The Appeal and Limits of 2k

For some like John Stackhouse, keeping the church out of politics is a big duh (via the juicy ecumenists):

10. Because no one trained you properly to get involved with politics—and a little seminar, however exciting, won’t make up for that yawning deficit. (Do you think politicians can be trained to be pastors by attending a seminar?)

9. Because no one hired you to get involved with politics. (And if they did, they shouldn’t have: See #10.)

8. Because pastors are supposed to call us toward the ideal and the ultimate, while politicians have to compromise over the real and the immediate.

7. Because the Scriptures (your main area of intellectual expertise—right?) are, at best, only suggestive and regulative over the field of politics (a quite different area of intellectual expertise—right? See #10 again).

6. Because you’ll alienate a considerable part of your constituency who see political matters differently, and will hold that difference against you, thus losing the benefits of your pastoral care and authority.

5. Because you need to consider the troubling fact that you’re not alienating a considerable part of your constituency, so why is your church so uniform in its politics?

4. Because governments come and go, and you need to reserve the sacred right to prophesy to whoever is in power.

3. Because politicians come and go, and you need to reserve the sacred right to comfort whoever is not, or no longer, in power.

2. Because politics brings out the worst in people, and you’re supposed to bring out the best in people.

1. Because politics brings out the worst in people, and unless you’re an exception (like Tommy Douglas), politics will bring out the worst in you.

But for others, the world would be a better place if the church were “running things”:

The fate of the world in every epoch since the Incarnation has been bound up with the state of the Church. The Church’s power to renew the face of the earth­ involves not only a restoration of faith, hope and charity in the souls of men, but also the defense of natural reason against the onslaughts of sophists in every age. She alone has upheld the correct synthesis of fides et ratio.[20] The Church’s success in accomplishing this mighty work throughout history has always depended upon her vigor in advancing what she calls the Social Kingship of Christ. But it is precisely Christ’s social reign that the “modern world” has rejected, while churchmen fall silent regarding the claims of Christ the King on men and nations. Today, she not only retreats from any confrontation with “the rulers of the world of this darkness” and “the spirits of wickedness in the high places,”[21] but seeks obsessively to dialogue and collaborate with the very forces that desire nothing more ardently than the Church’s final surrender to the spirit of the age.

And yet the truth remains. As Pius X insisted at the turn of the 20th century: “Society cannot be set up unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO.”[22]

. . .
The ecclesial crisis and the intimately related civilizational crisis will end only when the Church’s offer of social metanoia is renewed once again. But only the Vicar of Christ can effectively extend that offer to the world. Only he can end what amounts to an unprecedented de facto suspension of the Church’s true mission in the name of a Council whose restless “spirit,” moving far beyond even the problematical conciliar texts, has produced what Benedict XVI, speaking just days before his mysterious abdication of the papacy, described as “so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering” in the Church.[25]

Therefore, we implore the reigning Roman Pontiff to reverse the Church’s course of the past fifty years, abandoning a disastrous “opening to the world” and an endless “dialogue” and fruitless collaboration with the Church’s implacable opponents. With respect to the Synod, we urgently petition the Pope to put a stop to all further efforts to use the synodal process to undermine the indissolubility of marriage—and thus the entire moral edifice of the Church—by means of a sophistical disjunction between doctrine and practice, making a mockery not only of the words of Our Lord Himself but also of the teaching of John Paul II that “only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled.” [26]

Which makes me wonder yet again if theonomy, neo-Calvinism, and Covenanting (Scottish style) are gateway drugs to Roman Catholicism. (But it does show how much Roman Catholicism has changed since Vatican II.)

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99 thoughts on “The Appeal and Limits of 2k

  1. DG,

    I was at Gardone Riviera for that conference back in 2007 and know lots of those people (many attendees are NYers)- it was absolutely one of the best experiences of my life. Certainly the best focal point in the Anglophone world for clear good sense as to where the problems are in the Church right now.

    Clearly you differ on fundamentals, but I think you’d find the main organizer Dr. John Rao (a historian specializing in the 19th c., but writing and lecturing quite broadly) to be quite intelligent, just to all sides, and admirably free of sloppy thinking: jcrao.freeshell.org

    He gives history lectures alternate Sundays in Greenwich Village throughout the year- most of what I know about history is derived from him (don’t judge him by me, of course).

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  2. Romans 1: 32 Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them

    Romans 2: Their competing thoughts will either accuse or excuse them 16 on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus

    Romans 12–leave the wrath to God, Romans 13–submit (not equal to obey) to them. THEY will be judged according to the law by God.

    Romans 12: 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay,[d] says the Lord. 20 But

    If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
    If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    For in so doing
    you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.
    21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

    Romans 13 For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. 5 Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience….whatever other commandment—all are summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself…..10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.
    11 Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

    I Peter 2: 13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel….

    21 For you were called to this,
    because Christ also suffered for you,
    leaving you an example,
    so that you should follow in His steps.
    22 He did not commit sin,
    and no deceit was found in His mouth;
    23 when He was reviled,
    He did not revile in return;
    when He was suffering,
    He did not threaten
    but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly

    James 1:19 “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires.”

    Psalm 76: 10—“Even human wrath shall praise you, for you are to be feared. Who can stand before you when your anger is roused?”

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  3. Is the Miller’s Crossing reference intended to convey that Christians will suffer for righteousness’ sake but the country shouldn’t have to?

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  4. Jason Stellman liberated from being a clergyman means now he can do politics, unlike back when he did the politics of anti-politics

    http://heavyforthevintage.com/2015/06/23/bang-bang-youre-dead/

    and don’t worry about Jason or any other Roman Catholic—-How do you know yourself to be a son of God in fact as well as in name?” Answer: “Because I am baptized in the name of God the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” – John Calvin

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  5. Kevin, I find any Roman Catholic who continues to maintain papal claims to supremacy not only in the church but around the world to be intelligent. How else do you read all those encyclicals now no longer considered Roman Catholic social teaching?

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  6. Walton, good catch on “running things.”

