If the South Had Called a Referendum

Instead of firing on Fort Sumter, would the Confederate States have had a better chance of declaring their independence (like Jefferson did in 1776) if they had followed the lead of the Scots and simply voted. I understand that elections are not always decisive as the imbroglio between Russia and Ukraine attests. But a peaceful vote to leave a union may have worked. After all, if the Scots can do it after over three centuries of being governed by London, why couldn’t the South have departed after a mere seven decades of “more perfect” union?

I write this from Edinburgh in a postage stamp of a hotel room that is smack dab in the middle of a city that is amazingly beautiful (and even boasts a statue of Thomas Chalmers). If Scotland secedes, will Edinburgh become less beautiful? And what will happen to all the royal bits of Edinburgh? You can’t walk fifty meters (however long that is) and not see something that was opened by British royalty or land owned or granted by a prince, queen or king. I hear that if Scotland secedes, the Prince of Wales will become the King of Scotland. That sounds like a put down for the Scots, as if a mere prince among the Welsh is the equivalent of a monarch in Scotland. Then again, if it means that the Stuarts don’t return to the thrown, I am for Prince Charles.

David Robertson, a Free Church of Scotland pastor, thinks that ministers — in good 2k fashion — should not preach about secession, nor should the church adopt a stance:

. . . the Free Church does not ,and will not take a stance either for or against independence. Why? Because the Bible says nothing about it and we are here to teach the bible. In applying Gods word to our current society there is nothing in it that would tell us we should vote yes or we should vote no. Each has to be persuaded in their own mind. The Church should not make pronouncements on issues for which it has no scriptural warrant. These are my personal opinions and I hope I would never proclaim them from the pulpit as though they had the authority of Gods Word.

That’s an encouraging word from a man normally inclined to follow Tim Keller on holy urbanism. It shows how sensible 2k is. The church only says that the Bible says — and even then, you need to read the entire Bible in the entire perspective of God’s plan of redemption. So while monarchy was (not so) great for the Israelites and while emperors were honorable for (even while torturing) the apostles, the rest of Christian history leaves believers to make it up as they go.

But after jumping out with such a promising start, Pastor Robertson can’t help himself. He believes — seriously — that nationalism can be redeemed:

I am somewhat bemused by people who warn about the evils of nationalism when it is Scottish, but seem to think it is ok when it is British. As the Mangalwadi quote at the start of this article states, nationalism when yoked to the reforming power of the Bible, can become a powerful redemptive force. At the end of the day – that is what I will work for, whether in an independent Scotland or a dependent Britain.

It is hard to know where to begin or end with this opinion. But for the sake of blogging’s brevity, I’ll keep it short. First, what does Pastor Robertson make of all the nationalism in twentieth-century Europe and the wars of global proportions it unleashed? It’s one thing to be patriotic (a form of loyalty to the land of one’s fathers), but another to wrap up a people’s identity along national lines. What would become of non-Scots in an independent Scotland? That is not an impolite question given Europe’s history.

Second, why does adding the Bible or salvation to something that has such a dubious record — nationalism, urbanism, theater, mathematics (plumbing is fine) — make it better? The record of mixing religion and nationalism is a narrative of the gross excesses of civil religion. And civil religion is a betrayal of the gospel because Jesus did not rise again to save the members of the Church of England or the Church of Scotland or even the Free Church of Scotland. Churches having to negotiate national boundaries is part of the business of Christian ministry in this age. But turning national boundaries and jurisdictions into redemptive purposes is an example of every-square-inch naivete.

136 thoughts on “If the South Had Called a Referendum

  1. The South did vote; each state held secession conventions. That’s when Lincoln turned Fort Sumpter around to threaten Charleston battery.

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  2. Of course, a whole segment of the population was not heard from in those conventions. I only mention it because secession didn’t start out as war as the post seems to imply.

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  3. The South has valuable resources and would be too tempting a target to ignore.

    Unlike certain portions of the UK.

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  4. Ministers in the Free Church may fancy that this is not an issue addressed by the Bible, but the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (2012 synod report) recognizes, as does the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) (2014 general assembly report), that abrogating the Treaty of Union of 1707 is not only in bad faith of a lawful covenant, but will, in lieu of any proposed constitutional securities for Christian religion (which Scotland presently enjoys on paper as part of the U.K.), only further the secularization of Scottish society. As the FCC report notes (p. 111),

    The Treaty of Union is a civil covenant, agreed between man and man, but it is nonetheless binding for that. We regard these words of Paul as relevant: ‘Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disanulleth, or addeth thereto.’ (Gal. 3:15)

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  5. Kent, Scotland has a lot of oil.

    Bobby, interesting, but the Covenanters themselves took part in anti-Union risings, I think.

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  6. K H Acton, you’re right of course but I doubt Scotland is going to fire any shots on the palace in Edinburgh if they vote for independence.

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  7. cg, I also hear that England — I mean, the UK, parks her submarines in Scottish harbors.

    And then if England leaves the EU, the Irish, English, and Welsh will need passports just to buy authentic Scottish plaid scarves. (The only thing more prevalent in Edinburgh than royal references are the gift shoppes.

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  8. I LOVE Edinburgh, from the 2 years I lived in UK, that was my favorite visit (Easter weekend 1999, we bought our wedding bands from a lovely custom shop right around the corner from The Mile). Some time you should check out the animated movie The Illusionist, most of it has E’bgh as a lovely backdrop.

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  9. The Scots today still cling to the nebulous ideas of the Covenanters. So if the government passes a law they deem ‘unbiblical’ there is much noise and no much New Testament insight from them. You would have thought they would have learnt from the extreme practise of covenanting in the north of Ireland where in recent decades much blood was shed through men holding to covenanting ideas like ‘For God and for Ulster’. I still hear of folks who recall the armed struggles of the Covenanters, as though they were acting on New Testament principles.

    Beware of trying to engage with the sometimes caustic self proclaimed ‘wee flea’ David Robertson. His recent emotive review of Engaging with Keller on Amazon shows something of his style, and he sadly has not been encouraging in his words about English Presbyterian attempts to recover confessional Presbyterian practise.

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  10. Darryl, make sure to head up to Balmoral where you can visit the Royal Butcher, the Royal Florist, the Royal Dog Walker, the Royal Tailor, and the Royal pub.

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  11. Hmmm….’Every Presbyterian communion needs it’s bishop’ Should each Presbyterian communion have a bishop? Is there a power issue at play in folks acting deliberately or inadvertantly like Anglican bishops? What does the WC say about this? Anything?

    I am sure David Robertson means well, but he is a true plain talking Scot but thankfully not in the Rab C. Nesbitt mould. It would be good to see if DG heads south to sample and comment on the far more modest but no less wonderful delights of Cumbria and the north of England even though our ecclesiastical history is far less influential.

    By the way, OL is the best. Which other blog could have the Ukraine, the US Civil War, submarines, Edinburgh, nationalism, monarchy and much more besides in one single post? I would venture to say ‘None’.

