Speaking of White Culture

We have heard of cultural Roman Catholics or cultural Judaism, now we have “culturalist” Presbyterians. The former are generally religious adherents who aren’t all that serious in their commitment to the church or synagogue. Here’s one description of a cultural Roman Catholic:

The majority of Catholics in the world probably fit into the category of cultural Catholics. This group is unlike any other type we have considered above. Their identification as “Catholic” is simply more cultural and social than religious. They might rightly be called “womb to tomb Catholics.” They often are born in a Hispanic, Irish, Polish, French, or Italian families — and are therefore baptized, married, and buried in the Catholic church — but have little or no concern about spiritual matters. Cultural Catholics do not understand Catholicism, nor do they seriously follow its ethical teaching. But they nevertheless have an emotional commitment to the Catholic church. When they attend Mass, it is out of habit or family obligation, not religious conviction. Being Catholic to them is essentially a cultural identity (they may even be secular or humanistic [or postmodernist] in their thinking). This is not unlike how some Jews are merely ethnically or culturally Jewish, rather than adherents to Judaism. It is also like the person who is Lutheran only because he happens to be born into a German family, or the Anglican who is only Anglican because she was born into a British family.

But a culturalist Presbyterian is a different breed of religious adherent. He may be Dutch at heart since he seems to have great affinity for Abraham Kuyper. He may also be most at home in New York City since Tim Keller seems to be the embodiment of culturalist Presbyterianism. Or he may simply be above it all (except for gender since a culturalist Presbyterian is going to be either male or female and overwhelmingly heterosexual). He is also a member of the PCA, though he values “cross-denominational unity” (we used to call that federalism applied to the churches, as in Federal Council of Churches).

A CP seeks the redemption of every sphere of life for Christ. A common complaint among culturalists is that evangelicals often reduce the biblical story to two chapters: fall and redemption. In reality, the biblical story begins with creation and ends with new creation. Just as the whole created order manifests God’s grace, so it cries out for redemption from the corrupting effects of sin (Rom. 8:19-21). In contrast to the doctrine of the “two kingdoms” or “spirituality of the church,” CPs desire to faithfully serve in God’s mission to bring all of creation under the redemptive lordship of Christ. We see no division between sacred and secular. We build upon the work of Abraham Kuyper, who famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” We value social justice and creation care, and seek to continue the mission of the Servant of Isaiah: “He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law” (Isa. 42:4).

The odd thing about the culturalist Presbyterian is that if you see no division between the sacred and the secular, you don’t need to go to church on Sunday since all of life is sacred or secular depending on which breakfast cereal you eat that day, I guess. At least cultural Roman Catholics go to church on the high holy days, as do cultural Jews go to synagogue for the big events in Jewish history.

Now, I don’t really think that culturalist Presbyterians avoid church to redeem the subways. When else are they going to hear TKNY? But the logic of their position is one that makes church just one mere stop on the superhighway to cultural engagement even though it winds up recognizing complications rather than providing evidence of Christ’s every-square inch rule. You want answers to life’s complicated questions? Adopt the pose of Rodin’s most famous creation:

. . . we are wary of the knee-jerk political conservatism that is so widespread among evangelicals today. We desire to have our political views informed more by Scripture than by temperament. For example, when it comes to the matter of immigration, should our priority be protecting our borders and keeping jobs for our own citizens, or should it be “loving the sojourner among us” (Deut. 10:18-19)?7 These are complex issues, but in general CPs desire a more nuanced approach that doesn’t always conform to any particular partisan platform.

Kuyper had answers. Those he inspires understand questions.

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101 thoughts on “Speaking of White Culture

  1. DGH: “The odd thing about the culturalist Presbyterian is that if you see no division between the sacred and the secular, you don’t need to go to church on Sunday since all of life is sacred or secular depending on which breakfast cereal you eat that day, I guess.”

    To which the transformers reply, “Wow that escalated quickly.”

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  2. JA, but it’s like the Baptists–thankfully they don’t actually treat their children the way their theology would seem to imply (like little pagans). Same with the culturalists. They mainly show up, but Darryl’s worship-as-homeroom seems more fitting–it’s the place to get one’s metaphorical batteries charged from last week’s dominionizing and receive pious marching orders for the next week of redeeming.

    http://www.onthewing.org/user/Ecc_Why%20Evangelicals%20Hate%20Liturgy.pdf

    But this earned a double-take: “A CP is politically eclectic. Now first let me be clear: within the PCA, there is no debate over abortion…We are in unanimous agreement that human life begins at conception…” How can you be politically eclectic if there is no debate on the signature political question among the culturalists? Seems like saying you’re the kings of diversity by not seeing color.

