The Shelf Life of 2k — Part Four

Here’s the last intallment. You can read the others here, here, and here.

1. People often struggle with the entire 2K vs. Kuyperian/transformational debate because they are both advocated in rather abstract ways. It can sound like privileged white dudes reading Chesterton and finding holy ways to thumb their noses at the poor (2Kers) or balding men with ponytails growing soul patches and blogging in Starbucks about how ‘incarnational’ they are being (Kuyperians). Neither caricature really addresses the real world challenges of living out our faith corporately and individually amidst the challenges of, let’s say, rural poverty, or urban degradation. How would you suggest 2K thinking should play out so as to avoid sounding like we are advocating a laissez faire attitude to real social ills?

First, I’d reassert that rural poverty and urban degradation are not as important as man’s guilt before God and the eternal punishment that awaits all men. I don’t want to sound fundy or pietistic, but I really think this point needs to be stressed. We may fix family farms and we may turn Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell (two great characters from the HBO series, The Wire) into productive citizens. But family farmers and reformed drug dealers still await a judgment day. In that case, if the church lets the problems of this world cloud the reality and urgency of its preaching the gospel of forgiveness of sin and eternal life, then we are in a boatload of trouble.

Second, I do not see why J. Gresham Machen is not a good example of how individual believers can be involved in politics or society while still affirming the spirituality of the church and the enormity of the church’s burden to preach the good news. Machen was active in Democratic politics, wrote lots of letters to editors, joined political organizations, testified before Congress to oppose the Federal Department of Education. He was an active citizen, even while saying the church should not be engaged in politics. Here the distinction between the church’s calling as a corporate body versus the calling of individual Christians was key.

Now, of course, lots of contemporary transformationalists will not like Machen’s politics any more than they will like his ecclesiology. And that is a really interesting point here as well because if transformationalists (or any Christian) is going to advocate a certain policy or endeavor as being Christian, they are also making claims about what other Christians should do. And yet, if they do not have a biblical warrant for what they are claiming, if they are simply baptizing their own ideals about the good society with the sanctified motivation of Christianity, then they are actually violating Christian liberty by implicitly bind the consciences of Christians who do not share their view of the good society. In other words, it would be wrong to say God is a Democrat. And it would be wrong to say God is a Republican. He’s a divine right monarchist who transcends policy and legislation.

2. Can you ground 2K in scripture for us? Is this the teaching of the Bible?

If it doesn’t sound too defensive, I’d start by saying that a 1 kingdom view has not been shown to be the teaching of Scripture. It is curious to me that lots of people who object to 2 kingdom views go ahead and live with a two-kingdom reality. They are not insisting that the church rule over all things, or that Christians must be elected to public office, or that every cultural expression must come from a regenerate artist. Critics of 2 kingdom theology like to protest against it, but it hardly ever involves a one-kingdom argument instead. This may simply be an inconsistency. I think it also an acknowledgement of the limits of church power, and the reality of living in societies where believers and non-believers cohabit and must get along in some fashion.

The specific passages I go to for support for a two-kingdom view are obvious ones like Christ’s instruction, “Render unto Caesar. . .” along with his rebuke to Peter for using the sword against the ruling authorities. In fact, the gospels are replete with a recognition – it seems to me, of Christ submitting to earthly authorities, whether Jewish or Roman, all the while establishing his own kingdom. My own pastor has been preaching through Luke and it sounds like the distinction between what’s going on in the civil and national realm and what’s being inaugurated by Christ’s work and ministry is a theme from which one cannot escape in Luke, and that to try to turn Christ’s ministry into a program of social justice or political engagement really misses the point and grander significance of what he came to do. I believe the gospels show that Christ’s kingdom was spiritual and many Israelites could not fathom that because they were looking for a one-kingdom world where religion and the state would be fused

And then there are passages like Romans 13 where Paul tells Christians to submit to the magistrate – a heretical and persecuting magistrate at that. It certainly suggests that Paul was not thinking the rule of the state was on redemptive grounds. And when he says that the task of the magistrate is to punish evil, he is clarifying a function that is very different from the church’s which is to forgive sin.

I’d also point to the Great Commission as supporting a two-kingdom view. They way that the church disciplines the nations is not through political rule but through word (teach) and sacrament (baptize).

