A Pastor on the Verge

In my few interactions with David Robertson, I have noticed that he does not suffer fools patiently. He also seems to have a patronizing attitude toward Christianity in the United States. Nothing wrong with either of these outlooks, but I do wonder if he sometimes hears himself.

For instance, he has been a defender of Tim Keller and appears at times to be inspired by the NYC pastor. But could anyone imagine TKNY writing this:

the kind of ‘reconciliation’ being posited is papering over the real cracks in society. This is more about politicians’ games and media manipulation than any attempt to deal with the real problems in our society. It enabled politicians to say look we are ‘better together’ and it allowed the Church to feel significant.

I found it all more than a little patronising and fake. And I’m not sure I do want to be reconciled to the poverty, injustice, sexual abuse and the growing gaps between the rich and powerful and the poor and powerless. I want to scream at the darkness, not pretend everything is sweetness and light. But even though there is a deeper reconciliation in society needed, there is something even more basic than that. . . .

God’s new community is salt and light in a dark and tasteless world. We are not those who speak of the shared values of the powerful elites, who say ‘peace, peace when there is no peace’. We are those who point to Christ, the light of the world and who ourselves live by that light. Reconciliation will only come through reformation, renewal and revival!

It would be hard to imagine Keller writing about Mayors Guiliani or Bloomberg the way that Robertson writes about Prime Minister Cameron and other UK officials (though if Keller channeled Robertson he would be a lot more interesting to read).

It would also be hard not to see a bit of Robertson’s views about religion and politics in the way that American Christians conduct themselves (except for Keller):

In 1979 I had just become a Christian – I saw in the Gospel a far deeper hope and more radical solution that even Mrs Thatcher was offering and, as I wept, I dedicated myself to proclaiming the cause of Christ, where-ever He called me. Today I weep again for my country and I rededicate myself to that same cause. I don’t want to spend my time trying to steady the sinking ship. I want to man the lifeboats and rescue the drowning. I want to turn the world upside down. Is that so wrong?!

So you say you want a revolution? A Christian one? Say hello to the U.S. of A.

193 thoughts on “A Pastor on the Verge

  1. Wow, the equivalency he’s making in that second quote is thoroughly Xian Right. Can you imagine supposed Xian converts in the last six years whose dual motivation was the truth of the gospel and opposing Obama/taking this country back? Whether Robbo meant to or not, that’s how it sound — a politico-cultural-spiritual melange, only on the other end of the ideological spectrum.

    And while the UK (still) religious and secular press hail Robertson as a visionary and a successful religious figure please remember that he was a big part of introducing hymns into the previously exclusive psalmody Free Church — a dubious accomplishment in my mind.

    Like

  2. Let’s see, Robbo helps popularize bad hymns, contemporary worship, and culture-warring neo-Calvinism in presbyterian church. For this he deserves American citizenship, honorary PCA membership, and a stars-and-stripes tank top.

    Like

  3. I would love a revolution, a nonviolent, democratic revolution. But it has to be a heterogeneous one. I am not into paternalism or domination.

    Like

  4. Well, to muddy the waters even more, Roberton has been a regular fixture at Ligon Duncan’s Twin Lakes Conference for years. Twin Lakes was started to be a kind of confessional alternative to the broadly evangelical side of the PCA. It looks like that line is becoming increasingly blurred based on this post and the rapprochement between Reformed Theological Seminary and Redeemer NYC –
    http://www.redeemercitytocity.com/blog/cityministryprogram

    Like

  5. Curt, have you been listening to Leadbelly?

    Home of the brave, land of the free
    I don’t wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
    Lord, in a bourgeois town
    Uhm, the bourgeois town
    I got the bourgeois blues
    Gonna spread the news all around

    Read more: Leadbelly – The Bourgeois Blues Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    Like

  6. Zrim,
    I have nothing to worry about then except for one thing. I do have pictures of the wife with me and she was the chair of her department where she taught. Do I have to worry about carrying pictures of Chairperson Wife?

    Like

  7. Chortles,

    I witnessed the snuggling firsthand during the General Assembly debate about the Strategic Plan and the seminar co-led by both Duncan and Keller. I haven’t been back to Twin Lakes since that time and may not return. I guess this is the triumph of New Side Presbyterianism. I suppose their motto is Live and Let Live.

    Like

  8. Curt, but was Lennon (John) more old lifey than Lenin (Vlad) and you?

    “You say you got a real solution (well, we’d all love to see the plan). You ask me for a contribution (well, we’re all doing what we can).”

    Like

  9. You Americans (sneer) really need to gain some perspective and appreciate the dear, earnest, effective, and faithful men which you have in Tim Keller, Ligon Duncan and a host of others. Scotland has only me so, per capita, you are more blessed than we are…which is ironic since you have a war-mongering, imperialistic government and your people are (by and large) boorish and offensive to me. And, no, I’m not still mad about the independence referendum.

    Like

  10. Curt – I would love a revolution, a nonviolent, democratic revolution. But it has to be a heterogeneous one. I am not into paternalism or domination.

    Erik – Boxers or Briefs?

    Like

  11. If corporate worship is a significant indication of a church’s theology and direction it is very telling that David Robertson’s church recently hosted possibly the world’s leading charismatic song writer, Stuart Townsend.

    Over recent decades the pathetic collapse of the evangelicals in the UK as they lapped up such ‘worship’ in order to be contemporary and to attract young people shows how desparate they are. Now the supposedly Reformed churches like Robertson’s are lapping it up too, making the Reformed scene ever more confusing if one is looking and hoping for a robustly and clearly defined Reformed uptake in the UK. Where is the Genevan psalter, the Scottish psalter and liturgy in all of this? I reckon it is gradually being supplanted by relaxed contemporary stuff which is far removed from the psalms. Next thing will be such churches inviting evangelical/charismatic leaders into their pulpits in the spirit of the Gospel Coalition. Then it will be be hard to see much distinction or difference between the supposedly Reformed and the charismatics with the latter winning the arguement of “We all stand for the same!”

    I would appreciate it if David Robertson would give a detailed reply to DG’s chapter in Engaging with Keller about Keller’s ecclesiology because the approach of the Wee flea is tilting towards the popular youth winning pasteurised and homogenised PCA model which has little Presbyterian reality in it. I think DG may have been saying Tim Keller was implementing this strategy, with a increasingly generic evangelical flavour to it.

    Like

  12. David Robertson,
    Having read your link it is a shame that you won’t engage in any of the reasonable issues I and others outlined; this is not and should be not about a “slagging match”as you call it and you should rightly ignore the silly and innane comments and respond to the reasonable ones.The main arguement I have is that you and those you work with have a a clear ethos of incorporating whatever is pragmatic in matters such as your church enthusing over Stuart Townsend’s stuff in order to show your contemporary credentials and in the process you arguably will move defintely towards an ecclesiology which has little to distinguish it from all the fluff found elsewhere in the UK. This is not a mad theory as most evangelical churches have exactly gone down this route of being neo-charismatic with doctrine which looks increasingly impoverished.

    For those who would dearly like to see a recovery of Reformed ecclesiology as opposed to the mind boggling stuff found in so many churches today, your tilt in the FCS does show a massive move/betrayal towards a contemporary and increasingly non Reformed ecclesiology from what the FCS historically stood for – the FPCS were right perhaps about you after all! Have you anything to add which is not found in your link? Or are you simply not willing to take up the issues and talk them out? If folks calmed down this could be a good discussion, and OL is hopefully about good, stimulating debate.

    Like

  13. Paul – no I am not going to engage here because of the nature of the comments above – and I should not have to be the one doing the filtering. You can feel free to question me on my own blog if you wish. I really don’t appreciate dishonesty and miscalling and I find it really hard to argue against people who keep arguing against what you are not saying. For example you state as a fact that “you and those you work with have a a clear ethos of incorporating whatever is pragmatic in matters such as your church enthusing over Stuart Townsend’s stuff in order to show your contemporary credentials”. That is just simply not true. At so many different levels. So why should I engage with people who either lie, or are just too dumb to actually find out what they are supposed to be talking about? By the way speaking of ‘Reformed Ecclesiology’…since when was church discipline done by blog and media innuendo? I belong to a Reformed church which sticks to the WCF and has church discipline. If you think I am going against that then feel free to raise it in the proper manner – not the kind of network reformed gossip that you guys seems to major in. And if for example any of the Towsend or Getty stuff that we sing (along with many others) is unbiblical or wrong then point it out. Don’t just label people and then condemn everyone. That is not reformed either. As I said I am out of here – the kind of views and ecclesiology represented here are deformed rather than reformed. And I have enough battles with non-Christians, liberals etc without adding this kind of weirdness to the list. Go hide behind your keyboards. Better still – start practicing being Reformed instead of just talking about it….

    Like

  14. DR – I find the comments above as being somewhat depressing and sad.

    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5.4

    You were expecting Victorious Christian Living?

    Or were you just being condescending?

    Like

  15. David,

    Why even bother commenting at all if this is going to be your performance? I had no idea who you even were before this, now I just have a bad impression of you.

    Better to ignore things than have a condescending rant and leave in a huff. Those comments will sit here in perpetuity.

    Like

  16. One thing we have no shortage of in Presbyterian & Reformed circles is people who take themselves WAY too seriously. No air freshener needed in those bathrooms…

    Like

  17. From David’s Open Letter:

    “Personally I remain deeply thankful to the Lord for the ministry of TK and I rejoice in the new partnership between TK/Redeemer and Ligon Duncan and RTS. I’m sure you will join in the celebrations!”

    Like

  18. He gets this one right:

    “My favourite was a Baptist eccentric who managed to take 45 minutes of an hour long sermon to critiquing yours truly because I did not think that American street preachers yelling at people on the streets of Scotland was the most effective way of communicating the Gospel. I’m sure you will agree that was hardly ‘preaching the Word of God’!”

    Like

  19. But then falters badly at the end:

    “PS. After writing this I went back to your blog which you linked me to. It is very very sad the pettiness, viciousness and ignorance shown in the comments. How pathetic that you seriously have people who think my speaking at Twin Lakes was a sign of its Downgrade – and the nasty snide comments about TK and LD. Do you think you could discourage this kind of comment (and the ‘fake David Robertson’ one) and encourage some of your followers to a) grow up a wee bit and b) start thinking and behaving like Christian men and not internet cowards. Having read the comments I’m afraid I have no desire to engage in any kind of internet debate. I have too much to do and don’t really want to wade around in that cesspit. I will of course respond to any serious comments you might make in due course….but sorry – I’m out of this. Already it leaves a bad taste..Lets just get on with The Work.”

    Like

  20. I know that Real David Robertson is a fan of Glenmorangie (I read approvingly a column concerning it in the Free Church magazine years ago titled “One Beaujolais, One Scotch, and One Beer”). My advice: have one.

    Like

  21. Zrim,
    Lennon, spelling of last name remove all ambiguity, said something that was both current and prophetic. He said that the leaders of the major countries were insane.

    And, btw, I am not a Lenin fan at all. His hijacking of the Revolution in no way represented what I am for.

