Who Says the U.S. Lacks a Religious Establishment?

From Dwight Eisenhower’s December 22, 1952 speech as president-elect before the Freedoms Foundation’s directors:

I had a friend, a man who really turned out to be quite a good friend, and who suffered for it. His name was Marshal Zhukov, of the Red Army. In fact, his later disgrace came about because of the fact that he was supposed to be too good a friend of mine; . . . We used to talk about the bases of our respective forms of government, our civilizations.

One day he put me back on my heels with the statement: “of course, we have difficulty in promulgating our theory, because we appealed to the idealistic in man and you appeal to all that is materialistic and selfish. We tell a man that he is not to work for his own special rights, for his own privilege and the opportunity of indulging himself in anything from religious worship to earning and saving our property and giving it to his children. We appeal to something higher and nobler,” he said. “We tell him his only glory is in the glory of the body, of the whole group, the entirety of the organism to which you belong. Therefore, we say, don’t worry about earning money. Don’t worry about worldly advancement. Work for the Soviet Union. Work for Russia. That,” he said, “is what we have to say. But you tell a man, ‘why you can do as you please, and there are really no restrictions on the individual.’ So you are appealing to all that is selfish.”

I must say that in just a matter of immediate dialectic contest, let’s say, I didn’t know exactly what to say to him, because my only definition was what I believed to be the basic one, the basic reason for its existence. I know it would do no good to appeal to him with it, because it is founded in religion. And since at the age of 14 he had been taken over by the Bolshevik religion and had believed in it since that time, I was quite certain it was hopeless on my part to talk to him about the fact that our form of government is founded in religion.

Our ancestors who formed this Government said in order to explain it, you remember that, that a decent respect for the opinion of mankind impels them to declare the reasons which led to the separation [between the American colonies and Britain] and this is how they explained those: “We hold that all men are endowed by their Creator . . . .” Not by the accident of birth, not by the color of their skins or by anything else, but “all men are endowed by their creator.” In other words, our form of Government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is. With us of course it is the Judeo-Christian concept but it must be a religion that all men are created equal. . . .

Now, it seems to me that if we are going to win this fight we have got to go back to the very fundamentals of all things. And one of them is that we are a religious people.

This is the speech often quoted for its inane remark about the importance of religion combined with indifference to the specific religion. But in the context of the Cold War and a struggle between an ideology that was explicitly atheistic, materialist, and collectivist, Eisenhower’s recognition of theism’s value, even as confused as it is, makes some sense. His point specifically about theism and personal freedom is a point that not only evolutionists might need to hear, but also Christian critics of the West who blame notions of political freedom for the selfishness and decadence that afflicts the United States. If the choice is between the Soviet communism or Christendom dominated by Holy Roman Emperor and infallible bishop, I’ll stand with Ike. Freedom has its flaws. But it keeps the free on their toes. Autocracy doesn’t leave much room for correction, nor does group think.

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513 thoughts on “Who Says the U.S. Lacks a Religious Establishment?

  1. Erik, that’s probably one of the admitted flaws. Another might be how notions of freedom such as we have don’t do much for the Bible’s notion of civil obedience, the upshot being Memorial Day sermons that have a hard time recognizing the downsides of religious liberty, i.e.being able to see persecution as a sign of God’s favor.

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  2. Very nice, Darryl.

    May I add the component of “natural law,” the Founding understanding of which included liberty, morality, essential equality and human dignity. If not explicitly biblical, properly understood the principles of natural law and natural rights cannot be in conflict with the Bible either: Truth cannot contradict truth.

    “The law of nature and the law of revelation are both Divine: they flow, though in different channels, from the same adorable source. It is indeed preposterous to separate them from each other.”—James Wilson, Of the Law of Nature, 1804

    (James Wilson signed the Declaration, was a major Framer of the Constitution, and became a Supreme Court justice. Major dude.)

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  3. Hi Tom,

    You might find similar sentiment to what you expressed in the following article:

    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.

    Food for thought, is all. Peace

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  4. Tom, that’s fine to disagree with the OPC, but just know you are opening a huge can of worms best left for another thread. Darryl deals with these issues when he blogs on a man named Peter Enns, if you recall Darryl’s writing. There’s a lot of history about this issue, and, as you know, Terry is a frequenter of this blog as well.

    My wife wrote the question that got published, and there’s a link within that that gives you the OPC creation report from 2004. Eat your heart out, man.

    Take care.

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  5. AB, your link brought up the Terry Gray matter, not me. Still, I think it illustrates the tension between Biblicism and rationality, which is alien to a Thomist such as meself. Which is why I study Calvinism as an essential component of the American Founding.

    Well, somebody’s Calvinism, anyway.

    http://is.gd/KlETMG

    I see the answer to your wife’s question still has the “special creation” of Adam, so I think we’re still stuck on Square One.

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  6. Tom, I know what I brought up. I wasn’t issuing a value judgment, just FYI.

    To me, the key sentence in that link, to my wife’s question, is this:

    The priority of Scripture in the relationship between special and general revelation

    .

    It’s at this point I would start bringing in quotes from chapter one of the Westminster Confession of Faith (OPC Edition). But again, you know how we operate around here..

    Gotta go. Thanks for the links, including your latest one. I’ll look at it closer, a little later.

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  7. You guys parroting Darryl’s insults is creepy. Actually I came to congratulate Darryl on a creditable moment of clarity: Living in America is better than under the Soviet Communists. Attaboy, Darryl. That’s why you get the big bucks.

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  8. Erik Charter
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
    VD, t!

    Et tu, little chihuahua? I had hope for you. Oh, well, Calvinism is a tough town. You treat each other even worse.

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  9. Tom doing Eddie Haskell again – “Geez, you guys! Take it easy.” His tender, sincere heart is wounded!

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  10. The wagons circle. Hi, Mr.Weakly. Right on schedule.

    Andrew, who’s not quite part of your little club, whom you patronize like a weird cousin or something—was the only one who managed to stay on topic. The last shall be first.

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  11. I see the answer to your wife’s question still has the “special creation” of Adam

    This is the book I recommend. I read this when it first came out, and was struck when I learned Plantinga flesh this out:

    Evolutionary argument against naturalism
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) is a philosophical argument regarding a perceived tension between biological evolutionary theory and philosophical naturalism — the belief that there are no supernatural entities or processes. The argument was proposed by Alvin Plantinga in 1993 and “raises issues of interest to epistemologists, philosophers of mind, evolutionary biologists, and philosophers of religion”.[1] EAAN argues that the combination of evolutionary theory and naturalism is self-defeating on the basis of the claim that if both evolution and naturalism are true, then the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is low.

    Tom, I’m the youngest guy here who engages, and I have a tendency to take things off topic, or bring up golf. The guys here don’t treat me bad. Stop trying to control the nature of things here and just let the conversation flow, as you would, were we in a bar.

    The question for you, is, if you want to (or else we can talk about your OL given name):

    Do you think we descend from monkeys?

    Oh, and Reformed Xtians are perfectly fine with Rationalism and even (gasp!) Reason. Shocking, I know.

    Your turn.

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  12. matt
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink
    No, this is creepy.

    True, “Matt.” But Darryl and his little cult of followers is getting tres creepy too.

    Hey, Darryl’s entitled to be a creep, but if I had a bunch of people echoing my every thought and filthy insult, if they couldn’t defend my thoughts, I’d at least encourage them to come up with their own filthy insults.

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  13. It is possible to hold to the special creation of Adam and the notion of an evolutionary development of the human biological form. Anything prior to Adam was not human–only human like.

    It is here that the OPC ruled not on the basis of its Confession but on the basis of the extra-confessional John Murray exegesis of Genesis 2:7. Not only is the special creation of Adam affirmed as the Q&A answer tells us (and to which I have always assented), but the GA determined that even the body itself had to be specially created (despite all the biological evidences that say otherwise–take a peek at the currently airing PBS series “Your Inner Fish” and decide for yourself once you’ve view the evidence).

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  14. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:37 pm | Permalink
    I see the answer to your wife’s question still has the “special creation” of Adam

    This is the book I recommend. I read this when it first came out, and was struck when I learned Plantinga flesh this out:

    Evolutionary argument against naturalism
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) is a philosophical argument regarding a perceived tension between biological evolutionary theory and philosophical naturalism — the belief that there are no supernatural entities or processes. The argument was proposed by Alvin Plantinga in 1993 and “raises issues of interest to epistemologists, philosophers of mind, evolutionary biologists, and philosophers of religion”.[1] EAAN argues that the combination of evolutionary theory and naturalism is self-defeating on the basis of the claim that if both evolution and naturalism are true, then the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is low.

    Tom, I’m the youngest guy here who engages, and I have a tendency to take things off topic, or bring up golf. The guys here don’t treat me bad. Stop trying to control the nature of things here and just let the conversation flow, as you would, were we in a bar.

    The question for you, is, if you want to (or else we can talk about your OL given name):

    Do you think we descend from monkeys?

    Oh, and Reformed Xtians are perfectly fine with Rationalism and even (gasp!) Reason. Shocking, I know.

    Your turn.

    Well, actually you’re pretty much the only guy who’ capable of engaging. They treat you like spit, Andrew. You may be in their church but you’re not in their club.

    As for “controlling” the flow here, it’s either his followers putting their tongues down the back of his trousers, or them ganging up on anyone who has the temerity to challenge your assertions, Darryl. [I won’t disingenuously pretend you don’t read your own blog, that you’re not here, dude.]

    Do you think we descend from monkeys?

    I can go for the “special creation” of “Adam” in that God “breathed” a soul and consciousness into a son of a monkey. Great question, bro. We can be descended from monkeys without being monkeys. A monkey with a soul is no longer just a “monkey,” yes?

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  15. Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 12:33 am | Permalink
    It is possible to hold to the special creation of Adam and the notion of an evolutionary development of the human biological form. Anything prior to Adam was not human–only human like.

    How odd and interesting that Dr. Terry Gray wrote the above as I was composing the comment that followed it. This is a really great blog sometimes.

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  16. Here you go:

    Biologos offers a view of evolution that is completely incompatible with Christianity. Justification and imputation will go completely down the tubes, if we allow their view into our midst, thus contradicting the first Adam-last Adam Christology of Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.

    My comments too, yo.

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  17. Andrew, an evolutionary perspective doesn’t necessarily contradict “the first Adam-last Adam Christology of Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15”. Ask B. B. Warfield. (Or even J. G. Machen–Darryl can fill in the details.) Granted, there are some (Enns, Lamoureux, Seely) who go that direction. There are others who don’t (Jack Collins, the PCA guys that Green Baggins and Wes White were talking about, and myself). We have various levels of association with BioLogos, which is a fairly big tent group. The American Scientific Affiliation is similarly postured. The main message of BioLogos and ASA is that you can be an evolutionist of some stripe and still take the Bible and orthodox Christianity seriously. Personally, I think it’s easier for Reformed folk to do so with our view of God’s sovereignty. Would that Old Lifers think about science the way they think about politics. Looks like I had too much to drink tonight at Small Group. I’m insane to be discussing this topic here.

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  18. Terry, I’m sorry you had a rough go in our church.

    I linked to an article by Richard Feynman, and it appears R. Scott just did his latest Heidelcast on science. What you’ll find in me, is someone who engaged Reed DePace, Lane Keister, and their interlocutors at greenbaggins, on several threads, while at the same time Jason Stellman stepped down and Lane was blogging on that (pulling in the CtC guys onto Lane’s blog for the comments that went on over 1300 on the Papacy thread).

    The relationship of science and religion, and the roman catholic / protestant debates, are each the most interesting discussions I have ever found. I have wondered about science and religion from as far back as I can remember. When my great grand father (secular atheist/evolutionist) taught my old earth geology, much to my father’s (engineer, raised secular, turned evangelical while at college in Berkeley meeting my mother, raised PCUSA) chagrin.

    Says Feynman:

    The heritages of Western civilization

    Western civilization, it seems to me, stands by two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure – the adventure into the unknown, an unknown which must be recognized as being unknown in order to be explored; the demand that the unanswerable mysteries of the universe remain unanswered; the attitude that all is uncertain; to summarize it – the humility of the intellect. The other great heritage is Christian ethics – the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual – the humility of the spirit.

    These two heritages are logically, thoroughly consistent. But logic is not all; one needs one’s heart to follow an idea. If people are going back to religion, what are they going back to? Is the modern church a place to give comfort to a man who doubts God‑more, one who disbelieves in God? Is the modern church a place to give comfort and encouragement to the value of such doubts? So far, have we not drawn strength and comfort to maintain the one or the other of these consistent heritages in a way which attacks the values of the other? Is this unavoidable? How can we draw inspiration to support these two pillars of western civilization so that they may stand together in full vigor, mutually unafraid? Is this not the central problem of our time?

    I put it up to the panel for discussion.

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  19. I’ll say one more thing on the topic of science, and then let other drive this convo.

    I think I went to a pretty good high school 1996-2000, got lots of good literature, history, philosophy, science, math, etc. On the science/philosophy front, our philosophy teacher (a mainline Episcopal who also taught Calculus) presented worldviews, one of which was Scientific Positivism a la B.F. Skinner. So I have had a lot of time to think through mainline liberal Xtianity, science v. religion, etc. It doesn’t mean I know anything or have much to offer. I’m just excited about Bubba Watson right now, truth be told.

    Anyway, these aren’t just interesting discussions, as I stated above, but they indeed impact people’s lives. Terry is a scientist / researcher. My wife practiced geology before staying home and is licensed by CA in her field. You guys have heard enough about me and how great I think I am. But my main point is I understand when talking to Terry about science, or Fr. Ochs at CtC about Catholicism, just who these people are, that I am talking to. Oh, and Bryan Cross? Well, that guy is in a category all himself. Tom’s right, though. This blog, is awesome.

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  20. Terry, you haven’t been reading your NTJ (“Science and Its Discontents):

    . . . in the same way that conservative Calvinists have embraced amillennialism despite the objections of evangelicals who have been overwhelmingly dispensationalist and have read newspaper headlines looking for signs of the Lord’s return, so we would argue for acreationism as a permissible position within the confessional standards of Reformed and Presbyterian churches. As long as an officer affirms what is germane in the first three chapters of Genesis — namely, a good heaven and earth created by a good and omnipotent God, a historical Adam and Eve created in God’s image without sin and with dominion over the creatures, a real, historical fall that brought all of Adam’s descendants “by means of ordinary generation” into an estate of sin and misery, and the promise of the only redeemer of God’s elect — if someone can affirm these truths as taught in the first chapters of the Bible, then his views are permissible in the church.

    OUR APPEAL TO ACREATIONISM rests not simply on the hermeneutical flexibility already applied to biblical teaching about the end times, but also on the example of conservative Calvinists who have gone before us. Here we have in mind the example of Edward J. Young, longtime professor of Old Testament at Westminster Seminary, a biblical scholar as conservative as they have come — after all, his book, Thy Word is Truth, was arguably the best twentieth-century expression of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. Yet, Young, who defended the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the unity of Isaiah, and an early date for Daniel was hesitant to say what the first three chapters of Genesis taught “scientifically.” In fact, in a letter he wrote to the creationist, John C. Whitcomb, Jr.,Young articulated precisely the kind of agnosticism about the specifics of creation for which we are arguing. On the effects of the flood on the earth’s geology Young wrote that he “rather doubt[ed] whether the Bible intends us to understand that the flood left permanent changes in the climate and topography of the earth.” As to dating the age of the earth by the biblical genealogies, again Young pleaded ignorance: “I do not think it is possible for us today to give a date, or even an approximate date, for the Biblical flood.” As to the age of the human race Young was equally ambivalent: “I do not think that we can date the age of man.” As to whether the days of Genesis 1 were of the twenty-four hour variety, Young believed that was possible, though the first three days could not have been solar days. In the end he did not think the Bible “permits us in a dogmatic fashion” to insist upon a specific length of the individual days. As to the instantaneous creation of the solar system Young again did not think Genesis was clear. Finally, as to whether death occurred before the fall Young was once again uncertain. “I think it is possible that animals died, using the word in the popular sense, even before the introduction of sin into the world.” But, he added, in characteristic acreationist fashion, “we cannot speak positively about that.”

    RATHER THAN CREATIONISM flowing from a proper understanding of Scripture, we are convinced that it has become a ready and useful weapon in the culture wars by allowing an easy way of identifying the enemy. The late Carl Sagan, Jay Gould and officials of the National Education Association can be readily spotted as denying God and fomenting immorality since they believe in evolution. We do not hesitate in agreeing that the scientific and educational establishment of America is a threat to the well-being of our families, churches, neighborhoods and schools. But we would also argue that the threats in this culture are far more subtle and pervasive than whether someone chooses Charles Darwin over God. So while we are not asking for a cease-fire along the creation front of the culture wars, we do request that the Bible not be misused in that particular battle. To be sure, it is a sharp sword that cuts to the heart. But it is two-edged, cutting both ways, against those who disbelieve its message of life and against those who make it conform to the scientific (either creationist or evolutionist) reasoning of sinful men and women.

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  21. Darryl, I’m quite embarrassed that I missed the NTJ piece. It must have come out when paid subscriptions were the order of the day. Also, I was transitioning to Terry M. Gray 2.0 about that time. I’m pleased to see this piece and I’ve suspected that you might be an acreationist, especially given your love of all things Machen. I have long seen the connection between amillennialism and acreationism, as have others. I understand that the WHI crowd in the URC gets in trouble for this from time to time. We tried to argue your very point before the GA, to no avail (although there were 20 some who protested the decision on similar grounds). We also argued that the essentials of the creation account (in Scripture and in the Westminster Standards) were those very ones you listed (and do not include the special creation of Adam’s body). But, alas, the coalition between the growing minority of young-earth creationists and those taught the exegesis of Genesis 2:7 by John Murray carried the day.

    I oontinue to be interested in this area and have been active (and somewhat successful with the help of John Cooper on the floor of synod) in the CRC to promote acreationism. I’m wondering if you could help me out with a confessional/theological issue though. What is the Biblical basis for “ordinary generation” with respect to the propagation of Adam’s sin to the whole race? We don’t see any such principle with respect to the impact of the Second Adam, do we? The 3FU don’t seem to make this claim.

    Sorry to go off-topic on this thread. The original post was quite interesting. There is no question that civil religion is “established” (and Presbyterians and Enlightenment Deists could seemingly agree). But that’s not what the founder’s meant by “establishment”, is it? Wasn’t it possible for individual states to “establish” a state church?

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  22. Terry – take a peek at the currently airing PBS series “Your Inner Fish” and decide for yourself once you’ve view the evidence.

    Erik – Next Terry will tell us to watch Bert & Ernie on “Sesame Street” to learn about gay marriage.

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  23. Tom – I can go for the “special creation” of “Adam” in that God “breathed” a soul and consciousness into a son of a monkey. Great question, bro. We can be descended from monkeys without being monkeys. A monkey with a soul is no longer just a “monkey,” yes?

    Erik – I’ve studied Tom at length and have concluded that we may very well be the descendants of a horse’s ass.

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  24. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink
    vd, t,

    I meant “Norm!” VD, T!

    Just think of OL as the place where everyone knows your name.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink
    Creepier (page B4) http://www.scribd.com/doc/217499191/4-10-Hillsdale-Collegian

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink
    vd, t, as my mother-in-law used to tell her children, “you’re jealous.”

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink
    vd, t, “his followers putting their tongues down the back of his trousers”

    Whom are you calling filthy? Remember the culture wars, dude!

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink
    vd, t, maybe Terry can be your follower.

    Wow, 5 drivebys in a row, plus Dr. Gray as collateral damage. Darryl’s motto: If you can’t shoot straight, shoot often.

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  25. Erik, not sure where that one came from. Surely, you’ve heard of the genetic fallacy.

    For what it’s worth, the Cosmos series is much more theatre (like the first one) although by and large when you take away the Star Trek special effects and music (quite enjoyable if you like that sort of thing) and the occasional jabs at the critics of science, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, is presenting where state of the art science is, embraced by nearly all scientists except for the most ardent Young-Earth Creationists. Your Inner Fish is much less theatre and (so far) is just a good old science documentary. The first episode brilliantly presented some of the key arguments for evolution.

    Young-Earth Creationism and even Reasons to Believe anti-evolutionism is to the scientific establishment what Bob Jones University Press American History textbooks are to scholarly mainstream history scholarship. Let’s ask Darryl which one he thinks is more credible.

    As a good neo-Calvinist I have to recognize some religious motives (i.e. probably not Christian and perhaps some anti-Christian sentiment), but also, as a good neo-Calvinist, I recognize that Creational realities are present (for both scientists and historians) and God-given rationality is present in both believers and unbelievers who are scholars in these disciplines (common grace).

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  26. Terry, ding on WHIers getting static in the URC over acreationism. An AIG-LSDYEC dad wasn’t well pleased with my own acreationist answer to his son’s SS inquiry about how long a day was.

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  27. Darryl, thanks for the comforting words. I was speechless after Zrim’s post. 😉

    I’ve heard it said that if two people think alike on everything, one of them is redundant.

    It’s always reassuring to be viewed as a traditionalist (you know–a cappella Gregorian chant or metrical Psalms) by the wild-eyed Pentecostals and as a crazy charismatic by Old Lifers. I did once learn about Reformed hand-raising from Rick Gamble–you hold your Psalter in your right hand and pretend to be holding it with your left hand, but in reality it’s uplifted in a gesture of praise under the Psalter.

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  28. I’ve not seen Terry at Harvest of late, no. But acreationist credit where due.

    Terry, like the bumper sticker says, don’t believe everything you think. But all due respect to Gamble, Reformed principles beat sleights of hand, as in the dialogical principle which allows for raised hands so long as they have been bidden by God’s minister as opposed to extemporaneous religious glee. Does Gamble have a trick to smuggle in kneeling, that sore neglected posture among P&R unduly influenced by revivalism?

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  29. I’ve been mildly debating some atheist on a Patheos link that Zrim sent me. Guy used to be a Christian (evangelical missionary for 40 years, supposedly). Now he’s into “science”.

    Funny how when people abandon Christianity for atheism they normally discover science, join the Democratic Party, and come out of the closet all in the same week.

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  30. Erik, science what she blinded me with. But is this fellow’s name “Stephen” and a 90-lb wrestler from Mexico?

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  31. Zrim, 90 lb wrester..haha.

    Erik, there are no atheists in foxholes. In other words, God deniers are a dime a dozen. Boring people to debate with, really, but power to ya.

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  32. Erik,

    “As Kuhn pointed out, science is always changing. I’ll stick with Scripture.”

    Oh I dunno, your computer and the internet works pretty well doesn’t it?

    Are disciplines such as linguistics/philology, history, sociology, archaeology, hermeneutics, textual criticism, etc. which influence how one extracts Scripture’s content and meaning always changing?

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  33. AB
    Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:44 am | Permalink
    Cletus, we extract the good stuff(read: salvific, see WCF 1.7),being perspicuous and all, the same way Jesus, Paul, and Mary did.

    The Deutero-Canonicals? The pericope adulterae?

    You do have your own magisterium, you know. You take someone else’s word for what the Bible says–your translations—and also what ancient texts make up the Bible and what ancient texts are rejected. You don’t read Hebrew or Greek. You have no idea.

    [Neither do I, brother.]

    Sola scriptura is a tough town. Do you know what every Bible verse means, based on reading a translation of it into English? I bet we’d both flunk any tough quiz unless Darryl pumped us all the answers like a pope or something.

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  34. Erik, Kuhn is overrated. While there are a handful of momentous “paradigm” changing perspectives out there most of these so-called revolutions are just tackling the hard stuff. In Kuhnian lingo Einstein has revolutionized Newton. Interesting though how useful Newton still is. Same with chemistry and the quantum world. This sort of post-modernist philosophy of science is often used to say it doesn’t have to be taken seriously or it’s not real. There seems to be a hint of that in your comment. I hope that’s not the case.

    Also, I don’t really get “I’ll stick with the Scripture”. As if I don’t. Sure I don’t read my Bible as a science book, but I doubt that you do either. Perhaps the church has done so in the past, “it shall not be moved”, a less than 10,000 year old universe, fixity of species, etc. Some still do, but by and large we have admitted that the Bible or its original audience is not really interested in our technical science questions. The Bible is not speaking the language of science in our day nor is it speaking the language of science in the ancient world. It uses everyday, phenomenological language.

    A recent NSF report noted that a quarter of 2200 Americans surveyed “could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around.” While the NSF and AAAS are dismayed and since our science education system seeks to indoctrinate us in the correct answer, the high percentage of wrong answers demonstrates an epic failure, it strikes me that everyday experience tells us that the sun DOES go around the earth, just as it did for the ancients. And we talk using everyday experience (sunrise, sunset–swiftly flow the years) even if we “know” that the earth goes around the sun. I’d suggest that the only reason most people know the correct answer is that they learned it in school. There’s little experience that tells us otherwise.

    The upshot is that “sticking with Scripture” simply doesn’t address modern science. The intelligent design folks like to point to Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:20 as proof-texts for their cause, as if the original audience couldn’t conclude that God made with world until the slam dunk evidence that is offered by the detailed molecular mechanism of the bacterial flagellum. Seems silly if you just think about it for a minute.

    And, for the record, I don’t believe that scripture teaches us that the universe is 13 billion years old, or that it is expanding from some big bang or that creatures arose by some evolutionary process. We learn those things by studying creation not by Biblical revelation. The Bible has as much interest in those questions as it does in the precise value of pi or what the first derivative of some polynomial function is. We don’t learn everything we know from the Bible. (Although I’d probably be willing to say that anyone who learns anything (believers and unbelievers alike) learns it from God.)

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  35. Andrew,

    “Cletus, we extract the good stuff”

    Only this thread is showing that the question – whether matters related to certain scientific spheres are even to be extracted from Scripture in the first place, and if so, what the “good stuff” related to those topics consists of – remains rather fluid and “changeable”. A question that is salvific (at least relative to one scientific topic) according to your above endorsement of following:
    “Biologos offers a view of evolution that is completely incompatible with Christianity. Justification and imputation will go completely down the tubes, if we allow their view into our midst, thus contradicting the first Adam-last Adam Christology of Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.”

    Like

  36. Sola scriptura is a tough town.

    Nope. Here’s my experience. Sola Scriptura, fundie style, is a tough town. I didn’t like the religion of my youth. Around age 16, I wanted out. But I hung on.

    At age 19, my newly found college friend (soon to be GF soon to be wife) invites me to a church (read: OPC) with the WCF printed in the back of the hymnal. I start asking theology questions of her, of leadership, and I learn reformed theology.

    As Daryll has beem known to say, we are in a church that is small, inconseential, and unnattractive. Verdict? Its like the land of chocolate over here. But don’t take my word for it. Visit the OPC in your town, see for yourself, yo.

    Like

  37. *Darryl
    *Inconsequential

    Cletus,

    I struggle with the science questions, and my bringing in the GB quote was not necessarily my endorsement. If you click on the link, I’ve got around 100, I believe, comments on that 2012 thread. Something ain’t right as I worked through that..

