of the church” to be issuing statements when there is no actual case before it? We don’t get press releases from the U.S. Supreme Court.

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  144. Erik, some might say it’s a way of weighing in on worldly conversations and trying to seem pious about it. A little like elevating your voice at the person in front of you in order to be heard by the person you’re really speaking to across the room.

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  145. Erik: Doug,I’ll read that long post at lunch today

    ERIK LIKES HIS CHICKEN (AND LUNCHTIME READING) SPICY!!!

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  146. “Todd, Listen to David T. Gordon, who wrote one the snarkiest, unchristian, opening statement on theonomy one could imagine. Let me refresh your memory, this is Gordon on theonomy.”

    Finding someone you think is worse than you in order to justify your behavior is not how to deal with correction.

    Me: This is a Westminster Professor?

    No, he does not teach at Westminster; never did

    “Todd, do you think Gordon was WAY out line with his opening salvo?”

    Gordon is an ordained minister in the PCA, a seminary professor, and it is his calling to refute bad doctrine. Also, he did not go on a theonomist’s blog as a guest and write those things, it was a book, and he attacked the theology, not specific people. And he wears a bow-tie.

    “He should have been forced to step down from being a church officer, and as a teacher, after writing those bombastic words, imho. ”

    Earlier you praised Luther for such language, but Gordon should be divested from office for the same?

    “It’s no context!”

    So is that statement. I think you mean contest.

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  147. Todd, I never praised Luther for his language, although I did enjoy Bondage Of The Will. But your point stands; two wrongs don’t make a right. But since I have started discussing theonomy with Steve Zremlen and Darryl Hart, that same *eye rolling* mocking attitude permeates through them. I have been beguiled just for my theonomic leanings.

    They both distort history and our Confession to imply that WCF 19.4 contradicts theonomy which is impossible if one looks at the laws that were passed in their era. And it appears that Hart doesn’t want to admit that Calvinist played a major role in our Revolution. If I had been talking to a calm, polite sweet guy like you, it would keep me more in line.

    Snark breeds more snark. And who’s more snarky than DGH? Sometimes I just get carried away with a little emotion, and many times I’m using hyperbole. If you saw me in person, you would see I’m not a belligerent man.

    Todd, you have been a good example, of irenic behavior that I aspire too.

    Keep pressing on!

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  148. Well…. I guess it is the goal of everyone who publishes a book to have at least one person close read it….

    Gordon is hilarious, always good for a fun interview.

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  149. Doug, you may not be a belligerent man in person, but you are not exactly a conversationalist. My first encounter with you at Greenbaggins (I believe) left the indelible impression that I was wrong and so all sorts of ridicule (Hart’s crazy), snark (Balderdash), and judgment (Hart’s a threat to the church). We’ve never had a discussion. For you I was wrong when I first started to type. You have never tried to see any merit to a 2k argument.

    Sorry, Doug. It’s true.

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  150. “If you saw me in person, you would see I’m not a belligerent man.”

    That’s actually good to know. It reveals the dangers of Internet discussion, where we can write something and send it within seconds without time to reflect on it, and where even normally calm, friendly people can easily lose it, kind of like Eagles and Cowboys fans talking football.

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  151. Darryl, I am not an historian like you. But I read that the settlers who first landed on Plymouth Rock had a huge amount of respect for Geneva’s polity! Look at the laws Geneva and New England passed for crime and punishment. Both enforced the first table of the law. Many of New England’s laws were taken straight from the Bible! Are you saying those settlers were unaware of Geneva? I thought they looked at Geneva as a model! In fact Bahnsen pointed that out in Theonomy In Christian Ethics. See Darryl? If you had read TICE you would be up to speed!

    So even though I am not a historian, by looking at the facts on the ground, it LOOKS like Calvin’s thought on the relationship between the church and the Magistrate was very much in line with the first American settlers. Maybe I can’t historically prove it, but you have constantly downplayed this relationship. Your bias to 2K blinding you to the obvious. imho

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  152. Darryl, I DO see merit in the 2K argument. Plenty of merit! As I have said, I see a separation between church and state, and so did Greg Bahnsen. In that sense both you and Dr. Greg Bahnsen are 2K. Where we part company, is that the Bible norms all norms. You disagree.