    Like

  22. a soundbite from a sound-biter, but don’t decontruct his buts and his not sos, because that would be disrespectful to dr—– Which brings me to the title of the book, One Way Love. It just ain’t so. God loves us – BUT he does so in order that there MAY be two-way love. We don’t earn Gods love, BUT we surely must reciprocate it. Are we not to love the Lord our God, with all our heart and soul and mind? Sure he first loved us, BUT precisely because he did, we love him. It is NOT one way. It is very much two way. It’s a neat phrase designed to teach the wonderful truth that we did not initiate nor can we ever earn the love of God, BUT it is just simply not the truth that Gods love is one-way love. …Let me go further – it is NOT even the case that Gods love is unconditional whereas ours is conditional. God’s love is unconditional. He does not love us because we please him or earn it. And our love for him SHOULD also be unconditional. But equally we don’t love God because he pleases us or he earns it! Our love for God is not cupboard love, it is love with our whole heart, soul and mind. We love him for what he is in himself, NOT because he gives us….

    http://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/boring-grace-a-review-of-one-way-love-inexhaustible-grace-for-an-exhausted-world/

    Like

  23. Is God just to everybody? Does God love everybody? For David Robertson there is no distinction between love and justice. This means that all sin is a response to God’s love. But the biblical distinction between law and gospel means that God is just even to those that God never loved.

    David Robertson– It all depends on what you mean by law, and gospel. Did Jesus fail to distinguish between law and gospel when he said; if you love me you will keep my commands? Was the Sermon on the Mount, law or gospel? Was it helpful tips for practical living or a set of social and moral demands we must live out? I am not really sure that this hard and fast distinction between law and gospel actually works, because I am not sure it is absolutely biblical. When you use the word ‘law’ are you referring to the law of Moses, the law as in the Word of God, or the law as indicating the justice and character of God…..It’s a bit like the old ‘false’ dichotomy that people made between the love of God and the justice of God. I could never understand why it was considered unloving for God to be just! Or unjust for God to be love!

    http://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/an-open-letter-to-tullian-tchividjian-and-liberate/

    Nobody is saying that love exists apart from God or that justice exists apart from God.
    But the Bible does show God’s justice even to those God never “knew” (loved).

    Like

  24. Don’t forget Blind Rutling Lemon Peel, influenced The Rutles

    I guess the tenor of this thread could lead some to think we are jokermen only, oh well.

    Like

  25. If David stuck around for more than 10 minutes we could have had some interesting discussions. From his 2nd blog post that D.G. links:

    Thatcher and Tears

    “There are two times I have wept over a political result – first in 1979 when Mrs Thatcher was elected. Even as a 17 year old I was a bit of a political geek and had read her whole manifesto – I believed it. I knew she meant it and was a woman of conviction. I knew the devastation she would wreck on some parts of an already devastated Britain.”

    Like

  26. David Robertson wrote:

    ” How pathetic that you seriously have people who think my speaking at Twin Lakes was a sign of its Downgrade – and the nasty snide comments about TK and LD.”

    Dave Sarafolean replies:

    That’s a pretty serious misreading of what I wrote. I had no intention of referring to your presence at Twin Lakes as a Downgrade. That was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, I generally came away with a favorable impression after you spoke. As I stated at Old Life, Twin Lakes was started as a confessional alternative to the broad evangelical tendencies and practices of the PCA. It is a ministerial fraternal for kingdom extension. It has always been about the ordinary means of grace or as some put it, word and sacrament ministry. Your comment, as quoted by D.G. Hart appears to lack these qualities. That’s all I intended to say. As for the little joke about TK and LG, lighten up. You weren’t at GA and didn’t see what I, and quite a few other folks saw.

    As it stands it looks like I’m the one who doesn’t fit at Twin Lakes. I’ve attended three times and each time I come away with the impression that the leaders are singing off a different sheet of music than I am. While they talk about ordinary means of grace they tolerate in their presbyteries and in the denomination all sorts of things that go beyond Word and Sacrament ministry.

    Also posted at http://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/an-open-letter-to-dg-hart/

    Like

  27. Here is the content of Pastor Robinson’s letter in which he wishes (all about) me all the best:

    Dear Darryl,

    Thanks for posting your wee comments on some of my musings. I have to confess I found them a little bit hard to understand so forgive me if I have picked you up wrong. I thought that since you deemed to worthwhile to comment on my comments, I would do you the courtesy of taking you seriously and respond…

    1) You talk about our interactions. I am not sure that we have actually had any (hence this letter). I understand interaction as being when one person speaks, another responds, the first responds to that and so on. They interact with one another. From what I understand you post some of my comments, make a couple of encouraging and disparaging remarks and then leave it. There does not appear to be any interaction. Unless you call the mocking comments by various posters on your site that usually follow, interaction. On this side of the pond we generally like our interaction to be well, interactive. We talk to each other (not about each other),we argue and we engage. I’m afraid we are not large enough to engage in the kind of tribalism that seems to infect the American Reformed church.

    2) Thanks for the advice about hearing myself. I personally hate to listen to myself and to read what I write. I don’t really like talking to myself. I prefer talking to and listening to others. In that respect sometimes it is fascinating seeing how one is perceived by others at a great distance. Thanks for the insight.

    3) I am sorry that you think I have a patronising attitude towards Christianity in the United States. I hope that I don’t. Firstly I don’t actually know enough about it, and secondly I have greatly benefited from many Christians and churches in the US. My life would be much poorer without the likes of Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias and many of the non-superstar American Christians I have come to know and love. I am also a little concerned that you think there is nothing wrong with being patronising about the Church in the US. I think it is actually a dreadful thing – and certainly not something I would want to do, or make a career out of!

    4) I am not sure I should be classed a defender of Tim Keller. Tim can speak for himself. What I find fascinating is the advice I was given to stay out of the cesspit that is American church politics. It strikes me as wise advice that I try to heed. I cannot understand why people seem to find it so appealing and essential to attack and condemn those are different from them. Is it really because they are the bigger fish in the small pond? Personally I remain deeply thankful to the Lord for the ministry of TK and I rejoice in the new partnership between TK/Redeemer and Ligon Duncan and RTS. I’m sure you will join in the celebrations!

    5) I may be wrong but it seems as though you are not the biggest TK fan. So I assume that stating that even TK would not express himself in the way I do, is your way of saying ‘how low can you get’! What I find intriguing is that you then give a lengthy quote from yours truly and use it to complain about the way I speak about Prime Minister Cameron and other UK officials. The trouble is that the quote was not about Cameron or other UK officials. You are an historian and therefore you should know that a text without a context is just a pretext. You manage to quote me speaking about Scottish religious and political officialdom and then comment as though I was talking about the UK Prime Minister. The very opposite of what was being said. Besides which, much as I appreciate and love Tim Keller, I don’t determine how I speak, or what I say, by him or anyone else, (outwith Scripture).

    6) Can you help me with your remark – ‘though if Keller channelled Robertson he would be a lot more interesting to read’? We are not really into ‘channelling’ on this side of the pond – we tend to associate it with New Age practice (are you in California?) – however were you saying that TK would be much more interesting if he wrote like me (a wee dig at him and not true) or that I would be much more interesting if I wrote like Tim (a wee dig at me – and certainly true). Either way it’s a wee bit of a catty remark isn’t it and not really something you should be sending to me to post on my blog is it?

    7)Thanks for quoting my last quote – I like it so much (and often I don’t like my quotes) that I repeat it here “In 1979 I had just become a Christian – I saw in the Gospel a far deeper hope and more radical solution that even Mrs Thatcher was offering and, as I wept, I dedicated myself to proclaiming the cause of Christ, where-ever He called me. Today I weep again for my country and I rededicate myself to that same cause. I don’t want to spend my time trying to steady the sinking ship. I want to man the lifeboats and rescue the drowning. I want to turn the world upside down. Is that so wrong?! Were you citing it as something to be commended or condemned? I’m sorry but I don’t understand the subtle nuances of American Reformed culture – as a Brit I just don’t get that irony thing! Mind you I enjoyed a laugh at the man who commented on your blog “Wow, the equivalency he’s making in that second quote is thoroughly Xian Right.” I’ll have to keep that one for my resume – its makes a change from being called a socialist! I am not ashamed to say that I believe that politics will never save my country and that I do look for a spiritual revolution/reformation/revival.

    8) I find it interesting that you cite the USA as an example of a Christian Revolution. Interesting for lots of ways. You are someone who critiques the American church constantly and especially the ‘we are a Christian nation’ theocrats. So do you reckon that the USA is a Christian Revolution that failed? As you seem to have been against Scotland being independent of the UK, do you think that the colonies should be returned to her Majesty now that the American Christian Revolution has failed?

    9) I don’t blame you for this one – after all one can chose one’s friends but not one’s commentators but do you not find this comment which appeared on your blog, rather trivial and unbalanced? “And while the UK (still) religious and secular press hail Robertson as a visionary and a successful religious figure please remember that he was a big part of introducing hymns into the previously exclusive psalmody Free Church — a dubious accomplishment in my mind. I think someone else on your blog accused me of introducing contemporary worship. I can see the thinking – socialism leads to cymbalism! I used to love the way that a handful of people in the OPC and PCA would go on about ‘purity of worship’ and marvel at the quaint ‘Brigadoon’ image they had of the Free Church. I am sorry that we spoiled that vision. The Free Church actually had a full, frank and honest biblical discussion on this over a period of four years and we came to a biblical conclusion and changed our practice – which is now actually the practice of your own denomination. We still sing psalms, we have not split (in fact we are growing) and we have not turned into a bunch of happy clappy Arminians! Go figure.

    And while you are figuring, perhaps you can tell me why anyone in the US would comment on anything I write or say? Not just on your blog, but also in a few other US sites, I come across (or get sent links to) people I don’t know, and who don’t know me, talking about what I believe and think – and often just getting it completely wrong. My favourite was a Baptist eccentric who managed to take 45 minutes of an hour long sermon to critiquing yours truly because I did not think that American street preachers yelling at people on the streets of Scotland was the most effective way of communicating the Gospel. I’m sure you will agree that was hardly ‘preaching the Word of God’! My point is that I cannot see how anything I write would be of any relevance in some of the circles it gets quoted. But if it is, I would appreciate if people could actually argue against what I do say and not attribute motives and beliefs I don’t have. E.g. Just because I appreciated our National Health Service does not mean that I am an Obama supporting socialist and Satanist!

    One small matter for some of your correspondents – I don’t mind people who know me well calling me ‘Robbo’ or having a wee go. But those who don’t know me at all? It’s a bit cheap…so until you know me better, give up the faux pas familiarity and stick with ‘brother’ or ‘Sir’!

    10) And finally…lets turn to history again. You argue against the Establishment Principle and for a strict separation of Church and State. You may be right. It could be that the traditional Reformed position of Calvin, Luther, Knox, Chalmers, McCheyne etc. is wrong and that these men were just a product of their age and culture. It could be that the best system is the US style separation of Church and State. Or it could be that we are just as much a product of our age and culture. I don’t know if you would be interested but I wrote a defence of the Establishment Principle for the Free Church’s 150th anniversary in a book of essays called ‘Crown Him Lord of All.
    As Christianity declines in the US I’m not so sure that your system will not actually result in more extreme atheistic secular humanism than we get in Europe with our decaying Church state system. I actually don’t know the reality of what we will happen – though I suspect we would both agree that without Christ all our systems will fail.

    I know you are a history lecturer but you will forgive me for offering a little correction to your misunderstanding of the situation in Scotland. You wrote “ But shouldn’t he also say something about a complicated relationship between church and state in Scotland that concedes that the head of the church — the British monarch — is also head of the state.” It’s a simple but important fact; the Queen is not head of the Church of Scotland or in Scotland and never has been. Basic Presbyterian church polity tells us that Christ is the sole head of the Church. Basic Scottish history tells us that people were prepared to die for that belief!

