Two Kingdoms Discussion

The Bayly’s have come out with some strong words against 2K theology, and Darryl Hart has responded to this.

On the one hand, I have no wish to sound like a whiner. Strong words are needed when one feels that some particular aspect of theology is being neglected. On the other hand, it seems to me that a few straw men were erected on both sides. The straw man that the Bayly brothers erected is their very broadbrush attack on 2K pastors. I would consider myself a mild 2K pastor at the present moment in time (still in process on the whole question, however). I have in the past and will in the future if the need arises, protest abortion in the strongest of terms. I would do so on the basis of being a good citizen of a secular government. I have picketed abortion clinics (only in a legal way on public property). I have supported crisis pregnancy centers, and would do so again, if I am in a situation where the need arises. Would no other 2K pastor do the same? I find that rather difficult to believe. The same is true of the issue of women in the military, which even Darryl (surely one of the strongest 2K advocates around today) acknowledges has some basis for judgment in the law of God.

On the other hand, I am not sure that Darryl has been fair in accusing the Bayly brothers in this way:


The Roman Church, like the Baylys, tried to bind consciences with their own extra-biblical requirements. In the Baylys’ case, we must not only refrain from certain actions but we must publicly oppose it the way Baylys do – otherwise, you’re not a true minister they way they are…They stray when they beat their breast and bray that only those ministers are worthy of hearing are the ones like the Baylys.

Surely we can agree that the Bayly brothers feel strongly about the two issues of abortion and women in the military (among many other issues, I’m sure), and feel that anyone who is not making a strong response is missing a way to be prophetic. Is it really due to self-importance that they are saying these things? I’m not sure we are justified in making a judgment on the motivation which drives them.

The modern debate between 2K theology and Neo-Calvinism is only beginning in the literature. I think we need to be careful here about how we describe other people’s positions. Comments are open on this post. I welcome both Darryl and the Bayly brothers to comment and respond.

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496 Comments

  1. Zac Wyse said,

    September 11, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Lane
    I appreciate your desire to encourage the parties in this discussion to represent each other fairly.
    Perhaps I’m misreading him, but I don’t think Dr. Hart is imputing motives to the Baylys. I think he’s saying that the necessary *result* of binding a person’s conscience where Scripture does not is that you elevate yourself to the level of Scripture. The result (not motive) is that you make yourself highly important.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    September 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    You could be right, Zac. Hopefully, Darryl will clarify.

  3. Tim Bayly said,

    September 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Dear Lane,

    Thank you for your criticism, and God bless you for your witness in behalf of God’s little ones.

    This only to note I’ve changed some parts of the post since it first went up, partly in order to take into account some helpful criticisms of Darryl. The direction of my changes can be seen by comparing a couple of Darryl’s quotes of the old with the published version, now.

    Love,

  4. greenbaggins said,

    September 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Tim, the things I’m concerned about haven’t really been addressed. For instance, the very two items you mentioned are things that Darryl acknowledged as important, and that we can speak of them on the basis of the Ten Commandments. At least, that’s what I read in his post. He seemed rather unashamed about saying it. I do not yet see any acknowledgment in your post of that.

  5. Tim Bayly said,

    September 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    >>we can speak of them on the basis of the Ten Commandments

    You’re quite right, Lane: the things we’re concerned about haven’t really been addressed. But I don’t want to engage in this more, here, dear brother. Let each man examine his own conscience.

    Love,

  6. todd said,

    September 11, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Lane,

    “Missing a way to be prophetic,” as you put, it is something we can disagree about, and if that was the only complaint it would be fine. But it is a serious and dangerous thing indeed to encourage sheep to distrust their duly appointed ministers who are feeding them the gospel, just because those ministers may not speak out with you on the political views you are passionate about. Tennet, later in life, at least repented of sowing such discord. I would never tell a visitor to our church that their pastor is unfaithful and not to be trusted, unless that pastor was not preaching the gospel at all, or morally was abusing the sheep or his calling, and that was already clear and proven. We 2kers fear the judgment of God also, but often not for the same reasons transformationalists tend to. The irony, at least to me, is that the Baylys, while maybe not agreeing with FV theology, have encouraged everyone to listen and learn from certain FV ministers. So one can muddle justification and the sacraments and can still be a faithful minister, still worth learning from and heeding; but one can preach the gospel correctly, yet if he does not join the fray against women or gays in the military, he is an unfaithful shepherd. Am I the only one to see a problem here?

