Neo-Calvinist Reality Check

David Koyzis can’t help but notice that Kuyperianism didn’t work out so well:

As a young man I was shocked during a visit to Amsterdam to see the proliferation of “sex shops” and the brazenness of the city’s red light district. In the four decades since then the Netherlands has come to be known for its permissive attitude towards euthanasia, recreational drugs and, of course, sexual expression. What happened? And why did it happen so quickly, that is, within two generations of Kuyper’s death?

So what happened? Koyzis thinks that institution building got in the way of evangelism:

Kuyper’s efforts led to the establishment of a variety of explicitly Christian organizations parallel to their secular counterparts. (The painter Piet Mondrian grew up in this Gereformeerd subculture.)

As Kuyper’s heirs immigrated to North America, they brought over his penchant for establishing and maintaining Christian institutions of all sorts, including a network of Christian day schools, a Christian trade union, more than one political organization, and a network of institutions of higher education. I myself have long been committed to these efforts and have taught at one of these affiliated universities.

Nevertheless, I have found myself wondering whether Kuyper’s perhaps too peaceful coexistence with the forces of secularization in 1917 might not have been sufficient to maintain the subculture he led over the long term. Kuyper certainly wouldn’t have been pleased by his followers’ failure to evangelize, and pillarization needn’t lead to a lack of outward strategy, but historically such power-sharing agreements place a premium on reaching a least-common-denominator form of consensus and toning down differences. In a pillarized society, the distinct subcultures became adept at erecting and maintaining barriers against the other subcultures, yet the consociational arrangements they come up with have tended to be short-lived.

I am not going to enter into debates about consociations that may play to Koyzis’ strength as a political scientist, but the habitual turn of the neo-Calvinist mind to matters public and political instead of spiritual and churchly, may actually point to what went wrong. In point of fact, the institutions that Kuyper helped to found were valuable not simply for erecting a sense of Calvinist identity but most importantly for passing on the faith to another generation and keeping the existing ones in it. Whether those institutions were always necessary is one thing. But their aim I suspect was ultimately religious not temporal, that is, to propagate and maintain the faith once delivered. If all the Reformed Protestants who participated in Kuyper’s institutions had maintained the faith and if their children had remained in the church, chances are those institutions would still be vigorous and large.

But once those institutions became ends in themselves, the genie left the bottle along with subsequent generations. The issue is not evangelism vs. institutions — the old problem of the Pretty Good Awakening. It is keeping institutions on point. And the point is creating and sustaining believers who can say:

My only comfort in life and in death is I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

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733 thoughts on “Neo-Calvinist Reality Check

  1. The thing that really comes through clearly with Keller is that his being an evangelical predates & trumps his being a Presbyterian. Not even saying that’s bad, but the milieu he comes out of is an evangelical milieu.

    People in the PCA need to know this (not that they didn’t already).

    How many Presbyterians knows the ins and outs of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary?

    Keller is far tighter with Dever than he would ever be with the Westminster West faculty.

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  2. Erik, I think the other thread today was the TKNY one, but no biggee.

    I helped a retired OP minister move on Saturday. He went to Gordon Conwell with Tim.

    I was first exposed to Tim in Deacon Training class, his book “Minstries of Mercy.” It’s OK.

    Darryl’s chapter here is worth the price of this book. For real.

    DG, you don’t hold back any punches, and obviously I’m a fan of yours. The New Horizons kinda chewed you up over this essay of yours.

    Either way one slices it, I think DGH nails the TKNY approach. Doesn’t he always.

    Hey, I’m jealous of a guy with 185k twitter followers too!

    not really 😉

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  3. Tim ain’t no Machen (my new favorite quote):

    A true Reformation would be characterized by just what is missing in the Modernism of the present day; it would be characterized above all by an heroic honesty which for the sake of principle would push all consideration of consequences aside.

    Such a Reformation we on our part believe to be needed today; only, we believe that it would be brought about, not by a new religion which consists in imitation of the reduced Jesus of modern naturalism, but by the rediscovery of the gospel of Christ. This is not the first time in the history of the world when the gospel has been obscured. It was obscured in the Middle Ages, for example; and how long and how dark, in some respects, was that time ! But the gospel burst forth with new power the same gospel that Paul and Augustine had proclaimed. So it may be in our own day; the gospel may come forth again to bring light and liberty to mankind. But this new Reformation for which we long will not be brought about by human persuasions, or by consideration of consequences, or by those who seek to save souls through a skfllful use of ecclesiastical influences, or by those who refrain from speaking the truth through a fear of “splitting the Church” or of making a poor showing in columns of Church statistics. How petty, in the great day when the Spirit of God again moves in the Church, all such considerations will seem! No, when the true Reformation comes, it will come through the instrumentality of those upon whom God has laid His hand, to whom the gospel has become a burning fire within them, who speak because they are compelled to speak, who, caring nothing for human influences and conciliation and external Church combinations and the praise or blame of men, speak the word that God has given them and trust for the results to Him alone. In other words, it will be brought about by men of faith.

    J. Gresham Machen

    https://archive.org/stream/MN41619ucmf_6/MN41619ucmf_6_djvu.txt

    But I like him. Come get me.

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  4. Kathy Keller wrote C.S. Lewis as a girl and actually got at least 4 letters back.

    Tim met Kathy through Kathy’s younger sister. Tim went to Bucknell with the sister. Kathy was at Allegheny College.

    Kathy has theological training. Sounds like she was one of the earlier female students at Gordon-Conwell. Not sure what her program of study was.

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  5. Was the Netherlands problem one of using the wrong principles or that of failing to maintain what had been established. For it seems to me that the criticism of the NeoCalvinist penchant for delving into what is public and political instead of what is spiritual and churchly is based on a faulty model of thought. It is faulty because it implies an exclusive-or choice. It is also faulty because of the fruit it bears. For the natural fruit of such thinking tells Christians to live life in a virtual monastery. Yes, we live with neighbors, but we live as having no common concerns because they have a concern about what is public and political while our only concern is about the church and our own spiritual wellbeing. Do you understand how this model promotes being withdrawn from the world in a way that hinders one from carrying out the Great Commission? And it isn’t just a mild state of withdrawal. The withdrawal is to such a degree that it seems to promote a kind of spiritual autism. And evidence of this kind of autism can be found in the degree of agitation which is seen when what is public and political is discussed.

    If our comfort is in knowing that we belong to Christ, shouldn’t that give us strength to go out into the world and work side by side with unbelievers in addressing our common problems and concerns? And that we can use such time to share the Gospel.

    Did you ever consider that one reason why the NeoCalvinists are dealing with what is public and political is because of the spiritual and churchly with which they have been dealing? Certainly, they demonstrate many flaws in how they deal with the public and political, but what they are doing could very well be a result of their spiritual growth.

    Finally, how ironic is the title of the blogpost with the message of withdrawing from what public and political which contained in the post itself.

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  6. Erik, great podcast find.

    Ferguson is coming out with a book on the Marrow Controversy. MJ, take note.

    Miss you on twitter, EC!

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  7. Just spent a week in the Netherlands. I wasn’t in Amsterdam, so I didn’t witness the infamous red-light district. The town I was a university town that didn’t strike me as particularly hedonistic (compared to say Munich, Edinburgh, Heidelberg, or Lyon). I was talking with an older colleague who remembered the days when your religion more or less determined your political party, school, and his case Ph.D. fellowship. He said that all disintegrated in the 1960’s. I don’t know much about post-WWII european history, but the sense I get is that the two world wars and end of colonialization had a traumatic effect on Europe that over turned more or less everything including commitment to organized religion. I’m not so sure the influence of any particular flavor of Christianity pre-WWI made any difference at all to where they are now.

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  8. Curt, “Do you understand how this model promotes being withdrawn from the world in a way that hinders one from carrying out the Great Commission?”

    When did social justice become part of the Great Commission? It’s the 2kers who are trying to maintain the integrity of the gospel that goes out with the Great Commission.

    Why don’t you see that 2k makes better neighbors than your busy-body social justice meme. If I lived near you, I’d always be wary that you’re going to tell me how I’m sinning. All a neighbor has to worry about with me is an invitation to church, and maybe a meal where prayer is said before hand.

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  9. Curt writes: “[the criticism of neo-calvinism] implies an exclusive-or choice” and “we live with neighbours, but [in the two kingdoms view] we live as having no common concerns because they have a concern about what is public and political while our only concern is about the church and our own spiritual wellbeing”

    I am struggling to understand how you can write that we “hav[e] no common concerns” in a two kingdom view. The very reason for distinguishing between the redemptive and the common kingdom is to make it clear that our common concerns are meaningful, shared, and a key part of our fulfillment of the commandment to love our neighbour.

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  10. Isa:I am struggling to understand how you can write that we “hav[e] no common concerns” in a two kingdom view.

    Simple. He concocts the same straw man for the 150th time on here and chuckles to himself about how witty and superbrilliant he is…

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  11. Curt, what Isa said. A big part of 2k is to question the Christian ghetto so that believers can get into the world (without being of it). That comes by emphasizing the spiritual and institutional nature of the church. It’s emphasizing the Kuyperian organism that you end up with withdrawal. 2k doesn’t create day schools and trade unions in part because these things already exist in the created order and are waiting for believers to come in (or not if not so inclined). But why go in when there’s an allegedly pious version?

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  12. Zrim,
    The oldlife website seems to have dropped my first response due to maintenance. So I will see how much of it I remember as I retype it.

    Remember that I have partial agreements with both 2K and neocalvinists regarding cultural interaction. For the most part, 2kers do not seek a privileged position in society for Christianity. That is for the most part. On the other hand, neocalvinists believe that the Church should address issues as the Church. The question is, can we do a miller-lite commercial where we combine the best of both theologies? We should note that with the strategies and tactics adopted by the neoCalvinists, their actions are often indistinguishable from those of 2kers. For Keller’s version of the Church speaking out on issues is fulfilled when individual Christians do that. Thus, since the strategies and tactics adopted by the neocalvinists betray their stated intentions, it ends up that the neocalvinists put so much effort in doing many of the things that 2kers do in their sleep.

    But my problem with 2kers is that they take away the prophetic voice of the Church as it would have spoken to society about societal sins. That 2kers do this should not be viewed being special. Cornel West has noted that losing one’s prophetic voice is a significant problem in all religions in the West. And since the Church, as D.G. seems to have stated above, is suppose to stick to only spiritual and churchly things, there is a withdrawal of the Church from the world. While 2ker Christians might be working side by side with unbelievers, it is with a shared, that is with their fellow Babylonian residents, myopia so that the Scriptures are prevented from speaking to public and political issues. And those who hide themselves in the Church from the world, as 2kers are allowed to do, you have this spiritual autism that takes grip of the Church.

    Finally, I fully agree with you that we don’t need Christian day schools and trade unions. That’s a withdrawal from society. But the denial of corporate sin with the Church’s implied duty to challenge society about that sin seems to forget that the Word of God speaks to all of life–and it is also a withdrawing from the world. Thus there can’t be this division between what is public and political from what is spiritual and churchly. So what is needed is a miller lite-beer commercial combining 2kers seeking no privilege with the neocalvinist intention of the Church speaking prophetically to society.

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  13. CD: So what is needed is a miller lite-beer commercial combining 2kers seeking no privilege with the neocalvinist intention of the Church speaking prophetically to society.

    I would say that these are inherently antithetical.

    The prophet has the privilege of speaking for God, of having the authority to declare “Thus saith the Lord.”

    If I seek to “speak prophetically” into society by demanding repentance, then I am asking for the privilege to demand that you change your behavior according to my proclamation.

    That’s why progressives get so much pushback. They demand the privilege to lecture, scold, and demand behavioral change from the rest of us.

    There cannot be prophecy without authority.

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  14. D.G.,
    When did adultery become part of the Great Commission? Or Murder? Or any other sin? Social points to societal, you don’t like the word corporate, sins. Is it possible to carry out the Great Commission without preaching the repentance of sins?

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  15. Curt, one problem with your “Miller Lite” proposal is that when members of the church engage they may well find themselves on opposite sides of whatever (and some may not even be interested). 2k makes room for that. But my sense with you and the neos is that you both assume there is a Christian side to something and everyone should find himself there. 2k wants to protect believer liberty before saving the wide world. This actually props up prophetic voice, since the gospel of God reconciling himself to the world is then given priority and isn’t hid beneath the bushel of men’s opinions, traditions, and interests of speaking on behalf of God where he is silent.

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  16. I have a new favorite quote, it’s kind of in line with the “my only comfort” from Darryl’s original post (H/T Scott Clark):

    “Brethren, it is there only also [in Christ our Lord] that our comfort can be found, whether for life or for death. Perhaps even yet we hardly know, as we should know, our need of a saviour. Perhaps we may acknowledge ourselves to be sinners only in languid acquiescence in a current formula. Such a state of self-ignorance cannot, however, last for ever. And some day—probably it has already come to most of us—some day the scales will fall from our eyes, and we shall see ourselves as we really are. Ah, then, we shall have no difficulty in placing ourselves by the apostle’s side, and pronouncing ourselves, in the accents of the deepest conviction, the chief of sinners. And, then, our only comfort for life and death, too, will be in the discovery that Christ Jesus came into the world just to save sinners. We may have long admired Him as a teacher sent from God, and have long sought to serve Him as a King re-ordering the world ; but we shall find in that great day of self-discovery that we have never known Him at all till He has risen upon our soul’s vision as our Priest, making His own body a sacrifice for our sin. For such as we shall then know ourselves to be, it is only as a Saviour from sin that Christ will suffice…”

    [excerpted from The Power of God Unto Salvation, by B.B. Warfield (1903), p. 51-52.]
    http://www.thisday.pcahistory.org/2015/02/february-16-2/

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  17. Curt Day
    Posted February 19, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
    D.G.,
    When did adultery become part of the Great Commission? Or Murder? Or any other sin? Social points to societal, you don’t like the word corporate, sins. Is it possible to carry out the Great Commission without preaching the repentance of sins?

    Very cutting question. Indeed, the “missionary” Pope Francis is investigating it as we speak.

    http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/the-21-most-important-quotes-from-pope-francis-sweeping-apostolic-exhortation-evangelii-gaudium-19014003

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  18. Curt, if the Bible speaks to all of life, why do the Westminster Confession and Catechisms have nothing about the church speaking to social justice? Why doesn’t a summary of the Bible include chapters on equality, freedom, social justice, poverty, math, biology, and grammar? All of life? Or just what you consider important?

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  19. While Curt is making up corporate sins Tom is making up a pope and Roman church that think he’s cool, we’re stupid, and this religion business is all about fixing society. Actually, that last one may not be imagined. The real Francis says it’s all good. Funny that Tom is so enamored with a more-or-less Marxist.

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  20. CWU, I wonder if Paul encountered someone like TVD in his day:

    always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
    2 Tim 3:7-9

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  21. ps the drunks also come to mind, re: that verse. The latest comment from mildly buzzed current pastor notwithstanding:

    Mildly Buzzed Current Pastor February 19, 2015 at 12:23 PM
    The Dude wrote a check for $.69 not .$79 !!!!!!!

    Who’s next up to the tee, yo?

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  22. I don’t know how fair it is to judge the merits of Kuyper’s theology by Amsterdam. I’d suppose that Kuyper would be a rather obscure figure if those associated with his movement didn’t emigrate en masse to the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. Kuyper’s political party had little popularity outside of rural parts of northern Holland, i.e., the parts of Holland that are culturally akin to the South in the US. Few of them are from the Ranstad. Amsterdam is the northernmost major city in the Ranstad, and, as such, represents something of a borderline city between the civilized southern part of Holland and the hick northern part of Holland. The northerners have some presence in Amsterdam, but they are hardly influential.

    Most Dutchmen wouldn’t view the Michigan Dutch as any more representative of Holland than if a large number of white Mississippians emigrated en masse to the same locale and declared themselves to be representative of the US population.

    That’s why New York, whose founders hailed from the Ranstad, and Grand Rapids, whose denizens hailed from rural northern Holland, don’t look much alike.

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  23. In Plato’s Republic it becomes evident in the first 10 pages that if your search for justice needs a scapegoat then it’s not really justice you’re pursuing. I agree with that.

    So the social justice a person thinks he’s establishing leads to injustices of its own that then will need to be righted, ad infinitum.

    There are in Scripture passages that hold to corporate sin and those that say each man is responsible for his own. It won’t get you to the certainty that social gospelers think is self-evident.

    To trust those who say they’re devoted to establishing justice, a wide-ranging understanding of personal sin, (regardless of income, intellectual gifts, etc) has to be the beginning of their message. If it’s not there, they’re not to be trusted.

    Ask Christians receiving State pensions that they’re collecting because of the productivity of the taxpayers, if they’ll contribute 20% of that yearly pension to a community fund for the poor, to a fund to eradicate racism, managed by social gospelers. Not likely.

    The Road to Serfdom is a fine book and one of the most important points made in it is that in any healthy functioning society, where interest checks interest, humility in at least one of the factions is a absolute requirement.

    It’s important for a person who wants to control those things she can in her life to respect money. To respect commerce. Barter, trade is inescapable for man.

    In Genesis, in the description of Eden and its rivers, the Pishon (IIRC) is where the gold is and its described as good. And I don’t think that’s an invitation to love it but I do think it’s an invitation to respect the good it can do, the progress and civilization it can bring.

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  24. D.G.,
    Are murder and theft imaginary sins? Is neglect or oppression of the poor and vulnerable imaginary sins? Or are these acts sins only when performed by individuals and not by groups?

    The Great Commission teaches us to make people disciples of Jesus. Do you think that when a group we are in sins, that Jesus would have us say and/or do nothing?

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  25. D.G.,
    Since when is the Westminster Confession the absolute final standard for faith and life? Think about the different contexts that existed and that includes the cultures in which the writers of the Confession were immersed in. Isn’t it possible that some of their writings were more determined more by their culture than the Scriptures?

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  26. Zrim,
    Believer liberty is not the only issue here. Believer’s responsibilities is also an issue. There is a danger when addressing questions from the perspective of one issue only. That danger is that of reductionism. We will reduce a particular problem to just one issue. And in so doing, we make what we believe about that issue the absolute standard by which we approach certain problems.

    The emphasis on believer liberty maybe parallel to the interests political conservatives have in individual liberty. The unfortunate problem with that conservative approach is that there are at least two liberties, not just one. There are individual liberties and there is group or social liberty that concerns how the group will determine how it will exist and how its members will live with each other. That group liberty is often called democracy. So when talking about liberty in our nation, we can neither afford to reduce that to individual or group liberty. We must blend both together.

    And so that is also the case here. I very much understand the concern for believer liberty. But there are responsibilities given us by God’s Word. And we see, regarding social justice issues, these responsibilities written in the OT prophets. Remember that Jesus initiated His ministry with a reading from Isaiah. And remember what that reading said. In addition, remember what Jesus said about loving one’s neighbor and the Good Samaritan parable along with his parable of the sheep and the Goats.

    Btw, the danger of reductionism is that because we make a belief or issue absolute, that belief or issue becomes the rule rather than the Scriptures and this resurrects human autonomy in the Christian.

    I would be worried regardless of the 2k/neocalvinist camp I would be in if I thought that I couldn’t learn for the other side especially when that other side is made up of fellow Christians who are also Reformed Theologians. Again, our penchant for thinking in systems and our loyalty to ideological groups makes unnecessary divisions and invites us to judge and look down on those for whom Christ died. It is one thing to disagree, it is quite another say that we can learn nothing from the other group.

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  27. Henry’s and Mouw’s attempts at extended reach were similar to Kupyer’s, and Fuller Seminary is a similar example of ending up off-point. Not to mention the “building a civilization of love” crapola that post-Vatican II now plagues Rome.

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  28. Curt,

    I’m not really sure what your point is. From my understanding, the 2k approach is simply a limit on the church’s ability to bind the conscience of the believer. More particularly, it says that the church ought only to bind the conscience of the believer on issues to which Scripture speaks without ambiguity. On everything else, the church keeps its silence, and leaves it up to the individual believer to listen to his or her conscience.

    In my view, when 2k is properly applied, it gets the church out of the business of speaking out on nearly all social issues, given that it’s awfully difficult to suggest that a collection of ancient texts can speak unambiguously on issues such as poverty, tax policy, civil marriage, etc.

    That doesn’t mean that individual believers should have no opinions on such issues. It doesn’t mean that groups of Christians can’t organize together to form private societies that address such issues. It just means that the church has no business binding the conscience of the believer on such issues. Rather, the church ought to be about the business of dispensing the means of grace.

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  29. Bobby,
    If you read my first comment on this thread, you will see that my point has been to temper the criticisms of the NeoCalvinism because both sides have stuff they can learn from each other.

    As for you assessment of the applied side of 2K, I’m not sure that that would be the only application. However, 2K people would do a better job of commenting on that point. Now whether getting the Church out of the business of speaking out on social issues is a good thing. I am not sure of what you meant in your second paragraph.

    But the Church does have the responsibility to speak out on certain issues that involve theft, murder, oppression, and neglect of the poor. That is because people are committing those sins either as individuals or in groups. And this is the problem for 2K theology. That sins individuals commit are no longer counted as sins when groups do the same. The OT prophets were certainly against that idea and one doesn’t need to support theonomy to use and apply their words on these issues.

    The longer range problems for 2KT is that it grooms Christians to be myopic with regards to their society. Assuming that their society can’t sin regardless of what it does, 2KT advocates apply the Babylonian exile experience as a model for how Christians should relate to society–odd that using that experience as a model does not imply theonomy while using the words of the OT prophets does. Christians are therefore to work for the prosperity of where they live regardless of whether the society where they live exploits others in order to prosper. This is even more of a dilemma where those being exploited by one’s own Babylon contains Christians.

    If you can say that the Church has no business binding the consciences of believers in order to command them to oppose murder and theft just because those acts are being committed by groups, especially society, rather than by individuals, then more power to you. I don’t see the Scriptures supporting that.

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  30. Curt, where did Jesus talk about the Roman Empire’s sins? Paul? By your standard (as well as most modernists), the New Testament authorities failed.

    You think you can simply blur the line between theft and oppression of the poor? Way to go, Karl.

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  31. Curt, I didn’t say it was the “absolute” final standard. I don’t use the word “absolute” unless talking about vodka or God.

    I did bring up the confession and catechisms to show that your idea of the Bible speaking to “all of life” is a long way from what they thought the Bible revealed. You may be right and they may be wrong. But my historical instinct says “nah.”

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  32. Curt, are your purposefully ignorant? Just because 2k doesn’t believe in your bogus (theonomic) idea of corporate sin, doesn’t mean 2kers don’t recognize injustice. But you do need to live life in the upper register. Everything is religious. Everything is at the level of sin or redemption. Say hello to Christian aerobics.

    The church does speak against sin. It does so every week as it gathers for public worship. If the church is not out on the street corner blog corner with you, it doesn’t mean the church is silent about sin.

    The difference is that ministers and prophets speak to God’s people, not to not God’s people. If you could ever figure out the difference between the people of God and the not people of God, you might figure out 2k. But you won’t accept it because that distinction denies you sacred leverage with not God’s people. Funny thing is, you actually think not God’s people will listen to harangues designed for God’s people.

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  33. Zrim: You said: “A big part of 2k is to question the Christian ghetto so that believers can get into the world (without being of it). That comes by emphasizing the spiritual and institutional nature of the church. It’s emphasizing the Kuyperian organism that you end up with withdrawal. 2k doesn’t create day schools and trade unions in part because these things already exist in the created order and are waiting for believers to come in (or not if not so inclined). But why go in when there’s an allegedly pious version?”

    I have a great deal of sympathy for this model. But I think at some point it shoots itself in the foot. In this very thread, Kuyper not only “goes in” but goes all in (to the secular culture). Then what does he do? He becomes “neo-Calvinist” and it seems to be a seamless cloth. He takes his strongly Christian sympathies into the government, and then 2K pulls back from Kuyper, and say “focus on the church” again. “Don’t cite Scripture out in the world”. What is Kuyper supposed to do? Ignore his Christian sensibilities?