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  3. I don’t think not going to church is the least of my worries when I read some of the quoted stuff above. But when I look at the transformers’ tactics, my fears are relieved. Their goal is far beyond their tactics when it comes to how Christians are to relate to society.

    At the same time, just as 2kers bring something to the table, so do the transformers. The transformer churches, IMO, seem to be more willing to speak out against social injustices as churches.

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  4. I have long (cynically?) viewed Redeemerism aka Cultural Presbyterianism aka Whatever Tim Is Advocating as a marketing strategy for bringing in the urbanites who are more sympathetic to Bono than to Calvin. If the old saw “what it takes to get ’em is what it takes to keep ’em” is true then the main thing this trend will transform is presbyterianism itself. And not in a good way.

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  5. As a “baptist” I never told my children that Jesus loved them. I never even told my children that efficacy of God’s covenantal love for them was conditioned on “faith”. I told my children that as many as believe the gospel will not perish. I told unbelievers who were not my children the very same thing.

    As a “baptist” I never taught my children about a “covenant of grace” which presumptively included the non-elect. Instead I told my children that Christ died only for the elect and that all for whom Christ will believe the gospel and be saved from God’s wrath because Christ had made propitiation for all the elect

    Better to teach my children words like imputation and propitiation than to teach them to sing of a love which does not ultimately appease God’s wrath or save sinners..

    Zrim, the distinction between theology and practice cuts both ways. Some paedos tell their little ones about the need for a transition from death to life. And as you indicate, some credos confuse being in a special family (or special culture) with being in the family of God. But God is still God (and still just) even when God does not love one of God’s creatures.

    Sentimental praxis does not change the fact that God has already imputed the sins of the elect to Christ. And not imputed to Christ the sins of the non-elect. To say we can’t know if we believe the gospel is to deny assurance in the gospel.

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  6. Z, I know the PCA company line on abortion and other culutral issues, but my guess is that if you polled She-reedemerites in Austin and other college towns or at the Manhattan Mothership you’d find substantial dissension.

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  7. C-dubs, jazz has come this close to breaking me up with Mrs. Z. Maybe marriage unifies in ways worldview cannot fathom.

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  8. Rules and cool.

    The Kellers stick to a few rules. They never talk about politics. Tim always preaches with a non-Christian audience in mind, not merely avoiding offense, but exploring the text to find its good news for unbelievers as well as believers. The church emphasizes excellence in music and art, to the point of paying their musicians well (though not union scale). And it calls people to love and bless the city. It isn’t an appeal based on guilt toward a poor, lost community.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/june/15.20.html?paging=off

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  9. Well, now I’m even more confused. The culturalists have “no debate” on abortion but they never talk about politics? How can they be so unified without any discussion or debate?

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  10. The PCA! Just go ahead and start with your head in your hands, that way you can more quickly move on to laughing out loud and inappropriately and talking to yourself.

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  11. I don’t think Kuyperians have any trouble saying “all of life” and “the church is essential”. Perhaps it’s those who think there’s a problem with the both / and who have the problem. Perhaps for them if “life is worship” or “Jesus is Lord 24/7/365” they would conclude that the church is just a sideshow. I don’t know of any Kuyperians who actually think that.

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  12. Terry, it’s called an implication, but in your w-w, you never have to answer for there neo-Calvinism may lead. Everything’s good. It’s almost Roman Catholic.

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  13. If all of life is worship and church is worship, then church might be considered essential just as one might consider going to a good school and having a decent job are essential. Under neo-Calvinism church might still be essential — it just isn’t significantly different from anything else that is essential.

    So much for sphere sovereignty, let alone 2K. If all of life is worship then there is only one sphere with everything and anything thrown into it.

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  14. For what it’s worth, I once heard a sermon (by a PCA minister, no less) in which it was pointed out that Kuyper himself was irregular in his church attendance and that he even penned a number of his meditations for the newspaper he edited on Sunday mornings.

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  15. I don’t see any problem with saying that all of life is service. Aren’t we to bring honor to Christ in all that we do? And are there not greek and hebrew words that can be translated as either worship or serve? As long as corporate worship is included as a necessary form of worship, why can’t all of life be regarded as worship?

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  16. This seems like a good thread for this question, given all the comments about the PCA.

    A PCA congregation seems to be the only reformed church, unless Reformed Anglican counts, within an 60-90 minute radius of the city we just moved to. Based on comments here it doesn’t seem like many would recommend going there. Is it actually a decent option or no?

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  17. Stephen,
    As with most denominations, it all depends on the individual church you are visiting. Unfortunately, there is a tribalism within different factions of the Reformed movement such as between 2kers and transformers and between denominations. That tribalism often leads us into pride and denying the contributions others make.

