Firearms, theology, and fantasy

Posted by Bob Mattes

Lane asked Are Guns Inherently Against Life? in response to Lance Lewis’ post Pro Life and Pro Glock? Lane did an excellent job in his post, as did many of the commenters under it. My purpose here is to address specific statements by Lewis in his post in which I have particular insight. [As I got about half-way through this post, I realized that to answer all of Lewis' nonsense would take too long. So, I've been somewhat selective in what I address. Commenters to Lane's post have done a nice job with other issues.] Let’s start by laying out the players.

Lance Lewis is apparently a TE in the PCA and pastors Christ Liberation Fellowship in West Philadelphia. He says on his blog that he grew up in West Philly. I see nothing in his blog or website about experience in firearms or what he calls “non-lethal” technologies other than what he may have read in comic books. More on that “non-lethal” term later. Let me just say up front that comic books and Handgun Control, Inc., literature are poor bases for theology.

For those who don’t know about me, you can catch a glimpse on the About page of my blog. What’s not on that page is that I recently retired from the Air Force after 30 years of service. Although a pilot and engineer by training, I developed considerable expertise in small arms from pistols to 20mm sniper rifles to 87mm anti-tank rockets. I’ve been shooting since my teen years, and have taught scores of adults and teens to handle and shoot firearms safely. I’ve traveled around the world sampling small arms of all types with an eye to improving the capabilities available to our troops. I’ve also developed some expertise in “less-lethal” technologies across the engagement spectrum. When I write about these things, I write from a position of considerable knowledge and expertise. Oh, and I was also born and raised in West Philly, so I know the territory quite well. OK, let’s get busy.

Lewis repeats the mantra from Handgun Control, Inc., (now known by the euphemism Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) and the old Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Saturday Night Special” (odd places for a Reformed TE to get his theology):

The handguns manufactured and sold in this country today are designed and built for one purpose and one purpose only; namely the destruction of human life. Thus in my view they have no place and can serve no constructive purpose in a society that strives to value life.

A popular myth amongst firearm confiscation advocates. However, as Lane points out, large numbers of privately-owned pistols and revolvers are used for target/competitive shooting and/or hunting. Target shooting has been my primary use over the years. They are also used for self/home defense, although they aren’t the best tactical choice for most homes (think shotgun w/00 buckshot for home defense, depending on the architecture and layout of your home).

Some 38 states, including Pennsylvania, rightfully permit law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms. In all but one, this requires a criminal background check and proper training. All related studies show that concealed firearm permit holders remain model citizens, not misusing their firearms. (That’s the definition of law-abiding, by the way.) Every time that a new state considers this public safety legislation, the Brady crowd howls that they’ll turn into wild west shootout zones with blood running in the streets. That has never happened in the over 20-year history of must-issue concealed carry, and it never will. What has happened is that violent crime has plummeted in every state that must issue permits to eligible citizens. That makes perfect sense because criminals don’t want to get shot. Studies estimate that citizens use firearms to defend themselves or their families around 2 million times a year. Here’s a website that catalogs some of these occurrences. Most incidents are never reported, though, because shots are never fired and people just want to get on with life. Often just the display of a firearm is enough to put a violent criminal to flight. This answers Lewis’ question:

If the issue is that owning a gun is necessary to protect my family then why stop at just having one gun in my home. Why shouldn’t I arm myself and family in case we’re attacked while out?

We should, Lance. Take personal responsibility for your family’s safety, eh? 1 Tim 5:8 speaks to the provision of physical needs. Surely their physical safety is not excluded.

I’d love to address TE Lewis’ exegesis, but he didn’t offer any. I doubt that he can find any real Biblical support for disarming law-abiding citizens. There’s nothing in the Bible that prohibits the owning or carrying of arms. Quite the contrary, a variety of weapons figure prominently in Biblical narratives with God’s blessing or even at his command. Jesus in Luke 22:36-38 says that we will need them:

36 He said to them, But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that [Acts 1:16]; See ch. 13:33; Matt. 1:22 this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: Cited from Isa. 53:12 And he was numbered with the transgressors. For [John 17:4; 19:30] what is written about me has its fulfillment. 38 And they said, Look, Lord, here are two [ver. 49] swords. And he said to them, [Deut. 3:26; Mark 14:41] It is enough. (ESV) [my bold]

I left the cross-references in the quote for reader study. This comes to a head a few verses later:

49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, Lord, shall we strike ver. 38 with the sword? 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, No more of this! And he touched his ear and healed him.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t rebuke them for owning or carrying a sword. He only tells them to let events play out to the cross (cf verse 37). Surely this was a teachable moment and if Jesus didn’t want his followers to have weapons, he could have forbidden it as he forbade other things. But he never did. Jesus implicitly acknowledges even the defense of property in Mt 12:29. Yet, Lewis’ supporter Richard Lindberg writes:

I know of no command in Scripture to own a gun (or any other weapon for that matter). It seems to me then that to own one is disobedience to God. I know of no passage that by “good and necessary consequence” would teach me that owning and using a gun is acceptable to God.

Again, no exegesis, just hand-waving assertions. I already showed one passage where Jesus tells his disciples to procure weapons for their defense, so not doing so would be disobedience to God. However, by Mr. Lindberg’s reasoning, we may not own cars, airplanes, iPods, computers, microwave ovens, electric shavers, telephones, toe-nail clippers, lawn mowers, slinkies, etc. Are any of those mentioned in Scripture or derivable by “good and necessary consequence”? This is the reasoning of some Mennonites who live just west of Philadelphia, and why they still use the horse and buggy. I wonder if Mr. Lindberg is that consistent in his reasoning. That’s not Reformed reasoning as Mr. Lindberg asserts. It is definitely Anabaptist, though.

May I introduce TE Lewis and Mr. Lindberg to the Old Testament? Saul killed his thousands and David his ten thousands (1 Sam 18:7). God commanded the elimination of large populations, indeed entire peoples. David did this and was called a man after God’s own heart. War and violence, personal protection, and death appear from Genesis to Revelation. God never forbids the taking of lives in a just cause, and often ordered it. What in God’s character has changed since then? (That’s a trick question.)

The funniest question that TE Lewis asks:

What rights do we enjoy as American citizens that are worth taking someone’s life over?

I am genuinely shocked that a man who ministers in the birthplace of our nation’s freedom can’t answer that question. Has he ever heard of or read the Declaration of Independence? It’s a great read and highly recommended. It explicitly answers Lewis’ question. I simply point the gentle reader to the document. As for TE Lewis, may I suggest that he take up residence in North Korea if rights mean so little to him?

This post is getting long and I need to finish two points. First, TE Lewis’ reading of the 2nd Amendment is fanciful in its incompleteness. There are a number of great references on the writing of the 2nd Amendment, so I won’t duplicate those here. If you’re short of time, just read the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. In it, Justice Scalia expertly demolishes TE Lewis’ misunderstandings point by point.

I take particular umbrage at this absurd statement by Lewis:

First, imagine you had a handgun, even a very good one. Do you really think you could take down the average military attack helicopter with it? The second amendment regarding bearing arms was written at a time when the government didn’t have vastly superior weapons than the average citizen. That has changed. The U.S. military now has the weapons and skills to level whole neighborhoods in a matter of hours.

It’s obvious that Lewis knows nothing about the military. 1) We can wipe out whole neighborhoods in milliseconds without going nuclear; and 2) the U.S. military is populated by average citizens, not goose-stepping zombies ready to do the bidding of some despot. Get a grip, man. Some may join with a despot, hence ONE reason (of several) for the 2nd Amendment, but many will oppose them. Citizens must be ready to defend their freedoms by force of arms, but they won’t be alone. Maybe Lewis should change his movie selections.

Lewis:

And this at a time when we and the society knows of the availability of non-lethal weapons to replace the guns we felt so vital to our private security.

What about what Lewis calls “non-lethal” weapons? He lays out some great myths, many from Handgun Control, Inc. Reality, again, is quite different. First, the military no longer uses that term because every weapon that contacts a target has some finite probability of severely injuring or killing that target. So, the military has fallen back to a more correctly descriptive term: “less-lethal”. Having tested a variety of these capabilities, I can tell you that they are not suitable for personal defense. They are designed and mainly useful for dissuading rioters so that the large number of riot-control troops may break up crowds and detain those of interest. Only a few such weapons are available to civilians, so I’ll skip the rest.

Lewis:

For example, the Dept. of Homeland security is working with a company that produces a flashlight that projects a beam of light directly into the eyes causing temporary blindness, disorientation, nausea and even vomiting.

One word, Lance: power. Physics is just so inconvenient for liberals. To get that level of effect out of the laser dazzlers, it takes way more than a flashlight. These puppies are large. Think large rifles or vehicle mounted. DHS will never let civilians own them, either. They’d be great for causing airliners to crash on takeoff or final approach. And if you’re waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to save you, you best just surrender now.

The best medium-range, ballistic less-lethal weapons are all shotgun sized and most fire only one or a few shots. Their purpose is to temporarily dissuade an attacker so that they can be subdued. They do not incapacitate. If your wife used one of these to defend herself and the children, she’s have to be capable of overpowering her attacker while he was momentarily stunned, before he returned to the charge in a few seconds. Perhaps she could beat the attacker with the weapon while he is momentarily stunned. That would be more effective and might actually incapacitate him. Defend against home invasions with multiple attackers? No chance.

The company that’s developed tasers for police departments are now manufacturing and marketing a slightly scaled down model for private use. I’ve even seen a combination flashlight/taser that can be carried around and used to incapacitate a would be attacker.

What about Tasers and other electronic devices? They are extremely short range, civilian models (at this writing) only fire one set of contacts at a time, and are battery operated. They are effective for anywhere from a few seconds to 30 seconds or so. Their effectiveness depends largely on the size of the included battery, as well as the size of the target. Again, what do you do after the effect wears off? Their purpose is short-term incapacitation only to affect an arrest. You cannot run unless you leave the device behind–not a good idea. And they have killed a good number of folks. Less lethal, not non-lethal. (Do we still go to hell if we didn’t MEAN to kill them?) What about flashlight-sized ones? Cute idea, but remember that their effectiveness is directly related to their battery size. Small battery, very little effect. You also need to aim them accurately. Great marketing pitch, but no free lunch.

As for phasers, well, I like SciFi better than most, but phasers on stun just aren’t on the horizon. Sorry, Lance.

Which brings us back to handguns. They are the primary tool for the self-defense of individuals outside the home, and for many, also inside the home. They are effective at short ranges (shot placement is always important). They are easily handled safely and effectively by people of all body sizes, strengths, and most disabilities. They can equalize a physical contest between a large individual, or a number of attackers, and any victim regardless of size, sex, race, etc. (God created all men, Samuel Colt made them equal.)

The sad truth is that the people who would most likely meet with a bad end in a violent attack in TE Lewis’ happy little world are women and the disabled, and of course smaller men. Apparently TE Lewis would prefer the law of the jungle where only the large and strong survive. With proper training and safe handling, which is demonstrated by millions of Americans every single day, firearms are no more dangerous than any other tool in your house. Far less dangerous than your car. Evidence? Literally millions of law-abiding Americans own a variety of firearms and never hurt anyone with them. Astounding! The Brady bunch would have you believe that any handgun will shoot you from inside its drawer while you are sleeping at night.

A bit of personal insight. Effective use of firearms has saved me and/or a loved one several times in my life so far. I did not have to shoot, only produce a weapon without hesitation and with clear intent to fire if needed. That was enough to terminate all the attacks and put the attackers to flight. Had I not been armed, I would probably not be here to write this post and some close to me would have been raped and/or killed. This is not a hypothetical question for me. I take the protection of my loved ones seriously enough to actually do something about it. That’s a charge that God has given to all of us as heads of households.

We Reformed folks believe that we live in a fallen world. Sin is the primary issue, not firearms. Cain killed Able long before firearms came into being. Tens of millions were killed with swords, arrows, knives, rocks, etc., throughout history. In the civilian world, firearms are harmless until a criminal misuses them. The same is true of knives, hammers, chain saws, rocks, cars, bottles, etc. In Lance’s happy little world, we apparently don’t need firearms to equal the odds for victims. In the real, fallen world in which the rest of us live, violent criminals prey upon the weak. That’s basic in Reformed theology.

Lewis:

It’s time for the Christian community to promote the cause of life by laying down our weapons…

So, do we honor God and protect life by offering it freely to be taken by violent criminals as TE Lewis seems to assert? Or do we honor God’s precious gift of life by protecting our lives and those of our families–which God has entrusted to us–from those same violent criminals? Scripture says the latter. Scripture also says that sin is the problem, not anything made by man.

[End of technical material. Read on at your own risk.]

***Deleted in response to wise counsel***

Soli Deo Gloria!
Bob Mattes

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147 Comments

  1. Sean Gerety said,

    September 17, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Let me be the first to say, wow. Nice demolition job Bob. Lewis’ blog was disturbing on a number of levels, but you nailed that one too in the combox to Lane’s post:

    I’d like to say that Lance Lewis’ post is unbelievable, but after Federal Vision and people wanting to ordain or commission women as deacons I guess I can’t say anything is unbelievable anymore in the PCA.

  2. September 17, 2008 at 6:11 am

    [...] many of the problems, half-truths, and flat out misconceptions surrounding the handgun debate. Firearms, theology, and fantasy Green Baggins __________________ Benjamin P. Glaser Pittsburgh, PA Fairmount ARP Church, Sewickley, PA Student [...]

  3. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    September 17, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Wow. Awesome and much needed article. Have you ever thought about writing a book on the subject? One is sorely needed in our times as I may quote my other President that they can take my guns “from my cold, dead hands.”

  4. Sam Sutter said,

    September 17, 2008 at 8:01 am

    This discussion reads like a classic city vs farmer argument. Obviously Lewis would have different views if he was a Vet who had target shooting as a hobby. But I would venture to guess that you would have a different view too, if you were surrounded by gun related death where children are victimized because of guns in the wrong hands. Gun in urban Philadelphia are almost always bad.

  5. September 17, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Isn’t there a meta-question to be dealt with first? That is, is the disarmament of the populace a theological question, or a political one?

    If it is theological, then how does Rom. 13 play into the discussion? Paul tells us as private citizens to obey the government, since it carries the sword as the servant of God: the implication is that there is a distinction between the private citizen and the state’s agents, and that distinction is the deployment of co-ercive force, particularly as found in the use of weaponry.

    And does the redemptive-historical context of the OT allusions you make have anything to say on the question of war and peace, or can we simply carry OT laws and examples across willy-nilly? I got a ham sandwich here, and I want to be sure I’m doing the right thing.

  6. September 17, 2008 at 8:50 am

    [...] written an unassailable defense of the ownership and use of firearms over at Greenbaggins titled Firearms, Theology and Fantasy. He writes in response to an imbecilic post by PCA pastor Lane Lewis from Philly decrying the [...]

  7. Ron Henzel said,

    September 17, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Philip wrote,

    …is the disarmament of the populace a theological question, or a political one?

    Everything is theological.

    — Ron

    “Everything is political.” —Perchik, Fiddler on the Roof

  8. September 17, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Speaking as someone named after a very nice weapon…thanks for this post. I bet if he ever shot my Sweet 16…that TE may change his mind….

  9. Les Prouty said,

    September 17, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Re # 6. My typing mistake in the referring post from my site. Obviously it should read “Lance” Lewis, not Lane.

  10. greenbaggins said,

    September 17, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Talk about nailing it, Bob. Thanks so much for posting this. It’s great to get the opinion of a small arms expert on this question.

  11. September 17, 2008 at 9:53 am

    “Everything is theological.”

    Only in a certain sense. I mean, theology tells us that it is good for parents to feed their children, but it doesn’t give us menus. And theology tells us that it’s good for parents to defend their children (and fathers particularly) but it doesn’t tell us what tools to use.

  12. Ron Henzel said,

    September 17, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Philip,

    True, but I didn’t think you were asking a “how-to” question.

  13. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    September 17, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Gage,

    Remember your first and last names are both very nice weapons.

  14. Roger Mann said,

    September 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    And theology tells us that it’s good for parents to defend their children (and fathers particularly) but it doesn’t tell us what tools to use.

    Since we have a biblical mandate to protect our families, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we should use the most effective tools available. And there’s no more effective tool for protecting ourselves and our families than firearms! Shotguns are great, but I personally feel more comfortable with a handgun — my Colt .45 semi-automatic (I also carry a concealed snub-nose .38 when out of the house)! Of course a good home alarm system is also a must, as it will wake you up as soon as someone breaks into your house. The worse possible scenario would be waking up to an intruder already in your bedroom looking down directly over you!

    By the way, great post Bob! Also, thank you for your honorable service to our country in the finest, most powerful Air Force in the world! My two sons are currently serving in the Air Force, and I couldn’t be more proud of them!