    But no. Just that administration is a lot harder than people think. running the world? Are they serious?

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  7. DG,
    I wish I was that attentive. It was actually the picture that sparked my memory.

    I always think though of the 3 gangsters you have the honest one (pictured), the double-crossing one, and then the sometimes-man-of-his-word-sometimes-double-crossing guy. And (SPOILER ALERT) only one of them is alive at the end. Definitely a message worth pondering about the virtues of vice and vices of virtue.

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  8. Ya know, as a Cuban-American, maybe I can give some reasons as to why 2K appeals to me.

    Christian America never existed for me. What did exist was Catholic conservatism and the American dream. But because the Sexual Revolution sought fit to ruin the lower classes (my people) I also saw a lot of teenage pregnancy and wasted youth.

    Thankfully I was saved out of that.

    But then I started to see alot of Christians hurt by Calvary Chapels and Pentecostal churches, I myself am a victim of abuse from an SBC megachurch. Part of the abuse always seemed to be making congregants having to support the GOP unconditionally. Then there were the non Christians. Many of them grew up in the Church and liked Jesus, but not necessarily the pro war (and I would argue anti family values as a result) policies of George W Bush.

    Then I entered Reformed theology ala Driscoll (which led me to Keller and Calvin). Tim Keller’s Preaching Christ in a Post Modern World and Graeme Goldsworthy “Gospel Centered Hermeneutics” was paradigm shifting for how I approached Scripture. And Calvin changed my eccelesiology and sacramentality.

    But there was also that pesky issue of dealing with people who were victims of abuse. By this time I had read Kuyper’s lectures (and I’m still pretty empathetic to his argumentation on politics) and I was wanting a world view. Of course, Roman Catholicism appealed to me. But I never converted because quite frankly, I would have been a Protestant who was a Papist, and that’s dishonest.

    Anyway.

    As someone that does ministry-ish (ironically starting up a “Christ and Culture” college group which is really just a study of Genesis 1-11), I’ve had to deal with several people hating the GOP but liking Jesus. Then there’s the whole thing where I never experienced Christian America, the fact that I see the Church SAYING that they want the transformation of the culture and wanting to be Gospel centered but never advocating any particular political policy and well my brain couldn’t take all the back talking and jiving.

    Though I do think Christians have a vocation to vote if they have the right to do so in their nation state. And I do think the “Church” (really people mean pastors) should speak generally to grave moral issues (slavery, murder) they shouldn’t bind conscience, as per the Westminster Confessions.

    But take the recent riots. Some people blame race relations. Some people (me and other libertarians) blame the police state. Pastors in their vocation should blame sin, and really, those riots are localized and the pastors in THAT AREA will have more insight then us foreigners, because to me, the USA doesn’t even exist as a thing. It’s a State held by violence and no unified culture.

    But remember, I’m from SoFL so I could be wrong. Maybe I’m a dirty colonial.

    At the very least I wish pastors wouldn’t use the term white privilege in an effort to look educated and open minded. Yeesh. It’s okay to be white.

    (cough)

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  9. I don’t think I ever got to my point.

    My point is, that if 2K at least lets me put Christ as priority when I talk to people one on one. I’d rather not bind the conscience of the person with my politics, the priority should be on Law and Gospel. If I really do hold to total depravity, why should I expect people to be libertarians who are social conservatives?

    Much more so, why should I expect people to be Christian in their behavior?

    And while I do believe in the natural law, most folk I talk to don’t care about natural law. In fact most people in SoFL I talk to aren’t that educated. Why should I expect natural law to be a thing? In that sense I find that to be a weakness in 2K thought.

    Maybe I just need to get outta here.

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  10. There certainly seems to be a relation between theonomy, neo-cal, FV(is it any surprise that Wilson is a theonomist) and trad-RC’s or even becoming trad-RC.

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  11. SJGIII –

    You’re making sense, my friend. Contending to make sense of what faith means to walk as a Christian in this country… every country – in this fallen world that is under judgment. Keep sharing the gospel… that’s the calling of the church.

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  12. For their opinion is, that the desperate condition of the church makes it vain to attempt remedies, there being no hope of cure; and they hence conclude that the best course is not to meddle with an evil well fixed. Those who speak in this way understand not that the restoration of the church is the work of God, and no more depends on the hopes and opinions of men, than the resurrection of the dead, or any other miracle of that description. Here, therefore, we are not to wait for facility of action, either from the will of men, or the temper of the times, but must rush forward through the midst of despair.

    It is the will of our Master that his gospel be preached. Let us obey his command, and follow whithersoever he calls. What the success will be it is not ours to inquire. Our only duty is to wish for what is best, and beseech it of the Lord in prayer; to strive with all zeal, solicitude, and diligence, to bring about the desired result, and, at the same time, to submit with patience to whatever that result may be.

    John Calvin. The Necessity of Reforming the Church

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  13. I can’t take a man seriously that endorses CJ Mahaney and the enabling of child abuse.

    I’d rather listen to Tom Woods and Bob Murphy. Actual economists. Not pop Reformed authors.

    #snob #bitter

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  14. DG –
    On re-reading, I get it – thanks. FYI, you are one of the most oblique writers I have ever interacted with – I swear I only follow you about 40-60% of the time.

    Not sure you saw my Q on the other thread – I had my Portuguese class this morning, so I couldn’t help but ask:

    DG – kevin, so far I appreciate your comments even if I reserve the right to disagree – muito obrigado a voce, estao meus sentimentos tambem. Did I read you spent some time in Brazil? Onde e por quanto tempo? – where and for how long?

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  15. SJGIII
    Posted July 18, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Permalink
    I don’t think I ever got to my point.

    My point is, that if 2K at least lets me put Christ as priority when I talk to people one on one. I’d rather not bind the conscience of the person with my politics, the priority should be on Law and Gospel. If I really do hold to total depravity, why should I expect people to be libertarians who are social conservatives?

    Much more so, why should I expect people to be Christian in their behavior?

