Proto-Protestant On A Roll

And Constantinians (all kinds) should be very afraid:

Leithart’s Christ is not the Christ of Scripture. I say that not as a theological liberal who views Christ as a type of Gandhi and finds the idea of a coming Judgment to be abhorrent. I say this as a follower of Christ who understands the nature of the Spiritual Kingdom and our call to suffer as martyr-witnesses in This Age. The Triumphalism of Leithart is only to be understood in light of the Second Coming and in a context in which sin has been eradicated. A Postmillennialist like Leithart looks for the Church to bring in a millennial golden age, a Church through the force of cultural transformation to all but eradicate sin. Through culture and legislation (and presumably the Spirit) the reign of Christ will be brought to bear on This Age. Christ returns after the world has been Christianized… again a term and concept I would argue is the result of abstract philosophical commitment and speculation, not the fruit of New Testament exegesis.

I’ve always found it ironic that Calvinists, believers in Total Depravity would embrace such a vision of Christianization. I too embrace Total Depravity and believe there’s no Scriptural warrant for this view. They would argue the Spirit will effect this change. The same Spirit inspired the New Testament and provides a very different interpretation of the Old Testament than they will grant or receive and nowhere is there any suggestion that sin will in any way be diminished before Christ’s return or through the cultural efforts and/or political expressions of the Church.

Like the Dispensationalists they prioritize the Old Testament and its prophetic visions over and against the New Testament and its interpretation of them. In their systems The Old Testament interprets the New rather than vice versa. Rejecting the Apostolic hermeneutic they insist (like the Dispensationalists) that a future chiliastic kingdom is the destiny of the Church. The Dispensationalists believe this promise to be centered on Israel of the Old Covenant. The Postmillennialists rightly believe The Church is the New Israel and the inheritor of its promises but it wrongly believes that not only will the Church conquer Palestine, it will politically and culturally conquer the whole world. One camp believes the political millennium will be based on the Jews, the other on the Church but their basic assumptions are the same. They both embrace a politico-cultural doctrine of the Kingdom.

Both schools seek prophetic fulfillment apart from the Christocentric teachings of the New Testament. Both reject the New Testament’s teaching that all the Old Testament promises, types and symbols point to and find their fulfillment in Christ (2 Cor 1.20).


57 thoughts on “Proto-Protestant On A Roll

  1. Unfortunately, as McMark has informed me, Proto-Protestant has an error ridden Gospel- so does John Yoder. I do get a lot out of reading both Yoder and Proto-Protestant in regards to their social thinking. 2K is close to Anabaptist social thought without getting much credit from most in the Reformed world.


  2. Correction: I should say that 2K is close to Anabaptist social with some major qualifications. Being citizens of both the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of man is a contradiction that cannot be reconciled without dismissing reason for paradox.


  3. My woed. Your religion is now officially a joke. Last one out please turn off the lights.

    The ordination service will be held Sunday afternoon.

    Both were raised in conservative Texas homes, divorced their husbands and came out in their 20s during seminary.

    Leithart should just pleaded guilty and jumped into the Tiber. I expect he will. There’s nothing left back in Geneva except to wipe its dust off his feet.


  4. JohnnY, 2k is only pacifist when it comes to the church. In civil society, Christians are not pacifist. Quakers and Anabaptists and Stanley Hauerwas make the mistake of giving up hyphenation. They are Christians all the time everywhere. So violence by a Christian is impossible for them. But a Christian does no violence properly when acting not in the name of Christ or self but in the name of the God ordained authorities, like the U.S., Cuba, or the Papal States.


  5. It could be argued that the alliances the church made with the state certainly caused a lot of problems for the Lutherans. From what I remember from reading, THE TWO KINGDOMS AND NATURAL LAW, the Reformed were more cautious in their dealings with the state. The Anabaptist’s wanted nothing to do with the state. Verduin’s ,THE REFORMERS AND THEIR STEPCHILDREN, who was a CRC member, is one of the few Reformed writers who gives great credit to the Anabaptist’s for what took place after the reformation in church/state relations and who were very influential in developing the social thought that developed in the early years in the United States.


  6. John,

    Nice to hear from you.

    I think Darryl’s “Lost Soul of American Protestantism is helpful (distinguishing papist, reformed, and radical reformed (i.e. Anabaptist)). If I have time later, I’ll look fornquotes in my kindle copy. Zrim may also help, he talks of that rule of three within what happened in the 16th and 17th centuries in Christendom.


