Election Cycle 2008 and the Christian

Many people I know are moaning and groaning over Barack Obama, and they fear more than anything else that he would become president. Many people think that the McCain/Palin ticket is the savior of the United States. Both are wrong. Let’s take them one at a time.

If Obama wins, we will almost certainly lose some more of our freedoms. Who knows what freedoms we will lose, but we’ll probably lose the freedom to carry weapons. Is our reaction to losing this overdone, however? I wonder…Could it possibly be that God might choose to have Obama become elected so that the nominal Christian church might finally experience some purifying persecution? Can it possibly be that Obama getting elected would be something that would eventually work out to the good of those who love God? If you look at some people’s fears on this score, you might think it impossible. But if we really believe Romans 8, we will not be overly troubled if Obama wins. God is more powerful for good than Obama is for evil. And who knows, God may curb Obama’s career in evil, as He has done with so many people in the history of the Christian church (weren’t we all like that?). This is where Calvinism comes into its own: belief in the utter sovereignty of God can help us in a time of fear. We need only fear God, not man.

If McCain wins, the temptation will be to sit back with a collective sigh of relief and ignore our duties to evangelize the more than half of Americans who are completely unchurched. Yes, that’s right. More than half of Americans have never been churched. McCain might very well help America in some ways. But what ails America is sin, folks, not economic problems (unless one wants to make the plausible argument that economic problems stem from sin; but that is all very complicated). And the answer to America’s problems is the Gospel. Did I vote? Yes, I did. And I can tell you this: I did not vote for Obama. But, whichever outcome arises from this election, there is no need to cry about the sky falling, nor can we rejoice as if “God won” if McCain won. I will still watch with interest the election returns. But one can sit in the midst of great carnage and be placid and calm, if one believes that His Sovereign Father God has all things under His control.

About these ads

904 Comments

  1. Roy said,

    November 1, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    It does not bother so much that Obama and Biden might win the elction as it does that the thinking of American is such that those two can even run for national office. If not for God’s sovereign rule giving certain knowledge that no such eventuality will surprise him, but instead, if it happens he planned and will use it, I’d be very worried.

  2. Josh Walker said,

    November 1, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    I did not vote for Obama OR McCain.

  3. Bret McAtee said,

    November 1, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    The Kingly rule of Christ teaches me to trust His Sovereignty while keeping my powder dry.

  4. jared said,

    November 1, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Sound words, Lane.

  5. November 1, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    It’s interesting to me that the whole premise of the post seems to be that McCain is the Christian option and Obama is the pagan one. But even if the pagan option wins, God can still use it for good, and contrariwise, if the Christian option wins we might be tempted to let out a huge sigh of relief because we know that the kingdom is still safe.

    It is troubling that even an attempt at a non-partisan word to settle the anxious believer still smacks of partisanship.

  6. Bill Weber said,

    November 2, 2008 at 4:40 am

    Of course, the key issue for Christians is abortion, just as slavery was the key issue before the Civil War. But slavery was only about the enslavement of human beings. Abortion is about their murder. Anyone who believes in the incarnation must believe in the sanctity of the womb. A vote for a party that sanctions the defilement of the womb with violence is a vote that may bring the guilt of even more violence upon the conscience. Although there can be cleansing for the sin of such a vote through the blood of Christ, one must still call such a vote a sin against the incarnate Christ and the unborn.

  7. thomasgoodwin said,

    November 2, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I think you are right, Jason. Good points.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    November 2, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Jason, I was not implying anything about either candidate. I was implying more about the readers of this blog. In my opinion, neither candidate is actually ideal. I was only referring to these two, because they are the only two candidates that have a (human) chance of actually winning.

  9. Zrim said,

    November 2, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Lane,

    I am not sure playing into the misguided assumptions of the readership does much to help.

    I’ll see Stellman’s point (Lane’s effort to clarify notwithstanding) and raise another: It is interesting to me that anyone should presume that presidential winners and losers mean much of anything to the on-the-ground experience of believers in the first place. I thought the world, the flesh and the devil were what kept us up at night, fought with Word and sacrament? This post not only seems to assume who has faith and who doesn’t, but also that we are not in fact misguided in the mis-diagnoses of our true enemies.

    “And who knows, God may curb Obama’s career in evil…”
    What exactly does this mean? My hunch is that is likely has something in common with what Bill said, “Of course, the key issue for Christians is abortion.”

    Not me, at least not in the ways this debate rage; does that mean I am not a Christian? Why is this issue presumed upon those who are believers?

  10. Jeff Waddington said,

    November 2, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Zrim

    Are you suggesting that is is OK for a Christian to approve of or support the murder of unborn children or to turn the other way when infanticide is committed?

    Hmm…

  11. greenbaggins said,

    November 2, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Right, Zrim. I feel that people are assuming a bit too much of my post. I was actually saying precisely the same thing that Jason was saying. Maybe I was communicating a bit unclearly. But what I meant was precisely what Jason said.

  12. mary kathryn said,

    November 2, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Jeff – with all due respect to others with different views, I’d recommend that anyone who defends a woman’s right to murder her child, that they watch a good video of what aborted babies look like (I watched a good 10 minutes of one yesterday, online), before they make that assessment. This is THE life-and-death issue today. Obama’s support of abortion should be an offense to the Christian citizen.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    November 2, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Right MK, I agree. I don’t think that caring about life (which is also my one-topic issue in voting this election) should be seen as saying that McCain is the Christian candidate, necessarily. There are other pro-life candidates as well. Nor does the doctrine of the two kingdoms impinge on a Christian’s duty to vote for an upright life-defending candidate.

  14. Bret McAtee said,

    November 2, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Lane,

    No!

    Two Kingdoms insist that the Bible does not speak authoritatively on the Kingdom of God’s left hand. We may not invoke Scriptures to protest abortion, since the Bible was not written for that purpose. If we are going to lobby against abortion we must only do so through the means of natural law. And, I for one, can certainly see how Natural Law not only countenances abortion but absolutely call for it and requires it.

    Please now, nobody bring up the Bible to try and gainsay me. You must stick to Natural Law.

    Vote Natural Law, Vote Two Kingdom, Vote Abortion,

    Vote Obama

  15. Bret McAtee said,

    November 2, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    It is troubling that even an attempt at a non-partisan word to settle the anxious believer still smacks of partisanship.

    What is even more troubling is a Christian minister who believes that he can’t ascend God’s pulpit and declare that God says, from God’s Word, that Abortion is sin and is a great wickedness.

  16. its.reed said,

    November 2, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I have been amazed at my own recalcitrance in times past to let abortion be a litmus test for me. In God’s mercy I’ve never knowingly voted for a pro-abortion candidate. Yet I admit to being somewhat wimpy in letting the issue have the preeminence it should.

    Obama’s rigorous, even voracious promotion and defense of abortion rights in even the most extreme and rare of cases (partial-birth abortion for minors) has been used of God to wake me up and call forth my repentance.

    Obama may have other qualities that I’ll not gainsay. Yet such support for murder cannot be defended in any manner. I respect brothers and sisters who see in Obama’s candidacy a final confirmation of the end of all sorts of injustice in our history. I cannot agree with them in ignoring this conviction of Mr. Obama’s.

  17. E.C.Hock said,

    November 2, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    The word about God’s sovereignty remains the anchor here. If God brings about an Obama administration, and that administration brings hardship to the church in new ways, then embrace the hardship as the greater good rather than more ease that tempts us to neglect our mission. The gospel runs strong and well in hard times, including hard economic times. If so, that will be a good thing for our churches and for our land. We have idols of ease to die to among us all. That spiritual advocacy is what we live for, as it is His kingdom and gospel platform that counts. But as it has been said, God can turn things for the good no matter who is in office – conservative or liberal.

  18. its.reed said,

    November 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Amen Evan. I received a link from an article written by John Piper recently, offering “voting” advice, “Vote as if not voting.” He echoes some of the same themes we’ve noted here.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2008/3347_Let_Christians_Vote_As_Though_They_Were_Not_Voting/

  19. Bret McAtee said,

    November 2, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Well, since God can turn to good no matter who is in office, next time a Stalin runs against a Washington, I won’t have any compunction about voting for Stalin. After all, God can use him just as much as he could use a Washington type.

  20. its.reed said,

    November 2, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Now Bret, that’s not what anyone is suggesting ;-) Rather, even when God allows Nebuchadnezzer to rule His people, faith calls us to look for God’s blessing. That’s all.

  21. November 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    A question which needs to be asked and answered is this: is John McCain solidly pro-life, or just less pro-abortion than Senator Obama?

  22. E.C.Hock said,

    November 2, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Bret (#19)

    Mind you, appeal to sovereignty does mean our indifferecne to moral crisis or challenge. We still act with wisdom, vote our conscience and advicate as we may, but in the end we place our trust confidence in King Jesus and let the chips fall where they will. It is that kind of confidence that moved Paul in the Spirit to write Romans 13:1-7 about a regime that was often merciless as well as tolalitarian.

  23. November 2, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Bret,

    What is even more troubling is a Christian minister who believes that he can’t ascend God’s pulpit and declare that God says, from God’s Word, that Abortion is sin and is a great wickedness.

    I’m sorry my existence troubles you so much, as well as my ministry, of which you seem to know so much.

    Look, even though I happen to believe that abortion is a sin, to the best of my knowledge I have not mentioned this from the pulpit. But this is not due to a supposed “inability” to do so, but simply because the Bible does not address abortion directly, and I have never preached on the places where it might address it indirectly.

    I’m sorry for not being a one-issue voter. A whole host of moral issues are at stake in any election, such as abortion, war, poverty, free trade, free markets, &c. I don’t have time to justify to you why I think the way I do on these issues, and even if I did, I still wouldn’t bother, nor would you care to listen I am guessing.

    What does bother me, though (and forgive me, Lane, if I misinterpreted you on this), is when Christians assume that McCain is God’s choice, that Obama is not, and that Christians should vote accordingly. From what I can judge about your view of the pulpit quoted above, you are in danger of sacralizing the common and trivializing the sacred.

    Which may be even worse than abortion in the long run.

  24. Roy said,

    November 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Dan (#21), playing of my post #1, I am also staggered that someone like McCain can run for national office. (My point about national office? Some local situation might have the coincidence of a group of people with the same screwball thinking. But a larger group, say of national size, ought be less likely to have drifted so far. Of course this reasoning breaks down with the case of an unregenerate population. I don’t trust democracy per se, but God’s revealed Word as the final authority.) I think this re McCain because I think socialism contradicts the general equity implications of 1) every single scripture that speaks about caring for the poor, all of which demand voluntary private charity policed by God, 2) every one of the scriptures dealing with the role of the state, all of which limit that role to the use of force to restrain meanness. Thus I think it measures the USA’s voters’ thinking that an (even partially) pro socialism candidate runs.

    Unless McCain were regenerate, he cannot be solidly pro life, only proximately. But this issue is so much a litmus test for so much else that even proximately more counts enough to govern my choice. Further, Obama is viciously and violently pro abortion, ie, not merely pro choice.

    Put another way: I think the hideousness of abortion far more telling than the error of socialism, tho I might add that with Obama we get both.

  25. November 2, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I’m sorry my existence troubles you so much, as well as my ministry, of which you seem to know so much.

    1.) It’s not your existence that troubles me. It’s your R2K Theology that trouble me so much.

    2.) I don’t know you from Adam, but I do know that you are a product of WCF. That tells me what I need to know.

    3.) Given the existence of blogs though, it is possible to know of somebody and their ministry even when the person in question doesn’t know that people are learning about them and their ministry.

    Look, even though I happen to believe that abortion is a sin, to the best of my knowledge I have not mentioned this from the pulpit. But this is not due to a supposed “inability” to do so, but simply because the Bible does not address abortion directly, and I have never preached on the places where it might address it indirectly.

    We are participating in ethnocide and you’ve never mentioned from the pulpit that enthnocide is sin? Forgive me, but that strikes me as passing strange. If you lived in India and if widows to the tune of 1.3 million annually were being burnt along with their husbands upon their husbands death would you not mention the wickedness of that from your puplit?

    I’m sorry for not being a one-issue voter. A whole host of moral issues are at stake in any election, such as abortion, war, poverty, free trade, free markets, &c. I don’t have time to justify to you why I think the way I do on these issues, and even if I did, I still wouldn’t bother, nor would you care to listen I am guessing.

    I don’t give a flip for the way you think. I do care that as a minister of the whole counsel of God that you give the mind of God on public square issues where that is clearly articulated.

    Second, I’m not a one issue voter either. So we have something in common. However, God’s people need to be told from God’s Holy Desk that casting any kind of vote for people who support abortion is sin.

    What does bother me, though (and forgive me, Lane, if I misinterpreted you on this), is when Christians assume that McCain is God’s choice, that Obama is not, and that Christians should vote accordingly. From what I can judge about your view of the pulpit quoted above, you are in danger of sacralizing the common and trivializing the sacred.

    1.) I knew you would say that. What else would a WCF Graduate say?

    2.) I’m not voting for McCain, so I don’t assume that McCain is God’s choice.

    3.) In terms of Scripture as God’s revealed mind it is clear that Obama is not God’s choice, though he may indeed be God’s choice in terms of God’s decreed will.

    4.) I would say you are in danger of divorcing the sacred from the common and creating a dualistic world where the sacred and the common don’t have interchange. Remember Bavinck … Grace restores nature.

    Which may be even worse than abortion in the long run.

    Yeah, I’m sure that 50 million people in 35 years might be tortured and murdered as a result of myallegedsacralizing the common and trivializing the sacred.

  26. November 2, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    You’re right, Bret, I am a “product of WCF,” or the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist….

  27. November 2, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    And by the way, Bret, your tone with me is way out of line. If this were my blog I would issue a warning for you to grow up and show a little respect (I mean, this is our first interaction. Most people get to know me a little before insulting me).

  28. E.C.Hock said,

    November 2, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Sorry, see above (#22). It should read “…appeal to sovereignty does NOT mean our indifference to moral crisis or challenge.”

  29. Bob Suden said,

    November 2, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Obviously, the topic is one hot potato. Most people I know regardless of their choice, are sick of the subject already and want it to be over. Yet they return to it again and again to worry it as a dog to a bone, seeking resolution.

    Why? Because the American church, if not the public has yet to realize that the mainstream candidates are a Hobson’s choice – we may vote for any candidate we want as long as he is a socialist.

    In other words, one of the questions that would break the impasse has yet to be asked.
    As in, what would Hitler do?

    We know Adolph was for abortion. Likewise which party/candidate is pro abortion.
    We also know Adolph was for pre-emptive wars of aggression. Likewise which party/candidate is pro Iraq, Iran and . . . ? (Not that there isn’t an overlap, but speaking in general).

    Both parties/candidates are pro tax and spend more warfare/welfare big government. The present administration is only the latest in continuing to centralize and aggrandize legislative and judicial power to the executive branch, if not the multitude of unconstitutional agencies and regulatory bodies contra Is. 33:22, a biblical basis for a separation of powers.

    That the opposing party might actually get a chance to pull on all the levers, is what frosts the incumbents, not principle. Both parties lust after and idolize totalitarian power, whether fascist in only controlling the means of production or socialist in actually owning them. (The distinctions are Tom Rose’s, retired professor at Grove City College in his out of print Economics: The American Economy, 1985).

    Further, the two kingdom doctrine and the 1788 Amer. revision of the WCF notwithstanding (the first of which IMO might resemble the southern presbyterian emphasis on the spirituality of the church only in order to ignore slavery and racism), to pledge allegiance/vote for someone else to pledge allegiance to a document of which “We the People” is the highest authority does not strike me as a lawful option for those who have pledged unqualified allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. In short, not voting is a defensible and biblical option (though I am sure I will be apprised soon enough, if it is not)

    Yet more to the point, is the Assembly’s Directory where it calls for a solemn public day of fasting and prayer,

    “WHEN some great and notable judgments are either inflicted upon a people, or apparently imminent, or by some extraordinary provocations notoriously deserved; as also when some special blessing is to be sought and obtained. . .”

    I would hope that all could agree that this not only describes our national situation, but that voting alone is insufficient to resolve it.

    Thank you

  30. its.reed said,

    November 2, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    All:

    Just remember, some respect even when you disagree. Lane’s original post was a reflection on how Christians should not put their hopes into the political process, something we all appear to agree upon. It seems inevitable that we would digress therefore into secondary related topics.

    As we do so, let’s agree to vigorously debate our positions without resorting to even a hint of name calling. Let’s also remember to cut each other some slack if when we read someone’s comment it smacks us a little (or a lot) the wrong way.

    Remember: topics – tear ‘em up; your brother, gentleness.

    And yes, this is a plea based on the perfections of Christ, not my own consistency.

    No one in particula in mind. Yet I would pray that your hearts would be joined in amening and seeking your own need here.

  31. Darryl Hart said,

    November 2, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Stellman, not to worry about Bret. He’s so hysterical about 2k theology that he gets the keys on his board mixed up. He also seems to throw out the rest of the Bible when it comes to pastoral duties and Christian charity in interacting with believers and unbelievers when abortion is at stake. What I don’t understand is how he can vote for a 2k candidate like John McCain (nor do I understand why you, a product of WSC, wouldn’t.)

  32. Kyle said,

    November 2, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 31,

    Pr. McAtee is not voting for Sen. McCain. As he wrote in #25,

    I’m not voting for McCain, so I don’t assume that McCain is God’s choice.

  33. bret said,

    November 2, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Darryl,

    You are exactly 100% correct. I have no charity — none at all — for those who support and advocate mass murder, while the murder industry rolls on at full steam.

    Similarly I would have had no charity — none at all — for Adolph Eichman, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Ernst Rohm, and any other number of others who supported their policies.

    Take care Darryl,

  34. E.C.Hock said,

    November 2, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Some people seem to think that if Obama wins, God will rain down His judgment upon America. Is it not rather, given the pernicious rootedness and spread of any number of immoral issues today that more or less judgment is already upon us, and has been for awhile now (like restraining grace being withdrawn)?

  35. ReformedSinner said,

    November 2, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I find it interesting Christians in America pretty much view politicians on one attribute: his view on abortion.

    Am I the only person that find this sentiment a dangerous one for society in large?

  36. November 3, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Darryl,

    What I don’t understand is how he can vote for a 2k candidate like John McCain (nor do I understand why you, a product of WSC, wouldn’t.)

    Yeah, I think I skipped the class at WSC on why we should vote for McCain (which, incidentally, I never said I “wouldn’t” do).

    But I’m holding out for a Lebowski/Fletcher ticket….

  37. November 3, 2008 at 2:37 am

    And no, ReformedSinner, you’re not alone in scratching your head like that.

  38. Darryl Hart said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:03 am

    Bret, so you only believe in one commandment?

    The error in your view is that you think the 2k position means support for abortion. Huh?

    But wouldn’t being soft on women’s ordination lead to support for abortion? I mean, it was the feminists who were so strident about women’s reproductive rights. Hmmm, I wonder how feminism is doing in the CRC?

    Jason: I was always hoping for Alfred E. Neuman at the head of the ticket. In Obama I have him.

  39. Darryl Hart said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Kyle, thanks for pointing out that Bret’s vote will likely allow an advocate of abortion to win.

  40. John Bugay said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Bret, Jason, I hope this post finds both of you well. Even though the two of you are meeting each other for the first time here, I have reason to love and appreciate both of you, for your ongoing friendship, and Bret, I want the (greenbaggins) world to know that even though we are just internet buddies, it was your love and prayers (and those of your church) that sustained me through what was the most surreal and difficult time in my life.

    I’m new to this blog, though I watch it fairly regularly. Like Lincoln in the commercial, “I’ve done a lot of reading and studying, sort of on my own.” I’m a former Catholic, who knows a lot about why I won’t go there any more, but that is kind of the beginning and end of my knowledge. My efforts, however, have led me to Reformed theology, what I believe is the Gold Standard of Christianity on this earth.

    No one doubts that we live in extreme times, extremely perilous especially for American fetuses, but abortion is a problem all over the world. There are six billion people in the world, a huge number of different cultures, and one American election is really not going to do a whole lot to end the practice of abortion. In a few days, this election will be over, and we’ll know who won. But in the meantime, we need to continue to go on living with ourselves, and continuing to think about such problems. And I believe Christ is really the ONLY answer to such problems.

    But, still, one wants to ask, “what in the world is God doing?” This theonomy/two-kingdoms thing certainly is an intramural discussion that sheds a lot of heat. I think it goes back a way, too, in different forms. Bret, some time ago, you dumped a bunch of stuff on me about Kline and “intrusionists” and I had no idea where to begin, or what to do with all of it.

    I, personally, see a great opportunity for discussion and clarification on this issue, especially as it is, in the parlance, “a customer-facing” issue, relating directly on now Christians interact with the world. Instead of throwing charges at each other, it would be good (from my perspective) to see how the theology of this begins.

    Basics anyone?

  41. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Frankly if anyone cares to do some digging they will find John McCain is hardly a “Pro-Life” candidate, especially when one looks at his voting record.

    But more to the point it sounds to me like some would be ok with mass murder as long as their taxes are low and they themselves live in comfort, because if it does not effect the inside of the walls of our church why should we care if unbelievers murder their babies? Pragmatic Libertarianism is not acceptable with a consistently Biblical outlook.

  42. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Lane,

    You’ll forgive my density for still inferring something else in your post. But this kind of conversation happens every four years. It seems as though what is discerned is that folks are “putting their hope in princes.” That may be, but just as often as not I think it’s people simply getting frenzied about politics the way others do about sports. Since I am neither a political junkie nor sports nut, I understand the temptation to call it idolatry. But just as often as not it’s not idolatry, rather simply having a passion for something that is a perfectly legitimate aspect of creation. (Speaking of getting whipped up, where are the critics of Obamapalooza when it comes to the giddiness over Mrs. Palin?) And, while certainly true, when I hear the Calvinist advice that “God is sovereign so don’t worry about these things,” I still think it plays into the wrong assessment. First, because it presumes that idolatry is ever the only thing going on here, and second, even if it is a misguided hope in princes I rather think the better point would be to correct that and point out our greater enemies (sin, the world and the devil). If that was the point of your post, sorry, I didn’t see it.

    Jeff Waddington asked me, “Are you suggesting that is OK for a Christian to approve of or support the murder of unborn children or to turn the other way when infanticide is committed?”

    To be honest, Jeff, this way of speaking is a classic device used to shut down conversation and simply employ ideological rant.

    While gun control isn’t one my issues, this is the abortion version of anti-gun zealotry chiding someone who leaves the door open for possibly voting Republican or otherwise a party/candidate known for liberality on this issue: “Are you suggesting it is OK for a Christian to approve of or support the murder of children who use Uzi’s at gun shows and shoot themselves in the head or to turn the other way when thousands of people die everyday as a result of liberal gun laws?”

    Uh, no, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I realize the long suit of religionists’ of all stripes (but particularly Christian ones) isn’t sane speech when it comes to politics as they famously confuse heaven and earth, but I’d be happy to explain why I find the abortion issue isn’t what most of us Calvinists think it is.

  43. November 3, 2008 at 9:53 am

    “Kyle, thanks for pointing out that Bret’s vote will likely allow an advocate of abortion to win.”

    Should we do evil that good may come? John McCain is also an advocate of unjust wars in which many innocent civilians have been/will be killed; he does not seem much more pro-life to me.

  44. D G Hart said,

    November 3, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Daniel: so you know no compromise in politics (or the faith I suppose). You were on here challenging exegetical reasons for revising the WCF some days ago. Can you make an exegetical case for no compromise in politics? I mean, where’s the evidence of Christ, the apostles, or any of the saints calling down God’s wrath on the Roman imperium? Nor does it seem that any of them said it was the church’s duty to call down such wrath. Please resist the N.T. Wright temptation of appealing to “Jesus is Lord.”

  45. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 11:13 am

    And so brothers, we are faced with less than perfect choices in both Obama and McCain. Of course, what else are we to expect in a world still under the Curse?

    So we need to be wise in fulfilling our civic duties. On the one hand, Lane’s advice is not something any of us disagree with in principle. We do indeed want to be careful that our interests in an acceptable thing (functions of a democratic-republic) while not falling into even mildly idolatry. A comparison, “its o.k. son to play some computer games, just as long as your devotion to the game does not even approach the beginnings of the overwhelming passion you are seeking God to give you for his word”.

    I am mindful of your challenge from the angle of just war Daniel. I admit myself to be one who is at least uncomfortable with our justifications for being in Iraq for example. I both understand real-politic and reckon the motivations for this war are mixed. (No need to turn this into that debate here).

    Using that as the jump off point, it only serves to demonstrate, somewhat murkily, that we are faced with difficult decisions in being good citizens tomorrow.

    I do have sympathy as well, Jason and others, for the concern that we become “one issue” citizens and insist that other believers must have the same conviction.

    Yet for me it is not a matter of being one-issue-oriented. It is a matter of keeping things in relative balance. Not a perfect application, but consider what we’ve been talking about:

    > Obama has demonstrated the most radical commitment to abortion of any nationwide candidate in my memory (I go back to at least Carter).

    > On the other hand, McCain’s opposition to abortion has not been as consistent and as full-throated as I may have liked (using a very high standard).

    > So as I try to weigh these appropriate, and vote in accordance with what I believe is the best expression of faith in God’s continued operation of his sovereignty through providence, I expect that Obama will be more likely to support and promote an increase of the abortion culture. I don’t expect McCain will necessarily be proactive in retracting that culture. I do have some confidence that he will hold the line at the very least.

    So from the perspective of abortion, McCain gets the nod.

    From the perspective of the war in Iraq:

    > If nothing else were present, and we were talking about getting into the war in the first place, I will admit to being easily persuaded by the arguments of someone like Obama who consistently spoke against it. This would be not because I agree with his underlying principles, but because I would agree with the policy application.

    > Now that we are in the war however, we have obligated ourselves in a number of different directions. At this point I am persuaded that the only honorable course of action will mean we need to stay a little while longer in the field (although with Iraq’s willingness to not come to some sort of force agreement lately, I am just as willing to be radical and simply walk away and leave them to their own devices, or at the very least threaten that to get them to get serious ;0 ).

    I believe McCain’s understanding of real-politic provides him with a more realistic view of what needs to be done at this point. So again, from the perspective of this issue, McCain gets the vote.

    Now, applying this in a different setting, say we were talking about a local county election, a county in which the office in question will have no influence over the war issue, but will be able to expand or retract the availability of abortion.

    In such a setting, how can we deny that one issue, abortion in this case, forces our choice? Of course, if we think about it, the more local the election the more likely we are to see one issue votes (of a wide variety).

    In the end, I don’t see either side here arguing in principle against the kind of scenario I just spelled out. For example, I don’t suspect that if:

    > Obama was slightly more pro-life than McCain,
    > yet neither candidate was promising to do anything to do the status quo,
    > but Obama actually wanted to expand the war in Iraq, and elsewhere,

    our animus toward abortion would not mean we would pick Obama over McCain. In this case, the issue of abortion is less of a factor, whereas the unnecessary loss of life in an unjust expansion of war would be a weightier factor.

    To summarize and hopefully clarify, I do not hear any us in principle arguing that a candidate’s abortion position trumps all other considerations. Rather, we all agree that if we were to put together our top ten list of critical issues, abortion would be in the top three for all of us. As well, for those of us who make it no. 1, we admit the possibility of circumstances in which the abortion is not as relevant, and therefore our vote would be more influenced by issues further down in our list.

  46. Bret McAtee said,

    November 3, 2008 at 11:23 am

    The first Tuesday in November had always been election day in Hobbiton. Traditionally Hobbiton ballots had been filled with last names like “Hornblower,” “Took”, “Proudfoot,” “Barrowdown,” and “Brandybuck.” The 2008 ballot still had many of those names but at the top of the ticket of the two major parties were names that weren’t as common or familiar to Hobbiton ballots.

    When it came to voting on who would lead the West the Hobbits had the choice of Sauron vs. Saurman. Now there were third party candidates like Gandalf, Elrond, and Faramir, but the majority of Hobbits had been convinced that those third party candidates didn’t stand a chance and so like cattle heading to the milk parlor to be milked, the Hobbits headed to the polls to vote for Sauron or Saruman.

    The debate in Hobbiton during the election cycle had been vicious. There were those Hobbits whose families had been sturdy for centuries who had been lured to the Dark side and were advocating for Sauron. These deluded Hobbit minions of Sauron (like Ted Sandyman the Miller, and the Sackville-Bagginses) promised that Sauron would make everybody equal, painting verbal pictures of the equality that existed in the enchanted land of Mordor. This campaign technique swayed many Hobbits into the Sauron camp since they no longer read the works of Frodo Baggins, which would have instructed them quite to the contrary. Sauron promised a Hobbiton where not only privileged Hobbits would own rings. Sauron pointed out how unfair it was that only the privileged could own rings and so Sauron promised that every Hobbit would own rings in a Sauron administration.

    On the other side the supporters of Saurman pointed out how much better Saurman was then Sauron. They reminded all the Hobbits of how bad Sauron’s policies were. They connected Sauron to shady characters like Smeagol, B. Al Rog, and the radical terrorist organization N.A.Z.G.U.L. There were even internet rumors that there were sinister alliances between Sauron and Goblins. Saurman’s basic campaign motto in Hobbiton was “I’m not Sauron.” But informed Hobbits who were voting third party realized that the difference between Sauron and Sauruman was the difference between a wolf and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    The Hobbiton’s refused to listen to third party candidates like Gandalf who warned that both Sauron and Saruman agreed on the issue of opening the borders of Hobbiton to Cave Trolls, Blow-Spiders and Wolves. Even if they believed Gandalf, large numbers of them refused to vote for Gandalf since “he had no chance to win.” The Hobbiton’s refused to listen to third party candidates like Elrond who warned that both Sauron and Saruman would enslave Hobbiton and Hobbits for generations to come. Elrond and Gandalf alike pleaded with the Hobbits that they awaken to the reality that Sauron and Saruman would each destroy them.

    The first Tuesday in November came with anticipation. The only thing that was certain was that Hobbiton was headed into the twilight of its existence. The Hobbits had lost their will to be a free people.

  47. November 3, 2008 at 11:25 am

    DG Hart

    “He that rules over MEN [not the Jews only] must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Sam. 23:3).

  48. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    its.reed @ 45 said, “To summarize and hopefully clarify, I do not hear any us in principle arguing that a candidate’s abortion position trumps all other considerations. Rather, we all agree that if we were to put together our top ten list of critical issues, abortion would be in the top three for all of us. As well, for those of us who make it no. 1, we admit the possibility of circumstances in which the abortion is not as relevant, and therefore our vote would be more influenced by issues further down in our list.”

    Where are you getting that? #’s 6, 10 & 12 (as well as whatever McAtee says) sure seem to suggest to me that abortion has a rather indignant pole position (any race fans out there?) that might cringe at suggestions of a relative relevance. And, to be honest, if these coments are any measure, this is the view of most in our generally conservative circles. It seems to me that the indignant pole position is precisely the point of the so-called “pro-life” stance, and to read it as anything less than that is to offer a concession on their behalf that most never seem to intend.

  49. bret said,

    November 3, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Herr Zrim,

    I quite agree that in 1933 our vote shouldn’t be solely determined by the Jewish question. While, all might agree that we should remain sensitive to the plight of the Jews it is just the case that there are to many other pressing issues (our relationship to the Soviets, our necessity to find ‘liebensraum,’ the necessity to press the English on the German right for colonies) for us to consider to allow the Jew question to become overly predominant in our thinking.

    Thank you for reminding us that the Jew question is only one of many that we should be considering when we vote.

  50. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    its.reed,

    See, perfect example @49. It is insinuated that I am tantamount to a nazi because I dare question a certain abiding political correctness. We can write off the good pastor for being something of an extreme, but I can’t say his rhetoric is much different from any who are more or less persuaded of the pole position or who otherwise make absurd connections between this issue and certain others designed to frighten folks (holocaust language, connections to our collective white guilt over human slavery, etc.)

  51. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Is there a difference between the systematic murder of the unborn and the systematic murder of Jews?

  52. November 3, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Not really, Heinrich Himmler would have been proud of both…especially the horrendous partial birth abortions that Senator Obama supports.

    Its times like this I thank God for the psalms.

  53. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    O.k. Zrim (sorry, your first name?), how about this:

    My main point is best focused by the phrase “in principle.” I recognize Bret is using sarcasm to make his point. I understand that the nazi label comes to mind. Yet I don’t conclude Bret’s statement is the same as (tatamount) to saying you are a nazi. Of course, I could be wrong.

    How about we ask Bret to clarify? Bret, do you believe that my summary of “in principle” is consistent with your own thinking. I.e., if we were talking about a local election in which both candidates were midly pro-life and no amount of investigation will offer any clarity to provide differentiation, would you insist that abortion trumps any other considerations, even ones which also deal with life?

    Zrim, I suspect that Bret and brothers like him are not as absolute as you may think. I also suspect he is reacting to your challenging language, not paying attention to your point and assuming that you are flawed in your pro-life committment. I.e., I think both of you to some extent are responding to a characture of the other’s position.

    Try asking clarifying questions, both of you. don’t assume you are seeing solid black in the other’s position without first investigating whether or not there is any white present (no racial tones intended, so don’t go there any lurkers ;-) ).

  54. bret said,

    November 3, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I don’t consider a Zrim any more a Nazi then I conclude that the average run of the mill German was a Nazi.

    In principle is correct.

    Views on abortion doesn’t trump all other considerations. It is interesting though that typically I have found candidates who support abortion to have policies in other areas that track well with the embrace of a culture of slavery and death.

    The question in the 3rd paragraph of #53 is no.

    4th paragraph in #53 — What was the point that he was making?

  55. Stephen Welch said,

    November 3, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Bret, in response to # 3 I agree with you that we need to trust in the Sovereignity of the LORD and keep our powder dry, but if Obama is elected tomorrow you better keep your powder well hidden.

  56. Stephen Welch said,

    November 3, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Daniel, in reference to your response in # 21, I had thought that McCain was pro-murder when it came to the unborn. I since did research and he is solidly pro-life and has been consistent. What concerns me more with Obama is his pro-murder stand of the unborn and his committement to the legalization of sodomite unions. He will turn the White House into a sodomite friendly place and will certainly give free-reign for homosexual activists. If he is elected it will be the LORD’s judgment against the U.S. and that is what we rightly deserve.

  57. Wayne Sparkman said,

    November 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Psalm 37, specifically, is a wonderful and much needed antidote in these times.

  58. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    its.reed re #53,

    OK, so I’m not a Nazi strictly speaking; evidently I’m one in the making. By the way, I have yet to say what my own views on this issue are. My only point so far has been to question the rather clear view of many that “a vote for Obama is a vote to kill babies.”

    I am not sure of the example of having two mildly pro-life candidates helps clarify; shouldn’t it be a life and a choice candidate?

    I appreciate the efforts toward a clean fight, but to be honest I have no interest in engaging Bret directly. For one thing, I have tried that before in various venues. He considers me “infected with radical two kingdoms views,” or some such thing; I am in some sense actually glad for his extremity since it helps make the W2K case. And, to be blunt, if you honestly don’t understand him to “absolute,” perhaps you haven’t seen his activity on this blog before. For another, my point to you was simply to question, in the light of clearly “pole position” views in this thread, the notion that there is as much charity and care for conscience as you seemed to imply. Right or wrong, it is my sense that there is actually very little and that it reflects a certain political correctness of our shared conservative environs generally. Perhaps worse than the extremities are the ways in which they are tolerated and nurtured. I realize many feel quite strongly about this particular political issue, but I believe more important than it is how liberty of conscience and the spirituality of the church anymore are antiquated notions.

  59. November 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Stephen

    I must confess that I have heard different things from different people; where do you go to find Senator McCain’s pro-life credentials?

  60. bret said,

    November 3, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    You’re invoking liberty of conscience on “Thou Shalt Not Murder”?

  61. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Bret asks if I am invoking liberty of conscience on the sixth word. No, I am invoking it on a thing indifferent, namely casting a vote. That may be difficult to see insofar as one may confuse voting with something moral instead of merely a necessary tool that makes a liberal democracy work. Since it is the latter one may even abstain from voting.

  62. bret said,

    November 3, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    I quite agree that abstaining from voting is acceptable. But an abstention from voting is its own kind of vote. (Why vote? I only encourages them.)

    It is quite beyond me to suggest that voting is neutral or a-moral.

    Is making liberal democracy work something moral? If it is something moral then it would seem that the thing that makes the liberal democracy work (voting) would be moral.

  63. Stephen Welch said,

    November 3, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Daniel, yes I have also found it confusing on McCain’s position. The National Right to Life Organization gave him their indorsement recently. They generally will not give an endorsement to a candidate who is not solidly pro-life. Janet Folger, with Faith to Action (www.f2a.org) has affirmed his pro-life position. I personally knew Janet when I was a student at Knox Seminary and later was an assistant minister at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. She used to work for Dr. D. James Kennedy and is a reconstructionist as well. I also saw a voter guide recently and he has affirmed a pro-life stand. Gary DeMar has affirmed this as well. As much as I believe it is against the LORD’s will for a woman to lead a nation, Sarah Palin is definetly pro-life and would not serve as his vice-President if he were pro-murder.

  64. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Yes, it would seem that way. But making a liberal democracy work is making a liberal democracy work, that’s all.

    Irresponsible citizenry is one thing, but im/moral acts are quite another.

    In keeping with my point to Lane, it sure seems to me that we ought to be more concerned with what we do in our own minds and bodies than what we do in voting booths or even what that activity helps to bring about. I mean, if voting were so freighted it would also seem to me that we ought to be concerned with what sort of vendors we patronize. Citgo may be in bed with Chavez, but I need gas in my tank and I have places to go.

  65. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Ignoring most of the comments that have come after. I’m alarmed by how unjust the original post is.

    We will lose our freedoms if a democrat is given the presidency? Purifying persecution? Obama’s “career in evil!?” This crosses so many lines of basic (made-in-God’s-image) charity.

    There is no problem with Christians on the political right or left not liking the other candidate, but declaring that they have had a “career in evil,” that they will bring about “persecution” of the church, and that they will “take a way our guns” is just too much.

    As Christian duties go, it matters little who is ultimately elected – our primary responsibility regarding them will be to pray for their blessing, so we may live in peaceful, quiet lives (1 Tim 2:2).

    Amen to D.G. Hart making the point of “…where’s the evidence of Christ, the apostles, or any of the saints calling down God’s wrath on the Roman imperium?” And to be honest – Rome was just as wicked as any big, bad democrats (cough-worse!-cough).

    We are living in fear in the shadow of this election, which is unjustified. Whoever is elected will be elected because God wants him to be. Period.

    I pray that this silliness will end when whoever is in office, but if the rather unremarkable Clinton presidency was any indication – the Christian Right (in all of it’s forms) will make fools of both themselves and shame the name of the church as they make efforts to paint the president as an antichrist.

    Breathe, brothers. Breathe.

  66. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Zrim (again, I’m sorry, but I forget, your first name?):

    I think you’re reading beyond Lane’s point. He is not denying the need for wisdom in all areas of life. Voting is of particular focus right now, not the exclusive focus, simply because of tomorrow.

    I suggest you are over reading a basic reminder that whoever wins, God’s people win and we can experience that blessing by focusing on the aspects of God’s sovereignty exercised in providence for the sake of his children.

  67. November 3, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Amen, KBennet, Amen.

    Christians in this country, as we wring our hands with anxiety, are communicating to the world that we really do “trust in princes” and put our heavenly eggs in an earthly basket.

    Are we really only different from the world in how we vote?

  68. E.C.Hock said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    On #65, KBennet helps us to pause, and get perspective, as those who serve King Jesus. Think of how many types and shades of leaders, ceasars, czars, kings, queens, dictators, presidents, parliaments or protectorates, our Jesus has worked with and though to bring about his purposes. We also need to remember that in four years, we have the opportunity to bring a “regime change” here as needed. We also need to encourage godly, wise, courageous political statesmen among our constituencies to run as a decent alternative. Men of clay all men are, all leaders are, even the best of them, and the church keeps its influence, witness and mission alive whatever the pluralism, rule, climate, ambiance or priviledge afforded to it this side of eternity. Why, because Paul said: “For the present form of this world is passing away.”

  69. Stephen Welch said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    KBennett, I think you misunderstood the original. It is certainly not unjust. I think it is naive to think that Obama will not take away our freedoms. There is certainly nothing uncharitable about calling a spade a spade. Too many Christians want to keep their head in the sand and act “nice” and “sweet” while the city burns. This is the very reason Hitler was allowed to reign as a “tyrant” because too many people wanted to be “nice.” The socialist and anti-Christian positions of Obama should not be tolerated by anyone who fears the LORD. Many of us in this discussion would not regard the so-called Christian right position of which you speak. You completely misunderstood Lane’s position. The point of Lane’s thread was to state that we should not be afraid of this election. Noone would disagree that the LORD is not Sovereign, but let’s not use that as an excuse for doing nothing. I think you are reaching on this one.

  70. Stephen Welch said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I beg your pardon Jason but I am not wringing my hands with anxiety as well as others in this discussion. To be concerned about the direction of our country is not to show fear or lack of trust in the LORD, but responsibility. This was the point that Lane was making that you obviously missed.

  71. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    its.reed re #66,

    It’s Steve.

    As I have said, I appreciate the point that God is sovereign. What good Calvinist couldn’t? But I am not so sure that is all that is going on here, since in order for that to be of any comfort one must also somehow believe that “Obama is evil.” I’m still not sure what that means.

    And the whole thing seems to actually presume the sort of anxiety it means to quell. It’s a bit like someone rushing into a hospital in order to tell everyone not to worry too much about the storm brewing down south, because God is in control. That’s true, and storms do matter to someone somewhere, but I am not sure how that is relevant to more immediate concerns in the triage.

  72. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Amen Stephen. It really does matter what happens outside your four walls of the sanctuary.

  73. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    McCain’s position on abortion: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/issues/95b18512-d5b6-456e-90a2-12028d71df58.htm

    Zrim,

    I can appreciate that abortion should not be our only issue. But I do think Jeff W.’s question is not mere rhetoric. There’s a real ethical question here: if I vote to permit abortions to take place legally, and I also believe that abortion is murder, than am I guilty of turning a blind eye to justice?

    It seems like we only have four options:

    (1) Deny the minor premise and declare abortion to be something other than murder,
    (2) Deny the conclusion and assert that permitting something does not make one guilty of the outcome, or
    (3) Accept the conclusion and admit guilt, or
    (4) Accept the conclusion but argue that a greater good is to be served on this issue.

    Which of those options describes you, or are you hoping for a fifth?

    Jeff Cagle

  74. November 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    As it happens the apostle John had plenty bad to say about the Roman Empire in the book of Revelation. For an in-depth analysis of the wickedness of various totalitarian regimes in Biblical times, see my book A Conquered Kingdom: Biblical Civil Government:

    http://www.lulu.com/content/2255868

    Sorry Lane, but this book is now $10 cheaper than when you bought it….hahahahahaha.

  75. November 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Gee, Stephen, all this talk about Obama making a career out of being evil, our guns and ammo being taken away, and Zrim being a Nazi–well, it sure seems like extreme language to me.

    Maybe it’s more difficult to notice an extreme position when you (meant generally) are the one holding it. But trust me, to those who don’t hold to the tenets of evangelical politics the hand-wringing and fear-mongering is very obvious.

    And trust me, I’m no fan of Obama either, my statements are made by someone who is more of a passive observer than one who has a horse in the race to begin with.

  76. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    I think we would all benefit from browsing and reading through the articles at the website of the Rev’d Brothers Bayly…

    http://www.baylyblog.com/

  77. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Especially Rev’d Stellman and Zrim…

  78. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Stephen Welch,

    Yeah, I understood Lane’s original post just fine – it was about trusting in God’s sovereignty in the midst of the possible election of a man who had led an “evil” career. But he also warns, if the “other guy” is elected (the one he does not criticize!), not to think that “God won.”

    Okay, let’s do call a spade a spade – you’re calling a man being evil because his policies are different than yours. Comparing those who stand “idly by” and allow Obama to be elected to those who stood “idly by” while Hitler rose to power is a perfect example of silly verbal pyrotechnics.

    I think my response stands.

    This is not about being nice or sweet. It’s about being Christian and honest.

    Explain exactly how socialism (the economic system) is related to the text of the Bible. Where are these admonitions against state involvement in national economies?

    And, exactly which “other anti-Christian” positions does he hold? I have heard nothing about him prohibiting Christian services, printing of bibles, sacraments, the ordaining of ministers and missionaries, or even removing tax-exempt status for goodness sake!

    Since there is no doubt that we will “lose our freedoms” as you say, I have to ask – which of your freedoms did you lose under Clinton?

    No one is advocating “doing nothing” – but of course that begs the question – where do you get the idea that there is some special Christian duty in this election that people might be shirking?

    God wins – no matter whom He chooses to be elected.

    Like Jason Stellman, I really have no horse in this race, but I am very, very alarmed at what elections do to Christians in my own tradition. So much talk about “supporting evil” and “rights” – it’s all worldly thinking folks – it just is.

  79. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Daniel Ritchie,

    No bibliographic answers please. Since you take such a strong tact on what John said in Revelation about the evils of Rome – what exactly does he tell us our duty is in such a context? “Come out of her, my people, and have nothing to do with her wickedness, for she will fall in a single hour?” Or, “seek to establish God’s rule?”

    Hmmm…

  80. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Stephen Welch is currently a Minister in Canada. I think he might know a little about loosing your freedom to speak the truth by governmental authorities.

    Like I said go read the Rev’d Bayly’s blog.

    http://www.baylyblog.com/

  81. November 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    KBennet

    That is a false dichotomy between the two things.

  82. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Re #73

    The problem, Jeff, is that we are voting for candidates, not issues. Your list of options seems to negate your initial point, since nobody votes their opinion on an issue, unless he is indeed a one-issue voter.

    Ben,

    Thanks for the recommendation, but I’ve been to the BB before. I can only take so many ideological rants in one day.

  83. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Oh for goodness sakes! Frankly I am getting ready to conclude just about all y’all are bringing your own frustrations into this conversation and are really just missing that you pet positions are actually supported by Lane’s initial post.

    KBennett, I think you are creating a characture of Lane’s initial post, to make points to which he himself would say “Amen”. I know, other than the mischaracertization I think you’ve read into what he said, I generally agree with your sentiments.

    As to supposed anxiety Steve, as a pastor I can tell you that I regularly am called on by Scripture to:

    > address the anxieties of the congregation in my charge, and
    > to do so in a manner that calls them to consider their propensity for idolatry, and
    > to urge them to look for their comfort in our Sovereign Christ.

    So no, I do not think anyone here is assuming anxiety that is not present. Such anxiety is just a fact of life under the Curse. I think Lane wrote this post, prompted not by his own anxiety which he is projecting on the rest of us, but by the anxiety he is hearing in others.

    Even more important, do y’all consider that Lane saved his most significant points for his last paragraph? Do you consider that he is challenging us to get about the business of the kingdom with more fervor, regardless of who wins? Or are you assuming your agreement with those points.

    I won’t speak for you, but as one who has learned the dangers of his own flesh’s continual urging to live in a presumptive mode of life, I appreciate Lane’s emphasis.

  84. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Daniel Ritchie,

    Saying it’s a false dichotomy does not make it so.

    One last time, what does John tell us our duty is?

  85. Zrim said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    its.reed,

    Re # 83

    Switch out some words and that reads like a transcript from a Dubya press secretary. Kidding, I kid, it’s a joke.

    Seriously, though, from the back and forth it would seem to me there are some valid things to be discussing here.

  86. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Steve:

    Jab accepted with a smile.

    No, not denying that there are some serious issues here for us. I’m just not persuaded that we really are disagreeing over anything substantial. Rather, I see an awful lot of talking past each other.

    But we do like shucking and jiving, don’t we? ;-)

  87. Todd said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    The type of apocalyptic rhetoric we see used against Obama and those who might vote for Obama is common among evangelicals; it was also used against Thomas Jefferson when most of the nation learned he was not really a Christian, and actually disliked Christianity (Not to compare Obama with Jefferson, just the over-blown fears and rhetoric common among Christians.)

    Here is a piece from the Gazette of the United States, a federalist newspaper in 1800.

    “At the present solemn and momentous epoch, the only question to be asked by every American, laying his hand on his heart, is `Shall I continue in allegiance to God – and a religious president (Adams); or impiously declare for Jefferson and no God!!!?'”

    Presbyterian minister John Mason wrote that if Jefferson were elected, it would mean the triumph of the “morality of devils, which would break in an instant every link in the chain of human friendship, and transform the globe into one equal scene of desolation and horror, where fiend would prowl with fiend for plunder and blood.” (Mason assumed what happened in France, which Jefferson approved of, would occur in the U.S.)

    Another federalist wrote that if Jefferson were elected, it would be “open season on the Bible.”

    The sun will rise Wednesday just like Tuesday, people all around us will still be bound in sin, however that manifests itself, people still die every day in sin, and we are called to try to reach them with the gospel. That should keep us plenty busy no matter the political environment. And we in this country will be well clothed and fed, regardless if we end up with less than before, for which we should be thankful.

    Todd

  88. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    KBennett:

    Not to dredge up the abortion issue again, but the charge “career in evil” seems to stick Mr. Obama on that basis. He did, after all, take active action as a state legislature that would make access to partial-birth abortion easier and more widespread. Surely that can be classified as evil.

    This is not to characterize Obama as himself evil. Of course, with you and him apart from Christ, God does indeed call us wicked, children of Satan, etc..

    I do not think Lane was focusing on Obama’s proclivity for ruling from a socialist agenda. I think rather he was reflecting the concerns of others, to wit that Obama’s stated values do seem to lead in directions at least unfriendly to Christian committments and that folks are over-reacting to that.

    Again, Lane’s post was not focused on championing one candidate vs. the other. It was to promote the conviction that Christians must not rely on the political process, but exclusively on Christ.

    Take umbrage to the statement of an evil career, but do so consistent with Lane’s usage of the label. Again, I think you are reading into the statement.

  89. bret said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Yeah, I understood Lane’s original post just fine – it was about trusting in God’s sovereignty in the midst of the possible election of a man who had led an “evil” career. But he also warns, if the “other guy” is elected (the one he does not criticize!), not to think that “God won.”

    Look, I understand part of what it means to campaign is to demonize your opponent. I understand that Obama is probably not quite as wicked as he is being made out to be. Still, I would say “evil” is an appropriate adjective to describe Obama’s career. I mean, “evil” has no meaning if we cannot use it to describe his opposition to the “Infant Born Alive Act.” Any, pooh, poohing of Obama’s career as being evil requires the person pooh poohing to step back and take a deep breath in order to examine whether or not he would call anything “evil.”

    Okay, let’s do call a spade a spade – you’re calling a man being evil because his policies are different than yours. Comparing those who stand “idly by” and allow Obama to be elected to those who stood “idly by” while Hitler rose to power is a perfect example of silly verbal pyrotechnics.

    Says who? You? Who are you that I should be mindful of your analysis?

    It is not verbal pyrotechnics in the slightest to call a spade a ruddy shovel. Here is a man whose policies included creating a national police force (KGB anyone?) includes bankrupting the industry that creates 80% of our wealth (extreme green) includes marxist building blocks in its 100% proof form. Quite to the contrary I would say that the man is silly who calls warnings about such a man “silly verbal pyrotechnics.”

    I think my response stands.

    Sorry, just not seeing it.

    This is not about being nice or sweet. It’s about being Christian and honest.</blockquote?

    It’s not Christian to sound the alarm?

    Explain exactly how socialism (the economic system) is related to the text of the Bible. Where are these admonitions against state involvement in national economies?

    Anybody for “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Also there is the problem is Socialistic systems of the State seeking to seize God’s sovereignty. (Oh, I am dearly going to love this if this turns into a debate on whether or not socialism is biblical.)

    Might I suggest you give “Idols for destruction” a read. Particularly bone up on the subject of ressentiment that it covers.

    And, exactly which “other anti-Christian” positions does he hold? I have heard nothing about him prohibiting Christian services, printing of bibles, sacraments, the ordaining of ministers and missionaries, or even removing tax-exempt status for goodness sake!

    How many anti-Christian positions are enough in order for him to be evil?

    Please, do you really think that somebody campaigning for President leads with his chain? It is amazing enough that the socialistic things he believes have come out as much as they have. Still, mark my word, if Obama is elected with a majority Democrat House and Senate you can look for the kind of Hate speech laws that Canada has now. Such laws will effect speech from American pulpits.

    Since there is no doubt that we will “lose our freedoms” as you say, I have to ask – which of your freedoms did you lose under Clinton?

    Clinton never had a Democratic super-majorities in the House and Senate.

    No one is advocating “doing nothing” – but of course that begs the question – where do you get the idea that there is some special Christian duty in this election that people might be shirking?

    Oh, could it be something like opposing those who vote against Infants born alive?

    God wins – no matter whom He chooses to be elected.

    Yes and God won when Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Lenin came to power. And your point is…?

    Like Jason Stellman, I really have no horse in this race, but I am very, very alarmed at what elections do to Christians in my own tradition. So much talk about “supporting evil” and “rights” – it’s all worldly thinking folks – it just is

    Say’s you. Some of us believe that evil really can incarnate itself in the flesh and blood world we live in. Some of us know ourselves to well, and what we are capable of when give to much unbridled power and so don’t want that same power given to people who have shown themselves to be evil.

  90. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Bret

    “Some of us know ourselves to well, and what we are capable of when give to much unbridled power and so don’t want that same power given to people who have shown themselves to be evil.”

    – Deal. I will not vote for you. ;-)

  91. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 3, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Zrim (#82):

    Yes, I appreciate that we have two large grocery baskets of issues called “Obama” and “McCain” to choose from (or a third party, also spelled “not electable”). Compromise is therefore inevitable: either I accept one of the major candidates, good along with bad; or else, I go for purity and accept that I will get nothing in return.

    What I was angling at is that a vote for Obama, especially in the context of a Democratic sweep, requires acknowledgment that his abortion agenda will likely be successful. One might justify such a vote on the grounds that a greater good would be served (option 4), or some other clear-eyed reason, like a rejection of the premise that permitting something entangles one in its guilt.

    What cannot stand is a vague dismissal of “single-issue voting.” We need to recognize compromise for what it is, and then decide whether this particular compromise is morally acceptable.

    Jeff Cagle

  92. November 3, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    KBennett

    I actually think he is referring to apostate Israel there; which was about to be severely judged.

    If I am reading you correctly, your interpretation would mean that one could not be a civil magistrate today at all.

  93. November 3, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Lesser of Two Evils?

    If the only two candidates were Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin what would you do? Vote or abstain?

  94. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Reed is reading me correctly here. I find it somewhat amusing that the people who are objecting to my position are advancing the very position I wanted to uphold in the first place! At an ultimate level, I don’t care who wins the election, because I know that God will use it for good. At the level of my responsibility, there are a number of issues on the table that a responsible Christian should weigh in making his choice for voting. I am not against third party candidates. To be quite frank, I seriously considered Chuck Baldwin. The reason I didn’t vote for him (I voted by absentee ballot, so I’ve already voted) was two-fold: the Supreme Court, the level of experience (this is something not often talked about with relation to Chuck Baldwin, but it is worth pointing out). This does not mean I didn’t consider other factors, such as the war in Iraq (which I am against), and our own borders, and the economy (here I agree with Ron Paul). But in choosing a candidate, one has to weigh the several factors together. And while the war and the economy are important, they are not as important to me as life itself, which is why I voted for the candidate I felt best able to get conservative judges on the Supreme Court. I am not so naive as to think that McCain will certainly put conservative judges on the SC. However, Reagan put O’Connor and Kennedy on the bench (and also put Scalia and Rehnquist on). So, even Reagan was a mixed bag in this regard. I don’t put my trust in any prince. That was clear in the initial post with anyone who has eyes to see. Anyone who reads it differently is looking into a well seeing their own reflection looking back at them.

  95. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Daniel Ritchie,

    No. You are not reading me correctly.

    Your preterism is beside the point. You said that Revelation spoke much on the evils of Rome. I’ve asked you to explain what duties (in light of said evil state) John gave the christian. That is all. I have heard nothing from you in this regard.

  96. November 3, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    “while the war and the economy are important, they are not as important to me as life itself”

    Forgetting the economy for a minute, surely an unjust war (and you and I agree the Iraq war is wrong) involves the unlawful taking of life as well?

  97. November 3, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    KBennett

    He told them not to worship the Beast by giving Rome supreme allegiance; I really don’t see what relevance that has to this discussion.

  98. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Lane,

    I am not sure if you were referring to me (because others have accused me of not understanding you), but I am not objecting to your position. I am objecting to the way it was written, in which several of the phrases I deemed needlessly uncharitable.

  99. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Uncharitable to whom?

  100. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Daniel Ritchie,

    #74 – you tell me.

  101. November 3, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    ‘ But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’ (Daniel 7:26-27)

    That’s what happened to Rome.

  102. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Lane,

    Really, was I that unclear?

    Asking about how God could use/curb Obama’s career of evil? Asking that if he is elected, the church might be blessed with persecution? Directly saying that we will likely lose our freedoms?

    The insinuations are hard to miss.

    Were you simply attempting to diffuse those who automatically assume Obama’s evilness and resulting persecution?

  103. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Ah, now I see where you’re coming from. Forgive my denseness. I get dense sometimes.

    No, I do think that someone who is so militantly pro-death as he is can be described as evil. He is not only in favor of abortion at any time in pregnancy, but he is also in favor of killing infants who survive the abortion process, which is infanticide. That is no different from what Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung were doing.

  104. KBennett said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Lane,

    At least we now have an understanding. BTW – Hitler also enjoyed fine wine occasionally, and I hear Obama does that, too.

    Glad to know you’ve done our research on his arguments for why he made the votes he did – since he’s clearly an anti-baby murderous thug. Christian charity in action. Whew.

  105. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Abortion and killing infants who survive the abortion process is not anti-baby? I would love to hear you explain this one. It doesn’t matter what arguments anyone uses in favor of on-demand for-convenience abortion, it’s wrong. The issue is not what happens in the case of the raped woman, or in case of incest, etc. We are talking about people killing an unborn child because they don’t want it. That is anti-baby, and people who are in favor of that are murderous thugs. I don’t shy away from that one iota. It may sound harsh. But then, ask an aborted baby what he thinks of the abortion process and whether that was harsh.

  106. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    By the way, I’ll have to catch up with this thread tomorrow. Going home for the night.

  107. November 3, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    If you ever see a video of what takes place during an abortion it is harsh to say the least.

  108. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    KBennett:

    I find it fascinating that you now resort to a biting sarcasm when responded too with a gracious explanation. Would it not be better to respond with actual arguments, rather than empty rhetoric? Sounds a tad bit like a politician trying to “demonize” his opponent, don’t ya think? :-)

    Have you investigated the assertion made here by both Lane and myself concerning Obama’s abortion position? If not, assuming we are correct about Obama’s vigorous support (my characterization) for abortion rights, why do you not think it appropriate to label this evil?

    I’m not trying to extend things more generally, just trying to get back to the specific issue at hand. If you do not find such a use of this label that offensive, then maybe you can see why I think your over-reading, and now maybe over-reaching.

    For the record, I too am not a single issue voter. I do recognize and agree that there needs be some relative weighting. I personally would love for Ron Paul to have a real shot (I find my own convictions lining up most closely with his).

    Be that as it may.

  109. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Call me crazy but I think KBennett is trying to justify his vote for Obama…

    (as well as I think a lot of “Reformed” people are doing)…

  110. ReformedSinner said,

    November 3, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    #109,

    Why would you think a “justification” is necessary for Reformed people to vote for Obama?

  111. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    #110,

    Because a vote for Obama is a vote promoting and condoning the murder of the unborn. It assures that a man will be elected who is in favor of infanticide.

    To be frank voting for Obama in my honest opinion is sinful because it is promoting the obliteration of the 6th commandment (as well as I believe encouraging a fiscal policy that violates the 8th commandment in many ways as well)…

  112. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    If I might change the focus slightly; with all this intensity I expect we will all be doing our duty tomorrow and voting. My wife and I will need to get in line at 6:15 AM, almost as bad as waiting in line for tickets to a YES concert.

    Oh yes, Daniel, you’re excused from this obligation tomorrow ;-)

  113. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I’ll be there at 8:15am. Also be the lone white guy (and otherwise) not voting for Obama in my polling station.

  114. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Ha! LOL. Smile and rejoice brother.

  115. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    KBennett:

    Might you give us your name? One of Lane’s requests here is no annonymous posting. If you’ve identified yourself in the past, please forgive my weak memory and do so again.

    Thanks,

    reed depace
    moderator (small “m”)

  116. November 3, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Most estimates say that somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 innocent civilian men, women, and children have been killed as a result of the War on Terror. Here’s my question: Would a vote for either major candidate be a vote for murder since they both support, in one way or another, the war?

    It seems like the most genius propaganda move the GOP has made is convincing the Christian population that as long as they’re “pro-life” (on abortion only) they have carte blanche to support any other policy they want, regardless of the suffering or death that results from it.

    Yes, I realize that a few have mentioned their opposition to the war in passing throughout this thread. But any honest observer must admit that the message evangelicals give is that McCain = life and Obama = death.

    Which just seems incredibly myopic and naive to me.

  117. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Jason:

    As one who is opposed to the war in Iraq (and now recognizes we’re stuck to some degree), do you believe that a candidate’s stance on abortion should play any role in a voter’s decision? (I actually assume so. Lest some others misread you though …)

    What other issues do you believe rise to the level of importance as abortion?

    Given what we know of McCain’s and Obama’s positions, do you believe Obama’s support for abortion is: a) significant enough that it trumps all other factors, b) significant but only one significant issue among a number of equally signifigant issues, or c) insignificant in comparison to other more significant issues?

    I suspect you are actually chastizing more of the Evangelical culture, which tends to blur church-culture distinctions, then you are the reformed sub-culture. (No, not ignoring our theonomic brethren), E.g., I am able to take strong opinions on the issues in a given political campaign without falling into the trap that Lane is warning against. I wonder whether or not some intensity of political opinion is being mis-identified as doctrinal conviction/

  118. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Rev. Stellman,

    #1 – Is War (even unjust war) on equal footing to infanticide? Is/Can one be worse than the other?

    #2 – Do you believe that for one to be “Pro-Life” that they must also be against war in general and the death penalty?

    #3 – How many of the 500,000 – 1,000,000 were killed by Islamic bombers and how many by U.S. Soldiers/Marines? Does this make a difference?

    #4 – Does either part’s candidate actually plan on “exiting” from Iraq or Afghanistan?

    #5 – Does one have to vote for one of the two major party candidates?

  119. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 3, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Rev. Reed,

    Do you see a difference between the wider Evangelical culture’s “blur[ring] of the church-culture distinctions” and the Theonomic worldview?

  120. its.reed said,

    November 3, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Benjamin:

    Yes I do. I would probably not use the label “blurring” for what I believe are Theonomy’s errors here. I think it fair to say that Theonomy tends to be more self-consciously consistent, whereas I cannot say the same for the wider Evangelical culture.