    I would try the church a few times and talk to the staff there before deciding.

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  18. Curt, because work is not holy and worship involves ascending God’s holy hill. Were the Israelites wrong to transport grain? No. If they did on the Lord’s Day? No no.

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  19. D.G.,
    If we agree with Kuyper that Christ is claiming everything for himself, how is our work not holy? Romans 14:5 talks of one person who considers one day MORE sacred than the others while another person considers all of the days to be the same. How is not everyday being Holy?

    Work is holy because the Holy Spirit dwells in us all of the time in a more personal and profound way than He dwelt in the Israelites. Why? Because of Christ’s finished work of atonement. Though there is some continuity, there is such a profound discontinuity between how the Israelites approached God then with how we approach him now because of the finished work of Christ. Thus, everything we do should be holy including our work, our play, our speech, and so forth.

    So in short: YES, YES. I guess this breaks the small string of agreements I had with you.

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  20. D.G.,
    DIdn’t you read Romans 14:5? I gave a rough paraphrase above. Similarly when the Samaritan woman asked Jesus where should God be worshipped, He replied that the time is coming and is now that God is worshipped in spirit and in truth. Thus God is worshipped everywhere.

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  21. Curt wants all the days to be special and all the things we do to be special. I’ll try that on Ms. Gravel: every day is our anniversary, honey. Everyday is your birthday, honey. You’re just as special as all the other women, dear.

    Chorts, can I crash on your couch if this deal doesn’t go well?

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  22. D.G.,
    Serving and worshipping are sometimes used interchangeably. So I guess it depends why one is breaking bread. There is no division between secular work and sacred work which I can see in the New Testament. What makes any kind of work holy is why we are doing the work. If we are doing the work to serve God, it is holy regardless of whether it is preaching, singing hymns, or baking bread. That doesn’t mean that one can necessarily substituted for the other because there are different ways of serving and worshipping God and some ways have specific purposes.

    When it comes to corporate worship or individual devotions, baking bread is not a part of that kind of services and worship and we are commanded to participate in both corporate worship and individual devotions. But how we do our work involves holiness issues because we are to serve God in how we work. And again, service and worship go together.

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  23. Curt, if you bake on Sunday you profane it. Like Walter says, “My point is, here we are, it’s shabbas, the sabbath, which I’m allowed to break only if it’s a matter of life or death…”

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  24. D.G.,
    Says and some others who say that say that there is only one holy day. And why do they say this? From what you wrote earlier, Israel is your model and that is the problem. And perhaps that is why we don’t see, in the NT, the same emphasis placed on Sunday as we do on Saturday in the OT. That is because a new and more broad perspective is used in the NT than that in the OT. And the differences hinge on Christ and His passion. If we use your deduction, not only do we negate what is stated in Romans 14:5 and Colossians 2:16-17. And if we used your same reasoning, we also contradict what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman regarding where we should worship.

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  25. Curt — you can disagree about whether Sunday is holy, but just know that you are disagreeing with the historical consensus of Reformed theology, from Calvin to the Westminster Standards, to today’s NAPARC churches.

    This is not to say, of course, that history is dispositive, but it is to say that the Reformed have devoted a lot of writing on theology and exegesis relating to the Lord’s Day.

    You might want to read up on the subject some as it will help you avoid raising unconvincing objections and save you from more one line responses by DGH.

    For starters you could check out the Westminster Standards and the Heidelberg Catechism.

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  26. To MH,
    Yes, but then look at Augustine and Luther. And look at the Council of Laodicea’s concern with Christians judaizing the the Sabbath.

    Yes, we should read why Calvin and the Westminster Standards say what they do about the Sabbath–note that the emphasis is on why they say it. But we should take as more important what the NT says about it and whether the Reformed view, actually I guess we are looking at the Scottish version here, is supported by the NT.

    BTW, I have found D.G.’s one line responses unconvincing. And he didn’t address what was said in Romans 14:5 and Colossians 2:16-17. But more important is the return to the dynamic that existed in the OT by D.G. Such does not address the changes brought by the NT.

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  27. Curt, the Scottish view was (is?) the same as the Genevan, the Voetian Dutch, and just about every other Reformed tradition you can name. Even the Cocceians recognized the uniqueness of Sunday as the Lord’s Day.

    Reformed theologians have in fact interacted with, and indeed relied upon, the NT for their understanding of the Lord’s Day. For example, the phrase “the Lord’s Day” comes from the apostle John (why would he use that phrase if Sunday was just another Monday)?

    If I were you, I wouldn’t expect anything more than one liners from DGH because frankly this blog is not a seminary class.