    I think I’ll leave it there. It’s been fun. If you actually want to interact (as opposed to using me as a sounding board for whatever particular political issue is playing out in your circles across the pond) feel free to do so. Even better, the next time you are in Edinburgh Theological Seminary let me buy you a beer and give you a copy of Chalmers six lectures on the Establishment Principle!

    Wishing you all the best,

    Your brother in Christ

    David

    PS. After writing this I went back to your blog which you linked me to. It is very very sad the pettiness, viciousness and ignorance shown in the comments. How pathetic that you seriously have people who think my speaking at Twin Lakes was a sign of its Downgrade – and the nasty snide comments about TK and LD. Do you think you could discourage this kind of comment (and the ‘fake David Robertson’ one) and encourage some of your followers to a) grow up a wee bit and b) start thinking and behaving like Christian men and not internet cowards. Having read the comments I’m afraid I have no desire to engage in any kind of internet debate. I have too much to do and don’t really want to wade around in that cesspit. I will of course respond to any serious comments you might make in due course….but sorry – I’m out of this. Already it leaves a bad taste..Lets just get on with The Work.

    Almost as long as Jeff’s recent response to David R. (not that one).

    Like

  28. David Rob. “Don’t just label people and then condemn everyone.”

    And what exactly did you say about David Cameron and London during the debates about independence?

    Like

  29. David Rob.,

    I can’t respond to everything you write here. You are a pastor, you have Scotland in the balance, and you work in Christian endeavors beyond your parish. How do you find the time? You’re an inspiration to us all.

    I don’t think we can say much about Keller beyond we agree to disagree. I will explain that if Keller channeled you more he would be more lively and interesting to read. I like someone who gets in your face. I just wish you did it on the right issues.

    Thanks for the correction about your quote. I may have taken you out of context. But I have listened to your debates about independence and you said some fairly categorically negative things about Cameron, London government, as you have about Scottish officials. I wish Keller could do that.

    I don’t think 1776 was a Christian revolution. But my point was that if you apply theology to politics the way you do, someone could easily identify God’s will with 1776. So I’m not sure why you are dismissive to American Christians and the way they enter the public sphere. It seems to me we (really they because I disapprove of them) are only following European patterns of Christians trying to run the show.

    One last point: the establishment principle. I get it that you think it has a noble Reformed pedigree. But it also has a Roman Catholic (insert pope’s name here) and Eastern Orthodox (Theodosius) pedigree. The question for a Reformed Protestant is whether it has a biblical warrant and in the reading I’ve done the defenses are always historical, not biblical. Again, we are Protestants, right?

    Like

  30. I like David’s point #10. I like it because it focuses on the dividing line within the American Reformed community regarding the Church’s relationship to politics. And how Reformed Christians have responded suggests an answer to David’s question regarding whether we are just a product of our time. On the one hand, we have the transformers who desire a return of a privileged status to Christianity in politics and society. On the other hand, or in the other corner, we have 2kers who see a strict separation of Church and State to say that neither individual Christians nor the Church as a whole should promote any Christian positions in the political world. Of course, the actions of neither side is fully consistent with their positions. Anyway, this divide seems to resemble the Pax Americana vs isolationism debate in determining foreign policies. And the sad thing here is that there is no acknowledgment of a 3rd approach or any middle ground between the two even though 3rd approaches have been taken in the past..

    The strength of the 2k position is that they don’t, on most issues, seek any Christian privilege as society determines how we should live each other. The strength of the transformer position is that the Church gets to speak out on public issues and corporate (nonbusiness corporate) sins. It seems that while the transformers want some degree of Christian control over society the 2kers want to ignore the words of the OT prophets as they, in their time, spoke out against injustice.

    Like

  31. Mr. Robertson, sir (as you requested), maybe we have been guilty of idealizing the Wee Free. When I came to presbyterianism the FC was held up as a bulwark of proper worship and many Old Schoolers liked to point to your exclusive psalmody and say “look, they only sing psalms, can’t we sing them, too? And no bad hymns, please.” Now some (how many?) of your worship services look like average, broad PCA or even generic evangelical affairs. I’m sure it’s no fun being the ballast, but we appreciated that about the FC. I must admit to being surprised at how political you have become — that too is a disappointment to an Old Schooler, though I suppose it has plenty of precedent in Scottish history. But your job is not to please men — us or anyone else.

    Like

  32. Transforming = letters to Santa Claus

    No time for regrets or whim wishing after we take care of our families, tend to our vocation, do some charity work and try to get enough sleel

    Like

  33. Kent,
    And while you are at it, ignore the warnings of the OT prophets. That is the problem with the 2k position. Now if we all want to be tribal, we will end up defending our cultural interaction positions more than we defend the Bible because we will be willing to talk down to the other side. The problem is that both sides have weaknesses and so there is no reason add the sin of pride to one’s struggles.

    Like

  34. Curt, have you considered whether what you’re calling the strength of 2k (no Christian privilege in society) and the strength of neo-Calvinism (the Church gets to speak out on public issues and corporate sins) will have a hard time co-existing? I mean, do you really think those who approve of the church meddling in civil affairs won’t also be the same ones who think the church knows best on civil affairs and thus whose members should have some privilege in society? Get real.

    Like

  35. One problem that Curt and David Robertson have in their disdain for the Republican (U.S.) Party and the Conservative (U.K.) party is that their opposites, the Democratic (U.S.) Party and the Labour (U.K.) party, carry a lot of baggage that eclipses their (supposed) concern for the poor. If caring for the poor is your supreme value politically, get ready to join hands with lots of folks who frankly hate you and your Christian faith.

    Like

  36. Curt, have you ever considered that you aren’t an Old Testament prophet and the United States did not covenant with God at Sinai?

    Like

  37. I’m curious to know how Two Kingdom social thought would handle a modern day Luddite in their midst. And most poor and homeless folks I have encountered and associated with in Savannah, Charleston, Johnson City, Kingsport and Chicago are not hostile to the Christian faith. They love to talk about Jesus and faith. I’m not sure if they really know the Gospel but I have found they are receptive to talking about it and not hostile. I know a lot more wealthy folk, and those who are self-satisfied, self-sufficient and unconsciously self-righteous who are more hostile to the Gospel and Christian faith than poor folks are. The poor might not be pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and diligently working hard to get themselves out of their poverty but until you have been there and tried to work yourself out of the situation, and all the roadblocks in the way, I’m not sure you know what the hell you are talking about. Just let them die in the wilderness, I guess. Socialism is not Communism, and laissez-faire Capitalism is as overrated as “tough love.” Capitalism does move resources around more efficiently but it is never wise to allow the more talented and ambitious to gain too much power over markets and people. So, markets do need smart regulation to prevent that from happening and hold the egos and power hungry in check. That’s part of checks and balances that the country was founded upon. The whole idea of the Business Corporation as a living entity is being rethought in the courts of Law these days.

    Like

  38. I might be thinking wrongly here, so I will not take criticism of my remarks personally. In fact, I said what I did to stir up further debate. There are a lot of interesting social issues going on these days that could erupt into complete social unrest and chaos. It is good to talk about varying viewpoints in a constructive manner.

    Like

  39. Curt, i could not possibly care less what he has to say.

    You have to live your own life Curt, don’t let yourself get too tangled up in other people telling you what to do. Especially in the airy fairy game of “what i hate about your view of the faith.”

    And besides, you are invading on 2K turf. If you set up your own site I would not bother visiting it.

    Like

  40. David Robertson,
    Your reply about my issues were loaded with some sharp words, indirectly calling me dumb and there were some other like deformed, weird and lying. Do you use such words when you are interacting with your peers like TK, LD, and all such others? I know evangelicals can be savage about others once they are in private, but I thought someone who has something of a public face with the usual shop front of books/blog/conferences would be a little more humble in your choice of words.

    Let me put my main point in another way. Many ex charismatics like me escaped from the mad house of the stuff we were taught and the control freak mentality charismatics have by searching for church which was Biblically based and historically informed. We eventually found our way to Protestant Reformed truth, which accurately reflects Scripture. Imagine the horror and disbelief when in the very churches that are supposed to be Reformed they were now welcoming charismatic New Frontiers (Stuart Townsend) stuff into the worship – the very type of ethos we had taken some time and effort to get away from. Mind you, by getting with the latest which just happens to be also promoted by the well known folks you now associate with, I read you are quoted like some one to take notice of.

    The PCA and other Reformed denominations are being ruined by the push which is subtle, clever and insidious to mix and match such charismatic practise under the gospel banner first of all through so called worship. On a wider front men like John Piper who cleverly undermine historic Presbyterian practise and push a New Calvinism are now welcome and lauded at WTS East. If those who believe the Protestant beliefs are being undermined don’t want to see them diluted even more, then the push back in worship and many other areas needs constant vigilance, however much the well educated Masters educated clever types spin otherwise.

    David, going back to politics which you take an interest in your clever insinuations with the use of words like dumb, deformed etc. some how remind me of how clever chap Boris Johnson used crude words to demean the political party UKIP this last week. He in my little mind ended up looking too clever for his own good, and rather foolish as a result.

    Like

  41. MG,
    What about social justice is exclusive to the old covenant? In addition, what about what the OT Prophets said to the surrounding nations.

    God is a God of justice. How we can just assign that to the OT so that we only need to be concerned about our personal morals is puzzling.

    Like

  42. In our various political schemes to supposedly assist the poor (what politician is actually against helping the poor, at least in their rhetoric?) it is worth reflecting upon what God saw fit to include in the Ten Commandments and what he did not. Two of the Commandments are “Do Not Steal” and “Do Not Covet”. The modern Democratic Party and the modern Labour Party will steal and covet as much as they can possibly get away with — ostensibly for the benefit of the poor, of course.

    If assisting the poor at all costs was God’s supreme value, why the Commandments to not steal and not covet? He knew that “the wealthy” would have a lot of assets. Why not make it easier for people and governments to get others’ wealth while still appearing to be virtuous?

    Like

  43. John,

    If getting up every day for 40 years, going to work, working hard, and having something to give to my family and church is self-righteous, call me self-righteous.

    There is a certain amount of covetousness of others’ position in life that the down-and-out need to be wary of. Don’t call good evil out of envy and depression. Aspire to it yourself. No excuses.

    Like

  44. And there are glaring weaknesses in 2K, as there are in any part of the faith. No shocker there.

    It takes all kinds of gifts and talents and vocations to build the Kingdom

    But what makes it so appealing that you can’t resist spouting off what you don’t like about us?

    Like

  45. Erik,
    It seems to me to be a double standard to quote those two commandments to those who, all too often, don’t have the basic necessities of life and to those who try to help them but not to quote those commandments to those who have more than enough who look to maximize profits and only interest is self-interest. Not only is that hypocrisy, by making it appear that Christianity is a religion of the rich, we cause people to reject the Gospel as we ignore the historical precedents we are following.

    Like

  46. Paul – Imagine the horror and disbelief when in the very churches that are supposed to be Reformed they were now welcoming charismatic New Frontiers (Stuart Townsend) stuff into the worship – the very type of ethos we had taken some time and effort to get away from.

    Erik – You have every right to take offense. Be prepared to be called mean, though, like David Robertson was doing yesterday.

    Like

  47. Curt,

    “Justice” is equality before the law, not equality of outcomes.

    Think about what it would take to make many poor people “equal” or “wealthy”. If a poor person dropped out of school, is on drugs, is a drunk, is a gambling addict, is a sex addict, or makes all kinds of other poor choices, how much money do you have to give them to make them wealthy? It’s like pouring water into a sieve and wondering why it’s not filling up.