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  12. Chortles, I would humbly recommend expanding your perspective beyond the simplistic categories that polemicists draw. The only sense in which the Establishmentarianism of the FCC would question someone’s salvation over the Scottish independence issue would be if it were part of a larger pattern of sinful activity that belies the character of a Spiritual man. Otherwise, it is a question of the law of God and sanctification, not salvation. My sole purpose in commenting on the matter is to demonstrate to Mr. Hart that he needs to understand the complex array of opinion and doctrine in this issue before he seeks to bring down a hard opinion about it or wave daring words around. To be more explicit, I will not be “sitting pretty” if Scotland secedes, as D.G. suggested in an earlier comment. Rather, we in the FCC will be aggrieved, my own self aggrieved not only because it will invite an openly secular constitution and be a testimony of treacherous dealing, but because I judge the oil scheme to be far too risky and liable to fail when there are no other exports to hold the line for the interim two years, in which case my Scottish brethren will find themselves in dire economic straights.

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  13. DG. A decidedly neo-Anabaptist turn on this article. That’s good. As I see it, the biblical data can only afford us two possibilities. Your 2k or Hauweras et al’s neo-Anabaptism.
    Also, thanks for taking the time to talk to us ministry students the other day. Next time your around you’ll have to tell us where you are in your thinking bout the issues we raised.

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  14. Chortles: I beg you forgive my mistake, then. I am not familiar with commenters’ ongoing conflicts with Alexander, and so I thought the barb was aimed at me. But might I interject in lieu of that misunderstanding that taunting him, aside from being unchivalrous, creates more problems than it solves?

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  15. Richie Cronin- “As I see it, the biblical data can only afford us two possibilities. Your 2k or Hauweras et al’s neo-Anabaptism.”

    Ding!

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  16. Why would Scotland want independence and why would England let them leave if they own assets there? Will England be paid or retain ownership of their assets?

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  17. You may think you won with a tank battle, but you won’t take all of us hosers during occupation, especially down dere in da boosh and on the REE-serves

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  18. It seems I’m slammed in threads I don’t even post in- until now.

    Chortles: I am most vehemently opposed to independence, as is my church (as already noted by Bobby). And I am very happy to read that the FCC take a similar stance.

    It is true that the Covenanters and other Presbyterians- such as Boston- were opposed to the Union. However, the union has brought many blessings to the Scottish nation and, we believe, has been favourable for the Christian religion in our land. God has blessed us indeed and to break up this union would not only show rank un-thankfulness it would also be a breach of the solemn league and covenant, which seeks to unite the British Isles under the Reformed religion.

    Would it be a sin to vote for independence? I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying so, and I don’t believe my church’s position says so. I do believe it would be wrong to do so though.

    Mr. Hart- where are your worshipping while you are here? And please visit outwith Edinburgh. The real Scotland awaits.

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  19. In many respects it’s similar to the issues raised by the secessionist petitions that arose in the U.S. back in November 2012 when the Obama-Biden campaign won re-election. At that time, I openly opposed the petitions for the same reasons the FCC is opposing the Scottish secession now. The petitions were largely by Tea-Party libertarians who had no aspirations to establishing the Christian religion in the hypothetical new government, and while the Obama administration is creating harder environment for Christianity than the new government is likely to create, it has not done anything yet that would justify so drastic a move that is liable to start a war. (Of course, the situation was a little different in that the U.K. has a Christian constitution and we Americans do not, but you can see the parallels.) Meanwhile, my R2K friends in the OPC were agitating for secession right alongside Reconstructionists. You cannot reduce everything to “Transformationalists versus Pilgrim Theology” and realistically predict how people will fall out on the issues.

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  20. “God has blessed us indeed and to break up this union would not only show rank un-thankfulness it would also be a breach of the solemn league and covenant, which seeks to unite the British Isles under the Reformed religion.”

    Bizarre, about the last thing I think of about the British government is having anything to do with Reformed religion. Does Scottish secession really make things worse, even if you assume that governments can successfully enforce the Reformation?

    Scottish secession could help legitimize the concept in America again, so I’m hoping they secede. Small is not quite beautiful when it comes to government, but it is better than the D.C. monstrosity. I don’t think it is anti-Christian to be against secession, however.

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  21. Bobby – In many respects it’s similar to the issues raised by the secessionist petitions that arose in the U.S. back in November 2012 when the Obama-Biden campaign won re-election

    Not exactly a comparison that garners much credibility…

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  22. Bobby – Meanwhile, my R2K friends in the OPC were agitating for secession right alongside Reconstructionists.

    I assume their vans were also parked alongside the same rivers, too?

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  23. Hearing about wackiness in Reformed circles reinforces my conviction to drop my tithe to about 12 cents a month should my Consistory & minister ever be won over to the dark side.

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  24. E: Hearing about wackiness in Reformed circles reinforces my conviction to drop my tithe to about 12 cents a month should my Consistory & minister ever be won over to the dark side.

    For whatever reason, my church takes about 20 days to bother cashing my cheques. Plenty of time to cancel if something happens that lets me know it has gone berzerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk

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  25. Not sure what the 2 TV stations on the other side of the pond were harping on about, but there wasn’t even a 1% serious secession plot going on for the 2012 election.

    I hear and sometimes read that the US would certainly know a secession when it sees it happen.

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  26. Talk of succession in the modern world is ridiculous in any place that the rest of the world gives a crap about. O.K. Texas, let’s see your nuclear arsenal. If you succeed from an established nation state you are still going to be beholden to someone for your defense so you are still really not independent in any meaningful sense. This is a world that is governed by the aggressive use of force.

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  27. Kent,

    My wife just asked me if Toronto was a Canadian baseball team. I told her that the last I knew, Toronto was in Canada. If you could see her, it would all make sense.

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  28. No one is occupying Scotland unless they go through England and no one is messing with England unless they are willing to mess with the U.S. So who’s your daddy, Scotland?

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  29. Alexander, since I am without an auto I will likely go to one of the Free Church congregations in Edinburgh. If Edinburgh is not real, please don’t wake me.

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  30. E, it would be a long walk to Toronto from your home.

    Team is playing well the last few weeks.

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  31. Bobby, the whole point of R2k is that Christianity isn’t political. So how a believer is going to behave as a citizen is just that — unpredictable.

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  32. Not exactly a comparison that garners much credibility…

    Outside the tightly formed boundaries of social covenanting, no, I imagine you don’t find it credible. But it was more a postulate I was curious to see Alexander’s thoughts on. [polite smile]

    I assume their vans were also parked alongside the same rivers, too?

    No. These R2Ks and Reconstructionists simply held up the same Ron Paul campaign signs, while Covenanters and Establishmentarians tried to remind them both factions that the anarcho-capitalism that Rep. Paul stood for was anything but godly, and that trust in the Egyptians to deliver us from Assyria was ill-advised. The point being, again, that there is a diversity of opinion that belies the storybook dualism I see among Mr. Hart’s train of supporters, i.e. the impulse to lump all “Transformationalists” into the same monochrome heap to make the bogeyman look as big as possible.

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  33. All this talk of Scottish Covenanters reminds of of our past discussions with Darrell Todd Maurina. We used to chide him on why he didn’t favor enforcing the First Table of the Law against Roman Catholic idolatry. He had an explanation something along the lines of, “Well, the Catholics helped the Reformed fight against the British (or was it the Indians?) back in (some year) and in exchange for that the Reformed agreed to allow Catholics to practice their religion free of persecution.”

