Integration and Separatism

I’m behind on podcasts at Reformed Forum and Proto-Protestant nudged me to listen to Camden Bucey’s discussion with Alan Strange about the spirituality of the church. I was not surprised to learn that Alan (and Camden) have concerns about aspects of the spirituality of the church as articulated by contemporary 2k folks like David VanDrunen, John Muether, and mmmmmeeeeeeEEEEE. I was surprised, though, to hear the word “integration” used as much as Alan voiced it during the hour-long recording. Alan wants to affirm the spirituality of the church and on this we agree — the church can’t take a stand on say the War between the States. But he also wants some measure of integration between the church’s witness and civil authority and seems to think that the Scottish Presbyterians are a good model of such engagement.

I am not sure that I would put my disagreements as starkly as Proto-Protestant does:

His final appeal to Acts 17 struck me as patronising and pedantic if not silly. Of course we preach the Word. Does any Two Kingdom adherent deny that? We call all men to repent. That’s a far cry from arguing for the Sacralisation of culture and the state, let alone taking covenant law and ‘integrating’ it with the temporal non-holy order. There is no Biblical precedent for his view in either the Old or New Testaments and he assumes categories completely outside anything found in the Apostolic writings. Instead what he suggests is that natural fallen man can be compelled to ‘keep’ God’s commandments and work together with the Spirit to build the Kingdom of God on Earth in the form of institutions and culture.

Calvin’s comments on the state are wrong. He misinterprets Romans 13 let alone Christ’s words concerning Caesar in Matthew 22. The state is not holy or redemptive. It is temporary and yet serves a ‘ministerial’ purpose. That’s true with Assyria, Persia and in the New Testament context, the Roman Empire under Nero. The Reformed tradition got this desperately wrong and sadly their view has become the Evangelical standard.

It is a caricature to suggest that 2k folks don’t think the church can preach about abortion or same-sex marriage. The Bible forbids the taking of innocent life and has no grounds for marriage between two men or two women. But just because the church preaches against idolatry doesn’t mean that the OPC, for instance, opposes Roman Catholics or Muslims living and worshiping in the United States. Morality is one thing. Civil legislation and public policy are another. And if Hodge was correct that the Presbyterian Church could not back the federal government during the beginning of the Civil War (as Gardiner Spring proposed) even if the Bible requires subjection to the powers that be, is it really that far to go to say that the church cannot endorse a politician or legislative initiative even though the church affirms the morality for which said politician might stand?

But here’s the aspect of this discussion that caught my ear. What does it mean for the church to be integrated with the state? At first, I thought of the Roman Catholic position on integralism. Here’s how one Roman Catholic blogger describes it:

Contrary to popular belief, Catholic integralism—or what I shall refer to simply as “integralism” for the duration of this essay—is not first and foremost a political program. For the integral understanding of Christianity begins first with the supernatural society established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, namely the Corpus Mysticum, the Holy Catholic Church, which transcends the temporal sphere and has for its end the salvation of souls. By carrying out its mission in the world, the Catholic Church possesses indirect power over the temporal sphere which is exercised for the good of souls. This indirect power in no way sullies the Church’s divine mission nor dilutes it by way of overextension since the civil authority retains at all times direct power over temporal matters.

Of course, Alan does not endorse this or even Erastianism. But integration is too close to integralism for that word to work for Protestants (in my book).

As matters now stand, churches in the United States are related (integrated?) to the civil government but obviously not in the way that the Church of Scotland is to the United Kingdom. The latter is likely somewhere in the constitutional provisions for religion in the realm. In the United States churches relate to the federal and state governments as tax exempt institutions. That means that churches don’t pay taxes and that contributions to churches can be deducted by individual tax payers. That’s not a recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord. It means the OPC is no better or worse than Rotary (another 501c3 organization). But it is a relationship between church and state at which Christians should not sneeze.

And mind you, the church and Christians in the U.S. fair better than Christians during the Roman Empire. What kind of integration to Paul or Peter experience? Did they have a tax-exempt status?

