And Stephen Wolfe is young, to boot:
Voting does not therefore endorse all parts of the moral life, even the principal part. But why? Because proper worship and good soteriology do not concern the civil realm. Worship concerns heavenly life and the ecclesiastical administration, not the civil. The Second-Table concerns civil justice, order, and our earthly duties. Voting does not endorse all of the candidate’s moral life, only the part relating to earthly life. This is a matter of civil righteousness.
So the principle so far is:
Voting for a candidate is an endorsement of a candidate’s moral life as it pertains to civil righteousness.
Civil righteousness at this point refers to one’s perfect obedience to the Second-Table of the moral law. Let’s remember however that the Law has an external and an internal component. One must act outwardly in conformity with the Law and internally in accordance with the correct motivation (or principle, mode, and end). In our sinful world, even if one seems outwardly blameless, he cannot be internally blameless. He will be covetous, for example, without showing any external indication of it. Surely when people vote for such a person they are not endorsing one’s past or present propensity to sin internally. Why?
Because what matters in the civil realm is civil action, not internal motivations seen only by God. This hypothetical candidate’s internal sin has no impact on his outward behavior. Since there are no adverse consequences, the vote does not endorse evil. So the principle is:
Voting for a candidate is an endorsement of a candidate’s moral life as it pertains to his external conformity to civil righteousness.
But has there ever been such a blameless person, one who though internally sinful (like all of us) is perfect as to civil righteousness? Surely not. Everyone outwardly sins. Does voting for him endorse that evil? If a candidate badly failed to honor his parents decades ago, does one endorse that sin by voting for him? I think that most people would say it doesn’t. Why? Because one endorses another’s sin in voting for him only when those sins adversely affect the suitability of the candidate for civil office. The sin must relate in some way to civil office. So:
Voting for a candidate is an endorsement of the candidate’s moral life as it pertains to his external conformity to civil righteousness sufficient to qualify the candidate for civil office.
We’ve significantly reduced the scope of sins that voting can endorse. We have shifted away in part from who the candidate is to what he does. More precisely, we now care about his personal features pertaining to civil action. A civil officeholder fulfills a civil function, which necessarily involves action for civil ends; and qualifying for civil office is necessarily a matter of possessing characteristics conducive to producing good, long-term civil outcomes by means of civil action in a particular time, place, and set of circumstances.
In other words, what’s good for Al Franken is good for Kevin Spacey.
Living in a fallen world really is complicated.
25 thoughts on “2K in the PCA”
Living in a fallen world really is complicated.
In honor of the faithful servant, Dr. RC Sproul:
“The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.”
Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.
Coram Deo … before the face of God. That’s the big idea. Next to this idea our other goals and ambitions become mere trifles.”
Sproul is wrong.
Sproul, like Schaeffer, lived in a Christian bubble and overreached. Great men do that.
Everybody sins against the 2nd table of law, but the existence of some sins indicates, not implies, the lack of character traits needed to govern wisely. In addition, if we vote for those leaders who will hurt rather than defend the poor, or who will wage immoral wars rather than working for peace, or who will allow or enable some to participate in destroying the environment, then haven’ we, at least vicariously, committed those sins? And aren’t all of those sins violations of the 2nd table?
Ali, the Puritans wanted consistency in New England. They gave us the U.S. Puzzle on that.
Curt, hurting the poor, immoral wars, and destroying the environment are like, you’re opinion, man.
How are you going to live in a world where people disagree with you about the poor, war, and the environment?
You expect utopia. Good providence with that.
Not to mention, you may be wrong about an ideal world.
How big in the USA is the evangelical viewpoint of folks like Roy Moore? His post election ramblings show him to be a bit of a nutter; Alabama, you have been spared a loony leader. Has Moore’s theonomy and the accompanying arrogance (remember Doug Phillips) been supplanted by a cute ‘n cuddly progressive model?
What would Wolfe make of Moore? Give me any day someone in civic office like a Winston Churchill. He could chug large amounts of alcohol and meddle in military matters but was still a great leader. On the other hand American evangelicals and theonomy types still get dazzled by supposedly Christian leaders like Bush jnr. He pied piped evangelicals into believing his claims to faith (he even read Oswald Chambers – wow!) and then took his country into a war in Iraq which trashed the fragile stability of the Middle East.
