Piling On

So thanks to Matt Tuininga’s critique of Scott Clark and mmmmmeeeEEEEEE, Stephen Wolfe adds to Clark’s and my misery:

I think that Matthew Tuininga has made a valuable correction to D.G. Hart and R. Scott Clark who seem to find no social value in Christian sanctification. Would not our conformity to the image of the Last Adam have social implications? Of course, it would. The fundamental problem with the Hart-Clark 2k theology is their failure to recognize that the Gospel, which includes sanctification, restores the Adamic dominian. As J Peter Escalante and Steven Wedgeworth have made abundantly clear, “man’s Adamic dominion has been in principle restored in Christ.” This means, so it seems to me, that sanctification includes a conformity to the original Edenic order and a restoration toward the original mandate to bring, through human creativity and work, creation to its potential maturity. This has nothing to do with immanentizing the eschaton, as Eric Voegelin warned against. It means rather that the Gospel empowers Christians to work toward the realization of a mature natural order.

But just when Mike Horton and Dave VanDrunen thought they were on comfortable chairs in the bus terminal (oxymoron alert), a quick google search reveals that they are just as bad — maybe worse:

VanDrunen contends that the cultural mandate was given as a condition through which Adam would inherit eternal life for himself and his offspring. This activity of Adam was temporal, only given by God in preparation for the Sabbath rest in which he would partake through his obedience. He purports that because Christ is the last Adam, such a cultural mandate is no longer a necessity for those who are in Christ. He argues: “To understand our own cultural work as picking up and finishing Adam’s original task is, however unwittingly, to compromise the sufficiency of Christ’s work” (Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 50). To be clear, VanDrunen emphasizes the importance of the Christian’s vocation in the secular realm, but views it as only temporary, and he disconnects it from the mandate given to Adam.

What VanDrunen fails to recognize is that God created humankind to live within two particular sets of relationships: to God, and to creation. In his approach, for Adam, the cultural mandate has coram deo implications. Adam’s standing before God prior to the fall was not based on grace and faith, but instead upon his obedience in fulfilling the God-given mandate. This is, of course, based upon VanDrunen’s commitment to the Reformed concept of the covenant of works in the Garden of Eden (an idea that I have critiqued here). The problem is that the text of Genesis never makes such a connection. Nowhere in the creation account is Adam told that his standing before God could somehow be merited by obedience to this mandate. Rather, Adam’s creation was an act of grace. His relationship to God was always based on God’s action and his reception. Sure, he could lose his righteous standing before God, but he couldn’t gain it by merit.

The implications of this difference of perspective are important. If Adam’s relationship before God has always been by grace, and man’s relationship to creation has always been determined by the mandate of Genesis 1:28, then the cultural mandate is no longer simply part of the Adamic administration, but is essential to who the human creature is.

So I wonder how widely Matt has read VanDrunen and Horton. The more people under the bus, the more misery.


51 thoughts on “Piling On

  1. “This means, so it seems to me, that sanctification includes a conformity to the original Edenic order and a restoration toward the original mandate to bring, through human creativity and work, creation to its potential maturity. ”

    Just because he says he is not immanetizing the eschaton doesn’t change the fact that he is. That he knows enough to cite Voegelin does not eliminate my doubts that he has ever studied him seriously.

    Sorry about the bus tracks, DGH.


  2. To be clear, VanDrunen emphasizes the importance of the Christian’s vocation in the secular realm, but views it as only temporary, and he disconnects it from the mandate given to Adam.

    Does the guy criticizing VanDrunen really think I’m going to be selling insurance in the new heavens and new earth? I hope the h-e-double-toothpicks not.


  3. A few thoughts…

    How does one get to do scholarship by fiat? Simply declaring that Escalante’s and Wedgeworth’s view is not immanentizing the eschaton does not make it so.

