Persuasion by Innuendo

Bill Evans is baaaaaaaaaack with another dismissive post about 2k. I am not sure why he grinds this ax, though I have ideas. Also, I detect another attempt to tarnish 2kers with unmentioned and unmentionable implications of their position — the guilt by association technique:

We will cheerfully admit that 2K advocates have some legitimate concerns, particularly that the mission and witness of the church not be hijacked by political and cultural agendas. But in this instance the cure is worse than the disease. While 2K theology may well scratch the itch of Christians who need a theological excuse to remain silent in current cultural conflicts, it is both less than biblical and less than faithful to the decided weight of the Reformed tradition.

Evans shows that he still does not understand 2k. Plenty of 2kers talk about law and politics. The point is for the church only to speak or declare what God has revealed, and in the case of gay marriage, for instance, the Bible does teach what marriage, and that Israel and the church are to enforce biblical norms. But Scripture does not say what a constitutional republic’s marriage policy is supposed to be.

And this gets to the heart of the disagreement — not to mention where Evans not only fails to understand 2k but also the Reformed tradition. If the entire world is Christ’s kingdom, then we would expect all lawful authorities to enforce God’s revealed will. But the Bible tells us quite clearly that the entire world is not Christ’s kingdom — the world consists of believers and unbelievers. The Bible also tells us — contrary to mid-twentieth-century western foreign policy — that Israel no longer exists as the covenant people. The church is now the new Israel, and the church does not have temporal jurisdiction. That means that the church transcends national borders and magistrates’ rule. In other words, what goes on in the church is different from what goes on in the state — the state of Russia, the state of Canada, the state of Japan. Christian’s should expect the church to practice God’s law. But whether Christians should expect non-Christian governments to enforce God’s law upon people who do not fear God is a very complicated question.

The problem is that Evans fudges this very question when he says — in direct contradiction of the Confession of Faith:

. . . the kingdom of God and the institutional church are wrongly equated by 2K advocates. There is a rough consensus among New Testament scholars that the kingdom of God is a much more comprehensive reality than the institutional church, and this misidentification of the church and the kingdom has all sorts of unfortunate results, such as confusion over the nature of “kingdom work” and the silencing of Christians from speaking to societal issues.

Well, how would Evans rewrite this if he considered what the Confession — pre-1788 revision — does say?

The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. (25.2)

That’s not exactly the same thing as the kingdom of God. But when the Confession goes on to say — again, pre-1788 revision, “Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto, (25.3), it is saying that the kingdom of Christ and the visible church are doing something distinct from what the state or magistrate does — “the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers” (23.1). And this distinction between the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom (remember “my kingdom is not of this world” anyone?) and the temporal nature of the state’s rule, also explains why the Confession (pre-1788 revision again!) says the church should stay out of the state’s bee’s wax:

Synods 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. (31.4)

So the notion that 2k is outside the Reformed tradition on the nature of Christ’s kingdom is wrong.

In fact, those who expand the kingdom the way that Evans does under the influence of either Kuyper’s every-square-inchism or Finney’s millenialism are the ones who are outside the Reformed tradition and who threaten the gospel. And this goes to the heart of what animates 2k — a desire to preserve the integrity of the gospel and the church’s witness by not identifying the gospel or Christian witness with matters that are not Christian or redemptive but are common or related to general revelation. Once you begin to expand the kingdom as Evans so glibly does, you wind up doing what Protestant liberals did when they attributed to economics or agriculture or medicine on the mission field redemptive significance or what Social Gospelers did when they identified Progressive policies as signs of the coming of the kingdom. Only the church has the keys of the kingdom and all the Reformed confessions state explicitly that the magistrate may not hold them.

That means that the kingdom of Christ comes through the ministry of the church, not through the administration of the state or the advancement of Western Civilization or the building of the metropolis. Preaching and the sacraments establish the spiritual kingdom, not Broadway, the Tea Party, or a Supreme Court ruling.

Does this mean that 2kers agree with Calvin, Beza, or the Divines on the nature of the magistrate? No 2ker has said that they do. But we have it on good revised confessional authority that the Reformed churches no longer believe about the magistrate what the sixteenth and seventeenth-century Reformed pastors and theologians did. That change is not a minority position only held by 2kers. Proponents of 2k along with all the NAPARC churches, for instance, do not believe that the magistrate should enforce both tables of the law. Surprise!

But the question for the likes of Evans is whether (if he believes that the magistrate should shut down Mormon Temples and Roman Catholic basilicas) the state is actually establishing God’s kingdom. Calvin and the Divines did not believe that politics (or medicine or higher education or New York City) has “the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints.” Only the church has this power and ministry.

And that is why 2kers are so insistent on the dangers of transformationalism in whatever guise it comes. It attributes to human activities other than the church, no matter how good or legitimate they may be, transformative powers that Scripture gives only to the church and her ministry of word and sacrament.

So I wish Bill Evans in future comments on 2k would consider the weakness in his own understanding of Reformed Protestantism, not to mention the dangers that come from confusing the spiritual and temporal spheres.

Postscript: Evans also needs to give up the Lutheran-vs.-Calvinist mantra, at least when it comes to politics. One of the arresting parts of John Witte’s argument in The Reformation of Rights (a fairly whiggish and neo-Calvinist rendering of Calvinist resistance theory) is that Calvinists learned resistance from Lutherans: “It is significant that Beza cited the Magdeburg Confession (1550) as his ‘signal example’ of how to respond to political abuse and tyranny. For the Magdeburg Confession was a major distillation of the most advanced Lutheran resistance theories of the day, which the Calvinist tradition absorbed. (106)”

162 thoughts on “Persuasion by Innuendo

  1. That Falwell clip is actually really important because it shows the damage “the church” can do when it gets outside of God-ordained boundaries of what the church is commissioned to do and is indeed capable of doing.

    Basically, the church is not ours to screw up.

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  2. “…Christians who need a theological excuse to remain silent in current cultural conflicts..”

    Imputing base motives or cowardice, Mr. Evans? And, anyway, how brave is it to be in your camp? You’re in the big group.

    I’m still waiting for a critique of 2k to show evidence of understanding it.

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  3. I don’t understand this issue very well, so bear with me.

    “Scripture does not say what a constitutional republic’s marriage policy is supposed to be.”

    Isn’t it the nature of a constitutional republic to base its policies on the views of the citizens? If automobile manufacturers can advocate for policies that favor the interests of automobile manufactures, why can’t Christians advocate for policies that favor the interests of Christians, namely an interest in God’s law as the rule for a godly society?

    “by not identifying the gospel or Christian witness with matters that are not Christian or redemptive but are common or related to general revelation.”

    What matters of general revelation would be inconsistent with special revelation? If we advocate on matters of general revelation, rightly understood, aren’t we also advocating in accordance with Scripture?

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  4. Louis- “Isn’t it the nature of a constitutional republic to base its policies on the views of the citizens?”

    No. That’s what a democracy does.

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  5. Louis,

    You ask a good question.

    “why can’t Christians advocate for policies that favor the interests of Christians”

    How do you define “Christians” here?

    ” If we advocate on matters of general revelation”

    How do you define “we” here?

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  6. Say half your church’s members are management and half are labor. What should the church’s position be on raising the minimum wage?

    Catholic Social Teaching takes a position on things like this. Should our churches be doing likewise?

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  7. I wondered how long it would be before you responded. Much appreciated.

    The Curmudgeon had this to say…

    “It is impossible (for me) to know the reasons people are attracted to 2-K Theology. Perhaps some are suffering from culture war fatigue and can cover their shame with the 2-K fig leaf. They can use the 2-K excuse to avoid the dangers of speaking out on the issues. But it is impossible for me to attribute such a motive to those who teach and advocate 2-K views. Does anyone think of Scott Clark or Darryl Hart as the sort who are unwilling to go to war? Who are suffering from battle fatigue? Who won’t speak up and be heard and counted? These guys, at least as I read them, are ready to take names and kick butts.”

    Source: http://thechristiancurmudgeonmo.blogspot.com/2014/03/i-got-my-fig-leaf-on-headed-out-from.html#links

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  8. Louis, in short, it’s a matter of jurisdiction and competency. God has ordained churchly authority; elders, deacons and also ordained state authorities. Such distinctions can be seen in Rom 13 or in 1 cor. 5(as far as churchly reach) for example. And just like I have no interest in my pastor adjudicating either my technical or trade specific business decisions, much less political persuasions, if for no other reason than lack of competency. I am, for the same reasons, not interested in having my mayor or city council catechizing me or my family much less adjudicating doctrinal concerns and controversies.

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  9. Corporal Charter, 2K Army (retired), you earned ding:

    Say half your church’s members are management and half are labor. What should the church’s position be on raising the minimum wage?

    Catholic Social Teaching takes a position on things like this. Should our churches be doing likewise?

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  10. Erik: Say half your church’s members are management and half are labor. What should the church’s position be on raising the minimum wage?

    You mean the REAL church? It doesn’t really have time to worry about that kind of thing, what with the awareness of and dealing with the sin in members individually and collectively. And trying to hang on to a decent form of worship in this day and age.

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  11. Louis, they can. But wouldn’t Christians vying for their own political interests and “godly society” the way automobile manufacturers vie for their economic interests reduce the faith to something profane? Isn’t there something appalling implied in that comparison? Something about permissible but unwise comes to mind.

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  12. Erik,

    “How do you define Christians here…. How do you define ‘we’ here?”

    What distinctions would you draw and why?

    “Say half your church members are management and half are labor. What should the church’s position be on raising the minimum wage?”

    To say the church may speak on biblical issues to the civil magistrate is not to say the church has to take a position on every issue. Darryl cited the confession: Synods and councils are not to “intermeddle” in civil affairs, though they may petition “in cases extraordinary,” or when asked by the civil magistrate.

    Besides, if it ever was appropriate for the church to take a stand on the minimum wage, I suppose they’d do it on biblical principles (justice, mercy, the 8th commandment), not on the secular interests (labor vs. management) of its members.

    More to the point, since it seems to be the example that Darryl used in his post, isn’t the issue of ssm extraordinary? It’s a massive redefinition of marriage that goes against not only Scripture but pretty much all of human history prior to this generation. Surely it’s at least a valid judgment for the church to conclude the issue is extraordinary.

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  13. Sean,

    “ in short, it’s a matter of jurisdiction and competency. God has ordained churchly authority; elders, deacons and also ordained state authorities.”

    I think we all agree with that. The difficulty is in how precisely to define their respective roles and jurisdictions. The fact that the civil magistrate lacks Scriptural competence would seem to be the reason the Confession foresees him seeking advice from the church, and the church offering such advice when asked or when extraordinary situations call for it, but that in turn provides a role for the church in speaking to those issues.

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  14. Zrim,

    “they can.”

    Explain. You’re saying it’s biblical for them to?

    “But wouldn’t Christians vying for their own political interests and “godly society” the way automobile manufacturers vie for their economic interests reduce the faith to something profane? Isn’t there something appalling implied in that comparison?”

    I put it in those terms for purposes of comparison. A Christian advocating for God’s law in his community is not doing anything profane and is not on the same par with an individual advocating for what sometimes are selfish economic interests.

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  15. Dave,

    Define “biblical issues”?

    If one (not me) would say that God is renewing “all things”, then wouldn’t “all things” be biblical issues? So the Bible speaks on everything? The church should speak on everything? This gets us back to Roman Catholic Teaching.

    Does your minister and session/consistory have the training and competence to speak on everything?

    What do justice, mercy, and the 8th commandment have to say about how high the minimum wage should be or even if there should be a minimum wage?

    When you say that the church can speak to the civil magistrate, what church? How do they speak to the magistrate? By writing a letter, putting an ad in the paper, going to the Statehouse?

    A lot of questions, I realize.

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  16. I would seriously like to see some Anti-2K folks address the issue of Roman Catholic Social Teaching. Is it o.k. but it’s just the wrong guy doing the teaching from the wrong perspective (left vs. right?)

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  17. Erik, I said the church doesn’t have to weigh in on every issue, so I don’t want to get sidetracked on the minimum wage.

    As to the 8th commandment though, it requires “justice in contracts and commerce… rendering to everyone his due…. giving and lending freely, according to…. the necessities of others… and an endeavor… to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others,” as it likewise prohibits “fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, removing landmarks, injustice… in contracts… usury, bribery, vexatious lawsuits… ingrossing commodities to enhance price… and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor what belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves…” (WLC 141-142).