    When that guy got on a roll it was a sight to behold. I wonder if the Belgic 36 Boys are flying him out to Visalia next week gratis as a covert op/strategist? I can just see it now, Mark VDM will have a walkie talkie for clandestine communications with DTM and NK who are holed up together at the nearby Econo Lodge War Room.

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  34. Would love to follow Synod via online audio or video, but this being a Dutch federation I have a better chance running a string between two tin cans in Iowa and Northern California.

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  35. Bobby, the whole point of R2k is that Christianity isn’t political. So how a believer is going to behave as a citizen is just that — unpredictable.

    Well, D.G., I suppose my point in throwing R2K into the anecdote was not to underline the main point that lumping “Transformationalists” together is misleading, but to adorn that point with the irony that you folks often find yourselves in political cahoots with the very people you spend an inordinate amount of time attacking. And what happens when they meet you at town hall? Are they just supposed to brush off the fact that you spend more energy against them than you do against Roman Catholics and atheists? Are they just supposed to take it in good faith that yours is more than an alliance of convenience that won’t shift once the balance of power is more favorable to the common cause? Or for that matter, won’t shift when the week rolls around to Sunday and it’s time to get back into theology mode? I’m sad to say it, but among the people you attract, there isn’t much of a mind for diplomacy.

    Fully aware that transformationalists come in many annoying flavors.

    Good. Then would you kindly cease calling them “transformationalists”? Because that umbrella term whitewashes over many a shade of gray, creating situations where someone is arguing that I, as an Establishmentarian, am overly attached to the world, as if I were a Neo-Calvinist who believes the eternal state will be material. Whereas in fact the point of disagreement is not over how many kingdoms there are or where the eternal state will be, but over whether national establishments of religion are inconsistent with two kingdoms, a heavenly eschaton, and viewing oneself as a pilgrim in general.

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  36. Bobby, pray tell where is your diplomacy when you say I spend more time against “them” than against Roman Catholics and atheists? You judge me — a no no for some — on the basis of a blog? As if I live and breathe OL 24/7/12.

    So you don’t like the message, can’t refute it, and then tarnish the character of the messenger. Oh, the charity.

    Or just butch up and have a discussion of the issues without the falderal of Robert’s Rules.

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  37. D.G., diplomacy is not a matter of smiling in flattery and never telling the other the weaknesses you observe in him, including weaknesses of diplomacy itself. Diplomacy is an art of not going out of your way to provide insult and offense, and of turning the other cheek when you are insulted or offended. It is saying, “No, I don’t think so,” in a way that doesn’t tear open the rift more than it is already torn by the naked truth. Direct me to where I am not doing this. Your coterie openly says things like Alexander and I are unintelligent and annoying, and do I return such insults? I challenge you to find where I have said anything beyond the naked truth that this is unchivalrous and shameful. And you do nothing to exhort them to change.

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  38. Bobby, if I could see your heart, Id see you saying things about me and other commenters here at OL. Are you really one dimensional — what we see is what we get?

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  39. Mr. Hart, one could easily conclude that you are trying to put me on the defensive so that you do not have to answer an uncomfortable question. I simply appreciate the idea that a beheaded Wolf is better than a poisoned Lion, and claim nothing more for myself.

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  40. Our French province has gone through two refs over the last 25 years, each time putting up a very vague question, when a point blank would have sufficed.

    Each time it was defeated, thankfully

    It was raised as an issue again in their recent provincial election and the separatist party was demolished, thankfully

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  41. We don’t behead or poison around here, but stuffy people will get a well-thrown custard pie right in the kisser.

    Now what was the Laurel and Hardy short that had the greatest and longest display of pie throwing…

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  42. Federally, over time we had our Conservative party lose their top Quebec candidates to the separatist element, who in turn became the Loyal Opposition, with the stated goal of leaving Canada as priority one.

    Here you have to wince and shrug and smile and carry on with our plans anyway. Irony has to be the 2nd largest component of the air breathed here.

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  43. Hart not taking on (Former Reformed Guys Who Are Now) Roman Catholics would come as a surprise to those of us who have contributed some of the roughly 100 million words that have been written on the topic over the past year or so.

    Bobby is rivaling Tom Van Dork in sheer tomfoolery thinking he understands this blog in full during his first five minutes here.

    Do the work, Bob.

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  44. Bobby is rivaling Tom Van Dork in sheer tomfoolery thinking he understands this blog in full during his first five minutes here.

    I’ve read Recovering Mother Kirk and With Reverence and Awe, read several of Hart’s articles in New Horizons, followed this blog for several months (if not always its comments sections), and was in a congregation for four years that holds Mr. Hart’s writings in respect wherein we vainly bantered theology over beer the same way you imagine yourself to do here. So are you going to brand me with an derogatory nickname, as well?

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  45. If you’ve followed the blog “for several months”, how did you conclude that Hart does not deal with Catholicism?

    3 days does not equal “several months”.

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  46. Well pardon me, my Reformed brother, but I did not say Mr. Hart does not deal with Roman Catholicism. I said that he spends more energy attacking Reformed people, especially those whom he judges to be “transformationalists.” How many books has he written against Roman Catholicism? How many has he written against experimental Calvinists and Neo-Calvinists?

    I’m sure that a fellow such as yourself is aware that commenting on and reading blog posts are apples and oranges.

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  47. Bobby, the answer would 0 and 0. Name a book that is as a book against experimental Calvinism. I even devoted an entire chapter to it in Calvinism: A History.

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  48. “…in good 2k fashion — should not preach about secession, nor should the church adopt a stance:

    . . . the Free Church does not ,and will not take a stance either for or against independence. Why? Because the Bible says nothing about it and we are here to teach the bible. In applying Gods word to our current society there is nothing in it that would tell us we should vote yes or we should vote no. Each has to be persuaded in their own mind.

    True enough in the case of Scotland, but it shows the moral bankruptcy of “radical” Two Kingdoms theology if applied to the plebiscite in Austria about joining up with Hitler’s Germany in 1938. Only a moral imbecile could plead the Bible’s indifference on such a thing.

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  49. Tom, you can do better than that, I know you can.

    What about the current events with Ukraine? How should us 2K folk respond to this?

    We await your direction, Tom.

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  50. Tom, instead of character assassination, the other possibility is that some really do take the theology of the WCF seriously and oppose the ecclesiastical meddling in any politics, even the politics 21st C Americans like to hold out as exceptional wherein all the rules go out the window. But, I know, maligning character is so much more fun, right?

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  51. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
    Victor delta, Tango, and what kind of spiritual moron does it take to be indifferent to Judgment Day? Where will you stand?

    According to your theology, Judgment Day is out of our hands, even to the point that accepting Jesus as our savior is out of our hands.

    As for your 2K theology, it’s easy to see why you’re constantly accused of antinomianism, moral imbecility, a religion stripped of morality.

    You teach me something new every day, Dr. Hart.

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  52. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
    Zrim, remember, vd, t, puts the victim in vd, t.