    Scott Clark used to tell me “read VanDrunen”. I haven’t figured out where to jump in. Wherever I see a VanDrunen book I want to get into, I always see someone I respect (like James Anderson) saying, “VanDrunen misses this big item and … ”

    It’s important to see that 2K theories aren’t merely descriptive; they make substantial normative claims. Specifically, they make ethical claims about how Christians should conduct themselves as citizens of the two kingdoms. Christians ought to recognize and rightly apply the distinction between the two kingdoms. Consequently, Christians ought not to appeal to Scripture in their moral dealings with unbelievers, because Scripture is intended only for God’s covenant people and thus it is “not the appropriate moral standard for the civil kingdom” (A Biblical Case for Natural Law, p. 38, my emphasis).

    But this observation invites a question: According to which moral standard do these ethical directives apply? As I see it, there are three possible answers here: (1) according to natural law, the moral standard of the common kingdom; (2) according to Scripture, the moral standard of the spiritual kingdom; or (3) according to some higher law that transcends and encompasses both kingdoms.

    The problem with (1) is that, as I’ve noted, it appears one cannot justify 2K doctrine on the basis of natural law alone; a fortiori, one cannot justify the ethical directives of 2K doctrine on the basis of natural law alone. So that option doesn’t seem remotely viable.

    The problem with (2) is that Scripture only applies to the spiritual kingdom and therefore only applies to Christians as citizens of the spiritual kingdom. But the ethical directives in question must apply to Christians as citizens of both kingdoms. After all, when Christians act as citizens of the common kingdom rather than as citizens of the spiritual kingdom (e.g., when voting in a presidential election) they still have to act according to the ethical directives of 2K doctrine; but if those directives come from Scripture, that would involve an inappropriate application of the spiritual kingdom’s moral standard to matters of the common kingdom.

    Finally, the problem with (3) is that 2K theories simply have no place for a higher law that transcends and encompasses the kingdoms — a third moral standard distinct from the standards of the two kingdoms. In other words, accepting (3) would amount to either a modification of 2K doctrine that leaves it unrecognizable or a wholesale abandonment of it.

    Call this general objection to 2K theories the meta objection: 2K theories involve ethical directives that are either applied inconsistently or else depend on a meta-standard that calls the whole scheme into question.

    When Christians go out into the world — into secular music and secular trade unions and secular government — what really do we have that’s real and genuine, other than the Word of God?

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  34. Erik, you’re becoming narrow and cranky in your retirement years. Why could there not be an ’84 Renault Alliance held together with wire and tape, three or four late 80s Dodge Caravans, and an assortment of Hondas and Subarus so favored by by his ilk? Toyotas (unless they’re over 30 years old) are bourgeois, though. Five bucks says I’ve identified one of Curt’s cars with this list.

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  35. After some thought, I believe I would edit that last statement of mine: “When Christians go out into the world — into secular music and secular trade unions and secular government — what really do we have that’s real and genuine, other than the Word of God?”

    Of course, all of creation is “good”, and we know that all of creation speaks of the Creator. However, that is an incomplete story, given man’s fall and “special revelation” (as I’ve been writing about it, from Bavinck’s point of view).

    There is a “catholicity” to it, which far exceeds anything that we fallen creatures could hope to encompass:

    God’s aim in special revelation is both much deeper and reaches much farther. [And here we see God’s “catholicity”.] It is none other than to redeem human beings in their totality of body and soul with all their capacities and powers; to redeem not only individual, isolated human beings but humanity as an organic whole. Finally, the goal is to redeem not just humanity apart from all other creatures but along with humanity to wrest heaven and earth, in a word, the whole world in its organic interconnectedness, from the power of sin and again to cause the glory of God to shine forth from every creature (Bavinck vol 1 pg 346).

    I do not see this as a human mandate to reclaim “every square inch” — I think that’s a straw man statement that comes from the 2K side. However, I do see it as a license that “God’s special revelation is applicable everywhere, and would eventually be welcomed everywhere” that God sees fit to carry it.

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  36. Following up on that, God’s chosen vehicle is “the church” — but not only “the church” corporately, but Christians individually are given “treasure in jars of clay”. This treasure goes where we take it.

    Here is Paul: Is this for Apostles only? Or is this a general principle?

    Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants[c] for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

    Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

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  37. I think it is wrong to blame Kuyper for what has gone wrong in the Netherlands today. In reality, why not blame the Reformed Orthodox of the 17th century for “the Enlightenment” and secularization? The two analogies are of the same kind. If we think that preserving the good things that came out of 17th century is any more of a challenge than preserving the good things that came out of early 20th century, I’d say that we are wrong to think that the good things that have come out of any particular generation will be permanent.

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  38. The 17th century was already destroyed by the time that Kuyper arrived. And Kuyper’s challenge was not to restore the 17th century, but to live in the late 19th century and early 20th century. To be a Christian in his own time. With all of the challenges that came along with that (of which we, most likely, are not fully aware).

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  39. Curt, you say you “very much understand the concern for believer liberty.” But here’s a test. What happens when one believer thinks the problem of immigration should be addressed by proposal X and another by proposal Y? My guess is that you think each proposal has to be sifted for its biblical-o-sity and once found everybody has to submit, when in fact the Bible is silent on the matter, leaving each believer to his own political conscience. I’d further suppose you find this unacceptable. But if your Plan of Union means that Christians speak where God has not spoken and that consciences may be bound where God has not bound them, go back to the drawing board.

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  40. John, instead of playing with a Kuyper doll maybe we have a look at where his theories brought his advocates (though it’s interesting to note that by the end of his life Kuyper wasn’t regularly found in the pew)? And for that, I’ll lay down some Van Drunen (from “Always Reformed”):

    In the long run, therefore, neo-Calvinism, despite its admirable commitment to education, has not been able to sustain vibrant, growing, and doctrinally sound Reformed churches over many generations. Its vision of Christian culture has been realized, in partial measure, only in relatively small pockets of rather isolated communities. Even many of these communities have suffered significantly in recent years. Some of them have been overwhelmed by the influx of outsiders and been forced to retreat (in smaller numbers) to other places where they can again be more isolated from the larger world. (The ongoing story of Dutch Reformed Christianity in southern Chicagoland, where my own ancestors settled in the mid-nineteenth century, is a good example.) Others have been declining along with other small, rural, agricultural towns in middle America, as family farms decline in number and the next generation moves off to suburbia.

    Obviously neo-Calvinism did not set out to decimate the church, but to raise other institutions to a level of (equal) importance—all with very good intentions to protect against cultural indifference and to give meaning to all areas of life. The church, unfortunately for neo-Calvinism, is not the sort of institution designed by Christ to be one among equals for Christians.

    Neo-Calvinism has not only made little noticeable progress in transforming Western civilization (or even Holland, or South Holland), but it has to an alarming degree lost the importance and uniqueness of the church along the way as well. It certainly has done no better than earlier Reformed Christianity in resisting the temptation of theological liberalism and other contemporary religious fads.

    Ultimately, however, neo-Calvinism needs to be questioned not because of its struggle to accomplish what it set out to do but because it is so foreign to the message of the New Testament. The idea that the heart and soul of Christianity consists in the transformation of existing cultures is arrestingly and glaringly absent from New Testament teaching. Time and again the New Testament emphasizes the present suffering of Christians, the transitory and fleeting nature of the things of this world, heavenly citizenship, and the hope of the age to come. The things that it says about broader cultural affairs are so infrequent and so sparse—basically, submit to legitimate authority and work hard—that it is quite incredible to think that Christ and his apostles intended to instill a vision akin to the neo- Calvinist world and life view. The neo-Calvinist case from the New Testament rests upon a handful of scattered verses—the kingdom as a leaven, the groaning of creation, every thought captive, the kings of the earth bringing their glory into the new Jerusalem—that sound inspiring out of context but do not make the case intended. The burden of the New Testament is about as far away as imaginable from imparting an agenda of cultural transformation.

    The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to raise up followers who would transform the cultures of this world. Christ came as the Last Adam to achieve the original goal of the First Adam under the covenant of works: the new heaven and new earth. By his perfect obedience, death, resurrection, and ascension Christ has succeeded. By virtue of his achievement Christians, by faith, share in his verdict of justification, his heavenly citizenship, and his everlasting inheritance. Redemption does not put Christians back on track to accomplish the original goal of the First Adam through their own cultural work—Christ has already done that on their behalf perfectly and finally. Misunderstanding this point is perhaps the fatal flaw of neo-Calvinism. Until the day when Christ returns he has ordained that his people be pilgrims in this world and be gathered together in the church.

    It would be difficult to overemphasize the importance of the fact that the church was the only institution that the Lord Jesus established in this world during his earthly ministry.37 Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God; that is, the new creation, the original goal of the human race under the covenant of works. Yet if we scour the Gospels we find but one institution that Jesus associates with the kingdom and but one to which Jesus points to find the power and the ethic of the kingdom at work here and now. Jesus did not establish the family or civil government, but simply affirmed their legitimacy. He did not lay out plans for kingdom businesses. Families, governments, and businesses already existed under God’s providential rule and were common in the cultures of this world long before the kingdom was announced. Jesus established his church. Unlike the cultural institutions of this world, Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church alone. He entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven to the church alone. He commissioned disciplinary procedures reflecting the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount for the church alone. He promised, to the church alone, that where two or three are gathered in his name he himself will be there among them.

    Christ came, in other words, not to transform the cultures of this world but to win the kingdom of God, the new creation, which will be cataclysmically revealed out of heaven on the last day, and to establish the church, for the time being, as a counter-cultural institution that operates not according to the cultures of this world but in anticipation of the life of the age-to-come. The church has its own doctrine, its own worship, its own government, its own discipline, its own ministry of mercy, and its own strange ethic of non-violence and forgiveness that defies the wisdom of this world. Jesus and his apostles did exert great effort to shape a culture: the church’s culture. The New Testament makes clear, of course, that Christians must live and work among the cultures of this world, and should be just, honest, loving, and industrious as they do so. But the only culture-shaping task in which the New Testament shows any serious interest is the formation of the church. In light of such considerations I suggest that the only Christian culture—in the profoundest sense of the term—is found in the ministry and fellowship of true churches of Christ operating according to the teaching of Scripture alone.

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  41. John, I’m also not sure you’re giving natural revelation its due. It’s just as much God’s book as special revelation is and what we use when in the world. It’s no disservice to special revelation to make it secondary in the common realm. It’s to play by the rules: natural revelation for common life, special for sacred life.

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  42. I don’t see the church as having any obligation to speak out against theft, murder, etc. If one of its members stole his neighbor’s car, then it may have an obligation to exercise church discipline.

    Regarding corporate sin… When I last checked, business entities don’t join churches as members, so churches have no jurisdiction to carry out discipline of business entities. Because the church lacks such jurisdiction, it has no reason to speak out on those issues as the church. Again, that’s not to say that individual Christians can’t speak out on those issues. It’s just not something the church ought to be doing.

    In general, I’d like to see the church speak more of Christ and less of things besides Christ. The Southern Baptists’ tendency to mouth off on every issue coming down the pike strikes me as something of an embarrassment to the church.

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  43. Zrim,
    The problem isn’t that ‘believer liberty’ is an issue. The problem is that 2k theology has reduced the answer to that one issue. That other issues are not used to check the tide of absolutizing that answer which does nothing more than allow one’s understanding of believer liberty to replace the Scriptures as being judge here. In seminary, we talked about how reductionism leads to human autonomy. That when we reduce problems to a single issue, we make our understanding of the issue the final judge of what is right and wrong. The Scriptures are no longer the judge.

    Furthermore, the Bible isn’t silent on the matter. We have source material from the OT prophets. We have Jesus’ parables on the sheep and goats and his one on the Good Samaritan with its teaching about what it means to love one’s neighbor. When we see groups oppress or neglect the poor and vulnerable, we are commanded out of love to find ways to care and stand up for them. After all, wasn’t one of the points on the Good Samaritan parable that love for the victim dictated the Samaritan’s actions, not specific commands.

    What you are leading people to with your emphasis on believer liberty and assertion that the Bible is silent on justice issues, and might as well say with your expansion of the Regulative Principle to all of life, is that unless people see the same example in the Scriptures of what they see today or unless something is literally commanded, they are free to ignore social justice issues even though those issues deal with the violation of the commands against murder and theft. You are telling them that they must safeguard their own liberty first while, unless compelled by exact examples or concrete commands, they have no obligation to help those in need. You are promoting an inner-directed life for Christians. This is why I said that such teaching leads to a spiritual autism where the believer is so inner-directed that demands from the outside world causes more and more agitation.

    Finally, don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I am not saying that the Scriptures command the Church to support specific proposals. But I am saying that the Church must challenge either all or parts of those proposals that either oppress or neglect the vulnerable. And in that challenge, we are simply saying that all of us together, Christians and nonChristians, must come up with better solutions. I am calling for ‘Christian’ proposals. Rather, what should be happening is that when general standards of justice are violated, then we must take a stand. And believe it or not, we will have company from people of other faiths as well as no faith. Both history and my own experience testifies to that.

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  44. Curt’s the drunk uncle that you have to pretend to listen to at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    He takes 10 minutes to unpack and dust off his one string banjo.

    Has never bothered to pay any attention to the views of others that total checkmate him.

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  45. John, no one is blaming Kuyper for NL, at least not me. What is striking is how rarely do the neo-Calvinists today recall that Kuyper’s project didn’t withstand the test of something. So maybe you need to edit the manual? But no, the common neo-Cal spokespeople keep trotting out the inspirational bromides as if nothing happened in NL after 1915.

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  46. Curt, are you a Protestant? “The problem is that 2k theology has reduced the answer to that one issue.”

    You mean, like the formal principle of the Reformation, as in you need to show from Scripture as opposed to some half-baked left leaning idealism that what you say has binding address. That one issue is huge. Sola scriptura. But you dismiss it as the mere hobby horse of some people obsessed with 2k.

    In case you missed it, we aren’t in OT Israel anymore. Pay attention to the Bible. Jesus came. The gentiles are now running the church. The church knows no political boundaries. And the Pharisee turned apostle taught that Christians have liberty from the OT regulations.

    Who are you to say otherwise? A Christian Howard Zinn?

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  47. Finally, don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I am not saying that the Scriptures command the Church to support specific proposals. But I am saying that the Church must challenge either all or parts of those proposals that either oppress or neglect the vulnerable.

    1. Social gospler, listen to thyself. That’s precisely what your reasoning leads to. How is what you’re saying NOT lead to the conclusion that the Scriptures command the church to support specific proposals? You can’t just wave your hand and tell us to go right when all your pious advice has been going left. So by what principles do you deny that the Scriptures command the church to support specific proposals?

    2. And you might say that the church must challenge either all or parts of those proposals that either oppress or neglect the vulnerable. But WCF says something else:

    Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

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  48. Kent, so you are saying that maybe CD should spend some time with the drunks?

    Had a bonding moment just now with JJS over Lebowski and the Wire. And it’s Friday, what could be more rich for such a day.

    I need to go to the driving range at lunch, yo. Peace.

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  49. Zrim,
    Regarding point #1, you can claim that what I am proposing calls on binds the Church to support specific proposals. But asserting and proving are not the same. All I have said is that the Church should act as prophetic curmudgeon to society. There can be multiple ways to correct a specific problem. One of the Church’s jobs is to point out the problem.

    Regarding point #2, did you ever consider that the confession was wrong in that particular statement? Otherwise, the command to love one’s neighbor will be superseded by this statement in the confession. And the question is, doesn’t that remind you of Mark 7:9-13?

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  50. Curt, don’t play the logic card, it just makes things boring. But here’s where we’re at. You appeal to the Bible to say the church should meddle in social and political affairs, yet you also undermine the principle of sola scriptura which is the very principle you need to get there. You say the church should act as prophetic curmudgeon to society, yet you also say the Bible doesn’t command the church to support specific proposals and that multiple ways to correct a specific problem–how can the church speak prophetically if she isn’t bound to any specificity or if even her members disagree?

    Yes, I have considered that, but it’s always struck me as dead on in its interpretation of the NT, as in John 18:36.

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  51. Bobby,
    So, according to you, the Church has no obligation to love the victims of violence and theft? And the Church has no responsibility, while preaching the Gospel, to challenge individuals to repent from committing murder and theft?

    Also, remember that corporate does not necessarily mean business or incorporated groups. Rather, corporate guilt and sin applies to any group that sins whether they consists of small groups of peers all of the up to whole societies. And it simply says that whatever actions an individual takes which are considered to be sins, are also sins when practiced by groups. But it seems that some Conservative Christians are saying something different. They are saying to the individual, if you sin, we will come after you either in the form of church discipline or preaching. At the same time, these same Conservative Christians are saying to groups that you can’t sin regardless what you do. And you are saying this to protect the individual liberty of the believer while putting Jesus’ summation of the second table on the shelf because you have reduced all issues involved here to believer liberty.

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  52. Zrim,
    Instead prohibiting me from playing some ‘card’ as if you were speaking to an inferior, use logic to show your case. Anyone can brush aside arguments. Such does not show a command of the issues. Rather, such behavior assumes a certain position in a hierarchical relationship–one that does not exist here.

    Also, why can’t the Church note the injustices of a system without offering alternatives? I see no reason why the Church must make its own proposals after witnessing the injustices of current policies or warning about the injustices of proposed policies.

    Finally, you have brushed aside the Scriptures I’ve referenced while saying that I am not relying on the Scriptures. Here, I am compelled to play the ‘logic card’ by saying such is inconsistent. And how does John 18:36 prohibit us from loving our neighbor by seeking justice? After all, what are the responsibilities of the gov’t according to the Scriptures? And how is the context in which Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world otherwise his servants would fight for him comparable to seeking partial justice in this world?

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  53. Andrew,
    That’s his choice and he has his reasons for that. BTW, he occasionally lets some comments in. Don’t think of it has one person being nicer than the other because it puts the other person in an unfair light. I do have that column just to show what has been blocked. I want people to focus on the content of the comments blocked, not make guesses about the character of those who do block.

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  54. Curt’s not standing down until every Pinto in the church parking lot has either a “Warren for President” or “Sanders for President” sticker on the bumper.

    Now that’s Christian liberty — two choices.

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  55. Curt, fair enough, thanks for the explanation.

    The only censoring that Darryl does that I am aware of is delete the comments from people interacting with certain interlocutors (Doug Sowers) that are disruptive. And he rarely does that, I just think he’s quite the gentleman letting anyone post on his site, regardless of how verbose and blathering they are.

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  56. Erik,
    First, you need to catch up with the times. Who wants people to drive Pintos when they can drive Priuses instead? Second, I could care less who a person votes for as long as the recipients of their votes are not from the 2 major parties. During the last election, I complimented a friend who was considering voting for candidates from either the libertarian or Constitutional parties. Though I would never vote for their presidential candidates, my friend was showing more independence in thought than any Liberal who was voting for the democrats.

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  57. @CW

    It’s not like there’s such a thing as a 2k denomination; it’s mostly an internet phenomenon. In my view, the PCUSA comes the closest, at least in the churches that lean in more of a Barth/Moltmann direction.

    For the most part, OPC churches are highly patriarchal. Read the recent piece on the Aquila Report about the ecclesiastical trial that occurred in Raleigh, if you want some insight into the OPC (or at least the treatment of women in the OPC).

    And I have a hard time seeing any difference between the PCA and the SBC.

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  58. Also, why can’t the Church note the injustices of a system without offering alternatives? I see no reason why the Church must make its own proposals after witnessing the injustices of current policies or warning about the injustices of proposed policies.

    Curt, so the church as school-marm-finger-wagging-nag? All the benefits of judging the world with no responsibility to actually help anybody. Speaking of logic, imagine that applied soteriologically–the church as all law, no gospel. Witness social gospel’s ugly neo-nomian impulse.

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  59. If Curt drives a Pius he really is a bourgeois faker. The Pius is the epitome of phony self righteousness — gets no better mileage than my 13-year-old Civic, costs ten times as much, and with its toxic batteries and components from all over the world an environmental disaster.

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  60. At some point the thieves are going to have to be named. Thinking people will demand it.

    This young lady is looking for the Lead Thief, so that she can help her people out. I admire her willingness to take the “Walker Percy on the Road and in the Paradigm” approach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEvvNFt58Ug

    I’ve worked my share of minimum wage jobs. No boss or supervisor or superior ever robbed me.

    One of those jobs was as a shipping/receiving clerk. Stamina and accuracy a must. Pay was $0.35 more per hour than minimum wage.

    The owner was a Christian woman who did not supply me with a health insurance plan but provided the opportunity to buy it at reduced rate. That was not theft. Yes, I had a deductible. Yes, it was high but that just meant that if I needed my esophagus resected, I’d learn to appreciate and be grateful to the MD with the skill to pull it off and not think that all I owed him was a $20/co-pay. Miss P provided the opportunity for all of her staff to buy any good at cost. She didn’t make a dime on us. That’s a decent return, not a theft.

    The judgment against those the social gospelers are seeking restitution from (theft demands it) requires every honest gal to force those claiming the right to this judgment to name names, trace the
    fault-line of genealogy and not hide behind ramose and eluding testament. And that includes Pope “Rabbits” Francis.

    Aron says in The Opium of the Intellectuals that one of the biggest problems socialists face is their incapacity to cultivate and reward merit. And the trickle down, all-around, carpet-bomb that that looses is easy to imagine.

    Hardest hit? Working families and the poor who need a real meritocracy (credentialed and not) more than any connected bourgeoisie.

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  61. MLD,

    Good points. The left always thinks their compassion (with other people’s money) trumps laws of supply & demand and price theory. They never learn because they walk by faith, not by sight.

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  62. Eirk,
    Not as much as you think and time will tell here. And here is why. First, the first tenet of socialism is worker control of the workplace. Is that what Sanders is advocating? Yes, Sanders is legitimately challenging the harmful consolidation of wealth and Vermont is progressive in certain areas; but his stance on Israel-Palestine is more reflective of the standard Democratic Party’s response than any Socialist response.

    But there is something else that’s more important and this is where time will tell. It is not unusual for parties not running incumbent candidates run a wide variety of candidates. And at least one of those candidates will represent the outliers in the party who could easily leave. And the purpose of these outlier candidates is to challenge their respective party during primaries even to the point of almost departing the party, but when the more representative, or elite chosen, candidate is nominated, the outlier candidates lead their followers back to the party by voting for and supporting the party’s nominee. So time will tell whether Sanders will support the Democratic nominee after he fails to garner the nomination.

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  63. Zrim,
    And from your perspective, the Church resembles the 3 monkeys: the one who sees no evil, the one who hears no evil, and the one who says no evil? See, it is all in the marketing, isn’t it?

    Also, don’t 2kers acknowledge that what makes a righteous society different from what qualifies someone to be in good standing in the Church?

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  64. Curt, if you mean society doesn’t need the church to be society, ding. But you and the neos seem to think the church is the soul of society. Gong, that’s the family.

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  65. D.G.,
    There are no words used in the Scriptures that have multiple meanings? And of those that do, aren’t meanings determined by context? So that when I say one is righteous in society, why are you inserting our righteousness before God into the statement?

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  66. Erik,

    I agree.

    I lived a life on the run for several years but I was living in the wide world and not part of a protected profession or class. I kept wanting to find where I could belong. I even asked my Mom where I belonged and outside of always having my place with her, my Dad and brothers, how could she know? I had to find that out on my own.

    And it wasn’t just Miss P, it was the landlord who let me pay my security deposit over a few months and the landlord who let me use my security deposit as my last month’s rent and the dentist who let me pay my bills over a few months time. That decency couldn’t have been reserved just for me.

    If the US loses all vitality, the voters will be either first or last to blame, but the blame will be significant.