  7. Andrew,

    Thanks for the hospitality. I have read Darryl’s “Lost Soul of American Protestantism” and most of the other books Darryl has written. I have been reading Zrim’s posts for probably 6 to 8 years now. I know how he thinks on a lot of issues. 2K fits for the small minority of those who adhere to Reformed confessional-ism. There are other alternatives regarding social thought that I find more attractive these days,


  8. Hi John,

    This is the kind of thing I was thinking of. I was reading this book of Darryl’s last week for the first time, it really resonated with me. You can read all of page 19 for where DG goes on about Finney as well, for you or any interested reader. Take care.

    Of course, the people generally responsible for writing creeds were clergy and church officials. Therefore, anticreedalism inevitably led to one form or another of anticlericalism. Some of the contempt for clergy may be attributed to the circumstances of early nineteenth-century America where established churches existed in several states, and anticlericalism took the form of protests against the preferences that some clergy received from government at the expense of others. Still, as understandable as some of this resentment may have been, revivalist Protestantism’s profoundly anti-elitist presumption remains, and that animus was aimed squarely at clergy who represented a barrier to egalitarian Christianity. In fact, in its more radical froms, revivalist Protestantism leveled all sorts of hierarchies, but especially those that presumed to come between God and the faithful According to Dnaiel Parker, a Kentucky Baptist, “[T]he preaching manufactories of the east appear to be engaged in sending hirelings to the west, and should any of those man made, devil sent, place-hungry gentry come into our country, and read in our places, we shall like raise against them seven shepards [sic], and eight principle [sic] men.” CHances are that seminary graduates in the northeast who were learning about polite manners in the home and proper decorum in the pulpit had little interest in going into Parker’s country.

    The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, page 18 and 19.


  9. Andrew,

    If you want to build churches full of aristocratic elitists at the expense of those who don’t come from blue blood then that is what you will most likely get. I find that to be at odds with those who Christ called to himself in the NT Gospels and the type of churches that Paul built in his missionary journeys, Paul exhorted the church to associate with the lowly. I take that to mean to associate with those who might have some embarrassing problems in their lives. Those who have no social position or clout in the culture. Those who you might not want to invite to dinner at your house or be seen with. That is exactly what those who are attracted to Reformed soteriology find appalling about Reformed congregations. Paul debased himself that those whom he was responsible to shepherd would be exalted and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. My reference would be the 2nd letter written to the Corinthians.


  10. But John, I’m not a blue blood. I am quantitatively better than most other people, but that’s not snobby it’s just reality. Why must I be subject to the tyranny of weaker brethren? Be better, suck less.


  11. John, elitism gets a bad rap but there are some red-bloods for whom Reformed soteriology resonates who also find comfort in Reformed polity because it unburdens them from having to be all things to all men or otherwise aspire to stations and duties that are simply beyond their design. It could be that James counsels most to not so aspire for their own good because most aren’t equipped + higher stations will be judged more strictly = an almost assured judgment that smarts.


  12. Constantinianism is to be added to Liehart’s (sic) woes? What else is new? However prolific, he’s already on record for having problems correctly expounding the confessional view of worship and justification.

    We further condemn Jewish dreams that there will be a golden age on earth before the Day of Judgment, and that the pious, having subdued all their godless enemies, will possess all the kingdoms of the earth.
    Heinrich Bullinger, Second Helvetic Confession (1561/1566), chapter 11



  13. JohnnY, and while others are responding to your charge of elitism, have you ever considered that if reading the Bible a lot, trying to figure it out, and pondering its meaning is elitist, so be it? I mean, the Bible is not exactly an easy book to comprehend. God might have been tempted to issue a manual or a catechism. But he didn’t. He left us the Bible and so if we are going to figure out God, we need to conjure with the Bible.

    So do you think it’s elitist to spend so much time on the Bible? Do you think Reformed Protestants are wrong to spend so much time on the Bible? And might not spending so much time on the Bible look elitist?


  14. I guess there is a need to define what I mean by elitism. I am using it in a cultural position sense rather than in the sense, as Sean says, as “sucking less.” In other words, not individualistically but collectively. To be more specific, I was thinking more in terms of what developed in some of the southern aristocratic cities as a direct result of Reformed theology and preaching over a good number of years before the civil war changed everything in the south. I got to experience some of the hangover of the southern aristocratic structure in cities like Charleston and Savannah when I was living there. I made of point of it to learn what I could. One book I read while I was there was Douglass Kelley’s book about the influence of the preaching of Palmer , Thornwell and a couple of others who I am not remembering right now on cities like New Orleans, Columbia, Charleston, Savannah, Charlotte, etc. I have to go right now but will return to this later.


