When All Means Some

One of the favorite arguments of Neo-Calvinists is to go to Col 1 to support every-square inch Christianity:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)

But Rick Phillips puts limits on “all”:

What are some of the things that I have through the gospel of Jesus Christ? The answer is the cornucopia of salvation theology! I have justification so as to be accepted before God’s justice. I have adoption so as to be embraced into God’s fatherly love as a beloved child. I have sanctification as the Holy Spirit graciously works within me. And I have glorification, as the return of Christ is destined to admit him into his eternal presence. Through the gospel, I have the past, where Jesus lived and died on my behalf; I have the present, in which I am kept for eternal life by God’s grace; and I have the future, which holds no fear for those who are treasured in the hand of the Almighty. Through the gospel I have heaven, where my name is enrolled forever, and I have earth, over which my Savior exercises all power and authority. I have Christian fellowship through communion with the saints and I have participation in the church with its ordinances of nurture and care. Through the gospel I have perfect liberty to live above the world and sin and I have beloved bondage as a willing slave to Jesus Christ. Through the gospel, I have a new nature that partakes of the character of God, and I have the blessing of the law of God to guide me in the way of life. I have the Word of God shining within. I have prayer, which grants access to the very throne of grace. I have the sacraments, bearing the sign and seal of the covenant of grace. I have worship, service, sacrifice, and solace. Most of all, best of all, I have Jesus Christ – the whole Jesus Christ: Lord and Savior; Prophet, Priest, and King; Master, Helper, and Friend. And in union with Jesus Christ, together with communion in the gifts and graces of his blessed kingdom, through the gospel, I truly have all things!

That sounds like the Confession of Faith on Christian liberty:

The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin; from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also, in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a childlike love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law. But, under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected; and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of. (20.1)

In other words, that sounds like an otherworldly faith, not one that redeems cities, plumbing, and foreign policy.

I’m okay with that.

Advertisements

78 thoughts on “When All Means Some

  1. Dear Dr. D.G., but it would be helpful, though, for you to be more clear, more specific, on what you say we should be doing while we remain here on this earth after being saved. Jesus came to preach the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of all-about-me, and some of our young-uns, particularly (?) , may have misunderstood.

    I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. …and Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

    whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith; thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place… blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…. and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

    From everyone who has been given much, much will be required and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

    John 17:15-17;Matt13:52;Eph 1:3, 2:6; 1 John 5:4;2 Cor 2:14; Luke12:48

    Like

  2. It’s not that what’s said above is wrong, it is that what’s said above is incomplete. How much American individualism can one read into the Gospel to believe that our Christian life is only about us as individuals.

    Yes, neocalvinism has its faults of overreaching. But the exclusive inwardness of much American Christianity is at fault for not reaching at all because one is busy playing by oneself with their Christmas gifts.

    Like

  3. if it’s all or nothing, then you can’t be loyal to two kingdoms and two masters.

    Rick p—-“May God send us many more snipers to defend us with courage and skill until Jesus finally comes and relieves of us the terrible burden of war. – See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/01/should-christians-praise-snipe.php#sthash.3OqmxEra.dpuf

    Rick p—“it is a service to society for godly pastors to act on the state’s behalf in establishing godly marriages. Instead of pulling out of society, Christians should seek to be involved for the good of all,”

    From Jonathan Malesic’s Secret Faith in the Public Square (Brazos Press, 2009)

    “Can Christians be witnesses to the hard truths of the gospel in a land where being Christian is a form of political or social capital? What is the theological cost of the church becoming a constituency, a network, a market? What about when Christian identity has become a brand? How can Christian identity be saved from American public life, which so easily distorts and converts it into something meant to benefit individuals in that public life? This book is a theological answer to questions like these. The answer begins by my showing that secrecy about the most distinctive aspects of Christian identity—including prayer and liturgy and explicitly Christian justifications for public actions—is a real though underemphasized theme in Christian theological, liturgical, and spiritual tradition. (p. 15) I am concerned in this book with secrecy about membership in the public of the church. My proposal is an answer to the question of what individual Christians should do when non-Christian publics, especially the overarching and competitive public spheres of government, work, and the market pose danger to the integrity of the Christian public. I maintain that when Christian identity is thought to be useful largely to confer status on someone in one of these spheres, then the true purpose of being a member of the public known as the church has been lost. Being Christian is meant to serve ends beyond public and private and anything in between. (p. 23)

    Like

  4. Form Mark’s link to Ref21,

    It is hard to see how the same Jesus who was so careful to fulfill his own civil obligations would condemn an American citizen who faithfully answered his country’s valid call to military service.

    He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.

    “Valid” call to military service?

    Like

  5. Ali, isn’t that part of the point about liberty, not to get specific about this life? Keep his commandments is your specificity, the rest is up to conscience. “Tell us what to do” is usually a thinly veiled way of asking for spiritual prescriptions God himself never gives. It’s a favor not to answer. You’re welcome.

    Like

  6. Curt, once again: personal (which can be both singular and social), not individual (ditto). I mean, have you considered that social can be individualistic? What do you think group-think is or nationalism/exceptionalism? They’re social ways of being self-centered.

    Like

  7. Ali, why should I be more specific than the Bible (which you love to quote)?

    Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

    Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:11-18 ESV)

    I guess you have a hankering for a church that regulates all your life. Too bad Rome changed.

    Like

  8. What I don’t get is why TKNY folk (and by the way, I attend one such a church and am taking a Missions class that uses his book as the main book) don’t want to push a political agenda. I asked my pastor about this and he told me “Well, he doesn’t go that far”.

    To which I ask myself, “What logical blocks are there to stop a pastor from going that far, other than ‘Well, we don’t wanna look too weird’ ?”

    There’s also the fact that I am friends with a third wave feminist and a pro life (I would hope) Democrat. I’m not a feminist because I’m Cuban, and Cubans have an aversion to Marxism of any stripe.

    I’m not a Democrat, because, see above. (Har har har)

    So what do I tell them? “Actually, you should be an anarcho-capitalist because God is against government violence”.

    Should I, as a minister-to-be, tell my future congregation that they should vote for Rand Paul in the next election?

    Am I just a butt?

    What do I tell the single mom, how is she gonna transform culture?

    Honestly, when these TKNY folk wanna do good ministry, they functionally become 2K folk. When they don’t, they become the Bayly Bros, Doug Wilson, or Jim Wallace.

    Maybe I should stop being a butt.

    Like

  9. P.S.

    For those interested, a lot of what Keller has to write is pretty 2K. My biggest fault with him is his ecumenicism. In practice, it seems that he’s calling for “contextual catechesis”. I.E., how do I follow the Ten Commandments as an artist.

    At least for me, a lot of his issues stem from his ecumenecism. Why ally yourself with Baptists but not help your Presbytery? Why the relativity in saying “God has different types of churches for different types of people” instead of saying “People are wrong and have bad taste in churches”?

    I mean, we do that with beer.

    And I’ve told multiple Charismatics that their liturgy is dumb.