    And while I do believe in the natural law, most folk I talk to don’t care about natural law. In fact most people in SoFL I talk to aren’t that educated. Why should I expect natural law to be a thing? In that sense I find that to be a weakness in 2K thought.

    Maybe I just need to get outta here.

    Well, natural law fell into disuse with Catholics as well. Christianity was on a roll until the mid-1800s then modernity really set in. For the past 150 years, Christianity has been on the run because it has lost its intellectual vocabulary.

    At the moment, forget trying to take it to the public square–try it on fellow Christians. The argument is that since the Bible has become just a matter of interpretation, that Christians can be 180 degrees apart is quite possible. Natural law, since it is also of divine origin, can be a way to try to break the tie, for the Bible and natural law must agree.

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  16. Kevin in Newark
    Posted July 18, 2015 at 10:26 pm | Permalink
    DG –
    On re-reading, I get it – thanks. FYI, you are one of the most oblique writers I have ever interacted with – I swear I only follow you about 40-60% of the time.

    As a Straussian, I follow Darryl’s obscurantism 100% of time. The 40-60% you understand is 40-60% of the time where he makes sense and tells the truth. ‘;-)

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  17. Um, who trained politicians to be politicians?! It used to be that those who studied politics to become a politician were looked down upon and dismissed as career politicians. Now it seems they are the majority: and we wonder why things are so bad.

    A pastor has done something; someone who studied politics and went straight into politics has done nothing.

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  18. Unfortunately, this bipolar model described above is inadequate to capture all of the options available to the pastor and the Church when it comes to commenting on the government, the systems that support the status quo, and society. There is a third option that is not discrete like the other two. That option is that the Church must comment on politics when there are gov’t, society and system sins, but the Church can recognize the scope of its expertise determining how, if at all, should offer solutions.

    If division in a congregation can occur over nonpolitical statements because offense is due to objection to the truth, then the possibility that some might be offended by truthful statements about gov’t, society and system sins should not be an issue. Rather, the issue there is speaking the truth in love.

    Also, that if God’s Word applies to all spheres of life and the Pastor’s job is to expand the congregation’s understanding of God’s Word, then part of the pastor’s job is to comment on gov’t, society, and system sins within the scope of the pastor’s ability to speak biblically about those sins.

    Realize the problem that exist either polar opposite approach. A Pastor can easily discredit the Gospel by saying either nothing or too much. By not saying anything about government, system and society sins, not only will the pastor not properly warn his congregation against being complicit in those sins, the Gospel will be dishonored as those unbelievers who can recognize those sins see a church acting as an institution of indoctrination for maintaining the status quo for the benefit of those with wealth and power. The dishonor brought to the Gospel by saying too much about government, the systems supporting the status quo, and society sins is all too obvious.

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  19. But, Curt, there’s that pesky prescription in WCF that cuts through all your creative poli-theologizing:

    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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  20. TVD: As a Straussian, I follow Darryl’s obscurantism 100% of time. The 40-60% you understand is 40-60% of the time where he makes sense and tells the truth. ‘;-)

    Recognizing that you are doubtless referring to Strauss’ esoteric/exoteric distinction, still, I can’t help asking what you think of his negative (at least compared to Aristotle and Plato) appraisal of Aquinas in his Natural Right and History.

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  21. Curt, “if God’s Word applies to all spheres of life and the Pastor’s job is to expand the congregation’s understanding of God’s Word.”

    You could drive two RV’s through that.

    What don’t you understand about the sufficiency of Scripture and thus saith the Lord. It’s not the pastor saying, “have you thought about it this way?” It is, this is what God says.

    So unless you can say this is a requirement from God’s word with responsible exegesis to preach against the wispy notion of economic exploitation, then just join a political party or activist group and have at it. You’re going to wind up — if you haven’t already — binding other people’s consciences with like your opinion. You may even find Roman Catholicism attractive. They have a rather expansive view of the Bible.

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  22. D.G.,
    I don’t know about the pastor in your church, but the one in ours is fallible.

    As for your last paragraph, what you mean to say is that only that which literally said or what has been explicitly done as recorded in the Scriptures can apply. Of course, when one mentions the prophets and social justice or James, there is some backtracking and qualifications to be made. One should note that such might apply if there were no contextual differences between Biblical times and our times. But considering that there contextual differences between the present and Biblical times, we sometimes have to use inferences and implications to adequately apply the Scriptures. My guess is that is what the Good Samaritan did when deciding how to help the man who was robbed and beaten. The issue between us regards the scope of Biblical literalism.

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  23. Zrim,
    Remember that the Westminster divines were not divine, they were fallible men whose understanding of the Scriptures were often infected by their cultural values. Only the Scriptures are inerrant.

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  24. For those who want a return to the church over the state, are they prepared to go all the way here:

    The last chapter of Jan Hus’s life began with his leaving that refuge. In 1414, King Sigismund, head of the Holy Roman Empire, persuaded Pope John XXIII to call a general council to address the latest schism within the church. Sigismund offered Jan Hus safe conduct to attend the Council of Constance (1414-1418), and Hus made his way to Germany, eager to express his views before the assembly. Less than a month after his arrival, authorities arrested him on Pope John’s orders. Throughout the ensuing investigation, Hus was not allowed to present his case, and although Pope John fled Constance in 1415, public hearings against Hus began. Months of imprisonment had taken a heavy toll on his health, and yet he attempted to respond to the charges against him—despite shouts and taunts from members of the Council. Hus maintained that he would recant if the Council could instruct him where he had erred according to the Bible, but that he would not concede to any of the 39 articles as presented against him.

    On July 6, 1415, the Council found Jan Hus guilty of heresy and sentenced him to death. Authorities clothed him in clerical garb and gave him a final chance to recant. When he refused, they stripped him of the vestments and placed a tall paper hat on his head, with an inscription that labeled him the leader of a heretical movement. Civil authorities then led him to the execution ground outside the city walls and burned him at the stake.

    At least it was discipline.

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  25. “Throughout the ensuing investigation, Hus was not allowed to present his case,”
    Sounds like a Title IX hearing.