    So again, the church needn’t weigh in, but I do notice the Westminster divines had no problem applying the 8th commandment to specific commercial transactions.

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  18. Louis, your response doesn’t take into account rightful jurisdiction. Which should be an enormous limiting factor both ways. Extraordinary, primarily anticipates the state soliciting the church, and the church needing to, probably more often than not, refrain as the state’s lack of competence compels them(state) to ask, in most cases, ignorant of the separation or in violation thereof.

    “Synods 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” That should be an enormous hurdle to get to ‘extraordinary’.

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  19. In a good year my boss makes 10 times what I make. I make 10 times what the cleaning lady makes. In a bad year my boss could lose everything. If my boss lost everything, I might have to take a job making half of what I make, but would still be better off than my boss, who would be presumably be getting sued by everyone. The cleaning lady would probably still make the same amount she makes now.

    Where does biblical justice enter into all of this?

    My point? Temporal life is complicated and the Bible and the Church do not have all the answers.

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  20. My favorite part of Dr. Evans’ essay: “For Lutherans, the law always condemns…. simply citing formal similarities in Lutheran and Reformed language on the Two Kingdoms and Law/Gospel will not do. One must dig deeper to discern what is really meant and what is entailed.”

    In other words, we cannot take Lutheran Confessions at face value, because we learned Reformed men know better than they do how to interpret their own Confession, e.g., the Formula of Concord 6.4:

    “For the explanation and final settlement of this dissent (on the third use of the law) we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that although the truly believing and truly converted to God and justified Christians are liberated and made free from the curse of the Law, yet they should daily exercise themselves in the Law of the Lord, as it is written, Ps. 1:2;119:1: Blessed is the man whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law doth he meditate day and night. For the Law is a mirror in which the will of God, and what pleases Him, are exactly portrayed, and which should [therefore] be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently urged upon them without ceasing.”

    It is just historical slander to say that Lutherans don’t have a third use of the Law. I know some disparage it, but their Confessions do not.

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  21. My second favorite part:

    “But Augustine was no Manichaean dualist—he recognized that the inhabitants of the earthly city can accomplish relative goods, and he also believed that the efforts of Christians to better society can achieve real, if limited, results. Moreover, Augustine encouraged a public role for distinctively Christian virtues, even arguing that temporal rulers should suppress idolatry.[4] Thus, Augustine’s two cities are not the same thing as the recent Two Kingdoms.”

    Now, if Dr. Evans is just referring to that second part about temporal rulers and idolatry, fair enough. But that sentence begins with a “moreover” which means that he thinks that 2K folks don’t believe that Christians can accomplish relative, real, if limited results for good in this world. I don’t know of any who say that. Most tell their people to work their secular callings with vigor, seeking to bless their neighbors and towns, while yet not mistaking that for the Kingdom of God. He must be thinking of retreatest Millennarians or someone, but not Reformed 2K folk.

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  22. Whoops, take 2, with html tag fixed:

    Bible and the Church do not have all the answers.

    In your context, sure, I agree. But EC, the Bible does the complete answer I will ever need in this temporal life.

    Persnickety much over here, I know, I know.

    Lates.

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  23. Louis, theonomy isn’t biblical, but so far as I am aware it’s permissible to try and Christianize the state and society. But so is picketing gay funerals. As far as the profanity of “a Christian advocating for God’s law in his community,” have you considered that God’s law is for God’s people (Israel alone got the Decalogue, Egypt the Code of Hammurabi)? Why would a believer want to pimp out the law on Babylon’s walls?

    You also wonder if same sex marriage meets the extraordinary test because it’s “a massive redefinition of marriage that goes against not only Scripture but pretty much all of human history.” Gird thy loins, but so what? It’s a political question, so no matter how much anybody might huff and puff about its enormity, ecclesial bodies are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth. Denoms like the URC have even purposely refrained from speaking formally because the moral question is so glaringly clear that any attempt to pipe up is simply a creative way to weigh in politically. But the extraordinary clause should be read as those instances where the state is tempting the church to violate her own conscience, not on whatever is dominating headlines or gets some in the church particularly exercised. I have problems with interventionist wars (a pretty important political question, no?), but why should the church be expected to baptize my own politics? Same for those hyperventilating about abortion and gay marriage. Fight political problems on your own dime, not the church’s.

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  24. People are going to do whatever they want to do.

    The church can assist in hopefully causing some to turn away from their sin before they commence, to help them come to their senses when they are stuck, and to help repair sinners by leading them to the cleansing and conquering that faith in our Saviour Jesus Christ can provide.

    And we all need this daily…

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  25. Chris,

    There are a great many of us Lutherans who don’t buy into the “3rd use” stuff. And this is how it was with Lutherans from the start (of Lutheranism). There has never been agreement on it. It (3rd use” was the brainchild of a frightened Melancthon. If you want to see what Luther really thought about “using” the law, read his Heidelberg Disputation.

    For us Lutherans who place the whole ball of wax on Jesus…we hold to the Scriptures where the Confessions contradict Scripture. “Christ is the END of the law for all those who have faith.”

    So much for “3rd use”. Besides…the guide is already there in the 1st use.

    We already know what to do. We just flat out refuse to do it.

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  26. Zrim wrote: “Louis, theonomy isn’t biblical, but so far as I am aware it’s permissible to try and Christianize the state and society. But so is picketing gay funerals. As far as the profanity of “a Christian advocating for God’s law in his community,” have you considered that God’s law is for God’s people (Israel alone got the Decalogue, Egypt the Code of Hammurabi)? Why would a believer want to pimp out the law on Babylon’s walls?”

    GW: Agree with you about theonomy, and I’m sympathetic to 2K. And I also think I understand what you are saying about the decalogue being given to Israel and not wanting to try to “Christianize” a secular, non-theocratic state. At the same time, remember that our Reformed and Presbyterian confessions rightly (Scripturally!) view the decalogue as being a summary of God’s moral law, which is universally binding upon all mankind. Yes, the decalogue is the moral law revealed in codified, covenantal form to God’s covenant people. But at the same time, the Egyptians, Babylonians, and all other peoples in human history, considered as morally responsible image-bearers of God, are just as morally bound as the Israelites were to worship the true God, avoid idolatry, live biblically according to God’s creation ordinances (including the obligation to be faithful to one’s spouse, respect the property rights of others by not stealing, being truthful, not oppressing one’s neighbor, etc.). We would agree that the non-theocratic state ought not to enforce man’s religious obligations to the moral law (the obligation to render worship and thanks to the Creator; the obligation to repent of sin and seek God; the obligation to avoid idolatry; etc.). In this present age sinners have the legal right to commit religious sin (false worship); but that doesn’t make it any less sinful; and even if the ones practicing such false worship are not part of God’s holy, covenant people, their non-covenantal status does not excuse their false worship or render them morally unaccountable to their Creator. Idolatry is a religious sin, even for the unbaptized.

    God’s moral law is for all of God’s moral creatures — i.e., all mankind, not just for God’s covenant people. This moral law comes to pagans through general revelation and natural law, whereas it is revealed as an inscripturated written code for God’s covenant people. The form and manner of its revelation is different, but the obligation is universal. To suggest otherwise would be to go beyond the Reformed confessions (and, more importantly, to go against Scripture).

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  27. The more I think about the notion that “God is transforming all things”, the more ridiculous it seems. What does a fully transformed United States Military look like? The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things. If it’s fully transformed do they kill people and break things really, really well?

    When you lose sight of the distinction between the sacred and the common, things get downright silly (and kind of scary).

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  28. With respect, Steve, I am talking about Confessional Lutheranism, which you admitted above that you don’t represent. When one writes scholarly articles, speaking about a whole denomination/tradition, one must use their Confessions, not just anecdotes. That is why I critiqued Dr. Evans’ article.

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  29. I report, but do not endorse

    Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1971, p 7).

    The Christian is he who is born again by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, who takes the things of Christ and give them unto us. . . . Paul knows that his cultural activity will not be in vain in the Lord. He knows that Satan seeks to destroy his Christian culture by absorbing it into the culture of those who are still apostate from Christ. He knows that the whole course of history is a life and death struggle between the culture of the prince of the powers of darkness and his Christ, who has brought life and light into the world. He knows that he must fight the battle for a Christian culture ….

    Bill Evans— “In other words” (these are three of Evan’s favorite words), the difference between the Westminster Seminary Neo-Calvinists on the one hand, and the Bible Presbyterians on the other, was NOT transformationalism vs. anti-transformationalism, as Hart suggests, but between two different transformational models….

    mark—no matter how exceptionally transformed you are, you could always be a bit more so. Corollary—even an army or a whorehouse could and should be improved by some Christian salt and influence, and only a fundamentalist would disagree.

    Why it is always the Spirit who gives us Christ, and not Christ who gives us the Spirit? Is it because the extrinsic work of Christ is only about the forgiveness of sins and not about the reality of our becoming exceptional?

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  30. Chris,

    That’s just the type of response I’d expect from a biblicist.

    We ARE Confessional Lutherans. We also believe the Bible…even though we don’t give even weight to every jot and tittle.

    For us, the Confessions are great documents.

    But they in NO WAY are above Holy Scripture…which so-called “3rd use” tries to do.

    We don’t make the law the end of Christ. For us, “Christ is the end of the law.”

    Goodnight.

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  31. That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15

    Those who boast in their transformational work for the kingdom need to flush their boasting down the toilet. Where in the Bible does the word “righteousness” mean impartation or transformation? What texts teach the idea of some inner righteousness, which is not legal and imputed, and which is not Christ’s work finished but the work of the Spirit in us?

    “I don’t deny the legal” begins to seem a bit like a formality, when consistently followed by threats or boasts about “more than the forensic”,.

    What shall we talk to people about on their death beds, if we must move on from the forgiveness of sins? When it’s not about what we are going to do, but about what we have done, is that the time to say “don’t be looking back”? Or will it always be “have faith in the new you and future grace will change you”? The death of Christ imputed has many consequences, but those consequences are not to be equated with the righteousness of God.

    Romans 6–when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed. The end of those thing is death.

    Romans 7—you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we now bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive…

    Now that legal union with Christ’s death has justified us and set us free, shall we boast in our work for the kingdom? . Before justification, we may have already been ashamed of immorality. But before we were justified, we were NOT ashamed of our attempts to cooperate in the building of the kingdom and of our own righteousness.

    Philippians 3— But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order to gain Christ and be found in him

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  32. Certainly not all Lutherans are agreed, and there is some difference between the Lutheran confessions. I would say that the biggest problem with some Lutherans is that they reject the entire category of Christ’s death as a penal satisfaction of law. But other Lutherans (Scott Murray and Kilcrease — The Self-donation of God: Gerhard Forde and the Question of Atonement in the Lutheran Tradition ) have give us some good criticism of this rejection of vicarious substitution.

    For Forde it’s all about the wrath of humanity and NOT about the wrath of God. Forde is more interested in a “low anthropology” than He is about God’s justice in redemption. For Forde, humanity under the power of legalism prefers not to be forgiven so that it can maintain its illusory control over God with its morality and work for the kingdom.

    Forde gives an illustration of a man who throws himself in front of a moving truck and is killed while attempting to save a child playing in the road. In this analogy, sinful humanity is driving the truck and the man killed is Christ. Humanity drives the truck insofar as they supported “the legalistic order”. Forde sounds like the Torrances in his rejection of “the contract God”. Forde identifies the idea of God having wrath with “the legalistic order”..

    Forde asserts that goal of Jesus was to be “.crucified by the legalistic order so to bring a new order.” By killing Jesus, sinful humanity comes to recognize its bondage. In rejecting Jesus and his mercy, humanity is truly made conscious of its root-sin of opposition to God’s grace.

    For Forde, therefore Jesus did not die to satisfy the law or to suffer the punishment for our sins.. For Forde, Jesus only died in order to reveal a low anthropology— fallen humanity’s sin of self-justification and opposition to God’s grace.

    It’s not just Lutherans who have signed Lutheran confessions who have followed Forde in this direction, because there are also those who agree with Forde who have subscribed to the Reformed Confessions. Instead of Jesus dying as the gospel about satisfaction of the law, Forde has turned the dying of Jesus into law which reveals that we are all equally sinners (and that God was never angry with sinners).

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  33. Geoff, agreed. It’s when advocating for God’s law in civic life is equated with car salesmen hiring lobbyists I wonder. Whatever else it implies, it turns the church into a PAC and her head an equal among many. And what an irony–the attempt to give God’s law political heft renders it merely a squeaky wheel.