    God understands human nature, unlike modern liberals. This is why the Bible teaches “He who shall not work shall not eat”. We’re not good people who are denied our deserved wealth by others. More often than not we’re sinful people who deny ourselves wealth by our own vices and bad decisions.

    Any American who stays in school, stays sober, and works hard can still live a good life materially.

    Like

  48. That’s why we heed the warning not to make little ones stumble and tell them they can take drugs or do other things that will ruin their lives.

    And some won’t listen and some basically got dealt a horrible hand to begin with.

    And there are those called to help them when they come to their senses and those who fund these much needed projects.

    Like

  49. Curt,

    Everything you advocate has pretty much failed wherever it’s been tried, from the former Soviet Union to today’s France. Chinese students in Ames drive far better cars (Mercedes, BMW, SUV’s) than American students because the Chinese have become better Capitalists than us. You are on the wrong side of history.

    Like

  50. A good deacon will determine the true causes of poverty and help the individual accordingly. Usually there are strings attached that the poor person does not like so they move on to find someone who will give with no strings attached. The government just cuts checks with no concern for the root causes of poverty. If they alleviated poverty they would lose a valuable political constituency. If everyone was out of poverty they would likely all vote Republican.

    Like

  51. And by golly it sure was a gas rapping and gnoshing on pizza till four in the morning in dorm rooms

    Talked about all kinds of ways to save the universe

    And hats off to you if you are blessed enough to be in school and not having to spend all your free time at lousy part time jobs to make ends meet while studying

    But then you have to leave and nature takes its course and kids come along and you have to move on and grow up

    And when you have had enough of grossly poor preaching and fifth rate rock and roll shows in church…

    You become 2K

    Like

  52. Erik, the highly accomplished will always vote for the Democrats.

    They refuse to acknowledge the little things in common decency that got them where they are.

    Like

  53. Loving the Royals sticking it to all the useless SABER stat trolls who try to ruin everything about baseball.

    Kind of like Alexander on here, with all due respect.

    Like

  54. My father insists on flying to KC to see the Jays next July, so I will get a chance to see my 33rd major league park, if the Lord doth tarry….

    Like

  55. Curt, funny how Jesus and the apostles didn’t speak out against temporal injustice. Maybe because with the coming of Christ, the earthly city, which was always only a type of the heavenly city, was no more. Try Augustine.

    Like

  56. Erik says:

    John,

    If getting up every day for 40 years, going to work, working hard, and having something to give to my family and church is self-righteous, call me self-righteous.

    There is a certain amount of covetousness of others’ position in life that the down-and-out need to be wary of. Don’t call good evil out of envy and depression. Aspire to it yourself. No excuses.

    John Y:

    You’re assuming far to much about me too, Erik. And you’re tone is as condescending as I have towards those who I peg as “unconsciously self-righteous.” At one point in my life I read the long book suggested by the theonomist Rousas Rushdoony, entitled, ENVY. It was a huge study on how envy is a dominant motive in social life and it is what spurs the lesser lights (or have-nots) to want to take from the haves (those who assumingly have worked hard for what they got or just were born into it). Instead of sin being the problem of the human condition, envy took that place. I bought into it for many years and actually worked quite hard to try to better the condition of my family, and those whom I cared about. To make a long story short, I have heard your rant before and there often is a lot more to the story than meets the all encompassing envying eye. I now am consumed with the question, What is the Gospel? I try not to get bogged down and sidetracked by lesser issues. I did get a kick out of your response from your obviously superior social position. Fortunately, social position does not mean much to me anymore. But maybe I will see your point one day- no excuses.

    Like

  57. Curt, funny how Jesus and the apostles didn’t speak out against temporal injustice.

    Warning to the Rich
    1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
    Patience in Suffering
    7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. 12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
    The Prayer of Faith
    13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

    Like

  58. John,
    Realize that: First, James does talk about social injustice,you just quoted it, in addressing the rich; and Second, there could contextual reasons for that. Now, does their neglecting to talk about social injustice mean that what the OT prophets said does not apply or are we just with the New Testament?

    Your argument makes sense if and only if all that we need to know from the Scriptures are those things which are to be imitated. This is why I wrote earlier that part of the problem here is with extending the regulative principle to all of life from its application to worship. In addition, you are bringing up a point that has already been addressed. That point was that there is a significant difference in the contexts between then and now.

    Like

  59. D.G.,
    See my last note to John. Also remember that the emphasis on personal morality to the exclusion of concern for social justice leads Christians to living righteously selfish lives. Francis Schaeffer warned the West about its pursuit of personal peace and prosperity. Such a pursuit negates our love for neighbor.

    Like

  60. Erik,
    Note how our current system is failing in multiple ways. And when our system did succeed, it succeeded due to the exploitation of other groups. Second, note how you misrepresent me by saying that the failure of the Soviet Union is evidence of what I advocate has failed. Many Socialists argue that the Soviet Union did not provide an example of socialism. But I guess that depends on how you define socialism. If you simply define it by big government and government control, then you show that you have no clue what socialism is.

    BTW, how does France represent my views?

    Like

  61. John,

    If you’re happy with where you’re at, stay there. If you’re not happy with where you’re at, stop doing what you’re doing and do something different. I’m not trying to make an overly theological point with you. It’s just common sense.

    Paul did add practical admonitions like “work with your hands”, “provide for your family”, and “don’t get drunk” and he was the first gospel preacher. Get mad at him, not me.

    You’ll probably get mad at me about gravity, too, but that’s on you.

    Like

  62. John,

    I see one of your favorite films is “A River Runs Through It”, as is mine. Consider the life of Paul Maclean. He was bent on self-destructive behavior and no one was going to tell him what to do. His family loved him, but was powerless to change him. Eventually he met a predictable end. Life is not a game. We think we have forever to get straight, but we don’t. We have one chance to get it right. We need to take it and get on the right course today.

    Like

  63. John,

    I’m not self-righteous. I sin every day. I have realized that there are lines you don’t cross, though. I won’t cheat on my wife, I won’t steal from my employer, I won’t drive drunk. It’s when people don’t set these boundaries that chaos ensues. If you’ve crossed them, retrace your steps, do what you can to make amends, and put accountability in your life so you can’t cross them again.

    Like

  64. Curt,

    You’re an advocate for the poor. John is homeless. Put your money where your mouth is and take John in.

    Or is it the government or your church’s job?

    Like

  65. Curt, re: France and socialism. I once stayed in a “businessman’s hotel” in the La Defense district in Paris. It was supposed to epitomize the socialist-business-industry egalitarian ideal. It was a poorly-built, inhumane, shoddy maze of despair. If that is modern socialism I don’t want any. And riots and general inefficiency and indolence seem to follow in the socialist wake. Italy? Greece? Eastern Europe? Have you even been to Europe? Is your concept of socialism all from books, articles, community college, and blogs? Does it just live between your ears?

    Like

  66. If you’re serious about poverty you have to be willing to ask what really causes it.

    The liberal answer is that rich people have too much money, but that’s a lame answer.

    The true answer is that poverty usually results from three things (at least in the U.S.): Poor family dynamics and example, poor education, and self-destructive behaviors.

    The church can help with two of these and maybe, to a small degree, three.

    We have all kinds of things to offer to help build strong families — primarily the teaching of the Law of God. Husbands love your wives, Wives submit to your husbands. Children honor your parents. Now if a family is mired in generations of not doing these things, there’s no quick fix, but we can at least point people in the right direction.

    We can also help with self-destructive behaviors, once again by teaching the Law of God. Basically, knock off sinning, repent, and spend your time doing positive things.

    Education is tough and the church can have a small impact with Christian schooling. Maybe support homeschooling and offer an after-school tutoring program for all kids. Public schools are for the most part a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, though, and the Democrats are beholden to the Teachers’ Unions. There are some signs of hope, however, and Democrats have begun fighting with Democrats over the issue. Witness the recent California Supreme Court case. We spend tons of money, protect bad teachers, and get poor results and kids are the pawns and victims. This is not just true in poor, urban districts, it happens all over the country.

    Like

  67. Curt,

    For whoever would save his lifed will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? Mark 8:36-37

    Sounds selfish to me.

    Like

  68. Curt, my point may have been lost because it is so simple. You are not a prophet, so, to use a recent concept, don’t flatten the call of the prophet to make it similar to what you do. With no call and no covenant by which to judge the USA, you’re just giving your opinion (,man). And that’s fine but don’t call it prophetic or use the prophets to justify your opinions about political structures.

    Like

  69. from Sam Leith, London Telegraph 2005:
    “Roughly put, antinomianism is the idea that justification by faith liberates you from the need to do good works…It can be seen, in some way, as the squaring of a tricky theological circle: the Calvinist idea that the Elect have been singled out for salvation as part of the divine scheme long before any of them were twinkles in the twinkles in their ancestors’ eyes. if justification by faith, rather than by works, is the high road to heaven, the logical extreme of the position is that works don’t matter at all.
    “Divine grace, over which we have no control, brings about faith. Faith brings about salvation. Ergo, if you’re not touched by grace, there’s nothing much you can do… If, on the other hand, you are one of the Elect, whoop de doo: no amount of bad behavior is going to prevent Jesus seeing you right. This is a pretty crazy view to take, most of us would agree, and historically it has tended to be discouraged by both civic and religious authorities for rather obvious reasons.”

    J I Packer–“With regard to sanctification, there have been mystical antinomians who have affirmed that the indwelling Christ is the personal subject who obeys the law in our identity once we invoke his help in obedience situations, and there have been pneumatic antinomians who have affirmed that the Holy Spirit within us directly prompts us to discern and do the will of God, without our needing to look to the law to either prescribe or monitor our performance.: The common ground is that those who live in Christ are wholly separated from every aspect of the pedagogy of the law. They teach that the entire source of our ongoing peace and assurance is based upon our knowledge that what Christ enables us to do he actually does in us for himself. So now we live, not by being forgiven our constant shortcomings, but by being out of the law’s bailiwick altogether; not by imitating Christ, the archetypal practitioner of holy obedience to God’s law, but by … our knowledge that Christ himself actually does in us all that his and our Father wants us to do.”

    Like

  70. In other news, I went to see “Gone Girl” today. It’s 2 hours 29 minutes long and for the first 2 hours 9 minutes it’s quite good, but then it jumps the shark in the final 20 minutes. You think you’re watching “Jagged Edge”, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”, or “Fatal Attraction” but it turns out you’ve been watching the Director’s Cut of “Basic Instinct”, complete with the over-the-top sex scene that the censors wouldn’t allow back in 1992. It’s all quite postmodern and cynical in the end. Patrick Fugit, Lee Norris (from “One Tree Hill”), and Neil Patrick Harris seem like they belong in a different movie. The highlight is Carrie Coon who plays Ben Affleck’s sister. When you see the plot unfolding you think, “this is going to be difficult to bring to closure”, and it is.

    Like

  71. I am probably not saying clearly what I am trying to say. I am in no position to defend myself and my life. It is always best to take sides against yourself when being challenged by the Law. I am of the persuasion that you only continue arguing if you are convinced that the Gospel is not being presented accurately. You continually have to ask what is the Gospel? I often hear the whole counsel of God argument that I have found is code for Law/Gospel/Law and comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, forms and theological perspectives. Once the Law does its painful work in people the only hope becomes the Gospel. So, what is the answer to why there are so many threats in the Scriptures? I think most of the severe threats in Scripture are warnings to the self-satisfied, self-sufficient and self-righteous. Those who think they are more morally upright than those they look down upon. But then again there are the warnings in the “moral lists” and commandments. Those were fulfilled by Christ and there has to be a death to the legal hope that we can abide by those commandments. Then the argument becomes “the third use” of the Law. How many or how few of the commandments can we keep with our still remaining sin? I don’t think I am being antinomian because I believe you have to uphold the Law as the standard and Christ fulfilled that Law for those whom He died for. That does not give us a license to use that liberty to disregard God’s Law. So, in my mind, the whole issue can get easily confused. That probably will not clear up the issue but I am trying to clarify where I am coming from.