    (shrug)

    Like

  10. Zrim and DG

    Agreed, for the most part. We encourage dependence on God yet He also works through people and His gifts to people are for the building up of the body however needed, including if a person asks for some help to understand. He does give us teachers, just as He gives shepherds – who He promise will be after His own heart, who will feed us on knowledge and understanding. Jer 3:15

    are not each the body of Christ, we are body members holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. This happens by speaking the truth in love; being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies; and according to the proper working of each individual part, causing the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

    Isn’t it slightly hypocritical to offer negative words and criticize another’s conscience and leading of the Spirit in a matter (culture engagement e.g) (if it doesn’t conflict with scripture) yet say we have such freedom so that we shouldn’t offer positive word?

    And thanks for the verses

    Like

  11. D.G.,
    The difference between us isn’t wehther we believe in sola scripture. The difference is whether we recognize that some of today’s question were not asked in the NT. However, some of those were addressed in the OT and their answer does not imply a return to the Israel of the past.

    Like

  12. Ali, what’s wrong with or hypocritical about favoring preservation of culture over transformation? But since the transformer typically enjoins spiritual justification for his views and practices, where’s your push back on him? But liberty doesn’t mean we can’t have legitimate gripes within the realm of adiaphora–it means laying off the impugning of the other’s piety or baptizing one’s own.

    Like

  13. Curt, all I mean is that your socialism is in over drive and clouds your ability to see how groups can be highly individualistic, thus prone to same faults you keep pointing out in others. I’m sure you still disagree.

    Like

  14. “Honestly, when these TKNY folk wanna do good ministry, they functionally become 2K folk”

    SJG – Hence my view that Neo-Cals are more about soaring, inspirational rhetoric about transforming culture that gives the feels to educated, upper-middle class Evangelicals than concrete applications of how transformationalism actually applies to real life.

    Like

  15. Ali:

    Romans 12:1-2, I’m sure you can recite it…

    What is His will? what you are doing right now? Or maybe some answer will appear upon magically you some day?

    Like

  16. I wonder if the the evangelical biblical counseling movement is a result of “every square inch Christianity”? It’s assumption being that the Bible solves every problem of human existence. The movement seems to have created a class of “guru’s” and a class of books that attempt to prescribe “Thus saith the Lord’s” to every square inch of a believers life rather than leaving room to believers to make decisions where God has not directly spoken, or at all. This is why preaching that is heavy on specific personal applications tends toward legalism and an over-stepping of ecclesiastical authority.

    Like

  17. Rook…

    Put the Lord first

    But what does that mean?

    You put the Lord first.

    But what does that mean?

    YOU PUT THE LORD FIRST!!!

    But what does that mean?

    SHUT UP BEFORE I SMASH YOU IN THE FACE!!

    Like

  18. Curt, “The difference is whether we recognize that some of today’s question were not asked in the NT.”

    That’s wrong. We agree that today’s questions were not asked in the NT.

    We disagree on whether OT Israel functions as a model for today. Are you up for slavery?

    Like

  19. DGHart Ali, who’s criticizing consciences? I’m questioning intelligence.

    Ooh boy, You know I gotta send a Bible verse especially for you today: Matt 12:36;
    and that John Yeazel taunt about driving every ‘pious’ person away so far – such a a cruel dare

    Zrim : But liberty doesn’t mean we can’t have legitimate gripes within the realm of adiaphora–it means laying off the impugning of the other’s piety or baptizing one’s own.

    Aw Zrim , you’re so creative about not calling hypocrisy, hypocrisy. Hope you see you push your own version of ‘piety’ essentially

    Like

  20. Kent: You put the Lord first. But what does that mean?
    Kent: What is His will?

    In the spirit of Elijah, that’s seems like a no-brainer – not your above comment dialogue

    Rook:leaving room to believers to make decisions where God has not directly spoken, or at all.

    Rook, doesn’t your comment seem to reflect a misunderstanding about what God is up to with His people. They either are their own Lord and do things in the flesh, on their own; or Jesus is Lord and they rely on His word by His Spirit yes about ‘every square inch’ because who else are we going to rely on in some of those inches? Ourselves and the ‘work of our own hands’? When you have a minute, look up what the Lord thinks about that.

    Like

  21. Ali, may you live your life in that comfort bubble that never has to find the truth in my comments.

    It’s not possible fo a man who has to make a living in this world.

    And you disagree with Romans 12:1-2?

    I guess it’s not cool to scream that one out when losing a reality argument?

    Like

  22. Moral imbeciles, lost every lick of sense God gave them.

    http://www.acton.org/pub/commentary/2006/08/09/protestants-and-natural-law-forgotten-legacy

    The scope and unity of Roman Catholic social teaching is impressive, but without the recurrent appeal to natural law, it would lack a skeletal structure upon which to build its body of social teaching. Modern Protestant social ethics, by contrast, has no skeletal infrastructure of comparable strength. Unlike Roman Catholic moral theology, which is done in the context of the magisterial (or teaching) authority of the church, Protestant ethics has never had a “supreme court of appeals” to decide what’s licit and illicit. While the Bible is the principal authority in Protestant ethics, the matter of determining “authoritative” moral teaching is complex and subject to personal interpretation. To a fault, I might add.

    In his opening address at the first Christian Social Congress in 1891, the Dutch Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper emphasized the catholicity of natural law in relation to Pope Leo XIII’s new encyclical Rerum Novarum . “We must admit, to our shame,” said Kuyper, “that the Roman Catholics are far ahead of us in their study of the social problem. Indeed, very far ahead. The action of the Roman Catholics should spur us to show more dynamism. The encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII states the principles which are common to all Christians, and which we share with our Roman Catholic compatriots.“

    At the heart of Rerum novarum and the recent encyclical Deus caritas est , by Pope Benedict XVI, is an appeal to reason and human nature, but not in a way that denigrates faith or revealed truth. “From God’s standpoint,” insists the pope, “faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly.” The Christian Church fulfills its responsibility to form consciences and to promote justice, when, as Benedict insists, social teaching is argued “on the basis of reason and natural law.”

    Like

  23. “SJG – Hence my view that Neo-Cals are more about soaring, inspirational rhetoric about transforming culture that gives the feels to educated, upper-middle class Evangelicals than concrete applications of how transformationalism actually applies to real life.”

    I’m on the ’tism spectrum. It means I have the gift/curse of being a rationalist. Part of that is taking ideas to their natural ends. And part of that involved me seeing that Neo-Cal is a lot of talking but not a lot of walking.

    Thank God for that, of course. :v

    Like

  24. D.G.,
    BTW, you completely misread my note on Israel and the OT. Remember I wrote that answers can be found in the OT and that these answers do not imply a return to Israel of the past.

    So for your concern about Israel, are you talking about specifics or generalities some of which the prophets also applied to neighboring nations. To what extent is having a concern for the poor, as there was suppose to be in Israel, using Israel as a model?

    Like

  25. Curt, and you don’t read the NT all that faithfully. It’s not like Jesus and Paul were exactly ignorant of the OT.

    So now you’re more biblical than they were?

    Doh!

    Like

  26. Kent:It’s not possible fo a man who has to make a living in this world.

    Huh? Is this your complaint, Kent –that God hasn’t given you everything you need? If so, when you get a chance, you might look us how the Lord feels about that

    Kent: And you disagree with Romans 12:1-2?

    Huh? One thing you could do is slow down (in your mind) and listen to the Lord about whatHe says to you, yes Him to you, kent, how to worship and honor Him right now. When you get a chance too, you might look up how Jesus could possibly say that His commands are not burdensome

    Like

  27. Ali, there’s pushing and being pushy. As any parent knows, the difference is all in the wrist. But who ever denied pushing?