    You can say that we are fluid and changeable, doesn’t make it so. The fact that we developed and elucidated a doctrine of perspicuity, that gets to the heart of the matter where Rome says we need her as an interpretive authority. Not only do we not need her, but we reject the effort to put a living authority on par with the living Word of God. I mean, shall I quote Machen for the guhhh-zillionth time?

    Like

  38. Clete – Erik,

    “As Kuhn pointed out, science is always changing. I’ll stick with Scripture.”

    Oh I dunno, your computer and the internet works pretty well doesn’t it?

    Are disciplines such as linguistics/philology, history, sociology, archaeology, hermeneutics, textual criticism, etc. which influence how one extracts Scripture’s content and meaning always changing?

    Erik – This from the guy who believes in an infallible Pope…

    Like

  39. Erik, how many are out there who go to Yankees forums and type in

    “Yankees suck!!!”

    With the frequency and uselessness as the vd twins and other time wasters do on here?

    Like

  40. The biggest thing I react against when it comes to science and religion is the arrogance of the scientific community, aided by the press. Scientists come up with “discoveries” and it is immediately touted as if some age-old mystery has been solved. No one actually knows that until the discovery stands the test of time. Often the same degree of skepticism is not shown for “scientific” claims as are shown for religious claims, and I think it comes down to the fact that people think they have to have some kind of secure foundation for how they live their lives and, particularly, the moral choices they make. They can’t stomach religion (because as Paul says they hate God and suppress the truth in unrighteousness) so they substitute science in its place.

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  41. Erik, we the religious are chock full of arrogance ourselves. It’s when I find a religious scientist that I usually try to strike up a reverent and respectful conversation with the same. Some people ask me tax advice or make criticisms of accountancy rules (like sarbanes oxley or FAS 123r..whatever, to all that, yo).

    Yo.

    Like

  42. The “science explains all of life” argument ultimately becomes self-refuting the same way the atheist’s argument becomes self-refuting.

    Say science explains everything and there is no “need for God”. I could be a total buffoon and science-denier. So what? Eventually all the Ph.D. scientists and the science denying buffoons end up rotting in the ground being eaten by worms.

    Very few people have the objectivity to do pure science devoid of ideology and attempts to expand their knowledge beyond proper bounds. Climate change is the classic example we are currently dealing with. A guy thinks he understands climate science and quickly moves to making economic policy prescriptions that just happen to back up the Democratic Party Platform.

    Call me skeptical.

    Like

  43. I don’t know all of the facts for Terry’s case, but if my speculation is correct it is interesting from a 2K perspective.

    Terry should be able to work as a scientist and worship in a biblical church on Sunday.

    It’s when he or people in his church become “all of lifers” that problems arise.

    If he can’t resist bringing his scientific theories into the church and pushing buttons that needn’t be pushed, that calls for a response from the church.

    If the church can’t rest probing into his scientific work and pushing buttons that needn’t be pushed, that calls for a response from Terry.

    I would be interested in learning more about how the trouble arose.

    Like

  44. Erik, the other source would be the creation report of the OPC. But Animus Imponentis is more recent (2009):

    Now, if we go ahead another 40 years, an important judicial case comes before the General Assembly in 1996. This has to do with the views of Professor Terry Gray at Calvin College. Terry Gray taught a very guarded nuanced version of theistic evolution. He articulated that Adam had animal ancestry, an he claimed that he was representing the spirit of Warfield in this. Now, whether or not that is an accurate claim is arguable. But, what the church decided there – I should be more specific – this came in the form of an appeal on his part against the discipline he received from his presbytery, and the General Assembly denied his appeal. The General Assembly in overwhelming fashion determined that it refused to allow an ordained officer, in this case a ruling elder, to articulate a view of theistic evolution or at least, more specifically, the animal ancestry of Adam. How many here were at that assembly? I’m just curious. There are a few of us. I was there. I was a commissioner, and I spoke and voted in defense of Dr. Gray. And, I’ve got to say that this was no mere academic exercise for me. But, Gray was disciplined and I, as a commissioner there, felt
    rebuked. I mean, this thing went down in flames. It maybe got 10 or 15% of support? I mean it was overwhelming. And, I have since then felt duty-bound to align my views on this according to the animus that was revealed in this decision. This was the case of some animus tightening that took place. And, that belies the mistaken notion that animus goes one way – it’s always a loosening. Well, no – if Warfield had his supporters before Terry Gray, this episode seemed to suggest that that view was not tolerated in the OPC any more. Now, a few years later, the assembly would establish the Creation Views Report and in the course of which would ask the question whether the animus should be tightened to eliminate other views of the nature and length of the creation days and in that case, as you know, the report determined not to tighten the animus along those lines.

    So, I think this is kind of a helpful sketch to see how fluid this is, now in the course of deliberation the church can at times tighten it, can refuse to tighten the animus.

    Now, I want to address one more thing here, which I think might be helpful. Did the Terry Gray case involve the symbolic defrocking of BB Warfield? Or, to put the question differently, is the OPC after the Terry Gray decision, did the OPC become a denomination that would no longer tolerate the likes of Warfield or Hodge as ministerial members? This is a fear that gets expressed by folks in these debates about the animus. If the animus gets too tight, we have suddenly defrocked these giants of the faith – I don’t want to be a member of a church that wouldn’t have Warfield as a minister. Now, I sympathize with the sentiment behind that notion because it expresses respect for the past, and great theological minds of the past. But, I think that sort of sentiment is actually anachronistic and misguided. It’s not necessarily the case that were Warfield alive today, it’s not necessarily the case that the Terry Gray episode would have involved Warfield’s deposition, suspension from office or whatever. Other possibilities are imaginable. Warfield could have joined the church, for example, in coming to see the greater light that was being shed on this issue, that may not have been available to him when he wrote in the late nineteenth-early twentieth century. Or, Warfield could have possibly exercised some influence in shaping the animus in yet a different direction on this. So, I don’t think we should express the fear that we’ve somehow narrowed the OPC beyond the way in which the giants of our past had expressed it. But, let’s also take note of something else here, that this is definitely an animus shaping episode in our church. I’ll confess that I am not sympathetic personally to the idea of limiting the permissible views on the days of creation to simply days of ordinary length. But, if that is an agenda on the part of somebody in the church, I would encourage that to be pursued by means of seeking to shape the animus. I think it’s misguided to say that the only way in which you can establish six ordinary days is to go back and hold/cling to original intent. Animus is, in my judgment, the best strategy for pursuing this or any other direction that you hope to see the church mature into. I hope that makes sense. I will pause there and allow – maybe – is the procedure to take questions at this point?

    Pastor Mark Richline: We’ll take about ten minutes for anything you want to ask of John and then any of the others can weigh in on that at the same time, as well. So, of you have a question just stand where you are and I will come with the mike. I think these are being recorded, too.

    QUESTION: I’ve sometimes heard the, I guess the opinion that in these kinds of matters that lead to liberalizing the church, that the liberal opinion keeps coming, and so the
    animus of the church is expressed in a conservative way, and then the issue comes back, and then it is again expressed in a conservative way, and it comes back, and eventually there will be a liberalizing trend and seemingly the church just gives up. And, I wondered – is that a legitimate kind of observation that that has happened in certain denominations? And, is it something to be feared, or what can we say about it?

    MR. MUETHER: Let me address that. I sympathize with that sentiment, and I think that you can find evidence for that if you consider how the PCUSA has established women’s ordination and how it seems to be establishing the legitimacy of the ordination of homosexuals to church office. Conservatives win it one year and it comes back the next year. And it comes back the next year. And it comes back the next year. So, if you look at the practice in other Presbyterian, in this case main-line denominations, it seems as though the tide of history is on the side of liberalism in this case. But, I don’t think you can make that case for genuinely confessional bodies like the OPC. And, I would cite the Terry Gray case as a good example. I mean, this happened now 13 years ago, and it has not come up and I don’t hear any prospects of its coming up. This was a rather definitive chapter in the history of the denomination and – that’s not to say it won’t ever come up again – but the matter seems to be quite settled as I read the will of the church. Anyone want to add to that?

    QUESTION: Mr. Muether, you were talking about at one time having a certain sympathy for the process creationism of Terry Gary and being somewhat emotionally invested in it, if I understood you correctly. And, then, once the animus of the church was expressed, that that educated your opinion. I am just wondering what that really involved. Was it a question that you had sympathy for but didn’t necessarily agree with or that you agreed with and you changed your position or that you didn’t change your position but you sublimated the position in some fashion because the church had spoken? What exactly was that change you underwent as a result of understanding the animus?

    MR. MUETHER: Well, I am not a scientist and I wasn’t able to follow Terry whenever he got specific about his perspective on this. And, it just struck me as a viewpoint that I was willing to tolerate, although I didn’t personally hold to views of the qualified expression of theistic evolution that he had. But, subsequent to that decision, I felt duty-bound to, whenever the issue came up in private conversation or in a teaching moment, to make clear that the church had spoken in this judicial case on this matter and the voice of the church needed to be heard.

    PASTOR MARK RICHLINE: Another question? Okay, we are going to ask Dr. Knight if he would proceed.

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  45. Erik,

    Is it possible your view of science and the bible can be an abuse of the bible the same way you think non-2kers abuse the bible for politics/culture? Andrew’s biologos quote shows it is not so easy to know when unnecessary buttons are being pushed.

    Like

  46. I dug this up. Terry, I hope you don’t mind. I won’t post any more.

    The judicial case that has relevance for our seeking to determine the animus imponentis with respect to creation views is the case brought on appeal to the General Assembly in by Terry M. Gray. Dr. Gray had been found guilty by his session of “stating that Adam had primate ancestors.”20 The Presbytery of the Midwest did not sustain Dr. Gray’s appeal to it and he accordingly appealed to the General Assembly. The General Assembly in turn did not sustain his appeal and thus the verdict and censure (indefinite suspension from office) proposed by the trial judicatory were affirmed. This case suggests something about the animus imponentis in re: the subject of creation. The decision of the GA not to sustain Dr. Gray’s appeal indicates that the mind or intention of the church was to rule out animal ancestry for Adam’s body and to affirm that man was a direct creation from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). There was a protest lodged against this decision of the General Assembly but on the whole the mind of the church seemed clearly to proscribe the evolution of man.

    While the Gray case did not address the question of the length of the creation days, the age of the earth, or even the question of the evolution of animals in general, it did reflect the church’s view on what it is willing to tolerate or permit in the broader area of creation views. The church, whatever its animus may have been in the past, rather decidedly made it clear that it was not willing to countenance animal ancestry for Adam’s body. Putting together then the decision of the Committee on Christian Education not to publish Monsma’s work with the 1980 General Assembly deliverance and the 1996 decision of the General Assembly in the Gray case, the church has both declined to be dogmatic about the length of the creation days and has at the same time been dogmatic in rejecting the evolution of man.

    Respecting the current animus imponentis on the matter of creation views (particularly the length of creation days), there does seem to have been some shift in the animus of the church from an earlier more tolerant to a recently more restrictive position. The kind of evolutionary views, for instance, of a Warfield tend no longer to be tolerated, reflected in the decision in the Gray case. Even the apparently rather widespread earlier agreement not to be dogmatic about the length of creation days, reflected in the decision of the Committee on Christian Education not to publish the Monsma tract, seems no longer to prevail with the same force. One might speculate about the reasons for the heightened concern on the part of many to regard as aberrant any view other than that of creation days of ordinary length. It does seem to be the case that, whatever might have prevailed in the past, there are those in the OPC who believe that any view other than that of days of ordinary length should be precluded or at least regarded as in error. That position appears to be of more recent origin. There also remain those committed to
    permitting flexibility on the question of creation views and the length of the creation days. Your committee would encourage the church to continue to permit flexibility while continuing to discuss all the issues addressed in this report.

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  47. view of science and the bible can be an abuse of the bible the same way you think non-2kers abuse the bible for politics/culture

    Precisely why we are confessional, not biblicists. Our confessions, we say, summarize the teaching of Scripture. Of course what Cletus suggests is possible. The Bible can be made into an idol, just like anything else.

    Such as, the church..

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  48. I’m just excited about Bubba Watson right now, truth be told.

    If Bubba falls apart now, blame me and my comboxxing:

    Joe Carter posted about Bubba Watson’s victory at the Masters Tournament. What matters to Carter is Bubba’s witness, not whether the golfer conforms to God’s revealed will (though to the credit of some readers, a discussion of the Fourth Commandment did ensue):

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  49. Clete – Is it possible your view of science and the bible can be an abuse of the bible the same way you think non-2kers abuse the bible for politics/culture? Andrew’s biologos quote shows it is not so easy to know when unnecessary buttons are being pushed.

    Erik – Which quote is that?

    All I am saying is I am a skeptic of most everything.

    “Science says” means little to me until I know the specifics of what science is making a pronouncement on, who the scientists are, and what is motivating them. Science changes frequently. If you doubt me, tell me what scientists say I should and should not eat.

    Darwinism is less than 200 years old. Let’s talk when it’s 1000 years old.

    Like

  50. Erik, I brought up evolution on this thread.

    Theistic evolution is not allowed for OPC officers, like me.

    But check out Biologos regarding evolutionary creationism.

    If I say any more, I could end up like Terry. You see?

    Like

  51. PS,

    Is me:

    To me, the key sentence in that link, to my wife’s question, is this:

    The priority of Scripture in the relationship between special and general revelation

    .

    It’s at this point I would start bringing in quotes from chapter one of the Westminster Confession of Faith (OPC Edition). But again, you know how we operate around here..

    The other guy who learned the hard way is Bruce Waltke. I have his Genesis commentary, it’s rad.

    Like

  52. And that’s concludes my demonstration of Protestant Eclessiology. Maybe the OPC was wrong not to overturn the action taken at presbytery against Dr. Gray. Synods and councils do err, as everyone knows (wink).

    Next.

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  53. Erik, while I was indefinitely suspended from office as a result of the decisions of the Harvest Session, Presbytery of the Midwest, and the General Assembly, My suspension was lifted as a result of a recantation of sorts that I offered to the Harvest Session. (See http://www.asa3.org/gray/evolution_trial/recantation.html if you’re interested in the details.) My present position has not really changed since that time. Thus, it is my understanding that the courts of the OPC have not found my views unacceptable for an officer in the church. Since then, because of a relocation my membership has been in the PCA and now is in the CRCNA.

    Were Hodge, Warfield, Machen “all of lifers” when they thought about the relationship between science and Christian belief? (While I don’t agree with the criticism of “all of life” around here, it does seem to me that Old Life stalwarts thought that there was some interplay between modern science (and other cultural activity) and Christian belief that needed pastoral and theological attention.

    Your advice suggests a compartmentalization of life and thinking that seems extreme even for a 2k advocate.

    Like

  54. Terry – Since then, because of a relocation my membership has been in the PCA and now is in the CRCNA.

    Erik – You’re moving in the wrong direction (ha, ha).

    Would you say your trial was a result of anyone in the OPC being overzealous?

    How were your views discovered? How aggressively did you promote them in the church?

    This is where my 2K angle comes in.

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  55. 3. The first man, Adam, was created from the dust of the ground in the image of God by a special act of God. Eve was created by a special act of God from the side of Adam. Adam and Eve were historical persons and progenitors of the whole human race.

    A disappointing and needless concession. A rabbinical scholar friend of mine reads Gen 2:7 as proof that as divine truth, the Bible anticipates future scientific discoveries*, in this case that God made man from the base elements of the earth–dust or clay, whathaveyou, quite compatible with evolutionary theory.

    The “breath of life” is consciousness, unique to man as far as we still know, a creature that can actually contemplate God’s very existence. We are not mere clay, or beasts. Adam’s “creation” is still quite special. The Bible holds.
    _____________
    *The Greeks thought the universe was eternal. The great medieval theologian Maimonides declined to follow Aristotle on this, and deferred to the Bible. The Big Bang theory indicates the Bible was right. I mean, is that cool or what?

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  56. Tom, I read Aristotle (or read someone that read Aristotle), that said that what separates us from the animals is that we do not live by instinct (alone). Among other things. Just fyi..

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  57. Tom, not sure that my “concession” says anything different from what you’re saying. Dust could be “earthy stuff” and special creation could refer to en-soul-ation.

    Erik, the issue originally surfaced after a book review of Phil Johnson’s Darwin on Trial in the Banner. I was then a professor of biochemistry at Calvin. Since the book was making some waves in the broader evangelical scene, it seemed appropriate as a biologist/biochemist from a Christian college to review it. Because of the Van Till controversy at Calvin, no one would touch it with a ten foot pole. Since I was tracking Warfield, I didn’t really feel like I was pushing the envelop (and neither did my OPC pastor at the time). Six months after the Banner article a letter from the Presbytery of Northern California to the Presbytery of the Midwest resulted in a preliminary investigation of my views. The Session that originally tackled the issue found that no charges were warranted. The Presbytery of the Midwest thought otherwise and formulated two charges: one concerning my alleged elevating science over scripture, which I denied, and of which I was ultimately found not guilty; the second stated that I held the view that Adam’s body had animal ancestor. I admittedly held to that view but argued that it was not contrary to the Bible or the Westminster Standards. You can read all the details at http://www.asa3.org/gray/evolution_trial/

    My experience of the OPC and reading of its history was that the Old School gang was not only acreationist, but regarded young-earth creationism as a fundamentalist aberration. I’ll leave the gentleman unnamed but one OPC stalwart told me that he kept a fossil in his pocket so that during ordination exams he could bring it out and ask candidates about their views of creation and then would give them a hard time if they defended young-earth creationism. As I’ve said here before I learned my “all of life” neo-Calvinism in the OPC and felt fairly confident that a properly nuanced evolutionary position would be accepted because the OPC was pro-science, pro-cultural, not fundamentalistic on those issues. In fact, the notion that as eschatology goes, so protology goes (which I also learned from the OPC) gave me some confidence that my cause wasn’t hopeless.

    I feel like I knew the OPC pretty well. I had studied her history (even read all the GA minutes),.I had been a regular ruling elder commissioner to the Presbytery of the Northwest and the Presbytery of the Midwest. I had been a ruling elder commissioner to several GA’s in the 80’s and 90’s. (I can recall at least 6 occasions.) However, I also knew that young-earth creationism was gaining ground in the OPC. The Reconstructionist crowd had embraced young-earth creationism and there were many newcomers to the OPC (evangelicals discovering the Reformed faith) who had not been schooled in the OPC’s culture at WTS and who did not know or appreciate the church’s association with Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders as historian David Livingstone called those from Old Princeton who were open to some evolutionary ideas.

    Being a professor at Calvin College during the Howard Van Till hoopla, the only problem I could see with Howard was his appeal to liberal scholarship (and an overly compartmentalized view of the relationship between science and faith) and a hesitation in affirming a historical Adam. His old earth/old universe geology/cosmology and even evolutionary views were non-controversial in my mind.

    Oh, how the times have changed. The OPC have moved toward YEC more than ever. Meredith G. Kline’s Framework View (and some of his other ideas) are viewed with suspicion. 2K has deemed the science and cultural imperative to be a brand of social gospel liberalism and distanced the OPC from its neo-Calvinist roots (see Gaffin’s WTS article on Old Amsterdam and Old Princeton). Although the straw that broke the camel’s back for the URC folks was women in office, the Van Till issue pulled many in the URC to the YEC perspective and much of the attitudes toward science and culture that what the heartbeat of Dutch neo-Calvnism was lost. Confessionalism has a very different face than it did 25 years ago.

    Do I think the OPC was overzealous? Not quite sure what to say to that. I surprise many when I affirm the process. The church has a right and a responsibility to maintain her Confession. Heresy trials shouldn’t just be 16th and 17th century curiosities. Theologians, pastors, officers of the church ought to gladly submit their views to the scrutiny of the church. I fully affirm that and am truly grateful that the OPC does so. As much as I may think that the OPC might have missed the mark, I listened and am still listening. My own views were subtly changed in response. i have pulled back to much less certainty and this comes out when I teach and write on the matter.

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  58. Posted April 14, 2014 at 1:33 am | Permalink
    Tom, I read Aristotle (or read someone that read Aristotle), that said that what separates us from the animals is that we do not live by instinct (alone). Among other things. Just fyi..

    Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 1:50 am | Permalink
    Tom, not sure that my “concession” says anything different from what you’re saying. Dust could be “earthy stuff” and special creation could refer to en-soul-ation.

    And we were all thinking this blog was a waste of my time. Thank you, brothers.

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  59. Terry, young earthers are just as all of life as you. It’s amills and acreationists who see that the Bible doesn’t speak to all of life. You need to get your categories straight. If you want all of life Christianity, you got it with a vengeance — the OPC kicks you out, the CRC goes wherever it goes.

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  60. Terry,

    Interesting recap, thanks. That resembled DTM on his better days (ha, ha).

    One thing your story makes me reflect on is the perhaps perilous nature of the whole endeavor of “Christian Higher Education”. Let’s hire a bunch of Christians who have been trained in secular graduate schools and expect them to believe and teach the same things that church elders who are simple farmers believe. That might not always work smoothly.

    I’m not saying whether the academics or the simple farmers are right or wrong.

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  61. As for the difference between the old OPC and the new OPC on Darwinism: Views tend to harden over time as these issues take on culture war implications. The 1930s are not the 1990s.

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  62. Darryl, “all of life” doesn’t mean the Bible has something directly to say about everything. Scientific knowledge and for that matter day to day knowledge is mostly Creational. It’s still from God and lived in His presence. And a right posture for living (all of life) includes acknowledging that. That’s what “all of life” means. You’ve turned it into some sort of Biblicism. That’s closer to fundamentalism than Reformed thinking.

    Hopefully, Old Lifers (including you) are “all of life” in that sense. Frankly, that’s why I don’t get you guys. Neo-Calvinism is “Creational” much more than it is “Biblicistic.” Our eating and cigar smoking and whiskey drinking is before the face of God just as much as our Bible study and Psalm singing. We give thanks and enjoy God’s good gifts.

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  63. Kent, great movie but I don’t really get your point. I’m not saying anything any different than I ever have said. Tom didn’t seem to read all the way to the end of my letter.

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  64. Terry, how can neo-Calvinism be creational and Christian. Creation doesn’t reveal Christ. That’s why I keep pushing you on where you get your Christian organizations from. Is it just the case of aspiration? Whatever you think is worthwhile, well, let’s call it Christian? I thought neo-Cals were supposed to be more rigorous than that.

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  65. Neve Campbell of “Wild Things” fame.

    I got distracted midway through last night’s episode. I saw Don cozying up to some woman on the plane and asked my son, “who the heck is that?”

    I DVR’d it and will go back and rewatch it tonight. “Mad Men” is my Proust and I plan on eventually seeing each episode about ten times so there’s no hurry.

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  66. Terry – Tom didn’t seem to read all the way to the end of my letter.

    Erik – Attention span only lasts for about 15 seconds. He lives in L.A. so that’s pretty good.

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  67. Erik, I just let it ride on trying to remember where I’ve seen people before, like Ted McGinley on last season’s Mad Men.

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  68. From the Golden Oldie files, I found a gem:

    Partly to help out a friend, and also to acknowledge the pleasant companionship of our two felines, Isabelle and Cordelia, I reprint below a piece from the Spring 2009 issue of the Nicotine Theological Journal that followed the death of my first and my wife’s favorite pet, Skippie. Despite all their charms, our current cat models cannot compare with the original article. But thankfully they are a pleasant ectype of the archetype.

    Soulless but Spirit-Filled continue reading by clicking these blue underlined hyper-webbed alpha-numeric characters

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  69. Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
    Kent, great movie but I don’t really get your point. I’m not saying anything any different than I ever have said. Tom didn’t seem to read all the way to the end of my letter.

    True. I read

    My suspension was lifted as a result of a recantation of sorts that I offered to the Harvest Session.

    and

    The first man, Adam, was created from the dust of the ground in the image of God by a special act of God. Eve was created by a special act of God from the side of Adam. Adam and Eve were historical persons and progenitors of the whole human race.

    Once you literally have Eve coming out of Adam’s rib, the rest doesn’t really matter much.

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  70. Kent,

    And then there’s the other direction, like Joanie’s ex Greg showing up in Season 2 of “House of Cards”.

    John Hamm has a new movie coming out about scouting for pitchers in India. Family friendly, apparently (PG). They ran a commercial for it last night.

    Elisabeth Moss In “Top of the Lake” was interesting.

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  71. Just when Tom thought he had found a semi-religious culture war ally in Terry his hopes went up in flames when he realized that he was a fundie just like the rest of us…

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  72. Terry, it’s true that neos know how to embrace creation in ways biblicists are clueless at best and Gnostic at worst. But then you guys inevitably say something about influencing (even taking over) culture the way the fundies and evangies do. Frankly, it’s embarrassing. You do so well about the goodness of creation, then take a left turn at Albuquerque. Then those who fled eeeevangelicalism weary of all its culture war for the cover of a better Reformation that affirms creation as-is with no need to transform it begin to wonder.

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  73. Darryl, seems somewhat semantic to me. My point is simply that God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) created the heavens and the earth. This is a plank of the “Christian” faith. I’m not sure I’m willing to say that Creation doesn’t reveal Christ. (If it reveals the true God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) then it reveals Christ.) No question that Creation doesn’t reveal salvation in Christ. So whether you call it Christian or not depends what you mean. Your 2k definition says that it’s something other than Christian, although I trust that you do believe that it’s God’s (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). I’m not willing to buy your restricted definition of Christian. Thus, I believe when the unbeliever does something right or true or beautiful that by common grace he/she is doing something “Christian”. That’s why Christian arithmetic in the public school looks about the same as Christian arithmetic in the Christian school. I do hope that everyone understands that when you argue with me about this that you’re arguing with C. Van Til about this–you’re the one detouring from the OPC way. All truth is God’s truth. Unbelievers discover God’s truth when they discover (or practice) anything true. It does seems to me that you acknowledge this when you say that God reigns over even the common realm. For example, 2k says Natural Law is God’s Law revealed in Creation and in the hearts of all people. That makes it God’s (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and as I’m willing to say “Christian”. Thus, good laws anywhere by anybody are a manifestation of God’s (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) goodness to the world (even sinners) and his restraint of sin in this evil age.

    Zrim, creation doesn’t need to be transformed (although I do expect some kind of eschatological transformation to occur, the one Adam and Creation would have experienced had Adam not fallen.) Transformation applies to the effects of the Fall and the salt and light that believers bring to the world as they condemn (in the name of the Lord) sin and injustice and seek for God’s rule to be fully acknowledged.

    It’s curious that you say fleeing evangelicalism is a flee of culture wars. It seems to me that evangelicalisms embracing of culture wars and worldview thinking IS them acknowledging the fundamental correctness of this aspect of Reformed theology. Fundamentalism and evangelicalism historically were Creation denying and spoke of the church/(para-church) as that place to which you must flee in order to be saved from it. (Sounds a bit familiar, eh?) If you wanted to make your life count for Christ you had to be a missionary or a pastor or a IVCF staffer on a secular campus. Perhaps medicine, especially if it was connected to medical missions would count.