    I’m not saying that if you better understood the Reformed position you would agree with it, rather I am saying that you would understand why the objections that you have raised are not, in our opinion, on point. .

    For example, I would take some time and really do some exegetical work on the passages you have cited — I really don’t think that they mean what you think they mean.

    Also, take a hard look at the regulative principle of worship and the Reformed understanding of the means of grace (especially relating to preaching and the sacraments). Furthermore, the Reformed teaching regarding eschatology, Kingdom of God (especially in the Gospels and NT Epistles), and creation / new creation play an important role in the Reformed understanding of the Lord’s Day.

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  28. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 28, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink
    Curt, because the Bible says only one day out of seven is holy.

    That was easy.

    And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted August 28, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
    Curt, if you bake on Sunday you profane it. Like Walter says, “My point is, here we are, it’s shabbas, the sabbath, which I’m allowed to break only if it’s a matter of life or death…”

    Walter’s an idiot. He ruins everything then ends up dead.

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  29. Curt, DG, et al:

    So is there a primer somewhere or a place to start for figuring this out?

    I realize that these kinds of questions aren’t standard fare for this site, but I have no background in Reformed churches/theology and no go-to person for these kinds of questions.

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  30. d4v34x
    Posted August 28, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    I agree. The sabbath was made for man; so man should accept the gift of it, right?

    Aye.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted August 28, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink
    Curt, because the Bible says only one day out of seven is holy.

    So I don’t know what DGH’s reply really means, although it sounds properly glib. There’s the dimension that shabbas is for worship, but then again it’s a day of rest. And how that translates into “holy” [heaven’s holy and every day is Sunday], this needs a little explicationizing.

    You’d hate to leave the other 6 days to…SATAN!

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  31. Darryl, of course, two can play that game. You guys don’t seem to like it when critics say that your view has creation-denying implications.

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  32. It’s always easy when we don’t engage. Just appeal to a nonbiblical authority and say they said so. But can one do more than that to give the reasons for why they do things?

    During the intertestimental times, we have Jesus commenting on what the Old Testament says. But remember that is not what Paul did and he spoke about the sabbath. The only other instruction we’re given from the epistles is not to neglect meeting together.

    When nonbelievers ask why we do things, we sometimes have to be content to say that is what God’ Word says. But as often as possible, we should be able to explain why we do things. Such communicates God’s Word. And this is especially true when we have such a change in dynamics between the Old and New Testaments because sometimes we have to explain to fellow Christians why we do things. Pointing to nonBiblical authorities as our final reference might suggest that such authorities are close to or on par with the Scriptures.

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  33. Yes, Tom, we meet on the Lord’s day but what other instructions are given especially to Gentile believers who did not share the sabbath heritage with Jewish believers? See, we have the instructions on how to keep days. One instruction from the epistles literally mentions the Sabbath and how no one should judge you for it while another references even the making of one day as being more sacred than the other as being one of personal belief.

    Implicit with the Sabbatarian view here is the idea that Adam would have been on a 6 day work and 1 day rest schedule. And yet that would be before the fall and the curse where work became exceedingly hard and fellowship with God was now broken. But we saw no explicit instructions given to Adam regarding that.

    So now we have a partial restoration of the Garden with the Gospel. Where the Garden is partially, or slightly to be more precise, is that our fellowship with God is closer now because of Christ’s work. So it is from all of that where we must ask ourselves what is the role of the Sabbath today. For if all we do to justify a practice is quote nonbiblical authorities, is it possible that we are, with regard to that practice, venturing toward a superstition? And that question is always on point. That is because our ties to the Reformed faith should always be based on whether it helps us understand God’s Word. But if we are merely following the Reformed tradition for other reasons, how does that tradition not be to us what the traditions of the scribes and pharisees were to them?

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  34. Terry, oh yeah? Who has been defending Christianity as otherworldly? MEEEE!

    Creation isn’t holy. It’s merely good. To a neo-Calvinist that sounds creation-denying.

    But if I have to forsake the world to have Jesus, give me Jesus. Sheesh. That sort of sounds biblical.

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  35. D.G.
    The word “world” has several meanings. On the one hand God so loved the word while on the other if we love the world, we don’t have the love of the Father. But when the neo-Calvinists speak of the world as holy, they are speaking in terms of redeeming the world–or we could say redeeming all of life in the world.

    To me, what we do that is holy depends on what we set aside to do for Christ. After all, isn’t that what the word “holy” means from a human perspective?