If we want more overt forms of integration, though, what might that involve? If the United States is going to give legal preferences to Christians, does that include Protestants and Roman Catholics, Calvinists and Arminians, Lutherans and Wesleyans? It’s not a foolish question since even the venerable Puritans (who did believe in the spirituality of the church) wouldn’t let Baptists or Lutherans in Massachusetts Bay. Then again, if we want religious freedom for believers (as many seem to since gay marriage went on-line), then where does the good form of religion to free stop and become the bad kind of faith? In other words, isn’t the system we have for church state relations the best we can do without an established religion/church?

But let’s complicate the idea of integration even more. Churches are integrated in the federal government through the military chaplaincy program. But boy oh boy does that look like a disagreeable relationship. In the Armed Services, Orthodox Presbyterian chaplains minister God’s word cheek-by-jowl with female Lutherans and male Wiccans. Of course, if that sounds provocative, it should. If Orthodox Presbyterians insisted on being separate from modernist Presbyterians in the PCUSA, and if those same OP’s remained separate from Arminians in the National Association of Evangelicals, why wouldn’t Orthodox Presbyterians be comfortable now with separatism rather than integration? I mean, if you have the stomach for being separate from other Protestants, surely you can fathom separation (rather than integration) from the federal authorities.

I understand that Alan Strange wants to prevent Presbyterians from being Anabaptists. But 2kers are not separate from the government because civil authority is a corruption of Jesus’ rule. 2kers advocate separation of church and state because politics is only good but not holy. Magistrates maintain public order. They don’t minister salvation. The one is good. The other is great.


55 thoughts on “Integration and Separatism

  1. I’ll need to listen to Alan for myself, and, of course, your anti-Kuyperian rhetoric (not necessarily in this piece) always bothers me, but what you write here sounds pretty sensible. Perhaps I’m coming around. I guess you have to have some 2k leanings if you’re going to stomach Gary Johnson’s social progressivism.


  2. When integration turns the common into the sacred and doesn’t even see the inconsistency:

    American Exceptionalism in contrast exalts the American creed of human equality from the Declaration of Independence and declares that this principle has universal application. Trump almost never mentions this creed or America’s founding principles. Although his supporters are mostly unaware or don’t notice, he’s likely the least Exceptionalist of any major American presidential candidate.

    This American creed, rooted in Christian anthropology, is unique, sacred and should be cherished by Christians and all believers in human equality and dignity. What are the unsavory political alternatives? Authoritarianism, totalitarianism, theocracy, autarky? Many Christian critics of American Exceptionalism miss this point, instead caricaturing it as national braggadocio, which it’s not.


  3. Even some Roman Catholics favor separation:

    The obvious solution to this ugly scenario is for the churches to divorce themselves as soon as possible from the coercive power of the state. Insisting on the separation of church and state, Christian churches should make it clear that those receiving the sacrament of holy matrimony are married for life in the eyes of God but that this holy matrimony is not legally binding in the secular courts. Those Christians wishing whatever economic benefits the state offers to those who sign along its dotted line on the secular “marriage” contract can do this separately from their marriage in church. Two separate ceremonies would become necessary. Holy matrimony would be valid in the eyes of God but have no legal standing in the eyes of the state. Secular “marriage” would be invalid in the eyes of God but have full legal status in the eyes of the state. Holy matrimony would be solemnized in church; secular “marriage” would be contracted wherever the contracting partners wished: a sports bar, a beach, a room in a Las Vegas hotel with an Elvis lookalike presiding, or anywhere else befitting the dignity of the occasion.

    All that is needed for this happy divorce between God and Caesar is for the bishops of the Catholic Church and the leaders of the other churches to make a declaration of independence from the power of the state. One small act of courageous leadership is all that’s needed. If, however, those vested with authority fail to act, they will be condemning themselves, their clergy and their people to a nest of vipers intent on poisoning the sanctuary of the Church with the “pride” of their secular “marriage.” Whether they like it or not, church leaders are in the position of St. George. Only they can save the maiden purity of holy matrimony from the enemy of innocence. There is no honourable retreat. There is no room for compromise. Whether they like it or not, they find themselves in a position in which holiness demands heroism. It is time for the girding of the loins and the taking of courage. It is time to face the dragon.