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  34. Forde does have a low anthropology. And a high Christology.

    We deserve and are capable of nothing (when it comes to the things of God)…and God decides to forgive us. Not because of us. Or in spite of us. But out of His good and gracious mercy for the ungodly.

    Forde was right.

    Forde was awesone.

    He had guts. He wasn’t one of those little frightened Lutherans who backpedaled away from Luther (such as Melancthon and Arndt).

    Forde rightfully said, “If we aren’t going to have a radical gospel where Christ does absolutely everything for the ungodly, and preach that…then we should just get rid of the whole thing.” (paraphrased)

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  35. An excellent class:

    [audio src="http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/lawgospel-refresher.mp3" /]
    _

    Some good Forde quotes from his book, “A More Radical Gospel”

    It’s ALL…or NOTHING, friends.

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  36. DGH: Christian’s should expect the church to practice God’s law. But whether Christians should expect non-Christian governments to enforce God’s law upon people who do not fear God is a very complicated question.

    The natural law is the basis for all valid law. It is “God’s Law” but is not the same as “Biblical” or Mosaic law.

    louis
    Posted March 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
    I don’t understand this issue very well, so bear with me.

    “Scripture does not say what a constitutional republic’s marriage policy is supposed to be.”

    Isn’t it the nature of a constitutional republic to base its policies on the views of the citizens? If automobile manufacturers can advocate for policies that favor the interests of automobile manufactures, why can’t Christians advocate for policies that favor the interests of Christians, namely an interest in God’s law as the rule for a godly society?

    “by not identifying the gospel or Christian witness with matters that are not Christian or redemptive but are common or related to general revelation.”

    What matters of general revelation would be inconsistent with special revelation? If we advocate on matters of general revelation, rightly understood, aren’t we also advocating in accordance with Scripture?

    Louis gets it.

    general revelation = natural law

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  37. If we advocate on matters of general revelation, rightly understood, aren’t we also advocating in accordance with Scripture?

    Not all of general relevation is contained in Holy writ. Westminster chapter 1 would be our guide here, freinds. Happy to continue.

    Peace.

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  38. Consider this:

    7. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

    It’s no great leap to say that if not all things in God’s Word are clear unto all, neither are those things in the Book of Nature, which I have read Bavinck to say are no less than the Word of God, as well.

    God alone is the Lord of the conscience. We must be careful what we call the moral law, and is therefore binding on all men.

    Again, our fathers in the faith at Westminster are our guide. There’s a reason why our confession goes through the decalogue in great detail.

    Search it out, is my suggestion, regarding the topic here. We’re confessional. It’s what we do.

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  39. Louis, whatever happened to the “common good”? I understand that special interests have their specialty. But isn’t the promotion of self-interest questionable, if not a tad selfish? So why would Christians take their cues from auto lobbyists?

    As for matters where general and special revelation don’t overlap, how about forgiveness of sins? The church forgives them, the state punishes them. If you get those mixed up, you’re in a boatload of trouble.

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  40. vd, t, that’s not the whole story. Law condemns. Jesus died so that we don’t face condemnation. Ulysses Everett McGill had it right:

    Pete: The Preacher said it absolved us.
    Ulysses Everett McGill: For him, not for the law. I’m surprised at you, Pete, I gave you credit for more brains than Delmar.
    Delmar O’Donnell: But they was witnesses that seen us redeemed.
    Ulysses Everett McGill: That’s not the issue Delmar. Even if that did put you square with the Lord, the State of Mississippi’s a little more hard-nosed.
    [laughs]
    Ulysses Everett McGill: Baptism! You two are just dumber than a bag of hammers!

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  41. DGH: “Louis, from the perspective of the Puritans, no fault divorce was a massive change in marriage policy.”

    this may be fairly obvious to everyone here, but this principle is superbly illustrated in Romans 12:9-13:10. Anyone ever wonder why Paul talks about Christian love both before AND after his section on the civil magistrate? Read it again sometime, and notice the huge contrast between the two’s duties. It’s almost as if Paul did not expect the Kingdom of God to come through government. Oh wait.

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  42. Tom,

    Are the first Four Commandments Natural Law?

    Is God more concerned about who has sex with who more than He is about how people worship Him and use His name?

    Methinks your outrage is a bit selective.

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  43. Mark said:

    >>For Forde it’s all about the wrath of humanity and NOT about the wrath of God.<<

    Actually, not at all. To add to Steve, it's not about legal punishment, but "much much more" than that, i.e. the *personal* wrath of God — which cannot be reduced to the law. God did not punish Jesus; God *cursed* Jesus because of the joyous exchange. God and the devil become indistinguishable … the Law attacked Jesus, it's not just Jesus suffering the wrath of humanity and that means you and I — *we* crucified Our Lord …. and on the Cross, not only are we implicated but we die in Him. It's a "head-on collision" — right at the moment, we are caught in the act of deicide, right at that moment, we are forgiven in the way of death and resurrection.

    This is not systematic theology but conflict and duel between Law and Gospel – a conflict "replayed" in proclamation of the Word and Sacraments … the Word is the Word of the Cross; Baptism is the Word of the Cross; the Lord's Supper is the Word of the Cross. Forde wasn't against vicarious satisfaction; he was against penal substitution — simply because we remain continuous existing subjects who remain under the wrath of God and the Law. Faith becomes a mental assent to the historical facts of the Cross.

    Whereas for Forde, in the very contingent event of the historical fact of the Cross, God accomplishes His immutable and unchangeable will to elect sinners. Election is by its very nature apart from the Law … this is why for Luther, Forde, Paulson, election/ predestination is synonymous with justification which is apart from the law.

    In other words, the Cross is "disruptive" — it creates a rupture that makes permanent the breach between the old and the new aeons so that there is discontinuity between the old and new, Law and Gospel … the Cross disrupts, interrupts, destroys, etc. our "progress" from vice to virtue which is according to the opinio legis (the legal scheme) …

    Thus, we cannot read into the Cross as a synthesis between wrath and mercy, Law and Gospel — on the contrary a cosmic battle between the both … in which victory and triumph and glory takes place in, under and with the form of opposites (sub specie contrario) …

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  44. >For Forde it’s all about the wrath of humanity and NOT about the wrath of God.<<

    hello, again, Jason, I do like talking to you, not only because of your claim to believe in atonement only for the elect alone but also because (like Erasmus, but in a different way) you get right to the heart of the matter.

    jason: Actually, not at all. To add to Steve, it's not about legal punishment, but "much much more" than that, i.e. the *personal* wrath of God — which cannot be reduced to the law.

    mark: You need to make up your mind, either Christ's death is not about legal punishment or Christ's death is about more than that. I have read all of Forde, and I don't want to confuse you with Forde. Forde does deny that God's wrath punished Christ for sins (see in particular his Proclamation book). But, your second option, not to deny the wrath but to say "but it's more" or "but it's personal" is the more common approach today. But the problem is that the "not deny": is a mere formality and gets lost soon, for the sake of the supposedly "new creation" which is created by the presence of Christ in faith, with this ontological reality created by preaching (the means of grace) being the main existential thing, and so practically the significance of the forensic is forgotten.

    Better to say out right with Forde—not punishment. Instead you seem to say "more than punishment", which is mystical and ambiguous and not rational. Why does have God having a law and needing to satisfy that law somehow say that God is less "personal"? Are you a nominalisst, or an occasionalist who denies that God has a nature? Does the hidden-ness of God mean for you that you can deny what God has revealed about Christ being under the curse of the law?

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  45. Chris, you might be over-presupposing that the words of Jesus or Paul mean anything at all to people on this forum.

    It does for some, for which I am grateful.

    The rest give themselves away freely and proudly in their concerns on here.

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  46. Mark: I would remind you, Jason, that though I am not uninterested in the Confessions (or the difference between the book of Concord and other confessional stuff), that I am not Reformed, not an infant water baptizer, self-identified with the 1644 Baptist Confession, and what I am looking for in your rhetoric is some attention to biblical texts about law. I can and have read Kierkegaard and Levinas, and I know something about the categories Forde is using, but at the end of the day it seems to me like a huge distraction from what the Bible does say about Christ’s death and the law.

    jason: God did not punish Jesus; God *cursed* Jesus because of the joyous exchange.

    mark: What’s the difference and why is it important to you? Who made the exchange? Did God impute the sins of some sinners to Christ? When did God do that? Did Christ bear the sins of some sinners. When Christ was made sin, who did that if not God and it was not by legal imputation? Does church water make the exchange? Does preaching make the exchange?

    Miroslav Volf.In his book, Free of Charge (Zondervan, 2005, p147) writes: “Since Christ is our substitute, after reading ‘one has died for all,’ we’d expect him to continue, ‘therefore none of them needs to die.’ Had he written that, he would have expressed the idea that theologians call EXCLUSIVE SUBSTITUTION. According to this view, Christ’s death makes our death unnecessary. As a third party, he is our substitute, and his death is his alone and no one else’s.But that’s not how the Apostle thought. Christ’s death does not replace our death. It enacts it,.

    Jason, when you deny punishment, are you agreeing with what Volf means about “inclusive substitution”? That is, without denying that Christ Himself died, are you saying “more than that” , because the real important death is our own existential dying under preaching?

    Jason, are you using the “exchange” word to avoid the ‘substitution” word? If not, what you do mean by legal substitution? Or do you, like Forde, simply deny legal substitution under the wrath of God the Trinity?

    The problem here cannot be fixed by simply noticing that Christ died only for the elect.Not all liberals are Arminians who condition the salvation of a sinner on the sinner’s faith. Many liberals are universalists who say that God will save everybody because Christ was the representative substitute for everybody.What I would like to think with you about, Jason, is the nature of the substitution.

    If Christ’s death replaces people’s death, why does the II Cor 5 text say that all died? Why does Romans 6 talk about the death of those legally identified with Christ’s death? My answer is that “all died” is how the II Cor 5 text tells us that the death of Christ replaces the death of all. Since the death of Christ comes to count as the death of the elect, once the elect have been joined to that death by Christ’s imputation, this tells us that another death is not necessary.

    You must not confuse Christ’s righteousness with the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. You must not confuse Christ’s death with our coming to find out that we are bankrupt sinners. Conversion is a result of the righteousness imputed, but conversion is not the righteousness. Receiving the reconciliation by imputation is not itself the reconciliation. Christ Himself made the reconciliation. (Romans 5:11, 17).

    I’m not sure what “enact” is supposed to mean, and perhaps the word is chosen for its ambiguity, but nobody else but Christ can or will die as punishment for another person’s sins. And if Christ’s death gets counted as the death of the elect, the death of the elect is a death like Christ’s death because it IS Christ’s death.

    The death of a justified sinner is not some other death, not something more real and important than Christ’s death because of sins legally imputed to Christ.

    “For I through the law died to the law” mean? Galatians 2:19

    Machen, Notes on Galatians, p 159 : “The key to the interpretation is probably to be found in the sentences, I have been crucified together with Christ, which almost immediately follows. The law, with its penalty of death upon sins (which penalty Christ bore in our stead) brought Christ to the cross; and when Christ died I died, since he died as my representative.”

    Machen: “The death to the law… the law itself brought about when… Christ died that Since He died that death as our representative, we too have died that death. Thus our death to the law, suffered for us by Christ, far from being contrary to the law, was in fulfillment of the law’s own demands. “

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  47. Jason: That means you and I — *we* crucified Our Lord …. and on the Cross, not only are we implicated but we die in Him. It’s a “head-on collision” — right at the moment, we are caught in the act of deicide….This is not systematic theology – a conflict “replayed” in proclamation of the Word and Sacraments …

    mark: I agree with you that it’s not systematic, except in its denial of penal satisfaction of God’s law.
    As for the rest, it’s only rhetoric. Because you either cannot or have not yet even told us the difference between “penal substitution” and “vicarious substitution”.

    I think I could tell you the difference

    it’s —not penal, not legal, not instead of , but along side with, along with our death…

    It’s–Christ died because of human wrath, and not because of God’s wrath (and decree)

    It’s–turning the gospel into law, instead of saying Christ died instead of some people (so that justice demands that those people be imputed with that death and thus given all blessings in Christ), it turns the gospel into law preaching–telling us that “you killed Jesus”. Adding the “but God forgives anyway for killing Jesus” does not change it into gospel, because the confusion of law and gospel which results denies the wrath of God and the justice of God’s law. It makes God’s law irrelevant. But if that is the gospel, Jason, why did Jesus need to die to teach that?