    Very antinomian of you, Dr. Dirty Mouth. I can always count on you to prove my point.

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  53. kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
    Tom, you can do better than that, I know you can.

    What about the current events with Ukraine? How should us 2K folk respond to this?

    We await your direction, Tom.

    Why did you change the subject. The analogy was to the Anschluss of 1938. Get back to me on that. As for the Ukraine, I’ll file that with Scotland for the sake of discussion. If you want to dodge Austria, I don’t blame you.

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  54. Zrim
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
    Tom, instead of character assassination, the other possibility is that some really do take the theology of the WCF seriously and oppose the ecclesiastical meddling in any politics

    Which WCF? You mean the American revision.

    The thing is you’re free to change it, or unchange it, Mr. Z. Confessions aren’t infallible, or so I hear. Kuyper felt free to reject Belgic 36. Which of you popes want to tell him he can’t?

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  55. “I’ll take events leading up to World War II for $100, Alex”

    The real theological question is, what is your position on the Beer Hall Putsch?

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  56. Oh irreligious man of high morals:

    Have you served in the military?

    Would you have enlisted in 1938 to fight in Austria to prevent the Anschluss?

    Would you have sent your son?

    Or is this just about telling others what they should have done?

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  57. OL is honoured that Tom uses a large portion of his weekly 30 minute ration of internet time at the nut house in trying to slay 5 straw men at once on here

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  58. Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
    Oh irreligious man of high morals:

    Have you served in the military?

    Would you have enlisted in 1938 to fight in Austria to prevent the Anschluss?

    Would you have sent your son?

    Or is this just about telling others what they should have done?

    kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
    OL is honoured that Tom uses a large portion of his weekly 30 minute ration of internet time at the nut house in trying to slay 5 straw men at once on here

    And you’re spending your precious time uselessly dodging very important questions.

    Without even very good snark. You guys are hopeless. You can’t play it straight and you’re not even very good at playing crooked.

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  59. Tom – “You can’t play it straight”

    (While overlooking 4 straightforward, direct questions…)

    Tom Van Dyke – A one man “Portnoy’s Complaint” of mental masturbation.

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  60. Since Tom equates spending endless amounts of time complaining about people and events on the internet with actually accomplishing something, I’ll play along:

    The Anschluss was bad and Hitler shouldn’t have dominated Austria. Or Poland. Or France. Or the Netherlands, Or The Soviet Union. Or Czechoslovakia. He also shouldn’t have sent planes to bomb England.

    Wow. Now I feel better.

    Happy, Tom?

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  61. If i felt that way I would leave and never come back

    We will miss the laughter you give us, Tom, you have great comedic skills. I hope you were intending to be funny.

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  62. If the South Had Called a Referendum
    By D. G. HART | Published: MAY 30, 2014
    Instead of firing on Fort Sumter, would the Confederate States have had a better chance of declaring their independence (like Jefferson did in 1776) if they had followed the lead of the Scots and simply voted. I understand that elections are not always decisive as the imbroglio between Russia and Ukraine attests. But a peaceful vote to leave a union may have worked. After all, if the Scots can do it after over three centuries of being governed by London, why couldn’t the South have departed after a mere seven decades of “more perfect” union?

    I write this from Edinburgh in a postage stamp of a hotel room that is smack dab in the middle of a city that is amazingly beautiful (and even boasts a statue of Thomas Chalmers). If Scotland secedes, will Edinburgh become less beautiful? And what will happen to all the royal bits of Edinburgh? You can’t walk fifty meters (however long that is) and not see something that was opened by British royalty or land owned or granted by a prince, queen or king. I hear that if Scotland secedes, the Prince of Wales will become the King of Scotland. That sounds like a put down for the Scots, as if a mere prince among the Welsh is the equivalent of a monarch in Scotland. Then again, if it means that the Stuarts don’t return to the thrown, I am for Prince Charles.

    David Robertson, a Free Church of Scotland pastor, thinks that ministers — in good 2k fashion — should not preach about secession, nor should the church adopt a stance:

    . . . the Free Church does not ,and will not take a stance either for or against independence. Why? Because the Bible says nothing about it and we are here to teach the bible. In applying Gods word to our current society there is nothing in it that would tell us we should vote yes or we should vote no. Each has to be persuaded in their own mind. The Church should not make pronouncements on issues for which it has no scriptural warrant. These are my personal opinions and I hope I would never proclaim them from the pulpit as though they had the authority of Gods Word.

    That’s an encouraging word from a man normally inclined to follow Tim Keller on holy urbanism. It shows how sensible 2k is. The church only says that the Bible says — and even then, you need to read the entire Bible in the entire perspective of God’s plan of redemption. So while monarchy was (not so) great for the Israelites and while emperors were honorable for (even while torturing) the apostles, the rest of Christian history leaves believers to make it up as they go.

    But after jumping out with such a promising start, Pastor Robertson can’t help himself. He believes — seriously — that nationalism can be redeemed:

    I am somewhat bemused by people who warn about the evils of nationalism when it is Scottish, but seem to think it is ok when it is British. As the Mangalwadi quote at the start of this article states, nationalism when yoked to the reforming power of the Bible, can become a powerful redemptive force. At the end of the day – that is what I will work for, whether in an independent Scotland or a dependent Britain.

    It is hard to know where to begin or end with this opinion. But for the sake of blogging’s brevity, I’ll keep it short. First, what does Pastor Robertson make of all the nationalism in twentieth-century Europe and the wars of global proportions it unleashed? It’s one thing to be patriotic (a form of loyalty to the land of one’s fathers), but another to wrap up a people’s identity along national lines. What would become of non-Scots in an independent Scotland? That is not an impolite question given Europe’s history.

    Second, why does adding the Bible or salvation to something that has such a dubious record — nationalism, urbanism, theater, mathematics (plumbing is fine) — make it better? The record of mixing religion and nationalism is a narrative of the gross excesses of civil religion. And civil religion is a betrayal of the gospel because Jesus did not rise again to save the members of the Church of England or the Church of Scotland or even the Free Church of Scotland. Churches having to negotiate national boundaries is part of the business of Christian ministry in this age. But turning national boundaries and jurisdictions into redemptive purposes is an example of every-square-inch naivete.

    This entry was posted in Adventures in Church History, Piety without Exuberance and tagged David Robertson, Edinburgh, independence, nationalism, Scotland, Secession, two-kingdom theology. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
    « Sanctified Confusion
    77 Comments
    Bobby Phillips
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink
    Mr. Hart, one could easily conclude that you are trying to put me on the defensive so that you do not have to answer an uncomfortable question. I simply appreciate the idea that a beheaded Wolf is better than a poisoned Lion, and claim nothing more for myself.

    kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink
    Our French province has gone through two refs over the last 25 years, each time putting up a very vague question, when a point blank would have sufficed.

    Each time it was defeated, thankfully

    It was raised as an issue again in their recent provincial election and the separatist party was demolished, thankfully

    kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink
    We don’t behead or poison around here, but stuffy people will get a well-thrown custard pie right in the kisser.

