Will the Real Kuyper Stand Up?

From Crawford Gribben’s recent review of George Marsden’s book on 1950s America (and more):

His conclusion draws from the philosophy and political strategies of Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), the renowned theologian, newspaper editor, and founder of the Free University in Amsterdam, who also found time to become the Prime Minister of the Netherlands (1901–05).

Kuyper’s theory of “sphere sovereignty” incorporated central tenets of the Calvinism he had inherited, but radically reconstructed its traditional political obligations. The Reformed tradition within which Kuyper operated had long assumed that the role of government was to uphold the moral claims of Scripture, and to effect a confessional culture in which societal norms paralleled those of believers. Kuyper’s great contribution to the Reformed tradition was to overturn this consensus, sometimes at substantial risk to himself, arguing for a more limited view of the responsibilities of government, and emphasizing that it ought not to intrude into the “spheres” of family, church, and voluntary associations. Kuyper argued that believers and unbelievers were divided by an “antithesis” that was simultaneously spiritual and existential, and so advocated the establishment of denominational schools and universities within which believers of different kinds could be separately educated.

This intrusion of sharp religious distinctions into the public square was balanced by Kuyper’s advocacy of “common grace”—the notion that all of humanity, as God’s image-bearers, were recipients of divine kindness—which permitted the construction of a public culture that could be non-confessional and non-denominational. Believers, in other words, could organize in robustly confessional institutions within a broader political environment that respected religious difference while enshrining the non-confessional principles of “natural law.” Kuyper’s utopia looked a lot like constitutional Americanisms, however far it would be from the sometimes theocratic assumptions of modern evangelicals.

This is a Kuyper behind whom I can line up. Church is a distinct sphere with limited responsibilities. Kuyperians use natural law instead of insisting on revealed truth in public life. Christian truth serves not as a basis for driving out the secularists and leftists but offers a strategy for embracing pluralism.

So why is it that the influence of neo-Calvinism flourished precisely during the most contested battles of the culture wars? One account would have to rely on Francis Schaeffer and his use of w-w to show why Christians could never bend the knee to a neutral public space. Along with that has to go a stress upon the neo-Calvinist notion of antithesis which does a handy job of dividing believers from unbelievers — why it doesn’t divide Calvinists from Arminians, or Protestants from Roman Catholics, or Christians from Jews is another matter.

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105 thoughts on “Will the Real Kuyper Stand Up?

  1. http://www.mortificationofspin.org/placefortruth/whose-worldview-part-1#.VKLpOiCKEA

    “Protestant theologians of the magisterial Reformation sought theological accuracy because of the thin margin of error between being wrong and damnation. Worldview theology, by contrast, thrives where dogmatic scruples take a back seat to cultural influence. It works well for evangelicals, both on the left and the right, because it is less exacting than older Protestant versions of confessionalism. In this regard Christian worldview advocates find a happier home in broad expressions of Christianity rather than communions that seek doctrinal precision. Liberal theology abandoned dogma earlier than evangelicals, but evangelicals have made up the difference. As confessional subscription sputtered and shrank between the 18th century and the 20th century worldview theology provided a convenient flexibility older Protestant models lacked. Confessional Protestantism borrowed from the scholastic tradition in as much as it believed the Christian faith could be expressed through propositional content organized and explained to anyone with a modicum of rational ability. Such propositional truth claims about salvation, however, come with liabilities. Namely, people disagree, sometimes, as in the case of early modern Europe, to the point of killing each other. Worldview theology slips around the problem by urging Christian truth is not so much about assent to a particular confession of faith as it is a commitment to the social and cultural utility Christian assent provides.”

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  2. Sure, but the yet lingering question for Kuyper is why a pluralist society for the adults to practice being “in the world but of it,” but still a theocratic society for the kids cordoned off in separate denominational schools?

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  3. Kuyperians use natural law instead of insisting on revealed truth in public life.

    Well, gee, that wasn’t so hard after all, was it?

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

    Truth cannot contradict truth. “Right reason” cannot contradict “revealed truth.” Yes, “Because the Bible says so” is not self-evident proof to those who reject its authority. But the conclusions via natural law are the same as the Bible’s.

    Live long and prosper now, you Calvinists you, and get out of your self-imposed straitjackets. Yes, there are “two kingdoms,” but both church and state have a duty to the natural law.

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  4. Tom – But the conclusions via natural law are the same as the Bible’s.

    Erik – Not really. What does natural law reveal about Jesus?

    And without knowing Jesus, what is natural law going to do for you after you’re dead?

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  5. Erik Charter
    Posted December 31, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Permalink
    Tom – But the conclusions via natural law are the same as the Bible’s.

    Erik – Not really. What does natural law reveal about Jesus?

    When Jesus teaches about marriage, he’s teaching both God’s will for man AND the natural law.

    “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’…?

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  6. Tom,

    But what does Natural Law tell us about who Jesus is and what he came to do?

    It doesn’t.

    And he came to do a lot more than teach about marriage.

    “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” – Mark 8:36

    Make 2015 the year that you get right with Jesus. Being a conservative isn’t going to get you to heaven.