    I don’t think Evangelicalism quite gets it right yet, especially ecclesiastically. And common grace slips into social gospelism all to easily.

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  74. Tom, you said “rib”. I said “side”. The Eve story is not inconsequential, but why can’t it be understood similar to the en-soul-ation of Adam. The humanity of the first woman is derivative in some way of the humanity of the first man. This is one of the details of the Genesis text that is referred to in the New Testament. Again, I’m not sure the Bible gives us the sort of account that satisfies our longing for historical or scientific detail–that’s where I don’t see the force of the Murray exegesis the way some do. That’s not the agenda and we eisegete when we seek those answers from a text that was not intended to give them.

    Here’s what Warfield says:

    The upshot of the whole matter is that there is no necessary antagonism of Christianity to evolution, provided that we do not hold to too extreme a form of evolution. To adopt any form that does not permit God freely to work apart from law and which does not allow miraculous intervention (in the giving of the soul, in creating Eve, etc.) will entail a great reconstruction of Christian doctrine, and a very great lowering of the detailed authority of the Bible.

    He lists the creation of Eve as one of the non-negotiables. That seems right to me. (Although, I’m not sure the details have made their way into our Creeds and Confessions.)

    You are right that it sets me apart from most so-called theistic evolutionists. But most (not all) theistic evolutionists are theologically quite liberal.

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  75. Terry is a way better Old Life opponent than the regular opponents who huff, puff, light a fart, and run back to their cave, only to reappear & repeat the exercise in six months (or, in the case of some, the next day).

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  76. Erik Charter
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink
    Just when Tom thought he had found a semi-religious culture war ally in Terry his hopes went up in flames when he realized that he was a fundie just like the rest of us…

    I’ll settle for anyone who’s intelligent and polite. Or either one. See what you can do.

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  77. Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
    Tom, you said “rib”. I said “side”. The Eve story is not inconsequential, but why can’t it be understood similar to the en-soul-ation of Adam. The humanity of the first woman is derivative in some way of the humanity of the first man. This is one of the details of the Genesis text that is referred to in the New Testament. Again, I’m not sure the Bible gives us the sort of account that satisfies our longing for historical or scientific detail–that’s where I don’t see the force of the Murray exegesis the way some do. That’s not the agenda and we eisegete when we seek those answers from a text that was not intended to give them.

    Here’s what Warfield says:

    The upshot of the whole matter is that there is no necessary antagonism of Christianity to evolution, provided that we do not hold to too extreme a form of evolution. To adopt any form that does not permit God freely to work apart from law and which does not allow miraculous intervention (in the giving of the soul, in creating Eve, etc.) will entail a great reconstruction of Christian doctrine, and a very great lowering of the detailed authority of the Bible.

    He lists the creation of Eve as one of the non-negotiables. That seems right to me. (Although, I’m not sure the details have made their way into our Creeds and Confessions.)

    You are right that it sets me apart from most so-called theistic evolutionists. But most (not all) theistic evolutionists are theologically quite liberal.

    I don’t see the breathing of a soul and the parthenogenesis of Eve as able to be lumped together, sorry. The former is metaphysics, the latter is not.

    As for theistic evolutionists being liberal, that may be a correlation but not a cause. [I guess the IDers are “conservative,” but I prefer not to count them atall.]

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/heads-id-wins-tails-you-lose.html

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  78. sorry

    *38 minute mark.

    you want a show down of Van Til vs. Plantinga? Yes these kinds of things are fun. See here. You’ll happily note Hart was an upset victor in that little gameshow..

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  79. Terry, you’re right, it is a matter of semantics. And what you demonstrate is the neo-Cal penchant for confusing matters by the very language you use, from referring to facets of creation in redemptive terms, e.g. Christian math, to the duty of believers to be about the business transforming things. Transforming is the language of the progressive, preserving is the language of the conservative.

    But it’s hardly the case that funda-evangelicalism’s embrace of culture war and worldviewry is an indication of its embrace of Reformation. It’s simply the flipside of its world-flight theology and piety. All it knows is two speeds, fight or flight. There’s no room for any sort of nuance, no theology of vocation–it’s all mission. That funda-evangelicalism is attracted to worldviewry should give more occasion for pause than opportunity to gloat. It would love a way to have redemption swallow up (icky) creation, a way to wear the faith on the sleeve at every turn, a respectable justification for Christian sub-culture and a more tutored prosperity gospel. Neo-Calvinism provides it.

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  80. Tom, imagine being there for this debate:

    He opposed Barth in an American debate about how to maintain the influence of Christianity in American culture.

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  81. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
    Tom, imagine being there for this debate:

    He opposed Barth in an American debate about how to maintain the influence of Christianity in American culture.

    Thanks for a very nourishing discussion, AB. I’m still back on Van Til and Bahnsen. What was nagging me is addressed here:

    http://epistole.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/an-apparent-apologetic-method-in-aquinas-a-critique-of-certain-van-tilianisms/

    Van Til critics are accused of not understanding his “presuppositionalism” as circular reasoning, and I’ve found those Van Til defenders credible. However, did Van Til [and worst, his epigone Schaeffer and we might add the anti-Thomist Karl Barth here] understand Aquinas?

    Because the natural man can have a knowledge of God the Christian is not limited to the authority of Scripture. The demonstration is both offensive and defensive. But, one may ask, why would a Christian want to argue based on the authority of reason when even Aquinas says that the authority of scripture is the “sole way to overcome an adversary”? Aquinas answers:

    Thus, against the Jews we are able to argue by means of the Old Testament, while against heretics we are able to argue by means of the new Testament. But the Mohammedans and the pagans accept neither the one nor the other. We must, therefore, have recourse to the natural reason, to which all men are forced to give their assent … Now, while we are investigating some given truth, we shall also show what errors are set aside by it; and we shall likewise show how the truth that we come to know by demonstration is in accord with the Christian religion.

    For Aquinas the authority of Scripture is the sole way to overcome those who are adverse to the faith but for those who do not accept this authority there is recourse to reason, including the demonstration of the preambles of the faith (God’s existence, oneness, etc.) mentioned by Paul in Romans 1:20 and the refutation of all errors – he also notes that natural reason cannot be contrary to the faith.

    Is “presuppositionalism” any innovation above this? If God is Being itself, as Aquinas argues, He must be logos as well.

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  82. Terry, well, I hope others realize you are disagreeing (on Christian things) with the Heidelberg Catechism (and you thought I was narrow):

    32. Q. Why are you called a Christian?

    A. Because I am a member of Christ by faith[1] and thus share in His anointing,[2] so that I may as prophet confess His Name,[3] as priest present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him,[4] and as king fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life,[5] and hereafter reign with Him eternally over all creatures.[6]

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  83. vd, t, game show victories aside, your intelligence is not always in full view. Politeness is not your strength.

    Some would call that hypocritical. I’d agree.

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  84. Wow, AB. Great link.

    Van Til:

    “[Barth] even denies the real significance of the temporal world. The whole of history is to be condemned as worthless. The eternal is said to be everything and the temporal is said to be nothing.”

    Punking my two least favorite things, Karl Barthianism and “Radical Two Kingdoms” theology. Yeah, baby. You wail.

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  85. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, game show victories aside, your intelligence is not always in full view. Politeness is not your strength.

    Some would call that hypocritical. I’d agree.

    Right you are, Dr. Potty Mouth. As though you have room to call anyone a hypocrite.

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  86. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink
    Tom, let me think about it. In Sunday school, we learned years ago it’s evidentialism (RC Sproul Sr., sympathetic to Thomas by the way) vs. Van Til. Here’s a quick google search yield.

    Yes, “Protestantism” [whatever that is, especially now with married gay priests in the Church of England*] is drawing on Aquinas as a last resort—ironically that soon, “natural law” will be the only defense against liberal theology’s perversion of the Bible!

    Thanks for a great discussion, Andrew. Who woulda thunk that in this modern world, reason will be the best defense of God’s word, not contra the “Gentiles,” but contra the liberals?

    [Our problems are much worse than I thought. Gay married priests.]

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/gay-priest-defies-church-of-england-ban-on-samesex-marriage-as-senior-vicar-warns-of-crisis-9257560.html

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  87. Tom, hopefully you can see why we are such big fans of Dr. Hart. Reformed theology is rich, as I hope you can see, and we don’t want our system made into a tool for some culture war, as important as cultural issues are. Don’t diss the man. I know of few if any who have labored for so long and hard in a church that welcomed me and showed me Jesus. I’m a lifer..and work to come along side whomever would enter the doors of my church. That’s all.

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  88. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
    Terry, well, I hope others realize you are disagreeing (on Christian things) with the Heidelberg Catechism (and you thought I was narrow):

    32. Q. Why are you called a Christian?

    A. Because I am a member of Christ by faith[1] and thus share in His anointing,[2] so that I may as prophet confess His Name,[3] as priest present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him,[4] and as king fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life,[5] and hereafter reign with Him eternally over all creatures.[6]

    Nobody expects the Calvinist Inquisition! [Well actually, Dr. Gray should expect it by now. They only eat their own.]

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  89. If God is Being itself, as Aquinas argues, He must be logos as well.

    My teenage Tillichean self says that calling God the Ground of Being solves a very gnarly problem that comes about by calling a being like you or me.

    I argued over email with a major Tillich for over 3 years. I know where I settled after all that. Machen is a good home for me. Its just funny it happened to be the church my hot wife invited me to when I was 18. Go figure..

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  90. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink
    Tom, hopefully you can see why we are such big fans of Dr. Hart. Reformed theology is rich, as I hope you can see, and we don’t want our system made into a tool for some culture war, as important as cultural issues are. Don’t diss the man. I know of few if any who have labored for so long and hard in a church that welcomed me and showed me Jesus. I’m a lifer..and work to come along side whomever would enter the doors of my church. That’s all.

    What of those outside those doors? There’s the rub. As for not making the Bible part of the culture war, let’s cut the crap. The culture war is against the Bible.

    As for our host, we understand each other perfectly. This is how he wants it.

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  91. There’s no crap. The world hates Jesus. They reinvent the Gospel with movies a la Mel Gibson etc. Outside the doors meaning our doctrine of election? We handle it with special care, as our confession tells us. Ultimately, popery is nonsense and eastern Orthodox is just wierd. Protestantism is where it’s at. The Lutherans aren’t Calvinists (see today’s, thread), yet we can call them our brothers. It’s not as complicated as it first seems.

    You eventually realize what grates against our nature is accepting helplessness and a righteousness not our own. It’s what Luther called The Hinge of the Xtian religion, our doctrine of Justification by faith. It’s not pie in the sky nor some abstractions. It’s as real as it gets, it’s true, and we ain’t budging.

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  92. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Permalink
    If God is Being itself, as Aquinas argues, He must be logos as well.

    My teenage Tillichean self says that calling God the Ground of Being solves a very gnarly problem that comes about by calling a being like you or me.

    I argued over email with a major Tillich for over 3 years. I know where I settled after all that. Machen is a good home for me. Its just funny it happened to be the church my hot wife invited me to when I was 18. Go figure..

    Hot women. Providence. The Ground of Being. I’m like so totally there, bro.

    Golf. Divine mysteries all.

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  93. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink
    There’s no crap. The world hates Jesus. They reinvent the Gospel with movies a la Mel Gibson etc. Outside the doors meaning our doctrine of election? We handle it with special care, as our confession tells us. Ultimately, popery is nonsense and eastern Orthodox is just wierd. Protestantism is where it’s at. The Lutherans aren’t Calvinists (see today’s, thread), yet we can call them our brothers. It’s not as complicated as it first seems.

    You eventually realize what grates against our nature is accepting helplessness and a righteousness not our own. It’s what Luther called The Hinge of the Xtian religion, our doctrine of Justification by faith. It’s not pie in the sky nor some abstractions. It’s as real as it gets, it’s true, and we ain’t budging.

    [Radical] 2k doesn’t just budge, it heads for the exits, the catacombs. Resistance is Futile.

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  94. I’ve said it before. 2k runs up against the moral law, and that’s it. If a 2ker upholds and fights to uphold the moral law and understands why, there’s no holding such a one back. Time for others to talk.

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  95. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Permalink
    I’ve said it before. 2k runs up against the moral law, and that’s it. If a 2ker upholds and fights to uphold the moral law and understands why, there’s no holding such a one back.

    You’re saying something powerful here, Andrew. I don’t know if they can hear you.

    Yes, we’ve had our say and it’s time to yield the floor. I didn’t have clear in my head until this discussion that the “culture war” is against the Bible. No more, no less. They try to blame the “conservatives” for standing in the way of “progress.”

    I suppose we do. Usually not very well…

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  96. Tom, I steal any good ideas out here. What you here above I stole from my wife’s dad, an OPC elder since the 70s. Smart man.

    Atheists hate the Bible. It’s not hard to find out why. One need only read it. Now I’m done.

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  97. Darryl, different question, bro. I never called all practitioners of Christian arithmetic, “Christian”. Unbelievers are not Christians even when they acknowledge God’s (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) ways in Creation. Stop being so obstinate here. You guys are always telling us that the common (Creational) realm can be known by believers and unbelievers alike. You also tell us the God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the Creator and Provider (of the common realm). If unbelievers can be good plumbers, it’s only because they are operating rightly in the God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) created world of plumbing. I’m happy to call that Christian plumbing (after a fashion).

    It seems that you’re also missing a fundamental grammatical difference between a noun and an adjective.

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  98. Terry’s definition of Christian arithmetic is different from other worldviewers who publish math papers and texts attempting to ground axioms explicitly in the revelation of God and the doctrine of the Trinity. It’s impossible to argue ‘the’ Christian worldview or Christian [something] when everyone has their own idea of what that means while acting as if it’s unanimous. This version seems especially convenient in that Christians can claim anything that’s good without contributing to, or even understanding, the field in question or wrestling with when one pious generation’s Christian [something, like ‘science’] is later denounced as folly.

    “And common grace slips into social gospelism all to easily.” Debatably, it’s to mainliners’ credit that passages like Mk. 9:41 and Matthew 10:42 are preeminent in their understanding of the Christian life over a dogmatic insistence on Christian plumbing and arithmetic. Miraculous accounts notwithstanding, how did apostolic fishing or tentmaking change after conversion or the advancing of the covenants?

    By Terry’s definition, it sounds like whenever anyone places tent supports on the ground instead of inverting them into the sky, they exhibit common grace. If that’s not a fair characterization, I’d like to understand exactly where the line is drawn between man’s innate ability and common grace.

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  99. Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Permalink
    Stop being so obstinate here.

    The word is “obtuse.”

    It seems that you’re also missing a fundamental grammatical difference between a noun and an adjective.

    The word is “sophistic.” You’re catching on now.

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  100. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink
    Tom, I steal any good ideas out here. What you here above I stole from my wife’s dad, an OPC elder since the 70s. Smart man.

    Atheists hate the Bible. It’s not hard to find out why. One need only read it. Now I’m done.

    The “culture war,” when all is said and done, is against the Bible. One cannot “steal” the truth. It is freely given and shared. Thx, bro. This has not been a waste of time afterall.

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  101. Mike K., what is “innate ability”? It’s all a gift from God–our existence, our abilities, the divine Word that sustains the universe from quarks to the human body to galaxies (with faithful regularity so that scientists detect patterns and laws). It’s grace because none of us deserve these gifts because we’re sinners. We deserve God’s wrath–now and in full measure. But he gives these various gifts to humanity whether or not they are elect. The “common” of “common grace” is that it is indiscriminate relative to the current faith status or even the eternal destiny of the recipient. It is common to all whether or not they will experience God’s saving grace in Christ. Thus, in Van Til’s discussion common grace is only temporary. Eventually the unbeliever will be held accountable for his or her thanklessness concerning these gives of God. Then what was previously grace becomes the very thing that condemns.

    This is what makes unbelief so repugnant. To roughly paraphrase C. Van Til–the sinner shakes his or her fist at God, slaps Him in the face, or acts as if He’s not there, all the while sitting on His lap experiencing His goodness in Creation and through the benefits of God’s Providential rule. This is part of the “all of life” dictum. All these things come from God. To not acknowledge that is to commit the most basic blunder. Sure, 2+2=4 helps you get along in the world (especially on tax day), but you miss the most basic truth about this fact if you don’t know that God made it and that it should be used in His service.

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  102. Tom, parthenogenesis? Give me a break. You need to use your imagination more. You’ve just told us that Adam was became a human being due to the divine inbreathing–en-soul-ation, if you will. Until that happened with Eve there was no companion, all but himself were brutes. God put him to sleep and out of his side came the woman created by a special act of God. Perhaps a miraculous en-soul-ation of a female brute so that she became human, but in some way derivative pf the man in her humanity. Once he was awake, Adam recognized her instantly. Does the text demand that God took a clump of cells, or a bone, or some physical piece of Adam? I’m not so sure. I don’t think we can press the text for the scientific details. At some point a fully human woman in the image of God (or perhaps together with Adam in the image of God) emerged. Science can’t tell us the answer. Science only tells us when human capabilities came about. Science suggests normal biology at work. But if the origin of Adam and Eve occurred via a miraculous intervention by God I’m not sure how it would look any different.

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  103. vd, t, why should we join you in resistance when you won’t join us in church? You don’t seem to realize that your resistance is taking you to a bad place on judgment day. And you think your resistance is effective. Get a clue.

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  104. Terry, sorry, but the obstinacy goes both ways. You’re the one who is playing semantics:

    This is a plank of the “Christian” faith. I’m not sure I’m willing to say that Creation doesn’t reveal Christ. (If it reveals the true God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) then it reveals Christ.) No question that Creation doesn’t reveal salvation in Christ. So whether you call it Christian or not depends what you mean. Your 2k definition says that it’s something other than Christian, although I trust that you do believe that it’s God’s (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). I’m not willing to buy your restricted definition of Christian. Thus, I believe when the unbeliever does something right or true or beautiful that by common grace he/she is doing something “Christian”.

    You call it Christian plumbing “after a fashion.” The history of the church shows that such equivocation has let through all sorts of error and betrayal of the gospel. You look at the history of the church since 1850 and all the attempts to turn the West into Christian civilization and get back to me.

    BTW, you can’t have the adjective with the noun. If you think you can have Christian math without a Christian mathematician, say hello to William Ernest Hocking. You’re channeling the Doleantie without the Afscheiding.

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  105. Terry, “To roughly paraphrase C. Van Til–the sinner shakes his or her fist at God, slaps Him in the face, or acts as if He’s not there, all the while sitting on His lap experiencing His goodness in Creation and through the benefits of God’s Providential rule.”

    And you call this sinner’s solution to the math problem “Christian”? Are you for real?

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  106. And Tom..in conclusion…

    I’ve been very purposeful in selecting which websites I promote by putting links on my website (click on my name).

    The place I would direct an honest inquirer are the links on church history, which are both lectures from a class in 2004 by Dr. Gerald Bray, who is still a professor at Beeson Divinity School. You’ll note he’s anglican. One other recommendation while I am typing:

    I read in 2006 According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy, another anglican. Now, I think the reformed expression is what most closely resembles Biblical Christianity, in our form of government, our confessions, etc. So don’t get me wrong. But I’ve been helped along by people of various traditions outside of the reformed world, as I have just now mentioned here. The thing for me, was, I had done 98% of my book learning before I ever found a theology blog. I had to refine my thoughts. But to be honest, I was shocked to find how theology was handled in the blogs, back when I found them in 2012. In some sense, there is no “the blogs,” these are just people sitting at computer screens, sharing their ideas, independent of one another. But as you said in this thread higher up. This blog, for some reason, seems to be something rather remarkable. That’s just me talking, tho..

    Take care. Peace to you on your journey.

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  107. Unbelievers are not Christians even when they acknowledge God’s (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) ways in Creation. Stop being so obstinate here… If unbelievers can be good plumbers, it’s only because they are operating rightly in the God…I’m happy to call that Christian plumbing (after a fashion).

    Terry, stop being so confusing. Why not call plumbing plumbing, full stop? As soon as you describe a non-Christian as doing something christianly, you muddy the waters. Only Christians can do Christian things. And those things are extraordinary, as in attending (Word and) sacrament. They are not things all people can do. Or do you imagine plumbing should be fenced the way the Table is? The test for you as to whether you really believe plumbing is under God’s rule is whether you can drop the adjective. That’s what 2k is saying, God is the God of plumbing, so much so that there is no need to be explicit about it. And he doesn’t need neo-Calvinists’ help.

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  108. Terry,

    Expound on Christian vs. Non-Christian septic tank pumping.

    Coincidentally I drove by a job site this morning and saw three plumbers who were out doing ground work. They were huddled together. They may have been reading blueprints, but it occurred to me that they might have been praying. I thought of Christian plumbing.

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  109. Terry mentions Van Til and is clearly inspired by Van Til. I can see the similarities between “Christian Plumbing” and Van Til’s apologetic that without God nothing makes sense — no laws of logic, no laws of nature, no laws of morality. It’s a form of “Christian Totalitarianism” with which I have some, but not total, sympathy.

    An interesting event in the life of Van Til was when Barth came along touting a more liberal version of what Van Til was saying. Barth saw Christ as informing everything, but was more of a mystic about it and didn’t necessarily interpret Scripture in a straightforward or orthodox way. Van Til opposed Barth for this reason.

    In a sense, this is the same reason we oppose Terry (and, by extension, Van Til). When you get fuzzy in your thinking in an attempt to make Christ “Lord of All”, you’re not being completely faithful to Scripture and drawing some of the important distinctions that need to be made.

    Things that sound nice aren’t always true.

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  110. Erik, that’s just it. The neos want to win the epistemological war. But when the pagan gives me the right change–you know, in real life where things actually matter–who cares whether she can justify it? Is this about persuasion or chest thumping?

    The other interesting event was how frustrated CVT was at the end of his life with the state of Christian schools. He felt hard pressed to find schools that did so-called Christian education. Maybe he had a hard time finding it because nobody knew what he was talking about (I’ll refrain from quoting his more bizarre words on the matter). But Christians doing education with other Christians? Everywhere.

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  111. I don’t oppose Van Til. I have much respect for this work.

    It’s just that he was in the ivory tower and I’m not and I glean the edification that I can from him and put it all into perspective. (kind of the same with DGH)

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  112. Terry, I would define ‘innate ability’ as the attributes of man as creature distinct from his attributes as sinner. I think that you believe Adam and Eve’s pre- and postlapsarian molecules were identical as much as anyone can know, but by your definition it sounds like postlapsarian strong forces became a grace without which Adam and Eve would have necessarily exploded or turned into hydrogen or whatever in addition to their immediate descent into Hell.

    When you say “our abilities” are a gift from God you don’t distinguish the artistic/beautiful subjects, the mundane career skills, and our aspects essential for meaningful existence, like senses and gravity and skin. The debate over the first two is the usual transformationalism vs doctrine of vocation debate, but calling the last is common grace sounds nonsensical. Of course it’s usually considered in terms of how great it is to feel the sun shining and hear the birds chirping and to be able to run in a race to God’s glory. But by calling it ‘grace’, you’re claiming that were it not for grace, the consequences of the Fall would necessarily include the physical universe popping out of existence. It also appears that the mechanisms for the prelapsarian physical universe functioned by the same common grace, which opens a whole other line of questions.

    “2+2=4 helps you get along in the world (especially on tax day), but you miss the most basic truth about this fact if you don’t know that God made it and that it should be used in His service.” You can substitute “2+2=4” with literally any statement accepted as true. You’re only really saying that it’s more important to know God as creator than any particular detail about the creation, which is true on its face and universally accepted as far as it goes, but only half true at best when we actually live our lives. For example, a rigorous obedience to the sixth commandment is much less associated with [declaring the invention of turn signals as an indirect result of God’s common grace via an earthly creator inconsistently borrowing Christian values while denying the God who made them] than [driving attentively and using the damn signals correctly].

    (I understand that neocals can take worldview credit for the good in careful driving like they do for the good in anything and everything else; my point is that believing the neocalvinist distinctives themselves play no role whatsoever in any of the good that actually happens.)

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  113. “This sort of post-modernist philosophy of science is often used to say it doesn’t have to be taken seriously or it’s not real. There seems to be a hint of that in your comment. I hope that’s not the case.”

    I’m not so sure that Kuhn could be said to be supporting some flavor of post-modernism or even that the more serious advocates of an anti-realist epistemology (e.g. van Fraassen) suggest that science not need be taken seriously. It seems to me that the pragmatist/empiricist tradition (in which van Fraassen fits) is an attractive way forward for reconciling science and revelation.

    Once theoretical frameworks are seen as useful constructs, they become much less useful for laying the foundation for ideology (the frameworks don’t provide us any insight to “ultimate” reality). But then it doesn’t make sense to talk about a Christian physics any more than it makes sense to talk about a Christian hammer: is Newtonian physics more Christian than quantum mechanics? Is the Bohmian formulation more Christian than the Copenhagen? Is a ball peen hammer more Christian than a sledge hammer? But maybe while there isn’t a Christian kind of hammer, by wielding it well, we are doing so in a Christian way. Is this what you mean when you say,

    Thus, I believe when the unbeliever does something right or true or beautiful that by common grace he/she is doing something “Christian”.

    If so, then it seems to me that there is a sociological problem here. I’m a scientist and a believer. While my h-index is nothing to be ashamed of, I’m not exactly on the shortlist for the next Nobel Prize. When I look at our Christian maillist group, we aren’t exactly a Who’s Who of A-listers. In my own graduate program, the Christian students I know of are generally not at the top of the class – they certainly don’t have a better understanding of the science than their non-believing colleagues. But if we have a truer way of understanding creation, why doesn’t that translate to a better understanding of the science? It is almost as if rather than Christian belief being irrelevant to doing science well, it is a hinderance. Isn’t it a little strange that non-believers are better at understanding and advancing “Christian” science than believers are?

    Like

  114. Thanks Zrim, always interested in what TDG has to say.

    it’s amazing how people give themselves away completely within a posting or two on here…

    and often amusing how it works…

    Like

  115. Darryl, “2+2=4” is part of God’s lap that the unbeliever (and believer) sits in. It is God’s created reality which the unbeliever gladly practices. The unbeliever’s very being, breathing, living, and growing is also a dependence on and participation in God’s created reality. So inasmuch as God is the “Christian” God, then the reality he created is a “Christian” reality.

    Now I’m happy to admit that this isn’t the most common way of talking about it. But I’m not ready to say that it’s the wrong way of thinking about it.

    When 2k’s talk about the common realm being the realm of Creation and Providence, they are making the same claim. God made it, sustains it, governs it, provides for it. Unbelieving plumbers and unbelieving mathematicians depend on God and use the principles revealed in His creation and providence, just as much as the believer. Do you admit that unbelievers live in God’s creation and operate in his reality. The principles of their trade work because God made them, sustains them, and governs them. Tell me you don’t agree with this! If you agree with this then the only difference between us is whether or not we apply the word “Christian” to it. And that is MERE semantics. There would be no significant difference between us.