  121. bret said,

    November 3, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    You know, increasingly I am beginning to wonder if some theology is just a convenient cover for harboring liberal convictions. Bennet is all upset because Obama has been called ‘evil,’ and seems to think voting for Obama is legitmate. Stallman in blurring the lines between Republican and Democrats on life because of the war but he fails to mention that Democrats are every bit as much of warmongers as Republicans (remember Kosovo?). Now, I agree with Stallman that Republican aren’t pro-life but his comments seem to suggest that voting Democrat is perfectly acceptable. Steve Zrimec (Zrim) seems to be standing on principle that voting Democrat is neither right nor wrong but just a way to keep liberal democracy going.

    More of you people need to take the red pill next time its offered.

  122. Kyle said,

    November 3, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Rev. Stellman, re: 116,

    Somewhere around 50,000,000 innocent children have been put to death in the U.S. since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That’s an average of 1.4 million per year (source).

    As bad as Iraq is (and it is bad), and even assuming the U.S. could be held responsible for 1,000,000 innocent deaths there (never mind addressing whether those would actually qualify as murders), it pales in comparison. Still further, the Iraq war is, quite frankly, a much more complex moral issue than abortion.

    Now, does “McCain = life”? I don’t think so, but I do agree with you that this is the way the evangelical bloc has painted this issue. That’s because, since we’re so desirous of maintaining any political power we might have, we continue to give everything to the Republican party – a strictly pragmatic decision, but the need to convince ourselves of our integrity leads to the stark good vs. evil contrasts.

    Speaking for myself, I think Sen. McCain is a bit less worse than Sen. Obama. And while I don’t like the idea of either of them in the White House, I doubt either one would turn out to be quite on par with Stalin or Hitler. Still, what is legitimately worrisome is that these are the two primary candidates for the office – it hardly appears that we will have better choices in the future, regardless of who wins this round.

    In the end, I’m with Rev. Keister:

    But, whichever outcome arises from this election, there is no need to cry about the sky falling, nor can we rejoice as if “God won” if McCain won. I will still watch with interest the election returns. But one can sit in the midst of great carnage and be placid and calm, if one believes that His Sovereign Father God has all things under His control.

  123. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 3, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I should say that if I were to choose option (4) — that a vote for a pro-choice candidate such as Obama is justified because of a greater good — then ending the Iraq war might be the one issue that could possibly qualify.

    Unfortunately, I don’t really believe that Obama will actually take us out of the Middle East. He’s telegraphed his intention of shifting our military resources out of Iraq and into Afghanistan. So … that issue’s a wash for me.

    Jeff Cagle

  124. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 3, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Jason,

    Please document “Most estimates say that somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 innocent civilian men, women, and children have been killed as a result of the War on Terror,” or else it gets deleted. My brief foray around the web (visiting iraqbodycount.org, among other sites) leads me to think your comment is in the category of wild partisan accusation rather than established fact.

  125. David Gilleran said,

    November 3, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    In reading this thread I am somewhat taken aback that so many do not see the political implications of the Westminster Larger Catechism’s exposition of the 10 Commandments.

  126. Joshua French said,

    November 3, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Bret,

    I’m not sure if I completely agree with your “hobbit” metaphor, but that was one of the most creative comments I’ve read in a long time. It made me laugh and also seriously think about what you said. Thanks for the comment.

  127. David Gadbois said,

    November 3, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Here are my thoughts about the election tomorrow, in no particular logical order:

    1. First, I’d say that if I were in a state that had a chance of giving its electoral votes to McCain, I would vote for McCain. But since California is most definitively not in play, I’ll use the opportunity to lodge a protest vote.

    2. I’m still debating who to pick for the protest vote. It isn’t terribly important since it is only symbolic. Just a way of saying “how can the Republican party have nominated this guy?!” and to send a message that the party can’t keep running RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and expect the conservative vote.

    3. The most obvious protest candidates for me would be Bob Barr (Libertarian), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party), or a write-in (?). I have problems with both of those guys (3rd party candidates are notoriously loopy). At one time I would have voted for Alan Keyes, but he has gotten weirder as time has worn on. I’m open to suggestions on this one if anyone wants to offer some.

    4. There is wisdom in voting for McCain, not as an approval of McCain, but as a vote *against* Obama. I do not believe it is unprincipled to vote for the guy who you think is lousy, but far less evil than the alternative.

    5. McCain seems like a genuine and honest guy to me, with a respectable record of political experience (although Senators and legislators aren’t as good as governors who have administrative experience) and has rendered just about as praiseworthy a service to this country for his years in uniform as any presidential candidate ever. He is a decent guy, but he is terribly wrongheaded in his policies, inconsistent and incoherent in his ideology, and should never have been nominated. He made a political career out of being the quintessential RINO.

    6. Although I lean heavily libertarian in my economic ideology, as I am sure many of my brethren on this blog do, I am somewhere between ambivalent to mildly supportive of the Iraq War, and fully supportive of the Afghanistan War. On Iraq – sorry, I just can’t see the case for it being an unjust war. Unwise? Maybe. None of our business? Maybe. But that is about the strongest negatives I can conjur up for it. I still can’t be convinced that it is unjust to depose *any* tyrannical regime like Saddam Hussein’s.

    7. While I obviously don’t blame anyone for not voting for McCain, I do not consider it ethical for any Christian to give Obama their vote because of his most active support of both abortion and sodomite marriage. Even given 2 Kingdom and natural law premises, we do not leave the realm of ethics when we act in the secular kingdom, as when we step into the voting booth. We should not lend our support to a candidate whose policies and ideology violate (in commission as well as omission) natural law as summarized in the Second Table of the Decalogue so fragrantly lest we share in their culpability in the face of alternatives (yes, even lousy alternatives – like lousy candidates or at the very least casting no vote).

    8. My protest vote aside, there are plenty of reasons for Californians to vote tomorrow. We have lots of idiotic propositions that will sink the state into even further debt and fiscal crisis. And there are important ones, as well, such as Prop 8, the constitutional ban on gay marriage. This sums it up:

    http://confessionalouthouse.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/wcf-says-yes-on-prop-8/#comment-3802

  128. David Gadbois said,

    November 3, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Jason said

    Most estimates say that somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 innocent civilian men, women, and children have been killed as a result of the War on Terror

    There would be more force to this observation (I’ll even grant that it is accurate) if we all already agreed that the war was unjust. Or if we all thought that the war was malicious and vindictive, as opposed to simply wrongheaded, foolish, or misguided. In other words, it is hard to get all of us worked up about collateral damage that is a normal artifact of war when considered by itself (no matter the numbers involved).

    Oh, and just a side note – the United States is the best in the business at minimizing collateral damage with our technology and rules of engagement. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of how we could greatly improve on this, short of going back to swords and spears.

    BTW – I do wonder about the numbers. Do they include only deaths from American bombs and bullets, or do they include all of the sectarian violence and terrorist violence since the start of the war?

    Anyway, I do consider it within the realm of reasonable Christian discourse to argue for or against the Iraq war and to hold varying opinions on it. If you are against it, I understand if you withold your vote from McCain. I have absolutely no problem with that. But surely things like abortion and sodomite marriage should not be a live option for Christians to support. That is not a debatable matter. So I find it quite impossible to see the symmetry and moral equivalence that some folks here are trying to draw between a vote for a war hawk and a vote for a pro-abortion and pro-sodomy candidate.

  129. Darryl Hart said,

    November 3, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Daniel Ritchie: it’s been almost 16 hours and I’m still waiting for the exegetical case from the NT for no political compromise.

  130. KBennett said,

    November 4, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Reed,

    Sorry, I’ve been a busy boy today – no more time to respond on this thread. My name is Kyle Bennett, I’m a parishoner/teacher under Gary L. W. Johnson (though my views may in no way reflect his) at Church of the Redeemer in Mesa, AZ.

    Wasn’t trying to be “anonymous.” One of these days I may feel the need to have my own blog, but not right now.

  131. November 4, 2008 at 3:06 am

    Jeff,

    Please document “Most estimates say that somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 innocent civilian men, women, and children have been killed as a result of the War on Terror,” or else it gets deleted. My brief foray around the web (visiting iraqbodycount.org, among other sites) leads me to think your comment is in the category of wild partisan accusation rather than established fact.

    A couple thoughts:

    1. Why do you threaten to delete my comment unless I can document my claim to your satisfaction? It seems to me that plenty of people cite this or that stat with impunity here. Why single me out as needing to demonstrate that what I say is “established fact”?

    2. If you took the time to actually read my comment then you wouldn’t have accused me of “wild partisan speculation” (the same goes for Bret, you doesn’t seem to read thoroughly comments before ranting against them). What I said, quite plainly, is that both parties’ candidates support the war in some way or another, and I therefore asked rhetorically whether a vote for either Obama or McCain should be considered an vote for murder. How is questioning both parties’ candidates somehow partisan?

    3. http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=18&region_id=28

  132. November 4, 2008 at 3:15 am

    Benjamin,

    #1 – Is War (even unjust war) on equal footing to infanticide? Is/Can one be worse than the other?

    I don’t know. I think both are horrible. A possible question to consider is, “Which is more likely to be stopped by a single administration?”

    #2 – Do you believe that for one to be “Pro-Life” that they must also be against war in general and the death penalty?

    Not necessarily. But I do think it is odd that (Protestant) Christians can talk for hours about the merits of the pro-life position without it ever occuring to them that lots of people die as the direct result of a president’s decisions who happen to live outside the womb.

    #3 – How many of the 500,000 – 1,000,000 were killed by Islamic bombers and how many by U.S. Soldiers/Marines? Does this make a difference?

    I’m sure there are plenty of “Islamic bombers” in the US armed forces. Or by “Islamic” did you mean “terrorist”? Either way, the stat I quoted was talking about deaths as the result of the US-led war, not casualties of suicide bombers.

    #4 – Does either part’s candidate actually plan on “exiting” from Iraq or Afghanistan?

    Eventually, in Obama’s case I suppose. But my criticism is non-partisan and is directed at both parties.

    #5 – Does one have to vote for one of the two major party candidates?

    Of course not.

  133. November 4, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Bret,

    Stallman in blurring the lines between Republican and Democrats on life because of the war but he fails to mention that Democrats are every bit as much of warmongers as Republicans (remember Kosovo?). Now, I agree with Stallman that Republican aren’t pro-life but his comments seem to suggest that voting Democrat is perfectly acceptable.

    It’s “Stellman.”

    Read my comments more carefully if you don’t mind. I made it perfectly clear that both parties are pro-war in one way or another.

    And though I do not vote Democrat, I do think it is every bit as acceptable (or unacceptable as the case may be) as voting for a Republican.

  134. November 4, 2008 at 6:24 am

    “Daniel Ritchie: it’s been almost 16 hours and I’m still waiting for the exegetical case from the NT for no political compromise”

    Since I am not a Dispensationalist, I do not need to make a NT case for what I have said.

    Perhaps it would serve your time better if you spent some time reading primary sources from our Reformed forebears on this issue, rather than asking silly questions on weblogs. As if I would have the time to go into in-depth exegesis here.

  135. November 4, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Moreover, find me New Testament warrant for forbidding bestiality? No point appealing to the OT, because (apparently) that was only for Israel as a theocracy.

  136. Darryl Hart said,

    November 4, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Mr. Ritchie: thank you for your gracious response. I think I understand you are not a dispensationalist even if it is in the water in Ireland. The reason why I’d like some NT support for your view is that it sure does look like things changed in Israel after the coming of Christ. And it sure looks like those who expected Christ to resurrect the Davidic kingdom were seriously disappointed (not to mention seriously rebuked by their Lord).

    And as for primary sources, I’ve read enough not to be intimidated by your bravado. So I’d still like an answer if you are going to insinuate there is no exegetical case for the American revisions to the WCF.

    And while we’re at it, you may want to consider that the Huguenots, for instance, would likely have never signed either the National Covenant or the Solemn League. Those were peculiarly British expressions. And because they were made with a monarchy, what ever are republicans in the States or commonwealth men in England to do with that venerable Covenant? I seem to recall that Cromwell, the magistrate supported by none other than John Owen, was no fan of your Covenant of Blue Banner. Silly? Not sure, but you may have some ‘splaining to do.

  137. November 4, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Sorry, but I am not conceeding to the neo-Dispensationalist line. You obviously do not understand Theonomy or Covenanting principles, if you did, you would know that neither expects a Davidic kingdom with Christ physically reigning on earth.

    I am not asking the USA to sign the SLC, but make their own covenant with God.

    Oh yes, there was one instance of a king being guilty of political polytheism in the NT – he was called Herod – I seem to recall him being swiftly judged by Christ.

  138. November 4, 2008 at 6:51 am

    For those who would equate being a Republican with being a Christian, Gilbert McMaster – and Irish-American Covenanter minister has these words:

    “Party politics, which contemplate, chiefly the advancement of office-hunters, merit not the slightest notice, from the patriot and advocate of truth, unless it be suitably to reprove them as deeds of iniquity. On ground, higher than this should the ministers of Messiah stand. Their official concern with national affairs, is only as these are connected with right or wrong. A prostitution of Ecclesiastical influence, in behalf of party feuds, and political intrigue, has contributed much to prejudice the minds of, perhaps good men, against an exhibition of the instructions of revelation, to the civil powers. Of this infidels have taken advantage, and under its covert, have, doubtless too often, mingled their principles with national institutions. The prejudice is favorable to that indolence, so characteristic of the human mind. Hence we find iniquity established by laws, while silence seals the lips of those, who should reprove in the gate. With the indifference of Gallio, too many are found, who care for none of these things. The public sentiment too deeply leavened with skeptical opinions, finds a protection in the negligence of public characters, and for them will be disposed to apologize. Thus, to be faithful is become unpopular. Modern evangelizers, without a blush, will boast of their indifference. “

  139. John Bugay said,

    November 4, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Speaking as a bit of an outsider, and as one who sees ultimat truth in Reformed theology, I can’t say that the rancor of this thread is unwelcomed. My hope would be that, with the urgency of an election behind us, you all will continue this discussion, perhaps put it somewhere where charts and graphs can be used, and ample citations of OT, NT, early church fathers, and Reformed Orthodox can all be cited. Especially in the context of historical developments.

    Because I am convinced that both sides in this debate want nothing other than that God would be glorified in this world, not only in the churches, but in front of the world at large.

    Blessings to you all.

  140. Darryl Hart said,

    November 4, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Daniel: if you detect dispensationalism in my views (thanks for desisting with charges of silliness) I detect popery in yours. I mean, you seem to be saying that, as the RPCI declared in 1990, that nations are “to acknowledge and serve [Christ] in all their ways, and to submit to His mediatorial authority insofar as it has been revealed to them.” But Rutherford asserted that to claime that the Magistrate is a deputy of Jesus Christ as mediator is “the heart and soul of popery.” (I rely here on an essay by David McKay, an Irish Covenater.)

    Regarding the USA making a covenant with God, no other Reformed church outside the British isles insisted on making the God-ordained role of the magistrate covenantal. I’m still waiting not for the bluster but the exegesis.

  141. Stephen Welch said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:04 am

    K. Bennett, in response to # 78 I understand perfectly what Lane was saying and completely agree with you that the LORD is sovereign and we are not to put our trust in men. That was Lane’s original point. I do not believe that a vote for McCain is a vote for God and noone else, including Daniel, stated that either. McCain has not gone on record as supporting the murder of the unborn and infanticide as Obama has. Abortion and infanticide is equivelent to the German holocost and others have stated that for years. Both Coral Ridge Ministries and Gary DeMar just this week affirmed McCain’s pro-life stand. No, as far as I know McCain is not a Christian and to vote for him is not a vote for God, but I do not understand how any Christian in good conscience can vote for a man who calls himself a “Christian” and then supports the murder of the unborn and sodomy. As far as I am concerned anyone who promotes this is evil and ungodly, whether he is a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Mickey Mouse.

  142. Stephen Welch said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Kyle, in respone to # 122, perhaps you should contact Coral Ridge Ministries, Gary DeMar, The National Right to Life Organization, and Janet Porter with Faith to Action Ministries about McCain’s stand on abortion. They all affirm that he is pro-life.

  143. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:12 am

    See how I voted here:

    http://backwoodspresbyterian.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/i-have-voted/

  144. November 4, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Dr. Hart

    I have yet to see exegesis for your political polytheism, if your logic is correct then Herod should not have been judged for self-idolatry; I can’t give you any because you will automatically say “that was the Old Testament”. There is no point banging your head off a brick wall. The bottom line is this: your view makes it a sin to obey the first commandment in politics.

    When later Covenanters referred to Christ’s mediatorial kingship, they meant that Christ governs all things – as the exalted God-man – in the interests of his church, as the Great Commission clearly declares.

    Moreover, I would be carefully citing Rutherford; I doubt he would have had much time for the Reformed establishment today. The fact that he would not get a job at any Reformed Seminary is enough to confirm this.

  145. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Jason,

    Sorry, but all your weblink provided was documentation of some estimates not “most estimates,” so I’m following through.

    You are right, “partisan” wasn’t a particularly accurate adjective to use with respect to your irresponsible comment. “Irresponsible” would have been a better adjective to use, and so I use it now.

    In light of the subsequent interaction with your wild and irresponsible comment on this thread, it wouldn’t make much sense to delete it now. The more you write, the better we understand you.

  146. November 4, 2008 at 9:43 am

    “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest Hebe angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” (Ps. 2:10-12)

    Not much room for political polytheism here is there? The kings of the earth are not kissing the Son if they are worshiping and tolerating other gods, are they?

    The Cloister Calvinists who refuse to tell the nation and its rulers to submit to the crown rights of Jesus Christ may think that they are doing God service, but they are provoking the wrath of God against their nations. How many 9/11’s will it take for the American Reformed establishment to wake up? How many years of having terrorist murderers in power will it take for Northern Ireland evangelicals to wake up?

  147. Darryl Hart said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Daniel: I should be judged for self-idolatry; you should be judged for self-idolatry; we all should be judged for self-idolatry. The fact that Nero’s regime came to a negative end does not mean that we can read that end as Christ’s verdict. I’m pretty sure how that judgment will go on the last day. But by your logic, Christ approved the presidency of Bill Clinton because he never receive condemnation.

    Seriously, Daniel, can you please give me an example of any politician living today after 1689, 1776, and 1789 who would make it his platform to enforce politically the first commandment? I doubt you can because such a politician will not be elected, democracy being what it is with all those idolaters and unbelievers running around with suffrage. So what is your point of insisting on the Covenant? If it’s a call to faithfulness, then what are you doing other than blogging to overturn a government that violates the first commandment? I suspect it is a way to bang our heads against the wall and make us feel guilty. But I see nothing coming of your project, short of a revolution.

  148. Bret McAtee said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:47 am

    You mean kind of like the 1st War for American Independence Darryl?

  149. Zrim said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Lane, by the charges of “anti-baby” do you mean to imply that a believer has some duty to be “pro-baby”?

    What follows has very little to do with helping to settle any immediate political or legislative concerns and more to do with wondering why more Calvinists don’t employ more caution against the pro-life movement (regardless of voting issues).

    But this is part of what gives me pause when I listen to the rhetoric. Beyond other problems with moralistic movement-ism over against a churchly piety, insofar as I never hear any caution on the part of Augustinian-Calvinists when it comes to the “deserves” or “innocent” language of the pro-life movement, it seems to me that what abides is an odd notion that one class of sinners “deserves” some kind of heroic effort to keep them from the injuries to life and limb that the rest of us aren’t. And the ground seems to have something to do with the supposed “innocence” of those who are in vitro. Better Calvinists will employ the “weak and defenseless” arguments instead of the “innocence” ones, but even then, it hard to reconcile the intensity for the weak and defenseless in vitro and the relative silence for the weak and defenseless ex vitro. After all, if the Bible is the reference there is actually more in holy writ about the poor and alien (both ex vitro). But either way, I am not convinced the Bible is to be employed for any social policies about either poor people or babies; either, like Jesus said, the Bible is about him or it isn’t.

    My sense has always been that the conventional pro-life stance owes more to modernity’s particular valuating of whatever is young, new, etc. than to the more Augustinian-Calvinist understanding that we are all sinners no matter what age, size, color, etc. Once anyone joins the human race he is now subject to the same ills. The pro-life movement will have none of that. It seems to have more in common with a “precious moments” theology that angelizes children. It simply counters a feministic notion that certain human beings are entitled, at whim, to hold sway over the life and death of another by invoking a kind of natalism that entitles the latter class of human beings to escape the misguided logic of feminism. I am not sure that trumping the individual rights of one class of sinners over another in response takes into account what it really means to be human.

    I can hear the howls now, but my own hesitations at embracing the pro-life movement are based upon what I would consider a principled Calvinism that emphasizes the realties of human sin over against a philosophy that wants some of us to be able to escape the pains of life. Again, this has little to nothing to do with particular political or legislative concerns. It is simply to suggest that there are a few more angles to think through before those who would call themselves Calvinists cast their lot and get in lock-step with something like the pro-life movement, to the point that it drives in greater or lesser degress the simple and less freighted act of voting.

  150. November 4, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Dr. Hart

    Neither you or I have publicly accepted worship as a god; so I doubt we are in the same class as Herod.

    I don’t much care for voting in the present climate; voting is not a sacrament: if God had meant us to vote He would have given us candidates. Better to preach the gospel until there are actually men we can vote for.

  151. Bret McAtee said,

    November 4, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Herr Lane Niemoller,

    Lane, by the charges of “anti-semite” in terms of killing them do you mean to imply that a believer has some duty to be “pro-semite” in terms of being against killing them?

    What follows has very little to do with helping to settle any immediate political or legislative concerns and more to do with wondering why more Calvinists don’t employ more caution against the pro-“we shouldn’t kill semites” movement (regardless of voting issues).

    But this is part of what gives me pause when I listen to the rhetoric. Beyond other problems with moralistic movement-ism over against a churchly piety, insofar as I never hear any caution on the part of Augustinian-Calvinists when it comes to the “deserves” or “innocent” language of the pro-life movement, it seems to me that what abides is an odd notion that one class of sinners “deserves” some kind of heroic effort to keep them from the injuries to life and limb that the rest of us aren’t. And the ground seems to have something to do with the supposed “persecution” of those who are Jews. Better Calvinists will employ the “weak and defenseless” arguments instead of the “persecution” ones, but even then, it hard to reconcile the intensity for the weak and defenseless Jews and the relative silence for the weak and defenseless Aryans. After all, if the Bible is the reference there is actually more in holy writ about the poor and alien Aryan (both ex vitro), then there is about the weak and defenseless Jew. But either way, I am not convinced the Bible is to be employed for any social policies about either poor Aryan people or Jews; either, like Jesus said, the Bible is about him or it isn’t.

    My sense has always been that the conventional pro-“not killing Jews” stance owes more to modernity’s particular valuating of zionist arguments etc. than to the more Augustinian-Calvinist understanding that we are all sinners no matter what age, size, color, etc. A good Augustinian-Calvinist would realize that killing Jews is only one sin among a host of many that we should warn against, and not necessarily the prime one at that. Once anyone joins the human race he is now subject to the same ills, and so oven baked Jews shouldn’t bother anyone overly much. The pro-“not Killing Jews” movement will have none of that. It seems to have more in common with a “precious moments” theology that angelizes Jews. It simply counters a feministic notion that certain human beings are entitled, at whim, to hold sway over the life and death of another by invoking a kind of zionism that entitles the latter class of human beings to escape the misguided logic of feminism. I am not sure that trumping the individual rights of one class of sinners over another in response takes into account what it really means to be human.

    I can hear the howls now, but my own hesitations at embracing the pro-“not oven baking Jews movement are based upon what I would consider a principled Calvinism that emphasizes the realties of human sin over against a philosophy that wants some of us to be able to escape the pains of life. Again, this has little to nothing to do with particular political or legislative concerns. It is simply to suggest that there are a few more angles to think through before those who would call themselves Calvinists cast their lot and get in lock-step with something like the “not killing Jews”- movement, to the point that it drives in greater or lesser degrees the simple and less freighted act of voting.

    Herr Steve Zrimec

  152. Todd said,

    November 4, 2008 at 10:14 am

    # 151

    Bret, you are on the wrong side of just about everything, but I do like your style in making a point; that was pretty clever.

  153. Zrim said,

    November 4, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Todd,

    Me too. Being clever is better than anything in the whole wide world, even alliteration.

  154. Todd said,

    November 4, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Zrim,

    Well, at least with guys like Bret and Daniel, they are honest about what they believe. For example, if they think Christians are covenant breakers for sending their kids to public school, they come out and say it. I’d rather have debates with people willing to say what they really think than someone always trying to take the path of least resistance. Like you I’m pretty amazed and horrified at everything Daniel and Bret write, but at least I know exactly what they believe.

    Todd

  155. Zrim said,

    November 4, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Todd,

    Quite true. There are certain advantages to dealing with hard legalism over softer versions. But dial down the decibels on the former and I think you have the long and short of our wider circles, such as when Piper makes connections between certain reproductive policy and slavery/Third Reich. I guess when you’re popular the rules are different against legalism.

  156. bret said,

    November 4, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Todd & Steve Zrimec,

    On the island of the insane only the sane are considered insane.

    Was that alliterative enough for you Herr Zrim?

  157. bret said,

    November 4, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Zrim,

    Only a antinomian of the most pernicious kind would ever accuse me of hard legalism.

  158. Zrim said,

    November 4, 2008 at 11:03 am

    “Todd & Steve Zrimec”

    Now, Bret, my actual younger brother’s name is Todd, so being a first born I must insist you reverse the order. That’s the rule, you know, it’s in the Bible.

  159. its.reed said,

    November 4, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Someone above mentioned concern over growing attacks in this campaign season on the 8th commandment, “you shall not steal.”

    Having just heard yet another national politician affirm that the “simplistic notion that those who have should be allowed to keep it” will be swept away in the near future in our country, and

    Remembering the recently affirmed, re-affirmed, and never backed down from, “spread the wealth around,” comment from a leading nationwide politician,

    I thought I might suggest to you that you pick up a copy of Frederic Bastiat’s The Law (or read it here online: http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html).

    I think you will find it informative.

  160. Jeff Waddington said,

    November 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Zrim

    Re: 149

    I have no delusions about infants being innocent. But abortion is wrong. One does not have to view presidential elections from an apocalyptic standpoint to be concerned about things. I am saddened by your perspective.

  161. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 4, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Amen Jeff W.

  162. Zrim said,

    November 4, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Re #160

    Jeff,

    I’ll take “saddened” over “enraged beyond understanding so that I can’t even see straight, you antinomian Nazi!” any day.

    But if it helps you, while I’d be perfectly happy with it all ending with states’ rights on this one, when the question finally does come to “may she or mayn’t she” I say she mayn’t. But my point thus far has simply been to say that things are not that simple. And I’d be more encouraged to see the sort of concern over what pagan-Jane does with her unwanted pregnancy lent instead to the sexual ethics of Christian Jack and Jill–you know, the activity that actually leads to the situation in the first place.

  163. November 4, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Hey, I’m not enraged in the slightest. I’m laughing and smiling while I type. I think it’s called the joy of battle.

    Indeed, your exhibited angst Zrim indicates that you look to be the one becoming enraged.

    And, while we are at it, might I advise that if you pulled Christian Jack and Jill out of government school were sex sex sex is crammed down their throat from the youngest of ages that would go a long way to showing concern over their sexual ethics.

    But what do I know? I’m only a hard legalist.

  164. its.reed said,

    November 4, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Bret: add some smiley faces. Helps us know you’re enjoying yourself ;-)

  165. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 4, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    And I’d be more encouraged to see the sort of concern over what pagan-Jane does with her unwanted pregnancy lent instead to the sexual ethics of Christian Jack and Jill–you know, the activity that actually leads to the situation in the first place.

    Well, yes, I agree: let’s by all means reduce abortions by reducing out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

    Two caveats, though. At least in the OT, God does not seem to have the same level of concern over murder and pre-marital intercourse (compare the penalties for each, for example). So perhaps I’d want to qualify your “same level of concern” a bit.

    Second, as a practical matter, reducing abortions can be accomplished by restricting the actions of the practitioners — the doctors. By contrast, reducing the number of practitioners of pre-marital intercourse has been historically impossible.

    That said, I think we’ve moved into a society in which people’s freedoms are impossible to restrict by rule of law. Abortion laws could be circumvented by black-market RU-486 or other abortifacients. Laws against extra-marital sex, even in the unlikely event that such would be passed and enforced, could be circumvented by appeals to the “Search and Seizure” Amendment (#4). The combination of technological ability and societal expectations about freedom are making more and more laws impossible to enforce. Think for example about Campaign Finance Laws and how easy it was for Barack Obama to circumvent them through online donations. Or think about reporting regulations and how easy it was for Enron to skirt them. Or again about the Texas sodomy statute struck down in 2003 — because it was held that society has no compelling interest in restricting gay sex.

    In such a society, we need to re-think what we want to accomplish.

    The debate over theonomy has unfortunately focused on law. But law is for the immature. And again, law is quickly becoming ineffective at curbing evil. Instead, we ought to debate having our consciences transformed by the Scripture, and how to accomplish that in our congregations, and how to motivate that in our society (to the extent possible under common grace).

    What we need in our churches is a true Theonomy, in which the consciences of church members are responsive to the Word of God. The operative word here is not “law” but “repentance.”

    Our society has reached the point where no other approach will do.

    Jeff Cagle

  166. E.C. Hock said,

    November 4, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    As tonight is election night, and I tremble with what might occur on the earthly level. And strangely, as if the past were hounding me, what comes to mind are certain eschatological-type phrases of revival in…..Creedence Clearwater:

    I see the bad moon arising.
    I see trouble on the way.
    I see earthquakes and lightnin.
    I see bad times today.

    Dont go around tonight,
    Well, its bound to take your life,
    Theres a bad moon on the rise.

    I hear hurricanes ablowing.
    I know the end is coming soon.
    I fear rivers over flowing.
    I hear the voice of rage and ruin.

    Hope you got your [church] together.
    Hope you are quite prepared to die.
    Looks like were in for nasty weather.
    One eye is taken for an eye.

    Come Lord Jesus, Come!

  167. E.C. Hock said,

    November 4, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Tonight is election night, and I tremble with what might occur on the earthly level. And strangely, as if the past were hounding me, what comes to mind are certain eschatological-type phrases of revival in…..Creedence Clearwater:

    I see the bad moon arising.
    I see trouble on the way.
    I see earthquakes and lightnin.
    I see bad times today.

    Dont go around tonight,
    Well, its bound to take your life,
    Theres a bad moon on the rise.

    I hear hurricanes ablowing.
    I know the end is coming soon.
    I fear rivers over flowing.
    I hear the voice of rage and ruin.

    Hope you got your [church] together.
    Hope you are quite prepared to die.
    Looks like were in for nasty weather.
    One eye is taken for an eye.

    Come Lord Jesus, Come!

  168. E.C. Hock said,

    November 4, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Oops, Sorry for the repeated post…it somehow did not look like it took the first time…

    E. Hock

  169. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Obama has won…

  170. D G Hart said,

    November 4, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Todd, #154: do you really think Bret and Daniel know what they believe? They seem to style themselves as theonomists. Yet they enjoy all the benefits and hard work of liberal democracy. Their only discontent seems to come on blogs where their apparent consistency is a form of apparent superiority. They live in a 2k world, but act like it doesn’t exist. Psychologists have a name for that. Oops. I’m sure I’ll get God’s wrath for mentioning psychologists instead of biblical counselors.

  171. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 4, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Wh ydo you have to be so rude and arrogant D.G. Hart?

  172. tim prussic said,

    November 4, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Looks like a bad day for the Republic… maybe now we’ll see some more fruits of the 2K liberal world that all the anti-theonomists seem so proud of.

  173. D G Hart said,

    November 4, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Mr. Glaser, instead of issuing vituperation, perhaps you could explain Bret and Daniel’s inconsistency.

    Mr. Prussic: that’s funny. I thought theonomists and covenanters had no time for republicanism. You know, it’s all about monarchs who make covenants.

  174. ReformedSinner said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:22 am

    #172,

    Hmm… seems a bit harsh doesn’t it? Didn’t this “2k liberal world” of USA produced one of the most powerful nation in the history of mankind richly blessed by Christian values?

  175. ReformedSinner said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:24 am

    In the end it’s “still the economy stupid.”

    Had there been no world-wide market crash I think McCain can win this one. But the crash pretty much doomed McCain and given Obama a boost that he was in-dire of needing.

    President Obama it is…. the first African American President of the USA. Only time will tell if this will be a glorious chapter in American history or an era we can quickly do without.

  176. tim prussic said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:30 am

    It’s not funny – it’s sad.

    I’m not a Covenanter, not have I ever claimed such a thing. I believe God’s law has deep and abiding significance for the world – including the modern one. I love my Republic and would like to see God’s blessing upon it. And it’s all about Yahweh who makes covenants!

  177. tim prussic said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:34 am

    #174 – No, the 2k liberal world has not produced American opulence and blessing – the faith and work ethic of our Christian fathers did. Mather: Religion begat prosperity and the daughter devoured the mother. As to #175, I quite agree.

  178. Vern Crisler said,

    November 5, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Now that Obama has won, I wonder what the libertarians think. They’ve been bashing Bush and Republicans for 8 years, and now they’ve gotten what they deserve — a sevenfold child of statism than Bush ever was. Nice going libertarians.

    Vern

  179. November 5, 2008 at 3:33 am

    “Yet they enjoy all the benefits and hard work of liberal democracy. ”

    What like? Having our property stolen through oppressive taxation? Having all our liberties curtailed by a totalitarian state?

  180. ReformedSinner said,

    November 5, 2008 at 8:26 am

    #179,

    Daniel, you really need to live for a few years outside of the USA to realize how blessed you are in this country.

  181. ReformedSinner said,

    November 5, 2008 at 8:29 am

    #177,

    So if our USA Fathers are so “Christian” why did they not agree with you and make USA theonomistic and instead wrote something call the Freedom of Religions that pretty much set the tone for 2k framework?

    I’m not say our USA Fathers are not good faithful Christian ethical fathers, but somehow to say it’s only them that contributed to this nation’s rise is definitely revisionist history.

  182. Todd said,

    November 5, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Darryl,

    Right, I never said they were consistent, just that down here in Texas, people tend to exhibit that fake southern charm where they pretend to be nice but think all kinds of bad about you. I much prefer the in-your-face New York style of honesty, where they tell you what they think. If people are going to think and talk in private that we are dangerous anti-nomians, and they would like to see the State execute idolaters, I would rather they just come out and say these things. That’s what I mean by refreshing honesty.

    Todd

  183. D G Hart said,

    November 5, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Todd: got it.

    Daniel: surely you can imagine that writing a dissertation at a public university in Ireland, on theonomy no less, beats the Killing Times in 17th century Scotland. And what a wonderful device the internet is that allows you the freedom to devote space to the Blue Banner, Rushdoony, and Rutherford, while giving you the freedom to delete my comments. And then there is the liberal democratic benefit of being allowed to worship as we believe the Lord requires — no one telling us to use a prayer book or kneel, and we don’t even have to meet underground. Yes, this liberal democratic order sure is like Nero’s Rome.

    If you cannot see the benefits of modern society, from indoor plumbing to the freedom to publish works by Greg Bahnsen, then why should we think your perspective is anything more than the worst sort of negativism? Anyway, since when did the rage of the prophets become the norm for Christians whom Paul instructed to live quiet and peaceful lives? I continue to be bemused by your sour disposition and righteous discontent. You almost give me a higher estimate of Chuck Swindoll.

  184. Zrim said,

    November 5, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Todd,

    That’s because NYC has been transformed by Keller and crew. Er, wait, is the brute honesty a function of what needs to be transformed? I get so confused sometimes. I think I’ll stick with saying that I love NYC and wouldn’t change a thing.

  185. Bill Wysor said,

    November 5, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Dr. Hart,

    In light of recent diminution of our rights and of ominous portents that lie ahead in a nation where the foundations are being destroyed, this smug complacency of yours is rather disquieting. Are you quite confident that the freedoms that we enjoy are irrevocable and that a return to tyranny is beyond the realm of possibility? Should we not concern ourselves with strengthening the things that remain?

    Kind regards,
    Bill

  186. D G Hart said,

    November 5, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Mr. Wysor, as an Anti-Federalist who holds out for the Articles of Confederation, I have no illusions about what the United States has become or what our super power status has done to America’s founding political philosophy. All I’m saying is that we still have an amazing amount of liberty compared to what saints have endured in the past. Covenanters, who knew first hand about repressive regimes, should have little trouble seeing that along with its vices comes any number of benefits from liberal democracy.

  187. D G Hart said,

    November 5, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Bret, no thanks to you I will still try to show respect for the ministry of the word and those men called to that high task. But thanks for once again showing how hysterical and vicious people can be who overestimate the importance of politics. (Did you learn your internet demeanor from a how-to book, or are you naturally this way?)

  188. Bill Wysor said,

    November 5, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Dr. Hart,

    And as regards my second question…?

  189. November 5, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Dr. Hart

    I am actually doing the dissertation through a seminary in the states; besides, QUB is privately run – our uni system is different.

    Whoever said that there was NOTHING good about modern society; there are some things, however, there is also much evil.

    “I continue to be bemused by your sour disposition and righteous discontent.”

    No need to reply to that one. Thine own mouth has condemned thee. The Cloister Calvinists are leading their country to hell in a handbasket.

    Reformed Sinner

    I live in the United Kingdom, which is more Socialist than the USA.

  190. November 5, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Gents

    There is no point wasting your time debating Darly Hart and his ilk; just as there will always be incorrigible opponents of Calvinism like John Wesley and Dave Hunt, so there will always be incorrigible opponents of Theonomy (Judicial Calvinism). It goes with the territory.

    It would be best for us all, not to mention the honour of Christ, if we all came to a gentleman’s agreement to drop this argument.

    The Theonomists have their blogs to rant on. The anti-Theonomists have their blogs to rant on. None of us are likely to convince each other.

  191. D G Hart said,

    November 5, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Daniel: you mean you are actually doing a dissertation with Cloister Calvinists? The head spins at your own hypocrisy. Thanks for the clarification though about Queens and your non-status there. I just assumed that in a socialist country, private institutions did not exist (or private blogs; or maybe some people can’t tell the difference between Moscow and Belfast.)

    Mr. Wysor, I think it goes without saying that we should work to preserve the good things that remain. As the discussions here suggest, the good things are contested almost as much as the means of preservation. Do you have specifics in mind? I myself think about migrating to one of the Maritime provinces.

  192. November 5, 2008 at 11:34 am

    No, I am not doing it through an established seminary. But even if I was, I never said we should totally abandon fellowship with Cloister Calvinists.

    There is no point responding to the rest of your arrogance.

  193. tim prussic said,

    November 5, 2008 at 11:35 am

    #181 – it doesn’t sound like you’re too interested in an honest exchange of ideas, but I will answer you questions. Many Christians are not theonomists, including our American Fathers. One doesn’t need to agree with me point by point for me to recognize their Christianity. Also, I didn’t say “it’s only” our Puritan ancestors that are responsible for the amazing economic success of our country. The only revisionism is your handling of my statement. I do, however, see the Puritan drive for godliness and freedom as the root of American success, but American economic history is not my specialty.

    #186 – pretty shameful post, IMHO.

  194. Bill Wysor said,

    November 5, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Darly,

    Godspeed.

  195. Todd said,

    November 5, 2008 at 11:59 am

    “The Theonomists have their blogs to rant on. The anti-Theonomists have their blogs to rant on. None of us are likely to convince each other.”

    Daniel,

    Blog debates are not done for the purpose of changing the minds of the people you are debating. You can email privately for that. Like political debates, public blog debates are for third party readers. You represent a position, you challenge and accept challenges so third parties can see the consistency, implications and biblical veracity of each position. No one should ever assume that these types of debates are going to change the minds of the opponents he/she is debating.

    Todd

  196. November 5, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Todd, if that’s your view of it fair enough.

  197. E.C. Hock said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Let us at least be thankful for Proposition 8 in California. The gay marraige ban apparently has succeeded, 52% to 48%. Not surprisingly, international sabre rattling is already occuring from Russia, then Iran and around Israel.

  198. Kyle said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Mr. Hock, re: 197,

    According to the L.A. Times, similar measures also passed in Arizona & Florida. As a native Californian, I’m relieved with the outcome – I have to admit I expected that the vote would go the other way.

    Here’s a link to the L.A. Times article: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-gaymarriage6-2008nov06,0,2331815.story

  199. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I also seem to remember the Argentinians sunk a British ship in the Falklands War…

  200. its.reed said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Ref. 199, duh … what?

  201. November 5, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Was it not the other way round? Did not Maggie Thatcher order the British Navy to sink the Argentinian vessel? Or was there something else as well?

  202. November 5, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I just gotta ask (and forgive me if I’m the only one who’s wondering), but Daniel, is that your picture next to your name, or someone else’s? If it’s you, good on ya for pursuing a degree so late in life, but I can’t but think you must be a tad younder than you look….

  203. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Jason,

    That is G.I. Williamson…

    Reed,

    Just pointing out that, hey even the Argentinians can point to a plus in their overwhelming disastrous defeat to the Brits…

  204. November 5, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Jason

    I am not just as old as GI, but thanks for the compliment nonetheless.

  205. November 5, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Gotcha. At first I was always thinking, “This guy is quite the old codger, running around venting on the web and whatnot.” It seemed like the 21st century version of yelling at kids for walking on your lawn.

  206. E.C. Hock said,

    November 5, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Hey, since we are talking about international strife, I was in Britain (Scotland) during the whole Falkland conflict, with its headlines and Thatcher at the helm. The Brits did sink an Argintinian vessel (Cruiser), but then received a surprise visit from an Exocet missile that reciprocated the sting. The law of unintended consequences, especially in conflict (with nations or otherwise), frequently and surprisingly rears its head.

  207. Richard said,

    November 5, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Could I introduce you to a very good lady. ;-)

  208. November 5, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Jason

    LOL. That was seriously funny.

  209. Zrim said,

    November 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    So, Jason, now what are you thinking?

  210. tim prussic said,

    November 5, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Daniel, did you laugh!?!

    #197 – Hock – Amen.

  211. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 5, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Todd (#195):

    I don’t assume change, but I do hope for it. After all, it would be a bit dehumanizing if I were ostensibly writing to you, but actually writing to others using you as a foil.

  212. Todd said,

    November 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    “I don’t assume change, but I do hope for it. After all, it would be a bit dehumanizing if I were ostensibly writing to you, but actually writing to others using you as a foil.”

    Jeff,

    I don’t think anyone is using anyone else as a foil. When theologians do debates in journals, let’s say between a Presbyterian and a Baptist on baptism, they are not writing to change the other’s opinion; they are doing a service to the public by this debate. And politicians do not have public debates to change the other politician’s opinion. If you wanted to persuade an individual on an issue, why not just write to him privately; why air it publicly?
    Yes, it would be great if change would happen in these debates, but it rarely ever does, but that doesn’t minimize the help others receive by seeing ideas challenged publicly.

    Todd

  213. tim prussic said,

    November 5, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Todd, I don’t agree with your notion that blogs are not a place for writing bloggers to learn and change. I do agree with that in a public debate, but blogs are quite different. There is certainly an element of presenting cases that the readers will take in and evaluate. I, for one, have learned a good deal on this blog. Hard-headed folks that won’t engage and only want to rant are not too helpful. Intelligent discussion, however, is very educational for me and I trust for others, too.

  214. its.reed said,

    November 5, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Tim:

    From the other side of the aisle (at times :-) ):

    AMEN!

  215. tim prussic said,

    November 5, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Reed – yer not gettin’ anymore hugs, so quit beggin’!

  216. Todd said,

    November 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Hey Reed,

    No crossing aisles! You saw what that did to McCain!

    Tim,

    I don’t disagree, but there is a difference between debating privately and publicly. And I don’t equate being firm in conviction as hard-headed and ranting. My point is that we don’t usually engage a person publicly with the sole desire of changing that person’s mind. And there is a difference between learning something, which I hope we all do, and debating a position strongly without wavering. As Daniel said, how many theonomists have given up their theonomy because of a blog debate, or vice versa? None probably, or maybe a slight few. My only point is that the reality of this doesn’t minimize the value of these debates for others. Does that make sense?

    Todd

  217. its.reed said,

    November 5, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Todd: touche’ ;-)

  218. tim prussic said,

    November 5, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Todd, sure. I guess I think of blogs as semi-public. Folks certainly can take strong and immovable stances on blogs and merely state their case and defend it. It which case, the blog would function more like a public debate. This is close to how Daniel presents himself. I find that style to be less helpful than thoughtful interchange, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, what were we arguing about, again? This is way too friendly; it’s weirdin’ me out.

  219. Vern Crisler said,

    November 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    #207
    Richard, can I introduce you to John Locke? :-)

    Vern

  220. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 5, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    My point is that we don’t usually engage a person publicly with the sole desire of changing that person’s mind.

    I could agree with that.

    Jeff

  221. D G Hart said,

    November 5, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Mr. Ritchie: why is it that whenever the anti-two k people run up against difficult questions they get impatient and say they have no time for such arguments, or they resort to name-calling and association-making? If you care about erring brothers with whom you have some fellowship, maybe you’d care to enlighten (oops), I mean, instruct us.

    BTW, your website says you are a student not an American Reformed seminary but at a liberal Protestant Irish university. Why not mention your American affiliation in your bio?

  222. November 6, 2008 at 4:44 am

    DG Hart

    We can’t answer you because your Marcionized Calvinism forbids us from using the OT to prove anything. And so we refuse to answer a fool according to his Marcionite folly.

    Frankly, you have just come across as an arrogant fool throughout this whole discussion. Any respect I had for you is gone.

  223. Zacharias said,

    November 6, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Daniel, my wife has been trying to convince me of your conclusion about my intellectual capacities for some time. So I’m not surprised by your public and, dare I say, impolite assertion. (Impolite, because spouses generally do reserve their frankness for private settings. Oh but there I go again with these false and artificial 2k distinctions between public and private.)

    But at least you could answer a question you never allowed to be posted on your blog because of your tyrannical editing policies. That is, why did not a single other Reformed church adopt a National Covenant, and why did the Huguenot monomarchists refuse to entrust the true religion to the king? Could it be that politics more than exegesis has determined our churches’ views toward the state?

    And while I’m at it, why are you still not coming clean about where you’re going to school? Is it with the Cloistered Calvinists or the liberal Protestants, or both? I’m concerned for your having to study in such impure settings. But it hasn’t hurt your frankness. Way to go!!!!!

  224. DG Hart said,

    November 6, 2008 at 5:56 am

    Zacharias is one of my aliases. Apologies to all for the confusion. I need to resort to such tactics to get through on Daniel’s fair and balanced website.

  225. DG Hart said,

    November 6, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Bret, if you’re still reading, somewhere up above in one of your attempts at cleverness in comparing the slaughter of Jews to abortion (which was so tasteless that one of the editors seems to have removed it), you got me thinking. Wouldn’t your ideal government have little place for Jews? I mean, in a two-k world, there is all sorts of reason to protect their lives. But I don’t see how your view protects the rights of those who do not worship the true God. So for all of your effort to make the 2k view guilty of Nazism (and your Covenanter Irish friend is right there with you), isn’t your view of Christianity and the state actually the sort that made anti-semitism so prevalent in Europe? Just wondering.

  226. Bill Wysor said,

    November 6, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Dr. Hart,

    I had resolved to take Mr. Ritchie’s advise (with regard to engaging you in these things) by bidding you Godspeed on your way to the Maritime provinces (with the desire that you take along your false and deadly pietistic views and your insufferable smugness with you.) However on second thought I feel obliged to leave you with a warning. Earlier you asked:

    “Anyway, since when did the rage of the prophets become the norm for Christians whom Paul instructed to live quiet and peaceful lives?”

    My dear sir, the whole structure of society is being attacked and destroyed. The reversal is much more total and destructive than that which Rutherford or any of the reformers faced in their day. Are you so foolish as to think that you will be left alone and unmolested in your cloister, your sphere of grace? Are you blind to the truth that your accommodation, so as to be able to live quiet and peaceful lives, dooms both you and your progeny to lives lived under ever more pressing persecution of grievous tyranny? I leave you to your damnable error with the sobering words of Ezekiel, because I do see what lies ahead even if you in your comfortable ivory tower do not:

    “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.”

    Do call to mind these words when it comes.

  227. Stephen Welch said,

    November 6, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Yes, I agree with Daniel there is no room in these discussion for arrogance. Most of us do not have the time or patience for it.

  228. Zrim said,

    November 6, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Well, I know it’s not very stirring when it comes to a cult and culture hell-bent on over-realizing all things political, but I have decided that my last commentary on this election cycle is simply to say that I am thankful for a peaceful transition of power. Whatever other platitudes are uttered, it really doesn’t get much better than that in the kingdom of man.

  229. TurretinFan said,

    November 6, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Hart wrote, “Anyway, since when did the rage of the prophets become the norm for Christians whom Paul instructed to live quiet and peaceful lives?”

    It is amazing to me that Hart does not blush to chastise the prophets. For shame, sir. Now only it remains for Hart to go after the rage of this guy, who didn’t heed Hart’s interpretation of a “quiet and peaceful” life.

    John 2:15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

    We hope that Hart will at least blush to go after that prophet, and more than a prophet.

    -TurretinFan

  230. Todd said,

    November 6, 2008 at 7:54 am

    # 223

    Darryl is a pietist? Now that’s a good one.

  231. sarah said,

    November 6, 2008 at 8:11 am

    I don’t know you from Adam…found you by way of Thoughts of Francis Turretin…but this is exactly what I’ve been saying! Good post. It’s about time America wake up to the fact that it isn’t a Christian nation…only a nation with some Christians in it like every other nation! We are not the second Israel!

  232. Bill Wysor said,

    November 6, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Todd,

    False pietism, the kind Francis Schaeffer decried.

  233. Andrew Duggan said,

    November 6, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Re 225,

    I know that’s it is popular for the media to use the term “transfer of power”, but the USA has not had a transfer of power since the US Constitution was ratified. We’ve had the rule of law, not the rule of men. The government of the USA is divided into three branches. The powers of the Executive is not the Power of the government. We’ve had many people server in various offices in the government of the USA since the ratification of the Constitution, but we’ve had only one government of the USA.

    I am far more troubled at the fact that so many American’s are ignorant as to how the government of the USA is supposed to be under the Constitution, than I am with the idea of who was or was not elected to the office of President.

    One may think it’s a subtle point, but so was the serpent’s argument in the garden. It’s easy to get people to agree with anything once one has corrupted their thinking. While I think Steve used the phrase innocently enough, it is still a dangerous enough notion for it not to go unchallenged.

  234. Zrim said,

    November 6, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Todd,

    Re 127, yes, pietism is one of the common charges, along with antinomian and liberal, sometimes fundamentalist (which gos to show the utter confusion). I am partial to Lutheran myself.

    But Darryl is one of the most worldly believers I know. He even watches cable TV.

    And the charge of false pietism is the swipe from those who are frustrated that certain folks don’t get behind their particular social agendas in one way or another. It simply isn’t good enough to take care the personal space around which one has actually been ordained, you know, the one Paul told us to mind.

  235. Zrim said,

    November 6, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Andrew,

    I have to admit, in my more ungodly moments I do find myself thinking it would have been a good idea in the drawing boards of my creation to have included less ignorance and more intellecual acumen or general ability otherwise. Thanks for your suggestion as per my vast ignorance, but I am still good on the peaceful transition.

  236. its.reed said,

    November 6, 2008 at 9:14 am

    O.K., moderation pause here. Some of you are drifting substantially off of topic.

    I request you stop using labels that serve only to belittle your debate oponents. You may very well believe that someone indeed is following Marcionite, pietism, Cloister, etc., principles in their arguments. If so, make that argument. Desist from merely calling other people names.

    Let no one conclude I am being unfair singling anyone out. These are the most obvious examples. There are others. I have neither the time nor the need to chastize all personally.

    Nor do I want to hear any accusations that I am being unfair in not also chastizing Darryl. I’ve already heard them ad nauseum. I have sincerely taken them before the Lord. While I will not say I am errorless, I will say that any errors in moderation flow from weaknesses of ability, not intentions of the heart. If you are not willing to accept my humble plea of innocence, and pray for me and yourself, then do not bother trying to do the Spirit’s work.

    Keep such opinions to yourself. If you are given to finding arguments where there does not have to be one, please do not share it with the rest of us. I am willing to continue to submit my conscious to the Lord and bear with your bad mouthing elsewhere. Out of respect for Lane and others here, I will not bear with it here.

    My opinion is that Darryl does indeed use sarcasm to make his points, but he does so without calling others names. (There may be an incident here or there where he has done so. If so, feel free to let him know privately.) In general my observation is that Darryl does not get on your case unless you are given to pontificating – offering opinions as is they had been handed to you from Mt. Sinai, and therefore there is no need for discussion, just willing reception by the rest of us.

    If you disagree with Darryl, then make an argument. Do not simply resort to calling names and then dismissing. You are completely welcome to make the case that he holds to a Marcionite view of Scripture. Do not simply slap a sticker on him, and then conclude that you’ve done your duty.

    This direction applies to all of us. Make substantive arguments. When you have reached the point where you believe that your interests in the discussion are at an end, then politely sum up and end the conversation.

    You need to consider for yourselves whether or not the direction I am giving here is consistent with Scripture. If it is, then police yourself. If you believe it is not consistent with the Bible, then respect Lane’s ownership of this blog site and do not violate the 8th commandment by ignoring his rules. There is no directive from God saying you have the necessity to intrude here and so behave.

    I ask you to appreciate that I am cominng down a little strong right now, not because the behavior is so egregious, but because once again it is heading in that direction.

    Again, as in the past, I’ve not edited or deleted any comments here, as I sense there is some parity in terms of the intensity and (sadly) the animosity in this discussion over the last 12 hours. Good has been given as has been gotten. If you think you’ve been unfairly treated, feel free to email me (reedhere at gmail dot com). Do not, I repeat, do not post comments your lambasting opinions to this end. If I might challenge you, grow up. Its not about you, me, or anyother commenter. Its about Christ and his glory.

    So make substantive arguments. Feel free to use sarcasm in those arguments. Respond to the challenges of others with actual content, some meat, not just some smoke off the grill fired up in your head.

  237. Andrew Duggan said,

    November 6, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Re 235,

    Steve, my use of the word ignorant was not directed toward you, but to the US population in general. As I started off with referring to the media usage of the phrase “transfer of power”, and I pointed out that I thought you were using the phrase “innocently enough”, and the fact that I did not use the word “vast” in my comment, I hope you can see that I was not attacking you. I know there is a lot of ad hominem in the comments in GB, but please take my word that there was none of that in mine.

  238. November 6, 2008 at 9:15 am

    DG Hart – Please shut up!

    “That is, why did not a single other Reformed church adopt a National Covenant, and why did the Huguenot monomarchists refuse to entrust the true religion to the king? Could it be that politics more than exegesis has determined our churches’ views toward the state?”

    Perhaps if you would bother to read the primary sources, then you would find out. As I said earlier, this would be a much better use of your time than talking a load of rubbish on weblogs.

    Exegesis of what? The Bible or the New Testament only?

  239. November 6, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Reed

    Sorry, I overlooked your exhortation. I would just add that it is pointless arguing with someone who holds a different view of Scripture.

    Hugenots

    We seem to have overlooked the fact that the Hugenots were Protestants in a Romanist country; the same can hardly be said of the Scottish Presbyterians. In Scotland the Covenanters were able to have a National Covenant, the Hugenots were not. How is this an argument for anything?

  240. Todd said,

    November 6, 2008 at 9:36 am

    “Sorry, I overlooked your exhortation. I would just add that it is pointless arguing with someone who holds a different view of Scripture.”

    Yes, this is the key. Theonomists tend to see the New Covenant as a continuation of the Old Covenant, but expanding the Old, with some obvious typology being fulfilled (Temple, food laws, etc…). Their basic error is not seeing the discontinuity. Hebrews is clear that the Old Covenant is obsolete. Theonomists simply need to transition into the New Covenant. Now there is obviously ethical continuity between the two, because God’s ethical nature remains the same. But the church is the fulfillment of Israel. Israel’s civil government cannot be translated into governments in the new covenant. The church is the only Christian theocracy in the new covenant, and we are not under the Law of Moses anymore, we are under the law of Christ and the imperatives of the New Covenant. This is not Marcion, this is basic theology.
    As J. Gresham Machen stated in The Origin of Paul’s Religion, “the Old Testament Law, according to Paul, was truly authoritative and divine. But it was temporary; it was authoritative only until the fulfillment of the promise should come.”

    Todd

  241. November 6, 2008 at 9:45 am

    10Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
    11 Serve the LORD with fear,
    and(R) rejoice with trembling.
    12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10-12)

    The psalmist obviously did not agree with the above assesment.

    Every nation is a theocracy; the only difference is this: which god rules over it.

    The only difference between Theonomists and Pluarlists is this: they are content to live under the theocracies of idols, while we want our nations to be theocracies of the true God.

    “May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!” (Ps. 72:11).

  242. November 6, 2008 at 10:00 am

    “But the church is the fulfillment of Israel. Israel’s civil government cannot be translated into governments in the new covenant.”

    This fails to recognize that church and state existed side by side in OT Israel…as any reader of George Gillespie’s Aaron’s Rod Blossoming would know.

    “Theonomists tend to see the New Covenant as a continuation of the Old Covenant, but expanding the Old, with some obvious typology being fulfilled (Temple, food laws, etc…). Their basic error is not seeing the discontinuity. Hebrews is clear that the Old Covenant is obsolete. Theonomists simply need to transition into the New Covenant.”

    We have made the transition, hence we do not observe the ceremonial law; yes the old covenant is obsolete, but what has that got to do with ethically continuity between the covenantal administrations. Perhaps bestiality is now okay because there is nothing in the NT forbidding it.

    “Now there is obviously ethical continuity between the two, because God’s ethical nature remains the same.”

    And for that reason Biblical penology remains valid as the Lawgiver has not abrogated it. If the penal sanctions were just, righteous and holy in the OT, then why are they not also just, righteous and holy now?

    “we are not under the Law of Moses anymore, we are under the law of Christ and the imperatives of the New Covenant.”

    Of course, this overlooks the fact that the Law of Moses is the Law of God. Again, there is nothing in the NT outlawing bestiality. Is it okay to do that now?

  243. Todd said,

    November 6, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Yes, Psalm 2 seems to be the linchpin argument for theonomists. But they fail to take into account the prophetic idiom used throughout the Psalms. Often in prophetic, poetic literature, kings, as well as nations, simply represent people in general from all nations (see how “nations” is used in Rev. 15:4, 21:24, 22:2). This connection is also seen in Psalm 148:11. And the Apostles
    quoted Psalm 2 (Acts 4:25) even when persecuted by the local Sanhedrin, hardly what we would consider kings, yet proof that Christ was risen and expanding his kingdom of grace in spite of opposition.

    So Psalm 2 is not specifically directed to Presidents and rulers of countries, it is directed at all people in every nation. And to “kiss the Son” does not mean to form governments that enforce Christianity and try to obey the laws of Moses, it means to “find refuge” (v. 12) in the Son, which is salvation. Psalm two is a warning for all people to find salvation in the risen king before final judgment, which is given to the Son, and Rev. 19:15, quoting Psalm 2, sees “ruling the nations with a rod of iron” as a prophetic idiom for final judgment, not theocratic rule in this age.

    Todd

  244. Todd said,

    November 6, 2008 at 10:33 am

    “This fails to recognize that church and state existed side by side in OT Israel…as any reader of George Gillespie’s Aaron’s Rod Blossoming would know.”

    While there were obviously elements of civil and religious authority existing together in Israel, it is a mistake to assume that those two elements within Israel correspond to the church and state in the new covenant. As Vos pointed out in “Biblical Theology,” the priests of Israel were involved in executing the civil penalties, as in the tests for adultery, so the so-called distinction between church and state in OT Israel is not as clear as suggested.

    And as my beloved professor wrote: “Bahnsen begins his obfuscation of the lucid biblical picture of Israel as a type of God’s redemptive kingdom by belaboring the fact (which is not in dispute) that cultic and civil functions can be distinguished in Old Testament Israel. Next, falling into a common fallacy, Bahnsen identifies the priestly-cultic sphere as the Israelite “church” and the kingly-civil sphere as the Israelite “state”, and then he equates the Israelite “church” (thus restricted to the cultic dimension) with the church of the new covenant age and declares the Israelite “state” (thus restricted to the civil dimension) to be equivalent to the civil governments of New Testament times (or any other times)… It should then be evident that one cannot agree with Bahnsen’s argument that because it was the function of the Israelite king to enforce the covenant laws of Moses in general, it is also the function of all civil magistrates to do so – not unless one first rejects or can somehow forget the Bible’s portrayal of Israelite king and kingdom as a redemptive, theocratic prototype of Christ and his redemptive kingdom. One cannot espouse the theory of theonomic politics and at the same time accept the simple, obvious, and all-important distinction the Bible makes between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world.” (M Kline)

    “And for that reason Biblical penology remains valid as the Lawgiver has not abrogated it. If the penal sanctions were just, righteous and holy in the OT, then why are they not also just, righteous and holy now?

    Because biblical law is determined by covenant. When covenants change, the laws change also (Hebrews 7:12)

    “Of course, this overlooks the fact that the Law of Moses is the Law of God.”

    Yes, and God can change his law because he is the author. It was the Law of God that Israel wipe out all the Canaanites in the Land. That law is not for us.
    Christ changed it – it will be fulfilled elsewhere.

    “Again, there is nothing in the NT outlawing bestiality. Is it okay to do that now?”

    Aah.. Bahsen’s famous challenge, I knew it was coming. Let me ask you this: how did Joseph know adultery was a sin before the Law came? Did Abraham know bestiality was a sin before the Law came? How did they know?

    Todd

  245. DG Hart said,

    November 6, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Daniel: the Romanist king of France is precisely the point of why you don’t want to make covenants with kings who they enforce the “true” religion.” Anyway, it’s not as if the Stuarts didn’t have a little Roman Catholic side to them, which certainly created problems for the Puritans and the Presbyterians. That National Covenant wasn’t looking real attractive under Archbishop Laud, was it? I also seem to recall that the Covenanters lent their support to Bonnie Prince Charlie, a Roman Catholic heir of the Stuarts. If true, that would suggest the principles of covenanting are more Scottish than biblical.

    While I have you, can you explain how a Christian magistrate is supposed to enforce both tables of the law and also grant religious liberty to Jews, Roman Catholics, or Mormons? I don’t see how you can square your OT theology with modern ideas about civil society. But this would explain why you won’t allow me to comment on your blog.

    As for my not allowing you to cite the OT, this is a free blog where many ideas are welcome. Go ahead and cite it. The problem is that any Christian exegesis would also include the NT. I don’t see you making any reference to the NT. Hmmm. I wonder why that is.

  246. DG Hart said,

    November 6, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Mr. Wysor: #226. What would you have said to Paul after he wrote Romans. Surely the foundations of Jerusalem’s society had crumbled thanks to Christ’s resurrection and the doing away of the old order. Nor was the Roman Empire a treat for the church. And yet, he told Christians to submit to the powers God had ordained. Do you really believe that we live in worse times? And do you really think that if the times are worse, Paul’s teaching is less binding?