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  26. Sorry, just as Jake Blues could not abide Illinois Nazis so I have a problem with fundy socialists. And I want to know if Curt agrees with the Social Justice Warriors that trans and gay rights are on par with civil (racial) rights.

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  27. Curt, you’re reminding those of us who stick it to the resident Callers about the very concept papal infallibility that our divines weren’t infallible? But there is no such thing as ecclesiastical infallibility, only being correct in relation to the Bible. And WCF is. You aren’t.

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  28. Chortlyn,
    Actually, I think the more Christians abstain from commenting on the sins of the state, society, and the systems we are involved in, the more we are cooperating with them. We become passive minions who say do each other: ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’

    The fear of some regarding the call to biblically analyze the gov’t, the systems, and society is discomforting because they want to believe that their world is a small world after all and they get to decide who is in and who is not. Others are afraid of relying on more than imitating what was done in the past and adhering to literal statements because their afraid that the distance between them and the past can be so great that they no longer belong. That is one side of what is called a one-and-many problem. But think of what brought the most honor to the Church in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. Was it a Church that would make no effort to comment or interfere with the new status quo or was it the Church that spoke out in defense of the victims?

    Realize that no situation has to be as bad as it was for Germany during the 1930s and the 1940s for a gov’t, systems of the status quo, and society to make victims. What brings more honor to Christ when people are being hurt is part of the status quo? Is it saying nothing while people are victimized or is it getting involved and speaking as prophetically as we can?

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  29. Curt, though I’ll grant that you look a bit like an OT prophet you are not one. So, a non-prophet speaking prophetically? Or is it the church (the whole thing), the local church, the session/board, you, or the Xian Occupy apparatchiks doing the (prophetic) speaking?

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  30. (A different) Dan
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink
    TVD: As a Straussian, I follow Darryl’s obscurantism 100% of time. The 40-60% you understand is 40-60% of the time where he makes sense and tells the truth. ‘;-)

    Recognizing that you are doubtless referring to Strauss’ esoteric/exoteric distinction, still, I can’t help asking what you think of his negative (at least compared to Aristotle and Plato) appraisal of Aquinas in his Natural Right and History.

    You are 100% correct–I was being glib. I’m not a Straussian for precisely that reason. I’m flattered you noticed.

    I do find it interesting–if you’re familiar with Strauss’ cabalism–that Thomas sits precisely in the middle of the book, and on the classical side with Plato, not the modern side with Machiavelli and Locke.

    I happen to think Thomas sits astride all, and Strauss’ sympathies surely are more with Thomas than with modern Lockean notions of “liberty” and “equality.”

    “If all cultures are equal, then cannibalism is just a matter of taste.”

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  31. D.G.,
    What are the options? My first comment said the following:


    Unfortunately, this bipolar model described above is inadequate to capture all of the options available to the pastor and the Church when it comes to commenting on the government, the systems that support the status quo, and society. There is a third option that is not discrete like the other two. That option is that the Church must comment on politics when there are gov’t, society and system sins, but the Church can recognize the scope of its expertise determining how, if at all, should offer solutions.

    The third option is for the Church to comment knowing the scope of its expertise. Quite often, the Church can recognize gov’t, system, and society sins without offering specific solutions. So instead of laying out plans of a specific solution, the Church, especially Reformed ones can be content with only pointing out the resulting sins of the status quo and be content that that sharing of information provides government and society opportunities to adjust what they are doing. We don’t have to provide the solutions, that isn’t our forte when it comes to life outside the Church. Our forte is recognizing sin wherever it appears.

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  32. Chortlyn,
    Anyone who speaks the truth that corrects what society is doing wrong is speaking prophetically. Certainly, they are not speaking prophetically in the way that the OT prophets did. But some correction is better than no correction.

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  33. To Oldtimer Zrim,
    What I appreciate about the Pope is about the role he has taken more than the actual words he has said–though I agree with some of what he has said. The role he has taken lately is to provide correction rather than to propose something new.

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  34. Curt, oh you mean the churches should just become better at scolding. Great.

    Andrew Sullivan wrote a piece about the Religious Right, as I recall, called Scold. And I’m betting that the church coming off like scolds is partly responsible for the embrace of gay marriage.

    But are you willing to scold gays?

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  35. TVD, the only be book I’ve read by Strauss is the one I cited, and that decades ago, but my memory is pretty clearly that Strauss wasn’t at all kind towards what he saw as the “turn” (my phrase)from natural right (Aristotle, Plato) to natural law (Aquinas), which he saw as introducing absolutism. I know that, for Strauss, Machiavelli was the snake in the garden, but I’m not at all sure that he would absolve Aquinas for having incited a reaction that allowed the snake to flourish.

    Of course, Strauss has become something of a Rorschach test these days, even among his disciples, but that is way above my pay grade or present interest.

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  36. <i(A different) Dan
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink
    TVD, the only be book I’ve read by Strauss is the one I cited, and that decades ago, but my memory is pretty clearly that Strauss wasn’t at all kind towards what he saw as the “turn” (my phrase)from natural right (Aristotle, Plato) to natural law (Aquinas), which he saw as introducing absolutism. I know that, for Strauss, Machiavelli was the snake in the garden, but I’m not at all sure that he would absolve Aquinas for having incited a reaction that allowed the snake to flourish.

    Of course, Strauss has become something of a Rorschach test these days, even among his disciples, but that is way above my pay grade or present interest.

    His objection to Aquinas is that natural law requires a belief in the Bible [which is only somewhat true: it helps]. It’s more that Strauss sets Athens and Jerusalem apart, where Thomas’s project of course was to reconcile them.

    But he puts Aquinas in the Classical Natural Right section of the book, Strauss’s own side, the one that believes in an objective right and wrong, independent of culture or revelation.

    As you can see, getting into the tall scholarly weeds on natural law can leave us with nothing but standoffs, inertia.

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/natural-law-a-select-bibliography

    A great starting point, both theologically and philosophy, is Paul’s simple observation in Romans 2, that a universal good and evil exist at all!

