Here‘s how comprehensive Christianity breeds Manichaeism (and paranoia) to boot:

In the meantime, we live in the midst of a cosmic struggle. As C. S. Lewis once said:

There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.

Thus every act of obedience—including political obedience—is a part of Christian mission, a bold declaration that we support God’s claim to the throne. And because the assault on that throne comes from every nook and cranny of creation, we must aim our redirective efforts at every nook and cranny as well.

Does Bruce Ashford really mean to implicate cats?

But consider where this notion that the assault on Christ’s reign comes from everywhere. Christians in the United States live with non-Christians. So how do comprehensive Christians live with Jews, Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Muslims? And wouldn’t such either-or language signal some kind of aggression to those who don’t trust Christ? In other words, doesn’t this use of the antithesis turn non-Christians into people “of Satan”? If Aryan science is bad, why not Christian culture?

That’s why those inspired by Abraham Kuyper need to take a page from Augustine:

This heavenly city, then, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all nations, and gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages, not scrupling about diversities in the manners, laws, and institutions whereby earthly peace is secured and maintained, but recognizing that, however various these are, they all tend to one and the same end of earthly peace. It therefore is so far from rescinding and abolishing these diversities, that it even preserves and adopts them, so long only as no hindrance to the worship of the one supreme and true God is thus introduced. Even the heavenly city, therefore, while in its state of pilgrimage, avails itself of the peace of earth, and, so far as it can without injuring faith and godliness, desires and maintains a common agreement among men regarding the acquisition of the necessaries of life, and makes this earthly peace bear upon the peace of heaven…

6 thoughts on “Re-THINK!

  1. Ashford’s advice would mean nothing to Christians in Pakistan, Egypt, Haiti, Iran, Syria and North Korea. It’s not meant for Christian bus drivers, cops, nurses, security guards, sanitation workers or mail carriers in places like Newark, Baltimore, Trenton or Chicago. Christian plumbers, truck drivers, and electricians aren’t meant to be the audience either.

    He is “provost and professor of theology and culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary” and this is obviously directed to budding culture makers in the Gospel Industrial Complex’s Great Recommission of Culturally Engaging The City’s elites. Cheer up if you’re an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs, a curator at the MOMA, an editor at Vanity Fair, a production assistant at HBO or a set designer on Broadway. Get ready to make an “assault on that throne.” For The Kingdom, of course.

    But for you blue-collar types you’ve still got your Old Hidebound Fundamentalism to keep you warm. Perhaps Ken Ham’s Creation Museum would be more to your liking. And keep handing out those Chick Tracts.

    Give me back my Ol’ Timey Religion, please.


  2. Maybe it’s a question of how Christians with a two kingdom worldview negotiate living with themselves—as “human creature in time” but also at the same time ( as already redeemed timeless creatures)

    One way to manage this is to deny that our Savior Jesus is our lawgiver, and to insist that Jesus is nothing more than a teacher who helps us to rethink previous understandings of the “moral law” as cherry picked out from the Mosaic covenant. But another way to be “unencumbered” by the Sermon on the Mount (and thus avoid the triumphalist immanentizing of the eschaton) is to focus on the Sermon on the Mount as “first use of the law” (to create the despair that drives us to the gospel) but also at the same time make it clear how the Sermon on the Mount (for now) does not apply to Christians in any way which might cause their families to suffer or to lose their stuff.

    Mauro–The Kingdom to which the Sermon on the Mount pertains is that of grace. The conspicuous feature of this day of grace is the forgiveness of sins, which is preached in the Name of Jesus Christ and on the ground of His atoning Sacrifice, Everyone who enters the Kingdom of God is a forgiven sinner. He has been fully and freely pardoned and justified from all things. Therefore, he is most properly required–seeing that the character of the Kingdom into which God’s grace has brought him –to forgive others their “debts” …It is a truth of great practical importance for every child of God to know that he, who has received by grace the free pardon of all his sins, should forgive the “trespasses” of others against himself (the greatest of which would be a relatively trifling thing)…


  3. Re-THINK! either-or language

    because it is always more, complicatedly, both/and?

    showing every consideration for all men; pursue peace with all men; doing good to all people, and especially to those of the household of the faith; always seeking after that which is good for one another and for all people; following Jesus Who said: whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.


  4. TGC doesn’t know whether to be moderate or passionate. If Russell Moore is correct:

    This is the most important step. It’s true in any election year, due to the way partisans—and sadly, especially Christians—speak in apocalyptic terms. “If Barack Obama is elected, we won’t have a country left in four years,” many bemoaned in 2008. Four years earlier, others insisted, “Our country can’t survive the reelection of George W. Bush.”

    Elections have consequences, yes. Elections are important, yes. But elections are not the pinnacle of history—for either good or for bad.

    Every square inch is not.


  5. Russell Moore: “There will come a day when your children will wonder whether the gospel is just a cover for some cultural or political agenda.
    Make sure they grasp that the gospel has social and political implications, but that politics is not the gospel.”

    Strange for Dr. Moore to say this since he sure is loading up on “gospel-centered” social and political implications lately. Refugees, racial reconciliation, criminal justice reform, the Confederate Flag, immigration reform, policing, poverty, etc. are now all “gospel issues”. Why not add climate change, education reform, minimum wage, and affirmative action to the mix? Moore has had some apocalyptic warnings against Trump and he regards Christians who support Trump as somehow tainting their witness. Apparently Christians who do so will lose the respect of unbelievers.

    Millions of Christians will vote for Trump for the same reason that Christians in Iraq opposed the removal of Saddam Hussein and Christians in Syria oppose efforts to topple Bashir Assad, and: The lesser of two evils was the best they could hope for. Somehow they could support the lesser of two evils (actual dictators with bloody hands) and keep their witness without all the hand wringing and melodrama by TGC authors. Welcome to the real world, Dr. Moore.

    TGC authors mostly write for other TGC authors and people in the same bubble.


  6. Thinking that the church should NOT talk about refugees or slaves is one more way of talking about politics in church

    Russell Moore is an exemplary two kingdom thinker–he wants to exclude sectarian or extreme views from governing the culture, and assumes that the idea of two kingdoms is not itself sectarian or extreme.

    Dividing cult and culture was already Reformed (it was Roman Catholic). But it was also Reformed to think that the culture was comprehensively Christian. Not having the real world magistrate kill for that comprehensive culture was NOT Reformed.

    Post-Constantinians are like atheists—they claim they don’t own the comprehensive culture. But most post-Constantinians still can’t give up the idea that there is one culture that we have together, and therefore we should all kill to keep. They want their own private kingdom and this “culture” also. Nobel prize winners like Peres and Obama want to be the ones who decide who gets killed in the real world.

    But Genesis 9 is not about a secular death penalty or a cultural death penalty—Genesis 9 is about holy war, it’s about worship of the true God.


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