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  7. Mark, thanks for the Ordained Servant link. I suspect you meant to link to the article about Os Guiness, but instead you pointed to my friend, Doug Felch’s article on science–a good piece, quite consonant with @oldlife’s newfound discovery of true Kuyperianism.

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  8. Terry – quite consonant with @oldlife’s newfound discovery of true Kuyperianism.

    Erik – Now if only its practitioners can get it right.

    One might ask the same thing about Kuperianism as one asks about Christian Day Schools.

    If they’re all that, why couldn’t they save the CRC from liberalism?

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  9. Eric, let’s not mix up our spheres. Liberalism has to do with theology and the church. Christian schools and “all of life” Kuyperianism is more Creational. Liberalism happens when the church isn’t doing its churchy job. Not sure why you would expect the Christian school or the civil magistrate to do the work of the church.

    Be sure to read Doug Felch’s article in Ordained Servant.

    For what it’s worth I think you’re using the word “liberalism” much more liberally than our father JG Machen.

    Happy New Year (Psalm 90).

    TG

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  10. Terry,

    Liberalism = Pastors & Elders Who Wear High Heels

    Where did the CRC leading lights learn that that was o.k. if not in the transformative Christian Day School?

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  11. But, Terry, speaking of spheres why do neo-Calvinists expect the Christian school to do the (co-) work of the family (i.e. instill worldview)? Since when does academia (co-) make human beings? This was part of my point early on in this thread. It is ironic to me how those sovereign spherists who fret over government intruding on the church and family write such blank checks to schools.

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  12. Erik. Not sure Machen would have thought of women elders as liberalism. He had bigger fish to fry. As Scott Clarke discusses–maybe the conservative’s quest for certainty on various disputable areas has led to a diminished zeal for true Reformed confessionalism.

    Zrim. Having some homeschooling sympathies myself I’m not sure that I recognize schools as anything other than an extension of the family. That is, the school derives its authority from the family. That’s why we don’t have parochial schools in Reformed practice. They’re not from the government nor are they from the church, but families that band together for commin cause.

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  13. AB, yes, I saw that piece, thanks. Not overly impressed with the reasoning though. Perhaps the Prime Directive has rendered them invisible. From what I hear from my faith/science friends at NASA, astrobiology is alive and well. Keep in mind that it will only take one First Contact to debunk the skeptics. I’m not holding my breath, but I’d suggest that it’s way too early to say that just because we haven’t found anything means that it’s not there.

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  14. Terry, but that’s the point. How can schools be “an extension of the family”? Isn’t there a difference between the spheres as sovereign (but overlapping) and spheres emerging one from another? And what do you mean the Reformed don’t do parochial schooling? If they’re not from churches then why the charge to elders to promote them and why the funding from churches? But would that they really were from families banding together for common cause–it would mirror better the political arrangement we have where diverse groups band together to make civil society.

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  15. Zrim, some regard the school as its own sphere. I’m not sure I do. Schools aren’t run by churches (at least CRC ones. They’re run by parent elected boards. I know of your concern, but just because the church order advocates schools doesn’t mean that it authorizes them or has authority over them. They’re not parochial in the sense that a Catholic school is.

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  16. Erik Charter
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    But what does Natural Law tell us about who Jesus is and what he came to do?

    It doesn’t.

    And he came to do a lot more than teach about marriage.

    “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” – Mark 8:36

    Make 2015 the year that you get right with Jesus. Being a conservative isn’t going to get you to heaven.

    Terry M. Gray
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
    Wow! An altar call on the @oldlife blog.

    Thx, Terry, I’m clearly already damned, clearly not one of The Elect.

    Dang!

    Y’all will miss me in heaven. It’ll be perfect except for the fact that I’m not there with you.

    As for natural law, Jesus preached it all the time. As for me “getting right with Jesus,” you don’t know anything about me or my life. You don’t know me, you have never known me. I cannot be reduced to my YouTubes and game shows.

    “Erik,” whatever your real name is, what I will reply to your very good advice is thank you for your good advice. I don’t think your unkindness and character assassinations are the least bit right with Jesus, but I think [I pray] he’ll forgive your nasty ass and the rest of you “Elect” anyway.

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  17. Tom, i think we have a pretty good idea of what you are about after your contribution to roughly 1,500 posts on OL.

    And your keeping to a consistent set of beliefs the whole time.

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  18. kent
    Posted January 2, 2015 at 2:01 am | Permalink
    Tom, i think we have a pretty good idea of what you are about after your contribution to roughly 1,500 posts on OL.

    And your keeping to a consistent set of beliefs the whole time.

    “WE” is creepy. Who is “WE?”

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  19. The Reformed here at OL, Tom.

    We are carrying more assumptions and accepted views, never stated as they are not necessary to state, than you can shake a stick at.

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  20. Thx, Terry, I’m clearly already damned, clearly not one of The Elect.

    Dang!

    Y’all will miss me in heaven. It’ll be perfect except for the fact that I’m not there with you.