The first problem with your comment is the failure to recognize that some opinions can be correct. For example, when a doctor forms an opinion from an initial set of medical tests, his opinion can be correct. So take immoral wars for example, unless one believes that no wars are immoral, then, considering the seriousness of war, isn’t it worth our while to consider whether a war is immoral?
Of course one might believe that no wars are immoral. They might believe that because government has the right to wage war. But such would imply that Germany’s invasions of Eastern and Western Europe were not immoral. IN addition, some of the Old Testament prophets speak against war crimes? Or are there no war crimes because of the New Testament?
Or look at how James talks to the rich in chapter 5 of his epistle. Isn’t underpaying one’s employees a way of keeping their wages from them?
Or look at destroying the environment. Is it just opinion that we are destroying our environment? And what is that opinion based on?
Also, how have I been living in a world where people disagree with me on wars and the environment?
I don’t expect utopia and I have said that from the beginning. You say that to avoid addressing the issues. For you constantly say negative things about me instead of discussing the issue at hand. And I don’t believe that is Scriptural especially when one considers the 9th commandment.
Here is some history for you. The dominant branch of the Church supported those with wealth and power in the pre-revolutionary times of France, Russia, and Spain. And the Church was persecuted and the Gospel looked down during and for some time after those revolutions. How is your relegation of the existence of immoral wars, of harm being done to the poor, and destroying the environment not a way of supporting a status quo that most benefits those with wealth and power?
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Isn’t underpaying one’s employees a way of keeping their wages from them?
Perhaps. Where does the Bible set a mandatory minimum wage and how much is it?
Did the OT denounce war crimes or did it denounce the treatment of God’s covenant people? Is your definition of war crimes consistent with God’s commands to the children of Israel as they took over Canaan? Is it OK to kill every man, woman, child, and animal of a nation God has told you to take over? Why was it OK for the Israelites to slaughter the gentiles in their land, while your current political compatriots take Israel’s much more lenient treatment of the Palestinians to be immoral? I’d be interested in how your exegetical justification of this difference maintains the parts of the OT minor prophets that you like so much.
James doesn’t say that one must pay a minimum wage or living wage, only that you should pay what you promise. In fact, according to Jesus the payment doesn’t even need to be fair. Those who work all day and those who are hired at the last minute are all justly paid the same. Curious…no?
No, it is not an opinion. It is an empirical conclusion that we are increasing the acidity of the ocean, increasing the infrared opacity of the atmosphere, and decreasing biodiversity. Of course, all of these started with agriculture – it is not clear that humans can thrive worldwide along with biodiversity without substantially changing the chemistry of the earth. We don’t call it the anthopocene for nothing!
The same way you live in a world where some people prefer the Cubs over the Phillies, others prefer pipes over cigars, and others like strawberry ice cream over chocolate.
You must prefer cherry ice cream given your penchant for cherry picking. It is as if you learned your historical method from Zinn or Barton – neither are well regarded historians because they are cherry pickers. France, Russia, and Spain are one thing. Brittain, Holland, and the Scandinavian churches had a penchant of supporting those with wealth and power too. And yet…. they got through the 19th century without revolutions. On the other hand the churches in Japan, India, and many in the Middle East did not side with power and experienced horrendous persecution. As much as we wish it were so, history rarely (if ever) provides useful morality tales.
UK Paul, my bet is that much evangelical support for Trump or Moore is primarily anti-NY Times, anti-right side of history, anti-elite. Moore and Trump wind up The New Yorker. Woot!
Gary Oldman was at Hillsdale over the weekend for a showing of Darkest Hour. Great movie. Churchill is pretty darned impressive.
Curt, “Or look at destroying the environment. Is it just opinion…?”
Well, with kind of vague wave of the wand, it’s not much more than like your opinion man.
Wow, I never knew the church supported those in power. And here I thought the OPC was going to get an office in West Wing.
b, sd, I think Curt drinks fruit wine — cherry.
Rather than talk about issues, you try to cite any fault you can find. Mentioning the destruction of the environment is not a waive of the hand, it is talking about an observable truth. Now I could have mentioned climate change, the increasing dead zones in the oceans, air pollution, the over use of pesticides that start to become the part of more and more of our foods, and so forth. But mentioning the details distracts from the point being made. The same goes for mentioning immoral wars or economic exploitation.