    Like

  72. Curt: Also remember that the emphasis on personal morality to the exclusion of concern for social justice leads Christians to living righteously selfish lives.

    That seems self-contradictory to me. Whose other morals should I be policing, other than my own?

    My kids’, as they develop into adults. But I don’t have standing to tell *you* how to spend your time and money. If I did, I would tell you that you’re not doing enough, not near enough, since there’s still poverty and disease and sorrow in the world. Chop-chop!

    Like

  73. John,

    A really good addiction recovery program and a mediocre church is probably all you need for now. You can sort out theological fine points later. Over-thinking theology will probably not be helpful to you at this point.

    In my life I have been at odds with a family in my church. I felt like I had valid theological reasons for doing do. In reality I needed to set that aside and just humble myself and try to get along with people I was worshipping with each Sunday. I have elders to sort out those theological issues.

    Sometimes we just need to get practical and solve the problems that are right in front of our noses.

    Like

  74. And when our system did succeed, it succeeded due to the exploitation of other groups.

    Your mission, should you decide to accept it, Curt, is to document/prove that statement in aces and spades.
    Until then a little more humble silence on your part would go a long way.
    IOW shut up.
    Instead we hear self righteous jumping to conclusions about the church and any who disagree with your non sequitur masquerading as a done deal/fact/thus saith the Lord.

    IOW again can you feel our hurt/pain/alienation/anomie?

    Like

  75. Erik,

    I am not asking for your advice. You know nothing about what has gone on in my life nor what I am doing about it now. You condescension from on high is not wanted. I have others whose advice and counsel I value more than yours. I think getting the Gospel right is the most important issue we have to wrestle with. And it can cure what ails us- both unconscious self-righteousness and the obvious sins that get punished and disciplined more readily- both are moral sins whether we realize it or not.

    I am in a better place in my life than I have been in a long time and I am involved in a recovery program. There are lots of things you have to deal with in these recovery programs that you really know nothing about. I have learned to get what I can out of them and disregard the rest. And I have found it is best to think through theological issues in dialog with others who know more than you. However, when it comes down to it, the convictions that you buy into have to become your own and not just relying on the elders in the church you go to. I have found that unwise to do so. It takes time to build trust in someone elses beliefs. Enough said for now.

    Like

  76. One more thing- you don’t look for how much someone might know theologically or biblically. You look for who is being most faithful in proclaiming and teaching the Gospel. There are a lot of false Gospels being taught in churches. That has to be the focus.

    Curt says: “Your argument makes sense if and only if all that we need to know from the Scriptures are those things which are to be imitated. This is why I wrote earlier that part of the problem here is with extending the regulative principle to all of life from its application to worship. In addition, you are bringing up a point that has already been addressed. That point was that there is a significant difference in the contexts between then and now.”

    John Y: I did not read all the previous comments nor have I kept up on all the dialog that has gone on between you and others at this site. So, what are the important differences in context between then and now and what difference does it make? As is obvious, I am more sympathetic with the position you are advocating. I have seen, upclose and personal, how difficult it is to get out of poverty once you are there. There are lots of roadblocks that make it difficult to get out of that condition. Many take advantage of government programs but many who are not taking advantage of them are dependent on them to help them get out of the mess. That is just the nature of the beast. My original main point is that big business and the corporation issue could go a long way in regards to shifting more income, revenue and programs to deal with the poverty issue. The government is in no condition to be the sole means of dealing with the problem. They can regulate industry in a more intelligent way but that may be asking too much. Poverty will always be with us in this life but certainly more could be done to help those afflicted in the condition and can’t seem to get out of it. It is very difficult to do in the cultural environment that exists in this country today. And I react against those who like Erik talk smugly about those in the condition of poverty. I have heard the stories and seen the results of those who have been forced to deal witht he issue.

    Like

  77. John,
    The first important difference between then and now is exposure to the Gospel. In Paul’s day, spread the Gospel was most important. There several times in which he expresses his concern for the spreading of the Gospel and this includes the reputation of the Gospel. Now, the Gospel has been spread and what we need to do to protect the reputation of the Gospel is to separate it from the abuses practiced by Western Civ because the two are so tightly associated. The religious wars, European anti-Semitism, and Western empires are Western Civ events that are, like it or not, associated with the Gospel and thus discredit the Gospel in the ears of many people.

    The second important difference between then and now is the form of government. Dictatorships, as Christians experienced in the Roman Empire, was the rule of thumb back then. Rome had a Republic but only some people were represented and as it turned more empirish, it lost its republican form of government. Christians who lived in European empires lived on the other side of the empire than those from around the world who were subject to “Christian” rule. And as time went on, different forms and levels of democracy rose up in Europe and in America. Big difference between a dictatorship and a democracy. One puts the people ruled over in a passive role, the other puts the people in an active role in terms for interacting with the gov’t. And realize that democracy, which means the people rule, is not reduced to just voting every x number of years. Protests and civil disobedience, as what took place during the 60s, are as much a part of democracy as voting.

    There are other differences such as environmental problems that must be addressed regardless of our government’s position. But the other key difference is the development of WMDs. War involving just enough nuclear weapons, for example, could make the human race nearly extinct.

    Like

  78. Jeff,
    It isn’t a contradiction at all. The emphasis on personal morality to the exclusion of social justice focuses the believer on their own acts of righteousness and sins while causing a blind spot in society and cultural sins in which they are either committing through society or are complicit through silence. The latter occurs when one is so focused on keeping their own nose clean that they can see how others are being oppressed or neglected by society.

    The OT prophets preached against both neglecting the vulnerable an oppress and oppressing others.

    Like

  79. Bob,
    History doesn’t provide enough documentation for you from the ethnic cleansing of the America’s indigenous people to slavery to Jim Crow and the use of prison labor to the exploitation of foreign labor to labor wars to the development of colonies to the use of proxy rules and the number of foreign interventions done for business interests?

    Like

  80. D.G.,
    But when we put losing one’s life in terms of personal morality issues only, it does become selfish because while we cleanse ourselves of personal sins, we give ourselves license to sin anonymously in groups. Without social justice issues, we are constantly self-focused. Again, it goes to what Francis Schaeffer warned against, that we seek personal peace and prosperity. The keeping our own noses clean while not loving our neighbor who suffers oppression or neglect is a form of that seeking personal peace.

    Like

  81. Erik,
    When describing other groups, try not to oversimplify their positions. I am not a fan of liberals because I am a leftist, but I would never sum up the liberal position as you did.

    Like

  82. John,
    Though we haven’t taken anyone in, we do give and when personal schedule is free, I plan to volunteer. But such is not enough. Why? It is what Martin Luther King Jr said in his speech against the Vietnam War. He said that it is not enough to toss some coins to the poor, one must ask about the system that puts so many in need.

    BTW, when you appear before God’s judgment seat, are you really going to say that you didn’t do this or that because I didn’t? Is what I do the issue or what God commands us to do?

    Like

  83. Curt,

    Thanks for the summary of the differences in context from then and now- that was helpful to know what has been argued in past posts. I am starting to get more convinced again that there may be a place for protest and civil disobedience. That did take place in the middle of the Reformation and the Reformers, with the magistrates, quickly snuffed it out. And how they did it does not get talked about enough, in my opinion. Things can get out of control easily and the Reformers always sided with suppressing anarchy and social chaos by force. Zwingli is known to have killed an Anabaptist he used to have bible study with by baptizing him and holding him under the water until he drowned.
    The whole issue is a complex one and out of my pay grade. As Erik reminds me, I am just a recovering addict so I should just shut up and listen to the magistrates. Ellul took an interesting stance on social issues. He argued for an anarchist pacifist position. Again, out of my pay grade.

    Curt says: BTW, when you appear before God’s judgment seat, are you really going to say that you didn’t do this or that because I didn’t? Is what I do the issue or what God commands us to do?

    John Y: I am not sure what you are getting at with that comment or why you asked me that. What was it that I said that prompted the question? I don’t think the issue is what you or I do, I think the issue is what Jesus got done in his life, death, resurrection and ascension. My only hope in regards to the last judgment is the work of Christ. I don’t believe in a second judgment by works, or a total life lived, like many are teaching these days. I think that is a false Gospel. As I have stated in other comments that does not give me license to disregard God’s Law. We have been arguing those types of issues at oldlife for the past 4 years. And there still is a lot of disagreement over them.

    Like

  84. Jeff,
    You are involved in more than just individual actions, you are involved in different groups of society as well as society. And, because of technology, you see the actions of other groups and societies. Realize that neglecting to help and oppressing are judged by the OT prophets.

    Like

  85. Curt – . I am not a fan of liberals because I am a leftist, but I would never sum up the liberal position as you did.

    Erik – That makes sense. No it doesn’t.

    Like

  86. John & Curt,

    When you guys get off your moral high horses you need to consider what the man who works to support his wife and kids does to alleviate poverty. In my case, a woman and four kids are not in poverty because I go to work every day.

    You would rather sympathize with the guy who abandoned his wife & kids (leaving them in poverty) who is on a street corner drinking & drugging, blaming “the man” for his plight.

    It’s a messed-up paradigm, as Bryan Cross might say.

    Like

  87. When an honest, hardworking person can’t make it in America, you’ll have my sympathy. We still live in a country where a person who is willing to work hard, study, and develop skills that have value in the marketplace can live at a standard that most of the rest of the world can only dream of. It requires some delayed gratification, though. How many Americans think they don’t have to read and learn after graduating high school and have a right to a great income? They’re fooling themselves. We have to stay hungry and keep reading and learning our whole lives, because people all over the world want what we have and are willing to do the hard things that are necessary to get it.

    Liberals want to deny all this, which is why liberalism is a tragedy for the United States.

    Like

  88. I recently closed on a refinance with a loan broker who has to be 75-years-old. He has been out of commission for months over the past few years due to what I assume were serious health issues. He was somewhat of a pest for months leading up to the closing, more so than the competition. But in the end he got the deal and made a nice commission for his firm. He started out as a teacher and coach, eventually became an attorney, and is now a loan broker. He’s stayed in the game and kept fighting and I admire him for that.

    Like

  89. Erik,

    You’re still assuming that all I have ever done in my life is drink, drug and blame the man for where I am at. As I tried to state in earlier posts that is not all I have done in my life. Once you get pegged that way it is hard for others not to continue to treat you in a way that makes them leery of you- especially if it is to their advantage to continue to do so. It was to my brothers “tough love” advantage to keep me and my other brother out once it was deemed necessary to “discipline” us. However, there is a whole lot of family dynamics that went on and are still going on that make this situation particularly troubling. That is what I mean by you really don’t know all that has gone on. I really have come to a greater resolution and outlook towards it all and am content to do what I have to do to get myself back into a better place again. I am not blaming, making excuses, or playing the victim. Do you know how many times I have heard that? There is a lot I have learned through it all. And I think I have gained much by going through it all. It is hard to convince others that is the case though. As far as they are concerned you are a lost cause and they would like to write you off. All I ask for is a little respect and that is difficult for those whom you have broken trust with to accept. That is why you go to AA meetings because there are those there who have gone through it and made it back OK. They are living decent lives again. So, it can happen and does happen. The majority never make it all the way back though. You do have to develop the humility to listen to those who can guide you.. It can be hard to find good advice and that is a big part of the struggle back- finding someone you trust enough to listen too. The spiritual program in AA is fraught with perils and has been a big reason I have resisted recovery in the past. You learn to take the good with the bad there. That is all you can do. Lots more to say about the issue but I will stop for now.