  15. September 17, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    “Since we have a biblical mandate to protect our families, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we should use the most effective tools available.”

    Ah, but that’s where the argument lies, not at the level of theology. Are guns the most effective? It seems to me that Lewis was mostly tackling that question rather than any underlying theology; and trying to do so on the basis of evidence. Even if one disagrees with his handling of the evidence, to respond in a manner which suggests gun control is practically immoral is somewhat over-blown.

  16. September 17, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Sean, Benjamin, Ron, Gage, Lane, Les – Thank you all for your kind words. I’m glad to be of some minor service.

    Sam, RE #4 – That’s a false dichotomy. I live in an urban center as do many law-abiding firearm owners and those with concealed carry permits. If anything, there’s a greater need for self-defense in the cities. It’s criminals that are the problem along with laws and policies that enable them, not the law-abiding. Disarming the law-abiding not only violates the constitution and Scripture, but also creates a consequence-free zone in which criminals thrive as they prey on the innocent. Again, the problem is sin, not the tools sinfully misused.

  17. Zrim said,

    September 17, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Philip is actually asking the best set of questions here, and predictably, getting bad aswers: “Is this really a theological question?” “Well, God says we should protect ourselves…so pack heat when you go to the movies.” Huh?

    Generally, it’s prerty plain that this is all turns on whether or not one has a politics of affirmation or dissent with regard to the gun culture, carelessly topped with appeals to theology to make the case (which is where Philip falls down a skosh by suggesting that Lewis has no theological interests, since he sure as shootin’ seems to). This is an argument between contemporary neo-cons and those who have embraced a radical reformation peace tradition–I’m not sure how the Reformation proper can be used in good conscience by either side.

  18. Roger Mann said,

    September 17, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Are guns the most effective?… Even if one disagrees with his handling of the evidence, to respond in a manner which suggests gun control is practically immoral is somewhat over-blown.

    Of course guns are the most effective. Because they are the most lethal, they provide the most effective deterrence to would be attackers. Criminals are cowards, and the last thing they want to do is get shot! That’s why they prey on the weak and defenseless (e.g., those who are likely to be unarmed). Furthermore, even when deterrence fails, guns are the most effective tool to either seriously wound or kill an attacker, which is a sure fire way to stop an attack! That’s why Jesus instructed His disciples to purchase a “sword” (the most effective and lethal weapon of the day) instead of rod or a whip.

    If you or Lewis irrationally believe that other tools are more effective than firearms, fine and dandy. Purchase yourself a pepper spray or taser (and good luck!). Just stop trying to infringe upon my freedom to use a firearm to defend myself and my family by pushing for greater gun control laws. And stop abusing Scripture in support of such nonsense!

  19. greenbaggins said,

    September 17, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Neo-cons, my foot, Zrim. I am not neo-con, and neither is Bob.

    What is a “gun culture?” What are your assumptions regarding said culture?

    I do not think that the main arena of debate here is theological. What is biblical is the principle of defending one’s household, and thereby preventing murder and protecting life (see the sixth commandment in all the confessional explanations). But guns, of course, are not the only way to defend oneself. Therefore, the arguments will tend to hinge on more pragmatic concerns and reading the laws of human nature.

  20. Roger Mann said,

    September 17, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Additionally, if guns are not the most effective tool for defense, then why does every military and police force on the planet use guns (or other lethal weapons) as the primary tool for defending their nation and society? Since I know this question can’t be answered, I’ll simply claim victory in advance and rest my case! :-)

  21. Colin said,

    September 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Roger,

    In the UK, the police do not use guns as their primary weapon …

    Colin

  22. September 17, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Philip, RE #15

    Even if one disagrees with his handling of the evidence, to respond in a manner which suggests gun control is practically immoral is somewhat over-blown.

    It is immoral to sacrifice the lives of the weaker members of society as helpless prey for violent predators. It is immoral not to adequately protect the lives of your family from violent predators. Would you disagree with these statements?

  23. September 17, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Colin,

    More and more police in the UK are starting to carry guns. You also have a virtual police state in some area with wall-to-wall video and audio surveillance. You have what would be illegal searches here in the US conducted on the streets of the UK. You have airport-style metal detectors used in some of these illegal searches. Your violent crime rate has been soaring, including crimes involving firearms. Youth gangs routinely prey on the elderly on the street and in their homes, with no recourse for the elderly victims other than dying and hoping the police catch the perps after the fact. Are you really better off?

  24. ray said,

    September 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    … well said Roger … a fellow soldier in the church militant. :)

    Shame on those who would have her .. the church negligent… wanting to run around in nothing but their birthday suit.

    Some of us were taught just how vicious the Nazi’s were to our Dutch grandparents who defended their families and hid strangers in the underground resistance. We remember what Hitler had to say long before he invaded Holland:

    “This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!” —Adolph Hitler, 1933

  25. Roger Mann said,

    September 17, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    In the UK, the police do not use guns as their primary weapon…

    Well, considering that England’s violent crime rate with firearms has increased about 40% since handguns were banned (not to mention knife assaults), the British police will be most foolish if they don’t start arming themselves with guns as soon as possible! However, since they do in fact use firearms when necessary, and the British military most certainly uses firearms, I would say that my main point stands unscathed.

  26. September 17, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Philip, RE #5,

    And does the redemptive-historical context of the OT allusions you make have anything to say on the question of war and peace, or can we simply carry OT laws and examples across willy-nilly?

    The OT reveals the character of God just as much as the NT. To be sure, we should view the OT through the lens of the NT, but the character of God didn’t change. The God who struck Sennacherib’s army is the same God who struck Ananias and Sophira dead. The God who ordered the extermination of a variety of -ites in the land is the same one who sent his son to propitiate his wrath for his elect on the cross.

    So, while the dietary rules have been explicitly removed and the sacrificial system fulfilled, God never repealed the death penalty or the difference between justified defensive or combat killings and premeditated murder. Sure, we aren’t obligated to use ancient Israel’s civil code [i]en masse[/i], but in WCF 9.4 we subscribe:

    To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

    Certainly the principles of self-defense, just wars, and the death penalty as a just punishment come under the general equity provision. None were explicitly revoked in the NT as the dietary laws were.

    Unless you want to advocate for Marcion, which I do not think that you do, it would be best not to cut out the parts of the OT that one may find inconvenient to one’s arguments.

  27. KBennett said,

    September 17, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Wow. What a non-biblical issue. Why are we (as christians) wasting bandwidth on this?

  28. September 17, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Because Lance Lewis challenged Christians directly with this issue. Did you read his original post?

  29. Ron Henzel said,

    September 17, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    KBennett,

    You wrote:

    Wow. What a non-biblical issue. Why are we (as christians) wasting bandwidth on this?

    Because we fundamentally—and speaking for myself here, passionately—disagree with your premise. If there is not one square inch of the universe that God does not claim as His own, then this issue is His property as well. And if we are His redeemed stewards over His creation, then we have a responsibility to deal with it. If Christ is the Lord of all of life, then this subject cannot be irrelevant to the Christian life.

  30. Richard L. Lindberg said,

    September 17, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    So, where does the Lordship of Christ enter into this discussion? I have seen nothing that deals with that. There is no biblical exegesis to sustain the positions argued in these posts. The tone of the arguments toward the Lance Lewis posts falls somewhat short of the admonition of Paul to let your speech be seasoned with salt. The arguments are quite sharp. Obviously this is an issue many people (including Christians) feel passionate about. Christians, though, should have some biblical warrant for their views. I have expressed mine elsewhere. I don’t see the supporters of gun ownership presenting their biblical warrants.

  31. September 17, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    RE #30,

    Did you read the whole post? I presented Scriptural warrants for the possession of arms from the mouth of Jesus himself (Lk 22:36-38), as well as across the Biblical narratives. Others have done the same on Lane’s post. I also rebutted your exegesis on gun ownership, which was clearly Anabaptist in nature. Not sure how you missed it.

  32. Roger Mann said,

    September 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    There is no biblical exegesis to sustain the positions argued in these posts… I don’t see the supporters of gun ownership presenting their biblical warrants.

    Richard, if you assert this mantra over and over again, I’m sure it will come true! I saw it in a movie once — I think it was Harry Potter. You’ll need that little wand he had though… :-)

  33. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    September 17, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Well it is easy to dismiss when you have no will to agree. Why bother when you do not wish your view to be wrong?

  34. Ron Henzel said,

    September 17, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Richard,

    Given the various Scriptures that Bob brought to bear on this topic in the main post before he even mentioned your previous comments, I think your bald assertion, “There is no biblical exegesis to sustain the positions argued in these posts,” calls into question whether you actually read it. One might be tempted to conclude that you are merely reciprocating for his observation of your comments when he wrote, “Again, no exegesis, just hand-waving assertions.” I went back and re-read your comment from yesterday and I have to agree.

    But frankly, given your hermeneutical presuppositions, I don’t know whether any exegetical argument, no matter how well-reasoned, would persuade you, since (as others have reminded you) you yourself wrote:

    I think my hermeneutics are sound even though they tend toward Anabaptistic.

    A Reformed hermeneutic sees a good deal more continuity between the Old and New Testaments than an Anabaptist one would. Your arguments seem to be based solely on New Testament texts, and from a Reformed perspective it is unacceptable to omit Old Testament evidence for questions pertaining to living the Christian life.

    Furthermore, the scope of New Testament revelation is so limited in its time span and so specialized for the needs of recently-planted churches in situations of persecution in a pagan or Jewish setting that it is unreasonable to expect it to address every contingency, especially the kinds that the church has faced during the majority of its existence, which has more closely resembled the mode of existence of Israel itself over the span of centuries during which it occupied the Promised Land than what first century churches experienced.

    It’s not that the New Testament has nothing to say to us about this matter. Paul did write, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men,” (Rom. 12:18, NASB), but the very way he worded it implied that such an ideal may not always be possible. And if someone decides that he doesn’t want to live at peace with me or my family, and intends to harm us, then, as Bob wrote, 1 Timothy 5:8 requires me to take whatever measures may be necessary for our protection.

    Meanwhile, I am encouraged by the fact that any criminal entering my neighborhood is aware that any house he may enter could be the home of a gun owner.

  35. Roy said,

    September 17, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Who says an armed populace cannot stop (even) a military (as technologically advanced as that of the U.S.)?

    I mused on this while in the Army. Situation for musing: Seems that folks where taking advantage of cold in Colo, a dry cold, which allows one in long sleeves and tennis shoes to keep warm enough if running. They’d sneak off of I25 next to Ft Carson, get out into field exercises, and take M60 machine guns from guys who had no live ammo. Or beat up guys carrying M16s on guard duty, but no ammo. To pull guard in 20 or more below temps, one had to bundle up. Lose lots of mobility, especially if having to carry one of the heavy radios then available. (I pulled guard with a fixed bayonet, and my own dog accompanying me.) Commanders finally decided solution was (not to issue ammunition but) to change to entrenching tool as guard weapon.

    Anyway, in that situation I wondered what somebody with an M60 mg could do against an M60 tank much less against an F16. Not much. So I sort of rejected the idea of an armed populace resisting a military. But years later I realized I had assumed the populace vs military thing would necessarily occur only in an open conflict. What if the military were trying to occupy? Trying to pacify? Trying to do anything other than totally eradicate the population. Then the scene changes. Dramatically. Any civilian becomes a threat. Read lethal threat. Able to use a small weapon to take control of a bigger weapon. Long before missles got the title “Peace Maker” I learned that the Allies provided resistance groups single shot pistols with that name. I recommend John Steinbeck’s ‘The Moon is Down’ for further thought.

    Next to bottom line. The second amendment exists rather clearly for one purpose: restraint on gov’t. Even technology has not defeated the possibility of that restraint. That fact means those who chose to be (legally) armed do so with the Constitution’s encouragement, ie, are submitting to the gov’t. This line of the reaosoning I think pretty straightforward.

    But I see it as next to rather than the bottom line. That line is in the exegetical arguments of earlier comments by others.

  36. September 18, 2008 at 4:27 am

    “It is immoral to sacrifice the lives of the weaker members of society as helpless prey for violent predators. It is immoral not to adequately protect the lives of your family from violent predators. Would you disagree with these statements?”

    No, but I’d disagree that universal gun ownership is the only blindingly obvious solution to this; I also disagree that lethal force is the best way to handle situations in which life is not threatened. Further, I would say that public ownership of firearms tends to act against trust in society, and that for some people at least, armed police tend to make them feel less safe (even if arming the police in fact makes them more safe).

    This isn’t so much a theological debate as a political one, where reasonable people should be able to disagree reasonably, where more than one issue is in play (as I hope I showed above), and where neither side has a monopoly on truth. I’m not asking, “Can’t everyone just get along?” but I think it would be reasonable to ask, “Can’t everyone listen to each other?”

  37. Ron Henzel said,

    September 18, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Philip,

    You wrote:

    No, but I’d disagree that universal gun ownership is the only blindingly obvious solution to this; I also disagree that lethal force is the best way to handle situations in which life is not threatened.

    Can you find one person who argued either of these two propositions here? If not, you must be disagreeing with someone on another blog.

  38. September 18, 2008 at 7:22 am

    The tone here, especially of your post Bob, is nasty, brutish, and short. You certainly can disagree with Pastor Lewis and others here. I suggest, however, comporting yourself as a Christian in doing so. Perhaps an apology for your disrespectful tone and attitude towards Pastor Lewis is in order?

    Many here continue to provide evidence that I should not expect to find a Christian blog when I visit. Sure, I can find vigorous, vicious, militant, often parochial, “debates” (yelling matches and posturing) about doctrine, but often not with any hint of submission to Christ in how we comport ourselves. While this is not always the case, it is far too often—especially considering, from what I understand, [1] many pastors frequent this blog, looking to it for some doctrinal direction (and models for theological discourse), [2] many of you here are elders or leaders in a church of some form, [3] you all (I think) consider yourselves Christians and what you are doing in service of the Kingdom. “Even the pagans” could read this blog and note much resembles the final months of a bitter political campaign—hardly the atmosphere of positively generative interaction, theological and/or academic.

    Sadly, when I raised this concern here previously many responded by telling me that “Liberals” say such things. I hope (and pray!) that will not be the response here.

  39. Sean Gerety said,

    September 18, 2008 at 8:20 am

    The tone here, especially of your post Bob, is nasty, brutish, and short.

    Bob who? The only Bob I see above is Mattes. That couldn’t be the man you’re shaking your finger at, could it?

  40. RBerman said,

    September 18, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Sean, Bob’s last paragraph did descend into condescension. He knew it; he said it would probably get him in trouble, and I agree. It’s an unworthy conclusion to what is otherwise an excellent essay on one of the secondary means God has appointed for the protection of the weak from the wicked.

    Does TE Lewis know he’s being discussed here?

  41. Zrim said,

    September 18, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Lane,

    Re #19 Ok, Ok, I trafficked in some caricature with the neo-con thing. My apologies. It’s just that most neo-cons also seem to have dual-citizenship in the gun culture.

    Speaking of which, surely you must be familiar with what a gun culture is. (Aren’t you in the Dakotas? I got November 15 off every year in school growing up in Northern Michigan but used it for things other than shooting deer.) My assumptions for a gun culture are pretty simple: people who like guns. The non-gun culture is those who don’t. Each acts in accord with his culture. Personally, I don’t have citizenship in either, which seems to make it easier to spot squabbles between the two. If that all this was I’d be happy. But it isn’t. It’s an all too common example of lending theological sanction to (perfectly legitimate) ideological conclusions.

    If, as you say, “the main arena of debate here is theological” and this is all about the “more pragmatic concerns and reading the laws of human nature,” I don’t understand all the scriptural proof-texting by both sides of the gun culture, to say nothing of why this exchange is popping up on a theological blog. What’s next, a debate over the best school of sign language (there is one, you know, and it’s hot on the campus of Gallaudet)? After all, if the rationale is that it has something to say about “protecting one’s household,” the Bible also has a lot to say about deafness.

    As I run into the Lewis’s of the world I always hear that true piety frowns upon one being a cop, a soldier, or a judge (passing down death penalties, etc.). That’s the peace tradition of the radical reformation, not us. But it’s not countered well by the Mattes’s and Ron Henzel’s of the world who suggest true piety packs a piece. True piety actually has more stake in Christian liberty, such that flows from a better two-kingdoms doctrine. My point is that I get discomforted when those who have particular ideologies about one thing or another give in to the temptation of linking it up to our shared theology. In this case, it is suggested that a true Christian piety should either pack heat or slide flowers down barrels. I’m not much for either, so where does that put me?

  42. September 18, 2008 at 10:19 am

    RBerman, RE #40,

    It’s an unworthy conclusion to what is otherwise an excellent essay on one of the secondary means God has appointed for the protection of the weak from the wicked.