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  36. Stephen, you have to look for the marks of the church: preaching, sacraments, and discipline or, I think a better wait to put them — doctrine, worship, and order. Calvin said (at least once) that true religion consisted of proper worship and proper salvation doctrine. so “good preaching” and wacky worship is not as acceptable for the Reformed as it is for evanjelly-cals. As for churches, you go with the best available. It’s a tough call in some areas.

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  37. With a tip of the cap to my blues brother Pascal, are you worse off for observing the Lord’s Day? You worship a couple times, hear preaching a couple times, spend some extra time thinking about stuff that tends to get crowded out the other six days, rest your carcass, and smoke a better cigar. So you could have watched football, gone shopping, or stuffed envelopes with socialist flyers – is that a life better spent? I’ve never been arrested or passed out on the Lord’s Day. So if hundreds of Reformers were wrong about it, how am I worse off anyway? That’s the Pascal part.

    A man on his death bed: “dang, I wish I had set apart less time to the Lord on Sundays!” That’s a fail.

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  38. Terry, “creation-denying implications”? But 2kers are the ones who say creation is so good it needs no redeeming–it’s the neos who seem to think something’s wrong with it. But if by “creation-denying” you mean “putting temporal creation into eternal perspective, thereby lending a little nuance to the whole question,” then guilty as charged.

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  39. MG,
    Getting arrested isn’t the real issue. The real issue is why one gets arrested. Though I have never been arrested, I respect many of my activist friends who have put themselves in handcuffs way to speak out for those being oppressed. Besides, what I think about from Monday to Saturday is what I think about Sunday because I relate all of it to God’s Word.

    I would also add that perhaps we should read Isaiah 58-59 before determining what are the marks of a good church

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  40. Curt, the true Oppressed Class has enough problems without getting arrested on purpose. People who get arrested on purpose are guilty bourgeois posers who think it’s cooler to do that than work.

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  41. Stephen, if it acts and sounds like evangelicalism, it means they don’t understand and are defaulting to what everyone else does. Find a church that is centered around the preaching of the word-where Christ is found in the text not self-improvement and the administration of the sacraments is practiced. Go for simple and profound.

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  42. Zrim, what do you mean when you say “But 2kers are the ones who say creation is so good it needs no redeeming”, in light of Rom 8:20,21?

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  43. Yes, Darryl, God’s good creation is fallen and needs redemption. But Christ has accomplished it. It all now says “Holy to the Lord.” We see it by faith and work toward the fullness (as we do with our own sanctification).

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  44. Curt, I won’t find much common ground with you on economic matters, but many of your comments are apt: “if all we do to justify a practice is quote nonbiblical authorities…..if we are merely following the Reformed tradition for other reasons, how does that tradition not be to us what the traditions of the scribes and pharisees were to them?”.

    Hard core reformed folks seem to appeal to their extrabiblical confessions in the same way RCC folks appeal to their magisterium and Tradition. (Now, excuse me, while I prepare to brace myself for a barrage of eeeevangelical-Biblicist blasts.)

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  45. D.G.,
    Aren’t the neo-Calvinist saying that bringing Christ’s redemption to the world makes it holy?

    Terry,
    When John talks about not loving the world, it has to do with our desires and pride. When he talks about God loving the world, he is talking about coming to save those in the world. And lest the unbeliever feels left out, God blesses them too such as with the sun and the rain.

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  46. Curt, right. so if the world needs to be redeemed, don’t we stay away from what is profane until it becomes redeemed?

    And how, pray tell, do you extend an altar call to a cat?

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  47. Petros, whatever Romans 8 means, it isn’t that creation is inherently flawed. And even if wider creation needs redeeming the way the imago Dei does, that’s God’s work alone and not something those who are actually being redeemed are called to. But the wider creation is groaning because even it knows that as goes the imago Dei so it does–do transformers?

    And careful giving Curt biblicist props. He’s all for civil disobedience but cannot make the biblical case, only the extra-biblical one.

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  48. Zrim,
    “it isn’t that creation is inherently flawed” – I agree, with the emphasis on ‘inherently’, of course.

    “wider creation needs redeeming the way the imago Dei does, that’s God’s work alone and not something those who are actually being redeemed are called to.” I only partially agree. Yes, redemption IS God’s work alone. But, you err in saying we have no part in that. Cf 2 Cor 5:18-20. We are His ambassadors, and must fulfill that calling.

    “the wider creation is groaning because even it knows that as goes the imago Dei so it does – do transformers?”. I agree, but while I can’t answer for whomever “transformers” are, I suspect they agree, too.

    Some of your general admonitions re civil obedience are well-taken. But, you sidestep answering Curt on whether those who illegally assisted Jews in WWII are to be criminalized, which is a direct consequence of your views, and you should deal with that. If you want Biblical examples of civil disobedience, it’s not that hard. Think of Hebrew midwives “but the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live” (Ex 1:17) or Rahab the harlot.