    13for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,…

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  37. TVD: Since your reading of Strauss is more recent than mine, I will not try to get too far into the weeds. However, I did find this– first thing that appeared from a Google search of Strauss Aquinas and from an author I respect very much, Thomas G. West, who is now at Hillsdale, which I did not know (he used to be at the University of Dallas). Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall as far as I can tell. The first paragraph of the abstract is consistent with what I recall as Strauss’ beef with Aquinas, the second paragraph sounds intriguing.

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    Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law: A Critique of the `Straussian` Critique
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    Click here to view the document

    Abstract:

    I propose to assess Aquinas’s understanding of natural law by way of a response to what has become one of the most influential critiques of Aquinas in the past century, that of Leo Strauss in Natural Right and History. Strauss argues that Thomas Aquinas’s natural law doctrine is not based on nature and reason, but instead expresses a concealed dogmatism that presents doctrines drawn from revelation as if they were insights of reason. Further, according to Strauss, Aquinas supposedly transformed a moderate and flexible classic natural right teaching into an inflexible doctrine of natural law, a set of dogmatic rules which imposed imprudent constraints on sensible statesmanship. Aquinas made these errors, Strauss implies, because he confused reason with revelation.

    Contrary to Strauss, I will argue that Aquinas’s doctrine of natural law is in fact a deliberate adaptation of the teaching of classical natural right to fit the circumstances of medieval Christendom, and that Aquinas fully understands the difference between reason and revelation as guides to human conduct. I also argue that Aquinas de-emphasizes or conceals some of the more radical implications of that difference for perfectly good reasons, namely, because of the limits imposed on Aquinas by the bulk of his very dogmatic readership. I will conclude by explaining why the defects of twentieth-century Thomism probably led Strauss quite reasonably to exaggerate his differences with Aquinas by painting a picture of him that was in fact closer to neo-Thomism than to Aquinas himself. If I am right, Strauss would probably have agreed with much of my argument against him.”

    http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/1/5/3/4/4/p153448_index.html

    I am not at all convinced that if you believe Paul you have to be a Thomist.

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  38. No, that’s great, Dan. I love Tom West, even sent him some fan letters. And he agrees with me about [I with him?] about Strauss discounting Aquinas as inseparable from revelation and thus not useful to philosophy.

    And West is quite right about neo-Thomism complicating matters. However, these are the scholarly tall weeds I so wished to avoid. My context at the moment is Christians using natural law in discussing differences in Biblical interpretation. If a Biblical interpretation contravenes natural law [say, that God is love and thus blesses gay marriage], perhaps the interpretation is wrong.

    If he’s right — and I think he is — then the church is in an unprecedented historical situation, and it had better first get a good handle on telling its story to itself. I’m told by friends who teach at Christian colleges and universities that it’s shocking how little their undergraduates who profess to be Christians know about the Christian story, and why it matters as a guide to truth. Hence Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: the idea of God as cosmic butler and personal cheerleader.—Rod Dreher

    http://summitview.com/blog/entryid/264/Unfolding-or-Unraveling-The-Importance-of-Narrative-in-a-World-without-One

    &c. God exists to meet our needs, to make us feel good about ourselves. And woe to him who argues otherwise. This is the battlefield: Christians can’t even make sense of Christianity. No wonder they lost the culture war to the infidels.

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  39. TVD, to me once you start talking natural right/law, reason/revelation, etc., you are in the tall weeds, but maybe that is just me talking as a former denizen of the political science department before I found a productive career

    I have two larger reading projects I want to finish by the end of the year. I have bookmarked the West piece and will purchase it for study then.

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  40. Cool, but personally, I’m not interested in the Strauss/Straussian approach, because their interest in in the philosophers themselves, the “real” Locke for instance.

    But that Locke doesn’t matter, even the real Thomas Aquinas doesn’t matter in the study of history–only how they were received and understood by the great mass of men.

    Neither will I insist that “if you believe Paul you have to be a Thomist.” The important thing here is to believe in a law higher than man’s law, and in the human ability to discern that law to some degree, via a mechanism known as “right reason.”

    Right now the enemy is “Morally Therapeutic Deism,” which has corrupted not just our polity and our society, but Christianity itself. Michael Horton does an excellent limn here.

    http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=917

    Sociologist Christian Smith has done extensive research revealing that the spirituality of America’s teens is best described as “moralistic, therapeutic deism.” In fact, other sociologists have come to similar conclusions concerning older generations as well. So while evangelicals are often quick to launch public protests against “secular humanists” for diminishing the role of God in American society, it would seem that the more likely source of secularization is the church itself. I am not claiming that evangelicalism is “atheistic” or even “deistic” in principle, but that in practice it is losing its interest in God and the grand story of his saving work in Jesus Christ.

    Substantiating the Charge

    Based on numerous studies conducted by his research group, evangelical pollster George Barna writes: “To increasing millions of Americans, God-if we even believe in a supernatural deity-exists for the pleasure of humankind. He resides in the heavenly realm solely for our utility and benefit. Although we are too clever to voice it, we live by the notion that true power is accessed not by looking upward but by turning inward.” Unless something changes, Barna thinks, “it will be every man for himself, with no second thoughts or regrets about the personal or societal implications of this incredibly selfish, nihilistic, narcissistic way of life.”

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  41. Is natural law compatible with “2k”?

    Does that question even make sense, or is it a category mistake?

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  42. Kevin in Newark
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink
    Is natural law compatible with “2k”?

    Does that question even make sense, or is it a category mistake?

    It’s the rod up Darryl Hart’s “radical” Two Kingdoms thesis. You understand perfectly. What is the Church’s obligation to the natural law here on earth?

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  43. Recently, I’ve been reading about “Personalism” as it is propounded by St. John Paul II, as coming out of Thomistic theology It’s helpful for understanding and valuing the individual person that is devalued in both a socialist and capitalist structures( although not limited to economics, since economics is also not limited to economics either).
    Today I read a longish article written by Cardinal Dulles that put forth the question of whether or not the “Personalism” of St John Paul II was consistent with the pontificates of his predecessors, and apparently there is no change post Vatican 2. ( If this is not so, it would need to be proved, rather than asserted).
    The article is a very informative( and interesting) look into anthropological existentialism and the use of said freedom within the limitations of the moral law/natural law. IOW’s “Authentic Freedom”.