    I accept your wise counsel and deleted the last paragraph.

  43. September 18, 2008 at 10:26 am

    RBerman,

    Does TE Lewis know he’s being discussed here?

    Yes. Lane posted a comment and invitation to join us here over at Lewis’ blog yesterday, but has received no response as yet.

  44. September 18, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Zrim,

    In this case, it is suggested that a true Christian piety should either pack heat or slide flowers down barrels. I’m not much for either, so where does that put me?

    Well, both the verbs “sell” and “buy” are in the imperative active tense in Luke 22:36. This wasn’t a parable, but Jesus’ real warning about going out into the fallen world. Since something like 70% of the colonels in our revolutionary army were Presbyterian elders, Presbyterians dominated the army’s leadership and filled a large percentage of its ranks, and most used their own weapons (especially at in the beginning), I’d say that our forefathers didn’t find the situation so ambiguous. But let your conscience be your guide.

  45. ray said,

    September 18, 2008 at 10:47 am

    reply to #38

    …liberals do state such things. Liberals also whine about tone … but do not state anything with regards to the topic and subject at hand. I consider that less than honest on your part.

    By the way Foolish Tar Heel… are you a woman?

  46. September 18, 2008 at 11:18 am

    “Can you find one person who argued either of these two propositions here? If not, you must be disagreeing with someone on another blog.”

    I can’t give you a “proof-text” to show someone saying that universal gun ownership is blindingly obvious (perhaps ‘UGO’ was the wrong phrase; I really meant a universal right to bear arms rather than arming literally everyone), although Roger Mann’s reply to me comes pretty close. I was trying to interpret the tone of response rather than the individual words.

    As for non-lethal situations, that was how I understood your own line about criminals entering houses. I assumed you were referring to burglary, but if not then I retract my comment.

    On the other hand, can you see that other people may find guns to be a hindrance to a good society and not merely a benefit in the protection of home and hearth? I’m not looking to change anyone’s mind; all I’m looking to do is try and get people to look at these issues from someone else’s point of view. Especially in an election year, isn’t that worth doing?

  47. September 18, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Philip,

    On the other hand, can you see that other people may find guns to be a hindrance to a good society and not merely a benefit in the protection of home and hearth?

    No, because that’s a false dilemma. Protection of home and hearth, the very core of civilization, is critical to a good society. Without that protection, there is no civilization. A society that abandons its weaker members to the whims of the strong is not civilized, nor is it Christian.

  48. September 18, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    ray,

    What on earth does my gender have to do with anything here? Please answer this one.

    I also do not understand why me not sharing my views on the topic is “less than honest.” I did bring up a topic that should be of weighty importance to all Christians here: are we following Christ in how we interact or not?

    Bob, I appreciate your removing that final paragraph. Do you not think a fairly rough and condescending tone towards Pastor Lewis suffuses much of the rest of your post, which otherwise shows a great investment of thought, energy, and reflection on your part—indeed, beyond many of the rest of us?

  49. Ron Henzel said,

    September 18, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Philip,

    You wrote in comment 46:

    I was trying to interpret the tone of response rather than the individual words.

    I find this line hghly ironic in light of your previous plea ten comments earlier, “Can’t everyone listen to each other?” In spoken communication, tone can be discerned apart from an understanding of the individual words. In written communication very often it cannot. True, the Internet has developed certain conventions designed to enable people to do so (such as using all capital letters to signify “screaming”), but in the vast majority of instances I don’t think you can fairly say you have grasped the tone of a post or comment without being able to refer to actual words and explain why it is they seemed to convey that tone. Until you and others who are complaining about “tone” do so, I will find it difficult to take your complaints seriously.

  50. Ron Henzel said,

    September 18, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Foolish Tar Heel,

    You wrote in comment 38:

    The tone here, especially of your post Bob, is nasty, brutish, and short.

    I have read Bob’s post in full, but I didn’t find anything deserving of these three adjectives. However, I could be missing something. Perhaps if you cited an actual example of a particular statement that you found “nasty,” or “brutish,” or “short” it might help me improve my ability to discern those kinds of statements. Otherwise, please read my comment 49 to Philip.

  51. September 18, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Okay Ron, then how’s this? “Of course guns are the most effective. … If you or Lewis irrationally believe that other tools are more effective than firearms, fine and dandy.” What I call tone I might, with my mathematician’s hat on, describe as words combining in a manner which is non-linear: they add up more quickly than you’d expect. A phrase like “of course”, perhaps innocuous on its own, starts to take a different character when you get called “irrational” for believing that certain propositions need checking a little more rigorously than simply claiming something has to be true.

    For instance, the claim that guns necessarily make us safer is not automatic. Entirely innocent young men are killed in drive-by shootings. Woozy and nervous householders kill family members, mistaking them for intruders. Guns make sniper assassinations comparatively easy. And then there’s over-reaction: it may be legal to kill a guy breaking into your shed to steal the lawnmower, but it’s fair to ask whether it’s reasonable force.

    So to you and Bob: can you not see that *other people* may find these kinds of incident too high a price to pay for having guns so freely available? It’s clear that you would disagree with such a person, but can you understand them?

  52. ray said,

    September 18, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    #48

    …women tend to get emotionally distraught over certain so called “tones”.

    My wife for example gets pretty fluffy just before the deer hunt …you know … “those poor deer – thoughts of Bambi” attitudes. :)

    This is quickly extinguished by myself by showing her that the controlled deer hunt helps to curb overpopulation in our township, and puts meat in our freezer, something she should applaud considering she is on the road with 4 children strapped in the van and travelling country side roads.

    Thus your statements relating to “tones” sounded quite femine and thus why I asked.

    As for the interaction here … it is pretty mild… considering the ridiculous position of Lewis. None of us here have namecalled Lewis a viper or hypocrite … though Christ used such language when warranted.

  53. September 18, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Philip,

    So to you and Bob: can you not see that *other people* may find these kinds of incident too high a price to pay for having guns so freely available? It’s clear that you would disagree with such a person, but can you understand them?

    No, I cannot understand irrational fear. Everything that you say about firearms I can say about cars, gasoline, certain fertilizers, electricity, etc. The examples that you cite (and all that you could cite) all involve criminal misuse of legal products. Should we outlaw any product that can hurt or kill someone? You’d have to move to a barren planet that had no rocks or trees or water–nothing but a cue-ball surface.

    Misused fertilizer has killed more people at a whack than criminal use of firearms ever could. Cars kill far more people than firearms. If law-abiding citizens all stood armed together against crime, the crime rate would drop to noise level. But that would take courage from some to step outside of their prejudices about inanimate objects and take real responsibility for themselves and their neighbors.

    You still seem to be stuck on the objects used by sinful individuals rather than sin itself. I don’t say this about you, but anti-firearm people find it far easier to blame inanimate objects and their law-abiding owners for a problem than to actually take positive action to deal with the sin beneath the behavior. That way they can pretend to do something useful and go about their way free of guilt…for a time. It’s a lot like voting for tax increases to pretend to address poverty rather than dirty their hands at the local women’s shelter or food line.

    All that it takes or evil to succeed is for good to do nothing. Blaming inanimate objects for sin, or thinking that taking away inanimate object will somehow deal with that sin, is the same as doing nothing. No, I don’t understand that mindset.

  54. KBennett said,

    September 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Ron Henzel,

    God bless your little Kuyperian heart.

    Please give me an actual Biblical text that necessitates this “God is lord over everything, so everything is a Biblical issue” stance. (Preferably a chapter, if you can. I myself find the apostles work remarkably silent on such concern.)

    God wrote what he wrote on purpose. He deliberately does not address specific issues – I beg you not don’t force things into it that are not there.

    “The revealed things belong to you and your children, the hidden things belong to the Lord” (Deut 29:29 para) “‘Do not go beyond what is written.'” (1 Cor 4:6b)

    I beg you to refute this exegetically, and not with the “Well, He’s lord over every square inch, so everything is Biblical” isegesis.

  55. September 18, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Look, you say I can say misuse occurs with lots of legal items. Fair enough. Let’s take cars. What are speed limits for? One might ask, where’s the morality in doing 20 instead of 40?

    But then, I could also mention lots of highly illegal items which are illegal because the dangers outweight the benefits. Narcotics, for a start.

    For firearms, it’s all about where you draw the line on innocent bystanders: RPGs are not sold for private use because they almost certainly would kill innocent people, but it’s easier to control for that risk with a gun. However, that risk still exists, and it’s not unreasonable for someone to prefer that it be controlled more tightly yet, nor is it unreasonable to disagree with that position.

  56. September 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Philip,

    Crossing the street involves risk, eating involves risk, breathing involves risk, birth involves major risk. The problem is that our education system is so poor that the average person cannot realistically evaluate risks, either relatively or absolutely. We live by bumper stickers and slick websites tugging on our heart strings. The problem is that those sources are lying to us, but most can’t see it. We quake at the thought of nuclear power plants while eating Big Macs and smoking cigarettes. It’s just nuts.

    I cannot save my family in a home invasion with my car or narcotics, but I sure can with a firearm-and very effectively. There are probably some military-only items that I could use just as effectively, but you wouldn’t like the outcome of that, either. Timothy McVeigh built a truck bomb that killed 168 people and wounded 450, and he used only legally available material. Are you going to outlaw fertilizer and Rider trucks? You cannot make the world sin-proof. What we can do is give ordinary people the means to defend themselves from predatory criminals carrying out some of their sins. To deny that right of self-defense to law-abiding citizens is unconscionable. To do it because of an irrational fear of certain inanimate objects is lunacy.

  57. Elder Hoss said,

    September 18, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    KBennett – You rather casually [and apparently for purposes of outright dismissal if not belittling] invoke the divine Name to Ron Henzel, “God bless your little Kuyperian heart” and furtively moved from there to “Please give me an actual Biblical text that necessitates this ‘God is lord over everything, so everything is a Biblical issue’ stance [Preferably a chapter, if you can. I myself find the apostles work remarkably silent on such concern].”

    In response to this rather unecessary and juvenile broadside, you might want to consult, well, Dominical texts such as Matt. 28:20, for starters. There you will notice something rather different than a “little” or a “narrow” or a “confined” an authority is ascribed to our Lord as well as the SPHERE [common Kuyperianism] in which He exercises it through his people.

    But I suspect citation of any number of texts will be useless to the point in much the same way arguing with Baptists about the proper recipients of sign and seal, since after all, it’s the paradigm through which one views the textual data that’s really at issue [one also finds this when hearing specious rejoinders from supports of public education, "show me a verse that says my children can't be educated by God-hating pagans"! - the issue there is not one of textual support, but rather a PARADIGMATIC one].

    So, as to the bearing of Kuyperianism on these kinds of questions, speaking of “God” blessing one’s “little Kuyperian heart” is useless to the task of demonstrating that Kuyperianism is any less of biblical framework or paradigm for viewing this or that socio-political issue than is, say, Klineanism, the latter obviously being en vogue present hour [and presumably more to your liking].

    Of course, if Christianity is akin to a domesticated zoo animal, and thus to be confined to the 4 walls of the institutional [usually that means "Presbyterian"] church, and from there, a matter chiefly taken up with the interior concerns of the individual soul, perhaps your cavil would have some remote merit. As of yet, I don’t see how in the world it does. In fact, its assumptions suggest a kind of sophisticated dispenationalism without the speech impediment, perhaps accompanied by an affirmation of SOTERIOLOGIC Calvinism, that is to say, a “Calvnism” divorced from 86.5% of the world in which we live.

    But then, perhaps you have produced a rejoinder to Kuyper’s Stone Lectures on CALVINISM, in which case I would be happy to read it. For now, I much prefer Calvin, Dabney, Van Prinsterer, along with AK. In that regard, Ron would be in very welcome company were he to be asserting that Christianity, and in particular, the special revelation upon which it is founded, speaks to all of life.

  58. Colin said,

    September 18, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Reformed Musings,

    #23 I have to ask if you have been to the UK. That is an awful charicature. I live in the second city. I think we had two gun murders last year (if I am wrong it is not more than 4). This year we are on 3 (I Think). Yes crime maybe on the rise, but not by much … (the exception I believe is youth murder – not really the sort of people we would be arming to protect themselves).

    Yes we are better off, I would go anywhere in the UK … and I would be very unlikely to be robbed at gunpoint (For various reasons I spend alot of time going to the places this would be most likely to happen) – you could not say that …

    #25 Roger,

    The only people that link the banning of handguns in 1997 or whenever to an increase in violent crime is the pro gun lobby. There are numerous other factors which come into play with this which have affected this.

    Believe it or not a proportion of the gun murders, are by imitation guns made to shoot – I have no expertise on guns what so ever, but I would suspect this may affect their accuracy, hence our gang members thankfully keep missing – now if they could get their hands on the weaponry your gang members can –

    Colin

  59. todd said,

    September 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Elder Hoss,

    Your critique of kBennett begged the question. Just because Christ is Lord of all does not mean he rules all the same way. Does he rule unbelievers by his Spirit the same way he rules believers? Does the Bible inform us how to heal the sinful soul? Does it tell us how to heal cancer? Is not God Lord of both body and soul? So where does the Bible teach gun ownership? (And this question from a gun owner.)

    Todd

  60. September 18, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Colin,

    I have to ask if you have been to the UK.

    Yep, many times. Sometimes for almost two months at a time. Everything I said was factually accurate according to The Times Online. I’ve made a hobby of keeping up with developments there as I have some British friends who still value freedom and share the American view.

  61. Ron Henzel said,

    September 18, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    KBennett,

    You’re beginning to sound as Anabaptistic in your hermeneutic as Richard. Otherwise why would you immediately gravitate toward the apostles and thus circumvent the Old Testament?

    In Psalm 24:1 we read, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (NASB; cf. Ps. 50:12). Did this cease to be true in the New Testament? Was it not also a part of the apostles’ doctrine? Did they not use it as a guiding principle for deciding matters relevant to the Christian life? Or is the nature of reality more in keeping with certain radical Anabaptist views which hold that significant portions of the created order are now under the domain of Satan, and therefore off-limits to Christians? (I’m not saying this is your view, although it seems to be Richard’s.)

    The former would seem to be the case, especially the way Paul quotes the first half of this verse in the middle of a discussion about eating meat sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 10:26). If anything might have seemed obvious to some first century Christians it would have been that meat sacrificed to idols was automatically part of Satan’s domain and off-limits to Christians. Paul thought it was obvious that this was far from the case, and he grounded his view on the Old Testament teaching that any claim Satan might think he has over any part of the universe is automatically trumped by God’s claim as the Sovereign Creator of everything including Satan himself.

    You wrote in comment 54:

    Please give me an actual Biblical text that necessitates this “God is lord over everything, so everything is a Biblical issue” stance. (Preferably a chapter, if you can….)

    While you may prefer an entire chapter, to require it would be unreasonable. There are plenty of important biblical teachings that do not occupy a full chapter of text.

    Also, I don’t know what you mean by “a Biblical issue,” nor am I confident that you understand what I meant when I wrote, “Everything is theological,” in comment 7 (especially since you misquote me as saying “everything is biblical”). I was responding to Philip’s question, “…is the disarmament of the populace a theological question, or a political one?” and in my answer I assumed he was knowledgeable enough to realize that no particular passage of Scripture addresses this particular issue, or even questions about how Christians are to approach the issue of political expression in a free society. We must look to Scripture’s principles and do our best to derive the interpretation and application that seem to be required by good and necessary consequence of their meaning. This is not “eisegesis.” Far from forcing things on Scripture, we are often forced by statements in Scripture to take stands on issues that God does not address directly in its pages. The requirement of an explicit formulaic statement in Scripture for every true biblical doctrine will eventually make its proponent an anti-Trinitarian heretic when pressed to its logical conclusion.

    But more to the specific point of Philip’s question: just considering the Bible’s teaching on creation alone, I cannot imagine how any aspect of life is not automatically theological, since every aspect of created existence is in reality already under the absolute sovereignty of the Creator, although that sovereignty will one day be displayed as such so all mankind can see it. Psalm 24:1 declares God’s ownership of everything in the world, including its people. The universe has no unclaimed property.

    So I affirm with Elder Hoss that Christianity speaks to all of life, and that one of our duties as Christians is to extend Christ’s Lordship into every sphere of human relationships. When God calls a Christian to a political career, he calls him to enter it as a Christian. Since every issue he deals with relates to God’s world and the people in it whom He owns, he cannot view any issue as separate from theological concerns. The same applies to the rest of us Christians as we are called to vote as citizens in a representative democracy. Although some issues may be in one sense or another “morally neutral,” Christians cannot afford to think of any issue as theologically neutral. If God requires us “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8, NASB), how much more will he require us to have a proper attitude toward the role of weapons in our society?