    I don’t want to misrepresent what you are saying in any way, Jason, so if you want to help us here, then you tell us what the difference is in your mind between “penal substitution” and “vicarious substitution”. Tell us for yourself, instead of simply putting the rhetoric out here for us to
    deconstruct.

    Many religious songs during Lent have us confessing ourselves as “maggots” for having put Christ on the cross. But I question this sentimentality. First, if we all put Christ on the cross, then Christ died for all sinners, and that is the false gospel, unless Christ saves all sinners.

    Second, nobody but God has the ultimate power to put Christ on the cross. If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, then is the Triune God also to apologise? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

    God’s sovereignty does not eliminate the accountability of sinners. Certain specific lawless men killed Christ. But also, God gave Christ up to die for the sins of the elect alone. God and not man determined for whom Christ would die. Christ purposed that Chrisst would die. The Triune God purposed that Christ would die. Specific humans 2000 years ago purposed that Christ would die. This means that not all humans purposed that Christ would die. His mother Mary, for example, did not kill or intend to kill Christ.

    We did not ourselves put Christ on the cross, Jason because WE ARE NOT THE ONES WHO MAKE THE EXCHANGE. Water baptism does not get to decide when and if our sins are put on Christ.

    The cross is not what condemns. Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because we are all already condemned in Adam . The false gospel turns a supposedly universal death into guilt for those who don’t meet the conditions which supposedly make Christ’s death effective.

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  48. Jason: we remain continuous existing subjects who remain under the wrath of God and the Law. Faith becomes a mental assent to the historical facts of the Cross.

    mark: as usual, your rhetoric is less than clear because your thinking is not as rational as it needs to be. Are you saying it can’t be ‘penal substitution” because there can be no truth to a legal death so that all sinners have to remain “continuously existing subjects” despite any legal vicarious punishment of Christ in the place of specific sinners? Are you saying that, in your own view, condemnation from the “you are guilty” of your gospel keeps Christians still “remaining under the wrath”? In any case, are you deny that faith involves mental assent to propositions about historic facts about Christ’s death and the nature of Christ’s death? Or, are you saying that faith is not less than mental assent, but “more than that”?

    If the two facts you present sinners are
    1. Christ died for all sinners, because all sinners killed Him
    and 2. nevertheless not all sinners will be justified

    then indeed you had better be looking to something else besides these two “facts” to find some assurance. You had better be saying-but I got the water. You had better be saying—but I am believing that Christ died for me but other people for whom Christ died are not believing that. You had better be saying—but when the clergy absolves me, I feel inside of me the presence of Christ and then I know that means that faith is present in me. Jason, with the propositions you promote, you need to look to something like that. And yet you (not for other Lutherans, but for you) claim not to deny election, or even that Christ died vicariously only for the elect? Do I have that correct, or have I misunderstood somewhere along the way? When was it that the elect were elected in Christ?

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  49. Jason: Election is by its very nature apart from the Law … this is why for Luther, Forde, Paulson, election/ predestination is synonymous with justification which is apart from the law.

    mark: I am going to comment on this one last thought of yours, Jason, and then give you some time to read and perhaps, as you have time, answer. I don’t agree that either predestination or justification is “apart from the law”.

    Let me focus first on justification. Justification is apart from sinners satisfying the law. Justification is NOT apart from Christ satisfying the law.

    Faith does not satisfy the law. The righteousness of God in Christ is about Christ having satisfied the law. Christ died for His people under the curse of the law.

    Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.

    The “record of death” against elect sinners were the “legal demands” against elect sinners.
    The moral/ceremonial distinction was often used by Roman Catholics against the Reformers, when the topic was justification by imputation vs justification by our law-keeping. Calvin would not allow the Romanists this distinction in order for them to say that only some kind of our works were not a condition of salvation. Calvin ruled out ALL OF OUR WORKS (even “works of faith”) as having any part in our justification.

    Romans 3:31 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

    Romans 3 is the clearest foundation possible for the doctrine of a definite “limited in extent” atonement, because the apostle teaches that Christ’s death is a law-work, a satisfaction of law for the sins of the elect. The cross is a penal substitution, a propitiation, an appeasement of divine wrath by Christ’s death for all the sinners who will be saved from that wrath.

    Propitiation means that the law must be faced. Paul’s gospel does not substitute one kind of righteousness for another kind of righteousness. The gospel is not about an “end-run” around the law. The righteousness of the gospel comes by Christ taking the law head-on, meeting its every demand and satisfying its curse.

    Paul cannot let the fact that the gospel is “apart from the law” as regards sinners doing the law obscure the equally prominent fact that Christ’s righteousness IS a law righteousness. Romans 3 has been all about showing that God’s law cannot be set aside without rejecting God and His righteousness. Justification cannot be a matter of sweeping sins under the rug of a divine forgetfulness. Gospel righteousness is satisfaction of God’s law. This is why Christ had to die.

    Now, Jason, let me see if I can be more brief about the matter of predestination. Even many who call themselves Reformed want to place election after the decree to make atonement, so that the
    atonement will not be restricted to the elect. They think of election as something that causes the elect to believe, but they refuse to teach an atonement only for the elect.

    But election in Christ is first! The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love. God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ. Jesus, the incarnate Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election. “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.”

    I John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins

    I Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the age but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

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  50. “Punishment God Cannot Twice Inflict”—Garry J Williams, p 507, in From Heaven he Came , Crossway, 2013

    “My argument stands against an unspecified penal satisfaction narrowed only by its application. The sacrifice for sin in Scripture is itself specific…If the penal substitution of Christ has no relation to one person’s sin, then it is not in itself God’s actual answer to any sin, and therefore not penal at all…An unspecified “No” is not an answer to anything; it is without meaning….I cannot see how anyone who excludes the identification of Christ’s satisfaction itself with the specific sins of specific individuals can avoid the logical outcome of denying its truly penal character.”

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  51. If the Bible tells us what marriage is and the state decides to redefine it in opposition to that teaching then why shouldn’t the church say something? I agree that a lot of aspects of modern life do not have direct pronouncements from the Bible, but marriage does.

    Also, is NAPARC really representative of the Reformed tradition? Why does NAPARC get to decide what is and is not the official Reformed view now? I think it would be better if you spoke of certain denominations within the Reformed tradition having adopted a position on the Civil Magistrate different to that of the Reformers and their successors. It would be more accurate.

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  52. “all the NAPARC churches, for instance, do not believe that the magistrate should enforce both tables of the law.”

    False. Some churches in NAPARC still have the original Article 36 of the Belgic Confession; others employ the original Chapter 23 of the Westminster Confession.

    And even if it were true, it would still be either a false authority fallacy, or an argumentum ad numerum, or both.

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  53. Alex, You can take or leave NAPARC. But folks like Evans make it seem like 2k is some minor off-in-the-corner view. It’s one reflected in all the “conservative” churches in the U.S. I understand the Scots are still coming to terms with the modern world — even though they gave it to us.

    As for the church speaking to the state on marriage, I would not be opposed to my own communion in a letter sent by the highest assembly outlining the problems that changes in marriage law would mean for Orthodox Presbyterians. I do believe that the consequences of this public policy change will be profound and some days I’m thankful that I will likely not live to see their direst consequences.

    But that is a different communication than one that expects the state to enforce God’s law, a strategy that people have yet to show was what Christ and the apostles did.

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  54. Sean, which church has the original Belgic? All of the major gripers about 2k, from the Baylys and Rabbi Brett to Dr. Kloosterman are in churches that have revised the 16th and 17th century confessions on the magistrate.

    You are technically right about the RPCNA on the WCF. But you did not tell the whole truth and so are false:

    So you would think that the language of suppressing blasphemy and heresy from the original Westminster Confession is just fine with the RPCNA. It turns out that Covenanters, at least confessionally, no longer have the stomach for the language of 1640s London. In their Testimony, which is part of the communion’s Constitution and runs along side the Confession, the RPCNA has this to say about paragraph three of chapter twenty-three: “We reject the portion of paragraph 3 after the colon:” (emphasis theirs). This means, for the confessionally and grammatically challenged, that even the logic of national covenant no longer sustains the idea that the magistrate has authority.

    And don’t you think it is odd that members of NAPARC churches would make 2k a matter of fellowship when the NAPARC communions don’t do so?

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  55. @internet:

    Just for clarity sake, let me properly cite my Herman Bavinck reference:

    Herman Bavinck made similar points. When dealing with the issue of harmonizing Scripture with science, he claimed that there is the book of nature and there is the book of Scripture. When conflicts arise, it is usually due to our own misunderstandings. “Conflict arises only because both the text of the book of Scripture and the text of the book of nature are often so badly read and poorly misunderstood.”[15] It may sound somewhat striking to our ears, but that same theologian said, “No one has any objection, no one can have any objection, to the facts advanced by geology. These facts are just as much words of God as the content of Holy Scripture and must therefore be believingly accepted by everyone. But these facts must be rigorously distinguished from the exegesis of these facts that geologists present.”[16] These are striking statements advanced by a Reformed theologian of the highest caliber.

    Up to my ol’ hobby horse (hello scientists),
    AB

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  56. “If the Bible tells us what marriage is and the state decides to redefine it in opposition to that teaching then why shouldn’t the church say something? I agree that a lot of aspects of modern life do not have direct pronouncements from the Bible, but marriage does.”

    Some of us with a more libertarian bent would question why the church should assume the state has the right to define marriage at all, let alone as the Bible does. Below is an article from a member of my church she sent to the Albuquerque Journal on gay marriage from a libertarian perspective, and it was surprising how much positive feedback it got across the spectrum. While I might have chosen a different word than oppression, I was proud of her thinking on the matter.

    “I’m what you might call a “conservative Christian.” Gay marriage is a violation of my religious beliefs, but then again, so is forcing those who don’t share my beliefs to conform to a law that my holy book says is impossible for anyone to obey.

    I’m actually on neither side of this issue.

    You see I oppose marriage licenses altogether as I believe in the right of adults to associate with whomever they choose and as long as that association is voluntary, no one has a right to interfere with that relationship.

    1) To the traditional marriage crowd, I say this:

    The marriage license is not a Christian marriage.

    A Christian marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man, a woman and God.

    A marriage license is a temporal contract between you, your spouse, and the state – and God can be a witness if you choose (I’m sure He appreciates the consolation).

    The marriage license is not a biblical requirement for Christians to uphold the sanctity of this covenant. It is little more than our golden calf. There is no need to idolize it.

    If we want to protect our religious belief, the only option is to abolish the marriage license altogether. We don’t need the government’s permission to enter into a covenant with God.

    2) To the gay marriage crowd, I say this:

    The marriage license is a relatively new phenomenon in American history. It was first introduced because the government didn’t like interracial marriage, and so required that interracial couples ask the government permission before getting married, and the government would either approve their relationship or deny it.

    If approved, they received a license.

    Black’s law dictionary defines a license as a permission. The marriage license is not a bastion of freedom, but a tool of oppression.

    True equality means not having to ask the government permission to exercise your rights. If you want to protect your right to your relationship, the only option is to abolish the marriage license altogether.

    The government has no authority to grant permission to voluntary adult relationships, and despite their having asserted themselves to the contrary.

    One side of this debate is fighting for the freedom to believe as they want. The other side is fighting for the freedom to live as they want.

    Both sides are fighting for freedom – we cannot successfully do that when what we’re arguing over is a tool of oppression.

    Instead of begging for the government’s permission, why don’t we work together and rid ourselves of the requirement to get permission for something where the government has no business being.

    The only “protected class” should be human beings. “Christian rights” should not be held higher than “gay rights” and visa versa – primarily because there is no difference between them. Our common ground is freedom – that’s what makes us American, that’s what should unite us.”

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  57. It’s a damn shame that Jason is bald, because you know he would be coming up with a rad new hairstyle every month to match his epistemological shape shifting.

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  58. Erik, as far as I can tell, the avatars I see floating around consist of three smokers.

    Jason
    Muddy
    and Dick.

    My friends, we must not forget. Someday, we give account for what we do during this life.

    Point is, for the nicotine theological journal, are those three who we are to look to?

    I put this before the assembly.

    Yo.

    PS almost forgot,Jack smokes too. But sometimes, he shows up on the lyre.

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  59. D.G. – I do believe that the consequences of this public policy change will be profound and some days I’m thankful that I will likely not live to see their direst consequences.

    Erik – First off, you’re not that old. I have more grey than you do.

