Was Paul In League with Wormwood?

Readers may be encouraged to learn that Dr. K. has recanted somewhat of his repeated attempts to associate the defenders of 2k with the views of Misty Irons on gay marriage. The exacts words are:

Having re-read both my original blog post and the ensuing relevant comments, I publicly regret insinuating that some advocates of 2K theology defend homosexual marriage. As the interaction made clear (I hope), I should have claimed only that the hermeneutical argument employed by one defender of homosexual marriage is identical to the hermeneutical argument employed by some current 2K advocates. Simply stated, that hermeneutic is this: the Bible governs the spiritual kingdom/church, unaided reason and natural law alone govern the civil kingdom.

But this welcome news only goes so far because Dr. K.’s website if filled with other inaccuracies and wrongheaded notions. For instance, in his long (boy was it long) series on w-w for Christian Renewal, he took several detours, one of which included a C.S. Lewis-styled epistle from Screwtape, written by David Naugle for BreakPoint. The letter included this paragraph:

But our crowning achievement has been in the churches. Under the well-intended influence of their hoodwinked leaders, they actually believe our lies are the truth! They think they came out of the Bible. The silly little Christians have confused creation with sin, and now they can hardly wait to evacuate the planet and head off to heaven where they think they really belong! How joyfully they sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” They promote heaven over earth, the spiritual over the physical, grace over nature, the soul over the body, the eternal over the temporal, faith over reason and so on. They see everything as essentially sacred or secular. They think that Christianity is its own distinct realm of life rather than a way of life for every realm. They separate their faith from the bulk of their lives, and set Christ in opposition to their cultures. How proud they are of their resulting super-spirituality, nicely ensconced in their cozy, well-fortified Christian ghettos. They have bought into our vision of disintegration. They are compartmentalists, par excellence.

Lo and behold, an hour of so later during family worship (TMI), I came across this passage from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5 ESV)

What is striking about this passage is that Paul seems to do the very things that are supposed by the neo-Screwtape to be devilish — distinction between the body and spirit, between the church and the world, between body and soul, and between the rules applying to Christians and non-Christians. Even more curious is what Calvin does with verse five, the one about delivering the evil doer over to Satan:

For delivering over to Satan is an appropriate expression for denoting excommunication; for as Christ reigns in the Church, so Satan reigns out of the Church, as Augustine, too, has remarked, in his sixty-eighth sermon on the words of the Apostle, where he explains this passage. As, then, we are received into the communion of the Church, and remain in it on this condition, that we are under the protection and guardianship of Christ, I say, that he who is cast out of the Church is in a manner delivered over to the power of Satan, for he becomes an alien, and is cast out of Christ’s kingdom.

I understand that neo-Calvinism inspires believers to take the world by storm. But the way they get there and the folks they throw under the bus in the process are — dare I say — unbecoming. This is all the more the case when the New Testament is littered with the very distinctions that neo–Calvinists denounce as dualistic and of the devil. Do ways exist to interpret these texts so that you avoid the errors of monasticism and fundamentalism? Of course. Calvin and Luther come to mind. But do you need to avoid texts like 1 Corinthians 5 to bolster your gospel of w-w? Apparently.