    Now what was the Laurel and Hardy short that had the greatest and longest display of pie throwing…

    kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink
    Federally, over time we had our Conservative party lose their top Quebec candidates to the separatist element, who in turn became the Loyal Opposition, with the stated goal of leaving Canada as priority one.

    Here you have to wince and shrug and smile and carry on with our plans anyway. Irony has to be the 2nd largest component of the air breathed here.

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink
    Hart not taking on (Former Reformed Guys Who Are Now) Roman Catholics would come as a surprise to those of us who have contributed some of the roughly 100 million words that have been written on the topic over the past year or so.

    Bobby is rivaling Tom Van Dork in sheer tomfoolery thinking he understands this blog in full during his first five minutes here.

    Do the work, Bob.

    Bobby Phillips
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink
    Bobby is rivaling Tom Van Dork in sheer tomfoolery thinking he understands this blog in full during his first five minutes here.

    I’ve read Recovering Mother Kirk and With Reverence and Awe, read several of Hart’s articles in New Horizons, followed this blog for several months (if not always its comments sections), and was in a congregation for four years that holds Mr. Hart’s writings in respect wherein we vainly bantered theology over beer the same way you imagine yourself to do here. So are you going to brand me with an derogatory nickname, as well?

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink
    Boppy,

    So start to put some of that knowledge to use already.

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink
    If you’ve followed the blog “for several months”, how did you conclude that Hart does not deal with Catholicism?

    3 days does not equal “several months”.

    Bobby Phillips
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink
    Well pardon me, my Reformed brother, but I did not say Mr. Hart does not deal with Roman Catholicism. I said that he spends more energy attacking Reformed people, especially those whom he judges to be “transformationalists.” How many books has he written against Roman Catholicism? How many has he written against experimental Calvinists and Neo-Calvinists?

    I’m sure that a fellow such as yourself is aware that commenting on and reading blog posts are apples and oranges.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
    bobby, achtung puritaner claims nothing for achtung puritaner’s self? pshaw.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink
    Bobby, the answer would 0 and 0. Name a book that is as a book against experimental Calvinism. I even devoted an entire chapter to it in Calvinism: A History.

    Tom van Dyke
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
    “…in good 2k fashion — should not preach about secession, nor should the church adopt a stance:

    . . . the Free Church does not ,and will not take a stance either for or against independence. Why? Because the Bible says nothing about it and we are here to teach the bible. In applying Gods word to our current society there is nothing in it that would tell us we should vote yes or we should vote no. Each has to be persuaded in their own mind.

    True enough in the case of Scotland, but it shows the moral bankruptcy of “radical” Two Kingdoms theology if applied to the plebiscite in Austria about joining up with Hitler’s Germany in 1938. Only a moral imbecile could plead the Bible’s indifference on such a thing.

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    You’ve read the Bible?

    kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
    Tom, you can do better than that, I know you can.

    What about the current events with Ukraine? How should us 2K folk respond to this?

    We await your direction, Tom.

    Zrim
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
    Tom, instead of character assassination, the other possibility is that some really do take the theology of the WCF seriously and oppose the ecclesiastical meddling in any politics, even the politics 21st C Americans like to hold out as exceptional wherein all the rules go out the window. But, I know, maligning character is so much more fun, right?

    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
    Victor delta, Tango, and what kind of spiritual moron does it take to be indifferent to Judgment Day? Where will you stand?

    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
    Zrim, remember, vd, t, puts the victim in vd, t.

    Tom Van Dyke
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Permalink
    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
    Victor delta, Tango, and what kind of spiritual moron does it take to be indifferent to Judgment Day? Where will you stand?

    According to your theology, Judgment Day is out of our hands, even to the point that accepting Jesus as our savior is out of our hands.

    As for your 2K theology, it’s easy to see why you’re constantly accused of antinomianism, moral imbecility, a religion stripped of morality.

    You teach me something new every day, Dr. Hart.

    Tom Van Dyke
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
    Zrim, remember, vd, t, puts the victim in vd, t.

    Very antinomian of you, Dr. Dirty Mouth. I can always count on you to prove my point.

    Tom Van Dyke
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
    kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
    Tom, you can do better than that, I know you can.

    What about the current events with Ukraine? How should us 2K folk respond to this?

    We await your direction, Tom.

    Why did you change the subject. The analogy was to the Anschluss of 1938. Get back to me on that. As for the Ukraine, I’ll file that with Scotland for the sake of discussion. If you want to dodge Austria, I don’t blame you.

    Tom Van Dyke
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink
    Zrim
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
    Tom, instead of character assassination, the other possibility is that some really do take the theology of the WCF seriously and oppose the ecclesiastical meddling in any politics

    Which WCF? You mean the American revision.

    The thing is you’re free to change it, or unchange it, Mr. Z. Confessions aren’t infallible, or so I hear. Kuyper felt free to reject Belgic 36. Which of you popes want to tell him he can’t?

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
    “I’ll take events leading up to World War II for $100, Alex”

    The real theological question is, what is your position on the Beer Hall Putsch?

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
    Oh irreligious man of high morals:

    Have you served in the military?

    Would you have enlisted in 1938 to fight in Austria to prevent the Anschluss?

    Would you have sent your son?

    Or is this just about telling others what they should have done?

    kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
    OL is honoured that Tom uses a large portion of his weekly 30 minute ration of internet time at the nut house in trying to slay 5 straw men at once on here

    Tom Van Dyke
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
    Oh irreligious man of high morals:

    Have you served in the military?

    Would you have enlisted in 1938 to fight in Austria to prevent the Anschluss?

    Would you have sent your son?

    Or is this just about telling others what they should have done?

    kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
    OL is honoured that Tom uses a large portion of his weekly 30 minute ration of internet time at the nut house in trying to slay 5 straw men at once on here

    And you’re spending your precious time uselessly dodging very important questions.

    Without even very good snark. You guys are hopeless. You can’t play it straight and you’re not even very good at playing crooked.

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
    Tom – “You can’t play it straight”

    (While overlooking 4 straightforward, direct questions…)

    Tom Van Dyke – A one man “Portnoy’s Complaint” of mental masturbation.

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
    Since Tom equates spending endless amounts of time complaining about people and events on the internet with actually accomplishing something, I’ll play along:

    The Anschluss was bad and Hitler shouldn’t have dominated Austria. Or Poland. Or France. Or the Netherlands, Or The Soviet Union. Or Czechoslovakia. He also shouldn’t have sent planes to bomb England.

    Wow. Now I feel better.

    Happy, Tom?

    You missed the entire historical analogy. Austria voluntarily joined Hitler’s Germany, by popular vote. If you insist on flaunting your ignorance of history and mocking others’ familiarity with it, at least ask your kids to explain “The Sound of Music” to you, Erik.

    Geez, pal. You’re really asking for it.

    As for the “Portnoy’s Complaint” slur, that’s pretty low, man, even for an antinomian.

    Like

  63. Yeah, “voluntarily”. No pressure.

    “Austria was annexed into the German Third Reich on 12 March 1938. There had been several years of pressure by supporters in both Austria and Germany (by both Nazis and non-Nazis) for the “Heim ins Reich” movement.[4] Earlier, Nazi Germany had provided support for the Austrian National Socialist Party (Austrian Nazi Party) in its bid to seize power from Austria’s Austrofascist leadership.