    Second off, it seems to me that gay marriage has in many ways positively domesticated a lifestyle that previously mostly existed in the rather sordid shadows. This is why the gay marriage movement surprises liberals like Fran Lebowitz:

    Ellen DeGeneres joked the other night at the Oscars that “Dallas Buyers Club” is about having sex at rodeos. With an increase in gay marriage I worry less about what I might run across if I use a restroom in a State Park. Doug Sowers will feel easier stopping for a Big Gulp at an interstate truck stop.

    Kids will be raised by more gay parents, but this has been happening for a long time. I don’t think the behavior/orientation is learned, so I don’t think this will lead to an increase in the number of gay adults.

    It’s 3% of the population. It has always been 3% of the population and will continue to be 3% of the population. I don’t see 3% of the population destroying Western Culture, not even if they are Methodists or Revivalists. The appeal of being gay is just not there for the other 97%.

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  60. Todd, that’s interesting. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the lack of a legal component to a marriage. Paul seems to trade upon it in our faith relationship to Christ. I know some states still have common–law arrangements, but it’s a minority at this point. Maybe there are other ways to secure the legal component besides a license, but I’m not familiar. I also worry about the slide of marriage away from a common, temporal arrangement into either an merely egalitarian assertion or worse a sacrament of the church. There’s also the necessity of filling the tax rolls, manning an army and otherwise securing a distinct and good if not holy way of life, which is ultimately dependent on couples propagating and providing somewhat stable environs which goes beyond just their own individual happiness but entails repercussions to and responsibilities toward your neighbor. It seems the state has a vested interest in securing it’s future and encouraging practices toward that end. And while fertility options are available that could never be anticipated, they aren’t widely accessible, much less affordable, and even if they were, are hardly a sure and reliable course around which to orient policy that serves the shared interests of a community. Anyway, just thinking some of it through. Push back, welcome.

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  61. Sean,

    yes, I asked her that same question, and she responded that there is contractual law the state can enforce when called upon that would address those concerns, but of course we are dealing with a “what if” scenario, so who knows. I’ll ask her if she wants to respond on here.

    Like

  62. If the State is going to promote anything that is in it’s long-term self-interest they should promote childrearing by people who can afford to parent kids and instill them with a work-ethic. If my wife & I raise 10 hardworking kids who can support her & I (as well as several slackers who didn’t have enough kids to support them in their old age), we’ve done a great service to the Welfare State.

    In the long term demographics are everything. Societies are either rising or falling and their rise or fall depends on how many people they have who can create more wealth than they consume.

    Like

  63. This is why gay marriage is mostly just an annoying distraction from our real problems. Our biggest problem is that we are becoming a nation of morons, half of whom live at a level far above their productivity, courtesy of politics. Meanwhile China is a nation of a billion people, half of whom live at a level far below their productivity, courtesy of politics.

    What we will witness in the next 50 years is a profound rebalancing of that equation. Politics only stands in the way of market forces for so long.

    Like

  64. This is why gay marriage is mostly just an annoying distraction from our real problems.

    Not really annoyed here, but that’s just me. Then again, I think I’m the youngest person posting here (where’s KENWINS when I need him). The stuff they fed my brain in school, being in college this millenium (started college technically last millenium, being Sept 2000), just wasn’t the same they fed you all, my forebears.

    Anywho, interesting stuff folks. Later.

    Like

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

    DA Carson: I would argue that marriage is a creation ordinance, not a church ordinance. I’m not sure that ministers of the gospel should be involved in the legal matters of weddings at all. I rather like the
    practices that have developed in France (though I admit that they developed for all the wrong reasons). There, every marriage must be officiated by a state functionary. Christians will then have a further service/ceremony/celebration, invoking the blessing of God .

    Carson: But the legal act of the wedding is performed exclusively by the state. That is one way of making clear that marriage is not a distinctively Christian ordinance (though it has typological significance calling to mind the union of Christ and the church). Marriage is for a man/woman
    pair everywhere, converted or not, Christian or not— a creation ordinance. Ideally the state should adopt the same standards for marriage and divorce as those demanded by Scripture. But where that is not so—whether by sanctioning marriages after prohibited divorces, or by sanctioning marriages between persons of the same sex, or whatever— Christians will be the first to insist that because we take our cues and mandates from Scripture, our own standards for what will pass for
    an acceptable marriage will not necessarily be those of the state. Those who perform marriages should remember that when they do so, they are not performing a sacrament, or making a marriage union more holy.

    Like

  66. Erik Charter
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink
    Tom,

    Are the first Four Commandments Natural Law?

    No. Do you understand the difference between “general” revelation and special revelation?

    Your problem is you ignore the other 6 commandments and call it “worldview.” But why did God even bother to give them in the first place? Answer that and you’ll start getting there.

    Like

  67. mark mcculley
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
    http://gospeltranslations.org/wiki/The_SBJT_Forum:_Issues_Relating_to_the_Family

    DA Carson: I would argue that marriage is a creation ordinance, not a church ordinance. I’m not sure that ministers of the gospel should be involved in the legal matters of weddings at all. I rather like the
    practices that have developed in France (though I admit that they developed for all the wrong reasons). There, every marriage must be officiated by a state functionary. Christians will then have a further service/ceremony/celebration, invoking the blessing of God .

    Carson: But the legal act of the wedding is performed exclusively by the state. That is one way of making clear that marriage is not a distinctively Christian ordinance (though it has typological significance calling to mind the union of Christ and the church). Marriage is for a man/woman
    pair everywhere, converted or not, Christian or not— a creation ordinance. Ideally the state should adopt the same standards for marriage and divorce as those demanded by Scripture. But where that is not so—whether by sanctioning marriages after prohibited divorces, or by sanctioning marriages between persons of the same sex, or whatever— Christians will be the first to insist that because we take our cues and mandates from Scripture, our own standards for what will pass for
    an acceptable marriage will not necessarily be those of the state. Those who perform marriages should remember that when they do so, they are not performing a sacrament, or making a marriage union more holy.

    Marriage as divine ordinance is not about the sex, it’s about becoming “one flesh.” That isn’t possible with 2 people of the same gender.

    Once marriage became about [any] two people “loving” each other, it mutated into something else.

    Like

  68. After following these discussions for some time, I’m not sure that 2K versus 1K really captures the dynamic. Borrowing from the distinction between Whig Thomists (Finnis, George) and Augustinian Thomists (Schindler, Rowland) in Catholic circles, perhaps it may be better to refer to Hart et al. as “Augustinian Calvinists” and the revivalists and transformationalists as “Whig Calvinists”.

    After all, I’d say that I’m putatively 1K, in the sense that I believe that any government other than Christendom is illegitimate. (I know that puts me at odds with some here.) That being said, I have no interest in trying to transform and/or evangelize illegitimate governments; my only interest is in extirpating them. And when extirpation is not a reasonable option (which is almost always going to be the case), I would simply prefer that such illegitimate civil governments operate consistently by the principles revealed to us through the light of nature and which are available to us all. I have no interest whatsoever in encouraging an otherwise illegitimate civil government to cloak itself in a garb of apparent Christian legitimacy. Or maybe the Whig Calvinists, such as Evans, are so focused on enforcing the second table of the Law (usually against others, such as “teh gayz”) that they’ve forgotten the First Commandment.

    Whig Calvinists shouldn’t be thought of as folks who have a strong view of Christians’ ability to influence the culture. Rather, we should think of them as folks who have a weak view of Christ’s power to establish His own Kingdom apart from and contrary to the culture. In that sense, I’d rather believe in two kingdoms, where one of the two is the Kingdom of Christ in His Righteousness, than believe in one kingdom, which is nothing but a compromised, syncretistic kingdom that reflexts more the shoddy handiwork of man than the holiness of God.

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  69. Bobby, wouldn’t it be better to make distinctions between temporal and eternal and subsequently common and holy? That would give you a more solid footing in the here and now and maintain an unsoiled Kingdom of Christ and His Righteousness. It would also make a lot more sense of Rom 13, 1 Thess. 4:11 or even Christ’s distinctions as to the nature of the kingdom. You could still uphold the religious tension between the two kingdoms(city of God/city of Man-strict antithesis, even violent), while bringing the appropriate context and tension to a fallen world caught between the ages(two age) and the passing nature of this life as compared to an eternal hope and a better country, waiting on a new heaven and new earth, while affirming God’s good rule, if not eternally intended, for this temporal life; marriage, children, state et al.

    Like

  70. That’s okay Bobby, but at least please keep working to understand what 2K is really about, unlike almost all cracker jack cowboys attacking us on their worthless blogs.

    Like

  71. But why did God even bother to give them in the first place? Answer that and you’ll start getting there.

    See, Tom, being good with HTML makes me look smart:

    Q. 93. What is the moral law?
    A. The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul, and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he oweth to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it.

    Q. 94. Is there any use of the moral law since the fall?
    A. Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law; yet there is great use thereof, as well common to all men, as peculiar either to the unregenerate, or the regenerate.

    Q. 95. Of what use is the moral law to all men?
    A. The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and will of God, and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly; to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives: to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.

    Fore!

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  72. Erik – Are the first Four Commandments Natural Law?

    Tom – No. Do you understand the difference between “general” revelation and special revelation?

    Erik- Introducing Tom Van Dyke, un-churched Doctor of Theology. Wonderful.

    Where does ignoring the first four and obeying the last six get a person in the end?

    Like

  73. Tom,

    Plus, Paul puts the first four under the heading of general revelation as well:

    Romans 1:

    18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

    Like

  74. Todd, as one of the traditional marriage crowd, how does the libertarian argument envision marriages being solemnized? As attractive as it might be to defuse the vying for power that animates culture warriors of whatever stripe, how does pushing the government out from its role as an authority to solemnize really help? To whom does the role fall? Fathers? Seems patriarchal. Religious authorities? Isn’t that to ground marriage in redemption instead of creation? What about those who don’t have a religious authority?

    And is it really to idolize marriage licenses to want civil authorities to solemnize? Sorry, but this traditionalist can never help but get the feeling this line of argument is the same one the college freshman shacking up with a girl gives to her father: “Man, it’s just a piece of paper. We don’t need the lousy government justifying our love.” Inspiring, dude, but not very comforting. So while I disagree with some that homosexuality should enjoy the sanction of marriage, the assumption that their marriage should be solemnized by the government resonates more than the libertarian argument which just seems like the sort of idealism that gives us anarchy. And Bible churches.

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  75. Zrim,

    The problem with your argument is that this country was founded without the state needing to approve marriages. Inter-racial marriage in many states were illegal, but eventually marriage licenses were only required of inter-reacial couples when the states needed the money. Without such a license the marriage was considered illegal. No such licenses or requirement was necessary for white couples. Soon some states began requiring all couples to obtain a marriage license, likely again for financial reasons. In 1923 the Government established the Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act, and by 1929, every state began crafting marriage license laws. So what is wrong with wanting things to be like they used to – it worked pretty well when the government didn’t see the need to officially “approve” marriages.

    Like

  76. @sean

    I suppose one could, and I recognize that that’s what the classic 2K positions posits. I’m just not persuaded the Scripture makes such stark distinctions. I’ll agree to two kingdoms, so long as we can agree that only one is temporally limited and lacking in legitimacy.

    My larger point, though, is that, in the political sphere, a classic 2K position and a robust 1K position wouldn’t look all that much different in practice. After all, even a 1K-er ought to accept that the only legitimate Kingdom finds its origin in the Resurrected Christ and not in man-centered efforts at cultural transformation and/or revivalism. IMO, the offensiveness of the Bayly-Evans-Kloosterman position isn’t that it denies theological neutrality to the secular magistrate, but, rather, that it blesses syncretism as a strategy for hastening the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom.

    After all, even the 1K position accepts that there are two kingdoms; it merely posits that there is only one legitimate Kingdom, and that the other is fraudulent. The problem with transformationalism is that it leads people to pick the fraudulent kingdom over the legitimate one.

    Maybe, it’s better, then, to refer to the Bayly-Evans-Kloosterman position as 0K. After all, when engagement in the Culture Wars overshadows the Gospel, it’s a clear sign that you’re laying a lot of your treasure up in places where moth and rust indeed destroy and where thieves indeed break in and steal.