    As J Peter Escalante and Steven Wedgeworth have made abundantly clear, “man’s Adamic dominion has been in principle restored in Christ.” This means, so it seems to me, that sanctification includes a conformity to the original Edenic order and a restoration toward the original mandate to bring, through human creativity and work, creation to its potential maturity. This has nothing to do with immanentizing the eschaton, as Eric Voegelin warned against.

    Second, why do any failures never count against these transformationalists? I can think of a holy Roman empire, late 19th / early 20th century Holland, the now gone Christian America, and several others. Why did their alleged advances not produce lasting results? Why are these and a host of other advances gone wrong not worthy of critique?

    Third, I’m curious to know what the final product looks like. If we’re all to be making contributions and moving toward maturity and conformity to Eden, how will we know if we’re all pulling in the same direction? Eden was probably quite small, how are 7 billion of us to live there?

    The rhetoric from these folks plays well at “Fearmongers R Us.” It seems that exegesis and history is completely lost on these folks and I’m not even a professional historian.


  4. Of course, Rev. Cooper is an LCMS pastor, so you expect this from one who rejects the COW. I guess you sort of don’t expect this, though, where he cites to a PCA pastor for proof that Dr. Horton and DVD are part of that old rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr2k conspiracy: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/justandsinner/a-helpful-chart-on-the-two-kingdoms/?ref_widget=related&ref_blog=justandsinner&ref_post=vandrunen-is-wrong-about-the-cultural-mandate More throwing under the bus, I guess.


  5. Chris M., it’s like the Groucho Marx joke (via Woody Allen).

    A man goes to a therapist and says he has a brother who thinks he’s a chicken.

    The therapist tells his patient to bring his brother in for treatment.

    The man say, “but I need the eggs.”

    The transformers need Eden for the eggs of inspiration.


  6. Darryl,

    Having read Tuininga’s blog for some time, I have always had the sense that he is tacking along a different course from you and RSC, so his recent post comes as little surprise to me. I even see some differences in him and DVD, where he makes a much stronger stance on Christians duties in the 2nd kingdom.

    Whether or not he’ll be able to appease the Kuyperians and other more socially/politically engaged thinkers and remain in the mainstream of 2k remains to be seen.


  7. Jed, you can’t start with “having read for some time” and then transition to “always had the sense”. You may have “gained a sense” but you can’t cite past-ongoing experience to transition to “always had the sense”. The context demands that you gained a sense, not always had one.” Yeesh. Also, since we’re piling on, in the ‘friends’ blog, you utilized, “I have come to look at” and “some sense”, “I wouldn’t expect”, and “per se”. You’re trying too hard on the congenial and thoughtful and ‘open’ front. I don’t believe it and I don’t appreciate it. Say it with your chest! Don’t argue with me, I don’t have time to engage with you for hours on a blog, just get right. Amen.


  8. sean,
    Oh, I’m so sowwy for not posting to the standards of sean almighty, whose intellectual powers preclude the need for discretion Look, now that we are parsing the tense of my realizations – Tuininga came out sounding more or less like his 2k instructors, now he is going Kuypeian on social theory – would you like to tussle more sean? I realize using manners doesn’t increase one’s street cred, but I am not so full of it that I am not happy to throw on my old (way too tight singlet) and grind your ears to the mat – in the nicest way possible.

    BTW – Texas sucks. Yep, I said it. Is that a chested enough statement for you, or do I need to beef with Tuininga harder to get back my 2k jerk card?


  9. Jed, that was better, for a girl. So, when you’re done with Matt he’ll smell like lavendar and be covered in glitter.

    Look, I know you’re sore from not having any water, but I’ve got a deal for you. I’ve got rain water I’ve been collecting and I can ship it to you, cheap. Just send me your bank info, and I won’t draft it ’till it’s been shipped. And tell your friends, I’ll sell y’all some water credits that you can redeem in Sacramento. It’s a great deal.


  10. sean,

    I am more of a cucumber melon type, and thanks for the offer. I’d rather drink the slimy remnants from a the bottom of a storm drain than drink that Texas water – might turn me into some kind of redneck. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to head to the spa for some man-scaping.