  4. “I understand that Alan Strange wants to prevent Presbyterians from being Anabaptists. ”

    DGH, had A Secular Faith been my introduction to your work, I would not have believed that you were any species of Presbyterian. As I mentioned here long ago, I was curious enough to actually read the Westminster Confession (the American version) and I can see where 2k is at least a permissible interpretation. I am really not sure where a dividing line can be drawn that would make anyone like Brother Strange happy.

    As a Traditional Baptist, which is what many of the folks I go to Church with prefer to call ourselves rather than moderates, I find nothing objectionable or unusual in the following remark:.

    “But 2kers are not separate from the government because civil authority is a corruption of Jesus’ rule. 2kers advocate separation of church and state because politics is only good but not holy.”.

    If that is an attempt to differentiate your take on 2k from the charge of being Anabaptist, then I am not persuaded.

    Our pastor will probably take some time off next summer. Can I have our Pulpit Supply Committee get in touch?


  5. Dan, when you’re a Baptist, everything sounds Anabaptist. But I’d never affirm this (nor would you I suspect with all your insider GOP baseball intell):

    VI. We are agreed as follows concerning the sword: The sword is ordained of God outside the perfection of Christ. It punishes and puts to death the wicked, and guards and protects the good. In the Law the sword was ordained for the punishment of the wicked and for their death, and the same (sword) is (now) ordained to be used by the worldly magistrates.

    In the perfection of Christ, however, only the ban is used for a warning and for the excommunication of the one who has sinned, without putting the flesh to death – simply the warning and the command to sin no more.

    Now it will be asked by many who do not recognize (this as) the will of Christ for us, whether a Christian may or should employ the sword against the wicked for the defense and protection of the good, or for the sake of love.

    Our reply is unanimously as follows: Christ teaches and commands us to learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart and so shall we find rest to our souls. Also Christ says to the heathenish woman who was taken in adultery, not that one should stone her according to the Law of His Father (and yet He says, As the Father has commanded me, thus I do), but in mercy and forgiveness and warning, to sin no more. Such (an attitude) we also ought to take completely according to the rule of the ban.

    Secondly, it will be asked concerning the sword, whether a Christian shall pass sentence in worldly disputes and strife such as unbelievers have with one another. This is our united answer. Christ did not wish to decide or pass judgment between brother and brother in the case of the inheritance, but refused to do so. Therefore we should do likewise.

    Thirdly, it will be asked concerning the sword, Shall one be a magistrate if one should be chosen as such? The answer is as follows: They wished to make Christ king, but He fled and did not view it as the arrangement of His Father. Thus shall we do as He did, and follow Him, and so shall we not walk in darkness. For He Himself says, He who wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. Also, He Himself forbids the (employment of) the force of the sword saying, The worldly princes lord it over them, etc., but not so shall it be with you. Further, Paul says, Whom God did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, etc. Also Peter says, Christ has suffered (not ruled) and left us an example, that ye should follow His steps.

    Finally it will be observed that it is not appropriate for a Christian to serve as a magistrate because of these points: The government magistracy is according to the flesh, but the Christian’s is according to the Spirit; their houses and dwelling remain in this world, but the Christian’s are in heaven; their citizenship is in this world, but the Christian’s citizenship is in heaven; the weapons of their conflict and war are carnal and against the flesh only, but the Christian’s weapons are spiritual, against the fortification of the devil. The worldlings are armed with steel and iron, but the Christians are armed with the armor of God, with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God. In brief, as in the mind of God toward us, so shall the mind of the members of the body of Christ be through Him in all things, that there may be no schism in the body through which it would be destroyed. For every kingdom divided against itself will be destroyed. Now since Christ is as it is written of Him, His members must also be the same, that His body may remain complete and united to its own advancement and upbuilding.

    Sorry, but in the perfection the state still determines civic righteousness. That’s in the Bible.