Some people object to the two-kingdom view for its dualism. I find it hard to read 1 Cor. And Paul’s distinctions between temporal and eternal things and not see that some kind of dualism is entirely fitting with biblical teaching

My pastor is also preaching in the evenings through Ecclesiastes. He is by no means a committed two-kingdom guy. He is simply trying to be a faithful minister and preach the text. And throughout this book – all is vanity – I keep wondering if the transformationalists have ever read Ecclesiastes, if it is for them what James was for Luther, an “epistle” (wrong genre) of straw

Last, I have in A Secular Faith used the example of Daniel to suggest how pilgrims and exiles negotiate the two powers. Daniel submitted to Chaldean rule and even excelled in their culture. But he drew the line at worship. His case suggests that Christians can engage with non-Christians in a host of common endeavors and that worship clarifies where such cooperation must cease.

3. Coming from Scottish Presbyterianism I have been accustomed to strong statements about the spirituality of the church. The language of 2 Kingdoms has a long and noble pedigree in Scotland (witness Andrew Melville plucking the sleeve of James the VI, calling him ‘God’s sillie vassal’ and reminding him that there are ‘two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland. There is Christ Jesus the King and Head and His Kingdom the Kirk, whose subject King James the Sixth is, and of whose kingdom not a king, not a lord, not a head, but a member.”)

The Covenanters saw themselves as defending ‘the crowns rights of the Redeemer’ against the impositions of the State. The Free Church at the Disruption of 1843 likewise stood on the spirituality of the church over against Erastian claims by the British government. Yet in all of those versions of 2 Kingdom thinking a strong linkage between Church and state was advocated. The Westminster Standards likewise advocated a strong Church-State connection, especially on the role of the civil magistrate (so strong that the Scots demurred saying it referred only to “kirks not settled” and the American church re-wrote that entire section of the Confession). Nevertheless the claim is often made that contemporary 2K thinking is the more historically reformed and Confessional position. How would you defend that statement in the light of older 2K ideas that favored religious establishments?

I never pretend to tell the British how to run their affairs – that’s the point of American independence. So I will rely on an Irish Covenanter to answer this question. In his contribution to a festschrift for the American Covenanter theologian, Wayne Spear, David McKay wrote that the RPCI’s testimony of 1990 was at odds with Samuel Rutherford’s understanding of Christ’s kingship. The RPCI affirmed that nations are “required to acknowledge and serve [Christ] in all their ways, and submit to His mediatorial authority as it has been revealed to them.”

But Rutherford, while committed to the Covenanter doctrine of Christ’s kingship over the nations, taught that “the Magistrate as a Magistrate is not the Deputie of Jesus Christ as Mediator.” In fact, Rutherford described what would become the modern Covenanter view of Christ’s kingship (as a mediatorial expression) as “the heart and soule of Popery.” [From Popery to Principle: Covenanters and the Kingship of Chirst,” in The Faith Once Delivered (P&R Publishing), p. 136]

The point is that one could affirm Christ’s kingship over the magistrate but regard it as part of his rule as creator rather than mediator, thus preserving the uniqueness of the visible church as the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (WCF 25.2).

4. It is often pointed out by transformationalists that the spirituality of the church was a distinctive of the Old School Southern Presbyterian Church, and that this doctrine was used to justify the church’s advocacy of the status quo with regards to slavery. While the abuse of a doctrine is not in and of itself proof that the doctrine is in error, do you think this sorry episode nevertheless exposes a danger for 2K thinkers?

It may pose a danger, but so might abortion, or prohibition. The point of the spiritual doctrine of the 19th century was that the church could not speak where Scripture was silent. It may look convenient for slave holders to say that the Bible is silent on slavery. But even northerners like Charles Hodge believes that slavery was not a sin. The link between slavery and spirituality of the church is overdone and can also be used against the transformationalists – the Social Gospel abandoned the gospel and was part of a transformational agenda.