  247. E.C. Hock said,

    November 6, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Danilel writes: “Again, there is nothing in the NT outlawing bestiality. Is it okay to do that now?”

    Todd replies: “Aah.. Bahsen’s famous challenge, I knew it was coming. Let me ask you this: how did Joseph know adultery was a sin before the Law came? Did Abraham know bestiality was a sin before the Law came? How did they know?”

    Among various texts on OT Ethics, Walt Kaiser, for example, makes the point to bring out how the 10 commandments, explicit in the Decalogue, were already active during the Patriarchial era (and thus beforehand). Todd’s point about Joseph ruinning from Potiphar’s wife because he evidently had a knowledge of God’s law against adultery, ergo bestiality, is a good case in point. The moral law came 400 years after the promise (Galatians), as an explicit publication of law for national Israel, but the law is ever rooted in the ethical mandates of clans beforehand and of creation. Thus teachings, policies and laws already enacted against it through ancient civil government.
    Thus, one not need to lean upon the legel tenets of Theonomy to find a way to re-instate a proper civil punishment for ethical corruption. The ethical mandates, with their punishments, are already rooted in creation. That continues on as the church, or new Israel, emerges under the New Covenant. IIs that not why Paul, an apostle of the New Israel, was respectful as well as appreciative of Roman law and order as a help to the church in Romans 13?

  248. TurretinFan said,

    November 6, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Hart wrote: “I don’t see how you can square your OT theology with modern ideas about civil society.”

    Hart’s hermeneutic is wrong, though. We are to square our societies to the Scriptures, not Scriptures to societies.

    Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    The Word of God reveals the will of God. “Modern” societies largely (though by no means exclusively) reveal the depravity of man.

    -TurretinFan

  249. Elder Hoss said,

    November 6, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Darryl – I once had a discussion with an ardent 2K friend of mine who pastors a Reformed church in the land of fruit and nuts (California) whether if he was preaching in Nazi Germany, he would address the slaughter of the Jews. Did he believe that special revelation bore a relationship to the State?

    He (honestly, to his theology at least) replied “no.”

    It seems to me that accepting the providential fact of principled pluralism is far different from what one believes is PRESCRIPTIVE of Scripture (ie., you seem to take Daniel R to task bc. certain perceived benefits accrue to those who live in a polytheistic/pluralistic society, as if the providential fact of pluralism translates to its somehow being exegetically warranted and prescriptrive. But after all, I would trust none of us here subscribes to Lenny Bruce theology (“whatever is, IS”).

    So, maybe we could put this in a more current context and ask whether your Session would discipline a member who proactively supports keeping abortion legal, and funded by the state. What if you have a church member running for office who believe in this merciless slaughtering of the unborn as a political conviction.

    Would your 2K framework prevent you and your Session from disciplining such a man?

    Interesting that several of Rome’s bishops have warned that supporting pro-Abortion candidates is aiding and abeting evil, and that pro-Abortion politicians are to be barred from Communion.

    A final thought here would be that there has been (rightful, in some instances) concern about some of the theologizing of the Federal Vision due to its perceived departure from the “old paths” as it relates to certain soteriological and sacramental tenets, among others.

    Well and good.

    But, it should be born in mind that since ca. late 18th century, an equally evident defection has occurred among not a few Presbies here in the USA with regard to this whole matter of the specific relation of God’s law (I use that term comprehensively, as in “Scripture” or “testimony”) to society.

    Thomas Shepard, whose works many Reformed guys like you and me drool over (he was quite a preacher), wrote extensively of the application of God’s law to government, viewing the judicial law as an outworking of the moral law. Gillespie, and several of the framers of WCF reasoned thus. Much in Calvin’s expository sermons on the Pentateuch could be cited as well in this regard.

    Now, it may well be that the sun of truth has risen with such brilliant lustre that we all know better, and that society is just doing SO much better now than then, what with sodomite marriages occuring, millions of babies being aborted including those who survived first-attempt botched abortions, mass-scale oversexualization of the culture, etc. Another alternative is that our dreadful condition is an indicator of the fact that the Christian Church has bought into the lie that somehow God’s Word speaks to only a narrow shard of life, and that really, the claims of Christ are to be subsumed under the standing authority of Caesar.

    Seeking a small (and I suspect, ever-shrinking) stake at the proverbial public table, Christians seem to have forgotten who owns the house….

    But back to the issue of Abortion. Would your Session discipline members who advocate its remaining legal (if not also tax-payer funded), and would you bar politicians professing Christ who are members of your congregation, from the Supper?

  250. November 6, 2008 at 11:43 am

    “While I have you, can you explain how a Christian magistrate is supposed to enforce both tables of the law and also grant religious liberty to Jews, Roman Catholics, or Mormons? I don’t see how you can square your OT theology with modern ideas about civil society. But this would explain why you won’t allow me to comment on your blog.”

    I don’t seek to square these things. I deny toleration is Biblical.

  251. November 6, 2008 at 11:50 am

    “As for my not allowing you to cite the OT, this is a free blog where many ideas are welcome. Go ahead and cite it. The problem is that any Christian exegesis would also include the NT. I don’t see you making any reference to the NT. Hmmm. I wonder why that is.”

    The Neo-Marcionites have landed. I wonder why the NT writers so often quoted the OT? I wonder why Paul said “All Scripture is breathed out by God”, the Old Testament was “written for our learning” etc. This reminds me of Steve Schlissel’s contention that JbFA must be wrong because you can’t prove it without quoting Romans and Galatians. Oh yes, I don’t see anything in the NT forbidding bestiality.

    IMO you are a chaplain of humanism. It is an absolute scandal that you have the standing in the “Reformed” world that you do as you.

  252. greenbaggins said,

    November 6, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Daniel, while I know that Darryl has told me that he can defend himself, I do still need to keep some kind of order on this blog. Disagree with Darryl, fine. But a chaplain of humanism? A scandal to the Reformed world? Cool it, Daniel. Name-calling is not appropriate.

  253. Elder Hoss said,

    November 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Daniel – Quick calibration to your note. While I concur that OT teaching does not need to be reiterated in the NT (you cite the example of bestiality, correctly), Schlissel actually argued that JBFA it is not the center of Paul’s theology, and that “it’s true but not new.” This is part of a wider polemic where he has also argued that what is “new” about the NT is the ingathering of the Gentiles into one body in Christ (“the mystery” which had been kept hidden, that “the Gentiles would be co-heirs” etc.).

    Right or wrong that is far different from saying that JBFA itself is wrong. Ridderbos and, after him, Gaffin, have also said nearly identical things. Gaffin has argued that the question itself (“does Paul’s theology have a controlling principle or doctrine”) is misconceived. For more on this, note his lectures from Mid-America Reformed Seminary on Paul and the Reformation, as well as the Intro to Ridderbos’s PAUL: AN OUTLINE, along with his PAUL & JESUS.

  254. November 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Lane

    I think the Reformers, Puritans and Covenanters would have called him much worse than I did.

    But as it is YOUR blog, I respect your right to tell me to desist.

    That said, let me quote the psalmist in closing:

    “Indignation has taken hold of me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.”

    That sums up how I feel about DG Hart and other political polytheists.

  255. its.reed said,

    November 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Daniel: thanks, and next time desist after you say you are desisting ;-)

    Now, in fairness to Darryl, we may very well need to let him respond to your charge of political idolatry.

    And so it goes …

  256. Elder Hoss said,

    November 6, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Daniel – You might want to turn back the volume knob # 11 on that Marshall stack of yours. Let’s not confound internecine differences AMONG CHRISTIANS with the kind of categorizing you are proposing here through your citation of the Psalmist. Darryl’s work on Nevin is “wicked cool”. Save for the fact that we all partake of Adamic corruption, don’t call him “wicked.” When you go that route you will soon find that the “church” will entail YOU, and 5 other people, 4 of whom you will wind up splitting with in due course, as well, all in defense of “standing for the true truth”. Take some time off, exhale, have an extended family worship tonight to be followed by a smooth Merlot and a reflection on the goodness of God.

  257. November 6, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Elder Hoss – there is a difference between Christians who merely disagree, and those who are incorrigible in promoting what I perceive to be humanism.

  258. November 6, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Sorry Reed, I should have let that one go.

  259. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 6, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    EH (#256): Well said.

    In general:

    We really need a third way on this issue. As I see it, neither 2K nor theonomy satisfies Scripture or prudence.

    The end-point of 2K is a complete bifurcation between the civil government and the church. Several obvious points appear to falsify the claim that the civil government and the church are completely separate:

    (1) The magistrate is per Rom. 13 a minister of God to restrain evil. It is therefore necessary for the minister to know what evil is. So it would appear that the church has the right and duty to advise the minister concerning the nature and content of the evil he is to restrain.

    (2) Whether or not the American government is a false idol, I think we can all agree that there have been governments who have set themselves up as idols: various Roman emperors in 1st-3rd centuries; Hitler’s Nazi government; Stalin’s Russia; and Mao’s China. At those times and in those places, we would agree that Christians have the duty to disobey the government. I so doing, we appeal not only to the example of Peter before the Sanhedrin, but also to the example of Daniel’s friends before Nebu.

    Hence, at times, it is clear that the church and secular government do not remain “in parallel”, but interact with one another. The job of our theology, then, needs to include describing their interactions positively; 2k theology does this poorly because it spends so much effort trying to *disentangle* church and state.

    (3) Most importantly, church consists of *people*, and some of those people will be magistrates themselves. That being the case, we cannot say to Christian magistrates that their ethical norms from Scripture should not guide their view of their job. To require this is to ask Christians to think and act as pagans while on the job.

    Rejecting that notion, what we are left with is that portions of the church will inevitably be entangled in the civil government. We can’t escape that conclusion unless we ask Christians to pull out of government entirely.

    (4) Dr. Clark and others wish to resolve this issue by an appeal to “natural law” — the magistrate, presumably, should be guided by natural law. Christians in government can act according to natural law, without resorting to special revelation with its stricter ethical norms. To take a simple example: Murder is wrong; our consciences all know it; therefore, we outlaw murder.

    The problem with this is that “natural law” is broken as an ethical system. I mean this at two levels. First, philosophically, Natural Law Ethics is in disarray. No-one has been able to give a clear account of which ethical norms are truly part of the Natural Law and which are merely cultural. (Description of problems here). Had Locke been born in the Middle Ages, it is highly doubtful that his peers would have agreed that life, liberty, and property are self-evident rights.

    Second, Scripturally, the only time that we encounter natural law described as such (to my knowledge) is in Romans 1-2. And there we discover, not that “natural law is a reliable guide for civil society”, but that natural law is an unstable guide for the conscience: sometimes, it properly moves even the pagan to do what is right, and sometimes, our foolish hearts are darkened and we embrace idolatry or bestiality or whatnot.

    So for example: is elective abortion wrong according to Natural Law? Well, murder is wrong. But is elective abortion a form of murder? The majority of Coloradans don’t think that personhood begins at conception. On what basis can we appeal to *natural law* to refute them?

    Natural law is a chaotic dead end without special revelation to shape it.

    So I am very unsanguine about the ultimate success of 2K theology. For all of the positive features I like about it — giving place to common grace, exalting Christ as Lord and placing no faith in the governments of men, providing an account of how Christians can live as strangers in this world — still, it appears unstable to me. That instability arises from trying to push the church and state into positions of complete separation, when complete separation is impossible.

    But theonomy has its own issues. Central among them is giving a meaningful account of Jesus “redeeming us from the curse of the law” so that we are no longer under law. Todd’s critiques in #240, 243, 244 are very cogent in this regard.

    From the death of Joshua to the destruction of Temple II, the entire shape of Israel’s history is dominated by the failure to achieve righteousness under the law. Why then would the theonomist desire to return to that system? What is to be gained by placing not only the church but pagans as well under the OT strictures?

    Likewise, the entire absence of any hint of the church ruling the state in the NT places the theonomic project under a cloud.

    And finally, John says, “Do not love the world or anything in this world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” At a very visceral level, I associate theonomy with a love for political power and a desire to wield it. I would hope that I’m wrong (perhaps Daniel and EH can educate me otherwise), but that’s how I see it now.

    In short: we need a new way of thinking about the relationship of church and state.

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

  260. Todd said,

    November 6, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Jeff,

    Some interesting thoughts, but I think you need to ask some questions, such as, why don’t the Apostles ever address the sins of Rome? If you look at all the list of sins in the New Testament, they are all sins that every person can commit, never sins of government policy. Why this change from how the prophets condemned the leaders of Israel?

    Also, substitute politics in your post, to, let’s say, medicine. Let me use your argument changing the subject to medicine.

    The people who suggest that the OT gives us the cure for cancer and the instructions to live long and healthy are misusing the OT dietary laws, which have been fulfilled in Christ. We are not under them anymore.

    Yet the 2kers who suggest that it is not the Bible’s purpose to provide the cure for cancer are wrong also, for what does the church tell the doctor called to heal people? Do we have no instructions for him from Scripture? Is he to rely on natural revelation alone to heal people’s ailments?

    We tell the Christian doctor the same we tell the Christian lawyer, shoemaker, politician, or plumber. Do your work unto the Lord, honestly, fairly, respecting your earthly authorities, and treating those under you well and fairly. We tell them what the Apostles tell all who work in this world.

    The mistake I believe you are making is separating statecraft into a special category which calls for special instructions beyond what we would tell workers in other fields, such as medicine, plumbing or garbage collecting. All these endeavors, as important as they are in this world, and as glorying as they are to God as they are done for his glory, are still part of this world which is passing away, and thus not the subject of the Bible’s specific and direct instruction.

    Todd

  261. DG Hart said,

    November 6, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Turrentin-Fan: I agree that we should not be conformed to this world. But if you think this is such an imperative, and if you think the modern nation-state is not promoting the true religion, you need to reconcile yourself to living and submitting to a state that is engaged in idolatry. That makes you unfaithful. The 2k position helps you out of this position by neither recognizing the modern state as idolatrous, nor construing your belief as so comprehensive that you have no room left for citizenship. The point: if you’re right about Christianity and the modern state, don’t you have an obligation to rebel, or at least shouldn’t you be in prison for your beliefs? If not, then haven’t you conformed to this world?

  262. DG Hart said,

    November 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Daniel: chaplain? Now that’s hitting below the belt.

    Believe it or not, I read enough of the old sources, including the NT to realize that those writers quoted the OT. But you have yet to make an exegetical argument, because those writers did not quote the OT to bring down God’s wrath on either Jewish or Roman rulers. So it would still help us fools if you could connect the dots.

  263. DG Hart said,

    November 6, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Elder Hoss: I never thought I’d say this, but interacting with you after Daniel is like going home and being hugged by my mother. Man is it good to hear from you!

    The question you raise about church discipline is a little dicey because of the way you earlier suggested it was sinful for believers to send their children to public schools. I do wonder what the hierarchy of sins is for you, and whether public schools is as great as an evil as abortion.

    But having made that equivocation, I would not hesitate to try to discipline a mother who had an abortion (except in cases of rape, incest, or saving her life), nor would I be reluctant to pursue discipline against a physician who was a member of my congregation. A politician would fall in a similar category.

    But a politician could be different because he or she might not be advocating the killing of babies but actually saying the legislation gave the jurisdiction to the wrong state power. Some oppose the federal government making such laws. So the argument against anti-abortion could be a political one that the church could not decide because the Bible does not take a stand on federal or states’ rights.

  264. Zrim said,

    November 6, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Elder Hoss,

    I find your question to DGH about abortion interesting for a host of reasons. It seems to me that whether we are considering a woman, a physician or a politician in our midst there are questions that need asking for each which may not be asked of the other. I think more often than not we forget more realistic questions, such as in the case of a woman in our midst, for the sake of participating in worldly debates under the guise of religion (i.e. sexual ethics of believers may be more relevant to this one than whether or not someone underwent a certain procedure).

    I wonder why it is that you chose that particular issue. And my guess is that you believe discipline should be pursued in all three cases, which I also believe the case could be made. But before we start looking somewhat Romanist in our ecclesiastical practice when it comes to the inherent hazards of vocational practices, is there another political or legislative issue that might fit your bill? Might you, for example, look to chastize the Christian pharmicist for doling out BC pills or the Christian judge for granting a no-fault divorce?

  265. Zrim said,

    November 6, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Jeff, re #259: “Whether or not the American government is a false idol, I think we can all agree that there have been governments who have set themselves up as idols: various Roman emperors in 1st-3rd centuries; Hitler’s Nazi government; Stalin’s Russia; and Mao’s China. At those times and in those places, we would agree that Christians have the duty to disobey the government.”

    To this 2Ker who would say that the sum of the Christian life can be found in the word “obey,” I find this assertion troubling.

    When Jesus told us to render unto Caesar what was his this had to do with more than the fact that we see FICA hold-outs in in our paycheck stubs (i.e. pay your taxes). It was really a command concerning authority and submission. I wonder if it’s way more 21st century American to presume disobedience is perfectly acceptable the more removed we are from certain times and places than biblical. Jesus never made any caveats like, “…unless your Caesar is Adolf or Joseph or even Barack… then you may employ your own litmus test as to whether or not you’ll obey.”

    I wonder if you might elaborate on why you think disobedience is utterly so obvious.

    And FWIW, whatever problems 2K has, remember that tension is a given in the inter-advental age. If resolution of tension is your measure, good luck. For my money, 2K relieves tension without resolving the conundrum that comes with having a dual citizenship. The more at ease we are with the stuff of mystery and tension the better it will go and the more 2K makes sense.

  266. Tur8inFan said,

    November 6, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Hart wrote:

    Turrentin-Fan: I agree that we should not be conformed to this world. But if you think this is such an imperative, and if you think the modern nation-state is not promoting the true religion, you need to reconcile yourself to living and submitting to a state that is engaged in idolatry.

    a) This is an illogical criticism, because it applies to you as well.
    – If it is an imperative, it is not only an imperative for me.
    – You acknowledge it is an imperative.
    – Therefore, it is not only an imperative to me.
    If it is not a problem for you, it is not a problem for me. If it is a problem for both of us, it is a red herring for you to raise it as a response.

    b) Ironically, in contrast, the prayer from Paul’s letter to Timothy (the one in which he mentions “a quiet and peaceable life”) is not an imperative. The only thing standing between the “rage of the prophets” (your words) and normative Christianity is your misinterpretation of those words, not the words themselves.

    c) The Jews in exile lived under and submitted (when they could) to ungodly kings that did not follow the law of God. Daniel (the prophet, one of those “rage of the prophets” characters, you know) dared to stand up against the king’s prohibition on the true religion and enforcement of a false religion. Nevertheless, he and his companions were able to (in the Old Testament time) generally submit to the laws of the ungodly land in which they found themselves.

    d) Like the Jews in exile, we are presently not in our home country. We are strangers and pilgrims in this earth.

    Hart wrote:

    That makes you unfaithful. The 2k position helps you out of this position by neither recognizing the modern state as idolatrous, nor construing your belief as so comprehensive that you have no room left for citizenship.

    a) If it makes me unfaithful, it makes me as unfaithful as Jeremiah (or as Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, etc.). But you lack the shame to cease from despising the prophets. Perhaps you will similarly call the Son of Mary “unfaithful,” for suggesting that men should pay taxes to Caesar? Fie.

    b) If Caesar’s kingdom was idolatrous before Jesus’ crucifixion/resurrection/ascension, it didn’t instantly cease to be idolatrous afterward. The moral law is abiding.

    c) The only thing standing between me and citizenship appears to be your judgment that would suggest that it was unfaithful for Paul to be a citizen. At least, it suggests that it was unfaithful prior to whenever the 2nd kingdom started (Pentecost?). Furthermore, as noted above, since the moral law is abiding (as I think we can take for granted in this discussion), if it was immoral before, it was immoral afterward, and yet Paul didn’t renounce his citizenship (in fact he used it more than once).

    d) The apparent argument that the “2K” position is more convenient doesn’t persuade me, since my hermeneutic is exegesis, not convenience. You cannot (or, at least, have not) drawn your doctrines from Scripture. You haven’t even presented reasoned argumentation in support of your position.

    Hart wrote:

    The point: if you’re right about Christianity and the modern state, don’t you have an obligation to rebel, or at least shouldn’t you be in prison for your beliefs? If not, then haven’t you conformed to this world?

    As noted above, this cannot be the case without condemning the prophets for failure to rebel or to be constantly in prison. It’s based on the fact that you haven’t done the exegetical work necessary to understand the Scriptures, and to embrace a Tota Scriptura viewpoint. Convenience is not a valid hermeneutic.

    -TurretinFan

  267. tim prussic said,

    November 6, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    How, on the 2K view of things, does the King of King, Lord of Lords, and the Ruler of the Kings of Earth actually demonstrate that specific dominion in this inter-advental age? We know he’s the Head of the church, his body, but how’s He the King, Lord, and Ruler of the other K?

  268. steve hays said,

    November 6, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Todd said,

    “Some interesting thoughts, but I think you need to ask some questions, such as, why don’t the Apostles ever address the sins of Rome?”

    i) I think you’re overlooking the Book of Revelation, a major theme of which is a scathing indictment of imperial Rome (as almost all commentators acknowledge).

    ii) Beyond that, this also goes to a traditional dispute between the Magisterial Reformation and the Radical Reformation.

    Anabaptism makes the same point you do, and takes it to a logical extreme.

    The traditional Reformed response is to say the silence of the NT in this regard is an incidental consequence of its pre-Constantinian situation, and we can fill the gap by supplementing the NT with the OT.

  269. Elder Hoss said,

    November 6, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Darryl, my man – Had to cover your back on that one, even granting your view of the State is sub-Reformed, or at least, PRE 1788 sub-Reformed….

    Yours,

    Hoss

  270. Vern Crisler said,

    November 6, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Hey guys & gals,

    I’ve basically solved the theonomy issue on my blog (under the politics and history section, “Dangers of Covenant Theology”). I didn’t have to do it, I know, so please if you feel the need to express agreement or thank me, please contact — uh — Lane, off list.

    Vern
    ;-)

  271. Elder Hoss said,

    November 6, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Zrim/DGH – The example of the “Christian” politician supporting abortion rights was more deliberately chosen on my part, as over against say, the member who was involved in an abortion for the simple reason that the former brings into focus the question of applying the law of God to the State, whereas the latter case could be solved (rightly, as you have both suggested, viz. discipline) wholly apart from that disputed question.

    It seems to me that there we are agreeing that IN HIS CAPACITY AS A POLITICIAN the church member is bound to uphold the law of God as it relates to the 6th commandment.

    Darryl, with regard to a “hierarchy” of sins, Westminster Larger speaks of some sins being more heinous than others, so that should not present heartburn for you. And, by admitting that as a Session, you/your colleagues would discipline a pro-Abortion member of your flock who advocated this position in the public square, I would imagine that admission would not apply to EVERY violation of God’s law advocated by said politician (ie., I doubt you would advocate discipline for a politician advocating a 40% federal income tax on producers, though you might personally believe that was sinful). So, there you too would be engaging in a hierarchicalism of sorts, perfectly sane in that instance, and constrained by prudence.

    With regard to the issue of Christian parents’ sending covenant children to be educated in secular humanist/statist (thus anti-Christian) schools, you may recall my previously mentioning that not all sins are left by God for Sessions to discipline. No inconsistency exists between holding a practice to be either sinful or at least an exercise in very poor judgment on the one hand, and yet exercising profound reservation about Sessonal disipline toward the same, on the other. JHVH dealt directly with the stick-gatherer, sans the elders. We are not Romanists, after all.

  272. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 6, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Todd (#260):

    … I think you need to ask some questions, such as, why don’t the Apostles ever address the sins of Rome?

    That is a good question. I would say, “Because they are focused on building up the church.” I wouldn’t extrapolate beyond that and say that the apostles were therefore unconcerned with the actions of governments, would you?

    If you look at all the list of sins in the New Testament, they are all sins that every person can commit, never sins of government policy. Why this change from how the prophets condemned the leaders of Israel?

    Or how the prophets condemned the other nations. Let’s not leave out Amos and Obadiah. Are they really different from Jesus’ words: “Woe to you, Tyre and Sidon…”?

    But in any event, I don’t think I’m understanding your point exactly. We don’t have instances of NT prophetic utterances (thinking here of Revelation as ‘apocalypse’ rather than traditional prophecy), so it’s difficult to compare the epistles to the prophets.

    In the few NT instances where John the Baptist speaks to, say, Herod, he appears in line with other OT prophets. But maybe that’s because he is the last in the line of OT prophets …

    So the data are really unclear to me. I don’t feel that I have a good instance of the apostles addressing a governmental situation.

    We tell the Christian doctor the same we tell the Christian lawyer, shoemaker, politician, or plumber. Do your work unto the Lord, honestly, fairly, respecting your earthly authorities, and treating those under you well and fairly. We tell them what the Apostles tell all who work in this world.

    The mistake I believe you are making is separating statecraft into a special category which calls for special instructions beyond what we would tell workers in other fields, such as medicine, plumbing or garbage collecting.

    Well, No and Yes. No: I’m actually arguing that statecraft is exactly like all those other professions, to be done to the glory of God. And in fact, I was arguing against the notion that Christian magistrates should separate their Scripturally informed ethical norms from their practice of statecraft. Just as the plumber imports his notions of doing right into his work as a plumber, so also the magistrate imports his notions of doing right into his work as a magistrate. So my point is the opposite of the one you thought I was making (sorry to be unclear).

    But Yes, the *practice* of statecraft is unique in this regard: the practice of statecraft is the practice of prescribing ethical behavior for others. In every other profession, the practice of ethics is primarily individual, resolving through the power of the Spirit to love one’s neighbor by the fair and competent practice of one’s art.

    But in statecraft, one must decide what rules of behavior should be imposed on others. What basis should then be used to shape those rules? Whoever first said “You can’t legislate morality” was dead wrong. Every law is a legislation of morality — “You should not do X, and if you do, then the penalty is P.” “You should do Y, and if you don’t, the penalty is Q.”

    So the Christian magistrate is in a peculiar position. The Scripture informs, or should inform, his understanding of right and wrong. From that flows inevitably his vision for what rules to place on society. In that sense, statecraft is peculiar.

    And out of this peculiarity arises the problem: if the magistrate is a Christian, but many of those whom he rules are not, then how should he best love them as himself? Should he give them liberty to do wrong in certain cases, OR should he pass laws to restrain evil as he understands evil — even if those whom he rules happen to disagree?

    How would you answer the problem?

    Jeff Cagle

  273. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 6, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Zrim (#265):

    I wonder if you might elaborate on why you think disobedience is utterly so obvious.

    No problem. I see civil disobedience required, at minimum, whenever the government calls on me to directly disobey God’s word or to substantially materially participate in sin.

    Examples from Scripture:

    * Amos towards Jeroboam (ch. 7)
    * Shadrach and friends before Nebuchadnezzar
    * Daniel during the time of the “no prayer” law
    * Peter before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4
    * the saints in Revelation who do not bow the knee to the antiChrist.

    Examples from history:

    * the purchase of (false) libelli during the Roman persecutions
    * Luther’s stand against Charles V (and the pope) at Worms
    * refusal to obey the Fugitive Slave Law.
    * hiding Jews illegally during the Holocaust.

    Why does this trouble you?

    Jeff Cagle

  274. Edward said,

    November 7, 2008 at 12:28 am

    #271 Elder Hoss:

    Why single out the 6th commandment? Why not also adultery? Or honoring parents? Or idolatry? Why do the duties of a Christian in public office include trying to enforce the 6th commandment, but not the others? Or do his/her responsibilities include pressing for obedience all 10?

    One suggestion about why we focus on this: it’s part of the culture wars. We wouldn’t focus on it so exclusively if it didn’t represent a revolt against the so-called sexual revolution.

  275. John Bugay said,

    November 7, 2008 at 6:49 am

    Tur8infan: re. 266

    The 1 Tim 2 passage is not in the form of direct instruction, but 1 Thess 4:11 is an imperative: “But we urge you, brothers, … to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

    You haven’t even presented reasoned argumentation in support of your position.

    My understanding is that Meredith Kline has done a great deal of work along these lines, and it seems to me that Hart is/would be using this work as a basis for what he is saying. Are you familiar with Kline’s work?

  276. TurretinFan said,

    November 7, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Bugay wrote:

    The 1 Tim 2 passage is not in the form of direct instruction, but 1 Thess 4:11 is an imperative: “But we urge you, brothers, … to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

    1 Thessalonians 4:11 is in the form of a supplication (“we beseech you, brethren” – vs. 10). I’m not sure, though, how a command to, in essence, “quit running your mouth and get your hands in gear so the work gets done and you feed your family” is supposed to be germane to the discussion.

    I had written to Hart that “You haven’t even presented reasoned argumentation in support of your position.” To which Bugay responded by invoking the Klinean corpus, and asking a personal question. The question is not whether Kline presented a reasoned argumentation, but whether Hart presented it.

    When I see absolutely outrageous comments (like Hart’s “rage of the prophets” comment, something I’ve never read in Kline’s works, though I admit that I haven’t read the entire body of his works, perhaps I overlooked something? Just to be sure, I leafed through my copy of Kingdom Prologue but didn’t find it), and especially when I see that kind of comment backed up by completely illogical reasoning and eisegetical bluster, I don’t give someone a free pass because they mention a famous and well-liked seminary professor.

    I get the very strong feeling that there is a visceral reaction among certain folks to the word “theonomist.” It ends up to amounting to, “Kline was against Bahnsen, therefore theonomy is bad.” Followed by, “Go read what Kline wrote.” (link to one relevant writing) That kind of gut reaction of disdain (if not loathing) is appropriate, perhaps, when exhibited in partially catechized children who have learned what to believe, but not yet learned why they should believe it. It is not an appropriate reaction for grown men. Christian men should not only understand what they oppose, but also why they oppose it.

    Likewise, “get thee to the library,” has gotten many a seminary student off of a professor’s back. It’s a useful answer in some contexts, but it is prone to misuse. This case seems to me to be a case of misuse.

    Whether or not Kline attempted to put forth a reasoned argument, Hart hasn’t. If Kline provided a reasoned argument, his followers should be able to enunciate that argument. It is his followers, not his critics, who should have the burden of digging through his works to come up with reasoned arguments for his position (assuming that their position and his position are the same).

    Whether they are the same position, remains to be seen. Kline himself was willing to give more ground to Bahnsen. For example, Kline stated (see the link I provided above) “The question that would have to be faced today is whether WCF 19:4 retains its original sense.”

    That’s a rather different historical claim than the historical claims we hear from the “two kingdoms” folks who talk about “recovering” the Reformed confessions. Kline may well have had his reasons for opposing Bahnsen, North, et al. I’m not sure those who wish to stand under Kline’s banner understand or can defend his reasons, or whether they simply were wowed by his rhetoric (e.g. “To accept the Chalcedon theory, one would have to read the biblical record as though it were not the history of the particular kingdom of Israel but an historicized myth about Everynation.” – also at the same link above).

    It’s easy to shout “Kline” and “Bahnsen” at each other. Both were respected and intelligent men. From what I’ve seen, though, only one side today is presenting logical and exegetical arguments for their position.

    -TurretinFan

  277. John Bugay said,

    November 7, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Turretinfan — There is no disdain in my inquiry. I am a newby. I have come across Kline’s work through second hand sources (specifically, Michael Horton — I have not yet read Hart’s books, and this topic seems less urgent to me now that the election is over.)

    I am not (though I aspire to be) capable of discerning Kline’s “reasoned argumentation,” much less following the interactions of Kline and Bahnsen back and forth (if I could even find them in one place).

    You said, Kline may well have had his reasons for opposing Bahnsen, North, et al. WCF 19.4 seems very clear to me, although from this thread (or maybe one of the earlier threads) I see that perhaps the language may have changed at some point (?)

    I am writing here as an individual who has a lot to learn, and would like to see the rhetoric on both sides toned down a bit. That was the point of my question.

  278. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 9:18 am

    “it’s easy to shout “Kline” and “Bahnsen” at each other. Both were respected and intelligent men. From what I’ve seen, though, only one side today is presenting logical and exegetical arguments for their position.”

    TurretinFan,

    I see from your blog that you believe it would have been a sin for S. Palin to be Vice President because she is a woman, which would indicate your leanings more along theonomic lines than 2k. I note this because good exegesis is often in the eye of the beholder. I remember years ago when Gaffin debated Gentry on Post vs. A-mil, Post-mils thought Gentry cleaned Gaffin’s clock exegetically, and A-mils thought the exact opposite. If you haven’t heard the debate, Gaffin cleaned Gentry’s clock :-)

    Todd

  279. Zrim said,

    November 7, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Zrim/DGH – The example of the “Christian” politician supporting abortion rights was more deliberately chosen on my part, as over against say, the member who was involved in an abortion for the simple reason that the former brings into focus the question of applying the law of God to the State, whereas the latter case could be solved (rightly, as you have both suggested, viz. discipline) wholly apart from that disputed question.

    Elder Hoss,

    OK, so you want to get at how God’s law is applied to the state via questions having to do with church members doing their vocations as policy makers. For my part, I am not yet convinced that discipline of a politician who pursues to greater or lesser degrees choice politics is so obvious. It would seem to me that by the same logic a Christian judge who granted a no-fault divorce or a same-sex marriage would also have to be so disciplined, or maybe even the Christian pharmacist who doles out birth control; how about the mortgage lender participating in below-the-board loans? The list could go on and on, running the spectrum. Maybe that is no problem for you, but I scarcely hear those sorts of arguments. (My hunch is that the abortion question is the one posed in part because it is the ideological gold standard for theological orthodoxy, an odd experiment to say the least.)

    Even so, beyond questions of what sort of resources church’s want to spend investigating them, where do you draw the line as to whose lawful vocation deserves discipline and whose doesn’t? (And let’s see if anyone can answer this without invoking that over-used outlier called the Third Reich as trump.) Does the fact that some vocations are more public than private play a role in how we think about this? Is disciplining our own a creative way at participating in worldly disputes instead of minding our own business? I realize your question is meant to get at something very specific, but I also think it actually creates a host of others that are just as important. If the question is merely, “Do you think abortion is wrong?” then the answer from me is yes. But questions have a funny way of really being more freighted than assumed, and answers have a funny way of needing a lot of qualification.

  280. Elder Hoss said,

    November 7, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Edward – Maybe it’s because inserting scissors into the skulls of defenseless human beings made in the image of God for the purpose of murdering them (to the tune of 50mm since R v W is a biggie, but it could also be because any effort to apply the witness of Scripture and God’s law to realms outside of the four walls of the local church is an overreach on my part….

    Surely you could understand, upon further reflection, why one might raise the abortion question. Did you think I would ask Darryl about his view of disciplining churchmen engaged in politics, who advocated chattel slavery in the USA in 2008? (who might that encompass, David Duke?).

    As to other of the commands of the 2nd Table, in speaking of the application of God’s law to society, and the specific instance of the “Christian” politican who supports the murder of unborn children, we could also deal with the 7th commandment as it pertains to sodomite and lesbian “marriage.” So, “no” abortion would not be the only real-time example of our wrestling with the question of how God’s law would apply to a churchman engaged in the political sphere. “Gay marriage” would be another. I suspect that Darryl would (rightly) move, with his fellow Session members, to discipline a member of his church who was engaged in politics (say, local congressman) and advocated homosexual marriage.

    Re issues other than the slaughter of unborn children viz. the flagrant violation of the 6th commandment, you might also be aware of things like no-fault divorce, and the long legacy of (now dormant or jettisoned) legislation dealing with adultery, Sabbath laws, etc.

    Now, you may vehemently disagree with the pre 1788 Presbyterian tradition in this regard, preferring the articulations of a Lee or Misty Irons, I don’t know. But, in any event, it’s good at least to understand how a WCF 19:4 could be, how it is that Kline himself admitted that it would be very difficult to discipline Theonomists since our own Presbyterian tradition has ample presence of such, before one dismisses out of hand the idea that there is a direct bearing of the law of God upon culture and the political order, whether one approaches that relationship as a Dooweyardian, a Kuyperian, or a strict Theonomist ala Bahnsen or Rushdoony.

    To TurretinFan’s point, we would do well to thoroughly acquaint ourselves with the divergent perspectives, rather than merely parroting (this is a general concern, not directed to you singly, or implying that this is what you are doing) the position of our pet teachers, a characteristic trait of sophomores in college.

    I’ve mentioned him before here, but a fine example of this would be the “t”henomist Francis Nigel Lee, who rightly takes Rushdoony to task for his truncated critique of Calvin and Luther, and yet at the same time views Rushdoony’s INSTITUTES OF BIBLICAL LAW as ground-breaking in many other respects. On the flipside, one must wrestle with T David Gordon’s critique of Theonomy, Lig Duncan’s more moderating position, etc. etc.

  281. Zrim said,

    November 7, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Jeff Re 273,

    It troubles me, in part, because I sense the failure to make the distinctions of cult and culture. The examples from scripture have to do more with idolatry than morality. Look, I am not saying that obedience to Caesar means we have to wear jackboots and pull levers on gas chambers. After all, there are plenty of perfectly Christ-hating pagans who share that ethic with us. What distinguishes believers from non- is not that we hide Jews in attics but that we worship Christ truly.

    I wonder why your list from history does not include the underground railroad or marching at Selma. After all, it is not uncommon at all to hear pro-life arguments make close connections to issues surrounding those phenomena in recent American history like human slavery and civil rights. Do you have something against babies? Kidding.

  282. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Jeff wrote:

    “That is a good question. I would say, “Because they are focused on building up the church.” I wouldn’t extrapolate beyond that and say that the apostles were therefore unconcerned with the actions of governments, would you?”

    Well, Jeff, I’m sure they were concerned with the actions of governments, businesses, athletics, etc… The point being, if the Apostles wanted the new covenant church to call the state to account for not governing according to God’s revealed laws, why did they never do so themselves, nor instruct us to?

    “Or how the prophets condemned the other nations. Let’s not leave out Amos and Obadiah. Are they really different from Jesus’ words: “Woe to you, Tyre and Sidon…”?

    Well, first, the prophets didn’t condemn the pagan nations for not obeying the Mosaic code in their governing, and second, we still need to remember the typology of the theocracy. Canaan typified God’s heavenly land, Israel the church of God, the outside nations the non-elect, those in darkness. So the OT prophecies against nations are applied to all individuals outside of Christ. Once we are out of the typological theocracy in the NC, the Apostles do not speak of Rome like the prophets spoke of the Gentile nations in the OT. Biblical theology must account for the difference.

    “In the few NT instances where John the Baptist speaks to, say, Herod, he appears in line with other OT prophets. But maybe that’s because he is the last in the line of OT prophets …”

    Exactly! In addressing the corrupt theocracy, the prophets spoke condemnation to its leaders. But in the non-theocratic age of common grace governments, note how Paul speaks so respectfully to the Roman authorities in Acts 25 and 26, and these were evil, immoral rulers who killed many innocent people for political gain.

    “And in fact, I was arguing against the notion that Christian magistrates should separate their Scripturally informed ethical norms from their practice of statecraft. Just as the plumber imports his notions of doing right into his work as a plumber, so also the magistrate imports his notions of doing right into his work as a magistrate. So my point is the opposite of the one you thought I was making”

    OK, got you now, good points.

    “But Yes, the *practice* of statecraft is unique in this regard: the practice of statecraft is the practice of prescribing ethical behavior for others. In every other profession, the practice of ethics is primarily individual, resolving through the power of the Spirit to love one’s neighbor by the fair and competent practice of one’s art. So the Christian magistrate is in a peculiar position. The Scripture informs, or should inform, his understanding of right and wrong. From that flows inevitably his vision for what rules to place on society. In that sense, statecraft is peculiar. And out of this peculiarity arises the problem: if the magistrate is a Christian, but many of those whom he rules are not, then how should he best love them as himself? Should he give them liberty to do wrong in certain cases, OR should he pass laws to restrain evil as he understands evil — even if those whom he rules happen to disagree?” How would you answer the problem?”

    Well, the tension of the problem will always be there, no matter what position you take. Theonomy sure doesn’t resolve the tension, or provide a clear solution.

    But I would challenge your contention that statecraft is unique. Business leaders who need to choose between shipping their business overseas or keeping it here making less profit are making moral choices that effect the lives of all their workers. Doctors who need to choose between operating on an 80-year old women who will live a year longer because of the operation but face much more pain verses advising her not to have the operation are in a sense making moral choices for others.

    The reality is, once we agree that God has not called for NC governments to be Christian theocracies like OT Israel, then we have to see that Scripture does not give laws for how secular states are to be run, just like the Scripture does not tell doctors how to cure cancer. Politics in a common grace world is the art of compromise anyway, we seek the common good with those who disagree with us on many issues.

    Since Constantine the 2k position has admittedly been in the minority, but here are some more quotes from history:

    “The Church is not, as we fear too many are disposed to regard it, a moral institute of universal good, whose business it is to wage war upon every form of human ill, whether social, civil, political, or moral…She must leave them to the Providence of God, and to human wisdom sanctified and guided by the spiritual influences which it it her glory to foster and cherish…(James Thornwell, 1851)

    The sum and substance of all these declarations is, that while both State and Church are ordinances of God – neither subordinate to the other, but having two separate spheres of operation – it is fundamentally important that each confine itself to its sphere. That the civil authorities and the Church derive their power from different sources – one from God the Creator and the other from God the mediator…The State usurps in attempting to enact things spiritual, such as attesting to the divinity of Jesus Christ, or the Bible as his word; the church, in like manner, plays the usurper and apostate when she attempts to enact things political; such as decisions touching civil allegiance, Negro citizenship, political suffrage, executive proclamations, etc, etc…” Stuart Robinson, Presbyterian pastor during Civil War)

    “You cannot expect from a true Christian church any official pronouncements upon the political or social questions of the day, and you cannot expect cooperation with the state in anything involving the use of force…The function of the church in its corporate capacity is of an entirely different kind. Its weapons against evil are spiritual, not carnal; and by becoming a political lobby, through the advocacy of political measures whether good or bad, the church is turning aside from its proper mission, which is to bring to bear upon human hearts the solemn and imperious, yet also sweet and gracious appeal of the gospel of Christ.” (J Gresham Machen)

    Todd

  283. Zrim said,

    November 7, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Re 280: I suspect that Darryl would (rightly) move, with his fellow Session members, to discipline a member of his church who was engaged in politics (say, local congressman) and advocated homosexual marriage.

    Perhaps. But letting the likes of Misty Irons invade the pages of the NTJ seems to indicate that the reason may owe less to the sort of rabid culture war with which others are so consumed.

    http://www.upper-register.com/irons_trial/musingson/Doc05.April-02.NTJ.html

  284. Edward said,

    November 7, 2008 at 10:43 am

    #280, Elder Hoss:

    I, too, am pro-life. Your argument seems consistent, at least to me, i.e. so long as one willing to fight for observance of all ten commandments by all Americans, regardless of their creed or lack of creed. My trouble is that I don’t think, for instance, that there should be blue laws. Nor do I think that Christians should expect a Christian view of marriage of all others. And so on. These views on the sabbath observance and marriage are, I think, mainstream among Presbyterian and Reformed people. So, for myself and for others like me who see a distinction between what is expected of Christians and what is expected of members of American society, your argument about disciplining a Christian politician who doesn’t fight for all 10 commandments in his job doesn’t work.

    We can agree to disagree about the scope of the application of the 10 commandments (I guess in the terms being used here, your position is more theonomic than mine; my position is more two-kingdom than yours). But how does one negotiate this disagreement in a church that’s disciplining people?

  285. TurretinFan said,

    November 7, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Dear Mr. Bugay,

    I apologize for mischaracterizing your position as one of disdain.

    Dear Todd,

    I am not a relativist when it comes to what constitutes good exegesis, and neither should you be one. I agree that sometimes one’s judgment about who did better in a debate is prejudiced by one’s bias. Nevertheless, there are principles of heremeneutics that are objectively better than others. Actually reading a verse in context is objectively better than taking a verse out of context.

    You may disagree with my position on the role of women in society (you certainly wouldn’t be the only one). You may disagree with my position on the value of the Old Testament civil law as a model of justice. You may disagree with a lot of things that I hold to be true.

    Nevertheless, you should recognize that what constitutes good or bad exegesis is objective, not subjective. Just because Christian brethren disagree over something, doesn’t mean that neither is wrong. Furthermore, the man of God should be seeking to enhance his understanding of God and of the Word of God.

    I trust you assent to the truth of these fundamental principles. So then I would encourage you not to dismiss a position simply because you associate with a label (“theonomy”) that you are leery of.

    As I also pointed out on my blog (and perhaps you saw it), there are strains of “theonomy” that I would reject wholeheartedly as both Biblically unsound and contra-confessional. It is a label that encompasses a variety of views, from the views of the drafters of the original WCF to the views of some very radical folks.

    Try to look past the labels, therefore, to the meat of the argument:

    1) Justice is a moral principle;
    2) The civil laws of Israel were just; and
    3) Consequently the civil laws of Israel can serve as a model for just modern civil laws.

    There don’t seem to be an logical or Biblical holes in that argument.

    The second is like it:

    1. There is General Revalation in Nature;
    2. There is Special Revelation in Scripture;
    3. Special Revelation is more clear than General Revelation;
    4. The less clear should be interpreted by the more clear; and
    5. Therefore, if there is an apparent contradiction between General and Special Revelation, we resolve that apparent tension by appeal to the more clear light of Scripture rather than the less clear light of nature.

    In view of those two arguments, both of which seem quite capable of standing up to intellectual and Biblical scrutiny, one doesn’t seem to arrive at the “Two Kingdoms” position, as it has been enunciated by some of its more vocal advocates.

    -TurretinFan

  286. D G Hart said,

    November 7, 2008 at 11:06 am

    E. Hoss: #271: you wrote: “It seems to me that there we are agreeing that IN HIS CAPACITY AS A POLITICIAN the church member is bound to uphold the law of God as it relates to the 6th commandment..”

    I actually think a politician, Christian or non-Christian, is bound to uphold the laws of the state. State’s laws may be such that Christians cannot serve. I’d be prepared in any number of vocations to counsel believers against professions that might compromise their Christian duties. Med students who must do internships on Sundays is one example. (I know about acts of necessity and mercy, but that’s not what hospitals do on Sundays exclusively.) But once someone has taken vows to uphold the laws of the state, they need to do so and if they can’t they should resign their office.

    I’m also aware of the hierarchy of sins. It’s just that the blast of vituperation against public school sympathizers was close to the proportion of invective against Obama sympathizers here. It seems to me that many 2k critics believe 2k theology is a graver sin than abortion.

  287. D G Hart said,

    November 7, 2008 at 11:10 am

    To all: is it just me, or is it not as much fun without Daniel and Bret ranting around here anymore?

    Also, why isn’t an exegetical case for Christian politics one where the magistrate is supposed to turn his other cheek? That is the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount. And Christ also told Peter to put away the sword. So if we assume the norm for Christians is forgiveness, then perhaps believers should not hold public office. (I know, that’s the Anabaptist view.) Or perhaps there is a middle position between Anabaptism and Theonomy (Judaism) that is the Christian position, where believers inhabit two kingdoms, one heavenly and one earthly, and they need to dance to the beat of negotiating those kingdoms.

  288. Elder Hoss said,

    November 7, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Edward – Re your 2nd-to-last paragraph, I did not make that argument. IOTW, nowhere did I state that we ought be “disciplining a Christian politician who doesn’t fight for all 10 commandments in his job”. Similarly, if you read what I noted previously, there are certain sins which JHVH Himself reserves the right to discipline. Who disciplines the stick-gatherer? Not the elders of Israel. Who disciplines a Christian employer who forces his employees to work on Sunday? In some instances, Sessions might, but in other contexts, God may just take care of that far more effectively than the 2 yr procedural red-tape-ism we find in some of our Reformed and Presbyterian congregations (by the way, I would concur with Warfield and Jesus that the Sabbath was made for MAN not merely ISRAELITE MAN, and as such, has application beyond the confines of the Mosaic covenant, as it predates it as a creation ordinance).

    Now, you may think what you’ve assumed is a necessary inference from what I have stated with regard to Abortion and Sodomite/Lesbian “marriages” but this then gets us to whether one wants to argue that the State is bound to uphold some level of enforcement of both Tables of the Law.

    There seems to be, among the 17th century Westminsterian divines, divergence on that question.

    In any event, I see that as a colossal non-sequitur, at least for the next several generations, just like asking the question, “Gee, what happens if Theonomists had their way in American culture”. There are about, what, maybe a few thousand “T”heonomists (of the strict-Bahnsenian type) in the USA?

    Far better to deal with what is actually occurring in our midst (rather than thrusting at conceptual windmills), asking ourselves how the Law of God or special revelation more specifically, ought apply to realms beyond the interior concerns of my heart, or the 4-walls of the local church.

    And, I think we would do well to also consider that many of the “members of our American society” (which you juxtapose against “Christians”) while doubtless scores of them are unregenerated, bear the mark of God’s covenant upon them, and yet, unconscientiously slaughter their unborn children, making their judgment far more severe, should they not repent.

    Historical post-mortems have asked of the brilliant NT theologians in Germany like the Evangelical stalwart Adolf Schlatter “where was he during Kristelnacht and Auschwitz”? Sadly, Schlatter was cheering on the Fuhrer.

    One wonders whether the same will be asked of our generation, at least of those theologians who want to argue that God’s Law ought speak solely to either the interior concerns of the heart, or – at best – the 4 walls of the local church, and that it really is a matter of no great concern to the church and its ministers that 50 million babies have been slaughtered since R v W, since one can’t expect non-Christians to behave like Christians, and do things like well, not kill innocent babies.

    I would suggest that the admission that Christian politicians who advocate Abortion rights ought be disciplined (which admission both Presbyterian and Roman Catholic leaders have made, in some cases, forcefully) gets us in the direction of allowing for the fact that the law of God bears a relation to the State and public policy considerations, not merely the individual conscience of a believer. Starting there and working out therefrom seems to be a more fruitful endeavor than the wild bombast of Gary Northism on the one hand, or what, for the purposes of this brief exchange, I’ll call Irons-ism, on the other.

    On the run to a conference, so feel free to have proverbial last word/gasp.

  289. D G Hart said,

    November 7, 2008 at 11:17 am

    TFan: since when is the Bible clearer than the Federalists about the relations between the federal government and the states? The Bible doesn’t speak to modern constitutional orders or republics. If the Bible does speak about politics, it is either the monarchy of Jesus, or it is the jure divino rule of presbyters. So if the Bible doesn’t specify what government the heathen should have, and if not even the prophets in exile objected to gentile forms of political rule, then how is the Bible clearer about political order than general revelation? Come to think of it, where would you go in the Bible for instruction on stop signs versus stop lights, or for the best way to administer city parks?

  290. Elder Hoss said,

    November 7, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Darryl: You observed, “It seems to me that many 2k critics believe 2k theology is a graver sin than abortion.”

    It’s excesses may allow for such sins, if and where it states that the political order is not to be subject in any sense (whether via general revelation or special relevation) to Christ, just as theonomy’s excesses could engender other errors of a rigorist sort.

    Re what government the heathen ought have, the very assumption of the 10th commandment would rule out communism or other forms of Rousseian communalism, no? I would imagine as a strict Confessional Presbyterian you would see an application of the moral law to non-Christian societies in some (albeit limited) sense?

  291. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 7, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Todd (#282):

    Quickly,

    I can see your point about a lack of direct command for the church to dictate to the state. I think you may be making too much out of a silence, but I agree that your argument is a valid challenge to theonomy.

    With regard to statecraft being unique, I don’t think I was clear enough. It’s NOT that the magistrate makes ethical decisions that affect others (we all do that!), BUT that the magistrate forces others into his own ethical mold. He makes rules prescribing the behavior of others.

    Well, the tension of the problem will always be there, no matter what position you take. Theonomy sure doesn’t resolve the tension, or provide a clear solution.

    I agree with both points. Hence: we need a third way.

    Jeff Cagle

  292. Edward said,

    November 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    #290, Elder Hoss,

    The idea that the 10th commandment can be used by political conservatives against political liberals is something I don’t see. Or rather, if the 10th commandment is to be applied to modern states, it is difficult to see where a consistent application would end up. Does it mean Reagan’s idea of taxation? A flat tax? Sales tax and no income tax? No tax, not even for infrastructure? The abolition of the state, so that each might retain what he/she has brought home for the day?

    My point is that once we start prioritizing the 10 commandments (including splitting up the table into two parts, which would have been nonsensical to ancient Israelites), we start importing our own, non-biblical preferences. It seems consistent to wish for an application of all of God’s law to modern society; but when we start picking and choosing, we are expressing our preferences to the prejudice of what we know about God’s wishes for the political structure of ancient Israel.

  293. Zrim said,

    November 7, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Jeff re #291,

    Isn’t looking for a third way a lot like those who want to steer between Calvinism and Arminianism, i.e. “Calminians”? Neither Gomarus nor Arminius would have known what to do with such a creature.

    Just as in that sort of soteriological debate where both systems have an inherent consistency that allows the kind of mutual countenance seen in the Remonstrant controversy, it would seem to me that something like 2K and theonomy may represent the same sort of thing when it comes to the nature of the two kingdoms and their relationship to each other. I realize Todd and DGH might maintain that theonomy isn’t consistent, but I hope only insofar as application is concerned, which is to say, theonomists actually live a lot like 2Kers in their modern existence. In other words, I don’t see a middle way when it comes to how we understand the nature of the two kingdoms and their relationship to one another.

  294. TurretinFan said,

    November 7, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Hart wrote:

    Also, why isn’t an exegetical case for Christian politics one where the magistrate is supposed to turn his other cheek? That is the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount. And Christ also told Peter to put away the sword. So if we assume the norm for Christians is forgiveness, then perhaps believers should not hold public office. (I know, that’s the Anabaptist view.)

    Talk about category confusion!

    a) The duties of the magistrate are different from the duties of the individual. The magistrate, in overlooking evil done in his jurisdiction, is failing to do justice, whereas an individual in overlooking evil done to him is showing mercy.

    b) Peter’s use of the sword was prohibited for the special reason of permitting Christ’s unlawful execution. Interestingly, one wonders whether Hart places the garden incident in the first or second kingdom era. Either way, however, one doesn’t derive a general moral rule against defense of others from that passage.

    c) The duty of Christians to turn the other cheek was not a new moral law imposed by Jesus, just a new explanation of the unchanging moral law of God. Therefore, it was binding also on David, Solomon, Moses, and the judges. Nevertheless, Christians lawfully held office in Israel, therefore there cannot be conflict between the Christian duty and holding civil government office.

    Hart continued:

    Or perhaps there is a middle position between Anabaptism and Theonomy (Judaism) that is the Christian position, where believers inhabit two kingdoms, one heavenly and one earthly, and they need to dance to the beat of negotiating those kingdoms.

    That has always been the case for believers – not just in the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament. See Hebrews 11. The “Theonomy (Judaism)” jab is uncalled-for and childish. It is also a bit disconcerting to see both Theonomy and Anabaptism being dismissed as not “the Christian position.” I doubt many “Two Kingdoms” folks are so radical as to deny that Anabaptists and Theonomists are Christians. Such a characterization may be good for scoring rhetorical points, but it is not particularly scholarly or charitable.

    Hart also said:

    TFan: since when is the Bible clearer than the Federalists about the relations between the federal government and the states? The Bible doesn’t speak to modern constitutional orders or republics. If the Bible does speak about politics, it is either the monarchy of Jesus, or it is the jure divino rule of presbyters. So if the Bible doesn’t specify what government the heathen should have, and if not even the prophets in exile objected to gentile forms of political rule, then how is the Bible clearer about political order than general revelation? Come to think of it, where would you go in the Bible for instruction on stop signs versus stop lights, or for the best way to administer city parks?

    Again, more category confusion.

    a) Hart doesn’t seem to be able to grasp the difference between the light of nature and particular human institutions. The Federalists themselves (and the Anti-Federalists, for that matter) were oftentimes very clear in their positions. Nevertheless, a very clear Federalist statement does not equate to very clear revelation from God via “the light of nature.”

    b) Hart also has an incomplete knowledge of the discussion of civil government in Scripture. Not only does the Bible discuss monarchies, but also the civil rule by elders (after which model the church is properly governed), the civil rule by judges, the post-exilic civil rule (including the later rule by the Scribes and Pharisees), and the civil rule by Moses and Joshua.

    c) The fact that the Bible does not expressly address “constitutional republics” and “democracies” is no more compelling than the fact that the Bible does not expressly address the use of guns, the use of televisions, etc. The princples that the Bible teaches, the “general equity” of the civil law, can be applied to every kind of civil magistrate (even to those kinds not specifically addressed).

    d) Even assuming that the Bible did not speak to the issue of which form of government is best, it is not as though the “light of nature” is at all clear on that issue. In other words, to show that the light of nature is clearer than Scripture on something, one first has to show that the light of nature provides clear light on that subject.

    e) The same point applies to the example of details. It’s not as though someone is going to argue that the light of nature clearly requires that we use signs vs. lights, etc. Can there not be adiaphora within the sphere of civil government? And, of course, there is a Scriptural answer to the matter. After all, one uses prudence and common sense with respect to details not only of the government of the state, but of the church as well. “Two Kingdoms” types usually recognize this fact with respect to the church, but want to forget about that issue when it comes to the state to score rhetorical points.

    In the end, we are still waiting for reasoned argumentation and Scriptural exegesis. It is still missing. Plenty of rhetoric, not much substance.

    -TurretinFan

  295. D G Hart said,

    November 7, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    E. Hoss: now I see the problem. Critics of 2k think that we are saying one kingdom belongs to Christ, the other doesn’t. Actually, 2k teaches that both kingdoms are subject to Christ, one to him as creator (state), the other to him as redeemer (church).

    The other problem may be that critics of 2k seem to think that Christ is not ruling when Christian norms are not being followed. They don’t seem to be able to fathom that Christ was ruling all things even when he died on the cross. The great thing about 2k is that it sees that Christ rules even when it appears that he is defeated.

    I don’t have any objection to your saying the 10th commandment rules out communism. But I think people who don’t believe the Decalogue come to a similar conclusion. Turkey comes to mind.

  296. tim prussic said,

    November 7, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    No, really, I meant the question up in #267: “How, on the 2K view of things, does the King of King, Lord of Lords, and the Ruler of the Kings of Earth actually demonstrate that specific dominion in this inter-advental age? We know he’s the Head of the church, his body, but how’s He the King, Lord, and Ruler of the other K?”

  297. Elder Hoss said,

    November 7, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Edward – The tenth commandment, viz. its assumption of private property, rules out Communism or related cousins advocating communalism of various sorts. No specific assertion being made (there) re Conservatives and Liberals, but again, an extrapolation on your part. You might want to interact with what I actually write, rather than thrusting at the inferred windmills, though to be fair, we all do this to some extent or another.

    As to hierarchicalism in how Christian politicians rule it ought be no less suprising than its fact in other areas, even as Westminster Larger notes re “some sins being more heinous than others.” You’d be hard pressed as a Session to discipline a man for advocating a 40% tax bracket on high-producers thought it’s theft. You would not be hard-pressed (at least Darryl wouldn’t, and he is correct on this point) to discipline a congressman in your ranks who advocated, with Barack Hussein Obama, signing the “Freedom of Choice” act, into law.

    As to the notion of two tables of the law and what you decry as “splitting up the table into two parts, which would have been nonsensical to ancient Israelites”, I am not sure if you are a Reformed Christian. Reformed Christians, with Jesus, see a God-ward and man-ward delineation of the Law. This was thus not nonsensical to either Jesus (note his SUMMARY of the law in Matt. 22) or those of us who assert that the Reformed tradition
    accurately captures this horizontal and vertical dimension to the law.

    Finally, the moral law predates the Israelitish theocracy, such that the response of the first hearers to the ten words, even if it were as you erroneously characterized it, would be a penultimate consideration.
    But I promised you the last word/gasp, so I should say no more….

    Darryl, re Christ’s rule over the State, it would be good to hear you flesh out the intersection between providence and prescription. The two are not the same, as we both know. Christ is Lord over a Congolese culture that practices cannabilism, whereas his Lordship looks very different in, Puritan New England when Thomas Shepard with many others, urged the outworking of the judicial law on the political order. The providental FACT of Christ’s Lordship is a different (albeit not unrelated) consideration to the issue of HOW this Lordship functions prescriptively, or, ought function, prescriptively, in societies…

    Hope to read your thoughts early next week, and blessed LD to you…

  298. tim prussic said,

    November 7, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    #295 – Dr. Hart – thanks for that post. I didn’t see it before I posted #296. Please allow me to push the question a bit further, so that I can understand a bit better.

    The Messiah rules his church as a her redeemer. That redeeming office can be seen as something specific to the person of God the Son, the One who became incarnate, the Messiah. I think we can rightly say that the incarnate Son is the redeemer of the church in a specific and special way that God simpliciter is not, nor are the persons of the Father or the Son. In other words, the redeemer role ties in with the Messianic mission, which terminates specifically on the person of the Son.

    That very same person (the incarnate Son) is specified as the K of Ks, L of Ls, and the Ruler of the Kings of Earth. We all know that God rules over all in both creation and providence, but these descriptions/titles are not given to God simpliciter (though, they could certainly apply), but are given specifically to the person of the incarnate Son, the Messiah. Thus, not through creation or providence, nor due to his divinity, but specifically in his Messianic mission the Son is seen as the Ruler of the Kings of Earth.

    Thus, saying that Jesus is King of the State merely as creator doesn’t handle the Biblical teaching that, specifically as Messiah, he’s the Ruler of the Kings of Earth. All the kings of earth are called to submit to Christ as their King. Part of their sanctification would certainly entail (as it does with fathers who rule their homes) that they honor Christ as their King and submit to him in all their kingly duties. THAT submission of earthly potentates actually demonstrates the dominion of Christ in the other Kingdom. So, I think my initial question remains unanswered:

    How, on the 2K view of things, does the King of King, Lord of Lords, and the Ruler of the Kings of Earth *actually demonstrate* that specific dominion in this inter-advental age?

  299. tim prussic said,

    November 7, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Oops! In #298, I meant Father and Spirit, not Father and Son, as should be evident.

  300. Edward said,

    November 7, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    #297, Elder Hoss,

    I like using Barack Hussein Obama’s middle name, too. It’s much more fun than talking about John Sidney McCain, Sarah Louise Heath Palin and Joseph Robinette Biden. I like it because the “Hussein” signals that Iraqi-Americans, Moroccan-Americans, Syrian-Americans, etc. are just as American as all the Sidneys, Robinettes, Louises, Hosses and Edwards out there.

    <>

    This is precisely what my question is about. What you say is true. One of the questions on this thread has been, What’s the reason for this? Is it because Christians should stand on the Mosaic Law in their elected offices? Is it because there is a natural moral law dictating these things?

    Following this, If Christians should advocate Mosaic Law in their elected offices, how far should they go? What’s the limit? If the argument is that the Mosaic Law should be upheld by Christians in their elected offices (even if it’s just the 2nd table, for the sake of argument), what are the penalties? Stoning? Exile? Should Christian elected officials push for that, too?

  301. Edward said,

    November 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Between brackets is supposed to be a quote from Elder Hoss’s previous post:

    “You’d be hard pressed as a Session to discipline a man for advocating a 40% tax bracket on high-producers thought it’s theft. You would not be hard-pressed (at least Darryl wouldn’t, and he is correct on this point) to discipline a congressman in your ranks who advocated, with Barack Hussein Obama, signing the “Freedom of Choice” act, into law.”