  15. Zrim,

    “John, elitism gets a bad rap but there are some red-bloods for whom Reformed soteriology resonates who also find comfort in Reformed polity because it unburdens them from having to be all things to all men or otherwise aspire to stations and duties that are simply beyond their design.”
    ***Do you have any numbers here–not for argument’s sake but just out of curiosity? And maybe more to the point, do you have any numbers for OPC. As you know, the “Reformed” can get lumped into a pretty good sized group, which is fine, if you like being associated with PCUSA and ELCA, I suppose. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that OPC has a pretty decent number of college graduates and post-grads as members, numbers that would make CTC blush. This fact has nothing to do with anything, mind you, as many of the great saints of the Church were thoroughly trained in philosophy and rhetoric.


  16. John, the particular species of which you speak I refer to as PCA frat boys. Now, whether that extends back to Thornwell and Palmer I couldn’t tell you. But I would agree that the PCA, at least in part, is inhabited by southern gentry. I don’t much care for them either. I’m not sure how that’s tied to the type of confessionalism championed in these parts, most of the modern southern frat boys are actually quite embarrassed of being associated with such stodgy, antiquated means, they much prefer Keller’s model of re-heated prot liberalism.


  17. To continue,

    From another point of view, I read Pat Conroy’s LORDS OF DISCIPLINE, who describes southern aristocracy (particularly in Charleston) in less than favorable ways. My point being is that a lot of social barriers and unrest arose due to the privileged social positions that developed as the collective culture that resulted from years of Reformed preaching in these cities took root. It is human nature to take advantage of these types of social situations and attitudes of if you ain’t Reformed you ain’t much (in the case of Grand Rapids, if you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much). The Gospel, when preached accurately, should be breaking down social barriers in the church rather than making social positioning more competitive and conflicting. Hence the exhortation to associate with the lowly.


  18. JohnnY, leave history to the ones licensed to do it. If your comment were a paper, it wouldn’t receive a very high grade for identifying factors in the South’s aristocratic ways. Doesn’t mean Reformed pastors didn’t participate in it. But it’s hardly plausible that Reformed get the credit (or blame) for shaping Southern culture.


  19. DGH, I am not communicating what I really wanted to get across. I should not have taken the historical analysis route that I did. Your right, I am not licensed, nor was it wise to go there when trying to make my point. I’ll think about it some more and try to communicate more clearly next time.


  20. John,

    While I’ve got you, apologies for being rude to you here in the past. I wish you well in your efforts. I hope your educational efforts are paying off and wish you well in the future.


  21. Erik,

    I appreciate that, Erik. Apologies to you too for the times I was rude. I am still enjoying going back to school and have 7 more classes to take before I finish, I am confident that it will pau off when I am done. Thanks again.


  22. John, not desiring an elitist only church here. But coming from a fundamentalist background and experiencing what I believe was a huge improvement going fundy to reformed, I am very grateful for the work of the Presbyterians and Reformed. Thanks for the interaction here. Take care.


  23. Fruitful conversation can’t emerge if I’m always aware of and protecting and using my wounds.

    It’s much better to face the fact that it’s possible to be unequally yoked in more ways than one. Liberty and confidence are usually a product of that realization.

    Gratitude makes for peace and that peace makes for progress.

    OLife isn’t elitist at all.

    P.S The 2K view is the the most likely to allow peace among people of good will.

    What I’d like to know is, in an absolutely pacifist church, how can St. John the Baptist and Cornelius ever be allowed to join? Something seems wrong.

    P.P. S. That meatball sub looks delicious. Tip on making meatballs: if you use fresh basil and don’t like the fact that you can’t chop it uniformly tiny, use pesto (either ready made or your own) instead. I learned that trick from Lauren Groveman.


  24. sorry Curt; you are trying to be kind, but you are discounting, minimizing the previous regular, pattern; and the lack of apology to each one; the Lord: “Luke 17:3”


  25. saying the name Leithart is like waving a red flag in front of mcmark but mcmark is so happy that duke is in the final four (again), I only want to commend quality where ever it is found— I especially like to hear sermons when you can tell that the person preaching has done some real homework.

    Did you ever notice how often there is nothing in the sermons of some very famous seminary professors when they get invited to preach to the common folks? I am not only thinking of the celebrity pastors on the conference circuit (PRCT, Gospel C, Banner, etc). I am thinking of when t well respected academics preach in a local church—-often it seems they have not thought about the text before they open their mouths…

    To make one small point about the text cited in proto’s rant, John 18:36

    Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, in order that I not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not FROM the world.”