So if we avoid the genetic fallacy and try to figure out what is at stake, it seems to me the question is whether we can be content with what the church is called to do. If we think that various social ills are of momentous concern and that the church needs to be enlisted for the cause, I think the question is still whether there is a biblical warrant for the church joining the cause. The other aspect here is whether the social cause of such great significance is of the same significance as the eternal verities of whether men and women know Jesus Christ as their savior. Such men and women may be poor or rich, may be free or suffer under tyranny, but ultimately those earthly conditions will not be as important as their relationship to Christ. This is not an excuse for the church to be silent or to harbor sin where Scripture is clear. Nor is it a case proves all suffering is evil and must be eliminated. (I sometimes wonder if transformatoinalists have considered that God actually uses suffering and are willing to accept it. Dick Gaffin has a great piece on this point, making it against theonomists, in the Westminster Seminary response to theonomy – it is that suffering may be that to which the church is called, and so eliminating suffering may not be the proper goal of the church.)

5. If we wanted to investigate further this idea of the 2Kingdoms can you suggest any books to read?

There are various entry points into this literature, none of them directly being classified as “two-kingdom” literature.

First are books on Natural Law which suggest that the Reformed tradition has always used creational norms, as opposed to biblical commands, for politics.

Stephen Grabil, Recovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics (Eerdmans)

David VanDrunen, A Biblical Case for Natural Law (Acton Institute)

I should mention that VanDrunen has a very big and good book coming out with Eerdmans next year on natural law and two-kingdom theology.

Second, are books on the differences between the covenant of grace and the covenant of works that have a bearing on the relationship between Christ and Culture.

Meredith Kline’s Kingdom Prologue (Two-Age Press??)

Michael Horton, God of Promise (Baker)

Third are the works of Reformed theologians from the past who articulate the 2k perspective in ways that contemporary Reformed Protestants often overlook.

Calvin’s Institutes should be consulted, especially where he discusses the kingly office of Christ, and book IV, chapt. 20 where he lays out the differences between Christ’s spiritual kingdom and the kingdoms of this world.

J. Gresham Machen’s essays on the church and society in Selected Shorter Writings (P&R Publishing)

Fourth are works on the doctrine of the church.

The Book of Church Order of the OPC, for instance, is very clear in chapter three about the spiritual nature of the church’s authority.

Stuart Robinson, The Church of God, An Essential Element of the Gospel (OPC, Christian Education). Robinson was a nineteenth-century Presbyterian whose book is arguably the best on the spirituality of the church from a redemptive-historical perspective, and a great biblical theological case for divine right Presbyterianism.

Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom and the Church (Eerdmans). Vos only goes wobbly (read, neo-Calvinist) on a couple of pages. Otherwise, it’s a great expression of the spirituality of the church.

Fifth, the spirituality of the church also shows up when the church is doing its own reflection on the work to which it is called. The OPC’s Study Committee Reports are one example of this.

OPC Minority Report on Medical Missions (by Meredith Kline), General Assembly (1964) pp. 51-55.

OPC Report II on Women in the Military:

Sixth are books from a Reformed outlook on religion and politics explicitly):

Darryl Hart, A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State (Ivan R. Dee)

Seventh, the spirituality of the church is part of an understanding of Reformed piety that stresses the Christian life as pilgrimage rather than one as crusader.

R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession (P&R Publishing)

D. G. Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism (Rowman & Littlefield)

Finally, not to be missed are works by other Christians and Protestants.

Augustine’s City of God is a classic statement on the double nature of Christian life in this world lived in tension between the desire of the nations and the work of the church.

Lutherans have also much to teach Reformed Christians about the two kingdoms:

Render Unto Caesar and Unto God . . . A Lutheran View of Church and State (LCMS Report from the Commission on Theology and Church Relations)

The Anonymous God: The Church Confronts Civil Religion and American Society (Concordia Publishing)

52 thoughts on “The Shelf Life of 2k — Part Four

  1. There are also two soon-to-be published books this year. One by Matthew Tuininga — Calvin’s Political Theology and the Public Engagement of the Church (Cambridge University Press, 2017). The other by Bradford Littlejohn — The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017).


  2. dgh–“not as important as man’s guilt before God….”

    Martin Luther King– “If Christ by his life and death paid the full penalty of sin, there is no valid ground for repentance or moral obedience as a condition of forgiveness. The debt is paid; the penalty is exacted, and there is, consequently, nothing to forgive….The orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied. Christ’s achievement is prophetic for every other true son of man who is willing to submit his will to God. Christ was to be only the prototype of one among many brothers. The divine quality or unity with God was a achievement through the process of moral struggle and self-abnegation.”

    dgh–Critics of 2 kingdom theology like to protest against it, but it HARDLY EVER involves a one-kingdom argument instead.