    The thing that troubles me is that we don’t trade with each other. My coffee pot, toaster, moka pot, kneading board, shoes, purses, sweaters, etc are all made by someone other than my neighbor. If I can’t line his pocket by these kinds of steady and recurring purchases but instead line those of Germans and Poles and Chinamen how can he thrive?

    It’s taken me some time to fairly consider libertarianism and whether it’s viable. I wonder though if an eye toward regulating with a light hand might not make it easier for some manufacturing to return?

    The Left has not greater claim to be able to define or ability to make community. And people, including children, are good at spotting propaganda, dedication to ideological tribe, etc. If punishment is meted out because recognition of this is sin that still can’t prevent the determination to reject the propaganda. And that gift, given to many (maybe that’s part of the Imago Dei too) is what allows a generation to begin anew or to super a crisis.

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  67. Curt, oh, let me see, maybe because you use the phrase and use the phrase and use the phrase over and over again — wait for it — social sin. Now, you’re saying that you weren’t using “sin” to mean any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God? By sin you only mean what god Curt finds offensive to his sense of righteousness?

    Silly me.

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  68. MLD: “The thing that troubles me is that we don’t trade with each other. My coffee pot, toaster, moka pot, kneading board, shoes, purses, sweaters, etc are all made by someone other than my neighbor. If I can’t line his pocket by these kinds of steady and recurring purchases but instead line those of Germans and Poles and Chinamen how can he thrive?”

    Nothing new here… . Seems as though Madison, as President made note of the same problem in his 1816 State of the Union address, which I quote below:

    “Amidst the advantages which have succeeded the peace of Europe, and that of the United States with Great Britain, in a general invigoration of industry among us, and in the extension of our commerce, the value of which is more and more disclosing itself to commercial nations, it is to be regretted that a depression is experienced by particular branches of our manufactures, and by a portion of our navigation.

    As the first proceeds, to an essential degree, from an excess of imported merchandise, which carries a check in its own tendency the cause , in its present extent, cannot be of very long duration.

    The evil will not, however, be viewed by Congress, without a recollection, that manufacturing establishments, if suffered to sink too low, or languish too long, may not revive, after the causes shall have ceased:

    and that, in the vicissitudes of human affairs, situations may recur, in which a dependence on foreign sources, for indispensible supplies, may be among the most serious embarrassments.”

    I know that my “quoting” is a source of irritation to some, but I can’t think of a better example to teach the value of being historically well-read, because those who set up this country had some insights to pass to the next generation. Excessive reliance on foreign manufacturers “for indispensible supplies” right now has deprived way too many of a decent job, and instead we even rely on someone halfway around the world to, for an example, make our drinking straws, arriving here as an air filled tube!

    Whether is was 1816, or 2015 the issue is the same, and when we pass the many closed factories here, Madison is proved right, and are silent monuments to “the most serious embarrassments”. Church members who gave to the work of promoting the Gospel, when that factory they used to work at closes, now what can they give? Yes, current national trade policy has severely hurt missions support, and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom! Back in Princeton / Presbyterian educated Madison’s day they understood that commercial endeavours, created members’ wealth that would finance the work of missions. And, it did…all the while employing ourselves and neighbors in useful and beneficial work .

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  69. Curt,

    You evaded my question.

    Not every OPC is “dominated by 2K theology”, but if they ignore 2K it’s generally to be right wing culture warriors, not left wing social justice advocates.

    My guess is that you are not really in an OPC or, if you are, you’re seen as an oddball there.

    Not that I have anything against oddballs.

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  70. Curt,

    If as a teacher you enjoyed outsized public employee benefits and if you now enjoy a pension plan and postretirement benefits that are not available to most private sector workers, how is that just?

    public sector pensioner, heal thyself.

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  71. Erik,
    Why use what the private sector no longer provides as the rule of thumb for what is fair? The private sector doen’t provide what it use to because of the maximize one’s own profit cutthroat mentality. You shouldn’t be complaining to or about me. You should be complaining to elites of the private sector. After all, they are taking care themselves quite well.

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  72. D.G.,
    Yes, and I assume that you can distinguish contexts. But then again, when you believe that to use the OT prophets is to push for theonomy, maybe you have a point. Of course, solution is to realize that your implication is false.

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  73. Erik,
    I should have added that it isn’t just the elites who are squeezing pensions to death. It’s hedge fund managers too. But more than that, it is the bill of goods sold to shareholders so that shareholders can make a living off the workers’ lower wages.

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  74. Erik,
    One more point, those who approach teaching seriously experience it as a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. For teaching is not just what you see during the lectures, it includes, grading, tutoring, social work, preparation, and upgrading knowledge and skills.

    Like

  75. Curt,

    You leave out the fact that the American private sector has to compete globally in many industries.

    How are you coming with getting China to cooperate with your social justice crusade?

    Like

  76. Curt,

    From your comments I’m going to assume that you’ve never started or owned a business of your own of any size.

    One of the things about businesses is that they often entail large risks. People who start businesses that employ people usually borrow money and personally guarantee those debts. If the businesses fail, that owner still owes that borrowed money and might have to declare bankruptcy and suffer the consequences that come from that. In addition, even successful businesses are constantly on guard against litigation and the costs thereof.

    Now the flip side of that is that when businesses succeed, business owners get to realize the rewards. Without those potential rewards, no one would take risks, no one would borrow money, no one would employ people.

    Now you come along and pass judgment on people who start businesses, thinking that you know better how the economic affairs of society should be organized.

    And you do all this from the perspective of someone who it sounds like has worked for the government his whole life. I’m not putting that down, but how does your life experience really give you any credibility for the kind of critiques that you are making?

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  77. I don’t know why a good quote, even if repeated, should be irritating. I’m glad of it.

    Russell, I grew up in WNY about 50 miles from Eastman Kodak’s headquarters.

    Around that time it employed 60,000 men and women in the area. Not only that, year after year, hefty bonuses were paid to each. Union scouts could find no takers. Who needed a Union to ruin such a good thing?

    That Kodak doesn’t exist anymore.

    I don’t think we have much choice but to go smaller in scope. From the ways in which we describe our difficulties to the solutions we propose. I think a lot of the engaged young are there already.

    Who knows, maybe even guilds could return. A decent guilds could also make up for the awful insufficiency of matriarchy.

    Time will tell if we’ve lost all capacity for self-government.

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  78. @ Curt:

    It would help a lot if you could agree that individuals have limited time and money, and must therefore make choices about which social projects they want to tackle.

    If you can admit that, then it’s a short trip to admitting that God’s calling in the secular life of the believer is not the same from individual to individual. One individual believer can be called by God to invest time and money in combatting racism, while another might be called to invest time and money in combatting medical journal fraud.

    Can you agree so far?

    Assuming so, then can you see that this is different from the mission of the church? Members serve in different ways, but the church in its official proclamations put forward judgments that are binding on all: “Thus saith the Lord.” That’s why the regulative principle and freedom of conscience go hand-in-hand.

    We can tell all church members not to be racist (that is, to make negative judgments about one another based on race, inasmuch as Christians are all members of one body).

    We cannot tell all church members to be politically active against racism. That might not be their calling.

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  79. Erik,
    I’ve gathered that if you started your own business, you’ve seemed to forget one of its foundational parts: workers. That all of that risk will be lost without them.

    But there is something else here from your note. Are you saying taking risks is more important than working? So that risk takers are to be rewarded and workers are to be given table scraps? Do you understand why the nation’s work ethic, especially among the young, is fading? Do you know what another word for a risk taker is? It is a gambler. Do you want society to tell people that gambling is more honorable than working?

    If you really read my comments, you will realize that I never said anything about people starting their own businesses. What did I write? I wrote that the current private sector approach to benefits is there to benefit elites, hedge fund managers, and shareholders. And note that unless a shareholder buys stock that is originally issued, then the money spent on those shares never sees the company those shares represent.

    But it isn’t just pensions that are under attack, it’s wages. A growing number of businesses base profits on low, poverty, or below poverty wages. A growing number of companies have their payrolls subsidized by government assistance programs and many of those same companies do what they can to avoid paying taxes. Did you know that even our troops and some airline pilots have required gov’t assistance programs to get by? Did you know that even some banks use gov’t assistance programs to subsidize their payrolls. Other forms of cheap labor come via offshoring, immigrant labor that has been trafficked here, and prison labor. And all of that is because labor has been made into a commodity by the economic system and that makes the worker disposable if the company can find a cheaper source of labor.

    So what do you want for anybody who has started a business? A medal? Yes, people who start businesses take risks and that should be valued. But honoring that does not imply that we relegate workers to be disposable or underpaid status. Those who demonstrated that kind of superior-than-thou, hierarchical attitude were called pharisees in the NT though their superior-than-thou attitude covered a different sphere.

    Finally, do you know why some companies have gone under? For example, what about nation’s steel industry? Yes, workers adopted the same maximize personal profits that management and the business as a whole did. So you are going to blame the workers, but not the others? Our steel industry suffered huge losses because they were competing against subsidized foreign steel industries. Other companies failed for additional reasons to the maximize personal profits mentality borrowed by workers and their union from management and owners. And I suppose you are going to tell me that only owners or managers are morally allowed to adopt that attitude?

    If because of competition, companies are having to choose between paying fair and liveable wages or survival, is it possible that the economic system requiring such a choice is the problem?

    Finally, I didn’t work for the government my whole life. See, you are telling me to not pass judgment on those who start their businesses while you jump from conclusion to conclusion about me. And I never passed judgment on those who started businesses. I did write about those that underpaid their employees or did not offer fair benefits and pensions. Why you think that serves as an indictment on all who started their businesses is a logical mystery.

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  80. Jeff,
    People have varied times to work on causes. ANd how much they can is controlled by how many hours they work and how demanding it is. Then there are family obligations, possible neighborhood obligations, as well as Church.

    But those demands should not affect our recognition for the need for the Church to speak out on issues. And if the Church did that, people who have so little spare time because of other demands in their lives, have a viable, if limited, way to speak out on issues.

    So whatever calls we answer in life will depend on the resources we have to dedicate to those calls as well as the love we have for others that fuels the desire to be involved.

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  81. Erik,
    Why should you care about anyone else than your own personal battles? Is that the attitude your theology has produced in you? Do you remember that God so loved the world and that we are charged to carry out the Great Commission?

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  82. D.G.,
    You can drop the superior-than-thou attitude toward the left. The parable of the two men praying should tell you that.

    I believe that I have already stated my church background before. And that I am not the only one from my tradition to be concerned about issues which I count as important. Of course, I am write to you who looks at neocalvinists as being below you. And realize that I have said multiple times that both 2kers and neocalvinist can learn from each other.

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  83. Curt,

    I’m a worker, not a business owner. We have 40 or so people that I work with who are glad to have their jobs, are paid fairly, are not in a union, and are happy with their lives. We hardly ever have anyone quit to go work anyplace else.

    The company owner makes more than we do and we are happy for him and hope that he continues to succeed so we can all continue to succeed as well.

    Not everyone is nursing on a pickle of grievance like you.

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  84. Curt,

    One of the things that keeps people from succeeding in America are poor public schools.

    Are you in favor of breaking up teacher union monopolies in public schools and allowing public money to go to charter schools and private schools, especially in the inner cities?

    Are you aware of the recent Court Case in California on this issue?

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/29/vergara-v-california-the-most-important-court-case-you-ve-never-heard-of.html

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  85. For working stiffs like me

    The stories of the Bible in TL;DR form (self.Christianity)
    GENESIS
    God: All right, you two, don’t do the one thing. Other than that, have fun.
    Adam & Eve: Okay.
    Satan: You should do the thing.
    Adam & Eve: Okay.
    God: What happened!?
    Adam & Eve: We did the thing.
    God: Guys
    THE REST OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
    God: You are my people, and you should not do the things.
    People: We won’t do the things.
    God: Good.
    People: We did the things.
    God: Guys
    THE GOSPELS
    Jesus: I am the Son of God, and even though you have done the things, the Father and I still love you and want you to live. Don’t do the things anymore.
    Healed people: Okay! Thank you!
    Other people: We’ve never seen him do the things, but he probably does the things when no one is looking.
    Jesus: I have never done the things.
    Other people: We’re going to put you on trial for doing the things.
    Pilate: Did you do the things?
    Jesus: No.
    Pilate: He didn’t do the things.
    Other people: Kill him anyway.
    Pilate: Okay.
    Jesus: Guys
    PAUL’S LETTERS
    People: We did the things.
    Paul: Jesus still loves you, and because you love Him, you have to stop doing the things.
    People: Okay.
    PAUL’S LETTERS PART II
    People: We did the things again.
    Paul: Guys
    REVELATION
    John: When Jesus comes back, there will be no more people who do the things. In the meantime, stop doing the things.
    THE END
    Wow, guys. Thanks for the gold, the kind words, and the upvotes!

    http://www.reddit.com/r/Christianity/comments/2mpv2r/the_stories_of_the_bible_in_tldr_form/

    Like

  86. Erik,
    I have more reason to be critical of public schools that you do. That is because I would have to teach their graduates. But let’s be clear about one thing, education is affected by more than just the schools, it is strongly affected by parents, trends, peers, economic environment and home life. To give an example from one of the local school districts around here. There was significant parental pressure put on one local school district to fire a particular teacher because of some of the low grades he was giving to students. What might played an important role in preserving this teacher’s job were the testimonials of his former students who were in college at that time. They wrote how his standards helped prepare them for college.

    Give another example of outside influences on education. I know a woman who taught at an inner city elementary school. Because of the home lives of many of her students, she could not count on homework as a learning tool because the home environment for many of her students was too disruptive.

    Of course, school administration philosophies, government programs like No Child Left Behind and teachers’ faults also contribute to the poor public school performances. And please don’t forget that students have a role to play in the failure of public schools too. Then you add to that diminishing budgets which result in overcrowded classes and the economic surroundings of the school also play a role.

    Yes, public schools need more money, but such is not a silver bullet. Providing economic hope into many poor neighborhoods in the form of non-poverty wage jobs would go a long way in stabilizing the homes of many kids. Also parents who demand higher academic standards rather than threatening litigation over grades would also help schools perform better.

    In my last couple years of teaching, I dealt with many students who were horribly prepared for college. Their high school math classes emphasized using calculators rather than understanding concepts. One student told me that his high school math class approached problems by telling him what data to enter into the calculator. In a trig class, I gave a quiz where calculators were not allowed because we were not yet using the trig functions and 1/4 of the class could not divide 60 into 34–the actual numbers from a specific quiz problem. Some of those students told me that such a division was impossible to perform without a calculator.

    Also, and perhaps this is most tragic, most of these students were taught by some in their high schools that they could be anything they wanted to be. So I would tell them that I wanted to be a defensive lineman in the NFL. I said that I was big enough to play because the bigger they are, the harder they fall. I said I was strong enough to play because I could benchpress 85 lbs, 5 times–the athletes loved that line. However, I said that the only reason why I can’t be a defensive lineman in the NFL is because I am allergic to pain and discomfort. Some of them got the point.

    Public education is running on 4 flat tires, not 1 or two. Parents and students are just as guilty as administrators and teachers in the failures of public schools. And yet, public schools still provide a potential and very important educational opportunity. And so your question, on which I am undecided, is not the only question that needs answer to turn things around. I’ve seen in my last year of teaching and where the wife teaches that unions are important. But they have faults as well.

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  87. Erik,
    Realize that the Great Commission commands us to teach more than just what to believe initially. We are to teach people how to be Jesus’ disciples. That is what to believe and how to live. Now is being complicit to sin by remaining silent part of what it means to be Jesus’ disciple?

    Yes, I teach other things than the Gospel. But I am teaching other things in addition to the Gospel because my political views sometimes lead into conversations about the Gospel with unbelievers.

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  88. Curt,

    You worked in education so you realize that fixing education is complex. You can bring some nuance to the discussion because you have first hand experience.

    Now try to do the same thing in your analysis of capitalism. You struggle to do so, because you don’t have the same level of expertise. You resort to repeating a lot of slogans and stereotypes that you’ve heard from others.

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  89. Curt,

    I think the thing you miss is you assume you can help group B merely by taking things from group A and giving them to group B.

    The problem is, when group A figures out that you’re going to take things from them they change their behavior — they would rather not produce than produce and have you just take from them.

    The result is that your favored group B just ends up worse off than before you set out to help them.

    All do-gooder schemes have unforeseen and usually negative consequences. Markets have to be allowed to work freely, whether you like their outcomes or not.

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  90. Curt,

    Capital votes with its feet. If a favorable return can’t be earned on it here, it flows to where a fair return can be earned. Why has production flowed to China? Because labor is plentiful and regulations are less onerous. You tax capital more heavily, it just continues to flee. It’s a losing proposition.

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  91. Erik,
    You are confusing the words ‘fair’ and ‘favorable.’ For example, when the globalization leads to an increased labor supply causing a drop in wages, how is that fair for those who lose their jobs or whose next job pays poverty wages? Why is it that Reformed Christians will question any secular thing except the economic system in which they grew up?

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  92. Erik,
    what is missing in your economic theory is consideration for interdependencies. This is caused by making assumptions of independence and by failing to step back and critically look at the current economic system.

    We currently have a redistribution of wealth, but it is upwards, not downwards. And it is taking from workers or is putting people out of work so those at the top can maximize profits.

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  93. D.G.,
    I am not obscuring the Gospel. I saying things you already know to be true. That words can have multiple meanings and that those meanings depend on the context. What being righteous in society and having a righteous society are concepts 2kers pretty much acknowledge. And I will throw in what I heard Robert Godfrey say. He said that theology is a study of concepts, not definitions. If you don’t like my use of words, at least be able to identify the concepts because these concepts are not new.

    In addition, all social justice does is to point out are group sins. If we are required to repent from individual sins, how is it that we can be apathetic to the sins our groups commit? And there is a simple solution to how one should respond to the sins of one’s group. We can both not contribute to those sins and warn people about how they are sinning when their group sins. Oh, there is one more thing we can do. We can ask for forgiveness for how we enabled the group to sin. After all, wouldn’t we do much of the same if we committed individual sins? In addition, we don’t have the freedom to define an act as a sin only when the individual does it.

    Finally, I think one of the biggest problems you and others have with what I am saying here, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that recognizing corporate or group or societal sins calls on you to be more outward directed. Right now, you are content to be inner directed. Remember Erik’s note to Jeff:


    hy do I have a duty to combat anything, other than my own sin?

    What if I just want to mind my own business

    The answer to Erik’s question is simple. Being concerned about others is what God did when He sent His son to die for our sins and be raised from the dead so that we might be raised with Him. In addition, the summation of the law is that we are to love others, not ourselves. Loving ourselves is assumed. We are to love God first and others after that. The summation of those God’s commandments directs us to be outer directed, not inner directed.

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  94. D.G.,
    Sorry, I cut off one letter from Erik’s quote:


    Why do I have a duty to combat anything, other than my own sin?

    What if I just want to mind my own business

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  95. Curt,

    You don’t get to make the rules, the Democratic Party doesn’t get to make the rules, and the United States doesn’t get to make the rules.

    The people who make the rules are the billions of individuals who make buying and selling decisions each day.

    You can either get in line with what they are doing or you can be a dinosaur with ideals and unsuccessfully try to get in their way.

    People want to pay $2 for a widget at Wal-Mart. They don’t want to pay $20 so you can have a U.S. union craftsman make it in a U.S. union shop. Sorry.

    And a fair return on capital is the same thing as a favorable return on capital when you are talking about anything that is not a regulated utility, and even then fair needs to equal favorable (ask Warren Buffett who owns Mid American Energy).

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  96. Curt,

    You miss that me minding my own business and doing what I do helps others. 40 people support their families through the company that I work for. Probably 2,500 people have a place to live. My wife & kids are taken care of and my church is supported. Taxes get paid. And my benevolence has little to do with any of it. I just do what I was trained for and am interested in. This is how capitalism works.

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  97. One of the formative experiences of my life was when, as an idealistic college freshman, I was preparing to go on an inner city missions trip over Christmas break. I was giving my parents a hard time over what they were (not) doing to help the homeless. My dad responded that his doing his job for the previous 20 years had helped the 5 of us in our family not be homeless.

    My eyes were opened.

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  98. Perhaps a Merriam-Webster refresher course on the meaning of the word “socialism” would be appropriate, and are those in favour of it ready to give up all their “stuff” (house, car, PC, I phone, ad infinitum) to see it parceled out to those who government decides needs it best?

    Socialism:
    1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

    2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

    b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

    3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

    Does anyone think the “deciding agency”, which will have total control of your goods/money/you, consider “giving” your stuff/money to any work that promotes the preaching of the Gospel?

    Neither the Russian 1917-1991, or German 1933-1945 versions of Socialist government had any use for the Gospel, or those who promoted it.

    Just some things to consider… .

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  99. Russell, I’m partial to the Polish proverb: “Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true.”

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  100. “Group living.”

    Oh, goody. I can barely get along with the people whom I choose to associate with…

    The dangerous thing is that Americans are dumb enough to actually vote for politicians who would like to institute this crap.

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  101. The core of Curt’s aspiration is utopian. But it’s a chaste utopia so right there he’s lost 90% of his potential recruits.

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  102. Zrim: “Russell, I’m partial to the Polish proverb: “Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true.”

    Zrim, what then, do you propose to solve the your Capitalist/Socialist economic enigma that would be in accord with both the Bible and the Bill of Rights?

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  103. Erik,
    Quite simply, I am a Christian Fundamentalist who is also a socialist. But what I am promoting in this thread is the idea that 2Kers and neoCalvinists can learn from each other. Yes, the discussion gets sidetracked. I faulted the 2k side because of their withdrawing from the world and your comment stating that you was only concerned about your own sins and the comments exercising an unbalanced emphasis on believer liberty at least partially verified my interpretation.

    And I have also been specific as to what neocalvinists can learn from 2kers. 2Kers, for the most part, do not seek Christian privilege in society. This is is correction which neocalvinists would do better if they learned it.

    So that is what I promoted and I did that from Christian Fundamentalist-Socialist perspective. I was not promoting a ‘religious socialism.’ Rather, from my perspective, I was saying that the two sides can learn from each other. But it seems that for some 2kers here, at least half of that idea is absurd. This is where what King said in speaking against the Vietnam War comes into play. I will modify just one part of it to make it appropriate for here:


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

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  104. D.G.,
    I’ve already been clear regarding this question, but just like before, you ignore the answer. Just because groups cannot be saved doesn’t mean that groups don’t sin. Christians, or those who become Christians, in those groups are saved. And one of the results of being saved is our Holy Spirit aided battle against all of our sins including our participation in group sins. Seeing that failing to love our neighbor is a sin and seeing how the Good Samaritan parable illustrates what it means to love one’s neighbor, it seems that we are all in the same boat in our struggle against sin.

    Groups can repent in the sense of stopping their sins. But because groups aren’t saved as groups, doesn’t mean that when they commits murder that it isn’t a sin just because they can’t be saved. I see no scriptural justification for that logic. And, if you remember the commentary quote I produced earlier, we are involved in the sins of others when we don’t do what we can to tell them of their sins. BTW, that quote, about which no one asked, came from Calvin’s commentary on Joshua as he was dealing with the chapter on Achan’s sin.

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  105. Curt, so you believe in personal salvation but not social salvation.

    You leave societies with no hope. You think groups can stop sinning? Are you for real? Ever heard of regeneration? Sanctification?

    But all you do is do your imitation of a prophet. “You’re sinning!” But you offer no consolation.

    And yet, you think all this is Christian. As I asked, are you for real?

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  106. D.G.,
    All you are trying to do is to protect one of 2KT’s Achilles Heels with logic that is not backed up by Scripture. We know from both Testaments that nations sin and that God’s wrath is shown to them. But you want to say that unless there is group/societal/national salvation, then what would be considered sin for individuals to do is not sin for them to do.

    And yes, nations can stop sinning. But that is said in a context, not be taken absolutely. No nationw will quit all of its sins, but can curb its sins, especially its most grievous ones.