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  49. Zrim nailed it ages ago, when he distinguished between cultic disobedience and civil disobedience.

    Haven’t forgot that one.

    Obey them that have the rule over you, until they demand that you flip King Jesus the bird.

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  50. Bruce,
    “Zrim nailed it”??? Yes, there’s a diff between “cultic” and “civil” disobedience, as a matter of definition. What remains for Zrim (or you) to explain is why Hebrew midwives, Rahab, and people who illegally protected Jews in WWII are to be culpable, rather than praised. These are all examples of civil, not cultic, disobedience.

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  51. Petros, my point about civil disobedience has nothing to do with legalities and criminalization, which is why I don’t answer it. It has to do with those who on the one hand want Christian lives to be about biblical ethics but on the other affirm an ethic no where to be found in the Bible.

    Like Bruce helpfully reminds, the example of the midwives is simply this: men say kill kids, God says don’t, so obey God rather than men and don’t. How hard is this?

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  52. Zrim,

    You say: “the example of the midwives is simply this: men say kill kids, God says don’t, so obey God rather than men and don’t. How hard is this?”

    It doesn’t strike me as hard at all. But perhaps you should look in the mirror and ask that very question of the guy who Posted August 27, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink. “nothing in the NT condones any kind of civil disobedience.”

    Let us know when you have a conclusion to your own debates within yourself.

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  53. D.G.,
    That depends on how valid Isaiah’s warning to the Israelites was in Chapters 58-59 and Francis Schaeffer’s criticism of, and warning about, Western Civilization’s pursuit of personal peace and prosperity.

    Plus, we have to make sure that we are not employing Greek dualism rather than recognizing that the pollution in the world starts with our lust and desire for pride.

    Do the Great Commission and our call to stewardship mean that we have to go out in an uncomfortable world to bring justice and the Gospel of redemption on multiple levels?

    As for alter calls for cats? First, not all of work involves converting people to believing in Christ. Second, I’m a dog person so what do you think the answer is?

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  54. Zrim,
    Just because there are no examples of certain actions does not mean we are not called to practice them depending on the context. Second, When the apostles were thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel, that wasn’t civil disobedience? When the prophets preached repentance to the OT kings, that wasn’t civil disobedience?

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  55. Zrim,
    Again, do passages like Isaiah 58-59 tell us to be concerned about justice? Weren’t the OT prophets concerned about justice? We live in a world where the dominant economic system is based on the love of money and selfish ambition. Seems like such a world is full of opportunities to work for justice and preach the Gospel. Those opportunities are abundant unless we are seeking our own personal peace and prosperity. If the latter is true, then have we fallen to the temptation of the love of money?

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  56. Petros and Curt, none of those instances- from the midwives to the apostles– are civil disobedience, it’s obeying God. I understand it sends chills down your spine to think of disobedience in righteous ways, but the Bible wants to foster the virtue of obedience which is why it casts things in those terms, either to God or to his ministers the civil powers. Find me one place where it casts disobedience in affirmative terms.

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  57. Curt, you do realize that if justice prevailed the way you want none of us would stand on the last day? Justice is great, but grace is better. That never comes through with you justice mongers.

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  58. Zrim,
    Do you realize what the prophets tell us about pursuing justice? We are not being asked to God in pursuing justice. But are being told to liberate the oppressed, to not exploit, and to aid the vulnerable (again, see Isaiah 58). In fact, Jeremiah 22:16 says it this way:

    He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
    and so all went well.
    Is that not what it means to know me?”
    declares the Lord.

    See, to define pursuing justice in a way that demands we act as God is a way of excusing our avoidance of what we can do.

    And yes, what both the midwives and the apostles did qualifies as civil disobedience. And again, it goes down to loving one’s neighbor. Say you are living in Nazi Germany. Are you going to obey the civil authorities or will you be willing to hide Socialists, Communists, Gypsies, homosexual, or Jews from Nazi persecution? Each group was sent to the gas chambers. And the question is would you be complicit by obeying the gov’t and keeping your own nose clean or are you going to love your neighbor?

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  59. Per wiki, “Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, or commands of a government”. The midwives did exactly that, and Rahab did exactly that. Apostles, too. (Yes, of course, they also feared and obeyed God.)

    Zrim, you must be dizzy from running yourself in circles in your quest to (at worst) deny or (at best) redefine, that there are explicit Biblical examples of people who are honored for their civil disobedience. (But, no doubt, you gotta be in tremendous shape from all that exercise!) Why do you have so much at stake?