  3. In that 2kt recognizes that there are two distinct standards for righteousness where one can be used to define what it means to be in good standing in society and the state and the other defines what it means to be in good standing in the Church, 2kt is of value. Here we should note that though neither standard is a subset of the other, it is also true that the two standards are not disjoint. And in that 2kt encourages Christians as individuals to work with nonChristians in the society and the state to help society and the state prosper, then 2kt is of value.

    But when doing justice is separated from helping one’s society and state prosper, then there are problems. And those problems are indicated when the Church, as an institution, fails to preach against the sins of society and the state. And when groups of people, which is what we have in society and the state, are automatically absolved of the same sins they would be held accountable to as individuals, then it follows that the Church, as an institution, has failed to preach against certain sins.

    To deny that the differences in the historical and societal contexts in which the Apostles resided and in which we reside, indicates a lack of objectivity. 2kt is absolutely correct in objecting to any state church. However, prohibiting the Church, as an institution, from preaching basic principles of justice to the actions of the state and society denies a key part of 2kt: that there are two standards of righteousness with one standard applying the state and the other applying to the Church and that these two sets of standards are not disjoint.

    Also there is an artificial separation separation between the immediate circumstances we find ourselves in and our eternal standing before God. That standing can be negatively affected by how we respond to those circumstances. So it follows that what is preached to those who find themselves in oppression and hardships will carry some different instructions and points of emphasis than what is preached to those who live in privileged circumstances. We should note that the content of preaching during the times of the Apostles was affected by the specific circumstances that the people faced. In addition, to fail to comfort the oppressed in their affliction is not loving one’s neighbor.

    Finally that churches have erred in which social goods they pursue for society and which social evils they allowed does not imply that the Church should not pursue social justice as it preaches the Gospel. And to reject the pursuit of social justice because it is associated with a monolithic definition of the Social Gospel suggests an antagonism against part of practicing justice and a failure to understand the intent of God’s Word.


  4. Curt, you did it again:

    To deny that the differences in the historical and societal contexts in which the Apostles resided and in which we reside, indicates a lack of objectivity.

    You haven’t shown it lacks objectivity. You assume you are objective. You not only disagree but then get on an intellectual high horse. Why not simply say you’re wrong. But you have to claim your own superiority implicitly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Curt, How is the church’s failure to tell the state what justice is a denial of 2k? If there are two standards of justice, which you admit, then the church’s job is to preach the one. The state upholds the other. That is a key part of 2k.

    Plus, historical contexts have nothing to do with my right standing before God. I am not more or less a sinner because I am a white, middle-class man who like to eat and drink. A slave is not more or less a sinner by virtue of race, class, or gender. Christ’s righteousness transcends the categories so dear to political ideologies. Otherwise, race class and gender become forms of works righteousness.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. D.G.,
    Though I could have added a couple of other points, I’ve said everything I need to. LIke I wrote, there are contributions 2kt makes and there are weaknesses. And my hope is that you would take the same approach Keller did in his Center Church book and recognize that your 2kt, like his transformationalism, has contributions to make and has weaknesses. Only those who recognize the strengths of other positions and the weaknesses of their own can afford to have objectivity. You take care.


  7. Question about slavery. While the bible may be silent about slavery, it is not silent about stealing. Is there validity to the argument that the slave trade treats humans as property, stealing them from their native land?


  8. donaldf, sure, but what if natives from the slaves’ native land sold the slaves?

    Do you want to hang the wrongness of slavery simply on theft? Or is it inhuman period? It’s not as if theft is what makes slavery an unattractive social arrangement.

    But “inhuman” is slippery, the thin wedge that leads to progressivism.


  9. Going on television and making political speeches for the right side of the Christian worldview gives you extra points that will make up for individual adultery. You seem to be focused on private sins and not on the visible corporate redemption which will replace the powers and make them great again.

    Martin Luther King explains Reagan, “When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor, can become a leading war hawk candidate for the presidency, only the irrationalities induced by war psychosis can explain such a turn of events.”

    Matthew 5: Let your light shine in order that people see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

    Matthew 6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them.