    Like

  28. Ali,

    Can two people who profess Jesus as their Lord come to different conclusions about climate change and still be faithful to their profession? One buys a GMC Yukon and the other a Prius based upon their convictions. Who should repent of their sin? Or is neither action in need of censure because the bible is silent on the matter?

    Like

  29. Like I said Rook, re:reflecting about what God is up to with His people ,have you considered that the Lord may be much more interested in how we arrive at our thinking, how we rely on Him in the process, and how we treat people along the way to decisions, than always getting the precise right answer on some things , for the time being, anyway,(1 Cor 13:9,12) (and except for sure for the way of salvation which He has made crystal clear).

    Zrim , sure there is pushing and pushy …and there are other p words which might could ever be in play, such as putdown, pugnacious, partial, prideful, punctilious, (that’s all I can think of this moment)

    Like

  30. Ali, even if God is interested in how we arrive at our thinking on a matter indifferent, we don’t have access to his opinion–you know, the secret will of God isn’t ours to discern and all that. But we do have the inspired (though not personally infallible) Paul, who says this when commenting on differences among believers:

    One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

    Sounds like Paul was content to let believers have their conscience without having to dig any deeper to also get divine opinion.

    Or was all that too pugnaciously partial? But 1,000 points for always awesome alliteration.

    Like

  31. Zrim: Sounds like Paul was content to let believers have their conscience without having to dig any deeper to also get divine opinion.

    conscience (one not or no-longer defiled) = divine opinion
    and he was also concerned about a lot of things about consciences -the searing of; defiled and evil ones; wounding weak ones; commending ourselves to them; keeping faith and a good ones

    Zrim:was all that too pugnaciously partial? But 1,000 points for always awesome alliteration.

    🙂  you didn’t have any more to add?

    Like

  32. D.G.,
    Why create a straw man to attack, the wife can tell you that I have plenty of faults of my own.

    And it also seems like a double message from you. On the one hand, you admit that there are questions we have to address which the NT did not. On the other hand, you seem to act as if Jesus and Paul didn’t mention, it isn’t an issue.

    Like

  33. Curt, if we address issues that Paul and Christ did not address, which we do, then we don’t make it seem like our addressing such issues has the weight of “thus says the Lord.”

    Why is that so hard?

    And if you can’t say “thus says the Lord” for your socialism, then I’m free to ignore or disagree just like you’re free to disregard my regard for The Wire.

    Like

  34. Colossians 1:13-20 is pointed and detailed about God’s purpose with all things. God’s purpose with “all things” is Jesus Christ. “All things were created … for him,” that is, for Jesus Christ (Col. 1:16). The existence and history of all creatures have been subordinated to Jesus Christ and must serve Him. All things cohere in Him (Col. 1:17). In all things, Jesus Christ is to have the preeminence (Col. 1:18).

    There is no divine purpose with creation and history alongside and independent of Jesus Christ. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is unrelated to Jesus Christ— not the splendor of American civilization, not the falling of a sparrow from a housetop. The meaning of history is Jesus Christ.

    Nor is the Christ of Colossians 1 simply the eternal Son of God, the second person of the blessed Trinity. Rather, He is the Son in human nature, the child of the virgin, the man who was crucified and who now sits at the right hand of the Trinity as risen from the dead in His human body. This one is the one purpose of God, for He is the “dear Son in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13, 14), the “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18).

    The explanation of His being the one purpose of God with all things is that Jesus Christ is first in the counsel of God. Jesus Christ is first in that He is the one purpose of God to which all the other decrees of God, for instance, the decree of creation and the decree of providence, including the fall of Adam, are subordinated. Freely, wisely, graciously, the triune God thought and willed Jesus Christ as the object of His love, as the one with whom He would have fellowship, as the one whom He would exalt, and as the one in whom He would glorify Himself.

    All things must know their place! They must know that they are not “before” Jesus Christ, or apart from Him, but after Him and for Him. Not only the magistrates but all those who do not yet believe the gospel suppose that they are quite something in themselves, regardless of Jesus Christ. That Jesus Christ is first in the counsel of God, even before the the election of individuals accompanied by the non-election of other individuals, is the teaching of Ephesians 1:4: “God has chosen us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world.” If we were chosen in Christ, Christ was before us in the counsel. God chose Him first. Our election was grounded in His election.

    Like

  35. John Bolt, Calvin College—There is a formal similarity between the theonomist and Anabaptist point of view here: the world’s present governmental structures are evil “powers” to be repudiated by Christ’s followers who are subject to the uncommon law of God (either Old Testament theocratic law in the case of theonomists or, in the case of Anabaptism, the new law of Christ). I call attention to this similarity because on this formal level at least it was alleged by his opponents that Hoeksema’s denial of common grace was functionally Anabaptist, an espousal of world-flight Christianity.

    This particular charge was led by Van Baalen. In his brochure, The Denial of Common Grace: Reformed or Anabaptist?, he judged the common grace controversy to be “the most important struggle faced by the CRC ” because it is the “conflict between Calvinism and Anabaptism.” Van Baalen cites a number of Reformed authorities as evidence for the proposition that a denial
    of common grace leads inevitably to Anabaptist world-flight. While Van Baalen acknowledges that there is an important difference between Hoeksema’s and the Anabaptist doctrine of grace, he still insists: “Nonetheless, both have this in common, that they know of only one grace and consequently judge the world in its totality because they can see no good in it.”

    In their response to Van Baalen, Hoeksema and Danhof categorically deny the accusations and challenge Van Baalen to find even one place in their writing where such world-flight is advocated. http://www.prca.org/articles/bolt.html

    Like

  36. Context (Title) “When All Means Some”
    This article, desiring to promote two-kingdom doctrine, fails to exalt Christ. If indeed the Scripture passage warrants that “all” means “some” then we must conclude the following: (1) Christ is the firstborn over “some” of creation. (2) By Christ “some” things were created; and “some” things were created through Him and for Him. (3) Christ is before “some” things. (4) In Christ “some” things hold together. (5) For in Christ “some” of the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. (6) In “some things” Christ might be preeminent (key tenet in two-kingdom theology). Colossians does not allow for a “some” thing interpretation. Christ is King and rules all things.

    God’s chosen ones should praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Christ as firstborn has dominion over all things, not merely some things. Christ created all things for His good purpose and pleasure. He is the end, as well as the cause of all things. Christ, our Creator, is eternal and holds all things together. In Christ all the fullness of God is pleased to dwell. Christ is fully furnished with all authority, not some authority.

    Secondly, Mr. Phillips is not referring to Christ’s preeminence. Throughout the paragraph Mr. Phillips’ writes about the abundance of Christ’s Mediatorial grace bestowed upon His elect. Notice the use of “I” throughout the paragraph. This is in stark contrast to Philippians where the pronouns (He, Him, His) are used. Consequently, Dr. Hart you are committing a fallacy when you link these two passages together (Fallacy: Equivocation of Terms). Therefore, when Mr. Phillips “puts limits on ‘all’”; we are discussing two different subjects. The Colossian passage is referring to Christ’s authority and glory. Mr. Phillips is referring to the elect’s benefits in redemption. No man can write “all” the benefits we have in Christ much less in a little blog post. Therefore, by its very nature there will be limits in communicating all the benefits we have in Christ. Even Paul did not individually mention all the benefits we have in Christ and limited by saying “Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

    Thirdly, no argument was every made as to Christianity being “otherworldly faith, not one that redeems cities, plumbing, and foreign policy.” Again you commit another logical fallacy (Fallacy: Begging the question). Christian’s do have liberty which Christ purchased for believers under the gospel. While this tenet is true, it does not refute the fact that Christ in executing the office of a king by “restraining and overcoming all their (believers) enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for His own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel (WLC Q45). In God’s most holy, wise and powerful providence, He preserves and governs all His creatures and all their actions (WSC Q11).