  302. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Turrentinfan wrote:

    “I am not a relativist when it comes to what constitutes good exegesis, and neither should you be one. I agree that sometimes one’s judgment about who did better in a debate is prejudiced by one’s bias. Nevertheless, there are principles of heremeneutics that are objectively better than others… A Furthermore, the man of God should be seeking to enhance his understanding of God and of the Word of God.I trust you assent to the truth of these fundamental principles. So then I would encourage you not to dismiss a position simply because you associate with a label (”theonomy”) that you are leery of.”

    I think you read too much into my post. You made the comment that only one side was offering exegetical arguments of their position, and I don’t think you meant the 2k side. Actually, we have offered exegetical arguments, just run back through the posts, but it is more likely you just don’t agree with the exegesis. And I am not dismissing theonomy because of the label, I have held it up to Scripture and found it wanting. I didn’t mean to say more than that.

    “1) Justice is a moral principle;
    2) The civil laws of Israel were just; and
    3) Consequently the civil laws of Israel can serve as a model for just modern civil laws.

    There don’t seem to be an logical or Biblical holes in that argument.”

    Sure there is. All God’s laws are just because he spoke them, but again, you are not taking into account that biblical laws are conditioned by covenant. Just because something is proper for one covenant does not mean it is proper for all of them.

    It was just for Israelite widows to be required to marry one of her husband’s brothers after her husband’s death, if he died childless, in order to continue the family line of the dead husband (Deut 25), but I don’t see a lot of theonomists continuing this practice today. Of course, you can always file this into the “ceremonial” pile and be done with it.

    It was just for the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child Canaanite because of their idolatry and because they were defiling the Land, but it is improper and sinful to do this to idolaters in the new covenant age. The law of Israel was the law of the land of Canaan, a land that typified heaven. Unless you want to say that America is the new Canaan, you cannot take the laws that belong to one covenant administration and assume they are proper for the next.

    Todd

  303. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 7, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Zrim (#293):

    Isn’t looking for a third way a lot like those who want to steer between Calvinism and Arminianism, i.e. “Calminians”? Neither Gomarus nor Arminius would have known what to do with such a creature.

    The logic is backwards. Calminians are one species of “third way” thinking, but not all searches for third ways are like Calminians. The Nicene Creed’s “begotten, not made” serves as a positive example of finding alternatives.

    I hadn’t meant to overlook your other point in #265, and Todd raised it again, so here goes:

    Zrim (#265):

    And FWIW, whatever problems 2K has, remember that tension is a given in the inter-advental age. If resolution of tension is your measure, good luck. For my money, 2K relieves tension without resolving the conundrum that comes with having a dual citizenship. The more at ease we are with the stuff of mystery and tension the better it will go and the more 2K makes sense.

    Todd (#282):

    Well, the tension of the problem will always be there, no matter what position you take. Theonomy sure doesn’t resolve the tension, or provide a clear solution.

    Let’s agree this far: We are caught between the first and second comings of Jesus, and therefore we are strangers in this world, longing for our true home.

    That fact causes us to be in tension between the Now and the Not Yet: we are pursuing righteousness on earth, but we will not find it in fullness here.

    I’m fine with that.

    What I’m not fine with in 2k thought is that the Christian magistrate is left with no guidance as to how to do his job Christianly. “Separation of Church and State” is not a slogan for governance! Todd has offered that the magistrate should do his job like any other profession. I agree — but the unique nature of being a magistrate, requiring ethical behavior from others, leaves him having to decide *which* ethical norms to require from others.

    In other words, 2k theology leaves a governance vacuum.

    This is a recognized problem; hence, the appeal to natural law to fill the void. But “natural law” is illusory. No one has yet successfully argued from nature to ethics.

    So, yeah, there’s unresolvable tension. But more needs to be said, unless we want Christians to stay out of government entirely. And in a representative democracy, that’s not possible: L’Etat, c’est nous.

    Jeff Cagle

  304. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 7, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    It was just for the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child Canaanite because of their idolatry and because they were defiling the Land…

    … and take their stuff and cities, also. Kline is right on this point: the judgment on Canaan was unique, not to be replicated until the eschaton.

  305. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Jeff wrote:

    “In other words, 2k theology leaves a governance vacuum.
    This is a recognized problem; hence, the appeal to natural law to fill the void. But “natural law” is illusory. No one has yet successfully argued from nature to ethics.”

    Actually, natural law is not illusory, what sinful man does with the clear inward teaching of natural law is what the problem is, which may be what you are saying, but the same can be said about Scripture. People, because of sin and weakness, interpret Scripture as wrongly as they respond to the inward testimony of general revelation. Natural law guided the Ancient Greeks to experiment with democracy; it didn’t take the OT to see the benefits of freedom. All governments, without special revelation, in most eras throughout history, have outlawed thievery, murder, rape, anarchy, etc..at some level, albeit inconsistently, without the guidance of special revelation. We are not taught to expect more in this already/not yet age, nor are we told this type of rule is invalid to be replaced by Christian theocracy.

    But it seems to me only 2k can answer the liberals consistently. The liberals want to use God’s revealed laws as statecraft, yet conservatives cry foul only because they don’t like the particular laws liberals use. For example, men like T. Campolo have argued that the Sermon on the Mount should apply to governments as well as individuals. Is not the Sermon on the Mount God’s Law? Do we confine the law within the four corners of the church only? (speaking like a theonomist) Why is it wrong to use the Sermon on the Mount for national policy yet not the Ten Commandments? Is it only your law vs. my law, or is there a Biblical principle, a new covenant principle, that both sides are guilty of?

    Todd

  306. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    For example, men like T. Campolo have argued that the Sermon on the Mount should apply to governments as well as individuals. Is not the Sermon on the Mount God’s Law? Do we confine the law within the four corners of the church only?

    I’d be happy if we successfully applied the Sermon on the Mount within the church: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you … Give to the one who asks of you … do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth … do not judge, or you too will be judged …”

    Can we agree that proper theonomy ought to begin in the church, with people taking seriously the Lord’s commands?

    But on the larger point, I think there is a second answer to Tony Campolo: Rather than argue that states are guided by different laws than individuals because of a 2k division, could we not also argue that states are guided by the same laws, but applied differently because the state must consider the welfare of its citizens.

    Consider this: if I were walking down the street by myself and assaulted by someone, then my duty to turn the other cheek would guide my response to the assault.

    But if I were walking down the street with my family, and someone assaulted us, then my duty to protect my children and wife might elicit a very different response.

    In this scenario, I’m clearly not a magistrate; my different response has nothing to do with separation of church and state. Instead, my different response has to do with my responsibility to others.

    So a nation could well have a strong defense policy, yet still be guided by the Sermon on the Mount *because it cares for the welfare of its citizens.*

    All governments, without special revelation, in most eras throughout history, have outlawed thievery, murder, rape, anarchy, etc..at some level, albeit inconsistently, without the guidance of special revelation. We are not taught to expect more in this already/not yet age, nor are we told this type of rule is invalid to be replaced by Christian theocracy.

    I respectfully dissent. Thievery has been outlawed — except when the thieves were of the ruling class. And I’m not speaking as if liberal (“capitalism is theft”), but talking about plain, big thefts: serfdom in Russia, the practice of looting and despoiling in medieval Europe, the systematic theft of Native American lands.

    Ditto with murder: killing was wrong, unless you were the pater familia, or unless it was entertaining enough, or unless you were killing a slave, or unless we are killing an unborn child. “Natural law” didn’t seem to guide nations to the right course here.

    So Yes, common grace provides enough conscience for us to all recognize our guilt; but No, I don’t think it provides a clear enough guidance for good governance. I think I understand why you do, though, and I’m happy to leave it there.

    Also, what guidance *would* you give to the Christian magistrate about which moral norms to make into law? Should the Christian magistrate outlaw homosexual behavior? Abortion? Gambling? Drunkenness? Unjustified divorce? And on what basis?

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

  307. tim prussic said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Todd – #305 – God clearly identified 3 distinct but related forms of government on earth – family, church & state. He commands each according to its nature. E.g., the state is to bear the sword and EXECUTE the evil doer, in keeping with the rest of his commandments. Neither the family nor the church are to follow those commandments, but are to do what’s necessary to make sure the state does. I think you’re simply confusing very clear categories, which, if you’re reading or listening to Tony Campolo, doesn’t come as a shock!! :)

  308. steve hays said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Todd said,

    “Sure there is. All God’s laws are just because he spoke them, but again, you are not taking into account that biblical laws are conditioned by covenant. Just because something is proper for one covenant does not mean it is proper for all of them…It was just for Israelite widows to be required to marry one of her husband’s brothers after her husband’s death, if he died childless, in order to continue the family line of the dead husband (Deut 25), but I don’t see a lot of theonomists continuing this practice today. Of course, you can always file this into the ‘ceremonial’ pile and be done with it.”

    Do you really think that’s a serious response to the opposing position? Why would that injunction be “conditioned by covenant”? It would be more reasonable to say that this provision was conditioned by the socioeconomic situation of the ANE. That’s why it doesn’t apply today.

    Of course, even in that instance, the NT is also concerned with the welfare of widows. It simply takes a different form. So there is an underlying principle which carries over into the new covenant.

    It’s just a straw man argument to suggest that we insist on the identical application of specific provisions. That was never the issue. The issue is whether some of the civil laws exemplify general norms. Try to refocus your attention on the actual position you presume to oppose.

    “It was just for the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child Canaanite because of their idolatry and because they were defiling the Land, but it is improper and sinful to do this to idolaters in the new covenant age.”

    You have a habit of jumbling everything together. That injunction presupposes the cultic holiness of Israel. So that would be ceremonial, IMO.

    At the same time, the Mosaic laws of warfare aren’t purely ceremonial. Like any nation-state, Israel needed to defend herself against external enemies.

    “The law of Israel was the law of the land of Canaan, a land that typified heaven.”

    That’s a gross overstatement. Israel was a national-state. As such, many of her laws were laws regarding social conduct, of the sort every nation-statement must legislate.

    Feel free to explain how all the Mosaic laws and penalties regarding sex crimes, property crimes, and crimes of violence typify heaven.

  309. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Jeff wrote

    “Instead, my different response has to do with my responsibility to others.
    So a nation could well have a strong defense policy, yet still be guided by the Sermon on the Mount *because it cares for the welfare of its citizens.*

    But a nation cannot be guided by the Sermon on the Mount, nor the Ten Commandments, unless it is a theocracy. The Sermon on the Mount is for believers only, those who are poor in spirit. How can you enforce as government policy the Sermon on the Mount? Can you make a law that all citizens should pray for those who curse them? In other words, you cannot separate theology from ethics. The ethics of the new covenant are kingdom ethics for God’s people.

    What you have left then are general principles of justice and care for others, which I would call natural law, and you might call general biblical principles, but not God’s Laws revealed. It could be we are close to saying the same thing using different terminology.

    “I respectfully dissent. Thievery has been outlawed — except when the thieves were of the ruling class. And I’m not speaking as if liberal (”capitalism is theft”), but talking about plain, big thefts: serfdom in Russia, the practice of looting and despoiling in medieval Europe, the systematic theft of Native American lands. Ditto with murder: killing was wrong, unless you were the pater familia, or unless it was entertaining enough, or unless you were killing a slave, or unless we are killing an unborn child. “Natural law” didn’t seem to guide nations to the right course here.”

    Remember, I said inconsistently, because we live in a sinful world,and also, Paul applied Rom 13:1&2 to the Roman government as it was, not to what an idealized government should be, and Paul affirmed their use of the sword against evildoers was a good thing.

    “Also, what guidance *would* you give to the Christian magistrate about which moral norms to make into law? Should the Christian magistrate outlaw homosexual behavior? Abortion? Gambling? Drunkenness? Unjustified divorce? And on what basis?”

    This is where we need to recover the category of wisdom instead of always law. Each situation above would call for wisdom depending on many variables, but I would warn him not to use the Bible wrongly for direct black and white answers to every legal and political policy question, for that is not the purpose of the Scriptures.

    Todd

  310. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Todd – #305 – God clearly identified 3 distinct but related forms of government on earth – family, church & state. He commands each according to its nature. E.g., Neither the family nor the church are to follow those commandments, but are to do what’s necessary to make sure the state does. I think you’re simply confusing very clear categories, which, if you’re reading or listening to Tony Campolo, doesn’t come as a shock!! :)

    Tim,

    Good one! What do you mean, “the state is to bear the sword and EXECUTE the evil doer, in keeping with the rest of his commandments.” In keeping with the rest of what commandments?

    Todd

  311. TurretinFan said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Todd wrote:

    I think you read too much into my post. You made the comment that only one side was offering exegetical arguments of their position, and I don’t think you meant the 2k side. Actually, we have offered exegetical arguments, just run back through the posts, but it is more likely you just don’t agree with the exegesis. And I am not dismissing theonomy because of the label, I have held it up to Scripture and found it wanting. I didn’t mean to say more than that.

    I’d be happy simply to have missed the exegesis that was presented. There wasn’t exegesis presented here. I realize that it may be an issue of such complexity that a “pat answer” is not possible. Still, it would be helpful if you could be more specific about the exegetical basis for the claims being made. Hart’s “rage of the prophets” comment is what caught my attention. Do you think that there is an exegetical defense of that somewhere to be found? There wasn’t one presented here. So far, every time in my limited number of interactions with Hart that he’s appealled to Scripture, his appeal has not supported his case, as I’ve demonstrated.

    Todd wrote:

    Sure there is [a hole in the jutice argument]. All God’s laws are just because he spoke them, but again, you are not taking into account that biblical laws are conditioned by covenant. Just because something is proper for one covenant does not mean it is proper for all of them.

    This is better than any of the other responses that I’ve seen, but it’s not quite right.

    a) The concept of “conditioned by covenant” requires explication. In what sense are they “conditioned by covenant”? Surely you agree that the moral law is not “conditioned by covenant,” or at least I would assume that you would agree to that. The ceremonial law was connected with the “covenant” of the types and shadows (the Adamic/Nohaic/Abrahamic/Mosaic administrations of the covenant of grace), whereas Christ is the mediator of the “better covenant.” The civil law, however, is an application of moral law to the issue of civil government. The particular government was destroyed. The principles of justice embodied in it remain.

    b) Animal sacrifice is something that was appropriate for some administrations of the covenant of grace, but is no longer appropriate. It is no longer appropriate because it was fulfilled in Christ, the new and better sacrifice. The civil law of Israel, as such, was also done away with the destruction of Israel. It was ended, not fulfilled. Christ did not come to fulfill the nation-state role: his kingdom is not of this earth.

    c) Therefore, it still remains to be seen why certain principles of the civil law (such as capital punishment for various crimes) would no longer be just now, though they were just then.

    Todd wrote:

    It was just for Israelite widows to be required to marry one of her husband’s brothers after her husband’s death, if he died childless, in order to continue the family line of the dead husband (Deut 25), but I don’t see a lot of theonomists continuing this practice today. Of course, you can always file this into the “ceremonial” pile and be done with it.

    It is easier simply to identify it as a land law. It related to the specific inheritance of land, an inheritance that was taken away as a judgment on Israel. The moral principle that brothers should provide for their brothers’ widows, however, remains. Recall that care for the widows of the brethren (and remarriage to a Christian brother as the means for such provision for widows under 60) is in the New Testament, see 1 Timothy 5:9.

    Todd continued:

    It was just for the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child Canaanite because of their idolatry and because they were defiling the Land, but it is improper and sinful to do this to idolaters in the new covenant age. The law of Israel was the law of the land of Canaan, a land that typified heaven. Unless you want to say that America is the new Canaan, you cannot take the laws that belong to one covenant administration and assume they are proper for the next.

    To a degree, we have the same issue here. The law was linked to the land. Additionally, the Israelites had a specific command to perform genocide in this instance, and the crimes of the Canaanites were more heinous than mere idolatry. The promised land is a picture of heaven, I certainly agree. Although it is not yet fulfilled, nevertheless, the land laws are done away partly because we are not the physical seed of Abraham and partly because Israel was condemned and her land was lost under the law (see Deuteronomy 28, beginning at verse 15).

    Nothing correspondingly applies, for example, to the just punishment of death for murder. It was not part of the land laws, it was a general criminal law. It is that category of laws for which we are baffled that the “Two Kingdom” folk seem to refuse to consider their principles of justice as being expressions of an unchangeable standard of justice confirmed in the New Testament.

    -TurretinFan

  312. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Steve wrote:

    “Do you really think that’s a serious response to the opposing position? Why would that injunction be “conditioned by covenant”… It’s just a straw man argument to suggest that we insist on the identical application of specific provisions. That was never the issue. The issue is whether some of the civil laws exemplify general norms. Try to refocus your attention on the actual position you presume to oppose.”

    So theonomists get to pick and choose which laws they can apply directly and which they can use only the general principle for statecraft. So since the death penalty was applied to homosexuals we can apply that directly, but since it would be awkward to apply Deut 25 directly we can just use the general principle. Very convenient, but how do you justify these distinctions Biblically?

    I understand the theonomist’s argument for general equity, and not a direct application in “exhaustive detail.” The problem is that it becomes just as “autonomous” as the 2k position. Who decides which OT civil penalties are valid as written, and which ones we should only take a general principle from?

    “You have a habit of jumbling everything together. That injunction presupposes the cultic holiness of Israel. So that would be ceremonial, IMO.”

    That was easy. In your opinion that law is ceremonial so you don’t need to obey it as written. And you say we are autonomous in our application :-)

    The entire Mosaic Law presupposes the cultic holiness of Israel. “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it” (Deut 6:1). The Law of Israel was the Law of the special Land.

    “At the same time, the Mosaic laws of warfare aren’t purely ceremonial. Like any nation-state, Israel needed to defend herself against external enemies.”

    Maybe not ceremonial in the strict sense, but those laws only made sense under a God-ordained theocracy in a typological setting. There were many times God required Israel not to fight her enemies, but to allow the Lord to fight for them, would you apply those requirements to the state also?

    “That’s a gross overstatement. Israel was a national-state. As such, many of her laws were laws regarding social conduct, of the sort every nation-statement must legislate.”

    But not legislate as a theocracy, like Israel. Surely a modern magistrate may find wisdom and help from the Mosaic Law in general, as well as from Greek and Roman law, but the laws of Israel were for the special, theocratic nation that typified the church. You still are making the mistake Vos and Kline warned against – equating the civil aspect of Israel to new covenant civil governments.

    “Feel free to explain how all the Mosaic laws and penalties regarding sex crimes, property crimes, and crimes of violence typify heaven.”

    Because in heaven there are no sex crimes, property crimes, and crimes of violence; and each individual, or Christ for them at the cross, will/have been legally judged at the justice seat in heaven for these sins.

    Todd

  313. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    “Hart’s “rage of the prophets” comment is what caught my attention. Do you think that there is an exegetical defense of that somewhere to be found?”

    I’m not sure what Darryl was referring to here, though I may have an idea, but I’ll let him answer for himself.

  314. tim prussic said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Todd – #310 – what I meant by “in keeping with the rest of his commandments” was simply a bit of question begging. I don’t think that the state has the right to execute anyone or any crime they deem a capital offense, but rather that they too are bound by the law of God in how and when they can apply sanctions – especially capital punishment. My comment, thus, simply begs the whole question we’ve been discussing for the past weeks on this blog. Another way of saying what I meant is this: “I’m right, and that should have been clear to everyone from the outset.”

  315. bret said,

    November 7, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    I agree with Zrim that a third way is not possible. I believe that approaches that embrace a hard dualism that contend that grace and nature cannot be reconciled in any manner cannot be reconciled with approaches that embrace the idea that grace restores nature. Zrim is right that there is a clear antithesis here.

    However, having said that, if you want to read somebody looking for your third way you might be interesting in reading Harold O. J. Brown. Brown contends that he is looking for a third way that is neither confessional pluralism or theonomy. “The Reconstruction Of The Republic” is one of his works on that end. He also writes a couple of key chapters in God & Politics. Unfortunately that book didn’t include a contribution from the R2Kt camp, though the confessional pluralism has some elements of R2Kt in it.

    Happy reading.

  316. Todd said,

    November 7, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    TurretinFan wrote,

    “Nothing correspondingly applies, for example, to the just punishment of death for murder. It was not part of the land laws, it was a general criminal law. It is that category of laws for which we are baffled that the “Two Kingdom” folk seem to refuse to consider their principles of justice as being expressions of an unchangeable standard of justice confirmed in the New Testament.”

    Well, I’m getting kind of lonely arguing for the 2k position all by myself, I hope my other 2k brothers haven’t left me here alone in the desert! But I’m interested in your criticism to try to discern what you are hearing us saying, so could you elaborate on your point above about what baffles you concerning what we are saying?

    Thanks,

    Todd

  317. steve hays said,

    November 7, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Todd said,

    “So theonomists get to pick and choose which laws they can apply directly and which they can use only the general principle for statecraft. So since the death penalty was applied to homosexuals we can apply that directly, but since it would be awkward to apply Deut 25 directly we can just use the general principle. Very convenient, but how do you justify these distinctions Biblically?”

    i) You’re not debating theonomists in general. At the moment, you’re debating me. It would behoove you to focus on my arguments.

    I notice that you employ the tactic of deflecting objections to your position rather than answering them. But you have your own burden of proof to discharge. Punting to what you think is problematic in the opposing position does nothing to vindicate your own.

    ii) Marriage is a creation ordinance Levirate marriage is not. Levirite marriage is adapted to a tribal society with clan ownership of property, which, in turn, selects for endogamy.

    This is a case of drawing principled distinctions based on the underlying rationale for a given law. For you to call that “picking and choosing” is not a rational counterargument. It’s just an invidious characterization. If you can’t do any better than that, then you must not have a defensible position.

    iii) I already discussed the issue of criteria in answer to Lane. Try to keep up with the debate:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/chapter-194-of-the-westminster-confession-of-faith/#comment-55381

    “Who decides which OT civil penalties are valid as written, and which ones we should only take a general principle from?”

    “Who decides” is an exercise in misdirection. That’s the line of argument that Catholics and Orthodox use to attack the right of private judgment.

    It comes down to which side has the better of the argument. If you have a problem with that standard, then you’ve disqualified yourself from arguing for your own position. After all, “who decides” that your position makes more sense than theonomy or 2K? It would behoove you to avoid self-refuting objections.

    “That was easy. In your opinion that law is ceremonial so you don’t need to obey it as written. And you say we are autonomous in our application :-)”

    Once again, I didn’t say that. You’re not responding to me. Instead, you’re deflecting the objection rather than answering the objection. If you can’t defend your position by honest means, then that’s a tacit admission that your position is indefensible. Your evasive maneuvers betray the weakness of your position.

    “The entire Mosaic Law presupposes the cultic holiness of Israel. “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it” (Deut 6:1). The Law of Israel was the Law of the special Land.”

    And even if it was not a “special land,” it would still need many of the same laws.

    “Maybe not ceremonial in the strict sense, but those laws only made sense under a God-ordained theocracy in a typological setting. There were many times God required Israel not to fight her enemies, but to allow the Lord to fight for them, would you apply those requirements to the state also?”

    You continue to employ a mindless all-or-nothing approach. Even if Israel was not a “special land,” she would still need to defend herself against external enemies.

    Israel didn’t need to defend herself merely because she was a holy nation. Rather, a national which happened to be holy needed to defend itself.

    “Surely a modern magistrate may find wisdom and help from the Mosaic Law in general, as well as from Greek and Roman law, but the laws of Israel were for the special, theocratic nation that typified the church.”

    Laws against theft and murder (to take two examples) aren’t “special” to Israel. Israel didn’t have laws against theft and murder because she was “special.”

    A blind man is special. And it’s against the law to murder a blind man. But not because he’s special. His visual impairment is incidental to the crime.

    “Because in heaven there are no sex crimes, property crimes, and crimes of violence; and each individual, or Christ for them at the cross, will/have been legally judged at the justice seat in heaven for these sins.”

    i) Typology doesn’t prefigure nonentities. In a type/antitype relation, both relata exist.

    ii) More to the point, Israel had laws regarding sex crimes, property crimes, and crimes of violence, not because they “typified” anything, but because every nation-state needs laws to regulate certain forms of social behavior. Otherwise, social life is impossible.

    iii) Unless you believe in universal atonement or even universal salvation, Christ did not atone for every criminal.

    iii) Likewise, the atonement does not absolve a thief or murderer. He is still liable to punishment here and now. Even if God forgives me for murder, that doesn’t amount to pardon. You’re confusing crimes with sins.

  318. tim prussic said,

    November 7, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Todd, since you seem to be willing to engage, would you take stab at answering my question in #298? Thanks!

  319. tim prussic said,

    November 7, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Steve, don’t mind me if I lift this: “Even if God forgives me for murder, that doesn’t amount to pardon” outta context and send it to your session/presbytery and recommend that you’re brought up on charges for the denial of the doctrine of justification. Maybe I can get that accusation published in the Trinity Review!!! *Bu-dum tsrchze*

  320. Darryl Hart said,

    November 7, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Todd: you’re doing just fine. I thought your point about the selectivity of theonomists resulting in a practical 2k view was stellar. You go boy!

    TFan: for all of your complaining about no exegesis, all I have seen from you so far is a string of logical deductions. (Have you been reading Frame?) Frankly, no one on this blog does much exegesis. That would require Hebrew and Greek. I haven’t seem much of it. But believe it or not, many of us are appealing to the Bible. My “rage of the prophets” phrase was meant to contrast with the NT instruction to saints (watch carefully, Scripture is being appealed to) to pray for quiet and peaceful lives. The sort of ranting against secular humanism, and calling down judgment on certain politicians, would not seem to square with Paul’s instruction to saints about the kind of lives that fit sound doctrine or the way they are to submit to rulers. I don’t see why that is so hard to understand. Nor do I see how the role of the OT prophets is some kind of model for individual Christians living in exile.

  321. Darryl Hart said,

    November 7, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Tim P.: I believe that Christ’s rule is evident in the very institutions you mentioned above — in the family, the church and the state. Those are the institutions to which he delegate his power. But the kind of power he exerts over all of humanity is different from the one he exerts over his elect.

    You also talked about all kings needed to submit to Christ. So do all peasants. But the question for you is what does a king’s submitting to Christ mean for all those under his charge. We have a biblical warrant for baptizing babies. I don’t think the NT pattern would allow a warrant for baptizing baby citizens simply by virtue of their citizenship. So the covenant of grace operates in families and the church, not in the state. You could even say that the covenant of grace didn’t operate in the state in the OT because Israel was a church.

    E. Hoss: I’m not sure how I’d reconcile God’s prescriptive and providential rule. But in the case of Congol, does God’s prescriptive rule give Christians a warrant to invade and establish Christian rule? You might have the stomach to answer yes. I do not. I believe God’s providential rule makes it near to impossible for believers to overturn authorities God has ordained.

  322. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 7, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Todd, we’ve reached a friendly impasse on “Natural Law.” Allow me to outline the salient points and then withdraw the field.

    On your side:

    (1) You want to emphasize, per Kline, the special nature of Israel as a type of heaven (I would say, “new heavens and earth”, but you probably mean that). Thus, the OT civil law is isolated to Israel.

    (I agree with this point, incidentally. Drs. Muether and Jue convinced me of the overall validity of the Klinean framework in their class discussions.)

    (2) You believe that Natural Law serves as the proper guide to the civil magistrate, both Christian and pagan, for the formation of laws.

    (3) You hold that the church is the current theocracy, the current Israel; there is therefore no sense and no point trying to create a theocratic government.

    (4) You believe that it is impossible for a government to be guided by special revelation without being a theocracy: “But a nation cannot be guided by the Sermon on the Mount, nor the Ten Commandments, unless it is a theocracy. ”

    On my side, I would hold that

    (1) Theonomy seems to be a dead end. It tries to place the world under the Law just as Israel was under the Law. The books of Hebrews, Galatians, and Romans seem to make this impossible.

    (2) But, it seems to me that a Christian magistrate, while not being a theonomist, must still do his job “as unto the Lord.” And his job uniquely requires him to pass and enforce laws based upon the notion of restraining evil. And, his understanding of “evil” will necessarily be shaped by special revelation.

    I just can’t understand the idea of a Christian magistrate using “Natural Law” to define evil in his public life on Monday through Saturday, while using God’s Word to define evil in his private life and in public worship on Sunday.

    It seems to require a lack of integrity.

    (3) And in any event, I don’t really believe in “Natural Law”, except in the sense of Romans 1-2. Too much of what passes for “self-evidently right” is in fact a result of cultural conditioning.

    So my conclusion is that some other approach is needed. I look forward to finding the Brown book (thanks, Bret). That approach would not begin by taking a position on the reconcilability of nature and grace; in fact, I think that Now-and-Not-Yet considerations would argue that nature and grace are neither fully separate nor fully reconcilable (since the created order is both Good and Fallen). So that axis would have to be left undefined.

    Nor could a third approach begin by trying to address the question, “Can there be a Christian nation?” (or Christendom). The answer is clearly No, since there is no way to guarantee the continuation of Christianity amongst the citizens of Christendom. That is, even if MyTown became a “Christian town” in 2008, it might easily lapse by 2050.

    Instead, I think the third approach might profitably begin by asking the question, “How should the individual Christian magistrate do his job?”

    This question would be profitable in two ways. First, it would move past some of the unresolvable issues mentioned above. Second, it would pragmatic not only for Christians who are actually in official governmental positions, but also for all of us who are part of democratic governments.

    I think you would allow, Todd, that when I put this question to you, your response at the end of #309 was essentially to punt. You want the Christian magistrate to use “wisdom” (but presumably not the wisdom of Proverbs, lest we be theonomic!). Fine. But how? I think supplying the details to that question is the key to finding the third way. For my part, I think I would want to stubbornly insist that the wisdom guiding the Christian magistrate must (a) be shaped by Scripture, but (b) be flexible enough to allow the Christian magistrate to love his pagan neighbor as himself.

    So that’s where we stand. Thanks for the conversation!

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

    (Parting shot @ Zrim #281: “The examples from scripture have to do more with idolatry than morality.” Do you really think that idolatry is not an issue of morality? Or that I’m out of examples just because I only listed the ones off the top? Try the midwives’ refusal to kill Israelite babies. Or Rahab’s hiding of the spies. Find your own examples! The point is that there will be times when we “must obey God rather than man.”)

  323. ReformedSinner said,

    November 8, 2008 at 12:01 am

    #322,

    Soo… let’s say a Christian becomes a “magistrate” in your town, and he does point 2 as you suggested and ruled by “Christian laws” (whatever that is), and then his term is up. The town elected a Muslim to be the next “magistrate”, does he has the same right to rule with “Muslim law” now? Or are you going to pass a law that only Christians can be magistrates in your town?

  324. TurretinFan said,

    November 8, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Todd wrote:

    Well, I’m getting kind of lonely arguing for the 2k position all by myself, I hope my other 2k brothers haven’t left me here alone in the desert! But I’m interested in your criticism to try to discern what you are hearing us saying, so could you elaborate on your point above about what baffles you concerning what we are saying?

    I hear Hart and others driving a wedge between the prophets and the apostles. How non-dispensationals think they can do this is a mystery. The absence of any reasoned or exegetical explanation reinforces my conclusion that they do so in ways that are fundamentally improper.

    Hart wrote:

    Todd: you’re doing just fine. I thought your point about the selectivity of theonomists resulting in a practical 2k view was stellar. You go boy!

    Once Hart has put the pom-poms down, perhaps he’ll explain his obvious antipathy for theonomy, if in fact the results are the same as the “two kingdoms” view.

    Hart continued:

    TFan: for all of your complaining about no exegesis, all I have seen from you so far is a string of logical deductions. (Have you been reading Frame?)

    Is Frame the only person you know who uses logical arguments? You should read some of the older writers, Turretin, Witsius, Hodge, Cunningham, Shedd, Dabney, and so forth.

    Your selected emphasis on “exegesis” is interesting. I haven’t seen either exegesis or reasoned argumentation. The reason you don’t see a more detailed exegesis of the foundations for the arguments I presented is that they haven’t been challenged. No one has said, “Show me that from Scripture,” probably because everyone here recognizes that the Scriptural foundations of my arguments are correct.

    Hart continued:

    Frankly, no one on this blog does much exegesis. That would require Hebrew and Greek. I haven’t [seen] much of it.

    A rigorous exegetical study would delve into the original languages. Nevertheless, even an English-language-only exegesis of Scripture would be a lot better than the use of Scriptures presented here to support the 2K position.

    Hart continued:

    But believe it or not, many of us are appealing to the Bible.

    If you’ll notice, I’ve engaged those appeals. Upon examination, they turn out not to be the source of the position, hence my point about the lack of Scriptural study.

    Hart continued:

    My “rage of the prophets” phrase was meant to contrast with the NT instruction to saints (watch carefully, Scripture is being appealed to) to pray for quiet and peaceful lives.

    If you’ll scroll up, you’ll see I already engaged this. I realize that some of my posts are slow to post because of moderation, so you may have missed my response. Let me provide a bit more detail, in case you saw it and just weren’t persuaded:

    a) This sort of wedge-driving attempt – providing a “contrast with the NT instruction” – is odd, because the issue in play isn’t really connected with the theonomy question, but with a broader question. We can see that, at least two ways.

    b) First, the “quiet and peaceable life” mentioned is the life of a Christian under a Christian magistrate. That is, after all, the prayer we are commanded to make for kings and other authorities. It is a life free from persecution. Conversely, the ordinary means whereby that prayer is answered is the preaching of the Word of God: the law (to convict of sin) and the Gospel (to show the way of salvation). Our prayer for the salvation of, for example, Obama should not be assumed to be the only thing we do. We can also publicly and openly convict him of sin (see this example). Living a quiet and peaceable life doesn’t mean Christians shutting up, it means not being persecuted by anti-Christian governments and more generally not having a nation roiled by unnecessary conflict.

    b) Similar instructions were provided to Old Testament saints. Both in the promised land (Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.) and in exile (Jeremiah 29:7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.)

    The sort of ranting against secular humanism, and calling down judgment on certain politicians, would not seem to square with Paul’s instruction to saints about the kind of lives that fit sound doctrine or the way they are to submit to rulers.

    You cannot deny (in fact you reference it disparagingly with your “rage of the prophets” comment) that the prophets did not shut up about the sin of the civil government. So, it seems you want to introduce a wedge between the Old and New Testaments.

    One problem, of course, is that John the Baptist (in the New Testament Scriptures, if nevertheless the last of the old administration prophets) quite clearly did not shut up, and it cost him his head. Another problem is that Jesus himself spoke out against the sin of the leaders of the nation of Israel, even while instructing his followers to submit to them. A further problem is the fact that Paul himself did not let civil leaders off the hook with respect to sin.

    Acts 16:35-39
    35And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. 37But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. 38And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.

    Consider also Paul’s response to Ananias in Acts 23:2-4. You may respond that Paul repented of his calling down judgment on that man, but recall his basis for doing so: not New Testament instruction, but Old Testament instruction “Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” Exodus 22:28

    There is continuity, not discontinuity, with regard to the believer’s relationship to the civil government. Either “rage of the prophets” was wrong in their day or it is not wrong in our day. The moral law does not change.

    Hart continued:

    I don’t see why that is so hard to understand.

    See above. Perhaps, sir, it is you who have difficulty understanding.

    Hart continued:

    Nor do I see how the role of the OT prophets is some kind of model for individual Christians living in exile.

    In addition to the explanation above, this explanation should help. After discussing the prophets and other Old Testament believers, the Word of God declares:

    Hebrews 12:1-4
    1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

    Their testimonies are examples to us. Their faith is a model. If they were bold, not having seen the Messiah except in shadows and types, how much more bold should we be!

    -TurretinFan

  325. Darryl Hart said,

    November 8, 2008 at 7:29 am

    TFan: this is the difference between theonomy and Christian orthodoxy, one of continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT. For a good statement of the discontinuity I suggest you read WCF ch. 7. God’s people no longer has a state. The only Christian state in the history of the world was Israel. When Christ rose from the dead, that state ended and transfered her rule to the church, an institution that knows no national boundaries or governmental regulations. The church is a spiritual institution with spiritual weapons for enforcing her standards and prosecuting her mission. I know some don’t like that loss of outward glory. The Corinthians were among the first. But since we are called to be content, being content with the church’s means is what we should do.

    But you also seem to suggest that we should live quiet and peaceful lives only under Christian magistrates. Is that correct? But Paul and Timonthy weren’t living under Christian magistrates. The rulers the Bible is concerned with raging against are the Christian ones, first in Israel, now in the church. So if you have a bad pastor, rage away. But a bad magistrate? Submit. Having to endure non-believing rulers reminds me of Gaffin’s great piece about theonomy, that it had no room for suffering because of its inherent theology of glory.

  326. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 8, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Dr. Hart,

    For one it is nice to know that you believe theonomists to be outside of “Christian Orthodoxy”. What exactly do you mean by that?

    I agree that Chapter 7 of the WCF should be central in this conversation. More importantly how does the WCF see the Old Testament in the New New Testament age, because as ch.7 says “There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.”

    Also where is your exegesis to counter Tfan’s exegesis? I would like to see, exegetically, how you deal with Tfan’s comments?

  327. Bret McAtee said,

    November 8, 2008 at 9:24 am

    D. G. Hart & R2Kt

    “This is the difference between theonomy and Christian orthodoxy, one of continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT. For a good statement of the discontinuity I suggest you read WCF ch. 7. God’s people no longer have a state.”

    The first sentence is so correct that some (not originating with me) have referred to Hart’s form of Reformed thinking as “Reformed Dispensationalism.” The kind of discontinuities in the R2Kt school seem to be every bit the equal of the kind of discontinuities you find in Dispensationalism.

    The second statement is of course nonsense. WCF ch. 7 does not say of what Hart thinks it says. If it said what Hart says it says then neither the Reformed idea of theocracy nor theonomy could exist. In order to find Hart’s conclusions of WCF ch. 7 you must begin with Hart’s presuppositions for the WCF text itself gives him no support. This statement by Hart also reveals his inability to understand that every nation is a theocracy of one type or another. If justified, regenerated people who are being transformed by the renewing of their minds gather together to live in community what they will produce, by God’s grace, under the Spirit’s illumination, as guided by the Scriptures is a Christian nation ruled by God. This is no different then saying, on a smaller scale, that if a justified, regenerated people who are being transformed by the renewing of their minds are gathered together by God to live under one roof what they will produce, by God’s grace, under the Spirit’s illumination, as guided by the Scriptures is a Christian family. If Christian families can exist then so can Christian nations. But perhaps Dr. Hart does not believe that Christian families can exist either?

    It is only Hart’s presuppositions that force him to say that the common realm is neutral and so cannot be Christian. This is a presupposition more beholden to Aristotle then it is to the Bible. The reality of like minded people of the undoubted catholic Christian faith gathering and organizing together to build a Sate and live in concert with God’s Word suggest that the common realm is not neutral. Certainly the reality of this simple idea can be seen in differences in common realms as built by Muslims, Hindus, Secular Humanists as compared to those built by Christians.

    “The only Christian state in the history of the world was Israel. When Christ rose from the dead, that state ended and transferred her rule to the church, an institution that knows no national boundaries or governmental regulations. The church is a spiritual institution with spiritual weapons for enforcing her standards and prosecuting her mission. I know some don’t like that loss of outward glory. The Corinthians were among the first. But since we are called to be content, being content with the church’s means is what we should do.”

    First, note is admitting that the Old Covenant had a greater outward glory then the new and better covenant brought in by the Lord Jesus. This constant denigrating of the quality of the new covenant is passing strange in light of the reality that it is described in scripture as a new and better covenant. (See a previous post that examines how public square ethics in the new and better covenant are of an inferior nature to the public square ethics in the old and worst covenant according to R2Kt thinking.)

    The next problem is how Hart uses the word “spiritual.” For Hart the Church is superior because it is spiritual while the realm of nature (common realm) is inferior (yucky) because it is not spiritual. This sure sounds (insert g word here) to me.

    Third the state did not end with the resurrection of Christ. Where is the scripture that would ever suggest such a thing? Israel, as God’s people had a Church and State (among other institutions). When Christ died He insured that His redeemed Churched people would organize redeemed cultures, part of which is laboring to build states that are infused with the spirit of redemption precisely because they are animated by a redeemed people. Hart, quite apart from any textual considerations, simply asserts that “the State ended.”

    Fourth, no one disagrees with Hart when he says that the church is “an institution that knows no national boundaries or governmental regulations. The church is a spiritual institution with spiritual weapons for enforcing her standards and prosecuting her mission.” I would merely say that when by God’s grace a spiritual institution (Church) is successful at prosecuting her mission so that the elect are brought in by droves to King Jesus one result will be that the elect will want to build Christian culture which includes building Christian states. In other words the spiritual presence that empowers the Church for its mission when successful always incarnates itself into the corporeal world thus revealing that while the spiritual is always prior and primary the incarnation of the spiritual as seen in the corporeal cultural outworking remains God’s working and so is not “yucky.” Just as God gave dust the spiritual breath of life and so it lived, so when God makes a people spiritually alive in great enough numbers in any given culture so they live and that living is seen by their building of culture that is in obedience to King Jesus. Neither the dust or the culture is anything in itself until God breathes in the breath of life and then it is to be prized as being touched by God through the justifying and regenerating of His people.

    Finally, nobody is arguing against being content with the means that the Church has been given for its spiritual work as Hart implies. Conversions do not happen by the sword.

    “But you also seem to suggest that we should live quiet and peaceful lives only under Christian magistrates. Is that correct? But Paul and Timothy weren’t living under Christian magistrates. The rulers the Bible is concerned with raging against are the Christian ones, first in Israel, now in the church. So if you have a bad pastor, rage away. But a bad magistrate? Submit. Having to endure non-believing rulers reminds me of Gaffin’s great piece about theonomy, that it had no room for suffering because of its inherent theology of glory.”

    Christians should live quiet and peaceful lives under magistrates of any faith as long as those magistrates don’t insist on them obeying man rather than God.

    Second, Gaffin was quite wrong in his piece that Hart references. Theonomy has tons of room for suffering since those who desire the rule of God suffer, among other things, the calumnies of those like Gaffin and Hart. Further, they suffer physically with persecutions when they refuse to pinch incense and say “Caesar est Kurios.” To be quite honest I would say given our times it is only theonomist who suffer because it is only theonomists who are resisting wickedness in high places and so represent a threat to the anti-Christ authorities. The R2Kt crowd doesn’t worry about suffering because nobody has any reason to persecute them because they are not a threat to anybody. You want suffering? Come be a theonomist.

    I am beginning to wonder, given Dr. Hart’s advice to submit, if he isn’t descended from a long line of Tories. King George III would have loved to have had him in a Presbyterian pulpit around 1775.

    cross posted at http://www.ironink.org

  328. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 8, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Amen Bret. Great stuff.

  329. Todd said,

    November 8, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Jeff wrote:

    “So that’s where we stand. Thanks for the conversation!”

    Jeff,

    I thought your summary of our positions in #322 hit the nail on the head. My only quibble would be in regards to your thought that I “punted” when dealing with the question of the Christian magistrate using the Bible for public policy. What you call “punt,” I would call respecting Christian liberty, or not speaking beyond the Bible. I appreciated our dialogue.

    Todd

  330. its.reed said,

    November 8, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Bret (and Benjamin):

    On the other hand, I find myself offended by the host of mischaracterizations of my convictions (essentially 2k). I find myself wanting to react (over-react most likely) to the kinds of diatribes, misreadings and unjustified inferential conclusions you are reaching.

    Now Bret, before you respond with yet another round of “he said/he said”, stop and re-read my first paragraph here. How many times have you sincerely felt the exact same way when reading some 2k’s explanation of what you believe? I know for a fact, at least from the comments on this blog, that this is a regular “now wait a minute” plea from my theonomist brothers.

    My point in this comment is not to argue back, but to observe the reality that it is apparent to any who will consider humbly – many of of us truly do not understand the other. I question to what degree this is that some of us don’t recognize the holes in our own positions.

    If I may be Van Tillian without any calumny from others for a moment, it seems to me that we truly do not have a sound understanding of the of fundamental principles of the other side. Take this as a general observation. Some to be sure are more studied than others. Yet …

  331. Darryl Hart said,

    November 8, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Mr. Glaser, thanks for quoting that part of the confession. The use of the word “dispensations” suggests that there may actually be a place for Reformed dispensationalism. (And before the charges of Marcionism fly, please remember the hallowed Westminster divines used the word. If you have issues, take it up with them. Don’t bang me over the head with it.)

    That part of the confession also seems to fly in the face of good, women’s ordination-tolerating, pastor Bret. It says that with the church the gospel is “administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory” than the old dispensation. It seems to me that theonomy is not content with the simplicity and lack of glory in the current arrangement of the church. But then take a number on that discontent. Plenty of Presbyterians are not content with the churches spiritual weapons. They seem to want the outward glory of universities, cities, nation-states, modern medicine, art — you name it — to carry the name Christian.

    Please be clear, Bret, I never said the state doesn’t exist. I said the Christian state doesn’t exist, and if we had a Christian state, it was Israel. Israel as a Christian state no longer exists. You’re living in denial if you want to reclaim it. You’re living what Calvin called a Judaic Folly. I should add that the Christian state that does exist is the Church, which practices the only Christian form of government in this age, jure divino Presbyterianism.

    Anyway, all theonomists, hard or soft core, living in the United States are functional 2k Christians, unless they are trying to overthrow this current regime. The Covenanters even knew this and that’s why they forbade their members from voting or holding pubilc office. (The RPCNA also capitulated sometime around 1980 and reversed these positions.) But if you vote, pay taxes, say the pledge of allegiance, stand for the Star Spangled banner an an MLB game, you are submitting to an idolatrous and illegitimate regime. Even more, if you use the means of this constitutional republic to secure a Christian state in America, you are also commiting a form of idolatry (by your logic) because by running for office or passing laws or voting within the structures of a government that does not recognize Christ as Lord or the Bible as the basis for law, you are feeding the beast.

    So which is it, Bret, are you against King George or are you for him? If you’re against, as you suppose in trying to out me as not being a supporter of the American revolution, then you are for the godless U.S.A., a nation conceived in the idolatry of the Enlightenment (as Daniel argues), a nation that will not recognize Christ as Lord.

    So once again the $64k question: how do you live with yourself? Your infidelity is legion by your own logic. (Reed and other moderators, I am not trying to call names. I am trying to get the theonomists to come clean and see how they are implicated in the very names they call the 2k advocates. Daniel encouraged me at one point to “shut up.” I’d reiterate that point a little more politely and ask the theonomists to keep their convictions a little more quiet until they have the nerve to use their vitriol against the very state they honor and to which they submit.)

    Word of warning: theonomists be careful how you react here. The Patriot Act is still in effect and the FBI could be looking for expressions of sedition.

  332. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 8, 2008 at 10:24 am

    “Anyway, all theonomists, hard or soft core, living in the United States are functional 2k Christians, unless they are trying to overthrow this current regime.”

    What? (I know Rev. Reed, I’ll stop)…

  333. Todd said,

    November 8, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Steve says,

    “i) You’re not debating theonomists in general. At the moment, you’re “debating me. It would behoove you to focus on my arguments.”

    Well, I was debating self-proclaimed theonomists and you stepped in challenging me. Forgive me for not being able to keep up at one time with the multiple nuances of those against the 2k position; chalk it up to my subversive education at WSC.

    “I notice that you employ the tactic of deflecting objections to your position rather than answering them. But you have your own burden of proof to discharge. Punting to what you think is problematic in the opposing position does nothing to vindicate your own.”

    II am willing to answer any objections – ask away. Since you seem to be angry, you may want to scroll up first and at least see how I have tried to use the Bible to support my position before such accusations.

    “ii) Marriage is a creation ordinance Levirate marriage is not. Levirite marriage is adapted to a tribal society with clan ownership of property, which, in turn, selects for endogamy. This is a case of drawing principled distinctions based on the underlying rationale for a given law. For you to call that “picking and choosing” is not a rational counterargument. It’s just an invidious characterization. If you can’t do any better than that, then you must not have a defensible position.”

    Well, I stand by my criticism of picking and choosing. My point is that it ends up being subjective and convenient which laws and penalties theonomists want to enforce in modern society and which they only want to only glean a general principle from, since the Law does make these distinctions itself. How is that different from the Jewish Halakha, where the Jews tired to apply the Law to modern society?

    “It comes down to which side has the better of the argument. If you have a problem with that standard, then you’ve disqualified yourself from arguing for your own position.”

    What standard? If you have an exegetical challenge to my position then let it fly. I’m sorry if you think you can jump in in the midst of an on-going debate and expect me to remember your posts from days ago.

    “After all, “who decides” that your position makes more sense than theonomy or 2K? It would behoove you to avoid self-refuting objections.”

    The Bible decides – c’mon, keep up with the debate – just kidding.

    “Once again, I didn’t say that. You’re not responding to me. Instead, you’re deflecting the objection rather than answering the objection. If you can’t defend your position by honest means, then that’s a tacit admission that your position is indefensible. Your evasive maneuvers betray the weakness of your position.”

    No need to be so accusatory. You may not like my response but that doesn’t mean it is dishonest. Again, theonomists think the Law is to be used as a guide to modern statecraft, whether directly (civil penalties) or through principle (Bahnsen’s well-known rooftop to swimming pool example). I gave the example of Deut 25, and you dismissed this law as ceremonial, though an argument could be made that this is a very moral thing to do.

    My point is, theonomists want to require others, by law, to submit to the Mosaic code. But get three theonomists together and ask them which codes and penalties are to be enforced as written, and which are ceremonial and the principle only should be enforced, you rarely find agreement, even among themselves. It ends up being very subjective which laws and penalties you decide are ceremonial and typological and which ones are not. I disagree that the Law itself separates these categories in a way you can use them for modern statecraft.

    “And even if it was not a “special land,” it would still need many of the same laws.”

    Yes, but even those laws are covenantal, even those warfare, criminal, etc…laws presuppose the preamble to the Ten Commandments, that Israel is a special, redemptive theocracy unto the Lord, which cannot be translated into the NC state.

    “You continue to employ a mindless all-or-nothing approach. Even if Israel was not a “special land,” she would still need to defend herself against external enemies.”

    See my response above.

    “Israel didn’t need to defend herself merely because she was a holy nation. Rather, a national which happened to be holy needed to defend itself.”

    Again, the same criticism. Just because Israel had laws dealing with warfare, criminals, social welfare, and NC states have laws dealing with warfare, criminals, and social welfare, does not mean that Israel’s laws were given as an example of how all states outside the OT theocracy should be run. Can you see we may see this differently without resorting to your accusations?

    Laws against theft and murder (to take two examples) aren’t “special” to Israel. Israel didn’t have laws against theft and murder because she was “special.”

    See response above.

    “i) Typology doesn’t prefigure nonentities. In a type/antitype relation, both relata exist.”

    Right, the OT theocracy the type, the church the anti-type. Canaan the type, the new heavens and earth the anti-type, the death penalty against Sabbath breakers the type, the Final Judgment the anti-type.

    “iiii) Unless you believe in universal atonement or even universal salvation, Christ did not atone for every criminal.”

    Okay, now you’re just getting silly. Surely you understand I didn’t imply universalism.

    “iii) Likewise, the atonement does not absolve a thief or murderer. He is still liable to punishment here and now. Even if God forgives me for murder, that doesn’t amount to pardon. You’re confusing crimes with sins.”

    Of course he is liable to punishment now, that doesn’t mean the penalties of the Mosaic Laws were given to inform us today how they are to be dealt with.
    Again, I am arguing against theonomy, if you have a nuanced position between the two I am not aware of it, but feel free to spell it out.

    Todd

  334. E.C. Hock said,

    November 8, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Here is a question dealing more with the phenomenon of Theonomy. How is it that Theonomy is an American phenomenon? More rather than less it is so! I have traveled in many places in the West, even living in Britain and serving in one of her mother kirks for four years, and Theonomy (American style) was seen as an aberration born of a fragmented American culture (i.e., “only in America” people say). Even evangelicals shake their head. Now, given the awkward tension and inconsistencies Darryl described in post in #331, what is it about American culture and its religious milieu that perpetuates this moral view? It must have something to do with the driving individualistic impulse within Protestantism that in turn drives this Reformed phenomenon.

  335. Todd said,

    November 8, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Bret wrote,

    “To be quite honest I would say given our times it is only theonomist who suffer because it is only theonomists who are resisting wickedness in high places and so represent a threat to the anti-Christ authorities. The R2Kt crowd doesn’t worry about suffering because nobody has any reason to persecute them because they are not a threat to anybody. You want suffering? Come be a theonomist.”

    Bret, can you give some examples of how theonomists are suffering today?

    The early church, good 2k folk :-), suffered, not because they were challenging and criticizing Caesar’s unrighteous rule, but that they refused to worship him as a god. Given that choice I would hope all true Christians, whether theonomic or 2k, would suffer instead of worship Caesar.

    Stuart Robinson suffered under Lincoln exactly because he was 2k, and even the Southern Presbyterians were suspicious of him.

    The true churches under Hitler were persecuted because they would not use the pulpit to throw their support behind Hitler’s policies. Thus both 2kers and more theonomist types were persecuted. The charge that only theonomists would suffer under such regimes is unfounded.

    Now, there is a sense that many theonomists will suffer before 2kers, but I would argue that this is because they lack respect for the governing authorities. Again, go to Acts 25 & 26 and see how respectfully Paul addressed his civil authorities, and remember, these were atrocious leaders. And then go to Daniel’s blog and see his headline “Barak Obama is a Nazi”

    Now can you imagine the Apostle Paul speaking like this about Agrippa or Festus? While Daniel would consider these statements bold and prophetic, I would say they violate the clear teaching of I Pet 1:13-17. So yes, in one sense the theonomists will suffer more, but that isn’t always a good thing.

    Todd

  336. bret said,

    November 8, 2008 at 11:08 am

    E. C. H.

    I was wondering the same thing about R2Kt. What is it about American culture and its religious milieus that perpetuates this (im)moral view? It must have something to do with the driving anti-nomian impulse within Protestantism that in turn drives this “Reformed” phenomenon.

  337. bret said,

    November 8, 2008 at 11:13 am

    To whomever it may concern,

    As my posts have disappeared in the past and as I keep, (quite unintentionally I might add) offending people such as the good Rev. De Pace I will no longer respond to some of the more extended conversation here at green baggins. This will have the felicitous effect of not wasting my time writing long posts that disappear while at the same time saving people like Rev. De Pace from the anguish of being offended. If anybody cares to read my responses to some of the more extended posts by adherents of R2Kt they may go to,

    http://www.ironink.org

    Rev. De Pace you have my most earnest apology for offending you. As I said, I assure you that I am not trying to give offense. It might be though that quite to the contrary of your observation the reason that people take offense at what I write is because I understand the R2Kt position so well.

  338. greenbaggins said,

    November 8, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Bret, the issue of your posts is an unfortunate one. WordPress has a spam filter called Akismet. Normally, this does an excellent job of filtering out the bad stuff. However, on occasion, it gets the wrong idea about a certain person’s posts, and holds them all in the filter. I assure that I have recovered every single one of them from there, although unfortunately not always immediately after posting them. I think the spam filter is finally done persecuting your comments. I have actually worked overtime sometimes to rescue them from the filter. I have no explanation as to why that is the case. Nevertheless, that is what has happened. It certainly has not been intentional.

  339. E.C. Hock said,

    November 8, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Bret,

    I anticipated your response as one kind of response to the phenomenon question, though it does not get at the question originally asked. There are, however, plenty of international advocates of R2Kt, in fact, that is the majority view among biblio-confessional Reformed folks, more or less, by my experience, limited as it may be.

    Yet, one might also get the sense that deep within the structure of Reformed theology and ethics generally there is an undefined internal instability that keeps rearing its head (as in OT/NT relations) and causes it to teeter-totter back and forth over what track to take in the law-gospel-culture issue. But this surely has something to do with the unresolved tensions that are in any theology framed between the two appearances of Christ, or within the “now-and-not yet” reality of the new covenant in God’s Kingdom.

  340. TurretinFan said,

    November 8, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Hart wrote:

    TFan: this is the difference between theonomy and Christian orthodoxy, one of continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT.

    This sort of statement is about all I’ve seen from you. Claims to be orthodox and shoving those who disagree with you outside the camp by mere force of words:

    – no logical argument

    – no Scriptural proof.

    Shame on you, sir. You should know better than that.

    For a good statement of the discontinuity I suggest you read WCF ch. 7.

    I subscribe to the WCF as originally written, without exception (that I know of). I would be surprised to learn that you are in agreement with me (or the Westminster divines) there. Maybe you can think of a more compelling argument than “go read the WCF.” Also, maybe before you hurl the charges of departure from orthodoxy, you might think of the collateral damage on people who disagree with you, that you might not label “theonomist.”

    God’s people no longer has a state.

    That was true before Moses, and it was true during the exile as well. It is not something new to the New Testament period. It’s a true statement, but not a relevant one. If you imagine that “theonomists” think otherwise, then you shouldn’t consider me a theonomist. Frankly, I haven’t seen anyone whose been in this discussion suggesting that there is still “a state” that is Christian.

    The only Christian state in the history of the world was Israel.

    This is simply a matter of definition. There have been nations that, as nations, have confessed Christ. The nation of Georgia was one very early example. There have been among them nations much more godly and faithful (for a time) than Israel (at various times). Nevertheless, the nation of Israel had a special relation to God that is unlike that of any of the nations.

    When Christ rose from the dead, that state ended and transfered her rule to the church, an institution that knows no national boundaries or governmental regulations.

    It’s interesting that you pick the resurrection as the date. In point of fact, the state of Israel did not end at that time, but later. That’s a matter of history: history confirmed by Scripture, which recounts the doings of that state even after Jesus’ resurrection. When the apostles were called before the government of Israel, they did not say, “You are no government,” but rather that when in conflict they would obey God rather than man.

    Israel’s temporal (civil magistracy) authority was not handed over to the church. The church does not replace the state. Instead, the church replaces the synagogues, the temple being done away in Christ.

    At Pentecost, the relationship between the nation of Israel and the outwards means of grace (which had nothing to do with the civil laws of Israel) were symbolically broken down by the gift of tongues. Other signs (such as Peter’s vision and the inspired assembly at Jerusalem) confirmed these things.

    The idea that the church doesn’t know national boundaries or governmental regulations is worded a bit ambiguously. Obviously, the church is holy, catholic, and apostolic. It has (in the most Scriptural form) the government of the eldership noted by Paul to Titus. Individual churches may be national or local, but to become a Christian is not to join a nation-state.

    Even before the exiles and diaspora, one would not only become a Jew by faith in the God of Abraham, but also through the Old administration of the covenant of grace (through circumcision). Citizenship was not possible for outsiders (even those who converted), although citizenship could obtain as a blessing to the children of believers (after 10 generations in the case of Ammonites/Moabites/Bastards or 3 generations in the case of other nationalities – See Deut. 23).

    Hart wrote:

    The church is a spiritual institution with spiritual weapons for enforcing her standards and prosecuting her mission.

    The church is an earthly institution for people in this life. It has appropriate tools for doing its job. Those tools are connected with the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer. If you want to call those, spiritual, ok – I won’t argue with you.

    Hart wrote:

    I know some don’t like that loss of outward glory.

    I don’t consider the global scope of the Gospel to be a loss of outward glory. I’m not sure who does. Paul mourned the loss of his brethren, and he would have to be hard-hearted not to.

    The Corinthians were among the first.

    That’s a very obscure allusion. Paul writes:

    1 Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

    But that’s a references to Jeremiah 9:23 – hardly a discontinuity. With such a vague reference, though, who knows what Hart was trying to address.

    But since we are called to be content, being content with the church’s means is what we should do.

    Of course, we are content. That’s not the issue. As Paul told the Corinthians:

    1 Corinthians 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

    That’s true of slaves (the primary group to whom Paul was writing) but also of masters and even Kings. It is not the duty of the King to cease being a king because he is a Christian. Nevertheless, it is the duty of the King to govern his life according to the Word of God, by being a just King. How can he know what justice is? He can open up the Bible and find out.

    But you also seem to suggest that we should live quiet and peaceful lives only under Christian magistrates. Is that correct?

    You seem not to have understood the explanation I already provided. Let me try to make it even more clear:

    a) The passage is not commanding people, “live a quiet and peaceable life.”
    b) Instead, the passage is commanding people to pray for their leaders.
    c) The result of praying for one’s leaders is, if God wills, that the leaders are converted.
    d) If the leaders are converted, they stop persecuting Christians and implement just laws.
    e) As a result, the lives of Christians go from panic-stricken and unsettled to quiet and peaceable.

    To be clear, we are not called to be rebels.

    Psalm 68:6 God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

    Hart wrote:

    But Paul and [Timothy] weren’t living under Christian magistrates.

    Clearly.

    Hart continued:

    The rulers the Bible is concerned with raging against are the Christian ones, first in Israel, now in the church.

    The term “rage” is fairly pejorative to begin with. Regardless, speaking out against the sins of the rulers was not limited to rulers of the nation of Israel. For example: “Woe” is pronounced by Moses and Jeremiah against Moab (Numbers 21:29 and Jeremiah 48:46). See also the book of Jonah.

    Hart stated:

    So if you have a bad pastor, rage away. But a bad magistrate? Submit.

    There are pronouncements of woe against bad shepherds. Nevertheless, of course, “rage” is pejorative. Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, fifth chapter, even places limits on how we may respond to bad elders. They should be entreated rather than severely rebuked. Furthermore, Hebrews 13:17 requires us to submit to them (and not only to the civil government).

    Hart wrote:

    Having to endure non-believing rulers reminds me of Gaffin’s great piece about theonomy, that it had no room for suffering because of its inherent theology of glory.

    If you could point it out more particularly, I’d be glad to read it. I have great respect for Prof. Gaffin.

    -TurretinFan

  341. bret said,

    November 8, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Lane,

    There have been several posts of mine that actually made it here (I saw them) and were even responded to and then later disappeared. Unless Askimet can do that (and for all I know it might) I doubt you’re explanation is the case.

    Thank you for your kind explanation.

  342. bret said,

    November 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    ECHock,

    I just finished reading a book titled “God and Politics.” It was written in 1989. It was supposed to be a book that covered the varying Reformed positions on politics. There were no chapters written by R2Kt guys. This suggests to me that as recent as 1989 R2Kt was so little known in terms of how it advocated for politics that it wasn’t even invited to write.

    Everyone agrees, I think, that Two Kingdom theology has a long history in Reformed thought and can be found in any number of locales. What is disputed is whether R2Kt is a faithful expression of standard Two Kingdom Reformed Theology or whether it is altogether a different thing beholden to Lutheran categories.

  343. greenbaggins said,

    November 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Bret, some might have been deleted by a mod. I don’t always know when that happens. I trust my other mods to do the right thing. Sometimes we all need a slap on the wrist.

  344. November 8, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Turretin Fan,

    This, most likely, is the article to which Dr. Hart is referring:

    http://newhope2.timberlakepublishing.com/files/Gaffin%20Theonomy%20and%20Eschatology.pdf

  345. bret said,

    November 8, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Lane,

    My wrists are bright orange from your moderators slapping.