    II Corinthians 7. The time is limited, so from now those who weep should live as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use the world as though they did not For this world in its current version is passing away


  10. The best point here is the recognition that most 1k types generally live in a fairly 2k way. By my observation, the criticism of 2k generally only arises in the context of issues of gender and sexuality. And, in most such cases, the so-called 1k position amounts to little more than declaring that there is only one view of such social issues that “real” Christians can hold. One thinks of Denny Burk’s recent comments concerning the need for churches to excommunicate members who support same-sex marriage. In short, the 1k position generally amounts to little more than a tribal desire to purge churches of those who take a more skeptical view of the Culture Wars.


  11. Evan, having watched for some years now, the context can be sexuality but the specific topic is actually most typically abortion. Everybody’s 2k until someone sniffs an ethic that might want to tamp down the bloated rhetoric and spirit of lifery (is Sanctity of Life Sunday taking a page from Protestant Liberalism or even modern Catholicism?), then all of a sudden 2k is rrrrrrrrradical. Hide the women and children, here comes 2k to eat your first-born (ahem).


  12. Zrim,

    That’s probably true. Then, again, I’d argue that the real reason that abortion has so much traction among certain evangelicals is precisely because of its connection to gender and sexuality. Can it be coincidence that those who bloviate the loudest over the pro-life cause are the same ones who promote patriarchal social structures as biblically normative? I doubt it. I believe that there are sound prudential reasons why Christians should not seek abortions. Even so, the biblical support for the pro-life movement’s theology is amazingly thin. I’d suggest that the movement’s “bloated rhetoric” is a result of the fact that “life” has very little to do with why most pro-lifers hold the positions they do. It’s really a question of whether women have authority over their own bodies, or whether their bodies are the possession of their fathers and/or husbands (bearing in mind that, in a larger sense, our bodies belong to God).

    Besides, if these folks indeed believe that life starts at conception, then why aren’t they marching in front of CVS. The most commonly used form of birth control functions as an abortifaciant some portion of the time. If pro-lifers truly believed the stuff they spout, then oral contraceptives have killed far more “babies” than abortion. In my opinion, the more doctrinaire forms of pro-lifery amount to little more than virtue signaling. After all, maintaining whites-only Christian schools–the issue around which the Religious Right formed–didn’t offer as much cache in the virtue-signaling department.


  13. D.G.,
    I’ll add one more point. Since the two standards of righteousness, the recognition of which is a good contribution by 2kt, are not disjoint, then the Church is obligated to preach all of one and parts of the other. If they were disjoint, then you would be correct.


  14. Evan: The most commonly used form of birth control functions as an abortifaciant some portion of the time.

    So … therein lies a tale.

    My wife and I actually disagree on this point.

    My POV is that the Pill as currently prescribed and Plan B have not been shown to be abortifacients. E.g.:

    Money quote: We conclude that LNG-EC prevents pregnancy only when taken before fertilization of the ovum has occurred.

    She disagrees from a risk management standpoint.

    So which one of us supports the patriarchy again? Kidding, kidding.


  15. Evan, but why conservative Calvinists should be swept up in the movement mentality has always puzzled. One would expect more instinctual skepticism for the sentimentality and emotionalism often attached, as well as the exaltation of life to an almost idolatrous degree and a view of political power more in keeping with OWS than Paul. But I know, rrrrrrrrrrrrrradical.


  16. Jeff,

    The overwhelming majority of gynecological researchers believe that the most commonly used form of oral contraceptives have an abortifacient some portion of the time. There is some disagreement on that point, mainly from those who want to reconcile their acceptance of contraception with their opposition to abortion. Even so, I doubt that most evangelicals have reached reasoned conclusions on such matters via study of the relevant literature. Opposition to abortion has more totemic value than anything. It’s basically an indicator of subcultural allegiance. The same goes for same-sex marriage. Few culture elites would consider having an abortion or entering into a same-sex marriage. Even so, they have little use for moral paternalism, especially when it comes to questions of gender and sex. They believe in giving people more options and expecting them to make good choices. I generally agree with that approach. God has wired each one of us to be efficient maximizers of utility; left to ourselves, 99% of of us will make decisions that result in transactionally efficient outcomes. After all, in a world of limited resources, the chief sin is waste. We all know that intuitively, until moral paternalism clouds our judgment and leads us astray. Is it any wonder that the two most libertarian nations in Europe (Switzerland and the Netherlands) are also home to those who voluntarily show the most social restraint (even in the absence of nanny-state efforts to ensure certain social outcomes). Or maybe I’m just too much of a believer in Milton Friedman.