    I’m okay with that!

    Like

  37. Lee
    Posted November 7, 2015 at 9:59 pm | Permalink
    Context (Title) “When All Means Some”
    This article, desiring to promote two-kingdom doctrine, fails to exalt Christ. If indeed the Scripture passage warrants that “all” means “some” then we must conclude the following: (1) Christ is the firstborn over “some” of creation. (2) By Christ “some” things were created; and “some” things were created through Him and for Him. (3) Christ is before “some” things. (4) In Christ “some” things hold together. (5) For in Christ “some” of the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. (6) In “some things” Christ might be preeminent (key tenet in two-kingdom theology). Colossians does not allow for a “some” thing interpretation. Christ is King and rules all things.

    God’s chosen ones should praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Christ as firstborn has dominion over all things, not merely some things. Christ created all things for His good purpose and pleasure. He is the end, as well as the cause of all things. Christ, our Creator, is eternal and holds all things together. In Christ all the fullness of God is pleased to dwell. Christ is fully furnished with all authority, not some authority.

    Secondly, Mr. Phillips is not referring to Christ’s preeminence. Throughout the paragraph Mr. Phillips’ writes about the abundance of Christ’s Mediatorial grace bestowed upon His elect. Notice the use of “I” throughout the paragraph. This is in stark contrast to Philippians where the pronouns (He, Him, His) are used. Consequently, Dr. Hart you are committing a fallacy when you link these two passages together (Fallacy: Equivocation of Terms). Therefore, when Mr. Phillips “puts limits on ‘all’”; we are discussing two different subjects. The Colossian passage is referring to Christ’s authority and glory. Mr. Phillips is referring to the elect’s benefits in redemption. No man can write “all” the benefits we have in Christ much less in a little blog post. Therefore, by its very nature there will be limits in communicating all the benefits we have in Christ. Even Paul did not individually mention all the benefits we have in Christ and limited by saying “Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

    Thirdly, no argument was every made as to Christianity being “otherworldly faith, not one that redeems cities, plumbing, and foreign policy.” Again you commit another logical fallacy (Fallacy: Begging the question). Christian’s do have liberty which Christ purchased for believers under the gospel. While this tenet is true, it does not refute the fact that Christ in executing the office of a king by “restraining and overcoming all their (believers) enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for His own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel (WLC Q45). In God’s most holy, wise and powerful providence, He preserves and governs all His creatures and all their actions (WSC Q11).

    I’m okay with that!

    No wonder Dr. Hart spends the lion’s share of his time attacking Catholicism instead of the reformation. It’s easier to tilt at windmills than a theological junkyard.

    Like

  38. Dr. Hart, thank you for your reply.
    I would like to point out to you the word “of” in the passage (Matthew 18:36). Notice it is not saying, the Kingdom is not ‘in’ this world, but ‘of’ this world. Christians should be active in this world because we are of the kingdom of Christ. “The Kings and Princes of this world are commanded to kiss the Son of God (Psalm 2:10-12) and are called to submit to His authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness” (Calvin Commentary _ John p. 210).

    Your question to me carries two immediate problems: First, your question is loaded not seeking a genuine answer. (Fallacy: Loaded Question) Coupled with this you assume or take for granted two -kingdom theology is true without providing any proof (Fallacy: Fallacy of Assumption).

    Like

  39. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 8, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink
    vd, t, so what’s your excuse for spending all you keyboard time attacking Old Life? We’re so small and all that.

    Not attacking. Correcting. Every word, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’

    Like

  40. Lee
    Posted November 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
    Dr. Hart, thank you for your reply.

    Your question to me carries two immediate problems: First, your question is loaded not seeking a genuine answer. (Fallacy: Loaded Question) Coupled with this you assume or take for granted two -kingdom theology is true without providing any proof (Fallacy: Fallacy of Assumption).

    Heh heh. Quick learner.

    Like

  41. Lee,

    Is “of” a Greek word? Aramaic?

    The history of the West is littered with a distinction between the temporal and the spiritual, between the civil and the ecclesiastical, between the earthly and the heavenly. It’s even biblical — all over the apostle Paul’s writings. If you want to ignore history and Scripture fine.

    Did I prove 2 kingdom theology in the post? Probably not. But if you’re here reading this blog it’s likely because I have devoted a lot of energy and space to the idea elsewhere. Not very kind of you to judge me on one post.

    That’s on you.

    Like

  42. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 8, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, “quick learner” indeed. Just like you, Lee never reads a book but only blogs.

    Every word including ‘and’ and ‘the.’

    Like

  43. Dr. Hart,
    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post, however, I would prefer you to answer my argument rather than posting ad hominem attacks (Fallacy: Ad Hominem) by claiming that I am ignorant of history and “never read a book but only blogs”. I am new to your blog. In fact I had never heard of you before you visited my congregation a couple months ago. It was at this time you mentioned that you are a two-kingdom adherent. Just like your blog, you never supported you position you just asserted your authority as evidence for two-kingdom theology. I thought there might be more substance on your blogs to validate your position. Therefore, please do not think my words are unkind. At no time have I belittled you nor attacked you personally.

    Secondly, I am not disagreeing that the Bible distinguishes between the temporal and the spiritual, between the civil and the ecclesiastical, between the earthly and the heavenly. God has given a sphere of influence to the church that differs from the civil government. However, in both spheres they are under the Sovereign Lordship of Christ.

    Thirdly, I am not ignoring Scripture or history. Remember I quoted Psalm 2:10-12 (best to read the entire Psalm and notice Christ’s Lordship over the nations). “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” Explaining this passage, Keil and Delitzsch affirm that “Jahve (Jehovah) has appointed the dominion of the world to His Son: on His part therefore it needs only the desire for it, to appropriate to Himself that which is allotted to Him. He needs only to be willing, and that He is willing is shown by His appealing to the authority delegated to Him by Jahve against the rebels. This authority has a supplement in v. 9, which is most terrible for the rebellious ones.” (Keil & Delitzsch Psalm 2 p. 57). All authority is Christ’s. This is the Biblical truth and it is not only all over the apostle Paul’s writing but the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

    Fourthly, since you mentioned history, being a historian yourself I am sure you know about John Calvin’s work The Necessity of Reforming the Church. Historically the Reformed Church was being persecuted by the atrocious attacks from the Pope and his agents. Calvin, petitioned Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor to intervene to protect the Reformed church. In this work Calvin pleads for intervention by Charles V.