    You are simply playing this logic game while never addressing the Scriptures that state the opposite of what you believe. And at the same time, you want to talk down to me by asking if I am for real. Again, if theology isn’t helping bear the fruit of the spirit, some self-reflection is needed.

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  107. Curt, I’m not understanding the method here.

    If you would like to make a sustained argument from the Scripture for your position, then please do so. We are ready and willing to hear it and consider it.

    But your method so far has been to point vaguely in the direction of the OT prophets. You are then surprised that the rest of us don’t see what you see. And then you speak as if we don’t want to listen to the Scripture … When in fact, we simply (well, at least I simply) don’t think you have yet made a case.

    DGHs point is not to deflect, but to ask for refinement. If individuals within groups can only be saved as individuals because only individuals can have faith, then is it not possible that individuals within groups can only sin as individuals, because only individuals can exercise unbelief?

    You deny, but the grounds are unclear.

    I would add an objection of my own: why do you equate “stop sinning” with “repenting”?

    I really do think you have an argument in mind, but you have been coy so far about laying your cards down. It would really help to have you lay it all out clearly.

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  108. During the Occupy movement up here, one newspaper took heat sensing equipment to the overrun park to see who was actually spending the night in tents. Turned out almost nobody, the protestors were all booked at the Holiday Inn across the street. Mind you, it was a bit cold that night.

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  109. Curt,

    If an individual came to me and asked how he could avoid sin I would suggest that he attend church to hear the preaching of the Word, that he partake of the sacraments, and that he engage in prayer.

    What advice would I give to a nation on how it could avoid sin?

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  110. Jeff – I really do think you have an argument in mind, but you have been coy so far about laying your cards down. It would really help to have you lay it all out clearly.

    Erik – We’re still at the stage (after several months) that we’re trying to determine if Curt is “coy” or if it’s just a case of not all his circuits firing correctly.

    There’s also the possibility that he’s just a put on, but he’s gone to a lot of work to carry that on this long.

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  111. In the end, what exactly did the Occupy movement accomplish, other than several cases of crabs and a slew of unplanned pregnancies?

    I continue to commend to anyone who wants to think about counterculture movements the seminal films “Monterey Pop” and “Gimme Shelter”. Those two films illustrate perfectly how youthful, left-leaning idealism begins with hope but inevitably ends in depravity and death. Curt is of that generation, but has not yet leaned these lessons.

    I also commend the 1980 film “Serial”.

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  112. DGH said: “The difference is that ministers and prophets speak to God’s people, not to not God’s people.”

    Sorry to go Biblicist on you, but this is a “theological society” blog. Prophets, however, DO at times speak truth to unbelievers. Think Moses (Deut 34:10) speaking to Pharaoh. Or, Elijah to the Sidonite widow, and Elisha to Naaman the Syrian (Luke 4:24-27). Think Jonah to Nineveh. Or, John the Baptist, speaking to Herod (Matt 14:3,4). Some of the other minor prophets had choice words for the Philistines, to people in Tyre, to Edom, to Ammon, to Moab, et al.

    Is it the 2K position that “yeah, that was then, but this is now”, and that the church does not have prophets, or a prophetic voice, to speak truth to the world?

    (To be clear, I’m not a defender of any of Curt’s views or arguments.)

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  113. Erik, an intelligent person who honestly cared to test our beliefs shouldn’t take too long to figure out what are real concerns to us.

    Instead we get the same old third-rate reenactment of “did God really say????” by the usual type of lame-off.

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  114. Curt, are you for real? I can’t quit any of my sins. Even my good works are sinful. But a nation will quit of some of its sins? Spend more time with the Confession than the Manifesto.

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  115. Petros, the exceptions that prove the rule. Ever heard of the major prophets? Isaiah (only one), Jeremiah, Ezekiel? Were they speaking to the whole world?

    If only you’d go biblicist. You seem to go cherry picking.

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  116. D.G.,
    Again, you misuse logic. But not only that, you want to construct a strawman argument. For example, regarding what you can do I wrote the following:


    And one of the results of being saved is our Holy Spirit aided battle against all of our sins including our participation in group sins.

    Am I saying that you are without sin there? How about what else I wrote:


    And yes, nations can stop sinning. But that is said in a context, not be taken absolutely. No nationw will quit all of its sins, but can curb its sins, especially its most grievous ones.

    How is it that I said that a nation can quit its sins absolutely? How? All I wrote was that a nation can curb its sins and history can confirm or deny that. And here, because of the kind of quantifier involved, I can prove by example. We can take racism in America as an example. Does it exist? Certainly. Does it exist to the degree that it did before? The fact that people can honestly admit that progress has been made means that the nation has curbed its sin of racism. There is still quite a bit of it out there, but it is not like it was before.

    So thus far, your protection of 2KT’s achilles heel has been that without group salvation, there is no group sin. Now your argument turns to nihilism, if you can’t stop sinning, how can a nation? Our working definition of terms is important here. I was clear in saying that I am not talking about stopping sinning in an absolute sense. Rather, I am talking about reducing the amount of sin there. And here, history can provide multiple examples that show that nations can reduce grievous sins, I provided one such example.

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  117. Erik,
    The history of social movements shows that lack of cooperation by the masses can trump wealth.

    Context is important regarding nation’s sins. That is because we are not dealing with the same standard of righteousness regarding nations as we would individuals. That is because the societies of nations combine those in the Church and those out of it. 2kers recognize this otherwise they would never be able to, on an individual basis, join nonChristians on joint social ventures. Thus, what one would say to a nation is to refrain from oppressing or neglecting the vulnerable and those in need. And that abstaining from hurting or ignoring people is applicable to those within one’s borders to those outside of one’s borders.

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  118. Erik,
    People insult those who are different because they ignorant. And by insulting others, those who insult imply a superiority about themselves. And that associates them with the pharisee from the parable of the two men praying. Is that what you want?

    Besides saving some from foreclosures, helping others recover from hurricane Sandy, having a voice in legislation regarding the financial sector, and drawing people’s attention to serious problems that exist and thus giving them an opportunity to speak out, the occupy movement is still at work.

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  119. Kent,
    Tell me the specific night and location for which they did that? Since I participated in the encampments both staying and providing material goods, as well as knowing friends who participated, I know what many did to keep the encampments.

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  120. D.G.,
    Regarding Petros’ note, OT prophets speaking neighbors is not the same as speaking to the whole world. But here are a couple of examples. Jonah and Amos. Yes, most of what the prophets said was Israel. But why? What was the historical context? Why were the exceptions the exceptions back then?

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  121. Curt – Thus, what one would say to a nation is to refrain from oppressing or neglecting the vulnerable and those in need. And that abstaining from hurting or ignoring people is applicable to those within one’s borders to those outside of one’s borders.

    Erik – What does all this mean, though? The janitor at the bank should make the same amount as the CEO? We shouldn’t go after terrorists because they’re just misunderstood?

    These are complicated questions that get worked out through the free market and the political process. What makes you believe that Christian churches have any special knowledge to answer these questions, and, even if they did, that they have the power to enforce their answers?

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  122. Curt advising young people to quit because life isn’t fair and you will have to work very hard to make something of yourself, is disgusting.

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  123. Curt,

    If you want to help the financial sector, push for banks to loan money only to people who can pay it back and push for bank employees and shareholders to be held financially accountable when they fail to do that. It’s when political pressure is applied so that they have incentives to make stupid loans that the financial sector gets into trouble.

    You presumably start from the standpoint that it’s not fair that some people own houses when others don’t and conclude that the financial sector is unjust. That’s where the problems begin.

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  124. Petros,

    But doesn’t the NT interpret the OT?

    I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    So, Paul, when you say you have nothing to do with judging outsiders and it’s those inside we should worry about and to let God judge those outside, you mean we should stand over the world and judge it, right?

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  125. I won’t completely write off any possibility of signs or wonders or prophecy potentially happening today or in the future. If we have an eschatology that is literal to Revelation and it happens in the future, then they will be happening for sure

    It’s just that what is being boasted of as signs/wonders/prophecy these days isn’t approaching Biblical standards by a long shot.

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  126. Communism was about terror and the torture and murder of any of their enemies, even concocting show trials to torture and murder people on their side.

    Not sure why people worship this unless they want to torture and murder people who just happen to disagree with them.

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  127. Zrim,
    On my end, I’m just trying to better understand 2K thinking and rationale (some of which I’m very sympathetic to, btw).

    Yes, a valid and important hermeneutic is for Scripture to interpret Scripture. And, I’d agree that the main focus of the NT is get Christians to live like Christians, and not on how to get unbelievers to live like Christians.

    So, to net it out, you’re kind of making a dispensational argument, right? That is, with the advent of the NT, there is no longer a legitimate prophetic role that any of God’s people might have to the world at large, is that right?

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  128. Petros, no. You don’t really expect a Reformed believer to admit to dispensational reasoning, do you? There is indeed a legitimate prophetic role that God’s people have to the world at large. It’s the gospel of God’s reconciliation of sinners to himself by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. And if you’re trying to better understand 2k thinking, write this down, because the preservation of said gospel to shine as brightly as possible and to be held out unfettered by the political and social interests of men is a vital part of it. Social and political gospel gets quite in the way of the actual gospel, which is why is gets 2k dander up. And to up the ante, it is the culturalist variant of law-gospel confusion.

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  129. Curt, oh, you meant stopping sinning in an absolute sense. That clears it up.

    Not.

    Have you ever heard of lusting or hating in your heart? But if nation’s don’t have absolute hearts, then I guess you’re good to go.

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  130. D.G.,
    You mean that a person has not sinned less, drinking, if they are getting drunk fewer times? Or do you mean that a person has not sinned less because whereas they use to always give into lust, now they don’t even though they still lust?

    And let me ask this, according to the Old Testament, Israel sinned against God. Was it because Israel was the only nation with a heart? Or was the only time Israel had a heart was during OT Times?

    You can take as many logical detours as you want. Both Testaments tell us that nations go awry and that God is angry with them. Simple logic tells us that when a group does what an individual does, and what that individual does is sin, then what the group is doing is sin But these things hit the achilles heel of 2KT and so you keep coming with your logic games, some of which nothing more than exhibits in all-or-nothing thinking.

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  131. Curt, again, all prophet, no preacher. Where’s the good news. Nations sin. So how are nations saved? You admit nations can’t be saved (though you never mention that Israel could have if it kept all of the law). So you are basically employing Christian ideas for your leftist ends. You serve a different god.

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  132. Curt, have you ever considered that national sin is only the aggregation of persons sinning? If so, then you’d know that national salvation is possible. Every citizen trusts Christ.

    But then you have the problem of Christians still sinning, both outwardly and inwardly. And then you’re back to national sin and injustice.

    Or maybe you only want to redistribute wealth. If so, just say so, don’t be a pietist, and leave Christianity out of it.

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  133. Hey, you can take me on as many logical detours as you want but we all know:
    – Sharks live in the water
    – There is water in my toilet
    – I rest my case

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  134. D.G.,
    Again, you wish to use logic to rule out something that is not only logical from a Scriptural point of view but is also stated in the scriptures. And the logic you employ is not in the NT. And here, it isn’t that I disagree with talking about the accumulated sins of a group, but groups also sin because they act as a single entity. Remember that not everyone is equally involved in group sin whether that group is simply a bunch of people or a nation.

    Now we can continue to argue about whether groups sin or not, and you can continue to be silent on the relevant passages from Revelation which I have mentioned a long time ago in a thread far, far away. We can, but what seems to be the sore point for you is what are we as Christians are called to do about the sin of any group we belong to? Can we ignore that sin if we aren’t directly involved? Let’s go to what Calvin said in his commentary on Achan’s sin:


    But here it is easy to object that all were ignorant of the theft, and that therefore there is no room for the maxim, that he who allows a crime to be committed when he can prevent it is its perpetrator. I certainly admit it not to be clear why a private crime is imputed to the whole people, unless it be that they had not previously been sufficiently careful to punish misdeeds, and that possibly owing to this, the person actually guilty in the present instance had sinned with greater boldness.

    Link for the commentary is http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/calvin/cc07/cc07009.htm

    FYI, Keller follows Calvin’s thought here when Keller talks about corporate guilt.

    Here we have Israel being blamed for the sin of one man. Israel itself is said to have sinned. And what is the maxim Calvin quotes? And where does Calvin see Israel’s guilt for Achan’s sin?

    So are we free to ignore the sins of our groups as long as we don’t contribute to them? Is our silence a sign of innocence or complicity? And when we talk about national sins, weren’t the oppression of others and the neglecting of injustices considered to be some of Israel’s sins? So when you chide me about the redistribution of wealth, is your concern there about piety or inconvenience?

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  135. Curt,

    Achan’s sin was theft.

    Forced redistribution of wealth is theft.

    So if our nation does what you want, using your logic, wouldn’t our nation be displeasing God?

    What else are you willing to make Old Testament Israel normative for? A lot of your (non-fundamentalist) leftist allies wouldn’t like where that leads.

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  136. Curt, this is tedious. You apply theological notions of sin and righteousness where they don’t belong because you admit that corporate salvation is not an option. You appeal to the OT but say you’re not a theonomist. You talk about Israel’s sin but not about her salvation. Where did it come from? From repenting from sin? Is that how Israel would have been saved even if Achan hadn’t sinned? You talk of logic but you won’t follow yours. All you want is the pietist’s justification for his politics.

    But where did Israel’s salvation come from? From Christ, the one who didn’t talk about all the corporate sins around him — nor did his followers.

    But pound your fist harder, Curt. Maybe that will get through to Wall St.

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  137. There most certainly are limited analogies between the individual Christian and the community of which they are a part. Just as outward obedience to God’s law is an affront to Him if not from a heart of faith, so is a community that has been coerced into resentful unwilling obedience at the point of the magistrate. If anything, we’ve then pushed them further from actual surrender.

    The gospel goal is to lead men to Christ, not strong arm them into moralism. That doesn’t mean that Christians shouldn’t vote or participate in politics. OR even peacefully protest. There have been lives saved and converts made in sane godly abortion clinic protests. I know some. However, changing society is not only not the gospel, but is impossible if not done one individual at a time as they come to Christ anyway.

    Forced redistribution of wealth IS theft. It is legalized extortion and has been a monstrous disaster everywhere of consequence it’s been inflicted upon a populous. Little rinky dink countries with the population of Maryland and the geopolitical significance of a scrapbooking club teach this nation nothing of value.

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  138. …changing society is not only not the gospel, but is impossible if not done one individual at a time as they come to Christ anyway.

    Ding on what isn’t the gospel, but resounding gong on the pious societal analysis (see Hunter).

    Forced redistribution of wealth IS theft.

    Just don’t go calling taxation (even the kind and amount you don’t like much) theft.

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  139. Zrim,

    But are you more likely to leave your house unlocked in Pella, Orange City, and Lynden or in Detroit, Memphis, and Chicago?

    Some of that is size of city but some of that is the demographics of the residents and their religious commitments.

    I would feel better leaving it unlocked in Salt Lake City than in San Francisco.

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  140. Erik, I lock up more in transformed Little Geneva than I do in secular (and smaller) Traverse City, because I’ve experienced more crime in the former than latter. Not sure any of it means much in either direction.

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  141. I left out Grand Rapids because it’s big city (ish). I agree there is sin wherever you live. I disagree that sins that effect one’s physical safety and property are equally distributed throughout the country. Some of it is poverty, some of it is family, some of it is religious commitment — and not just Christian commitment. I would feel equally safe in a Mormon or Confucian enclave in which religion promoted values of non-theft and non-violence. An Islamic enclave — not so much these days, especially overseas.

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  142. Erik, I went with what I’ve experienced. Works better than all the theorizing, especially since that always seems to buttress the kinds of theories that make believers come off as the best humans around, which my Calvinism (and experience) cannot abide.

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  143. Erik,
    Are you aware that the biggest financial losses from the 2008 collapse was due to derived financial products rather than loans. And that what also helped trigger the collapse was a sudden decrease in property values. In the meantime, most of the financial institutions that were hit the hardest had nothing to do with issuing loans, they were the ones dealing and insuring known faulty products.

    Finally, if you want those lending the money to fully vet borrowers, then don’t the lenders sell the mortgages so that the lenders make a profit and those buying the mortgages take the risk.

    Please study the French Revolution. Please realize the side the Church took in that revolution and what it cost both the Church and society for the stand it took. See, the difference between the founding of our nation and Europe back then. It was not that one side had elites and the other didin’t. Both had elites but one set was based on land, loans, and slavery, while Europe’s elites were born into nobility. In either case, when the elites abuse those below them, the Church has at least two responsibilities. One is to help those who are exploited. Part of that help is to tell society to help the victims because the Church can’t do it by itself. The other responsibility is to preach repentance to those who are exploiting others. The Church can do this from a common grace perspective and the Church can do this from a Special Grace perspective. But for the Church to be silent because it is only interested in conducting alter calls or the Reformed equivalent is for the Church to side with those doing the exploiting.

    Finally, when you read from the Wall Street Journal, consider the lack of objectivity. See, my political side’s first concern isn’t about the redistribution of wealth; it is about the redistribution of power. When money rules society, we have a one-dollar one-vote system. And the more we have democracy, the more we have a one-person one-vote system. Now guess why the Wall Street Journal might not be in favor of the latter system even when there are successful businesses run democratically.

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  144. Erik,
    If you had split time better between both Zinn and King and the confession, you would know what I mean. No matter how rich and powerful the public and private sector elites are, they depend a lot on our cooperation. Our cooperation can mean buying their products. Our cooperation can mean voting for the two major parties. Our cooperation can mean be silent and watch tv rather than caring about what is right and those in need. You don’t have to be radical by committing civil disobedience, though that is another way of challenging the elites. The movie Selma showed how that could work.

    Well, stop cooperating. Vote for 3rd party candidates. Conservatives have at least 2 third parties to choose from. Being on the Left, I have a few more options in terms of the number of political parties. Don’t buy their products or shop at stores that do no pay and treat their employees well. Spend more time being aware of not just your situation, but the situations of those who are more vulnerable than you. You can write about things, speak out, protest, and help others. We don’t have to break the law to put pressure on the elites, all we have to do it get enough people to act persistently and elites start making changes.

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  145. D.G.,
    FYI, I spend more time reading your comments than I do reading the manifesto. But perhaps there is something you can do. Educate yourself so you are not so reliant on stereotypes.

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  146. Curt – Are you aware that the biggest financial losses from the 2008 collapse was due to derived financial products rather than loans. And that what also helped trigger the collapse was a sudden decrease in property values.

    Erik – Derivatives lose value because the assets on which they are based lose value. In this case, the underlying assets were pools of ridiculous loans made to people who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay them back.

    The only reason property values decreased is that they were inflated by people’s ability to borrow ridiculous amounts of money based on their incomes.

    A day laborer in California shouldn’t be given a $500,000 loan to buy a house. Everyone involved in that transaction deserves to lose their butt, from the day laborer, to the banker, to the government regulator, to the investment banker who packaged the loan into a security, to the rating agency, to the politician who encouraged the bank to do it. They all deserved to go broke if not go to jail.

    You really don’t understand how money and risk work, which renders your entire critique suspect.

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  147. Curt,

    The only thing that made the whole debacle possible was people’s beliefs that the government would backstop them. Make a risky bet that works out — you make a lot of money. Make a risky bet that doesn’t work out — the government will keep you afloat.

    The entire crisis would not have been possible without politicians and you want politicians to get more involved in the economy.

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  148. This from kent back in January came to mind as I drove to work today, thinking about Curt’s approach here:

    (11) Reentry by assault. The writer-artist makes sure that he is in the world and that he is real by taking on the world, usually by political action and, more often than not, revolutionary. Even if one is imprisoned by the state — especially if one is imprisoned — one can be certain of being human. Ghosts can’t be imprisoned. This stratagem is more available to European writers, who are taken more seriously than American writers. The secret envy of American writers: Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Despite their most violent attacks on the state and the establishment, nobody pays much attention to American writers, least of all the state. To have taken on the state and defeated it, like Solzhenitsyn, is beyond the wildest dreams of the American writer. Because the state doesn’t care. This indifference leads to ever more frantic attempts to attract attention, like an ignored child, even to the point of depicting President Johnson and Lady Bird plotting the assassination of Kennedy in Barbara Garson’s MacBird! or President Nixon having sex with Ethel Rosenberg and being buggered by Uncle Sam in Times Square in Robert Coover’s The Public Burning.

    Still, no one pays attention.

    A paradigm of this generally failed reentry option: a lonely “radical” American writer standing outside the White House gate, screaming obscenities about this fascist state, dictatorship, exploitation of minorities, suppression of freedom of speech, and so on and on — all the while being ignored by President, police, and passersby.

    There are worse things than the Gulag.

    Source

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  149. Curt,

    Perhaps your biggest weakness is you think you’ve identified who the bad guys in society are.

    The problem is, there are bad guys all over the place — rich, poor, Democrat, Republican, black, white, Christian, non-Christian.

    You want the church to pick a side, but whatever side they pick, they’re compromised because they’re aligned with bad guys.

    You want to damage the church.

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  150. Curt,

    Everyone gets only one vote regardless of how much money they have.

    You just don’t like it that people believe the messages of people with money.

    Labor unions, government employee unions, environmental activists, and gay rights activists have money too, though, and they send out messages as well.

    Getting money out of politics solves nothing, but it’s the left’s apocalyptic issue right now because they lost badly in 2014.

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  151. Curt,

    Basically you’ve become a conspiracy theorist. You’re just an oddball in our circles because you’re a left-wing conspiracy theorists. We all know conspiracy theorists personally, most of them just happen to come from the right.

    I’ll read Zinn when you read “Christian Renewal”.

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  152. Curt, are you involved in the OPC’s efforts towards the poor?

    http://opc.org/committee_dm.html

    I fear you may need to find a better outlet for the needs you percieve than through blogging, but that’s just me and my opinions.

    You might enjoy watching the 2010 diaconal summit videos in the underlying link, I was there, it’s a very good presentation by PCA Ruling Elder Brian Fikkert, based on his book When Helping Hurts.

    Peace to you on your journey.

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  153. D.G.,
    In one sense, we are not as different as it appears; we both have political-economic leanings. The difference between us is that you lean toward the system you were immersed, not sprinkled, I’ve read other approaches.

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  154. Erik,
    You had an unregulated derivatives market. You had financial incentive for lenders to vet borrowers because they were turning around and selling the mortgages in financial products. You fraudulent ratings of these products. You had insurance type policies on these products that anyone could buy. And you had financial institutions that were overleveraged. The system was rigged to live off of short-term spikes in profits for certain employees in the financial sector with no concern for the repercussions that both their own firms and the system would have to suffer through–except many of their own firms got bailed out.

    Was there anything else I forgot?

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  155. D.G.,
    Whose god is being served when all we care about is our own personal righteousness when others around us are suffering? What you don’t understand is this: I see a difference between my political views and my activism. I don’t expect my activism to convert people to my political views. Rather, my activism is there to call attention to injustice. Now, what god is being served by calling attention to injustice.

    In addition, I’ve been able to preach the Gospel to people because my activism has opened those doors to do so. In fact, consider one of my most recents blogposts:

    http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-was-obamas-sin-at-national-prayer.html

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  156. Curt, maybe three times is a charm. You say again your activism opens the way to preach the gospel to people (you’re ordained?). I ask thrice: in one succinct sentence, what is the gospel?

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  157. Curt,

    So how do you fix the system so that it doesn’t happen again?

    Remove the backstop and take away the notion that certain firms are too big to fail.

    If they’re truly too big to fail, break them up while they’re solvent. Don’t wait until they’ve failed and have to clean up the mess.

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  158. Erik,
    Again, look at the system that the financial sector created. One loans the money but then sells the loans. And it wasn’t the loans, as faulty as they were themselves, that caused the problem, it was the financial products and schemes that used those loans. And to single out the loans is to ignore the faults and fraud practiced by the financial sector.