  17. Zrim,

    The Pew religious landscape survey of a few years ago indicates that a sizable number of PCA members are pro-choice. They just don’t say much about it at church. I’d guess that many others are ambivalent. It’s usually just a handful of nutty blowhards that are into pro-lifery. I currently attend a PCA church, and I’m not aware of anyone who favors criminalizing abortion. I’d guess that most folks in my church are like me–personally opposed, but unconvinced that state intervention is justified. Besides, once the PCA starts ordaining women elders, the misogynists will probably all head to the OPC, CREC, Clearnote, or some other brans of artisanal conservative Presbyterian.


  18. Bobby/Evan, but the PCA is not pro-choice when it comes to women drinking during pregnancy. And they must neveh eveh smoke. So much for women have a right to do with their bodies what they want.


  19. “… God has wired each one of us to be efficient maximizers of utility; left to ourselves, 99% of of us will make decisions that result in transactionally efficient outcomes …”
    If that is true then the gov’t should’ve either blocked the passage social security at the outset or done away with it soon after the country recovered from the Depression and WWII. Apparently they either think that percentage is way too high or they simply don’t trust us to make transactionally efficient decisions about our savings and investment.


  20. Zrim,

    Evan, but why conservative Calvinists should be swept up in the movement mentality has always puzzled.

    Isn’t the explanation that Calvinism more generally, rightly or wrongly, expects the state to uphold the moral law? If you believe abortion is a species of murder and murder is against the moral law, then organizing to oppose it makes sense, though perhaps not organizing behind blowhards.

    Bobby does raise a larger issue about consistency. Given that there is no way to be sure that the pill never acts as an abortifacient, it seems to me that a consistent anti-abortion ethic would require no use of the pill. But that would cramp too many people’s styles.


  21. Robert: Given that there is no way to be sure that the pill never acts as an abortifacient, it seems to me that a consistent anti-abortion ethic would require no use of the pill.

    Tricky. Everything in medicine is couched in terms of risks and dosages.


  22. ” The Pew religious landscape survey of a few years ago indicates that a sizable number of PCA members are pro-choice.”

    The sample was like 150people, so the uncertainty is about 10%by their estimate. What fraction of those were PCUSA’ers who were confused? According to their poll 80% believe in heaven (88% of evangelicals overall do), 17% attend seldom/never (12% overall do), 15% don’t think the bible is word of God (wog not literal, and wog other were options in addition to wog literal). 34% were democrat. Half support legal abortion and ssm. Now all these numbers have 10% errorbars, but they consistently trend leftward of evangelicals generally. Given that the center of mass of the PCA is in the south, and it was recently founded in revolt to liberalizing trends in the mainline, it is hard to believe the PCA would be 10-20pts leftward of evangelicals generally. More likely the difference is small number stats and branding confusion.

    ” The overwhelming majority of gynecological researchers believe that the most commonly used form of oral contraceptives have an abortifacient some portion of the time. There is some disagreement on that point, mainly from those who want to reconcile their acceptance of contraception with their opposition to abortion. ”
    Reference? During the contraceptive mandate debates, the argument was that it was rightwingnuts spreading false information about the abortifacient effect of the pill, plan b, and iuds. Didn’t realize there was a poll of researchers asserting otherwise. Or are you just making stuff up again?

    ” Few culture elites would consider having an abortion or entering into a same-sex marriage.”
    Evidence? If as you assert that common forms of bc act as abortifacients then this assertion is wrong. Or perhaps you mean that professional women can afford longterm reversable bc, so don’t find themselves in a place where an abortion is necessary. What I don’t understand is how it is that these women who have children later in life on average also have lower rates of downs children if so few cultural elites would ever consider abortion.

    As far as gay elites and marriage…do you have evidence that they are less likely to avail themselves of ssm than gay nonelites? It certainly isn’t true in my circles.


  23. Robert, maybe if one is trying hard to reconcile his Calvinism with modernity in a desire to be relevant. Then again, by that logic lots of activism has to come in for the same Calvinist’s approval, more than likely agendas of which he will be rightly skeptical. Would that skepticism be more evenly applied.