  62. Ron Henzel said,

    September 18, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Todd,

    I don’t think either you or KBennett ever knew what the question was, so you can’t know whether Elder Hoss is begging it. The question here was never, “Where does the Bible teach gun ownership?” Show me, if you can, where Bob Mattes’ original post ever asserted that the Bible teaches gun ownership. Bob was actually joining with Lane in responding to those who insist that to be true to Scriptural teaching Christians should get rid of their guns! In the process of responding, he made counter-arguments based on Scripture. It was Lance Lewis who actually started this by asserting, in essence, that the Bible teaches against gun ownership! As one of his reasons for his self-styled “passionate anti-gun stance” he writes:

    Furthermore, I’m convinced by scripture that all of humanity has a duty to protect and preserve life and that those who believe in Jesus Christ should especially take care to do all within our power to see that no harm comes to anyone.

    No one is denying you or anyone else the freedom to not own a gun. But a certain PCA pastor (gasp!) named Lance Lewis would run roughshod over WCF 20 in a way that would have not amused the Westminster divines by denying Christians the right to conscientiously hold a view that is contrary to his. As Lewis so presumptuously put it, “It’s time for us to realize that we cannot be both pro-life and pro-gun.” I say that it’s time for Lewis to realize that he cannot hold that position and WCF 20 at the same time. He is trying to bind our consciences with a doctrine that is, as the divines put it, “beside” the teaching of Scripture.

  63. todd said,

    September 18, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Ron,

    In # 54 Kbennett asked for a biblical text to support that the Bible speaks to gun ownership. Never said I agreed with Lewis. I then responded to the answer about Lordship over all of life, which, I repeat, begs the question asked in # 54 . I agree the Bible doesn’t answer this question either way, because that is not the purpose of the Bible.

    Todd

  64. KBennett said,

    September 18, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Elder Hoss

    Matt 28:20 – “…teach them everything I have commanded you.” Good point, one with which I completely agree. Part of teaching the nations is not adding to His commands for the sake of tradition.

    I certainly believe the dominion of God over every aspect of life. Especially dominion over how His word should be applied. He expressly forbids us from adding to it (Prov 30:6), which is often done in the name of “sphere sovereignty.” All of us want the text to address issues that it simply does not. We have to be content with this. (Deut 29:29, 1 Cor 4:6b)

    Of course, you are working from a paradigm, but you could at least try to explain to me textually the paradigm that you are working from. I do not see the biblical authors using the paradigm that you assert. Please at least go to the three texts I’ve referenced so far, and explain how they do not limit our speculations to what is written in the text.

    All biblical Christianity addresses the real world. It’s called imperatives. It’s called commands. It’s too bad if God doesn’t address our pet issue(s). He is God. He defines the priorities, we don’t.

    I have, indeed read the Stone Lectures. Perhaps we should go there and use some of the passages Kuyper uses to explain this paradigm. I note that he quotes the Bible very infrequently, and doesn’t take its priorities or arguments as his own. Rather, he uses it as a reference to simply assert that the world is full of God’s glory, creation exults in its creator, and that we should love God with all of our hearts. Do these really necessitate that we should come up with our own theologies where God is silent? I doubt it.

    However, you do have a good point. Someone, perhaps me(?), should write a rejoinder to the stone lectures based on exegesis. Kuyper may have been a great man, but those lectures were only a triumphalist, anti-secular, modernistic polemic. This is completely fine, but that is far from calling it biblical argumentation.

  65. Elder Hoss said,

    September 18, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Todd – Where is there, strictly speaking, a biblical verse decrying the impropriety of witnessing at a nudist colony in the effort to “become all things to all men.” Or, where is there a biblical verse debunking the impropriety of communism?

    The point to such rhetoricals, is that we answer them on the basis of biblical principles, found in the totality of the canon of Scripture [as the Reformed have always stated, perhaps not as clearly in recent decades].

    Let’s eschew the example of Marcion. His own papa excommunicated him, so there’s not much for us in that ash heap.

    And, to Ron Henzel’s posting [particularly # 61], let’s jettison Anabaptistic hermeneutical principles. They’ve never done much for the church, and are soundly condemned in the Reformed Confessions, the framers of which in many cases were TO THE RIGHT of Kuyper, as to the question of the application of God’s law to all of life.

    Calvin, it should be noted on all hands [both by those who support, and those who oppose him], believed that Christianity is inextricably bound with SOCIAL ORDER, uncomfortable as that fact may be for his errant stepchildren, to misappropriate Verduin’s unfortunate terminology.

    In fact, think about the application of special revelation to all of culture next time you recite one of the Ecumenical creeds, drawn together in many instances, at the behest of emperors.

  66. KBennett said,

    September 18, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Ron Henzel,
    You say my hermeneutic sounds Anabaptist. I say yours sounds modernistic. What does that solve?

    Put simply, I believe in progressive revelation, as has virtually every Christian throughout history. God’s purposes become clearer and clearer as revelation continues. In fact, it’s transparent that the New Testament writers were writing in not most instances to correct misinterpretations of the Old Testament (pharisees, judaizers) through the lens of Christ. Therefore, Christians do not circumvent the Old Testament, they read it the way it was intended, through His inspired interpreters.

    Yes, I would prefer an entire chapter. God’s priorities should be our priorities.

    My point in my original post is just that. Gun control or lack thereof is not a Christian issue. The only reason we work through these types of issues is because of the headaches caused by Kuyperiansim. “The bible says nothing about it, but it’s important to me – so I must find a way to sanctify it.” Although Christians are free to have this discussion, it is not only unnecessary, but a distraction. I figure that this blog would be better served to stick with textual priorities. We are Christians after all.

    Any theological issue must be read through the lens of how the text addresses it, or we are not being Christians. BTW – all of life is theological for everyone, including the Baalites – but you would hardly call them biblical. ;-) Simply being theological is no virtue.

    You say that one of our DUTIES “is to extend Christ’s Lordship into every sphere of human relationships.” At this point, I’m going to ask you to define this rhetorical flourish (which I realize is common language with Kuyperians). If by this, do you mean obeying the commands in the text? Fine. If by this, you mean applying the text to issues it does not address, that is eisegesis, and often lapses into neonomiansim.

    I beg you, don’t sacrifice the text on the altar of a worldview.

  67. Elder Hoss said,

    September 18, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    KBennett – While you are free, I suppose, to play word associations till the cows come home, what our brother Ron is putting forth is not modernistic, unless of course the notion of “Christendom” is modernistic, along with the entire trajectory of pre-Reformation Catholic doctrine, and the first flowering of, and subsequent, pre 18th century developments thereafter of Protestant Confessionalism are all “modernistic”.

    It seems that in addition to using the Divine Name with profound disrespect [# 54 para 1] and in apparent effort to ridicule a brother, you use such terms as “Modernism” with equal carelessness.

    That’s beyond anachronistic.

    But better yet, we can simply call it “Anabaptistic”, as it already has been on this thread. Perhaps the anemic nature of many Reformed and Presbyterian denominations present hour, and in turn, the ensuing degradation of our social order is the logical outworking of a Christianity which argues for – functionally speaking at least – a tiny canon [one "n", to quote a fine LCMS Lutheran brother].

    We don’t need tiny canons. We DO need guns. Guns assist us in preventing neighbors or other unwelcome guests from potentially violating at least 2 of the Ten Words at our covenant families’ expense – commandments which, I would hope, you deem binding not only on believers, but on society en toto, AT LEAST insofar as the general equity thereof doth require….

  68. Colin said,

    September 19, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Reformed Musings

    #60 Did you see those things you speak of ?

    Do your friends often visit / live in / work in the areas affected by the gun crime ?

    I’m not saying there are no problems, my work is with young people at risk of gang and gun violence – I’m just saying it is nothing compared to the States. Is there a city in the US, with a population of 3 million or so (with accompanying social and economic problems) with a gun murder rate so far this year of 5 (this is the approx no of gun murders in the West Midlands Connurbation – Birmingham, Wolverhampton etc where I live)

    And again I ask could you visit anywhere in the UK and be very unlikely to be threatened by a gun – which I am claiming I can do in the worst areas of my city and London ?

    Colin

  69. Colin said,

    September 19, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Sorry,

    And again I ask could you visit anywhere in the UK and be very unlikely to be threatened by a gun – which I am claiming I can do in the worst areas of my city and London ?

    When I said UK I meant US …

    Colin

  70. Ron Henzel said,

    September 19, 2008 at 5:34 am

    KBennett,

    Your begging is becoming embarrassing, not to mention annoying. Your demand for a chapter is a charade, designed to make it appear that you have the biblical high ground. But if you won’t even deal with Psalm 24:1 taken in conjunction with Matthew 28:20 (as if those were the only texts!), then it’s reasonable to conclude that you have actually chosen not to reason from the Scriptures.

  71. Ron Henzel said,

    September 19, 2008 at 8:21 am

    KBennett,

    When I wrote my last comment I was preparing to go to work and in a bit of a hurry. Right now I’m between tasks, and although not quite as pressed my time is still limited. But there’s something that I’d like to add. You wrote:

    My point in my original post is just that. Gun control or lack thereof is not a Christian issue. The only reason we work through these types of issues is because of the headaches caused by Kuyperiansim. “The bible says nothing about it, but it’s important to me – so I must find a way to sanctify it.” Although Christians are free to have this discussion, it is not only unnecessary, but a distraction. I figure that this blog would be better served to stick with textual priorities. We are Christians after all.

    Your position is, “The only reason we work through these types of issues is because of the headaches caused by Kuyperiansim.” My position is that your position undercuts all attempts to apply Christian ethics to modern needs. You say, “We are Christians after all.” I say, “Exactly!” That is exactly why we must strive to answer all ethical questions from a biblical perspective.

    Abortion is an ethical issue that is not addressed in Scripture. Cloning is an ethical issue that is not addressed in Scripture. Gun ownership is an ethical issue that is not addressed in Scripture. You accuse us of saying, “The Bible says nothing about it, but it’s important to me – so I must find a way to sanctify it.” But this is just your way of saying, “The Bible says nothing about it, therefore as a Christian I should not take a position on the ethics of the matter.”

    But then you go one step further by accusing us of wasting time with “distractions” from truly biblical concerns. So, in the end, you would restrict Christian liberty on this matter even further than Lance Lewis would. He simply wants us to admit that it’s wrong to own guns as Christians. You want us to admit that we shouldn’t even discuss the matter as Christians.

  72. September 19, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Colin,

    You missed the point. When I talk about violent crime, I don’t necessarily mean using a firearm. It could be a large or multi-perp robbery or mugging using physical force, a knife, bottle, cricket bat, etc. A violent attack by a group of young hooligans qualifies, and that’s the most common in the countryside. How does an elderly couple defend themselves from 4 or 5 hooligans who break into their home and beat them senseless or dead? One fellow defended his family with a shotgun and is now in jail over there.

    The measures I described above were taken against knives because of the skyrocketing knife crime.

  73. Zrim said,

    September 19, 2008 at 9:40 am

    @ 44 Bob said, “But let your conscience be your guide.”

    Exactly. You’ll notice that most of the conversation has now turned to ideological appeals. That’s because of the inevitability of the fact that this is actually a question of Christian liberty.

    I would suggest that your response to the foolishness of Lewis has two problems: 1) it gives credence to foolish assertions, and 2) even more than that, if you’re going to respond, instead of framing this as a Christian liberty question you end up implying that true religion has some stake in defending the second amendment. But that’s a particularly American (read: ideological) argument. You’re not distinguishing your kingdoms.

    My hunch is that, hypothetically, once our government bans the right to bear arms, instead of appealing to the Constitution, you’ll start digging around holy writ to find where God thinks that’s a bad idea. But my point is that the doctrine of Christian liberty and a better two-kingdom theology is more concerned with obeying established authority than with critiquing it. We are told to render unto Caesar what is his—there is no discretionary clause.

  74. Colin said,

    September 19, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Reformed Musings,

    I think we are both missing each other…

    Anyway .. Green Baggins thankyou for your commentaries list on your old blog..

    Colin

  75. KBennett said,

    September 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Elder Hoss,

    Re: the “divine title.”
    You’re explicity accusing me of sin. Knock it off. You know this is neither the time nor the place. My pastor and several of my elders post on and read this blog, if they see me acting inappropriately, they will let me know.

    Ron Henzel is not doing christendom. That’s your axe to grind. He is doing “reformed world and life-view” stuff, something that came into vogue in response to the secularizing influence of modernism. It was a modernistic response to modernism.

    I’m sorry that you find this issue such a priority. I agree that Christianity is anemic, but it is so because of distractions like Christendom. Good providence, BTW.

  76. KBennett said,

    September 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Ron Henzel,

    I have commented on Mt 28:20 already (#64), but I’ll do it again. I just think that they are unrelated passages. Ps 24 is really off-point.
    “The earth is the lord’s and everything in it” “…command them to do everything I have commanded you.”
    Of course I agree that the world is the Lord’s and of course I agree that we must make disciples and teach them everything the lord has commanded us… and nothing that He hasn’t. Nether passage necessitates that we apply the text to things it does not address.

    Would you or Elder Hoss care to exegete Deut 29:29, Prov 30:6 and 1 Cor 4:6b? Maybe not. They have been on the table for a while, but neither of you have addressed them.

    We do not need to apply the bible to modern needs. We must submit what we consider our modern needs to the Bible. The Bible does not only give us the answers, but it also defines for us the proper questions. It defines the discussion. We do not.

    On the issues you brought up abortion, cloning, and gun ownership there HAS to be SOME degree of liberty regarding opinions on those matters, precisely because they are not specifically referred to in the text. These discussions are usually unfruitful because they end in chopping down each other’s liberty, and producing more light than heat. This entire thread is a case-in-point!

    As a Christian, you can talk about anything you like. I’ve said this more than once, stop claiming that I’m trying to bind anyone’s freedom. You are free. My point is that we have bigger fish to fry.

    If this one matters so much to you, please feel free to spin your wheels!
    But, never, ever fool yourself that you own opinions on things not in the text are necessarily God’s opinions.

  77. September 19, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Zrim, re #73,

    My hunch is that, hypothetically, once our government bans the right to bear arms, instead of appealing to the Constitution, you’ll start digging around holy writ to find where God thinks that’s a bad idea

    Thank you for your response. I can see how you’d get that idea due to my lack of clarity on the distinction.

    Rest assured that I’ve been battling in defense of all the Amendments, not just the 2nd, all of my life. I do not use the Bible as a defense in political circles except on clearly Biblical issues like abortion. I only used it this time because TE Lewis claimed to have done so, though he showed no actual evidence of it. My response was tailored to his attack of our freedom from a supposedly Christian viewpoint. Had this discussion occurred on a political blog, I would have argued totally from Constitutional and historical perspectives. I apologize for not making that clear in my post or my argumentation since. I appreciate your bringing this to my attention.

  78. September 19, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    ray #52,

    I get it. Yeah, when my wife gets uppity, “fluffy,” and touchy-feely, before the deer hunt, I definitely make her submit…if you know what I mean.

  79. ray said,

    September 19, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Do you give her pepperettes and jerky as a peace offering too? :)

    You do not come across as a deer hunter … what do you use to hunt deer? Let’s swap arsenal inventory ;)

    I use 2 – 303 cal. Lee Enfield’s. One with a scope for sitting in the mornings and the other a jungle carbide for pushing through the woods. I also have a cross bow I use the rest of the time.

    Do you like pepperettes too or do you prefer venison roasts and steaks?

  80. Ron Henzel said,

    September 19, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    KBennett,

    You wrote:

    On the issues you brought up abortion, cloning, and gun ownership there HAS to be SOME degree of liberty regarding opinions on those matters…

    Are you saying that for the Christian the decision of whether or not to have an abortion is a matter of Christian liberty? I think we’re zeroing in on the real problem here.

    No, sir—passages that teach that God has not revealed everything but has reserved secrets for Himself do not relieve Christians of grappling with the murder of the unborn by giving them permission to chalk it up to Christian liberty. Passages that indicate we are not to add to God’s word do not absolve us from making moral applications to issues that exist today but did not exist in biblical times.

    God does not have to reveal something explicitly in order to reveal it implicitly. The Trinity is not revealed explicitly, but it is the inevitable implication of a vast number of biblical texts. The fact that abortion is murder stands in the same category.

    Little wonder it upsets you so to see Christians discussing these matters. It potentially robs you of the luxury of the wide margin of luxury of moral neutrality you’ve allotted yourself. But moral neutrality of this stripe eventually and inevitably becomes a cloak for licentiousness.

  81. KBennett said,

    September 19, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Ron Henzel,

    My discussions with you and Elder Hoss have degenerated to a real level of silliness. He’s accused me of sin, and you are accusing me of my convictions being a cloak for inevitable licentiousness. This is way past being acceptable discourse here. Is it appropriate for me to declare that your hermeneutic is a cloak for legalism? Of course not.