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  159. Erik,
    Look at job loss, poverty pay levels, poverty, limited or no access to healthcare, lack of housing, incarceration rates and differences in how the law is enforced on different groups, and police brutality and the killing of unarmed people and you will see one source of injustices. They deal with systemic injustices. But then you also have to include the one-on-one crimes also because that is a big source of injustice. Then you look at the environmental damage that is tolerated. And you look at government-business corruption. That is a partial list.

    What do you use to identify injustice?

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  160. Curt,

    You left off welfare fraud, food stamp fraud, fraud committed by employees against employers, workers compensation system fraud, voter fraud, government waste, government employee pensions that crowd out other government spending, union protection of poor teachers at the expense of kids…

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  161. Erik,
    Except for government pensions, I did leave those out, thank you. But note your filter. It seems that you left out corporate corruption including government-corporate corruption and those costs are enormous and greater than any other costs our government has. In fact individual welfare fraud doesn’t come close to competing in costs with government-corporate corruption. In addition, the instances of voter fraud are rather minimal.

    So as your list seems uninterested in protecting the vulnerable, you ask an interesting question: What is the Church doing to combat those injustices? By preaching Romans 13 and other scriptures, it does so indirectly. But I would have no problems with the Church directly addressing those forms of corruption from the pulpit. Would you return the favor on corporate and government-corporate forms of corruption from the pulpit? Would you have a problem with our immoral wars being addressed from the pulpit?

    BTW, you will need to prove how pensions are a form of corruption.

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  162. Erik,
    Some loans went bad because as, after being overinflated, housing values fell and people had more financial incentive, or perhaps no other practical choice than, to walk away from their mortgages. In addition, there were predatory loans that began as being manageable and then were defaulted on because the interest rates shot up. In fact, before the collapse, the Bush Administration made a big deal of the new levels of home ownership in the nation. But it was the kind of insurance policies that were written for the financial products of bad loans and the overleveraging that was practiced that greatly magnified the troubles with loan payments to a point of nearly collapsing the economy. Remember that anyone could buy such insurance policies on any set of mortgages. Now picture that practice in your neighborhood where anyone could buy fire insurance on your home. Your home fire means far more than one payout for losses. So what kind of incentive would that provide for your neighbors?

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  163. Curt,

    What you’re not getting is all we have to do is battle you to a stalemate. You want to pick a side in the culture war and get the church on it. Both sides have corruption, though. You need to prove the clear moral superiority of your side. We win a tie.

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  164. D.G.,
    Yours is an assumption. I’ve been to and led protests, have participated in planning meetings, committees, and encampments, and have participated in other writings in addition to blogging. But it looks like you are always looking for a chance to say something negative about me. You have been from the beginning mostly because we have different political views. You chide me for what I read while you take for granted what you have absorbed from your environment. You seem to have problems discussing these issues as an equal. And that I’ve shown you to be wrong about my being an activist will not stop you from looking for the next fault. Do you realize what kind of representative you are for the Reformed Faith? You like to assume some kind of authoritarian position over those with different views than yours.

    Do you know what caused me to change politically? It was the actions of a nominal Roman Catholic coworker of mine. Having heard that kid at school had to walk through some rough neighborhoods to get home after being on the bus, she took the initiative to offer him a ride home for any day. BTW, she got off of work at around 8:00. So she gave this kid a ride home from school whenever he wanted for a semester, if not a year. And though she was scared during each trip, her compassion caused her to continue giving the kid a ride. And I said to myself, this kind of compassion seems biblical, but I hardly see any of it at my OPC church. So I figured that maybe us conservatives don’t know everything and so after a couple of years, I started reading people on the Left.

    I read King and saw his aversion to both external and internal violence and his passion for winning people over. That seemed pretty Biblical to me even with all of his faults. I read Chomsky and he demonstrated a passion for being fair. And his passion for fairness would not allow him to compromise it even when those in his own groups were wrong. And I said to myself, that seems Biblical. So as I read more political stuff on the Left, I discovered some more consistencies with the Bible as well as some inconsistencies. So as I compare the first two Leftists I started reading with you, how you act here would, if I didn’t know any better, make me reject the Reformed faith before hearing it. But to you, that doesn’t matter because to you all is fair in war and blogging. So please realize how you seem to represent the Reformed faith to some who disagree with some of your other views. I’m sure the people in your choir enjoy find no fault.

    BTW, there are some activists who do more than me and others who do less. But that there are those who do more does not mean I am not an activist.

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  165. Curt – You (D.G.) like to assume some kind of authoritarian position over those with different views than yours.

    Erik – Yeah, but it doesn’t work worth a damn with the cats.

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  166. Curt,

    Your story of your Catholic co-worker has nothing to do with the left. That’s private charity. The left would demand that the government pay for the kid to be given a taxpayer-funded cab ride.

    That’s the lamest inspirational story I’ve ever heard.

    I gave a kid a ride 25 miles out of my way a few weeks ago. Do you want to read my memoir?

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  167. Curt,

    You seem like a genuinely nice guy with a concern for people, but you’ve just been sold a bill of goods.
    How much 20th century history have you read? Leftist ideologies are responsible for the deaths of more innocent people than any other ideology in the history of man.

    Read Paul Johnson’s “Modern Times” for starters, then move on to Robert Conquest’s “The Harvest of Sorrow”. Quit reading leftist junk.

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  168. Curt, this is the first any of us have heard that you actually do something other than blog. Good for you.

    I don’t protest. I pray. You tell me which “seems biblical.”

    Why you classify someone who helps someone else as a Leftist is a mystery though. It sounds like someone who is coming out of the fundamentalist ghetto and discovering that non-Christians are “nice.”

    Let’s be clear about who is chiding whom. The chiding from here is that your politics are not biblical no matter how much they “seem” to be. Lots of people here agree with you on certain assessments of our common social conditions. Where the disagreement is is over the Christian response. And your powers of discerning what is Christian seem to be significantly skewed.

    Meanwhile, you are the one chiding anyone reading that we are guilty of corporate or social sin. When we ask for relief, all we get is Finney — do more. When we want a gospel solution you say you don’t have one.

    Chide away and lose Christian friends.

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  169. Erik,
    Why be so defensive? The story of my friend is about how we can learn from others because they know things that we don’t and vice-versa. If we come across as people who have nothing to learn from others, how will those others want to listen us?

    And, btw, my friend is far more politically left than you might give her credit for. In addition, she inspired me to start reading by her life example of caring. Her life example showed me that we conservatives have a heck of lot to learn from those outside our group. And by reading, I learned from the heart and actions of people on the left. And when they were said something biblical, I kept. And when they said something unbiblical, I discarded. If you want to talk to those on the Left, that is you want them to listen to what you have to say, then listen and read and let the Scriptures tell you what to discard.

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  170. Andrew,
    And how many authors have you never read? And it shows. So we are in the same boat, or at least the same kind of boat. Also note, personal interaction is different from reading books. And though blogging is not the most personal way of communicating, it is interactive.

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  171. D.G.,
    So you assumed? Or I never mentioned that I was involved with Occupy?

    We all do stuff. You write and teach and that’s very important. You say somethings that are important for people from different Christian perspectives because they can learn from you.

    BTW, I don’t categorically classify someone who helps as being a leftist. I classify people as leftist, conservative, and liberal by their views. You read Chomsky and King and they are leftists. Both opposed Capitalism and that is the key issue that distinguishes being a leftist from being a liberal. As for my coworker, we are close friends and so I know her views. But what her example did was to simply motivate me to read people who were not conservative. So I went to the other end of the spectrum to read. Believe it or not, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between political conservatives and political liberals in this country.

    I know conservatives who help others and I encourage them as much as possible. When the wife retires, and she is no leftist, I am hoping that we can do volunteer work together. We just recently finished helping someone as they were passing away from a terminal disease. And there is aftermath stuff to handle with that.

    Finally, the ‘are you for real’ statements or statements doubting if I know the Gospel or what I am talking about is the chiding and that comes from your side. What have I said from my side? That you have things to contribute and things to learn. I have agreed with you where I can and have complimented some of your posts because I agreed with them. If that is chiding, then what do you call what you do when you make some of the statements to me which I just described?

    Let me ask, are people chiding when they merely but strongly disagree? Or does chiding involve negative, personal statements while one is disagreeing?

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  172. Curt, you, Darryl, and me are in the same church. For what it’s worth.

    I’ll leave you to your interactions. If I can be of help, let me know.

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  173. @Curt Zinn is not a serious historian (maybe a small step above Barton), your understanding of economics is incredibly simplistic (the $=election wins has been examined empirically and falsified), and your exegetical work remains wanting. Here’s the thing though… I don’t think your intellectual inadequacies are sinful or something that the church should discipline you for or speak out against.

    While I don’t speak for the others on this blog, I don’t find anything you’ve said convincing at all (and I am sympathetic to critiques of neo-liberal capitalism). It might be worth your while to step back and consider the pushback you’ve received here. It could be that we are all dolts who just don’t get it, but then you are just casting pearls before swine and would be better off just to move on. Or it could be that there are fundamental flaws in the case you are making and it would serve you well to think more carefully about your own stance (perhaps trying to understand neo-liberalism from the perspective of neb-liberals like Cowen, Mankiw, McArdle, and Bainbridge and then look at critiques of this approach from the right by guys like Deneen, Berry, and the FrontPorch guys). It will help you make your case more effectively, and who knows, you might even learn something…

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  174. Curt is the latest fish who is getting played out of all his strength

    He can’t last much longer, then another will come along to amuse us.

    And none of them ever figure this out.

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  175. This battle reminds me of Tom Van Dyke.

    Does anyone really want to take on the owner of a blog?

    At least David R and Jeff Cagle were both DG’s guest.

    I mean, is there any mystery how the Curt Day chapter will end?

    Amusing, indeed.

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  176. Curt – You say somethings that are important for people from different Christian perspectives because they can learn from you.

    Erik – What fortune cookie did you get that out of?

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  177. D.G. says: “The chiding from here is that your politics are not biblical no matter how much they “seem” to be.”
    Boys n girls I believe we have just seen Dr. Hart declare the existence of “biblical politics”. Of course he’s absolutely correct about Curt and his utter lack of same.

    I’d like to ask Curt a couple questions if I may.

    1? What is your driving motivation in life? That’s a serious question.

    Number 2? This must have been asked by somebody so forgive me for the repetition, but where in the NEW Testament do we find Jesus or the apostles instructing the church to send money to Rome for public redistribution in order to fulfill the charity commands?

    I see precept and precedent for the church/es doing this themselves as godly wisdom would lead, but I seem to be at a loss for any instances of them being told to have Rome do it for them with their money. Any help in this regard would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,

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  178. I’m with sdb. I’ve argued with leftists who brought it hard and, while I didn’t agree with them, I somewhat admired their vigor and internal consistency.

    That’s not Curt, though, which is why we keep asking if he’s a put on. He’s not hard left enough to impress his fellow travelers nor is his analysis rigorous enough to persuade us.

    Curt is probably the guy who shows up at the protest and is seen as a useful idiot by those who really know what’s going on.

    Sorry Curt.

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  179. Maybe Curt is like (or would like) a pope-like figure who would hand out indulgences for participation in societally righteous acts like Occupying and marching about Important Issues We Should All Be Concerned About. And maybe the intelligentsia(?) aka bloggers of this socio-religious wonder state are > the actual proletarian picketers and grievance expressers and should have certain extra entitlements like a new Macbook from the state-run Apple store. Brave new world.

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  180. Curt, disagreement is fine. Conservatives even disagree. Have you read Michael Oakeshott, Leon Kass, Wendell Berry, P.J. O’Rourke? I’m not sure they would agree. So reading conservatives doesn’t mean you’ve gone tribal. Being an academic hardly means you can afford to be tribal. Are you for real about disagreement?

    As I said, you chide by constantly telling me I am a corporate sinner. Do you know want to pull your punch? That is a kind of chiding that is far more significant than asking if you are for real. Then again, since you immanentize the eschaton by identifying the eternal with temporal affairs, you may have lost the ability to tell what is really real and what is really the gospel.

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  181. ec, I doubt Curt’s fellow travelers regard him as a useful idiot. They are too earnest for that. Think pietism and the need to make everything you do Christian. Heck, think neo-Calvinism, the Reformed egghead’s pietism.

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  182. So much attention to Curt.

    After my dust up with Kenneth we’ve scared off the hardcore Old Life dissenters.

    It’s like we’re a murder of crows who used to dine on deer roadkill but now we’re reduced to dining on squirrel roadkill.

    (Sigh)

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  183. Erik asks:
    Greg,
    Talk about the impact that you’ve seen left wing ideology have on Detroit.

    To be as concise as possible. Any activity people are paid to do, they will continue doing. 80% of children in the 313 are born to unwed mothers. 99% of them are on Curt’s programs. The father is nowhere to be found and these kids would be no better off if he were anyway because a large % of them are kids themselves who are also coming up in non existent families.

    We have produced an almost inescapable underclass of dependence in which money legally extorted from productive citizens is given, not to citizens are merely UNproductive, but indeed DEstructive. To themselves, their neighbors and the city. We are in effect paying them to perpetuate poverty and to destroy themselves and their community in the process.

    Curt’s politicians love this because they need those people to need them. If we could push a button and transform the citizens of Detroit into godly, responsible and productive citizens nobody would need leftist politicians to steal other people’s money for them anymore. This being unthinkable to the power mongers, they continue to create dependence wherever possible so as to ensure their own necessity in perpetuity.

    The result is a literally third world city in burned out ruins where moral disease and barbaric juvenile violence have become our claim to fame. The once mighty Motor City. That put the world on wheels and built the machines that won the 2nd world war. Now a rotting, decaying symbol of slavery v.2.0.

    The tragic and ironic truth is that men were freer under the master’s whip. Bind a man’s hands and feet and you have still not conquered his soul. Lure him into voluntarily surrendering his manhood to mostly WHITE politicians by financing his sin and you have defeated him indeed. By God’s design it is MEN who are the rudder of a society. Women and children are as secure or not as the men, or not, in their lives. Directly or indirectly.

    Now, guys like Curt will immediately retort with automation, off shoring jobs and the subsequent scarcity of decent work as the problem. And ya know what? That is not completely without any merit. If we leave corporations to run themselves they WILL screw everybody in their path for 12 cents. Conservatives don’t kid yourselves.

    However the alternative of having these loathsome creatures in DC regulate and tax them to death is far worse. For one thing it serves to drive all that exportation of jobs to someplace where they can pay somebody 10 bucks a week and no benefits. It also gives them enormous economic and hence political power in all other areas of life as well. These are of course vast simplifications or I’d have to write a book

    It’s really of matter who and in what ways they get to jack us up. So what’s the solution? Welcome to Adam’s world. Politically, sociologically and economically? There IS no solution. JESUS is the solution if there will ever be one. A divided nation is both ungovernable AND incapable of freedom. Until men (chicks too) do the right thing because its’ the right thing to do, we will continue to swirl down a toilet of death and debauchery.

    In other words, making converts should be the goal. A faithful holy, morally credible Christian church being salt and light . Not foolishly believing that the machinations of a pagan God hating government will accomplish what only the gospel can. Which, it’s not even a given from the scriptures is God’s will anyway. (but it might be)

    Curt, no offense chief, but you’re as a big a dupe as are the modern slaves themselves. They grovel at the feet of the politicians for stolen bread and you pass it out for them. Thinking you’re serving Jesus. Both are a tragedy.

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  184. D.G.,
    First, we have to separate Conservative Christians from political conservatives. Being a Conservative Christian does not imply one is political conservative.

    Second, how is saying that people have corporate guilt because of the sins of their groups chiding someone? If you told an unbeliever that they were a sinner, would you be chiding them? Or would you be stating a fact? Chiding is found in how we say things to people, not what. Chiding is also found in acting superior. We are both sinners and we have two sets of sins which constantly chase us: individual personal sins and corporate sins. We are in the same boat and it is much like a comparison of any two Christians. Person A will have strengths where person B is weak and vice-versa. But we all have such an abundance of sin that we can only afford to act like the publican from the parable of the two men praying. Any identification of a sin that has flown under the radar of the other person is a FYI announcement, not rubbing it in.

    I talk about corporate guilt and sin here because recognizing it is a weakness in 2KT. And that is just like trying to Christianize culture is a weakness for the neoCalvinists. Here, both groups have something to teach the other. And we all have other things to teach each other. And that is what we should always keep in mind when talking with or about each other.

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  185. Curt – “We are both sinners and we have two sets of sins which constantly chase us: individual personal sins and corporate sins.”

    Erik – Sounds like being chased by an ex-wife and her divorce attorney.

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  186. Curt,

    I haven’t joined any group, other than a church.

    How can I be guilty of any “corporate sins”?

    It’s like you’re trying to bill me for union dues for a union I haven’t joined.

    I’m returning the invoice to you unpaid.

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  187. Greg The Terrible: “In other words, making converts should be the goal. A faithful holy, morally credible Christian church being salt and light .”

    That used to be done in this country in virtually every place that had a church, back, oh, about two centuries ago.

    A little pastoral instruction:

    “Study to make your hearers good Christians: thus you will make them good citizens and good in all relations.”
    Joseph Lathrop to Stephen Bemis, at Harvard…1801.

    Made sense then, and our only hope today… .

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  188. Russell (and Joseph and Greg), so much for humility. Christianity makes bad people good and good people better. Hello, Kant and Protestant liberalism. Good friggin’ grief.

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  189. A little more from Dr Lathrop, to dispel any confusion with Kantian metaphysics:

    “If the gospel is true, it is infinitely important. Its contents respect, not merely the temporal, but the eternal condition of men. That we are intelligent beings, we know from our own consciousness-that our present manner of existence is soon to terminate, we learn from daily observation. Reason and nature lead us to suppose it probable, that we may exist hereafter in happiness or misery according to the character we form here.

    But to ascertain this matter we need surer information, than reason and nature can give us. By the gospel, life and immortality are brought to light. A future existence, a righteous judgement, and an equitable distribution of rewards and punishments, are doctrines, which it teaches with convincing perspicuity, and on which it dwells with an affecting solemnity.”

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  190. We do need to consider that holy Christians and holy churches may be hated more than unholy ones, though. Many love the dark and hate the light. It’s a mistake to think that people will flock to us if only we get our acts together. The Spirit moves where it wishes – both softening & hardening along the way.

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  191. Erik,
    At the same time, we need to take to heart Jesus’ warning to be a stumblingblock. For after His warning, how can we take too lightly our presentation of the Gospel or any faults which people will see as being inconsistent with the Gospel?

    Though your assessment of having to have it together has validity, there are other concerns which we should keep in mind when we represent the Gospel before others: Romans 2:23-24

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  192. Erik,
    Do you live on a deserted island? Are you a man without a country? Are you unemployed? Those are some questions to ask yourself when determining what groups you belong to.

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  193. Erik,
    Look at it another way. That we sin in groups as well as individually is simply a reminder of how sinful we are. In that case think of it as having a mirror and a family.

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  194. Curt, it’s not like corporate sin is what separates 2k from theonomists, transformationalists, or pietists. Anyone not a modernist or social gospeler denies corporate sin.

    Welcome to the modernist club.

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  195. @dgh I think it is safe to say that the only corporate sin we have to worry about is the one we inherit from Adam, but I’m pretty sure that one has been taken care of…though I’m no theologian.

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  196. ec, and while looking at it from Curt’s view of how sinful we are, remember that you have no hope of being forgiven your corporate guilt. Jesus doesn’t forgive that because if he does, then Curt loses his shtick.

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  197. Russell, if the second statement isn’t Kantian then all it does is confuse, because the first is. So is the gospel good for reconciling sinners to God (Pauline) or making them good citizens (Kantian)? Careful how you answer since it might actually put you in league with Curt (who has no clue what the gospel is, or at least won’t tell us if he does).

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  198. Curt,

    If we present the gospel correctly (which you still haven’t done for zrim), people will realize it isn’t about us…or them.

    Plus, if you’re really concerned, your leftism could be a stumbling block to some.

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  199. Curt,

    No, but I am willing to learn how I can be those things.

    But seriously, if these are things I have to do, how can they be sinful? Not really my choice to be born in the u.s.
    Or to have to work.

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  200. Curt,

    Here’s another angle. What “groups” have had their corporate sin forgiven and how did they obtain that forgiveness?

    Are minority groups and women’s groups also guilty of corporate sin?

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  201. Erik said:
    Greg,
    That was solid. Thanks.

    Kent said:
    Thanks Greg!!

    Praise God fellas O:) .

    Zrim
    Russell (and Joseph and Greg), so much for humility. Christianity makes bad people good and good people better. Hello, Kant and Protestant liberalism. Good friggin’ grief.

    Please explain, lest I presume and waste abuncha time responding to something you aren’t saying.

    Curt Day
    Greg,
    How many of my politicians can you list?

    Please answer the questions I asked you first and I’ll answer yours.

    Erik says: “We do need to consider that holy Christians and holy churches may be hated more than unholy ones, though. Many love the dark and hate the light. It’s a mistake to think that people will flock to us if only we get our acts together. The Spirit moves where it wishes – both softening & hardening along the way.”
    Quite so. The Lord gives no guarantee that holiness will attract His elect, whose presence or not in a given time and place is known only to Himself. A church or individual whose life brings dishonor and scorn upon God and His gospel however, by showing no evidence of it’s power to raise men from death in sin to new life in Christ is not going to be validated with a harvest of souls.

    Also, a holy church, which the word itself (ekklesia) means a people called out, will still do the work of heightening the judgement of those she lives before. Therefore even their stiff necked unbelief brings glory to His name as they resist the conviction of a holy people in their midst. A flagrantly carnal and worldly church or individual never brings glory to the Lord. I mean practitioners of sin as per 1st John 3.

    <strong.Erik asks
    Curt, Here’s another angle. What “groups” have had their corporate sin forgiven and how did they obtain that forgiveness?
    A splendid question. God can judge nations. And forgive nations. Nineveh. However He does so because a significant enough preponderance of the individual citizenry believe and hence behave in such a way as to be taken by God as representing the spirit of the nation as a whole even if it’s not every last person that is either disobedient or faithful..

    God regularly pronounces His displeasure upon “my people Israel” while recognizing a faithful remnant among them. For instance.

    There is not a community category of sinfulness that actually exists as such, but could not a nation populated with a majority of sinners be called a sinful nation?

    Nations can’t be baptized either, but could not a people among whom a large percentage is being baptized be eventually called a baptized nation in a manner of speaking? That’s all I ever mean by that kind of phraseology. Certainly not the collectivist view that curt APPEARS to be advancing.

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  202. Greg,
    You asked no direct question of me but you seemed comfortable enough to assume whom my politicians are. Then you say that I have to answer your question before you answer mine. Fair enough.

    There is no guaranteed answer, even if everyone was a Christian. We’ve seen Christian societies before and they have always marginalized some who are different. And such either starts or continues a pendulum swing. But for the solution, whether you are from the left or the liberal/right, is always found in two parts:political-economic structure and the correct set of morals. And you would think that Christian societies would have solved problems but they have hurt people because they have syncretically joined their particular cultural view with Christianity and feel entitled to rule over others.

    The solution from the left would say something like this: We need to distinguish between Democracy as a state of being for society and Democracy as a political-economic structure. Democracy as a state of says that people are vested in sharing society with others as equals. That is the moral side of the equation. Democracy as a political structure says that we have one-person, one-vote rule at the workplace, in the community, the city, the state, the nation, and internationally.

    Now it easy to anticipate a response that says such a situation is idealistic and will never happen. But what is more idealistic is to think that we can continue living the way we do, seeking privilege and advantages over other in both domestic and foreign relations and still, in an age when the proliferation of WMDs is inevitable and when we are destroying the environment, expect to survive. The Democratic approach listed above doesn’t guarantee things, but it does gives us our best chance at surviving and even improving what we experience now. The greater the democracy we have both in our society’s state of being and in our political-economic structures, the more people share and the more power is dispersed. The less democracy we have, the more we have elite rule both domestically and internationally and such sets up a permanent game of king-of-the-hill. And that game will sometimes be played with toys that are too destructive for us to play with.