    Just plz read DGH’s book Calvinism, Tom. My Babdist mom to this day doesnt understand why I went Calvinist (my wife was raised OPC – hello!), and keeps harping on me, every time I see her, Why why why, aren’t Babdist the same as reformed etc etc.

    I sent her DGH’s book, and she read it. Her demeanor yesterday visiting us was much improved. Its well worth the investment Tom if you really want to get to how many of us think around here. Think about it.

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  21. AB, is there any other path to Reformed than being born into a family that lives it, so you never have to think about it, or packing it in on a long time wasted in Evangelical/Baptist/Fundy and then finally finding there is a denominationl that isn’t happy-clapoy or just plain nuts?

    And even then there are plenty of nuts in Reformed as well.

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  22. Terry, my point isn’t to rehash some of the previous discussions, rather it’s to introduce another dimension. If the sphere of education entails more family than government and church then what would keep Reformed families from banding together with Muslim, Catholic, Mormon, and atheist families to build and run community schools? Answer: worldview. But if worldview doesn’t get in the way of these groups maintaining civil society then why does it impede educational enterprise?

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  23. Tom,

    If I don’t know you by now will I never, never, never know you?

    I know you like Catholicism, but not enough to join or go to mass.

    I know you like universalism.

    That doesn’t sound like you have met Jesus.

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  24. And before you join Reformed from an Evangelical background, you have at least 500 hours of reading and podcasts and other means of study to even start to think of membership.

    Good luck.

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  25. AB, even if never spoken there are 10,000 pages of theology and exegesis in the heart and mind of the average member

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  26. Zrim, I would suggest that education is primarily education in worldview. That’s why secular public education is so offensive to a Kuyperian. The public arena is different. No shared worldview and no appropriate imposition of one worldview over against the other. (And, like it or not, secularism is a worldview or at least has elements of a worldview). But worldview adherents desire to educate their children in the context of their particular worldview (at least most would say so). Thus, there should be schools representing the various worldviews in the community which at minimum expresses itself in a friendly attitude toward home schools. You will claim, I’m sure, that reading, writing, arithmetic, maybe natural science, basic civics, etc. could have a common, worldview independent core. Perhaps, But that’s not all education is and we’re naive if we think that’s all education is or should be. Take literature, for example. Whose books do we read? Even teaching reading. What content, values, cultures, etc. get implicitly promoted in the stuff that gets read. There’s more to be said here, for example, about the “life is religion” idea. If you reject the “life is religion” claim then you may not see the importance of this, but if you accept “life is religion” then education in worldview follows quite naturally.

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  27. Terry, actually I would contend that the primary work of education is the 3 Rs (worldview being perhaps incidental), and that of all the spheres the family is the one with the primary task of instilling worldview. But how is the public arena much different, such that worldview isn’t a factor? After all, real life has to be forged and sorted out from among those with differing worldviews. If one republic can be maintained by adherents of various worldviews, why not a school?

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  28. Zrim, I agree that family is the sphere for installing worldview. If the school is part of the family sphere (vs. state or church or scientific (broadly speaking) community or business or the arts or other spheres) then we have no principial disagreement. Whether or not it’s possible for schools to concentrate on the 3R’s is sort of beside the point. No one in the public school world views their task this way. They are committed to the multiculturalist, all religions and lifestyles are equally valid, viewpoint, a viewpoint that is part of a modern secular worldview. The Kuyperian public square is not that, but rather a pluralism of worldview, each thinking they have the true worldview. The common sphere is what is conducive to the pluralism of worldviews getting along where necessary. It’s not necessary or even desirable in education. Is it really fruitful to have your 3 year old consider alternative worldviews in pre-school? Or your even your 5th grader? Of course, considering alternatives must happen at some point if there is to be an authentic embracing of a worldview with integrity. The influence of school teachers and peers is not insignificant.

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  29. Terry, I know it’s the going neo-Cal narrative that no one in the public school enterprise views their task as concentrating on the 3Rs but instead the multiculturalist agenda, but it’s pretty sensationalist. Most, in fact, view their task as 3Rs and find secondary culturalist squabbles a hindrance to it. This further irritates worldviewers who resent the idea that the classroom is primarily intellectual and not affective (“no such thing as brute facts”); educators can’t win.

    So I take it your answer is that no, Reformed Christians cannot band together with others in general learning the way they can in general living. That’s the neo-Cal outlook for sure, but the more I go on the less sense it makes that there are different rules for students and citizens. Learning together seems conducive to living together, leaving worship the place to draw the line.

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  30. Zrim, look, I’m personally public schooled all the way through. Indiana public elementary and secondary schools. B.S. at Purdue University. Ph.D. at University of Oregon. My “transformation” into a neo-Calvinist occurred during my undergraduate and graduate school years as I become more Reformed in my theology in general. In retrospect, I see my own theological musings before my more in depth encounter with Reformed theology as having sympathies with the neo-Calvinist perspective even though I wouldn’t have known to call it that.