    Like

  90. John,

    Not referring to you personally, just the tendency you (and Curt, especially) are showing to blame “the system” as opposed to assigning personal responsibility to individuals for their lot in life. I just don’t think that’s helpful because as long as people think that someone else is responsible for their situation they’ll have great difficulty in rising above it.

    More often than not I find that the #1 obstacle I face is me.

    Like

  91. If I was in a recovery program I think the #1 thing I would seek is the resolve to never touch alcohol or drugs again as long as I live. It has to be like a marriage vow — no matter what, I am not getting involved with anyone but my spouse. Once you have that resolve you can move forward. Get a crappy job, keep showing up no matter what, gain trust, then move on to a better job. Addicts burn bridges with loved ones that may not be able to be rebuilt, but there are other people out there to develop relationships with. Ultimately life is not about where you’ve been, but where you’re headed.

    Plus, if we can get our act together for an extended time, we might be surprised how forgiving people can be.

    Like

  92. Erik,

    I still think we are talking past each other and not communicating about the most important issues- like what is the Gospel, the role of the Law, the causes of addiction, the nature of the addiction problem, to name a few. Coming to know and understand the Gospel better has been a big part of my recovery. You really don’t get that at AA. AA does provide the means to talk about your issues with other recovering addicts, among other things. People who do not know the Gospel are going to have a harder time restoring relationship with you than those who do. I have said enough.

    Like

  93. John,

    The gospel is the gospel. The fact remains, though, that people can understand the gospel and still live a really wretched life on earth. We see it every Sunday at church. For whatever reason, some people have their s**t together and others perpetually don’t. Those who don’t often have problems that are evident to everyone, but these folks are just too hardheaded to make the changes they need to make. We love them as brothers and sisters in Christ, but are baffled as to their inability to get it together.

    Like

  94. I have a person in my life that is into conspiracy theories — about vaccines, about food, about 9/11. It drives a wedge between them and other people, but they won’t drop it. It appears they can’t drop it psychologically. They love their way of thinking and being more than they love healthy relationships. No one can change them but them. It’s maddening, but that’s life.

    Like

  95. I should have said coming to know and understand the Gospel period has been the sole reason for my recovery. I don’t think I knew it or understood it until the last 3 or 4 years. The Law no longer has it condemning power over me because I have died to legal hope. It is the condemnation that drives the addiction cycle and a lot of the AA program can add to the condemnation. I think that is why so few make it through to the other side. Most drop out and I understand why.

    Like

  96. My son, who is now the CEO of the company, will not hire me back right now. I am back in school learning how to program CNC machines and will not be done until next Christmas. I always wanted to learn how to program them and they need another machinist who knows what they are doing at our factory. I do have a business degree but would rather work in production than do small business office work.

    Like

  97. If you really get the Gospel you will not lead a wretched life anymore. I think a lot of the wretchedness is driven by despair and condemnation. When that is gone you can enjoy the freedom you have in Christ. And that does not mean you won’t sin anymore. The condemnation loses its power to control your behavior. I think Paul preached and taught the Gospel more than he exhorted to get people’s acts together. I suppose that is debatable though.

    Like

  98. Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

    Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

    I Corinthians 15: 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

    Our Creator and Lawgiver, Matthew 5: 33 “you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you

    http://matthewtuininga.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/why-people-dont-like-it-when-we-talk-about-the-law-the-way-the-new-testament-does/

    Like

  99. Curt,
    Learn to distinguish between a system succeeding wholly or in part due to exploitation.
    Nobody denies that bad things have and continue to happen.
    The beef with you is that you think it’s all bad and always and only exploitation.
    IOW you exploit exploitation to feather your self righteousness.
    Knock it off.

    Like

  100. Bob,
    Recognize that lashing out because defensiveness has made one sensitive can demonstrate self-righteousness. Now we can call each other names but such only shows tribalism, not the Gospel. And that is one of the key problems Christians around the world, especially those from economically privileged countries are plagued with. Pride in identities other than the Gospel yields tribalism. This is a partial reason why Paul voids himself of his ethnic and past religious identity in Philippians. This pride-spurred temptation to immerse oneself in tribalism is a temptation all of us have to battle.

    Here’s the deal, if you want to claim that our system is a partial success, I would agree. But questions must be asked. A success for whom and at what cost for whom? Every empire of the day or powerful, emerging empire benefits somebody. But if those benefits could not come about without exploitation, then we must ask some tough questions.

    With our system, its success could not come without exploitation. And one only sees that exploitation when one views the system from the outside while observing the effects the system has on all of the stakeholders.

    Like

  101. Mark M.,
    So are you saying that the scriptures you quoted imply that we withdraw from the economic and political worlds in which we live? Or do we battle against cosmic powers in each of those spheres? And if your answer is yes to the former, then are you confessing that the American system with its form of capitalism is ruled by those spiritual powers we are battling?

    Like

  102. John,
    Even with regard to personal moral issues, some of the changes that the Gospel inspires in us are gradual while others are not. And if that is true with personal moral issues, think of how true it is with social justice issues where our participation in unjust systems is not always apparent to us.

    Like

  103. John,
    good luck with the programming future jobs. My experience in teaching programming is that we need to look at coding as simply a translation of the solution written in one language into language that can eventually be translated (not the computer science definition) into a language the machine understands. Just want to say that one of the problems we in America have with capitalism is that we make our own situation microcosms of capitalism. Our own situations only paint a partial picture because of all of the stakeholders left out of our experience.

    Also, my father struggled with drinking. He eventually gained permanent control over it. I am hoping the same for you. BTW, because of what I saw happen to him, I made a similar resolution about alcohol and the same resolution about drugs–that I would never take them to help me cope. And relating my father’s experiences to my son helped him battle peer pressure to try drugs. Despite his failures and my disagreements with him, I never lost respect for him.

    Like

  104. Curt,

    If I bring up any subject, say 19th Century Austrian Cooking, would you be compelled to say something pertaining to social justice about it?

    Your needle appears to be stuck.

    50% chance you’re a put-on.

    Like

  105. Curt, my seeking to live a holy life according to the Sermon on the Mount has nothing to do with a life of personal peace and prosperity. Jesus is also silent on your social justice. Follow Jesus, not Karl.

    Your cheap rhetoric of social justice shows a lot of resemblance to Protestant modernism. The Bible doesn’t show Jesus to be a social revolutionary. But I (modernist) will make him into one. Why? Because I am a Christian and what I deem to be important must be important to Jesus.

    Like

  106. D.G.,
    Aren’t we to use all of the scriptures, not just the sermon on the mount? I have friend who is gay who uses a similar argument by saying the Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.

    There are things Jesus didn’t mention that Paul did and there are things they didn’t mention that the OT prophets did. And mentioning the different contexts between then and now seems quite legitimate.

    BTW, did you ever consider that Protestant modernism had something to contribute to the discussion while still be wrong because of their reduction of everything to naturalism which excluded the supernatural? There are two prevalent errors when it comes to the social gospel and they fall in line with an all-or-nothing approach to it. Protestant modernism made the social gospel everything and eliminated personal morality as well as supernatural creation and redemption. And there are conservatives who reduce all morality and sin to personal morality and exclude the social gospel. Both groups take an exclusive-or approach to personal morality and social justice. Why should either reductionistic approach be taken when, in the Bible, we see both approaches addressed?

    Like

  107. Curt: The emphasis on personal morality to the exclusion of social justice focuses the believer on their own acts of righteousness and sins while causing a blind spot in society and cultural sins in which they are either committing through society or are complicit through silence. The latter occurs when one is so focused on keeping their own nose clean that they can see how others are being oppressed or neglected by society.

    That’s a very strange understanding of “personal morality”, being neither personal nor moral.

    Here’s the category I prefer to work with:

    Question 98: Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?

    Answer: The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments, which were delivered by the voice of God upon Mount Sinai, and written by him in two tables of stone; and are recorded in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. The four first commandments containing our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man.

    Nothing there about “keeping your nose clean.” That notion isn’t even Christian, since as we know, our noses aren’t clean by observing the law.

    Here’s what personal morality looks like:

    Question 135: What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?

    Answer: The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.

    Question 136: What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?

    Answer: The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and: Whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.

    And

    Question 141: What are the duties required in the eighth commandment?

    Answer: The duties required in the eighth commandment are, truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man; rendering to everyone his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof; giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others; moderation of our judgments, wills, and affections concerning worldly goods; a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition; a lawful calling, and diligence in it; frugality; avoiding unnecessary lawsuits and suretyship, or other like engagements; and an endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.

    Question 142: What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?

    Answer: The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, theft, robbery, man-stealing, and receiving anything that is stolen; fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, removing land marks, injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust; oppression, extortion, usury, bribery, vexatious lawsuits, unjust enclosures and depopulations; engrossing commodities to enhance the price; unlawful callings, and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor: What belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves; covetousness; inordinate prizing and affecting worldly goods; distrustful and distracting cares and studies in getting, keeping, and using them; envying at the prosperity of others; as likewise idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming; and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate, and defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God has given us.

    If you have problems with THIS, then you have problems with 2k. Otherwise, you’re thinking of someone else.

    Like

  108. Curt, the only difference in the context between Jesus and me is that he didn’t have to interact with you.

    Israel is over. All Christians now face what Jesus and the apostles faced — the end of God’s people as a political entity. Your invoking of the prophets is theonomic. But you somehow think our times are different from theirs. That’s what modernists also thought.

    I don’t think modernists have much to contribute — wrong about the Bible and wrong about history. That’s a double helping of wrong.

    Like

  109. Curt Day
    Posted October 5, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
    D.G.,
    Aren’t we to use all of the scriptures, not just the sermon on the mount? I have friend who is gay who uses a similar argument by saying the Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.

    There are things Jesus didn’t mention that Paul did and there are things they didn’t mention that the OT prophets did. And mentioning the different contexts between then and now seems quite legitimate.

    BTW, did you ever consider that Protestant modernism had something to contribute to the discussion while still be wrong because of their reduction of everything to naturalism which excluded the supernatural? There are two prevalent errors when it comes to the social gospel and they fall in line with an all-or-nothing approach to it. Protestant modernism made the social gospel everything and eliminated personal morality as well as supernatural creation and redemption. And there are conservatives who reduce all morality and sin to personal morality and exclude the social gospel.

    I appreciate a leftperson such as yourself extending himself to an equitable “pox on both houses,” but although the political left has indeed gone libertine [where as feared, liberty indeed becomes license], the right does not ignore the Beatitudes.

    If anyone, that’s the libertarians, actually, specifically the Ayn Randians, who usually grow out of it by junior year.

    Now it’s true that the libertarians are aligned with the free-market right rather than the sexually libertine left, but that’s only because money can buy more sex than sex can make money.

    Like

  110. Imagine a society that, even in some low level way, used the WLC sections as posted by Mr. Cagle. Most of our modern problems would not exist… . But, would that be a “Christian influence” upon said society ? Would that be legitimate, or is the WLC only for Christians?

    Herein may be an answer:
    Question 95: Of what use is the moral law to all men?

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

    Question 96: What particular use is there of the moral law to unregenerate men?