    Hence my responding on http://www.iroink.org

    Thanks for your work Lane. I know temperaments like mine can be difficult

  346. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 8, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    For Bret…

    http://www.ironink.org

  347. Colin said,

    November 8, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    #344

    The 1990 Gaffin article mentioned was directly rebutted by Kenneth Gentry in his 1991 article, “Who’s Victory in History?” which can be found in the book, “Theonomy: An Informed Response” edited by Gary North. [p.207ff]

    http://freebooks.commentary.net/freebooks/docs/2112_47e.htm

    A further answer was given in the book, “Thine is the Kingdom: Studies in the Postmillennial Hope” (chapter 4)

    In addition, a question was once asked to Greg Bahnsen:

    “But don’t postmillennialists overlook the dimension of suffering and weakness in the Christian life? At least that is what I have read and been told. Postmillennialists are called “triumphalists” who forget the theology of the cross.”

    Dr. Bahnsen’s answer:

    ” This too, like the cases seen above, is a rhetorical distortion. By using language like this the critic insinuates false accusations and communicates unfair connotations about the postmillennial position, without offering details or objective proof. You will find that it is much easier to make these kinds of claims than to demonstrate them through responsible analysis and scholarship.

    “Postmillennialists do not deny, try to evade, or downplay the constitutive dimension of suffering and sorrow in the Christian life or in the history of the church. One can hardly imagine that the Scottish theologians Symington or Brown had somehow forgotten the “killing times” of the Covenanters when they expressed their postmillennial confidence.

    “Charles Hodge, the postmillennial “dean of theologians” at Princeton Seminary in the last century, wrote in his commentary on 2 Corinthians 4 that “We constantly illustrate in our person the sufferings of Christ… [being] neglected, defamed, despised, maltreated….” This is hardly consistent with the charge that postmillennialists forget the theology of the cross!

    “Both postmillennialists and amillennialists (not to mention premillennialists) recognize the inevitable hardships and persecution which believers undergo in this world. That is not what separates them. Postmillennialists trust the word of the Lord that, even when contrary to outward appearances, our sufferings in this world eventuate in a greater manifestation of Christ’s saving rule on earth, not a diminished one. We suffer to be sure, but it is a suffering-unto-victory, rather than a suffering-unto-defeat.” [end quote]

    http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pt136.htm

  348. Colin said,

    November 8, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    # 342

    The 1989 book, “God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government” has unfortunately been long out of print and ought to be reprinted by P&R or some other non-pietistic reformed publisher.

    My guess is that R2Kt view is closely reflected in the “Principled Pluralism” position which was the one position that had most deviated from the other 3 views in the G & D book. This might explain for example, why no explicit “Lutheran”, nor Anabaptist position was invited to contribute. The PP view seems to cover them both, just like it would cover Roger Williams’ view, and any other non-Reformed position.

    Lastly, I do have a pdf file that duplicates the some of the Q&A Appendix from the G&D book.

    BTW you’ve written some great anti-R2Kt stuff on your blog. Keep it up!

  349. Vern Crisler said,

    November 8, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Come on you guys! Attempting to explain theonomy as an American phenomenon. Tracing it to some supposedly bad thing in American culture such as, of all things, individualism. I don’t accept theonomy but genetic fallacies are not very persuasive either.

    One could just as easily explain Sabbatarianism or other controversial views by referencing their origins to culture. You’d still have to answer the question as to whether they are true or false?

    Just some thoughts.

    Vern

  350. Vern Crisler said,

    November 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Bret, over on his blog said: “I would say that praying that the current regime might be overthrown counts as trying to overthrow this current regime.”

    http://www.ironink.org

    Should Americans pray that individuals such as Bret get out of this country, the sooner the better? Is treason any less so because it is done by prayer rather than by outward means?

    I’ve tried to restrain myself when it comes to calling Gary North a traitor (and maybe anti-federalist Hart too) because of his anti-Constitutionalism, but it seems clear that Bret is a traitor to his own country (assuming he was born in America, which I don’t know; otherwise, he would just be a foreign enemy).

    Desiring the overthrow of your own government — despite the fact that it was democratically elected — is the political philosophy of snakes such as John Wilkes Booth.

    Maybe Bret meant something else by his words, but it’s hard to find any room for charitable interpretation.

    Vern

  351. Zrim said,

    November 8, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Jeff said Do you really think that idolatry is not an issue of morality? Or that I’m out of examples just because I only listed the ones off the top? Try the midwives’ refusal to kill Israelite babies. Or Rahab’s hiding of the spies. Find your own examples! The point is that there will be times when we “must obey God rather than man.

    Jeff,

    The problem with Acts 5:29 in order to make your case is, as ever, context. The whole passage is about the testimony of the risen Lord Jesus, not a morality that pagan and believer can agree on. If to obey God rather than men is to not wear jackboots and pull levers on Zyklon-B then plenty of Christ-hating pagans can agree and the tent gets huge. But if the fulcrum has to do with confessing the true evangel and marking out the faith by the intolerance of Presbyterianism, as it were, then we begin to understand what the narrow way of Christ really means: do we locate true faith by how good some are or by how faithful?

    Look, this is not to deny in any way whatsoever a biblical morality or ethic. Those who hold to the testimony of Jesus (read: Reformed witness) will always also hold to a biblical morality, but not all who hold to a biblical morality will also hold to the tetsimony of Jesus.

    The basic problem in any form of theonomy is that in its ironic striving to show forth faithfulness it actually demonstrates less faith, not more. It has great doubt as to the natural law inscribed by God onto the hearts of all men and that is really good enough to get the world from one day to the next in relatively one piece. This is the religious version of not employing one’s mind, conscience, eyes or feet each day simply because these things fail us all the time. If God endowed us with eyes, however sinful, should we really refuse to look simply because we have astigmatism? I know, I know, special revelation is supposed to be like a pair of glasses. But even spectacles can’t correct for every defect. The problem theonomy is trying to circumvent is sin. But no matter how much special revelation one wants to bring to bear on natural revelation sin will always keep things frustrated.

    Vern has a point. Instead of seeing this as a problem of being “too American,” theonomy actually suffers from way too low a doctrine of human sin. Sure, the last four letters in American are “I Can!” but that only proves that Americanism suffers from thing theonomy does.

  352. Colin said,

    November 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    #334

    [ECH] “Here is a question dealing more with the phenomenon of Theonomy. How is it that Theonomy is an American phenomenon?”

    [response]
    My guess would be due to the Dutch-American theologian, Cornelius Van Til who had much influence on most of the major proponents of Theonomy.

    [ECH] “More rather than less it is so! I have traveled in many places in the West, even living in Britain and serving in one of her mother kirks for four years, and Theonomy (American style) was seen as an aberration born of a fragmented American culture (i.e., “only in America” people say). Even evangelicals shake their head.”

    [Response]
    Not surprising that many evangelical Brits would “shake their heads” given the fact that they’ve been living in a socialist regime for generations and have mostly been preached to by pietistic preachers who have long given up challenging the secular humanist status quo in either church or state.

    [ECH] what is it about American culture and its religious milieu that perpetuates this moral view? It must have something to do with the driving individualistic impulse within Protestantism that in turn drives this Reformed phenomenon.”

    [Response]

    Current American culture permits the liberty of exchanging of ideas, one which is Theonomy. But what drives the religious impulse of Theonomy itself is a sanctified obedience to God’s infallible Word, and a holy hatred for all ideas contrary to God’s Word and His Law. This is why Theonomy is rightly so a “Reformed phenomenon”. The real mystery is why any one calling himself a Calvinist would actually disagree with Theonomy. But then again, there are Calvinist Baptists who still disagree with Paedobaptism… (for the time being).

  353. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    November 8, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Vern, re#350:

    The charitable interpretation is not that hard to see. We could rightly pray that the administration be turned out of office, be brought to naught, and/or its policies be overthrown–and that certainly can be done through established lawful and peaceful means.

  354. its.reed said,

    November 8, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Bret:

    I make it a habit to let someone know when I delete a comment. If appropriate I will post my action here. If I think referencing it here might put the author of the deleted comment in a bad light, I will tell them privately, at the email address they supply with the post. Occassionally someone will list a bogus email. In that case, I do not let it worry me when my email of explanation bounces back. They should list a good email.

    I tend to be one of the more active moderators here. I can tell you I do not remember if I’ve ever deleted one of your comments. The last time I deleted a comment was sometime early last week.

    Sounds to me like something else has happened to your comments.

    Also, if you’ll re-read my comment, the offense you may have given me was similar to the unintended offense others may have given you. My comment was not intended to evoke an apology (thanks the same). It was intended to encourage you to consider that before taking too much offense at sharp comments from others, especially Darryl (simply because he seems to be the one getting under the theonomist skins lately).

    I really do think we can learn from one another – if we’ll pause and make sure we’re responding to the issue rather than the person.

    Just a suggestion, for what it’s worth. Please, keep interacting.

    Thanks,

    reed

    P.S. Benjamin – nice self control ;-)

    P.P.S. Darryl – thanks for the explanation. I got it. I might ask you might include those kinds of explanations after your digs a little more often. It might make it easier for the opponent to react to the issue rather than you personally. Just a thought. Thanks for considering.

  355. Morris Tasker said,

    November 8, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    So I wonder if pator Bret invokes Rom. 13 when he prays for the overthrowing the current regime. He does appear to want to honor Christ in all his endeavors. But I don’t know how you could disobey both Paul and Peter in praying for something contrary to God’s revealed will. This does seem to be one of those major difficulties for theonomists — the fact that the church was told to submit to rulers who were persecuting them. Ironically, only an Enlightenment derived political order grants the kind of religious liberty that allows theonomists to call for the overthrow of liberal governments. In Geneva, Pastor Bret’s prayer would not be tolerated, before or after the Reformation. (Nor would the ordination of women.)

  356. D G Hart said,

    November 8, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    There we go again. The last post from Morris was really from me. Keeping my aliases straight sometimes results in lots of curves. Apologies.

  357. Colin said,

    November 8, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    #351

    [Zrim] “The problem theonomy is trying to circumvent is sin. But no matter how much special revelation one wants to bring to bear on natural revelation sin will always keep things frustrated.”

    {response] Theonomy is simply a defense of the Westminster Confession’s view of God’s law. The Theonomic responsibility of the civil magistrate however is not about circumventing all sin in the world, but rather circumventing or suppressing Biblically defined crimes in society and not all sin.

    Presumably Zrim believes in using Special revelation [SR] for his family worship and for his church worship. Yet sin is still present in both. Should that frustration mean that SR ought not to be used there as well?

    [Zrim] “theonomy actually suffers from way too low a doctrine of human sin.”

    [response] This is the same strawman typically levelled against postmillennialism. Yet how is it that nearly all proponents of Theonomy (and postmillennialism) have been strict Calvinists? If Zrim is right, then it should have been the Arminians and Pelagians who advocate Theonomy, yet most of them are unjustly scared of Theonomy.

    Theonomy, being Van Tillian, actually has a very Biblical and reformed view of sin because it alone takes into consideration the noetic effects of sinful depravity on the mind and counters it with God’s clear law provided in SR. OTOH those who advocate a natural law ethic, are the ones with the “way too low view of sin”, thinking that a depraved sinner using “right reason” or relying on the law written on their hearts will suffice. Which would be great if only such passages as Gen 6:5 and Jer 17:9 weren’t true.

    Calvinists should be among the last people to attempt to argue against Theonomy. Its the Dispensationalists and Arminians and Antinomians who alone have a real bone to pick with Theonomy.

  358. bret said,

    November 8, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Darryl,

    I responded in full at ironink.org in the comments section on your query regarding Rmns. 13. Suffice it to say here that the covenanters, hugenots, Knox, Cromwell, nor the black Robed regiment of American Independence renown had no problem respecting Romans 13. Most of those were well before the Enlightenment.

    It really is no difficulty at all unless as a R2kt proponent you want to skew the scriptures.

    So is Hart a English Torrie name of long repute?

  359. D G Hart said,

    November 8, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Bret, I didn’t see any exegesis of Rom 13 over at your blog. Please enlighten us with how any saint is justified in rebelling against his magistrate when Christ and the apostles did not.

    At the risk of offending Vern, Canada has always looked like an attractive alternative to this former federal republic. Maybe the Tories who moved there knew something that you and I don’t.

  360. Vern Crisler said,

    November 8, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    So Darryl, get thee hence to Canada. Why enjoy the blessings of liberty and then turn around and undermine the constitutional basis for them?
    Vern

  361. Vern Crisler said,

    November 8, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    But Mark,
    He wants to overthrow the current government. Despite my opposition to Obama and his administration to be, he still won fair and square. There are two ways under the Constitution to change things: a) vote; b) Amendment.

    Bret didn’t mention either of those.

    Vern

  362. Vern Crisler said,

    November 8, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Bret says re: Lincoln
    “As it pertains to Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth I will say but two things,
    1.) Those who live by the sword die by the sword.
    2.) Lincoln sowed the wind and so he reaped the whirlwind.”

    That’s really all that one needs to know about Bret and his political philosophy. I’m sure most theonomists would be embarrassed by this sort of psycho-pathic trash talk, especially Greg Bahnsen.

    One of course must always distinguish between the American government per se, and the officials who run it, whether wisely or no. And one must not even speak evil of the officials who run it, though criticism of their policies is always a propos.

    Seems to me neo-confederates and extreme theonomists have a Jesuitical, assassination-oriented view of governmental change.

    Vern

  363. Bret McAtee said,

    November 9, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Vern,

    You really are a piece of work.

    I made two true observations about our 16th President,neither of which supported assassination — both of which only observed the nature of reality we find in Scripture — and you say something about my “Jesuitical, assassination-oriented view of governmental change?”

    Do you suppose you can be any more wrong then you have been in your previous two posts to me?

  364. Bret McAtee said,

    November 9, 2008 at 5:48 am

    And Vern ….

    In as much as it is only my prayer life that is asking our sovereign Lord Christ for relief, I don’t need to worry about Him being limited to provide relief through amendment or vote.

  365. D G Hart said,

    November 9, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Mr. Glaser, thanks for the reference to pastor Bret’s use of Rom. 13 to justify civil disobedience. I wonder if that’s how Paul, the apostles or early Christians read it. The historical record would seem to indicate they did not since they did not resist a state that is far more tyrannical than the U.S.A. So quite possibly, Paul meant it the way that most Christians have read it, as a directive not to take matters into our own hands because it is God who established and ordained the magistrate.

    Vern: thanks for our cheery send off. My station in life may not permit an immediate departure. But in your reading of American history you may want to consider that the Constitution to which you are so loyal was altered rather dramatically by the Civil War. And if you don’t like the way the Courts have ruled in recent times, which I suppose you don’t, it has a lot to do with the tipping of the balance of powers to the federal government as opposed to the states. That is, if you are a real political conservative, you might have some sympathy for law-abiding confederates (Booth is another matter).

  366. steve hays said,

    November 9, 2008 at 11:55 am

    D G Hart said,

    “Mr. Glaser, thanks for the reference to pastor Bret’s use of Rom. 13 to justify civil disobedience. I wonder if that’s how Paul, the apostles or early Christians read it. The historical record would seem to indicate they did not since they did not resist a state that is far more tyrannical than the U.S.A. So quite possibly, Paul meant it the way that most Christians have read it, as a directive not to take matters into our own hands because it is God who established and ordained the magistrate.”

    I’m not going to discuss the details of Bret’s exposition. Instead I’ll simply respond to Hart’s reply:

    i) Let’s step back a few paces. To my knowledge, Green Baggins is a Reformed blog. Theonomy is well-represented in the Reformed tradition. The 2K position of someone like Meredith Kline is not. Kline was a theological innovator. He held very eccentric views on common grace and statecraft.

    Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with questioning Reformed tradition. But it’s not as if the onus is on theonomy to disprove 2K. 2K is not the default position, which theonomy must overcome.

    At a minimum, both sides have their respective burden of proof to discharge. Kline (and variants thereof) does not supply the standard of comparison.

    ii) Hart was general editor of the Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in America. His own position is unrecognizable in relation to Reformed tradition if you compare it to the entries on “American Revolution, Presbyterians and the” (18ff.) or “Politics, Presbyterians and” (192f.).

    That doesn’t mean his position is wrong. But let’s keep in mind which side of the debate is arguing from the Reformed viewpoint.

    iii) Does Hart take the position that the Apostles were pacifists?

    iv) He begs the question of whether the NT is the only relevant source of information on statecraft. But that’s the very issue in dispute.

    Under the Mosaic law, the king was a constitutional monarch. By implication, he could be deposed if he strayed too far from the terms of the covenant. And that wasn’t purely theoretical. Under the reign of Athalia, the high priest did, in fact, stage a successful coup d’etat.

    v) The Reformed tradition developed a theology of revolution. That was necessary because Catholic monarchs, at the instigation of the papacy, were attempting to extirpate the Protestant movement.

    Does Hart repudiate the Reformed theology of revolution? Are there absolutely no circumstances in which Christian citizens are entitled to rebel?

    We wouldn’t even be here today, having this discussion, if our Protestant forebears hadn’t found it necessary to take up arms and defend their freedom of religious expression.

    vi) Notice that Hart doesn’t actually attempt to exegete Rom 13. As Jewett points out in his recent (2007) commentary, there’s a conditional element to Rom 13 (802-803). The Roman magistrate was not an absolute monarch.

    Now, we can have a debate over when civil resistance or revolution is called for. At the moment I’m only interested in Hart’s general or hypothetical position.

  367. steve hays said,

    November 9, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Todd said,

    “Well, I was debating self-proclaimed theonomists and you stepped in challenging me. Forgive me for not being able to keep up at one time with the multiple nuances of those against the 2k position; chalk it up to my subversive education at WSC.”

    It doesn’t take anything to keep up with what *I* said to *you*.

    And I said nothing about your WSC education, so that’s yet another diversionary tactic on your part.

    “Since you seem to be angry…”

    You’re in no position to know my psychological states.

    “Well, I stand by my criticism of picking and choosing. My point is that it ends up being subjective and convenient which laws and penalties theonomists want to enforce in modern society and which they only want to only glean a general principle from, since the Law does make these distinctions itself.”

    To the contrary, some of the laws are specifically adapted to the socioeconomic system of ancient Israel.

    “What standard? If you have an exegetical challenge to my position then let it fly.”

    Which is exactly what I’ve been doing all along.

    “I’m sorry if you think you can jump in in the midst of an on-going debate and expect me to remember your posts from days ago.”

    Every comment on this thread is a named comment. Pretty easy to know who said what.

    And it’s not as if you have difficulty distinguishing comments by Hart from comments by Ritchie (to take one example).

    “The Bible decides – c’mon, keep up with the debate – just kidding.”

    I was responding to you own your own grounds. I see you have no counterargument.

    “I gave the example of Deut 25, and you dismissed this law as ceremonial, though an argument could be made that this is a very moral thing to do.”

    No, I didn’t “dismiss” it. I gave a reason. Pay attention.

    And I didn’t say it was ceremonial. I said it was adapted to the socioeconomic conditions of the ANE in general and Israel in particular. That’s not ceremonial. The ceremonial law is concerned with categories of ritual purity and impurity. Pay attention.

    I also say the underlying principle is still valid—which would not be the case if it were ceremonial. Pay attention.

    You don’t really listen to your opponents. You simply operate with your preconception of what the opposing position amounts to, and you then reply with stock answers that are unresponsive to what your opponent actually said.

    “My point is, theonomists want to require others, by law, to submit to the Mosaic code. But get three theonomists together and ask them which codes and penalties are to be enforced as written, and which are ceremonial and the principle only should be enforced, you rarely find agreement, even among themselves.”

    You could say the same thing about any theological disagreement.

    “It ends up being very subjective which laws and penalties you decide are ceremonial and typological and which ones are not.”

    You continue to use a self-refuting objection. If mere disagreement entails subjectivity, then that relativizes your own alternative as well.

    “I disagree that the Law itself separates these categories in a way you can use them for modern statecraft.”

    Because you disregard the historical context, even when that lies on the face of a given injunction.

    “Yes, but even those laws are covenantal, even those warfare, criminal, etc…laws presuppose the preamble to the Ten Commandments, that Israel is a special, redemptive theocracy unto the Lord, which cannot be translated into the NC state.”

    The fact that they’re bundled into a covenant doesn’t mean they have no validity apart from the covenant. To the contrary, if they had no intrinsic merit, they wouldn’t be codified in the first place.

    Israel is not a purely cultic entity. Rape, theft, murder, sodomy, bestiality, &c, weren’t illegal because they were ritually impure, but because they were morally impure.

    Of course many of the laws can be translated into the NC state. Moral injunctions are transcultural.

    “Again, the same criticism. Just because Israel had laws dealing with warfare, criminals, social welfare, and NC states have laws dealing with warfare, criminals, and social welfare, does not mean that Israel’s laws were given as an example of how all states outside the OT theocracy should be run.”

    Why not? It’s an inspired law code. It gives you a window into God’s moral evaluation of social conduct. Rape, theft, murder, sodomy, bestiality were wrong then, and they’re wrong now.

    Moreover, this is not merely a matter of personal ethics, but social ethics, which is directly germane to any nation-state, with its civil and criminal law code.

    “Right, the OT theocracy the type, the church the anti-type. Canaan the type, the new heavens and earth the anti-type, the death penalty against Sabbath breakers the type, the Final Judgment the anti-type.”

    No, you said these laws were a type of things that *don’t* happen in heaven. Types don’t prefigure nonentities or nonevents. “Antitype” doesn’t mean the *opposite* of the type.

    Moreover, it’s a reductio ad absurdum for you to say that a law against rape or murder or sodomy or bestiality prefigures heaven. Your typology makes the most fanciful allegorist look sober-minded by comparison.

    The function of a civil or criminal law code is not to prefigure the eschaton. Rather, the function of a civil or criminal law code is to regulate social conduct in a fallen world. It has no purpose in the Consummation. It’s purpose is for the here and now.

    “Okay, now you’re just getting silly. Surely you understand I didn’t imply universalism.”

    That’s the logic of your statement. And I wouldn’t take anything for granted at this point.

    “Of course he is liable to punishment now, that doesn’t mean the penalties of the Mosaic Laws were given to inform us today how they are to be dealt with.”

    i) You’ve been casting the issue in terms of eschatological judgment. Now you’re shifting gears.

    ii) And what punishment do you think he is liable to now? What source and standard assigns a just punishment?

  368. D G Hart said,

    November 9, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Steve Hays: not so fast.

    1) Greenbaggins is an American Reformed blog. In case you didn’t notice, the American revisions of the Westminster Standards have taken a lot of grief at this blog in the last several weeks. That grief has come from theonomists and Covenanters because both sides disagree wildly with the revisions made to the teaching on the civil magistrate.

    2) For that reason, theonomy is much more an oddity in the U.S. among Presbyterians and Reformed than is the 2k view. Covenanters are and have also always been a minority position. That doesn’t make either side right. But theonomy is the upstart in these circles, not the religious freedom affirmed in the American revisions. (Do you know if the theonomists in the OPC and PCA cross their fingers when subscribing?)

    3) Now the same people who supported the American revolution were the same Presbyterians who revised the Standards. I actually think they are different points, one having to do with the duties of the magistrate, the other with legitimate rebellion. But let’s not forget that both the Puritans and the Presbyterians were not keen on English rule, especially when it meant an aggressive Anglican church.

    4) As a Presbyterian, I do not follow the revolutionary Presbyterians in their justification for American independence. Nor do I approve of that revolution on conservative political grounds. At the same time, I am where I am. I respect the wisdom of those deist founders, and think their new science of politics was amazing in its wisdom, if not perfect in execution. And — watch out if you get too close to the Revolution — I applaud their efforts to decouple religion and politics. (No Bret, that doesn’t mean neutrality. It means two different jurisdictions.)

    5) It sure looks like the Apostles were pacifists personally, except maybe for Peter in the Garden. They didn’t rebel, they didn’t encourage Christians to rebel, and they willingly suffered for their beliefs. No, they weren’t Anabaptists. They believed the state and the sword are legitimate institutions of God’s providential control. But they weren’t rebels. And they didn’t obey the state (obviously) all the time.

    6) The NT is not the only revelant source of statecraft. Aristotle and Plato are pretty thoughtful, as are Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison. But for Christians I would imagine that the NT needs to be taken into account, and that the different order that comes after Christ with the abrogation of the theocracy, is more decisive for Christian reflection on politics than is Deuteronomy.

    7) I think you need to be careful in asserting that Reformed theology developed a doctrine of revolution. For starters, those who did not submit developed a doctrine of “resistance.” But many, including Calvin, counseled against resistance, and advised submission. This was a great frustration to the Huguenots, and may have led to St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. And for what it’s worth, Nich Wolterstorff actually denied the eternal decree at the 1998 Stone Lectures because of what he regarded as Calvin’s inherent fatalism in teaching French Reformed not to resist the king.

  369. Vern Crisler said,

    November 9, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Darryl,
    It’s rather obvious the Constitution was changed after the Civil War — i.e., we had three new Amendments.

    The problem with activist judges is that they tip the balance of power to the federal government without any authorization from the Constitution.

    Please see my blog essay “Against Neoconfederates” for my reasons for rejecting Confederate ideas.

    Vern

  370. Elder Hoss said,

    November 9, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Darryl – With regard to the issue of Christ’s PROVIDENTIAL rule over the nations vs. how His Lordship is manifested PRESCRIPTIVELY, you mention that you are not sure how they intersect, and then proceed from there to caution about overthrowing other governments (for argument’s sake, say it be the cannabilistic one the Congo). With regard to the latter, I would consent with your phrasing of this, as one would be really hard-pressed to defend regime changes as consistent with what the Christian tradition (here I am thinking chiefly of Augustine) has taught with regard to what constitutes “just war” theory.

    Re the former, it’s interesting, isn’t it, that Westminsterian Divines like Gillespie possessed no such agnosticism on the specific question of the magistrate’s duties under God. And yet, presumably for their theonomy, you count them “unorthodox” (here I would simply caution us to remember even Kline’s admission that it would be next to impossible to discipline theonomists, since the first Westministerian tradition was theonomic…).

    I would suggest that some of the expressions of consternation and wonder voiced by some here, in the wake of my mentioning the contemporary holocaust of abortion (which is, at root, state-condoned murder) demontrates the sad fact that many Reformed and Presbyterian churchmen in the United States are more interested in being (consciously or otherwise) “statists” than they are, epistemologically consistent Reformed Christians, in much the same fashion as was the colleague of mine I referenced viz. my question concerning the relation of the Protestant pulpit to the German Holocaust (you may recall my mentioning his rather cavalier, “nien – the church has no prophetic word to the state, and would function no differently before, during, or after Hitler).

    You and I would have biblical grounds, in witnessing to the Congolese ruler that as a minister of God (Rom. 13), it would be his duty to put an immediate end to cannabilism as being a flagrant violation of the 6th commandment. In much the same fashion, were we bringing the gospel to a communist nation, we would have ample grounds to insist that private property be promulgated as a basic right under God and that state-sponsored seizure or property is a criminal abomination in the eyes of the God to whom not merely individuals, but also NATIONS are accountable.

    If in fact all law is a form of legislated morality, this brings us back to the question theonomists have consistently posed (albeit with varying levels of persuasiveness) – Who’s law: God’s or Man’s?

    You may cringe at this assertion, but I think that in effect, you are allowing for a practical Kuyperianism, while CONCEPTUALLY arguing that the law of God does not apply to the “kingdom of man”.

    Be that as it may (or may not), it should be born in mind that the more articulate theonomists (Rushdoony for one) have posited that in many respects, Theonomy in practice more resembles libertarianism than it does elephant or donkey…

  371. steve hays said,

    November 9, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    D G Hart said,

    “Greenbaggins is an American Reformed blog. In case you didn’t notice, the American revisions of the Westminster Standards have taken a lot of grief at this blog in the last several weeks.”

    i) In case you didn’t notice, that’s irrelevant to my response to you.

    ii) In addition, the American revisions to the Westminster Standards are also irrelevant to Klinean 2K. Klinean 2K is not interchangeable with the revised standards. Not even close.

    “For that reason, theonomy is much more an oddity in the U.S. among Presbyterians and Reformed than is the 2K view.

    Which is why I’m putting this debate in historical perspective.

    “Now the same people who supported the American revolution were the same Presbyterians who revised the Standards. I actually think they are different points, one having to do with the duties of the magistrate, the other with legitimate rebellion. But let’s not forget that both the Puritans and the Presbyterians were not keen on English rule, especially when it meant an aggressive Anglican church.”

    Which doesn’t mean they held a position that bears any resemblance to Klinean 2K.

    “As a Presbyterian, I do not follow the revolutionary Presbyterians in their justification for American independence.”

    I’m not debating the theological justification (or not) of the Revolutionary War. But the fact that they were political activists, to the point of fomenting insurrection against the crown, puts them on a very different side of the 2K debate than your position. Whatever else they were, the Founding Fathers, and the Presbyterians who supported them, weren’t pacifists.

    That doesn’t establish who is right or wrong in this debate. But let’s not treat something like Klinean 2K (or variations thereof) as the norm, of which theonomy is the deviation.

    “I respect the wisdom of those deist founders.”

    To say all the founding fathers were deists strikes me as a gross oversimplification of the historical record.

    “It sure looks like the Apostles were pacifists personally, except maybe for Peter in the Garden. They didn’t rebel, they didn’t encourage Christians to rebel, and they willingly suffered for their beliefs. No, they were Anabaptists. They believed the state and the sword are legitimate institutions of God’s providential control. But they weren’t rebels. And they didn’t obey the state (obviously) all the time.”

    i) I think it’s good to see you go on record as saying that 2K is committed to pacifism. And imputes pacifism to the Apostles. That helps to clarify the alternatives.

    ii) Of course, I don’t agree. There’s an obvious reason the Apostles didn’t incite revolution. It would have been futile. I wouldn’t expect them to urge Christians to commit mass suicide by fomenting open rebellion against the military might of the Roman authorities.

    iii) Does this mean the Apostles didn’t believe in the right of self-defense? Do you yourself deny to Christians the right of self-defense?

    There may be occasions when it would be futile or counterproductive to exercise your rights, but do you deny, even as a matter of principle, the right of Christians to practice the true religion if that entails passive or active disobedience?

    If an armed burglar broke into your home and threatened your wife and kids, would you repel his aggression with lethal force if you had the opportunity? Or would you practice “personal pacifism”?

    What if Muslim-Americans begin to impose Sharia law in American cities where they are dominant? Should the authorities resist that imposition?

    iv) In the long run, Rome didn’t succeed in stamping out the Christian movement. But the story doesn’t always have a happy ending. It didn’t have a happy ending in France. Or England under Bloody Mary. Or in the Muslim conquest of the Mideast and N. Africa.

    “But for Christians I would imagine that the NT needs to be taken into account.”

    Can you quote any theonomist who denies that?

    “And that the different order that comes after Christ with the abrogation of the theocracy, is more decisive for Christian reflection on politics than is Deuteronomy.”

    Of course, you’re simply assuming a radical discontinuity between OT social ethics and NT social ethics. But to take your own example, “It has often been pointed out that the list of sins in [1 Tim 1:9-10] not only recall the so-called ‘vice lists’ found in ancient moralistic writings, but follow topics in the Ten Commandments (Deut 5:6-21),” W. Liefeld, 1 & 2 Timothy/Titus (Zondervan 1999), 64.

    So Paul sees continuity between Deuteronomic ethics and NT ethics at the very point where you assert discontinuity. You can have Plato and Aristotle—I’ll take Paul.

    BTW, how would you argue against an ethicist like Peter Singer? What moral leverage would you use?

    “I think you need to be careful in asserting that Reformed theology developed a doctrine of revolution. For starters, those who did not submit developed a doctrine of “resistance.” But many, including Calvin, counseled against resistance, and advised submission.”

    It naturally varied with the threat level and the historical circumstances of the individual Reformer. While she was alive, Calvin had the support of Jeanne d’Albret. And they were both hoping that her son (Henri) would side with the Protestants if and when he became king. That didn’t take their side, although he did promulgate the Edict of Nantes—which was better than nothing.

  372. Todd said,

    November 9, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Steve wrote:

    (“What standard? If you have an exegetical challenge to my position then let it fly.”) “Which is exactly what I’ve been doing all along.”

    You’ve mentioned that Revelation criticizes Rome, and that you believe some of the Mosaic laws are culturally informed and therefore not directly applicable in our culture; any other exegesis I have missed from you on this thread?

    “Every comment on this thread is a named comment. Pretty easy to know who said what.”

    Yes, I reread your two posts to me.

    “No, I didn’t “dismiss” it. I gave a reason. Pay attention. And I didn’t say it was ceremonial. I said it was adapted to the socioeconomic conditions of the ANE in general and Israel in particular. That’s not ceremonial. The ceremonial law is concerned with categories of ritual purity and impurity. Pay attention.”

    Yes, that was my bad, I was using my terminology and not yours. Since I believe that all the laws relating to the land were ceremonial in the sense of typological, I said ceremonial, where you make distinctions I do not make. My fault.

    “I also say the underlying principle is still valid—which would not be the case if it were ceremonial. Pay attention.”

    I will play along with your condescension a little longer, then it will become tiresome. I get it – you want to use the principles of the OT civil law for modern statecraft. Again, my disagreement with you is that I believe it is invalid to use the Mosaic law in the way you are suing it, to try to discern the principles or the direct applications and use them for modern statecraft.

    “You don’t really listen to your opponents. You simply operate with your preconception of what the opposing position amounts to, and you then reply with stock answers that are unresponsive to what your opponent actually said.”

    That’s funny, I was thinking that about you.

    “You continue to use a self-refuting objection. If mere disagreement entails subjectivity, then that relativizes your own alternative as well.”

    How so? Demonstrate the inconsistency of the 2k position. I don’t have the conundrum of trying to discern which Mosaic laws apply to modern statecraft directly, which only in principle, and how they apply. How is that relativistic?

    “The fact that they’re bundled into a covenant doesn’t mean they have no validity apart from the covenant. To the contrary, if they had no intrinsic merit, they wouldn’t be codified in the first place.”

    This is where we disagree. The similarities between the civil laws of Israel and NC state laws are only formal similarities. The OT laws had intrinsic merit for God’s holy, theocratic people. I could make the same case for a NC law, as in Paul’s command not to marry unbelievers. The law is a covenantal law for God’s covenantal people, with no real correspondence to any civil law of modern government. That is how I believe the Mosaic Law in its entirety is to be understood.

    “Israel is not a purely cultic entity. Rape, theft, murder, sodomy, bestiality, &c, weren’t illegal because they were ritually impure, but because they were morally impure.”

    Well, I would say both. They were also ritually impure because they defiled the land, God’s special presence.

    “Of course many of the laws can be translated into the NC state. Moral injunctions are transcultural.”

    Yes, and 2k disagrees with this theonomic premise. The Mosaic laws and penalties were never meant to be translated into the NC state. We believe that is a misuse of the OT law. Now of course the underlying natural law realities discerned in the Mosaic law, such as the general idea of penalties for crimes, punishing harm of neighbor, etc…will be codified at some level in every NC state, but these ideas were already codified in societies before the Law came.

    “Why not? It’s an inspired law code. It gives you a window into God’s moral evaluation of social conduct. Rape, theft, murder, sodomy, bestiality were wrong then, and they’re wrong now.”

    There is a difference between saying the law reveals what is sin in God’s eyes, and that the penalties prescribed in the Mosaic code are apt penalties to be used for NC, non-theocratic states. The former we affirm, the latter we deny. For example, the Law makes clear God’s views of idolatry. But we deny the penalties against idolatry in Israel can be used in NC non-theocratic states, or that a theocratic state is a goal NC Christians should attain to.

    “Moreover, this is not merely a matter of personal ethics, but social ethics, which is directly germane to any nation-state, with its civil and criminal law code.”

    See answer above

    “No, you said these laws were a type of things that *don’t* happen in heaven. Types don’t prefigure nonentities or nonevents. “Antitype” doesn’t mean the *opposite* of the type.”

    Yes, I was using too much already/not yet thinking in a short sentence, which does look confusing. Point being, the Law is being fulfilled in the church, which is filled with God’s Spirit from heaven, which lives in God’s heavenly presence through Jesus, so the positive requirements of the Law have an already dimension (besides the forensic element of imputed righteousness). The Mosaic penalties for sin will be fulfilled at final judgment, which I think is one of the points of the Sermon on the Mount. They have already been fulfilled at the cross for the elect.

    “Moreover, it’s a reductio ad absurdum for you to say that a law against rape or murder or sodomy or bestiality prefigures heaven. Your typology makes the most fanciful allegorist look sober-minded by comparison.”

    Have you considered Hebrews 2:1-4? I’ll let a good 2k Texan, Lane Tipton, respond better than I ever could:

    “Becoming more specific, we see (in Hebrews 2:1-4) that the idea of escape (ekpheuzometha) becomes future as opposed to a present or past reality. This is a significant point, because the future tense suggests that the truth communicated by the judicial sanctions has eschatological implications for the recipients. If the sanctions alluded to in v. 2 are operative in the present situation in the same way that they operated in the Old Covenant situation, then the context would require a present (customary, present-extending-from-past, gnomic) use of ekpheugo.

    …the author argues the Old Covenant sanctions mentioned in 2:2 serve a typological and pedagogical function regarding a wholly future consequence which obtains if a person rejects the gospel of Christ. That is the force of the future tense of ekpheugo….

    In other words, the Old Covenant, Mosaic death sanctions typify and anticipate the eschatological manifestation of God’s righteous judgment against his enemies…

    First, by failing to allow semi-realized eschatology substantially to shape his understanding of the relationship between temporal sanctions in the Old Covenant and eternal sanctions in the New Covenant period, Dr. Bahnsen has stripped the passage of its eschatological framework. As a result, he advocates the present application of typological sanctions, which Hebrews tells us are fulfilled in the eternal antitype which has arrived in Christ. In short, the eternal sanctions will be applied by Christ himself at the end of the age (not typological sanctions by a magistrate in the present age!).

    Perhaps Bahnsen’s fundamental flaw turns on a failure to distinguish clearly between typological and semi-eschatological categories in covenant history. The basic movement of the argument’s a fortiori force, then, is from the domain of typology to semi-realized eschatology…The advocacy of the continued application of the Old Covenant sanctions in spite of their two-phase eschatological application to Christ and by Christ implies a denial of their semi-eschatological fulfillment, an error to which the consistent theonomist remains dogmatically committed.

    Even if the theonomist does affirm that Christ has borne the eternal sanctions which the Old Covenant sanctions typified (which we suppose he must affirm), he does not see the antitype replacing the type. As such, the theonomic position is parallel to a position which would advocate the continuing validity of typological animal sacrifices in spite of the fulfillment of those sacrifices in the antitypical sacrifice of Christ. Clearly, the latter is beset by serious problems, and so is the former.” (Lane Tipton)

    “The function of a civil or criminal law code is not to prefigure the eschaton. Rather, the function of a civil or criminal law code is to regulate social conduct in a fallen world. It has no purpose in the Consummation. It’s purpose is for the here and now.”

    See Lane’s critique above.

    “ii) And what punishment do you think he is liable to now? What source and standard assigns a just punishment?”

    I’m sorry, I believe the Bible refuses to answer that question for you. I do not believe the Bible is interested in granting the political solutions for happy, peaceful, religious political kingdoms of man in the new covenant, so I answer that question the same way I answer the husband who wants to know why God doesn’t tell us how to cure his wife’s cancer, and how is a doctor to know how God might want him to heal her.

    Todd

  373. D G Hart said,

    November 9, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Steve Hays: that’s fine. You appealed to the tradition of American Presbyterianism and it didn’t work out for you. Those Presbyterians were good colleagues of deists and other “idolaters” by theonomic standards. They were also responsible for revising the Westmisnter Standards in ways that theonomists and Covenanters loathe. I guess that’s your bad.

    Yes, I see that they were activist, and yes, I see that my disagreement with that activism means I give them two cheers rather than three. But I’m not sure how many cheers you have for them, other than that they resorted to arms. They certainly didn’t do so for the reasons you advocate.

    By personal pacificism I meant that I and the apostles (I guess) believe that Christians should turn the other cheek. (Talk about discontinuity.) The logic of turning the other cheek would seem to be a speed bump to armed insurrection. It would also appear to go against self-defense. In cases where my wife’s life, or those who needed assistance, were at stake, I’d do something physical (not sure what since I don’t own a gun). That’s why I’m not a real pacifist. I also believe the state bears the sword legitimately and that Christians may serve in the military or police. But if it were just my own life, I think the NT ethic is clear. (I don’t think the NT is clear that tea tariffs warrant rebellion.)

    And as far as theonomists not using the NT, your allie Daniel Ritchie has had a devil of a time finding support for theonomy in the NT. By asking him for NT texts, he accused me of being a Reformed Dispensationalist. Apparently the NT is a stumbling block to some theonomists (not to mention the Sermon on the Mount).

  374. Colin said,

    November 10, 2008 at 4:03 am

    #374

    “And as far as theonomists not using the NT, [one Theonomist] has had a devil of a time finding support for theonomy in the NT….Apparently the NT is a stumbling block to some theonomists ”

    [Response] Yet if Daryl would consult the Scripture Indexes of most Theonomic books, he will quickly notice much NT support cited (e.g. just the NT portion of the Index in Bahnsen’s Theonomy book runs to over 10 pages alone. And Bahnsen also devoted an entire chapter to one of those NT passages in support of his Theonomic thesis. So Daryl’s assertion is clearly uninformed and very misleading.

    As for his claim against the one theonomist he cites, quite obviously, he hasn’t yet read that person’s Theonomic book, “A Conquered Kingdom” which is filled with many theonomic arguments from the NT. Apparently, DG Hart doesn’t bother to check the primary sources of the topics he attempts to critique.

    As for the American revisions to the WCF, most American Theonomists have accepted them even in their ordination (e.g. Bahnsen, Gentry, Wagner, etc.) and without “their fingers crossed” and see no significant incompatibility between Theonomy and those revisions. The only exception here would be the Theonomic RPCUS denomination under Joe Morecraft which does use the original WCF. Theonomy is able to work under both confessions since they both teach essentially the same reformed view on God’s law, while differing slightly on the extent of the civil magistrate’s power.

  375. D G Hart said,

    November 10, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Colin: differing slightly? In the old WCF, informed by the Solemn League and Covenant, the magistrate could enforce orthodoxy and even preside over church councils. All of that is gone in the American CF.

    I don’t mean to presume that Bahnsen did or living theonomists do take their vows with crossed fingers. All I’m saying is that the theonomist and Covenanter argument about religious toleration, separation of church and state, and deistical infidelity does not bode well with accepting American arrangements. As odd as Daniel Ritchie can sound, he is consistent in his application of the antithesis. You seem to be waffling. And that waffling is supposedly what gets the 2k position in trouble.

    Come on over and join the other side. I’m serving waffles.

  376. Zrim said,

    November 10, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Colin @ 357:

    (i>Theonomy is simply a defense of the Westminster Confession’s view of God’s law. The Theonomic responsibility of the civil magistrate however is not about circumventing all sin in the world, but rather circumventing or suppressing Biblically defined crimes in society and not all sin.

    Says the theonomist. But I wouldn’t expect he who is trying to circumvent human sin to actually admit that he is trying to circumvent human sin. I don’t expect Arminians to admit they undercut grace, nor Romanists to admit they anathematize the gospel.

    Presumably Zrim believes in using Special revelation [SR] for his family worship and for his church worship. Yet sin is still present in both. Should that frustration mean that SR ought not to be used there as well?

    Yes, sin is still quite present in both. But worship isn’t primarily an enterprise in law but gospel. Worship isn’t concerned for the ordering of society or even the church. Worship is a response to God’s gospel; worship is the simultaneous response to and perpetuation of a theology. Is the Reformed notion of the RPW the superior formulation of Christian worship? Yes. Does that mean human sin is eradicated when it’s enacted? Not by a long shot. But, then again, that isn’t the point. But even when the cause is to order society (i.e. an endeavor in law), the point still isn’t to marginalize sin but keep evil at bay and maximize the good. My take on theonomy isn’t that it is not simply trying to do the latter, as if it were all that innocent. I am not sure how the concern for the ordering of society should be of such import over against, or even in tandem with, the propagation of the gospel, seeing as how there is absolutely zero data in the NT that even begins to imply that sort of arrangement in priority.

    [My assertion that theonomy actually suffers from way too low a doctrine of human sin] This is the same strawman typically levelled against postmillennialism. Yet how is it that nearly all proponents of Theonomy (and postmillennialism) have been strict Calvinists? If Zrim is right, then it should have been the Arminians and Pelagians who advocate Theonomy, yet most of them are unjustly scared of Theonomy.

    I don’t know, Colin, other than to say theonomists evidently don’t listen to their Augustinian-Calvinism very well. I mean, if you are suggesting an innocence by association then the FV should be left alone, as well as the abiding “Bapterinism” in the ranks or Framian notions of intelligibility against the RPW (the list could go on). Remember, the Remonstrants came out of Reformed churches. Reformed have never been ones to give each other a pass simply because of close association—they even devote one whole form of unity against the errors of their closer associates while giving only a passing mention of Romanist errors (HC Q/A 80).

    My Arminians are only scared of theonomy when the theonomists speak as consistently as they ought (like you all). I tell them that this is them, but only when the decibels are cranked up, they get their act together and realize what it leads to. Just as the theonomists don’t listen very well to their Calvinism, Arminians and Pelagians don’t seem to understand that theonomy is really the logical result of their system. (And if I may be permitted to wax personal, it was precisely the out-of-control culture wars in my former funda-Arminian ranks that played large part in my own defection to the dark side of a strict Calvinism. The similarities between theonomy and culture war obsessed Arminians is about as stark as anything I’ve ever seen. Theonomy is the Reformed version of a broad funda-evangelicalism, no matter how much it wraps itself up in the Reformed confessions.)

    Theonomy, being Van Tillian, actually has a very Biblical and reformed view of sin because it alone takes into consideration the noetic effects of sinful depravity on the mind and counters it with God’s clear law provided in SR.

    Yeow, you might want to pick up Meuther’s recent bio on CVT. It’s good for documenting how CVT deliberately resisted and regretted theonomy, the efforts of its architects to foist patron sainthood upon him notwithstanding. But maybe CVT just didn’t even fathom his own presuppositions and it took Greg, Gary and RJ to point them out to him? But for my money, CVT knew what he was rejecting and regretting, just like Machen knew this creature called “Fundamentalism” was not good for the Presbyterian soul.

  377. steve hays said,

    November 10, 2008 at 9:03 am

    D G Hart said,

    “Steve Hays: that’s fine. You appealed to the tradition of American Presbyterianism and it didn’t work out for you. Those Presbyterians were good colleagues of deists and other ‘idolaters’ by theonomic standards. They were also responsible for revising the Westmisnter Standards in ways that theonomists and Covenanters loathe. I guess that’s your bad.”

    You’re deliberately ignoring the context in which I cited them. You have suggested that while the original Westminster Standards supported theonomy, the American Presbyterians who revised the Westminster Standards took a position far closer to your own.

    But, as you’ve now made clear, your opposition to theonomy is based on your quasi-Anabaptist interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. That simply reinforces the contrast between 2K (as you conceive it) and the Presbyterians who revised the Westminster Standards.

    Therefore, my appeal works out just fine for me. This serves to confirm the very point I used to illustrate. Try again.

    Let’s also keep in mind that the original purpose of the Establishment Clause was to preserve the religious monopoly in certain states of the Union which already had an established church.

    “Yes, I see that they were activist, and yes, I see that my disagreement with that activism means I give them two cheers rather than three. But I’m not sure how many cheers you have for them, other than that they resorted to arms. They certainly didn’t do so for the reasons you advocate.”

    Whether intentionally or not, you have a penchant for missing the point. Did I indicate approval of their actions? No. I didn’t render a value judgment on their actions.

    Rather, I explicitly cited their example to draw a historical contrast between their Presbyterianism and yours. And my point still stands. Try again.

    Whenever we debate someone, it’s helpful to clarify at the outset how much common ground we have with that individual. How much can we take for granted? Every position assumes a prior position. So how far back in the series do we need to go?

    If this is an intramural debate between one Calvinist and another, then there’s less that either side has to prove or disprove (as the case may be). However, your position isn’t much different than Ron Sider’s, at which point this ceases to be an intramural debate where both sides share the same Reformed framework.

    At this juncture, based on your own representations, the case for 2K is predicated on Anabaptist hermeneutics, which, in turn, entails a radical discontinuity between OT ethics and NT ethics.

    Fine. Anabaptism (and variations thereof) is entitled to a respectful hearing. But it also means that the split between theonomy and 2K occurs much lower in the tree.

    “By personal pacificism I meant that I and the apostles (I guess) believe that Christians should turn the other cheek. (Talk about discontinuity.) The logic of turning the other cheek would seem to be a speed bump to armed insurrection. It would also appear to go against self-defense. In cases where my wife’s life, or those who needed assistance, were at stake, I’d do something physical (not sure what since I don’t own a gun). That’s why I’m not a real pacifist. I also believe the state bears the sword legitimately and that Christians may serve in the military or police. But if it were just my own life, I think the NT ethic is clear.”

    You keep citing the Sermon on the Mount without bothering to exegete it. Quoting Scripture and understanding Scripture are two very different things.

    Your appeal to the Sermon on the Mount is flawed in at least three basic respects:

    i) On a general note: as NT scholars like France (2007 commentary on Matthew) point out, Jesus deliberately uses hyperbolic and paradoxical examples to drive home his point. By contrast, you’re as woodenly literal as Tim LaHaye.

    ii) On another general note, as France also points out, the Sermon on the Mount is set in the context of a shame culture where certain words and actions were an affront to the injured party’s personal honor. This could even be an actionable offense, although no physical harm was inflicted.

    iii) On a specific note: many commentators have noted that, since most folks are right-handed, a blow to the right cheek would involve a backhanded slap. As such, this is not a case of assault and battery. Rather, this is a slight to the injured party’s honor.

    Jesus is rejecting the honor code which would justify personal retaliation for public humiliation. It has nothing to do with self-defense.

    I don’t see any evidence that you’ve done your exegetical homework. If you have, it doesn’t show. Quoting chapter and verse is no substitute for grammatico-historical exegesis.

    “(I don’t think the NT is clear that tea tariffs warrant rebellion.)”

    A diversionary tactic, since that was no part of my argument.

    “And as far as theonomists not using the NT, your allie Daniel Ritchie has had a devil of a time finding support for theonomy in the NT. By asking him for NT texts, he accused me of being a Reformed Dispensationalist. Apparently the NT is a stumbling block to some theonomists (not to mention the Sermon on the Mount).”

    i) Another diversionary tactic, where you try to deflect attention away from my argument. When you resort to these distractions, that merely betrays the weakness of your own position.

    ii) And, once again, you haven’t exegeted any NT text. So you haven’t established your claim on the NT. I already corrected your erroneous appeal to Rom 13 (where I cited Jewett). And I countered your rejection of Deuteronomy by citing 1 Tim 1:9-10, along with a reference to Liefeld’s commentary on that passage.

    For a more detailed discussion of this passage, see Towner’s analysis (2006 commentary on Timothy/Titus, 124ff.), where he also draws attention to the OT background, viz. the 5th and 6th commandments, as well as the Levitical proscriptions against sodomy.

    When are you going to shoulder your burden of proof by actually mounting an exegetical argument for your position rather than assuming what you need to prove?

  378. steve hays said,

    November 10, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Todd said,

    “You’ve mentioned that Revelation criticizes Rome, and that you believe some of the Mosaic laws are culturally informed and therefore not directly applicable in our culture; any other exegesis I have missed from you on this thread?”

    And you’ve not demonstrated any flaw in my appeal to Revelation, which was in direct response to your erroneous claim regarding the silence of the NT concerning the Roman regime.

    “Again, my disagreement with you is that I believe it is invalid to use the Mosaic law in the way you are suing it, to try to discern the principles or the direct applications and use them for modern statecraft.”

    Your belief is not an argument.

    “That’s funny, I was thinking that about you.”

    Document where what I said was unresponsive to what my opponent said.

    “How so? Demonstrate the inconsistency of the 2k position. I don’t have the conundrum of trying to discern which Mosaic laws apply to modern statecraft directly, which only in principle, and how they apply. How is that relativistic?”

    I don’t have to demonstrate inconsistency since I was responding to you on your own terms, and that was not your argument. Your argument for subjectivity was based on mere disagreement.

    And, of course, it’s not as though the 2K proponents agree with each other. Lee Irons and Scott Clark are both 2K proponents, but they fundamentally disagree over the role of natural law as the alternative source and standard of social ethics. And I seriously doubt that all 2K proponents share Darrell Hart’s denial of the right of self-defense.

    “This is where we disagree. The similarities between the civil laws of Israel and NC state laws are only formal similarities. The OT laws had intrinsic merit for God’s holy, theocratic people. I could make the same case for a NC law, as in Paul’s command not to marry unbelievers. The law is a covenantal law for God’s covenantal people, with no real correspondence to any civil law of modern government. That is how I believe the Mosaic Law in its entirety is to be understood.”

    You act as if you’re a theological voluntarist, according to which a divine command is an arbitrary fiat. What was immoral yesterday is moral today, while what was moral yesterday is immoral today.

    The covenant is not what makes something moral or immoral. Rather, the covenant codifies (to some extent) the moral law. Sodomy is not immoral because it’s illegal; rather, sodomy is illegal because it’s immoral (“illegal” according to Mosaic Law).

    “Well, I would say both. They were also ritually impure because they defiled the land, God’s special presence.”

    If you say they are both, then you’re admitting that they are illegal under OT law because they are immoral. And if they were immoral then, they remain immoral now.

    Hence, you admit that, to some degree, the Mosaic law codifies the moral law. And the moral law is transcultural.

    “Yes, and 2k disagrees with this theonomic premise. The Mosaic laws and penalties were never meant to be translated into the NC state. We believe that is a misuse of the OT law.”

    Stating your opinion is not an argument.

    “Now of course the underlying natural law realities discerned in the Mosaic law, such as the general idea of penalties for crimes, punishing harm of neighbor, etc…will be codified at some level in every NC state, but these ideas were already codified in societies before the Law came.”

    In that event, they can be translated into the NC state.

    And these ideas were not uniformly codified in pagan societies. To some extent, the Mosaic law is countercultural. In many respects it’s an explicit repudiation of heathen social ethics.

    “There is a difference between saying the law reveals what is sin in God’s eyes, and that the penalties prescribed in the Mosaic code are apt penalties to be used for NC, non-theocratic states. The former we affirm, the latter we deny. For example, the Law makes clear God’s views of idolatry. But we deny the penalties against idolatry in Israel can be used in NC non-theocratic states, or that a theocratic state is a goal NC Christians should attain to.”

    You try to use one example to discredit every example. That’s an argument from analogy minus the analogy. You would have to show that sodomy and idolatry (to take one example) are equivalent. Given the cultic holiness of Israel, it’s easy to see why idolatry would be a capital offense—for Israelites.

    Remember, there were resident aliens in Israel who worshipped false gods. That, of itself, was not a capital offense. It was a capital offense for a member of the covenant community. That is quite different for something like bestiality.

    “Yes, I was using too much already/not yet thinking in a short sentence, which does look confusing. Point being, the Law is being fulfilled in the church, which is filled with God’s Spirit from heaven, which lives in God’s heavenly presence through Jesus, so the positive requirements of the Law have an already dimension (besides the forensic element of imputed righteousness). The Mosaic penalties for sin will be fulfilled at final judgment, which I think is one of the points of the Sermon on the Mount. They have already been fulfilled at the cross for the elect.”

    You’re confusing justification with sanctification. Christians are justified in Christ. But Christians are still under the moral law. Your position sounds antinomian.

    And Paul’s statement in 1 Tim 9:9-10 involves an application of Mosaic law to unbelievers. So unbelievers are also subject to the moral law (in this case, codified in the Decalogue and Levitical proscriptions against sodomy).

    “Have you considered Hebrews 2:1-4? I’ll let a good 2k Texan, Lane Tipton, respond better than I ever could.”

    Tipton’s conclusion doesn’t even follow from his own premise. If the Mosaic sanctions represent a “semi-realized eschatology,” then they would have both historical and eschatological manifestations. They would be exemplified in the here-and-now as well as the hereafter.

    And we don’t need to turn to the NT to find a distinction between “now” and “not yet.” The OT has a Day of the Lord. Evildoers who escape justice in this life will receive their comeuppance in the afterlife. So there’s no dichotomy between temporal penalties and eternal penalties. Try again.

    Moreover, the fact that Mosaic sanctions anticipate the final judgment doesn’t mean that Mosaic sanctions exist solely to anticipate the final judgment, as if they had no other function. A nation-state needs to outlaw certain forms of social conduct.

    “I’m sorry, I believe the Bible refuses to answer that question for you. I do not believe the Bible is interested in granting the political solutions for happy, peaceful, religious political kingdoms of man in the new covenant, so I answer that question the same way I answer the husband who wants to know why God doesn’t tell us how to cure his wife’s cancer, and how is a doctor to know how God might want him to heal her.”
    Now you’re ducking the consequences of your own position. You admitted that a criminal is liable to punishment now. But you deny that Scripture tells us what punishment he’s liable to.

    Okay, so what’s your alternative? What would be a just punishment? If 2K can’t even begin to answer that question, then civil and criminal penalties are utterly arbitrary. Is that the cash-value of your position?

  379. Todd said,

    November 10, 2008 at 10:08 am

    “Let’s also keep in mind that the original purpose of the Establishment Clause was to preserve the religious monopoly in certain states of the Union which already had an established church.”

    Well, not exactly. Some of the founding fathers were horrified by the persecution of religious minorities by local state governments. Madison believed that the most serious form of state oppression was the creation of national state churches. Madison even introduced a bill in August of 1789 that declared that “No State shall violate the equal rights of conscience” In the debate, Madison argued that the biggest threat to freedom was not the national government, but local communities with established religions. One representative argued against Madison, saying, “It will be much better, I apprehend, to leave the state governments to themselves.” After much hard-fought debate, Madison’s bill passed the two-thirds in the House, but was defeated in the Senate.

    Thus the Establishment clause was actually a compromise between those who supported state’s rights to establish their particular Protestant religion and those against any establishment of religion, local or national. The majority of the people supported state’s rights to establish religion so Madison and his side did not have the popular support to apply the Establishment clause on the state level, which did not change until after the Civil War (14th amendment), but I certainly do not want to get into a debate with theonomists over the Civil War! No sir!

    Todd

  380. Bret McAtee said,

    November 10, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Regardless of Madison’s attempts the reality remains that the first amendment carried, with its prohibition against an established National Church was finally carried due to a desire to avoid challenging the established Churches in the individual colonies.

    Second, if people will look at my R2Kt section at Iron Ink they will be noting that I have been saying for quite some time that R2Kt is ana-baptist at its core … just as Steve Hays has noted.

  381. Todd said,

    November 10, 2008 at 10:55 am

    “And you’ve not demonstrated any flaw in my appeal to Revelation, which was in direct response to your erroneous claim regarding the silence of the NT concerning the Roman regime.”

    Well, being A-mil and not prone to partial preterism, I may have a different view of Revelation than you do, (I say “I may”), but I think the picture of the state in Revelation much more supports the 2k position. The state being criticized in Rev. is not just Rome, but all states and government authority. Rev. demonstrates that state authority is never Christian, and through the church age this human authority will at some level persecute believers. The kingdom of man will always be the kingdom of man this side of the consummation. I do not think this picture in Rev. nullifies the argument that the Apostles never verbally criticize or attack the civil authorities or their policies, or ever command the church to.

    “And, of course, it’s not as though the 2K proponents agree with each other. Lee Irons and Scott Clark are both 2K proponents, but they fundamentally disagree over the role of natural law as the alternative source and standard of social ethics. And I seriously doubt that all 2K proponents share Darrell Hart’s denial of the right of self-denial.”

    True, but we are not disagreeing over special revelation, but how to apply general revelation to civil law, which we admit is difficult because we do not have direct prescriptions. The accusation against using general revelation to guide civil law is usually that it is arbitrary, yet I see theonomists using the Law in the same way, arbitrarily.

    “You act as if you’re a theological voluntarist, according to which a divine command is an arbitrary fiat. What was immoral yesterday is moral today, while what was moral yesterday is immoral today.”

    No, I think I have answered this many times. A sin can be a sin in any covenant administration, but the specific penalties for that sin in a certain covenant administration may not be appropriate for different covenant administrations. That is biblical theology, not moral relativism.

    “The covenant is not what makes something moral or immoral. Rather, the covenant codifies (to some extent) the moral law. Sodomy is not immoral because it’s illegal; rather, sodomy is illegal because it’s immoral (“illegal” according to Mosaic Law).”

    Yes, homosexuality is immoral. But that doesn’t mean because the death penalty was prescribed for homosexuals under the Mosaic law, that that is the expected standard punishment governments outside the theocracy should implement. Do you?

    Besides homosexuality being sinful, Paul tells me to seek to associate with them (I Cor 5), not seek to establish a society where we may put them to death. I think we’re beginning to go around in circles on this issue.

    “If you say they are both, then you’re admitting that they are illegal under OT law because they are immoral. And if they were immoral then, they remain immoral now.”

    Immoral and illegal are not the same thing. Many sins were illegal under Moses that cannot be illegal in NC states.

    “And these ideas were not uniformly codified in pagan societies.”

    I don’t remember saying uniformly, but yes, many societies already contained laws against murder, theft rape, etc…before the Law. That’s all I meant.

    “To some extent, the Mosaic law is countercultural. In many respects it’s an explicit repudiation of heathen social ethics.”

    That argues for my position. The fact that they were in many respects counter cultural is due to their theocratic nature, which was unique to OT Israel.

    “Remember, there were resident aliens in Israel who worshipped false gods. That, of itself, was not a capital offense. It was a capital offense for a member of the covenant community. That is quite different for something like bestiality.”

    Right, I understand that theonomists are not suggesting a righteous state would persecute everyone who didn’t believe the established religion based upon the distinctions you mention above. Yet I have my doubts whether that would hold up in practice. History has not left a good record of what Christians do when they are given political power to establish or enforce religion.

    “You’re confusing justification with sanctification. Christians are justified in Christ. But Christians are still under the moral law. Your position sounds antinomian.”

    I said the Law was being fulfilled in the life of the Christian. Anti-nomian?

    “And Paul’s statement in 1 Tim 9:9-10 involves an application of Mosaic law to unbelievers. So unbelievers are also subject to the moral law (in this case, codified in the Decalogue and Levitical proscriptions against sodomy).”

    The same Paul who in Romans said the purpose of the Law was to expose sin and drive people to Christ? Yes, the Law is for unbelievers, but is the Apostle suggesting in I Tim that unbelievers are subject to the OT civil penalties of those particular laws, or that they as unbelievers still need the Law to expose their sin before God?

    “Tipton’s conclusion doesn’t even follow from his own premise. If the Mosaic sanctions represent a “semi-realized eschatology,” then they would have both historical and eschatological manifestations. They would be exemplified in the here-and-now as well as the hereafter.”

