You Can Make This Up

You would think that between Heidelblog and Old Life, the Brothers B would have enough 2k material to critique and even ridicule. But last week they turned their sights on David VanDrunen and me and had to make up a 2k opinion to suit their purposes. (Maybe the Malware protection on their computers prevents access here and over at Heidelblog.)

In yet another brief against 2k, the BBs argue on the basis of polling statistics that the United States is still an overwhelmingly Christian land and so 2kers are gagging the sovereign people:

Rants like this, whether found raw on forums of cackling hyenas or well-cooked on thousands of pages written by seminary profs, have been successful in gagging God’s authority and Word across these United States to such a degree that anyone who speaks of God’s authority or quotes Scripture out there in public is assumed to be a member of Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church. Christians seduced by the R2K/Two-Kingdom error condemn such faithful witnesses for being harsh and “giving believers a bad name.” So we have entered a new age of starvation for the Word of God in North America when God’s servants, the prophets, have been placed in Two-Kingdom handcuffs and gagged with R2K duct tape. . . .

It turns out back in 1999 when Covenant Theological Seminary’s professor of theology, David Jones, publicly called for the repeal of sodomy laws, at least 78% of his fellow Americans were Christians. That means almost eight out of every ten human beings flourishing in the hamlets and cities across our nation have received Trinitarian baptism and would be welcomed to the Lord’s Table by almost every Reformed elder and pastor of the Presbyterian Church in America and sister Reformed denominations such as the Christian Reformed Church, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. And even today as the number of Americans confessing Christian faith has dwindled, it still hovers above 70%, and thus we’re left with the vast majority of citizens of these United States claiming faith in Jesus Christ. Why does this matter?

Tim Bayly goes on to say that the overwhelming Christian character of the nation leaves VanDrunen and me in a morass:

either they deny the legitimacy of the confession of Christian faith of the vast majority of their fellow citizens or they are forced to give up their incessant denunciations of Christian witness and prophecy in the public square.

Well, not to put too fine a point on it but when did confessional Presbyterians, those who left mainline churches to form communions that number only in the 5 or 6 figures (compared to Rome’s glorious 10), ever trust the confession of faith of the vast majority of Americans? Maybe conservative Presbyterians have been skeptical to a fault, but the point of first opposing liberalism and then leaving behind evangelicals who wouldn’t act against liberalism, was to wonder about the plausibility of the Christian witness of lots of persons and churches. Sure, someone might talk about Jesus, but was it really a Christian witness? Anyone who grew up with that mindset (one that goes back to the Reformation — ahem) will not look at the polls and have warm and fuzzy feelings. (Could it be that the Brothers B stayed too long in the PCUSA?)

In the post in question, the BBs even concede President Obama’s claim to be a Christian:

A man like President Barack Obama claims Christian faith and we must not hold him accountable to the Word of God because of our nation’s commitment to separation of church and state?

So if the President attended a service at Clearnote or Christ the Word, the pastors B would have no trouble allowing him to participate in the Lord’s Supper?

Meanwhile, the BBs charity to the Christian profession of 70% of Americans doesn’t extend to those with whom they are in fellowship or fraternal relations (and I don’t just mean VanDrunen and me). In a subsequent post Tim takes issue with Table Talk magazine and a piece that Scott Sauls wrote for it:

Yes, yes; of course. Pastor Sauls was asked to handle the Seventh Commandment because the Church in America today—particularly the rich Reformed church—is looking for “a way forward for those who are tired of taking sides.” And the teaching of Pastor Sauls is perfect-pitch for those who want to pay lip service to God and His Word without taking up their crosses. Pastor Scott Sauls teaches and writes in such a way that none of us need feel the slightest twinge of guilt as we studiously avoid “taking sides” as we go gently into that good night.

So to clarify. The Brothers B want 2k to back down because the U.S. is such a Christian place with so many professions of faith that would gain 7 out of 10 Americans admittance to the Lord’s Supper. (This point had the unfortunate timing of preceding the latest Pew findings about the decline of Christianity in the United States.) But then they don’t trust pastors who have been vetted and approved by officers in one of their very own communions.

As Smitty was in the habit of asking, “What gives?”

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39 thoughts on “You Can Make This Up

  1. I believe Sauls soft pedals politics for marketing to a certain demographic. 2kers do so from a conviction that the church is spiritual and that intermingling the church (as opposed to members participating as they choose) with the civic is harmful to the church. The BBs may have real (but wrong) opposite convictions. They probably confine their marketing efforts to the Good Shepherd Band and malleable baptism practices.

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  2. cwl, what’s true of Sauls is also true of TKNY. The BBs link 2k and Redeemerites. If only the Kellerites believed in the spirituality of the church. But to Christian nationalists, all spiritual ecclesiastics look alike.