    Answer: The moral law is of use to unregenerate men, to awaken their consciences to flee from wrath to come, and to drive them to Christ; or, upon their continuance in the estate and way of sin, to leave them inexcusable, and under the curse thereof.

    Like

  111. D.G.,
    Again, the differences rests are in how known the Gospel and in the difference politics–democracies vs autocratic rule. And in terms of war, we could point to the existence of WMDs in the present time. These are important time differences and there is no need for us to insult each other over differences of opinion.

    As for whether modernists have something to contribute, we need to consider the following. If we deny that some group has something to contribute, then we need to watch ourselves so that we don’t become like the pharisee in the parable of the two men praying. This is why the different theological camps we find ourselves can pose a threat to our spiritual well-being. When our loyalty to these camps exceed our commitment to principles, morals, and Christ, we will feel comfortable with attacking others in defense of our theological camps.

    We might also consider the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr when talking about the Vietnam War:

    The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just

    Note how we could substitute the name of any group for ‘Western’ to see how loyalty to a group can cause us to hurt ourselves. I see this problem with people in every group. This is why, regardless of whether you like his transformational theology, Keller’s “blended insights” helps combat that. Yes, those insights are colored by his transformationalism. However, by noting what all of the other groups have to add, it helps combat that urge to exalt our own group above others and thus become like the pharisee from the parable of the two men praying.

    Like

  112. Tom,
    Actually, the left has the same problem with pride and exclusivity that the right has. As for the libertarian bend, the left adds collectivism so that in terms of personally morality, it is more libertarian, but in terms of social justice, it is collective. When I read Paul on society in I Cor 5 or when Jesus talks about putting people out of the Church into society, I get the sense that, in terms of society, they were somewhat libertarian. My concern with those who aren’t libertarian enough in society is whether those who are Christian are seeking Christian privilege, which eventually causes push back as the pendulum inevitably swings the other way.

    Like

  113. Jeff,
    And yet, we can all get sucked into societal sins of oppression against some group or another. Did you ever consider that the Confession, though helpful, leaves too much unsaid? Consider what the prophets wrote. Look at Amos. Look at Isaiah. Look at Jeremiah. All those prophets talked about the necessity of defending the oppressed and considering that people can be oppressed by individuals or by society and systems, we need to defend the oppressed in each case.

    So go to the parable of the good samaritan and consider how what the good samaritan did was not specified in the OT. And yet he was setting an example of how to be a neighbor to the man who was beaten and robbed. Then consider, because of technology, how many more people in need cross our way.

    Like

  114. Curt, your intelligence level increases when you show the ability to say “I DON’T KNOW” where appropriate.

    And it is plain that what you don’t know about the faith could fill 16 Pacific Oceans.

    Like

  115. Tom, it is impossible to measure the powerful effect that the first reading of Rand has on the kind of a dumb ******* frosh mind of a certain type of geek/nerd/dork/dweeb.

    And then, as you point out, it should wear off by junior year in the life of the mind.

    Like

  116. Your response does not show interaction with the material. How can you say that “things are left unsaid” when you don’t read it carefully?

    Like

  117. Jeff,
    You have it wrong, sometimes strong allegiance to a confession has the same weakness as being too ideological. One begins to assign a level of omniscience to what one reveres. And one reason why we put the Westminster Standards on too high a pedestal is because we forget that the divines were as much a product of their culture as we are ours.

    Like

  118. Curt, do tell? Please prepare annotated versions of all the major reformed confessions so we’ll not what parts to ignore. And highlight all the social justice, class warfare, and wealth redistributionist passages.

    Like

  119. Chortles,
    The defensiveness here is documented in the all-or-nothing thinking expressed and unrealistic alternatives proposed. Don’t we question ourselves when either pride stirs us to make either snide remarks about others or unrealistic demands because a sacred cow has been challenged? Shouldn’t the doctrine and models of thought we cherish, if they coincide with the Scriptures, along with the work of the Spirit produce the fruit of the Spirit? Are we alarmed by the works of the flesh present in how we defend our chosen models of thought?

    Like

  120. Curt,

    Quite the contrary — I’m usually criticized around here for being too “Biblicist” (though the exchange with David R has been a notable exception).

    However, I’ve also discovered the virtue of at least listening to the collected wisdom of the church.

    Right now, I’m not perceiving any willingness to listen on your part. There’re only broad, unsupported Jeremiads. No thank you.

    Like

  121. Jeff,
    but which time period for the Church are you listening to? Is it just the tried and true Reformed confessions or do you also listen to Bonhoeffer and King? Part of cultural Narcissism involves the elevating of the present over everything in the past to the extent that the past has nothing to contribute. Much of Christian authoritarianism exalts the past to the extent that the present has little to nothing to contribute. In either case, what we see is an idolatry of a time period. Modernists will more likely claim that today’s liberal Christians have little to learn from the Church fathers, the reformers, and so forth. But Reformed Christians reverse that by acting as if the divines or Calvin and Luther have nothing to learn from Bonhoeffer, King, liberation theologians, or others involved in the social gospel.

    See, I didn’t say that the divines and other reformers had nothing to offer. I am just eliminating the pedestals on which we put each group. That those who advocate a social gospel can learn from the divines, Calvin, and Luther while the latter group could have learned from those who advocate some sort of social gospel. And all I am saying is that we need to review the Westminster standards and add to them. I am not saying that we should eliminate them. And it is that point which you seem reluctant to listen to.

    Like

  122. Jeff – Right now, I’m not perceiving any willingness to listen on your part. There’re only broad, unsupported Jeremiads. No thank you.

    And this is a guy who will go 500 comments with people who appear to be on hallucinogenic drugs…

    Like

  123. CD: See, I didn’t say that the divines and other reformers had nothing to offer. I am just eliminating the pedestals on which we put each group. That those who advocate a social gospel can learn from the divines, Calvin, and Luther while the latter group could have learned from those who advocate some sort of social gospel. And all I am saying is that we need to review the Westminster standards and add to them. I am not saying that we should eliminate them. And it is that point which you seem reluctant to listen to.

    I’m sorry to need to be very forceful here, but what you think you are doing is different from what you are actually doing.

    See, I pointed you to the Westminster Standards, which talk (among other things) about the need for individuals to preserve the lives of others, including preserving them from unjust oppression. They talk about the need to preserve the property of others.

    And they cite, in prooftexts, the very books — James, Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah — that you say we should be looking at!

    Except that you didn’t know that, because you didn’t bother to slow down and do your homework.

    The point of being Confessional, as opposed to being Modernist, is that we do our homework so that we don’t reinvent the wheel. That way, you can intelligently represent other people’s positions instead of imputing horrific motives to them (“keep their noses clean”).

    Get the speck out, do your homework, and come back when you’re done.

    Like

  124. Ummm, can someone help me out with this one:
    I’m not super learned in these things, and it may be too complex an issue for a blog comment section, but I was under the impression that you could only declare some portion of scripture contextually irrelevant to our current situation if scripture itself points out a unique context such as a conditional covenant, a unique role in society or the church, a local fracas or some such thing. Otherwise, we’re supposed to take it as a timeless and just going off on your own and deciding the context has changed and making up something else to do instead is right out.

    I mean, I could point out that all of scripture was written to pre-industrialized societies that didn’t have the technology to institute globalized capitalism; ergo we should realize that the context has changed and the Bible’s teachings about our duties to the poor aren’t really relevant to this age.

    Like

  125. Simple

    Either you believe in the power of Scripture and subscribe to a confession and take the means of grace when offered or you don’t

    And those who don’t seem to like to burn away hours a week on here and not move us even 1%.

    Like

  126. And this is a guy who will go 500 comments with people who appear to be on hallucinogenic drugs…

    I haven’t been accused of appearing to be on hallucinogenic drugs since way back in college, when (just a time or two) I actually was on hallucinogenic drugs.

    Like

  127. And this is a guy who will go 500 comments with people who appear to be on hallucinogenic drugs…

    John Y: That’s Erik the logician emoting. Don’t expect a tear from his eye though. I heard some guy say this once: “The glutton is not the only person who worships his belly. The preacher who will not preach the gospel and expose the false gospel in order to “keep his ministry and still have influence” is also serving his belly. His flesh may not look like the flesh of the preacher who openly teaches freewill and losing your salvation. But it’s still flesh.

    There is a distinction between doctrine and life, between gospel and walk. But people who have gospel doctrine in their hearts will talk and walk by that gospel. This does not mean that they are less sinful than those who teach universal atonement and salvation conditioned on the sinner. But it does mean that they will love those who love the gospel.

    Phil 3:16 Let us walk by the same rule. Let’s not practice the ungodly practice of judging only by outward appearance or by our own standard of saved and lost. Without the imputed righteousness revealed in the gospel, the person who commits less sin is no better off than the person who commits more sin.”

    Like

  128. Jeff,
    remember that we just don’t live as individuals, we live in groups. And our lives as individuals just might make us unaware of the sins we commit by our participation in groups. And that is the point here.

    BTW, I know where the proof texts are from. But do you know how your government supports racism and assists other governments in oppressing others? Do you know how your economic system supports the exploitation of labor? Are you aware of how the American way of life can harm the environment? See, focusing on individual sins does not always make us aware of the sins which the groups we belong to commit.

    Like

  129. D.G.,
    And I suppose that those theologically correct Reformed Christians who supported slavery, Jim Crow, the ethnic cleansing of Indians from the land, and American Exceptionalism were/are theologically trustworthy.

    The point here isn’t that King and Bonhoeffer had nothing to learn from the Reformed tradition. That would be incorrect. The point is that those in the Reformed Tradition, both past and present have much to learn from King and Bonhoeffer.

    Btw, where am I theologically not trustworthy? And please be specific.

    Like

  130. Curt, you don’t mean to say that man’s governments and systems are fallen, broken? But if the cause is that man himself is inherently sinful and fallen and is the well-spring of this evil set loose in the world then what could possibly be the solution? Hint: It’s not rearranging the deck chairs – the world’s ruined…

    Like

  131. Curt is an attention whore, horrible by even the standards past jokers have shown…..

    I am shocked, shocked I tell you, concerning your egregious use of belittling tribal epithets, Kent.
    Either that or this is just symptomatic of the onset of a collectivist fever. (Ebola much?)

    Which means Curt can ignore it, just like he ignores any questions regarding the substance of his sacred paradigm.

    But since Francis has leftist leanings, maybe Bryan Cross will have a new recruit to replace Mr. PoorSport aka Cry Me A River (Tiber) Stellman, who ain’t the happiest camper lately because he’s being . . .exploited?

    Like

  132. Jack,
    I never denied the individual component. I just said that it cannot be reduced to that. Because when we reduce sin to just personal sins, we unsuspectingly get sucked into the sins our groups commit.

    Like

  133. Curt, 2k is all about Christians learning from non-Christians. But not about sin. Calvinists own the book and publish it. It has no chapter on corporate sin (except for the Mosaic Covenant). You need to learn from Christians.

    Like

  134. Erik,

    Huh? I thought a haiku was some sort of Japanese poetry about the seasons. I don’t get the connection! Regardless, a good quote from Michael Horton: “While MacArthur may not intend for readers to come away from his remarks prepared to conclude that they are not Christians because they find themselves committing the same sins repeatedly, I do not think this is an unwarranted conclusion based on his comments. MacArthur not only takes the focus for our assurance off of the finished work of Christ, but even raises questions about the focus for faith itself. Is faith resting in Christ’s life and death or in ours? We must be careful not to react to the antinomian threat by driving the sheep back to themselves, away from Christ”

    Like

  135. Maybe you were just accusing me of being overly sentimental and not the realist like yourself. I’ll be more realist when those who blame poverty on laziness, the inability to get their acts together and the welfare state begin to start looking at the ways the rich buck the system to their advantage. They do a lot more damage than the poverty stricken do. And no one keeps score in that regard.