    Under considerable pressure from both Austrian and German Nazis, Austria’s Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg tried to hold a referendum for a vote on the issue. Although Schuschnigg expected Austria to vote in favour of maintaining autonomy, a well-planned coup d’état by the Austrian Nazi Party of Austria’s state institutions in Vienna took place on 11 March 1938, prior to the referendum, which they canceled.” (Wikipedia)

    If religion was the answer to Hitler, why not blame your friend, the Pope?

    Right there in Rome.

    What’s with Italy as part of the Axis?

    Thanks for popping back in though. When you’re not around we get concerned that you may have gotten a life.

    Like

  64. What happened to put you unto such a hissy fit, Tom?

    Just know that we are here for you, we got your back, buddy!!

    Like

  65. I have a fine life, thank you, Erik. I’d always wondered why some people were so hostile to Calvinism and especially to Calvinists. You’re part of my education.

    As for your “radical” 2K theology, it’s one minority opinion about what Calvin would think about what the Bible says, about what is God’s will. You still cannot answer your divorcing of religion from morality.

    At least admit that’s what you’re doing, anyway. The truth will set you free.

    Like

  66. kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
    What happened to put you unto such a hissy fit, Tom?

    Just know that we are here for you, we got your back, buddy!!

    Thanks, bro, although that won’t help me on Judgment Day. But you’ll miss me, while y’all sit around heaven for all eternity talking about how saved you are and all the people who were not, the poor bastards.

    Kinda like you do now, come to think of it.

    As for the “hissy fit,” yeah, sometimes the moral imbecility gets to me, and worse, the smugness at it. But thx, man. Really.

    Like

  67. kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink
    How can we help you?

    Keep on doing what you’re doing, Kent. Though you can’t be part of my salvation, you’re a big part of my education.

    I wish I could return the favor.

    But once people conflate every jog and tittle of their theology with their religion, and have no limit to how low they’ll go–well, iron is no longer sharpening iron–iron’s just calling the other guy dirty names.

    I do appreciate your concern. It almost seems real.

    Like

  68. T, I’ve only been in the Reformed world for five years, it was a good reentry vehicle after a decade off from disaffection with my Fundy up raising.

    It has bad parts and good parts, and the bad parts aren’t good.

    Like

  69. Amish Ambush
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
    Congratulations Tom. You have succeeded in breaking Godwin’s law.

    Sometimes it’s entirely appropriate, you know. Like right now. I don’t give a spit about the Scottish referendum. In fact, one of the giants of Calvinist Resistance Theory, John Knox, would be all for it, I make it.

    [Are you with me so far, Mr. Ambush?]

    BTW, are you really Amish/Anabaptist, whathaveyou? Because that’s entirely germane here too. I’m quite sanguine with Christian separatists who throw themselves at the mercy of the world to not come rape, pillage and kill them. But it is not cheating to note that that strategy has not worked out well for the Jews, historically speaking.

    You wanna take your chances, I respect that.

    It’s Christians who presume to lecture other Christians about not dragging the church into confronting evil with whom I have a problem. You want to risk your life on your theology, fine. You wanna risk my children’s life on your theology, we got a problem.

    Like

  70. kent
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
    T, I’ve only been in the Reformed world for five years, it was a good reentry vehicle after a decade off from disaffection with my Fundy up raising.

    It has bad parts and good parts, and the bad parts aren’t good.

    Y’know, Kent, I confess to underestimating just how horrible some of those Fundy people are. [Many? Most?] I defend them as part of a deep belief in religious freedom, which frankly–IMO–in world history has its roots in Calvinists if not Calvinism itself. [Unless you count the Romans, which I don’t.]

    Hence my odd fascination with Old Life, [or my fascination with the quite odd Old Life] because you do respect Calvinism/Reformed theology sincerely and deeply.

    Right now, over at

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/

    I’ve made myself quite the gadfly, defending Mark Driscoll from the slimy attacks. I think you know me well enough by now that if I were caught dead in a church, it would in yours–whatever it is–sooner than the neo-Cal/fundie Driscoll’s. At least I hope you know me that well.

    Honestly, I don’t know what to do when people with standards fall short of them. All I know is that once we destroy them, people with no standards atall slip into to fill the void.

    And that’s the name of the modern tune. Thx for hearing me out—if you’ve read this far. You could even say that in the absence of the Good–affirmative, active Good–whatever slips in to fill the void might even be called evil.

    Indifference is evil. “Feed my sheep,” He said.

    Like

  71. Tom,

    [Are you with me so far, Mr. Tom?]

    I assume by your name that you are related to Dick Van Dyke or whathaveyou? Because that’s entirely germane here too. Good luck with that because that type of comedy is passee. You want to waste your time on that type of comedy? That is fine. But if you want my children to laugh at “pie-in-the-face” jokes, then we got a problem.

    Like

  72. victor delta, tango, another impossible name: “All I know is that once we destroy them, people with no standards atall slip into to fill the void.”

    If you can’t say the song’s name, how are you going to dance to it?

    Like

  73. vd, t, judgment day is out of my hands. Who said otherwise? But your indifference to it is not out of your hands. If you worried as much about judgment day as you did about culture, maybe you’d go to church instead of simply using religion as a debating point.

    Your call, oh wise arse.

    Like

  74. All this is very interesting and edifying, but I just really want to hear how DG’s kilt fitting in Edinburgh went. And we need pictures.

    And Tom, with all the love I can muster — better to be caught alive in a church.

    Like

  75. Yup, T, you can’t hear the gospel’s message in the proper manner unless it is being preached by those appointed to that task.

    Applies just as much for those of us who believe that message as for those who aren’t quite there just yet.

    Like

  76. It’s true that Mr. Hart has been critical of those who have renounced Christ and become Papist. However, unfortunately his opposition is never voiced in such terms. Rather than making it clear how serious their move is, he tends to engage with them as fellow Christians, though erring. (I also wonder how large a part his blatant personal animus towards Jason Stellman and Bryan Cross plays in his posts on this subject.)

    But that is par for the course with the American Reformed scene in general: gone is the understanding and conviction that Romanism is a false religion. Mr. Hart’s comments in this area are directed towards former Protestants who have gone rogue, rather than Romanism itself. Whereas the bile directed toward “transformationalists “- without distinction, and who are fellow Christians- is immense.

    Like

  77. Tom, the WCF has always opposed ecclesiastical meddling in civil affairs–that theology survived American revisions on the role of the CM enforcing true religion. Still, why are those who take it seriously moral imbeciles? You sound like the liberals you allegedly revile.

    Like

  78. Alexander, moralize thyself. You criticize DGH for not taking on the RC hard enough? Who else in the Reformed world is giving them more heck(!) than him? Has not his point been that their soles are in peril? And accuse him of “blatant personal animus” — you’re a heart reader par excellence.

    Like

  79. We could advise Alexander to head elsewhere, but where could you turn on the internet that will allow for free exchange of views like OL?

    And he knows it; and he has a lot to contribute that could be edifying.

    Like

  80. @ TvD: “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.”

    Punch softer and break some bones, brother.