Yes, the conservative Church does support those with wealth and power. And it does so in one of two ways. One way is to give explicit support such as promote and defend neoliberal capitalism or our foreign policies. Another way the conservative Church supports those with wealth and power is to refuse to speak prophetically to the state and society concerning its corporate sins. Of course denying the existence of corporate sins contributes to the failure to speak prophetically. So instead of speaking prophetically, the conservative Church overemphasizes personal sins so as to divert people’s attention from those corporate sins and its victims.
In the meantime, you seem pleased to speak to down to me. Is treating someone like that evidence of the works of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit? Does that kind of speaking down further or stop thinking and conversations about issues? It seems that you don’t really care about the issues.
Paul – DGH pretty much nails it in his comment on Roy Moore, but I want to add that over the years politically conservative Christians – mostly in the South – have blended their politics with their Christianity to the point that they are indistinguishable. Their thinking is something like this: Roy Moore is a politically conservative Christian, therefore we MUST support him against the evil “other,” regardless of who the other may be or how absurd and morally bankrupt our candidate is. The exact same thing happened with Trump. It’s the siege classic siege mentality David Brooks discussed back in November.
Also Paul, I disagree about the Iraq War under Bush. I have no problem with the decision to go to war with Iraq, but the conduct of the war after we won a clear military victory was poor, at best. But I tend to be an imperialist, so I’m all for most military adventures, provided they are conducted correctly.
Yes, the conservative Church does support those with wealth and power.
You can fault the liberal church for this as well.
Curt, so what is the point? That you are better than I?
What if the way to live in this world is not to view it through a moral lens crafted by Moses and Marx?
Curt, by the way, on which side to you place Keller when it comes to speaking truth to power? But you defend Keller.
UK Paul and vv, I have lots of problems with Iraq (even though I stupidly supported it at the time). I am now an isolationist but know realistically that the U.S. can’t get out of 75 years of picking up the pieces of the British Empire without doing even more harm.
Neither him nor his followers rank very high. I talked to one of his followers around the time of Occupy Wall Street. Their strategy for battling corporate sin was to change the institutions involved from within by raising up people who would work in those institutions.
When it comes to racism, he is relatively very good at acknowledging corporate sin. But when it comes to economic classism and other corporate sins, the end effect of his approach is the same as the approach taken by 2Kers. So to a certain extent, your words of ‘sham’ and ‘shame’ are appropriate. And I share my thoughts on Keller’s approach with those Keller followers whom I know. They are a little bit like a cult in that they act as if Keller said it, it must be true. That is simply authoritarianism that affects most religiously conservative Christians. Such people are really afraid of either reading outside their theological box or, if they are a leader, having those under them read outside their theological box. They rely on Keller to digest the outside world for them. And if you make Keller a fill in the blank, we find that true with many other Christian circles that revolve around a person or even set of confessions.
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Why would Gary Oldman come to Hillsdale? is Gary Oldman also a non-stop talker?
When we say that the gospel is about Christ, does that mean that God’s law is not about Christ?
When we say that Christ received the wrath of God;s law against the sins of elect sinners, does that mean that Christ did not give any law against sin and that Christ Himself has no wrath or judgment?
Is 2k teaching that God’s law now has nothing to say to the nation-state, or is 2k teaching that the one church has no right to tell the various nation-states what Christ’s law says to nation-states? Or neither?
In 1648, in the Peace of Westphalia, the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics finally gave the Reformed a seat at the table.
“Either the Pope was Christ’s vicar on earth or he wasn’t. Protestants were heretics or heroes. You couldn’t split the difference.”
mcMark, Oldman came to Hillsdale cause he’s a swell fellow.
I am not saying that if the one church had “applied” God’s law (changing and unchanging) to the more than one nation-states, then baptised Christians like Churchill “might have” or “could have” begun killing enemies with some regard to Christ’s coming to end this present age. I am asking if God (not nature) has any standard of right and wrong for the powers which will be put out of business at the end of this age.
I think many of those standards are written in the OT prophets. Many of those standards revolve around how those who are vulnerable are treated.