  6. What’s the difference between born into a nation-state and being born into the church?

    The magistrates who won’t leave the wrath to God are in rebellion against the law of Christ, and their rebellion is not a good thing, even if the wrath they administer is not done in reference to God or the sacred. God’s use of the wrath of sinners against sinners is not the same as God’s approval or legitimacy.

    Machen—“Historic Christianity does emphasize, against the claims of society, the worth of the individual. It provides for the individual a refuge from all the fluctuating currents of human opinion, a secret place of meditation where a man can come alone into the presence of God. It does give a man courage to stand, if need be, against the world; it resolutely refuses to make of the individual a mere means to an end, a mere element in the composition of society.”

    The high priest of the visible church (the Sanhedrin) sacrificed Jesus Christ to death. but it was not done in the temple holy place. The murder of Jesus Christ was in the name of the good not the sacred. The judicial murder of Jesus Christ was done for the sake of the status quo order. But where there is killing, the sacred is not far away.

    Hebrews 13: 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the most holy place by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so in order to sanctify the people by His own blood. 13 Let us then go to Him outside the camp, BEARING HIS DISGRACE 14 For we do not have an enduring city here. Instead, we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name

    Why kill for the city (or the telephone company) which will not endure, when we are commanded to patiently leave the wrath to God. I Peter 2: For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps…. 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.


  7. Proto reminds us how “good but not sacred” becomes a very big deal. “By any other name….”

    Proto—“Obama is hardly a radical left-winger. Militaristic Centrist would be more like it. Appeasing its enemies? Betraying Israel? How so? Why because he didn’t openly support unrestrained expansions of the so-called settlements?
    Did Russia, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, or Hamas cooperate with Bush? Despite all his efforts to destabilize the Middle East he did avoid WW 3… Your whole frame of mind assumes the American Empire. The Middle East is a little more complicated than the way you are presenting it. I’m quite confident if Obama appeases anyone it will be right-wing conservatives like you. He’s already proven that on numerous occasions.

    Vietnam Vet: –We should all remember that whoever occupies the White House instantly has in his hand the greatest sword of war this world has ever seen.

    Proto– “Yes, it was the most Christian thing to do…build the biggest military machine in the history of the world. We make the Neo-Assyrian Empire look like lightweights on military spending. We should be so proud.”


  8. mcmark, the difference is that if you are a missionary in Eritrea and taken to prison, if you were born in the U.S. you can call the U.S. embassy and leave fellow African believers behind. Call Willow Grove? As if.


  9. Let’s not gloss over the significant historical point that Dr. Strange was making:

    “It is clear when you look at the details, that these men [Thornwell, Dabney,Robinson, Hodge] did not mean by the spirituality of the church what it seems some supporters of recent times say that it means… certainly none of them meant to divorce faith from politics. The separation of church and state, the distinction of church and state is something entirely different from the separation of faith from politics, or even God from State. None of those men believed in the separation of God from State. Even in public ways, all of them believed….basically Thornwell argued and so did Robinson, that it is immoral. Any state that is atheistic is immoral. They both argued that. If you read Robinson and Thornwell, and particularly Hodge, I think you will see they have clear points of integration. They have them in any number of ways, they all believed that it was immoral and unthinkable that the State would deny God or Christ in a general way. So the point is the more recent two kingdoms approaches have tended to have simply the distinction without any points of integration. And if you have distinction without integration, you have many-ness without one-ness, and you end up not simply having the separation of church and state, which I think is a fruition of a biblical notion, but you have the divorce of church and state, the sundering of church and state, never the twain shall meet. Well, this was unthinkable to Rutherford and Gillespie. This was unthinkable to Thornwell and Hodge.” Dr. Alan Strange, July 2016, Reformed Forum interview.


  10. Amen.
    Jesus: whoever denies Me before men (in all the ways explained in the word) I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

    Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
    A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]

    Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
    A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments,[3] is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.[4]


  11. Mark, so in other words, we actually do need to have a religious test for political office and perhaps an arrangement such that either Clinton or Trump will oversee synods? But why not side with Kuyper in saying that if to be Reformed is to align with even Calvin himself and integrate church and state then bid farewell to being Reformed. And maybe Calvinists such as yourself should consider refraining to participate in the American legal system since it’s arguably immoral.


