Celebrants of America’s Christian founding take note.
Our Protestant Rabbi interlocutor sometime back came to the defense of Bill Evans’ critique of 2k. I understand in part the frustration with 2k for folks like Rabbi Bret because it denies the certainty that supposedly comes with finding the solutions to social woes in Scripture, which in turn gives the Christian pastor leverage in the culture wars over skeptical citizens, policy makers, and Democrats. The problem (as if there is one) is that opponents of 2k never practice what they teach. They can’t. This isn’t a matter of hypocrisy. I’m tempted to wonder if it’s a question of intelligence but that is not a very charitable explanation either. It is a problem of thinking this antithetical w-w all the way through.
Observe the following. Rabbi B (why is B so prominent in the critics of 2k? The BBs William B. Evans) takes issue with (all about) me on the following grounds:
It is R2K that destroys the Gospel. R2K allows an alien theology to shape the zeitgeist so that all our thought categories are conditioned by that alien theology. Then Darryl expects that, despite that alien theology creating a culture hostile to Biblical Christianity, that the Church will remain unaffected by that hostility and false theology so that it can herald a clear Gospel message. Our contemporary setting screams that Darryl is wrong. Church Growth, Emergent, Pentecostal, Arminian, R2K,etc. churches all demonstrate that the zeitgeist pagan theology is shaping our Churches and so our Christianity. Pentecostalism is shaped by animistic theology. Emergent by cultural Marxist theology. And R2K by libertarian / Anabaptist theology. In point of fact the only Christian Churches which are swimming upstream in this miasma of lunacy are those Churches who understand the Biblical Christianity makes truth claims that impact every area of life.
Wow! Destroys the gospel. Pretty strong stuff. Pass the Rabbi some Paxil (which he must take when he goes to meetings of Classis).
But notice how the good Rabbi destroys the very same gospel he professes to defend when he offers a seminary (SEMINARY!) course on economics:
The purpose of this course is to allow Reformed presuppositions and a Reformed Christian Worldview to mold how we think about money and economics. The emphasis will fall on some of the various paradigms that have been offered concerning Economics focusing especially on the Austrian School, the Ropke Third way and the Distributionist schools. Keynesianism will not be considered except to critique it, as Keynesianism is to Economics what Rap is to Music. The Student will be learning the Macro approach to Economics.
Note — This is a course to familiarize the Seminary Student in Basic Economic theory. It is not intended as a Masters level course for one who is receiving their Masters in Economics.
1.) Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy – Thomas Sowell
2.) Economics In One Lesson — Henry Hazlitt
1.) Applied Economics; Thinking Beyond Stage One — Thomas Sowell
2.) The Social Crisis of Our Time — Wlhelm Ropke
3.) The Law — Frederic Bastiat
4.) What Has Government Done to Our Money? — Murray N. Rothbard
5.) Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis — Ludwig Von Mises
6.) Cliches of Socialism — Anonymous
7.) The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve — Em Griffin
8.) Road To Serfdom — F. A. Hayek
9.) Baptized Inflation — Ian Hodge
10.) Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators: A Biblical Response to Ronald J. Sider
11.) Three Works on Distributism — G. K. Chesterton
12.) The Servile State — Hilaire Belloc
13.) A Humane Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market — Wilhelm Ropke
In Rabbi B’s manichean world where the kingdom of Satan vies with God’s kingdom, where exactly do the likes of Sowell and Von Mises reside? If they are on the side of truth, they must be in God’s kingdom since the kingdom of Satan only produces falsehood and deceit. But I missed the press release about Sowell and Von Mises joining a NAPARC communion. In fact, both economists proceed in their craft and analysis not by referring to God’s law or divinely revealed truths but by relying on — in the anti-2k w-w — their autonomous reason. Remember, their economics do not proceed from a regenerate heart or from reading Scripture.
Now, a 2ker can account for Rabbi B’s attraction to free market economists by chatting up the common realm and general revelation and the image of God even in fallen creatures. But how can Rabbi B account for the truths that non-believers, people who belong to Satan’s kingdom, see? And how can he conceivably promote instruction in anti-Christian ideas — remember, Sowell and Von Mises for all we know are citizens of Satan’s kingdom — for seminarians? Without some recognition of a common realm somewhere between the City of God and the City of man, he can’t, especially when he construes the kingdoms this way:
First, you have Christ’s Kingdom where all the believers are (Church). Then you have every place else that is “not Christ’s Kingdom” (i.e. — “The World”) However, unlike the Anabaptist paradigm in the “Not Christ’s Kingdom” you have both believers and unbelievers cheek by jowl. Let’s call that the mixed or common Kingdom.
Now, here’s the question? Where is Satan’s Kingdom in this two Kingdom model? Darryl and R2K tell us specifically that the World (presumably planet earth outside the Church) is neither Christ’s Kingdom nor Satan’s Kingdom but a common (neutral?) Kingdom. What we need to ask here then is ‘Where is Satan’s Kingdom?’ You know… the Kingdom of Darkness that Colossians 1 talks about Christians having been translated from? It can’t be the case that when men are translated from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, that they have been translated from the R2K common Kingdom since believers and unbelievers exist together in the common Kingdom.
Rabbi B suffers from invoking the antithesis when he wants to beat up 2k, but then fails to apply it to himself when he reads in economic and political commentators. He should know that 2kers affirm the antithesis and that they also believe this side of the eschaton the antithesis is not a category that believers use meaningfully to make sense of the world except when it comes to church membership. In other words, Christians enjoy fellowship only with Christians within the confines of the visible church. But outside the church, Christians enjoy a host of friendships and relations with non-believers thanks to the life they share outside the Christ’s kingdom. Without that context for understanding of the antithesis, Rabbi B is left with an arbitrary notion of common grace where the insights of unbelievers remarkably coincides with whatever Rabbi B approves. Say hello to the new Protestant pope.
Postscript: Rabbi B also thinks he gets mileage out of 2k’s flawed understanding of the kingdom. He has yet, however, to consider (again, an issue of intelligence?) that God’s kingdom is not the same as Christ’s kingdom. I do not understand what is so hard to understand about the notion that God’s providential rule over all things (even over Saddam Hussein) is different from the rule that Christ extends over his people. Again, if he wants to simplify the kingdoms and extend Christ’s redemptive rule to figures like Saddam Hussein, he has some ‘splainin’ to do with affirmations like the following:
Q. 45. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel. (Larger Catechism)
If that leads to an expansive view of God’s kingdom outside the church, then I wonder about Rabbi B’s reading comprehension. But extending Christ’s rule as described here to non-believers would make sense of regarding Thomas Sowell as an orthodox Reformed Protestant.