  11. Anabaptists did not have an educated clergyman as the “senior professional” among the elders and therefore the collective conscience of poor peasants could not be trusted–they simply don’t know enough to have religious freedom, and even Christian magistrates need to be instructed by the magisterial clergy…

    And these clergy are not asking too much when the insist on penalties against peasants seeking improper freedoms. These clergy know very well that not too much can be expected of sinners, and therefore only seek (for all in common) a minimum ethical standard on which Christians and non-Christians can agree. And that works out well for the Christians, since it doesn’t get into details like the example of Jesus. When we want to know what “works” in church (which is society, family, infants included), it will be necessary to not look at the content of the four gospels and to look instead at our habits as humans and think about what’s practical and possible

    Servants must also be cognizant of their RANK; and everyone must apply himself in the thing which he has been CALLED. It certainly accords well with Christianity that the rich man should enjoy his wealth (provided, of course, that he not devour everything without attending to the needs of his neighbors), and that the poor man should endure his station patiently, and beseech God, not desiring more than is Proper.

    And that no one may presume to overstep his proper limits, he has distinguished the different modes of life by the name of CALLINGS . Every man’s mode of life, therefore, is a kind of STATION assigned him by the Lord, that he may not be always driven about at random.


  12. Jordan Cooper—“Adam’s relationship before God has always been by grace, and man’s relationship to creation has alwaysbeen determined by the mandate of Genesis 1:28, then the cultural mandate is no longer simply part of the Adamic administration, but is essential to who the human creature is.

    mcmark—But some of “us” disagree with Barth and Torrance (and Arminians) that Adam’s relationship before Adam’s sin was by grace. Therefore those who teach grace before the fall do not understand the just death threat God gave Adam.

    Rick P—-My own view is that if we use the term “grace” to describe God’s condescension and goodness prior to the Fall, we sow confusion into our doctrine of salvation by grace alone. Biblically and confessionally, “grace” refers to God’s unmerited favor in a post-lapsarian situation. God’s grace is extended towards sinners who not only fail to merit his favor but who positively merit his wrath by virtue of their guilt and corruption… To assign the term “grace” to these pre-fall dealings is to change the definition of our term “grace” so that it ceases to refer clearly to God’s unmerited provision for the salvation of sinners. If Adam’s obedience under the covenant of works would have been by grace, then what does it mean that my salvation as a sinner is also by grace? Does this structure not join together what both the Bible and our confessions have intentionally separated and stridently contrasted? How much more is this true when we assign the term “grace” to God the Father’s provision to his sinless Son in performing the work of our salvation?

    Rick p—(In response to Mark Jones comments about God’s grace towards Christ, I would note that the Bible’s use of a word, such as charis, does not always line up with our theological use of that same term, so that a mere appeal to Luke 2:40 cannot be conclusive in constructing our doctrine.) By use of “grace” in a pre-sin or no-sin scenario, we not only blur concepts that ought to be carefully distinguished but we leave the Christian with no term to clearly identify God’s post-sin dealings in saving his people. In other words, when we expand the term “grace” to include God’s pre-fall dealings, we are left with no term that specifically identifies God’s post-fall dealings. And when a concept no longer has a term, that concept is sure to suffer and ultimately die.”


    All things were created for Christ”. (Colossians 1:16)
    Christ “is before all things” (Colossians 1:17).

    mcmark: The elect are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and this means that
    Christ was before the elect in God’s decree.. Those who teach grace before the fall often also teach that all covenants are grace covenants, and that all human responsibility depends on grace (f not ability) to those who are commanded. This is why so many “Reformed” now place election after God’s decree to make atonement, so that the atonement will not be restricted to the elect. They think that God having no grace for the non-elect eliminates any law for the non-elect.

    “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.” The creation by Christ is for the purpose of the redemption of the elect in Christ and for Christ. God does not have a second “cultural but not redemptive” purpose for Christ’s creation. Jesus Christ is not simply the one who makes election work. Jesus Christ Himself is first.