    Just for the sake clarification, if I were to drop the word “Christian” from my description of all this, would you agree with me? When the plumber or the mathematician does his or her trade, is he or she doing those things God’s way?

    Mike K., how God judges is his business. But the continued existence of a sinner and his or her subsequent experiencing of creaturely norms and goodness in the presence of God whom he has infinitely offended is the result of grace. I’m not sure I would call prelapsarian anything “grace” — the Westminster Confession speaks of the Covenant of Works as a condescension of God. (VII, 1&2) God’s good creation is maintained similarly. It’s not out there with its own autonomous “nature”. That’s why I don’t really like calling “creation” “nature”. We’re not deists. We acknowledge that God upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures, actions, and things. (WCF V,1). (Sorry, Al Plantinga, there’s no libertarian free will.) God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and immensity tell us that he is everywhere present with all his power. There is no created thing that does not depend on Him for its being, the maintenance of its properties, etc. That’s not grace, but it is condescension. God doesn’t have to run His creation that way. There are patterns in the world that God is pleased to maintain. They are good.

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  116. sdb, exactly — a bit of Christian exceptionalism built into such vaulted views of Christian epistemology. I’m grateful for Terry’s modesty, but that’s when he’s taking 2k meds.

    Like

  117. Terry, it is not semantic to distinguish general from special revelation. Have you not read the Belgic Confession?

    First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: his eternal power and his divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20.
    All these things are enough to convict men and to leave them without excuse.
    Second, he makes himself known to us more openly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for his glory and for the salvation of his own.

    You don’t become a Christian by reading the book of nature. If you think you do, then say hello to liberalism on the foreign mission field (again! What in your view prevents the Layman’s Report from being written? The only thing that does is a “narrow” reading of Christian).

    I have no hesitancy saying that a plumber or cat doing his or its job, acting on his or its creational aspects, is doing what God designed. I’ve said that:

    One possible response is to say that God may be as delighted by the batter’s ability to hit the ball as he is by the wren’s capacity to elude the cat. Which is to say that human beings in their creatureliness, in the games they play, the poems they memorize, the bridges they build, and the voyages they take, delight God because he created human beings precisely with the capacity to do these things. And if all of creation can praise to God, from the movement of the stars to the way cats clean themselves, then why can’t human life in its naturalness also give God glory as creator whether or not a human being is engaging in eating or playing or learning self-consciously to the glory of God. Why can’t it be the case that even despite the sinful natures that afflict all people, their existence and range of activities as created beings delight God simply as the fulfillment of his creation and providence in the same way that creatures without souls also give glory to God in accomplishing the ends for which they were created?

    Of course, the paleo-Calvinist answers to these questions seem plausible to this paleo-Calvinist, but I would also venture an example from the spiritual world that could throw a wrench into the seemingly perpetual philosophical motion machine of neo-Calvinists. Aside from the batter or the wren, what about the regenerate believer who can’t tell the difference between Plato and Kant? What about the Christian who is not given to self-consciousness? Is his plumbing any less valuable or virtuous because he can’t conceive of a philosophically coherent system that will explain how his knowledge of the leak and his experience with fixing such leaks depends upon the ontological Trinity? If he simply begins his day asking for God’s blessing, thanks God for strength and sustenance, goes about his job, provides for his family, and leads family worship – that is, if he simply goes about his routine and seeks to honor his maker, but cannot fathom the theories that would turn his activities into the self-actualized doings of an epistemologically self-conscious believer, does that make his knowledge of plumbing, his love of family, and his enjoyment of pizza invalid?

    I hope not.

    But the whole premise of the distinction between liberal and conservative Protestantism is built on distinguishing creation from redemption. Your collapsing them is making the world safe for liberalism.

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  118. Darryl, collapsing them is an overstatement and not an accurate reflection of my position. I have never said that Creational revelation brings a saving knowledge of Christ or that it is the gospel. (in fact, I clearly said otherwise in a previous post and have always said so.) I just want to us to admit, which you seem to, that Creational revelation is God’s revelation, the Christian Trinitarian (including the Son) God’s revelation. God’s ways (Christ’s ways) impinge on the unbeliever (and the believer) at every moment (“all of life”). No one escapes it. God is glorified by the unbeliever enjoying God’s gifts by virtue of the gifts. The unbeliever is at the same time not glorifying God in attributing those gifts to idols (nature, himself, etc.).

    As to your concern about the common believer…Amen! I’m guessing you learned that from neo-Calvinist farmers from Iowa. (It sure seems to me that you’re describing “all of life” Christianity.)

    Not all are gifted or interested in these questions (as not all are interested in how the total eclipse of the moon happened last night). But if they rightly acknowledge God as the source of their life, their gifts and abilities, and seek to serve him in worship and work, then they are good neo-Calvinists. (I guess that makes them good pale-Calvinists as well.) But those who are gifted and interested in these questions…well, the scholar is no different from the common believer…they rightly acknowledge God as the source of their life, their gifts and abilities, and seek to serve him in worship and work. That’s neo-Calvinism at it’s best. (And, you must know, of course, that neo-Calvinism was just a resurgence of paleo-Calvinism (the neo- is just that it was 19th/20th now 21st century and not 16th/17th century). Your attempt to drive a wedge between them is misguided.

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  119. For some reason my spell-checker wouldn’t let me write “paleo-Calvinist”. I changed “pale” to “paleo” several time and it still came out “pale-Calvinists”. Maybe there’s something significant in that.

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  120. Zrim, why can’t I just call plumbing plumbing? Good question. The answer. I don’t want us to think that plumbing is morally or religiously neutral (common, yes; neutral, no). The world has become increasingly secular. (I know, you guys think that is a good thing, but hear me out.) The secularity of the world denies even the God-createdness and God-normed of anything that’s not religious. Not even 2k’s want to do that, I’d suggest. So plumbing plumbing…ordinary plumbing IS God-created and God-normed (via Creation and natural law, not necessarily via special revelation). So when I call plumbing Christian plumbing (or arithmetic Christian arithmetic, etc.) I am merely underscoring the notion that unbelievers are living in a God-created, God-normed (“Christian”?) universe. They are living on borrowed capital. They are using God’s gifts without acknowledging them as from God (we call that stealing in the publishing and patent world).

    I trust that you believe me when I say I don’t go around and put the word “Christian” in front of everything. It’s only in these conversations when someone is pressing me to suggest that these things are religiously neutral or that since Christians are doing things the same way unbelievers are that the Christian worldview isn’t impinging on them. You misrepresent me when you suggest that I think Christian plumbing is different from plumbing plumbing (of course, it might be true in some disciplines). Nope, its the same. Excellent plumbers who are unbelievers are just as good at plumbing as excellent plumbers who are Christians. But they are practicing the same God-created, God-normed (“Christian”) craft. You see “they” are the ones doing things our way (God’s way), not the other way around.

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  121. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 6:22 am | Permalink
    vd, t, why should we join you in resistance when you won’t join us in church? You don’t seem to realize that your resistance is taking you to a bad place on judgment day. And you think your resistance is effective. Get a clue.

    Sez the goats to the sheep.

    Like

  122. Erik Charter
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink
    When Darryl & Terry debate it’s informative and the debate gets at the heart of important issues.

    Tom & Andrew, not so much…

    Read this blog much?

    Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink
    Darryl, collapsing them is an overstatement and not an accurate reflection of my position.

    Andrew and I represent each other’s positions honestly. That’s always worth reading, if only so you might someday learn how to do it.

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  123. I most certainly DO NOT represent my own position fairly. Half the time, I don’t know what to believe..

    Did I misrepresent Tom?

    It’s a California, thing, All you mid westerners and Texans, help us. Please. They put something in our water. True.

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  124. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink
    And Tom..in conclusion…

    I’ve been very purposeful in selecting which websites I promote by putting links on my website (click on my name).

    The place I would direct an honest inquirer are the links on church history

    http://www.christiancentury.org/reviews/2014-03/reformed-and-antimodern

    On the American side, for instance, the Pres­byterian John Witherspoon (whom Hart discusses with respect to church matters) taught more participants in the early U.S. political system than any other single individual, and Calvinists founded well over half of the new nation’s institutions of higher learning before the Civil War. There’s not a word of this in the book. Because it is these broader sociocultural dynamics that the great sages of modernity were exploring in formulating their Calvinist-centric theories, we must conclude that Hart has not answered—or even engaged—their arguments in this volume. But he has certainly given impetus for another volume that does just that. It will doubtless conclude that Cal­vinism’s interactions with the modern world have been far more checkered than the grand theorists thought, but that there indeed has been interaction and creative contribution.

    Hart not only tries to bottle up a movement in institutions, he also radically restricts the institutions that qualify for consideration. Baptists do not figure in his account at all, and the Reformed currents that continue on in, say, American Congregational and New School Presby­terian churches since the 1837 conflict with Old Schoolers go without mention. This derives from Hart’s minimal attention to theology as well as to the whole-life implications of faith. We read about formal statements of doctrine and presumed departures therefrom, but not about the recombination of Calvinist tenets with themes from other traditions or with neglected elements of Calvinism itself. Finally, though the evidence at hand is more than ample, Hart does not explore the splintering effect of the formal creeds he espouses. Strict definition makes for clear ecclesiology but also for a whole lot more ecclesiae to consider.

    So by “church history” y’all mean YOUR church. But whose church is it anyway? Perhaps it’s you who are arrogant and insular, you who don’t understand your own history, and why you seem to have so much trouble engaging Terry Gray honestly.

    Food for thought, Captain Spaulding, hello, I must be going. I still learn a lot around here, though not always what you think you’re teaching. Rock on.

    Like

  125. AB
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink
    I most certainly DO NOT represent my own position fairly. Half the time, I don’t know what to believe..

    Did I misrepresent Tom?

    It’s a California, thing, All you mid westerners and Texans, help us. Please. They put something in our water. True.

    Well, I understand you, Andrew, even if you don’t. One need only read you charitably instead of defensively.

    Perhaps it is the water out here in Cal. But I’m from the same little town as Darryl, which explains a lot. I know not only my game, but his.

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  126. Terry, neither does 2k want to promote neutrality. That’s a neo-Calvinist canard. Every time we say common neos seem to hear neutrality. But while I think I get what you want to do by mixing and matching redemptive and creational words, it isn’t clear how you avoid confusion. If you can’t say “Christian plumbing” anywhere other than here then maybe your inner 2ker is trying to tell you something? But even here, with all the explanation, it’s a head scratcher. A Christian doing math or swinging a hammer makes sense, but what Christian math or a Christian hammer could possibly be other than the result of a believer trying way too hard to be relevant?

    And if unbelievers have equal access to the reservoir of creation then to suggest they are stealing (or even borrowing) capital seems like bearing false witness. How can anybody be said to steal or borrow what is theirs? Maybe you don’t think unbelievers have any rightful share in creation? How living with unbelievers in the common realm happens when one presumes his partner is a thief is more mystery. But what they have no rights to are things spiritual and eternal. That’s why we fence the Table.

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  127. Thomas, follower of Thomas, have a Bible verse (one of my favs, it’s a lot like a Socrates quote I like):

    If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
    (1 Corinthians 8:2 ESV)

    Thanks for playing!

    Like

  128. AB
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink
    Thomas, follower of Thomas, have a Bible verse (one of my favs, it’s a lot like a Socrates quote I like):

    If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
    (1 Corinthians 8:2 ESV)

    Thanks for playing!

    But I do know that I do not yet know as I ought to know.

    Not a big fan of these vacant aphorisms, and besides, in context he’s saying you can eat idol meat because idols are BS. That we do know. Although some people don’t. You know?

    Like

  129. AB
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink
    Not a big fan of these vacant aphorisms

    Right, you’re a Phillies pHan. Need I you?

    Not a Bible fan, eh, Thomas?

    What church are a part of again? The church of Thomas Aquinas? Which one is that? Hmm?!? (emoticon?)

    I’m a Bible fan, just not of quotes out of context. And I don’t think you get the irony that “Thomist” is descriptive whereas “Calvinist” is definitive. The Anglican Richard Hooker was a Thomist. Speaking of which…

    Protestantism:
    A History

    by Eddie Izzard

    So yeah, and the Romans went Christian and then we had Christianity for about 1500 years. You know, Catholicism, we believed in the teachings of Cathol, and everything it stood for… Then Henry VIII came along. Henry VIII, a big, hairy king, and he said to the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church:

    “Mr. Pope! I’m going to marry my first wife, and then I’m going to divorce her. Now, I know what you’re going to say but stick with me, my story gets better. I’m going to marry my second wife and then I’m gong to kill her, cut her head off! Ah, not expecting that, are ya? Third wife, gonna shoot her. Fourth wife, put her into a bag. Fifth wife, into outer space. Sixth wife, on a Rotissimat. Seventh wife, made out of jam. Eighth wife…” ( makes sound similar to putting babies on spikes )

    And the Pope’s going,

    ( Italian accent )”You crazy bugger! You can’t do all this! What are you, a Mormon? You can’t marry all these people! It’s illegal! You can’t do all this! I am the Pope, I am the head of the Church, I have to keep up… ciao! I have to keep up standards. What have you been reading, the gospel according to St. Bastard?”

    So Henry VIII, who was Sean Connery for this film, said:

    ( imitating Sean Connery ) “Well then, I will set up a new religion in this country. I will set up the Psychotic Bastard religion.”

    And an advisor said,

    “Why not call it Church of England, Sire?”

    “Church of England, actually. Much better… Even though I’m Scottish myself.”

    So they did! That’s the birth of Church of England, the birth of the Anglican Church! Disgusting, eh? That’s no basis to start a religion on! Nothing to do with the Protestant church,I mean,Henry just shagged and killed a lot of women and then stole all the money off the monasteries. You know, rape and pillage, that is!

    The Protestant faith was different. That started probably around a similar time, but that was about Martin Luther, this German guy who pinned a note on a church door saying, ” ‘ang on a minute!” But in German, so, “Ein Minuten, bitte. Ich habe einen kleinen Problemo avec diese Religione.” He was from everywhere…

    Etc.

    http://www.auntiemomo.com/cakeordeath/d2ktranscription.html

    As for the Phillies, yes, you got Darryl & I cold.

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  130. Tom, well, enjoy taking pot shots at religious types, like us. You know, it’s pretty easy to make fun of people who are religious. Ask Monty Python. The reason I ask you what your church is, is because, I can tell you what my church believes (we have a constitution). All you can do is use google, and guess what, I can do that too. Erik says our conversations are wasting good bytes here at OL. I’m inclined to agree with him.

    Go to church. Peace.

    Like

  131. AB
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink
    Tom, well, enjoy taking pot shots at religious types, like us. You know, it’s pretty easy to make fun of people who are religious. Ask Monty Python. The reason I ask you what your church is, is because, I can tell you what my church believes (we have a constitution). All you can do is use google, and guess what, I can do that too. Erik says our conversations are wasting good bytes here at OL. I’m inclined to agree with him.

    Go to church. Peace.

    I’m just following your lead. Whenever I act like this is a “theological society,” you act like it’s a church. When I act like it’s a church, y’all talk about baseball or golf or stupid movies on youtube. Go to church yourself. But if you just want to parrot your confessions on the internet, what’s the point?

    Just cut and paste ’em. You can be replaced by a program.

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  132. uhmm the point? Someone else may come along, and want to learn. Or maybe I want to learn.

    Other people just mock and jeer. You’re the one who’s name is linked to twitter or American Creation. I think you need to tell me the point, sir.

    If this is true:

    Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?
    A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

    Tell me why I shouldn’t act like a program, and stop at nothing to get you to go to church? Tom?

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  133. Terry, “I have never said that Creational revelation brings a saving knowledge of Christ or that it is the gospel.”

    Then why call the non-Christian plumber’s leak fixing “Christian”? You called it that, not I.

    It seems awfully clingy, like a girlfriend who can’t quite imagine that the good things in her life don’t come from her boyfriend. She marries the guy and learns otherwise.

    Like

  134. Terry, every non-believer denies the God-normedness of life. Even the Israelites did. So your wanting to call the secular Christian fixes things? Are you really that fragile?

    Like

  135. I’m the least of your problems, Dr. Potty Mouth. And there you go again repeating your own fiction that I don’t do theology. What I said is that I let the history be history. Like, apparently, you got busted again for not doing, that your Calvinism: A History is really theological polemic disguised as history–or in the least is YOUR history of YOUR Calvinism, not Calvinism’s.

    http://www.christiancentury.org/reviews/2014-03/reformed-and-antimodern

    On the American side, for instance, the Pres­byterian John Witherspoon (whom Hart discusses with respect to church matters) taught more participants in the early U.S. political system than any other single individual, and Calvinists founded well over half of the new nation’s institutions of higher learning before the Civil War. There’s not a word of this in the book. Because it is these broader sociocultural dynamics that the great sages of modernity were exploring in formulating their Calvinist-centric theories, we must conclude that Hart has not answered—or even engaged—their arguments in this volume. But he has certainly given impetus for another volume that does just that. It will doubtless conclude that Cal­vinism’s interactions with the modern world have been far more checkered than the grand theorists thought, but that there indeed has been interaction and creative contribution.

    Hart not only tries to bottle up a movement in institutions, he also radically restricts the institutions that qualify for consideration. Baptists do not figure in his account at all, and the Reformed currents that continue on in, say, American Congregational and New School Presby­terian churches since the 1837 conflict with Old Schoolers go without mention. This derives from Hart’s minimal attention to theology as well as to the whole-life implications of faith. We read about formal statements of doctrine and presumed departures therefrom, but not about the recombination of Calvinist tenets with themes from other traditions or with neglected elements of Calvinism itself. Finally, though the evidence at hand is more than ample, Hart does not explore the splintering effect of the formal creeds he espouses. Strict definition makes for clear ecclesiology but also for a whole lot more ecclesiae to consider.

    Like

  136. vd, t, So when Brat writes,

    Hart not only tries to bottle up a movement in institutions, he also radically restricts the institutions that qualify for consideration. Baptists do not figure in his account at all, and the Reformed currents that continue on in, say, American Congregational and New School Presby­terian churches since the 1837 conflict with Old Schoolers go without mention. This derives from Hart’s minimal attention to theology as well as to the whole-life implications of faith.

    Do you think he actually accounts for Calvinists who weren’t Kuyper when he writes on Kuyper? Do you think Van Impe or Joel Osteen shows up in Bratt’s book? Or what do you think of a Calvinism that is no longer in a Reformed church, like the place where Kuyper’s GKN went?

    I’m sure that suits you just fine, vd, t. Until you find out that Bratt is no fan of your side in the culture war. But whatever it takes to get you through the commboxes at OL.

    We’re not talking history of theology, here, vd. We’re talking sheer cussedness. Sheep and goats, brah.

    Like

  137. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, no, AB doesn’t. It should read “you understand Darryl and me well.” In public schools, they taught grammar.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, So when Brat writes,

    Hart not only tries to bottle up a movement in institutions, he also radically restricts the institutions that qualify for consideration. Baptists do not figure in his account at all, and the Reformed currents that continue on in, say, American Congregational and New School Presby­terian churches since the 1837 conflict with Old Schoolers go without mention. This derives from Hart’s minimal attention to theology as well as to the whole-life implications of faith.

    Do you think he actually accounts for Calvinists who weren’t Kuyper when he writes on Kuyper? Do you think Van Impe or Joel Osteen shows up in Bratt’s book? Or what do you think of a Calvinism that is no longer in a Reformed church, like the place where Kuyper’s GKN went?

    I’m sure that suits you just fine, vd, t. Until you find out that Bratt is no fan of your side in the culture war. But whatever it takes to get you through the commboxes at OL.

    We’re not talking history of theology, here, vd. We’re talking sheer cussedness. Sheep and goats, brah.

    First, Dr. Potty Mouth, niggling on my grammar is the last refuge of the sophist. Plumbing new depths. Is that “Christian” plumbing?

    Oy.

    As for Bratt kicking your book’s intellectual honesty, I don’t care we he stands in the culture wars.
    a) Whatever they paid him for enduring your book can’t be nearly enough.
    b) He’s basically saying what I’ve always noticed about your polemics–that they depend on what they leave out.

    [This doesn’t apply to your anti-Catholicism, which rides on ignorance, either yours or the reader’s, vincible or invincible. Which, we shall never know.]

    You misspelled Mr. Bratt’s name as “Brat,” you know, Darryl. We trust it was an innocent typo, although your affinity for pissing contests affords you little benefit of the doubt at this late date. Will you call him “Brat” like you call me “VD” when you leave the safety of this blog?

    Heh. To the substance:

    My complaint from the first has been that your theology compromises your claim to be a historian: your own worldview obliges you to leave too many things out. YOU become the one that’s neither fish nor fowl, and you get busted clean here, in front of witnesses:

    http://www.christiancentury.org/reviews/2014-03/reformed-and-antimodern

    On the American side, for instance, the Pres­byterian John Witherspoon (whom Hart discusses with respect to church matters) taught more participants in the early U.S. political system than any other single individual, and Calvinists founded well over half of the new nation’s institutions of higher learning before the Civil War. There’s not a word of this in the book. Because it is these broader sociocultural dynamics that the great sages of modernity were exploring in formulating their Calvinist-centric theories, we must conclude that Hart has not answered—or even engaged—their arguments in this volume. But he has certainly given impetus for another volume that does just that. It will doubtless conclude that Cal­vinism’s interactions with the modern world have been far more checkered than the grand theorists thought, but that there indeed has been interaction and creative contribution.

    Hart not only tries to bottle up a movement in institutions, he also radically restricts the institutions that qualify for consideration. Baptists do not figure in his account at all, and the Reformed currents that continue on in, say, American Congregational and New School Presby­terian churches since the 1837 conflict with Old Schoolers go without mention. This derives from Hart’s minimal attention to theology as well as to the whole-life implications of faith. We read about formal statements of doctrine and presumed departures therefrom, but not about the recombination of Calvinist tenets with themes from other traditions or with neglected elements of Calvinism itself. Finally, though the evidence at hand is more than ample, Hart does not explore the splintering effect of the formal creeds he espouses. Strict definition makes for clear ecclesiology but also for a whole lot more ecclesiae to consider.

    I follow your lead, DGH, a Philly boy same as you. You want it like this, you got it. Bratt’s broadside is nothing I haven’t said from the first, for the simple fact the criticism is accurate.

    Now, you want to be a preacher or a prophet or something, Darryl, that’s cool. I’ll even get your back.

    That’s what I mean when I say theological truth claims are above my pay grade—the real version of what I said about “not doing theology.”

    If OLTS is a theological society, that’s one thing. If it’s a church {Andrew…}, that’s quite another. Your call, Darryl, but you haven’t made it yet—whether it’s a pulpit for your religion or a duck blind to shoot at everyone else’s.

    I’m the least of your problems.

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  138. Darryl, not sure what more to say. I already answered your question–scroll up as we say in the txt’ing world.

    Zrim, I’m glad you can see my point even if you don’t like the way I articulate it. I don’t really believe that any of us have a “rightful share” in Creational gifts. As sinners we deserve nothing of the sort, we receive them by grace–a common grace that extends to unbelievers and reprobate. Now by God’s grace I see that His gifts are from Him and I bless his name for it.

    “Inner 2k”–maybe I like that. DVD thinks Kuyper himself was 2k. Curious, eh? Seems like it just depends on what you’re talking about. If you’re emphasizing Christ’s rule in the church, then yes, there’s a different rule–2 kingdoms. If you’re talking Christ’s sovereignty over all Creation then there’s only one God, one Lord and that Lord rules over both believers and unbelievers, both Creation and Church–1 kingdom. (Not one square inch over which Jesus Christ does not say, “Mine!”)

    For me it comes down to what the church as church is all about–I think sphere sovereignty and spirituality of the (institutional) puts neo-Calvinists in the 2k camp. But the Christian who experiences God’s Creational reality now lives knowing God’s involvement in these things. That gets expressed in life, in practice, in thinking, etc. Sphere sovereignty gets expressed here as well. The church doesn’t tell the plumber (or the biologist) how to do his or her task with respect to technical aspects of the craft; church elders probably know little about either one. But the practitioner of these Creational tasks who is a Christian cannot help but bring in that which he or she knows of God and His norms.

    That where I see 2k as falling short, if you mean to say that Christians shouldn’t live out their faith in their work. And, of course, there’s much more to be said when you begin thinking philosophically. What happens when the philosopher (say like H. Dooyeweerd or Evan Runner or C. Van Til) lives out their faith? They construct a philosophical system that takes into account what they know about God and how God interacts with the world. This may trickle down into other disciplines. But for many disciplines the unbeliever has “discovered” true Creational norms and so the standards of the disciplines get incorporated into the believer’s reflection on the discipline. Can the believer turn off his or her knowledge of God? I think not.

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  139. As evidence that I am fundamentally aligned with DGH, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Calvinism. I read the Kindle version the week before the print version came out. While I didn’t stay up all night unable to put it down the I read Jurassic Park, I stayed interested and engaged while reading it. It was by no means a tedious read. Even though I’ve had some experience with the RPCNA and knew some of the Scottish Presbyterian story, I learned quite a lot. The book was actually much less narrow than I expected, and I was surprised by the attention he gave to liberalizing trends in the history of Calvinist churches. At times I wished for a more encyclopedic treatment, especially when he left out of the discussion of parts of the story that I was familiar with. I suspect he left those parts out because they didn’t really need to be retold. And i suspect he wasn’t trying to be encyclopedic.

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  140. vd, t, “Bratt’s broadside is nothing I haven’t said from the first, for the simple fact the criticism is accurate.”

    Humble up again. You want to read the book and agree with Bratt? Fine. Don’t make it seem like you know what’s in the book and were saying what Bratt said before he said it.

    The Levittowners I know are not so delusional.

    “My complaint from the first has been that your theology compromises your claim to be a historian:”

    This is rich. You are citing a neo-Calvinist who says that everyone, even you, has a theology, to tell me that I have a theology as if you don’t have one and so your assessment of Calvinism is accurate. If you admitted that you have a w-w, then would that shut you up? Bratt thinks you do have a w-w. But somehow you think only others have a w-w or bias.

    For what it’s worth, the book is everywhere about politics — in relation to the institutional church. If you read a book, you’d know.

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  141. Terry, to the extent that creation is constituted by law, not grace, it seems kosher to think of creatures believing or unbelieving as having natural rights to its goods. You seem to be reading grace back into creation and talking about creation in redemptive terms (i.e. sinners don’t deserve creation’s gifts, they are bestowed by grace, etc.) which tends to bolster the theory that neo-Calvinism is a variant of law-gospel confusion.

    It’s true that neo-Calvinists can be located in the 2k camp, but only to the extent that ever since Augustine everybody is 2k. But what the nature of the two kingdoms is and how they do or don’t relate to each other is where things begin to differentiate. If as you do, one finds himself talking about there being one kingdom it’s a clue that the theology isn’t being grasped. While there is one Lord, there are in this present age two kingdoms and he rules each differently, creation by law and redemption by grace.