    Yes, as Lane wrote, the here and now is the cross (for believers), the hereafter is the Judgment Seat (for unbelievers).

    “Moreover, the fact that Mosaic sanctions anticipate the final judgment doesn’t mean that Mosaic sanctions exist solely to anticipate the final judgment, as if they had no other function. A nation-state needs to outlaw certain forms of social conduct.”

    Again, I think Lane’s criticism of using the OT sanctions in both these ways was well-stated in his closing paragraph.

    “Now you’re ducking the consequences of your own position. You admitted that a criminal is liable to punishment now. But you deny that Scripture tells us what punishment he’s liable to.”

    Exactly – not the purpose of the Bible for this age. Not ducking anything.

    “Okay, so what’s your alternative? What would be a just punishment?”

    I don’t know, what is the best treatment for cancer?

    “If 2K can’t even begin to answer that question, then civil and criminal penalties are utterly arbitrary. Is that the cash-value of your position?”

    If your answer to my question on cancer is utterly arbitrary, then I guess my answer would be “yes,” but I still like the category of wisdom and natural law for politics and legal penalties, just like I do for curing cancer.

    Todd

  382. Bret McAtee said,

    November 10, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Zrimec

    Says the theonomist. But I wouldn’t expect he who is trying to circumvent human sin to actually admit that he is trying to circumvent human sin. I don’t expect Arminians to admit they undercut grace, nor Romanists to admit they anathematize the gospel.

    This reinforces the anti-nomian nature of R2Kt thinking. Reformed people for generations have understood that the the second use of the law sets a standard of righteousness for the civil realm. This is all the Theonomist is contending for. Apparently R2Kt types don’t believe in the second use of the law.

    So, Theonomy doesn’t try to circumvent sin but rather is crying for God’s law to be the law that sets a standard for what is and is not crime. Zrimec is insisting that God’s law is not the standard for what is and isn’t crime. I don’t expect those who are public square antinomians to actually admit they are trying to get rid of the second use of the law just as I don’t expect Arminians to admit they undercut grace, nor Romanists to admit they anathematize the gospel.

    Yes, sin is still quite present (in both worship and the civil realm). But worship isn’t primarily an enterprise in law but gospel. Worship isn’t concerned for the ordering of society or even the church. Worship is a response to God’s gospel; worship is the simultaneous response to and perpetuation of a theology. Is the Reformed notion of the RPW the superior formulation of Christian worship? Yes. Does that mean human sin is eradicated when it’s enacted? Not by a long shot. But, then again, that isn’t the point. But even when the cause is to order society (i.e. an endeavor in law), the point still isn’t to marginalize sin but keep evil at bay and maximize the good. My take on theonomy isn’t that it is not simply trying to do the latter, as if it were all that innocent. I am not sure how the concern for the ordering of society should be of such import over against, or even in tandem with, the propagation of the gospel, seeing as how there is absolutely zero data in the NT that even begins to imply that sort of arrangement in priority.

    Once again we see the dispensational tendency of acting if the Old Testament doesn’t exist or doesn’t inform the New Testament. But Zrimec is wrong about his NT reading. First we have the great commission which as it is fulfilled among nations always leads to the re-ordering of society. How could the re-ordering of society not be the case where people embrace Jesus and are taught to observe all things which Jesus commands? We see a brief example of this re-ordering of society in Acts 19. Paul has spent a good deal of time in Ephesus teaching and the consequence is that a reordering of society begins to take place in the economic and civil realm to the point that those of the old order who were threatened by the Gospel’s re-ordering of society created a riot.

    “I don’t know, Colin, other than to say theonomists evidently don’t listen to their Augustinian-Calvinism very well. I mean, if you are suggesting an innocence by association then the FV should be left alone, as well as the abiding “Bapterinism” in the ranks or Framian notions of intelligibility against the RPW (the list could go on). Remember, the Remonstrants came out of Reformed churches. Reformed have never been ones to give each other a pass simply because of close association—they even devote one whole form of unity against the errors of their closer associates while giving only a passing mention of Romanist errors (HC Q/A 80).

    I quite agree with Zrimec here. What Reformed people need to do is purge R2Kt people from their midst. All because they have been closely associated with Calvinist for a long time means nothing at all in terms of their grave error. Whether theonomists or R2Kt types have been around Calvinists a long time is irrelevant. If theonomists have to low a view of sin and are trying to circumvent sin they should be tossed just as R2Kt types should be tossed if they are libertines, anabaptists and antinomians. Clearly though if you put libertines in charge of ruling on theonomy it will go bad for theonomy just as if you put those who esteem the second use of the law in charge of ruling R2Kt it will go bad for the virus.

    My Arminians are only scared of theonomy when the theonomists speak as consistently as they ought (like you all). I tell them that this is them, but only when the decibels are cranked up, they get their act together and realize what it leads to. Just as the theonomists don’t listen very well to their Calvinism, Arminians and Pelagians don’t seem to understand that theonomy is really the logical result of their system. (And if I may be permitted to wax personal, it was precisely the out-of-control culture wars in my former funda-Arminian ranks that played large part in my own defection to the dark side of a strict Calvinism. The similarities between theonomy and culture war obsessed Arminians is about as stark as anything I’ve ever seen. Theonomy is the Reformed version of a broad funda-evangelicalism, no matter how much it wraps itself up in the Reformed confessions.)

    Theonomy is the result of Pelagianism the way that pregnancy is a result of the fluoride in the water. If you want a more natural fit I would recommend the observation that R2Kt is a result of ana-baptist thought. R2Kt types don’t listen very well to Calvin who said things like.

    “But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God’s honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves…Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.”

    Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542

    And again,

    Psalm 2

    “…without a doubt he is speaking of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. He admonishes all kings and authorities to be wise and to take heed to themselves. What is this wisdom? What is the lesson He gives them? To abdicate it all? Hardly! But to fear God and give homage to His Son…Furthermore, Isaiah prophesies that the kings will become the foster fathers of the Christian church and that queens will nurse it with their breasts (Isa. 49:23).I beg of you, how do you reconcile the fact that kings will be protectors of the Christian Church if their vocation is inconsistent with Christianity?”

    Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Libertines, p. 79

    Looks like Calvin himself is guilty of Zrimec’s charge of being an evange-fundamentalist. Was Calvin also Pelagian Steve?

    Finally, though Zrimec may want to close his eyes and wish for it to go all away the culture wars are with us and they are going find wherever anybody tries to hide. We wouldn’t be having them were it not for the way R2Kt has contributed to the problem.

    Yeow, you might want to pick up Meuther’s recent bio on CVT. It’s good for documenting how CVT deliberately resisted and regretted theonomy, the efforts of its architects to foist patron sainthood upon him notwithstanding. But maybe CVT just didn’t even fathom his own presuppositions and it took Greg, Gary and RJ to point them out to him? But for my money, CVT knew what he was rejecting and regretting, just like Machen knew this creature called “Fundamentalism” was not good for the Presbyterian soul.

    It is true that Van Til disavowed his child. But in terms of movements that arose around his thinking he was consistently sanguine about all of them.

  383. TurretinFan said,

    November 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks to jeffhutchinson for the link to the article by Gaffin. That article really had more to do with postmillennialism than with theonomy (title was “Theonomy and Eschatology”). If that’s the article Hart had in mind, I’d wrap up my rebuttal (which it seems Hart is willing to let stand) by pointing out that his comment:

    Having to endure non-believing rulers reminds me of Gaffin’s great piece about theonomy, that it had no room for suffering because of its inherent theology of glory.

    is really directed specifically to reconstructionism (which is – one suspects – the only type of theonomy that Hart recognizes) and arguably more generally to post-millennialism. That’s an interesting topic, but not the one he and I were discussing.

    -TurretinFan

  384. Zrim said,

    November 10, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Bret,

    Calvin also says,

    “But whoever knows how to distinguish between body and soul, between this present fleeting life and that future eternal life, will without difficulty know that Christ’s spiritual Kingdom and the civil jurisdiction are things completely distinct. Since, then, it is a Jewish vanity to seek and enclose Christ’s Kingdom within the elements of this world, let us rather ponder that what Scripture clearly teaches is a spiritual fruit, which we gather from Christ’s grace; and let us remember to keep within its own limits all that freedom which is promised and offered to us in him. For why is it that the same apostle who bids us stand and no submit to the ‘yoke of bondage’ (Gal. 5:1) elsewhere forbids slaves to be anxious about their state (1 Cor. 7:21), unless it be that spiritual freedom can perfectly well exist along with civil bondage? . . . By these statements he means that it makes no difference what your condition among men may be or under what nation’s laws you live, since the Kingdom of Christ does not at all consist of these things” (Institutes 4.20.i).

    Looks like Calvin himself is guilty of McAtee’s charge of being an antinomian. Don’t look now, but it seems Calvin had a virus.

  385. Bret McAtee said,

    November 10, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    A Suggested Litany For R2Kt “Reformed Worship Services”

    State sanctioned Baby killing?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    State sanctioned Jew killing in the past?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    Legislatively pursued destruction of the Christian Family?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    Government Education on the basis of a hostile anti-Christ presuppositional base?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent

    State taking up God’s prerogatives as seen in policy after policy decision, thus revealing that it believes that it is God walking on the earth?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    Destruction of what is left of Christedom?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    More than that Christians should be for this destruction of Christendom since pluralism is God’s will for us.

    Cloning and Embryonic stem cell research?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    Computer chips implanted in the brain to alter our thinking and personalities?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    Mood altering drugs in order to alter our thinking and personalities?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    Aggressive pursuit of unjust war resulting in the premeditated deaths of thousands of civilians?

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

    Homosexualization of government school education.

    Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent

    Oh Sovereign God, who has bidden us to keep our mouths shut in the common realm except as individuals, and who has given us no clear guidance from thy most Holy Word on these matters, continue to give us natural law wisdom with which to confound those who believe not in you nor in natural law, and who believing that you are dead likewise believe all ideas of objective truth are dead. Grant us grace O Sovereign and wise God to continue to be divided on these common realm issues and bless us to put aside our divisions on common realm matters when we come in this sanctuary to hear you speak on those matters that really concern you. Thank you that you have saved us with a grace that keeps us from bringing that salvation into the common realm.

    In the name of the great King Jesus we pray — The name of Him who is Lord over Heaven and Earth but Lord in the common realm in a different way.

    Amen

  386. Bret McAtee said,

    November 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    There is a difference between Lutherans and Calvinists

    “The Lutheran Reformation, and the revolution of the German principalities which embodied it, broke the Roman Catholic dualism of ecclesiastical and secular law by delegalizing the Church. Where Lutheranism succeeded, the church came to be conceived a invisible, apolitical, alegal; and the only sovereignty, the only law (in the political sense), was that of the secular kingdom or principality. It was just before this time, in fact, that Machivelli had used the word ’state’ in a new way, to signify the purely secular social order. The Lutheran Reformers were in one sense Machiavellians: they were skeptical of man’s power to create a human law which would reflect eternal law, and they explicitly denied that it was the task of the Church to develop human law. This Lutheran skepticism made possible the emergence of a theory of law – legal positivism – which treats the law of the state as morally neutral, a means and not an end, a device for manifesting the policy of the sovereign and for securing obedience to it….

    A slightly later form of Prostestantism, Calvinism, also had profound effects upon the development of Western Law, especially in England and America. The Puritans carried forward the Lutheran concept of the sanctity of the individual conscience and contract rights. But they emphasized two elements that were subordinated in Lutheranism: first, a belief in the duty of Christians generally, and not merely the Christian rulers, to reform the world; and second, a belief in the local congregation, under its elected minister and elders, as the seat of truth – a ‘fellowship of active believers’ higher than any political authority. The active Puritan congregations, bent on reforming the world, were ready to defy the highest powers of church and state in asserting their faith, and they did so on grounds of individual conscience, also appealing to divine law, to the Mosaic law of the Old Testament and to natural law concepts embodied in the medieval legal tradition….”

    Harold J. Berman
    Law and Revolution – The Formation of the Wester Legal Tradition – pg. 30

    So, given Berman’s quote, in the debate about Radical Two Kingdom virus theology we ask, who are the Lutherans and who are the Calvinists?

    Notice this difference between Lutherans who radically divided out the Church from the State and the Calvinists who insisted that the State was as answerable to God as the Church is a difference of monumental import and one that clearly delineates that the debate that is currently going on between Calvinists is in reality a debate between Calvinists and Lutherans. Now, I don’t mind Lutherans being Lutherans but I do take an exception to Calvinists insisting that in order to be Calvinistic one must be Lutheran.

    If you want your Reformed congregation to become Lutheran then invite men who are trained at Lutheran seminaries flying under the flag of Calvinism to be your minister.

  387. Bret McAtee said,

    November 10, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Kuyper on the difference between Calvinism & Lutheranism

    “Luther as well as Calvin contended for a direct fellowship with God, but Luther took it up from its subjective, anthropological side, and not from its objective, cosmological side as Calvin did. Luther’s starting point was the special-soteriological principle of a justifying faith; while Calvin’s extending far wider, lay in the general cosmological principle of the sovereignty of God….

    Lutheranism restricted itself to an exclusively ecclesiastical and theological character, while Calvinism put its impress in and outside the Church upon every department of human life. Hence Lutheranism is nowhere spoken of as the creator of a peculiar life form; even the name of ‘Lutheranism’ is hardly ever mentioned; while the students of history with increasing unanimity recognize Calvinism as the creator of a world of human life entirely its own.”

    Abraham Kuyper
    Lectures On Calvinism – pg. 22-23

    1.) If Kuyper is correct here this would suggest those who contend that the Reformed Church doesn’t have anything to say to the public square are operating out of a Lutheran matrix and not a Reformed one.

    2.) Lutheranism is more anthropocentric in as much as its concern is personal and individual salvation and it tends to see the work of Christ in providing individual salvation as an end in itself Calvinism is more theo-centric in as much as its concern is a glory of God that covers the whole world. When Calvinism speaks of the same salvation that Lutheranism speaks of Calvinism does not see it as an end in itself but as a means to further glorify God. The view of Calvinism hence is far broader.

    3.) I would quibble with Kuyper when he says that, ‘Lutheranism is nowhere spoken of as the creator of a peculiar life form.’ I quibble with this because it is my contention when any faith refuses to create a peculiar life form what its refusal to create effectuates is a peculiar life form beholden to some other god or faith. Retreat is aid in creating a peculiar life form. Still, since Lutheranism doesn’t create a peculiarly Lutheran life form then Kuyper is technically correct.

    4.) I wonder if Westminster West would agree with the idea that, ‘the students of history with increasing unanimity recognize Calvinism as the creator of a world of human life entirely its own?’

  388. Bret McAtee said,

    November 10, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Calvin definitely doesn’t have the virus Zrim.

    The Church And Reformed Magistrates

    ” Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church. It is not in vain that he commands paternal love and all the benevolent feelings between brothers, relations, and friends to cease; in a word, that he almost deprives men of their nature in order that nothing may hinder their holy zeal. Why is so implacable a severity exacted but that we may know that God is defrauded of his honour, unless the piety that is due to him be preferred to all human duties, and that when his glory is to be asserted, humanity must be almost obliterated from our memories.”

    John Calvin
    Tract Defending Action Against Severtus

    Quoted in P.Schaff; History of the Christian Church vol 8 :791f.(Eerdmans 1981). The context is the defence of the execution of Servetus

  389. Zrim said,

    November 10, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Re 386 in which Bret suggests it is something to really worry about: Computer chips implanted in the brain to alter our thinking and personalities?

    Hey, I thought I was supposed to be the Dispensationalist?

    But, seriously, I think I have figured this whole thing out: Some are theonomists here and some are W2Kers. Are we done yet?

  390. November 10, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Not done. Slight emendation necessary.

    Some are Biblical Christians here and some have the virus. Now we are done.

  391. Todd said,

    November 10, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    “Some are Biblical Christians here and some have the virus. Now we are done.”

    This type of thinking reveals, in my opinion, the true danger of theonomy. Much of the time theonomy deals with “what if” future scenarios, and in one sense can be harmless. What if most of the people in the world were converted? How might governments legislate in such a scenario? I think that is a legitimate question. But the desire to win the culture wars and see political success too easily become all-consuming passions, and then idols.

    The Pentecostals are convinced the Bible gives us directives on physical healing. When we suggest to them that God seems content to allow us to wait until the consummation for the healing of our bodies, that until then the Bible does not give us the means to remain disease free in this life, they complain we deny the power of God, and that we have disconnected the Jesus of the gospels from the Jesus of today, and theonomists agree with the orthodox on this matter.

    And yet when we suggest to theonomists that what is true for the body in this age is also true for politics in this age, many theonomists become appalled and begin hurling the accusations; gnostic, antinomian, a virus to the faith, not only un-Reformed, but not even Biblical Christians! Thus the theonomist reacts the same way Pentecostals react when we dampen their expectations of healing in this age. Politics and cultural battles becomes so all-consuming that anyone challenging their use of the Bible for these ends becomes suspect, dangerous, and even sub-Christian.

    Our hope is not in a future earthly Christianized world, but we are always to set our hope upon the appearing of our Savior, nothing less.

    We would do well to heed the warning of Geerhardus Vos:

    “A religion that has ceased to set its face towards the celestial city is bound sooner or later to discard also all supernatural resources in its endeavor to transform this present world. The days are perhaps not far distant when we shall find ourselves confronted with a quasi-form of Christianity professing openly to place its dependence on and to work for the present life alone…selling for a mess of earthly pottage its heavenly birthright.”

    Todd

  392. Vern Crisler said,

    November 10, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Todd said, “The majority of the people supported state’s rights to establish religion so Madison and his side did not have the popular support to apply the Establishment clause on the state level, which did not change until after the Civil War (14th amendment), but I certainly do not want to get into a debate with theonomists over the Civil War! No sir!”

    I don’t want to get into the debate over theonomy (or the Civil War), but it is incorrect to say that the 14th Amendment applied the Establishment clause to the States. See Raoul Berger’s *Government by Judiciary* for a refutation of the idea of selective incorporation of the Bill of Rights to the States.

    Vern

  393. November 10, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Todd,

    Oh, Puhhhhleeeze.

    The accusations that theonomists are sub-christians are dotted throughout this exchange. You get no allowance to rub your sore harm and mutter how the theonomists are accusing people of being sub-Christian when we’ve been called everything from Arminian, legalist, jesuitical, and now we are akin to “Pentecostalists.” Who knows what will be hurled next. Indeed, some have even suggested that theonomists need to be hounded from Reformed denominations.

    So this whole whining thing about how Theonomists aren’t nice can only be responded to by saying,

    Physician, heal thyself!

    In the end your last post Todd is spoken as a a-millennialist. A post-millennialist just doesn’t share your defeatist pessimistic eschatology.

  394. Zrim said,

    November 10, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Todd for president. Oops, too late, maybe in 2012. Like sin, the theology of glory is indeed an equal opportunity affliction to the sarx. Even Reformed flesh is not immune to the doctrines of relevance and meeting the felt needs of the republic. But a staid prosperity gospel is still a prosperity gospel. Just because one is over chinztier things (physical and material wealth and stuff) instead of those which endure (life, law and order) doesn’t make it any less glorious.

    Bret, I realize this is to presume you actually drink regular H2O like me from a tap instead of Christian water, but I have to wonder what are they putting in the common reservoirs over there in Charlotte. We drink transformed water here, so it must be that the ground runs downward from GRusalem to your neck of the woods, picking up all sorts of stuff along the way. From my two kingdom perch this gives new meaning to the path of least resistence.

  395. November 10, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Zrim,

    LOL…

    Nah, McAtee is Russian. We only drink Vodka here.

    Something you may need to keep in mind Steve is that a theology of glory can exhibit itself in anything — even in the glory that comes from promoting R2Kt. Just as the sarx can take pride in not being prideful so R2Kt types can create a theology of glory out of that which isn’t supposed to be a theology of glory.

    Being only 60 miles away from each other, maybe someday we will meet Steve. I promise to buy the first round of drinks.

  396. Colin said,

    November 10, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    #376

    Daryl, my main point is that Theonomy does not necessarily depend on a Covenanter, nor an Establishmentarian view of the view of the State. Theonomy is a bottom up cultural-transformationalist view, rather than a top-down political view as per older Calvinism. Hence, this is why many modern American Theonomists are sympathetic to the revised Confession, not for its inherent pluralism so much as for its inherent decentralization of political power (where for example, the state is not authorized to punish things like “heresy”). Numerous quotes from major Theonomic authors can easily be provided to show their opposition to established churches and to using the sword against heretics.

    “All I’m saying is that the theonomist and Covenanter argument about religious toleration, separation of church and state, and deistical infidelity does not bode well with accepting American arrangements.”

    [response] How much of those arguments have you actually read? And are you able to distinguish between what reflects a genuine consensus of Theonomic opinon, verses the distinctive opinion of a single writer?

    “As odd as Daniel Ritchie can sound, he is consistent in his application of the antithesis.”

    But among Theonomists in general, Daniel’s views are simply one view among many, whether they appear “consistent” or not.

    Sorry but I must decline your “waffle” breakfast, since its poisoned with the R2Kt virus. My own view is not “wafflling”, rather I was simply presenting the facts of Theonomy in general and of Theonomists in general, rather than defend the views of a single proponent. You would do well to do your theological and historical homework first before attempting to critique somehing as theologically rigorous as Theonomy.

    If you want to critique a single writer like Daniel, go ahead, but critique his opinions as an individual who holds his own distinctive views as both a Covenanter and a Theonomist. And be aware that you will be critiquing the entire historic Covenanter testimony in the process. Hiding behind the revised WCF and the American Constitution and modern American culture will simply not suffice.

  397. Elder Hoss said,

    November 10, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    This is from one who has divergence with at least one of the core assertions of theonomy (Bahnsen’s “abiding validity in exhaustive detail” dictum)…

    I could wish #386 was hyperbolic to the nature of the case, but unfortunately, I’ve heard these very statements from more than a few 2K advocates (albeit not in formalized liturgy LOL, but actually in sermons). It would be helpful if the kinds of points raised here, and then also by Steve Hays would be met with something other than dissembling and rampant straw-manning. Listening to at least some 2K advocates, one gets the impression that the entirely conceptual (and largely irrelevant) “what if” scenarios concerning a handful of theonomists “taking power” in the USA consume them far more than the simple fact of 50mm babies slaughtered in our land, sodomite marriages, the hyper-sexualization of the culture, usurpation of the rights of homeschoolers, etc. Perhaps another neon sign as to the irrelevance and hysteria which characterizes so much American Presbyterian and Reformed muttering these days. I wonder if it will continue at the same MPH when Shar’ia law gains more traction in the West, and – perhaps – within our own borders.

    Similarly, at key junctures, there appears to be a rampant mischaracterization of theonomy, particularly from the (in other respects at least) sartorial DG Hart (ie, theonomists condone revolution, theonomists see no discontinuity between the OT/NT, theonomists are “unorthodox” when in fact the Westministerians, even by KLINE’S admission, were theonomists, etc.).

    Over and over again, theonomists such as Rushdoony cautioned that what is needed is not revolution but regeneration, and that the foundational “government” in Scripture is the self-government of the Christian man as a disciple under Christ, in turn, the government of the political order being more representative of “radical libertarianism” (Rushdoony) than current alternatives (hence one will find many theonomists dead set against interventionist wars, the so-called “war on drugs”, and other manifestations of big government chicanery).

    It is indeed hard to envision an intelligible critique of a movement concerning which many appear to have read so little.

  398. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Brett wrote,

    “The accusations that theonomists are sub-christians are dotted throughout this exchange.”

    Actually, if you scroll back, I wrote that I thought theonomy was within the reformed tradition, and I think even Confessional given the vague language of the WCF chapter 19. So no, I have never said it was sub-Christian.

    “You get no allowance to rub your sore harm and mutter how the theonomists are accusing people of being sub-Christian when we’ve been called everything from Arminian, legalist, jesuitical, and now we are akin to “Pentecostalists.”

    Actually, I said the reaction to our view of the Bible’s silence on a matter (politics) reminded me of the Pentecostal’s reaction to our view of the Bible’s silence on health. As for legalist, yes, there is a penchant among theonomists
    toward legalism in obvious ways, some I have addressed (schooling for example), but we are all susceptible to legalism in more subtle ways.

    “Who knows what will be hurled next. Indeed, some have even suggested that theonomists need to be hounded from Reformed denominations.”

    No, not into hounding, just debating.

    “So this whole whining thing about how Theonomists aren’t nice”

    No, not whining, just pointing out the dangerous passion for culture and politics that permeates the criticisms against those who are not on board. If you think that is whining, so be it.

    “can only be responded to by saying, Physician, heal thyself!”

    Only through natural law!

    “In the end your last post Todd is spoken as a a-millennialist. A post-millennialist just doesn’t share your defeatist pessimistic eschatology.”

    Guilty as charged.

    Todd

  399. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Elder Hoss wrote,

    “It is indeed hard to envision an intelligible critique of a movement concerning which many appear to have read so little.”

    Do you really expect, in a debate between theonomy and 2k, 2kers to address every nuance of distinction between RJ, Wilson, Bret, you, Bahnsen, North, Tim, etc on theonomy, or to deal with the general principles driving it?

    “Over and over again, theonomists such as Rushdoony cautioned that what is needed is not revolution but regeneration, and that the foundational “government” in Scripture is the self-government of the Christian man as a disciple under Christ…”

    But the major problem underlying Rushdoony’s recognition for the need for regeneration first is that, in that system, the gospel becomes the means to an earthly end, which is always dangerous, and wrong. See Luther on the danger of a theology of glory this side of the consummation. Whenever *anything* besides the new heavens and earth and the return of our Savior become the goal and hope of salvation, the true hope ends up being supplanted by a false, earthly hope. Not an inch of Christ’s eternal kingdom which is given to men through the gospel is gained or lost with the election of Barak Obama, whether Christians rule or are persecuted, whether homeschooling is legal or illegal, etc…which I think was the point of Lane’s original post that started this whole crazy thing.

    Todd

  400. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 9:13 am

    “Todd for president. Oops, too late, maybe in 2012.”

    Oh yea, that would work. The left would rally against me for my libertarianism and the Christian Right for my 2k views. Though I think I could pick up the pot-head vote.

  401. steve hays said,

    November 11, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Todd said,

    “Well, being A-mil and not prone to partial preterism, I may have a different view of Revelation than you do.”

    I take the same position as Beale and Poythress: amil/modified idealism. Try again.

    “But I think the picture of the state in Revelation much more supports the 2k position. The state being criticized in Rev. is not just Rome, but all states and government authority. Rev. demonstrates that state authority is never Christian, and through the church age this human authority will at some level persecute believers. The kingdom of man will always be the kingdom of man this side of the consummation. I do not think this picture in Rev. nullifies the argument that the Apostles never verbally criticize or attack the civil authorities or their policies, or ever command the church to.”

    Now you’re moving the goalpost. This was your original question, which you posed as a challenge to theonomy:

    “Some interesting thoughts, but I think you need to ask some questions, such as, why don’t the Apostles ever address the sins of Rome?”

    Even on the view of amil commentators like Beale and Poythress, the Roman regime is a target of John’s censure. The fact that John uses the Roman state to illustrate a general principle (“not just Rome”) doesn’t subtract from the fact that Revelation involves a very pointed criticism of the sins of Rome—with special reference to the Roman magistracy.

    I answered you on your own grounds. If you were honest, you’d acknowledge the point and withdraw your original objection.

    But no, you now indulge in special pleading to salvage your original claim even though you have to modify your original claim in the process. In Revelation, John clearly criticizes the civil authorities and their policies. Amil commentators have no difficulty recognizing that fact.

    I’d add that Revelation doesn’t demonstrate that state authority is “never” Christian. There were no Christian states or governments at the time it was written. The immediate setting is the Roman Empire, with historical allusions to pagan nations in the past.

    “True, but we are not disagreeing over special revelation, but how to apply general revelation to civil law, which we admit is difficult because we do not have direct prescriptions. The accusation against using general revelation to guide civil law is usually that it is arbitrary, yet I see theonomists using the Law in the same way, arbitrarily.”

    So, by the logic of your objection, 2K is just as “subjective” as theonomy, in which event your objection was self-refuting. Try again.

    “No, I think I have answered this many times. A sin can be a sin in any covenant administration, but the specific penalties for that sin in a certain covenant administration may not be appropriate for different covenant administrations. That is biblical theology, not moral relativism.”

    Unless you think the Mosaic penalties were unjust, then what was just then is just now. A just penalty is a moral norm. A universal. Justice is transcultural.

    If you deny that, then your denial commits you to moral relativism.

    At best you could argue that we are free to be more merciful. But a just penalty still sets a moral threshold of what a crime deserves. It deserves no less than this (possibly more), whether or not we give the criminal what he deserves.

    “Yes, homosexuality is immoral. But that doesn’t mean because the death penalty was prescribed for homosexuals under the Mosaic law, that that is the expected standard punishment governments outside the theocracy should implement. Do you?”

    It means that capital punishment is a just penalty for sodomy. So it wouldn’t be wrong to execute sodomites.

    As I’ve also pointed out, in my response to Keister, under OT laws, some penalties could be commuted. And the Mosaic law also distinguishes between penitent and impenitent sinners.

    I’ve already been over this ground before. Pay attention.

    BTW, sodomites have a habit of seducing underage minors. How do you think that crime should be punished? Or should it be a crime?

    “Besides homosexuality being sinful, Paul tells me to seek to associate with them (I Cor 5), not seek to establish a society where we may put them to death. I think we’re beginning to go around in circles on this issue.”

    You’re confusing the duties of the church with the duties of the state. Do you think we should treat all crimes as cases of church discipline? In that event, you’d repeal all laws against all sex crimes, property crimes, crimes of violence, &c.

    “Immoral and illegal are not the same thing. Many sins were illegal under Moses that cannot be illegal in NC states.”

    Now you’re evading the force of your own statement. You have a dishonest streak.

    You admitted that in some cases, the Mosaic civil law overlaps the moral law. Where they intersect, why wouldn’t we continue to outlaw those actions which violate the moral law? Isn’t the moral law transcultural?

    “I don’t remember saying uniformly, but yes, many societies already contained laws against murder, theft rape, etc…before the Law. That’s all I meant.”

    And they also contain immoral laws.

    “That argues for my position. The fact that they were in many respects counter cultural is due to their theocratic nature, which was unique to OT Israel.”

    No, it’s due to the fact that paganism is morally depraved. As such, pagan nations often had laws that violate the moral law of God. Take child sacrifice.

    Or do you think we should decriminalize child sacrifice? After all, the prohibition against child sacrifice was just a unique, theocratic prohibition, right?

    We wouldn’t want to impose a unique, theocratic law like the prohibition against child sacrifice on a NC state, now would we?

    “Right, I understand that theonomists are not suggesting a righteous state would persecute everyone who didn’t believe the established religion based upon the distinctions you mention above. Yet I have my doubts whether that would hold up in practice. History has not left a good record of what Christians do when they are given political power to establish or enforce religion.”

    I see. Does history have a better record of what unbelievers do when they are in power? Do you think that Hitler or Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot or Idi Amin has a better track record than Abraham Kuyper?

    “I said the Law was being fulfilled in the life of the Christian. Anti-nomian?”

    No, you’ve said they were fulfilled in the life of Christ, not the life of the Christian. I can quote your own words back to you verbatim if you can’t remember what you said.

    “The same Paul who in Romans said the purpose of the Law was to expose sin and drive people to Christ? Yes, the Law is for unbelievers, but is the Apostle suggesting in I Tim that unbelievers are subject to the OT civil penalties of those particular laws, or that they as unbelievers still need the Law to expose their sin before God?”

    In Reformed theology, there are three uses of the law. Do you reject Reformed theology in tha respect?

    “Yes, as Lane wrote, the here and now is the cross (for believers), the hereafter is the Judgment Seat (for unbelievers).”

    Tell that to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5,10), or Herod (Acts 12:23). Even in the church age, divine judgment is manifested in the here-and-now as well as the hereafter.

    “I don’t know, what is the best treatment for cancer?”

    That is hardly analogous. In penology and jurisprudence, the question at issue is a moral question, involving moral norms. Universals.

    What social behavior is wrong? What social behavior should be outlawed? What’s a just punishment for a particular crime?

    That involves a question of justice. Timeless norms. Moral absolutes.

    The best treatment for cancer is not a question of abstract, universal truths about right and wrong. It’s a purely contingent, person-variable issue.

    What works for one cancer patient may not work for another.

    How’s that comparison the least bit relevant to the just punishment for child rape (to take one example)?

    If you really think that penology is analogous to medicine, then that commits you to moral relativism since medication is person-variable.

    You don’t show much evidence of having thought through your position.

    “If your answer to my question on cancer is utterly arbitrary, then I guess my answer would be ‘yes,’ but I still like the category of wisdom and natural law for politics and legal penalties, just like I do for curing cancer.”

    Fine, let’s see you apply natural law to actual cases. According to natural law, are the following actions right or wrong?

    Sodomy
    Pedophilia
    Bestiality
    Fornication
    Adultery
    Rape
    Prostitution
    Suicide
    Therapeutic abortion
    Eugenic abortion
    Elective abortion
    Infanticide
    Voluntary euthanasia
    Involuntary euthanasia
    Virtual child pornography
    Deception
    Birth control
    Therapeutic cloning
    Surrogate motherhood
    Negligent homicide
    Defensive warfare
    Preemptive warfare
    Waterboarding
    Civil disobedience
    Socialism
    Slavery
    Remedial punishment
    Retributive punishment
    Capital punishment
    Corporal punishment

    Which actions are morally licit, and why? Which actions are morally illicit, and why?

    Assuming that you regard one of more of these actions as wrong, which of them should be outlawed?

    After you identify which actions would be crimes, also state what just penalties natural law would assign to these crimes, and why.

  402. steve hays said,

    November 11, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Todd said,

    “See Luther on the danger of a theology of glory this side of the consummation.”

    That’s a classic critique of Calvinist from a Lutheran viewpoint. So are you admitting that 2K operates with Lutheran presuppositions rather than Reformed presuppositions?

  403. Zrim said,

    November 11, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Todd @401:

    It would also be a confusion of kingdoms (you’re a pastor, right?). But now we are getting much too literal for two-kingdomites. Let’s just go with the spirit of the figurative remark. (Although I will say that anyone who can see theonomy as a form of prosperity gospel has my vote.)

  404. Elder Hoss said,

    November 11, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Todd – While I am encouraged by your prior recognition that the Westminsterian tradition, as per 19:4 was Theonomic (this does not seem a permissible assumption for at least some 2K brethren), and by the fact that it appears you’ve been exposed to theonomic writings, I do think the following is an unfortunate dose of windmill thrusting on your part:

    ” But the major problem underlying Rushdoony’s recognition for the need for regeneration first is that, in that system, the gospel becomes the means to an earthly end, which is always dangerous, and wrong. See Luther on the danger of a theology of glory this side of the consummation. Whenever *anything* besides the new heavens and earth and the return of our Savior become the goal and hope of salvation, the true hope ends up being supplanted by a false, earthly hope.”

    Where in Rushdoony are you extrapolating this notion that the gospel is a means to an earthly end? OR, would this simply be what you impute to post-millenial thinking, en masse? Rushdoony and a host of others (a bevy of post-millenial Reformed men, you can look them up) saw the dominion mandate as reiterated in the Great Commission and thus, envision (er, with not a few Puritans) Christ triumphing in history through the worldwide advance of the gospel as encompassing not merely inviduals as such, but NATIONS.

    Now, teaching and baptizing NATIONS might suggest to one’s furtive imagination that the “gospel is a means to an earthly end”. Of course, the alternative might be that the one holding this view is laboring under a kind of spirit/matter dualism (after all, we await a new heavens and a new earth, and not merely a new heavens), along with other notions about Christ’s authority which any numbe of post-millenial Reformed Christians have consistently rejected.

    Re consulting Luther, his 55 volumes are in a very prominent place in my study, but below Calvin, even as Thomas is below Luther : )

    I would simply in concluding, again draw our attention to a prior citation of Kuyper’s (# 388 or thereabouts), relative to the characteristic emphases and ensuing cultural effects of Lutheranism and Calvinism in history:

    “Luther as well as Calvin contended for a direct fellowship with God, but Luther took it up from its subjective, anthropological side, and not from its objective, cosmological side as Calvin did. Luther’s starting point was the special-soteriological principle of a justifying faith; while Calvin’s extending far wider, lay in the general cosmological principle of the sovereignty of God….

    Lutheranism restricted itself to an exclusively ecclesiastical and theological character, while Calvinism put its impress in and outside the Church upon every department of human life. Hence Lutheranism is nowhere spoken of as the creator of a peculiar life form; even the name of ‘Lutheranism’ is hardly ever mentioned; while the students of history with increasing unanimity recognize Calvinism as the creator of a world of human life entirely its own.”

    Abraham Kuyper
    Lectures On Calvinism – pg. 22-23

  405. ReformedSinner said,

    November 11, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Once again a Church historian look at the arguments, the arguments that the people of the past conveniently fit into a modern concept perfectly and therefore it’s perfect validity to associate them and make a strong case. I guess all pre-Mill should be happy that most early church fathers are also pre-Mill, they just call it by another name: Chiliasm. And indeed, Augustine is the first African Theologian that all modern Africans or people with African-roots should be proud of today.

    As to the question of whether or not some of the Westminster Divines were theonomists, it really is an anachronistic discussion. People forget Theonomy is a new movement that was not an issue then. Strictly speaking, none of them were “theonomists” the way we would use it. Allowing the anachronistic use of the term for the sake of discussion, it is hard to say how the Divines would have lined up had someone presented the modern case to them. Still, it seems to me that the Divines spoke rather strongly about the abrogation of certain portions of the law (i.e. about modified application) and rather weakly about the continuing validity of the moral aspects of the ceremonial and civil law (i.e. they spoke vaguely and without emphasis about “general equity”). In my mind, this suggests that they placed heavier emphasis on modification than on imitation. Probably they even tended toward rejection by insisting on the abrogation of the non-moral aspects of the Law (as if the non-moral aspects of the Law could not have reflected God’s character).

    Moreover, some of the actual applications of the law listed especially in the Larger Catechism are quite extensive, exceeding the expectations of many as to what the various laws actually prescribed and proscribed. This indicates, perhaps, a great willingness to modify the observance of the Law to apply it to a great many circumstances that might not originally have been stated explicitly or exemplified in the caselaw. Again, this would seem to me to be evidence that the Divines were not theonomists — they tended toward broader application than facile imitation would suggest.

    The traditional Reformed perspective on the Law has been modified application, and both theonomists and non-theonomists think they fall into this camp. The difference between them, in my opinion, is that the theonomists tend to make fewer modifications, they tend toward facile immitation even though they do not hold that position in total. If we can imagine a continuum of views ranging from modifying everything (which almost looks like rejection) to modifying nothing (which looks pretty much like facile immitation), theonomists are closer to the end of the spectrum that modifies nothing than are non-theonomists. Probably, theonomists will respond that they are right in the middle and that non-theonomists are too close to rejection. In my opinion, it is the non-theonomists who are in the middle.

    Regardless of who is in the middle, though, it is clear that there is a distinction between the two groups (they fight with one another enough to prove that). One does not earn the label “theonomist” simply by believing that the law is still applicable in some ways. Rather, one earns that title by distinguishing oneself from the greater mass of Reformed Christiany in some way. Which in my opinion is exactly what’s going on in this long tiring thread and the uses (or abuses) of past Reformed giants.

  406. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Steve wrote,

    “No, you’ve said they were fulfilled in the life of Christ, not the life of the Christian. I can quote your own words back to you verbatim if you can’t remember what you said.”

    Here is my exact quote, “Point being, the Law is being fulfilled in the church, which is filled with God’s Spirit from heaven, which lives in God’s heavenly presence through Jesus, so the positive requirements of the Law have an already dimension (besides the forensic element of imputed righteousness).“

    The law is being fulfilled in the church, God’s people (not only Christ, as you asserted I wrote.)

    Seeing your responses in this debate, you use some standard rhetorical debating techniques. You try to make your opponents look bad by constantly accusing them of deliberate dishonesty, as if you know their hearts, and then you speak to them like children to try to make them look ignorant. But if you think it works, go ahead.

    As for the OT penalties, I don’t know how many times I can answer the same questions, so this will be my last time with you. But you may want to get a hold of L. Tipton’s full exegetical paper on this point, for he does a wonderful job of refuting theonomy concerning the OT penalties.

    Again, the OT Mosaic penalties are just, in that all sins deserve death, and Final Judgment will be just against all sins. The OT penalties typify Final Judgment, they are not appropriate for this NC age. If that is moral relativism in your eyes, so be it. I can live with that accusation.

    As for that long list of sins (is birth control a sin?) in your previous post, I would be fascinated to read what you think you believe the just biblical, civil penalties should be for each.

    As for me, given man’s sin nature, I think the Lord has done a pretty good job of preserving society for thousands of years through natural law, so I am content with this type of preservation until he returns.

    And Luther’s warning about a theology of glory verses a theology of the cross transcends all traditions and denominations; they are warnings every Christian needs to heed.

    Todd

  407. DG Hart said,

    November 11, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Steve Hays somewhere way up there in these 400 plus comments tried to drive a wedge between American Presbyterianism and the 2k view. It really was a nice try, but way wide of the mark. The American revisions introduced precisely what Covenanters and theonomists reject — religious liberty for unbelief. What is more, it was rationalized with the influence of Enlightenment thought. So there is really no way that theonomists can claim the American Presbyterian tradition is on their side. (BTW, I see no reason why granting religious liberty to everyone or revising the religious role of the magistrate forces me to be a rebel against bad government. In point of fact, religious liberty gives me a reason not to rebel.)

    I’m not sure that theonomists can claim the original standards are on their side either. The civil magistrate’s enforcing faith is one thing. It is not a theocracy. Plus, the WCF in ch. 8, and 20, and 25 leave all sorts of crumbs to a trail that doesn’t go back to Jerusalem. And if anyone wants to claim Kline in support of theonomy in the Standards, then please also follow Kline on Gen. 1. Talk about selectivity.

    Then there is the problem of good pastor Bret claiming Calvin for the true Reformed position. Never mind the presence of female clergy in his church, something that Calvin would have abhored. Still, he gets to try to beat up the 2k view and throw us out of fellowship. Funny how he lets women pastors stay in fellowship.

    The problem here is that all of us live in the reality of the destruction of Israel — the place where cult and culture were one. Christ’s coming seems to have played a large role in this. But the reality we all face is the same. We do not have a state that enforces orthodoxy. And we live with people who do not profess faith. (If you want to claim Christendom as the blessed recovery of Israel, then think relics, transubstantiation, and the papacy. Some cult, some culture.)

    Theonomists and Covenaters seem incapable of living in this reality, this exilic existence where believers are not at home. They want the old certainty and uniformity of Israel. Now, I don’t think this is what God has called the church to be, and I certainly see a very different existence for the church in the pages of the NT than in the OT, where Christians are not called to a homeland but are dispersed around the world and have no home. Christians are much more like the Israelites in exile, than in the promised land.

    But the thing that is really annoying about theonomists and Covenanters is that for all the bluster about magistrates and rulers kissing the son or needing to enforce the true religion, they live with the arrangements and benefits of cultural and religious diversity where personal liberty reigns. In other words, they seem to want to fault 2kers for not following Calvin. But they won’t follow Calvin either and do anything about the current illegitimate regime. Instead of suffering for the cause of king Jesus, they are merely insufferable about how bad 2kers are.

    We 2kers are living with clear consciences. I continue not to know how those who believe the U.S. is guilty of such wickedness as Bret recounts can live with themselves or their consciences. (Why not at least leave this place and find somewhere that is less evil.) The Reformation produced lots of martyrs and exiles who could not live with a waffling conscience. I don’t see theonomy of Covenanters producing any martyrs, and certainly no immigrants.

  408. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Elder Hoss wrote,

    “Where in Rushdoony are you extrapolating this notion that the gospel is a means to an earthly end? OR, would this simply be what you impute to post-millenial thinking, en masse? Rushdoony and a host of others (a bevy of post-millenial Reformed men, you can look them up) saw the dominion mandate as reiterated in the Great Commission and thus, envision (er, with not a few Puritans) Christ triumphing in history through the worldwide advance of the gospel as encompassing not merely inviduals as such, but NATIONS.”

    That’s a good question; one I have wrestled with a lot. I have seen enough statements from men like Warfield and Hodge, even Machen, who are my theological heroes, that suggest a post-mil outlook, at least in general. I guess I see enough distinctions between what they wrote and what I see from men like RJ, Bahnsen, etc.. to make these distinctions.

    For example, and I am speculating here, I would guess that if you could go back in time and inform Warfield and Hodge that in the 21st century, in the “Dark Continent,” 27 percent of all Africans would identify themselves as evangelical Christians, and in China there would be at least one hundred million professing evangelicals, I think Warfield and Hodge would have said, “yes, that is the fulfillment of the eschatology of the Bible, the vast expansion of Christianity.” I don’t believe it would have mattered too much to them if the laws of the countries reflected Mosaic penalties, or were even theocracies that recognized Jesus officially.

    But when the church has as one of its mandates the public enforcement of Christianity, or cultural victory of Christian ethics, that’s when I believe trouble happens. For one, the goal of evangelism is so difficult and challenging that I don’t believe it survives well with a second goal along side it, the so-called cultural mandate.

    And also, a unhealthy uniformity is then required. Christians are not then allowed to disagree too much on politics, as the suggestion on this thread that those who would vote for Obama should be disciplined by the church, or saying those who public school are unfaithful Christians. In other words, the goal of earthly, visible, cultural victory for the church takes over so that all who may not agree with this design become suspect. I realize I am over-generalizing, but this is what I have witnessed in this view of post-mil thinking, something I do not read in the older post-mils (unless you are speaking of the American Puritans, who did persecute those not sharing their vision).

    “Lutheranism restricted itself to an exclusively ecclesiastical and theological character, while Calvinism put its impress in and outside the Church upon every department of human life.”

    2kers believe the gospel has impact outside the church, and outside the saving of souls. We also believe it affects every area of life, just not in the way theonomists do. We look to the effects on their neighbor, their families, their work environment, etc…we just don’t believe the church fails in its mission if it doesn’t outwardly change the laws of society or culture. The Chinese Christians are a great case in point. If each believer there is growing in Christ and loving their neighbor as himself, then regardless if the state remains communistic or not, the kingdom of God is alive and well in China.

    Todd

  409. Elder Hoss said,

    November 11, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Todd – Do you believe Magistrates, in their capacity as Magistrates (not merely private/fallen sinners) are accountable to the law of God? Another way of asking this is whether you believe there is an authoritative Word of God to the Magistrate AS Magistrate and not merely in his subjective capacity as dirty rotten sinner…

    Whether one wants to argue that the Word of God to the State is simply a republication of the moral law (Kuyperianism) or, with more specifity, the judicial law with its various case examples (Theonomy), in either case one is undercutting quite seriously the kind of 2kism Darryl and others (yourself?) would be espousing.

    Similarly, unless I missed it (it may have been addressed) I did not notice the criterion to which one ought resort in answer to the long catalogue of public transgressions mentioned by Steve Hays. To what source does one resort in answering such transgressions? Fallen human nature, or God’s law (broadly conceived as in Kuyperianism, or more exhaustively understood, ala Theonomy?).

    How does fallen human nature instruct me that dispatching of a “fetus” at the 7th month is a criminal act, or that consenting sodomite relationships are abominable, or that Jews are expendable in the eyes of the Fuhrer?

    Or, are you meaning to argue that it is of no concern to the church that such occurs, and that there is no authoritative Word of God to the State.

    Re public education, I would only reiterate somtething mentioned previously here, and which Dabney articulates quite succinctly and powerfully in a few short pages, that a whole host of Reformed (and non-Reformed men) have rejected the notion of a non, or anti-Christian education as fundamentally inconsistent with our covenantal responsibilities under God.

    Now, they may be wrong. They may have misunderstood the alleged “salt and light” dynamic protested for today, but that in and of itself does not tell us one thing or another about the specific merits of Theonomy, or the more mediating position of Kuyper or Dooyeward. And, as my own pastor has said on numerous occasions, perhaps it’s a darn good thing after all that churchmen feel some holy peer pressure in the direction of committing themselves unreserverdly to Christian education for covenant youth.

    Darryl, that Theonomists or Kuyperians benefit from the trappings of pluralism is no more an argument against our position than is the fact that your benefiting from Constantianism is a necessary rejection of 2kism. Each Lord’s Day, you likely benefit from the largess of state-authorized creeds and confessions, whether of the early catholic or later Reformed sort.

    And?

    With regard to Kline, the purpose of the citation was not to suggest that his characterization of the Westminsterian tradition as theonomic solves the argument in favor of theonomy. Rather, it was to simply suggest that your labeling it “unorthodox” would entail labelling your (and many of our) Westminsterian fathers in the faith as such, as well.

    I get it: “Rabbi Rush” or “Rabbi Greg” (to quote the always catholic and charitable RS Clark) were “unorthodox” but Gillespie, Shepard, and a host of others like them, every bit as rigorous as modern theonomists (and to boot, actually in a position where for them the matter was not merely theoretic, but led them to advocate legislation, particularly in Shepard’s case), were within the pale because it’s convenient to assert such.

    Talk about special pleading : )

    But again, it would be great to hear someone offer a rejoinder to Hays’ citation of a host of very salient cultural phenomena which are (in several cases at least) at face value, in direction contradiction to the moral law of God. How does one address these?

    Now, it might be asserted by some that even concerning ourselves with things like partial birth abortion, sodomite marriages, the erosion of the rights of homeschoolers, belies the idolatrous quest for religious certainty. Perhaps the same could be said for those few German pastors who spoke against the Third Reich, thundering that the nationalist god of the German theologians was an idol, and that swift judgment would fall upon the German nation apart from national repentance.

    Another alternative is that people actually believe with our Reformed forebears that there actually is a word of God the magistrate AS magistrate, to the State AS state, such that the Scriptures do not merely speak to the inner condition of our hearts, or at best, to the four walls of the institutionalized Reformed denominational church.

  410. steve hays said,

    November 11, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Todd said,

    “The law is being fulfilled in the church, God’s people (not only Christ, as you asserted I wrote.)”

    … Before you said that, you also said this, in which you used an either/or formulation:

    ““Because in heaven there are no sex crimes, property crimes, and crimes of violence; and each individual, or Christ for them at the cross, will/have been legally judged at the justice seat in heaven for these sins.”

    Therefore, on your formulation, the individual doesn’t have to keep the law.

    “Seeing your responses in this debate, you use some standard rhetorical debating techniques. You try to make your opponents look bad by constantly accusing them of deliberate dishonesty, as if you know their hearts, and then you speak to them like children to try to make them look ignorant. But if you think it works, go ahead.”

    And you use some standard evasive maneuvers. When someone answers you on your own grounds, and you move the goalposts. …

    “As for the OT penalties, I don’t know how many times I can answer the same questions, so this will be my last time with you.”

    That’s because all you have are prepared answers. And when someone poses a question for which you have no prepared answer, all you can do is repeat the same unresponsive answer. You’re unable to advance the argument beyond your formulaic replies.

    “But you may want to get a hold of L. Tipton’s full exegetical paper on this point, for he does a wonderful job of refuting theonomy concerning the OT penalties.”

    If you’ve read his paper, and he does such a wonderful job of refuting theonomy, then you should be able to reproduce that refutation in response to me.

    “Again, the OT Mosaic penalties are just, in that all sins deserve death, and Final Judgment will be just against all sins. The OT penalties typify Final Judgment, they are not appropriate for this NC age.”

    Bad answer. Not all sins are crimes. The Mosaic law criminalized some sins, but not others. That’s because it’s a legal code for a nation-state, and not all sins are the proper subject matter of a civil or criminal law code. Rather, the Mosaic law singles out a number of sins which are most germane to social ethics.

    “The OT penalties typify Final Judgment, they are not appropriate for this NC age.”

    i) That’s an incoherent objection. If they typify the final judgment, then they typify the final judgment under the OC age as well as the NC age. So, by your logic, they were equally inappropriate for the OC age.

    ii) Moreover, you fail to distinguish between crimes and penalties. Even if, ex hypothesi, the penalties typify the final judgment, this doesn’t mean that the crimes typify the final judgment—as if the only purpose of criminalizing these activities was to typify the final judgment. Rape wasn’t outlawed because it typifies the final judgment. It was outlawed because it’s the sort of sin which destroys the social fabric, and that’s impermissible in a nation-state (or any society).

    iii) You also have an odd habit of oscillating between heaven and the final judgment, as if these were interchangeable. At an earlier point you said these crimes typified heaven because such crimes don’t exist in heaven.

    But that’s a very different argument. And at other points you say they typify the cross, or they typify the church.

    For you, they typify just about everything except the state.

    “As for that long list of sins (is birth control a sin?) in your previous post, I would be fascinated to read what you think you believe the just biblical, civil penalties should be for each.”

    I’ve been blogging on social ethics for several years, so you’re behind the curve. …

    “As for me, given man’s sin nature, I think the Lord has done a pretty good job of preserving society for thousands of years through natural law, so I am content with this type of preservation until he returns.”

    i) Both the OT and NT contain scathing indictments of pagan morality.

    ii) And when, once again, I challenged you to make good on your own claims, you drew a blank. You were the one who said that you turn to natural law for guidance, as an alternative to OT ethics.

    Very well, then. Let’s put that to the test. How does that abstraction cash out in specific cases? …

    So, … if any, natural law would classify as wrong; how many, if any, natural law would criminalize; and what just penalties natural law would assign to each, your appeal to natural law turns out to be a vacuous placeholder which offers no specific moral direction on the most fundamental questions of penology and jurisprudence. Thanks for illustrating the utter bankruptcy of your 2K alternative. Once we peel back the label, there’s nothing underneath.

    iii) Oh, and birth control is an excellent test-case. Natural law theorists typically oppose birth control on the grounds that contraception is unnatural or contrary to nature since the natural purpose of sex is procreation, which contraception deliberately impedes.

    So, if you’re going to invoke natural law as your source and standard of ethical guidance, then feel free to mount a natural law justification for birth control.

    “And Luther’s warning about a theology of glory verses a theology of the cross transcends all traditions and denominations; they are warnings every Christian needs to heed.”

    They constitute a frontal assault on Reformed theological method.

  411. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Steve,

    After finishing up on some work, I was starting to respond to your last response to me, but now I can’t find it.

    But what I keep hearing is that I have nothing to replace the theonomic views of what constitutes a sin, crime and a just punishment for society. And I agree, I have nothing to replace it with from the Bible because I don’t believe the Bible addresses this concern. How to deal with these matters in a legal context is a matter of Christian liberty IMO.

    That doesn’t mean I do not have a a political philosophy informed to some extent by the situation introduced by the new covenant. If I were elected president (which would be a step down for me because I preach the gospel for a living), I don’t know what exactly I would do concerning each of the many sins you listed. I would try to use wisdom and deal with the situation presented, and remember that in man’s kingdom I represented all the people equally, not just Christians.

    Most of the laws already on the books against murder, rape, theft, arson seem fine to me. I would try to slowly dismantle the welfare state because even natural law teaches that work should be rewarded over laziness. I would definitely want the courts to revisit abortion, because it doesn’t take a sanctified mind to see that the Roe v. Wade decision is one of the most horrible cases of poor reasoning the Court has ever produced. I might be content if the matter were left to each state to decide. I would avoid the temptation to make The Simpsons the national TV show of America.

    As a believer I would seek to serve others and not seek to maintain my own power. I would allow for freedom of religion, and I would not seek to outlaw homosexuality, adultery, or fornication before marriage, but I would seek to ensure the church’s right to preach against these sins.

    You asked what I would do, and in general that is my philosophy. Is it arbitrary? Yes, to some extent, but I’m okay with that, and I’m okay with Christians having very different political philosophies. (In my travels to Canada I was surprised to find many of the most conservative, KJV-only believers socialistic in their politics.) As I said before, I don’t think theonomists escape the tension and arbitrariness when actually implementing what they think is Biblical law in modern, NC governments.

    And I think I saw something you wrote about Luther’s warnings against the theology of glory being anti-reformed?

    Todd

  412. its.reed said,

    November 11, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Todd:

    I vote for the Simpsons!

    reed\

  413. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Elder Hoss wrote:

    “Todd – Do you believe Magistrates, in their capacity as Magistrates (not merely private/fallen sinners) are accountable to the law of God? Another way of asking this is whether you believe there is an authoritative Word of God to the Magistrate AS Magistrate and not merely in his subjective capacity as dirty rotten sinner…”

    Yes, but it is same authoritative Word given to the plumber, engineer or CPO about hard work and service to others and integrity and serving the Lord.

    “Whether one wants to argue that the Word of God to the State is simply a republication of the moral law (Kuyperianism) or, with more specifity, the judicial law with its various case examples (Theonomy), in either case one is undercutting quite seriously the kind of 2kism Darryl and others (yourself?) would be espousing.”

    The State does not have a soul, it cannot be accountable for obedience or disobedience. The NC non-theocratic state is a group of individuals of different religions and world views uniting together under one government in order to live together in peace and with protection. By definition I don’t believe that state can seek to enforce religion or use the Bible as it’s law code when the leaders are representing all the different people.

    “Similarly, unless I missed it (it may have been addressed) I did not notice the criterion to which one ought resort in answer to the long catalogue of public transgressions mentioned by Steve Hays. To what source does one resort in answering such transgressions? Fallen human nature, or God’s law (broadly conceived as in Kuyperianism, or more exhaustively understood, ala Theonomy?).”

    If you are asking about how a Christian who happens to be given the responsibility to craft law in man’s kingdoms, I would say he is to be guided by natural law that fallen man still retains, with, at least for the believer, works alongside Christian principles of love for the good of neighbor, service, fairness and humility as guiding motivations.

    “How does fallen human nature instruct me that dispatching of a “fetus” at the 7th month is a criminal act, or that consenting sodomite relationships are abominable, or that Jews are expendable in the eyes of the Fuhrer?”

    I think natural law argues well against abortion (murder is wrong, we can see, especially with modern science, that the fetus is a child). Whether people will be consistent and follow through with what natural law says is another story, but they don’t care what the Bible says either.

    “Or, are you meaning to argue that it is of no concern to the church that such occurs, and that there is no authoritative Word of God to the State.”

    Does being concerned with something in society mean there has to be an authoritative word from God in the Bible on how to deal with that concern? I am greatly concerned with young people in our society not reading anymore, yet is there a word from God on how to legislate on this issue? I am concerned with how people hate people so easily in our neighborhoods, yet I know of no word of God to the State on this. I am concerned with drug trafficking and addiction, but is there an authoritative Word from God in the Bible on how to deal with this?

    “Now, they may be wrong. They may have misunderstood the alleged “salt and light” dynamic protested for today,”

    Hey, I’m thrilled you might even consider that a possibility; that *is* progress. Now you’ll go and ruin my joy and tell me it was only rhetorical :-)

    Todd

  414. steve hays said,

    November 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Todd said,

    “So I answer that question the same way I answer the husband who wants to know why God doesn’t tell us how to cure his wife’s cancer, and how is a doctor to know how God might want him to heal her.”

    That comparison involves a fatal disanalogy. You’re comparing God’s revealed will (i.e. preceptive will in the OT) with his decretive will.

    The fact that we don’t know the mind of God in matters where he keeps his own counsel is irrelevant to the debate over the degree of discontinuity between OT ethics and NT ethics—where he has disclosed his will, at one time or another.

    “Again, the OT Mosaic penalties are just, in that all sins deserve death, and Final Judgment will be just against all sins. The OT penalties typify Final Judgment, they are not appropriate for this NC age. If that is moral relativism in your eyes, so be it.”

    Many Mosaic crimes didn’t rise to the level of capital offenses. Therefore, if you think the death penalty typifies the final judgment, and many Mosaic crimes didn’t carry the death penalty, then, by your own logic, many Mosaic crimes and penalties don’t typify the final judgment. So their justification is more mundane.

    “Most of the laws already on the books against murder, rape, theft, arson seem fine to me.”

    On what basis do they seem fine to you? How would you argue down an ethicist like Peter Singer, whose moral intuition is very different from yours?

    Keep in mind that, even in our secularized culture, many of our criminal laws reflect a Christian legacy.

  415. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Reed,

    We may have the beginnings of a third party forming. Here are some of my favorite Homer quotes:

    Homer: How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?

    Lisa: Do we have any food that wasn’t brutally slaughtered?
    Homer: Well, I think the veal died of loneliness.

    Homer: How could you?! Haven’t you learned anything from that guy who gives those sermons at church? Captain Whatshisname? We live in a society of laws! Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy movies? For fun? Well, I didn’t hear anybody laughing, did you? Except at that guy who made sound effects. Makes sound effects and laughs. Where was I? Oh yeah! Stay out of my booze.

    Homer: The problem in the world today is communication. Too much communication.

    Homer: Hey, are you sure you don’t want to come? In a Civil War
    re-enactment we need lots of Indians to shoot.
    Apu: I don’t know what part of that sentence to correct first, but I cannot come

  416. steve hays said,

    November 11, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Todd said,

    “I think natural law argues well against abortion (murder is wrong, we can see, especially with modern science, that the fetus is a child).”

    Seems to me a natural law theorist could argue for abortion, or infanticide. Traditionally, natural law theory has been the province of Catholicism, so the results of natural law theory have a way of coinciding with Catholic moral theology.

    But what about a secular natural law theorist? In the animal kingdom, a mother may reduce her litter by killing the runts. Or the stronger siblings may kill the runts. This improves the chances of survival for the remaining offspring since they don’t have to share the food.

    Likewise, a natural law theorist might argue that exposing the child of a large family is for the common good. Better to have a few well-fed kids rather than many malnourished kids.

    Biblical ethics would forbid this ruthless utilitarianism, but I don’t see how natural law theory does so.

    Likewise, what are the results of we apply natural law theory to the rationing of medical care?

  417. its.reed said,

    November 11, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Todd:

    I shouldn’t be, but I am amazed at how well the writers of that show capture the American psyche. It is especially startling that their characterization of Christians and pastors is so well-done that everyone who sees them can think of someone they know who fits the bill.

    Thanks for the laugh!

    reed

  418. DG Hart said,

    November 11, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    E Hoss: I think you make a good distinction when you ask: “Whether one wants to argue that the Word of God to the State is simply a republication of the moral law (Kuyperianism) or, with more specifity, the judicial law with its various case examples (Theonomy), in either case one is undercutting quite seriously the kind of 2kism Darryl and others (yourself?)” I think this distinction shows why theonomy has so much traction with transformationalists and why even though theonomy is a much more technical enterprise, most folks who advocate holiness, both personal and social, end up being sympathetic to theonomy. Yet, they are intellectually distinct and I’d say theonomy is more precise and thoughtful than the garden-variety taking every thought captive.

    But I still see two real problems with your position. One is that you expect the civil realm to be even holier than the church (and this might account for pastor Bret’s involvement in the CRC). Elders on session pick their battles. I seem to recall in one of our interactions you were less than affirming in disciplining church members for not keeping the entire Sabbath holy. So if we do follow our Lord’s counsel about not breaking bruised reeds, and if we show some leniency in the church, at least to the point of constantly mentioning that our people should do better, but we don’t actually go into Matt. 18 mode, why would you want the law to function as the remedy for so much lawlessness in our society? You seem to want the magistrate to do more disciplining than church officers. (Remember, churches only go after known sins. They don’t hire private eyes to go after private sins. Egads!! There’s another dualism!!!)