    Regarding abortion, I said regarding OPINIONS ON these matters. That can certainly include what would be appropriate legislation in this area, and how it should be pursued. You have no need to assume the worst – that I’m saying abortion has no biblical material directly relating to it, or that we cannot judge it to be murder by necessary consequence. There is no need to be cynical, as if I’m hiding my motives.

    I’m being as forthright as I can.

    Let’s be honest here. It upsets you far more that I think that gun control is a matter of liberty that need not be pained over than it upsets me that people are actually talking about it. My original post only filled one line for goodness sake! I’ve hit a nerve here with you and Elder Hoss. I’m just sorry that this is so important to you.

    But really, both of you need a time out. There is no more need to impune my character or motives because we have different hermeneutics.

    I really don’t think that you exegeted my texts at all. All you did was say “nuh uh!” How about the “not going beyond what is written” text?

    Oh well. You are too personally invested in this.

  82. Elder Hoss said,

    September 19, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    KB – I am glad for the sake of the reading public that you’ve played your hand and the cards are now all on the discursive table.

    To suggest there is “some degree of liberty” on the subject of Abortion [how about sodomite unions as well, after all, the Irons' have written on this point to the unfortunate satisfaction of a few "Reformed" folk] simply because you cannot summon a prooftext which speaks directly to the issue [or, that passages which might indeed do such, but which are found in the presumably obsolete TORAH] underscores that this is really a paradigm issue.

    Presumably, by exempting abortion or other moral questions from the reach of canonical authority, you are guarding yourself and others from “legalism” or “adding to the Word of God, the traditions of men.” I rather think though that in doing so, you recoil from Scylla only to dash yourself against Charybdis, and are defending practical Antinomianism, a very real snare which can facilitate one’s path to perdition, particularly if, as you say, your own pastors/elders condone this kind of thing.

    In this thread, you’ve misappropriated the Divine Name, and incorrectly utilized “modernism” in the effort to discredit a view of the bible’s application to all of life which has ample precedent and coin throughout every era of church history, some nouvo riche Reformed guys present hour, notwithstanding.

    But again, beware Charybdis. Functional Antinomianism is as great a danger as is Legalism.

  83. KBennett said,

    September 19, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Elder Hoss,

    Enough… I had no “hand to play,” my motives are on the table from the start. My concern is that we let the Bible define our priorities as much as it defines our answers.

    Read my response to Ron Henzel (#81) both he and you badly misinterpreted what I was trying to say about abortion, and assumed the worst of me, I might add.

    I have yet to see a defense of your Christendom paradigm.

    Now, you accuse me of practical/functional antinomianism, which can “facilitate one’s path to perdition.” Lovely. Here, my eternal fate stands crushed under rheorical flourishes.

    If you would like to continue, we can, but can we get back on topic?

  84. September 19, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    OK, everyone. We’ve wandered a ways off target now. Let’s please return to the topic of the original post. Thank you for your cooperation.

  85. Ron Henzel said,

    September 19, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    I do not wish to step on the toes of a moderator here, but I would humbly submit this response because I believe that an important aspect of this discussion actually is on topic. But just to be sure that this was a risk worth taking, I checked with Lane before I clicked on “Submit Comment,” although I will assume full responsibility for any problems created by this comment.

    Just as Lance Lewis wants to deprive Christians of the right to bear arms, so KBennett wants to deprive Christians of the right to even discuss the issue, at least with a clear conscience, despite his rather lame disclaimers. Here’s an example of same from comment 66:

    Although Christians are free to have this discussion, it is not only unnecessary, but a distraction. I figure that this blog would be better served to stick with textual priorities. We are Christians after all.

    Yes, after all, we are Christians here. Doesn’t everybody realize this discussion takes us away from what we should be discussing as Christians (so the reasoning goes)? And now he’s the one asking us to get “back on topic?” How does that work?

    Meanwhile, I also feel the need to address some misunderstandings that have cropped up. So, with apologies in advance to whoever might later request one…

    KBennett,

    You wrote in comment 83:

    My discussions with you and Elder Hoss have degenerated to a real level of silliness. He’s accused me of sin,…

    Setting aside for the moment the question of whether a violation of the third commandment was committed here, I need to ask: “God bless your little Kuyperian heart” doesn’t sound even a little condescending to you?

    …and you are accusing me of my convictions being a cloak for inevitable licentiousness.

    That is not true. I only asserted that you assume a posture of moral neutrality as a matter of convenience. That’s what is meant by the phrase, “the luxury of moral neutrality.” I did not claim to know precisely what luxury or convenience this position affords you, and I did not accuse you of presently using it as a cloak for licentiousness in your life. Only after making that assertion did I note that “moral neutrality of this stripe eventually and inevitably becomes a cloak for licentiousness.” I did not intend to imply that it would become a cloak for licentiousness in your life at any time. Many people are able to hold to tenets that contain the seeds of licentiousness, while they themselves do not allow those seeds to germinate and grow in their own lives.

    You wrote:

    This is way past being acceptable discourse here.

    If the moderators of this blog think I’ve gone beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse, I’ll abide by their ruling.

    You wrote:

    Is it appropriate for me to declare that your hermeneutic is a cloak for legalism? Of course not.

    I appreciate your belated recognition of this. In comment 66 you wrote:

    Fine. If by this, you mean applying the text to issues it does not address, that is eisegesis, and often lapses into neonomiansim.

    I don’t see how this prior intimation on your part differs qualitatively from what I wrote in comment 80.

    Now you write:

    Regarding abortion, I said regarding OPINIONS ON these matters.

    Okay—yes, earlier you did say that there has to be “some degree of liberty regarding opinions” on abortion. But how are we to interpret that to mean anything other than Christians are at liberty to have some undefined amount of latitude in their opinions about whether abortion is right or wrong? I don’t think I was reading too much into your words; I think your words were so vague as to leave plenty of room for the concerns I expressed.

    But now you clear things up a bit when you write:

    That can certainly include what would be appropriate legislation in this area, and how it should be pursued. You have no need to assume the worst – that I’m saying abortion has no biblical material directly relating to it, or that we cannot judge it to be murder by necessary consequence. There is no need to be cynical, as if I’m hiding my motives.

    I’m being as forthright as I can.

    Well, I’ll admit that you’re getting better at it. And I’m glad to hear you seem to affirm (albeit in an oddly negative way) that abortion is murder (you’re basically saying that you’re not saying that we can’t say that abortion is murder by good and necessary consequence of Scripture’s meaning—I’m grappling with your writing style here).

    But then you write:

    Let’s be honest here. It upsets you far more that I think that gun control is a matter of liberty that need not be pained over than it upsets me that people are actually talking about it.

    So now you not only make an unfounded assumption about my emotional state, but you imply that I’d be dishonest not to confirm it. I couldn’t care less about what you get upset about, and although I’m not quite sure what you mean by oxymoronic clause, “gun control is a matter of liberty,” I have never denied that opinions about gun ownership or gun control are a matter of Christian liberty. But for someone who doesn’t think gun control an an issue to be “pained over,” you’ve certainly taken great pains to accuse those of us who disagree of wasting our time in an un-Christian fasion. Your entry into this discussion began with you slamming both sides of the discussion with the following haughty words:

    Wow. What a non-biblical issue. Why are we (as christians) wasting bandwidth on this?

    You came in here saying, in effect, “You know what your real problem is? It’s that you’re foolish enough to believe there can even be a biblically-informed opinion on this matter!” It’s a non-biblical issue, you said! It’s a waste of time, you said! You reminded us that we are Christians in order to shame us about how we were wasting our precious stewardship of time that really belongs to God. And now you want to get back on topic—the same topic you said was a waste of bandwith? Why are you even here?

    But really, both of you need a time out. There is no more need to impune my character or motives because we have different hermeneutics.

    What comes after “a time out?” A spanking? Perhaps you intended to communicate something very different, but honestly, you come off as very condescending.

    I really don’t think that you exegeted my texts at all. All you did was say “nuh uh!” How about the “not going beyond what is written” text?

    For all your complaining about us not exegeting your pet texts, I’ve re-examined all your comments and am at a loss to see where you’ve provided any exegesis of them yourself. You’ve bypassed exegesis and gone straight to application. I fail to see how we disagree over the actual meaning of these texts, unless you assume that your peculiar application was included in the intended meaning of the original authors, but there’s nothing whatsoever to show that it was. But in an attempt to go the extra mile with you, here goes:

    Deuteronomy 29:29 simply teaches that God has not revealed everything to us, but we are responsible for what he has revealed to us. Bob has argued that one of the things we are responsible for, according to Scripture, is providing for our families. If we do not provide protection along with food, clothing, and shelter, then we fail to obey that Scripture. If a Christian finds himself in a situation that owning a handgun is necessary to protect his family, then he should obtain one if at all possible. That’s all the pro-gun people here have been arguing, in contradistinction to Lance Lewis’s argument that it is morally incumbent on Christians to shun gun ownership.

    Now, do I believe that Bob does not leave enough room for Christians who struggle with the matter of gun ownership for themselves, to the point that he would deny them the Christian liberty to not own a gun, even if they live with their families in dangerous circumstances? Absolutely not. I can’t speak for him, of course (perhaps he’ll feel led to address this point himself), but I think we all realize that in any given situation there may be options other than personal gun ownership that may be effective in securing the safety of one’s family, and I see nothing in Bob’s post to preclude that. To use a well-worn expression, no one here is holding a gun to anyone’s head and telling them that they must own a gun! But this topic wasn’t begun as a response to people who want to restrict their own Christian liberty with respect to gun ownership, but with a pastor who wants to restrict the liberty of other Christians on the matter.

    Your invocation of Proverbs 30:6 here is a pure red herring. It teaches that we are not to add to God’s word. But no one here has claimed that their application of Scripture carries the authority of Scripture itself, so your citation of this verse is hardly worth responding to, other than to say what I’ve just said.

    Ditto for 1 Corinthians 4:6b. It basically says the same thing as Proverbs 30:6.

    If this exegesis does not satisfy you, I would request that you explain what kind of exegesis would. In the meantime, I see your application of these texts in reality as accusations against people like Bob and me to the effect that we are trying to bind the consciences of others so that they go out and buy a gun, which I think goes very far beyond anything anyone has said.

    You wrote:

    Oh well. You are too personally invested in this.

    How ironic that the person who complained that this whole thread was a total waste of time has spent so much time interacting with it, and yet it is the people who are simply defending their right to have an opinion who are “too personally invested.”

  86. ray said,

    September 20, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Thank you Mr. Mattes and Rev. Kiester for an eventful topic.

    Thanks to all for healthy rebuttals to the Lewis article.

  87. September 20, 2008 at 10:26 am

    ray,

    Thanks for taking the time to say so.

  88. September 20, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Ron, RE #85,

    I take no exceptions to WCF 20. FWIW, I don’t think that TE Lewis does either. Best I leave it at that.

  89. Elder Hoss said,

    September 20, 2008 at 11:47 am

    KB – It’s been asserted by more than a few Reformed theologians before the collective mind was well-nigh lost some time ago, that if the Word of God does not speak to all of life, whether by principle or precept, in due to time it will speak to none.

    To suggest that there is liberty on such subjects as abortion betokens a very dangerous spiritual condition, just as does the suggestion (not made by you, I hope) that good Christians diverge on same sex unions (a well known PCA pastor actually asserted this recently at a lecture at Cal-Berkeley, rather astoundingly).

    So, no, it is not a stretch for me to suggest that you, to quote the late WF Buckley, should “re-examine and re-moblize your axioms.”

    Ron and I have disagreed more times than either of us can count, and yet I count him a brother in Christ, enlisted in the same army, dedicated to the same end (by the way, he also goes to great lengths to carefully articulate his position, note the effort expended on this thread – that should count for something in this strange world of the “my pride’s been offended in the combox, let me fire back”).

    Thus, “God bless your little Kuyperian heart” is a misappropriation of the Divine Name, summoned in the service no less, of seeking to belittle another brother in Christ.

    If that’s not cause for rebuke (along with asserting that there is liberty on the subject of abortion), I am not sure what is.

    What OTHER of the commandments are now up for grabs in this curious presentation of a supposedly neutral realm over which diplomatic immunity exists in several of its provinces??

    As to the utility of “Christendom”, I would simply remind you to think about it next time you cite any of the Ecumenical Creeds in a worship service, or, when you (as I am sure you do) read for edification any number of our Reformed Confessions, made possible through the auspices of Christian emperors who ruled in – yes, blandishments and all – Christendom.

    Our very creeds and confessions were wrought in and through “Christendom”. Thus, one can no more repudiate one than the other.

  90. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2008 at 11:01 am

    All,

    I am quite inclined to think that this whole thread is a great object lesson in a larger discussion that is far more important: the nature of and relationship between the two kingdoms. It seems to me that any of the attending disagreements really owe to much deeper assumptions regarding that over-arching set of categories. To be honest, I find that the large majority of western religionists are disturbingly unaware of what they believe about the kingdoms. Moreover, many seem to assume the same Constantinian principle (that the kingdoms are directly related) but simply apply it differently.

    Bob,

    re #77. That said, and realizing I am about to touch the third rail of our circles by suggesting a sort of political correctness when it comes to fetus politics, if it’s true that you “do not use the Bible as a defense in political circles except on clearly Biblical issues like abortion,” isn’t this just another example of forcing a socio-political issue into the purview of the Bible? Why can’t you simply appeal to natural law and general revelation when it comes to this issue? Like I have suggested, the Second Ammendment makes your case for guns much better than the fact that Jesus sent out his men with swords. Believe it or not, Psalm 139 has nothing to do with fetus politics, so how is “abortion” a clearly biblical issue? I tend to think that is code for, “I have very strong and particular views on this.” I have no need to take those views from you. I just wish better arguments would be made for them, as well as for those who make them to be prepared to lose the day instead of “breaking the God-glass” and employing the Bible in ways it is not intended, thereby abusing it. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But let’s not resort to social gospel. Otherwise there’s a lot of apology letters to be written the Liberals.

  91. September 22, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Zrim,

    As far as abortion goes, I take my first cue from Ex 20:13: “You shall not murder.” (ESV) That’s the Biblical bottom line on abortion. That’s not fetus politics, that’s God’s clear command. There are certainly others that apply, but I don’t really need to go beyond Ex 20:13.

  92. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Bob,

    But don’t peace traditions like Mennonites, who conclude that possessing weapons or enlisting in the military or becoming cops, do this same sort of thing? I believe someone around here called that logic a bit of “hand-waving,” as if to imply some sort of sleight-of-hand or even magic in reasoning. How is what you just said appreciably any different from Christian pacifists who say Ex 20:13 (obviously) translates into gun control laws, etc.?

    While I can certainly see how it can be a ground, it just doesn’t seem all that clear to me that the sixth commandment perfectly settles all such arguments. At some point pacificists and anti-abortionists alike have to close their Bibles and make sense, especially if they are trying to make their case with those who couldn’t care any less about special revelation and only work with general revelation. I realize that is scary when the prospect of losing the day, or even possibly being wrong, on something one feels strongly about looms large. But if you “don’t go beyond Ex 20:13” isn’t that the same as saying the Bible is indeed, instead of a revelation to the saving person and work of Jesus Christ, a handbook to living? I thought conservative Presbyterians had something against Liberalism?

  93. kjsulli said,

    September 22, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Zrim, re: 92,

    But don’t peace traditions like Mennonites, who conclude that possessing weapons or enlisting in the military or becoming cops, do this same sort of thing? I believe someone around here called that logic a bit of “hand-waving,” as if to imply some sort of sleight-of-hand or even magic in reasoning. How is what you just said appreciably any different from Christian pacifists who say Ex 20:13 (obviously) translates into gun control laws, etc.?

    The analogy of faith and internal consistency. Anabaptist pacifism doesn’t demonstrate either.

    But if you “don’t go beyond Ex 20:13” isn’t that the same as saying the Bible is indeed, instead of a revelation to the saving person and work of Jesus Christ, a handbook to living? I thought conservative Presbyterians had something against Liberalism?

    There’s not an either/or proposition, here. The Bible is BOTH revelation of Christ AND revelation of the way in which we may glorify and honor God in our own lives, i.e., a handbook to living:

    WCF 1.6: The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture

    You can’t ignore the third use of the Law (nor the second, for that matter, which is really what comes into play re: how to address abortion in the public square).

  94. September 22, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    [...] anticipate. Easily the best response to the arguments and questions raised by Lewis was provided by PCA RE Bob Mattes. Mattes systematically dismembered and destroyed Lewis’ arguments from a practical, and more [...]

  95. Todd said,

    September 22, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Isn’t it possible to believe abortion is murder (from the Bible) but disagree with government’s role in enforcing penalties against it(common grace)? I believe bestiality is evil but I don’t want the government involved in enforcing against it; I believe Hinduism is evil but don’t want the government infringing on their freedom to worship. To your minds is a pro-choice Christian a contradiction?