    That where I see 2k as falling short, if you mean to say that Christians shouldn’t live out their faith in their work. And, of course, there’s much more to be said when you begin thinking philosophically. What happens when the philosopher (say like H. Dooyeweerd or Evan Runner or C. Van Til) lives out their faith? They construct a philosophical system that takes into account what they know about God and how God interacts with the world. This may trickle down into other disciplines. But for many disciplines the unbeliever has “discovered” true Creational norms and so the standards of the disciplines get incorporated into the believer’s reflection on the discipline. Can the believer turn off his or her knowledge of God? I think not.

    Then 2k isn’t falling short, because as I told Tom “Petty” Van Dyke in another recent thread, 2k has nothing to do with not living out the faith. 2k is about pursuing a quiet and decent life among the heathen and wanting the church to mind her own business for the sake of the gospel. I don’t see how this changes for the believing philosopher. But I get the distinct sense that what you mean by this is that the believing philosopher is somehow in a league all his own and gets to play by different rules than the believing plumber. Sorry, but rules is rules and what’s good for the plumbing goose is good for the philosophizing gander. And I am always left wondering what the neo-Calvinist who wants to carve out another set of rules for the hifalutin philosopher does with a Pauline take on the limits of philosophy in 1 Cor. 1:

    Christ the Wisdom and Power of God For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

    How do you get from Paul here that there needs to be a Christian philosophy or that adherents of the faith need to find a way to play by the world’s philosophical rules? Sure sounds like philosophy is being portrayed here as an insufficient template by which to convey the faith. Neo-Calvinists never seem remotely aware of this. More important it seems to construct a respectable worldview than preach an otherworldly faith.

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  142. Terry, sorry for this delayed reply that you may not even read now. I agree with your entire post that had a paragraph addressed to me, with two caveats. First, labeling some activity as Christian makes it so difficult to distinguish the descriptive aspect (a believer is doing that activity) from the prescriptive aspect (believers are bound to think or do [x] with respect to this activity), especially with Christian economics, education, politics, philosophy, and occasionally plumbing, that I’m not convinced that you can keep the semantic domain straight for three consecutive comments. This is apart from the matter of if, when, and how a descriptively Christian activity differs from any other version of said activity.

    Second, the 2-kingdoms claim is that God has a distinct governance over the church as redeemer and the broader creation as creator. The use of the word “kingdom” is a signal that deism or whatever variant of human autonomy is denied from the outset.

    We’re on the same page otherwise afaict.

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  143. cg, does the reporter know anything about Protestantism?

    Britain should be unashamedly “evangelical” about its Christian faith and actively hand churches and other faith groups a greater role in society, David Cameron has insisted. . . .

    Admitting he was probably a “rather classic” Anglican who was “vague” on some of the church’s more “difficult” doctrines, he said: “But that doesn’t mean the Church of England doesn’t matter to me or people like me: it really does.

    “I like its openness, I deeply respect its national role, and I appreciate its liturgy, and the architecture and cultural heritage of its churches.

    “I have felt at first hand the healing power of the Church’s pastoral care.”

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  144. Zrim, I’m very careful (and was, I thought) not to do what you accuse me of re reading grace back into creation. But, the fact of matter is that there is no one who is not fallen. So the effects of the fall, particularly wrt humans, is universal. The sinner does not deserve to experience the good things from Creation.

    Don’t be so wooden with your definition of philosophy. Paul’s not talking about philosophy that takes into account God (Father, Son,and Holy Spirit) and the Gospel. That’s what we neo-Calvinists call “Christian philosophy” and it’s not often taught in public schools and universities.

    TG

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  145. Darryl, yep. I hate word limits as you can probably tell. But it’s most likely better for the reader.

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  146. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink
    vd, t, “Bratt’s broadside is nothing I haven’t said from the first, for the simple fact the criticism is accurate.”

    Humble up again. You want to read the book and agree with Bratt? Fine. Don’t make it seem like you know what’s in the book and were saying what Bratt said before he said it.

    The Levittowners I know are not so delusional.

    “My complaint from the first has been that your theology compromises your claim to be a historian:”

    This is rich. You are citing a neo-Calvinist who says that everyone, even you, has a theology, to tell me that I have a theology as if you don’t have one and so your assessment of Calvinism is accurate. If you admitted that you have a w-w, then would that shut you up? Bratt thinks you do have a w-w. But somehow you think only others have a w-w or bias.

    For what it’s worth, the book is everywhere about politics — in relation to the institutional church. If you read a book, you’d know.

    darryllosesagain

    I’m the least of your problems. You have a “worldview,” and a blatant bias. You are exposed.

    I’d actually get your naked ass if you’d stop pretending to be a historian and just admit your a preacher or theologian or something.

    I actually have no problem with you preaching if you feel the Holy Spirit is informing your . I stick up for Mormons, JW’s, whathaveyou. Even Christian Scientists within reason, if they don’t kill their children.

    But if OLTS is a “theological society,” get used to getting your ass kicked, especially when it’s you who starts all the fights–be it with the Catholics and the non-Hart Calvinists and Lord knows everybody except Erik Charter and a handful of roberts and seans and kents and who givesashit.

    Aquinas, CS Lewis, Bryan Cross. Take ’em on face to face. So far we got only poor Dr. Terry Gray in the docket defending himself from the Calvinist Inquisition.

    [Should’ve stood up for Terry when they lynched him. I know you well enough by now that you didn’t agree with a word of it.]

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  147. vd, t, “I’m the least of your problems.” ding ding ding ding

    Like I’ve been saying, a book is not a blog post. A blog post is not a paper. A blog is all opinion. A blog doesn’t settle anything. vd, t, thinks a blog is scholarship, apologetics, and truth. vd, t, is Cornelius Van Til on social media.

    And you think you’re smart? As Bobby Dooley would say, “are you for real?”

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  148. Tom, at the trial we pointed to some things from Darryl’s Machen biography. Darryl was there but not a commissioner. As a rule “old lifers” did support me. Even though I just discovered it, I take Darryl’s acreationism piece as support. Of course, this is partly why I feel at home here despite some obvious differences. And just so I don’t drag anyone down with me, I always say that no one really agreed with me, they simply affirmed that my position with its various nuances was allowed.

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  149. Terry, it is agreed (of course) that all have fallen and there is none good, etc. What isn’t agreed is that this somehow makes unbelievers stealers and mere borrowers of creational goods. This line of reasoning just always comes off as another arrogant neo-Calvinist way to at best disenfranchise from the common life and at worst suggests something sub-human about unbelievers. That doesn’t bode well for the pro-life contingent in worldviewry.

    And more circumventing of Paul on philosophy. Yeah, he couldn’t possibly mean us there, couldn’t possibly mean to modify views on the power of philosophy to effect. What he clearly meant was that in addition to preaching Christ and him crucified that believers should found the Christian Center for Christian Philosophy for Christians.

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  150. Zrim, no room for arrogance. But for the grace of God there go I. No more “arrogance” than in the general exclusivity claims of the Christian position.

    Yep. Paul means us to submit all things, even philosophy, to the truth claims of the faith. I guess we will continue to disagree on that one, but I don’t mind standing with Augustine, Calvin, Old Princeton, Old Amsterdam, the Old OPC, the historic CRCNA, and Westminster Philly. It still is quite a lowly bunch in the eyes of the world.

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  151. Terry, it’s like when Francis promotes humility. Sounds good on its face, but drop the office of Pope (which is inherently arrogant), then we’ll talk. Here, quit talking about unbelievers stealing creational goods, then the claim to humility will have merit.

    Stand where you will (you can do no other). But I’ll see your point about submitting all things to the truth claims of the faith and raise your eyebrows: The point isn’t to baptize philosophy but render it utterly useless, i.e. it’s in the category of sight over against faith.

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  152. Zrim, I don’t get it. None of us deserves to live, let alone enjoy God’s good gifts. We’re all thieves. Some of us have been forgiven and have begun to be reformed (yes, yes, not much progress in this life). I know that this is a bizarre claim in the world’s eyes. But for a Christian? I don’t really see the problem. It seems to me it’s part of preaching the gospel.

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  153. Terry, but the unbelievers stealing creational goods jazz seems to be wanting to say more than we are all poor, beggarly, and dependent sinners. I mean, you never say believers are stealing.

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  154. Terry, they never were stealing. They were only unbelieving.

    So first you say unbelievers steal in ways believers don’t, then you claim believers are also thieves along with unbelievers, then you say believers aren’t stealing. Make up your regenerate mind. But why not be content with plain antithesis stripped of philosophical flair, i.e. there is only unbelief and belief?

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  155. Simul justus et peccator. But, you can’t say that of unbelievers. No more flair than that. I do agree BTW that there is only unbelief and belief (extending to all of life, of course).

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  156. Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink
    Tom, at the trial we pointed to some things from Darryl’s Machen biography. Darryl was there but not a commissioner. As a rule “old lifers” did support me. Even though I just discovered it, I take Darryl’s acreationism piece as support. Of course, this is partly why I feel at home here despite some obvious differences. And just so I don’t drag anyone down with me, I always say that no one really agreed with me, they simply affirmed that my position with its various nuances was allowed

    Propa that you don’t drag anyone else down. Good on you, brother. But Darryl’s “support” was worthless, as was anybody else’s who let you be put on the dunking stool without objection. Pilate didn’t crucify Jesus either, technically.

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  157. Erik Charter
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
    vd, t criticizes D.G.’s book that he hasn’t read that is published by Yale University Press.

    Hilarious.

    And Bratt actually liked it,

    How brave of you to jump in with your tiny dagger after all the major dirty work has already been done, Erik. Even to parroting Darryl’s dirty mouth. Get a personality of your own, Erik. Darryl’s in particular is hardly worth aping.

    As for the book, Bratt was fine with what Dr. Hart included; what Darryl conspicuously [dishonestly?] excludes is the far superior book.

    Catholicism: A History by Darryl G. Hart would look significantly different from his ideological abridgment of the history of Calvinism—4 chapters on the Inquisition, at least two on Edgardo Mortara and the epilogue devoted to some guy named Bryan Cross.

    Bratt says nothing I haven’t been saying all along about Darryl offering himself as a historian:

    This book is an antipolitical political history. Political in that it centers on formal institutions of church and state and the relationship between them. Anti­political in that any concerted venture by believers into the public domain is deemed to entail dreams of reestablishing hegemony in society and to be a threat to the integrity of the church. “Activist” thus becomes a dirty word in these pages.

    Duh. I’ve been onto Dr. Hart for awhile for this. He’s entitled to his theological opinion, and perhaps he’s even a prophet with his antipolitical polemics.

    But when he calls it “history,” I call a foul.

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  158. Terry, the flair is in trying to make more of unbelief than is warranted. As long as you maintain that unbelievers are not simply dead in their sins but also thieving creational goods, you flair. It’s also to make more out of belief than is warranted. It’s to put black hats on unbelievers and white ones on us, gussied up arrogance. And that’s why the eeeevangelical culture warriors are drawn to neo-Calvinism and worldviewry–Christians always good, unbelievers always bad.

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  159. Erik Charter
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
    vd, t

    Kiss John Calvin’s buttocks.

    With defenders like you, Erik, Darryl doesn’t need critics. And kent needs to learn how to read reviews. Bratt praised what he put in, but raked Darryl Hart’s butt for what he selectively left out of his “history.”

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  160. Zrim
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 10:59 pm | Permalink
    Terry, the flair is in trying to make more of unbelief than is warranted. As long as you maintain that unbelievers are not simply dead in their sins but also thieving creational goods, you flair. It’s also to make more out of belief than is warranted. It’s to put black hats on unbelievers and white ones on us, gussied up arrogance. And that’s why the eeeevangelical culture warriors are drawn to neo-Calvinism and worldviewry–Christians always good, unbelievers always bad.

    Whoa, Mr. Z. You have my attention, bro. Roll.

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  161. vd, t, I understand that you read everything I write and know what I think before I do, and I also understand that this comment uses one of your tactics, but OLers have been saying things like what Z says before:

    But as the two examples above indicate, creatures have knowledge and understanding of the created order all the time without being able to give a theoretical account of such ideas or activities. Why isn’t knowledge of math and batting the human equivalent of the instincts and cunning that birds show when fleeing cats? Granted, human beings are more than natural; we have souls, minds, language capacities. But even these higher ranges of human existence are part and parcel of the way human beings operate on planet earth. Those higher ranges are natural to human beings. I see no compelling reason why we need to spiritualize of philosophize human activities that are simply analogous to what other creatures do.

    Some neo-Calvinists and theonomists will object that such an understanding of human activity denies God and the relationship that all people have with him by virtue of creation. In other words, human beings should do everything that they do to the glory of God. To fail to connect the dots between algebra and doxology is to operate in a world of autonomy from God.

    One possible response is to say that God may be as delighted by the batter’s ability to hit the ball as he is by the wren’s capacity to elude the cat. Which is to say that human beings in their creatureliness, in the games they play, the poems they memorize, the bridges they build, and the voyages they take, delight God because he created human beings precisely with the capacity to do these things. And if all of creation can praise to God, from the movement of the stars to the way cats clean themselves, then why can’t human life in its naturalness also give God glory as creator whether or not a human being is engaging in eating or playing or learning self-consciously to the glory of God. Why can’t it be the case that even despite the sinful natures that afflict all people, their existence and range of activities as created beings delight God simply as the fulfillment of his creation and providence in the same way that creatures without souls also give glory to God in accomplishing the ends for which they were created?

    You’re just too scholarly to notice.

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  162. Tom, what grabs you, that unbelievers have a fair share in civil life and often even excel believers in what they allegedly steal? Since confessional Protestantism calculates belief ecclesiastically, and since you have no religious affiliation, this means you as an apparent unbeliever have a vested interest in this outlook, especially one vested in kulturkampf. So why so often in neo-Cal Terry’s corner who would that you’re a cultural and creational thief? All 2k is saying is that you’re dead in your sins and so long as you remain outside the church there is no ordinary hope for salvation…but when it comes to creation and culture, you’re no thief and could well have something to teach us.

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  163. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink
    I wonder if this would rev vd, t’s engine.

    No, but this did, Dr. Dirty Mouth. We left the dirty work to subarticulate spokesmen like Jerry Falwell and [even] Francis Schaeffer—indeed content to criticize them and not make waves.

    Let me get down and dirty here: If your only significant act of public square proclamation is a sneering disavowal of Jerry Falwell, you’re doing it wrong. A church inspired by the gospel, aware of its claim on all of life, and in tune with a historic tradition of figures like Augustine, Wilberforce, and Colson cannot content itself with exquisitely calibrated public neutrality. Neither can it accept the velvet muzzle its opponents offer. It cannot dance like a celebrity cha-chaing his way back to the C-list when a confused church member asks for guidance on cultural questions of grave import.

    It must speak. It must offer a new social witness.

    “If your only significant act of public square proclamation is a sneering disavowal of Jerry Falwell, you’re doing it wrong.”

    Man, he’s got your number, right down to the sneer.

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  164. Zrim, those who experience God’s goodness without giving thanks (unbelievers) can still teach us. Why must you twist my words? Some of my favorites are Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Peter Atkins, Carl Sagan. Good stuff unless they decide to infuse their science with their idolatrous religion.

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  165. Terry, who’s twisting? They’re your words–unbelievers are stealing cultural capital. Would you be willing to tell Dawkins, Gould, Atkins, and Sagan that they’re creational thieves? All 2kers want to do is follow Scripture and tell unbelievers is that they’re dead in their sins.

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  166. It must speak. It must offer a new social witness.

    No, 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.

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  167. Zrim
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink
    Tom, what grabs you, that unbelievers have a fair share in civil life and often even excel believers in what they allegedly steal? Since confessional Protestantism calculates belief ecclesiastically, and since you have no religious affiliation, this means you as an apparent unbeliever have a vested interest in this outlook, especially one vested in kulturkampf. So why so often in neo-Cal Terry’s corner who would that you’re a cultural and creational thief? All 2k is saying is that you’re dead in your sins and so long as you remain outside the church there is no ordinary hope for salvation…but when it comes to creation and culture, you’re no thief and could well have something to teach us.

    If you want to live like the Amish, that’s fine. You want to sit out the culture war, fine. But when you presume to condemn others for not being as inert as you are, that’s a bit too much pontificating.

    And meanwhile, your country’s slouching toward Gomorrah. This is just the start. This is the world you want to leave to your sons and daughters, gee, thanks, Dad.

    As for Terry Gray, he speaks honestly and coherently. Any agreement with him is secondary, indeed irrelevant.

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  168. Zrim
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
    “It must speak. It must offer a new social witness.”

    No, 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.

    Your Confessions are not the Bible. Further, the church can speak on right and wrong without directly recommending policy. Your either/or here–theonomy or silence–is a false choice.

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  169. kent
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
    Is Tom up to 2500 hours spent wasting his time on here, getting nowhere with anybody who sees what he is?

    Empty ad hom as usual but at least you don’t call me dirty names. That puts you in the upper half hereabouts anyway. Congratulations.

    And migod man, don’t read this, as it would also be a clear waste of time you could be spending writing mindless attacks on other people. ;-P

    http://www.canonandculture.com/the-moral-majority-is-no-more-millennials-and-a-new-social-witness/

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  170. Zrim, “stealing” is my word and I will continue to affirm that not giving thanks to God the Creator of good gifts that believers experience (sounds like something from Romans 1) is a form of stealing. I don’t think that my atheist friends would have any problems with this claim. It seems like the logical conclusion of believing in God. Of course, they know that I think that they are not giving God his due. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk biology.

    My complaint is that you add to my words something that I don’t say, namely “and could well have something to teach us.” Perhaps you were just adding that for good measure, but it sure seemed like you were suggesting that my position implied that we have nothing to learn from unbelievers. I (or other historic neo-Calvinists) believe nothing of the sort–we’re back to common grace.

    You guys are in a bad habit of lumping together all the perceived doctrinal evils: it still amazes me that DVD in his introduction puts theonomy, neo-Calvinism, liberal social gospelism, emergent church and N.T. Wright social justice awareness all in one package. And you all add New Schoolism and Chuck Colson style evangelicalism. For being the “splitters” you guys are on most things, you’re “lumpers” when it comes to things you don’t like. Funny how that works. I think it’s a form of a straw man argument and the genetic fallacy. You all should be above that.

    To recap. Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm the common/common grace. Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm the antithesis (believers/unbelievers). Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm sphere sovereignty and the spirituality of the church. Neo-Calvinsim and 2k affirm the goodness of Creation. Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm that Christ rules the whole world: Creation and the Church. I think we both affirm the Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation story line. I suspect that Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm that the state is God’s instrument in restraining evil and punishing evildoers (Romans 13). As I see it, we are at odds on eschatology (although not in the ordinary sense, since most neo-Calvinists and 2k’s are amillennialists) and the meaning of “all of life” (and even there, Darryl’s picture of the ordinary person fulfilling their vocation, thanking God for their daily provisions, communing with the saints in worship and daily needs, and leading their family in daily worship and to live godly lives doesn’t seem all that far from the neo-Calvinist vision.)

    Methinks you all prefer that lonely outhouse.

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  171. vd, t, earth to vd, t: I put words and sentences together at places other than OL. But I know, you’ve got my number in the sick twisted love-hate way you do so well, vd, t.

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  172. You guys are in a bad habit of lumping together all the perceived doctrinal evils: it still amazes me that DVD in his introduction puts theonomy, neo-Calvinism, liberal social gospelism, emergent church and N.T. Wright social justice awareness all in one package. And you all add New Schoolism and Chuck Colson style evangelicalism. For being the “splitters” you guys are on most things, you’re “lumpers” when it comes to things you don’t like. Funny how that works. I think it’s a form of a straw man argument and the genetic fallacy. You all should be above that.

    Hm.

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  173. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, earth to vd, t: I put words and sentences together at places other than OL. But I know, you’ve got my number in the sick twisted love-hate way you do so well, vd, t.

    Do you have a dirty mouth there too, Darryl, or just here where nobody’s watching?

    As for your other output, say here

    http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2013/01/from-culture-to-party-wars/

    as Patton put it, I’d rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.

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  174. Terry, ” I will continue to affirm that not giving thanks to God the Creator of good gifts that believers experience (sounds like something from Romans 1) is a form of stealing. I don’t think that my atheist friends would have any problems with this claim.”

    I really think you’re off on this. Tell vd, t, that he is a thief and see if he says you argue intelligently and honestly. And do you really think your favorite pagans are going to react any better to your name-calling (thief) than to Muslims who take offense at depictions of Mohammed?

    “Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm the common/common grace. Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm the antithesis (believers/unbelievers). Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm sphere sovereignty and the spirituality of the church. Neo-Calvinsim and 2k affirm the goodness of Creation. Neo-Calvinism and 2k affirm that Christ rules the whole world: Creation and the Church.”

    I’ve found plenty of neo-Cals who don’t affirm all these things. And I don’t hear any neo-Cals (other than you when you’re on your meds) defending spirituality of the church or 2k.

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  175. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
    Z, now vd, t is quoting Owen Strachan at us. Next thing you know vd, t will start advocating complimentarianism (except at home, of course).

    Appealing to Zrim or your followers can’t help you, Dr. Dirty Mouth. BTW, it was Tommy Kidd who tweeted the Strachan piece. It you decide to cowboy up and play this mockery game in public, let us know.

    And Terry Gray can say whatever he wants to me. He’s still honest and coherent, and better than you’ve deserved. And there you go splitting just when he caught you lumping–once again proving his point.

    darryllosesagain

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  176. Terry Gray: ” it still amazes me that DVD in his introduction puts theonomy, neo-Calvinism, liberal social gospelism, emergent church and N.T. Wright social justice awareness all in one package. And you all add New Schoolism and Chuck Colson style evangelicalism”

    Sounds about right to me. Merely the fruits of Post WW II neo- evangelicalism. I’m just a dumb old Baptist (non-reformed at that) and (all about) I can see that.

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  177. There are so many posts on here from arch-villains that it feels naughty to read OL. One could be forgiven if they succumb to the Victorian Vapours on reading such displays

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  178. Exactly Dan, if anything the list is missing a few more zoo displays of the Likely Lads of bad Evangelical theology.

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  179. Darryl, I am from Colorado, after all.

    Calling someone a neo-Calvinist who doesn’t believe those things is like calling a Federal Vision proponent a WCF Presbyterian. I’ve heard of Reformed Baptists too. Just because you use a name to describe someone doesn’t mean they are one, even if they come from a long line of them. A know a prominent “Reformed” person of whom it is alleged that he thinks the wrong side won at Dordt. I suppose you could say that Arminians are Reformed in some historic genealogical sense. If that’s what you mean when you refer to neo-Calvinism, fine. I know a lot of examples of people in the neo-Calvinist genealogy who are not doctrinally Reformed, who have never heard of sphere sovereignty, and who probably don’t know the difference between the church as institution and the church as organism. I’ll complain about them as much as you do (see http://grayt2.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/thoughts-on-synod-2012/ for example).

    But, please, stop calling them neo-Calvinists just because they have a Dutch last name or teach at Calvin College or are members of the Christian Reformed Church. Sadly, there’s not an easily defined credo–perhaps the writings of Kuyper, Bavinck, Dooyeweerd, and others and the actions of the CRCNA or the GKN in the earlier days. I think what I have been defending is an accurate rendition of that perspective.

    Just as you wouldn’t look at the PCUSA as embodying the true genius of the Westminster Standards, it’s quite unfair for you to say that today’s CRCNA or Free University of Amsterdam or PKN embodies the true genius of neo-Calvinism. (As I said earlier in this thread, neo-Calvinism was just a resurgence of paleo-Calvinism, which at the time most people thought was long dead. it was a reaction against the Enlightenment influenced and largely liberal State church (NHK). The GKN and NHK were part of the merger forming the PKN. Who do you think changed? The GKN or the NHK? Imagine the OPC merging into the PCUSA. How is that mostly like to happen? Obviously, by the OPC moving from orthodoxy to the Liberalism or, at best, the confessional “openness” that currently characterizes the PCUSA. We’ll pray that it never happen, but history is a bitter pill on the story of denominational trends, as you yourself tell well.)

    Just in case you don’t hear it in worship tomorrow: Christ is risen indeed. Have a refreshing Lord’s Day.

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  180. Just as you wouldn’t look at the PCUSA as embodying the true genius of the Westminster Standards, it’s quite unfair for you to say that today’s CRCNA or Free University of Amsterdam or PKN embodies the true genius of neo-Calvinism. (As I said earlier in this thread, neo-Calvinism was just a resurgence of paleo-Calvinism, which at the time most people thought was long dead. it was a reaction against the Enlightenment influenced and largely liberal State church (NHK). The GKN and NHK were part of the merger forming the PKN. Who do you think changed? The GKN or the NHK? Imagine the OPC merging into the PCUSA.

    This is like keeping score at spring training game, Darryl. You have the gall to mock my “scholarship” on your religion? Not one in 1000 of your co-religionists have the faintest idea of your own history that Terry Gray writes above. It’s like

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/43-Man_Squamish

    [Oh, I’ve given up trying to make you laugh, you old log.]

    And for those unfortunates who pretend to have read your book–getting half of any story leaves people more ignorant than when they started. Terry Gray would clearly destroy your Erik Charters if he put them to the Calvinist quiz. Love me. I’m sympathetic to your thesis about not perverting Christianity with politics.

    You should not want us to carry this unpleasantness over to your other fora. You’re Bryan Cross’s Javert, but I’m not yours. I have written about your theologizing in other fora but without prejudice, indeed spreading it as a possibly valid thesis. I disagree with it only here, in front of your face and not behind your back. I’m a better spreader of Darryl Hart’s gospel than most of the people who agree with it.

    FTR, I’ve been known to attempt theology, but only here at something like this self-acclaimed “theological society.” I don’t do theology at my American History groupblog, Darryl.

    On that, I’m thoroughly 2k.

    [Should you actually read it sometime. I’m quite present in the comments there. Like here. The Mormons get the same respect as you and your Two Kingdoms thing do. That’s the American way.]

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  181. vd, t, some chutzpah for a guy who doesn’t believe in judgment day.

    “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

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  182. Terry, STOP! We’ve heard this nonsense from Baus for too long as if you or Baus is the true neo-Calvinist. You don’t have a confession, you don’t have membership, you don’t have officers. You have a lot of ideas about what it is. You say it includes consummation. Al Wolters stops with recereation and doesn’t include consummation. Is Wolters not a neo-Calvinist? Sheesh. Is Neal Plantinga not a neo-Calvinist?

    You can’t just make neo-Calvinism whatever you believe.

    BTW, I can account for how the PCUSA went bad. Can you do so for neo-Calvinism? The PCUSA did so by accommodating to ideas and practices hostile to Reformed Christianity. But what you seem incapable of considering is that something inherent to neo-Calvinism leads to the social gospel — unless the church with all of its spirituality, creeds, 2k, and narrow ideas about redemption remains faithful. But your objection to narrowness earlier in this thread gives it all away. You want a cosmological faith. Well, you have it in the CRC. And you have a cosmological mess.