    So Gregg, who are my politicians?

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  203. Greg,
    Something else, the denial of corporate guilt/sin based on the idea that there must be corporate salvation is not forthright. The idea that when an individual murders or steals, that it is counted as sin while when a group does the same, that it is not counted as sin is beyond belief. Besides, there are the NT Scriptures that talk about nations sinning and God’s wrath against them.

    But the requirement that for corporate salvation is necessary for corporate guilt/sin to exist is not forthright because it shows an inconsistency in what is considered to be righteous at the societal level vs at the personal-religious level. 2Kers here imply such a distinction when they state that Christians and work as individuals with unbelievers to better society. The reliance there is on common grace and what we are dealing with is what makes life liveable and fair in society. Note in the NT verses regarding Church discipline that what determines whether we are members in good standing in the Church are not the same rules as those that determine whether we are in good standing in society. If 2Kers didn’t believe in those two different sets of rules, they would not believe that believers and unbelievers can work together to make life better for all.

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  204. D.G.,
    Machen defined the modernist club differently than you. He based on whether one reduces all of reality to the natural. Now you are saying that that definition no longer applies.

    In addition, go over to the youtube video of an evening with Anthony Bradley, John Piper, and Tim Keller and you will find Keller talking about corporate guilt. You may not like his neocalvinist theology, but he is hardly a modernist. And he makes valid points which people here have never addressed. What were the responsibilities of German citizens during the Nazi rule? Obviously, our generals, like Eisenhower, knew they had responsibilities because they made those citizen tour the concentration and death camps. But according to your position, Christians in Nazi Germany could go along with the crowd with no need to ask for forgiveness for their life as a German during that time. Just think, Nazi Germany could attempt genocide but that attempt was not considered to be sin because a group was trying to do that. If you take that message outside of your choir to the real world, you will see how well it flies. And that is the sad thing because it hurts our witness to the Gospel.

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  205. Curt, it is because I studied Machen for a guhzillion years almost a buhzillion years ago that I oppose your views. I don’t think you understand Machen. That goes with your understanding of the gospel.

    And puhleeze on TKNY. When I see Keller out there with Occupy, then I’ll know the PCA is off the hook for its corporate guilt in aiding and abetting holy urbanism and sanctified ambition, because that will be the day that Keller loses his teflon.

    “Nazi Germany could attempt genocide but that attempt was not considered to be sin because a group was trying to do that.”

    Do you understand how lame that logic is? It supports your point about tribalism but hardly has anything to do with what happened to Jews in Europe. From the Reconquista to the Holocaust, Christian Europe was not exactly homey for the physical descendants of Abraham. And the funny thing is, the way Christians treated Muslims and Jews had a lot to do with ideas of corporate guilt and social righteousness. How do you have a holy society? You get rid corporately of the sinners. Social solidarity my arse.

    You’re on flimsy ground, Curt. The upside for you is that its easier for you to dig your own hole.

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  206. D.G.,
    The issue isn’t you opposing my views, I understand that. The issue is labels. Machen was specific regarding terms like modernity and liberalism. These concepts, he thought the actual labels were misleading, are rooted in naturalism, not social action. Thus, to apply the label to someone who believes in the same supernatural God of the Bible as you do is wrong. Applying the label that way doesn’t fit the definition provided by Machen.

    IN addition, read your note. For it seems to say that you have nothing to learn from Occupy or any other social action group. It also suggests that you have nothing to learn from Keller. And, btw, I’ve seen no association of Keller with Occupy. As far as I can see, he mildly opposes it because it does not revolve around Christianity. And remember, that is the key to his involvement with cultural renewal. But if would seem that the 2K objection to Occupy isn’t the participation of individual Christians; rather, it is church endorsement of Occupy that should be the only problem with 2KT. Any other objection would be along political-economic-social views, not theological views per se.

    It also seems like you don’t think you can learn from Occupy. Then read the following:

    http://occupywallstreet.net/learn

    Finally, silence and withdrawal are not remedies for tribalism. Rather, they show complicity. That silence and withdrawal would be considered the only alternative for tribalism indicates binary thinking. Or, as the math side of me says, it is using discrete objects to paint a picture of a continuous world. The world is far more complex and nuanced to be satisfied with binary thinking. And that is what you seem to promote. You believe either that you have a holy society or one that is speeding on the highway to ____. There is no room in your social views for the working of common grace. It seems that you only allow for special grace or nothing.

    Finally, what you quoted me on Nazi Germany isn’t about what happened to the Jews, it is about your belief that there is no corporate sin.

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  207. Greg, it appears the Sowers embargo has been momentarily lifted on you (smoke ’em if you got ’em, I guess). What I mean is that the gospel is good for reconciling God to sinners, not making sinners into good and better citizens. Those are two entirely different programs, and you seem to be suggesting they go together. Don’t look now, but you’re closer to Curt than you think. Where does the Bible give believers any hint that their salvation transforms them into good and better citizens? Prescriptions to live as such still have to contend with abiding sin.

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  208. Greg:

    Curt gets addlepated quite a lot on here, you’ll have to treat him like a “special friend” and just nod and smile and look for the exit sign…

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  209. The thing I’ll always remember about my oldest daughter’s wedding day is driving through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through listening to “The Royal Scam” on the way to the church.

    That’s just how I roll.

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  210. Curt – Democracy as a political structure says that we have one-person, one-vote rule at the workplace, in the community, the city, the state, the nation, and internationally.

    Erik – Internationally?

    Have you asked Islamic Extremists if they are on board with your ideals?

    If you want absolute equality internationally you’re going to have to surrender your generous public employee pension which is guaranteed by taxpayers regardless of how well the underlying investment fund does. It crowds out other government spending, including vital programs that assist the poor. Lots of poor people in the U.S., not to mention overseas.

    How do you like equality now?

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  211. Curt – Besides, there are the NT Scriptures that talk about nations sinning and God’s wrath against them.

    Erik – List the nations today that are not sinning and incurring God’s wrath.

    Short list.

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  212. Curt – In addition, go over to the youtube video of an evening with Anthony Bradley, John Piper, and Tim Keller and you will find Keller talking about corporate guilt.

    Erik – Will put that one on my list right after watching the entire run of “The Munsters”.

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  213. D.G. – And puhleeze on TKNY. When I see Keller out there with Occupy, then I’ll know the PCA is off the hook for its corporate guilt in aiding and abetting holy urbanism and sanctified ambition, because that will be the day that Keller loses his teflon.

    Erik – This will happen when Starbucks sets up a kiosk in the camp.

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  214. I start reading Curt’s Occupy Manifesto and can stop after the first point:

    “They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage”

    Illustrates right off the bat what a bunch of whiners these people are. “I should get a free house because a bank can’t find the paperwork. Never mind that I know I signed a mortgage and I know I owe money on the house and I know I haven’t made my payments.”

    These people are infantile.

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  215. If Kathy’s BS Detector is like a Geiger Counter that thing would be going nuts at an Occupy encampment.

    I’m going to read through Curt’s Occupy Manifesto later and go point by point on (1) How ridiculous it is and (2) How incompatible with Christianity it is.

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  216. Greg,
    Sorry I missed the question. I have more than one drive. When it comes to my activism, I am driven by what drove Karl Kautsky but for different reasons. I look to contribute to reducing oppression. And there are two reasons why I do that. The first reason is that the current state of affairs is destroying the reputation of the Gospel. And it is destroying it from two sides. Those acts of oppression and exploitation that are done in the name of the Gospel is the first side. The second is lack of response by many Christians to the suffering of many because their only concern is to see a person “converted.” It is difficult to share the Gospel with many people because of how its reputation is being harmed. Because of how the reputation of the Gospel has been harmed, I find that sharing the Gospel is impossible with some and near impossible with many others. Why? Because oppression and exploitation have been too closely associated with the Gospel by the two-pronged attack I just mentioned.

    The second reason for wanting to reduce oppression is because of the actual suffering people experience. In many cases, it’s wrong and it’s horrible.

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  217. Zrim,
    Lest you forget, the world is made up of Christians and nonChristians. In addition, to many Christians have served themselves at others’ expense. Now, if we could guarantee Christian privilege in enough nations of the world through converting enough people, you would have a point. But it would be the same point which Keller is making. And that seems ironic.

    Of course we preach the Gospel. But first, we do that in various ways. And second we are involved in secular ventures with unbelievers. At this point, who is sounding more 2K here?

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  218. Erik,
    Your response is one reason why the Gospel is becoming an easy target for being discredited. Without knowing the personal stories of so many people who have lost their homes, many because of fraud, you characterize everyone as a freeloader. How is it that a scriptural scholar like you comes to make and accusation and judgment so quickly? Or is your first concern defending the status quo because of syncretism?

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  219. Curt, not to be a tool, but I’d like to see a response to my simple and repeated request to succinctly define the gospel before responding to anything direct from you.

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  220. D.G.,
    How are b_s comments directed at the Kellers the result of the fruit of the Spirit? Or maybe those who are doctrinally pure don’t need to bear the fruit of the Spirit?

    I don’t agree with Keller on everything just like I don’t agree with you on everything. But yous both have things to teach each other as well as things to teach others. And that will hindered if either of yous act and believe that you are above others rather than being equal because of sin and human limitations. What is it that Paul said about the different parts of the body and how cannot afford to regard each other?

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  221. Zrim, Curt posts in many places on the internet, and when he gets blocked, he posts on his own website. This appears to be just his thing – like some people with cats, others dogs, others movies, others sports.

    He doesn’t respond to my question about whether he’s sought out the ways he can serve in the OPC, but rather, seems intent on going it alone, and has an axe to grind with DGH (duh).

    I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a response, just keep asking and maybe he will, maybe he wont.

    Fun times on the interwebs..

    Like

  222. Curt,

    Provide me with the name of one person who has lost their home because of fraud.

    Unless someone is driving up in the middle of the night, loading it up on a truck, and driving off with it, no one is losing their home because of fraud.

    People lose their home because they borrow money to buy it or refinance it and then can’t make the payments that they agree to make.

    Like

  223. Curt,

    Here’s your biggest obstacles in your pursuit of “social justice” as I see it.

    (1) If you try to force the private sector to promote your aims through, say, paying above market wages, that won’t work because those industries will just migrate to where they can pay less. Remember, we’re dealing with a global marketplace.

    (2) Anything that you do through the public sector has to be filtered through the public sector and the public sector always gets its cut. Public sector employees are not poor — they want to be middle to upper middle class. This means generous salaries, generous benefit plans, lots of vacation, and lucrative, guaranteed pensions. A dollar put into this system is far less than a dollar when it emerges out the other end.

    What you want just doesn’t work in this current world.

    Like

  224. Does anyone over 22 who has heard Piper preach more than 2-3 times really continue to find him engaging?

    Unless you’re an extremely emotional person, how do you continue to gin up the enthusiasm?

    Like

  225. Curt got his Achan point from Keller in that speech.

    Achan stole and him and his whole family was stoned.

    That may be a better argument for infant baptism than it is for corporate sin.

    How we take that story out of the context of ancient Israel I have no idea.

    Like

  226. If Keller really believes what he says, why not set up a reparations program for African Americans within Redeemer. Who is stopping him?

    His Asian members might not be crazy about that, but I imagine they have some kind of corporate guilt of their own to atone for.

    Like

  227. Keller says that if there is no concept of corporate sin there is no gospel.

    He says this on the basis of our inheriting Adam’s sin, even though we didn’t commit those sins ourselves.

    Whoa.

    Why can I not turn it around on him and say that since we’re all sinners because of Adam’s sin, why does one group owe another group on account of corporate sin? It’s just sinners offending sinners offending sinners, after all.

    The thing that goes unexamined is how some groups are arbitrarily given victim status while others are arbitrarily given perpetrator status without due process.

    That is wrong and is not fitting for a gospel preacher to be involved in. Shame on Keller.

    Like

  228. Keller’s talk includes a defense (or at least an “understanding”) of Gangsta Rap.

    Thankfully he doesn’t perform any.

    He shares two examples of “systemic sin” — one of which could be resolved by a business owner having a conscience, the other of which could be resolved through hiring an attorney. Systemic sin continues to just boil down to the sins of individuals.

    Like

  229. Erik, Provide me with the name of one person who has lost their home because of fraud.

    The time the rich uncle let the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers stay at his house and when he got there a month later they had sold every part of the house to buy dope, leaving a big hole in the ground.

    Like

  230. The first 45 sermons of Piper on Romans was very important to getting me on the road to a Truly Reformed church. That got me about halfway through Romans 5.

    Like

  231. The thing the PCA needs to realize is that, right or wrong, this is the road that leads to becoming the Christian Reformed Church.

    Soon your Synod (GA) is filled with an agenda full of racial grievances, class grievances, environmental grievances, gender grievances, and a bunch of debates over pronouncements that no one outside of the gathering and maybe the New York Times (if they get wind of it and it sounds left-wing enough) bothers to read.

    Churches only have so much time and attention. If you take up some new emphasis, some old emphasis always gets crowded out.

    It’s the road to becoming a Mainline protestant Church.

    Like

  232. EC: “…I will say this for Keller, he is a gifted speaker …”

    Erik, I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with you on this observation, wherever you found it. I saw/listened to him at the memorial service of a famous British theologian and author a few years ago and I was unimpressed. I’ve heard better sermons … if you even want to call it that … from run-of-the-mill evangelical preachers.

    Like

  233. George,

    The funny thing is, I’ve yet to hear him preach (he does still do that).

    What I have heard, and what he apparently does in abundance, is panels, talks, interviews, conferences, etc.

    Sometimes one gets the impression, right or wrong, that he is Charles Jefferson:

    Like

  234. Whoops, Freudian slip. Make that “Burt” Lahr. (‘course, the other spelling might be appropriate in this caricature, too)

    Like

  235. I had to write this in between abuncha work today. Please forgive any typos.
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    Zrim says: “Greg, it appears the Sowers embargo has been momentarily lifted on you.”
    Thank you Dr. Hart. I won’t make you sorry. Or at least not for the wrong reasons.

    Zrim says: “What I mean is that the gospel is good for reconciling God to sinners, not making sinners into good and better citizens. Those are two entirely different programs, and you seem to be suggesting they go together.”
    Here are some facts that historian extraordinaire (that was a serious statement), Dr. DG Hart will know are indeed facts. During the 18th century and well into the 19th no greater percentage of Europeans living on this continent attended church than all people living here do now. In fact it may have even been less.

    In other words, as far as the raw math is concerned, there was no more Christian presence here then than now. Of course church attendance doesn’t guarantee true conversion. However, the regular neglect of the assembly is a pretty sure sign that one does not know Jesus if the apostle of love is to be taken seriously in the 2nd chapter of his 1st epistle. The scriptures know nothing of a justification that doesn’t sanctify.

    What then accounts for the publicly normative morality of that era? Read De Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” (everybody here should know him, French political scientist studying our fledgling nation in the 1830’s), on the interaction between the sexes at that time. You will think you are in a Twilight Zone-esque alternate reality from today. He talks about the stern influence of the Christian religion on public life and morality. How the average man dare not utter a vulgarity in the presence of the fairer sex lest he be thought a boorish non-gentleman whose company and business association may be unwise. HAHA!!!

    Our average unremarkable mainstream women (and children) in 21st century middle America LIVE in what their progenitors would not even have spoken of. To say nothing of their horrific profane language.

    What’s the difference? We have more professing Christians now, a zillion churches and all of modern technology to proclaim God’s holy truth. There was even the presence of some unitarian and deistic influence too. They had their liberals to contend with as well. How could that church SO influence society and this one be SO derisively and scornfully ignored?

    I’ll tell you why. Today their theological children, the alleged guardians of Westminster Calvinism, celebrate as “art”, “entertainment” and “Christian “LIBERTY”, blood, blasphemy and filth of such a debased magnitude as would have been unthinkable in a drunken brothel back then. Consciences seared in sin, taking as amusement what their puritan forefathers would have rather died at the stake than tolerate. A worldly carnal church filled with media addicts who spend more time in front of a television and in the theater in a week than they do in the word and prayer in 6 months. Filling their hearts and minds with the most powerful tools of influence and propaganda the world has ever known. Not just voluntarily, but they PAY God’s money for their own spiritual castration. That’s the difference. (the biggest one anyway) Do not underestimate my ability to make that case in Jesus name.

    SALT AND LIGHT Zrim. Preservation and illumination, of the EARTH and WORLD (ges and kosmoc), Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 and 14. That means the entire reality of the human condition (in a nutshell) A relativly small overall citizenry of faithful committed believers steered the highest and most meteoric rise of a world superpower in the history of the planet. (Proverbs 14:34. Yes, that principle is valid for all time if properly understood) Not by force either. The POWER of the mere presence of the faithful bride and body of Christ decisively informed the public conscience. It was shameful to be immoral. A pregnancy out of wedlock was a scandal and multitudes of marriages were vowed rather than live with the stigma of having spawned an “illegitimate” child. Men and women.

    Something like same sex marriage was not addressed in our founding documents for the same reason unicorn farms aren’t addressed either. Neither could have so much as even been conceived of in their minds.

    Zrim says: “Don’t look now, but you’re closer to Curt than you think.”
    That sir, is a great steaming pile of bovine fecal matter. The element of force is conspicuously missing from both this nation’s history AND my views in this area. Morality indeed CANNOT be legislated. I don’t want a nation where abortion is illegal for instance. I want a nation where most wouldn’t need or have one because it’s evil. I have no sympathy for the oxymoron of forced charity either. Where one group of pagans steals from another group of pagans in order to buy the dependence and the votes of a third group of pagans. I see no biblical place for Christ’s church in that pagan equation.

    Zrim asks: “Where does the Bible give believers any hint that their salvation transforms them into good and better citizens?”
    I’ll just assume you know passages such as Romans 13 where obedience to government is commanded. I define “good citizen” as God defines that term. One who is obedient to Him. Laws that do not conflict with God’s are to be obeyed. Period. Disobedience is only allowed when compliance would constitute disobedience to God. In which case such DISobedience is honoring to God. I know plenty of people who’s now law abiding life is viewed as nothing short of miraculous to those around them. Actually my own would qualify there. Becoming a “good citizen”, insofar as that is possible depending on where one lives, is simply a public component of sanctification. It’s not a specific goal, it’s what people begin to grow into when they get saved. WCF XXIII practically says that.

    Zrim says: “Prescriptions to live as such…”
    See? You already knew this.

    Zrim says: “Prescriptions to live as such, still have to contend with abiding sin.”
    Of course. Every second of our lives this side of the grave IS the contention with remaining sin. The shorter catechism, Q. 82 says that. What is your point? That since we can’t do it perfectly the “prescriptions to live as such” aren’t binding? Look, it’s like this man. If the unbelievers who are around you regularly don’t see you as any different than they are? Then you ain’t. They’re not stupid. They’re lost. They can tell when they’re being snowed. I’m not talking about putting on some Pharisaical, self righteous show either. It’s simply the biblical reality that when somebody has been give the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and been made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), that is, adopted and grafted into the very family of the living God, it changes them. Is that “pietism”? if it is then that’s like tough. Call it what you want, but you’ll need to show me where it isn’t scriptural or the burden is on you to change.

    Like

  236. Erik – I can only call them as I see them, Old Skool or not. BTW, all of the evangelicals in the audience hip-hip-hoorayed him near the end of his “sermon” when he began to talk about societal transformation, FYI.

    Like

  237. Erik, yeah.

    More like Greg the AWESOME.

    (emoticon)

    Listen to these by TKNY and get back to me. Come on, the guy ain’t that bad. I’m telling you, he’s our celebrity, like it or lump it.

    I’ll finish the 3rd Mark Dever part on the way home from work, I’m about half way through it.

    Like

  238. Greg,

    On the entertainment issue, certainly technology is a factor in that. Mass media was not available in past centuries to the degree it is today.

    I’m not sure 18th & 19th century Americans would have been more virtuous than 21st century Americans given an equal playing field.

    Consider that “Fanny Hill” was written in 1748. I imagine some copies made it over to the new world.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_Hill

    I do agree it’s a slippery, downhill slope. I watched a doc on Netflix about a guy who made “sexploitation” films in the 60s. The kind of stuff that would play in Times Square. The films he made were plot driven, had some nudity and sexuality, but were by no means hardcore porn. Once “Deep Throat” came along in 1972 he was basically put out of business since he had no desire to write that kind of stuff. He still directed some of it, but under fake names.

    From hardcore we’ve now gone to gay hardcore and when that’s not perverted enough, some turn to child porn (as I noted in a recent blog post). It does make one ask what the bottom is when it comes to this kind of thing.

    Like

  239. Greg (and we’ll see how long this comment remains un-erased from existence),

    Just go after the guys who go after DGH, and he’ll make you part of his all star cast.

    Come on, we have a religion to promote here, people. We need all the help we can get. We gonna let a guy named Cletus Van Damme jerk us around like Kenny boy?

    I’m out.

    Like

  240. There is no possible way I can keep up with all this. Don’t even get me started on Keller now.
    ——————————————————————-
    Curt says: “Greg,
    Sorry I missed the question………………”

    No problem. I’ll have to look at your answer later though.

    kent says:
    Greg:
    Curt gets addlepated quite a lot on here, you’ll have to treat him like a “special friend” and just nod and smile and look for the exit sign…

    Come on man 🙂 I think Curt is dreadfully misguided, but he’s not an unpleasant or stupid chap with bad motives.

    Erik says: “Greg’s here on my tab,..”
    As unlikely as that is, it’s true.

    Erik says: ” …but if he acts up I’ll claim to not know him.”
    Ok, but I still have the pix from that last ski outing we went on together.

    (jist kiddin 😀 )

    Like

  241. Greg,

    If you accused me of going skiing with you it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of something I didn’t do.

    Try pressing a Catholic hard enough and you never know what you’ll have to deal with.

    Like

  242. Erik, true on that last part. Glad you see it now too.

    By the way, pick up Engaging Keller if you see that in a dumpster sometime. Again, DGH takes TKNY to the shed, and New Horizons doesn’t do DGH any favors. It’s brutal man.

    Hey, it’s almost time for March Madness, vote Hart remember?!?

    Like

  243. Andrew – By the way, pick up Engaging Keller if you see that in a dumpster sometime

    Erik – I will, as there aren’t too many foodstuffs on it. Ha, ha.

    I actually need to buy it. Maybe a good one for the Kindle.

    Like

  244. it’s $6.49, less than my lunch two hours ago from the salad guy accross the street.

    trust me here, man, when I have ever betrayed my OL homeboys? come on, the third annual OLTS march madness (DGH picked all papist schools in year one, remember?!?) should be ready to start, I’m going to nominate lame fox to run it for all us fatties.

    Like

  245. I just checked, the authors didn’t make it loan-able.

    I just dropped $28 for the latest from Darryl Glen. $6.49 bro, you can blame me if you don’t like it.

    And ping me if you need help with your kindle app, yo.

    Like

  246. Greg, what’s my point? It’s that if HC 114 is right–that only the holiest of men make but a small beginning of obedience in this life–that’s hardly a theology that ends up making believers the best citizens. In fact, most don’t even make a small beginning. So how is inside-out-conversion getting you the kind of society Curt wants to outside-in-impose? Neither of you are really accounting for abiding sin and its effects.

    I get it, you read books. And you bluster book reports. But try Hunter’s “To Change the World.” He demolishes the religious fantasies of “more Christians equals better world.”

    Like

  247. Andrew,

    Last E-Book I bought was Hart & Godfrey’s history of Westminster West.

    I’m due to buy another one. I’m such a paper guy I just have a hard time pulling the trigger.

    Like

  248. Well, to be fair, it would only tell you that which you already know.

    Read the NH Review page 23, if you need help deciding.