    Of course, as a neo-Calvinist I see the value of a place like a Christian secondary school or Calvin College or the Institute for Christian Studies. But I recognize that we exist in a pluralistic culture. Adults with a mature faith can and must navigate this pluralism. Academia (not necessarily the same as “education”) is a sphere with lots of common grace. Kuyperians aren’t shy about admitting that. Some college undergraduates and even high school students have the necessary adult maturity. You speak of “different rules for students and citizens”. I would rather speak of “children and citizens”. My concerns are primarily directed toward the pre-school, elementary, and early secondary systems.

    For us, those were our homeschooling years and I was quite comfortable moving our kids into the public school system with the foundations that they had been given.

    Sensationalist? That’s a word I wouldn’t have associated with my comments. But, really? Hasn’t public education been the institution that produced the melting pot? Isn’t it the producer of the secular, commons that 2K’s are so fond of? Let’s turn them into Americans, civil religion and all. Surely, of all institutions, that comes mainly from the public school. Of course, in the past few decades media has a huge part to play in our worldview development.

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  31. Terry, it would seem two people who share a similar experience within secular education have different views of it. Whatever the downsides (and I can admit it certainly has some), mine’s a sunnier take on its benefits. In a word, it has been a mechanism that fosters community and shared civil life among varied groups. That’s huge (orfshould be) to those who esteem the shared life but not the priority among neo-Cals, which is to foster the Christian-world-and-life view. Some might even say that Christian schooling discourages the shared life and encourages the atomization of broader society, i.e. instead of everyone going to one local school and figuring out how to make that work retreating into an educational ghetto.

    That said, with the better advocates of secular education, I can also admit the benefits of private and parochial education. The upside of thinking heaven implies earth is that you can end up doing earth pretty well (even if no better than those who subscribe to such an implication) and provoking others to keep pace.

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  32. Zrim, believe it or not I regard my public education experience rather positively and feel as though my experiences with those who didn’t share my worldview sharpened my thinking. I also took very deliberate steps via reading, conferences, off-campus courses, etc. to supplement the formal education I was receiving. However, I feel as if the potential for an even deeper engagement of my faith with my academic experience was stunted because teachers and institutions were committed to something else. Their personal views may have been similar to mine, but, who knows? They were first and foremost committed to a viewpoint that did not permit one’s religious belief to enter the conversation. I won’t disagree that this for the best given our current “common”, secular education system that has people with all sorts of beliefs in the same room (although I’m not so sure that such neutrality is possible–making me a post-modernist, of sorts). But it prevents making the deep connections or developing a system of thinking that makes deep connections being anything but a private matter. I’m inclined to think that such thinking about the connections is more important than that, especially in the youngest when we’re still learning our worldview (both academically and experientially–a la Jamie Smirh) but also in the higher ed and grad school realms where theorizing might be impacted in interesting ways by worldview commitments. A pluralistic education system allows for this (see my ASA talk at http://www.asa3.org/ASAradio/ASA2010Gray.mp3 if you haven’t already) by creating ghettos (communities that have a shared worldview–it’s only a bad word if you never come out).

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  33. I appreciate this discussion, Zrim and TG. Thanks for sharing with us here at OL. As a product entirely of public schools, and putting my kids in private, it’s a matter relevant to many readers here. Just my thanks is all, guys. Take care.

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  34. Terry, I believe you and it’s all in keeping with the neo-Calvinist outlook. But how does this look when applied to civil and political life? To me it looks like a theocracy, not a republic. And yet I never hear soft neos like yourself agitating for a theocracy the way you labor for Christian schools. Maybe because it’s more difficult to establish a theocracy in a secularized world than it is to establish Christian schools in a republic. Still, what keeps you from seeking a theocracy if faith is supposed to bear directly on all of life when all of life includes not only learning but political arrangements?

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  35. Zrim, it’s redemptive history. Now’s not the time for a theocracy. Because not all share their worldview and we’re not called to use the sword to enforce a worldview, the state must represent the interest of all worldviews. That’s part of my worldview. Seeking a theocracy is contrary to God’s revealed will for the state in this era of common grace and the free offer of the gospel.

    No such reasoning applies to schools, especially since worldviews are taught (and caught). Thus, in my view the role of the state in education is to protect the interests of the family in allowing freedom of worldview education, which includes allowing for worldview expression in the educational system (not suppressing it). The state does have some interest in education (3R’s, perhaps, and basic civics) but most worldviews are willing to accommodate such interests.

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  36. Terry, true but I’m not talking about that reasoning. I’m talking about the all-of-life reasoning. If children should be compelled to interpret all of life through the lens of faith then why not the rest of society?

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  37. Zrim, how are non-believing parents’ children being “compelled to interpret all of life through the lens of faith”? TG just finished praising “freedom of worldview education” in his previous post. The compelling is happening via the tax system’s overwhelming disproportionate support of the public (government) worldview education (school) system. Nobody is forcing parents to maintain Christian schools against their will.

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  38. nocable (still no dish?), the question assumed the point of view of believing parents. Restated it goes like this: If children (of believing parents) should be compelled to interpret all of life through the lens of faith then why not the rest of society?

    ps nobody is forcing but Reformed elders are charged with “promoting” and “urging” and “diligently encouraging.” Wink-wink-nudge-nudge.