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  183. vd, t, funny?

    Terry:

    As evidence that I am fundamentally aligned with DGH, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Calvinism. I read the Kindle version the week before the print version came out. While I didn’t stay up all night unable to put it down the I read Jurassic Park, I stayed interested and engaged while reading it. It was by no means a tedious read. Even though I’ve had some experience with the RPCNA and knew some of the Scottish Presbyterian story, I learned quite a lot. The book was actually much less narrow than I expected, and I was surprised by the attention he gave to liberalizing trends in the history of Calvinist churches. At times I wished for a more encyclopedic treatment, especially when he left out of the discussion of parts of the story that I was familiar with. I suspect he left those parts out because they didn’t really need to be retold. And i suspect he wasn’t trying to be encyclopedic.

    vd, t,:

    As for Terry Gray, he speaks honestly and coherently.

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  184. Terry, I’m not adding to anything you’re saying. I’m pointing out what appears to be confusions of neo-Calvinism. On the one hand, you’re saying that unbelievers who excel in creational tasks only excel because they steal what isn’t theirs. On the other, you admit we have something to learn from these alleged thieves. When was the last time you visited the local prison because you wanted to learn from the inmates? So yours is the cosmic version of something that never even happens in earthly life. It’s not that complicated, your neo-Calvinism is getting in the way of your historic Calvinism. If you want to maintain that unbelievers excel at creation and we have something to learn from them, then stop calling them thieves.

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  185. Tom, I think all of that is supposed to be in the form of a question, isn’t it? But heaven knows I’ve tried with you and it’s still not landing. Silence from the church on civil matters is what the church confesses. It’s resistance theory: not only are we to resist the tyrant who wants ecclesiastical sanction for his regime, but also the theorists inside and out who want the church to get all up in his face. Real Reformed get it coming and going.

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  186. Tom’s becoming as charming and entertaining as that neighborhood dog that you periodically see in your yard assuming the stance before letting a load loose. Well done, vd, t.

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  187. Terry,

    If Neocalvinism is all that, why has the CRC met the fate that it has? They look and sound pretty much just like all of the other social and political liberals in the U.S.

    Is it just that the right people haven’t tried Neocalvinism yet?

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  188. Darryl, I could find others besides Baus. But it’s good that you admit there are two of us.

    Don’t judge a book by its title (otherwise somewhat might think you’re being encyclopedic). Wolters believes in a consummation. Ask him.

    The CRC has forgotten about sphere sovereignty, is toying with Liberalism, and sometimes forgets her Confession. (Similar to the PCUSA on all counts as I already pointed out.)

    And don’t forget–there is a difference between the church as institution and the church as organism. A call to one isn’t necessarily a call to the other.

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  189. Squatting Dog, perfectly crystalizes the thoughts.

    I was more concerned with the secondary or tertiary symptoms and effects of vd,t.

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  190. Terry, not to go TMI, but which is why some of us have left the CRC in recent years. The collective yawn given to proposed neutering on the FoS was telling, for example. The CRC is no longer confessionally Reformed but simply culturally Reformed. I know you’ll hate this, but I largely blame neo-Calvinism for the undermining of the church in order to be more culturally relevant. And Van Drunen in “Always Reformed” puts his finger on it in ways with you don’t seem to grasp (some Dutch fish know their wet, some non-Dutch haven’t figured it out yet).

    Another common characteristic of neo-Calvinism, amidst its diversity, is its dedication to putting the church in its place…One of its chief theological distinctives is the conviction that redemption consists in enabling Christians to take up again the original cultural task of Adam, that is, the
    task of developing the potentialities of creation and perhaps even building the stuff of the world-to-come, the new heavens and new earth. If this is what redemption is, it is quite logical to conclude that the church is important for the Christian life but not precisely where the main action lies. The main action is in fulfilling the original creation mandate in the various spheres of human culture.

    Where do you think all that toying comes from? It doesn’t just drop out of the clear blue, it has to start somewhere. I say it starts with neo-Calvinism.

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  191. Terry – And don’t forget–there is a difference between the church as institution and the church as organism. A call to one isn’t necessarily a call to the other.

    Erik – Where do people get their training to be the church as organism? The church as institute.

    If the church as institute has become unfaithful, why would we think those same church members who have allowed it to become unfaithful will produce good fruit when they work out their faith in the church as organism?

    To echo Zrim, to what degree is church as organism talk to blame in the deterioration of church as institute?

    When you take your eye off of Word & Sacrament there are consequences.

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  192. Come on, Tom – – your problem with 2k is that we’re more worried about your slouching towards hell than a given country’s Gomorrah-ward slouch. Don’t hate us for caring about your soul.

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  193. Anyone know the answers to these questions: what is the chief end of man? What is the duty which God requireth of man? (Hint: the answer includes more than going to church and receiving the sacraments?)

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  194. Perhaps this comment should be entitled “What Talking to Darryl Hart Feels Like”

    Okay, let’s judge the book by its contents. I think we went through this before, but it didn’t seem to take.

    From page 40 of the 1985 version of Creation Regained

    Adam and Eve in Paradise had not yet reached the level of development that God had planned for them. Theologians on the whole have granted this to be true (they have typically postulated a progression from Adam’s state to the state of glory in God’s plan for human development),…

    Sounds like Consummation (rather than mere Restoration) to me. Could have come right out of Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos.
    And from page 41

    It may be, as Herman Bavinck has suggested, that human life on the new earth, compared to that life now, will be like the colorful butterfly that develops out of the pupa: dramatically different, but the same creature.

    We report. You decide.

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  195. Zrim, I’m not going to whitewash the problems that I think are in the CRCNA, but you should check out what actually happened with the Form of Subscription. There was no collective yawn and the final product was far removed from the squishy version proposed by the original revision committee. It still includes the slightly troubling phrase “whose doctrines fully agree with the Word of God.” The OPC Form of Subscription doesn’t even say this about the Westminster Standards.

    Little resemblance to what happened with the revision in 1967 in the UPCUSA.

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  196. Terry, you missed the point. Whatever the final result, that such an anti-confessional effort arise only signals the ways in which neo-Calvinism has worked to undermine the CRCNA and set it on a trajectory toward broad evangelicalism. The egalitarianism is in place and unexamined children are invited to the table. Yes, sure looks like those Christian schools have served the denom well.

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  197. Tom, live like Amish? What are you talking about? 2k is about popping the Christian bubble neo-Calvinism constructs and that believers should be in the world (but not of it). Add to Darryl’s observation that neo-Calvinism is intellectual pietism (ding!!) that its legacy is a lotta Christian ghetto.

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  198. Zrim, doesn’t look like you’ve bothered to study paedocommunion either. Don’t forget there was a study even in the OPC in the late 80’s on this issue where a reputable minority report defending the practice was presented. Many of us even voted for it. Confessional revision was proposed. Of course, it failed in the OPC but it at least was believed worthy of study without being anti-confessional or unreformed. Were it so easily dismissed there would not have been a study committee.

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  199. Terry, Wolters’ chapters are creation fall redemption. Doesn’t sound like consummation. If you go to Amazon and do a word search, you do find consummation — in the postscript that needed the help of Michael Goheen (with several additional aids by N.T. Wright). Wolters doesn’t know the word.

    Your bad.

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  200. Terry – Don’t forget there was a study even in the OPC in the late 80′s on this issue where a reputable minority report defending the practice was presented.

    Erik – Did Doug Sowers lead that faction?

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  201. My reason for joining a church with hundreds of years of history and stable, biblical Confessions was so I could bring up a bunch of novel, foolish, trendy ideas and see if I can cause an uproar in said church.

    No it wasn’t.

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  202. Darryl, at least now we’re past just reading the book title and we are getting to chapter headings. Good progress. Restoration/consummation is part of redemption (even though the discussion I cited above is in the chapter on Creation. In good Vossian spirit, eschatology precedes soteriology. Consummation was the eschatological expectation of the original Creation. Adam failed, but Christ did not. Thus, the consummation anticipated originally is accomplished.

    Also, please remember that you don’t have to use the word to embrace its meaning.

    But, of course, I will grant you that a significant part of Wolter’s (and the neo-Calvinist’s) view is restoration (but restoration with consummation).

    But, back to the original point…if you don’t think that 2k accepts the Creation – Fall – Redemption story line, proudly stand by it. I just won’t be able to join you.

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  203. Erik Charter
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink
    This gets us back to vd, t. Why would we trust a man who has no church membership to tell us how we should run our churches? It’s ludicrous.

    Run yours how you want. “Confess” what you want. It’s how your microdenomination presumes to tell other churches and other Christians that yours is the only correct Biblical theology that’s ludicrous. Talk about pontificating.

    As for your “history,” Darryl, you don’t do very well when you leave the safety of your hive.

    http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2013/06/mark-david-hall-responds-to-dghart.html

    And Terry, I’m sure you liked what you found in Dr. Hart’s Calvinism: A History. It’s what he leaves out that’s the problem.

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  204. Zrim, I’m not sure why my comments about paedocommunion were so unclear, but I will take the blame for that. Yes, of course, the CRCNA now allows baptized children to come to table at the discretion of their parents (with both receiving appropriate instruction from the church). My point was simply that I don’t regard that as unconfessional or unreformed (although it admittedly deviates from a few centuries of Reformed practice). Even the OPC seriously considered it.

    Have you read the Faith Formation Committee reports?

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  205. Erik, seems like both BCF and the WCF were both modified from the original form to be more 2k-ish. Not sure your Confessions go back as far as you think.

    For the record, I agree with those modifications. That’s more evidence that theonomy is not the same as neo-Calvinism and that neo-Calvinism is actually 2k on the relationship between church and state. Does anyone here know what a “free” church or a “free” university is? Principled pluralism (of the neo-Calvinist Jim Skillen variety) recognizes that the state protects religious (worldview-holding) communities. While Darryl seems to have some quibble with the word “pluralism”, I think we both agree that the civil magistrate is to promote and protect religious liberty. I would suspect that most 2k’s would oppose the state supported schools in their promotion of atheistic naturalism or hedonistic sexual ethics.

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  206. Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 12:02 am | Permalink
    Erik, seems like both BCF and the WCF were both modified from the original form to be more 2k-ish. Not sure your Confessions go back as far as you think.

    Roger that. Isn’t it in Darryl’s history book?

    For the record, I agree with those modifications. That’s more evidence that theonomy is not the same as neo-Calvinism and that neo-Calvinism is actually 2k on the relationship between church and state. Does anyone here know what a “free” church or a “free” university is?

    Isn’t it in Darryl’s book?

    Principled pluralism (of the neo-Calvinist Jim Skillen variety) recognizes that the state protects religious (worldview-holding) communities. While Darryl seems to have some quibble with the word “pluralism”, I think we both agree that the civil magistrate is to promote and protect religious liberty.

    Good luck with that one. As you can see, they’ve been a courageous pile of jello getting say, Hobby Lobby’s back.

    I would suspect that most 2k’s would oppose the state supported schools in their promotion of atheistic naturalism or hedonistic sexual ethics.

    I thought at least that much is in Darryl’s book.

    http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/machen.htm

    But the problem is, once you start opposing the atheism and the hedonism, you’re still getting political. That’s a no-no. It says it right there in the Bible. Somewhere.

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  207. Tom, you highlight a nuance I should have added. When I say “2k’s would oppose…” I don’t mean in their churches (of course, the church opposes atheism and hedonism among their members), but rather in their communities as members of the common realm. 2k says it’s okay for individual Christians to get political: “It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto…” (WCF XXIII, 2). I assume that would extend to individual Christians to execute their political rights and duties (when called thereunto).

    It’s not okay for the church as institution to get political.

    I sometimes fear that we’re not being too clear about this on this list, but I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume that whatever opposition to political activity anyone may have is opposition to the institutional church and not opposition to political activity by individual Christians.

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  208. Terry, its creation, fall, redemption, glory. Wolters doesn’t mention consummation because he thinks redemption is the recapitulation of creation. I’ve read the book. I’ve taught it.

    But sheesh, if w-w means seeing whatever I want to see, I may adopt one.

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  209. Terry, be careful. vd, t, bites:

    Tom was a gifted writer, and could, when he’s not trying to tweak others’ sensibilities, could write some cogent and well-executed prose. I’ll miss that Tom.

    Then, there was the other Tom. The one who delighted in stirring up shit, and in probing the tender spots of his ideological adversaries. The one who would never acknowledge when he caused offense, and never, ever back down or apologize. The one who would write with purposeful obtuseness, and then complain that no one understood him. That guy I won’t miss so much.

    Farewell, Tom, and fare thee well. I hope you keep writing, and are able to find a congenial home for your missives.

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  210. “Then, there was the other Tom. The one who delighted in stirring up shit, and in probing the tender spots of his ideological adversaries. The one who would never acknowledge when he caused offense, and never, ever back down or apologize. The one who would write with purposeful obtuseness, and then complain that no one understood him. That guy I won’t miss so much.”

    Maybe we can get with these folks and start a support group.

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  211. “But if you want to play it that way, you have to be good. Really good. And Tom wasn’t. Not nearly.”

    Not by a long shot.

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  212. Terry, and my point is that to miss paedocommunionism as unconfessional and unreformed (as you do) is a testament to how neo-Calvinism has dulled the Reformed instincts. Like Van Drunen has said, doctrinal/ecclesiastical/sacramental Calvinism has not fared well under cultural Calvinism’s watch.

    And, yes, as you say 2k does say it’s perfectly kosher for Christian persons as members of the common realm to get political. But this is where 2k is better suited for the task than neo-Calvinism, because 2k at its best puts believers in the common realm. Neo-Calvinism creates Christian bubble and places them outside the common realm. Those who are actual members of their communities and have a stake in its condition have more credibility when they get critical. Neo-Calvinism creates a ghetto from which Christian critics mostly come off as pious rock throwers.

    So why do Christian schoolers care so much about “atheistic naturalism or hedonistic sexual ethics” in public schools? It’s not like they’re invested personally in any of it. By the way, because our daughter’s time was coming, I sat on the review committee for the sex ed curriculum for our local public schools. I know that sort of rhetoric rallies the culture war troops, but not exactly what I’d call “hedonistic sexual ethics.” My inner fifth grade boy was completely let down, even if a bit uncomfortable being the only male on the committee.

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  213. Zrim, that’s right. Anyone who disagrees with you has dulled Reformed instincts. I think that’s a fallacy called affirming the consequent.

    Glad to see you stepping up (really!).

    Not sure I agree with your assessment of the bubble. Sometimes the common realm is so influenced by the church (and has a majority of church members) that it seems different from the normal common realm. It’s happened variously throughout history. I’d suggest that the common realm is different in Beijing than in Grand Haven, MI. Oh, public schools in west Michigan–not exactly “common”.

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  214. Darryl, I know other people who bite too. Sometimes I bite. I’ve banned biters. The Blogosphere is like the wild, wild West. If you can’t take the heat, it’s best not to play. But, in general, I’m for “common” civility and among the redeemed, words spiced with grace.

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  215. Terry, your philosophy-o-meter is set too high. I suppose one Reformed man’s mere opinion is another’s affirming the consequent fallacy. Still, let the Reformed reader judge whether sacramental latitudinarianism is a red flag or not. But could it not to be too far away that the CRC goes Ev Free and begins leaving it to parental consent whether children are baptized?

    Ah, yes, the old “Little Geneva society is oh so different from everywhere else society because of the Dutch Reformed presence.” Terry, I’ve been a public schooler my whole life as a student, teacher, and parent in everywhere else society, and Little Geneva is no different except for the plethora of VanVanderVans. My sex ed class in everywhere else society was just as non-hedonist back in the early 80s as my daughter’s was here now. But if Little Geneva society is so sanctified then why do the neo-Cals around here still slot its public schools as atheistic and hedonist?

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  216. Zrim, if you read the reports carefully, you will see that there is a very strong affirmation of infant baptism by the CRCNA Faith Formation committee. Nothing of the sort of what you fear. Participation in the Lord’s Supper is seen to be an implication of the theology of the covenant (not latitudinarianism as you allege). If Word and Sacrament belong together as a means of grace, then one would think they would both be important in forming the faith of all members of the covenant. The “tradition” is based on a single proof-text that in context is better understood other than in the traditional sense. Nothing un-Reformed in any of that. You may not agree and it appears that there are yet some in the CRCNA who aren’t convinced, but as a whole the decision was made on the basis of Reformed confessional principles. Interestingly, as well, was the orderly process that the CRCNA undertook. Let’s not just go off and start doing whatever we feel like, but let’s take the appropriate Synodical and Church Order steps to implement it in a decent and orderly fashion.

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  217. Zrim, I suspect that the pervasiveness of secular culture (particularly, via television, popular music, movies, and now the Internet) has more to do with your observations than the failure of Dutch neo-Calvinistic culture. When the church begins to adopt the world’s methods and message, stops catechizing, allows pop culture to have more influence than the church or the family, etc, it’s no wonder that the ghettos are ghettos in name only. It is not neo-Calvinism properly implemented, but a version without any mind to the antithesis that leads to this. A belief in common grace without the antithesis simply leads to an uncritical embracing of the culture. That is not neo-Calvinism nor an natural direction of neo-Calvinism. It is simply poorly implemented neo-Calvinism. And this is where I agree with you all at Old Life (BTW, nice new favicon, Darryl). Current expressions of neo-Calvinism have much to be desired.

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  218. Terry, if the bastion for neo-Calvinism can’t get it right then how is there any hope? This is where worldviewers sound like the paradigmers (i.e. the Callers), a religious theory that lives between your ears but never pans out in real life. They never get absolute religious unity and you never get a Christian world.

    But if you think the neglect of catechism is a bad thing then maybe you should re-think the validity of paedocommunion, which leapfrogs from baptism over catechism and right to the table. Yes, participation in the Lord’s Supper is an implication of the theology of the covenant, but the two sacraments are bookends that have catechism in the middle.

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  219. Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 12:42 am | Permalink
    Tom, you highlight a nuance I should have added. When I say “2k’s would oppose…” I don’t mean in their churches (of course, the church opposes atheism and hedonism among their members), but rather in their communities as members of the common realm. 2k says it’s okay for individual Christians to get political: “It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto…” (WCF XXIII, 2). I assume that would extend to individual Christians to execute their political rights and duties (when called thereunto).

    It’s not okay for the church as institution to get political.

    I sometimes fear that we’re not being too clear about this on this list, but I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume that whatever opposition to political activity anyone may have is opposition to the institutional church and not opposition to political activity by individual Christians.

    I’m not sure you have the whole story, Terry. Certainly Darryl’s kneejerk defenders don’t.

    http://calvinistinternational.com/2012/05/29/calvin-2k-1/

    In pointing to [Richard] Hooker as the better reader of Calvin, and in saying that the idea of a Christian commonwealth is normative, we have been repeatedly, and despite repeated clarifications, misconstrued as “theonomist” or “Erastian” by Dr. Darryl Hart, who seems to think that we wish for an authoritarian State applying the Mosaic penal code, when the opposite is in fact the case. Neither Hooker nor Calvin is our regula fidei, and we are happy to adapt their principles appropriately within the context of the modern order of political freedom- an order which only follows from those Protestant principles. Still, we do claim the history for our side. We share the basic theological principles of the Reformation, and specifically those of Luther, Calvin, and Hooker. We hope our contribution can be the accurate genealogy and specific application of the older principles in the 21st century context.

    What we have recovered is what seems to us the classical Protestant doctrine of politics. In particular, we have said that the two kingdoms do *not* directly correspond to the two estates of magistracy and ministerium, but rather, that both magistracy and ministerium are within the temporal kingdom. Our opponents do, however, identify the two estates with the two kingdoms respectively.

    Mr. Tuininga, under pressure from the evidence, is a little more historically careful in noting the distinctions than Dr. Hart or Dr. VanDrunen have been, but he still uses them confusedly, and concludes from them wrongly.

    You were more right than you knew. The false choice is always presented as theocracy or in the least partisan political activism. But that’s a distortion. The church can and must not be silent on what is right and what is wrong.

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  220. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink
    Terry, be careful. vd, t, bites:

    No limit to how low Dr. Dirty Mouth will go when he’s being exposed. I suppose I can’t blame you Darryl. You have so much invested in your telling of history.

    FTR, I was lynched by a bunch of left-wingers who couldn’t play straight either. I wear your sliming with honor, for it’s an admission you can’t win fair and square.

    http://sonnybunch.com/thoughtcrimes-ca-2012/

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  221. Terry Gray: “Current expressions of neo-Calvinism have much to be desired.”

    And where should I go? Not to make this all about me, but there are those of us who are not Reformed but do take Reformed theology seriously because ideas from you eggheads tend to leak out and influence what folks are talking about at the lunch tables where the cool kids sit at our denominational seminaries.

    I first started reading about neo-Calvinism a half dozen or so years ago. I have read Kuypers Princeton lectures. I have struggled with other names you cite, some with more profit than others. For the life of me, I simply can’t figure out how neo-Calvinism gets off anywhere but one of three places: (1) whole hog embrace of the culture; (2) theonomy; (3) the social gospel. Since finding out about this blog several months ago after reading DGH’s latest, these concerns have not in any way lessened

    I really have tried to understand neo-Calvinism in a favorable light, though I must admit that my being raised in an amillenial, two kingdom tradition has always made me wary. (On the other hand, in my Church when you go through Baptism the minister always asks “what is your confession?” The response is “Jesus is Lord.” What isn’t he Lord of? is a good question) Help me out here.

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  222. Zrim – Neo-Calvinism creates a ghetto from which Christian critics mostly come off as pious rock throwers.

    Erik – No rock music. How about pious Psalter throwers?

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  223. “Farewell, Tom, and fare thee well. I hope you keep writing, and are able to find a congenial home for your missives.”

    Erik – Tom misunderstood “missives” to mean “emissions” and has been on us like a Mississippi Leg Hound ever since…

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  224. Terry – You may not agree and it appears that there are yet some in the CRCNA who aren’t convinced, but as a whole the decision was made on the basis of Reformed confessional principles. Interestingly, as well, was the orderly process that the CRCNA undertook. Let’s not just go off and start doing whatever we feel like, but let’s take the appropriate Synodical and Church Order steps to implement it in a decent and orderly fashion.

    Erik – Just like they did with female ministers and officers?

    Decently, in good order, and dead wrong.

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  225. Who did Jesus celebrate the Supper with? Adult disciples.

    Who did the Jews circumcise? Babies

    Who did Jesus not celebrate the Supper with? Babies

    Who did the Jews not circumcise? Adults (unless they were converts)

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  226. Dan, you can still get a good combination of Reformed confessionalism and neo-Calvinism in the OPC, URC, PCA, and CRC. Whether the Old Lifers here admit it or not (I think they do–I’m pretty sure that Darryl thinks in the minority in the OPC), I think that neo-Calvinism is still the main game in the OPC and the URC, although you may find a local pastor and/or church who is anti-neo-Calvinist. YMMV with the degree of confessionalism in the PCA and CRC.

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  227. Erik, did I ever say anything about women in office? (The answer is “no”.) Perhaps women in the office of minister/elder and paedocommunion are different issues. (The answer is “yes”.) They must be really…since the OPC was willing to consider the latter but not the former.

    Exodus 12:26. Maybe none of the disciples had families. Not sure why they weren’t doing Passover with them. (Maybe they didn’t follow the regulative principle back then.)

    Well, we teach the 3FU in our CRCNA (Fort Collins, CO). We cover them in membership classes, in adult ed classes, in youth ministry. We sometimes recite excerpts in worship.

    Again, I’m not going to whitewash the problems in the CRCNA (I’ve complained officially and unofficially about this or that), but there are plenty of examples of historic Reformed Christianity still remaining. And, it’s interesting to see how the Confessions function at Synod–you might be surprised. Clearly, we’d be more confessional with the URC folks still with us (but we’d also be tilted a bit more toward fundamentalism (i.e. YEC)). There’s a fine line between confessional integrity and schism. When I was in the OPC, I was always pleased to say that Machen’s (like Luther’s) efforts to reform the church from within got him defrocked and thus there was no choice really. Not many church splits can make that claim. I’d say that the PCUSA in the 20’s and 30’s had more serious confessional deviations than does today’s CRCNA.

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  228. Terry – since the OPC was willing to consider the latter but not the former.

    Erik – The OPC has had its “strange” factions over the years and still does (hang around here every day). These factions have never had the power to take over OPC Seminaries (because there are none) and transform the denomination to the extent of putting women in office and having Synod (GA) look like it’s trying to give the National Education Association and Greenpeace a run for its money in terms of liberalism. Most of the OPC weirdness comes from the right. In the CRC it comes from the left.

    NAPARC exists for a reason.

    http://www.presbyteriannews.org/volumes/v4/1/n-crc.htm

    “East Point, GA (November 19, 1997)–In a move that has long been anticipated, the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) voted this morning to suspend the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) from membership. The vote was 6-1, with the CRC delegation voting “No.”

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  229. Cite me an example from American church history where a sect has moved left and not continued moving left to the point of becoming irrelevant. Eventually all that is left are nice buildings and diminishing membership made up of mostly grey haired people. And CRC architecture ain’t even that great.

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  230. I don’t deny that the CRC still has faithful churches, ministers, and certainly members who are fighting against the direction the denomination is moving. It’s a denomination, however, not a federation with some serious top down authority. Once key institutions have been captured, how do you turn back the clock?

    Can you cite for me any female CRC clergy or elders who are very strong in the areas of catechetical preaching, catechizing youth, and teaching elders to do likewise? Is this what animates the typical female pastor or elder?

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  231. Terry, I generally agree with your thumbnails of the CRC and URC. Neo-Calvinism still is quite at play in the URC, which can often make it the CRC-that-doesn’t-ordain-women. And where the CRC has pockets of liberalism, the URC has strains of fundamentalism. With all her problems, the CRC still has more Reformation in her than anything in wider eeeevangelicalism, but that’s what makes her trajectory toward eeeevangelicalism so lamentable. If it helps, those of us who have left her didn’t do it easily.

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  232. Erik, my experience with the CRC’s female clergy is mixed. I have heard females preach the gospel more faithfully than many of her men. I’m no egalitarian, but I do wonder if those who cast he CRC as apostate because of female ordination realize that makes Rome closer to orthodox than a denom that has yet to anathematize the gospel.

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  233. Terry – Dan, you can still get a good combination of Reformed confessionalism and neo-Calvinism in the OPC, URC, PCA, and CRC.

    Terry, we don’t have many if any of the Dutch flavored reformed varieties in my neck of the woods. There is one small OPC congregation nearby, and they seem to be very happy not influencing anyone other than the families that go there.

    What used to be the largest PCA congregation in my area left for the EPC a few years back. I have good relations with some of their members, but the younger folks there are rampant Kellerites. They started a downtown plant a few years ago, and the guy in charge of it might as well change his name to Fosdick. See my concern?