    As soon as you bring up “freedom of religion” and by that you mean freedom to worship false gods, we have a problem.What an oxymoran to use the word *freedom* to mean worship demons. As a christian who believes in the “Great Commission”, we are supposed to be baptizing every nation in the Triune name of God. It’s not a freedom issue to worship anything other than Christ Jesus.

    In other words, the term “freedom of religion” has been hi-jacked to mean something different. With that being said, I believe our government needs to stay out of church polity. The church needs to come together in unity. So I do believe in freedom of religion, in the sense, that I don’t want the State or Federal government getting involved with church polity.

    I hope that helps

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  153. Doug, I like you just because Zrim is now Zremlen. That alone is worth 1 or 2 belligerent posts. I’m thinking a cross between Robert Plant and Gizmo. So, we have Gizmo’s frame and stature with Robert Plant’s head and hair circa Led Zeppelin IV. So now, when we think of Zrim, we have a shirtless Gizmo in low rise bell bottoms with Robert Plant’s head and curly long locks all gyrating on a stage belting out Black Dog.

    Take too long b’fore I found out
    What people mean by down and out.
    Spent my money, took my car,
    Started tellin’ her friend she’ goin’ be a star.
    I don’t know, but I’ve been told
    A Big legged woman ain’t got no soul

    Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh, oh, ah
    Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh, oh, ah

    All I ask for, All I pray,
    Steady Rollin’ woman gonna come my way.
    Need a woman gonna hold my hand
    tell me no lies, make me a happy man.- Very Zremlen

    Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah…

    Ahhhhhh!

    Ooooh-ahhhh

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  154. My name has been gnarled in various ways, but Zremlen is a new one. But, Doug, come on, the exchanges have always had a PLM-ish contour to them– start out relatively civil, something is said you don’t much care for and bam. Then some snarky push back on the bully shoving and this side of the table gets the Gilbert Tenant treatment (as in, are these guys really even converted?). And everything starts at decibel 10. This is why you’re pegged as fundamentalist, not only because your ideas are fundie but so is your behavior. Like Darryl said, sorry, but it’s true.

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  155. Doug, I have ten minutes this morning which is good or bad for you and everyone on the interweb, depending on if you have a sense of humor, which I think is part of the problem with men leading this and so we need to figure out how to create educationary better so that we can salve this problem.

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  156. Todd, case in point! I *should* have included Teaching Elder Sean, in the eye rolling, mocking crowd. I make an honest mistake with Zrim’s name, and he goes on and on with derision; and “Led Zeplin”? Huh?

    Sean, are you are an officer in Christ’s church? I thought church officers were held to a higher standard, no? Aren’t you supposed to be a humble servant? Aren’t you supposed to refrain from quarrelsome behavior? Well, from out here where I live on the “Left coast”, you have never shown a modicum of humility. Quite the opposite!

    Is that how Westminster West taught you to act, when a brother makes a mistake? Did they teach you to mock the person? Have you read any of the other posts? Here I get admonished for my tone, and you jump in as an OPC Teaching Elder, pouring gasoline on the fire, Tod was trying to tamp out.

    I forgive you Sean.

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  157. Doug, it’s true. I am an PCA diaconate elder and Tod is not. West West is totally to blame to boot, for sure for Todd, maybe less so for Tod, but definitely por moi. Come on, I’ve shown at least a modical of humility. See, this is just such the exxagerrration that were takling aobut wit u.

    Doug, Todd, not Tod or Tad, once gave some advice about visiting the blog about once a week as a means by which to ‘regulate’ our interweb emotions. Now, Todd doesn’t no much because he’s been corrupted by West West. but I think on this score, with regards to you, he may be on to nothing. Doubtless it was something learned pre or post West. West that managed to stick in spite of the water in Escondido. Know, I’m just having a bit of fun this morgan ‘cuz the SRUPS one and I have to enjoy it before Teusdya. So do forgive and nevermind me. SWISH from the beyond 3 point line.

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  158. Steve Zremlen?

    Speaking of him, Zrim, how are you liking season 3 of “The Killing”? I’m not loving it. It’s becoming an ordinary police procedural. I also felt o.k. watching seasons 1 & 2 with my 12-year-old. This season is edgy to the point of making even me nauseous, however.

    Missing is the drama of the Larsen family and the political campaign from seasons 1 & 2. This season is like, “oh crap, we got renewed so we had better come up with a story.”

    Good TV writers who can bring it season in and season out are amazing people.

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  159. Sean,

    Who knew Miss Teen South Carolina grew up and moved to Utah.