  24. dgh–Critics of 2 kingdom theology like to protest against it, but it HARDLY EVER involves a one-kingdom argument instead.

    mcmark– What would be your standard to say that somebody DOES live out a one kingdom only argument? Some of us are very much aware that there are two kingdoms, but when we takes sides against the “neutral powers”, we are accused of being parasites for using the world without thanking the world for our blessings. if we have televisions in our private “withdrawal” places, we are accused of being hypocritical. And if we don’t watch the world’s dvds in our sectarian enclaves, we are accused of being puritan pietist. So what’s the standard by which you would ever conclude—“this person uses Christian liberty to be loyal to one kingdom only”?

    Jesus Christ WITHDREW deeper into the wilderness and there encountered Satan. The specific temptations Jesus faced all appeals to his messianic) calling. Jesus could rule the nations, he could gain a following as a distributor of bread to the democatic masses, he could leap from the top of the Temple and through miracle gain the support of the religious chaplains of capitalist magical glory. The Lord Jesus faced temptations concerning HOW he would be king. The Lord did not deny His calling or His having a kingdom on earth. The Lord Jesus did reject temptations to be loyal to Satan’s kingdoms ALSO as a means to bring in His own kingdom

    Matthew 4: 8 the Devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 And the Devil said to Jesus , “I will give You more than one kingdom..”

    Revelation 13: 7 And the beast was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. The beast was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. 8 All those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.
    If anyone is destined for captivity,
    into captivity he goes.
    If anyone is to be killed with a sword,
    with a sword he will be killed.
    This demands the perseverance and faith of the saint

    Colossians 2:16 God disarmed the powers and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him

    Hebrews 2:8 Though God left nothing outside of his control, at present we do not yet see everything in subjection to him

    I Cor 15:25 Jesus Christ must reign UNTIL he has put all things in subjection to him


  25. Jeff,

    Tricky. Everything in medicine is couched in terms of risks and dosages.

    Its trickier in some cases than in others. Surgery is risky, but the potential benefits far outweigh the risks and in many cases it’s the only option to preserve life.

    With birth control, in most instances another method could be chosen that provides no risk of having abortive effects. I would venture that in most cases, use of the pill comes down to convenience.

    I’m not trying to be dogmatic on this. There is a lot of uncertainty.


  26. Zrim,

    <i.Would that skepticism be more evenly applied.

    Oh I agree with this. Probably the biggest problem with justifying activism is figuring out why some concerns merit so much more attention than others.


  27. Robert, it’s easy when you see a categorical problem with activism itself, regardless of whose it is. Not unlike social gospel being a categorical problem. Is that rrrrrrrrrrrrrrradical?


  28. D.G.,
    First, you didn’t answer the question I asked about the analogy you used. Then you quote the commandment on not taking the Lord’s name in vain and I am not sure why you did that. I’ve said all along that the requirements for what makes one righteous in society and what puts one in good standing in the Church are neither subsets of each other nor are they disjoint. So why assume that the commandment prohibiting taking the Lord’s name in vain is part of social justice?

    My guess for the analogy you used is that we shouldn’t go against God’s secret will? But doesn’t God have a secret will for all of us? If we were to use your analogy, then we shouldn’t preach to anyone lest we interfere with God’s secret will. But such thinking forgets that we are accountable before God to carry out His revealed will, not His secret will. Otherwise, Pharaoh righteous in pursuing the Jews into the Red Sea. Can you tell me what I am missing here?


  29. Curt, “So why assume that the commandment prohibiting taking the Lord’s name in vain is part of social justice?”

    Because blasphemy laws used to be on the books, some of them promoted by — wait for it — opponents of slavery.


  30. Curt, God’s moral law is not true for today? How do you get justice without moral law? And how do you leave God’s law out of moral law?

    Are you not THINKing?


  31. D.G.,
    Never said that did I? We were speaking in the context of social justice. So do you want the government to criminalize the breaking of the third commandment? If so, is that part of 2kt?


  32. Curt, if you want the state to follow God’s law, what about the 3rd commandment? Isn’t honoring God part of justice? You’re the guy talking about it so much.


  33. D.G.,
    The issue isn’t whether it is a part of justice, the issue is whether it is a part of social justice. Why is it that the state must follow all of God’s law? Is the state responsible for the spiritual status of its citizens? Or is the state responsible for protecting citizens from one another?