    I need to go, Michael T is lurking, and he might tase me..

    Toodles.

    Like

  249. Erik, TKNY calls himself more conservative than Machen.

    In that part 3 segment, toward the end, re: evolution.

    He cites this ad Machen’s liberal viewpoint location.

    Guess what book is in the mail for yours truly?

    Let me know your thoughts on Engaging, if you go for it. You need not read Ministries of Mercy, the call of the Jericho Road as I was made to for ordination.

    Peace bro.

    Like

  250. And they mention Waltke (either here or in the Preaching Christ series with Clowney link )

    Aimee bird mentions golf in the MOS podcast.

    I could go on..

    Like

  251. Zrim says: “It’s that if HC 114 is right–that only the holiest of men make but a small beginning of obedience in this life–”
    What if it’s not right? Or what if Ursinus means compared to the final state of glorification? According to his own exposition of q.114:

    “The obedience of the law is possible in the regenerate, 1. As touching external propriety and discipline. 2. As it respects the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, or by the benefit of justification and regeneration,, which we obtain by faith. 3. As it respects the commencement of internal and external obedience in this life. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3.) He that boasts that he knows and worships God, without the commencement of obedience, or regeneration, is a liar.

    But the law is impossible to the regenerate in respect to God, or the perfect internal and external obedience which it requires.” Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the HC.

    There’s a lot in there, but it seems if pressed he would agree with WCF VIII:

    “I. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

    Zrim says: “…that’s hardly a theology that ends up making believers the best citizens.”
    Absolutely not. Whatever on Earth could I have been thinking? Clearly the reprobate, dead in trespasses and sins and by nature children of wrath would make the best citizens.

    Like

  252. D.G.,

    No disrespect intended. All of those groups are academically superior and therefore suspect in Curt’s eyes.

    His thinking is at a pretty basic level, which is why he’s popular with evangelicals

    Like

  253. When Piper, Keller, & Bradley preach as they do they have to realize that they will spawn Curts.

    Are they willing to be held to account for that or will it be like Tim Bayly & his axe-wielding deacon?

    Like

  254. axe-wielding deacon?

    Lol

    Darryl fights the fights TKNY is unable (umwilling?) to.

    And I bet Tim prefers dogs to cats.

    Hiss, boo.

    Like

  255. Zrim says: “It’s that if HC 114 is right–that only the holiest of men make but a small beginning of obedience in this life–”
    What if it’s not right? Or what if Ursinus means compared to the final state of glorification? According to his own exposition of q.114:

    “The obedience of the law is possible in the regenerate, 1. As touching external propriety and discipline. 2. As it respects the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, or by the benefit of justification and regeneration,, which we obtain by faith. 3. As it respects the commencement of internal and external obedience in this life. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3.) He that boasts that he knows and worships God, without the commencement of obedience, or regeneration, is a liar.

    But the law is impossible to the regenerate in respect to God, or the perfect internal and external obedience which it requires.” Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the HC.

    There’s a lot in there, but it seems if pressed he would agree with WCF VIII:

    “I. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

    Zrim says: “…that’s hardly a theology that ends up making believers the best citizens.”
    Absolutely not. Whatever on Earth could I have been thinking? Clearly the reprobate, dead in trespasses and sins and by nature children of wrath would make the best citizens.

    Zrim says: “Neither of you are really accounting for abiding sin and its effects.”
    This is a psychological trick that antinomians play on themselves and then think it will play with others too.

    IF ONLY you REALLY understood how bad sin is like I do, you’d NEVER make any kind of claim to sanctification.

    I say it’s you who doesn’t understand how bad sin is and how dead sinners are. The mere existence of the Romans 7 war in a man’s heart is itself the result and evidence of a radical and consuming transformation. In the ultimate display of making the perfect the enemy of the good, guys like Tchividjian try to sound so spiritual in their high view of sin, when in actuality what they’re really showing is an emaciated estimation of God’s provision for His own glory through His church in this age. Which yes, He most certainly does care about.

    Zrim says: “…the religious fantasies of “more Christians equals better world.”
    Ya gotta pay attention to the people you’re having a discussion with if you expect to be taken seriously man. Please reread my comment. I specifically said that numbers alone are not the point. Didn’t I? FAITHFULNESS is the point. Today’s American church is in a torrid panting love affair with the the world and the things therein.

    There are lessons in this nations history. She has always been very VERY far from perfect. There was no golden age, but she was moving in the right general direction until the 1960’s.

    Erik and Curt? I’ll get to yours as soon as I can.

    Like

  256. Erik: Greg,
    But Curt’s a Christian & he calls for civil disobedience. Are you questioning his sanctification? And Curt (rightly?) cites Keller.

    I am NO fan of Keller. At all. His cultural transformation/social justice views are unbiblical and dangerous. Not to mention his endorsement of pornographic media in his also unbiblical quest for “cultural engagement”.
    Where can I read about the particulars of Curt’s civil disobedience? It’s not all created equal.

    I can barely keep my eyes open man. Have to continue tomorrow. It’s been a long day.

    Like

  257. Just because there’s not enough controversy on this thread yet:

    “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” — 1 Pet 2.12.

    Could this be a hint that being Christian makes or should make us better citizens?

    Just musing out loud.

    Like

  258. Jeff, your musings are better than most peoples arguments (your guesses are better than most peoples facts (star trek)).

    Like

  259. Jeff, maybe, but aside from Paul few Christians then were technically citizens, which is a luxury we have by virtue of living in a secular society where religion is private. I’d say Peter is talking about being a good neighbor.

    Like

  260. D. G. Hart
    Jeff, maybe, but aside from Paul few Christians then were technically citizens, which is a luxury we have by virtue of living in a secular society where religion is private. I’d say Peter is talking about being a good neighbor.

    Ok, that’s a fair point, which is along the lines of what I was saying above.

    Becoming a “good citizen”, insofar as that is possible depending on where one lives, is simply a public component of sanctification. It’s not a specific goal, it’s what people begin to grow into when they get saved.”

    We’re talking about the modern west and America in particular in this conversation. Although it is eroding fast, the rule of law in this nation was based on biblical morality. Not the form of government, because the New Testament sets forth no specific form of government. But the kind of citizen required for the form we chose was one of private virtuous conviction.

    Limited public government worked for us because people were generally well behaved already due to a pervasive private consensus on what right and wrong meant.(that could use some further exposition) Denying that that private consensus was informed by the Christian religion does not pass the chuckle test. I know you know that.

    I agree, the biblical principle centers on being a good neighbor. Which may or may not also mean good citizen depending on where and when God puts somebody in history. The trade guilds of 1st century Asia Minor, for instance, made being a good citizen there at that time nearly impossible for believers living there then. The pagans defined “good citizen” as participation in their drunken, openly idolatrous orgies. And that in order to make a living. God says being a good citizen in that setting necessitates that your luminescent saltiness make you a bad citizen in the eyes of the pagans you’re living among.

    Christians are supposed to be ambassadors of Christ to a hostile world. That means portraying His goodness and holiness to them in how we live before them. We are approaching a tipping point, and in fact in some areas we’re already there, where good American citizenship will be impossible for a true committed believer. However, living in peaceful joyous obedience to whatever laws are not contrary to God’s in the meantime, in other words, being a “good citizen”, insofar as that is possible, remains the godly thing to do. NOT so we can make them good Americans. But so that God may hopefully use our holy lives as an instrument of salvation to them. If that happens they’ll be good citizens, defined as I have been presently saying.

    How we handle the imposition of laws that ARE contrary to God’s, must be determined depending on several factors, on a case by case basis.

    Like

  261. @dgh For the purpose of these discussions, what is the distinction between Christianity making you a better citizen and Christianity making you a better neighbor?

    Like

  262. Greg The Terrible: “We’re talking about the modern west and America in particular in this conversation. Although it is eroding fast, the rule of law in this nation was based on biblical morality.”

    Excellent point!!

    As it turns out, the preaching of the Gospel, and the consequences of rejecting it was a common theme 2+ centuries ago, and by the way, was well known to politicians.

    Samuel Davies, the well known and celebrated Colonial era Presbyterian preacher in Virginia,
    ( where it was illegal to do so) lays out the fate of those who reject it. No doubt, many politicians had this in the back of their minds in their deliberations, and it shaped their efforts, knowing they would give account to the Great Judge of the World. President Washington stated in his Farewell Address the criticality of “Religion and Morality” as fundamental to the stability of the country.

    Davies (1724-1761) later was President of The College of New Jersey at Princeton.

    “The General Resurrection”

    http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=27289

    Excerpt:

    “Now the TRIAL comes!

    All his evil deeds and all his omissions of duty—are now produced against him. All the mercies he abused, all the chastisements he despised, all the means of grace he neglected or mis-improved, every sinful and even every idle word; more—his most secret thoughts and dispositions are all exposed and brought into judgment against him! When the Judge interrogates him, “Is it not so, sinner? Are not these charges true?” His conscience obliges him to confess and cry out, “Guilty! Guilty!” Now the trembling criminal, being plainly convicted and left without any plea nor any excuse—the supreme Judge, in stern majesty and inexorable justice, thunders out the dreadful sentence, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!”

    Oh tremendous doom! Every word is big with terror and shoots a thunderbolt through the heart!

    “Depart!” Away from My presence! I cannot bear so loathsome a sight as you! I once called you to come to Me that you might have life—but you would not regard the call. Now you shall never more hear that inviting voice!

    Depart “from Me”—from Me, the only Fountain of happiness, the only proper Good for an immortal soul!

    “But, Lord,” we may suppose the criminal to say, “if I must depart, bless me before I go.”

    “No!” says the angry Judge, “Depart you who are cursed! Depart with My eternal and heavy curse upon you; a curse dreadfully powerful—which blasts whatever it falls upon like flashes of consuming, irresistible lightning!”

    “But if I must go away under Your curse,” the criminal may be supposed to say, “then let that be all my punishment. Let me depart to some agreeable or at least tolerable remote place, where I may meet with something to mitigate the curse!”

    “No! You must depart into FIRE! There you must forever burn in excruciating tortures!”

    “But, Lord, if I must make my bed in fire—oh, let it be a transient blaze that will soon burn itself out and put an end to my torment!”

    “No! Depart into everlasting fire! There burn without being consumed, and be tormented without end!”

    “But, Lord, grant me,” cries the poor wretch, “at least the mitigation of friendly and sympathizing company. Or, if this cannot be granted, grant me this small, this almost no request—to be doomed to some solitary corner in hell, where I shall be punished only by my own conscience and Your immediate hand. But, oh, deliver me from these evil, tormenting devils! Banish me into some hidden corner in the infernal pit—far from malicious fiends!”

    “No! into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! You must be one of their wretched crew forever. You joined with them in sinning—and now must share in their punishment! You gladly submitted to them as your tempters—and now you must submit to them as your tormentors!”

    The sentence being pronounced and read—it is immediately executed!

    “And they will go away into eternal punishment!” (Matthew 25:46) Devils drag them away to the pit, and throw them down headlong! They must go away into the bottomless pit! There they are confined in chains of darkness, and cast into the burning lake of fire and brimstone forever and ever!”

    Quite a scary theme…especially for politicians of that day…and oh so lacking now. Imagine being Lenin and Stalin upon their entrance to face the eternal Judge they denied even existed, and all the millions of their victims the evidence of their evil deeds confronting them… .

    More Davies sermons,
    http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=category&cid=221

    Might be useful to read:

    The General Resurrection
    The Justice of God, And The Sins Of Our Country
    The Resurrection of Damnation
    The Universal Judgment

    Washington’s Farewell Address:
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

    Like

  263. “…the religious fantasies of “more Christians equals better world.”

    Ya gotta pay attention to the people you’re having a discussion with if you expect to be taken seriously man. Please reread my comment. I specifically said that numbers alone are not the point. Didn’t I? FAITHFULNESS is the point.

    Greg, but this is where the point about abiding sin comes back to tap you on the shoulder. You want to say that more conversions is the way to a better society in pushing back against Curt’s more political agenda. But if, instead of citing plenty of biblical and confessional language about it (yippee for Greg, he gets a gold star!), you actually grasped the reality of abiding human sin you wouldn’t be wanting to make that contention, because you’d know that conversion has more to do with stoking humility, and humility has a way of recognizing that good citizens come from a variety of backgrounds, including “the reprobate, dead in trespasses and sins and by nature children of wrath.” You don’t think so, but until you admit that, a big fat F on your grasp of sin.

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  264. Could this be a hint that being Christian makes or should make us better citizens?

    Jeff, it all turns on “should.” Think of how law meets sin, the potency of latter weakening the effects of the former (Ro 8). Should those who keep the law perfectly be the best citizens? Sure. Oops, there’s sin again. So much for “should.”

    Like

  265. sdb, citizenship involves participation in the polis — voting, councils, discussions, reading the news. Neighborliness doesn’t.

    Since next to no Christians were citizens, the apostles didn’t have much reason to consider it.

    Maybe the better category is aliens. And we do have the apostles talking about that, plus the precedent of the Israelites. In fact, once Jesus leaves, and Jerusalem is no longer holy (tell that to the RC’s, Jews, and Muslims), Christians are simply exiles.

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  266. Greg – FAITHFULNESS is the point. Today’s American church is in a torrid panting love affair with the world and the things therein.

    Erik – Have you ever looked at the records of church discipline from consistories of Reformation era churches? Of Puritan era churches?

    I don’t think we have a golden age to point back to — ever.

    Like

  267. My experience of the church, even Reformed churches, even the best of Reformed churches, is that sanctification is an ongoing struggle.

    Families come and go, marriages struggle, pastors are unfaithful (even sexually immoral, even criminally convicted), people get mad at each other, people get excommunicated.

    And these are the best of churches.

    Like

  268. Curt – but she was moving in the right general direction until the 1960’s

    Erik – But Machen’s struggles took place in the 1930’s. Darwin died in 1882. Freud died in 1939. Finney died in 1875. Fosdick graduated from Union Seminary in 1904. Joseph Smith died in 1844. Marx died in 1883. The first Unitarian church was formed in the U.K. in 1774.

    You are way, way late with a 1960s date.

    Like

  269. Jeff – Just because there’s not enough controversy on this thread yet:

    Erik – This is an episode of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” compared to where we have been in the past.

    Like

  270. Russell – Imagine being Lenin and Stalin upon their entrance to face the eternal Judge they denied even existed, and all the millions of their victims the evidence of their evil deeds confronting them… .

    Erik – Careful, Russell. Curt may still be around. Lenin and Stalin were Marxists who understood group and class sin. Curt, Chomsky, and even Keller may see some positive nuances of Lenin and Stalin that you do not.

    Like

  271. It seems like the one who has been forgiven much goes down Zrim’s line of thinking and the one who’s been forgiven little goes down Greg’s.

    Like

  272. Chris, how Tillichean:

    Chapter 1: “To Whom Much is Forgiven. . .”

    One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more. And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
    LUKE 7:36-47. Click to read more

    So much of what I read out here takes me back to the debates in my senior year high school philosophy class, studying Tillich, Sartre, Skinner, Alan Watts, Zen and Motorcycle Maintenance, I could go on. I miss those days..

    Glad you found OLTS, not sure how long you’ve been reading, but you’re awesome. Fwiw.

    Like

  273. D.G.,
    You judge fruit by its content, not its label. When those on the left show patience, kindness, love, and a desire for justice, I celebrate that as much as I do when I see the same on the right. But I am not going to look at the label and assume what fruit is or is not there.

    Like

  274. Curt,

    How many on the left that you have met show patience, kindness, love, and a desire for justice for:

    (A) Christians
    (B) The Unborn

    The Democratic Party is the home of the American Left. How many pro-life politicians are Democrats?

    Like

  275. Erik Charter
    Posted February 26, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    erik says: “Greg,
    On the entertainment issue, certainly technology is a factor in that. Mass media was not available in past centuries to the degree it is today.

    Oh I don’t blame technology at all. Or even mass media. Both are neutral in themselves and have tremendous potential for righteousness. Neither can they be made the scapegoat for sin. The heart of man has been a self serving, self exalting, hedonistic “idol factory” since the third of Genesis. We are no more wicked now than the antediluvian crowd of which it is said “that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

    All throughout history we find the human race enthusiastically wallowing in bloodthirsty, blasphemous debauchery. The sicker and more vile and perverse and barbaric the better. Confirming Romans 3 in other words. (differing seasons of common grace temper this from time to time). Man, being what he is, is certain to use whatever technological advances he devises in the continued service of these depraved pursuits. That’s to be expected. What’s different now is that some of these recent advances such as photography and cinema present the most powerful tools of total influence and manipulation we’ve ever known. It has been long acknowledged and not even seriously questioned that especially skillfully produced audio visual motion picture technology can completely immerse a person in whatever influences and values the producers choose. It’s power to shape their thoughts and beliefs is unprecedented. They will TELL you that themselves. Scorsese will look right in the camera and SNEER at how he knows he’s manipulating his viewers.

    Erik says: “I’m not sure 18th & 19th century Americans would have been more virtuous than 21st century Americans given an equal playing field.”
    Please see above ^

    Erik says: “Consider that “Fanny Hill” was written in 1748. I imagine some copies made it over to the new world.”
    Both of which make my point. Hedonistic immorality is nothing new and nobody is immune. The west is populated with Adam’s children too. Also, you’ll see that that book was condemned and banned in the U.S. until… guess when. The early 1960’s. Exactly when Hollywood also threw off her 30 year run of self censorship.(that’s a story in itself.) Of course no society has ever been or ever will be free from immorality, but I’m talking what is normative in the public conscience. Which is a direct consequence of and sometimes in proportion to, the presence of a credible faithful Christian church.

    That’s the most critical point of all in this discussion. The greatest difference now is that today’s CHURCH now openly embraces what the world once recoiled from as filth. In fact today, real people are employed to publicly “perform” what was only recorded in literary form back then. The world is SUPPOSED to do that. Christ’s church is SUPPOSED to know the difference between that and eating sweetbreads. (I just refuse to believe that you are not better than this Darryl, I mean that.)

    Erik says: “I do agree it’s a slippery, downhill slope….”
    We’re talking about different slopes Erik. I’ll explain more below.

    Erik says: “I watched a doc on Netflix about a guy who made “sexploitation” films in the 60s. The kind of stuff that would play in Times Square. The films he made were plot driven, had some nudity and sexuality, but were by no means hardcore porn. Once “Deep Throat” came along in 1972 he was basically put out of business since he had no desire to write that kind of stuff. He still directed some of it, but under fake names.

    From hardcore we’ve now gone to gay hardcore and when that’s not perverted enough, some turn to child porn (as I noted in a recent blog post). It does make one ask what the bottom is when it comes to this kind of thing.”
    Ya know what the most deceptive and dangerous thing about pornography is Erik? It is a magnificent, masterful Satanic diversion. Of course it’s evil. NO Christian will deny that. And THAT is it’s primary purpose to the enemy where the church is concerned. Yes, even more than hooking her members. We wail and bemoan and denounce the horrible scourge of especially internet porn (and rightly so) and then grab our popcorn for an evening with it’s cousins in Hollywood. Straight up porn gives the church a false standard with which to congratulate herself on her moral outrage over a universally recognized evil. Today’s church thinks God shares THEIR rationalizations about “art” and “storytelling”.

    The standard is the WORD and for us historic reformed orthodoxy. NOT XXX pornography, as if as long as it’s not that, God approves. It’s ALL porn, and would have been recognized as such even among the pagans in this country until 50 years ago. In the case of Hollywood, the devil gets to watch Christians pay people to blaspheme the name of the Lord our God too. As well as filling ourselves with gruesome bloody violence on top of everything else.

    It’s the perfect weapon. He has seduced fools into thinking they are resisting the most powerful propaganda machine ever. “Doesn’t effect me” they say. (SURRRRRE it doesn’t, I’m witnessing it on this very site) As if it’s all about THEM. Victories number one and two. He has church people paying other people to do what they would NEVER want them or their loved ones to do themselves. Victories number three and four. Not only are the media addicts destroying their moral credibility as a testimony of God’s righteousness to the lost, but they are actively financing the damnation of those to whom they are commanded to portray Christ and be to them salt and light. Victories five and six.

    ALL IN JESUS NAME!!!!

    With that, the serpent of old and father of lies takes his well earned bow.

    Denouncing “porn” while embracing the mainstream entertainment industry is like pouring sewage through a strainer. You may filter out the biggest stuff, but what’s left is far more dangerous because it’s still deadly poison, but willingly drunk. In fact we pay to drink it.

    Like

  276. Erik quotes me as saying:
    Greg – FAITHFULNESS is the point. Today’s American church is in a torrid panting love affair with the world and the things therein.
    And then responds with:
    Erik – Have you ever looked at the records of church discipline from consistories of Reformation era churches? Of Puritan era churches?
    Compare that to the church discipline records of today and get back to me 😉 Also what do you think the reformation era records would look like in today’s media enslaved OPC and PCA.. etc? IF those same men were at the helm with 16-18th or even 19th century sensibilities? Just transport them forward in time. Come on now brother.

    I don’t think we have a golden age to point back to — ever.
    Neither do I. See my latest please.

    Curt, Zrim (anybody else?) Forgive me I have work. I’ll get to you guys.

    Being Erik’s new boy, I have to take care of him first LOL!! (no, that did not actually bother me Erik 🙂 )

    Like

  277. Greg – Both are neutral in themselves and have tremendous potential for righteousness.

    Erik – If mass media has “tremendous potential for righteousness”, why have televangelists been so bad historically?

    Has radio been much better? Video? DVD? Podcasts? Internet?

    Like

  278. Greg – The heart of man has been a self serving, self exalting, hedonistic “idol factory” since the third of Genesis. We are no more wicked now than the antediluvian crowd of which it is said “that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

    Erik – You seem to be contradicting your statements about the church going downhill in the 1960s.

    Like

  279. Greg,

    People are disciplined for pretty much the same things as in the past — marital infidelity, divorce, not attending worship, not heeding elders. Sin hasn’t changed.

    Like

  280. Greg,

    So you’ve established in the past that you think nudity in film is out of bounds.

    What is in bounds in terms of film and non-film related arts, entertainment, & recreation?

    Is every adult bound to only engage in activities that are fit for their minor children? Are people never allowed to mature in this area?

    Hart throws out “The Wire”, a show that many of us here are a fan of. Kenneth shared maybe 10 minutes of sexual-themed clips — in a series that spanned 5 seasons. Is a Christian bound to not watch 5 seasons of a show for the sake of 10 minutes?

    What other areas of life are we bound to completely avoid because there may be some objectionable material?

    Is everyone in our workplace sanctified? Is everyone in our church sanctified? Do we avoid work & church entirely so we can avoid unsanctified people?

    Like

  281. Andrew – thank you. I’ve been an Old Life addict since August of last year. The regulars here are a riot and the interaction is all over the map from very helpful and insightful to down right insane – but you already know that. I love it.

    Like

  282. Chris, guilty as charged, insane these comments get, it’s true.

    Guilty, that is, but for my Savior:

    Acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, as He is offered
    to us in the gospel of His redeeming work, is saving
    faith. Despairing of any salvation to be obtained by
    our own efforts, we simply trust in Him to save us;
    we say no longer, as we contemplate the Cross, merely
    “He saved others” or “He saved the world” or “He
    saved the Church”; but we say, every one of us, by the
    strange individualizing power of faith, “He loved me
    and gave Himself for me.” When a man once says
    that, in his heart and not merely with his lips, then no
    matter what his guilt may be, no matter how far he
    is beyond any human pale, no matter how little oppor-
    tunity he has for making good the evil that he has
    done, he is a ransomed soul, a child of God forever.
    https://archive.org/stream/MN41619ucmf_6/MN41619ucmf_6_djvu.txt

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  283. Greg,

    It seems to me that you have a bit of a subjective view of the holiness and efficacy of the church whereas many of us here have more of an objective view of the holiness and efficacy of the church.