  12. Mark, right, because this sounds like a man who sees more integration than separation (Robinson’s “The Church of God An Essential Element of the Gospel”):

    1. In that the civil power derives its authority from God as the Author of nature, whilst the power ecclesiastical comes alone from Jesus as Mediator.

    2. In that the rule for the guidance of the civil power in its exercise is the light of nature and reason, the law which the Author of nature reveals through reason to man; but the rule for the guidance of ecclesiastical power in its exercise is that light which, as Prophet of the Church, Jesus Christ has revealed in his word. It is a government under statute laws already enacted by the King.

    3. They differ in that the scope and aim of the civil power are limited properly to things seen and temporal; the scope and aim of ecclesiastical power are things unseen and spiritual. Religious is a term not predicable of the acts of the State; political is a term not predicable of the acts of the Church. The things pertaining to the kingdom of Christ are things concerning which Caesar can have rightfully no cognizance, except indirectly and incidentally as these things palpably affect the temporal and civil concerns of men; and even then Csesar cannot be too jealously watched by the Church. The tilings pertaining to the kingdom of Csesar are matters of which the Church of Christ as an organic government can have no cognizance, except incidentally and remotely as affecting the spiritual interests of men; and even then the Church cannot watch herself too jealously.

    4. They differ in that the significant symbol of the civil power is the sword; its government is a government of force, a terror to evil-doers; but the significant symbol of Church power is the keys, its government only ministerial, the functions of its officers to open and close and have a care of a house already complete as to its structure externally, and internally organized and provided.

    5. They differ in that civil power may be exercised as a several power by one judge, magistrate, or governor; but all ecclesiastical power pertaining to government is a joint power only, and to be exercised by tribunals. The Head of the government has not seen fit to confer spiritual power of jurisdiction in any form upon a single man, nor authorized the exercise of the functions of rule in the spiritual commonwealth as a several power.

    6. It is unnecessary to digress here into a discussion of the rationale of these fundamental distinctions. It would not be difficult to show, however, that they are neither accidental nor arbitrary, but spring out of those fundamental truths concerning the nature of the Church itself, and of its relations to the gospel, which have already been pointed out. These distinctions, therefore, are of a nature to forbid all idea of any concurrent jurisdiction, and to render certain the corruption and final apostasy of any part of the Church which shall persist in the attempt to exist as a governmental power concurrent with the State,—it matters not whether as superior, inferior, or equal. They are the two great powers that be, and are ordained of God to serve two distinct ends in the great scheme devised for man as fallen. The one is set up, in the mercy and forbearance of the Author of nature toward the apostate race at large, to hold in check the outworking of that devilish nature consequent upon the apostasy, and to furnish a platform, as it were, on which to carry on another and more amazing scheme of mercy toward a part of mankind. The other is designed to constitute of the families of earth that call upon his name, and into the hearts of which his grace has put enmity toward Satan and his seed, a nation of priests, a peculiar nation, not reckoned among the nations, of whom Jehovah is the God and they are his people…


  13. Dstinctions of spheres/roles, yes. Divorce of God from State, nah.

    Pretty good guess that Alan Strange took that work of Robinson into account in his dissertation. When his book is published, I expect we’ll see a fulsome representation of SOTC from the various proponents.


  14. Mark, but who is talking divorce? I assume 2k critics have read “A Secular Faith” in which the introduction makes it pretty clear that 2k tacks as an alternative between the theonomic/theocratic (marriage) and the secular left (divorce).


  15. How do you have a divorce of two institutions which were never married? Do I have to go seek divorces from every woman I ever flirted or played footsie with? Let’s be honest — dating with heavy petting is about as engaged as the USoA and “the church” have ever been. Unless you’re David Barton or Peter Marshall, maybe.


  16. Because contra your premise, it is a joy to witness (not bitch) that man cannot reduce God’s sovereignty a single inch, no matter the political order. Faith. Vocation. Politics. God. State. There are God-ordained relationships between them. Little fallen man should not think he can sever (or if you prefer, hyphenate) these things.