    And then there is the problem of unbelivers in your society. How could an unbelieving magistrate ever administer God’s law, a law to which on your account he is fundamentally opposed? So it looks like you will only have believing magistrates. And then there is the problem of unbelieving citizens. How could a Christian coerce non-believers to obey God’s law when their obedience would be hypocritical or betray antipathy to God and all his ways? In other words, how is it possible for non-Christians to keep God’s law?

    Israel had a way around this. All of the Israelites were members of the covenant and the law was the rule for covenant-keeping. Non-covenant keepers in their midst were driven off the land (if not executed). Now Daniel talks about having certain kinds of law breakers executed, and Bret talks about praying for the destruction of the regime. But do you really advocate the exportation or execution of law breakers?

    I don’t see a way around the problem of non-believers keeping believers’ law unless you adopt something like a 2k position. I don’t see how now that Christ’s redeeming reign extends around the earth beyond the promised land non-believers can actually live on this planet.

    As to my drafting off the state-churches that produced the creeds and confessions I confess, actually I profess the American revision to the Westminster Standards so formally I’m free of this charge. At the same time, my 2k position allows for seeing the spiritual truths in the Nicene creed without having to obey the Eastern Emperor. (I don’t see why this is any less a problem for your political theology.)

    But my point about inconsistency is that you seem (along with Daniel, Bret, and others) truly to think that our current regime is illegitimate. You seem to think that your conscience is bound by the oppressive laws and policies of this Enlightened, tolerant, liberal, and promiscious government. I’m not trying to say you benefit from such liberality or tolerance. I’m trying to figure out how you can go outside, why your not in some bunker, or making plans to move to a holy commonwealth. I’d imagine your conscience is pretty well in tatters having to live in this awful place. So how does a Kuyperian or theonomist do it without living functionally like a radical 2ker?

    In a world where either someone is a covenant keeper or a covenant breaker, where consistency will not tolerate the both-and of 2k thought, there is no room for covenant breakers. That sounds to me a lot like heaven. Can you say overrealized eschatology?

  419. Elder Hoss said,

    November 11, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Todd: It was chiefly rhetorical, at least on that point : )

    More seriously, you are correct that States don’t have “souls” (unless we are speaking metaphorically such as “the soul of a nation”), but then again, you could just as easily argue that other institutional bodies like churches (!) don’t either. Did the church at Pergamos have a “soul”, in the sense you stipulate in your question?

    Certainly nations are rebuked in Scriptures AS NATIONS, and we often forget that, even in the case of Israelitish Theocracy, pagan nations are upbraided and rebuked AS NATIONS.

    It seems to me if you grant this premise, you have immediately moved from 2K (in practice at least) to either the sphere sovereignty of Kuyperianism, or -if one wishes to take that further and more exhaustively – Theonomy.

    It seems to me that our Westminsterian fathers were quite sagacious in speaking thus of the general equity thereof remaining, insofar as this admission gives far more data at the disposal of Christians seeking to govern…

  420. Elder Hoss said,

    November 11, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    ie., than does the notion that feint vestiges of the moral law, deliberately suppressed by reprobate men is sufficient to form and uphold a political order…

  421. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Steve wrote:

    “Traditionally, natural law theory has been the province of Catholicism, so the results of natural law theory have a way of coinciding with Catholic moral theology.”

    I think Scott Clark has well demonstrated that natural law is historically reformed, and I am convinced of his research, so we may leave that as one of our many disagreements.

    “But what about a secular natural law theorist? In the animal kingdom, a mother may reduce her litter by killing the runts. Or the stronger siblings may kill the runts. This improves the chances of survival for the remaining offspring since they don’t have to share the food.”

    But the Bible teaches that men, apart from the Mosaic Law, through conscience know God’s moral law (Rom 1:32), so if abortion is morally wrong I can appeal to the conscience, as well as science. I could appeal to the Bible also if he was willing, but I would make the point that his conscience backs the Bible on this.

    “Likewise, what are the results of we apply natural law theory to the rationing of medical care?”

    How would following the law of God written on the conscience hurt people this way?

    I was about to respond to a second post you just submitted, but now that’s gone also. Oh well.

    Todd

  422. Elder Hoss said,

    November 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Darryl – You observed, “One is that you expect the civil realm to be even holier than the church (and this might account for pastor Bret’s involvement in the CRC).”

    If expecting the State to protect the lives of its citizenry through things like enforcing the death penalty for premeditated murder, not to mention things like, er, protecting the lives of the unborn (“LIFE”, liberty, and the pursuit of happinness – remember, Darryl?) – if this is “expecting the civil realm to be even holier than the church” than I am guilty as charged.

    If however, such is reflective of a very minimalist understanding (as I’ve said before, per Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Nigel Lee and others, Theonomy actually would more resemble radical libertarianism than anything else) of the State’s obligations under God and in no way an overreach or overexpectation of the alleged sanctificication of the State, the other alternative is that you are consistently limiting the authority of Christ over the state to be merely one of general providence (by the way, have you thought further on whether Christ’s rule over nations involves ANYTHING prescriptive at all?).

    You also ask, “And then there is the problem of unbelivers in your society. How could an unbelieving magistrate ever administer God’s law, a law to which on your account he is fundamentally opposed?”

    I am not certain what you arguing here. Is it that if a ruler is unregenerate, and thus hostile to God’s law, or say, a believer with very poor teaching (I would like to think the latter would be the case with say, GW 43, but God alone knows, given his joint “worship” services with Muslims, et al.) one can’t expect said ruler to either promulgate or enforce things like, um, laws against theft, murder, or any of the litany previously mentioned by S. Hays in a prior post?

    This line of reasoning reminds me of a Reformed Baptist Pastor I know who comforts himself with the reasoning that, since his drug-addicted son was not regenerate, he could really do no other.

    The fact is, as you know by virtue of common grace (if there are any Hoeksema followers her, forgive me for that phrase, LOL), and the theology of worthies such as Luther and Calvin, that unregenerate men (ergo, political leaders) are capable of a great deal of civic good, coram homenibus. Paul can thus speak of those who by nature do the things in the law, the work of the law being written upon their hearts.

    In light of this, how in the world can one attain to the fanciful conclusion that since not all rulers are regenerate, they cannot be expected to honor and enforce God’s law?

    I am not sure where this leaves us. Perhaps you would assert that theonomists say far too much about God’s law and the application thereof (whether exhaustively, or viz. a general equity principle). Perhaps you worry about the wildly impossible scenario of theonomists assuming power in the United States (hard to envision this since there are probably a basketball-auditorium-number of Theonomists these days).

    I would suggest that starting with a basic understanding of how the law of God even in the most broadest sense, might apply to the utter ruins in which we find ourselves (how many babies have been aborted since this thread began?) would be a fruitful endeavor. It seems to me that you would reject the propriety of the question itself. In doing so, I would suggest that you would be completely out of step with at least the first 5 generations of Reformed thought and practice. For such a misstep, I wouldn’t think that a cavalier running for cover under the 1788 revision should suffice particularly when we consider that in previous generations, Calvinism was the very life and worldview which shaped entire nations (note McNeil’s HISTORY & CHARACTER OF CALVINISM).

    Sincerely,

    Hoss

  423. Elder Hoss said,

    November 11, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Darryl – Given our shared respect for the Reformed tradition, I will leave off with some pertinent citations (courtesy of Gentry’s article on the PCA and Theonomy):

    “Morton H. Smith (letter of recommendation for a theonomic pastor, written to Allen C. Harris, May 30, 1989): ‘The PCA has taken the position that theonomy is not to be used as a means of judging a man to be heretical or orthodox.’….

    Shortly thereafter, Gentry provides quite an impressive litany, as follows:

    Reformed Basel theologian Johannes Wollebius (1586-1629), in his Compendium of Christian Theology, (cited in J. W. Beardslee, Reformed Dogmatics [1965], p. 10) wrote:

    Propositions: I. As the ceremonial laws concerned with God, the political was concern with the neighbor. II. In those matters on which it is in harmony with the moral law and with ordinary justice, it is binding upon us. III. In those matters which were peculiar to that law and were prescribed for the promised land or the situation of the Jewish state, it has no more force for us than the laws of foreign commonwealths.

    Leading Westminster Divine, George Gillespie in his Aaron’s Rod Blossoming (1646, I:1):

    I know some divines hold that the judicial law of Moses, so far as concerneth the punishments of sins against the moral law, idolatry, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, adultery, theft, etc., ought to be a rule to the Christian magistrate; and, for my part, I wish more respect were had to it, and that it were more consulted with.

    Puritan John Owen (Works, 8:394):

    Although the institutions and examples of the Old Testament, of the duty of magistrates in the things and about the worship of God, are not, in their whole latitude and extent, to be drawn into rules that should be obligatory to all magistrates now…, yet, doubtless, there is something moral in those institutions, which, being unclothed of their Judaical form, is still binding to all in the like kind, as to some analogy and proportion. Subduct from those administrations what was proper to, and lies upon the account of, the church and nation of the Jews, and what remains upon the general notion of a church and nation must be everlastingly binding.

    Puritan Thomas Shephard (1605-1649) (The Morality of the Sabbath, rep. 1853, III:53f):

    The judicial laws, some of them being hedges and fences to safeguard both moral and ceremonial precepts, their binding power was therefore mixed and various, for those which did safeguard any moral law, (which is perpetual,) whether by just punishments or otherwise do still morally bind all nations…. As, on the contrary, the moral abiding, why should not their judicials and fences remain? The learned generally doubt not to affirm that Moses’ judicials bind all nations, so far forth as they contain any moral equity in them, which moral equity doth appear not only in respect of the end of the law, when it is ordered for common and universal good, but chiefly in respect of the law which they safeguard and fence, which if it be moral, it is most just and equal, that either the same or like judicial fence (according to some fit proportion) should preserve it still, because it is but just and equal that a moral and universal law should be universally preserved….

    R. L. Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 412, re: Lev. 18 law against incest:

    We hold that this law, although found int he Hebrew code, has not passed away; because neither ceremonial nor typical…. We argue also, presumptively, that if this law is a dead one, then the Scriptures contain nowhere a distinct legislation against this great crime of incest.” The same would be true of bestiality and other crimes. On page 402 he states: “The laws of Moses, therefore, very properly made adultery a capital crime….

    On page 403 Dabney lists capital punishment laws for murder, striking a parent, adultery, etc., without any disapprobation….”

    As Merle Haggard once sang, “That’s All”…

  424. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Elder Hoss wrote:

    “More seriously, you are correct that States don’t have “souls” (unless we are speaking metaphorically such as “the soul of a nation”), but then again, you could just as easily argue that other institutional bodies like churches (!) don’t either. Did the church at Pergamos have a “soul”, in the sense you stipulate in your question?”

    This seems like apples and oranges to me. The letters in Rev. were written to every covenant member in those particular churches, but only those with ears to hear would heed it. I don’t know how that relates to the question of the state and official policy.

    “Certainly nations are rebuked in Scriptures AS NATIONS, and we often forget that, even in the case of Israelitish Theocracy, pagan nations are upbraided and rebuked AS NATIONS.”

    Yes, but I would argue this type of phenomena is in the realm of OT typology.
    Israel, as a national entity, was God’s son, and the Gentile nations, as entities, were the enemies of his son, Israel. England, as a national entity, is not an enemy of God in that sense, as God does not have a country in the NC that is his son. The NC deals with individuals, not governments.

    “It seems to me if you grant this premise, you have immediately moved from 2K (in practice at least) to either the sphere sovereignty of Kuyperianism, or -if one wishes to take that further and more exhaustively – Theonomy.”

    I have to think on that one, but since I don’t grant the former premise I am not forced to choose either Kyperianism or theonomy.

    Todd

  425. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Steve wrote:

    “That comparison involves a fatal disanalogy. You’re comparing God’s revealed will (i.e. preceptive will in the OT) with his decretive will.”

    Except that I consider NC statecraft outside God’s decretive will, like I do the curing of cancer, so the comparison works for me.

    “Many Mosaic crimes didn’t rise to the level of capital offenses. Therefore, if you think the death penalty typifies the final judgment, and many Mosaic crimes didn’t carry the death penalty, then, by your own logic, many Mosaic crimes and penalties don’t typify the final judgment. So their justification is more mundane.”

    Well, I don’t relegate those more mundane laws as completely outside the realm of typology concerning Canaan as a picture of the new heavens and earth, but in my view even the smaller Mosaic penalties were not written to be used as guides to NC statecraft.

    “How would you argue down an ethicist like Peter Singer, whose moral intuition is very different from yours?”

    I would argue that past history and common sense aptly demonstrates that throwing millions of more dollars at Africa will not solve their problems, as one example. What would be the point of using biblical arguments if he, or those listening to such a debate, didn’t even accept the innerancy of Scripture?

    Todd

  426. DG Hart said,

    November 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    E, Hoss: what about all of God’s law and not just the second table? What about all the worship stuff? Isn’t that God’s law too? So how is an unregenerate person supposed to decide between Doug Wilson and Joseph Smith? And why, if the magistrate is supposed to enforce God’s law, isn’t the state allowed to lock up Sabbath breakers?

    It isn’t that I’m not willing to reflect on the law. It’s just that the law concerns a whole lot more than restrictions on murder and homosexuality.

  427. Todd said,

    November 11, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Hey folks,

    I think I’ll bow out of this discussion. Debating can be fun, but I think I’ve probably overstayed my welcome on this issue, and I need to get back to trying to whip my sons in Madden 05.

    peace,

    Todd

  428. Elder Hoss said,

    November 11, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Darryl – I would suggest in answer to # 427 that a number of the men cited in # 423, viz., Wollebius, Gillespie, Owen, Dabney, provide answers to these questions and others. So also do Calvin’s Pentateuchal sermons, excerpts of which have been mentioned previously in this thread, as well as related ones here.

    Best Wishes to you (and to Todd as well)

    Hoss

  429. DG Hart said,

    November 12, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Well, if those guys had a way of keeping drivers who don’t pass out of the passing lane, then I’m all for that kind of magistrate. But I’m still puzzled by those who think those guys are right and don’t seem to be doing much to resist the current regime. Sorry Vern, but at least the Southerners took aim at Fort Sumter. As things stand, the pro-godly magistrates are only taking aim at 2kers. Since some think we’re pacifists, it’s not really an interesting fight. In one hundred years will Presbyterian be reinacting the debates between Zrim and Bret?

  430. Zrim said,

    November 12, 2008 at 10:48 am

    In one hundred years will Presbyterian be reinacting the debates between Zrim and Bret?

    Since there is nothing new under the sun, I don’t see why not. One will contend for liberty of conscience and the spirituality of the church; another, preying on worldly fears about whatever devils across time and place the self-assured-less-sinful-enlightened know better to resist, will cast such things as surefire heresies to make way for evil reincarnate. But for my money, I’d rather go to Gettysburg see more honest reenactments.

  431. Bret McAtee said,

    November 12, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    In one hundred years will Presbyterian be reinacting the debates between Zrim and Bret?

    Since there is nothing new under the sun, I don’t see why not. One will contend for public square antinomianism and Magistrate licentiousness another, will contend for holding up the second use of the law. But for my money, I’d rather go to Fredericksburg see more honest reenactments.

  432. Vern Crisler said,

    November 12, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    I think someone got in trouble awhile back in a magazine, or something. He suggested that Civil War reenacters use live amunition. A little harsh, but with an element of truth, too.

    Vern

  433. ReformedSinner said,

    November 12, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Heh Dr. Hart,

    Reading this thread I am also left wondering why are theonomists barking up the wrong tree. They should stop paying taxes, declare their homes as independent kingdoms of heavens on earth, and rebel against the current evil establishment.

    But instead they like to pick on fellow Christians and throw all the anger on us… strange. Guess it’s our fault that the world turned out this way, and we need to be eradicated first?

  434. November 12, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Well I think this conversation has finally jumped the shark.

    Make sure you get the message loud and clear theonomists. Unless you are actively involved in subverting your local government (and then being sure to implement plans to “eradicate” R2K’ers) you are hypocrites and liars.

    Honesty and integrity have gone out the window in this discussion. Feel free to destroy all the strawmen you can get a hold of, do not worry about representing the other side honestly and fairly, because in the end we all know the Ninth Commandment does not apply on the internet.

    Be sure to not roll your eyes too hard…

  435. ReformedSinner said,

    November 12, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    This is really funny coming from you Ben. I’ve been patiently reading this thread and again and again theonomists are telling 2Kers how we are part of the problem instead of the solution. And yet I’ve not seem any proposal for any solutions for the problem.

    Again I ask, ok, so you’re a theonomist. What’s next? Run for government? Oh wait, that would be joining the very evil institution you are set to denounce. So the logical next step is….. yell at 2Kers?

  436. DG Hart said,

    November 13, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Ref. Sin.: Let’s not forget that the anti-2k folks were saying something close to it’s a sin to send children to public schools because of the idolatry and false religion countenanced in those institutions. Some of tried to figure out how this critique did not apply to tax policies and road laws from the state sponsoring those schools. The anti-2k folks had their ways around that objection over on that string of comments. But here the true nature of their complaint about modern liberal democratic states came out. And as you say, they tried to make 2kers out to be the problem.

    I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the issue of conscience here. Not only are anti-2kers trying to bind my conscience by calling my views sinful, but they then turn around and ignore the implications of their claims for their own consciences — having to live in subjection to this godless, idolatrous, blasphemous regime. In case anyone missed it, they raised the stakes very high by throwing around the s-word. But when it comes to their own infidelity — since they stand condemned by their own claims — they seem to be shocked, just shocked, that sin may be clouding their daily lives under the governments of the United States, Canada, or the United Kindgom.

    In effect, their situation is, following their own logic, is just like that of Christian parents sending their children to public schools.

  437. TurretinFan said,

    November 13, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Hart wrote:

    I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the issue of conscience here. Not only are anti-2kers trying to bind my conscience by calling my views sinful, but they then turn around and ignore the implications of their claims for their own consciences — having to live in subjection to this godless, idolatrous, blasphemous regime.

    Apples and oranges.

    Apples
    Scripture commands Christians to address sin in our brethren. If Hart’s views on public education are sinful, it is proper for “theonomists” to call him out on that.

    Oranges
    Nevertheless, “theonomists” are permitted to point out that the supposed “implications” of their position is not what Hart says it.

    I’m not sure whether Hart has actually followed the arguments made against Christian participation in the public school systems. The idea that “the same logic” that suggests Christians should protect their young children from godless, anti-Christian, and pluralistic indoctrination also suggests that Christian should be seditious shows a serious deficit in reasoning abilities.

    But Hart is not a complete idiot. Where then is the supposed link?

    The link is the fact that both the public education system and the governments that run it have similar agendas, and “participation” in one is bad therefore “participation” in the other must also be bad.

    This link employs the fallacy of equivocation. Participation in the public education system arguably involves handing over one’s young child to be indoctrinated contrary to the law of God. Participation in the government of the land doesn’t require the same thing. These two kinds of participation are distinguishable in important ways.

    Hart’s failure to recognize these distinctions leaves one wondering whether he fails to see the equivocation, or just has an allergic reaction to the word “theonomy.” Who knows? In this comment box he has been long on assertion, and short on argument. It’s a great disappointment.

    -TurretinFan

  438. TurretinFan said,

    November 13, 2008 at 9:24 am

    “And yet I’ve not seem any proposal for any solutions for the problem.”

    I don’t mean to speak for Ben here, but the first solution is to change the culture through evangelism of the lost. In a godless culture, we need to be engaged both in prayer for the lost (particularly the lost who are the leaders of the nation) and active propagation of the Word.

    A second part of the solution, in a “democratic” regime is to do what one can to see that the government follows God’s law. That may include writing letter’s to one’s congressman, running for office, voting, etc.

    Sedition and rebellion are not the answer. Any proper theonomy must include reference to those laws of God, as well as the others.

    -TurretinFan

  439. Todd said,

    November 13, 2008 at 9:39 am

    “Except that I consider NC statecraft outside God’s decretive will, like I do the curing of cancer, so the comparison works for me.”

    Still bowing out, but noticed a mistake – above I meant God’s revealed will in Scripture, not decretive will.

    Thanks,

    Todd

  440. Zrim said,

    November 13, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I am not sure why the theonomists think W2Kers have a greater monopoly on both sin and stupidity. (Well, that’s not entirely true, I have a hunch as to why.) But despite what they seem to assume the arguments have been understood, just not agreed upon. I do have some questions for TurretinFan:

    1. What is the function of compulsory education, to educate a mind or to shape a soul? If it is to shape a soul then what is the function of a family? Or do you see these two functions as essentially analogous so the point is moot? If they are analogous, how does it not also follow that statecraft is also to shape a soul (instead of getting human beings from one day to the next in relatively one piece) and should thereby be avoided? The charge has been that state schools are de facto churches and should therefore be avoided by believing children; why shouldn’t believing adults refrain from any participation in idolatrous statecraft, up to and including letter writing and voting? Why do children have to be kept away from idolatry but adults get to come and go as they please?

    2. How does evangelizing change a culture? Isn’t evangelizing for saving souls, or are those also analogous in your mind? I live at ground zero for transformationalism and, I have to admit, nice as it is, this culture looks an awful lot like every other culture I see around the world.

  441. Elder Hoss said,

    November 13, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Zrim – You noted, “the charge has been that state schools are de facto churches.”

    I believe this statement was Darry’s attempt at a reductio ad absurdem several threads ago, and not a “charge” specifically voiced by either the Kuyperians or Theonomists here.

    Come to think of it though, if you took the time to read the works of Horace Mann and other of the original architects of public education (several of whom were, like Mann, Unitarian-Universalists, perhaps the most rabid specimen of anti-Reformed folk that have ever dotted the fruited plain), they themselves actually used PERVASIVE messianic and priestly language to describe the aims of public education. For Mann and others, the public school teacher was the new “priest”, “regeneration” was the aim of public education, it’s ultimate end being “the salvation of the nation” and so forth.

    Would that classify as “de facto,” if not delusional?

    Then also the even louder, barbarian drum beat of Thomas Dewey, who was fond of hijacking inescapable and biblical categories such as “salvation”, “mediation”, “infallibility”, and “regeneration” among others, as he longed for the day when orthodox biblical categories would be pushed into the 4 walls of “superstitious” churches and the playing field Mon-Sat occupied by a proliferation of godless interlopers who hated Jesus and His claims upon covenant children.

    I will send you a free copy of Rushdoony’s “The Messianic Character of Public Education” (for real) if you would like to see a pretty large sampling of the primary source data on this. He wrote this while commissioned by a Conservative think tank at Stanford, I believe, ca. 1960, or so.

  442. Elder Hoss said,

    November 13, 2008 at 11:14 am

    sic #442 – “Darryl”.

  443. Elder Hoss said,

    November 13, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Zrims – Here is JOHN (not Thomas, the politician) Dewey:

    Philosopher John Dewey (1859–1952) often wrote of public education in utopian terms…… Rushdoony cites an example from Dewey’s book My Pedagogic Creed:

    I BELIEVE THAT

    — the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training of individuals, but in the formation of the proper social life.

    — every teacher should realize the dignity of his calling: that he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.

    — in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God. (Rushdoony, p. 155)

    An avowed atheist, Dewey wrote of “Education as Religion” (p. 315). Rushdoony commented, “Dewey is plain-spoken here: there is no morality beyond the state and its social interests” (p. 156).

    For Dewey and his disciples — the men and women who built America’s current public education system — there was no god but the state, and no higher purpose than the state’s….

  444. Reed Here said,

    November 13, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Ref. 438:

    Great wisdom in this comment TF: “Scripture commands Christians to address sin in our brethren. If Hart’s views on public education are sinful, it is proper for “theonomists” to call him out on that.”

    To the degree you and other theonomists commenting here have been speaking from this presupposition, it explains a lot of the disagreements, and the strength of them.

    1. The theonomist assumes his interpretation of the Scriptures (in the areas of disagreement) are accurate, and that any other interpretation is wrong.

    2. Acting on this assumption, the theonomist hears the arguments of the 2k’er and further assumes that that 2k’er MUST be wrong.

    3. The theonomist hears the 2k’er arguing for his position hears someone who is rigorously defending error – SIN ALERT!!!!

    4. Of course the theonomist is justified in chastizing and admonishing a sinning brother the harshest of terms. After all, eternal destinies are at risk.

    Meanwhile, the 2ker is still trying to debate whether or not the theonomist’s position (no. 1) actually is accurate to what the Scriptures teach.

    Get this, the 2k’er is debating what the Scripture means. Whereas, according to you TF, the theonomist is struggling desperately to convict his 2k brother of his egregious sin.

    I’ve a suggestion for my theonomist brothers who are persuaded in a like manner as TF, would it rather not be better to not proceed to point no. 2 until you have agreement on point no. 1? Would it not be better to follow Paul’s advice here:

    2 Timothy 2:24 – 26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (emphasis added)

    I do appreciate your insight TF, and I will credit my theonomist brothers with some consistent logic. Assuming we are wrong, any strong defense of a position you see as an error may very well lead one to conclude we are sinning.

    The arrogance, however, demonstrated by that consistent logic, while it helps explain things, is shocking. Whether or not it is sinful, I’ll leave to the Lord to convict you.

    As it is, I suggest that if a theonomist brother is not willing to engage those of us who disagree with him, at the level of point no. 1, then maybe you shouldn’t engage us. If you do not find yourself conscious-bound to debate what the Bible means on these issues, and instead believe you must insist that your position is the correct one, then by all means please, in the future, give us all a caveat warning:

    “Warning, I am persuaded that my position is the truth, and that any disagreement with it is merely an opinion informed by someone still in the dark. If you choose to ignore this warning then be prepared to bet met with the harshest of rhetoric, up to and including ad hominem invective.”

    Something like that might give us enough notice that we’re not about to discuss something that we can agree to disagree on.

    Seriously, I am quite disheartened by the continuing attitude expressed by my theonomist brothers. Your assumption that your interpretation is the only correct one is exactly what we disagree with. We, however, are not going to conclude that you are grosssly sinning and then treat you according to our faulty presupposition.

  445. Zrim said,

    November 13, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Zrim – You noted, “the charge has been that state schools are de facto churches.”

    I believe this statement was Darry’s [sic] attempt at a reductio ad absurdem [sic] several threads ago, and not a “charge” specifically voiced by either the Kuyperians or Theonomists here.

    Actually, if I am not mistaken, and forgive my laziness for not hunting it down on top of my abiding sin, but I do believe Bret McAtee freely admitted to this. Or was it Kyle? Besides, I am not sure what is to be gained by denying this since it seems more consistent with theonomy.

    Re the rest of your post(s) in which you point to the over-realized transformationalism of education by Dewey et al, yes, exactly. (One of the benefits to my own training as an educator at a secular institution is that I read plenty of these fellows; I lurch now as I did then, plus you don’t have to mail me anything.)

    But I am not clear as to why the answer to over-realized transformationalism of education is over-realized transformationalism of education. Moreover, the rank and file in public education, you know where it really matters, doesn’t really believe or practice that highfalutin and esoteric tripe; they are actually just trying to get Johnny to understand that blessed Pythagorean theorem and Venn Diagram before the year is out. I know it serves your purposes to lean heavily on the idea that all any public education is doing is building little devils in the service of Satan because an educational Czar wrote something in his ivory tower one day that was way off the mark. But on the ground they really do believe that the family (for better or ill) makes, the school educates, and the church saves human beings.

  446. Kyle said,

    November 13, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Elder Hoss, re: 442,

    Actually, Bret McAtee did charge that U.S. public schools function as de facto state churches & I also argued in the same vein (though I am not myself a theonomist of Kuyperian – at least not self-consciously).

    Rev. DePace, re: 445,

    Brother, I usually very greatly appreciate your comments as a mediating influence, but do you really not see how one-sided this comment of yours is? Does someone really need to go back through all 400-some-odd comments to point out just how poorly the “Two Kingdom” folks have treated the theonomists? Frankly, the same maddening pattern of non sequiturs & straw men that I encountered previously in the discussion about public schools (which discussion I will not repeat) is evident here, with all the same snide implications of having abandoning the gospel to pursue worldly ends.

  447. Elder Hoss said,

    November 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Kyle – It appears that the architects of public schooling in the United States did as well. What does this prove? Perhaps in favor of the idea that people holding such opinions are not the best people to educate covenant youth?

    The children of this world are indeed wiser than the children of light!

    If education is “paedia” in the sense utilized by Paul and understood by Werner Jaeger (ie., not merely the simple cramming of “brute facts” into a covenant child’s head), on what basis would we conclude that those espousing such views are fit educators of covenant youth?

    It’s hilarious to have previously seen CVT and Berkhof’s defense of Christian education chalked up to their ethnic parochialism (what a low estimate of such Reformed giants), or, say A.A. Hodge or Dabney’s position to be dissed out of hand as a mere product of this or that cultural conditioning AS IF anyone here can abstract himself from situatedness and render the final word pro or con.

    For me, I stand in lockstep with my pastor who urges Christian parents to do everything in their power to provide a Christian education to their covenant youth. He has taught, led by example, and admonished (often privately), leaving the results for Jesus to sort out.

    As I’ve noted before, similar comportment with churchmen w/regard to the Lord’s Day has done wonders, as the aim to get people to catch the vision and live it, not castigate or browbeat them, much less bring them before “sessions”. God’s discipline and chastening is, after all, often far more effective than our own, as we saw in the case of the stick-gatherer…

  448. Zrim said,

    November 13, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Kyle,

    There is a difference between a fun fight with a good measure of authentic passion mixed in and taking oneself more seriously than one’s ideas to the point of charging more sin and stupidity on another’s behalf.

    EH,

    Al Gore thinks he invented the inter-web, but that doesn’t stop me from using it. Ted Turner is moron, but that doesn’t keep me from watching CNN or TNT. The Founding Fathers were deists, but that doesn’t cause me ex-patriotism.

    And my father’s Liberalism makes me choke, but that doesn’t keep me from hoping I can one day be half the man he is. Maybe I should ignore the fifth commandment because he doesn’t see things the way I do and keep him from grandparenting my covenant youth? But I don’t recall any caveats by Jesus when he said to render unto Caesar his due, even he who would slay the Son of God. If Jesus didn’t enjoy any loopholes to obedience why should any of us think we are so entitled?

  449. Kyle said,

    November 13, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Zrim,

    Have you set out your proof of my moralism, Romanism, and Anabaptism yet?

  450. Reed Here said,

    November 13, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Ref. 447:

    Kyle: I do appreciate your point, and I will admit to some reflection on just that point before I made the post.

    Yet as a moderator I am sorry to sound like I am taking sides. I am not doing so. You have no idea how much goes on behind the scenes. Turretin Fan’s presupposition of sin on the part of his debate opponents served to crystallize a lot of what I have continued to be offended by for the last few weeks. I believe now is the time to comment.

    As it is, I believe if we were to go through 400+ posts here, you would find very few times where a 2k’er assumes his theonomist opponent is sinning in the convictions he holds – and on that basis – engages in the rhetoric he chooses to use.

    Give and take is all well and good. Yet I find the Steven Zrim’s (someone whom I’ve taken to task in the past when I thought he went over board) advice to you is sound. There is a difference in trading jabs with someone you think that you just have a difference of opinion with – vs. – believing that your opponent beginns from a position of sin and needs “correction.”

    Rather than have an intense debate about things that we can agree to disagree on, theonomist brothers (note the use of the word brothers) seem to not be able to do this. They seem bent, by conviction, on taking anyone who disagrees with them to the wood shed.

    On the one hand I do have sympathy for them: if I were so persuaded I would be offended “in the name of the Lord” at some of the hype coming from some, such as Darryl Hart. If the theonomist position IS THE TRUTH then many of Darryl’s comments border on at least the blasphemous and profane, and he would deserve nothing but the severest of warnings and harshest of challenges.

    But that is not the case is it? Theonomy is a particular understanding within reformed theology, one that actually is not persuasive to the majority of reformed pastors and scholars (let alone lay folk). According to Turretin Fan’s definition however, these men are sinning in their convictions in opposition to theonomy (or at least those particulars in debate here).

    There is no other label for such an opinion, acted upon the way it has here: arrogance.

    Let me stress again, (in general) the 2k’ers commenting commenting here do not appear to start from the position that their theonomist opponents start from: to wit that their opponent’s argument is rooted in sin.

    This is the difference and this is why I challenge.

    If it will make it any more palatable, I will note that I do not think this applies accross the board. E.g., I think Tim Prussic is someone with theonomic convictions who debates in an manner more consistent with believing the best of your opponent. I am sure there are other examples. Shoot, up until that revealing comment from Turretin Fan, I thought the same more or less about him.

    Likewise, there are times where I’ve seen those on the opposite side go over board (in my opinion), and yes I do call them on it.

    Yet, here we are at over 400 comments, and comments like Turretin Fan’s continue to flow from theonomists. Note carefully – he can all he wants issue hard challenges, but if he is going to begin by assuming his debate opponents are inherently sinning in holding the positions they do – that needs to be disclosed up front. If I were considering debating him, upon learning that I wouldn’t even bother.

    Kyle, now if this discussion is anyway consistent with recent history, your concern of my imbalance will be mild to the things said to me/about me by others who determine that I am an unjust moderator, bent on defending those he agrees with.

    And for the record – no one on this thread has yet adequately expressed my convictions. Yet for some reason, there will be some who insist I must be lying and showing favorites.

    Uhhhhh!!!! Some of you have got to get over yourselves.

  451. Vern Crisler said,

    November 13, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    The founding fathers were deists?

  452. TurretinFan said,

    November 13, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Dear Brother Reed,

    Thanks for your comments. I think you may have slightly misread my intention. I was responding to Hart’s complaint that people were “binding his conscience” by telling him position is sinful. If it is sinful, though, “binding his conscience” is not a proper complaint. IF

    Please carefully note that “IF.”

    I would respectfully disagree that “theonomists” just “assume” that they are right. In fact, I’ve poked, prodded, and pleaded with folks from the “2K” side to back up their contentions with reasoned argumentation and exegesis of Scripture. I’ve provided reasoned argumentation and exegesis of my own. I don’t just “assume” I’m right.

    I also don’t believe you’ve captured my position when you moved to claiming that because of the sin, therefore the harshest possible words are appropriate. I expressly repudiate that idea. Perhaps one of my fellow theonomists will recall that I privately contacted him because I thought his words were too harsh.

    I don’t endorse every harsh statement made under the flag “theonomy,” and I wasn’t trying to do so with my comment above. Instead, I was demonstrating that “binding my conscience” is no excuse. It is the opposite error that you attribute to theonomists.

    The guy who says, “you’re trying to bind my conscience” must be saying that other side is wrong. We could say he’s just “assuming” it, if he is just assuming it rather than evaluating the other side’s arguments.

    You wrote:

    Get this, the 2k’er is debating what the Scripture means. Whereas, according to you TF, the theonomist is struggling desperately to convict his 2k brother of his egregious sin.

    No, dear brother, that’s not what I was trying to communicate. I was contrasting binding the conscience with conviction of sin.

    I would love to see some debate over what the Scripture means, but I haven’t seen any substantial debate from Hart. Perhaps substantial debate has taken place at the pens of other 2kers, and I’ll leave that issue aside, because I lack knowledge about that.

    I apologize to all the 2Kers in this comment box for my giving the impression that Reed has expressed. The explanation provided by brother Reed is not my opinion, nor was it my intention to convey such an opinion.

    Unlike some of my theonomist brethren (from what I have seen) I am not convicted that every kind of participation in government schools is necessarily sinful. That’s the very reason I tried to speak cautiously about this particular topic.

    In fact, I was somewhat taken aback by the idea I just assumed the conclusion I cannot fully hold to be my own. That “if” was very important to me, though it seems to have been too easily overlooked.

    Finally, I would like to propose that if holding to “theonomy” (a label that seems to defy description) or “2K theology” (again, whatever that may be) is a sin, then we Christian brethren should be bringing the Word of God to bear in enlightening our brethren.

    I’ve seen Theonomists called “Judaizers” and worse and I’ve seen 2Kers called antinominians. Both being a Judaizer and being an Antinomian are sinful positions. Surely you, my dear brother Reed, will agree with me there.

    Holding to that kind of view doesn’t have to mean that we shut our ears to the other side’s arguments. For myself, a siginficant part of my on-line debates are with folks well outside of Reformed orthodoxy. I can tell you (whether you believe me or not) that I don’t shut my ears to their arguments either. When an Eastern Orthodox guy makes an argument, I compare it to Scripture – I don’t just “begin by assuming [my] debate opponents are inherently sinning in holding the positions they do.”

    Naturally, I think my position is right, or I wouldn’t hold it. Same for you. Same for all of us, I hope. It would be totally irrational to hold a view one thought was false.

    -TurretinFan

  453. TurretinFan said,

    November 13, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Z asked:

    a) What is the function of compulsory education, to educate a mind or to shape a soul?

    I’m not sure how education being “compulsory” or not is relevant. Perhaps I’m overlooking something. I am strictly a dichotomist. Body and soul make up a man. So, I don’t draw a rigid distinction between mind and soul.

    b) If it is to shape a soul then what is the function of a family?

    One of the jobs of the family is to educate (along with shelter, nourish, etc.).

    c) Or do you see these two functions as essentially analogous so the point is moot?

    Education is a subset of the things that a family does. Also, education is something that can be done outside the family unit. For example, the elders teach the congregation. There is an analogy, however imprecise it may be, between the elders in the church and the father in a household.

    d) If they are analogous, how does it not also follow that statecraft is also to shape a soul (instead of getting human beings from one day to the next in relatively one piece) and should thereby be avoided?

    The state has a responsibility to reward what is good and be a terror to evil. Those can be viewed as educational, in some way, I suppose. There is also an anology between a father and a king.

    e) The charge has been that state schools are de facto churches and should therefore be avoided by believing children; why shouldn’t believing adults refrain from any participation in idolatrous statecraft, up to and including letter writing and voting?

    Probably this is better directed to those who, unlike myself, have made such a charge. Presumably their response would be that “statecraft” more generally looks less like a church than a school does.

    f) Why do children have to be kept away from idolatry but adults get to come and go as they please?

    Parents have a special duty to protect their children. One sends one’s sons to war, but not before they come of age. Surely you agree. (Incidentally, for hyper-2k-ers – that is an analogy.)

    g) How does evangelizing change a culture?

    You’re kidding right. The Gospel changes lives. Culture is the aggregate of the populace.

    h) Isn’t evangelizing for saving souls, or are those also analogous in your mind?

    It is for saving souls, and one blessed effect of salvation is sanctification. Transformation of the culture is the effect of many people being sanctified.

    i) I live at ground zero for transformationalism and, I have to admit, nice as it is, this culture looks an awful lot like every other culture I see around the world.

    I don’t know where you live, and I wasn’t directing my comment at you. I’ve seen different cultures, and I greatly appreciate the difference between the cultures of lands where Jesus has many followers, to those where He has few.

    -TurretinFan

  454. D. G. Hart said,

    November 13, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Kyle: do you really think that telling someone to shut up is civil, polite, or even loving? I haven’t seen any 2kers here use the s-u words.

    TFan: I don’t see how your distinction between the schools and states, or between parents and children will work for you? Again, I’m no logician as you appear to be, but if a parent believed a state school was an unhealthy place for the child, why wouldn’t the state behind the state school also be an unhealthy place for the child to live? The idolatry of the state school is also in the state. So when the child leaves the school, he goes from the fire into the frying pan.

    Also, if you think that a brother needs to be corrected, isn’t the Matthew 18 model one that calls for face-to-face interaction, not calling someone out in a relatively public space of a blog? (See, I can appeal to Scripture.)

    And while I’m in my Bible-thumping mode, if Paul can tell Christians they may, in the name of freedom of conscience, eat meat offered to idols, why can’t Christians (without sinning) send their children to education tainted by idolatry? Come to think of it, 1 Cor. 8 is a pretty good text for showing why theonomy is wrong. In Israel there would have been no meat offered to idols (or if there had, the Israelites would have been going off to exile AGAIN), of if there had been meat offered to idols, the law would have forbade the Israelites from eating it.

  455. Kyle said,

    November 13, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Rev. DePace,

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’ve been anything less than even-handed in moderating these discussions, from what I’ve seen. It’s not your role as moderator I’m addressing.

    I think TurrentinFan has answered your reading of his posts, so I’ll let you respond to that.

    As for Zrim’s “advice,” frankly, I have little interest in taking much he says seriously when he has accused me of moralism, Romanism, and Anabaptism. Were those merely light-hearted jabs? The “Two Kingdoms” proponents here have regularly suggested that theonomists are hypocrites for not being actively seditious – is that merely a light-hearted jab? I have also seen accusations of judaizing and this-worldliness and binding consciences – again, are these merely light-hearted jabs? What about Dr. Hart’s repeated attempts to discredit Rev. McAtee because the latter is a pastor of a CRC congregation? (Does he wonder about Rev. Keister’s standing, pastoring as he does in a CRC & an RCA congregation?)

    I’m not defending everything that’s been said by those on theonomic side by any means. But I cannot see where anything they have said has exceeded in offense the comments made by their opponents.

  456. Elder Hoss said,

    November 13, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Zrim – There’s probably little more I could add at this juncture, save for reminding us of 4-5 considerations, many of which have been alluded to previously:

    1. The Westminsterian Divines and several generations following them were heavily theonomic, as even acknowledged by Meredith Kline, who admitted it would be next to impossible to discipline modern theonomists, largely for that reason (note prior citations from Gillespie, Wollebius, Owen, Dabney, etc.).

    2. The PCA (note prior statetement I provided from Prof. Morton Smith re the fundamental orthodoxy of theonomy) itself has deemed theonomy as fully within the bounds of orthodoxy (Perhaps that’s why Darryl has not left the OPC, LOL, but then again, I’m not aware of the OPC diverging from the PCA in this characterization).

    3. Whether via the more broad Kuyperian or Dooyewardian approach, OR, the more exhaustive position maintained by theonomists, the Reformed tradition for the first 300+ yrs of its existence taught that the magistrate is bound by the moral law of God, and thus, accountable to God for its enforcement in the civil sphere (thus, adultery, theft, murder, false testimony, etc. – which is another way of saying that the Reformed, at least in previous generations, were not Anabaptists…).

    4. Modern Reformed guys (at least in the good ole USA) appear to want to read history in such a fashion as if to suggest the sun of truth has finally SO risen upon US, as if the preceding consensus can be casually tossed to the side or chalked up to this or that overriding sitz em leben. The same may be said of the way some contemporary Presbyterian and Reformed men dismiss the univocal consensus of Reformed thinkers on the necessity of Christian education, up until at least Machen (and many after, viz. Van Til, Berkhof, Murray, et al.), as if a particular construal of the 2K position trumps all preceding thought, and serves as a hermeneutical key by which to consign Kuyperianism and Theonomy outside the gate.

    Bound up in these discussions of course, are related consideration such as: Does the Word of God address organic/corporate institutions like families, local assemblies, cultures, governments, or is it merely addressed to isolated individuals (a hallmark of anabaptist theology). Per Darryl’s (rhetorical) question, can governments be held accountable to uphold and enforce the moral law of God if manned by unregenerate magistrates (I personally think that’s a horrible question, evidencing a surprising confounding of categories from and assuming that civil righteousness coram homenibus is either non-existent, or not-to-be expected, but I reiterate it since it was posed here).

    We could go ad nauseum here, but it seems to me that our assumptions around some of these key areas have us landing on entirely different bases, if not entirely different ballparks.

    For my money, I am exceedingly distrustful of a great deal of what is coming out contemporary Presbyterian and Reformed thought in the USA, as I believe it does, in many respects at least, a radical injustice to the kind of full-orbed cosmological Calvinism of JC himself and at least 300+ yrs thereafter.

    I offer that observation not as a theonomist, as I have noted a fundamental divergence from men like Bahnsen and Rushdoony re the “abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail” dictum, but as a Kuyperian who appreciates the fundamentally orthodox nature of theonomy, even as Morton Smith noted.

    May the Holy Spirit give us all continued illumination in these vital matters, particularly something as critical as our understanding of just what “paedia” is, who should educate covenant youth, what is its goal, etc.

    Best Wishes

    Hoss

  457. Reed Here said,

    November 14, 2008 at 1:57 am

    I appreciate your perspective Kyle.

    I do not remember seeing Zrim comment’s. They mat indeed have crossed the line I’m tryong to draw.

    I thought Darryl and Bret were pretty even. Leaving them both be seemed to me to be conxixtent with Lane;s directions.

    Still, I take your admonition seriously, and will pay more attention.

  458. D. G. Hart said,

    November 14, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Kyle: I don’t bring up Pastor Kiester’s ministering in the CRC because he is not calling me a proponent of a virus (funny how it works that way). If I were a minister in the CRC and I believed that women should not be in the ministry, not even running for VP of the United States, I’m not sure I’d be throwing stones at others for their infidelity. Come on, Kyle, surely you can see the problem of pointing out the log in my eye when the accuser has a log sticking out of his own.

    E. Hoss: I concede your first three points. I am at odds with the way that most of the Reformed fathers came out on the magistrate. I also think that their exact teaching on the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ was in tension with their upholding the Constantinian order in which they labored, that paid their bills, and that threatened their necks. The problem with your understanding is that the field of history and political theory doesn’t actually read the Reformers in such a theonomic fashion. They actually see the beginnings of modern notions of the state. Is this simply secular folly? Maybe. But they read all the sermons you quote, and they also know the political circumstances that affected those views. Anyway, I think it’s a whole lot more complicated that 300 years of Reformed theology was theonomic (I even disagree with Kline). But I will concede that every single creed of the 16th century teaches doctrines about the magistrate that I could not sign.

    But if you are right, then you need to do something about it, and so do theonomists. If the theonomic position is right, how could they ever commune or accept the American revisions of the WCF? How could anyone ever countenance the OPC or PCA as faithful if their confession of faith is so unbiblical? The more you point out the truthfulness and the faithfulness of the theonomic position, the more incumbent it is of you and theonomists to repudiate the 2kers and anyone who would compromise with them. My problem then is that you raise the stakes in a way that you cannot live by, either by remaining a citizen of the U.S. or in having some kind of standing in the PCA or OPC. If theonomy is right, then the WCF revisions of 1788 are wrong. Aren’t you in a position of compromise?

  459. D. G. Hart said,

    November 14, 2008 at 8:41 am

    To all theonomists: Would the Israelites in the promised land have been permitted to eat meat offered to idols? If so, where did it come from? (Remember, refrigerated train cars and truck trailers did not exist.)

  460. Zrim said,

    November 14, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Re this exchange of supposed slurs, etc., etc., I’d stop well short of casting theonomy as “beginning in sin and needing correction,” since that is all of us and be well satisfied with the force which comes by rendering theonomy or any or of its derivatives as “not Reformed.” I am squarely with Scott Clark in his diagnosis of it as a symptom of the illegitimate quest for religious certainty, and, as such, outside the pale. I expect that to generate some heat, but the QIRC is simply one of the two commandments (along with the QIRE) upon which hang all the law and prophets of modernity. And just because theonomy exists and strives to work within the four walls as justification to give it a pass is simply a form of Reformed narcissism (“I am Reformed; I thin/say/do x; therefore x is Reformed”). Remember, the Remonstrants came out of Reformed churches and we currently have one whole form of unity devoted against their errors; there had to be a time when calling Arminianism “not Reformed” was cause for heat.

    The charge of antinomianism appears to be a hairy-scary charge until one realizes that in these sorts of discussions it is really means no more than, “You don’t care the way I do, therefore you don’t care.” It is a very hard charge to make stick since, insofar we were built for law, antinomianism really goes against our created nature. It is almost always the desperate swipe of one agent built for law against another for not pursuing law the way the former wishes.

    TFan, thanks for answering my questions. It helps to point up the essential differences in our views, one of which, I think, is the relative conflation of creational and redemptive categories like law and gospel. It shows why we need rulebooks and the gumption to live by stated rules.

    Another is to reveal a higher view of human nature on your part than over here. My location is in Grand Rapids where your sentiments on the transformation of culture would be warmly embraced. Inasmuch as it seems based upon a sunnier and less-than-Calvinistic view of human nature, I find the result to be a lot of religious fantasy. I can barely get my drive-through orders to not return to me void, and many days those over whom I actually have ordained influence (my children) seems questionable; how others think justified sinners being sanctified can actually influence the culture, and for the better I might add, seems a project not only in fantasy but also a certain measure of arrogance. When pagans charge smugness I have to say they’re quite on to something.

    At bottom these things do seem to turn on notions of sanctification. I must plead more sanctified than transformed in my mind since I can never fathom how it can be at once true that “even the holiest of us can expect but only the slightest of progress in this life to the point of being virtually imperceptible,” and that the same creatures can also transform the world to the heights so many presume. After all, I would think none here to presume to be in the ranks of even the holiest. But consider:

    BC Article 24

    “In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them.”

    HC

    “Question 62. But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?

    Answer. Because, that the righteousness, which can be approved of before the tribunal of God, must be absolutely perfect, and in all respects conformable to the divine law; and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.”

    WCF, XIII (Of Sanctification)

    “II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

  461. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    November 14, 2008 at 10:00 am

    For further reflection, a helpful paper by Mid-America’s Dr. Nelson Kloosterman is linked below, examining the Calvinist “two kingdom” thought found in Herman Bavinck’s work— which bears little resemblance to the variant 2k theory coming out of Westminster West:

    http://auxesis.net/kloosterman/natural_law_two_kingdoms_bavinck.pdf

  462. TurretinFan said,

    November 14, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Reed:

    I hope you read my response. I am sorry that I gave the wrong impression to you. I hope you will acknowledge my clarification and explanation.

    Hart wrote:

    To all theonomists: Would the Israelites in the promised land have been permitted to eat meat offered to idols? If so, where did it come from? (Remember, refrigerated train cars and truck trailers did not exist.)

    No, they were not permitted to eat meat offered to idols.

    There is implicit condemnation here:

    Numbers 25:2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.

    And more explicit condemnation here:

    Exodus 34:14-16
    14For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

    In case there is any question that I have misinterpreted the Old Testament on this point, we have confirmation of my interpretation in the “save only” (εἰ μὴ) of the following verse:

    Acts 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

    Where would it have come from? In the case of Numbers 25:2, it came from Moab. Otherwise, it might have come either from left-over Canaanites or idolatrous Israelites.

    -TurretinFan

  463. TurretinFan said,

    November 14, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Z wrote:

    TFan, thanks for answering my questions. It helps to point up the essential differences in our views, one of which, I think, is the relative conflation of creational and redemptive categories like law and gospel. It shows why we need rulebooks and the gumption to live by stated rules.

    My primary rulebook is Scripture. I also embrace, as a subordinate standard, the documents of the Westminster Assembly. I’m not sure what “conflation” you perceive to be taking place. If I have done so, I’d welcome your correction of my mistake, either publicly here or privately (my email is turretin at hotmail). I am not sure whether you follow R.S. Clark’s blog, but I seem to recall an interesting recent post on the Law/Gospel distinctions there. I don’t recall disagreeing with what he said, so I am not only unsure why you have said what you’ve said, I’m puzzled as to why you would even think that.

    Z continued:

    Another is to reveal a higher view of human nature on your part than over here. My location is in Grand Rapids where your sentiments on the transformation of culture would be warmly embraced. Inasmuch as it seems based upon a sunnier and less-than-Calvinistic view of human nature, I find the result to be a lot of religious fantasy. I can barely get my drive-through orders to not return to me void, and many days those over whom I actually have ordained influence (my children) seems questionable; how others think justified sinners being sanctified can actually influence the culture, and for the better I might add, seems a project not only in fantasy but also a certain measure of arrogance. When pagans charge smugness I have to say they’re quite on to something.

    I would respectfully disagree. I share a very low view of unregenerate man.
    On the other hand, the Spirit changes the lives of believers. So, the more believers in a society, the better the society is – the nicer a place to live. I’m surprised that anyone thinks that is controversial. I’m not suggesting that because First Presbyterian baptized two new people, therefore, the society is suddenly going to look like Geneva circa 1600. On the other hand, when 5,000 out of a city of 10,000 come to Christ, one would expect it to look less like Sodom than it did before.

    -TurretinFan

  464. Kyle said,

    November 14, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Dr. Hart,

    Three things. First, you have hardly been the pinnacle of civility, politeness, or even vaguely reasoned argumentation. Second, it is possible to serve faithfully in a denomination that is becoming less faithful, and I think Rev. McAtee would not stick around if the CRC were in fact apostate (do you believe the CRC is apostate?). Third, maybe you ought to get on your cohort Zrim’s case for charging the theonomists with unfaithfulness to the gospel (or at least to the Reformed faith) when he is a member of a CRC congregation himself.

  465. Zrim said,

    November 14, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Mark,

    One good turn deserves another. Here is Kloosterman responding to David Van Drunen’s A Biblical Case for Natural Law.

    http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=77

    And here is DVD responding to NK.

    http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=78

    I agree that the Spirit changes sinners, but just not the way we naturally seem to think. If Calvinism is correct, we are always more sinful than not, even when regenerated. Grand Rapids has a lot of believers in it, but it doesn’t seem any “nicer” than any other city I have ever been to or inhabited (what’s “nicer” mean?). At least, the evening news sounds a lot like the broadcasts I hear when anywhere else. But cities aren’t the measure anyway, churches are. And if your sunny view of regenerate sinners is right, what accounts for so much doctrinal and moral strife in churches? Why do we seem so bloody human all the time? Why did Paul have to actually tell the Galatians to get the gospel right and the Corinthians to stop with the sexual immorality, etc., etc.?

    Kyle,

    Correction: I am a disgruntled member of the CRC. Who said I was pleased? Trust me, Darryl can keep spare his chiding, I do enough of it to myself everyday. Happy? But I have been appropriately vocal and Presbyterian to my local and broader denomination in voicing my dissent as a no-account member or lowly deacon. When the petition was passed around to wag our boney fingers at the local strip joints I refrained and reminded them of those in our midst who still clearly needed discipline (me, antinomian?) and affronts like the proposed revision to the FOS. In all, I counted about 83 crickets chirping.

  466. Zrim said,

    November 14, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Sorry, that middle part was directed to TFan…

  467. D. G. Hart said,

    November 14, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Kyle: I’m not sure you are the best judge of civility, politeness or reason. Saying someone is a fool or unreasonable is different from saying you disagree.

    I don’t know why you can’t see that Pastor Bret may want to keep his thoughts about my problems to himself until he gets his own communion in order. It would be like me accusing Bret of singing hymns, when I’m in a congregation with a praise band (which I am not). In other words, it seems that he might have more immediate fish to fry than 2kers.

    It’s hard for me to “get on” Zrim because I find so little disagreeable in his view. Again, the problem is not being in the CRC. It’s getting up on a high horse when that horse may have arthritis.

  468. Kyle said,

    November 14, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Zrim,

    That’s rather an addition than a correction. I doubt Rev. McAtee is full of sunny thoughts toward the problems within the CRC, and I’d wager he is working against the grain. The point was that Dr. Hart’s repeated attempts to discredit him on the basis of demonination affiliation is not merely friendly jabbing.

  469. Zrim said,

    November 14, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Kyle,

    McAtee’s problems are plenty, not the least of which is kingdom priority.

    Who said DGH’s pointing to McAtee’s affliation was friendly jabbing? Not me.

    Friendly jabbing is like this: charges of antinomianism are versions of “You don’t care like me, therefore you don’t care.” Anyone with unstable wives and young children knows what I mean.

    Pointing out compromised priorities is making a point about kingdom confusion. If the horseshoe fits…

  470. Kyle said,

    November 14, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Dr. Hart,

    Your continual outpouring of snide and sarcastic commentary is different from saying that you disagree, as I’m sure you know. Your disagreement with Rev. McAtee’s theonomic position has nothing to do with his service in the CRC, and what do you know anyway of what he is doing “offline” to reform that denomination? Moreover, if Rev. McAtee is to be called into question on the matter of his denominational affiliation, then so also Zrim, who certainly has much more immediate fish to fry in Grand Rapids than a few Internet theonomists here. Or, if Zrim is justified in frying fish outside of his own communion when they espouse problematic ideas that are gaining traction in the Reformed world, so also Rev. McAtee.

  471. Kyle said,

    November 14, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Zrim,

    When I previously pointed out that the “Two Kingdoms” folks had been treating the theonomists at least as poorly as Rev. DePace suggested, and had been implying that the theonomists, by holding to theonomy, are abandoning the gospel to pursue worldly ends (a sin if ever there were one), you countered that there is a difference between friendly bantering over disagreements and charging others with (more) sin and stupidity than oneself. Now you agree that Dr. Hart’s nonsense about Rev. McAtee’s demoninational affiliation is more than friendly jabbing, and you openly accuse Rev. McAtee of having confused kingdom priorities.

    Rev. DePace,

    I appreciate your willingness to listen. I think I’ve been vindicated.

  472. Zrim said,

    November 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Kyle,

    DGH’s move is more than friendly jabbing but less than theonomist-like screed. You seem to suggest my open accusation of Bret McAtee’s kingdom confusion is a problem. But hasn’ t that been the point all along?

    If you want to use the s-word to characterize theonomy as being in the service of compromising of the gospel, go ahead, you said it, not me. But I am still good with it not being Reformed. I think that is strong enough.

  473. Kyle said,

    November 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Zrim,

    Your accusation is only a problem if what the theonomists have said is a problem (and vice versa). That’s the context of my point to Rev. DePace, who had previously commended your “advice” to me concerning friendly argumentation.

    Now, why theonomy is not Reformed in your perspective is anyone’s guess. As with my supposed moralism, Romanism, Anabaptism, and transformationalism, so the inherently non-Reformed nature of theonomy. Nevermind that the “Two Kingdoms” view you espouse fundamentally denies the second use of God’s Law, which is vanilla Reformed thinking. Only those who can see in full-color can say for certain.

  474. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    November 14, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Zrim, re: #466:

    Yes, I had seen and enjoyed those earlier articles as well. I posted the more recent one since it was presented at the International Bavinck Conference held at Calvin College, and I appreciated Kloosterman’s exposure of VD’s pathetic effort to contort Bavinck into support for his mutated natural law theorum.

    Also, I certainly don’t hold a sunny outlook on the unregnerate state of man. Nor have I ever posited such. Frankly, the suggestion that unregenerate man could discern God’s law and use it aright evidences the more pollyanish view of depravity.

    Also, who says there is a higher concentration of regenerate folk in Grand Rapids? Are you talking about the higher concentration of brick buildings with CRC logos, steeples on the roof, surrounded by nicely manicured lawns?

  475. Zrim said,

    November 14, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Kyle,

    My understanding is that the jury is not still out on theonomy. It is a relative minority view which has been rejected by the large majority of Reformed and Presbyterian bodies. In other words, what they have said is indeed a problem. But it yet abides, as does its variant strains, as long as Constantinianism makes the world safe for it and as long as it is agreed that the gospel has direct bearing on and obvious implication for the cares of this world theonomy, hard and soft, will subsume. But when Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world I think he had as many fingers crossed as when he told us to render unto Caesar his due.

    I would guess you mean my view denies the first use (civil righteousness) instead of the second? At any rate, I am not sure how a proponent of natural law can be understood to deny the first use. That, as someone once said, is anyone’s guess. When it comes to the three uses of the law I’m as plain-vanilla as they come.

    Mark,

    Frankly, the suggestion that unregenerate man could discern God’s law and use it aright evidences the more pollyanish view of depravity. :

    Then why does everyone want the pagan to do God’s law? Isn’t is a futile project?

    Also, who says there is a higher concentration of regenerate folk in Grand Rapids? Are you talking about the higher concentration of brick buildings with CRC logos, steeples on the roof, surrounded by nicely manicured lawns?

    I’m not in the habit of upturning inward stones but going by what is outwardly professed. There’s a lot of profession around here, over 40 yellow pages worth.

  476. TurretinFan said,

    November 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Z wrote:

    I agree that the Spirit changes sinners, but just not the way we naturally seem to think. If Calvinism is correct, we are always more sinful than not, even when regenerated. Grand Rapids has a lot of believers in it, but it doesn’t seem any “nicer” than any other city I have ever been to or inhabited (what’s “nicer” mean?). At least, the evening news sounds a lot like the broadcasts I hear when anywhere else. But cities aren’t the measure anyway, churches are. And if your sunny view of regenerate sinners is right, what accounts for so much doctrinal and moral strife in churches? Why do we seem so bloody human all the time? Why did Paul have to actually tell the Galatians to get the gospel right and the Corinthians to stop with the sexual immorality, etc., etc.?

    Both the Galatians and Corinthians were young churches, fairly recently planted.

    Christians will be living this way:

    Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    -TurretinFan

  477. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    November 14, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Zrim: But not everyone wants pagans to be subject to God’s law. Check with Hart on that.

    Look at the fruits, not just the profession of the lips. If GR is as secular as you say, then the 40 yellow pages church listing may turn out to be a heap of condemnation rather than commendation.

  478. Kyle said,

    November 14, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Zrim,

    To say that theonomy is problematic, and to say that it is non-Reformed, are two different things. Postmillennialism, for example, while very problematic and biblically tenuous in my view, is not non-Reformed. I do not know of any Reformed ecclesiatical documents explicitly condemning theonomy per se; there are none such in the OPC (my communion) of which I am aware. Is theonomy a minority view? Certainly. Is it non-Reformed? That’s another question altogether, and one which neither you nor Dr. Hart nor Todd have really addressed other than to burn straw men – a fine specimen of such being your misapplication of our Savior’s teaching on the spiritual nature of His kingdom.

    You numeration of the uses of the Law reflects Lutheran usage. In the usual Reformed numeration, the FIRST use is to show the sinner his sinfulness in light of God’s perfection (pedagogical use); the SECOND use is to restrain sin (civil use); the THIRD use is reveal what pleases God that His people may thereby bring Him honor & glory through their obedience (didactic use). These uses all have referrence to the Law of God as revealed in Holy Writ, not to natural law, so how being a proponent of natural law rescues you will have to be demonstrated more fully. Furthermore, I think Steve Hays has above illustrated the difficulties of appealing to natural law.

  479. D. G. Hart said,

    November 14, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Kyle: should the kettle call the pot black? (Also, do you know of any efforts the kettle is making “offline” to change his manufacturer?)

    TFan: thanks for your biblical work in #463. You seem to make my point about the untenability of theonomy to make sense of Christian liberty.

    Mark Van Der Molen also makes the useful point about the theonomists needing a society with all believers to make the system work. Thanks to you.

  480. Kyle said,

    November 14, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Dr. Hart,

    Should the pot assume about the kettle what the pot is not in a position to know?

  481. tim prussic said,

    November 14, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Kyle – #479 – a fair distinction ‘twixt problematic and non-Reformed. I have to be quite amused that the Westminster Standards are typically viewed as leaning toward Postmillennialism and are certainly theonomisitic in principle. Again: the OLD-new error, right? All the opponents of Theonomy want to forget about that old part.