    My point is this—the kingdom of Jesus Christ is IN this world, but the manner of its coming, the way it comes is power FROM heaven, not from his disciples be willing to kill.

    As much as I appreciate “proto’s” dedication to “living as Christian all the time” (no hyphen), I must object to his “realism” about the way Christ’s kingdom comes. He reads John 18:36 as if it says “my kingdom is not in the world” or “my kingdom is not in the world in this age”.

    When “proto” writes of “sweeping reinterpretations of passages such as John 18.36 where Christ declares His Kingdom is not of this world. Apparently what Christ meant was that his cultural-political Kingdom would not be formed in a worldly manner”, what he calls re-interpretation might be a new idea to him, but the debate with Leithart is precisely about how the kingdom shall come to earth. The John 18 text is about how that kingdom is formed.

    To the extent that 2k folk say that the kingdom is not for here and not for now, they fall for the errors of Lutherans (and moralistic baptists) in Hitler’s Germany, but to the extent that they reject Leithart’s argument for “Christian violence” in this age, they are to be encouraged. It’s not about pessimism or optimism, but about what the King has said. “My kingdom is not FROM this world”….

    I hear conservative 2 k folks explain that the Romans did not kill Jesus because Jesus was not political, and I don’t think it’s only anti-Semitism which keeps them from seeing that the Romans DID kill Jesus ….(Yes, God ordained it all, including my not being present.)

    Luke 19: 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes…..


  26. Erik, like Curt, I was delighted to see your name here. Always been a big fan, Mr. Charter.

    I’ve also really been bummed out since finding the blogs to see how much blather exists in the comments sections. I think it was 1300 comments on the papacy at Rev. Keister’s blog where I first met this smoking avatar that hovers around here. So hey, I’m glad things have quieted down, myself having done so as well. True to form, have a snack to get an idea of my thoughts on too many comments on these religious matters, from everyone’s favorite liberal Tillich:

    Luther took all three, of course. But the eschatological point was not really understood. He, in his weariness of the theological fights – you cannot become more tired of anything in the world than of theological controversies, if you always are living it; and even Melanchthon, when he came to death, one of his last words was: “God save me now from the rabies theologorum – from the wrath of the theologians! This is an expression you will understand if you will read the conflicts of the centuries. I just read with great pain, day and night, the doctor’s dissertation of a former pupil, Mr. Thompson, Dr. McNeill’s former assistant, an excellent work in which he describes in more than 300 narrow and large pages the struggle between Melanchthonism and Lutheranism. And if you read that and then see how simple the fundamental statement of Luther was, and how the rabies theologorum produced an almost unimaginable amount of theological disputations on points of which even half-learned theologians as myself would say that they are intolerable, they don’t mean anything any more – then you can see the difference between the prophetic mind and the fanatical theological mind.



  27. Mark, I saw that too re:Duke. Reminded me of playing in the OLTS NCAA bracket last year with you. Glad Duke pulled out a win over the last remaining papist school. Woot..


  28. That was an interesting article – thanks for posting that, DGH.

    I’m curious if anyone here has read George Kalantzis’ book, “Ceasar and the Lamb: Early Christian Attitudes on War and Military Service.” Kalantzis teaches at Wheaton. And what makes his work on this topic extra interesting in light of the article linked above, is that he is Eastern Orthodox – so his commitments are different than the usual theonomist/Erastian/anabaptist participants in the discussion.


  29. Military men and women who are Christian should not be denied membership in the Church.

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  30. Zrim,

    Yeah, I think that is the point I was trying to get across. When the Gospel, even slightly, loses its central focus in the church the culture of the church begins to change where types of behavior to fit in become more prevalent than the desire to continue seeking to know what the Gospel is and how the power of the Gospel builds unity and changes the culture by its means, I don’t think elitism is ever a good thing and I think it becomes irrelevant in a church that is being built by the power of the Gospel. No one in an environment being formed by the Gospel is thinking in terms of elitism.


  31. The church should be judging by the Gospel and individuals Gospel beliefs rather than by any other cultural or behavioral means. Culture and behavior take care of themselves when the Gospel is being accurately and powerfully proclaimed and taught.


  32. Oy vay, you wanna talk elitism?

    I find Keller’s transformational model elitist. I only have enough money to take one seminary class at a time, and then I’m being that I have to change the world, or something. In addition to my own efforts to dying to self, which often times goes rather poorly.