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  39. You surely don’t think that children should be allowed to choose their own worldview. I would say that training in worldview is part of discipleship and faith formation. I train up my children in Bible knowledge, Reformed theology, and to look at everything from those lenses. Children of believers are in the covenant. The rest of society is not.

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  40. Terry, I’d distinguish between faith and worldview and say that covenant children have no choice in being brought up in Christian faith, that believing parents have the duty to do all within their fallible powers to foster faith and discourage anything other than that which is Reformed, etc. Worldview, however, has less to do with otherwordly or religious belief and more to do with provisional outlook on the temporal order. The home certainly forms this as well, but I do see more room for tolerance for children to veer; faith doesn’t imply any particular temporal outlook.

    But if while children are in the covenant and the rest of society is not (agreed), then why want to influence society in “the Christian way”?

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  41. does that make the Christian family( with one professing parent because professing grandparent is not enough) a “mini-Christendom?

    Horton: “To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they did not belong? If faith is the only way into membership , then why all the warnings to members of the covenant community to exercise faith and persevere in faith to the end? God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ.”

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/13/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton/

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  42. Zrim, would you have any problem with our children attending synagogues for the moral instruction, just so long as they also attending a Reformed church where they also heard the pure gospel?

    One problem is that so many of the sermons we hear in some of those Reformed churches could be used word for word in the synagogue, except perhaps for removing the word “Christ”. Jews believe in grace and covenant also.

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  43. Zrim asks: why influence [non-covenant] society in “the Christian way?” Reply: Gen.12:3–“. . . and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Deut.4:6–“Observe [decrees and laws] carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations. . . ” Daniel 4:27–“Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. . . ” Mt. 5:16–“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Jer. 29:7–“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.” Luke 3:18-20–“And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them. But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.” Acts 24:25–“As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid. . . ” Through obedient living, faithful behavior, and speaking truth to power, we’ve just read of biblical calls to influence society, Zrim.

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  44. i ask because i care

    always want to be on the same page with you, zrim

    to that end

    so that was a yes to the family as Christendom, or to the synagogue firearms class on how to shoot your bad neighbor (if needed) for the sake of your good neighbor?

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  45. Mark, that was a yes to having a problem with covenant children attending synagogues. A dullard, I’m not sure what prompts it. But also not sure what the Horton quote means here. Family as a mini-Christendom? No, more like platoon members of the church.

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  46. nocable, so contra Terry and me you say that general society is the covenant (which is why it should be taught in the Christian way). So the $50k question is, How do you baptize general society and make it a communicant member of the church?

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  47. Zrim, general society is not in the covenant, but should benefit from believers within it proclaiming Christ–being salt and light as they conduct their lives, thereby influencing it. OK?.

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  48. nocable, as in obey God while being in the world but not of it? Sure. But what are influencers to think when what has been has been again and there is nothing new under the sun? Maybe influence is way over rated and believers should content themselves with mere participation.

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  49. nocable
    Posted January 4, 2015 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
    Zrim, general society is not in the covenant, but should benefit from believers within it proclaiming Christ–being salt and light as they conduct their lives, thereby influencing it. OK?.

    Elegant, sir. Surely we should not hide our salt shakers under bushel baskets, eh?

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  50. Zrim, I think we’ve been here before. I suspect we don’t even agree on what the term “worldview” means. I simply mean Biblical teaching and theology (catechism using your terminology) and its application to Creation (the natural, human, and social orders). Application of catechism is part of discipleship and faith formation. The church as church is not authorized to do the Creational tasks, but the catechism that the church teaches is the lens, a filter if you will, by which the Creation is understood–its relation to God’s work of Creation and Providence, the impact of sin on the functioning of Creation, the goal of Creation (here, for example, you and I appear to have a difference in our worldview), where norms come from, etc. I believe that we teach such things to our children. 2K and its application is a component of a worldview. You can (and should) teach that view and its application if you believe it to be true. Sorry for the delay in response.

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  51. Zrim: “But if while children are in the covenant and the rest of society is not (agreed), then why want to influence society in “the Christian way””

    Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    I take this to be a prayer about God’s revealed will and not a statement about his secret, decreed will.

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  52. Terry, what you say of worldview I affix to faith which is the category of Scripture. Worldview is a modern category that turns Christian faith more into a philosophy of this life rather than a faith that points believers to the life to come. Worldview is a function of still being too tied to the present life and a hindrance to seeking a better country whose architect is God alone (I take that petition to be eschatological, i.e. a plea for his imminent return and setting of all things right in heaven and on earth).

    This is the part where you smell a from of dispensationalism and say something about stowing the polish for rails on sinking ships (and churchless culture warrior TVD jumps for joy). But 2k piety is actually more world-affirming than you imagine, because it holds that creation is still not just good but very good and promotes the believer’s full participation in all areas of legitimate life and shrinks from both the ghetto-making tendencies of neo-Calvinism and asceticism of broader funda-evangelicalism, which have something more in common with medieval Roman piety than an older and more ecclesiatical (less culturalist) Protestantism.