    “In the present condition of the empire, your Imperial Majesty, and you, Most Illustrious Princes, necessarily involved in various cares, and distracted by a multiplicity of business, are agitated, and in a manner tempest-tossed. But be always assured, that of all works this one is undoubtedly entitled to take precedence. I feel what nerve, what earnestness, what urgency, what ardour, the treatment of this subject requires. And I am well aware that persons will not be wanting to express their surprise, that on a subject so noble and splendid I should be so cold. But what could I do? I bend under its weight and magnitude: and I therefore see not how I can do better than set the matter before you simply, without any embellishment of words, that you may afterwards ponder and scrutinize it. First, call to mind the fearful calamities of the Church, which might move to pity even minds of iron. Nay, set before your eyes her squalid and unsightly forms, and the sad devastation which is everywhere beheld. How long, pray, will you allow the spouse of Christ, the mother of you all, to lie thus prostrated and afflicted — thus too, when she is imploring your protection and when the means of relief are in your hand? Next, consider how much worse calamities impend. Final destruction cannot be far off, unless you interpose with the utmost speed. Christ will, indeed, in the way which to him seems good, preserve his Church miraculously, and beyond human expectation; but this I say, that the consequence of a little longer delay on your part will be, that in Germany we shall not have even the form of a Church. Look around, and see how may indications threaten that ruin which it is your duty to prevent, and announce that it is actually at hand. These things speak loud enough, though I were silent.” (Calvin – Necessity of Reforming the Church p. 231-232)

    Important: Notice historically, Calvin petitions Charles V a government official to intervene to protect the Church. This is not merely a gentle petition! On the contrary, Calvin emphatically stated that it is Charles’ duty to protect the Church. Calvin urged the HRE to interpose.

    Even our most recent Presbyterian history in America bears out this truth. As evidence I quote Machen.

    “The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of all connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought. The Christian, therefore, cannot be indifferent to any branch of earnest human endeavor. It must all be brought into some relation to the gospel. It must be studied either in order to be demonstrated as false, or else in order to be made useful in advancing the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom must be advanced not merely extensively, but also intensively. The Church must seek to conquer not merely every man for Christ, but also the whole of man. We are accustomed to encourage ourselves in our discouragements by the thought of the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. No less inspiring is the other aspect of that same great consummation. That will also be a time when doubts have disappeared, when every contradiction has been removed, when all of science converges to one great conviction, when all of art is devoted to one great end, when all of human thinking is permeated by the refining, ennobling influence of Jesus, when every thought has been brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.” (The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 11, 1913).

    In conclusion, Machen believed that Christ’s authority extended to this world. This truth bears out in the fact that Machen believed that science and art and all of human reason should be brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ. Machen of course was a “NEO CALVINIST”.

    But That’s on you.

    Like

  44. Lee, 2k doesn’t deny that Christ rules all the world. Read more 2k.

    What 2k asserts is that Christ rules his church differently from other institutions that order human beings. In executing this redemptive office of King, Christ rules his people and protects them from their enemies. In his rule as creator, he is lord of both unbelievers and believers, and appoints magistrates who preserve the order among both believers and unbelievers who as citizens of a nation are not enemies but are neighbors.

    Calvin operated in a context of an established church where everyone except Jews were thought or expected to be Christians. We don’t.

    I was in your neck of the woods a lot more than a couple months ago. But time flies when audiences hear me. That’s on me.

    Like

  45. Dr. Hart, thank you for your reply.
    You stated that Calvin operated in a context of an established church where everyone except Jews were thought or expected to be Christians. This is not a true statement. A cursory reading of Calvin’s Institutes reflect that they did not hold to this position. Servetus is a perfect example. Again I would point you to Calvin’s Commentary where he mentions that Kings and Princes of THIS WORLD are commanded to kiss the Son of God. “The Kings and Princes of this world are commanded to kiss the Son of God (Psalm 2:10-12) and are called to submit to His authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness” (Calvin Commentary _ John p. 210). Consequently, Calvin does not limit this to the European theater but rather holds forth the truth to every King to every Prince.

    Like

  46. Lee, why do you think Psalm 2 has to do with politics? Calvin, your boy, doesn’t think so:

    The term kiss refers to the solemn token or sign of honor which subjects were wont to yield to their sovereigns. The sum is, that God is defrauded of his honor if he is not served in Christ. The Hebrew word בר Bar, signifies both a son and an elect person; but in whatever way you take it, the meaning will remain the same. Christ was truly chosen of the Father, who has given him all power, that he alone should stand pre-eminent above both men and angels. On which account also he is said to be “sealed” by God, (John 6:27) because a peculiar dignity was conferred upon him, which removes him to a distance from all creatures. Some interpreters expound it, kiss or embrace what is pure, 30 which is a strange and rather forced interpretation. For my part, I willingly retain the name of son, which answers well to a former sentence, where it was said, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
    What follows immediately after is a warning to those who despise Christ, that their pride shall not go unpunished, as if he had said, As Christ is not despised without indignity being done to the Father, who hath adorned him with his own glory, so the Father himself will not allow such an invasion of his sacred rights to pass unpunished. And to teach them to beware of vainly deceiving themselves with the hope of a lengthened delay, and from their present ease indulging themselves in vain pleasures, they are plainly told that his wrath will be kindled in a moment. For we see, when God for a time connives at the wicked, and bears with them, how they abuse this forbearance, by growing more presumptuous, because they do not think of his judgments otherwise, than according to sight and feeling. Some interpreters, I know, explain the Hebrew word כמעט, Camoat, which we have rendered, in a moment, in a different way, namely, that as soon as God’s wrath is kindled in even a small degree, it will be all over with the reprobate. But it is more suitable to apply it to time, and to view it as a warning to the proud not to harden themselves in their stupidity and indifference, nor flatter themselves from the patience of God, with the hope of escaping unpunished. Moreover, although this word appears to be put for the purpose of giving a reason of what goes before, 31 namely, why those who refuse to kiss the Son shall perish, and although the Hebrew word כי, ki, signifies more frequently for than when, yet I am unwilling to depart from the commonly received translation, and have thought it proper to render the original word by the adverb when, which denotes both the reason and time of what is predicated. Some explain the phrases, to perish from the way, as meaning, a perverse way, or wicked manner of listing. Others resolve it thus, lest your way perish, according to that saying of the first psalm, the way of the ungodly shall perish. But I am rather inclined to attach to the words a different meaning, and to view them as a denunciation against the ungodly, by which they are warned that the wrath of God will cut them off when they think themselves to be only in the middle of their race. We know how the despisers of God are accustomed to flatter themselves in prosperity, and run to great excess in riot. The prophet, therefore, with great propriety, threatens that when they shall say, Peace and safety, reckoning themselves at a great distance from their end, they shall be cut off by a sudden destruction, (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

    Looks like the Psalm is a call to faith and repentance, not to Christian rulers.

    That’s on David.

    Like

  47. D.G.,
    Have you noticed that you substituted the word ‘issues’ for the word ‘questions.’ We have questions that had not been asked during Biblical times. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t use what the Bible teaches to help answer those questions especially when those questions deal with some of the same issues the Bible deals with.

    Like

  48. Curt, in Greek “issues” means “questions.”

    So you got me on a technicality. So what? The Bible didn’t answer questions that we are asking. Should I change my gender? My cats think so.

    No matter what the answer, it doesn’t add up to “thus says the Lord.”

    And that’s where I’ve got you.

    Like

  49. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 9, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink
    Curt, in Greek “issues” means “questions.”

    So you got me on a technicality. So what? The Bible didn’t answer questions that we are asking. Should I change my gender? My cats think so.