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  234. Dan, I’m CRC today because of host of contingencies. I taught at Calvin and lived in Grand Rapids from 1986 to 1997 and didn’t become CRC. We were members of Harvest OPC (where I was nourished in historic OPC confessionalism and OPC-flavored neo-Cavinsm. When we moved to Fort Collins, we had many fewer choices: a theonomy-leaning OPC, a fairly mainstream CRC, a confessionally oriented PCA, and a charismatic/immersionist EPC in town and a just leaving the CRC URC in Loveland about 20 miles away. (Of course, there are all the non-Confessional Bible/Baptist/Pentecostal churches and some decent Lutheran churches.) The PCA was a good fit for us and so we settled there only to have a serious blowup in the church a few years later when a new pastor came. Sadly, that church has now closed its doors. Since then a new more Kelleresque PCA church plant has come to town. We might have made the leap to the far away URC but the Sunday we visited was the pastor’s (a WTSCA grad) last Sunday. We ultimately settled on the CRC and since I’m not one who leaves a local church (or denomination) lightly, we’ve stayed there in spite of the fact that I’d probably be quite at home in the new PCA. I’m more conservative (theologically and politically) and more confessional than most, although I’ve been accused of being an enigma because I’m perceived as being liberal on evolution/creation, environmentalism/climate change, some aspects of worship.) It’s a place where I can peddle my brand of neo-Calvinism. It’s not the perfect church or denomination and I tend to prefer the Westminister Standards than the Continental ones.

    Sorry everyone, for the all about me moment. I’d suggest that you settle on the best available option (a kind of political compromise) and offer your perspective to the church and community. Keep reading and interact with like-minded folks on the Internet (that’s why I’m here at Old Life ;-))

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  235. Erik, gospel preaching, Reformed confessionalism, and catechism are all strong in the few CRC women pastors that I know of. I’m not an advocate of women in the office of minister/elder but I’ve long ago decided that it’s not something to split the church over.

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  236. Zrim, I’m too wedded to Reformed confessions and history. It has been traumatic enough to move into the Continental Reformed world. But I have a high regard for historic Lutheranism.

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  237. Terry,

    What would be a deal-breaker for you with the CRC?

    What would you do if they embraced ordaining homosexuals or same-sex marriage? Have there been any overtures to Synod on these and, if so, how have they been received?

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  238. Erik, the CRC has a clear position on homosexuality (going back to 1972 or so) and while there have been a few challenges to it they have been rebuffed by the handful of Synods that have had to deal with them. Significant large scale confessional compromise would be a problem for me, but I don’t really see that. I don’t see women in office to be a confessional issue (even in the OPC). I’m also unafraid of continuing reformation. We may not have everything right and if someone can make a compelling argument that our longstanding tradition is wrong I’m not going to prejudge that. That’s why I think it’s wrong to come into an assembly having already decided an issue that has come before the Assembly or Synod. That’s why I don’t believe the courts of the church are “representative”. They are deliberative and we are to listen carefully to the arguments made and then decide based on the Word of God. Now I’m fully aware that most new deviations from our Confessions are renewed expressions of heresy or embracings of liberalism. But I’m unwilling to say that about everything.

    I am curious about how to rank our heresies: Why is women in office worse than theonomy? Why is the abandonment of exclusive Psalmody not worse than theistic evolution? Was Norman Shepherd just following John Murray’s lead? The PCA once refused to include the OPC in J&R allegedly because the OPC was soft on justification when it didn’t prosecute Norman Shepherd. Why didn’t everyone except the committed covenantal nomists leave then? Why isn’t the Mosaic law as republication of the Covenant of Works an anti-Confessional heresy whose toleration is worth leaving over? At one point in its history the OPC tolerated and blessed those New Lifers–I suspect there are still some around. What gives? How can the OPC be the Only Perfect Church with New Lifers in her midst? Oh, and what about those neo-Calvinists who hold contrary to the Westminster Confession that the kingdom of God is broader than the church? There seems to be some toleration of error here. Perhaps we need a 2K-OPC.

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  239. Terry, “what about those neo-Calvinists who hold contrary to the Westminster Confession that the kingdom of God is broader than the church? There seems to be some toleration of error here.”

    Now we’re getting somewhere. I’d love to see neo-Cals admit that they are not confessional.

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  240. Terry – Significant large scale confessional compromise would be a problem for me

    Erik – How do (did) you interpret women in office if not as large scale confessional compromise? What did the modern CRC see that previous generations had “missed” on this issue?

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  241. Terry,

    Good questions. Women in office is in direct violation of biblical teaching. Paul does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man in the church. Paul also says overseers must be the “husband” of just one wife (not the “wife” of just one husband). The other “issues” you bring up are more difficult, although people have strong opinions one way or the other on them. In short, women in office is a more “fundamental” issue when it comes to what it means to be a Christian or Reformed church.

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  242. Darryl, turn on your tongue-in-cheek meter. I’m not admitting any such thing, but I know you think it so. If you were serious, wouldn’t you go after those confessional compromising neo-Calvinists in the courts of the church? Now the honest truth is that your position is much more likely to be seen as a deviation from Reformed orthodoxy by your OPC brothers. So far, M.G. Kline has gotten a pass, but Lee Irons hasn’t fared so well.

    Erik, show me something about women in office in the confessions. Isn’t that the point of confessions–to define what we think in important in Biblical teaching? Otherwise we’re just at a majority rules Biblicism.

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  243. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, have you considered how you come across?

    I’m not the one who calls people dirty names. You got nothing on me, brother. Repent.

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  244. Terry, I stand fully within the teachings of the church. So far the church has not redeemed history. She only speaks on what God’s word reveals. That’s why transformation of culture and every square inch isn’t part of my ordination vow. But it seems to prevail in the CRC — not the Three Forms.

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  245. Terry,

    I think any dispassionate observer would rightly conclude that women in office is not mentioned in the Confessions for the same reason that gay marriage is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The men who wrote the documents did not conceive of either. It’s hard to write any document that can contain all the possible sinful innovations of men and women.

    Why not children in office?

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  246. Darryl, you keep saying things that I don’t say. It’s not the task of the church to “redeem history” (I assume you me redeem the “discipline of history”.). I fully agree that the church only speaks what God reveals. The church shouldn’t preach about climate change or health care reform. Transformation of culture and every square inch is not the task of officers of the church (as officers of the church).

    All those things are excluded from the church as church by the neo-Calvinists notion of sphere sovereignty (you can call it spirituality of the church if you like). But those things may be the task of individual Christians or institutions as they do those various tasks in their vocations from the point of view of their faith that informs all areas of their lives.

    However, I am fully with you in your concern that many in the CRC and those evangelicals who have embraced neo-Calvinism don’t properly separate their work in the church and their work in Creation.

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  247. Terry & Darryl (and the other Brother Darryl?),

    In paragraphs 1 & 2 above Terry actually sounds rather 2K. You guys may not be that far apart.

    Perhaps the difference between Neocalvinism and 2K is the extent to which the two camps believe that Christians’ efforts outside the church will be successful and yield actual change in the world.

    2K is circumspect about this and maybe even a bit pessimistic. Neocalvinism affirms that this work will not only change the world but last beyond this world.

    Since I believe circumspection is the wiser path in light of a historically mixed record, I am in the 2K camp.

    When my wife worked in a shoe store in high school her manager asked her and an older male co-worker how many pairs of shoes they thought they would sell that day. My wife gave a fairly low, conservative estimate. The man gave some ridiculously high estimate that he came nowhere close to achieving. We recount that story often to each other when considering the reality of achieving differing goals.

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  248. Erik, I’m not inclined to go into this discussion here because I suspect that we likely agree on most of the specifics of exegesis and perhaps even the application in the church today. Where I don’t agree with you is that it is completely obvious and that you can’t possibly get to the CRC position using a Reformed hermeneutic or that it’s a major Confessional deviation. (We are quite open to understanding a text in the light of a distant cultural situation. The correct application of that text transcends that cultural situation. To do so is not liberalism.)

    I don’t agree with you that there are unspoken confessional truths. Seems oxymoronic.

    I think of the issue much the way an exclusive Psalm singer thinks about worship in a hymn singing church.

    Interestingly, the WCF says that “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman.” Guess it wasn’t too obvious to say so in the 1640’s. I’m not sure I want the US Constitution or the feds regulating marriage anyway. (That last sentence is a political opinion, by the way; some other neo-Calvinist may hold a different viewpoint.)

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  249. Terry,

    I think it’s safe to say the WCF had polygamy in mind, not same sex marriage.

    Not trying to be obnoxious on women in office, but it was considered enough of a Confessional deviation to get the CRC suspended from NAPARC. That’s a weighty thing and the judgment of an awful lot of Presbyterian & Reformed men with years and years of pastoral and shepherding experience. I don’t think it was done lightly, nor was the formation of the URCNA. Male chauvinism was not the issue, faithfulness to Scripture and respect for two thousand years of Christian history was. Time will tell what it does to the CRC, but I fear for the denomination. It’s serious matter with potentially serious consequences.

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  250. On 2K vs. Neocalvinism, my best hope is that when I die I know Jesus and have had a hand in helping my family, fellow church members, and hopefully some friends and even some strangers to have known Jesus. I hope I will have done honest work that provided for my family and also provided something that was useful (and not harmful) to the community.

    I think the material fruits of my labor will not stand the test of time, however. No one’s will. That does not mean that God was not pleased with them or that I wasted my time in doing them. He commanded me to work, and hopefully I did that faithfully. People are what will last, though, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.

    Look through an old community newspaper sometime and note how many of the businesses running ads are long since gone. Look how many families mentioned are people you have not heard of. We are but a mist that is here for a little while and then vanishes. We need to be mindful of that.

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  251. Erik, faithfulness is the order of the day, not achieving some goal.

    My neo-Calvinism is amillennial (as learned from my neo-Calvinist fathers and brothers in the OPC and CRC). The Parousia comes in the Lord’s time. Maybe we’ll see progress in terms of lasting influence of principles of the kingdom; maybe not. If history is any indication, there are only places and seasons where such is the case.

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  252. Erik, Westminster Larger Catechism 137-139 for the full story. No stone left unturned. You’d better watch out for those lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays…

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  253. ec, Terry is not your average neo-Cal. He’s read Meredith Kline and Kline is a rare presence in Neo-Cal circles. Read Ken Myers book on popular culture to see the handiwork of Kline on Christ and culture and then see if you could square that with every square inch.

    Where Terry confuses me is his one-part amill and other part post-mill.

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  254. Terry,

    We’ve discussed WLC 137-139 issues on other threads extensively. How did you see it fitting in here?

    I have some concerns about the Puritan influence on the Westminster (I don’t subscribe to it, although I do respect it and have actually been going through it at night with my family — the Shorter, not the Longer). In my experience some modern day Puritans are among the most priggish, self-righteous, unforgiving people I have ever met.

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  255. Terry, being an academic and a thoughtful guy, may not fit neatly into any single, familiar category. Sounds like someone else I know. I like guys like that and am glad he has been contributing here. He might dig into a position that I don’t agree with, but that’s life.

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  256. Erik, my main point was just to note that the Westminster Standards are fully aware about the varieties of sexual sin which your earlier posts suggested was merely implicit.. If I have my facts straight it was because of the explicit mention of sins forbidden that the San Francisco church prevailed in a lawsuit involving one of their staff members.

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  257. Darryl, not a drop of post-mill in me, let me assure you. The only guaranteed victory for our kingdom building efforts is the Parousia. I even think that Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled in the book of Acts.

    Not that you will appreciate this, but I think whatever culture building we don’t get done in this life we can do in the next.

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  258. Terry, and I was hoping for palm trees, umbrellas in drinks, and infidels to cool me with hand fans. You mean it’s not about rest and worship (as Heidelberg teaches)?

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  259. Darryl, seems that already in this life (“every day of my life”) I am resting (“from my evil ways”). It appears there that what we do now every day is the beginning of the eternal Sabbath. Hmm…

    It’s not inspired but the hymn line: “Ever lift Thy face upon me as I work and wait for Thee; resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus, earth’s dark shadows flee.” Resting and working aren’t necessarily antithetical.

    Of course, we can’t be too dogmatic about all this, right? (Surprised you again!) But, I have always ribbed my pastor friends by telling them that they’ll be out of work in the New Heavens and the New Earth whereas I will continue my work as a scientist. I’m not sure about a historian’s work. Will we forget all about earth’s history or will we just think rightly about it. Certainly we’ll remember the Lamb who was slain.

    The prelapsarian pattern involved labor and the cultural mandate. I don’t see why the consummated state wouldn’t as well. (I don’t see anywhere that Adam was laboring for the consummation via the cultural mandate. (DVD seems to read it this way.) The work of the CoW was in obedience to the Law of God in the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Had Adam succeeded he would have been sealed in his righteousness and the cultural task would have continued. God made us for this stuff. I don’t see any reason why it won’t continue once through Christ we get to what God made us to be (and to do).

    Palm trees and drinks…perhaps. Craft beer from Fort Collins for sure. The infidels will be somewhere else.

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  260. Terry, the cultural mandate also involved sex/marriage. The New Heavens and Earth do not. Why do you conceive of discontinuity only for the church but not for culture?

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  261. Darryl, I don’t deny that there will some discontinuities for culture. Marriage seems to be one of them. But that doesn’t mean the general cultural task won’t continue.

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  262. Terry, this is where 2k and neo-Calvinism part. 2k says the prelapsarian state itself was temporary. The point was to pass the probationary period and thus earn eternal life, a life of rest beyond a life of work. Whereas for neo-Calvinism it’s created re-gained, for 2k, it’s re-creation gained. If the highest temporal institution called family will pass, what makes you think a lesser task like science or history will continue? You guys talk so easily about how things will be when Paul says no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived what God is preparing.

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  263. Terry, how can the original cultural mandate still be in place when 50% of it is gone? Do you give A’s to papers that only get 50% right?

    As I say, w-w seems to be about seeing what I want to see.

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  264. Zrim, Paul’s not the only one to talk about the age to come. The OT prophets say plenty. Resurrected bodies is God saying “yes” to Creation and the continuity of Creation. Say what you want, but I think your view is anti-Creational in the long run. (You say so yourself, right? Creation was meant to be temporary.)

    Darryl, 50%, eh? How did you come up with that number? I’ll stick with what the Bible says. If Jesus says that “people will neither marry nor be given in marriage” (whatever that means), then I’ll be happy to say that that part of our current order will be different. If the Bible says there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain”, then I’ll be happy to say that that part of our current order will be different. If sin is gone and all things are directed toward their proper purpose, I’ll be happy to say that that part of our current order will be different. No reason to think the rest will change.

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  265. Terry, since half of the cultural mandate (which Kline thinks was fulfilled in Christ, so what bearing it still has on us here or in the world to come is a mystery) is about sex and marriage, and the other half is have dominion, 50% looks right. I’ve done the math.

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  266. Terry, how is to say creation temporary anti-creational? Speaking of Paul, is he anti-creational for saying it’s passing away:

    “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self his being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

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  267. Zrim, what’s the context? Answer: “light and momentary afflictions”. Certainly, our sufferings are going away. And we do look forward to the new heavens and the new earth. Indeed this sinful age is passing away and all will be made new. I think you’re pressing too much out of this particular passage.

    From NICNT (Philip E. Hughes):

    The things seen of which Paul is speaking are precisely his obvious human frailty and suffering (the outward man that is decaying)–the very things that the man whose values are of this world alone most wishes to forget and to avoid, since they cast a haunting shadow over all his ambitions. In the world’s estimation the Apostle’s life was an unenviable failure–his conversion when in the full course of a brilliant career, his counting as loss the things that had been gain to him, his labours, journeyings, hardships, persecutions, and finally, his ignominious death as a despised martyr–for it is only the outward man that the world beholds. But Paul’s estimate is totally different, because his values are the direct antithesis of the world’s values. So far from being a disappointed man, his way is one of joy and power and hope beyond description. Despite afflictions, perplexities, and catastrophes, the Christian’s gaze is concentrated on the glory within and beyond; his treasure is not one earth, but in heaven, and there accordingly his heart is also; he knows himself to be united in destiny wit his risen and glorified Saviour, the supreme Suffferer, now everlastingly exalted above all principalities and power…he presses on toward the heavenly goal, gladly enduring the present tribulations in the assurance that they are, in contrast to the prize, temporary, fleeting, transient: they are the things seen, the affliction of the preceding verse which is only for the passing moment; whereas the things not seen are in one word the glory of the preceding verse, and like that glory they are eternal. “A moment is long”, says Calvin, “if we look at the things around us; but once we have raised our minds to heaven a thousand years begin to be like a moment.”

    My point is simply that there’s no general treatment of the relationship between Creation now and the New Heavens and the New Earth. The context is Paul’s afflictions.

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  268. Terry, I’d suggest Kingdom Prologue 68-82 and 153-79. This is taken from those pages:

    “Another way of saying this is that common grace culture is not itself the particular holy kingdom-temple culture that was mandated under the creational covenant. Although certain functional and institutional provisions of the original cultural mandate are resumed in the common grace order, these now have such a different orientation, particularly as to objectives, that one cannot simply and strictly say that it is the cultural mandate that is being implemented in the process of common grace culture. It might be closer to the truth to say that the cultural mandate of the original covenant in Eden is being carried out in the program of salvation, since the ultimate objective of that mandate, the holy kingdom-temple, will be the consummate achievement of Christ under the Covenant of Grace” (pp 156-7).

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  269. Terry, you (along with neo-Cals) refuse to hear the Bible’s otherworldiness:

    Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. (1 Corinthians 2:6 ESV)

    A voice says, “Cry!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
    All flesh is grass,
    and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
    The grass withers, the flower fades
    when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
    surely the people are grass.
    The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:6-8 ESV)

    “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)

    As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22 ESV)

    For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26 ESV)

    If this is fundamentalism, call me a fundie. And if you’re not a fundie, you’re a modernist. How do you like the antithesis now?

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  270. Terry – Darryl, not a drop of post-mill in me, let me assure you. The only guaranteed victory for our kingdom building efforts is the Parousia.

    Erik – What Grand Rapids neighborhood is that located in?

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  271. Terry, I think you’re pressing way too much out of the views being promoted around here. And trying way too hard. Come on, how can you seriously and plainly read the NT and not pick up on the transience of this age? But then how can you say of those that do they’re being anti-creational(!)?

    I don’t see how Hughes makes your case that 2kers are being anti-creational. It all looks good to me. But present afflictions are necessarily tied to the body of death. The point is simple: creation is at once very good but also passing away.

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  272. Zrim, the point I was making is that the immediate context is Paul’s sufferings and the transiency of those sufferings. I think that was Hughes’ point as well. It’s no text to develop a broad ontology for the age to come.

    Darryl, I know and agree with all those passages. I guess I’m a fundie too. (I am in the original sense!) Of course, this present sinful age is transient, temporary, ending when Christ comes again. But the new age has broken in already. We see in Jesus and his ministry and in the work of the Holy Spirit what the new age is like (although dimly).

    The duality is not Creation vs. Consummation, but this Present Age (an age where sin and death have dominion, where people don’t seek first the kingdom, where worldly (without God) wisdom and power are sought, where trust is in things and not God) vs. the Age to Come.

    You guys conflate Creation with world. Creation seems to be present pre-Fall (Genesis 1,2) and post-Consummation (Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21). Otherworldly means other-fallen-sinful-present-age-ly not other-creational-ly.

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  273. Terry, agreed that the duality is this age v. the age to come. But how you get from that the cultural goods of this age continuing on into the next is a puzzle. The gospel is anthropocentric, as in Jesus lived and died for his people alone, not his people and their stuff. Which brings me back to the point about neo-Calvinism being a sort of cultural variant of law-gospel confusion. Maybe a new sola is needed in the age of neo-Calvinism, one running in the direction of the target of salvation.

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  274. Zrim, I know Darryl hates it, but the relevant word here is “cosmic”. The gospel isn’t anthropocentric–is cosmocentric. That’s why your view is fundamentally anti-creational. Creation was not meant to last. Can’t for the life of me see where you get that.

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  275. Terry, don’t laugh, but here’s the test of your expansive theory of cosmo-redemption: Who are made baptized and communicant members of the church, only people or people and their created stuff? I’m guessing you’d say only people. This isn’t to deny that all of creation groans for all things to be made new, but there is an order to redemption and it begins with the imago Dei. Don’t jump the redemptive gun, sir neo.

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  276. Zrim, no argument with the idea that the redeemed people of God are people.

    But some day even the pots and pans will have “Holy to the Lord” written on them. I’m also willing to admit that the effects of the Fall are worse the closer they are to human sin/curse. In other words I think that beliefs that carnivory or entropy (2nd Law of Thermodynamics) are the result of the Fall are unwarranted. How the Fall and Redemption affect atomic structure, I can’t say. Wolters gets at it, I think, when he speaks of structure and direction.

    Erik, I have no reason to think that Mars won’t be part of the New Heavens and the New Earth. We’ll probably colonize as part of our continued cultural enterprise.

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  277. Terry,

    So you’re saying Mars WILL be the kind of place you can raise your kids and will no longer, in fact, be as cold as hell?

    I’m starting to think you come from there…

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  278. And all this science I don’t understand; It’s just my job… Did you see the EJ concert at the iTunes Festival last summer? Good show!

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  279. Terry,

    I did not. I may see Steely Dan live for the first time this summer in Kansas City, though.

    I remember walking through the Iowa State Center parking lot with my wife and young daughter in the early to mid-1990s while Elton John & Billy Joel played a concert in the football stadium. In the span of a few years Ames had Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and those two in that Stadium. Since they put grass in instead of artificial turf they don’t to that any more, apparently.

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  280. Terry, so if creation is as good as your anti-creation vs. consummation hermeneutic intends, then why do we need to redeem culture. You seem to vacillate between the creation needs salvation and the creation doesn’t need it (to show that 2kers are anti-creation).

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  281. Terry, have you ever looked at Calvin on all those cosmic passages that give neo-Cals the heebie-jeebies? He doesn’t think that cosmic refers to parts of creation that lack souls. The cosmic refers to men and angels for Calvin. I guess that’s why you’re neo.

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  282. Terry, that people are people wasn’t the idea. It was that Jesus lived and died for his people–not pots and pans and trees and fish and culture and politics.

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  283. Terry, so pots and pans do not now have “holy to the Lord” written on them? Do we have instructions from the Lord to put those words on pots and pans now? But I thought all creation belonged to the Lord already. So again, why does it need our help?

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  284. The really interesting question is what heaven will be like if there is no comedy, tragedy, or drama. The fact that those genres are compelling hangs on the brokenness of humanity (and creation).

    Is it fun to bowl if you get a 300 every time?

    Is it fun to apply for a job and get it if you had no chance of not getting it?

    Are angels ever bored?

    How heaven will be is beyond my understanding. Hell I can understand very well because it will likely bear some similarity to the pains of this life.

    One thing I am trying to focus on as I age is rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn. That has a small glimpse of heaven in it, I think.

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  285. Darryl, don’t forget that there is a Fall in between Creation and Redemption. It’s only the Fallen part that needs redeemed. Structure & Direction. Certainly, lots of direction needs to be fixed especially when people are involved.

    For the believer, “holy to the Lord” is on all things (‘all of life”) since we recognize by faith that the New Age has broken into this Old Age. Do 2k-ers not hold to the “now and the not yet” eschatological formulation (or is everything “not yet”).

    Not sure why you speak of things “needing our help”. God’s doing this stuff by His Word and Spirit usually through the agency of His people. (Just as the work of the Church occurs by His Word and Spirit through the agency of those who He has gifted.) Apparently, God “needs” our help in fulfilling the Great Commission too. Ordinary means are the main way He accomplishes the propagation of the Gospel and the restoration/redemption of all things. Our full redemption (our glorification) and the Consummation of all things comes only at the Lord’s appearing.

    I’ll check out what Calvin says. Do you have a list of cosmic passages to help me out? Do the heavens that declare the glory of God have a soul? Does the groaning Creation have a soul?

    Erik, I’m not sure bowling less than 300 is a result of the Fall. We’ll still be creatures. We won’t be omniscient. I’m not sure I can envision what life will be like without sin and communing perfectly with God. It will be glorious.

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  286. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, you keep forgetting judgment day, where I do believe I will have Christ’s righteousness. You?

    Whose Calvinism then?

    Not yours, I hope, Dr. Dirty Mouth. Mercy.

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  287. erik, maybe one long wedding feast of lamb?

    It is truly hard to imagine what life will be like without a telos in view. Right now, all of history is moving in a direction. Even secularists like vd, t agree (though I heard an interview yesterday on Mars Hill Audio with Douglas Rushkoff who celebrates a lack of narrative across the board — yikes!). But I can’t imagine an existence without and end to compliment and complete beginning and middle. But just because we can’t imagine it, it doesn’t make it bad. It does indicate, though, how little the postmills and continuityists think about the changes that may come. As if the new heavens and new earth are going to be like a night on the town — great meal followed by great theater — only better. Sheesh.

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  288. Terry, so which parts of creation need to be redeemed if the heavens declare the glory of God? Why all the talk about redeeming creation or redeeming culture? You are still having it both ways. If you want to talk about redeeming persons, great. But neo-Cals are never content with that allegedly fundamentalist understanding. They want to make Christ Lord of every square inch, as if he isn’t already. Who are the ones with little faith on that one?

    And if God is redeeming all of creation by word and spirit, how exactly do trees, television, or biology hear — as in how shall they hear without a preacher?

    You have to think this through. Repeating shibboleths and leading the cheers is getting old (though it still works for those in need of inspiration).

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  289. On heaven, another thing that’s hard to comprehend is if/how winning and losing will work. One of the things that makes the U.S. a relatively great place to live is competition. It makes us better. If I run a race I have to put in a lot of hard work preparing. On race day, maybe all my hard work pays off and I win. Everyone else loses. That bothers them so they go out and work harder, which makes them better. I have to respond by working harder as well, which makes me better. How does this change if we all tie and will always continue to tie? It’s like eternal tee-ball.

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  290. Terry, yes, 2kers are mostly amil and so affirm the semi-eschatological formulation of already-not-yet. But contra neo-Calvinism, the already is anthropocentric and the not yet cosmological. And anticipating the personal holiness pietists, even the already in the anthropocentric is tempered by the not yet, as in HC 114:

    Q: But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?

    A. No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.

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  291. Re all this speculation of the new heavens and earth, no eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind conceived. That’s good news.

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  292. Zrim,

    But Terry seems to think he has a pretty good idea how it will look. Lots of continuity. That’s difficult for me to comprehend. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t lived in Grand Rapids?

    I did do some time in Orange City that I enjoyed, though.

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  293. Erik, exactly. Neo-Calvinism is the Reformed version of prosperity gospel for the culturalists. But I can tell you that Little Geneva is no better or worse than any other place, though I remained convinced its inhabitants are among the better looking.

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  294. EC- “One thing I am trying to focus on as I age is rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn. That has a small glimpse of heaven in it, I think.”

    Amen, brother.