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  53. Stan Hauerwas does not want us to let children decide—” The irony is that in states like the United States there is nothing to prevent the free preaching of the Gospel, but the Gospel that is preached is policed to insure that the state is not challenged. The result that in liberal societies the Gospel is not preached because Christians do not want in any way to appear subversive, has everything to do with the confusion of the Gospel with civil religion. One of the things I like so much about Australia is the absence of any strong civil religion. As a result the church has the possibility of being free in a manner I think almost impossible for the church in America. My way of trying to help American Christians locate their profoundest loyalties is to observe that they often think they ought to let their children make up their minds about whether they will be Christians or not but they assume that they must be Americans.”
    http://www.politicaltheology.com/blog/a-response-to-beiner-by-stanley-hauerwas/

    Horton: “ If faith is the only way into membership , then why all the warnings to members of the covenant community to exercise faith and persevere in faith to the end? God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ.”

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  54. Mark, from where I sit it’s a balance between taking seriously the parental vows made at their baptism to do all within our fallible powers to nurture faith (which precludes and discourages anything other than the Reformed faith and practice), and at the same time understanding that the work of faith is entirely a work of God. In which case, children do need to be afforded space to personally embrace what has been fostered from baptism and with an eye toward communion, which may well include an exploration of that which isn’t Reformed, etc. I don’t know if this addresses what you’re getting at.

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  55. which have something more in common with medieval Roman piety than an older and more ecclesiatical (less culturalist) Protestantism.

    Zrim, (off topic here) made me think of this

    We must also be sure to distinguish between orthodox and fundamentalism. The orthodox period of Protestantism has very little to do with what is called fundamentalism in America. Rather, it has special reference to the scholastic period of Protestant history. There were great scholastics in Protestantism, some of them equally as great as the medieval scholastics… . Such a thing has never been done in American fundamentalism. Protestant Orthodoxy was constructive. It did not have anything like the pietistic or revivalistic background of American fundamentalism. It was objective as well as constructive, and attempted to present the pure and comprehensive doctrine concerning God and man and the world. It was not determined by a kind of lay biblicism as is the case in American fundamentalism—a biblicism which rejects any theological penetration into the biblical writings and makes itself dependent on traditional interpretations of the word of God. You cannot find anything like that in classical orthodoxy. Therefore it is a pity that very often orthodoxy and fundamentalism are confused.

    ..

    One of the great achievements of classical orthodoxy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries was the fact that it remained in continual discussion with all the centuries of Christian thought. Those theologians were not untheological lay people ignorant of the meanings of the concepts which they used in biblical interpretation. They knew the past meanings of these concepts in the history of the church which covered a period of over fifteen hundred years. These orthodox theologians knew the history of philosophy as well as the theology of the Reformation. The fact that they were in the tradition of the Reformers did not prevent them from knowing thoroughly scholastic theology, from discussing and refuting it, or even accepting it when possible. All this makes classical orthodoxy one of the great events in the history of Christian thought.

    I’ll be reading

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  56. One of Horton’s points is that being already in the covenant makes some children responsible and therefore liable for “covenant curses” in a way that other children are not.

    Perhaps the world which comes off the ark after the flood was the best of all possible worlds—one family only, and that family with at least one parent (Noah) professing to believe the gospel….

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/13/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton/

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  57. All this Horton quoting is making me feel inadequate. That’s OK, I need more prodding to listen to the latest WHI podcast. Toodles.

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  58. Zrim, philosophy is part of the Creational realm. Application of catechism applies to philosophy as much as to the rest of life. I don’t understand why you don’t see that your 2k/eschatological views are part of your worldview. Your worldview (and you do have one as much as Pentecostals have a liturgy) is different because of your eschatology. It’s great that your theology/worldview is so Creation affirming. I think you have that right and in that we can work together on much. I think your choice of the word “ghetto” reveals that you don’t understand the neo-Calvinist view. There is no lessened engagement of Creation, but rather a desire to engage Creation through the lens of Christian belief. Of course, given common grace, we have much in common even with unbelievers (see DGH’s original blog post above and Kuyper piece recently reviewed by Doug Felch, also cited above). I (and most I interact with) find neo-Calvinism to be the most Creation-affirming expression of Christianity around. Most of the time it seems like we agree on everything except the value of Christian/home schools and your otherworldly eschatology (has anyone seen Richard Middleton’s new book?). Methinks you may have a bad experience somewhere along the way (please pardon my psychologizing).