  7. David Gray said,

    September 11, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    >Am I the only one to see a problem here?

    No, but we don’t all necessarily see the same problem.

  8. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 12, 2010 at 6:36 am

    I could be wrong, but I did not think that what distinguished the Hart type of 2K folks was that they did not care about politics and cultural matters, but rather than they did not believe that their Christian theology should be used to formulate positions on cultural matters. And so I was a little surprised to hear that Daryl Hart is open to Christians using the sixth commandment as one possible piece of evidence against abortion. I thought these 2K guys were not supposed to do this. Can someone help me understand this….

    And I wish we could find a different description of Daryl’s position than “2K.” We are probably all two kingdom guys in that we believe in distinct spheres of authority for Church and state. I remember Somebody suggesting “W2K” for the Hart position – maybe that would work?

    I agree that the modern two kingdom debate is young. We need to do lots of listening in this stage….

  9. Zrim said,

    September 12, 2010 at 8:20 am

    And so I was a little surprised to hear that Daryl Hart is open to Christians using the sixth commandment as one possible piece of evidence against abortion. I thought these 2K guys were not supposed to do this. Can someone help me understand this…

    Andrew,

    What’s wrong with using the sixth to tell a believer under a Reformed jurisdiction she mayn’t have an elective abortion (or that s/he mayn’t perform one)? But what’s a whole different question is using Scripture for statecraft. So, when you say “abortion” I think you need to distinguish between the moral question and the political one. And you need to distinguish between civil matters and ecclesiastical ones (i.e. jurisdiction). Isn’t there a difference between saying what Christian Jane may or may not do with her pregnancy and how she may vote?

  10. dgh said,

    September 12, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Lane, the original reference to Tennent is important. Gilbert Tennent preached the sermon that led to the split between Old and New Side presbyterians in 1741. And he did so by saying that the opponents of revival were unconverted and so false ministers.

    The language of false shepherds is exactly what the Baylys repeatedly use against 2k and the spirituality of the church. (And the point of my post was that they would need to charge Christ and the apostles with the same point of false shepherds because they did not speak out publicly and directly against abortion or women in the military.)

    I don’t care if they disagree with me or other 2kers. I also believe their criticisms are helpful if they want to point out the unintended and harmful consequences of the 2k position. None of us can see where all of our views lead. But to charge us with being false shepherds is completely over the top (I can think of worse words to use that pertain particularly to the Decalogue).

    Let’s not forget the way the Baylys dabble in insinuations regarding the Third Reich:

    “Under the Third Reich, were the true shepherds silent in the midst of the slaughter of millions of Jews, sodomites, mentally handicapped, gypsies, and Christians? Then, what about us? When the day arrives and the light reveals our work as shepherds, will it be seen that we have been faithful witnesses against the anarchy and bloodshed all around us? Or will it become clear we have built with wood, hay, and straw?”

    So 2kers are not only false shepherds but akin to the NAZI pastors.

    I don’t see how this is in the least bit responsible or helpful. And I contend that it does bind the conscience a la Rome in that for the Baylys what is the measure of a true pastor is someone who acts or opposes gender and sex issues the way they do. The 2k position allows for liberty — not on the sins of murder or being subject to ordained authorities — but on the way that Christians oppose such sins in the public realm. The Baylys cannot make that distinction. They are not the first Presbyterians to do so. Machen was thought to have broken laws against drunkenness simply by failing to support Prohibition. As he tried to explain, withholding support for law or policy is not the same as supporting what the law or policy is intended to remedy.

    As for appealing to the 6th commandment to oppose abortion, that wouldn’t be my tactic in public debates. Christians may do so since I believe in Christian liberty. But I don’t think it would be effective and in a public debate I’d tend toward the side of being pragmatic.

  11. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    And I wish we could find a different description of Daryl’s position than “2K.” We are probably all two kingdom guys in that we believe in distinct spheres of authority for Church and state. I remember Somebody suggesting “W2K” for the Hart position – maybe that would work?

    The more apt description that has gained acceptance is “R2k” = Radical Two Kingdom theology. A good discussion of the differences from classic 2k can be found at this link, and I would especially commend your taking note of the contributions by Rev. Matthew Winzer:

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f117/two-kingdoms-primer-63060/

  12. dgh said,

    September 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Mark, how is Wizner helpful when he writes this? “Gillespie is being called in to give his opinion on two distinct questions. On the first question, whether the magistrate derives his authority from Christ as Mediator, he denies. On the second question, whether the Christian magistrate is subject in the use of his authority to Christ as Mediator, he affirms.”