    Thanks

    Todd

  96. September 22, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Zrim,

    How is what you just said appreciably any different from Christian pacifists who say Ex 20:13 (obviously) translates into gun control laws, etc.?

    Easy. The difference is between self-defense and premeditated murder. The OT and our own laws provide ample description of the difference. Kyle did an excellent job with the WCF angle in #93. This is just one key point where TE Lewis went south. The Reformed hermeneutic differs significantly form the Anabaptist one.

  97. ray said,

    September 22, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    #95 … a pro choice Christian? Sure is contradiction … I see none of that in any of the so called hero’s of faith of Hebrews chapter 11 or what is confessed in Lord’s Day 12 – Q/A 32- Heidelberg Catechism (of why one is called a Christian)

    Or … defining the government’s role in enforcing penalties as common grace. Now if you meant the providence of God (Lord’s Day 10 – Heidelberg Catechism) whereby the Lord governs all things including using the government for such things … then I understand. But please do not make the sovereign grace of God to be a cheap thing either rejected or accepted by a totally depraved creature by nature.

    I confess God’s grace as irresistable in reformed theology …and consider the vanity of common grace… the bridge used by liberals to the carnal world … eroding any antithesis between the church and the carnal world…forsaking God and opting for man.That’s bondage … though it is tempting to our sinful flesh… but for the grace of God … there would I also want to go.

    If the paradox of a pro choice christian was legit … arminians and semi pelagians are also legit. They were not and still are not even if they hunt and have impressive firearms :)

  98. Kyle said,

    September 23, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Todd, re: 95,

    Isn’t it possible to believe abortion is murder (from the Bible) but disagree with government’s role in enforcing penalties against it(common grace)? I believe bestiality is evil but I don’t want the government involved in enforcing against it; I believe Hinduism is evil but don’t want the government infringing on their freedom to worship. To your minds is a pro-choice Christian a contradiction?

    Do you think it would be acceptable for Christians to say that the government shouldn’t punish murder generally? Is abortion somehow a special class of murder that would make it acceptable for the government not to punish it? Do you think the government has no business prohibiting adultery or bigamy? To your mind does civil government have any role in enforcing the Law of God?

    Yes, it is contradictory for a self-professed Christian to maintain a “pro-choice” position; just as contradictory as it would be for a Christian to maintain a “pro-Holocaust” position. Both involve murder.

  99. Todd said,

    September 23, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Kyle,

    Good questions. I think governments must enforce the law of God revealed in nature and conscience, but that’s not my question. I’m just wondering if a Christian, who was, let’s say, a member Libertarian, which is usually pro-choice, could say to himself; “Since abortion deals with a women’s body, it will be impossible for government to enforce her wrong choice, so knowing God will judge murderers on the Last Day, I am content to leave it in the hands of the Lord and his judgment.” I’m not saying that is necessarily a legally consistent position, just wondering why a sincere Christian could not come to that conclusion.

    Todd

  100. Zrim said,

    September 23, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Kjsulli,

    I’m not ignoring the third use at all. But don’t you think there is a difference between saying that while there is certainly one resident within it that Christianity is not a way of life? At bottom, I think what these conversations actually reveal is just how much American religionists of all persuasions are just as much moralists and ethicists as they are religionists, often times more so.

    Todd,

    Questions surrounding things like abortion or gun control, etc. are indeed for the civil authorities to hammer out. I’m not sure it makes any sense to say that the government should have “no role” enforcing this or that. The question seems to be how. Personally, when it comes to the a-word I find no seat at the table between pro-fetus moralists and pro-femme moralists. Each wants to cast the other as immoral, but I think it’s more a question of who gets to decide than whether Jane may or mayn’t. Remember, before 1973 states had the right to decide. Then the pro-femme moralists piped up, which gave birth to the pro-fetus moralists. And now it’s a row between one kind or another of federal-moralists, neither of which seem to understand it’s actually a constitutional issue and not a judicial one anyway; they both want courts to legislate. It’s a bit like anti-gun moralists telling everyone that weaponry is impious and responding with pro-gun moralism instead of a doctrine of Xian liberty.

    Kyle,

    When did Reformed exchange their Presbyterian eclessiology for a Methodist or even Romanist one? Ever heard of the spirituality of the church?
    Don’t you think there is a difference between holding certain political views and what one does in his or her own body? In other words, isn’t there a difference between how one votes (or even effects statecraft) and how one lives? Isn’t there a difference between telling Christian-Jane (not pagan-Jane, by the way) what she may or mayn’t do with that unwanted pregnancy and what she may do in the voting booth? Do you think someone should undergo discipline for voting or making policy in a way not slavishly beholden to the pro-life movement? What about different economic theories which it could be said have just as much moral concerns running though them as this one? Is it contradictory, as some suggest, to be a Christian and a Libertarian or Republican? Or is there a difference between actually evading taxes and having a political/economic theory that favors less taxes or even less government?

    The sloppiness with which many of us think through these sorts of questions and their implications helps explain why we are more ethicists more conversant with the categories of law (thus prone to be held captive by moralistic movements) than religionists with those of gospel.

  101. Kyle said,

    September 23, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Zrim, re: 100,

    Because I haven’t been around Green Baggins as much as I used to be, you may not know that “kjsulli” and “Kyle” are one & the same (although there is another “Kyle” that has commented occasionally as well).

    But don’t you think there is a difference between saying that while there is certainly one resident within it that Christianity is not a way of life?

    Now you’ve changed the question. Originally it was about the Bible, now it’s about Christianity. I already answered the question about the Bible, I think. Is Christianity a way of life? Yes, in part, it is: a way of life founded upon the doctrine revealed in Scripture. Now you’ll need to expand on what it is, exactly, you intend to propose by saying that Christianity is not a way of life & what impact this has on the discussion.

    Do you think someone should undergo discipline for voting or making policy in a way not slavishly beholden to the pro-life movement?

    I’m not suggesting that someone must vote for a particular candidate or party. I could care less who the “pro-life movement” thinks is a good candidate; the movement may or may not be correct in that respect. What I am suggesting is that a Christian cannot support a “pro-choice” policy with regard to abortion & be consistent with biblical teaching, and I do think that a Christian who does so ought to be disciplined by his session. Abortion is nothing short of murder. To support or protect murder is sin. What is the substantive difference between abortion & the Holocaust? Should Christian Nazis be disciplined? This is simply not a matter over which Christians are free to disagree.

  102. Kyle said,

    September 23, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Todd, re: 99,

    Good questions. I think governments must enforce the law of God revealed in nature and conscience, but that’s not my question. I’m just wondering if a Christian, who was, let’s say, a member Libertarian, which is usually pro-choice, could say to himself; “Since abortion deals with a women’s body, it will be impossible for government to enforce her wrong choice, so knowing God will judge murderers on the Last Day, I am content to leave it in the hands of the Lord and his judgment.” I’m not saying that is necessarily a legally consistent position, just wondering why a sincere Christian could not come to that conclusion.

    A sincere Christian may mistakenly come to that conclusion. But they would be mistaken, and in need of correction. Abortion doesn’t involve only the woman’s body, and it is unjust not to protect or vindicate innocent blood.

  103. Zrim said,

    September 23, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Kyle,

    Yes, I later managed to put two handles together and realize they are one and the same (!).

    I don’t see my question so much as a different one as much as it is a nuance that helps tease out our assumptions. I didn’t say Xianity wasn’t a way of life, full stop. I said it has one resident within it. To understand the difference seems vital. Granted, it may be as elusive as pointing out the difference between “living the gospel” and “living in light of it.” But from when I can tell, most seem to think that is also a picky and distracting and almost irrelevant distinction, whereas I think it makes all the difference. Hopefully that answers your question as to why the point is relevant to this discussion: the difference between different expressions of a glorifed moralism and Christianity.

    When framing your questions with a choice (pun sort of intended) between fetus-politics and the Holocaust is a fairly typical way of derailing this conversation. This is a device of political correctness that intends to strike fear into any who might dare question any of it as being in some kind of cahoots with the Third Reich. This is an example of how enormously successful a moralistic movement has been over the church. But I’ll try.

    Again, I think there is a huge difference between having ideological views and theological convictions. Are there any other issues you think someone should be disciplined over than this one? Or, in keeping with the hands-off spirit of fetus-politics, is this the only issue for which someone ought to be chastised, the only for for whom all the rules get suspended? What about someone’s views on taxation laws? Should someone be disciplined for wanting a raising taxes and making it near impossible for an ex-vitro family to subsist? Or are those in-vitro the only ones who enjoy this kind of moral high-horsing?

    You said, “Abortion doesn’t involve only the woman’s body, and it is unjust not to protect or vindicate innocent blood.”

    More victory for the un-Calvinist moral movement. What is this jazz about “innocent” blood? What stake does Augustian-Calvinism have in a doctrine that teaches some human beings are somehow less subject to the pains and injuries of life, up to and including death, simply by virtue of being in-vitro? It seems to me that a more robust Augustinian-Calvinism teaches that at the moment of conception that creature is now subject to the same slings and arrows, including (for the sake of some concession) bad human policy. What in Calvinism compels its adherents to “protect…innocent blood” when there exists no such thing?

  104. Todd said,

    September 23, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    “Abortion doesn’t involve only the woman’s body, and it is unjust not to protect or vindicate innocent blood.”

    Kyle,

    That wasn’t my point. The point was that it is difficult for government to enforce against abortion given the unique circumstances. The argument is not murder vs. manslaughter, but government policy. To me it is similar to the death penalty. While government has a right to put criminals to death, there may be circumstances where a Christian citizen might vote against the death penalty based upon how it might be implemented. Why can’t government enforcement of sins be a matter which Christians can disagree while at the same time leaving ultimate judicial matters in God’s hands, where it will be implemented perfectly? I don’t have a problem calling homosexuality a sin, but I don’t want government to prosecute them for these sins. Again, I’m not disagreeing with your legal argument, just trying to leave room for Christians to disagree with you.

    Todd

  105. Todd said,

    September 23, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    By the way, for all interested, Paul Woolley wrote the 1971 OPC general assembly minority report on abortion found here http://www.opc.org/GA/abortion.html (scroll to bottom). No one at the time suggested Woolley be disciplined for his views.

    Todd

  106. kjsulli said,

    September 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Zrim,

    Hopefully that answers your question as to why the point is relevant to this discussion: the difference between different expressions of a glorifed moralism and Christianity.

    Unfortunately, all I can gather is that you are hinting that my position is moralism rather than Christianity. I don’t see how that’s helpful to the discussion, and would like you to demonstrate why my position is “glorified” moralism.

    When framing your questions with a choice (pun sort of intended) between fetus-politics and the Holocaust is a fairly typical way of derailing this conversation. This is a device of political correctness that intends to strike fear into any who might dare question any of it as being in some kind of cahoots with the Third Reich. This is an example of how enormously successful a moralistic movement has been over the church. But I’ll try.

    I know bringing in the Nazis and the Holocaust always rankles someone. But in this case the comparison is legitimate, because we are talking about the murder of human beings who have been classed as legal non-persons. What does your use of the phrase “fetus-politics” (as opposed to, say, “abortion politics”) reveal about the way you frame the issue? Do you regard human beings in the fetal stage of development as non-persons?

    Again, I think there is a huge difference between having ideological views and theological convictions. Are there any other issues you think someone should be disciplined over than this one? Or, in keeping with the hands-off spirit of fetus-politics, is this the only issue for which someone ought to be chastised, the only for for whom all the rules get suspended? What about someone’s views on taxation laws? Should someone be disciplined for wanting a raising taxes and making it near impossible for an ex-vitro family to subsist? Or are those in-vitro the only ones who enjoy this kind of moral high-horsing?

    Yes, I think advocating gross violations of the 8th Commandment also warrants discipline (cf. WLC Q&A 75).

    More victory for the un-Calvinist moral movement. What is this jazz about “innocent” blood? What stake does Augustian-Calvinism have in a doctrine that teaches some human beings are somehow less subject to the pains and injuries of life, up to and including death, simply by virtue of being in-vitro? It seems to me that a more robust Augustinian-Calvinism teaches that at the moment of conception that creature is now subject to the same slings and arrows, including (for the sake of some concession) bad human policy. What in Calvinism compels its adherents to “protect…innocent blood” when there exists no such thing?

    Who said anything about unborn children being “less subject” to the pains and injuries of life? We’re talking about the 2nd table of the Law, e.g., man’s treatment of man. And relative to other men, unborn children are innocent; in fact, there are quite a number of men who are innocent relative to other men. Thus God can command without blushing,

    if thou shalt keep all this commandment to do it, which I command thee this day, to love Jehovah thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, besides these three: that innocent blood be not shed in the midst of thy land, which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee. But if any man hate his neighbor, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally so that he dieth, and he flee into one of these cities; then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee. (Deut. 19:9-13.)

    Is it your contention that the Calvinist may not call for justice from civil government, that government being a minister of God and subject to God’s law? It is one thing to say that all men are sinners & subject to the ills of God’s providential governance of the world. It is another thing altogether to say that the Calvinist somehow has no reason outside of an unchristian moralism to seek for justice in the civil affairs of our nation. Or does the spirituality of the church take us out of this world altogether?

  107. kjsulli said,

    September 23, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Todd,

    That wasn’t my point. The point was that it is difficult for government to enforce against abortion given the unique circumstances.

    And my point is that your hypothetical Christian Libertarian’s pragmatic argument (apart from being unfounded) is devoid of the consideration of man’s, and the civil government’s, duty to practice justice.

  108. kjsulli said,

    September 23, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Re: 106,

    I wrote, “Yes, I think advocating gross violations of the 8th Commandment also warrants discipline (cf. WLC Q&A 75).”

    I was actually referrencing WSC Q&A 75; WLC Q&A 142 is the parallel.

  109. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 24, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Re: 105

    No one at the time suggested Woolley be disciplined for his views.

    That’s not really true. It was suggested, but not acted on. Remember we’re talking the OPC in that case. The major point of having a “Committee To Study the Matter of Abortion”, was to ensure that no one could be disciplined for any view on the subject. The same thing applies for the subjects of creation, etc.

  110. Todd said,

    September 24, 2008 at 7:46 am

    # 109

    Right, nobody can know today the private conversations of individuals about any issue back then; the point is that charges were never drawn up on Woolley. I doubt that would be the case today.

    Todd

  111. Zrim said,

    September 24, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Kyle asked,

    “Is it your contention that the Calvinist may not call for justice from civil government, that government being a minister of God and subject to God’s law? It is one thing to say that all men are sinners & subject to the ills of God’s providential governance of the world. It is another thing altogether to say that the Calvinist somehow has no reason outside of an unchristian moralism to seek for justice in the civil affairs of our nation. Or does the spirituality of the church take us out of this world altogether?”

    That is not my contention at all.

    I am questioning what stake true religion has in the affairs of this world. I am wondering why the typical religionist is known more for his ideological convictions than for his theological devotions. Why is there an evangelical voting block? Why does “conservative Christian” mean fetus-politics instead of the actual theory of the Atonement? Why are Calvinists associated with notions of exact justice instead of a proximate one?

    The SOTC doesn’t take us out of the world, it gives us proper perspective on how to go about it.

  112. Kyle said,

    September 24, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Zrim,

    Well, what stake does true religion have in the affairs of this world? You seem to say that its stake is null & void. What is a “typical religionist”? (Is that me?) Why do you use the term “fetus-politics”? What is wrong with a Calvinist, in congruence with the law of God, saying that abortion is an evil which ought to be outlawed?

    What, exactly, is your contention, other than being a contentious question asker without answers of his own?

  113. synthesizer said,

    September 25, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Zrim, why do you use the term “fetus-politics”? The pro-abortion crowd uses the term fetus to signify a non-person status to the baby. Surely, you do believe the baby in the womb is entitled to all of the human rights that you and I are entitled. don’t you? As far as innocent blood goes, I don’t think we are talking about all of mankind’s guilty sinful state before God. We are talking about humans being executed in the womb and they have committed no crime.
    Do they fit the criteria of the innocent blood spoken of in the Old Testament? Men were punished for shedding “innocent” blood, weren’t they?

  114. Todd said,

    September 25, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Kjsulli,

    Again, I am not suggesting government shouldn’t outlaw abortion. They certainly have a right to. But I do have some questions based upon your statements. You equate America’s abortion policies to the holocaust. But the German government actively murdered innocent people. Our government is not aborting babies, nor is it forcing anyone to. Are you suggesting there is a moral equivalence between America’s policy and China’s forced abortion policies? In the other examples, the government doesn’t outlaw bestiality, prostitution (Nevada), or homosexual acts; does this the mean the government is responsible each time an individual commits such sins? Seems to me an individual is responsible for his/her own sins, regardless of whether it is allowed or not by the state.