    Here’s an excerpt from Quas Primas( in regard to the Feast of Christ the King):

    32. Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, Who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for His kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education.

    Out of curiosity what do Reformers do with the idea of Christ being King of the nations? Is His Kingship limited to the Christians within each nation or does He shepherd *all* with a rod of iron. Further, if nations( in the grand sense of all peoples) are not subjects of Christ the King, are they still guilty( and punishable) for not no abiding by His laws?

    If interested take a look at this article:
    http://americamagazine.org/issue/469/article/john-paul-ii-and-mystery-human-person

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  44. D.G.,
    Is telling someone they have sinned scolding them? Then perhaps we should cut out all mention of people’s sins when preaching the Gospel lest we scold anyone. Is that what you want? With your describing all mention of sin to be scolding, perhaps you want your preachers to just preach about the love of God. We could call your preachers Reformed Unitarians.

    It doesn’t matter what I say, you really aren’t interested in a serious discussion about the subject of preaching against the sins of the state, society, and the sins practiced by the systems that maintain the status quo.

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  45. Alexander, well, when you have to keep the law to stay in the land, scolding is par for the course (see what I did there? A golf reference for a Scot.)

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  46. D.G.,
    This is what I mean by saying that you are not serious about discussing this. You have a lot of little scenarios meant to rule out having to preach to state, system, and society sins.

    For example, taking your statement literally means that nonChristians are incapable of not scolding others when they correct them because they cannot include the Gospel when they offer correction. There are two problems here. First, that isn’t dictionary definition, that D.G. Hart’s definition of scolding. Second, scolding refers to how we correct someone, not whether we include the Gospel. Scolding is harsh, not all correction has to be harsh. Correction that sincerely invites people to change, with or without preaching the Gospel, is not harsh.

    And try to show where the Scriptures say that for sin to be social, there must be social salvation. That is another attempt to not discuss the issue seriously.

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  47. Alexander is less grumpy because yesterday was the first time since 1988 he could watch the final round of The Open as it was moved to a Monday.

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  48. Mr. Hart,

    The reason society has embraced so-called same sex marriage is sin. You anti-so-called-obedience boys like to stress the point the law is to show people their need of Christ, to drive to sinners to Christ. And yet here where there is a perfect opportunity to do just that you say it is scolding. Do you believe there is ANY use of the law?

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  49. Exactly Alexander, us 2K folk don’t really believe in the Law at all….

    No wait, we are too Lutheran in preserving that Law-Gospel distinction….

    How could this be?

    I guess you will sort it out in an ex-cathedra pronunciation for us? Please hurry.

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  50. Curt, I am serious but you are not. You only want the Christian meaning of sin but don’t seem to care about leaving societies in an estate of sin and misery. A society might change its ways, like a man might, but will that save?

    So for me to take you seriously you need to talk about a Social Gospel. Matt does.

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  51. D.G.,
    I am judging your seriousness by the questions you ask and the challenges you present and the points you leave unanswered.

    For example, let’s again take a look at your scolding comment. Why would us scolding groups imply that groups don’t sin? And what dictionary told you that correcting someone is scolding unless you present the Gospel. That statement implies that nonChristians can only scold. I

    Or where in the Scriptures is the presence of sin defined by the availability of salvation? For you constantly say that if there is national or group sin, there must be national or group salvation. Sin isn’t defined by what God rescuing us. In addition, don’t you remember how Nineveh experienced group salvation outside the covenant? Nineveh experienced a temporal salvation in that the judgment Jonah prophesied was lifted. And how is it that when individuals murder or plunder others, that is sin, but when groups, like nations or economic classes, do the same, it is not sin?

    In addition, when groups sin, God’s people are called to come out of those groups by not participating in the group sin. This is true in the OT as Elijah was told that 7,000 had not bent their knee to Baal. Paul tells us in a different way in Romans when he says not to be conformed to the pattern of this world.

    In previous comments, you implied that economic exploitation doesn’t exist because neither Jesus talked about it nor did Israel campaign against it nor were the Egyptians judged for it. Besides the fact that the last two cases were historically wrong in that the OT prophets constantly campaigned against economic exploitation and Egypt was judged for how it treated God’s people so harshly. Jesus may not have talked about it, but he did tell the parable about the rich man and Lazarus. And James 5 rebukes the rich for practicing a form of economic exploitation.

    Your objections in the comments to issues of social justice indicate that you do not take the subject seriously. Now if you want to claim that I am not taking it seriously, then show that by my answers. Show it by this answer.

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  52. D. G. Hart
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 6:12 am | Permalink
    vd, t, how is your own w-w different from moralistic therapeutic deism? You do believe that everyone is going to heaven, right?

    Any real Christian should pray that all men will be saved. Even you, tough guy.

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  53. Curt, the Bible is about saving from sin. You can’t separate those in the Bible.

    But if you want to be a law guy without redemption, go ahead, be a legalist. But I don’t think you’re really serious about that.

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  54. D. G. Hart
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, you put the ‘v’ and ‘d’ in evade.

    Just taking his advice re pearls and swine. But you got all the answer you need or deserve, tough guy. Here’s some sola scriptura, and you better hope they’re right.

    UNIVERSAL SALVATION

    THE DOCTRINE OF THE BIBLE.

    The author of these pages proposes, in the briefest and simplest manner of which he is capable, to set forth the leading Scriptural arguments in favor of the doctrine of Universal Salvation.

    http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Bibleproofs2.html

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  55. D.G.,
    Again, sin is defined independently of salvation. That doesn’t deny that the Scripture reveal salvation. It simply says that sin is defined without reference to salvation. Sin is defined as missing the mark or not meeting God’s standard. Sin is defined as the violation of any of the 10 commandments. The Scriptures make no distinction whether a group is missing the mark or violating the commandments or whether an individual is.