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  3. It seems pretty obvious that 2k is not a calculated marketing strategy.If it is it isn’t working. And what’s the shortest route to Reformed pariah-dom? 2k will get you there quicker than wearing a collar, playing footsie with FV, planting baptist churches, or having church officers who attack abortion clinics.

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  4. D. Hart,

    I’m moving to Bloomington in a couple of months. Any message you want passed on? I may be able to strike a Clearnote with them.

    From the website of Clearnote: We want to find a humble, helpful way to live out the truths of Scripture in our modern world.

    Just what this Lutheran is looking for! Not.

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  5. Hang on, Tim Keller ≠ Tim Bayly, so I don’t see the TKNY connection in the blog post. Then again:

    D. G. Hart
    Posted May 18, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    The BBs link 2k and Redeemerites. If only the Kellerites believed in the spirituality of the church.

    So the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

    Show some love for the Keller’s, I mean, they are adorable! (H/T twitter[dot]com/timkellernyc)

    Just one day a year, DGH, call a Christmas Truce and say something nice about the kellers. Just watch, Kathy’s BS detector will spike and signal the beginning of the apocalypse (and she may even post another comment when such a thing occurs at OLTS).

    I digress..

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  6. looks to be lifted off the tgc conference website from last year. tgc still just looks like promise keepers or basic youth conflicts on steroids with deep pockets. color me a sheltered orthodox presbyterian, keep fighting the good fight against the allies, i really don’t get all the energy that goes into all this. for me, i look to the 4th commandment, yo.

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  7. So to recap, the US is a Christian nation because the current president is a Christian and 70% of the US citizens have been baptized with the Trinitarian formula. This changes everything. I’ve heard for years that the US is not a Christian nation because of porn, abortion, now gay marriage, and watching shows like The Wire (kidding about the last one). I need a new score card; I can’t keep track of the good guys and bad guys anymore. Maybe I’m a bumpkin in the Queen City, but I’ll keep teaching 2K (or R2K if you prefer) so as to maintain the integrity of the Church.

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  8. I’ll believe that 70% of our fellow Americans are Christians when the parking lots of confessional Protestant churches are maxed out on the Lord’s Day for Divine worship and the mall parking lots are virtually empty on Sunday mornings. I’ll believe that they are Christians when I see them taking things like faithful weekly attendance upon the ordinary means of grace (word and sacraments), church membership, the visible church, family devotions, catechesis and church discipline seriously.

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  9. Geoff,

    You’re focused on a lot of things that people do. That’s what it means to be a Christian?

    We have people here who are regular church attenders that you wouldn’t want to spend 5 minutes with.

    What happened to just looking to Jesus for forgiveness and mercy?

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  10. Mr. Hart,

    I would take these posts of yours more seriously if you:

    1) Didn’t keep choosing such easy targets as the Bayly Brothers;

    2) Didn’t, clearly, want them to keep going and so giving you more material to work with, rather than trying to change their minds;

    3) Didn’t so obviously relish being their 2k equivalent.

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  11. Alexander, so what would you do when someone makes up stuff about you? And what if your response can be turned into a teaching moment about the deficiency of the anti-2k mind?

    It’s a win-win.

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  12. Erik
    I don’t get your point above. The BBs claim a “silent majority ” of sorts, and Geoff is skeptical because certain proxies that would indicate said “silent majority” are missing. I’m not so sure about the parking lots of confessional churches, but I think he makes a reasonable point. The “silent majority” the BBs are appealing to seems to me to be long gone.

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  13. Hi Erik,

    You said: “You’re focused on a lot of things that people do. That’s what it means to be a Christian?”

    GW: My point is that Christian faith is known by its fruits. (As our Lord said, “By their fruits you shall know them.”) Of course, it is true that one can “do” all of the things that I mentioned and still lack regeneration. Phariseeism will always be an issue in the visible church this side of glory. But it is through these ordinary, outward means of grace that the Spirit is ordinarily pleased to work saving faith in the hearts of His elect. Those who “say” they are Christians and claim a “personal relationship with Jesus” but who regularly neglect the ordinary means of grace or unrepentantly refuse responsible membership in the visible church are lacking in some important outward fruits one would expect from a true believer in Christ, and thus the credibility of their profession of faith is lacking.

    You said: “We have people here who are regular church attenders that you wouldn’t want to spend 5 minutes with.”

    GW: And you know this how? (In the course of my ministry I have spent time with all kinds of different people, including those who could be described as rather “rough around the edges.”)

    You said: “What happened to just looking to Jesus for forgiveness and mercy?”