  13. Matt t—It is important to stress that King was no utopian idealist. He wholeheartedly embraced Reinhold Niebuhr’s critique of the liberal social gospel, with its insistence on the pervasive sinfulness of human beings. It was precisely King’s realism about human nature, and about what should be expected from social and political structures, that persuaded him of the need for prophetic activism on behalf of justice. Justice wasn’t going to come about by itself.

    Matt t– Segregationists would not suddenly be persuaded to give up their power and treat black people fairly by spiritual appeals to love. Civil rights activists had to work through the creative tension of civil disobedience to bring about coercive legal and political change. Thus the Gospel had to inform the goals and methods of political activism (love and nonviolence), but it could not be conflated with such activism or its accomplishments. – See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/articles/presbyterians-and-the-political-theology-of-race-part-3-gospel-politics.php#sthash.EBlSBtQq.dpuf

    mcmark—Just as long as we don’t conflate law and gospel, and then mix in some Niebuhr so that we know that collectively evil cannot be overcome with good let alone love, since in the end the law is needed to restrain evil, even though we know that even greater evil is done in the name of the collective restraining evil. It’s a dialectical tension, for grown up folks who know that it aint easy, and the law increases sin but also the law restrains sin, which means that the law is also good which means too that the law is grace


  14. mcMark, gospel expands to become Christian motivation.


    The important question — at least one — is whether MLK preached the gospel. Repentance for some sins, maybe. But by faith receiving and resting in the righteousness of Christ, I’m not so sure.


  15. Agreed, MLK did not know or believe the gospel.

    If righteousness come by our law keeping, then Christ is dead in vain.

    Robert Reymond, Systematic Theology, p 754—-The Protestant doctrine calls into question the salvation of millions throughout history. This group would include sacerdotalists who believed in baptismal regeneration and, because they confused justification and sanctification, believed also in the necessity of deeds of penance for salvation.

    Reymond—This argument however is aimed not so much at Protestantism’s “rigidity” as it is against Paul’s insistence that there is only one gospel, and that any other “gospel” is not the gospel, that those who teach any other “gospel” stand under God’s anathema (Galatians 1:8-9), and that those who rely to any degree on their works for salvation nullify the grace of God (Romans 11:5-6), make void the cross work of Christ (Galatians 2:21, 5:2), and become debtors to keep the entire law and are under the curse of the law.

    Reymond– It is neither my nor their defenders’ place to assure the “Christian world” that surely God justified them by faith alone even though they themselves did not hold to a faith alone view of justification. Our attitude should, with Paul, ever be: “Let God’s truth be inviolate, though EVERY man becomes thereby a liar. ” (Romans 3:4) The clear teaching of the Word should be upheld and we should not look for reasons to avoid it, even if the alternative would force us to conclude that these fathers–and all others like them—were not saved.


  16. These people have clearly never worked actual jobs. Come manufacture millions of units of pet feed with me and see if you still believe this crap. I’d love to hear the gospel-centered way to make exotic bird treats. I make em the same way everyone of my heathen competitors does, as fast as i can as many as i can for as cheap as i can.


  17. what would be the 2k position on carrying loaded guns into the meetinghouse on Sundays?

    don’t ask, don’t tell?

    leave them in your individual cars for the trip home?


  18. so…no guns while you’re a Christian in church, but nothing more than we would expect from any rational person on the way home?

    II Thessalonians 1: 4 Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you endure. 5 It is a clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, 6 since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you 7 and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, 8 taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of permanent destruction from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength 10 IN THAT DAY when He comes to be glorified by His saints and to be admired by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed

    II Thessalonians 2: 8 the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will DESTROY him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to NOTHING with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, 10 and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. 11 For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, 12 so that all will be condemned—those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.

    I Peter 2: 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.