    What the h**l, I’d hire her.

    My wife gave me crap for becoming transfixed last night during the bikini portion. “Dear, what exactly did you expect?” She shut the TV off.

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  160. Sounds better, Erik, than watching LeBron give a fraction of an a$$ effort out there.

    Half is the usual equation, but LeBron can go to 1/100th and maybe even less effort when he just thinks “I’m outta here” and packs her it.

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  161. Todd, you did everything BUT answer my question; do you think David Gordon’s statement was irenic? Is that the way Reformed Christian Professors should comport themselves? Aren’t Seminary Professors held to a higher standard? Would you call Gordon’s mocking, ridicule of theonomy useful? How about reading Kenneth L. Gentry’s response? Read Gentry’s response, and then see the difference in quality of argument.

    It frustrates me, when guys like you, fail to read crucial material. You are a reasonable guy Todd, why not read Gentry’s response to Gordon? Maybe then, you will see why I think so little of Gordon’s argument. Even Mark Mcculley, who is no friend of theonomy thought the reformed response to Bahnsen was incoherent.

    Concerning Gordon, It’s as if he had never read Theonomy In Christian Ethics, in the first place. He was shooting at straw men, and miss-understanding Bahnsen’s arguments, and not dealing with Bahnsen’s exegesis.

    Todd, if you send me an address that will reach you, I will mail you a copy of Gentry’s response to Gordon. I’m betting after you read this, you will side with me and confess that Gordon needs to go back to the drawing board.

    God bless you, and keep pressing on!

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  162. Erik, when are you going to get it? The Great Commission takes precedence over freedom of religion. When we pray, we pray for the true name (Christ Jesus) of God to be revered, not whomever!

    Zrim asks: “Doug, what do you think fundamentalism is?”

    Me: I was raised in a fundamental dispensational baptist church my first 18 years, (GARB) so. I know far better than you. There is much good in being fundamental, in that they believe and actually study the Bible; HOWEVER, they tend to go beyond God’s Word, towards asceticism. No drinking, no smoking, and going to movies are frowned upon. Although the last one, would greatly benefit many here at Old life. And they are not partial preterist! This causes them much confusion in the book of Revelations. Revelations is one of my favorite books in the bible!

    Steve, I could write ten more pages about fundies, and what they believe. I was theologically persuaded by Scriptural evidence to become Reformed.

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  163. Doug – Concerning Gordon, It’s as if he had never read Theonomy In Christian Ethics, in the first place. He was shooting at straw men, and miss-understanding Bahnsen’s arguments, and not dealing with Bahnsen’s exegesis.

    Bruce – So you finally finished TLINOF.

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  164. Erik, I learned long ago(seminary) never to admit to situations no one else can testify to against you. Therefore, I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about. I read only leather bound books every night.

    Doug, nice one. miss-understanding.

    Kent, Lebron was trying, he just got Diawed. Fat frenchmen are his Kryptonite.

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  165. Kent, I wouldn’t be so quick to psychoanalyze LeBrick James as a quitter. I have followed the NBA since Bill Russell won his last ring a ding, in 69. I still remember that game and the way Russell laughed in the locker room afterwards. I just think the Spurs are playing very good defense on LeBron, and he needs to keep all the players on the Heat involved for them to be successful. So it’s a very tricky proposition for Mr. James.

    Who will win? Somehow some way, I think the Spurs will play their best game of the season before this is over, and that will be enough for their 5th ring.

    Plus, I didn’t like the Heat saying…..not one, not two, not three, not five or six!

    Pride goes before a fall. Go Spurs!

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  166. M&M, I have read Gentry’s “Before Jerusalem Fell”, “The Greatness Of The Great Commission”, “He Shall Have Dominion” and last but not least “Reformed Theonomy A response to David T. Gordon”.

    And what a response that was! Gentry was calm, cool, and collective and took Gordon apart. Imho

    Those are all must reads for the body of Christ today!

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  167. No, Doug, it’s just that I’ve never heard someone promote Gentry with so much zeal and wondered how you became acquainted with him.

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  168. M&M, Ken Gentry was Greg Bahnsen’s student, side by side with Gary DeMar back in 75 to 77. Please don’t hold me to those dates. Back in 92 when Greg Bahnsen came to my church to teach our Elders systematic theology, he said Gentry’s soon to be released “He Shall Have Dominion” will be the best book ever written on Postmillennialism.