    That and, because I’m too poor to change the world, I’m very not likely to not change it, unless I were rich and upper middle class. Which I’m not.

    And Reformed theology being elitist? Ba ha ha! Some of the most Calvinistic folk I’ve ever met are from the urban poor. In fact, I’m friends with the urban poor. The fact that people are always going on about “serving the poor” makes me roll my eyes, because if “you” were serving the urban poor, “you” wouldn’t be talking about it so much.

    Of course this is why I find 2K to be understandable. The Church, as an institution, exists to forgive sins and build up the Church. Christians, in their vocations, serve their neighbours as best they can.

    It doesn’t MEAN that Christians SHOULDN’T serve the poor, it just means that sometimes you don’t have to baptize charity or medical care.

    Finally, I can imagine a single mother sitting under this sort of bastardized Kuyperian thinking. And I say bastardized because I think 2K and his theology of spheres is compatible. But yes, a single mother, being told to serve the poor, when she’s already got her hands busy enough with her kids.

    Oy vay.

    Why are transformationalists so scared that 2K folk won’t serve their neighbours? Maybe we are serving our neighbours and we don’t make a big deal about it. Sorta like what Jesus said, ya know? Maybe people don’t want to be Christian because they hate God. Sorta like some Reformer once said. I think a saint might have been involved too. :^V


  33. Chris, I spent a bit of time looking at a library copy of the Kalantzis book a year or so ago and decided not to check it out as I thought it relied too heavily on the usual Patristic suspects. I say that as one who thinks something really did change with Constantine, but theologians will never be able to tell us what it was. I heard Yoder 30 or so years ago when he was on a panel that included a secular historian of antiquity, and I came away convinced that, for all his brilliance (I had heard him once before and am absolutely convinced that he would be sharpest knife in most drawers) that there was a world of source material, archelogical and otherwise, that was unfamiliar to him. My memory is that I didn’t think Kalantzis cast a wide enough net. if you are reading the book, let me know what you think.


  34. Not letting Christians who are in the military become members of a church is elitism.

    So is a faith that consists of knowledge of Election enlivened by the permission given oneself to proclaim who’s cursed and who’s not.

    No, that’s not violent at all.


  35. Erik,

    Nice to hear from you again. Hope that we will be seeing more posts from you (of course within the limits). Cheers!


  36. The pietism and false gospel (see the Ian Murray defenses of Wesley) advocated by Proto is something very different from an anabaptist view of churches and the kingdom of Christ.

    We say that the Psalm Sunday crowd got it wrong because they were wanting freedom in this world and in this age, and then we who either love the status quo or think nothing will change say that Jesus was offering only spiritual freedom, a kingdom after we die. a death which is not really death. Instead of Passover and resurrection, we teach an inherent immortality that claims that all humans are eternal.

    That way we can say the kingdom is in our hearts. Instead of obeying the King who was standing among the disciples and who is coming back to earth, we can say that the Sermon on the Mount is only for after we die, and now go out and buy our guns. All we need to do is be careful not to buy those guns as a church but as individuals.

    Hauerwas—-“If Jesus is all about getting us to love one another, then why did everyone reject him? They did so, I think, because when Jesus was told by the devil that he would be given the power to turn stones to bread, he refused; when Jesus was offered authority over all the kingdoms of this world, he refused; when he was offered the possibility he would not die, he refused. Jesus refused these goods because God’s kingdom cannot be forced into existence using the means of the devil.

    Hauerwas—Jesus’s refusal to play the devil’s game does not mean that the kingdom he proclaims is not political. Jesus refuses to use the violence of the world to achieve “peace.” But that does not mean he is any less political or that he is not about the securing of peace. His arrest is often thought to represent the apolitical character of Jesus because he commands Peter to put away the sword Peter had used to cut off the ear of the priest’s slave. Jesus rebukes Peter, but he does so because that is not the “cup” the Father has given him. But the cup from which Jesus must drink is no less political for being nonviolent.

    Hauerwas—The character of Jesus’s politics is manifest in his response to the high priest who questions Jesus about his teachings in John 18.19-24. That he is questioned by the high priest may suggest that his mission was “religious” rather than political, but such an account cannot be sustained for no other reason than Jesus’s answer: “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in the synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

    Hauerwas—They tell me that you are the King of Jews. Is that true?” Pilate’s question is meant to see if Jesus is “political.” Jesus responds by asking if Pilate came up with such a view on his own or did others tell him such was the case. “I am not a Jew, am I?” replies Pilate.. “If my kingdom were FROM this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over. ” This is a response used often to deny that Jesus was political. But Pilate rightly saw that Jesus’ denial that his kingship was not of this world is not the denial that Jesus is king. Jesus denied that his kingdom was just another form of Rome.