    No matter what the answer, it doesn’t add up to “thus says the Lord.”

    And that’s where I’ve got you.

    You’ve got nothing.

    But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted November 8, 2015 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
    Lee, 2k doesn’t deny that Christ rules all the world. Read more 2k.

    What 2k asserts is that Christ rules his church differently from other institutions that order human beings.

    Which is in the Bible right…where?

    Lee
    Posted November 8, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
    Dr. Hart,

    Important: Notice historically, Calvin petitions Charles V a government official to intervene to protect the Church. This is not merely a gentle petition! On the contrary, Calvin emphatically stated that it is Charles’ duty to protect the Church. Calvin urged the HRE to interpose.

    Even our most recent Presbyterian history in America bears out this truth. As evidence I quote Machen.

    “The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of all connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought. The Christian, therefore, cannot be indifferent to any branch of earnest human endeavor. It must all be brought into some relation to the gospel. It must be studied either in order to be demonstrated as false, or else in order to be made useful in advancing the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom must be advanced not merely extensively, but also intensively. The Church must seek to conquer not merely every man for Christ, but also the whole of man. We are accustomed to encourage ourselves in our discouragements by the thought of the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. No less inspiring is the other aspect of that same great consummation. That will also be a time when doubts have disappeared, when every contradiction has been removed, when all of science converges to one great conviction, when all of art is devoted to one great end, when all of human thinking is permeated by the refining, ennobling influence of Jesus, when every thought has been brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.” (The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 11, 1913).

    In conclusion, Machen believed that Christ’s authority extended to this world. This truth bears out in the fact that Machen believed that science and art and all of human reason should be brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ. Machen of course was a “NEO CALVINIST”.

    But That’s on you.

    Dr. Calvinism: My Calvinism stands mute. Interesting.

    Like

  50. Dr. Hart,
    Thank you for the information regarding Calvin. I unfortunately do not know where to search for the quotes since there was no reference for me to read them in context. However, I do not believe I have misrepresented Calvin. The following quote reflects the following views Calvin has regarding civil government. First, there is a difference between the kingdom of God and civil government (both of us agree on this point). Calvin continues by stating the role of civil rulers and their responsibility to promote Christian religion. The quote ends with the understanding that I Timothy 2:2 gives a charge to civil rulers to protect and guard the condition of the church. Here is the quote.

    Those who are desirous to introduce anarchy object that, though anciently kings and judges presided over a rude people, yet that, in the present day, that servile mode of governing does not at all accord with the perfection which Christ brought with his gospel. Herein they betray not only their ignorance, but their devilish pride, arrogating to themselves a perfection of which not even a hunderedth part is seen in them. But be they what they may, the refutation is easy. For when David say, “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth”; “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry” (Psalm 2:10,12), he does not order them to lay aside their authority and return to private life, but to make the power with which they are invested subject to Christ, that he may rule over all. *(Side Note: Calvin, my boy, does think it is about politics) In like manner, when Isaiah predicts of the church, “Kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and their queens they nursing-mothers” (Isaiah 49:23), he does not id them abdicate their authority; he rather gives them the honorable appellation of patrons of the pious worshipers of God; for the prophecy refers to the advent of Christ. *(Side Note: Again Calvin sees the advent of Christ is linked to Kings and Queens nursing or caring for the Church and its propagation throughout the world. – Political Influence). I intentionally omit very many passages which occur throughout Scripture, and especially in the psalms, in which the due authority of all rulers is asserted. The most celebrated passage of all is that in which Paul, admonishing Timothy, that prayers are to be offered up in the public assembly for kings, subjoins the reason, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Timothy 2:2). In these words, he recommends the condition of the church to their protection and guardianship.” Institutes Book 5, Chapter 20, Section 5.

    Consequently, the point Calvin makes is not only in Psalm 2 but in other passages, some of which he did not mention, point to the rulers responsibility to promote the Christian religion. This truth is also seen in another quote as follows:

    But we shall have a fitter opportunity of speaking of the use of civil government. *(Context again civil government) All we wish to be understood at present is, that it is perfect barbarism to think of exterminating it, its use among men being not less than that of bread and water, light and air, while its dignity is much more excellent. Its object is not merely, like those things, to enable men to breathe, eat, drink, and be warmed (though it certainly includes all these, while it enables them to live together); this, I say, is not its only object *(Note: Calvin is getting ready to add additional responsibilities civil government are obligated to follow under Christ’s Lordship). but it is, that no idolatry, no blasphemy against the name of God, no calumnies against his truth, nor other offenses to religion, break out and be disseminated among the people *(Wow! Government must not allow these wicked offenses to enter society. He continues); that the public quiet be not disturbed, that every man’s property be kept secure, that men may carry on innocent commerce with each other, that honesty and modesty be cultivated; in short, that a public form of religion may exist among Christians, and humanity among men.” (SUPER WOW! Calvin wants religion specifically Christian religion to be fostered by the government). Institutes Book Four; Chapter 20; Section 3.

    Dr. Hart, Calvin believed there is a difference between the spiritual and the temporal. He also believed the civil polity was duty bound to obey God and rule in righteousness. This cannot be ignored from his own writings.

    Like

  51. Lee: Calvin believed there is a difference between the spiritual and the temporal. He also believed the civil polity was duty bound to obey God and rule in righteousness.

    Absolutely correct. He also believed that civil polity was not bound by OT judicial law (Inst 4.20).

    Here’s the thing. The two major Reformed confessions, Westminster and Belgic, have both been revised so that they retain the difference between spiritual and temporal but no longer require civil polity to directly enforce the first table of the law. From the UCRNA website:

    We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates; willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose He has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evil doers and for the protection of them that do well. Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect
    the sacred ministry,* that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by everyone, as He commands in His Word.

    Moreover, it is the bounden duty of every one, of whatever state, quality, or condition he may be, to
    subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due honor and respect to them, and to obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the Word of God; to supplicate for them in their prayers that God may rule and guide them in all their ways, and that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.

    Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and magistrates and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order which God has established among men.

    *In the original text this sentence read as follows: “Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also that they protect the sacred ministry, and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship, that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted.”

    The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1910, recognizing the unbiblical teaching, contained in this sentence, concerning the freedom of religion and concerning the duty of the state to suppress false religion, saw fit to add an explanatory footnote. The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1938, agreeing with the Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1910 as to the unbiblical character of the teaching referred to, but recognizing a conflict between the objectionable clauses in the Article and its footnote, decided to eliminate the footnote and to make the change in the text of the Article which appears above, corresponding to the change adopted in 1905 by the General Synod of the
    “Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland.” (See Christian Reformed Church Acts of Synod, 1910, pp.9,104-105; also Christian Reformed Church Acts of Synod, 1938, p. 17.). The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1958 approved the following substitute statement which has been referred to other Reformed Churches accepting the Belgic Confession as their creed for evaluation and reaction: “And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, in subjection to the law of God, while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them and with the means belonging to them, to remove every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship, in order that the Word of God may have free course, the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress, and every anti-christian power may be resisted.”

    What do you make of the revision and the explanatory footnote?

    Like

  52. Jeff,
    I appreciate your question, but sadly at this time I do not have significant knowledge of the debate that went into the revisions of these confessions. Clearly, we want to avoid falling into the Anabaptist ditch that Christians should avoid any activity in government. But we do not want to swing into the Erastian ditch that government gets entangled into Church polity.