  17. Mark Van Der Molen says: Because contra your premise, it is a joy to witness (not bitch) that man cannot reduce God’s sovereignty a single inch, no matter the political order.

    -Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power (24/7); for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
    -saying with a loud voice (24/7), “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (24/7).” Rev 4:11,5:12


  18. vdm, m, not really an answer to the question of how you took vows to a secular government that severs faith from law. Or are you interested in practicing the Christian version of Sharia?

    I don’t have any trouble saying I disagree with Calvin or Hodge. The problem is that you disagree with them but use them against 2kers. That’s dishonest. Or maybe just stupid.


  19. If you disagree with Hodge, then you concede one of Alan’s point: that the modern 2k incarnation cannot simply claim to be reprinistration of Hodge’s SOTC. It’s the hiding those real differences that is dishonest. Sort of like if you hid Machen’s worldview thinking in writing his biography. Oops.

    But based on the Reformed Forum preview from an honest historical theologian, it looks like I will have plenty to agree with Hodge on. And plenty that’s making you look nervous.


  20. vdm, m, when did a 2ker claim 2k was a repristination of Hodge or Calvin?

    Heck, you’re not a repristination of Kuyper or Gomarus? Does that mean you’re nervous.

    You still haven’t come clean that Hodge isn’t Dutch, or that he could be wrong. Since when do you follow men rather than God?

    And you think 2kers leave God out? Have yet to see you interact with the Word of God. That does make me nervous.


  21. Darryl, modern 2k has predominantly been based on appeals to history. Scripture, not so much, except N.T. arguments from silence. That’s why folks are having to expend effort examining the historical record and correcting the mischief being done to it (can you say David Van Drunen?).

    I mean, if one has to post transcribed quotes from Alan Strange to guard against glosses of his argument, you really shouldn’t criticize people for double checking modern claims about Hodge, et. al.

    Funny thing is, the more you pushback, the more I’m thinking Alan’s book will be an eye-opener.


  22. vdm, m, but you knew no history before Kuyper, for whom dualism of the spiritual-temporal distinction was supposedly heresy. You know, everything belongs to Christ, equally.

    And you still haven’t squared how you are faithful to Christ while you’re subject (and have taken vows to) a secular legal system. Maybe that’s why 2k makes you nervous.


  23. You and the secularists don’t like it, but the First Amendment hasn’t been repealed yet, Darryl. Duh.
    In the meantime, think integration points while you await the arrival of Alan’s book. Here’s to hoping you’ll learn something.


  24. vdm, m, you actually think the First Amendment makes Christian rule plausible. Wow.

    A Dutchman Calvinist hoping and praying for a book on a Scots-Irish American Presbyterian. Have you no pride?


  25. The First Amendment makes Christian lawyering plausible. Big wow. Pagans know it, but hate it. Why do you seem to always side with the pagans?

    And love your touchy pushback. Makes the wait for Alan’s book on a Scots Irish American Presbyterian even more exquisite. Do you know if pre-orders are available? Please publicize when you find out.


  26. vdm, m, always so cute but you always fail to notice the rake that hits you in the head. The First Amendment makes Christian lawyers possible. Check. The First Amendment makes Muslim lawyers possible. Uh oh. That means the First Amendment is neutral about religion. Double uh oh. No neutrality?

    See what happens when you lose your Dutch manhood?


  27. I always suspected you thought neutrality was possible. Congrats on coming out of the closet on that.

    We’ll see whether Hodge, et. al. thought that way when Alan’s book hits the market. (triple uh, oh).


  28. Mark,

    I think Hart’s point is that the First Amendment is neutral on religion, not that individuals are.

    Given the history of America and even the Founding Fathers statements about things such as Judaism, it would seem that the First Amendment is neutral, or at least is not designed to promote state-endorsed and sponsored Christianity.


  29. Robert,

    Note his question was posed to me as an individual Christian lawyer. Behind that lies his belief that I am required to sever my faith from my vocation in order for me to uphold the First Amendment., which of course is silly. Tell that to The Alliance Defending Freedom and the Christian Law Association .