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  60. Zrim and Chortles – newsflash: Buy Your Tickets! “Oct. 3 – 4, 2014 Michael Horton will be participating in The Gospel Coalition New England Regional Conference in Boston.”

    Egads, Horton at the GC! Would this be the sign of the apocalypse for you?

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  61. Curt Day
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 5:40 am | Permalink
    Yes, Tom, we meet on the Lord’s day but what other instructions are given especially to Gentile believers who did not share the sabbath heritage with Jewish believers? See, we have the instructions on how to keep days. One instruction from the epistles literally mentions the Sabbath and how no one should judge you for it while another references even the making of one day as being more sacred than the other as being one of personal belief.

    Implicit with the Sabbatarian view here is the idea that Adam would have been on a 6 day work and 1 day rest schedule. And yet that would be before the fall and the curse where work became exceedingly hard and fellowship with God was now broken. But we saw no explicit instructions given to Adam regarding that.

    So now we have a partial restoration of the Garden with the Gospel. Where the Garden is partially, or slightly to be more precise, is that our fellowship with God is closer now because of Christ’s work. So it is from all of that where we must ask ourselves what is the role of the Sabbath today. For if all we do to justify a practice is quote nonbiblical authorities, is it possible that we are, with regard to that practice, venturing toward a superstition? And that question is always on point. That is because our ties to the Reformed faith should always be based on whether it helps us understand God’s Word. But if we are merely following the Reformed tradition for other reasons, how does that tradition not be to us what the traditions of the scribes and pharisees were to them?

    Props on this, Curt. Elegant.

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  62. No surprise, Pete — hardcore old schoolers started smelling trouble from Horton a few years ago when he started wearing suits that fit, grew a goatee, and got his hair cut short and cool. Always bad signs.

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  63. And the White Horse Inn has a cruise, which seems to be de rigueur for “ministries” these days. Some OL regulars were planning a booze cruise on a rusted pontoon boat on some flaming Midwestern river, but that’s another thing altogether.

    And Horton lives in Cali, for Tom Van Dyke’s sake. What do you expect?

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  64. DA Carson is one of the white guys speaking along with Mike Horton in Boston. Carson seems to have a Lutheran view of the atonement.

    Carson—In recent years I have tried to read both primary and secondary sources on the doctrine of the Atonement from Calvin on. One of my most forceful impressions is that the categories of the debate gradually shift with time so as to force disjunction where a slightly different bit of question-framing would allow synthesis……I argue, then, that both Arminians and Calvinists should rightly affirm that Christ died for all, in the sense that Christ’s death was sufficient for all and that Scripture portrays God as inviting, commanding, and desiring the salvation of all, out of love

    Carson– This approach, I content, must surely come as a relief to young preachers in the Reformed tradition who hunger to preach the Gospel effectively but who do not know how far they can go in saying things such as “God loves you” to unbelievers. When I have preached or lectured in Reformed circles, I have often been asked the question, “Do you feel free to tell unbelievers that God loves them?” No doubt the question is put to me because I still do a fair bit of evangelism, and people want models. I have no hesitation in answering this question from young Reformed preachers affirmatively: Of course I tell the unconverted that God loves them.

    Lee Gatiss, For Us and Our Salvation, p 118—-In a Constantinian context, appealing to the conscience to “accept the Christ who died for you” may have had a very powerful effect on those haunted by the weighty obligation of their baptism and church membership . Many intuitively felt the significance of their citizenship in a Christian society. Yet as the ghost of nominal Christianity is driven out by modern secularism perhaps such a strategy has had its day.

    mcmark—- if a theist coalition does not continue to prosper, how will our society have any authority left to kill all those Muslims for whom Christ died?

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  65. Curt, have you considered that those dead in trespasses and sins (even those with all manner of worldly wealth) are the poor and needy?

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  66. Petros, my point has to do with how the Bible frames things, not Wiki. And the Bible esteems obedience and condemns disobedience. The point is that simple, and frankly not a little perplexing as to how anybody could possibly protest it. It’s not meant to sort out the complexities of living through the American Revolution or the Third Reich, nor act as a device to declare in fell swoops some worthy of condemnation or exultation. You know, it is possible to admit the plain teaching of the Bible while at the same time owning up to how difficult it is to harmonize that with those complexities. That’s what it means to be human, but you and Curt act as if you have it all sewn up; you two know precisely what is the right side of righteousness and just where you’d be found. Well, bully for you. Must be nice being so spiritual and upright.

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  67. Press on, Zrim.

    I won’t go into detail on the medical exercise I have to perform a hundred times a day since a recent fall…

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  68. Zrim,
    Obedience and disobedience to whom? And what was the context? And what if obedience means not loving our neighbor?