    What are your thoughts?

    Like

  53. Maybe just one narrow point?

    How is Jesus’ rule manifested, and what should the church do, when…

    * When the minister preaches a false gospel,
    * When the magistrate restricts the preaching of the gospel,
    * When the magistrate compels the citizen to break God’s law,
    * When the magistrate permits citizens to break God’s law.

    I would say, “act”, “petition”, “petition”, “ignore”, and that Jesus’ rule is manifested in the church by taking every thought captive (prescriptive law), but in the world by His providential decrees.

    Notice, though, that I did focus on what the church as a body should do. Individual Christians who happen to find themselves magistrates are answering a different set of questions.

    Like

  54. Lee
    Posted November 9, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
    This truth is also seen in another quote as follows:

    But we shall have a fitter opportunity of speaking of the use of civil government. *(Context again civil government) All we wish to be understood at present is, that it is perfect barbarism to think of exterminating it, its use among men being not less than that of bread and water, light and air, while its dignity is much more excellent. Its object is not merely, like those things, to enable men to breathe, eat, drink, and be warmed (though it certainly includes all these, while it enables them to live together); this, I say, is not its only object *(Note: Calvin is getting ready to add additional responsibilities civil government are obligated to follow under Christ’s Lordship). but it is, that no idolatry, no blasphemy against the name of God, no calumnies against his truth, nor other offenses to religion, break out and be disseminated among the people *(Wow! Government must not allow these wicked offenses to enter society. He continues); that the public quiet be not disturbed, that every man’s property be kept secure, that men may carry on innocent commerce with each other, that honesty and modesty be cultivated; in short, that a public form of religion may exist among Christians, and humanity among men.” (SUPER WOW! Calvin wants religion specifically Christian religion to be fostered by the government). Institutes Book Four; Chapter 20; Section 3.

    Dr. Hart, Calvin believed there is a difference between the spiritual and the temporal. He also believed the civil polity was duty bound to obey God and rule in righteousness. This cannot be ignored from his own writings.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted November 9, 2015 at 9:07 pm | Permalink
    Lee, I know that Calvin believed that. He’s not the Bible. That’s on him.

    Whose Calvinism is it, anyway?

    Like

  55. @ Lee:

    My answer?

    The large picture question would have to be, “What do I need to know in order to do my job to the glory of God?”

    That would include

    * An understanding of right and wrong,
    * An understanding of the law, both letter and precedent,
    * An understanding of people and politics.

    The Scripture will inform some of that, but it will not give a comprehensive answer to most questions.

    For one thing, most magistrates are middle-men. They have laws and magistrates above them that constrain their amount of leeway to interpret by letter, ruling, and precedent.

    Thus you get Kim Davis: She can look at the Scripture and say that marriage is ontologically a relationship between husband and wife. Her superiors say otherwise. Now what? The Scripture doesn’t give a clear answer as to whether to give in, resist (as she did), or resign.

    For another, it is unclear from Scripture whether a Christian magistrate should stand on principle for every issue OR take a pragmatic approach to issues.

    For example, granted that getting high is a sin tantamount to drunkenness. Suppose further that it were proven statistically that restrictions on drug use actually increased drug use.

    Would the Christian magistrate then reason, “Despite the perverse incentive effect, taking drugs is still wrong, so we must outlaw it; we need to find a way to get around the perverse incentive”?

    Or should he reason, “A society with lower drug use rates is a better society; hence we should remove the restrictions so as to get the drug use down”?

    The Scripture doesn’t help us choose between those options.

    Finally, it’s an interesting thing that Americans are fundamentally beholden to a document and not a king. We can sometimes talk as if we were “king for a day”, but the actual situation we live in is that we are citizens in a country whose First Amendment refuses to enforce the First Commandment. A whole lot of interesting stuff flows out of that fact.

    Back to you: What questions do you believe a Christian magistrate needs to answer?

    Like

  56. Jeff,
    First, what do Christians (citizens and magistrates) do in a nation where the society is fundamentally opposed to Christian tenets? While there are many who argue the anti-Christian position of the Constitution (Gary North), I am not yet convinced of the Framers position that the First Amendment meant “religion” general as opposed to “religion” specific. As mentioned North holds this position.
    (Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution) John Witherspoon stated: “God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one may in the issue, tend to the support and establishment of both” September 12, 1787
    (A Plea for the Constitution of the United States Wounded in the House of its Guardians) 1886. Noah Webster: “The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures out to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.”
    In other words, the original intent of the framers tends to move us toward a definition of the Christian religion (specific) rather than religion general. Therefore, the statement that Congress should not establish a religion is more in line with a denominations rather than beliefs contrary to Christianity.
    This position holds forth when viewing the ratification of the state constitutions.

    Constitution of Delaware 1776
    Article 22 “Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before talking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: “I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for everymore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.:
    Article 29 “There shall be no establishment of any religious sect (More clear than US constitution) in this State in preference to another; and no clergyman or preacher of the gospel, of any denomination, shall be capable of holding any civil office in this state, or of being a member of either of the branches of the legislature, while they continue in the exercise of the pastoral function.”

    You can find the same with other states as well. South Carolina is an excellent example. Notice the state constitutions were ratified after the U.S. Constitution. While this may be different than your original blog post, it bears out either (IF the U.S. Constitution violates the first commandment – the state Constitutions reflect that no one was allowed to run for office unless they were outwardly Christians) Some argue that the U.S. Constitution supersedes any constitution the states may ratify. However, the same men who ratified the U.S. Constitution ratified their state Constitutions. Consequently it does not follow that the U.S. Constitution based upon its original intent would deny or even reject the First Commandment.

    Anyway, my son wants me to read to him so I will sign off.

    Like

  57. Lee- You are correct, religion was left to the states. The First Amendment didn’t apply to them. In fact, Congregationalism was the official state church of Massachusetts until it was disestablished in 1833, in no small part because the unitarian heretics had seized control of many of the churches.

    http://tinyurl.com/nayp2hb

    Like

  58. @ Lee,

    Sure, but …

    Virginia disestablishes in 1786. Did the Constitution require it to re-establish?

    My point is not that the First A is necessarily anti-1st Commandment, but that it refuses to enforce the 1st Commandment.

    That distinction is actually one of the big fault lines: Is non-enforcement of X tantamount to anti-X? Generally, 2kers will say No. Anti-2kers will often implicitly argue Yes.

    Like

  59. Jeff,
    I am not sure I am following what you are asking. My point is that the First A is talking about not establishing a Christian denomination rather than opening up the idea of any religion general. Consequently, it is not that it does not enforce the First Commandment but rather it does not interfere with how denominations engage in the worship of the Triune God.

    I do not believe the Constitution disestablishes the constitution of the state based upon US Constitution’s original intent. Religion is not merely any religion but formally the Christian religion as expressed in the State Constitutions. For instance, South Carolina’s Constitution 1778 Article 11
    “Whereas the ministers of the Gospel are by their profession dedicated to the service of God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function, therefore no minister of the Gospel or public Preacher of any religious persuasion (context requires Christian) while he continues in the exercise of his pastoral function, and for two years after, shall be eligible either as governor, lieutenant-governor, a member of the senate, house of representatives, or privy council in the state.”
    Article 21 Section 38 “The Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed, and is hereby constituted and declared to be, the established religion of this state.” It continues:

    1st. That there is one eternal God, and a future state of rewards and punishments.