    Like

  77. Erik said: “Where does ignoring the first four and obeying the last six get a person in the end?”

    A. Grand Rapids, Michigan
    B. Bloomington, Indiana
    C. ZIP Code 80995
    D. Just about anywhere in the South
    E. All of the above

    Like

  78. Bobby, I’m with you on the temporal. The illegitimate is going to hang me up. Common isn’t Holy, good isn’t eternal. In an absolutist sense, I think I understand where you are going, but if the temporal is God ordained and sustained, that it isn’t the cult, isn’t a innate fault of the temporal and it still provides the stage upon which the cult engages in it’s redemptive mission. Your position would still seem to be a demand, even just abstractly considered, that expresses dissatisfaction with God’s arrangement, though I assume you’d argue that it isn’t necessarily God’s arrangement, at least of this age, and would seem to be an expression of an instinct to immanentize the eschaton.

    Like

  79. Thanks Todd for posting my article here, I’m happy to have it discussed.

    To Sean:
    I want to address some of your concerns.
    1) Not having a marriage license does not mean that there is no legal component. On the contrary, common law marriage is itself a legal component. Marriage would still be a contract in a legal sense and our court system already mediates private contracts. The only reason for obtaining a marriage license is to (ultimately) get the tax benefits. Nearly every other aspect that married couples enjoy (eg. insurance beneficiaries) can already be dealt with through contracts. And if there is any area where current law still forbids contractual agreements for benefits (eg. medical insurance), then they should be allowed. Gay couples should not be forbidden from being at their loved one’s bedside in the hospital, or kept from sharing medical insurance benefits, etc and allowing those things are certainly not a violation of the Biblical idea of marriage because the Bible is silent on these benefits (these are human constructs).

    2) taxes are arguably irrelevant in relation to marriage. I’m personally an advocate of consumption taxes because it encourages economic production and discourages government overreach. Under this model “married filing jointly” would be done away with as there would be no income tax. However, even now the government should neither reward nor penalize marriage. Right now, we are at a tenuous point where Congress can (and they have) penalize marriage. If the government really wanted to compromise the sanctity of the marriage license, they would simply make it too costly to marry. Taxes seem like a very bad way to encourage marriage, and has even led to so-called “business marriages” where marriage is done solely for the benefit of taxes. I served in the Air Force, and it was VERY common for service members to marry simply for the benefits. This certainly hurts the sanctity of marriage and is one of the sticking points homosexuals use against the notion that allowing only state-sanctioned heterosexual marriage is “protecting the sanctity” of it. And they’re right (in my opinion) to call out this hypocrisy.

    3) I hope you are not insinuating that the government is necessary for the procreation of the species. I think what you suggest here also leads to an undermining of the purpose of marriage and the role of women in society. But besides that, marriage license laws are such a small aspect of human history that it is merely a “blip” on the radar, and we seem to be filling the earth just fine with out them. Actually, I think that state-sanctioned infanticide is far more responsible the destruction of the of family unit than whether licenses are granted to homosexuals or not.

    4) The state’s only vested interest is it’s own existence. Marriage has no bearing on whether or not government exists, and actually the bigger the government the smaller the role of marriage and family becomes because the government wants this role for themselves. Society, on the other hand, does have a vested interest in personal relationships and responsibilities. When government is taken out of the equation, the social construct becomes stronger. The family unit becomes key in raising future generations because government isn’t there to intervene. You should read up on the history of Ireland. They’ve had the longest standing form of government in history under anarchy (over 1000 years). While I’m not personally advocating of anarchy, the point is to show that societies are perfectly capable of taking care of the culture on a voluntary basis without government regulating relationships.

    For me, as a Christian, my motivation for taking the government out of marriage is to protect religious liberty. I agree that having the government sanction homosexual marriage (via a license) treads too close to forcing those who have religious objections to sanction it as well. However, the government CANNOT discriminate, and as such must license all adults seeking a marriage license. We are now seeing polygamists jumping on this bandwagon now too. The position that traditional marriage advocates propose (making laws against gay marriage) sets a bad precedent because it allows a simple majority of people to dictate to the other 49% what kind of relationships are okay. So what happens when the tables are turned? When Christians are once again a minority (and it is trending that way), then the simple majority can ban Christianity in general for being “oppressive.” America’s historical monopoly on religion doesn’t guarantee to us that we will always have the upper hand and we certainly ignore the fact that America was founded upon liberty all everyone not just those who comply with traditional social constructs.

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  80. @sean

    Fair enough. I understand your point; I’m just not entirely persuaded, although I think there’s a lot that’s right about the 2K position.

    My main point, though, lies with countering Evans’ implicit argument that transformationslism is merely the Calvin side of the Luther-Calvin debate on church-state issues. First, I think he oversimplified the distinction, if he even understands it. Second, even if he’s right, the “Calvinistic” view leads you to seek Christendom, not a syncretistic Christianized secular state. I do think it’s possible to read Calvin as advocating both 1K and 2K at various times. But Calvin’s view of 1K looked nothing like what was envisioned by the Culture Warriors. In short, the Culture War finds its source in Finney, not Calvin.

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  81. Bobby—I’ll agree to two kingdoms, so long as we can agree that only one is temporally limited and lacking in legitimacy. My larger point, though, is that, in the political sphere, a classic 2K position and a 1Kingdom position wouldn’t look all that much different in practice. After all, even a 1K-er ought to accept that the only legitimate Kingdom finds its origin in the Resurrected Christ and not in man-centered efforts at cultural transformation and/or revivalism.

    Bobby—IMO, the offensiveness of the Bayly-Evans-Kloosterman position isn’t that it denies theological neutrality to the secular magistrate, but, rather, that it blesses syncretism as a strategy for hastening the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom….Even the 1Kingdom position accepts that there are two kingdoms; it merely posits that there is only one legitimate Kingdom, and that the other is fraudulent.

    mark—-sounds like a good anabaptist argument to me. Why must we be called anarchists for accepting a duty to submit to the evils of the kingdom which ignores Jesus? Why would we have a duty to ignore Jesus ourselves so as to improve that other kingdom? Why are we obligated to say that the state which returns evil for evil is no different from being an ordinary plumber or being a common baker? Since creation is for the purpose of redemption (not for its own sake, Ephesians 3:10), why should we ignore the example of Jesus Christ the redeemer for the sake of His creation?

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  82. @Mark

    I have no real disagreement with the Anabaptists on those points. That likely explains the recent popularity of the late John Howard Yoder in Reformed circles (or at least among us who lean in a Barthian direction).

    Like

  83. Erik Charter
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    Plus, Paul puts the first four under the heading of general revelation as well:

    Romans 1:

    18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

    Then why did you ask me?

    [I do find your proposition interesting, although I don’t see the “graven images” part as self-evidently the natural law, nor, even if reason could derive the One God, what his name might be, that one could take it vain. God’s revelation [or not] of his name {I Am Who Am] is “special” revelation, no?

    Erik- Introducing Tom Van Dyke, un-churched Doctor of Theology. Wonderful.

    We all do what we can. Thinking about God is preferable to not thinking on Him, and perhaps it’s inborn, eh? “Our hearts were made for thee.”

    Where does ignoring the first four and obeying the last six get a person in the end?

    Why ask me? You seem to have the answers, and I believe it’s implicit in the question I already asked you–why did God give us the other 6 in the first place?

    “Worldview?”

    Like

  84. Kerry
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    4) The state’s only vested interest is it’s own existence. Marriage has no bearing on whether or not government exists, and actually the bigger the government the smaller the role of marriage and family becomes because the government wants this role for themselves. Society, on the other hand, does have a vested interest in personal relationships and responsibilities. When government is taken out of the equation, the social construct becomes stronger. The family unit becomes key in raising future generations because government isn’t there to intervene.

    Or not.

    The church used to be synonymous with “society,” and ecclesiastical courts–not civil courts–used to regulate marriage and family. But here in America, the Puritans [Calvinists!] left ecclesiastical coursts back in the old country as too “papist.”

    Without the church’s ability to use social pressure to enforce norms, the lax marriage regime in America became quite a crummy deal for mothers and children abandoned by the father. Enter the government. And now, as you allude to, the government has indeed replaced the father in the family structure. In this vacuum, it’s not surprising that marriage can be so quickly and easily redefined as a matter of “love” and sex rather than laying the cornerstone for family formation.

    When government is taken out of the equation, the social construct becomes stronger.

    I would like that to be true, Kerry, but I don’t think it is. As it was 200 years ago, mother and children are simply left to starve.

    Like

  85. Tom, if you don’t want pointed theology questions directed at figuring out your beliefs, then it makes little sense to keep discussing this stuff just for the heck of it. Erik asks good questions. He’s put more effort into this site than anyone I know of, except the host.

    Here’s food for thought, maybe:

    Everyone’s favorite Presby bishop from NYC recently tweeted thusly:

    If Xianity is really true it will be offending and correcting you somewhere

    Get used to feeling a bit uneasy with us, the longer you stay. Right now, we will stop at nothing to get you into a Bible believing church. Maybe you go, we have no idea. But I view you as a seeker, a pilgrim. Until we know more, it’s hard questions and uneasiness.

    Ultimately, we are driven because of who Christ is and what he has done. We are without hope otherwise, to paraphrase JGM.

    Grace and peace.

    Like

  86. @sean

    Put another way, I’m generally unwilling to cede a separate ontology to the “kingdom” of the present.

    There are probably at least a couple of other important distinctions between transformationalism and a traditional Calvinistic 1K view.

    1. Transformationalists tend to be epistemic idealists, while Calvinists of both the 1K and 2K variety are epistemic realists. This aspect of transformationalism probably finds two main sources: Hegelian philosophy, which influenced Kuyper; and American revivalism. Schaeffer seems to be the one who brought these two disparate streams of idealist thought together. In either case, idealism leads folks to exaggerate the effects of the Fall and therefore to lose hope in the ability to create a civil society–ableit ontologically illegitimate–merely by relying on principles drawn from God’s general revelation. By contrast, a traditional 1Ker believes that God has not left us in such a state as to prevent us from forming reasonably just civil societies, even if they are ontologically ephemeral.

    2. Transformationalists tend to be Biblicists, meaning that they exaggerate the degree to which the Bible can supply principles for ordering civil society. This goes hand in hand with the idealism. Idealism requires the establishment of some set of aspirational principles, which are objectively true apart from human experience. Idealists need this because they need something to fill the void after having denied any value to natural reasoning. God special revelation (Scripture) gets nominated to fill the role. By contrast, traditional 1Kers would envision no role for Scripture outside of the bounds of ecclesial authority.

    Calvin indeed seems to vacillate at times between a 2K and a 1K view of church and state. Transformationalists make a lot of this, suggesting that Calvin’s alleged 1K tendencies give some credence to their desire to preoccupy themselves with the Culture War. This is simply wrong. Calvin’s notion of 1K wouldn’t look a whole lot different from 2K in practice. The difference is more one of form over function. The 1Ker is at least formally open to the notion of Christendom or covenanted societies, even while acknowledging that God has not generally elected to create conditions that would allow that to be reasonably achievable.

    But there’s a world of difference between the Calvinistic 1Ker and the Culture Warrior. To summarize: (1) the former rejects syncretistic efforts to transform or revive any non-covenanted civil order, while the latter does not; (2) the former affirms that God’s general revelation provides a sufficient basis upon which to build reasonably just civic societies, while the latter does not; (3) the former believes that God’s general revelation is entrusted to the Christ’s Church and that it has no substantial role to play outside of the Church’s jurisdiction, while the latter does not; and (4) the former believes that Christendom will be established, if at all, through the expansion of the Church’s jurisdiction at the expense of the civil magistrate, while the latter believes that Christendom will be established by Christianizing the civil magistrate.

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  87. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm | Permalink
    Tom, if you don’t want pointed theology questions directed at figuring out your beliefs, then it makes little sense to keep discussing this stuff just for the heck of it. Erik asks good questions. He’s put more effort into this site than anyone I know of, except the host.

    Here’s food for thought, maybe:

    Everyone’s favorite Presby bishop from NYC recently tweeted thusly:

    If Xianity is really true it will be offending and correcting you somewhere

    Get used to feeling a bit uneasy with us, the longer you stay.

    And I you, brother. It says “Theological Society” on the door here, yes? The Door of Uneasiness must swing both ways. And I certainly do like the idea that one must beware a Jesus who is too congenial to you. He did come to overturn apple carts.

    So pls do ask Erik to answer my questions occasionally rather than answer questions with questions. We have given up on our host, who has a religious opposition to answering anything on the square. I did think of y’all today when I chanced upon your Catholic friends and erstwhile co-religionists pitting R. Scott Clark vs. John Frame—Biblicism vs. confessionalism.