    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 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 overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


  19. “Many contemporary writers portray redemption as ‘creation regained,’ as picking up Adam’s original task of developing culture with the goal of adorning the new creation, all so that God’s original plans for the world might be fulfilled…. We will see that God’s original plan for creation is indeed fulfilled- but not through the cultural works of Christians. The Lord Jesus Christ, as the second and last Adam, has fulfilled Adam’s original commission once and for all. Christ has already attained the original goal by entering the new creation through his resurrection and ascension. And we already have a claim to this new creation by virtue of his work. We are citizens of heaven through faith in him. If we do not understand the biblical theme of the two Adams and its corresponding doctrine of justification then it is impossible to hold a biblical view of Christianity and culture.” – DVD, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms p. 34


  20. Brian, enlighten me when you find your answer to manufacturing exotic bird treats in a gospel-centered way. I’m still trying to figure out how to redeem car sales.


  21. Blessed are those saints who can rest in the Gospel, minister from the Gospel, and be transformed (sanctified) by the Gospel through the power of the indwelling Christ who changes by His power (Holy Spirit)…..precept upon precept, line upon line……2 steps forward/three steps back……

    So glad for 2K and being delivered from feeling that I must ‘change the world’………

    Also, on a lighter note, regarding Groucho Marx and eggs…….


  22. Rook, simple: question your customers about church attendance. Ask them if they tithe. If not tell them they don’t need a car or need a cheaper car. Send them down the street. Good employee, good employee. Refuse to sell vans to single men who might snatch kiddies or fornicate in the back. Or use “be fruitful and multiply” to upsell that couple with one kid to 15-passenger van. Tell ’em to get with it. You can really run with this or use it as an excuse to sell no cars at all. Gospel-centered, etc.


  23. Neo-Kuyperian transformationalism is all hype and no substance. I heard it all for four years at Calvin. In class discussions about Christ/culture, “redeeming the culture” was the equivalent of “Jesus” being the answer to every Sunday School question. But when you get past the buzz-words (shalom-this, flourishing-that, renewing-the other thing, justice), surprise surprise, the same rules of engineering and economics and logic apply to everyone.


  24. And, Rook, the great thing about every square inchism and every last minutism is that if you fail at a job or are no good at it you can blame it on hostility to your Xian witness. There’s always an out.


  25. Cw, I try to deter worldliness in my clients by sending them down the street to Chevy. How can a Christian in good conscience make a living selling The Ultimate Driving Machine? Of course with enough human flourishing maybe everyone will be able to afford a BMW. Or maybe I should be like Jesus with the rich, young ruler and call my clients to go and sell all that they have and follow him instead of giving them lease payments.


  26. mboss, if I had a dime for every time I heard “shalom” in these Dutch Reformed enclaves I’d have, like, not much money but a lotta dimes.


  27. It seems to me that the categories 2k delivers are in place to protect the message of the gospel and the means of its delivery through sacred ministry. When God’s redeeming work is when believers do anything and everything who needs the institution that delivers God’s redeeming work in Christ through the means of grace?


  28. Cw, I doubt RSC wants to leave comfortable Escondido to purchase a Bimmer in the rust belt- especially Youngstown, Ohio. Anyone who holds the Heidelberg Catechism is okay in my book and receives a discount. But if you waste my time I’m liable to do my Robert Deniro impersonation. If you don’t know what I’m talking about check this out… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbQWO22pprk


  29. …the categories 2k delivers are in place to protect the message of the gospel and the means of its delivery through sacred ministry.

    Give that man a cigar. Wait, a pipe–cigars aren’t Reformed.


  30. Zrim – you’re talking about the Dutch. We wouldn’t pay you more than a nickel, and make you feel very guilty in the process.


  31. D.G. Hart: Semper Ref, you mean my Old Life, right?

    ~ Now That’s The Best Line I Ever Hoid ~


  32. mboss, would that guilt come before or after the guilt induced during the mini-Lenten week of preparation (practiced, ahem, *quarterly*, of course)


  33. Zrim, Dutch guilt never takes a holiday. (Which makes me conflicted because I agree with the Dutch Reformed’s history of Sabbath observance, but darned if they didn’t make an art of guilting folks about it).


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