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  295. zrim; Re all this speculation of the new heavens and earth, no eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind conceived. That’s good news.

    Especially when i first look at the kooks that are telling me what they are demanding of the DIvinity for the next world.

    ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay….

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  296. Zrim,

    Though I agree with your point, that passage from I Cor 2, “the eye has not see” etc., concerns our present blessings in Christ we experience and enjoy now. v. 10 – “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit” (though obviously there is a fuller enjoyment of these in heaven)

    Calvin on I Cor 2:8&9 “But what has this to do,” some one will say, “with spiritual doctrine, and the promises of eternal life, as to which Paul is here arguing?…”There were no inconsistency in affirming that the Prophet, having made mention of earthly blessings, was in consequence of this led on to make a general statement, and even to extol that spiritual blessedness which is laid up in heaven for believers. I prefer, however, to understand him simply as referring to those gifts of God’s grace that are daily conferred upon believers.

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  297. Thanks, MM. I’ll include that in my post. I am going to paste the whole post here (although I continue to add to it) for those who don’t want to go to the link:

    This morning I rolled into church late (tried to avoid driving in a thunderstorm) and I noticed a copy of the 3/26/14 issue of “Christian Renewal” on the table in the entryway. I like the magazine and try to keep up with it as best I can (in other words, without paying for it — call me cheap).

    On pages 13-14 the always good Glenda Mathes had a story, “Short Meeting for URC Classis Central US”. Ho-hum stuff, right? Wrong.

    Not that I ever look at materials like this during the service. O.K., I do. If I was at all drowsy this morning, this passage of the article woke me up in a hurry:

    “Classis met earlier than its regularly scheduled date (March 3-4, 2014) in order to vote on five overtures prior to the deadline for synodical materials. Three came from Covenant Reformed in Pella…(on the next page) The third overture from Pella requested clarification of the status of the Three Forms of Unity and consisted of two affirmations that delegates considered separately. The first called for Synod to affirm the Three Forms of Unity as they appear in the 1976 version of the Psalter Hymnal. The second called for Synod to affirm the ‘substitute statement,’ which appeared as a footnote in the 1958 version of the Belgic Confession Article 36, ‘as part of its confessional binding.’ Rev. (Doug) Barnes explained that the footnote had been approved by the CRCNA Synod of 1958, but the temporary footnote was used while awaiting feedback from other Reformed churches.”

    Wow.

    Mathes continues, “The first affirmation passed with a few negative votes, while the second passed without dissent. The above four overtures will now be forwarded to the federation’s Stated Clerk for inclusion on the agenda for Synod Visalia 2014.”

    Wow.

    O.K., so what’s this all about?

    As background, the overture, although coming from Covenant Reformed in Pella, may have resulted from a dustup that Elder Mark Van Der Molen had last summer on D.G. Hart’s Old Life Theological Society blog:

    https://oldlife.org/2013/06/van-der-molen-pulls-up-and-chats-a-while/

    Hart’s post, links to Van Der Molen’s posts, and the close to 300 comments that follow all shed some light on the controversy revolving around Belgic 36.

    Belgic 36 is entitled “Of the Magistrate” the issue at hand is what we as URCNA pastors and officers (and members, to a lesser extent), believe to be the responsibilities of the Civil Magistrate (the government) concerning the promotion of “true religion”. As with the Westminster Standards, there is a long history of how this question has been answered, most of the difficulty being generated from the American context of freedom of religion.

    The difficult paragraph is paragraph 2. In the 1976 Psalter it reads:

    “Their (the Magistrate’s) office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect the sacred ministry, that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, as He commands in His Word.”

    So what is the Magistrate to do?

    (1) Have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state (everyone agrees on this)
    (2) Protect the sacred ministry that the kingdom of Christ may be promoted (note that the sacred ministry is promoting the kingdom of Christ, not the magistrate)
    (3) Countenance (verb – “admit as acceptable or possible”) the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, as He commands in His Word.

    Note that this article as rendered in the 1976 Psalter has a distinct Two-Kingdoms flavor to it. The magistrate is to “protect” and “countenance”, but not “do” or “promote” the work of the church.

    Now the asterisk and the footnote.

    In the 1976 Psalter there is an asterisk by this paragraph:

    * In the original text (meaning the text that Guido de Bres wrote back in 1561) this sentence read as follows: “Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also that they protect the sacred ministry, and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship, that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted.”

    Whoa.

    The 1976 Psalter does not editorialize on this directly, but does go onto discuss the 1958 “substitute statement” (i.e., the footnote) that I will get to in a minute.

    According to my notes on Article 36 in the version of the Belgic put out by the Oceanside and Pasadena (California) URCNA congregations, “The Synod of 1905 of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Synod of 1958 of the Christian Reformed Church in North America deleted the above sentence for being unbiblical.”

    Unbiblical? Why?

    Note the ACTIVE role the magistrate is taking — not just “protect”, but “remove”, “prevent all idolatry”, “(prevent) false worship” — in destroying the kingdom of antichrist and promoting the kingdom of Christ.

    The question is, what qualifications does the magistrate have to decide what idolatry and true worship are, especially in the context of a country in which freedom of religion is guaranteed? How is the Magistrate to know what the “kingdom of antichrist” consists of and what the “kingdom of Christ” consists of? Who will be advising him? Reformed ministers? Catholic bishops? Mormons? Muslims? You see the problem?

    The revision was definitely an acknowledgment of the fact that there are indeed two kingdoms. We want the magistrate only involved in the kingdom of Christ passively, not actively.

    So what about the footnote?

    The 1976 Psalter goes on:

    “The Synod of 1958 approved the following substitute statement which has been referred to other Reformed Churches accepting the Belgic Confession as their creed for evaluation and reaction: “And being called in this manner to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, in subjection to the law of God, while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them, to remove every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship, in order that the Word of God may have free course, the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress, and every anti-Christian power may be resisted.”

    Double wow.

    Right now no one subscribes to this “substitute statement” or “footnote”. Note that it was “referred to other Reformed Churches…for evaluation and reaction.” O.K., so what was the outcome? Obviously the process was not complete as of 1976 (18 years later) or the footnote would have gone away and the “new” Belgic 36 would have just been printed in the Psalter.

    So we now just fast forward another 38 years and complete the CRC’s work?

    Are Two Kingdoms opponents just hoping to slip this through and use it as a tool to silence pastors and elders in the URCNA that have 2K sympathies?

    Maybe I should slow down for a minute and analyze what the substitute statement actually says:

    (1) “And being called in this manner”

    What does this mean? Called (by God?) “in this manner” (what manner?)

    (2) “to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God”

    What does “advancement” mean? To what extent is God “pleased” or “displeased” by “society”?

    (3) “the civil rulers have the task, in subjection to the law of God, while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority”

    So we (or the Bible?) are giving the magistrate a “task” (active, not passive?), we are demanding that he is “in subjection to the law of God”, but we’re hedging and insisting that he must refrain from exercising “absolute authority” (keep in mind this was drafted during the Cold War).

    (4) “and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them”

    “Sphere” is a loaded, Kuyperian term? Can we just assume people understand what is meant?

    (5) “to remove every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship”

    “Remove” – active, not passive

    “every obstacle” – Are insufficient funds for church planting and missions an obstacle that the magistrate has to remove? Is the Mormon church next door and the Roman Catholic church down the street an obstacle? Is the evangelical church across town that does not hold to the Regulative Principle disobeying an important “aspect of divine worship”?

    (6) “in order that the Word of God may have free course, the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress, and every anti-Christian power may be resisted.”

    Do we want the Word of God to have free course, the kingdom of Jesus Christ to make progress, and every anti-Christian power to be resisted? We do.

    Do we want this to be done through the church with the magistrate merely “protecting” and “countenancing” the ministry as we now affirm?

    Or do we want this to be done through the church with the magistrate “removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship”?

    Bearing in mind that the prior paragraph of Belgic 36 affirms that “(God) has invested the magistracy with the sword for the punishment of evil-doers and for the protection of them that do well,” what exactly are we willing to affirm? Think of the magistrate as a pit bull off of its leash – he could lick your hand or he could bite it off. He has the power to build up but he also has the power to tear down — to tax, to kill, to destroy.

    These were life and death matters in times past, with our Reformed fathers & mothers often the ones experiencing death at the hands of magistrates who were ACTIVE and not PASSIVE with regards to the promotion of true religion.

    Now in our times they are likely not life & death matters. The Magistrate is not asking our opinion and the principle of freedom of religion is firmly entrenched (at least in the USA). What is at stake however, is Confessional subscription and perhaps the livelihoods of pastors and seminary professors who may have stronger Two Kingdoms view than the proposed revision allows. Imagine a candidacy exam, ordination exam, or colloquium doctum in a Classis that contains a majority of elders and ministers with anti-Two Kingdoms views. Is this the hill that we want to force these candidates to die on?

    Well-meaning elders and elder candidates could also be restricted from serving because of what many consider to be more an issue of politics than of biblical theology. Is this right?

    There is also the question of how a revised Article 36 could be used in church discipline against an officer or member holding “incorrect” political views. While URCNA members (as opposed to officers) do not technically “subscribe” to the Confession, they do vow in “Public Profession of Faith Form Number 2” (also in the 1976 Psalter) that “the Bible is the Word of God revealing Christ and his redemption, and that THE CONFESSIONS OF THIS CHURCH faithfully reflect this revelation”.

    In this age of MSNBC and Fox News when seemingly every issue takes on political implications in the eyes of many, even our church officers can get wrapped up in this mindset. In reading “Christian Renewal”, which is published by “The Abraham Kuyper Christian Citizen Foundation” one sees the theological and the political often being conflated. Imagine an elder, a consistory, and the majority of a classis that are politically charged. The elder is speaking to a church member about a politician who, because of his position on the issues, the elder feels is “advancing a society that is pleasing to God” and “helping the kingdom of God advance.” The church member is maybe not political, is a member of a different political party, or just disagrees on principle that this is something that she need to be concerned about and tells the elder so. Say the elder takes offense and reports the matter to the consistory. Under a revised Article 36 is this an offense by the member that could lead to church discipline and even eventually being barred from the table if Classis is sympathetic?

    What direction are we heading?

    Clear the agenda of Synod Visalia 2014 if this is to receive the debate it deserves.

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  298. This is pretty funny (from page 40 of the Agenda for Synod):

    “Although CRCNA synodical decisions are not automatically binding upon the URCNA, most of our churches do have their origins in the CRCNA; and we have by no means repudiated our entire ecclesiastical history.”

    Not sure if we want to go down that road…

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  299. I think the proponents of this overture think this is a silver bullet that is going to put an end to the 2K menace once and for all. In reality it’s more like a foam bullet that your kid irritates you with by shooting it at your beer can from across the living room.

    So the Synod of 1958 “approved” it, but then “referred (it) to other Reformed Churches accepting the Belgic Confession as their creed for evaluation and reaction.” I guess it was never fully settled, then.

    What, did the letters get lost in the mail? It was 18 years later that the 1976 Psalter was published (still with the footnote) and it’s 56 years later now. Good luck finding the officers of those other churches now. Check the nursing homes in Grand Rapids, Orange City, and wherever Presbyterians and RCUS members go when they are very old. Most are long since in the grave.

    Is there no written record of this “evaluation and reaction”? Maybe they told them that the previous revision to Belgic 36 was sufficient and it was embarrassing to revise it yet again. Maybe they told them they didn’t care? Who knows.

    The proponents of the overture are making arguments based on questionable circumstantial evidence and from silence. Is this really how we are going to do business in Christ’s Church?

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  300. Going back to the CRC archives to settle our disputes.

    This is like breaking up with a girl and calling her 5 years later and asking if you can come by to pick up that shirt and pair of sunglasses that you left at her pad back in the day.

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  301. I went to the CRC website to look for their current version of the Belgic (it ain’t easy to find). Look at the hash they’ve made out of it:

    “Article 36: The Civil Government

    We believe that
    because of the depravity of the human race,
    our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers.
    God wants the world to be governed by laws and policies
    so that human lawlessness may be restrained
    and that everything may be conducted in good order
    among human beings.

    For that purpose God has placed the sword
    in the hands of the government,
    to punish evil people
    and protect the good.

    [RCA only*
    And the government’s task is not limited
    to caring for and watching over the public domain
    but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry,
    with a view to removing and destroying
    all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist;
    to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ;
    and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere;
    to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone,
    as he requires in his Word.]

    [CRC only**
    And being called in this manner
    to contribute to the advancement of a society
    that is pleasing to God,
    the civil rulers have the task,
    subject to God’s law,
    of removing every obstacle
    to the preaching of the gospel
    and to every aspect of divine worship.
    They should do this
    while completely refraining from every tendency
    toward exercising absolute authority,
    and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them,
    with the means belonging to them.
    They should do it in order that
    the Word of God may have free course;
    the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress;
    and every anti-Christian power may be resisted.]

    Moreover everyone,
    regardless of status, condition, or rank,
    must be subject to the government,
    and pay taxes,
    and hold its representatives in honor and respect,
    and obey them in all things that are not in conflict
    with God’s Word,
    praying for them
    that the Lord may be willing to lead them
    in all their ways
    and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life
    in all piety and decency.

    [RCA only***
    And on this matter we reject the Anabaptists, anarchists,
    and in general all those who want
    to reject the authorities and civil officers
    and to subvert justice
    by introducing common ownership of goods
    and corrupting the moral order
    that God has established among human beings.]

    * The Reformed Church in America retains the original full text, choosing to recognize that the confession was written within a historical context which may not accurately describe the situation that pertains today.

    **Synod 1958 of the Christian Reformed Church replaced the aforementioned paragraph with the following three paragraphs (in brackets).

    ***The RCA retains this final paragraph of the original Article 36, choosing to recognize that the confession was written within a historical context which may not accurately describe the situation that pertains today. Synod 1985 of the CRC directed that this paragraph be taken from the body of the text and placed in a footnote.”

    Roman Catholics are laughing at us.

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  302. Gosh, let’s partner up with another church (the RCA) on the Confessions who leaves in the original language that we’ve explicitly rejected as unbiblical, but then say it’s o.k. because they are ignoring it anyway.

    What the heck is that?

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  303. Also in the 3/26/14 issue of “Christian Renewal” is an article by William B. (Bill) Evans, “The Two-Kingdoms Theology and Christians Today”. It’s an expansion of a blog post by Evans that I think we have discussed here.

    http://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/the-two-kingdoms-theology-and-christians-today/

    The article includes head shots of the usual 2K bogeyman suspects — Horton, Van Drunen, and Hart (with offsetting photos of Kuyper, Van Til, and Schaeffer).

    The piece is 4 pages long including footnotes and — surprise — 2K is weighed and found wanting.

    Until these guys are willing to do the heavy lifting they will always be behind the eight ball, though, because no one has truly put in the work to counter Van’s Drunen’s magnum opus on the topic, “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms – A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought” (still at $22 used on Amazon — which is a compliment to its staying power).

    There have been polemical respsonses, and responses, and responses – but no lengthy, serious, piece of scholarly work to contend with Van Drunen the longer.

    As long as the Neocalvinists try to fight this in the press, on blogs, and with overtures that try to win on a flimsy technicality, any “victory” they win will be Pyrrhic.

    Who is going to step up for them and do the hard work?

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  304. I lived in GR for 11 years, worked at Calvin, attended Harvest OPC, homeschooled my kids (we sent my oldest to GR Christian schools during our last three years there. We Iived near Plymouth Heights CRC (but with large RCA, PCUSA, Baptist, PR, Lutheran, and Catholic churches in my immediate neighborhood. I never once felt like I was in Little Geneva, Little Amsterdam, Cromwell’s England, or Mecca. Maybe the GR Press had more religion coverage than many newspapers, but GR didn’t strike me as that different from other places I’ve lived–rural Indiana, West Lafayette, IN, Eugene, OR, College Station, TX, Fort Collins, CO. Sure, there were more Reformed churches around. And the Christian schools were well established and well endowed, but the Catholic schools were there and the public schools. Calvin didn’t dominate the community the way Colorado State dominates Fort Collins. I realize that Zrim talks very differently about west Michigan, but I wonder why his experience is different. Perhaps since I’m not ethnically Dutch and had no extended family in the area is part of it. But I don’t see anything like an Abraham Kuyper Netherlands in GR or west Michigan.

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  305. Terry, I use the term lovingly (because from this Slav’s point of view the Dutch aren’t just good looking but also salt of the earth). But that’s my point as well–no different from any other place. And so what is all this cultural redemption business supposed to mean when the Kuyperians have inhabited a place for so long and it still looks like any other created place? It begins to look like a lot of religious theory that doesn’t do much more than puff up its adherents’ sense of sanctified self.

    ps your time line must’ve been different. Ours was the Plymouth Heights neighborhood as well, but I don’t recall any large PRs.

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  306. I’m going to bed. I’ll leave you with this: My 7:09 post is either really good or I’ve been spending too much time at Jesse Pinkman’s house.

    We’ll see how it reads in the morning.

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  307. Zrim, Southeast PR church, just north of Boston, west of Plymouth. We lived at 1747 Woodward SE near the corner of Griggs and Woodward. We lived in GR from 1986 to 1997.

    Interesting expectations, you all have. It still seems you all think in terms of theonomy and theocracy. Think more in terms of Kuyperian pillarization. There will be alternative institutions: schools, colleges, hospitals, newspapers, recreational leagues, labor unions, etc. These will exist side by side with other such institutions. Of course, if you start your town from scratch, there’s only one pillar. But, if you share your community with people from other worldviews (or even denominations) then there will be “others”. Nowadays such arrangements are viewed disparagingly as “ghettos”–even by the Dutch in GR.

    Unfortunately, there is huge wooden shoes (ethnic Dutch) piece to this. My experience at Calvin was that people didn’t know the difference between being Dutch and being Reformed. Burning the wooden shoes meant throwing out Reformed theology. As the west Michigan Dutch Americanized, they drifted toward American evangelicalism–hence, where the CRC is today.

    Separation of church and state, American civil religion, public schools, English-language, and now popular culture (movies, TV, radio, etc.) all lead to the melting pot commons. I think you are all mistaken to say that neo-Calvinism failed to produce anything distinctive. The CRC gave up on distinctive neo-Calvinism (in any meaningful institutional sense) decades ago. What we have today is an individualized, transformationalist perspective. Everyone acts as salt and light in their own neighborhoods and work places.

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  308. Terry – The CRC gave up on distinctive neo-Calvinism (in any meaningful institutional sense) decades ago. What we have today is an individualized, transformationalist perspective. Everyone acts as salt and light in their own neighborhoods and work places.

    Erik – Two quiz questions:

    Who’s the most influential filmmaker to come out of the CRC?

    Who’s the most influential novelist to come out of the CRC?

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  309. Terry, it sounds as if you may have similar criticisms of the CRC but no way to explain the drift toward eeeevangelicalism, except to tie it to cultural assimilation. The alternative is to remain hunkered down in the wooden shoes and Wilhelmina Peppermints (like CVT said, in our isolation is our strength). But try 2k. The quest for cultural relevance at the expense of doctrinal faithfulness will inevitably co-mingle with American-made eeeevangelicalism. 2k let’s religious ethnic groups assimilate while remaining religiously confessional.

    And maybe it will help to think of hard neo-Calvinism (theonomy and theocracy) as outside-in redemptive transformationalism, while soft neo-Calvinism is inside-out. But it’s all on the spectrum of cultural relevancy. But if you want to keep going with the glories of neo-Calvinism despite its on-the-ground failure, you sound like a throwback Stalinist wanting Mother Russia to try again and this time do it right. Um, ok.

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  310. Zrim, we walk by faith and not by sight. Culture matters because God made it. That’s really all there is too it.

    And I will not concede that theocracy and theonomy are any sort of extension of neo-Calvinism.

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  311. Tery, oh, well, if that’s all there is to it then I guess neo-Calvinism is orthodoxy. But do you have to sound so fundy about it?

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  312. Zrim, no intention to cut off discussion with my comment, but, really, that’s the bottom line. You guys (it’s quite evident in Darryl’s post today on Kloosterman) don’t seem to think of culture as part of God’s Creation. It is merely human achievement. One of the insights of the neo-Calvinists, in my opinion, is that human culture making is the unfolding of God’s Creative work. As culture develops it lives into the God ordained law structures for Creation (although marred with sin now) just as much as mathematical/physical/chemical/biological law. People work certain God-created ways (psychology); societies work in certain God-created ways (sociology); commerce works in certain God-created ways (economics), music and the visual arts work in certain God=created ways (aesthetics); etc. It’s not merely human achievement. It is God’s Creation.

    It does seem to me that you all say you are Creation (and, hence, culture) affirming even though you think it’s all going away. Doesn’t DVD say somewhere that we should be polishing the sinking ship? I suppose that’s akin to Luther saying that if he knew the Lord was returning today that he would plant a tree. I disagree with the ethereal eschatology (and think that it’s a misreading of Creation into Paul’s words rather than the Present Fallen Age), but why the continual hacking away at the cultural enterprise as if it’s not important, when you acknowledge it’s present importance and value? (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

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  313. Terry,

    Do you find people raised in the Dutch Reformed milieu to be especially culturally savvy?

    I asked you who the most influential filmmaker and novelist were to come out of the CRC and you didn’t answer. I’ll answer for you: Paul Schrader and Peter DeVries.

    The irony is that their cultural relevance rose as their distance from the CRC increased. What are we to make of that?

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  314. I’m one of the most culture-engaging conservative Presbyterian & reformed church members and officers you will find — probably to a fault. And do you want to know what I’ve learned over the past decade? Culture has little to do with the gospel. I like it because I like it, but it’s not because I infuse it with deep theological meaning.

    This is what makes Scripture, Christ , and the gospel unique. They’re unlike anything else.

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  315. Terry, where would you get the idea that culture is not a part of God’s creation? As you say, the idea is that it’s very good but fleeting.

    I don’t know about Van Drunen and polishing sinking ships. But Hart has a well kept little piece which has always captured it nicely. Where he writes politics think culture (since they both comport under creation):

    A different way of putting it is to say that liturgical Protestantism represents a way for Protestant believers to support the wall between church and state. By looking for religious significance not in this world but in the world to come, liturgical Protestantism lowers the stakes for public life while still affirming politics’ divinely ordained purpose. The public square loses some of its importance but retains its dignity. It is neither ultimately good nor inherently evil; politics becomes merely a divinely appointed means for restraining evil while the church as an institution goes about its holy calling.

    IOW, it’s about putting temporal life into eternal perspective, dialing down the expectations for what this world can yield, moderating our hopes in the very goodness of creation. I really don’t understand why this should be so hard for those who conceive themselves as conservative. Seems like it should strike a resonating tone. But that it doesn’t may say something more about the hearer than the writer?

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~edgoodwi/Hart.html

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  316. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, you keep forgetting judgment day, where I do believe I will have Christ’s righteousness. You?

    Whose Calvinism then?

    Tom Van Dyke
    Posted April 27, 2014 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Not yours, I hope, Dr. Dirty Mouth. Mercy.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 27, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink
    vd, t, “mercy.”

    wow.

    How could I take my salvation for granted, let alone brag on it, my brother? Luke 18:9. I take all this quite seriously.

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  317. Erik, no answer doesn’t mean ignorance FWIW. Making it big in secular culture isn’t necessarily the goal and isn’t necessarily reflective of neo-Calvinist success. Neither Schrader nor DeVries escapes his Calvinist roots, but I’m not sure they represent robust neo-Calvinism.

    Zrim, I really don’t think you can have it both ways, but you and Darryl are living proof to the contrary–so I’ll take your word for it that somehow it can be done. I think I’d consider a “secular” career to be a waste of time and life if I thought it were all going away. After all, it would be merely a means to an end. Perhaps I could think of it as a way to support myself, my family, and the church while focusing my attention on the things that count: the church, God’s Word, prayer, facilitating missions and evangelism. To be honest if I thought that way, I’m pretty sure I would have pursued the pastoral ministry. Really, who wants to waste their life polishing a sinking ship? (I really thought I left all that behind when I embraced Reformed Christianity.) It seems like the ultimate in pragmatism: polish the sinking ship so the church can get along as well as she can in this evil age while the full number of God’s elect are found.

    Perhaps that’s not what you all are saying. But that’s sure what I’m hearing. (I’m sure I’ll get hung for wanting significance in my life, but that’s part of bearing God’s image, I’d say.)

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  318. Here is DVD’s statement on brass polishing:

    “At this point I pause for a moment to reflect on a common misconception about the proper Christian attitude toward cultural endeavors. Many recent books on Christianity and culture target sayings such as “you don’t polish the brass on a sinking ship,” which some people use to denigrate cultural work based upon the idea that it’s all about to be destroyed anyway. Such sayings are indeed unhelpful and misleading, and recent books are correct to look for a different perspective. But often the alternative that writers present is that the ship is not sinking at all. The ship is our everlasting home and is being transformed through redemption in Christ, and thus our cultural efforts to improve the ship are fashioning the new creation itself. As considered in chapter 3, however, “the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31). Our cultural activities—like marriage and commerce (1 Cor. 7:29–30)—are honorable. They have eternal consequences in that God will recognize our good deeds on the last day and give to us our due (e.g., 2 Cor. 5:9–10). But our cultural products themselves are not meant to endure into the world-to-come. They belong to the stuff of the present world. Contrary to what some people suggest, we are to spend time on things that do not last. We are like the Israelite exiles, who built homes and planted gardens in Babylon, though they knew they would leave there after seventy years.”

    Living in God’s Two Kingdoms (p. 166).

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  319. Terry, why don’t you have a middle category (aside from some actual consistency — culture is God’s but then it becomes “human culture making” — this is Jesuitical)? Creation is good but it’s not ultimate or holy. I’m a sinner and to die is gain, but no confessional Protestant advocates that I take my life. You pose only two alternatives. And if you were smart about culture, you might see there are more than two. But then the antithesis kicks in and it’s all either-or. And we’re the fundamentalists!?!

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  320. Terry, “I think I’d consider a “secular” career to be a waste of time and life if I thought it were all going away.”

    Say hello to fundamentalism AGAIN. So if your neighbor is a non-Christian and they are just going to go away (ultimately), what’s the point of being a friend and neighbor? Either you evangelize them so you can have a Christian neighbor, or you think a non-Christian neighbor is pointless.

    Wow.

    I know you didn’t say that directly. But it is an implication of your view of culture.

    And by the way, you are not being very biblical. You have just removed Ecclesiastes from the Neo-Calvinist canon. And you know what, Klineans know how to read Ecclesiastes (thanks to Meredith Kline the younger).

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  321. RL, “We are to spend time on things that do not last.” Like our bodies. I exercise and watch what I eat even though I know I’m wasting away. I honor God’s creation. THIS IS ALL ABOUT MEEEEEE!!!!!!!

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  322. Terry,

    How about just working hard to pay our bills and raise our families because God tells us to?

    And pastoral ministry does not take place without us working stiffs paying the minister and keeping the church lights on.

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