    Like

  136. D.G.,
    What I appreciate about 2k is that they don’t seek Christian privilege in society. That part is good and I have said that multiple times. BTW, didn’t one Daniel’s prayers include admission to corporate sin (Daniel 9:16)? In addition, doesn’t historical observation tell us about corporate sin? Of course one could go to one of the worst examples such as with Nazi Germany. Those Christians who said and did nothing but merely kept their own nose clean in order to escape punishment were involved with corporate sin. Or those, in the South during slavery and Jim Crow, who said or did nothing to protect the oppressed were guilty of corporate sin through their complicity. After all, what would you say to the Christian who never said anything to any of his friends who were living in sin in order to remain friends? Would you say to such a Christian that he is not responsible to say anything to any friends who are sinning?

    We live as individuals and we live in groups. And just as individuals sin, so do groups. Those who sought the messengers who visited Lot were wanting to sin as a group as well as individuals. And because you can’t find a particular example doesn’t mean that the concept does not exist.

    Or perhaps the real question is this: What is our duty to the oppressed? Isaiah gives us a partial answer in Isaiah 58:5-12. Note there, Isaiah gives us two options for what is an appropriate fast before the Lord. Or we can take our cue from Jeremiah 22 when the prophet describes how Josiah:


    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.

    Note the similar theme expressed by both prophets. That part of being involved with God is helping and defending the vulnerable. It seems that to many Conservative Christians think helping those who are suffering because they are being oppressed consists of teaching those people how to be spiritual spartans. And by doing so, some feel that they have taught people “how to fish” so they can sustain themselves during hard times. But that is not what is being by the prophets and James challenges to the rich in James 5 shows that he is doing what he could do to help those whose wages were being taken from them by the rich.

    In either case, whether we are talking about corporate sin where there are a few scriptures pointing to that as well as observation that makes it inescapable or the scriptures commanding us to take up the cause of not just those in need, but those who are oppressed seems to say that 2kers have something to learn from Occupy activists just as they have something to learn from 2kers.

    Finally, your insistence on literal examples brings up a point I raised myself. It seems that to insist we are restricted to only following biblical examples with regard to reacting to corporate sin and how to respond is to expand the regulative principle beyond worship to all of life. Such an approach does not follow the spirit of what is taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    Like

  137. Curt, as I’ve said many times, corporate sin may make sense if you are Israel. But following your instruction about different contexts, we’re not in Israel any more. Christ changed that. And now we live in the same period of redemptive history as Paul and Christ. They didn’t talk about corporate sin. Why do you? You’re an anachronism.

    Like

  138. Revelation 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,

    1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

    James 2:6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?

    Like

  139. One more comment that keeps bothering me about those who separate the haves and haves not in regards to what the haves HAVE DONE compared to what the have nots HAVE NOT DONE. When Jesus went out amongst the poor, whom the Jewish religious establishment wanted nothing to do with, did He ask them why or how they got there, or, after ministering the Gospel to them did he say, after a certain amount of time I might trust you but you got to gain my trust again?

    When you talk about covenant more than election that seems to be the natural response.

    Like

  140. John,

    The government (in the name of helping the poor) can make everyone do lots of things they really don’t want to do (because they have lots of guns and can lock you up).

    Rich people really can’t make anyone do anything.

    Yet people continue fall for bigger government in the name of fighting the rich.

    Good luck with that.

    Like

  141. John,

    Are you suggesting that when people do bad things they should expect good results and when people do good things they should expect bad results?

    Is that how the world works?

    Like

  142. John,

    You might want to follow the advice that Jason Stellman should have followed after his conversion. Lay low for for a few years and see how things work out.

    Like

  143. Erik,
    Rich people can’t make anyone do anything? Really? Rich people who own companies can make their employees do a lot or their employees face could lose their jobs. Rich people can create monopolies and by eliminating choices, can make consumers buy things. Then Rich people can own companies that drive social standards and thus greatly influence what is in style. Rich people who own media companies can control what people see and hear.

    Do rich people always have absolute control over people? No. But they can make people do things because they can control the alternatives.

    And see, that is the problem with the consolidation of wealth. Because power follows wealth. And once we acknowledge that, we begin to see that power is not limited to government, it can as easily be wielded by the private sector. After all, when government makes laws that serve the rich, realize that the power isn’t in the government, it is being used by the rich to serve themselves and often at the expense of everyone else.

    So perhaps you might want to understand that while Capitalism, especially the Capitalism du jour, consolidates wealth and thus power, democracy redistributes power. The more democratic society is both in the public and private sectors, the more power is distributed. Of course the cost of a stronger democracy is efficiency. And that is our choice. Democracy or efficiency and its following consolidation of wealth and power.

    Like

  144. D.G.,
    Corporate makes sense whenever you belong to a group. And, in fact, the more privileged society is, the greater the corporate responsibility for those in that society.

    The challenge for us is to realize that though the Scriptures are sufficient for guiding us, there are issues and objects that they never directly addressed. I fear that for some, believing that the Scriptures are sufficient means that nothing exists today that did not exist back in Old and New Testament times. And thus for the Scriptures to be their guide, they can only refer to concrete commands and examples to imitate. And with the latter is the implication that there are no significant differences between then and now. Thus the more such Christians will fail to observe what the rest of the world has known for a while.

    Like

  145. Eric says:

    John,

    “Are you suggesting that when people do bad things they should expect good results and when people do good things they should expect bad results?

    Is that how the world works?”

    John Y: The world works as you say- it keeps all of humanity in bondage to the Law. In the Kingdom of God the Law has been fulfilled and Christ constrains those who are His by His New Covenant. Christ is the the new lawgiver and his yoke is easy and his burden is light. We are still talking past each other. I’ll lay low when you start laying low Erik. You always have to play the one upman’s game with me. Don’t try to pull rank. You have no authority over my life. I’ll continue to listen to those who proclaim and teach the Gospel accurately. They do have authority over my life.

    Like

  146. Curt, “the more privileged society is. . .”

    What the heck does that mean? I haven’t seen sociologists or historians who break down societies according to privilege or non-privilege. Was not the Stuart UK privileged. Was not Israel under David privileged? What are you talking about? And where do you get the idea of “privilege” from Scripture? You can’t burden my conscience unless you give me a divine warrant.

    Like

  147. Erik,

    There is no good news in the advice you give. I guess you think you’re doing the Law enough to warrant God’s favor in your life. I think that is a dangerous place to be.

    Like

  148. Curt,

    Name a rich person who can lock you up and throw away the key. Or administer a lethal injection in your arm. Or fine you and put you in prison if you don’t pay.

    The people who can do these things are the ones you want to empower.

    Like

  149. Read this in The University of Chicago Alumni Magazine last night. Sounds like Curt:

    Less left

    Pamela Cook, AM’05, relates that on the day after President Bush was reelected, an “obviously angry professor” devoted a whole class period to “ranting about the evils of the Republican Party” (Letters, July–Aug/14). When Ms. Cook objected to the partisan lecture she was insulted by fellow students with the professor’s tacit approval.

    In defense of the University, it can be noted that these and other alleged incidents occurred in the School of Social Service Administration. Social work classes are not typical of graduate programs. The field has always had a left-liberal outlook but seems to have taken a further turn toward political activism after President Clinton’s “end of welfare as we know it.” The National Association of Social Workers has demanded since 1996 that social workers promote social justice “from local to global levels,” and their idea of social justice would of course differ from Milton Friedman’s (AM’33). If one Googles “The Scandal of Social Work Education,” one will find accounts of courses devoted to “the global interconnections of oppression,” “strategies of empowerment practice,” “oppressive structures,” and “political advocacy as a form of mobilization.”

    But the current course descriptions on SSA’s website are about helping individual clients, with no postmodernist jargon. The only exception is a course on the impact of torture on people “marginalized by the larger (privileged) society because of their gender, race and age.” Ms. Cook would probably have had a worse experience in most other social work programs.
    Full disclosure: my late mother was a social work student at the U of C before I was born. She fondly remembered a formidable dean whose first name was Sophonisba.

    Malcolm Sherman, SB’60, SM’60
    Albany, New York

    Like

  150. D.G.,
    Do you mean that the American society with its personal freedoms and wealth is not more privileged than third world societies run by tyrants?

    Like

  151. Curt, I mean you are using categories that have the West written all over them. I mean you have yet to think biblically about your vaunted leftist categories. I mean you have not yet considered that more privilege exists in Europe where the residue of hierarchy still exists (think monarchy whether spiritual or temporal). I mean you’re all wet.

    Like

  152. D.G.,
    Is there nothing that we can observe that was not written in either the OT or the NT? Those who answer ‘no’ will be stuck with overly concrete approaches and looking to imitate rather than generalize. But worse than that, they will not see what is clearly observable to others.

    Again, as a society, aren’t we more privileged, or to put it another way, don’t we have more privileges than people do who live in 3rd world countries that are run by tyrants? It is a simple question to answer. And the wrong answer can unnecessarily destroy your credibility to evangelize.

    BTW, there is nothing wrong or unbiblical with observing categories. They are simply groupings of like objects. Of course, if you don’t believe that there can no longer be any new categories after Biblical times, then I see the problem. But I don’t see the Scriptures supporting that view.

    Like

  153. Curt, if you talk about sin, you’re doing theology. And doing theology apart from Scripture is a no-no.

    So the West is better than the rest? How pro-Western of you.

    I think you need to go back to the categories drawing board.

    Like

  154. D.G.,
    So what is theology apart from the Scriptures? Is it that which is not concretely related or where we aren’t imitating someone? Or is it when we aren’t following the general principles of the Scriptures? Remember that we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. And our neighbor is the one in need who crosses our path. And, in today’s technological world, we have far more neighbors than those in the past did.

    So is it loving one’s neighbor to not speak up for those oppressed by society and its systems? And is loving one’s neighbor to not tell a sinful system that it is wrong must change?

    Again, let’s go back to the German Christians during the Nazi error. Did those in resistance groups like the White Rose sin by breaking the law to tell the people the truth? Would they have sinned if they remained silent having known what was going on?

    And what about us? When gov’t interventions overthrow democratic and nondemocratic governments to put in the tyrants of their choice, don’t we have a responsibility to speak out? When our economic system benefits us by employing sweatshop and trafficked labor, don’t we have a responsibility to speak out? Or is sin committed by government sanctioned groups no longer sin?

    Finally, all I wrote about the West is to say since we have more privileges, do we have more responsibilities than those who live under tyrants? What, you don’t think that we in the West have more privileges than those who live under tyrants?

    Like

  155. Curt, don’t look now but you’re sounding like my neo-Cals who are flummoxed by the very idea that our time and place really isn’t as superior and privileged as they assume (pointing to evidence like democracy, toilet paper, and paved roads). Have you considered that ours has just as many down sides, or is that just pushed aside to prop up the agenda? I can understand preferring our time and place because it’s ours, but the premise that it’s superior isn’t a working premise around here. The irony is in how your premise of superiority fuels the very thing you’re so worked up about–how will equality come if we’re so superior?

    Like

  156. Curt, what you describe is morality. Love of neighbor is a commandment. How do you get someone to obey it? Really obey it. Revolution? Holy Spirit? Try some theology now.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.