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  59. Terry, don’t go James White (on Jason Stellman) on me. But I like to think I understand neo-Calvinism since I held what I would call neo-Calvinistic views for a number of years. I’d agree that neo-Calvinism has a creation affirming streak which is a welcome respsite for a recovering eeeevangelical, but it becomes illusory with all the redemptive transformation stuff which implies that there is something wrong with creation–not to mention a harkening to Protestant liberalism and its fixation on the social and political import of Christianity that made it so effete and irrelevant (is the CRC the Dutch mainline?). But if you want to call hearing sermons from Reformed pulpits that sounded an awful lot like the culture warrior sermons of eeeevangelicalism from which it was believed respite had been found a bad experience, fine. I’d rather think of it as “Reformed and always reforming.”

    ps I’m not denying worldview. I’m saying that it’s a different category than faith. It’s when they’re conflated that you get confused and say “I don’t understand why you don’t see that your 2k/eschatological views are part of your worldview.” Those views align with faith, not worldview. They may translate into a worldview, but not necessarily or obviously.

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  60. Zrim, I understand worldview in the sense that Jim Sire explains it in The Universe Next Door. Basically, it’s how you answer all the big questions. He has a list of 6 or 8. Since worldview covers the relationship of God to us and to the rest of reality, it overlaps in a big way with faith (theology). Faith informs worldview, but also the content of faith is part of the worldview. Worldview is more comprehensive (all of creation/life) than Bibilcal (hence there’s adiaphora). Worldview includes our theology and is influenced by it. For example, other worldliness vs. renewed heaven and earth often dictates our attitudes toward the present creation (although it appears that your eschatological other worldliness in a somewhat unusual way allows for an affirmation of Creation. So, yes, I acknowledge because worldview includes philosophy, science, the arts, politics, etc. that it is broader than theology proper. On the other hand when I apply my theology to the full realm of human experience, I get what I want to call worldview. So back to the original point: teaching worldview in schools is nothing more than applying our knowledge of scripture appropriately in all human endeavors. That can’t really be done without having that shared system of belief.

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  61. Terry, so what does this application of faith to the full realm of human experience and into worldview look like? If God is both triune and one and the maker of all things visible and invisible then what form of governance is best for human polities–theocracy, monarchy, democracy? Plenty of people who confess the former have different conclusions on the latter. It would seem that one faith doesn’t yield one worldview. However, faith yields churches because there is a direct correspondence between faith and practice. What is confessed theologically creates a distinctly Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, and EO church.

    So it sounds good and pious to say “teaching worldview in schools is nothing more than applying our knowledge of scripture appropriately in all human endeavors.” The problem is that application will vary widely. And the critic has a point when one Christian worldview (Jesus is the Son of God, thus government should be small to avoid tyranny) varies greatly from another supposedly Christian worldview (Jesus is the Son of God, thus more taxes to feed the poor). Makes more sense to say Jesus is the Son of God, thus only those who confess as much may eat his flesh and drink his blood. Why can’t political views inform political conclusions and religious views yield religious ones? This is where you say too much compartmentalizing, but it’s seems like good old fashioned common sense to play a game by its own rules and not the rules of another game. But my own sense is that neo-Calvinism is so fixated with having religion swallow up all of life it ends up coming off like playing tennis by the rules of baseball. And to borrow from the host, a kind of intellectual pietism.

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  62. On a formal level, claiming that [Radical] Two Kingdoms theology is “neutral” or true or Biblical or whathaveyou is still a religious truth claim and therefore not “neutral.”

    It’s one of the tricks libertarians use, that their ideology isn’t an ideology. Of course not.

    Right. Your worldview isn’t a “worldview” atall atall. Just God’s truth.

    Oh, Darryl, I wish I could be there when you represent the “religious conservative” view on an academic panel

    Studying American Religion, Politics, and Foreign Policy All at the Same Time: Where Do We Go from Here?
    Sunday, January 4, 2015: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
    New York Hilton, Harlem Suite
    Chair: Andrew Preston, Clare College, University of Cambridge
    Speaker(s):
    Raymond Haberski, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    Darryl Hart, Hillsdale College
    Christine Leigh Heyrman, University of Delaware
    Leo P. Ribuffo, George Washington University

    Make us proud.

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  63. Zrim, I’m quite willing to say that some aspects of a worldview are historically and culturally conditioned. Also, there’s on-going cultural development that impacts worldview. So your observation that Christians in different times and places have different views on aspects of worldviews isn’t a show-stopper as you suggest.

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  64. Terry, but perhaps you get a sense for why some might think cutting a four digit check so a teacher can say 2+2=4 because God made math (let us pray) seems a tad excessive.

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  65. Zrim, that’s the injustice of the current system. Kuyper successfully argued for state support of Christian schools. I’d also suggest you’re a bit jaded about what all is happening at the Christian school. I agree that the practical matters involved in funding Christian education do complicate the ideals. We homeschooled during the elementary years motivated by other than financial concerns, but not having tuition payments was an indisputable benefit.

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  66. Terry, thanks for more free and unsolicited psychologizing (kidding). But as long as we’re revealing, the convenient public school just around the corner when our first was of age we deemed unacceptable despite our ideals, and the Christian school just across the street from it was viable, but the more inconvenient charter was ideal. The sorting out isn’t always easy, and not to play any one-upmanship but I rarely hear Christian schoolers deem even Baptist schools as unacceptable (if nurturing Reformed faith is the point then my head gets scratchy) and public schools as viable. At best they are necessary evils one might sadly have to employ with hung head. I’ve already conceded that better public school advocates see the benefits of private and parochial schooling. I know you’ve conceded their upside, but the favor rarely seems returned by most Christian schoolers (and remember, I live at ground zero).

    ps and fyi, I don’t have any bad experiences that fuel some sort of personal jadedness. So you can toss that card now.