    2d. That God is publicly to be worshipped.

    3d. That the Christian religion is the true religion

    4th. That the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are of divine inspiration, and are the rule of faith and practice.

    5th. That it is lawful and the duty of every man being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to the truth.

    Guarding its States’ Rights, the leaders prior to the Great war passed a Nullification Act in 1832 in opposition to high tariffs imposed by the northern Federal Government. The day Lincoln was elected President, South Carolina passed a resolution considering withdrawal from the united States. On December 20, 1861, an ordinance declared itself from from the United States. South Carolina insisted on an immediate withdraw of Federal troops from Charleston harbor, but Lincoln choose to defend Fort Sumter. On April 12, 1861, South Carolina defended its rights to secede from the union by attacking Fort Sumter. Consequently, the Great War began. It was not until 1868 that a new constitution was adopted.

    What does all this mean? First, the united States Constitution does not define “religion” to mean Islam, Hinduism, or any other false belief. Rather it restricts Congress from favoring a particular denomination within the Christian religion. It gave the States authority to establish a religion as seen in the South Carolina constitution 1776. Therefore, it does not establish an anti-enforcement clause to the First Commandment. The First A does not relate to the First Commandment, rather it relates to denominational preferences.

    How do I know this is the proper interpretation? First, because we know that no State was allowed to violate any of the bill of rights. They were not allowed to pass laws that would have infringed upon the citizen’s rights. Since S.C. was allowed to pass the establishment of religion clause in its constitution, and it was not removed until after the Great War, then it follows that it was not a violation.

    In addition, a fascinating South Carolina Supreme court case states the following: “The U.S. Constitution allows it (Christianity) as part of the common law.” see ( http://candst.tripod.com/case11.htm ) This too supports that the framers did not set up the constitution to fighting against the Christian religion, but desired to avoiding denominational wars that occurred in Europe.

    Like

  60. TVD
    Posted November 12, 2015 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Have at Mr. Cagle, the high school teacher–you’re doing OK. And Dr.Hart, if he wants a go. He hates the Religious Right, you know. It’s kind of his “conservative” claim to fame.

    From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism

    http://www.amazon.com/From-Billy-Graham-Sarah-Palin/dp/080286628X

    Know what you’re dealing with here. They’re very invested in this theology. To the death. Truth is not a consideration here, only survival. They will say or do anything to win.

    Like

  61. vd, t, “Truth is not a consideration here, only survival.”

    Same is true for the Vatican. And you’re worried about Old Life. Way to speak truth to power, dude.

    Like

  62. Lee: I do not believe the Constitution disestablishes the constitution of the state based upon US Constitution’s original intent. Religion is not merely any religion but formally the Christian religion as expressed in the State Constitutions.

    In terms of the 1789 Constitution, I would agree.

    But we’re talking past each other a bit. Your point is that the Constitution permitted states to establish Christianity. Yes, it did.

    But it also permitted states (VA, eg) to not establish Christianity. And in this way, the 1st A differs mightily from the 1st Commandment, which is a moral imperative. God calls all men everywhere to worship Him truly. The 1st Amendment (in original intent) gave freedom to states to require their citizens to worship, but only if the states wanted to do so.

    There’s more. It is one thing to establish some kind of generic, non-denominational Christianity. It is another to take seriously the full requirements of the 1st Commandment (see WLC 103,104) that forbids us, for example, to pray to saints.

    The 1st Amendment was perfectly happy to let Maryland be an established Catholic state whose citizens certainly prayed to saints. The 1st Commandment, not so much.

    So I look at the situation and say that the 1st Amendment refuses to enforce the 1st Commandment.

    Like

  63. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 12, 2015 at 6:35 am | Permalink
    vd, t, “Truth is not a consideration here, only survival.”

    Same is true for the Vatican. And you’re worried about Old Life. Way to speak truth to power, dude.

    Good that you admit your unconcern for truth, which we see on exhibit here once again as you try to slip out of Lee’s very good arguments. But your changing the subject to yet another non sequitur attack on Catholicism will fool only the dullest of your fans.

    Most interesting his his quote from your putative hero JG Machen, which you were conspicuusly obliged to ignore, as it brings your own do-it-yourself “Two Kingdoms” Calvinizing crashing down about your ears.

    Even our most recent Presbyterian history in America bears out this truth. As evidence I quote Machen.

    “The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of all connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought. The Christian, therefore, cannot be indifferent to any branch of earnest human endeavor. It must all be brought into some relation to the gospel. It must be studied either in order to be demonstrated as false, or else in order to be made useful in advancing the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom must be advanced not merely extensively, but also intensively. The Church must seek to conquer not merely every man for Christ, but also the whole of man. We are accustomed to encourage ourselves in our discouragements by the thought of the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. No less inspiring is the other aspect of that same great consummation. That will also be a time when doubts have disappeared, when every contradiction has been removed, when all of science converges to one great conviction, when all of art is devoted to one great end, when all of human thinking is permeated by the refining, ennobling influence of Jesus, when every thought has been brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.” (The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 11, 1913).

    Word.

    Like

  64. Jeff, (Proverbs 27:17)
    Thank you for the recent post. I can see your point how the First A appears to take a neutral position regarding the worship of the Triune God. I too agree that, although imperfect in this world, God calls all men to worship God as he regulates in the Scriptures. Therefore, the Bible never accepts the modern concept of neutrality toward religion (generic) since neutrality is impossible. Either we are for Christ or we are against Him. *(Thank you, I am convicted of using a lesser authority to discuss our political situation).
    Our current nation has moved from religious neutrality toward religious pluralism. This is the case because too many Christians have accepted the myth of neutrality in any area of life. This is why Machen’s quote is so pertinent to the discussion.

    “The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of all connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought. The Christian, therefore, cannot be indifferent to any branch of earnest human endeavor. It must all be brought into some relation to the gospel. It must be studied either in order to be demonstrated as false, or else in order to be made useful in advancing the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom must be advanced not merely extensively, but also intensively. The Church must seek to conquer not merely every man for Christ, but also the whole of man. We are accustomed to encourage ourselves in our discouragements by the thought of the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. No less inspiring is the other aspect of that same great consummation. That will also be a time when doubts have disappeared, when every contradiction has been removed, when all of science converges to one great conviction, when all of art is devoted to one great end, when all of human thinking is permeated by the refining, ennobling influence of Jesus, when every thought has been brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.” (The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 11, 1913).

    Since the Bible never accepts the modern concept of neutrality toward religion, or as Machen eloquently addressed, any aspect of life, we should not be fooled into thinking that men’ worldview will not have societal consequences. The predominate tenet within society will be reflected in its arts, education, judicial decisions, legislatures, and all fields of study. Therefore, Christians cannot refuse to be salt and light to culture (Matthew 5:13-14). We cannot reject the Biblical teaching that the state has a responsibility to obey and enforce God’s law. *(There is no neutrality with Christ). The state (nations) are obligated to kiss the Son (Psalm 2). Those nations who refuse will fall to God’s judgement on idolatry like Egypt (Isaiah 19).

    In conclusion, Christians should be working toward the great commission, the first commandment and Christ’s universal kingship. To do otherwise is to invite religious pluralism!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s