    He Shall Have Dominion is a marvelous book, more detailed than Postmillennialism by Mathison, although Mathison’s book is excellent and I highly recommend it also.

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  169. M&M, Ken Gentry also proved beyond a reasonable doubt, that Revelations was written before Jerusalem fell. Probably around 67AD. This is very important for the partial preterist understanding of the book of Revelations; although not entirely. So Gentry was useful in proving that Revelations was NOT written in 95 the year of Domitian which had been the prevailing view of most protestants.

    For that alone Gentry’s name will go down in history. He proved with overwhelming internal and external evidence that Revelations 4 through 18 were heavenly visions primarily referring to the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem by Titus’s army. Israel was the women riding on the back of the beast (Rome) when the beast turned and destroyed her.

    Eschatology is one of my favorite topics.

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  170. Doug, have you considered that fundamentalism is a set of principles that lead to the extra-biblical examples you cite? If so, it means that fundamentalism can easily show up in whatever goes by the name Reformed; claiming Reformed is no magic cure against fundamentalism. One of those principles is to completely confuse the categories of creation and redemption. It’s how you get the personal holiness and substance use legalism you cite disapprovingly. And you since you leave a little bit of room for legalism re worldly amusement and its usefulness, you only indicate how little of it has really been shaken off. But where it shows up in spades is in your theonomy, where there is only the Bible to read all of life or personal autonomy with no middle ground for natural law and general revelation (black and white-ism being another tell-tale sign).

    ps you may have 18 years raised, but I have 22 years married into it (and counting). Contrary to what you suggest, it’s not a contest about who knows more than the other, but with that kind of time in I like to think I know a little something about it and know it when I read it. Frankly, you sound more fundamentalist than even my fundamentalists who take fundamentalism as biblical orthodoxy and Reformed confessionalism as somewhere south of liberalism and north of Roman Catholicism (hi, Richard).

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  171. Doug, it’s no shocker to proclaim that LeBron just blows off games when he feels like it. He has done it a few times in this series. He has done it at least a dozen times in the playoffs for his career. He doesn’t mind losing a game as long as there is another one to be played, the Pacers shouldn’t have won a game off them this year.

    A few times he has done it in the deciding game of a playoff series, which is painful to watch as a fan of the game.

    I never got the impression that Cowens or Hondo or Bird or Kareem or Magic or Jordan packed it in even once in a playoff game.

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  172. Doug, I believe that the Bible does not reveal everything. Haven’t you been reading OL?

    Glad to hear you don’t believe in freedom of religion. So you are a dangerous person in the U.S., since you oppose our constitution. At least you are more candid on this than the Baylys. But your disdain for freedom of religion conflicts with your claims (and Tom’s) about Calvin’s influence on the American founding (and beyond).

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  173. Kent, Kareem got that all the time! Didn’t you see “Airplane”? He was criticized for not caring enough, and not playing hard like the “Dave Cowen’s” of the world. Were it not for Magic Johnson coming to the Lakers, Kareem might have had to settle for ONE title on his resume, instead of six.

    Let’s not forget what Moses Malone did to Kareem in the 83 finals. Talk about getting man handled! The Lakers were swept that year. Kareems last MVP year was 80, and people were wondering if we should stick a fork in him. Fortunately for Kareem, the Sixers were never in another finals, and Robert Parish couldn’t bully Kareem like Malone.

    Personally I don’t root for LeBron, but I am loath to call him a quitter. Something tells me, you may be reading LeBron wrong. Sometimes a persons face can deceive you on what’s going on inside his heart.

    But in all fairness, we are both speculating, you might be right as rain! But not on Kareem!

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  174. Doug – The Great Commission takes precedence over freedom of religion. When we pray, we pray for the true name (Christ Jesus) of God to be revered, not whomever!

    Erik – The Great Commission is to make disciples and baptize, not to force conversions or adherence to the Law. This isn’t Sharia we’re talking about. You just need to embrace Islam and move to the Middle East, then you can have everything you want.

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  175. Doug,

    You can’t be all bad if you are citing “Airplane.” Cite “Young Frankenstein” and you may have me in your corner.

    To answer your question, given Gordon was a NT seminary professor, and ordained minister, writing his own book, and that he addressed a theology and did not attack the character of an individual, I don’t think he crossed any line; of course I am biased because I agree with almost everything he writes; almost.