  37. We are all rude to someone whether it is here or some other place.

    Can we keep our smears accusations of rudeness, which after all are very rude, to ourselves, just once please?

    AB (go Gonzaga), how come no mention of the guilty white liberal/Dimocrat/bourgeoisie rabid fanatical socialist busybody mind?


  38. Mark M.
    I sure don’t think proto advocates what you’re saying. He says over and over again that we’re a martyr church and we win by suffering and dying to the glory of God. I know for sure he’s quite adamant the Sermon on the Mount is the Christian ethic for today.

    Maybe I misunderstood you.


  39. Bub, there’s many kinds of fanatical minds.

    Tillich was a problem, as was Barth, Bultmann, and a host of other moderns. Still, their thoughts can be interesting. I hear you though, have some more if that snack didn’t sit well in your stomach. Will do Machen or Warfield next time I promise.

    It is the dignity and the danger of Protestantism that it exposes its adherents to the insecurity of asking the question of truth for themselves and that it throws them into the freedom and responsibility of personal decisions, of the right to choose between the ways of the sceptics, and those who are orthodox, of the indifferent masses, and Him who is the truth that liberates. For this is the greatness of Protestantism: that it points beyond the teachings of Jesus and beyond the doctrines of the Church to the being of Him whose being is the truth.



  40. No question that proto is against Christians killing. For that I commend him. But his focus is not on Christ’s atonement for the elect alone, but instead on regeneration, and this effects his ethics, because he assumes that responsibility depends on ability. In that respect, he reminds me of Mark Jones.

    Jones argues from assumptions about the ability of Christians to do certain things to the necessity of Christians to do certain things as a condition for future salvation (not justification, he sometimes qualifies). But the duty to obey King Jesus is not determined by ability or lack of ability. And the gospel teaches us that elect sinners who do NOT do their duties will nevertheless be “saved” from God’s wrath because of legal identity with Christ’s death for elect sinners.

    God is both just and the justifier of elect sinners. Elect sinners believe the gospel in which the sins of gospel believers are not imputed to those sinners.

    Proto exempts non-Christians from the commands of the Sermon on the Mount. That exemption is not necessary in order to make the vital distinction between law and gospel. Christ’s law is not changed by human inability to keep it. And Christ’s law is not the gospel.

    I think you are correct that proto does not approve of Christians (as individuals not as churches) going out to buy guns. But to the extent that he says the kingdom is in our hearts and their new ability, he diverts us from the commands of the King who was standing among the disciples and who is coming back to earth. Christ’s kingdom is coming in the age to come, but also Christ’s kingdom is coming in this age, and Christ’s kingdom does not come from violent force, because Christ’s kingdom in this world is not from this world.

    Hebrews 2—Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death


  41. John, ok, I understand it’s a loaded term but if elitism is simply a way of saying some are called to particular stations and some are not, it’s hard to see what’s so wrong with it; it’s the way things actually work. Does it help to concede that innate ability and external calling don’t always go together, i.e. those called don’t always demonstrate ability and those with ability aren’t always called?

    But I do think you have a good point about the ways in which the gospel dispenses with hierarchies among believers. The Dutch Reformed in these parts are quite aware of the cultural barriers that come with being an ethnic and immigrant denomination. However, instead of grasping how the gospel has a way of leveling it out (and that confessionally articulated, ahem), they take a more worldly cue and create the Office of Cultural Diversity and Race Relations. Gong.


  42. Zrim says: “John, ok, I understand it’s a loaded term but if elitism is simply a way of saying some are called to particular stations and some are not, it’s hard to see what’s so wrong with it; it’s the way things actually work. Does it help to concede that innate ability and external calling don’t always go together, i.e. those called don’t always demonstrate ability and those with ability aren’t always called?”

    John Y; I don’t have any problems with that, Zrim. It does a disservice to both the person and others if someone is functioning in a calling that he is not called to. I think that becomes obvious soon to others even though it might cause some pain to the one who thinks he is called but really is not. We have no guarantee that life will not be painful. Elitism is at its worst when the elitists are not really elite but only in their own minds, i.e., do not think more highly of yourself then you ought but think with sober judgment.

    Funny second paragraph- I agree whole heartedly.


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