    I agree that the general tone on this topic is one of snide pride – more clearly evident in some than others. I thought Reed did a good job of trying to pull us all back from that abyss, but we seem to charge ahead anyway. I’m guilty of it myself, so I guess that would be the kettle calling the pot black.

  482. TurretinFan said,

    November 14, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Hart wrote:

    TFan: thanks for your biblical work in #463. You seem to make my point about the untenability of theonomy to make sense of Christian liberty.

    From where I’m sitting, that kind of response shows as little insight as your original question (which presumed the answer “yes” though the Biblical answer is “no”). Nevertheless, perhaps it is because I’m sitting in some dark corner of the world of “theonomy.” Would you care to explain how you get from the fact that Israelites were not permitted to eat food sacrificed to idols (which they got from the Moabites), demonstrates the untenability of theonomy to make sense of Christian liberty. Perhaps once you shine the heretofore unused brilliance of your powers of logic and/or exegesis a connection will appear to justify the one-liner.

    -TurretinFan

  483. TurretinFan said,

    November 14, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    I had to chuckle a bit about this comment:

    Mark Van Der Molen also makes the useful point about the theonomists needing a society with all believers to make the system work. Thanks to you.

    This comment is so dull it makes Humpty Dumpty (from a supralapsarian perspective) look sharp.

    a) The point of “theonomy” is about the moral obligations of civil government. It is about what “ought” to be. Via theonomy one can condemn Stalin as unjust, and praise the justice of Solomon. It provides a yardstick. It teaches a Christian magistrate. Theonomy “works” whether the regime is to be praised or reviled.

    b) No society that turns its back on God “works” properly as measured by the Word of God. This is not something unique to the relation of the civil magistrate to God. A father who does not honor God does not run his family properly. A shopkeeper that does not honor God does not run his shop properly. Oh, the unjust shopkeeper may turn a profit, but (to take one example) lying scales are an abomination before God, and incur his judgment. A father may have control over his family, but if he provokes them to wrath, he risks the wrath of God. Many godless kings have enjoyed success of one kind or another, but all eventually have to appear before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

    c) What’s more, Israel itself to whom the civil laws (so hated by radical anti-theonomists) were given were themselves not all believers. Even if theonomists were rank Judaizers (as Hart seems falsely to have accused previously), one cannot deny that God appointed the civil laws for a nation that was (in fact) not all believers. Perhaps Hart will say it didn’t “work properly” for them. If so, how is this a criticism of the theonomic position and not a direct criticism of God’s provision for the people of Israel?

    -TurretinFan

  484. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    November 15, 2008 at 9:33 am

    “Mark Van Der Molen also makes the useful point about the theonomists needing a society with all believers to make the system work. Thanks to you”.

    This comment is not just dull {given that I didn’t make that point}, but it’s sad.

    I think of what Edwards writes in Religious Affections:

    “It is possible that a man might know how to interpret all the types, parables, enigmas, and allegories in the Bible, and not have one beam of spiritual light in his mind… A spiritual taste of soul mightily helps the soul in its reasonings on the Word of God, and in judging of the true meaning of its rules: for it removes the prejudices of a depraved appetite….”

    I think Daryl Hart is making the useful point that his brand of natural law theory needs a civil society devoid of the duty of all men to delight in the law of God.

  485. Zrim said,

    November 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    To explain what ailed these churches Tfan @ 477 said, Both the Galatians and Corinthians were young churches, fairly recently planted.

    The problem with the primitive church argument here is that it is too indebted to modernity. The idea seems to be that sinners get better the more educated they become or even the older they get. But Paul’s tone for both the Galatians and Corinthians doesn’t seem to hold out much patience for simply being either under-educated or young. Do we imagine that the right response to Paul’s scathing inquiry about how the Galatians had become “bewitched” would be, “Hey, we’re new at this”? No, it seems as though there was something that should have been doubtless known.

    If it were true that all sinful believers need to do is physically learn or age then one wonder just what the Protestant Reformation was all about. After all, the church had had centuries to bake. Being new or under-tutored is hardly on the list of options to explain why it was so necessary; the kind of human sin Calvinism understands goes much further to explain it. Your argument is way more modern than Christian. If, as you suggest, the gospel really does make bad people good and good people better, and by extension, makes the world a better place to inhabit, I’d say it is a colossal failure. If only learned and aged believers could magically pass on their progress in sanctification to the next generation instead of each one having to start all over again. But human beings are the same sinful creatures they have always been since hoofing it east of Eden, and so is their world. There is indeed nothing new under the sun, nothing.

    The constant demand here that “the W2K case hasn’t been made against theonomy” is tantamount to when I used to put my hand on my brother’s forehead and demand he hit me. The reality is that you simply don’t agree. It really has more in common with unbelievers who demand that believers make belief beholden to sight rather than faith, and then, when it cannot be done, render faith a foolish thing. But the case for both theonomy and W2K has been made here and elsewhere. Some are persuaded of one over the other. Some charge one with being sinful, while others charge one with being outside the pale of Reformed orthodoxy. Still others hide behind the wooden and academic defense that nobody has really made a case for anything.

  486. TurretinFan said,

    November 15, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Zrim,

    I’m very rarely accused of being modern.

    Your answer seems to deny that regeneration and sanctification are a normal part of the Christian experience. I’m not sure why.

    Maybe I have misread you. Would you care to comment on how the Reformed doctrines of regeneration and sanctification interact with your apparent view that the gospel does not make bad people good (although that’s what the Reformed doctrine of regeneration indicates) and good people better (although that’s what the Reformed doctrine of sanctification indicates).

    Z wrote:

    Do we imagine that the right response to Paul’s scathing inquiry about how the Galatians had become “bewitched” would be, “Hey, we’re new at this”? No, it seems as though there was something that should have been doubtless known.

    Of course that’s not the right response. The right response is to shape up. Surely you don’t think that the right response to Paul’s inquiry is to say “hey, that’s just how churches are.” Do you?

    I am not really convinced that there is just one 2K position. As I recently posted on my blog – I could see myself holding a 5K position. Indeed, there don’t seem to be clearly defined tenets of 2K theology that I cannot accept (though clearly there are 2K positions that I disagree with).

    Likewise, there are different schools of theonomy. I’m not a reconstructionist (as far as I know), and I reject Federal Visionism as a serious error. Nevertheless, I see those two groups included under the same theonomy banner with me, which helps contribute to some of the confusion from those that paint with broad brush strokes.

    -TurretinFan

  487. D G Hart said,

    November 16, 2008 at 7:48 am

    TFan: the point I tried to make about meat offered to idols is this — discontinuity. Discontinuity is something that theonomists don’t seem to be able to concede. If Israelites could not eat meat offered to idols, and if Christians may, and if Israel could not condone idolatrous meat, and civil society after Christ does, then we’re talking about serious discontinuity — the kind that blows theonomists minds.

    BTW, to call a system of law that would require the execution of the sexually promiscuous and idolaters a “yard stick” may be a great example of the effects of political correctness on theonomy. George Orwell could not do better.

    Mr. Van Der Molen: I’d encourage you to cheer up, but I don’t know how. You put together civil society, duty, all men, and delight in God’s law into one sentence. I’m still having trouble understanding how all men, including unbelievers, are to delight in God’s law (I get the duty part).

  488. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    November 16, 2008 at 11:47 am

    D. Hart, those things are in one sentence because they belong in one sentence. And I’m already starting to cheer up with your acknowledgment that the duty to God’s law applies to all men. Thank you, and may you be blessed and continue to grow in the knowledge of our sovereign Lord of lords and King of kings.

  489. TurretinFan said,

    November 16, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Hart wrote:

    TFan: the point I tried to make about meat offered to idols is this — discontinuity.

    That was a poor choice, as discussed below.
    Hart wrote:

    Discontinuity is something that theonomists don’t seem to be able to concede.

    That’s not true.
    Hart wrote:

    If Israelites could not eat meat offered to idols, and if Christians may, and if Israel could not condone idolatrous meat, and civil society after Christ does, then we’re talking about serious discontinuity — the kind that blows theonomists minds.

    Actually, the prohibition on meat offered to idols issues is a point of continuity, not discontinuity. The apostles, claiming divine inspiration, were painfully clear about that. Hart would have been better off picking the dietary laws, which are a point of discontinuity.
    Hart wrote:

    BTW, to call a system of law that would require the execution of the sexually promiscuous and idolaters a “yard stick” may be a great example of the effects of political correctness on theonomy. George Orwell could not do better.

    Scripture as the yardstick is the very reason it was called “canonical” Scriptures originally. Political correctness is more likely to inform a perspective that attempts rigidly to separate church and state, as though Scripture has nothing to say to the latter.

    -TurretinFan

  490. ReformedSinner said,

    November 16, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    #490,

    I was looking forward to you explaining why idolatrous meat shows continuity and not discontinuity.

  491. TurretinFan said,

    November 17, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Old Testament Israelites were not permitted to eat meat sacrificed to idols (see my discussion at 463, above) and New Testament believers are also not permitted to eat meat sacrificed to idols, as announced by the Holy Ghost’s authority at the Synod of Jersusalem, recorded in the book of Acts.

    -TurretinFan

  492. Zrim said,

    November 17, 2008 at 10:23 am

    TFan:

    Your answer seems to deny that regeneration and sanctification are a normal part of the Christian experience. I’m not sure why.

    Maybe I have misread you. Would you care to comment on how the Reformed doctrines of regeneration and sanctification interact with your apparent view that the gospel does not make bad people good (although that’s what the Reformed doctrine of regeneration indicates) and good people better (although that’s what the Reformed doctrine of sanctification indicates).

    It seems to me that perhaps the way I have interpreted legalism may have some bearing here as well: “you don’t care the way I do, therefore you don’t care.” Likewise, “you don’t understand regeneration and sanctification the way I do, therefore you reject regeneration and sanctification.” But the way I understand these things per the Reformed tradition is that they most certainly do happen, but our perception of them is more mysterious than immediately known or understood. Certainly, perceptible fruit must be borne; while the Spirit is the power of sanctification the law is its structure and believers’ lives will bear this out. The law is what believing sinners do by the power of the Spirit whilst the Spirit does his mysterious work of sanctification in transforming us into the image of Christ. But when I hear the idea that “the gospel makes bad people good and good people better” I think it is more often than not interpreted through modern notions of either moral or spiritual self improvement; I hear moralistic-therapeutic deism and a theology of glory quite clearly in the background. Yes, we are being changed, but just not the way we think. If what preceded Jesus’ own glorification is any measure, it seems that what characterizes the believer’s life has a lot more to do with misery than being happy, healthy and whole.

    Z wrote:
    Do we imagine that the right response to Paul’s scathing inquiry about how the Galatians had become “bewitched” would be, “Hey, we’re new at this”? No, it seems as though there was something that should have been doubtless known.
    Of course that’s not the right response. The right response is to shape up. Surely you don’t think that the right response to Paul’s inquiry is to say “hey, that’s just how churches are.” Do you?

    But your whole argument to explain why these churches were getting it wrong was that they were young. Do you normally chastise your child with Paul’s tone for not understanding sophisticated things already explained a thousand times? If they were just young I’d expect a softer tone. We agree on the right response, but we seem to disagree on what was the root cause for getting it wrong in the first place: I say it was a function of sin, you say it was a function of being either young or under-tutored. This all seems to reveal what our essential understanding of human nature is. But if a Reformed church plant today starts teaching things blatantly contrary to the confessions do we really chalk it up to being young?

    I am not really convinced that there is just one 2K position. As I recently posted on my blog – I could see myself holding a 5K position. Indeed, there don’t seem to be clearly defined tenets of 2K theology that I cannot accept (though clearly there are 2K positions that I disagree with).

    That’s why I like to use the W2K term. Lots of folks agree there are two kingdoms, but after that the wheels do begin to fall off with regard to their natures and how they relate to each other, eventually just collapsing the two kingdoms into one. I think what comes from Westminster West is vastly superior.

    Likewise, there are different schools of theonomy. I’m not a reconstructionist (as far as I know), and I reject Federal Visionism as a serious error. Nevertheless, I see those two groups included under the same theonomy banner with me, which helps contribute to some of the confusion from those that paint with broad brush strokes.

    I think there is some cross-pollenization with theonomy and FV. Where FV conflates law and gospel, theonomy conflates creation and redemption. I realize that is one very broad stroke, but it does seem that many FVers have a sympathy for or at least a background in one form of theonomy or another.

  493. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 17, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Zrim,

    I could make the same case for W2K and movements to Rome as well as W2K and FV. But anyone should know that an argument made from guilt by association is worth nothing.

  494. Reed Here said,

    November 17, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Benjmin:

    I do have lots of sympathy with the inappropriate application of the guilt by association issue. Yet sometimes it does follow. As we’ve observed here in the past, most FV’ers have either had a former affinity for, or a comfort now, with theonomy (e.g., some actually consider themselves theonomists still).

    When I see something like that I do reserve judgment, but only to ask is the relationship incidental or something more?

    So while I agree with a call for caution, I think it very unwise to simply ignore such questions. Sometimes there is smoke because there is a fire. It is reasonable to at least look before you say, nah, just my wife burning the bacon again.

  495. TurretinFan said,

    November 17, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Zrim:

    Let me ask you a series of straight questions, in the hopes of getting straight answers.

    1. Do you equate being “born again” and being regenerated?

    2. Is one of the effects of regenerataion and/or being born again (in case you distinguish between them) that the person sins less than before?

    3. Do you agree that Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness?

    4. Do you believe that a person who dies more and more to sin will sin less than he previously sinned?

    5. Do you agree that both regeneration/being born again (in case you distinguish between the two) and sanctification are part of the ordinary experience of every one of Christ’s disciplines in this life?

    -TurretinFan

  496. Elder Hoss said,

    November 17, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Darryl – This is a PS, in a sense, as I was seeking to bow out of the 2008 Election Cycle discussion.

    I appreciate, and am rather surprised that you conceded the first three points. With regard to the implications of these phenomena “raising the stakes” as you termed it, I would see this in a manner similar to the case of a man up for ordination who states his divergence from the WCF on say, the LD or the days of creation.

    Surely you yourself can think of cases when you have allowed for confessional divergence, even when said divergence was out of step with both the pre and post-1788 versions of the WCF’s authorial intent, no?

    Now, think about the implications of this for a congregation a man is serving. On a practical level, it seems to me that a pastor or elder who ducks out of worship right after it ends, to attend little Johnny’s little league game is doing far more damage to his local congregation than a man who says, “I believe the 1788 revision on the magistrate is out of step with essentially the whole trajectory of preceding Reformed (and prior to that, pre 16th century Christian) thought and am expressing this scruple to you the Presbytery.”?

    Most theonomists I know, or those sympathetic with theonomy see the issue as having relevance (consistent with a post-millenial eschatology) probably several generations after we are pushing up daisies. How relevant is theonomy to the current political order in the USA, let alone to the average churchman?

    Similarly, I would much rather see a candidate for ordination expressing divergence around one’s view of the state vs. things like the sanctity of the Lord’s Day, wouldn’t you??

    This is a somewhat tangential point, but an important one nonetheless. RC Sproul relates a very powerful conversation he had with Francis Schaeffer just prior to Fran’s death. He was driving him to an event where he was speaking, and asked him, “Dr. Schaeffer, what alarms you the most – what is the greatest threat you see to the church in these days”.

    “The State”, replied Dr. Schaeffer.

    Dr. Sproul recounted that approvingly, perhaps in part bc both of them were sympathetic to some of Rushdoony’s critique of the modern state as the Hegelian “god walking on earth” arrogating to itself rights and prerogatives which belong to God alone.

    Many might opine that a Christianity which speaks solely to the interior, soteric concerns of the individual would not condone Dr. Schaeffer’s/Sproul’s apprehensions.

    I would see the matter far differently than they (and you) apparently do.

    There was a time when our Reformed fathers believed and practiced a cosmological, world-shaping Calvinism, believing that Christ’s authority ought extend to all areas of life and thought. Hence, Christians established Ivy League institutions, hospitals, orphanages, schools for the blind etc., not in every instance as ministries of the “church” (deliberately so), but often such kingdom activity enhanced rather than hampered its effectiveness.

    McNeill has noted, with others, this kind of world-encompassing, or cosmological Calvinism as one example of the central divergence from Lutheranism, and with warrant.

  497. Bret McAtee said,

    November 17, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Reed,

    You really need to give up the guise of “Moderator.”

    Perhaps remembering that it was a Theonomic denomination that first blew the whistle on Federal Vision might help you keep things in perspective.

    There is no necessary connection between theonomy and federal vision.

    Now, given the Acton Institute we are still wandering if there is a necessary connection between R2Kt and Roman Catholicism.

  498. Reed Here said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Bret:

    Completely uncalled for – moderation does not mean I am not allowed to express an opinion. I’ve not hiddern my disagreement with theonomy either. Your comment implies I have in some way betrayed a trust given to me. I’ ll take it that you said this in ignorance and hope this clarification is sufficient for your mea culpa.

    As to the point I raised – your response causes me some concern. I am not arguing for guilt by association. I am arguing for examining associations. Is that not clear in this statement,

    “When I see something like that I do reserve judgment, but only to ask is the relationship incidental or something more? ”

    Applied here, the question might read something like this:

    “Does the fact that such FV men as James Jordan and Doug Wilson have credentials as theonomists mean that there is a causal relationship between theonomy and FV, or is this fact merely incidental?”

    Would not intellectual integrity agree that this is a fair question? You might easily answer it in the negative (with some substance beyond your empty rhetoric here). But surely you will not chastize someone who asks it, will you?

    As to the first who blew the whistle, that is immaterial. If (note the use of the word “if”) the FV is in some way causally related to theonomy, this itself does not prove an error in theonomy. The reason for the causal relation may be simply the errroneous application of theonomic principles. Blowing the whistle “first” is not material to the defense.

    As to the Acton Institute question, is this an attempt at a cute counter-example of the guilt-by-association issue? If so, silly Bret, simply silly. Feel free to make the Acton Institute connection – but do so by demonstrating more than just an incidental relation that most readers will have no idea what you are talking about (I suspect I do, and I don’t think you can make the case).

    I never said there was a causal connection between the FV and theonomy. I challenged Benjamin’s dismal of the question as inadequate to answer what I believe is a valid question.

    So, feel free to ask valid questions. Please, though, stop comments that untruthfully imply something disreputable about the person you disagree with. As well, please stop using rhetoric that only serves to make you sound like a stereo-type, one whose positions are so undefensible that the only recourse is to obfuscate the issue.

    I am not saying this is what you are doing. I do think your response at least supports such an interpretation. Don’t look for an argument where the is not one Bret.

  499. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Do you know anything about James Jordon and Doug Wilson Rev. Reed?

  500. G.C. Berkley said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    I don’t have anything substantive to add. I just always wanted to make the 500th comment somewhere.

    Ahhh, feels good.

  501. G.C. Berkley said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Doh! Thanks a lot, Benjamin!

    Slow on the trigger, I guess…

  502. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    By the way a question that does need to be asked is which denomination, RPCUS or PCA, still has open FV men operating without any discipline or censure?

  503. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    No problem G.C. ;)

  504. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Saturday evening I was commiserating with a good friend of mine, a native of Iraq. He was a child during the monarchy and grew up during successive revolutions that eventually led to Saddam. While acknowledging the atrociously brutal dictator Saddam was, he mentioned {somewhat wistfully} that Christians under Saddam were at least free to worship, PROVIDED they would “keep to themselves and keep quiet”. It got me thinking that would be a catchy slogan for the modern version of 2k.

    Come to think of it, are there similarities between the hermeneutic that led to the feminization of the church and this culturally surrendered effete 2k?

  505. Zrim said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    TFan:

    Do you equate being “born again” and being regenerated?

    You tell me. I have less stake in the language of revivalism (“born again”) and more in that of the conventional Reformed language of the ordo salutis: 1) election, 2) predestination, 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (faith & repentance), 7) justification, 8) sanctification, and 9) glorification.

    Is one of the effects of regenerataion and/or being born again (in case you distinguish between them) that the person sins less than before?
    Instead of making this about counting sins, I would rather say the point is to make the believer more aware of his sin than before. Certainly sinning more seems out. But some may think of themselves that way if only because they are more aware of their sin. It seems to me the work of the Spirit is to bring more awareness of sin and the need for Christ.

    Do you agree that Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness?

    Yes.

    Do you believe that a person who dies more and more to sin will sin less than he previously sinned?

    He certainly won’t sin more. But, again, I am not sure I understand the need to make it a quantifiable question. It seems rather misconstrued and a bad question (how is it different from the one above exactly?). I think it is much more important to understand the believer to be aware of his sin, to hate it and be quite clear on the gospel’s remedy for it than to be concerned with how more or less sinful one is; looking outside the self to Christ is superior to diving inward and attempting to determine progress. It a bit like looking down or out ahead when tight-rope walking.

    Do you agree that both regeneration/being born again (in case you distinguish between the two) and sanctification are part of the ordinary experience of every one of Christ’s disciplines in this life?

    I believe every one of the elect experiences the ordo salutis as stated above. (One of the interesting things about that language, by the way, is that it doesn’t include anything about “transformation.” I have found that when most mean “sanctification” they use the power lingo of “transformation.” It is almost as if they fabricate a stop over between justification and glorification, or perhaps between sanctification and glorification.)

    For those who are quick to read my comments about theonomy and FV as a guilt-by-association ploy, relax. I said I was painting in broad strokes, simply responding to something TFan brought up in the first place. While it is certainly true that not all theonomists are FVers, I think we’d find even fewer W2Kers with FV sympathies. I think the proclivity to conflate categories lends less light between the former coupling than the latter, that’s all.

  506. Reed Here said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Yes Benjamin, I do know some things about Jim Jordan and Doug Wilson. I was reading Jim Jordan back in the 80’s. I’ve been likewise paying attention to Rev. Wilson since he first came to my attention in the early 90’s.

    And I do not think this is material to the challenge I offered you . Just for clarity, I am not making any claim that there is a causal relationship between theonomy and the FV. I am rather saying, and only saying, that your response to Steven is unbalanced. I believe you were inappropriately dismissive.

    I agree with you that guilt by association is a fallacy. But guilt by association reads like this (note, not my statement, just for illustration):

    > Mr.s Jordan and Wilson are both theonomists. Both men are FV’ers. Therefore theonomy is the parent of the FV.

    If this were what Steven had said, I would join in saying, “now, wait a minute.” That, however, is not what he said. He raised the question and offered an opinion that suggests there may be a causal relation. Your response was just to dismiss out of hand, claiming that Steven was making a guilt-by-association argument. He did not. I was merely offering to help you make a more substantitive argument.

    You could simply do what I am doing and ignore the silliness of Bret’s apparent “guilt-by-association” comment concerning the Acton Institute and 2k’ers. The same goes for Mark’s “pot-calling-the-kettle-black” response. Both appear to me to be the kinds of arguments made by men who are not sufficiently confident in their own positions to answer critics with a substantive and humble response. It may be that they are just showing some fleshly weakness (I have lots of sympathy, as I do as well.) Nevertheless, such comments do not deserve an engaging response.

    I suggest to you that you should feel free to respond to Steven in the same way. His comment did not smack me as a cheap shot – he’s demonstrated the ability to use much more witty and caustic rhetoric (sorry Steven) than that found in this comment. So, if you agree and wish to engage him, then offer some substance back. Or simply ignore him. He’s a big boy.

    Contrary, if you see Steven’s comment as nothing more than a cheap shot, then feel free to say so. However, if you do, and someone like me pipes up with an observation that I don’t think your response is sufficient, please don’t read into my words some sort of defense of Steven. My comment was nothing of the sort.

    I am sorry that both Bret and Mark do not seem to be able to see that. Again, I am not arguing the merits of the relationship between the FV and theonomy, merely noting Steven did not make a guilt by association argument.

    Maybe my further comments here will help them see that they have no argument with me, at least on the basis of this question.

    P.S. in light of Steven’s clarification (see immediately preceding comment), do you think it possible that: Steven wasn’t clear enough at first, or you were misreading him, or both?

  507. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 17, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Well if you have been reading James Jordan you would know that he has now dismissed Theonomy as being pernicious.

  508. Reed Here said,

    November 17, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Benjamin, did you read anything else I said? Seriously brother, I could care less at this point my life whether or not there is a causal relationship between theonomy and the FV. Jim Jordan’s continued travels in theological meandering (my characterization) is pointless to the subject of my comment.

    > Simple point: I am not trying to make the case that there is a causal relationship between the FV and theonomy.
    > Simple point: Steven was not making a “guilt-by-association” argument.
    > Simple point: you were wrong to dismiss his comment with the accusation that he was making a “guilt-by-association” argument.
    > Simple point: either ignore him or make a substantive response- do not however dismiss him by wrongly labeling his observation.

    Question: is there a causal relation between the continued misreading of my comments and theonomists having thin skin?

    Note, I’m raising the question, in light now of three of you misreading my point – in spite of three comments offering substantial clarification. I’m not concluding the relationship exists. If you respond to me, on the basis that I am saying it exists, you are not responding to what I’ve said.

    Question: if there is not causal relation (prior question), then why the continual misreading?

  509. bret said,

    November 17, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    This is probably my “fleshly nature” showing but me thinks the moderator doth protest to loudly.

    I see no more or less causal relationship between theonomy and federal vision than I see between Roman Catholic Acton Institute and R2Kt. Both comparisons are equally profound or ridiculous.

    And no amount of pious pontificating by a moderator who instinctively dislikes theonomy can change that.

  510. Reed Here said,

    November 17, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Bret:

    You have obviously concluded that I am somehow guilty of something. I’ve never claimed that I was a moderator who is neutral when it comes to theonomy. Nor doesmy role as a moderator require me to be neutral, to have no opinion. Nor am I beholden to submit my moderation to your uninformed and unfairly prejudiced opinions.

    Methinks you think too highly of yourself brother.

    To invoke one of Lane’s other rules at this point: feel free to believe I am sinfully biased. Do not accuse me, by repeated inference or otherwise, of this on this blog. That violates Lane’s rules. If you do not like a moderator’s decision in something, feel free to complain privately (my email is reedhere at gmail dot com).

    If this is not satisfactory to you, feel free to keep your opinion and express it elsewhere. Do not express it here.

    I for one, am unmoved by your criticism. Why not take this as an opportunity to show some gentleness to someone you think is an erring brother. Or, if you do not accept me as a brother, feel free to malign me (elsewhere) with contiued unkind inferences. Or why not try some outright diatribes?

  511. Zrim said,

    November 17, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    (As long as we are clarifying, it might help to refer to me here as I do [“Zrim”], since there was a Steven here before who was not me. Also, my formal first name is Stephen, not Steven, but I on the street I go by Steve. But you can call me Rita. Kidding. Maybe the implication that W2Kers are effete has something to it? Kidding again.)

  512. Bret McAtee said,

    November 17, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I for one, am unmoved by your criticism.

    Well, we have something in common finally.

  513. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    November 17, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    If there is no attempt at making a “Guilt-By-Association” argument then why bring up FV/JJ at all?

  514. Reed Here said,

    November 17, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Benjamin:

    Fair question. With reference Zrim’s frst commmnet, see his explanation at no. 506. If that is not sufficient, feel free to ask him to clarify. Just don’t assume your take is accurate, as he has said it is not.

    With reference to Jim Jordan, see my original comment in no. 499, where I brought up his name. Note that I qualified that use with the word “might”, noting the hypothetical nature of my comment. As I note there, and repeatedly since, I was arguing for what constitutes a “guilt-by-association” argument. I offered some examples only to demonstrate what Zrim might have said, IF he were making a guilt-by-association argument.

    That being said Benjamin, I really do not have an argument with you.

  515. Reed Here said,

    November 17, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Bret:

    I offer you my promise and pledge as a brother in the Lord to pray for us both, that God would in his mercy convict us if/and where we are at fault in these things.

    Let me end by offering the opinion brother that you do not do well to try and take me to task over some offense I’ve given by hijacking comments that have nothing to do with them. I’ve offered you a peaceful and appropriate manner to address your concerns. Your brush off does not speak well of our Lord.

  516. Zrim said,

    November 17, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Ben,

    Like I said before, TFan brought up FV @ 487. I was only responding to what he said.

    All I am suggesting is what I have called “cross-pollenization” in the way categories seem to be conflated by both generally speaking, not anything causal. It sounds like you disagree. To be honest, I think this is distracting.

  517. Bret McAtee said,

    November 17, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Reed,

    As a wise person once said,

    I for one, am unmoved by your criticism.

  518. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    November 17, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I’m not sure what *comment* of mine you’re referencing, Reed, but the *question* I asked in my last post is actually a serious one. Having been immersed in the WICO debate for years, I hear echos of of that language as I read Daryl”s justification of his “secular faith” theories. I’m not suggesting a causal connection between WICO and secular faith theory. But I am suspecting that the approach to scripture is similar. If no one here is interested in exploring if there are similarities, that’s fine with me. I’ll examine it more myself. I simply thought it an intriguing possibility– not a “fleshly response.

  519. Bret McAtee said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    cross posted at http://www.ironink.org

    Just What Kind Of Calvinsim Is This?

    Steve Zrimec said,

    I agree that the Spirit changes sinners, but just not the way we naturally seem to think. If Calvinism is correct, we are always more sinful than not, even when regenerated. Grand Rapids has a lot of believers in it, but it doesn’t seem any “nicer” than any other city I have ever been to or inhabited (what’s “nicer” mean?). At least, the evening news sounds a lot like the broadcasts I hear when anywhere else. But cities aren’t the measure anyway, churches are. And if your sunny view of regenerate sinners is right, what accounts for so much doctrinal and moral strife in churches? Why do we seem so bloody human all the time? Why did Paul have to actually tell the Galatians to get the gospel right and the Corinthians to stop with the sexual immorality, etc., etc.?
    ————————–

    First we would note that Steve has a need for explaining many passages that do teach that the expectation of being in Christ is a new man.

    1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
    3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know,[a] that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
    Walk in Light

    8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[b]is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

    And again,

    16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
    19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,[c] fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders,[d] drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

    Now, Steve is correct that, when compared to the Holiness that we are called to, we are always more sinful than not, even when regenerated. But the problem with his language is it seems to give the subtle impression that there is no increase in sanctification. Steve looks at the conflicts in the Church and seems to suggest that such conflicts proves that sanctification is a unsure thing in the life of the believer. Further, Steve uses the examples of the problems in the Churches at Corinth and Galatia to try to suggest that regeneration really doesn’t visibly accomplish that much.

    And yet the passages cited above seem to indicate that the expectation of the Apostle is that regenerated people would increasingly become what they have been freely declared to be. There is little evidence in the writing of the Scripture that the expectation of the effect of the Gospel is negligible upon people raised from death to life. Churches may be at doctrinal odds with each other but is that the expectation that the Scripture’s give for life in the Church as they call people to Christ-like behavior?

    Now Grand Rapids might not be “nicer” than other comparative size cities in the US but I will wager that it is a good deal “nicer” than Czestochowa, Poland where one could find Nazi run Jewish ghettos in the 1930’s or Odesss, Ukraine where one could find the Kulaks being exterminated by Stalin in the 1930’s, or Phnom Penh Cambodia during the time of the Khmer Rouge reign. Christianity does make a difference in Grand Rapids and Steve ought to thank God every morning he arises that he lives in a city so influenced by Christianity.

    As to what accounts for so much doctrinal strife in the Church I would say that what accounts for it is people pushing doctrines that aren’t particularly Biblical. It really is no more difficult than that. The Church has always had posers who have made trouble for the Bride of Christ. Why should our age be any different? Does the presence of posers prove that God is not sanctifying His Church?

    Steve’s problem seems to be that he has a strong grip on sin but a loose grip on grace. Have we not been taught that where sin abounds Grace abounds all the more? It is important that we realize the deceptiveness and power of sin as Steve does but thank God, sin is not the final word.
    —————————————————–
    Zrim wrote,

    It seems to me that perhaps the way I have interpreted legalism may have some bearing here as well: “you don’t care the way I do, therefore you don’t care.” Likewise, “you don’t understand regeneration and sanctification the way I do, therefore you reject regeneration and sanctification.” But the way I understand these things per the Reformed tradition is that they most certainly do happen, but our perception of them is more mysterious than immediately known or understood.
    ————————————–

    Well, Zrimec might his perception of regeneration and sanctification mysterious but this is not the testimony of the Heidelberg Catechism which tells us exactly what to look for in regeneration and sanctification so that there is little mystery in our perception.

    Question 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery, merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?

    Answer: Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit, after his own image; that so we may testify, by the whole of our conduct, our gratitude to God for his blessings, (a) and that he may be praised by us; (b) also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith, © by the fruits thereof; and that, by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ. (d)

    Question 87. Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing in their wicked and ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?

    Answer: By no means; for the holy scripture declares that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (a)

    Question 114. But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?

    Answer: No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; (a) yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commandments of God.

    It is really of no moment whether or not Steve thinks about regeneration and sanctification like somebody else does. What is of import is that Steve thinks of it like the Scripture, which clearly teaches that believers are to be transformed by the renewing of their mind.

    Steve offers,

    Certainly, perceptible fruit must be borne; while the Spirit is the power of sanctification the law is its structure and believers’ lives will bear this out. The law is what believing sinners do by the power of the Spirit whilst the Spirit does his mysterious work of sanctification in transforming us into the image of Christ. But when I hear the idea that “the gospel makes bad people good and good people better” I think it is more often than not interpreted through modern notions of either moral or spiritual self improvement; I hear moralistic-therapeutic deism and a theology of glory quite clearly in the background. Yes, we are being changed, but just not the way we think. If what preceded Jesus’ own glorification is any measure, it seems that what characterizes the believer’s life has a lot more to do with misery than being happy, healthy and whole
    —————————–

    Steve’s first sentence above is quite good.

    I would say that the burden is on Steve to show or explain what way we are being changed if we are not being changed the way we think. If we are not being changed so that we mortify the old and and vivify the new man what does the change consist of? If we are not increasingly becoming what we have been freely declared to be then whence the change? Does Steve place the change in some mystery box? Does Steve place the change in being defeated and ground down? The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that we have been delivered from our sin and misery and yet here Steve is suggesting that the believer’s life has a lot more to do with misery.

    Steve Zrimec wrote,

    Instead of making this about counting sins, I would rather say the point (of regeneration) is to make the believer more aware of his sin than before. Certainly sinning more seems out. But some may think of themselves that way if only because they are more aware of their sin. It seems to me the work of the Spirit is to bring more awareness of sin and the need for Christ.
    ————————————–

    So for Steve the effect of regeneration is to bring a constant awareness of sin. Certainly this can not be denied. The first use of the law remains in effect throughout the converted person’s life. But though this word of Steve is accurate it is not the only word on this matter. Yes, as Christians we have an increased awareness of our sin and need for Christ, but it is also true that we have an increased power to increasingly become what we have been freely declared to be because Christ not only answers our need for forensic righteousness but also for our need to be increasingly transformed to the image of Christ in our daily living. Righteousness is not just imputed but we are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ as well.

    And yet, no matter how much grace we are given to go on with Christ we are constantly aware that our hope lies in the forensic work of Christ for sinners such as us.

    It seems that Steve is stuck on the first use of the law without recognizing that the second and third use of the law exist.

    Steve Zrimec wrote,

    I think it is much more important to understand the believer to be aware of his sin, to hate it and be quite clear on the gospel’s remedy for it than to be concerned with how more or less sinful one is; looking outside the self to Christ is superior to diving inward and attempting to determine progress. It a bit like looking down or out ahead when tight-rope walking.

    ——————————–

    Certainly it is superior but the Heidelberg catechism teaches (see question 86 posted above) that there is both an outward and an inward look for the believer. Steve thus seems unbalanced here.

    Zrimec offers,

    I believe every one of the elect experiences the ordo salutis as stated above. (One of the interesting things about that language, by the way, is that it doesn’t include anything about “transformation.” I have found that when most mean “sanctification” they use the power lingo of “transformation.” It is almost as if they fabricate a stop over between justification and glorification, or perhaps between sanctification and glorification.)
    ————————————-

    Steve has to hate this verse where the word “Transformed” is used.

    2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

  520. D. G. Hart said,

    November 18, 2008 at 12:11 am

    TFan: 1 Cor 8 argues for discontinuity between the OT and NT on meat offered to idols

    E. Hoss: as much as I have affection for Schaeffer, having studied at L’Abri in the 1970s, I can’t say I was ever convinced by his views on the state or the Reformation roots of the American revolution. As far as a man who has Schaeffer’s view of the state or a high view of the Sabbath, I’ll take the Sabbath any day. I can get Schaeffer’s fears of the State almost anywhere. The American Right is one place I can learn about the dangers of the state (and they teach me that a strong state occupied by Christians can also be a problem).

    Mr. Van Der Molen: whatever is WICO? Does it refer to women in office? If so, man are you barking up the wrong tree.

  521. Zrim said,

    November 18, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Bret,

    I had no idea I was being exhaustively examined for ordination. I just thought it was a blog; silly me and my rampant under-realizing of things. But thanks for filling in some gaps on my part. There is much with which to agree, though I get the feeling that it may be assumed my gaps and problems owe more to my “radical virus” than the immediate questions about my understanding of the ordo salutis, etc.

    I have no problem with the word “transformation,” just how it is largely interpreted in our age and how it has virtually eclipsed the language of the ordo salutis, particularly “sanctification.” My suspicion is that this is evidence of the subsuming war between a theology of the Cross and that of glory, power piety versus weakness piety, triumphalism versus pilgrimage, etc. That I have a “loose grip on grace” seems an odd conclusion since all I am trying to do is make a point about sin. In fact, insofar as it is short hand for “that which the most faithful biblical witness,” I understand Calvinism to put its accent on grace. But it seems to require a high view of sin to begin with in order for grace to come fully to bear as it ought. (Theonomy in any form seems like a highly distracted project in law. And since Calvinism puts its accent on grace, necessarily outpacing the stuff of law and sin, I don’t understand why we find Calvinists in the ranks of those whose interest is law.)

    But I am particularly glad for Bret’s citing of HC 114 (“But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments? Answer. No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all of the commandments of God.”)

    If it is true that even the holiest of us—who I presume none here think they themselves are—make but the slightest beginnings toward obedience, then I have to seriously wonder what gives with so much of the haughty meddling displayed by much of Christendom, including theonomy. After all, only those who are superior human beings know what’s best for other human beings. To my knowledge, there was only One like that and he behaved quite the opposite of what I observe. His was more in keeping with 1 Peter 4:15-16:

    “By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.”

  522. ReformedSinner said,

    November 18, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Just want to report that this thread has expose another bug for Windows Vista/Internet Explorer. I can’t scroll up and down smoothly as soon as the post passes 300 and needed to wait 5-10 seconds for every movement. Switching to another web browser (Firefox) fixes this problem.

    Ok, continue…. :)

  523. Reed Here said,

    November 18, 2008 at 9:49 am

    No. 523:

    Is that what this is? I thought it was just me and my pc’s problem.

  524. Zrim said,

    November 18, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Reed,

    It might be that you and your PC are way infected with the radical W2K virus and more sanctified than transformed. Is it any wonder that something called “Firefox” fixes it? Somebody just pass me and my PC the bread and wine.

  525. Bill Wysor said,

    November 18, 2008 at 10:11 am

    So am I hearing this right? Steve do you really mean to say that for believers in this present realm, we should not expect to see much progress in sanctification? That precious little experiential benefit or victory will emanate in our actions? That beyond a weakening of the noetic effects of sin, so that we are more aware of our sinfulness, we should not look for substantial healing from the power of sin over this body of death?

    What a sad commentary (having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.) It seems to me that your “high view of sin” unmasks a rather low view of the power of the blood of Christ to cleanse us from all sin in the rough and tumble of this present age. Or does the promise of I John 1:9 only refer to the forensic effects of grace and not the experimental? And how curious that you R2Kt folks with your high view of sin could then turn right around to brush aside the noetic effect of depravity in the unregenerate; such that you can make the claim that non-believers are able to clearly discern and rightly employ natural law to rule the creation. To me it makes no sense.

  526. November 18, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Hello Zrimec,

    I didn’t take my response as worthy of a ordination examination but rather just some casual conversation off the top of my head. Sorry if I came across so thoroughly.

    Second, your problem properly understanding the ordo salutis could be due to the virus,and as such the two are not necessarily isolated problems. There are likely several ways that our disagreements could be reduced to differing starting points. The one I would like to point out is the tension that invariably arises with a “now, not yet” theology that all of us embrace. From where I am sitting I think you are long on “not yet” and short on “now.” I would contend that this should have been the disposition of the old covenant saints who lived in the time that was front-loaded with the “not-yet.” However with the coming of our Blessed Liege-Lord Jesus we now live in the sunrise of the “now.” The full noon of the “now” awaits us in glorification but the times we live in, because of the work of Christ bringing in the Kingdom, are front-loaded with the “now.” There remains a “not-yet” but the emphasis in the New Covenant should be on the “now.”

    This leads me to suggest that your eschatology is severely under-realized. Now, your accusation against me is that, because I see this age front-loaded with the “now,” I am a practitioner of a ‘theology of glory,’ and refuse a ‘theology of the cross.’ I find this conclusion of yours to be most unfortunate as I believe it leaves the ascended victorious Christ who reigns from the right hand of the Father on the Cross. Surely, we agree that Christians must suffer and experience persecution but the difference is that I believe that experience comes in the way of contending for the crown rights of King Jesus.

    I think we both have a strong grip on grace but there still remains a difference. The strong grip on grace that you have is the strong grip on what we might call “forensic grace.” I applaud you in reminding all of us of the need for this strong grip. But there is another grip on grace that I do think your weak on and that is the grip of grace that holds on to the promise of being transformed by grace from glory unto glory. The grip of grace has to be both upon forensic grace and transformation grace. Surely, forensic grace is always prior, but the reality of what we have gripped onto that is outside of us is evidenced by how that same grace conforms us to the image of Jesus.

    Next, we come to your comment about Theonomists being committed to a law project. It is important to say (again) that Theonomist are not committed to a law project as if the law is a means by which we can be saved. If theonomist are committed to a law project it is only in the sense of the 2nd and 3rd use of the law. Frankly, anybody finding it odd that Calvinists would be interested in a law project in terms of esteeming the 2nd and / or 3rd use of the law would be … well, odd.

    It seems natural that a guy who has a under-realized eschatology would glom on to the phrase, ” No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience;” without realizing how the rest of the answer informs the first phrase,

    “yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all of the commandments of God.”

    Finally, Steve, I just can’t see it as meddling to encourage husbands to love their wives. I just can’t see it as meddling to encourage children to obey their parents. I just can’t see it as meddling to encourage the magistrate that he is responsible to God’s law. I just can’t see it as meddling to encourage parents to train and educate their children the way they should go.

    If all that is meddling then God give us more meddlers.

  527. November 18, 2008 at 10:29 am

    And how curious that you R2Kt folks with your high view of sin could then turn right around to brush aside the noetic effect of depravity in the unregenerate; such that you can make the claim that non-believers are able to clearly discern and rightly employ natural law to rule the creation. To me it makes no sense.

    That is a profound and insightful point.

    The effects of sin in the regenerate are so profound that we ought not to have to high of hopes for the sanctification aspect of salvation in the believer while the effect of sin in the unregenerate is so negligible that we can have high hopes for them in every area except salvation.

  528. TurretinFan said,

    November 18, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Hart wrote:

    TFan: 1 Cor 8 argues for discontinuity between the OT and NT on meat offered to idols

    Answer:
    No, it does not. It makes no mention at all of the Old Testament and does not implicitly overrule any Old Testament rule. This is an appeal to Scripture (at last), but not one that holds any water at all. It’s not a truthful claim about the passage.

    Furthermore, the implicit argument about the passage based on Hart’s comment is that somehow 1 Corinthians 8 demonstrates discontinuity. This is not so. One must read 1 Corinthians 8 in context. Part of that context is chapter 10 of the same book:

    1 Corinthians 10:28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:

    There is greater light regarding meat sacrificed to idols provided in the first epistle to the Corinthians, not a discontinuity.

    Recall as well Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians:

    1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

    While Paul does not explicitly mention this commandment in 1 Corinthians 8, the principle is the same or at least similar.

    -TurretinFan

  529. Zrim said,

    November 18, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Bill Wysor says,

    So am I hearing this right? Steve do you really mean to say that for believers in this present realm, we should not expect to see much progress in sanctification?

    I think the word “see” may be the most instructive word here. If we live by faith and not by sight then it seems to me that the issue is not so much “that” progress in sanctification happens, which I think I have been clear on, but rather how we discern it. We hear Word and we “see” sacraments–why is that not good enough? Why this fixation on just how much sanctification is happening within instead of Christ and him crucified without?

    That precious little experiential benefit or victory will emanate in our actions? That beyond a weakening of the noetic effects of sin, so that we are more aware of our sinfulness, we should not look for substantial healing from the power of sin over this body of death?

    Well, what does this “substantial healing” and “victory” look like exactly? I mean, if we are to “see” a progress in sanctification how can success be measured? More money, more stuff, more happiness, more personal fulfillment, increased smarts, a better job, a happier spouse, better behaved kids, a better ability to figure out the world’s ills, what? How do we know who is victorious and who isn’t?

    And how curious that you R2Kt folks with your high view of sin could then turn right around to brush aside the noetic effect of depravity in the unregenerate; such that you can make the claim that non-believers are able to clearly discern and rightly employ natural law to rule the creation. To me it makes no sense.

    What makes no sense to me is the pleading of the pagan to employ God’s law when it is admitted he has no ability to discern or employ it aright. Nor does it makes any sense that he needs a believer to tell him stealing is wrong.

    Bret,

    You make it sound like I am deleting “now.” But given how some seem to understand “now” I am content with emphasizing the “not yet.”

    It isn’t that Calvinists ought not have any interest in law; that would be absurd. It’s how Calvinists as Calvinists, insofar as its accent is on grace, should want to be found amongst the legions of law.

    Bret, if, by what you espouse on your own blog, you are not a meddler I’d love to see your idea of one. I know some are going to hate this, but my legalists tell me all the time they are not legalists; when asked this same question, they come up with what seem like urban legends or persons who don’t actually exist. Comparing down to easy devils and handily declaring oneself fit seems unbecoming, to say the least.

  530. November 18, 2008 at 11:55 am

    It isn’t that Calvinists ought not have any interest in law; that would be absurd. It’s how Calvinists as Calvinists, insofar as its accent is on grace, should want to be found amongst the legions of law.

    Steve,

    You still seem to have missed the point on this score. When we consider the third use of the law, law and grace are not in contradictory opposition, and so any Calvinist among the third use of the law is at the same time among grace.

    Bret, if, by what you espouse on your own blog, you are not a meddler I’d love to see your idea of one. I know some are going to hate this, but my legalists tell me all the time they are not legalists; when asked this same question, they come up with what seem like urban legends or persons who don’t actually exist. Comparing down to easy devils and handily declaring oneself fit seems unbecoming, to say the least.

    My idea of meddler is someone who has the ability to force (as opposed to persuasion) their conclusions upon people. Kind of like the Government. It has been my experience that the people who complain the loudest about meddlers are often (though not always) those who are trying to get away with something unseemly. I think R2Kt theology is unseemly and I don’t think opposing it is meddling.

    When I have the ability to force the church to follow my convictions quite apart from simply having persuaded and quite apart from the Church’s desire to follow then you can accuse me of meddling.

    Your legalistic hating, grace loving foil,

  531. TurretinFan said,

    November 18, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Zrim,

    You’re probably not surprised that I don’t find your answers particularly satisfying. I was a bit surprised by your “language of revivalism” comment. One finds the terminology “born again” in the Belgic Confession (article 35) and the Synod of Dordt used such terminology in the Fifth Head, paragraph eight. Savoy Declaration (20:4), LBCF (20:4), and the Geneva Catechism also use the term.

    Even more, though, I’m especially puzzled by your opposition to the use of “tranformation” though you acknowledge “renewal” and dying “more and more” unto sin. With respect, it seems as though your view of the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer is limited to making believers more aware of their sins than unbelievers are of theirs. While that is one thing that the Spirit does, I would respectfully assert that the Spirit actually makes believers progressively more righteous in this life, although they are never made wholly righteous until glorification.

    I wonder whether you would agree with me that Sanctification and Justification (although they are inseparably joined) differ in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuses grace and enables the sanctified man to the exercise of that grace. In Justification, sin is pardoned, while in Sanctification it is subdued. Justification equally and perfectly frees all believers from the wrath of God in this life, such that they never fall into condemnation. Sanctification is not equal in all believers, and is not perfect in any believer in this life, but grows up toward perfection.

    If you do agree with the above, why is it you are not willing to admit that believers will generally live more and more like Christ and less and less like the world?

    Or, to phrase it another way, why would you disagree with the idea that those who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them. Specifically, why you would seem to disagree that in this sanctification the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and the believers are more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

    -TurretinFan

  532. Bill Wysor said,

    November 18, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Zrim apparently has no answers to my questions and so asks:

    <“Why this fixation on just how much sanctification is happening within instead of Christ and him crucified without?”

    Because throughout Scripture we are enjoined to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling,” to “grow in grace,” and to “abound more and more,” “that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.” Therein is the idea of movement, of progress for which we are responsible to take measure. “Sanctification is a thing which admits of growth and degrees. The very idea of a man being “sanctified” while no holiness can be seen in his life, is flat nonsense and a misuse of words.” (J.C. Ryle)

    <“Well, what does this “substantial healing” and “victory” look like exactly?”

    (I will overlook the unseriousness of your response.) Plainly Steve, we are speaking of holiness, the idea of being conformed more and more to the image of our Lord Christ. To be holy even as He is holy. To press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

    <“How do we know who is victorious and who isn’t?”

    Because every tree is known by his own fruit. We know by seeing who obeys, whose life conforms to the law. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” The apostle entreats: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Phil. 3:17)

  533. Zrim said,

    November 18, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Bret,

    …Never mind. The needle on my turntable can only be bumped so many times. And in the digital age those things are pricey to replace.

    TFan, “born again” is certainly not a bad term for both biblical and confessional reasons; I just would rather understand it in the context of the confessions’ formulations. Same for “transformation.” Same for “evangelical.” I never said the Spirit’s work is limited to making sinners aware of their sin; I said it was part of his work. Part of his work certainly is to conform us to the image of Christ. I do agree with your formulation of sanctification, etc. I see nothing wrong with it. What I have a problem with is understanding all that in terms of worldly self-improvement, that there is some immediate cash-value to our sanctification such that we end up understanding believers to be better than unbelievers. The moralistic and therapeutic age has done one whopper of a number on the church’s understanding of what it means to be sanctified.

    Bill,

    What holiness looks like to me is ears attending the gospel and hands taking bread and wine. The body which does these things will always be the same body that bears godly fruit. Pagans can look as if they are “bearing fruit” but they will never be found attending Word and sacrament. You need to up the ante on what holiness looks like.

  534. Bill Wysor said,

    November 18, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Zrim,

    Last I checked these are subsumed under “my commandments.”

  535. Reed Here said,

    November 18, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    All:

    So where is the real difference between y’all? Is it possible the Zrim is not being (or has not) been clear enough on the nature of the burr in his saddle, and the rest of you are reacting to what you think you hear?

    I admit to being slow regularly. It might be helpful to those of us just listening (or least those who are slow like me) if you might focus where you think you have any serious difference with Zrim.

    As well Zrim, it would be helpful (at least to me) if you could summarize and focus what you are challenging. I think I get where you are going, and I think we would all agree. Yet …

  536. TurretinFan said,

    November 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Zrim:

    I asked you some straight questions about whether regeneration and sanctification lead to people acting more righteously than otherwise. You were clear that it does not lead to them acting LESS righteously, but you seemed to be saying that they would just be more aware of their sins, not that they would be actually more righteous.

    Now, it sounds like you are suggesting that you might agree that they would actually be more righteous.

    Do you agree that regeneration and sanctification lead to people being more righteous than they were, in this life? If it is possible to answer this question with a “yes” or a “no,” I would appreciate it. If, however, it is not possible, I can appreciate that not all questions can be answered in such a binary way.

    Reed,

    Have you seen my clarification above about my post upon which you opined at length?

    -TurretinFan

  537. D. G. Hart said,

    November 18, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Mr. Wysor, Bret, and TFan, if Zrim has an overly high view of sin, you guys seem to have an overly high view of good works. All of the Reformed creeds teach that our goods works are as filthy rags, which would sort of explain why Calvinists put the T in TULIP, and why for us 2k folks grace looks so attractive, and the law a reminder of how weak, frail, and wicked we are.

  538. ReformedSinner said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    #537,

    I don’t know how to quantify more righteous. From eternity perspective, all the regenerate are equally righteous, for we are all clothed with Christ’s righteousness (union with Christ.) Or to say it another way, all of us are fully righteous in Christ.

    Now, from the view of progressive history (which I take it is your real question), you want to argue if there’s such a thing as believers being more righteous as sanctification progresses them. Yes, for one repentance will be plenty, and for two good works will flow out of it. However, these good works are only “more righteous” in the way that we are already “fully righteous” in eternity. The only difference between me helping a granny across the street and an atheist helping a granny across the street is that I am a Christian and because I’m a Christian God counted my action as righteous, whereas the atheist can only incur wrath.

    Therefore, there’s really no point arguing who or what is “more righteous” since the equation ultimate falls back to our full righteousness in Christ.

  539. Reed Here said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    TF:

    I did respond to your explanation (no. 453) of my misreading of your comment, (no. 438), and my misdirected opining on it. My response was around number 454 or so (almost immediately following your post). Following up your just request just now (no. 53&), I looked back to see if there was a problem. I cannot find my response. I do know it was there at one point. But sometime between now and then it has disappeared.

    I honestly do not know what happened to it. It may be that one of the other moderators thought I needed moderation :)

    Regardless let me make clear again to you my apology for both my misreading and my misdirected opining. While it was not my intention, I did “hijack” you comment. It was wrong of me and for that I do ask your forgiveness.

    As well, I see in a later post (late 400’s) you asked again if I would respond. I’m sorry, but I missed that one. I was not ignoring you.

  540. Zrim said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Reed,

    I suppose I am challenging how some here seem to understand the nature of sin and grace, sanctification.

    I will readily admit to my inner Lutheran (as if that is a bad thing).

    Lutheran theologian Don Matzat explains, “Martin Luther accurately defined sin as man turning in on himself. While a theology of glory continues to turn you to yourself as you measure your growth in holiness against a plethora of spiritual experiences, the theology of the Cross turns you away from yourself. As a result of the conviction of the Law, you forsake your own good works and spiritual experiences and cling to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.”

    Matzat goes on to describe Christian growth counter-intutively by saying it is actually more like shrinkage than growth. Part of what may ail this conversation is that some are thinking intuitively, others counter-intutively. The gospel itself seems quite counter-intuitive.

  541. Reed Here said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Darryl:

    With reference to your point in no. 539, I’m not sure I completely agree (not that my agreement is worth much ;-) ).

    Seriously, I wonder if Bret, Bill and TF are simply reacting to what they perceive is an under-emphasis on the nature of progressive sanctification in Zrim’s responses. That does not necessarily mean that they are therefore over-emphazing the role of works. I.e., B does not necessarily follow A.

    I don’t see them using language that moves in this direction. Of course I might be missing statement made by these brothers where you think that necessarily follows. Uh ???

  542. Zrim said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    TFan,

    I suppose a simple “yes” or “no” seems too binary to me, yes. I know we are supposed to think there is no such thing, but I just don’t think it’s a good question. I am not trying to be evasive, just, ahem, clear.

  543. November 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Mr. Wysor, Bret, and TFan, if Zrim has an overly high view of sin, you guys seem to have an overly high view of good works.

    For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    This walking in 2:10 stands in contrast to the walking in 2:2 where we read,

    “in which you once walked according to the course of this world.”

    Our salvation was accomplished and applied for the end of Spirit breathed good works that we might glorify our Father in heaven.

    It also stands in contrast to 4:17

    “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind…”

    Instead we are told,

    that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows in corrupt according to the deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and that you put on the new man which was created according to God…

    Praise be unto God who provides such an effectual grace that we walk in good works that will always be but filthy rags when compared to God’s absolute standard — but still good works.

    What I see happening here is that the R2Kt crowd desires to cast asunder what God has brought together. They so want to emphasize forensic grace that they pillory anybody who wants to keep forensic grace and renewing grace together. They so want to see regenerate man as covenant breaker that they cannot allow that regenerate man is also covenant keeper in Christ. They so want to emphasize the first use of the law that they castigate anybody else who likewise agrees that the first use of the law obtains even for the Christian but who also mentions that the 2nd and 3rd use of the law is important as well.

    It is not a wonder that the R2Kt school loathes so much the Federal vision school because they are mirror opposites. Each are casting asunder what God hath joined together but are doing it from opposite directions.

  544. TurretinFan said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Hart wrote:

    Mr. Wysor, Bret, and TFan, if Zrim has an overly high view of sin, you guys seem to have an overly high view of good works. All of the Reformed creeds teach that our goods works are as filthy rags, which would sort of explain why Calvinists put the T in TULIP, and why for us 2k folks grace looks so attractive, and the law a reminder of how weak, frail, and wicked we are.

    This is just another demonstration that Hart fails to understand some of the simplest concepts in Reformed theology.

    a) Total Depravity refers to the state of unregenerate man.

    b) Although there is still no merit at all in our righteousness after conversion, nevertheless sanctification is real and should be evident both to ourselves and the world.

    -TurretinFan

  545. TurretinFan said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Dear Brother Reed, of course you are forgiven, and most of all I’m happy that the misconception has been cleared up. I was not offended, just concerned.
    -TurretinFan

  546. TurretinFan said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Zrim,

    Working my way back, I had previously argued that mass conversion would transform culture, since culture is largely a function of the individual views of the populace.

    Would agree that if my view about progressive sanctification is correct, then one would expect a mostly regenerate and sanctified society to be a more pleasant place for a Christian to live than a mostly unregenerate society? (Just assuming my position on progressive sanctification to be correct for the sake of the question.)

    Reformed Sinner,

    Does mortification of sin entail, in your view, sinning less than one previously did? If so, don’t you agree that mortification of sin is something to which the believer is called?

    I certainly agree that even the good works of believers are not meritorious and that they are not, in any way, the basis upon which we are going to be judged before God. Nevertheless, I would respectfully submit that the righteous lives of believers is a testimony (for the world to see) to the grace of God.

    -TurretinFan

  547. Bill Wysor said,

    November 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Dr. Hart,

    Do you discount that we please God with our works? While they cannot justify a man, Holy Writ clearly teaches that holy actions of a sanctified man, although imperfect, are pleasing in the sight of God. “With such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Heb. 8:16) “Obey your parents for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” (Col. 3:20) “We do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (John 3:22.)

    Speaking of tulips, when my son was about three he took a pair of scissors with him to his mother’s flower bed and clipped the most glorious red tulips just below the bloom and brought them as an offering of his love to my wife. Of course she was saddened that their beauty would soon fade away, but she was also touched by her boy’s devotion to her. So I believe that our heavenly father is pleased with the poor performances of His believing children. He looks at the heart, the motive, the intention of the action, and not merely at the quality.

    (please, call me Bill)

  548. November 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    “Martin Luther accurately defined sin as man turning in on himself. While a theology of glory continues to turn you to yourself as you measure your growth in holiness against a plethora of spiritual experiences, the theology of the Cross turns you away from yourself. As a result of the conviction of the Law, you forsake your own good works and spiritual experiences and cling to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.”

    I quite agree that there are those who will become impressed with their good works to the point that they begin to forget that they are but sinners saved by grace. Would you agree that there are those who forget the work of grace that God has worked in them and so need to be reminded that God is growing them in Jesus?

    These understandings need not to be at war with each other.

  549. TurretinFan said,

    November 18, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Bret wrote:

    I quite agree that there are those who will become impressed with their good works to the point that they begin to forget that they are but sinners saved by grace. Would you agree that there are those who forget the work of grace that God has worked in them and so need to be reminded that God is growing them in Jesus?

    These understandings need not to be at war with each other.

    Well said!
    -TurretinFan

  550. Reed Here said,

    November 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Bret:

    With reference to your sweeping generalizations in no. 544, do you really think your judgments apply to 2K’ers, on the basis of a severly limited conversation here? Do you really believe such conclusions are accurate?

  551. Bill Wysor said,

    November 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Sorry. @548 those references were Heb. 13:6 and I John 3:22

  552. TurretinFan said,

    November 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    ReformedSinner wrote:

    The only difference between me helping a granny across the street and an atheist helping a granny across the street is that I am a Christian and because I’m a Christian God counted my action as righteous, whereas the atheist can only incur wrath.I would respectfully disagree here. Part of the further difference is the motivation. The atheist is doing the act from the wrong intention. The Christian might be doing the act with the right (or at least a “more pure”) intent. Thus, the deed of the Christian is objectively more righteous, assuming that the Christian is doing the act with the primary intention of obeying/glorifying God.

    On the other hand, of course, the work may still well be mixed with sin, and is – regardless – not meritorous in the eyes of God and is in no way part of our justification. Our justification is based on alien righteousness.

    -TurretinFan

  553. November 18, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Reed,

    550 comments and you are characterizing the conversation as “severely limited?”

    Still, it is not as if this is the only place where these conversations have been pursued.

    I believe R2Kt theology (as opposed to standard 2k theology) does tend in the direction I have stated when we consider public square ethics. Now, I have no doubt that they are grand in personal and private ethics, though I for one have a tough time divorcing personal and private ethics from public square ethics.

    So, no, I don’t believe I have committed the fallacy of false generalization. I do believe that they have a truncated view of the wholeness of salvation and I think that has come out in this “severely limited conversation.” Darryl’s recent comment faulting theonomists for allegedly speaking overmuch on good works to the neglect of depravity and grace is one such example of this truncating propensity. As if speaking overmuch of good works somehow prohibits us of speaking overmuch of depravity and grace.

    But I will end with noting that like the Lutherans, they do a good job of keeping before us that the first use of the law is necessary in the Christian life. This is something that can be forgotten with the result that we can be flooded by a disgusting self-righteousness. So, for their reminders of the need for forensic grace I salute them. I only wish they could salute the Spirit of Christ for renewing grace.

    Cheers Rev. De Pace,

  554. Reed Here said,

    November 18, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Bret:

    Yes, severely limited. Note that not all 500 comments are germaine to your conclusions (not even a majority of them). Further, is it highly unlikely that 2k’ers engaging in this conversation here (a handful at most, 3 in particular) represent the general consensus of 2K convictions. Further, it is highly unlikely that this format, the limited interaction that a blog provides, has provided even a representative picture, let alone a comprehensive one.

    Now, if you were to reference some generally recognized and commonly accepted 2k’er “experts,” then on the basis of their words you might offer some generalizations that could apply broadly.

    But doing so here, with some evidence (at the very least) that there is misreading and miscommunicating going on – it seems very rash to me to make the kinds of generalizations you do here.

    Targeted conclusions, at specific commenters, all well and good. But to generalize as you have, why it smells to me of the same kind of error as a sweeping generalization lumping theonomists and FV’ers together. Note again, I’m not making that generalization. I am saying your generalizations sound to me as rash as that kind of generalization.

    Further, I don’t it is really helpful if one wants to engage in a conversation with the goal of reaching at least understanding, or ev