    As for reading Bahnsen, when I first attended seminary way back when, I had never heard of theonomy, but someone recommend I read TICE. I read that, and NOS. Here were my problems with Bahnsen back then:

    1. He would cite a number of proof-texts next to his statements. Many of the proof-texts I looked up had little or nothing to do with the statement made.

    2. He seemed to take a more dispensational approach to interpreting prophecy. For example, in prophetic idiom, the word “law” can point to a number of different referents, and yet Bahnsen assumed the word “law” in each case must mean Mosaic law, especially the Mosaic commands, which the Bible does not bear out.

    3. Bahnsen built much of his case from his rather strange interpretation of the Greek verb πληρόω (fulfill) in Matt 5:17 as “confirmed,” as in Jesus came to confirm the Mosaic Law. I could not find an instance in Matthew where this verb meant confirmed, and I could not find one example in church history of anyone interpreting that word as confirmed in Matthew 5:17, instead of fulfilled. If that verse was his strongest New Testament case for theonomy, and it seem to be, then I thought it was pretty weak.

    Remember, theonomy is still a what-if theology. What if Christians ruled, what if they wrote laws, how would they govern? Since we are not writing law, and nobody is asking us to, why get so worried about it? And if in your post-mil understanding of things the nations will conform to God’s laws one day, why worry about who agrees with it now; according to your theology it will happen anyway. We just ask that you have mercy on us who will still argue for religious freedom in those days; maybe one less lash of the whip or something.

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  176. Going back a bit, DTM, to set your mind at ease, I was joking about the Latin. The Latin was a jibe at CTC and the Holy Pontiff (I once watched the head of the Pope’s office write the bull making some priest the Bishop of Helena Montana… it wasn’t real until it was latinized, and I’m sure that Latin cleared up any confusion about his bishopric.)

    Darryl broke the code… unless I didn’t know that Calvijn didn’t know Dutch… and I still don’t know that for sure. I mean, Calvijn was a pretty smart guy. Some of his friends even called him “den hersenen.”

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  177. Going back a bit, DTM made this comment in passing:

    DTM: “That makes room for Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Would any of us want people like that as members of conservative Reformed churches?”

    Umm… isn’t that the whole point? I’m not sure what the qualifier “conservative” means in that sentence, but if any Kennedy or any Pelosi showed up at my door, and after catechesis and interview could credibly take the vows of membership (nothing there about party affiliation or voting record).

    I’m happy to give you a chance to clarify, DTM, but taken at face value this comment I think gets at the answer to “why 2K?” 2K folks suspect that those who most rabidly oppose them in the church want to segregate the world into people “like us” and “not like us” (politically, culturally, morally), and fill the church with people “like us.” But the world is a messy place, filled with sinners, and I want sinners in the church, under the means of grace, confessing their sins and being redeemed. That’s where sanctification happens, slowly but surely and sometime even imperceptibly.

    But at times our opponents seem to suggest that the primary purpose of the church is the sanctification simpliciter, and even sanctification of the world outside the church before it joins it. That view and use of God’s law tends to cloud the gospel, at best.

    [Sorry about the Latin].

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  178. Never saw the movie Doug, and I wouldn’t base the career on one of the greats based on some line in a movie, that’s kind of pathetic. He was a hated opponent of Boston for 8 years.

    Nor would losing to a better opponent make a man a quitter.

    You have very strange definitions in theology, history and sports.

    I think you just like to be a disturber and argue for the sake of being a jerk.

    Pretty sad, you are lonely and you have only about 3 people to talk to and you treat us in this manner…

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  179. “[Theonomy] is not merely the view of the unwise, but the view of the never-to-be-wise….”

    Doug, your conduct seems to prove Gordon to be correct. Theonomy doesn’t seem to helped you develop wisdom.

    And why are we back to citing Gentry? The record on Gentry speaks for itself. It is interesting, though, that theonomists are willing to overlook the man’s significant ethical lapses because he’s an ally in the Culture War.

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  180. Bingo, Brian. Does DTM realize he’s vying for something closer to a Roman ecclesiology than Reformed?

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  181. Todd asks: “Remember, theonomy is still a what-if theology. What if Christians ruled, what if they wrote laws, how would they govern? Since we are not writing law, and nobody is asking us to, why get so worried about it?”