    GW: Yes, accepting, receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation are indeed the principal acts of saving faith (Westminster Confession of Faith 14.2). But, unlike our omniscient Savior, you and I are incapable of peering into the souls of others to see whether they possess such saving faith in Christ. We can only “see” the reality of their faith by their actions. And Scripture informs us that, under ordinary circumstances, those who possess such faith will openly confess their faith (Rom. 10:9; Matt. 10:32-33) and align themselves with the visible Body of Christ (Acts 2:41).

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  14. Geoff,

    So fruit consists of church attendance as opposed to the fruits of the spirit? Where does that leave my grandma who is in the nursing home and can only go to chapel ( which may be led by a liberal minister depending on the Sunday)?

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  15. DGH, you should try what Alexander suggests and reason either the BBs by means of Scripture and maybe they’ll change their minds.

    😀

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  16. Erik,

    Didn’t read GW that way at all.

    My bulletins say, ” * means STAND IF YOU ARE ABLE”

    I’m sorry about your grandma. My bedridden grandpa wouldn’t go to church if he could. I have more hope for yours than mine, IOW.

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  17. Hello again Erik,

    You said: “So fruit consists of church attendance as opposed to the fruits of the spirit? Where does that leave my grandma who is in the nursing home and can only go to chapel ( which may be led by a liberal minister depending on the Sunday)?”

    GW: Please go back and read my comments in context. In these comments I had stated that regular church attendance and participation in the ordinary means of grace are “some important outward fruits one would expect from a true believer in Christ” (please note the word “some”; obviously the fruit of the Holy Spirit would be even more important outward fruit).

    I also stated that it is those who willfully and “unrepentantly” refuse responsible church membership whose credibility of faith needs to be questioned. Obviously your grandmother in the nursing home who is only able to attend chapel services is not intentionally avoiding responsible involvement in the church; her life circumstances present a providential hindrance to church attendance, not a willful rebellion on her part against the ordinance of Christ. (Hopefully her pastor visits her regularly, and ideally her pastor and elders would be willing to offer to conduct a communion service for her, so she can regularly receive the holy supper in spite of her situation as a “shut in”.)

    Grace and Peace,

    Geoff W.

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  18. Zrim, FWIW, I vetted Erik pretty heavy over email the last couple weeks.

    You are still mostly a mystery, but from what I know of Erik, he’s cool, and this blog is better with him rather than not.

    Grace and Peace.

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  19. Erik, by your recently-employed logic I could ask you many similar questions invoking Richard Smith, Terribulus, Petros, a., Alexander…but I can’t knock a troll without hypocrisy. Sauls is Keller Mini-Me — thus, not a serious presbyterian, that’s all.

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  20. Grumble. This is tracking along the lines of the couple who are certain someone is breaking into their unit changing the channel on their police scanner.

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  21. Sean, IOW, a lot of mirth.

    I’ve seen worse, but yeah. Even this gets old eventually.

    Glad there’s always golf, like the ecer present carrot if i can get my s**t together.

    Zrim gets that.

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  22. (okay, I’m back up off the floor now)
    We have a sighting boys n girls!!! A person at olglife.org with what appears at least to be an actually biblical conscience AND moral discernment!!! Geoff, you and I just may get along.

    If the scriptures are to be taken seriously I doubt if 20% of the people inside the entire visible protestant American church are actually in Christ. To say nothing of the public at large.

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  23. GtT

    The rest of us schlubs engage in that horrible media (I’m not up to that episode yet, only around ep 7, although the deacon is one of my more favorite characters, i do confess..), s’all good as long as I FF the naughy scenes, amirite?

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  24. @Seth

    If you’re going to Bloomington for grad school, you’ll likely not run across the Clearnote crowd. I spent four years in Bloomington getting a PhD, and rarely ever set foot west of Walnut Street (which bisects the town). When I was there, Church of the Good Shepherd (now Clearnote) was on the southeast side of town much closer to places where university-affiliated folk may be found.

    I visited a few times out of curiosity. It reminded me of the Gothard-affiliated church in my hometown.

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  25. Geoff,

    How do your views comport with the holding of the OPC tribunal in raleigh this past January, where a presbyter was disciplined for not forcing his disabled and ill wife to come to church. So, I don’t know that what you’re stating is quite accurate. If it were, the Raleigh court would likely have reached a different judgment.

    Bear in mind that, as I understand it from my friend’s former OPC pastor (Bill Kessler), that the Holy Spirit so endows the courts of the OPC so as to remove any possibility that they can act in error.

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  26. Bobby,

    Bear in mind that, as I understand it from my friend’s former OPC pastor (Bill Kessler), that the Holy Spirit so endows the courts of the OPC so as to remove any possibility that they can act in error.

    You may want to read this, it’s getting up at the GA level.

    As for that quote, do you have evidence? That seems outlandish.

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