    Meanwhile, I’m confused by your Austria example. There *was* a church that took a moral position on Hitler. It was the mainline Lutheran church, who declared him to be “the second coming of the Holy Spirit.” (http://www.gci.org/history/barmen). There was an entire “German Christian” movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Christians).

    So there was activism by the church … it was just entirely, utterly, and unmistakably wrong. Speaking, of course, with the benefit of hindsight.

    Of course, Bonhoeffer got it better, but he was squishy about such trifling things as the authority of Scripture, the resurrection, and the virgin birth.

    How do you propose to keep your political activism 99 and 44/100 percent pure?

    Finally, I’m not getting the “anti-” part of “antinomian.” Have you seen any instances of people saying, “Let’s disregard God’s Law”?

    Like

  81. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 2:03 am | Permalink
    vd, t, judgment day is out of my hands. Who said otherwise? But your indifference to it is not out of your hands. If you worried as much about judgment day as you did about culture, maybe you’d go to church instead of simply using religion as a debating point.

    Your call, oh wise arse.

    Blowing your cool, O Saved One.

    According to your own theology, God already decided who will be saved. Going to church will not change that—one way or the other. Further, you’re not acting like a very good advertisement for it.

    Like

  82. I can see it now — we’re concerned about your soul, Doubting Thomas. And you’re concerned about our politics, nay — our churches’ political maneuverings or lack thereof. We’re the touchy-feelies here, you’re the heartless, Machiavellian pragmatist.

    Like

  83. kent
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink
    Yup, T, you can’t hear the gospel’s message in the proper manner unless it is being preached by those appointed to that task.

    Applies just as much for those of us who believe that message as for those who aren’t quite there just yet.

    Judges 7:2-7? The men who lapped water like dogs were those chosen by God so that the victory over the Midianites would be God’s. I wonder about that when these punks preach the word.

    Like

  84. victor delta, tango, if you’re such a predestinarian, why not apply it to the culture wars and just shut up. Nothing you do is going to change anything.

    Check mate.

    Like

  85. The “lappers” cupped the water in their hands to drink.

    Have heard a few pointless sermons, back in the day, on how this proved alertness and morality by those that drank this way.

    I just saw it as further winnowing out, proving how impossible the victory would be without the Lord leading.

    Like

  86. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

    That’s good.

    Tom says we divorce religion from morality. What he leaves out is that he defines morality as political activism. The irony is that he originally came to us as a man of the right and morality as political activism has traditionally been a tenet of the left.

    What about your private morality, Tom, that has nothing to do with politics? Who will atone for those sins?

    Like

  87. There has to be a way to make money off of Tom’s pathological persistence in being a pain in the ass. Telemarketing? Home improvement scams? Legal recruiting?

    Like

  88. This circular, futile discussion keeps coming back to the notion that Tom should be able to come here endlessly to take pot shots without anyone giving it back to him, because when we do it we’re not being good Christians by his definition. So I ask for about the 100th time (of myself, too). Why do we talk to him? It’s an utter no-win situation and a waste of time and server space.

    The man has a physical addiction to the adrenaline rush he gets from conflict. Why do we feed his addiction?

    Like

  89. O.K. Here’s my pledge. If I ever talk to Tom again here — ever (short of a sincere religious conversion on his part) — whoever catches me can give me the name of their favorite charity and I’ll send a $10 check per comment to that charity.

    At this point, I’m the fool if I communicate with him whatsoever.

    Like

  90. ec, if we stop talking to vd, t, he’ll stop coming here and making a buffoon of himself. Like Woody Allen’s joke about the guy who’s brother think he’s a chicken, I need the eggs.

    Like

  91. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink
    victor delta, tango, if you’re such a predestinarian, why not apply it to the culture wars and just shut up. Nothing you do is going to change anything.

    Check mate.

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

    That’s good.

    Tom says we divorce religion from morality. What he leaves out is that he defines morality as political activism. The irony is that he originally came to us as a man of the right and morality as political activism has traditionally been a tenet of the left.

    What about your private morality, Tom, that has nothing to do with politics? Who will atone for those sins?

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
    Jeff Cagle, back from sabbatical!

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
    There has to be a way to make money off of Tom’s pathological persistence in being a pain in the ass. Telemarketing? Home improvement scams? Legal recruiting?

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
    This circular, futile discussion keeps coming back to the notion that Tom should be able to come here endlessly to take pot shots without anyone giving it back to him, because when we do it we’re not being good Christians by his definition. So I ask for about the 100th time (of myself, too). Why do we talk to him? It’s an utter no-win situation and a waste of time and server space.

    The man has a physical addiction to the adrenaline rush he gets from conflict. Why do we feed his addiction?

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
    O.K. Here’s my pledge. If I ever talk to Tom again here — ever (short of a sincere religious conversion on his part) — whoever catches me can give me the name of their favorite charity and I’ll send a $10 check per comment to that charity.

    At this point, I’m the fool if I communicate with him whatsoever.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
    ec, if we stop talking to vd, t, he’ll stop coming here and making a buffoon of himself. Like Woody Allen’s joke about the guy who’s brother think he’s a chicken, I need the eggs.

    Erik Charter
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
    Starting……….Now!

    Good. I don’t come here for your abuse. It’s not even clever, calling me “VD.”

    And you checkmated yourself, Darryl. I’m not a “predestinarian,” you are, which makes your bleat about attending church null, since it makes no difference. The Lord will save who He wants to save, so take your own advice and

    “just shut up. Nothing you do is going to change anything.”

    Your words, not mine.

    Like

  92. kent
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
    The “lappers” cupped the water in their hands to drink.

    Have heard a few pointless sermons, back in the day, on how this proved alertness and morality by those that drank this way.

    I just saw it as further winnowing out, proving how impossible the victory would be without the Lord leading.

    Yeah, esp verse 2, Kent. The Lord has a habit of choosing unworthy vessels to carry His will. Just sayin’. 😉

    Like

  93. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, love Jesus.

    Maybe I’m John Denver and you’re Paul Sorvino. The Lord works mysterious-like.

    Like

  94. Somewhere I think I read, and adopted in my personal theology, that I’m totally depraved and unable to do anything good without God’s grace and mercy.

    Like

  95. kent
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
    Somewhere I think I read, and adopted in my personal theology, that I’m totally depraved and unable to do anything good without God’s grace and mercy.

    Yes, that’s one theology.

    Neither Augustine nor the Augustinians would have desired to see the day of that vindication of the Augustinian tradition; but in one sense, perhaps, the Augustinian tradition was avenged after all.

    It came out of its cell again, in the day of storm and ruin, and cried out with a new and mighty voice for an elemental and emotional religion, and for the destruction of all philosophies. It had a peculiar horror and loathing of the great Greek philosophies, and of the scholasticism that had been founded on those philosophies. It had one theory that was the destruction of all theories; in fact it had its own theology which was itself the death of theology.

    Man could say nothing to God, nothing from God, nothing about God, except an almost inarticulate cry for mercy and for the supernatural help of Christ, in a world where all natural things were useless. Reason was useless. Will was useless. Man could not move himself an inch any more than a stone. Man could not trust what was in his head any more than a turnip. Nothing remained in earth or heaven, but the name of Christ lifted in that lonely imprecation; awful as the cry of a beast in pain.