    Me: I’m not worried about it; not in the slightest. I have merely laid my cards out on the table. Just don’t accuse me of being inconsistent like you have with NeoCal’s. You’re right, theonomy is the natural state when a nation is sanctified to Christ, and not until it is.

    I don’t know how a sanctified nation would apply all of God’s law in a proper new covenant context. That is something God would have to reveal when we are mature enough to handle the truth.

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  182. A local liberal (UCC) minister loses bladder control over new freedoms for homeschooling in Iowa:

    Jonathan Page: A step backwards

    When I arrived in Iowa, I met, for the first time, several people who had been educated in one-room schoolhouses. I remember talking with one of these people, a member of my congregation and a former Iowa State University professor, who had no time for romantic notions about that experience.

    “It was a bad education, plain and simple,” he said. “I am lucky to have done what I have done.”

    One-room schoolhouses varied greatly in quality of instruction and the curriculum. Some students were fortunate, but many, like my congregant, were not. Thankfully, Iowa has made great strides since those days. Common curricula, teacher certification and improved teacher education, better facilities and consistent standards have all dramatically improved education for Iowa’s children. Sadly, the most recent education bill took a big step back to the days of one-room schoolhouses, and it was driven entirely by fundamentalist Christianity.

    In this legislative session, legislators dramatically reduced the level of accountability for children who are home-schooled, what the law calls “private instruction.” Parents are given new leeway to determine what their children learn and how they are progressing. It now will be significantly more difficult to assess whether the quality of education offered through private instruction meets the standard of our public schools. Moreover, the legislature now allows parents to form “mini-schools” in their homes, teaching the children of other parents with little oversight and with taxpayer dollars. Overnight, the Iowa Legislature opened the door for a potentially shocking decrease in educational standards for home-schooled children. In addition, non-public schools now can be accredited by religious organizations and still qualify for state funds.

    Recently, I was at a breakfast meeting where the outgoing Iowa Director of Education Jason Glass spoke. In the question and answer session, I asked him why, given the importance of accountability, standards and teacher qualification, did the homeschooling portions of the education bill get passed. Glass responded that it was a trade-off: We jeopardized the quality of education for a few thousand children in exchange for adequate funding for 500,000. I was stunned at his response. Is that how far we have come? Do we really have to make a trade-off between properly funding our schools and dismissing standards for Iowa’s children on religious grounds?

    To be fair, I am quite familiar with religion in educational settings. I attended a private school where we recited the Lord’s Prayer in our assemblies, learned about the Hebrew Bible and New Testaments, and received moral instruction explicitly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. I also have taught at two different religious high schools and worked as a college chaplain at a place where my salary was paid by the university. My first cousin, a Southern Baptist preacher, and his wife home-schooled their four children until they found a suitable Christian school for them. I understand the value of religiously based education. However, there is a big difference between religiously based education and the removal of accountability and standards. We have to ensure that Iowa children receive comparable levels of education regardless of where they receive their instruction.

    Iowa’s education system has come a long way since the days of the one-room schoolhouse. Iowa is not the frontier. It is a dynamic and increasingly innovative state where the citizens care deeply about the quality of education. The most recent education bill injects much-needed funding and tries new ways to boost teacher performance.

    And yet, for some reason, we let fundamentalist Christianity and its powerful lobby warp the system for home-schooled children. Like in the days of one-room schoolhouses, the Legislature has opened the door for a dramatic variance in the quality of instruction, the quality of the curriculum, and educational standards for Iowa’s young people.

    The sad result will be a substandard education for some in a world where education is the key to success. For a select number of Iowa children, the state has chosen ignorance over accountability, ideology over good public policy.

    The Rev. Jonathan Page is the minister of Ames United Church of Christ. He can be reached at jon@amesucc.org.

    My comment: It is ironic to find a liberal clergyman arguing for one-size-fits-all, government supervised uniformity in education. This is like saying the only form of Christianity that’s acceptable is evangelicalism or Roman Catholicism. After all, that’s what the vast majority is doing. In the same way that the one room schoolhouse is a relic of the past, liberal Protestantism is going the same direction. Forty years of declining membership. I don’t say this, though. Diversity and freedom is fine in education, just as it is in religion.

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  183. As I understand it, the former options for home schooling in Iowa were standardized testing or periodic visits from a public school teacher. I thought that was a pretty good balance between parental rights and state interests. I tend toward the parental rights end of the spectrum but I have to say I have seen a number of famlies who really shouldn’t have home-schooled their children, and those children who are now young adults are worse for it.