    I don’t have time for further interaction (been around the block on this issue here many times before–search the OL archives), but would recommend two books to read back to back. First, Dr. David Hall’s “Geneva and the American Founding” detailing the Christian capital embedded in our system. Second, read Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gommorrah”, which details the intentional dismantling of that capital. Darryl resists the first, and welcomes the second.

    Oh, and a third recommendation would be the upcoming book by Alan Strange on the SOTC. 🙂


  30. vdm, m, so you think neutrality is impossible? Do you only go to courts where the judges are Dutch-American Calvinists?

    (a man who works in the U.S. legal system denies neutrality. Only in America.)


  31. vdm, m, yes, it must really be silly for anyone who is not a Reformed Protestant to hire you as an attorney. No way you could represent a non-Calvinist.

    Oh, wait. Robert Bork is Roman Catholic and wouldn’t have been permitted to live in New Netherland.

    You refuse to connect the dots at our amusement.


  32. Hodge isn’t Dutch,
    lose your Dutch manhood
    A Dutchman Calvinist
    Dutch-American Calvinists
    New Netherland

    Darryl, I’d like to at least give you props on allowing your chronic Dutchophobia to resurface–which is to my amusement and probably therapeutic for you. It’s healthy to get that out rather than keeping it bottled up.


  33. Mark,

    Behind that lies his belief that I am required to sever my faith from my vocation in order for me to uphold the First Amendment.

    But is that what he’s doing? I’m not so sure. I’m not quite on board with everything Darryl says about the relation of faith the secular sphere, but I’m not sure he’s saying that. I think what he is saying is that the Christian faith, in relation to secular society, allows for upholding the FA for all with respect to civic engagement and that you can logically hold that as a 2K but not as a transformationalist or at least as a certain species of transformationalist.


  34. vdm, m, and once again you miss that New Netherland, which had no First Amendment, is a rake that hits you in the head.

    At some point for all of your bellyaching about America secularization and 2k, you need to point to the model society. I’m trying to help with all those Dutch props.

    I learned the lesson — if you’re not Dutch. . .


  35. The 1K Scottish Presbys should go back to Scotland and the all spheres Reformed Dutch should go back to the Netherlands if they both really believe their traditions.


  36. Darryl, we’ve talked about this. As a fundamental goal, all society would be directed toward honoring the supremacy of Christ. Your worldview of Christ’s reduced sovereignty must oppose this goal at its foundation. That’s why talking about specific details never goes anywhere. Since you won’t listen to Augustine, Calvin, Hodge, Machen or Belgic 36 on such a basic Christian point, you certainly won’t listen to me.

    But here’s to hoping you’ll listen to Alan Strange when his book comes out.


  37. vdm, m, let’s see, is it Alan Strange’s book you want me to buy or Witold Rybzcinski’s. You haven’t been clear.

    O contraire. I’ve never “reduced” Christ’s lordship. You do by trying to locate it in a nation’s government.

    What part of “my kingdom is not of this world” don’t you understand?

    Then again, you still haven’t said whether you favor prohibitions on Roman Catholics, Jews, and Muslims in your model Christian society? If you answer that question — EVER!! — you’ll find 2k water especially warm and clean.


  38. Well, I have answered that repeatedly, (think Belgic 36 with the 58 revision). But as you confirm above, you just can’t hear it. Your secularist worldview requires kingdom reduction, disintegration and separation.

    It’s why you won’t listen to Machen either:

    “To bring back truth, on a practical level, the church must encourage Christians to be not merely consumers of culture but makers of culture. The church needs to cultivate Christian artists, musicians, novelists, filmmakers, journalists, attorneys, teachers, scientists, business executives, and the like, teaching its laypeople the sense in which every secular vocation-including, above all, the callings of husband, wife, and parent–is a sphere of Christian ministry, a way of serving God and neighbor that is grounded in God’s truth. Christian laypeople must be encouraged to be leaders in their fields, rather than eager-to-please followers, working from the assumptions of their biblical worldview, not the vapid clichés of pop culture.”
    ― J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism

    “Furthermore, the field of Christianity is the world. 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.”