    Your objection, which lacks Scriptural reference, is that unless God offers salvation to whoever is charged with sin, then that charge of sin is false. But you arrive at that conclusion deductively, not inductively by either quoting the Scriptures or showing a Biblical example. You know about showing Biblical examples because you have rejected the notion of economic exploitation because you say Jesus never taught it or because Israel never crusaded for it or because Egypt or Babylon were never charged with it. And yet, where is the Biblical example stating that someone’s or a group’s actions are not sin if salvation is not offered.

    This leads us to Jonah and Nineveh. Because never in Jonah’s warnings to the people of Nineveh was any message of salvation offered. Never. And yet, when the people humbled themselves, God averted His judgment which is a form of salvation. It wasn’t the covenant salvation offered to Israel. It was a temporal salvation. When Amos prophesied announcing God’s judgments against Israel’s neighbors in Amos 1-2, there was never any offer of salvation. There were plenty of indictments against the nations around Israel, but never any offer of salvation. Or when Revelation 17-18 talks about the nation cohorting with the Prostitute

    In addition, eternal salvation is offered to all in the nations that are sinning for they are called to come out from those nations, to separate themselves from those nations, not by a literal leaving of their own country, but by repenting and not being conformed. Sometimes that coming out does not prevent one from having to live through the earthly judgments that a nation endures. The OT is replete with such examples. It is also a lesson William Hendriksen says is taught by Revelation.

    The thing here is that this is the 2nd or 3rd time I’ve referenced Nineveh’s situation during Jonah’s day and I’ve mentioned before how the Scriptures teach us that we can gain eternal salvation from all sins, both the sins we commit as individuals and those we commit in groups, before. I am not writing new material on this blog to you. But you act as if I am typing in an invisible font. Put that together with your hankering for a small world, family and neighbors by proximity, and you add to that quips that and implications that have no Scriptural citing but are states as if true, and I get the impression that you are not serious about this subject.

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  56. Mr. Hart,

    The Bible is also a revelation of who God is: a holy, just God who demands a perfect righteousness from man, whom He created to be a holy, righteous, upright creature. Judgement is not always accompanied by the offer of salvation. Our own consciences, as Paul tells us, condemn us and leave us without excuse. Yet the conscience does not tell us how to be saved. As Paul describes it, its purpose is, as I said, to condemn and to leave without excuse. That is why preachers must be sent to proclaim the good news.

    But the good news of the free offer of salvation is an act of undeserved mercy: it is not required and it is certainly not required in order for there to be just judgement and condemnation. God would be justified in sending all men to Hell without offering salvation to even one man. Ergo, for there to be sin, and for sin to be identified as sin, and for there to be condemnation of that sin there does not need to be also the offer of salvation. To say to a murderer “you are a sinner” and nothing else is not a wrong thing; it’s not an untruth; it’s not a lie. Or, to take a less extreme example, every time you tell your child off for doing something wrong, do you also present the free offer of salvation to him? If not, are you not merely “scolding” him? The child has sinned.

    Yes there isn’t national “salvation” in the eternal, personal saving kind of way. But Scripture is replete with examples of exhortations to nations to submit to God; to rulers to rule their nations justly and in accordance with God’s law; to the people of God to pray for their rulers and to submit to them. The Bible is not uninterested in the way a nation is governed and in how it relates to God.

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  57. Curt, you’re stretching to the point of breaking.

    Ninevah wasn’t saved. Israel wasn’t saved by the prophets. Complain about injustice all you want. Call it sin. But you have no remedy.

    Sin is cheek by jowl with damnation in Scripture. The wages of sin is death. Hard not to think that something having to do with life is close by.

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  58. And what other people are saying is that there doesn’t need to be such a thing as “national salvation”, or the offer of it, for the church to condemn the actions of the nation or to call the government to submission to God’s law.

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  59. Alexander, and still others say:

    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.

    Does that sound like a group of fellows who think “there doesn’t need to be such a thing as ‘national salvation’, or the offer of it, for the church to condemn the actions of the nation or to call the government to submission to God’s law.”

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  60. D.G.,
    You’re grabbing for straws. Think about what you are saying:


    Nineveh wasn’t saved

    But Nineveh was charged with sin by God’s prophet Jonah. That is in the Bible. At the same time you are saying that without salvation, there is no sin–btw, please show the specific Biblical reference for that statement. So here, you have an example of one God’s prophets sent to Nineveh because it was sinning and, at the same time, you say it couldn’t be saved. You have now contradicted your previous statement that without salvation, there is no sin.

    But more than that, when Nineveh repented, God relented. Now, you don’t have to call that salvation, that is fine. But that repentance can change outcomes is illustrated in the book of Jonah. The trouble is that it doesn’t fit your model.

    But there one more point, if people’s sins are hurting others, then getting them to stop sinning, helps others and relieves them from their suffering. And that is one of the reasons why groups like Occupy challenge the system. Of course, if you are not a victim who is suffering from other people’s sins, you may not care. But if you do not care, you are not reflecting the love God has shown to the world in Jesus.

    Again, you don’t give any appearance of wanting a serious discussion here. You demand Biblical examples from me of the points I am making but you provide no Biblical references that support your specific statements. Where in the Scriptures does it say that nations cannot sin? And then when the Scriptures provide examples of my points, you deflect.

    Why is it important for you that there is no national sin? It is because if there is such sin, then 2K theology collapses, though not totally because it has some valid points.

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  61. Zrim,

    Again, I can’t really take seriously appeals to the WCF on what is the appropriate role of the church vis a vis politics from people who reject the WCF’s fuller position on such a relationship, namely the Establishment principle. You can’t jettison one part of the WCF’s understanding of church/state relations and accept the other: they’re related. The chapter on synods and councils was composed as part of a framework which envisioned an established church working in tandem with the state: each organisation with its own sphere of influence, and own competencies, which, whilst distinct, were nevertheless to operate in harmony with one another; reinforcing one another.