    How does the state now pick up on situations in which creepy parents keep their children at home out of convenience to have them do chores and babysit younger siblings? Is there any balancing of interests?

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  184. MM,

    I agree that the prior restirctions were not onerous. Note that homeschoolers also get to do their own drivers ed, though, which they have been fighting for for years.

    The UCC guy is being a tool in my opinion and is not making as good an argument as he could have because he’s blinded by all of the usual liberal biases about education.

    I admit to being impressed by Branstad II and some in the Iowa House. He’s got some serious stones the second time around. I don’t have an insider’s view, though. I’m also amazed that Gronstal caved on this.

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  185. MM,

    You also make an assumption that the “supervising teacher” made a difference in preventing lazy homeschooling. I know some lazy homeschoolers and they weren’t dissuaded. Public school teachers and administrators are so hit and miss. Some great, some terrible. Some care a lot, some don’t at all. In other words, they’re ordinary humans.

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  186. MM,

    The interesting thing will be if the Democrats regain control. Will they undo what was just done and will it be seen as Armageddon in the homeschooling community? They could make the restrictions tighter than they were, then the Republicans will wish they had left them alone. Every legislator has homeschoolers in their district, though, and they make their views known.

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  187. Since we’re on the subject of homeschooling, there’s this one: I heard indirectly from a different parent that someone’s kids who had been home schooled, and then did very well on the various standardized tests necessary for college admission, were denied admission to most of his/her favorite institutions once the applications had been reviewed and it was discovered that they had been homeschooled.

    Do you suppose there’s any truth to this or is someone who feels like the have an axe to grind just blowing smoke? If it is true, I’d be curious to know what the reasons for denying admission were. On the one hand it would be a slap in the face of the standardized tests; on the other hand maybe someone’s raising a level of doubt about how comprehensive homeschooling really is – or else there’s a conspiracy to try to stifle it altogether. Thoughts, comments?

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  188. Doug – Concerning Gordon, It’s as if he had never read Theonomy In Christian Ethics, in the first place. He was shooting at straw men, and miss-understanding Bahnsen’s arguments, and not dealing with Bahnsen’s exegesis.

    Bruce – So you finally finished TLINOF

    Doug – Just don’t accuse me of being inconsistent.

    Bruce – So you finally finished TLINOF!

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  189. Todd, so Gordon calling his theological opponents the *unwise and never to be wise*, is proper language? Do you realize that’s calling them fools? Are you comfortable characterizing John Calvin as part of the unwise and never to be wise crowd? You realize that Calvin, like Bahnsen believed that the Magistrate should enforce the first table? That’s theonomy 101 on steroids!

    If Gordon is correct, then Perkins, Cartwright, Beza, Cotton, Turrentin and Calvin, not to mention the men who penned our Confession 1646 were part of the *never to be wise* group? They all believed in the death penalty for crimes like adultery, homosexuality, kidnapping, blasphemy and rape. Why not ridicule them as well? Why not be consistent? Why not admit that our Reformers were a part of the *unwise and will never be wise* group of fools? BTW Todd, is someone is bereft of wisdom, that means they are fools. So John Calvin was a fool?

    Is Gordon aware of Reformed history? Does he realize that virtually all our Reformers were theonomic? You see Todd? It’s this kind of schizophrenic view of history that needs to be put down today. Why not be honest? It’s not rational to call yourself a Calvinist, and then say Greg Bahnsen’s perspective on theonomy is unwise, when that is the exact view of John Calvin.

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  190. Bruce, the day I take the time to write a book for the “reformed” community, on TLINOF is the day I will thoroughly research TLINOF and not a second sooner. I have interacted with TLINOF’s main arguments and found them sorely lacking. I frankly wouldn’t want to waste my money on such a incoherent book. As Dr. Venama pointed out, the authors couldn’t agree among themselves on what TLINOF meant. So why should anyone care?

    P.S. Bruce, it’s not ONE book. It’s written by a bunch of men who have different views on what Galatians meant. Why would I desire to read such a disjointed mess?

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  191. Todd, my offer still stands. Give me an address, and I will gladly send you the much needed medicine, Gentry’s response to Gordon. Since it’s been a couple few years, perhaps you need a fresh review. I am very confident when you read this book, you will see the folly in Gordon’s three main points.