    Todd

  115. Jerry said,

    September 25, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.

  116. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 25, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Re: 114,

    Can you guarantee that not $0.01 of taxpayer money was ever spent on an abortion? If the government pays for it, then it is actively encouraging it, and therefore culpable. Then you have the case of Terri Schiavo who was put to death by the order of the government of the State of Florida in the most grizzly, cruel and unusual way. Would you say the State of Florida and the Government of the US are not guilty of her innocent blood?

    It seems to me that it would be wise for the Kings of Earth to be instructed to serve Jehovah with fear and understand what the King of Kings requires of them, lest they perish when He is angry just a little.

    It’s not like we don’t what Christ will do with the governments of the world that refuse to rule in service to Him. Psalm 2 tells us. Rom 13 is also clear, the government is to be a revenger of wrath on him that does evil. So is abortion evil or is it good? If it is good, then the government should praise it (Rom 13:3), if it is evil the government has to wield his sword in revenging that evil (Rom 13:4).

    There is no third option. So choose, is it good or evil?

  117. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    115
    Please insert the word “know” in the 3rd paragraph, so it reads
    “It’s not like we don’t know what Christ will do will do…”

    Also in re: 114, your question on moral equivalent of China and the the US is troubling. You also state that the US has the right to outlaw abortion, but that’s not the point. The point is whether or not, to be a just and good society a government must outlaw abortion. I’m guessing that Todd will answer that with a “no”.

    Personally, I’m going to stick with what the WLC and WSC teach in regard to what is required and what is forbidden in the sixth commandment.

  118. Zrim said,

    September 25, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Kyle and Syn,

    I think I am asking questions that mean to get at just what Jesus meant when he said his kingdom was not of this world. Did he mean his kingdom was mostly not of this world or completely transcendent of it? From what I can tell so far, you agree with the Liberals that Jesus should come down off the Cross and fix things in the here and now. But remember that Herod had all the male children aged two and under killed. While it might scrape 21st century American sensibilities about the preciousness and innocence of youth, as well as notions of human rights and entitlements (it sure does mine), the Bible never casts infanticide so much the problem as keeping Jesus from his task.

    I use the term fetus-politics to indicate a form of moralism in the ranks (political to be exact). I don’t have femme-politics, so I don’t use the term the way they do. I get what you mean about inherent human rights for all persons, in- and ex-vitro, and could easily agree to it. But that’s a generally ideological and specifically American argument. I want to know what in Calvinism says any particular group of people (unborn or women) has rights that supersede the other. I thought Calvinism said that all deserve death, that no one is righteous, etc. Those are hardly encouraging notions for those who think the Bible implies the Bill of Rights. But I guess since plenty believe they can find Franklin-esque colloquialisms like, “cleanliness is next to godliness” in the Bible it should be not so surprising that others find certain politics there as well.

  119. bret said,

    September 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Behold the Virus.

    I think I am asking questions that mean to get at just what Jesus meant when he said his kingdom was not of this world. Did he mean his kingdom was mostly not of this world or completely transcendent of it?

    Bret

    Few verses are more misinterpreted than John 18:36 as Steve reveals. B. F. Wescott wrote on this verse, “yet He (Jesus) did claim a sovereignty, a sovereignty which the spring and the source was not of earth but of heaven.” Later Wescott offers, “My Kingdom is not of this world” means it “does not derive its origin or its support from earthly sources.” So we would say that Christ’s Kingdom is not derived from this world, because it is of God and is over the world.

    Hence, the answer to your question, (which I think I’ve answered before in our delightful conversations elsewhere) is that Christ’s Kingdom, because it is heavenly in origin, transforms the Kingdoms of this World into the Kingdoms of Christ. The way you define transcendent is to make Sovereignty mean “sovereign in the transcendent realm where the Kingdom exists.

    We should follow Bavinck here by admitting that grace restores nature.

    From what I can tell so far, you agree with the Liberals that Jesus should come down off the Cross and fix things in the here and now. But remember that Herod had all the male children aged two and under killed. While it might scrape 21st century American sensibilities about the preciousness and innocence of youth, as well as notions of human rights and entitlements (it sure does mine), the Bible never casts infanticide so much the problem as keeping Jesus from his task.

    Um … Steve… I hate to be the first to tell you this … but Jesus did come down from the cross and was raised on the third day and then after weeks of post-resurrection ministry He ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father ruling as our mediatorial King over every area of life.

    Jesus is one of those guys that can both be about the task of pronouncing reconciliation while at the same time being clearly opposed to the holocaust of the unborn. I know it disappoints you to think that Jesus can both fix problems in the here and now and call in His elect.

    I use the term fetus-politics to indicate a form of moralism in the ranks (political to be exact). I don’t have femme-politics, so I don’t use the term the way they do. I get what you mean about inherent human rights for all persons, in- and ex-vitro, and could easily agree to it. But that’s a generally ideological and specifically American argument.

    Oh Baloney!

    First, all ideology stems from some theology. Therefore you cannot refer to something as a ideological argument without at the same time realize that it is a theological argument.

    Second, thou shalt not murder is not an American argument. It is a Biblical argument.

    Third you would give up the form of moralism for a form of immoralism. But, hey who knows, immoralism for one culture may be moralism for another culture. We can never know for sure since different cultures are going to come to different conclusions about the way they interpret natural law.

    I want to know what in Calvinism says any particular group of people (unborn or women) has rights that supersede the other. I thought Calvinism said that all deserve death, that no one is righteous, etc.

    That scripture teaches that all deserve death doesn’t mean it advocates that all people die. That scripture teaches that all deserve death doesn’t mean its alright to sit by and watch as some are delivered over to death.

    Though, I’m glad to agree with you that we would be better served to speak of having duties and not rights. We have duties to God and our neighbor. One of those duties is to love our neighbor. Love for neighbor, would seem to include, creating a culture of life. That sounds very Calvinistic to me.

    Those are hardly encouraging notions for those who think the Bible implies the Bill of Rights. But I guess since plenty believe they can find Franklin-esque colloquialisms like, “cleanliness is next to godliness” in the Bible it should be not so surprising that others find certain politics there as well.

    Actually, Steve, if you were to spend some time reading Witte or Bergman you would discover that much of the Bill of Rights does indeed stem out of Scripture.

    But your to busy trying to mock the whole notion of Christian politics, Christian economics, Christian education, Christian family and who knows what else to realize that the Bible does indeed speak to these areas.

    Avoid the virus.

    Bret

  120. Kyle said,

    September 25, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Gentlemen,

    I do believe that this thread has long ago passed the boundary of being “on-topic,” so, with respect to the forum rules, this will be my last response here unless there is official word from one of our friendly Green Bagginses advising that we are free to proceed. Reply at your own discretion.

    Todd, re: 114,

    There is not strict moral equivalence between the Nazi holocaust and U.S. abortion policy. Nevertheless, to the extent that our civil government fails justly to protect or to avenge the lives of innocent persons, it is culpable for their blood; and to the extent that anyone actively supports “pro-choice” policies, he makes himself an accessory to murder. It would be no more acceptable to have a “pro-choice” policy with respect to the “Jewish Question” than it is to have a “pro-choice” policy with respect to abortion. The civil government has a positive duty to outlaw abortion and to punish those who are guilty thereof. Per the WCF ch. XIII (American Revision):

    I. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under him, over the people, for his own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers.

    III. … It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever …

    (cf. Rom. 13:1-4)

    [Speaking of, how's that for Presbyterian ecclesiology, Zrim?]

    And yes, it is true that each individual shall indeed be held to account by God for his own sins; yet, this is to be the Christian’s comfort and hope in a world presently filled with gross injustice. It is not an excuse for Christians to approve of or advocate for the civil government to remain inactive where God commands action; and God commands of the civil government that innocent persons be protected and, if injured, justly avenged.

    Zrim, re: 117,

    I think I am asking questions that mean to get at just what Jesus meant when he said his kingdom was not of this world. Did he mean his kingdom was mostly not of this world or completely transcendent of it?

    Why don’t you answer the question yourself? Your habit so far of asking all of the questions & never giving a straight answer is more than a bit of nuisance.

    From what I can tell so far, you agree with the Liberals that Jesus should come down off the Cross and fix things in the here and now.

    I agree with certain Liberals that the civil government has God-given duties (do you?). That’s largely the extent of the agreement. Liberals usually demand that the government commit gross violations of the 8th Commandment so as to provide “charity” to the “poor”; or that the government ignore its positive duty to punish evildoers in proportion to their crime so as to practice “the mercy of Jesus”; or that the government protect the “rights” of children to commit gross violations of the 5th Commandment (or of perverts & philanderers to commit gross violations of the 7th Commandment); not to mention protecting abortionists & their clients when they commit gross violations of the 6th commandment; and so on. In other words, Liberals want the government to be in the practice of sinning for the purpose of bringing about the kingdom of their rather twisted version of God. For myself, being rather amillennial in my eschatological outlook, I don’t expect the civil government to usher in the world to come; but that doesn’t change for a moment the duties that the civil government owes to its people & to God Himself. Nor does it change the duties of Christians to seek, insofar as it is possible, for the best civil government that can be had. This does NOT mean that the church takes upon itself the duties of the state, or vice versa; yet, the church must proclaim the whole counsel of God, which DOES include, at least on occasion, speaking to the God-given duties (and limitations!) of the civil government.

    But remember that Herod had all the male children aged two and under killed. While it might scrape 21st century American sensibilities about the preciousness and innocence of youth, as well as notions of human rights and entitlements (it sure does mine), the Bible never casts infanticide so much the problem as keeping Jesus from his task.

    This is a rather bizarre gloss. The point is not that Herod was wrong for “keeping Jesus from his task”; that point is that Herod was a desperately wicked man, willing to commit extraordinary evils in his quest to maintain his own status and stamp out anyone perceived to be a rival to the throne. The very fact that he shed the blood of so many innocents made in the image of God is testimony to his contempt of the Lord. Yet, he was shortsighted, one of the “rulers of this age” who did not understand the wisdom of God. In his blindness & bondage to Satan, he unwittingly fulfilled prophecy & acted as a catalyst to move history toward the crucifixion of Christ. How you read Scripture as somehow unconcerned with the inherent wickedness of the “Massacre of the Innocents” is totally beyond me.

    As for the issue of innocence, I already explained above what is meant: men who are innocent relative to other men. What do you think God means by “innocent blood” in Deut. 19? No one is innocent before God, as any good Calvinist will agree. But this cannot be the ground of our treatment of other men; indeed, God grounds our treatment of other men in the fact that He has created man “in the image of God”:

    Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made He man (Gen. 9:6).

    This is the baseline for our duties toward other men – even in our fallen estate – and for the civil government’s duties toward its people. The murder of men made in the image of God is rooted in hearts that would murder God Himself.

    I use the term fetus-politics to indicate a form of moralism in the ranks (political to be exact).

    Moralism which you still haven’t either defined or demonstrated.

    I get what you mean about inherent human rights for all persons, in- and ex-vitro, and could easily agree to it. But that’s a generally ideological and specifically American argument.

    Synthesizer did speak of human rights, but you’ll note that I (purposely) have not used that language. I have been speaking of justice, viz., the duties which men have toward others, and which the civil government has toward its people.

    I want to know what in Calvinism says any particular group of people (unborn or women) has rights that supersede the other.

    Where have I said or implied such a thing? But to answer, using the language of rights, women don’t have rights that supersede the rights of unborn children; therefore, women may not abort their unborn children. Of course, it is also true that unborn children don’t have rights that supersede the rights of their mothers; but I’ve yet to hear a case of an unborn child attempting to murder his mother!

    I thought Calvinism said that all deserve death, that no one is righteous, etc.

    Yes, BEFORE GOD; and it is God who has the right to take life, or to demand that life be taken. But does Scripture ever say that all men should be killed by other men? You are GROSSLY misapplying the doctrine of total depravity.

  121. Zrim said,

    September 26, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Kyle,

    I am not so sure this has gone as off the rails as you suggest. After all, the whole thing began with Lewis making a connection between pro-life and pro-guns. Mattes only picked up on half of the argument, namely how weaponry is not inherently evil. (Granted, instead of arguing from the doctrine of liberty against the form of moralism/legalism of Lewis he decided to take plays from the Second Amendment and read them into Scripture. I agree with Mattes but for different reasons.) But one can only assume he and Lewis are brothers-in-arms when it comes to the doctrines of fetus-politics, which rely on the same sort of moralism femme-politics does. That plus the fact that Mattes doesn’t see Lewis’ problem as one of moralism seems to imply that recognizing moralism doesn’t appear to be either one’s long suit.

    But believe it or not, my questions have not been devices to simply dodge or frustrate you unnecessarily. In fact, they have been devices to at once make an implied point and give you a chance to respond. In the end, though, while you and Bret likely conclude that I am defending a form of antinomianism, I would contend that you both have been quite swayed by the stuff of moralism. Since Paul was always charged with the former and never the latter, I guess I consider myself in safe company. Thus, I think we have gone as far as possible here. Consider this to be, mercifully, my last word.

    Bret, how about this Indian summer in Michigan? I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some crisper temps.

  122. September 26, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Zrim,

    I am afraid to comment on how good the Indian Summer has been for fear of being accused of moralism.

    p.s. — Don’t forget that James warned against anti-nomianism and we used to think he was as inspired as Paul.

  123. Elder Hoss said,

    September 27, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Bret – Bravo, re #119. You are entirely correct.

    Presumably, many erstwhile “Calvinists” present hour would have our Lord to mean “My kingdom is not IN this world”. This would be a horrible transmogrification of the actual matter, as the full-orbed work of men such as Kuyper, Bavinck, Van Prinsterer, and others, has sought to underscore.

    Really, a basic paradigmatic divergence make these kinds of discussions eventually a dead-end road, much in the same manner as when one seeks to encourage fellow covenant members to abandon government schools, with such being entirely impermissible for covenant seed.

    Let’s assume Christ’s Lordship does not extend to, or even impinge remotely upon medical ethics. Abortion then becomes a matter left solely to individual scruples.

    Isn’t it amazing, on this supposition, that Roman Catholic Bishops have recently rebuked such sophomoric “arguments” from the likes of a Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi that “we are personally opposed to abortion, but that is merely our personal judgment” by stating that the personhood of the unborn child, and the snuffing out of its life is not a matter left to personal opinion, but rather, a matter of binding moral fact.

    Sad that not a few young ministers today and their even younger followers would not state things so clearly. Sad that Rome, with its horrendous errors, can speak in some areas with greater clarity than not a few Presbyterians.

    The paradigm clashes extend far beyond medical ethics, to education. If Christ’s Lordship does not extend to, or impinge upon this sphere, then surely godless pagans [whether they be Wiccans, epistemologically self-conscious Atheists, Unitarians, secular Jews, what have you] have every right to be the effective educators and custodians of covenant kiddos 5 days a week for 14-15 yrs.

    Even suggesting abortion as a matter around which “good Christians differ”, or even suggesting the propriety of statist schools for covenant children demonstrates the degree to which Presbyterian and Reformed Christians in the United States have well-nigh lost our collective minds. We have deluded ourselves into “believing” in a “Jesus” who effectively provides fire insurance for a tiny cluster of the elect, with total disregard for the created order, and order which will be subdued under His feet. This is not only practical antinomianism. It is also de fact gnosticism.

  124. Darryl Hart said,

    September 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Elder Hoss:

    Let me see if I have this right.

    To disregard the created order is gnosticism.

    Paul wrote while in prison, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

    Paul was a gnostic.

    Is that a plausible deduction of your position?

  125. Bob Suden said,

    September 28, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Rather:

    To disregard that Scripture and consequently the church has something to say about the created order is gnosticism.

    But Paul wrote while in prison, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

    Was Paul therefore a gnostic?

    No. The Scripture says there are higher things than the created order and we are to live in the created order – which includes the civil magistracy Rom. 13 – in that light. 2 Cor. 5:10.

    “Fetal politics”

    Is this a talking point for NARAL??
    I’m with 122. Antinomianism is as just unacceptable as moralism, the last which has not yet been proved, Lewis excepted. WCF 19:5,6, 16:7, 23:1,2

  126. Darryl Hart said,

    September 28, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Bob Suden: so if we are to live in the light of the higher things within the created order, how do we trust those without the light? I.e., should we really let believers have authority of any kind? Maybe we should as long as they accept the truth of that light without really accepting the light. But that seems to contradict what Paul writes about the work of the Spirit in accepting the truth of the light.

    I know: why don’t we trust unbelievers as school teachers and government officials because Paul also wrote that those people have the law of God written in their hearts. Sort of like the way Paul trust those preachers who proclaimed the gospel from wicked motives.