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  67. Zrim, I agree with you about Christian schools of the more fundamentalist variety. We have that issue here in Fort Collins. Some of our families with Kuyperian ideals are less than enthusiastic about the Christian school options here and some are opting for homeschooling, others for the public school (with certain charter schools highly regarded as well). And I think I have admitted before that our openness toward mainstream science views made us more than nervous about some of the CSI schools in Grand Rapids (at least back in the 80’s and early 90’s). Not sure what’s going on there now. Fundamentalist renditions of American history leave something to be desired as well. Our homeschooling experience was on the whole good, but I’m very willing to recognize that it’s not for everyone. I am willing to admit as well that kids do grow up and begin to think for themselves. Our parenting, discipling through home and church, schooling, etc. are only part of the inputs. Peers, media, culture, personal choices (reacting positively or negatively to parents and their generation) all contribute powerfully. Nonetheless, I still hold to the ideals, practice them as best as I can, and encourage others to do likewise.

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  68. this was the latest to hit one of my twitter/podcast addict/feedly/igoogle/insertyourfavoriteapphere feeds. martians fart too, whodathunk?

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  69. Nocable, I got cable (internet) today. My wife tells me it’s rad. Ditch DSL, yo, if you know what’s good for you.

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  70. Darryl, but if I deny worldview then I can’t say neo-Cals are being too this-worldly when they invoke it at the expense of faith, which is way too much fun. Isn’t that the point? Same thing with “evangelicalism” (sorry)–I have to say it exists so I can also say it’s bankrupt. Wind them up, watch them go.

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  71. DGH–a Protestant in Turkey should seek his nation’s peace and prosperity, with prayer(Jer. 29:7), while being as shrewd as a snake and innocent as a dove (Mt. 10:16). Have you been there? AB–It’s antenna TV for me, thanks.

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  72. Darryl Hart quotes himself:

    As welcome as the pacifism of political Christianity in the United States is, I do wonder if the Calvinists who hate secularism and its cultural consequences ever ponder their resemblances to political Islam.

    “Political Islam” is of course a pejorative to a Western audience, atheist to Christian.

    If I were a Christian–say Bonhoeffer–I’d rather take my chances in Ataturk’s Turkey or Erdogan’s, or the Ottoman Empire–than under Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot. Or that other fellow.

    This was a crap riff, Darryl. A Muslim was safer in America 300 years ago than you would be now in Turkey if you both went out on the corner to preach.

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  73. [We insist] that sin refers to moral fall and guilt, and further, that this fall consisted in three things: a darkening of the light of reason, an impairment of the power of the will, and a corrupting of our affections. From this it follows that without spectacles, as Calvin expressed it, the book of nature can no longer be read, such that neither from nature nor from the light of our reason can we know whether, and if so, in what way, there is any means whereby we may escape the power and guilt of sin. From this flows the need for a further special revelation to be added to nature, having two purposes: both to teach us to understand again the book of Nature, and to open for us the path to reconciliation with God. So we receive a word of God in twofold form: A word of God within the creation, and a word of God with which he adds to created things (Band aan het Woord, 10).

    Kuyper, quoted in Nelson Kloosterman – Peering Into a Lawyer’s Brief (Review of VanDrunen’s Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms)

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  74. The Kuyper effect:

    Although I had been raised a Christian and had understood that Jesus had died on the cross to save me from sin and death, I had never heard in quite the same way that redemption in Christ is cosmic in scope and extends to the entire creation. Although this insight is by no means foreign to the larger Christian tradition, the way Kuyper expressed it struck me at the time as especially inspiring: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” Kuyper famously delivered his Lectures on Calvinism at Princeton Seminary in 1898, and he would go on to serve as Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 1901 and 1905. In his own life, he exemplified the effort to live out the lordship of Christ in every area of endeavor, including politics.

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  75. More inspiration from Dutch Protestantism (where’s the principled pluralism?):

    If you hang out in Christian circles for more than ten minutes, you’ll inevitably hear someone talk about ‘worldview’. Christian parents, particularly those in the homeschool / private school / unschool / charter school vein, are intensely passionate about giving their children a biblical worldview which helps their children understand themselves, the world, and all of history in light of Scripture. Abraham Kuyper, the patron saint of Christian worldview, famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

    This quote, which is recited approximately 12,000 times per year by conservative Christians, is the anthem and impulse for the worldview camp.

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  76. JASitek
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm
    I like Kuyper a lot more than what people try to do with Kuyper.

    ^^^^this^^^^^

    What you bring up in this piece is unbelievably important today Darryl. I’m sorry I didn’t see it before. Fabulous questions you ask, the answers to which of course will dictate and define one’s “worldview” 😉 . I hope to have some more time soon. GREAT stuff here, short though it is. I wanna be able to read the comments first too.

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