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2014/01/clark-frame-and-the-analogy-of-painting-a-magisterial-target-around-ones-interpretive-arrow/

    R. Scott argues just the same as the late great “kenloses” did

    Remember, since the 16th century, revisionists and errorists have always said, “We’re just following the Bible.” That was the loudest refrain of the Socinians, who ended up denying the Trinity. They denied the deity of Jesus, the substitutionary atonement and justification by works all on the ground that, they were just following the Bible. All heretics quote Scripture. The question in this controversy is not the normativity of the Bible but who gets to interpret it.

    Then Frame writes:

    If dissent against any proposition in the confession destroys the dissenter’s good standing in the church, then the confession becomes irreformable, unamendable, and, for all practical purposes, canonical. And when a confession becomes canonical, the authority of the Bible is threatened, not protected.

    So I’m like, what’s not to like? Why did you give Kenneth and Susan and Cletus such a hard time, O Theological Society?

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  88. Tom,

    If you want, read the comments section. Me and Kenny got real chummy on a blog of and Ex RC, turned PCA.

    Look man, just givin’ you my view. Erik is a reformed Xtian. You stand up for Romant Catholics. So yeah, the quesrions should go that way, and not the other way around. Whatev. I’m checking out for weeks, if not months.I know that’s my mantra, but Twitter is where I reside.

    Was giving you feedback, is all.

    Best,
    Andrew

    Like

  89. Kenneth Winsmann
    MARCH 8, 2014 AT 1:29 AM
    Andrew B,

    I still recommend old life to all my Protestant brothers considering Calvinism. Its a great blog for the Catholic cause. Anyone can read through the oceans of extremely offensive and insulting comments over there and empathize with the above comment.

    AB, me brother. Dude.

    It sure ain’t just me. In fact, I talk about Darryl and his theology and this blog in much more sympathetic terms when I speak of them off-site. I don’t take the offenses and insults personally, it just goes with the territory.

    Why do I tarry, Darry? Because I continue to learn a lot here, albeit seldom what is taught.

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  90. “I still recommend old life to all my Protestant brothers considering Calvinism. Its [sic] a great blog for the Catholic cause.” -Wiseman

    If folks are looking for a “cause,” then I would probably not recommend Calvinism. That’s not really something we do. I’m sure that Greenpeace is taking memberships.

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  91. There was a typo in my long comment above. I said “general revelation” when I meant “special revelation”. Redo below.

    (3) the former believes that God’s special revelation is entrusted to Christ’s Church and that it has no substantial role to play outside of the Church’s jurisdiction, while the latter does not;

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  92. Bobby
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Permalink
    “I still recommend old life to all my Protestant brothers considering Calvinism. Its [sic] a great blog for the Catholic cause.” -Wiseman

    If folks are looking for a “cause,” then I would probably not recommend Calvinism. That’s not really something we do. I’m sure that Greenpeace is taking memberships.

    Of course the Reformation was a “cause,” Bobby. To reform errant Christianity. Nothing wrong with that.

    Catholicism is a “cause” as well. Not just evangelical–converting the unconverted–but ecumenical, calling back all to one true single church as instituted by Christ.

    Surely Christ intended ONE Church, not hundreds or thousands? I’m trying to stay with you guys here.

    Like

  93. Erik, the family in the U.S. is a mess (technical term). We now look to public schools (!!!????!!!) to do what families can’t or won’t. I don’t see how bending the genders of marriage will be good for anyone except lawyers who will get paid all sorts of fees for circumnavigating divorce and custody laws (not to mention inheritance laws).

    Like

  94. Bobby, ” I believe that any government other than Christendom is illegitimate.”

    I appreciate the candor. But that’s hardly Pauline or Petrine. Honor the emperor.

    Like

  95. Bobby, “the offensiveness of the Bayly-Evans-Kloosterman position isn’t that it denies theological neutrality to the secular magistrate, but, rather, that it blesses syncretism as a strategy for hastening the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom.”

    Word.

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  96. Re: Natural Law:

    Ordained Servant Online

    Natural Law in Reformed Theology: Historical Reflections and Biblical Suggestions

    David VanDrunen

    I am grateful for the invitation to give this lecture,[1] both for the opportunity to serve the presbytery and to learn from you as I continue my own work on the subject of natural law. I know that this can be a controversial topic. Before I begin I should offer a brief definition of natural law: it is a law given by God, defining human beings’ basic moral obligations and the consequences of obedience and disobedience, revealed objectively in the natural world and known subjectively by rational human beings who are constantly confronted by the natural world, though sinfully prone to twist its meaning.

    In the first section I offer historical reflections. I conclude that natural law simply is a part of the historic Reformed system of doctrine and intimately woven into the Westminster Standards. Thus, I believe the question before us as Reformed Christians is not whether we have a theology of natural law, but what kind. In the second section, therefore, I present an outline of how a good Reformed biblical theology of natural law might be constructively developed.

    continue reading here

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  97. Todd, I’m as nostaglic as the next lady, but the problem with “wanting things to be like they used to” is that it smacks of anachronism. While I appreciate much of what Kerry is trying to say (especially how society is a bottom up phenomenon), we just don’t live in a time and place where kicking the government out of marriage makes much sense. In fact, it seems as plausible as the theonomists wanting to (ahem) marry up church and state.

    For my own part, I’m willing to retain the need for government involvement, maintain that homosexuality should not enjoy the sanction of marriage, but let local communities decide it may and live with an imperfect system. And I’ll leave the screeds about the sky of western civ falling to the Constantinians.

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  98. Zrim,

    It is not about advocacy, it is about consistency. Of course the state is not going to get out of the marriage license business, so it would be somewhat silly to take that up as a cause at this stage of the game. But for most of history, marriage was a private contract between two families, not a matter for the state to sanction. When the state decided to officially “approve” some inter-racial marriage and call others illegal, where was the church descrying this, whether the banning of the races marrying or government intrusion in marriage. The church doesn’t start whining until the state assumes different convictions than the church on a matter.

    I respond in the same way to Christians who whine about Congress allowing a clergy member from a non-Christian denomination to lead them in prayer before a session. What did you think would eventually happen when you failed to distinguish the two kingdoms? We are not always going to be a majority after all, and Congress did not establish a national religion, so this is the bed you made…

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  99. “Why do I tarry, Darry? Because I continue to learn a lot here, albeit seldom what is taught.”

    If the first century had game shows is that where all the Gnostics would have hung out?

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  100. Todd, which are the same ones who variously fret about having a Mormon President. Speaking of which, and consistency (though I know this isn’t your own point), would these same fretters have us kick Vermont (and others) out of the union for giving gay marriage cover the way Protestants demanded Utah stop giving cover to polygamy before being let in?

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  101. Tom,

    Good questions on Romans 1. Interesting that Paul says that the knowledge that can be gleaned from creation is enough to condemn people. Bad news for universalists, good news for Calvinists.

    I was just giving you a hard time. I do admire you admitting where you are at. Indeed, we are where we are. Sometimes it’s just a matter of embracing the suck.

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  102. Zrim,

    Most Christians I encountered were excited about having a Mormon President and were assuring everyone that he believed as we did on all the essentials. Orange City couldn’t get enough of Mitt.

    Anything is better than a black liberal who might take a lot of our money.

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  103. I know of many Pastors and Elders in the PCA and OPC who find the Radical Two Kingdoms theology taught at Westminster Escondido is to be ahistorical from a Reformed standpoint but very much Lutheran from a theological standpoint.

    Like

  104. The denominations to which I was referring are the Presbyterian Reformed Church, the Heritage Reformed Congregations, and the Free Reformed Churches of North America.

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  105. from the response by Bill Evans: “The recent NT scholarship I referenced maintains, rightly I think, that the church is an aspect of the kingdom of God, but that the kingdom is a reality greater in scope than the church….. how can we be sure that we are not addressing the law as law to the “new man” and thus inculcating works righteousness?)

    mark—-Why attend to Hart’s point about Reformed confessions when you can congratulate Steve Martin for being the kind of Lutheran you want all Lutherans to be? What good could any “scholarship” be that disagrees with Bill Evans?

    The question about addressing the new man with the law is not something uniquely “Lutheran”. It’s the “unionists” like Evans who tell us that the law is now the friend of those imparted and infused with the resurrected righteousness.

    http://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/a-brief-response-to-darryl-hart/

    Like

  106. Speaking of 2K, I read most of Van Drunen’s chapter on Barth in NL2K yesterday. Barth was nuts about Mozart. Now I don’t feel so bad about my semi-religious devotion to Steely Dan.

    Like

  107. Zrim wrote: “Geoff, agreed. It’s when advocating for God’s law in civic life is equated with car salesmen hiring lobbyists I wonder. Whatever else it implies, it turns the church into a PAC and her head an equal among many. And what an irony–the attempt to give God’s law political heft renders it merely a squeaky wheel.”

    GW: Agreed. When the church behaves like a PAC, it departs from its holy calling and becomes desacralized; which is another way of saying it becomes secularized.

    Like

  108. The government provides protections to back up the marriage contract, sometimes at the point of a gun.

    Which is a very good thing.

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  109. Two groups that will benefit from gay marriage: Liberal Protestants and Sociologists.

    What will a gay couple do who wants to raise their children in a church? The UCC in Ames is pastored by an (unmarried) gay man. The UCC welcomes homosexuals with open arms. Being that their current members are the most part senior citizens I am not sure how adding another group that does not reproduce will help them long term, but it may temporarily slow their demise.

    Sociologists have all kinds of new fertile ground for research. Will gay marriages experience similar divorce rates to heterosexual marriages? Will gays who do not marry but cohabitate be stigmatized by married gays as “living in sin” (we all look for occasions to look down our noses at others). Will gay marriage limit the “wandering eye” and will “cruising” and the bath house culture be frowned upon by married gays? Will married gay candidates touting “family values” begin running for office? In the Republican Party? What will happen to the flamboyant gay pride parade? Gay porn? The drag queen? What hath Ward & June Cleaver to do with Ru Paul and Jack Wrangler?

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  110. The fascinating dynamic is that sexual expression and openness have been the hallmark of what it means to be a homosexual (man, especially) since the dawn of the sexual revolution. As us married men know, marriage is where these things go to die (ha, ha). But seriously, what married man talks about marital sex with his buddies? No one does.

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  111. I’ve read enough Plato and Juvenal to fall for this “sexual revolution” fable.

    And Grove Press publishing efforts to boot…

    Like

  112. Perhaps it was more a communications/mass media revolution than a sexual revolution.

    Watch “Obscene”, the documentary about Barney Rosset if you get the chance.

    Like

  113. Thanks for the update on Iowa, Erik.

    (for those of us outside the local news route that still have an interest in the story for various reasons…)

    Like

  114. Kent,

    You’re welcome. I don’t even have to look for updates. I just read the morning paper and they keep re-appearing. Who knew it would lead to a first amendment spectacle that would go on in the courts for years…

    Who is bankrolling this six figure defense?

    Like

  115. No way I’m reading all that from Rabbi Bret unless somebody pays me. I do notice at the end that he is now using the phrase “vanilla Christian”. (Ahem) In churches that are 98% caucasian already I might choose another term…

    Like

  116. “I appreciate the candor. But that’s hardly Pauline or Petrine. Honor the emperor.” -DGH

    I don’t see the inconsistency. If establishing Christendom is of God’s prerogative and by God’s timing, we ought to honor those whom God has placed in authority in the interim. I can honor them, even while knowing them to be frauds. How else can one understand the exchange between Christ and Pilate following Christ’s scourging? Christ submits to Pilate’s authority, despite its illegitimacy. And it’s precisely in the unjust exercise of that illegitimate authority that Pilate brings judgment upon himself.

    Like

  117. @Erik

    I read through the Iron Ink post. None of the recited quotes lends support for the syncretistic approach that’s been advocated by the transformationalists and revivalists. At best, they address some ways in which certain Reformers may have been skeptical about the 2K view. But even if one were to reject 2K, it’s not as though transformationalism is the only other available option. There are, after all, 1K approaches that make a lot more sense than transformationalism (and, which, in practice, don’t operate too differently from 2K). I have a hard time envisioning Calvin or Turretin advocating transformationalism.

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  118. @Erik

    The Edouard case is interesting. I don’t see how the statute can stand, at least as applied to Edouard. The statute is geared towards protecting the public from professionals who, under a guise of professional expertise, trick women into having sex with them. I don’t think that these women were tricked at all.