    We would see the marks of the church as biblical preaching, biblical administration of the sacraments, and the practice of church discipline.

    Your view seems to be more along the lines of holy living on the part of church members (as you define it) = a holy church = an effective church, particularly in regards to evangelism.

    You focus on Hollywood as a primary cause of today’s church lacking holiness.

    Rewind 150 years, though, to a time when you would probably would say the church was in much better shape. What would the views be of the average white church member of that era about black people? About black Christians? The answer is, those views were probably not very holy. And this was 30-35 years before Edison even invented the movie camera.

    How do you answer this critique?

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  284. Greg,

    My point is that people are always messed up about something, Christian people are always messed up about something, the world is always messed up about something, and the church is always messed up about something.

    It’s called life in this age between Christ’s coming and Christ’s return.

    Like

  285. Eric, you mean I’m not more holy if I do not touch, do not taste, do not handle and other such regulations of false humility according to the doctrines of men?

    Like

  286. Chris,

    I would also note that Greg’s “Hollywood” could easily be replaced with “alcohol” during the temperance movement of the early 20th century.

    It’s easy to identify a scapegoat for our sin, even as Christians, but the truth is that the sin lies within us, even without provocation from outside sources.

    Last time we got to this point in the debate Greg became quite animated and I would argue, abusive, especially to D.G. I’m anxious to see how he reacts this time as my aim is not to anger or provoke him. I do think he means well.

    Like

  287. Erik,
    Quite a few for Christians, some for the unborn. But every group has those whom they relegate to insignificance, and that includes politically conservative Christians. How many politically conservative Christians show patience with Palestinians or with the unemployed or with those whose homes were foreclosed on?

    The lesson behind the parable of the two men praying coincides with the lesson from Romans 2:1ff. This idea of not letting one’s justice concerns make one feel morally superior to others is one of the greatest hazards of all religious people as well as all who are involved with causes.

    Like

  288. I’m going to have to determine whether I’m really wasting my time here or not. Erik you are paying less attention to me this time than you did before where we were bludgeoning each other. I have already addressed, in this thread, like 70% of what you’re asking me in these last few comments. I’m a terrible typist and it requires a considerable time commitment to compose one of these comments. Only to have you come back at me with responses indicating that you haven’t paid attention to them.

    Intelligence was never one of the things I questioned about you, so don’t take this the wrong way. You are either one thousand times sharper than I even gave you credit for, or your views in these areas have not really changed in any truly substantive fashion. Not really.

    The former would be extraordinarily impressive to say the least. The latter would be one of my greatest heartbreaks in a long time. (you have no idea)

    This may be a really good time and place to expose the post modern mangling of the so called liberty passages as per Chris Townsend above. Maybe. I have heard every conceivable version of their abuse intended to support carnality and worldliness, especially as relates to people’s servile addiction to media entertainment Those passages have ZEEROH application there. None.

    I don’t know. I’m inclined to continue, but I don’t know. It would without exaggeration be a part time job to answer just what’s been thrown at me on this page. Which I do have answers for. (including slavery )None of this new. It wasn’t new a year ago.

    Like

  289. Erik,
    Yes, internationally. That means eliminate the UN Security Council veto so you have one nation, one vote.

    Regarding Islamist extremists, I find their resistance to that idea to be the same as those from any conservative religious group. That is because conservative religious groups tend to be very authoritarian.

    BTW, you really haven’t addressed the issue of government pensions and how they are against one person, one vote. In fact, if private sector pensions depended on one person, one vote, what do you think would happen?

    Like

  290. Curt – How many politically conservative Christians show patience with Palestinians or with the unemployed or with those whose homes were foreclosed on?

    Erik – I’m always willing to listen.

    It’s pretty much just dispensationalists who think they have a stake in the Israel vs. Palestinian debate.

    I haven’t heard one thing about this in a decade in a Reformed church.

    Like

  291. Curt – The lesson behind the parable of the two men praying coincides with the lesson from Romans 2:1ff. This idea of not letting one’s justice concerns make one feel morally superior to others is one of the greatest hazards of all religious people as well as all who are involved with causes.

    Erik – That’s just a liberal trope.

    What it’s about is discerning shit from Shinola.

    Like

  292. Greg,

    I think your problem is that you think that me changing my mind about something means that I somehow fit into your mold of what someone who changes their mind about something looks like.

    You have a lot of preconceived notions that you take for granted that you assume we share. We don’t necessarily do that, which I why I’m trying to help you unpack all that.

    You say you’re reformed, but I think you pick up a lot from the milieu in which you worship, which I believe you have said is an African American, presumably revivalist-type church. That impacts how you view the faith, whether you fully realize it or not.

    If I’ve misunderstood you, take your time and point out where and how.

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  293. Curt – Regarding Islamist extremists, I find their resistance to that idea to be the same as those from any conservative religious group. That is because conservative religious groups tend to be very authoritarian.

    Erik – Yeah, the OPC is just the American version of ISIS.

    Now we’re really starting to understand how you think.

    Like

  294. Curt – BTW, you really haven’t addressed the issue of government pensions and how they are against one person, one vote. In fact, if private sector pensions depended on one person, one vote, what do you think would happen?

    Erik – Public employee unions take union dues from members and turn around and give donations to politicians who approve generous pensions for the public employees who they are supposed to be overseeing for the benefit of taxpayers.

    This is as crooked as anything you accuse corporations of doing, which renders you no more above the fray than anyone else.

    Like

  295. Erik,
    What you haven’t done is prove that they are against the concept of one person, one vote. Some such pensions are part of a state’s constitution which would imply that they were determined using a democratic process. Other gov’t pensions are not but that implies nothing. And what you have done is approached the subject of the need for gov’t funds from one direction: competing gov’t commitments. You haven’t addressed gov’t pensions from the tax resource side nor have you addressed the availability of private sector pensions based on one person, one vote decision making by employees.

    Finally, I never said that the OPC was equal to ISIS. All I said was that the authoritarianism of religious conservatives influences them to oppose one person, one vote. Saying that does not imply that religious conservative groups are identical in every way. So I am not sure of the purpose of your note.

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  296. Curt,

    You’re the protester, not me.

    Individuals vote for conservatives and individuals vote for liberals.

    The private sector operates according to the rule of law, as does the public sector.

    Not sure what you’re protesting.

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  297. Erik,
    You ask questions or raise issues but are avoiding issues. Again, prove how gov’t sector pensions are against the one-person, one vote system. You’re the one who is making that claim.

    In addition, you’ve only addressed gov’t pensions from the competing for gov’t resources side, you haven’t addressed gov’t pensions from the tax resource side nor have you addressed the availability of private sector pensions based on one person, one vote decision making by employees.

    When you are talking about multiple votes, that applies to publicly owned companies in the private sector. There, shareholders vote and there you have a one share, one vote system. That is different from a one person one vote system. But I am puzzled why you asked about one multiple votes.

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  298. Curt – You ask questions or raise issues but are avoiding issues. Again, prove how gov’t sector pensions are against the one-person, one vote system. You’re the one who is making that claim.

    Erik – No, I say they’re crooked just like some things that corporations do are crooked.

    But to play your game, public employee unions buying Democrat politicians is a violation of the one-person, one vote system.

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  299. Two quick things for now Erik. (working at church) I have picked up nothing from the church I’m in. (that’s a long story, not for here)

    Please define “pietist” and “revivalist” for me. YOUR definitions please. These issues are only complicated for people who really want them to be.

    Chris Townsend, you’ll have to forgive me. Nothing personal, but I don’t know you and you are way down on my list right now.

    Like

  300. Erik,
    You are avoiding issues. You haven’t answer the pension issues I’ve raised. You said something about unions but that has nothing to do with state pensions, for example. As I wrote, some places, pensions are written into the State Constitution and apply to all state employees.

    In addition, your stereotyping of unions is not based on adequate information.

    Like

  301. Greg – I have picked up nothing from the church I’m in

    Erik – That’s probably not good. LOL

    The piece I posted earlier from the Curmudgeon is a really good primer on the pietist/revivalist mindset. I would sum it up as elevating the subjective aspects of religion over the objective. I’ll link to that piece again here. I think there are also aspects of elevating the doctrine of sanctification over the doctrine of justification.

    http://thechristiancurmudgeonmo.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-is-christian-part-ii-are-you.html?spref=fb

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  302. Curt,

    Let me give you a summary.

    The left has an agenda that favors the public sector (and public sector employees). Leftists buy politicians who will advance their agenda.

    The right has an agenda that favors the private sector (and private sector employees). The right buys politicians who will advance their agenda.

    Voters choose between these two sides based on their perceived self interest.

    You think you’ve identified the purer, less self-interested, more moral, more Christian, side.

    I think you’re kidding yourself.

    That’s where we’re at.

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  303. Curt,

    If you don’t think the expense of public sector pensions is not a serious issue that states are dealing with, read the newspaper.

    Even Democrat politicians are beginning to see the need to scale them back.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-illinois-pension-reform-met0114-20150113-story.html

    Illinois has a $105 billion unfunded pension liability for state workers.

    Like poor public schools, this is an issue that the left would like to just hide their heads in the sand on, but neither issue is just going away.

    Like

  304. (in a REAL hurry here)
    Erik quotes me as saying: “I have picked up nothing from the church I’m in”
    and then sarcastically(it seems, though I could be wrong) responds with:
    “That’s probably not good. LOL”
    I meant in relation to the things you mentioned Erik. My theology was largely hardened 25 years ago. I’ve been in this church for 5. I have godly reasons for being there. You assume at your own risk. I’ll tell you about it one day.

    Erik says: ” I would sum it up as elevating the subjective aspects of religion over the objective. ….I think there are also aspects of elevating the doctrine of sanctification over the doctrine of justification.”
    Really? That would would most assuredly not be me. I can’t believe we haven’t gotten further than this.
    Erik: “The piece I posted earlier from the Curmudgeon is a really good primer on the pietist/revivalist mindset.”
    I read it in a spare few minutes I had here. We need to talk Erik. Waddaya say we have the “piestist” discussion at his place? There is so much right and so much wrong with that piece man.

    You said above:”You have a lot of preconceived notions that you take for granted that you assume we share. We don’t necessarily do that, which I why I’m trying to help you unpack all that.”
    I will believe whatever that bible actually says. NO MATTER WHAT it costs me. How bout you? Do we have different standards there? Or is that simpleton fundy pietism too.

    I’ll play. You can help me unpack. That is not sarcasm either.

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  305. Erik,
    You asserted that pensions violated the one person, one vote rule. You asserted it without showing it.

    Second, leftists are anti-capitalists. Thus, in America, there is left buying of politicians. Why? Because pushing the Left’s agenda is not a marketable skill. However, there are the liberals and the difference between them is that the liberal form of capitalism is like the local train that serves amenities. The right’s form of capitalism is like the express train that serves no amenities.

    Yes, there is a buying of politicians, but we have to ask if that is more due to a failure in implementation than in design. What allows money to rule in politics is citizen apathy.

    Finally, your statement about state pensions is hardly proved by example. Because again, one has to ask if the reason for the shortfall in funding is due to the pensions themselves or the failure in raising revenues through taxes. Now let’s think about this. The private sector has been doing away with pensions because it violates the maximize profits ethic. So how do people secure their retirement. They invest either directly or indirectly. But that results in these investors living off the wages of the workers. And because of the financial dependence, those whose income depends solely on investments will regard the workers as disposable objects. For if others are willing to do the same work for less pay, the current set of workers are often sacked. So in such a situation, how concerned will investors be in the workers being paid a fair and livable wage? Remember that in the land of supply and demand, fair and livable are not issues; only numbers are.

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  306. Greg,

    Just keep it here. The regulars here know the Curmudgeon.

    We probably don’t disagree too much on what the Bible says. Where we likely disagree are the practical applications and the pastoral approach to take when someone doesn’t do what the Bible says.

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  307. I view the Curmudgeon as one of the best Christian blogs. Don’t always agree with it. But the management there has good articles and responds well to comments

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  308. Curt,

    if you’re collecting a pension aren’t you living off workers, too? If I went to the office of your pension fund I imagine I would find investment managers who invest in capitalistic enterprises on your behalf.

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  309. Erik,
    you’re not familiar with idea of democracy where decisions are made by voting and each person gets one vote?

    BTW, aren’t those people who live pensions living off their previous work? And that doesn’t include the deductions for pensions and how that money was used by those handling the deductions.

    And there is another difference. Workers are voters who could use the vote to overturn. But workers in the private sector do not have a voice or sufficient voice to do the same. That is because either workers are completely at the mercy of shareholders or are not given an adequate number of shares to compete with the major shareholders.

    And yes, I know that my deductions for pension are used in a capitalist system. The point being that I can limit the amount I depend on that, but I can’t eliminate the connection. BTW, I was required to sign up with a retirement plan. It wasn’t a choice.

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  310. D.G.,
    I know you like Machen. And he makes a valid point in saying that when Christianity is fashioned in order solve worldly problems, it ceases to be Christianity. And he says that because has Christianity is so remade, it loses its revelatory basis. Fair enough.

    But there is another threat to the revelatory nature of Christianity as well. That comes from the syncretic joining of one’s culturally determined political values with one’s Christian faith. And what needs to be done regarding Machen is to separate his political views from his theology so that we can use his theological views more objectively in discussing socio-political issues. In addition, recognizing that the Social Gospel is not a monolith would help as well.

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  311. Erik says: Greg,
    Just keep it here. The regulars here know the Curmudgeon.”

    Ok, but it’s tough having a conversation in the midst of 5 others. I’ve been to his site before. I don’t remember how or why I got there, but he would have been perfect in this conversation too.

    Erik says: “We probably don’t disagree too much on what the Bible says. Where we likely disagree are the practical applications and the pastoral approach to take when someone doesn’t do what the Bible says.”
    The same bible tells us what to do Erik. Can you explain this further please? There is not one single new thing you’ve brought up. I dealt with it all between last time and now and most of it in the last 24 hours. I really WANT to have this dialog with you, but I am spending tons of time on these comments and you are not absorbing them somehow. Could be my fault to some degree too.

    Please tell me about my most egregious error so far. Let’s start there.

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  312. Curt,

    Who is getting more than 1 vote?

    A taxpayer guaranteed pension that delivers regardless of investment returns is a raw deal for taxpayers.

    You’re part of an oppressive group.

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  313. Greg,

    “Band of Brothers”: 10 parts, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Damian Lewis. Maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen. 1 nude scene that lasts 5-10 seconds. Off limits to Christians?

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  314. Greg,
    “Band of Brothers”: 10 parts, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Damian Lewis. Maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen. 1 nude scene that lasts 5-10 seconds. Off limits to Christians?”

    First? Please don’t try to impress me with pagan names. I couldn’t possibly care less. To me, they are sinners who need Jesus. Just like the homeless shlubs were going to minister to in the corridor, downtown tomorrow. I don’t want any of their autographs. I want them to be saved from their sin. Whether in Hollywood or the ghetto. Same people.

    Yes, it’s off limits. Unless you think you can convince God that a totally avoidable and ultimately meaningless piece of entertainment justifies you paying somebody to sin. Just a little though. We’re back to the same arguments. What if it were you, your wife or children? Would Jesus say:

    ““Band of Brothers”: 10 parts, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Damian Lewis. Maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen. 1 nude scene featuring the Charter family that lasts 5-10 seconds, good art and good story outweighed the bad, so I didn’t mind?”

    Is that what the God who reveals Himself in the bible would say? Would He swoon at the name of some Godless celebrities? How many times was His name blasphemed during that series? How much gruesome utterly unnecessary violence did you intentionally put before your eyes and into your heart. Please tell me how the Lord was glorified in your life because of having seen that show that mine was not because I haven’t. Or ANY show or movie. Scripture please.

    You are proving my point in spades Erik. NOTHING else in history has been able to induce this kind of flagrant open moral compromise. What DID the church do for all those centuries without tv or movies? There are NO exceptions with the spotlessly pure Lamb of God. Not Schindler’s List, not 12 Years a Slave, none.(those are always big ones with the media addicts) Again. Please tell me how the Lord was glorified in your life because of having seen that show that mine was not because I haven’t. Or ANY show or movie. Scripture please.

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  315. Greg,

    So now you’re as opposed to violence & language as you are to nudity?

    How much literature does this rule out? Should Christian colleges offer degrees in English that include serious literary study of works with adult themes?

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  316. Greg,

    How do you evaluate this defense of Jason Stellman’s use of the word “fuck” in his podcasts:

    Bryan Cross
    February 7, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    Erik,

    Though I haven’t listened to all the podcasts, the only thing I disagree with Jason about, so far as I know, is his claim that the rest of us at CTC are better Catholics than he is. Also, morality does not include all cultural taboos or norms. In a fundamentalist paradigm, saying ‘fuck’ is a sin. But not in the agape paradigm, within which ‘fuck’ can be said while loving God above all else as Father, and loving one’s neighbor as oneself for God’s sake. Jason gets this, which is why he is rightly comfortable in his earthy humanity, as was Chesterton, O’Connor, Waugh, Greene, and Percy. (Just read Percy!) The saints are very diverse; no two saints are identical. Each has a different set of gifts, a different style, a different personality. Not only is there room within the Church for all these different styles, but we each benefit from them all, and in this way we need and appreciate these different styles and gifts, because they exemplify different facets of the Good, which none of us individually fully exemplify. In short, in the Body of Christ we all (myself included) benefit from what is unique in Jason’s style. So not only is Jason a friend and brother (though I’m a lousy friend on my end when he’s in need), I’m grateful for everything about him that is different from me.

    Also, if you can get a little distance, read through this thread again as if through the eyes of a third-party (if you can), and ask yourself what it means when a self-professed agnostic is so much more kind, giving, long-suffering, gracious, charitable, and (dare I say it) Christ-like, than yourself. What does it say about your paradigm when an agnostic so clearly and obviously out-loves you? Something in 1 Cor 13 seems pertinent. But 1 Cor 13 came after the Damascus road, when a man infatuated and obsessed with the laws, and in the name of the law breathing murderous threats and seeking to stamp out those even in far away places who had entered into the agape paradigm, came face to face with Agape Himself. He discovered that Agape Himself was that to which all those laws pointed. And there and then this man was lifted into a higher paradigm, the agape paradigm, according to which laws are for persons, not persons for the law, because the telos of the law is love, which is irreducibly both Personal and Inter-Personal. If the measure is love, then everything without love becomes a clanging cymbal, not only empty, but off-putting. And a paradigm that breeds and applauds love-less behavior by that very fact refutes and destroys itself, in spite of itself. So if you find yourself in a paradigm in which love-less behavior is bred, encouraged, and applauded, where individuals are continually attacking and devouring one another, where genuine insults (not the affectionate sort) are the norm, where getting the speck out of the neighbor’s eye is everyone’s obsession, then it might be time to reconsider seriously whether you’ve taken a wrong turn at some point.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  317. Erik: Greg,
    Could I impress you with the name “Tim Keller”?

    Are you intentionally not listening to me? 🙂 I already said I can’t stand Keller. You’ll impress me even less with the names of celebrity preachers. (though not all are the same) TGC is a headquarters of deception in the church today. What good they do is the vehicle to smuggle in the bad. The SBC is almost totally apostate and the sooner the faithful left in her midst depart, the better. I AM NOT A TRANSFORMATIONALIST. I hope this is clear now 😉

    Erik says: “Greg,
    So now you’re as opposed to violence & language as you are to nudity?”

    You know what might help Erik? Seriously? Go back and reread that sweetbreads thread from a year ago. None of this is new brother. Secular cinematic media entertainment unless VERY tightly managed in a godly biblical fashion is a crippling, corrupting cancer on society and especially the body of Christ on every level. The higher the quality the more dangerous it is. That’s how it works. This would have been a no brainier for he Westminster Assembly. Don’t you dare even TRY n tell me that you don’t KNOW that that is true.

    Erik says: “How much literature does this rule out? Should Christian colleges offer degrees in English that include serious literary study of works with adult themes?”
    First question as always is, what if no Christians studied literature at all? Not saying they shouldn’t but it’s always interesting to watch people fall out in contorted convulsion at the very suggestion of such a thing. I’ve read exactly one work of fiction (recently) in the last forty years (except Pilgrim’s Progress) and nobody can tell me, again, how I’ve been made less useful to God because of it.

    Number 2. How many real people are paid to sin in the production of literature? The bible is riddled with sin. God’s divine prerogative of wise historical NON VISUAL reportage. Why do you think a sovereign God would inscripurate His mind in WORDS for us instead of pictures or movies?

    The 38th chapter of Genesis, much of Judges, the 23rd chapter of Ezekiel and the entire SofS for starters. Would be an abomination to have real people explicitly portray for us. You really don’t understand that? The difference between “Adam knew his wife” and having a man and woman have sex on screen? I think you do.

    I’m gonna be gone for a good while until later. That street mission I was telling you about. Does actually preaching the gospel to lost people instead of paying them to sin for me make me a pietistic revivalist Erik? Is God going to tell me I should have stayed home and watched “Band of Brothers” instead? Make no mistake my friend. I do what I do because I’m grateful to a merciful mighty God for taking this prodigal back after I sinned right in His face after knowing Him and knowing better. NOT because I think it makes me better than anybody else.

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  318. Erik asks:
    Greg,

    How do you evaluate this defense of Jason Stellman’s use of the word “f**k” in his podcast”
    I’ll have to do it later, but yes, I have had EXTENSIVE debate on God’s glorious gift of spoken communication. There is an airtight case to be made here too for those who care more about pleasing the Lord and representing Him faithfully than they do about their own selfish view of liberty. This is not that complicated ether. Are you going somewhere here or are you just luring me into stating my views on EVERYthing for some purpose you have? 😀 That’s ok. I’m game.

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  319. Greg,

    One critique I would make, not so much with you here, but on the approach that you seem to take elsewhere, is as follows:

    When you go to someone loaded for bear, thinking you have an “airtight case” for X, it’s usually not very effective. I know you do this with Christian movie critics.

    It’s like when I went after the Drunk Ex-Pastors in order to get at Bryan Cross. Next thing I knew, Kenneth was drawn in and shortly thereafter I was on a ride on the crazy train.

    People don’t react well when they figure out you are targeting them and setting out to make them look bad — and for good reason. When we attack people this way we disrespect them and don’t treat them as fully human. We treat them as means to our own ends — as pawns that we are using to prove our point that we think is important to God. God doesn’t need us to make his case for Him in this way.

    If we really care about people we’ll be more patient and kind. Not everyone is going to agree with us — some never will, some won’t for a long time. Lets not give them an excuse for that by being obnoxious and overaggressive.

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  320. If Curt doesn’t live someplace here in NE Illinois I’ll be very surprised. The issues he raises and the way he articulates them are one and the same as what I endure almost every day on the evening news broadcast.

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  321. Greg – Secular cinematic media entertainment unless VERY tightly managed in a godly biblical fashion is a crippling, corrupting cancer on society and especially the body of Christ on every level.

    Erik – What would be some examples of the former? Have you seen the movies made by the Kendrick Brothers?

    https://kendrickbrothers.com/

    I like their movies, but would you agree that a lot of “Christian movies” throughout history have been pretty bad in terms of writing & production values? A recent example would be Kirk Cameron’s “Saving Christmas”. Christians get (rightly) mocked because of things like that.

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  322. Greg – This would have been a no brainier for the Westminster Assembly. Don’t you dare even TRY n tell me that you don’t KNOW that that is true.

    Erik – There were plenty of characters at the Westminster Assembly. Fortunately their worst ideas got filtered out.

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  323. Greg – . I’ve read exactly one work of fiction (recently) in the last forty years (except Pilgrim’s Progress) and nobody can tell me, again, how I’ve been made less useful to God because of it.

    Erik – Do you know Richard Smith?

    You’re not the best at recognizing satire, irony, nuance, or jokes. If you read more literature you might be a little sharper in that area. I agree it’s not a requirement of life, though.

    I think reading literature also helps with empathy.