    I don’t know of any 2ker who would say that a Christian magistrate is not obligated to be subject to Christ as mediator. So what happens when our vocations, whether as magistrate or as physician, requires us to do something that the civil polity denies? Well, we need to obey God rather than man. I think we are all agreed.

    Where you and Pastor Winzer go wrong is in thinking that a Christian magistrate may simply change the laws because he is a Christian. A Christian magistrate in the U.S. cannot revise laws governing freedom of conscience. If he does, either he gets ousted at the next election or the courts overturn his legislation.

    So what do you do then? Keep complaining that we don’t live in a Christian society? But do you think that we must live in a Christian society, or that magistrates must be Christian? Can non-Christian rule be legitimate? The apostles and Christ sure seemed to think so — the Roman empire not being all that Christian. They seemed to be “r”2kers.

    So you are prepared to assert the truth and authority of a Constantinian arrangement as binding for the church (and those who hold the 2k position) when it wasn’t binding for Christ and the apostles? They did not insist that the magistrate should make or enforce Christian laws. They actually told Christians to be subject to pagan rulers who tolerated and sometimes practiced worse wickedness than what we experience today.

    2k makes sense of this. Anti-r2k does not.

  13. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    So, when you say “abortion” I think you need to distinguish between the moral question and the political one. And you need to distinguish between civil matters and ecclesiastical ones (i.e. jurisdiction). Isn’t there a difference between saying what Christian Jane may or may not do with her pregnancy and how she may vote?

    Zrim – I understand that you want to make this distinction but in his article Daryl Hart sounds to be making a point about a civil matter and allowing for using a theological and exegetical argument for making this point. Now maybe he is not, and if Daryl drops in perhaps he can clarify.

    From what I have read it is this never allowing any sort of theological appeal in the context of cultural matters which is the distinguishing characteristic of the Daryl sort of 2K position, and it is here where I think the other side makes some good points. I hope it is this sort of question that gets focus in future 2K debates rather than issues about whether this is that proponent or opponent of the Daryl Hart 2K position went too far in their critique.

    The more apt description that has gained acceptance is “R2k” = Radical Two Kingdom theology.

    Mark – Thanks for the link. I would be happy to use the “R2K” label, but I was under the impression that the Daryl Hart sort of 2K folks would react against their position being labeled as “radical.”

  14. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    >A Christian magistrate in the U.S. cannot revise laws governing freedom of conscience. If he does, either he gets ousted at the next election or the courts overturn his legislation.

    Indeed, but this statement has to do with what is practical, not necessarily what our rule ought to be. It could be practical to outlaw certain forms of abortion. This, one could do and not be ousted in the next election. And he would do this knowing that his goal would one day be to outlaw all abortions. And until that day would come, he would do his best to work in the right direction without getting ousted.

    The point is that this is a theoretical question and not a question of how we wisely put it into practice. It is a question of ought, not of what currently is. It is a question of a goal. How to get there is a different subject on which many who aim for the same goal (state compliance with the will of God, in this case as to the murder of the unborn) will disagree.

  15. dgh said,

    September 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Mr. Scharping, so you oppose freedom of conscience? If so, now we may be clarifying things. Mr. Van Der Molen and the Baylys say they are for freedom of conscience, and yet they also say the magistrate should enforce both tables of the law. I don’t know how you have Glenn Beck in the U.S. if the first commandment were enforced.

    I’m not trying to paint you into a corner. I’m willing to hear a case against freedom of conscience. But generally speaking, the critics of 2k usually oppose freedom of conscience for advocates of 2k and never go all the way and get rid of the idolaters and blasphemers who live next door to them as neighbors.

  16. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 12, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    >Mr. Scharping, so you oppose freedom of conscience? If so, now we may be clarifying things. Mr. Van Der Molen and the Baylys say they are for freedom of conscience, and yet they also say the magistrate should enforce both tables of the law. I don’t know how you have Glenn Beck in the U.S. if the first commandment were enforced.

    My post asserted no position on freedom of conscience. My point was that you seemed to believe that because a directive of scripture was not practical at our particular point in time or place that therefore the goal is incorrect. I will wait until you respond to my concern.