    Like

  119. Bobby
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 1:02 am | Permalink
    “I appreciate the candor. But that’s hardly Pauline or Petrine. Honor the emperor.” -DGH

    Is this a direct Darryl G. Hart quote? If so, may we have a link to it in context?

    Dr. Hart LOVES his ideas tested here at his OL Theological Society. That’s the whole purpose of this blog–or at least the purpose of a theological society.

    [Or perhaps DGH is being paraphrased or quoted out of context. And of course what “honoring” the emperor might be is problematic, and in our modern day, is Barack Obama our “emperor?” In Russia, Putin? In Cuba, Castro?

    You see where I’m going with this, Darryl.]

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  120. Bobby, whence this idea that Pilate’s authority was illegitimate? Jesus himself said it came from above. How can what comes from above be illegitimate?

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  121. Bobby, so God ordains or institutes (Rom 13) illegitimacy? Is that like saying God approves of illegitimate children? Maybe you want to use another word than illegitimate or fraud. I can’t imagine Paul or Peter writing, honor the fraud.

    Plus, your notion of illegitimacy, to be unselective, needs to apply to fathers as frauds as well. But that makes no sense of the category of illegitimate children and their unmarried fathers.

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  122. Bobby – The statute is geared towards protecting the public from professionals who, under a guise of professional expertise, trick women into having sex with them

    Erik – Our ministers offer their ministry under a cloak (hopefully not a guise) of ordination and holiness. Certainly we don’t want the state evaluating those things. If we don’t, we had better assess and monitor our (potential) ministers very well. Every bad one casts a shadow the positive work of ten good ones in the eyes of the public. We’re dealing with fallible humans, though, so the ministry will never be perfect.

    Like

  123. Brad Kamper
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm | Permalink
    And right on cue the good rabbi chimes in….

    Never underestimate the resolve of a man armed with an internet connection and a WordPress account.

    Like

  124. James 1:19 “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires.”

    Psalm 76: 10—“Even human wrath shall praise you, for you are to be feared. Who can stand before you when your anger is roused?”

    Yes, God does ordain evil. If you think the word “ordained” means “legitimate” in Romans 13, then you take sides with those who think Christians should only submit when the powers (the nation-states, the magistrates) are “legitimate”. And then we are going to need to ask “by what standard” (if not Moses, if not Christ) are we to tell what is “legitimate” or not.

    We need some definitions.

    If ” legitimate” means that no Christian is called to revolutionary attempts to replace the existing powers with better ones (with us with more influence), fine, “legitimate” in that sense only. If the “other second kingdom” is “the world” or “the kingdom of darkness”, that is something different from some “profane third kingdom which is neither Christian nor evil but legitimate”. If a Christian state is not “legitimate” (and I agree that it is not), how are we knowing what “legitimate” means?

    It is not by accident that the imperative of Romans 13:1 is not literally one of “obedience”. The Greek language has good words to denote “obedience”. What the text calls for, however, is subordination. The Christian who refuses to worship Caesar but who is put to death by Caesar, is being subordinate even though she is not obeying Caesar.

    The motives of Christian subordination are found not in fear or in calculations of how best to survive, but “in the mercies of God” (12:1) or in “conscience” (13:5). God ordained Assyria to invade Israel, without making Assyria “legitimate”. God’ordains and uses the wrath of the powers without at all approving the action of any individual exercising that wrath. Subordination is commanded to the slave not because of the “legitimacy” of slave-owners because Jesus Christ himself accepted subordination and humiliation (Philippians 2:5)

    John 18:36 certainly teaches that God “ordained” Plate’s rise to power (and fall). But that does not prove “legitimacy”. The command to submit is not based on our ability or on the “legitimacy” of those to whom we are commanded to submit.

    Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    Romans 13 For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been ordained by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has ordained, and those who resist will incur judgment…. For they are the servants of God, AVENGERS who carry out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

    Romans 9: 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much LONGSUFFERING vessels of wrath prepared for destruction

    Romans 2: 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

    Romans 2: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

    Romans 2: 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

    Romans 2:32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    I Peter 2: 8 and “A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”
    They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were ordained to do.
    9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of DARKNESS into his marvelous light.

    I Peter 2: 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by God to punish those who do evil 18 Slaves, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. (note, Caesar was not called emperor, nor did Caesar want to be called emperor)

    I Peter 2: 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly

    Isaiah 10: 5 Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger;
    the staff in their hands is my fury!
    6 Against a godless nation I send him,
    and against the people of my wrath I command him,
    to take spoil and seize plunder,
    and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
    7 But he does not so intend,
    and his heart does not so think;
    but it is in his heart to destroy,
    and to cut off nations not a few;

    Isaiah 10: 12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, God will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes

    John H Yoder—The willingness to suffer evil is not merely a test of our patience or a dead space of waiting for Jesus to return. Willingness to suffer instead of rebellious attempts to takeover is an imitation of God’s “longsuffering” with the rebellious powers of his creation.

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  125. The scene (below) from Brothers Karamazov sounds like something theonomists would distance themselves from. You see, the reconstructionists explain–church and state were distinct even in the Abrahamic and Mosaic economies, since David the king was not supposed to function as a priest. That’s right, the Kuyperians would add (against Dostoevsky) we need “sphere sovereignty”, so that the Christian state is not the same as the Christian church (even if both state and church have the same set of members, ie, all the infants born within the boundaries of one territory)

    “That is, in brief,” Father Paissy began again, laying stress on each word, “according to certain theories only too clearly formulated in the nineteenth century, the Church ought to be transformed into the State, as though this would be an advance from a lower to a higher form, so as to disappear into it, making way for science, for the spirit of the age, and civilization. And if the Church resists and is unwilling, some corner will be set apart for her in the State, and even that under control and this will be so everywhere in all modern European countries. But Russian hopes and conceptions demand not that the Church should pass as from a lower into a higher type into the State, but, on the contrary, that the State should end by being worthy to become only the Church and nothing else. So be it! So be it!”

    “Well, I confess you’ve reassured me somewhat,” Miusov said smiling, again crossing his legs. “So far as I understand, then, the realisation of such an ideal is infinitely remote, at the second coming of Christ. That’s as you please. It’s a beautiful Utopian dream of the abolition of war, diplomacy, banks, and so on — something after the fashion of socialism, indeed. But I imagined that it was all meant seriously, and that the Church might be now going to try criminals, and sentence them to beating, prison, and even death.”

    “But if there were none but the ecclesiastical court, the Church would not even now sentence a criminal to prison or to death. Crime and the way of regarding it would inevitably change, not all at once of course, but fairly soon,” Ivan replied calmly, without flinching.

    “Are you serious?” Miusov glanced keenly at him.

    “If everything became the Church, the Church would exclude all the criminal and disobedient, and would not cut off their heads,” Ivan went on. “I ask you, what would become of the excluded? He would be cut off then not only from men, as now, but from Christ. By his crime he would have transgressed not only against men but against the Church of Christ. This is so even now, of course, strictly speaking, but it is not clearly enunciated, and very, very often the criminal of to-day compromises with his conscience: ‘I steal,’ he says, ‘but I don’t go against the Church. I’m not an enemy of Christ.’ That’s what the criminal of to-day is continually saying to himself, but when the Church takes the place of the State it will be difficult for him, in opposition to the Church all over the world, to say: ‘All men are mistaken, all in error, all mankind are the false Church. I, a thief and murderer, am the only true Christian Church.’ It will be very difficult to say this to himself; it requires a rare combination of unusual circumstances. Now, on the other side, take the Church’s own view of crime: is it not bound to renounce the present almost pagan attitude, and to change from a mechanical cutting off of its tainted member for the preservation of society, as at present, into completely and honestly adopting the idea of the regeneration of the man, of his reformation and salvation?”

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  126. @DGH

    I’m not really interested in debating this issue in this forum.

    My larger point is this: To the extent that the Reformers advocate a 1K view, they do not do so in a manner that lends any credence to the Culture War. So, even if Calvin and others sometimes appear to criticize 2K, such criticism should not be taken as commendation of the tranformationalist model.

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  127. Zrim
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink
    Bobby, whence this idea that Pilate’s authority was illegitimate? Jesus himself said it came from above. How can what comes from above be illegitimate?

    Not a bad man, only a weak man, so Pilate washes his hands. “Two Kingdoms” theology all the way. And so good men do nothing, Mr. Z.

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  128. TVD, it might be that the “good men resist injustice” ethic is what lie behind Peter’s insistence that Jesus not go up to Jerusalem. In which case, sinners would still be dead in their trespasses, which is why he earned a scathing rebuke. And without Pilate’s hand washing, no cross. Do you understand that if Jesus had your ethic there wouldn’t even be any Christianity with which to baptize culture? You’d be plumb out of a job.

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  129. Zrim
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink
    TVD, it might be that the “good men resist injustice” ethic is what lie behind Peter’s insistence that Jesus not go up to Jerusalem. In which case, sinners would still be dead in their trespasses, which is why he earned a scathing rebuke. And without Pilate’s hand washing, no cross. Do you understand that if Jesus had your ethic there wouldn’t even be any Christianity with which to baptize culture? You’d be plumb out of a job.

    Good rejoinder, Z, but by your own token, now there IS Christianity to baptize culture! Much easier job than being crucified.

    As for Pilate, this “radical” 2Kism has much in common with him. Your reply is that by being cowards who do nothing when great evil is about to be committed, we fulfill God’s will.

    I cannot argue against that, but that God put us here with Pilate as any kind of model, well, dude.

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  130. David Van Drunen on the Lutheran vs Reformed versions of two kingdom—

    “One way in which this historic Reformed two-kingdoms doctrine differed from traditional Lutheran formulations lies in the application of the law-gospel distinction. Lutherans have often associated the kingdom of God’s left hand (generally analogous to the Reformed conception of the civil kingdom) with the law (that is, what God commands) and associated the kingdom of God’s right hand (generally analogous to the Reformed conception of the spiritual kingdom) with the gospel (that is, what God promises). To many Lutherans this meant that areas of the church’s life that bore the character of law—such as ecclesiastical government or discipline—belonged to the kingdom of the left hand, and thus in many Lutheran lands the civil government took oversight of them.28 In distinction, the Reformed typically saw ecclesiastical government and discipline as vital aspects of the identity of the church, the present institutional manifestation of the spiritual kingdom. The church was to take full responsibility for its government and discipline and not cede jurisdiction to the state. For the Reformed the church as the spiritual kingdom of Christ was characterized by both law and gospel (though by the law primarily in its “third use,” that is, as a fitting response to the gospel).”

    “This Reformed two-kingdoms doctrine, as I have briefly summarized it, finds strong exegetical foundation in Matt 5:38–42, read in its Matthean context. Jesus announced the coming of his kingdom. Like the spiritual kingdom of historic Reformed theology, this was a heavenly and eschatological kingdom, yet one breaking into this present age and finding institutional expression in the life and ministry of the church. This kingdom, furthermore, like the Reformed spiritual kingdom, has a distinctive ethic characterized by forgiveness and reconciliation, not by retributive justice. It is promulgated not through the violent coercion of the sword but by the word and sacraments, the keys of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom in Matthew, finally, came not to abolish civil enforcement of justice or Christians’ participation in that work, but to establish a distinctive ecclesial community in anticipation of the full manifestation of the kingdom on the last day. The Reformed two-kingdoms doctrine expresses these ideas as well. The church exists not to replace the state or to usurp and modify its functions, but recognizes civil authority as already established by God and serving useful, though temporal, purposes in the present age. The Reformed two-kingdoms doctrine captures the teaching of Matt 5:38–42 better than the Lutheran doctrine, in short, because it recognizes that a distinctive ethic is a crucial aspect of the kingdom of heaven, an ethic that should be beautifully manifested in the discipline of church. Church discipline, which drives at the repentance and reconciliation of sinners, is decidedly different from the retributive justice enforced by the state”

    DVD—“A potential objection to the way that I associate the kingdom and the church in what follows is the parable of the weeds (Matt 13:24–30, 36–43), which identifies “the field” where the good and wicked intermingle as “the world.” This is arguably not subject to a church-centered interpretation of the kingdom; see Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, 345–46. For a counter case, with which I am inclined to agree, see Robert K. McIver, “The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat (Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43) and the Relationship between the Kingdom and the Church as Portrayed in the Gospel of Matthew,” JBL 114 (1995): 643–59.”

    http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/bearing-sword-in-the-state-turning-cheek-in-the-church-a-reformed-two-kingd

    Like

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