    J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Culture, Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 11, 1913, Page 1

    “In the political and social discussions of the day, God’s law has ceased to be regarded as a factor that deserves to be reckoned with at all…[But] of one thing we can be sure—a nation that tramples thus upon the law of God…is headed for destruction.”
    J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State — pp. 140, 141

    “Christianity is, indeed, a way of life; but it is a way of life founded upon a system of truth. That system of truth is of the most comprehensive kind; it clashes with opposing systems at a thousand points. The Christian life cannot be lived on the basis of anti-Christian thought. Hence the necessity of the Christian school” J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State, pp. 142,143.

    “The truth is there can be no real progress unless there is something that is fixed. Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.” Well, Christian doctrine provides that place to stand. Unless there be such a place to stand, all progress is an illusion. The very idea of progress implies something fixed. There is no progress in a kaleidoscope
    That is the trouble with the boasted progress of our modern age. The Bible at the start was given up. Nothing was to be regarded as fixed. All truth was regarded as relative. What has been the result? I will tell you. An unparalleled decadence—liberty prostrate, slavery stalking almost unchecked through the earth, the achievements of centuries crumbling in the dust, sweetness and decency despised, all meaning regarded as having been taken away from human life. What is the remedy? I will tell you that too. A return to God’s Word! We had science for the sake of science, and got the World War; we had art for art’s sake, and got ugliness gone mad; we had man for the sake of man and got a world of robots—men made into machines. Is it not time for us to come to ourselves, like the prodigal in a far country? Is it not time for us to seek real progress by a return to the living God?”
    J. Gresham Machen, The Creeds and Doctrinal Advance

    But again, perhaps a contemporary Presbyterian scholar like Alan Strange will be able to help you make some connections between gospel, kingdom, church, government, education, life…etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. vdm, m, and your model society is — a series of quotations? I know neo-Calvinism is heady, but that’s a tad too cerebral.

    I’m sure those quotes play very well with your clients (if you have any other than Christian day schools).


  40. vdm, m, So you’ve got nothing — only Machen’s dreams. You can’t even summon up Kuyper’s Netherlands or South Africa?

    This is what I mean. You are all talk and all criticism. But you have no historical example of Christian engagement with politics. Machen liked the Confederacy. You want to go there or just stay in his books.


  41. You asked about a model society. Machen lays a great Biblical foundation for one, even if you think him a dreamer.
    You tout history’s failures to build on that foundation as proof the foundation should not be laid in the first place.

    The irony is you borrow Christian/biblical capital to make such judgments (on what basis do you judge Dutch South Africa?) even as you deny the standard by which such society should be measured.

    Darryl, you are every bit the transformationalist as some of the neo-Calvinists you criticize . It’s just that your model society is one transformed into a mythical land of neutrality where God is separated from state, faith from politics, etc.

    To help change your worldview, maybe you could ask Alan to work on accelerating his book release date.


  42. vdm, m, as if. Machen doesn’t address whether it will be a monarchy, republic, democracy. And for all of Machen’s great biblical foundations, I learned civil libertarianism from him — you know the bits where he defends Roman Catholics and opposes prayer and Bible reading in public schools.

    That’s why I ask what you will do in your biblical society with idolaters and blasphemers. Whenever Reformed Protestants have run the show — except for the U.S. — they have excluded Mormons and Roman Catholics. Is that what you want?

    If you think the Bible supplies the foundations for civil libertarianism and religious liberty, fine. Then you disagree with Calvin and Gomarus as much as I do. The thanks I get.

    I have not said one word about Dutch South Africa that is critical. I actually like the little guy and would generally find the Boers more appealing than the English (without bringing up the question of race). Did S. Africa provide a way to handle well the diversity of its population. Yes on Europeans, no on race. So my assessment of S. Africa is not borrowing Christian capital. It’s political.

    If only you’d learn from 2k to separate religion from politics, you might have more clients. As it is, some people probably avoid you as an attorney because they think you’re going to use biblical rather than Indiana or U.S. law.


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