    In one sense, you are hitting the nail on the head but perhaps for a different reason. While we get stuck in a keep my nose clean obedience, Jesus said that we are love God and our neighbor. What Jesus is pointing to is a more outer-directed life. The keep my nose clean obedience is an inner-directed life. It was the life of the Pharisees as well. And it is the kind of life that struggles to bring honor to the Gospel.

    This is why you hit the nail on the head but for a different reason. While you stress obedience, it is the kind of life which is inner-directed and keeps us too vigilant about ourselves to love our neighbor. Remember Paul’s distinction between the works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Galatians 5 tells us how to end up not following the law better by focusing on Christ rather than the law.

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  69. Zrim,

    “You know, it is possible to admit the plain teaching of the Bible while at the same time owning up to how difficult it is to harmonize that with those complexities.”

    And yet those difficulties and complexities seems to vanish with your blanket condemnations of disobedience and Petros/Curt’s position. So people need to be nuanced and careful when examining your position and 2k, but any non-2k positions are immediately nuked as clearly unbiblical. Got it.

    “Curt, have you considered that those dead in trespasses and sins (even those with all manner of worldly wealth) are the poor and needy?”

    Of course the two are not mutually exclusive. Orphans and widows can be dead in sins – they’re still orphans and widows and called out in Scripture.

    On one hand you say “And the Bible esteems obedience and condemns disobedience.”
    OTOH “the example of the midwives is simply this: men say kill kids, God says don’t, so obey God rather than men and don’t.”

    Please explain how you are not disobeying men when you don’t obey men to obey God? And then how that maps to your criticism of Curt/Petros? Please then explain when one is justified in obeying God and not obeying man in your view. Perhaps you agree with Bruce that such behavior is only justified when “Obey them that have the rule over you, until they demand that you flip King Jesus the bird.” The problem I see is that you and others seem to limit flipping King Jesus the bird to just denying preaching the gospel (although apparently this does not include handing out tracts for some reason according to the other thread), rather than denial of acts of charity/mercy (which many would argue of course is a form of preaching, sometimes more effective than just words). But then you above say you can disobey men when ordered to kill children. So I don’t know what exactly your position is. Are you saying you can only disobey rulers when they *command* sin, but not if they *permit/encourage* sin with their policies/laws/actions?

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  70. Cletus,
    According to the Scriptures, everybody who doesn’t believe are dead in trespasses and sins. But that does not mean that we should minimize other needs. In fact, we might be gain a hearing for the gospel by ministering to other needs.

    But it isn’t just the vulnerable who are helped by working for social justice, those who oppress are helped as well when they stop their oppression.

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  71. Gal. 1:13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

    I agree with David Gordon—-Thus, Paul’s complicit behavior in the stoning of Stephen was justifiable, even obligatory, by the standards of the covenant Paul then served. There was no provision in the Mosaic law for an individual to dissent from the judgment of the Sanhedrin, such as when our Supreme Court justices render dissenting opinions.

    Gordon— Paul was killing people, which we take to be incompatible with regeneration, but which was required of the faithful in the OT.
    1. Leviticus. 24:16 ‘Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
    2. Deut. 13:6 “If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known,7 of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him.9 “But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.10 “So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

    mcmark–this is one of the reasons we need to say with the Bible “covenants” and not “the covenant”. What we call the “non-ceremonial” parts of “the covenant” is us cherry-picking to make the system work….By all means avoid seeing the continuity between the Abrahamic and the Mosaic covenants…

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  72. CvD, right, when commanded by men to do or not do that which God has commanded us to not do or do then obey God rather than men. If you want to construe that as disobeying men, fine, but what I’ve been trying to say is that the Bible always puts things in terms of obedience (to God) so I don’t know what is to be gained by framing it in terms of disobedience (of men). Again, perhaps trifling but I think the way we speak is actually more important than we often assume–there’s that pesky logocentrism again.

    To boot, when men command doing something we simply don’t like but is also nothing that obliges us to sin, then obey.

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  73. Zrim, no need for anyone to “construe that as disobeying man”, it IS disobeying man. No construal required. You ask, “what is to be gained”? How about balance and wisdom, for two things. A deep understanding and respect of, say, Rom 13:1,2 or I Peter 2:13 is essential. But, those texts are not the sum total of what the Bible has to say about submission to earthly authorities. There is valuable wisdom to be gained by surveying everything the Bible has to say, and examining if there are possibly extenuating circumstances, where, indeed, God just may expect civil disobedience out of His people. (Again, I happily concede and agree that many, just not all, of your 2K pts about civil obedience are well-taken.)

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