    Wow, this is getting way too complicated. To make things tidy, why don’t all believers move to South Carolina and take it over as a Christian state, and then fire shots on Ft. Sumter all over again.

  127. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    September 29, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Sounds like a good plan to me Dr. Hart. Where do I sign up?

  128. Colin said,

    September 29, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Reformed Musings,

    I was listening to the radio this morning and given your interest in violent crime in the UK, this sheds some light on our earlier discussions…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/insidestories/pip/ww9v7/

    Colin

  129. David Gadbois said,

    September 29, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Zrim said:

    It seems to me that a more robust Augustinian-Calvinism teaches that at the moment of conception that creature is now subject to the same slings and arrows, including (for the sake of some concession) bad human policy. What in Calvinism compels its adherents to “protect…innocent blood” when there exists no such thing?

    I want to know what in Calvinism says any particular group of people (unborn or women) has rights that supersede the other. I thought Calvinism said that all deserve death, that no one is righteous, etc.

    Brother, it seems to me that you are taking 2 Kingdom doctrine to some strange conclusions. Article 36 of our Confession says:

    We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates; willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose He has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evil doers and for the protection of them that do well.

    First, human depravity is named as the very reason why government needs to restrain men through laws and policies enacted by the sword. The Confession is not ambivalent toward the role of the state on account of human depravity.

    Second, it is not obvious to me how your charges of legalism, moralism, and liberalism couldn’t be applied to Article 36 of our Confession. The reasoning you have employed is far too broad.

    Third, I take “punishment of evil doers and for the protection of them that do well” to be speaking in terms of a relative civil righteousness, not absolute righteousness before God. Therefore, there are “those that do well” who are innocent (again, in the Deut. 19 sense) whom the government has a duty to protect by bearing the sword.

    I think our Confession balanced, and safeguards us in from overemphasizing any particular doctrine. Pet doctrines have a way of running amok – and while pet doctrines are usually true, the devil is usually hiding in the injudicious and unchecked application of said doctrine.

  130. David Gadbois said,

    September 29, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Just to prove my 2K bona fides:

    But your to busy trying to mock the whole notion of Christian politics, Christian economics, Christian education, Christian family and who knows what else to realize that the Bible does indeed speak to these areas.

    Perhaps Bret or Elder Hoss can tell me how one would engage in Christian aerospace engineering. I’d be particularly interested, since I have not been able to find a “Christian” way of doing my job as an aerospace engineer in the years I’ve been in the field. Of course, I guess it is true that I went to a “statist” engineering university. But how can I “take back” aerospace engineering for Christ?

    Now, I do think there is such a thing as a Christian worldview. But my Christian worldview doesn’t help me crunch numbers or design airplanes any better than my unbelieving coworkers. That’s because there is such thing as general revelation and common grace.

  131. D G Hart said,

    September 29, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Oops. In my frivolity I misidentified myself in #131.

  132. Zrim said,

    September 29, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    David said, “The Confession is not ambivalent toward the role of the state on account of human depravity.”

    Neither am I. Why does the conclusion have to be a battle of rights between two classis of human beings, those of women and those of the unborn? Why can’t the implication be that rights lie with states? And if the argument is that I am to find a biblical category for my position, is it not feasible that I chose that category called jurisdiction instead of individual rights? The Confession is indeed not ambivalent, and the implication for me is a notion of states’ rights, not individual ones. Is that not feasible?

    And I understand the difference between “a relative civil righteousness, not absolute righteousness before God.” What I am asking is this: in an Augustinian-Calvinist view of human nature is there no place for an understanding that the implications to human life may not be so much that certain citizens deserves a level of protection at any and all costs that no other receives, but that perhaps it may be just as vulnerable to the injuries of life up to and including imperfect human policy? In other words, why can’t Calvinism help us learn to live with a proximate justice that may end up with legislative policy many do not like instead of demanding an exact one?

  133. Todd said,

    September 29, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    # 123 is adhering to the Wilson/Jordan school of debate – whenever they criticize your reconstructionism and dominion theology, label them anti-nomians and gnostics; that should make them cower in fear. Elder Hoss is a theological bully, condemning most ministers yet ironically afraid to identify himself. But then again, I am putting five children through public school, the oldest in Army boot camp, so I cannot be a sincere Christian anyway, given my children attended Molech Junior High.

    By the way, the Pharisees also believed the kingdom that God was about to usher in was not of this world concerning its source, yet Jesus still rejected their dominion desires. Jesus meant more than source in John 18:36. Calvin, Berkhof and others testify that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual and mediatorial in nature, not political.

    As for the notion that those who do not take their children out of public schools are gnostics and antinomians, W.A. Strange, in his fine book “Children In The Early Church” writes the following:

    “(The early public schools) promoted a religion (the Christians) considered false…characterized by moral values they could not share; and it was…steeped in paganism. So we might expect the early Christians to try to protect their young people by providing some alternative form of education which would keep them free from the temptations and snares of the pagan world in which they lived. They had after all the example of the Jewish synagogue schools. But, rather surprisengly, the Christians did not take that course for several centuries…(parenthesis mine for clarity)

    We hear of no Christian schooling outside the home in the early centuries…Christian parents were still content for their children to share a common education with their pagan neighbors…Christians did not see rtemslevs as culturally distinct from their neigbhbors…

    To set up their own separate educational provision would have been to withdraw from the common life they shared with their pagan neighbors. And, while they recognized their dangers and allure of paganism, the early Christians saw no need to do that… They were not trying to create a Christian ghetto, but to be salt and light in their world. Their attitude to their children’s education was an expression of this open yet critical attitude.” (pgs. 80&81) .

    I guess all those millions of believers that evangelized the world were actually gnostics. Who knew?

    Todd

  134. Todd said,

    September 29, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    sorry for the typos in # 133

  135. Bob Suden said,

    September 30, 2008 at 2:42 am

    126 Darryl Hart,
    What does WCF 16:7 say about the necessity of good works (obedience to the moral law) for unbelievers. My comments were directed toward the position which I understood to be saying ‘let the civil magistrate do whatever, we are 2 kingdom Christians and it is not any of our business’ or better yet, ‘it is just plain old carnal fetal politics’.
    Maybe I misunderstand.
    Maybe I don’t.
    Those without the light are still required to operate according to the ten commandments. Or does VanTil teach compartmentalization? And Machen addressed a Congressional committee. What gives?
    Thanks,

  136. Darryl Hart said,

    September 30, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Bob Suden: WCF 16.7 also says that unbeilievers are damned if they do good works (and if they don’t). That’s not always the way faith-based arguments for religion in public life go. “Put up the ten commandments in school, go ahead. Do you feel the noose tightening?”

    Machen testified before Congress about what? To make public education Christian? Hardly. He testified on good old anti-federalist grounds — the federal government should keep its nose out of state affairs. He did not testify as a Christian or as a professor of NT but as a member of the Sentinels of the Republic, a libertarian political association. And what did Machen think about trying to make public schools Christian through prayer and Bible reading? He thought it denied the gospel. To offer lost humanity hope from the non-redemptive parts of the Bible was to offer a false gospel.

    We need the 2k position to resolve the problems that 1k Christians create.

  137. Zrim said,

    September 30, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Todd,

    You go, boy, you go. Dare to be a Daniel.

    Bob said, “My comments were directed toward the position which I understood to be saying ‘let the civil magistrate do whatever, we are 2 kingdom Christians and it is not any of our business’ or better yet, ‘it is just plain old carnal fetal politics’.”

    Since I am the one who introduced the “fetus-politics” comment in order to point out a form of (political) moralism in the ranks, I should pipe up about this mis-read on what 2K means to convey when it comes to the civil magistrate. Whatever else it is it certainly is not cavalier or apathetic. Instead of a shrug, there are those of us who actually infer another answer to this “abortion question” which diverges from those who apply the notion of individual rights to either unborn or women; if rights are the issue why can’t they be restored to states instead of particular groups of people?

    The thing about 2K, Bob, is that it understands individuals to be at the intersection of the kingdoms, which means nobody is saying withdrawal is the answer. What it means to convey is a distinction between individual and institution. When it comes to the former there is no conception whatsoever of world-flight or withdrawal. When it comes to the latter there has to be further distinction between what lies within the jurisdiction of the church and the state. I realize neither of these distinctions comes easily to American religionists, but that is the point.

  138. Elder Hoss said,

    October 1, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Darryl – The aphoristic nature of the proof-texting in # 124 would be more suitable for a Fundamental Baptist website though your polemical intent is different and just a tad more nuanced than theirs.

    Again, next time you cite, with other of us Presbyterian and/or Reformed Christians, any of the early ecumenical creeds (but perhaps you don’t, as that may be a violation of your interpretation of the Regulative Principle), you should bear in mind that they were produced in many cases, WITH LATER REFORMED CONFESSIONS at the behest of epistemologically self-conscious CHRISTIAN Emperors and rulers.

    I was troubled to read in one of Wooley’s books (I believe it was the bio on Machen) that acceptable liberty of opinion exists on abortion, among Christians.

    He gets there in part, through a radical 2K dualism.

    Tracking back through the thread, I see Henzel and McAtee way ahead on points.

  139. Darryl Hart said,

    October 1, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Elder Hoss: you must have me confused with John Frame. I believe the RPW applies to worship, not to all of life. Theonomists and Federal Visionists do seem to struggle with that distinction.

  140. Bob Suden said,

    October 2, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Darryl: I am not necessarily arguing for making Amer. public education Christian, but I am interested in hearing whether you think education inherently religious or not and I am not talking about vocational education.
    Further what I am getting with the 2 k thing is the Christian or the church has no business getting involved with politics. Are you talking about separating church and state or religion and state or exactly what?

    Zrim: You need to spell out in more detail what the 2k program is as opposed to what ‘fetal politics’ is. Right now it comes across as pretty esoteric. Yes, the church and the state have different jurisdictions, but its not like they don’t address the same issues but with different means. Above and beyond the unbiblical ‘right to life’ rhetoric, abortion is wrong. It is a violation of the 6th commandment, no? It shouldn’t be legal under any kind of civil government. So what gives?

    Thank you.

  141. Darryl Hart said,

    October 2, 2008 at 5:15 am

    Bob: All creation comes from God. It is “religious” in that sense, working from the categories of creation and providence. But creation is not Christian. It doesn’t reveal Christ. It only condemns. To turn math or Shakespeare into Christian exercises seems to me like an overreach theologically and bad pedagogy.

    As for 2k and politics. The vocation of the church and of the Christian differ, unless the Christian is a minister of the church. The church is called to proclaim the gospel, disciple the nations, etc. (btw, this is a spiritual discipline, not a civil one unless you like theocracy). Christians are called to a variety of tasks. Because they are creatures and because those tasks are part of God’s providential rule, you may call the Christian’s vocation religious. But again, baking, banking and plumbing do not involve the proclamation of the gospel. So just because the WCF says the church should not meddle in politics, it did not even approach any sort of argument saying that Christians should not be rulers. If they had written that, Parliament, comprised of many Christians, would have likely shut the Assembly down.

  142. Zrim said,

    October 2, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Bob,

    I’m not sure how to fix what ails the esoteric-effect without likely just repeating myself (which I hate doing). But 2K has more to do with authority and submission than what drives either fetus- or femme-politics, which are based more on notions of morality than jurisdiction.
    If you are asking me if it is wrong to murder, then I agree (how could I possibly disagree?). If you are asking me whether one section of the human population may take the life of another at whim merely because they are female, I flinch just like you. But it really isn’t that simple, because I am not so sure that it is any more sound to suggest that one section of the human population has the right to be sealed off from the injuries of life merely because they are in-vitro. My Augustinianism tells me that once someone has joined the human race he/she is now subject to the same pains of life as the rest of us, including human policy that may threaten its very existence.
    I tend to think that a civilized society is more about proper law, order and jurisdiction than in how exactly it carries out those laws. Judging a society by the “how” seems way more western in general and American specifically than Christian; this is what seems to account for the idea that one will only obey his authorities if said authorities pass his litmus test for what is right or wrong. But Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is his. There was no discretionary clause or crossed fingers or fine print about only doing so only if Caesar was upright. The line is actually drawn at religious devotion (i.e. “Jesus is Lord”). Consider that, from human eyes at least, the scandal of the Cross depended upon the reality that Roman society had good law and order. If you hung on a tree it was because you belonged there. This was the same society that exposed infants. And all Jesus says is to render unto Caesar what is his. I know most seem to think this utterance is fulfilled by the fact that they see FICA outtakes in their paycheck stubs, but it really is more about authority/submission that paying taxes (though it certainly includes that).

  143. Zrim said,

    October 2, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Let’s try that with some paragraph breaks…

    Bob,

    I’m not sure how to fix what ails the esoteric-effect without likely just repeating myself (which I hate doing). But 2K has more to do with authority and submission than what drives either fetus- or femme-politics, which are based more on notions of morality than jurisdiction.

    If you are asking me if it is wrong to murder, then I agree (how could I possibly disagree?). If you are asking me whether one section of the human population may take the life of another at whim merely because they are female, I flinch just like you. But it really isn’t that simple, because I am not so sure that it is any more sound to suggest that one section of the human population has the right to be sealed off from the injuries of life merely because they are in-vitro. My Augustinianism tells me that once someone has joined the human race he/she is now subject to the same pains of life as the rest of us, including human policy that may threaten its very existence.

    I tend to think that a civilized society is more about proper law, order and jurisdiction than in how exactly it carries out those laws. Judging a society by the “how” seems way more western in general and American specifically than Christian; this is what seems to account for the idea that one will only obey his authorities if said authorities pass his litmus test for what is right or wrong. But Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is his. There was no discretionary clause or crossed fingers or fine print about only doing so only if Caesar was upright. The line is actually drawn at religious devotion (i.e. “Jesus is Lord”). Consider that, from human eyes at least, the scandal of the Cross depended upon the reality that Roman society had good law and order. If you hung on a tree it was because you belonged there. This was the same society that exposed infants. And all Jesus says is to render unto Caesar what is his. I know most seem to think this utterance is fulfilled by the fact that they see FICA outtakes in their paycheck stubs, but it really is more about authority/submission that paying taxes (though it certainly includes that).

  144. Elder Hoss said,

    October 2, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Darryl – I referenced the uncomfortable fact of our (and presumably your?) recitation of creeds and confessions in worship drawn up, in many instances, at the behest of Christian emperors.

    Perhaps you see that as a violation of the RPW, but if not, you are at least in a DE FACTO manner, acknowledging the legitimacy of the notion of a “Christian” magistrate.

    You can thank Magistrates for our creeds and confessions, in many instances.

    Similarly, referencing Frame is a complete non-sequitur, as I was speaking about WORSHIP as well, and not whatever discursive contention you may have with him or FV or Theonomic types.

    Of course, reading in a drive-by fashion perhaps explains the confusion on your part.

  145. David Gadbois said,

    October 2, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I referenced the uncomfortable fact of our (and presumably your?) recitation of creeds and confessions in worship drawn up, in many instances, at the behest of Christian emperors.

    Perhaps you see that as a violation of the RPW, but if not, you are at least in a DE FACTO manner, acknowledging the legitimacy of the notion of a “Christian” magistrate.

    You can thank Magistrates for our creeds and confessions, in many instances.

    We may be able to “thank” them while not acknowledging any assumed authority in the magistrate. The magistrate may play a role in crafting a legitimate creed (because it is a faithful summary of Scripture) through illegitimate usurpation of power. An illegitimate means to a legitimate end. We can then receive a legitimate creed while tossing out the kooky historical process that created it.

    I detect a sort of inverted genetic fallacy at play here. The idea that a historical source is legitimized through the acceptance of its ideological products.

  146. Darryl Hart said,

    October 3, 2008 at 5:08 am

    E. Hoss: or maybe it’s the drive-by manner in which you write. But seriously, was Constantine a Christian? I thought those believers did not exist before 1517.

    Anyway, if I’m supposed to acknowledge that Christian magistrates were behind the RPW, then will you acknowledge that George W. Bush accounts for your theological outlook?

  147. Zrim said,

    October 3, 2008 at 11:01 am

    David,

    Re your detection, I quite agree.

    For better or worse, that was my point about what direct relation certain ideological conclusions have to theological views. Is it not feasible that, in the same way it should be questioned that legitimate ends do not necessarily imply legitimate means, that Calvinism (short hand for the biblical-historical witness), just because it is inhabited by those who may hold certain ideologies, does not necessarily imply those ideologies?

    After all, if we really do agree with RSC as he defines the QIRC that it is problematic “that some of us really do take the Scriptures a guide to civil government and moral renewal for American society and not chiefly as the infallible and inerrant revelation of God’s saving work and Word in history,” then it is not clear how Calvinism may be beholden to any particular politics…or as some writers call it “the traditions of men.”


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