    Furthermore, pastors, or even a general assembly, taking a position on a political issue isn’t really “intermeddling” with civil affairs. If the PCA passes a motion condemning the legalisation- through judicial tyranny- of so-called same sex marriage, it’s hardly the same thing as the Church of Rome using its political power to influence the decisions of state legislatures.

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  62. Alexander, “You can’t jettison one part of the WCF’s understanding of church/state relations and accept the other: they’re related.”

    So how is the establishment principle related to justification by faith alone? Did Jesus and Paul know they were related?

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  63. Mr. Hart,

    I’m reading Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” at the moment. The frustration he feels at Erasmus’ refusal to deal with the topic at hand, and constantly bringing up phantom opponents to argue against because to deal with the actual issue would be to admit defeat, perfectly mirrors how I feel reading your posts.

    We’re talking about how the church relates to the state. The clause on synods and councils was referenced. That topic is directly related to the Establishment principle: they are both about how the church relates to the state. This isn’t a discussion about Justification. Not only can antinomians not talk about sanctification without making it about justification instead; they can’t even talk about church and state without talking about justification!

    Clearly, nevertheless, they are related as they are both Biblical doctrines. However, as concerns this particular discussion, you are merely muddying the waters.

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  64. Alexander, the point is that Paul knew justification from Establishment principle. Why don’t the Scots? And American Christians are the only ones confused in their patriotism. As if.

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  65. Alexander, even within the context of Establishment principle, how does the idea of “the church to condemn[ing] the actions of the nation or to call[ing] the government to submission to God’s law”? What does intermeddling and sticking to ecclesiastics even look like if you’re allowing the church to condemn the state? Is it simply a comment on how magistrates shouldn’t be preaching and pastors shouldn’t be locking up criminals? If so, then duh, who needs to include in a confession what is obvious in the nature of things?

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  66. Just nod and smile when talking to Alexander, keeping an eye on the exit door in case he snaps.

    He thinks he’s Martin Luther now…

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  67. Has it been decided which work on the Will is more painful to force oneself to finish and also less rewarding, the one by Luther or the one by Edwards?

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  68. Well, Zrim, when you’re coming out of centuries of Roman Catholic tyranny where the so-called church actually was arresting people and directing government affairs and, you know, burning true Christians, then maybe such notions aren’t so “duh” as you would have us believe.

    The point being made is that it’s not the church’s role to govern society; to pass or enforce civil laws. However, it is very much the responsibility of the church to declare the counsel of God; to proclaim the law of God; to show sinners their need of Christ by showing them how they are in rebellion against God. This also includes decrying the sins of the nation. Because as the Bible makes clear, as the Divines understood, a nation that is in open rebellion against God, passing laws in direct contradiction to God’s law, will not only not escape God’s judgement; it has a direct impact upon the lives of the people and the life of the church.

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  69. Alexander, “Because as the Bible makes clear, as the Divines understood, a nation that is in open rebellion against God, passing laws in direct contradiction to God’s law, will not only not escape God’s judgement; it has a direct impact upon the lives of the people and the life of the church.”

    This is why the establishment principle is inherently theonomic. You could certainly make that claim for the OT. But not so fast with the NT. The NT’s teaching is overwhelmingly to submit to and honor the emperor, the you know, the one who was in open rebellion against God.

    So you still have some work to do.

    Is it merely coincidence that the same apostle who says the law is not of faith is also the one who tells Christians to submit to pagan governors?

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  70. Alexander, and the counter point is to wonder what the biblical warrant is for the church to speak legislatively as well as personally instead of only personally.It’s also to wonder how the church can speak legislatively and still imagine she isn’t meddling. Still, if the divines were in the midst of that Constantinian era, they sure sound rrrrrrrr2k to say something so bold as this. It may be “duh” in the disestablished era but it wasn’t then. Are you prepared to impugn them rrrrrrrrrrrrradicals?

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  71. It was theoretically possible for a church contained in a small nation like OT Israel to bind itself wholly to the Law as a guide, and that failed miserably.

    And even Gentiles on occasion, out of their entirely pagan nation, were shown higher levels of grace and mercy in the OT.

    So how does one expect an expanded NT church found all over the world to bind all their governments under that Law? There is a branch of eschatological hope that this can some day happen, it would be a mighty Act of God to implement it, and nothing short of it

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  72. Making an idol out of the thoughts of the Divines is not going to influence those of us who do not subscribe to the WCF, although there is much respect and adherence to a lot in that document.

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  73. The law doesn’t cease just because you walk out of your church building. The moral law is binding on all peoples- and nations- for eternity. It is only a hyper-individualism and indeed a dualism which restricts the law and its proclamation to the sphere of the church.

    Do you think God stopped caring about the affairs of nations after Christ came? If anything He would care more, because now His people were to be found across the whole world through the spread of the gospel and not confined to the one nation of Israel. It is a standard hermeneutic that the NT is expansive in the application of doctrine; not restrictive.

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  74. Alexander, you are so eager to get your points across, that you fail to grasp that anyone on here as Reformed already knows that the believer is to live a life of gratitude and piety and to learn about and obey God’s Law.

    The dominion of believers for enforcing the Law is amongst those who claim to be a member of the visible Church. This is already hard enough because we cannot read hearts perfectly and have to accept those into membership who come forward and seem sincere and keep away from public sin that would require discipline. And we have seen some of the most godly in outward appearance turn out to be the worst criminals and pervs within our own churches.

    Moving this discipline into the world is a completely different matter. I don’t see the point in endlessly repeating platitudes that we know are not going to work and WORST OF ALL may lead to unstable church members taking steps that will be very harmful to them and others to try to enforce the Ten Commandments on everyone on the planet.

    A believer is responsible for his or her-self, and others assigned to them in life (children, spouse, other believers, church members under their office care) which should take up a lot of the waking hours of every believer. And living a godly life should somewhat influence others and society in general, but not necessarily to a level where the nitpickiest frump will be happy.

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  75. Alexander, does this sound like a fellow who would would agree that the law of God is more expansive to the world than restricted to the church?

    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.”

    Like

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