    It’s a slam dunk!

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  192. Doug – Concerning Gordon, It’s as if he had never read Theonomy In Christian Ethics, in the first place. He was shooting at straw men, and miss-understanding Bahnsen’s arguments, and not dealing with Bahnsen’s exegesis.

    Bruce – So you finally finished TLINOF

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  193. Erik – dunno for sure, but I vaguely recall the mention possibly of places like Northwestern…maybe U of Chicago, upper caliber institutions like that, but not necessarily at the Ivy League or other high-dollar private school level.

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  194. Bruce, can you give me one good reason why I should read a book where the multiple authors can’t even agree with each other on what “the law is not of faith” means? Why read such a convoluted mess? Maybe after *they* come into agreement with each other, and write a coherent book, then we can talk.

    A house divided against itself can not stand.

    That’s why that book flopped.

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  195. Doug, would that be the same kind of mess that Bahnsen had to clean up after James Jordan tore down that entire congregation in Tyler Texas? Or is it more like the Gentry mess, or maybe it’s more like the whole mess between North and Rushdoony where they swore each other off and they was family? It’s been a little bit since I read TLINOF, but I can’t recall anything like that kind of rancor or any other kind quite frankly.

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  196. Doug – Concerning Gordon, It’s as if he had never read Theonomy In Christian Ethics, in the first place. He was shooting at straw men, and miss-understanding Bahnsen’s arguments, and not dealing with Bahnsen’s exegesis.

    Bruce – So you finally finished TLINOF?

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  197. Erik rebuts: “Erik – The Great Commission is to make disciples and baptize, not to force conversions or adherence to the Law. This isn’t Sharia we’re talking about. You just need to embrace Islam and move to the Middle East, then you can have everything you want.”

    Who said anything about forced conversions? When the Magistrate enforces *theonomy* he just punishes evildoers. Christians are to love there enemies. Are you drawing an equivalence with God’s law, and Sharia? Please tell me it ain’t so!

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  198. Sean, there wasn’t rancor, just honest disagreement. Read Dr. Venama’s 75 page review. He said the book was virtually impossible to critique because no one was on the same page.

    A house divided cannot stand.

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  199. Todd expounds: “To answer your question, given Gordon was a NT seminary professor, and ordained minister, writing his own book, and that he addressed a theology and did not attack the character of an individual, I don’t think he crossed any line; ”

    Ah hem, ah hem, brother Todd, when a NT seminary professor, who is also an ordained minister calls anyone who holds to theonomy, “the unwise, and never to-be-wise”, that is exactly the same as calling them a fool. Who other than a fool, is bereft of wisdom? Who other than a fool will never be wise? How dare he? Is that the way a reformed professor should comport himself? Call everyone who disagrees with theonomy “the never to-be-wise”? aka “fool”.

    Maybe your admitted bias has caused you to cut Mr. Gordon to much slack?

    It’s one thing, when a laymen like me uses the “F” word. I did it to jar you guys out of your spirit of stupor. Professor Gordon wrote that bombastic diatribe back in 99? Where is the outrage? If you read Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s response to his best critiques you will see strong argument and no name calling. Bahnsen who was beguiled by many in the reformed community answered with strong argument, and Christian charity, something Gordon lacks.

    My offer still stands Todd, how about looking at Gordon’s book, after he’s undergone some scrutiny?

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  200. Erick, when we were shopping for our home schooled first daughter we found some schools that really like home schoolers. I think one was the University of Nebraska, and I have no idea why. She went to Hillsdale, and there were a number of home schooled kids there. But she had good standardized testing scores, some A’s at the local community college (so not totally home schooled), and included a pretty good essay as part of her application. To be fair, colleges can be pretty unsure of what they are getting if all they see is a home school transcript.

    BTW, the teacher assigned to our kids was just outstanding. She was unabashedly Christian, very encouraging, and helpful in finding resources for us. We consider her a friend of the family.

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  201. George, I could maybe see it, but generally that caliber of school respects first class minds regardless of where they come from. I remember an interview with a U of C admissions guy who said his ideal candidate was a kid who spent his summers not doing impressive sounding public service but reading books under a tree. The great thing about America is that talent still rises in spite of politics.

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  202. Miami 3
    Spurs 1
    LeBron not even bothering to try 2

    Nice of LeBron to take off his iPod and warmups after 3 quarters tonight…

    Like

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