    Don’t know why that you think you are putting in a dilemma. With 2kt, I agree that there are different standards for what puts one in good standing with the state in society and what puts one in good standing with the Church. All I have said after that is that neither set of standards are subsets of the other nor are their disjoint.

    So let’s take murder and theft. If I want the state to ensure that people don’t murder and that people steal, why am I obligated to believe that the state must punish people for breaking the 3rd commandment? And if I don’t want the state to murder and steal, such as I wouldn’t want the state to invade other nations or persecute a specific group, why must I be concerned with the state not breaking the 3rd commandment.

    It seems like your question above assumes that if we want the state to follow one of God’s laws, it must follow all. But if we agree with 2kt on the fact that there are 2 standards of righteousness here, why must the state follow every law? And if the state doesn’t need to observe any prohibition, such as the ones against murder and theft, because it doesn’t need to observe the 3rd commandment, then was what Nazi Germany did in terms of invading neighbors and persecuting the Jews immoral and sin?


  34. Curt, I’m not saying that the state follows any of the ten commandments. Common sense says you don’t steal or murder.

    But you want to raise the stakes of justice so that it’s less than Christian if a believer isn’t pursuing social justice.

    I’ve got this figured out. Not sure you do.


  35. D.G.,
    Both common sense and the 10 Commandments say that. So what is the point? BTW, don’t you want to say that it is less than Christian for Christians to participate in murder and theft as individuals? Why doesn’t that apply to the groups Christians belong to?


  36. Curt, the point is that you’re the guy attaching social to sin. Sin is a biblical category. Social is a sociological term.

    So I’m confused. You don’t want Christians to pursue social righteousness? When did you change your mind?


  37. D.G.,
    Your confusion lies in your all-or-nothing thinking. It seems that according to you, either society must pursue a right standing as those in the Church do or it is to be totally without the law. And such thinking seems to betray the 2kt distinction between what puts one in good standing in society from what puts one in good standing in the Church. Thus, your approach even causes you to contradict what is in your 2kt.

    And to further the problem, I have already explained my approach to you multiple times. That neither what makes one in good standing identical to what makes one in good standing in the Church nor what makes one in good standing in both disjoint. Just because they share some common standards doesn’t mean that they have to share all standards. And as you noted, prohibitions against murder and theft are both common sense and in the 10 Commandments. But such doesn’t mean that all of the 10 Commandments must be part of both standards.

    Just as you referred to God’s secret will as a reason not to preach to part of God’s revealed will to the nations, your confusion here is of your own doing. Why you brought up God’s secret will as ab objection to sharing God’s revealed will to the state is odd because you know from your theological studies that we are held accountable to God’s revealed will, not His secret will. So here, you insist but fail to show why including prohibitions against murder and theft when challenging groups like the state and society implies that all of the 10 Commandments must be included. And this is even after you gave a reason for why they shouldn’t be: prohibitions against murder and theft are common sense. You know that just because those prohibitions are common sense doesn’t remove them from being in the 10 Commandments.

    It seems that you believe that the state is an amoral entity that has no moral responsibility to anyone. And if your premise is true, explain how what doesn’t follow your premise is that what the Nazi did by invading its neighbors and persecuting the Jews was not immoral. The only way one can say that what the Nazis did was immoral is to say that states are moral entities that have moral responsibilities to others. But you seem to disagree.

    So if you are confused, it is of your own doing. It is of your own doing because you insist on unnecessarily employing all-or-nothing thinking even though it contradicts your 2kt and you refuse to answer the counterexample I have continually brought up.


  38. Curt, I make a distinction between church and society. That’s why I object to social sin or structural sin.

    You’re the one to conflate the two. But then you don’t have the cajones to go all the way with social salvation.

    That’s on you, not me, you.


  39. D.G.,
    And with your distinction, sin does not exist when society does what individuals do when they sin. For you, certain groups can’t sin even though its members are full of sinners. What follows your distinction is a host of minimizing horrible historical examples. Again, did Nazi Germany sin when it invaded its neighbors and persecuted the Jews? With the distinction you make, your answer would have to be ‘no.’

    For you, a difference in context rules out using different definitions of words like ‘righteousness’ even though 2kt recognizes the difference between what is righteous by how the Church defines it and by how society should be judged. And because there are differences between those two standards, you assume that the two standards cannot have anything in common. That is what I am talking about I mention your all-or-nothing thinking.


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