    Like

  96. Sorry Tom, no time to go on mystical journeys…

    You aren’t going to gain any ground with us…

    Like

  97. kent
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm | Permalink
    Sorry Tom, no time to go on mystical journeys…

    You aren’t going to gain any ground with us…

    “Us” is creepy. Neither am I sure exactly who I’m writing for. Perhaps some future ex-Catholic. Or future ex-Calvinist.

    And you’ll remember that passage someday. Or someone else will, when they stumble upon it next time. Perhaps it’s then they’ll give it some thought.

    As for mystical journeys, you have all the time in the world, brother. Peace.

    Like

  98. Tom, it’s very hard to leave a good Reformed church if you were serious enough to go through the process of gaining membership.

    Those who left, the “trophy conversions”, have been almost to a man unable to show that they had grasped even 5% of the fundamentals. You cannot forget this stuff if you learned it and demonstrated this knowledge for 20 plus hours of due diligence and interviews and discussions with the higer-ups.

    Like

  99. kent
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink
    Tom, it’s very hard to leave a good Reformed church if you were serious enough to go through the process of gaining membership.

    Those who left, the “trophy conversions”, have been almost to a man unable to show that they had grasped even 5% of the fundamentals. You cannot forget this stuff if you learned it and demonstrated this knowledge for 20 plus hours of due diligence and interviews and discussions with the higher-ups.

    I understand, Kent. Coming from a stark Fundie upbringing, Calvinism must seem like a theological garden. But what if that were just the start of the wonders, that Reformed theology is just the trellis at the gateway? What if Reformed theology isn’t so terribly complicated, or at least not 5% as complex as the theology it claims superiority to?

    The contrast between this and

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/06/how-john-calvin-made-me-a-catholic/

    is palpable to the merest child, both in the essays and the comments sections. If you want to do battle with Catholicism and its “trophy” ex-Calvinists, it’s going to have to be with a more reliable source than Dr. Hart and his “theological society,” pyromaniacs in their field of straw men.

    And thx for the civil reply. Catchya down the line.

    Like

  100. Erik,
    That was a close one! Stay strong and resist the temptation to feed the trolls. The comment threads are infinitely more enjoyable without the crackpots.

    Like

  101. Erik Charter
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
    O.K. Here’s my pledge. If I ever talk to Tom again here — ever (short of a sincere religious conversion on his part) — whoever catches me can give me the name of their favorite charity and I’ll send a $10 check per comment to that charity.

    At this point, I’m the fool if I communicate with him whatsoever.
    _____________
    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
    ec, if we stop talking to vd, t, he’ll stop coming here and making a buffoon of himself. Like Woody Allen’s joke about the guy who’s brother think he’s a chicken, I need the eggs.

    __________________
    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 3, 2014 at 1:52 am | Permalink
    vd, t, and maybe you’re Teri Garr.

    Still calling me “VD,” Dr. Dirty Mouth? My name is Tom. You can call me Tom. Call me Tom.

    Teri Garr loved John Denver in that movie. According to the script, they made love most every night. Now perhaps I am your Teri Garr, but we gotta start drawing some lines here.

    Darryl, you’re not supposed to be responding to me atall, sexually or otherwise, according to our brother Erik, from now on. Still, a gay friend of our mutual acquaintance sent me an inquiry about Lincoln just today and I responded with this

    http://www.artofmanliness.com/2008/08/24/the-history-and-nature-of-man-friendships/

    You love me, you manly man, you. Me too.

    Like

  102. Ok, ok, my last post was a little too harsh. I could have softened it a bit. Mr. Hart is better than Trueman who keeps setting himself up as this crotchety, controversial guy who speaks truth to power and then just goes with how flow. Apologies.

    So where did you worship on Sabbath, Mr. Hart? Were you anywhere for lunch?

    Like

  103. Jeff Cagle
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
    @ TvD: “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.”

    Punch softer and break some bones, brother.

    Jeff, a) I do and b) I do. 😉

    Cagel–you old dog, you. Fancy meeting you here. Thx for the advice, but if I hit them any softer they wouldn’t notice atall. Like when they asked the farmer why hit his mule over the head with a two-by-four.

    “Well, first you’ve got to get his attention.”

    I really have tested the bare minimum. Even a 40-ouncer like Dick Allen swung is taken as a sign of weakness. These Calvinists play hard, and they play dirty.
    _______________________________
    To the point:

    Meanwhile, I’m confused by your Austria example. There *was* a church that took a moral position on Hitler. It was the mainline Lutheran church, who declared him to be “the second coming of the Holy Spirit.” (http://www.gci.org/history/barmen). There was an entire “German Christian” movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Christians).

    So there was activism by the church … it was just entirely, utterly, and unmistakably wrong. Speaking, of course, with the benefit of hindsight.

    Of course, Bonhoeffer got it better, but he was squishy about such trifling things as the authority of Scripture, the resurrection, and the virgin birth.

    Quite to the point, 100%. Well, 95%–Bonhoeffer must wait. And he was gay, you know, according to a new book.]

    The reply here is that the 2K prescription of doing nothing lest one err is way WTF:

    He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant!

    The various Reformed Confessions contain much wisdom, but they are the work of men, not God. If Kuyper chafed against them on this particular point, good for him.

    How do you propose to keep your political activism 99 and 44/100 percent pure?

    I do not propose we can. But I would fall back on Romans 2, the existence of a natural law, which even Gentiles can occasionally discern and observe.

    For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts…

    So if we are to be no repecters of persons or popes or theologians or governments, there still is the natural law. Have I improperly conflated Mt 25 and Romans 2?

    Perhaps. But I’m no respecter of churchly “confessions” nor of “theological societies.” Call me pisher.

    [And no, Erik, pleeeeeeeez don’t look that up on the internet and start giving a speech like you did last time. Find an actual Jewish person out there in the real world and ask him then buy him a bagel.]

    The only way for a human being, or a church, to be perfect is to do nothing, or to do so little it amounts to nothing. Now that might be the spot where the discussion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer might be taken up.

    Peace, Brother Cagel—nice to see you again. Give ’em heck.

    Like

  104. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 3, 2014 at 4:42 am | Permalink
    vd, t, fear God.

    Dr. Dirty Mouth, you keep calling me “VD” to the bitter last. If you feel you’re doing the Lord’s work and that’s the way to do it, mazel tov and Dominus vobiscum. Calvinism sure is a tough town.

    Like

  105. Hi Tom,

    I wonder whether you’ve correctly summarized the point, “Do nothing lest one err.” Having haunted these parts for … What, 5 years? … I can’t remember anyone ever advocating doing nothing.

    What I have seen is a lot of talk about jurisdictions.

    Agree or disagree: The Bible teaches …

    (1) Church and magistrate both have God-given authority.

    (2) The jurisdiction of the Church’s authority is faith and worship

    (3) The jurisdiction of the magistrate is to temporally restrain evil.

    (4) The conscience of the believer is free from commands concerning faith and worship that are not taught in Scripture.

    ?

    Like

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