    Just out of curiosity would allow freedom of worship to Aztecs? :-)

  17. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    :Darryl: The government today has an interest in upholding the 3rd commandment, doesn’t it?

    Andrew: Whether one likes or accepts the radical label does not tell us whether the theology in fact represents a radical departure.

  18. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Dr. Hart,

    My wife and I enjoyed your biography of Nevin. It is a good appreciation and critique of a man who was similar to federal visionists. I am glad you did not throw out the baby with the bathwater as I remember it. I wanted to tell you this because I do not want to be that guy who just disagrees with everybody. I am not trying to earn points. I do not expect any. I just wanted to say thank you.

  19. dgh said,

    September 12, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Mr. Scharping, I cannot be bought by praise (though I do appreciate it). I understand you took no position on freedom of conscience. So I’ll ask. What is your position?

    Mr. Van Der Molen, I do not think the state has an interest in enforcing the 3rd commandment. The state in the U.S. did not enforce it throughout much of its history. That does not mean that I favor breaking the 3rd commandment. It only means that I don’t want the state to enforce it. If the state did, we’d be having no debate about a mosque at Ground Zero.

    Since you think the state has an interest, how do you think the state should treat Roman Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and Jews when they pray to “god”? Please do recall that those groups were not permitted to pray to “god” in Calvin’s Geneva. (And as for your beloved Art. 36 of the Belgic Confession, the Dutch republic never enforced the third commandment, which is why the Netherlands was a place where Jews, Mennonites, Quakers, Huguenots, and even Descartes went to escape their respective home magistrates.)

  20. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 12, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    >Mr. Scharping, I cannot be bought by praise (though I do appreciate it). I understand you took no position on freedom of conscience. So I’ll ask. What is your position?

    Dr. Hart, what I believe about freedom of conscience is peripheral to what I believe is the main concern most have with what you SEEM to be saying. Namely, that special revelation (or perhaps even general revelation?) is no guide or check to the civil magistrate. Or that special revelation says anything binding on the civil magistrate at all. For example, can the church condemn the civil magistrate for not upholding freedom of conscience? Can she bind the conscience of the civil magistrate in this way? I am concerned about the churches ability to condemn sin in individuals, families, churches, businesses, and those in political power. Do we not vote for these people? Are we not in SOME position of political decision making?

    But, Dr. Hart, you have gotten far afield of my original post #14. That is what I am concerned about. Yes. I am concerned about other things. BUT WHAT I AM ASKING FOR IS THAT YOU ANSWER POST #14. I am not yelling. I just don’t know how to do italics. Ha! Thanks.

  21. Rev. Matthew Winzer said,

    September 12, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Dear Lane,

    One of your posters made the following comment:

    [quote]Where you and Pastor Winzer go wrong is in thinking that a Christian magistrate may simply change the laws because he is a Christian.[/quote]

    There is no basis in anything I have written for such a charge. If I may, I would like to refer your readership to my article in last year’s Confessional Presbyterian Journal, where I make a case for the Westminster divines teaching a Christian constitutional position in distinction from what has come to be called “theonomy.”

  22. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 12, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Darryl wrote:

    I do not think the state has an interest in enforcing the 3rd commandment. The state in the U.S. did not enforce it throughout much of its history.

    Not sure what radical history book you’re reading, but the courts of this land enforce the 3rd commandment every day. Heidelberg Lord’s Day XXXVI confesses the magistrate’s interest in upholding the 3rd commandment.

  23. Zrim said,

    September 12, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    From what I have read it is this never allowing any sort of theological appeal in the context of cultural matters which is the distinguishing characteristic of the Daryl sort of 2K position, and it is here where I think the other side makes some good points.

    Andrew, if the point made is that general revelation is insufficient for civil tasks (which seems to be the point the “other side” makes from what I can tell), I’m not so sure how good it is. But that general revelation is sufficient for civil tasks is simply the flipside of saying that special revelation is sufficient for ecclesiastical tasks, which is really just another way of saying sola scriptura.

    So, it’s not that 2k is about “never allowing any sort of theological appeal in the context of cultural matters,” because that makes it sound like 2k is saying believers are hermetically sealed off from their faith in the public square or something along those sorts of clunky and really rather absurd lines. No, rather it wants to say that there are two books designed for two different purposes, which really doesn’t seem any more controversial than saying you don’t rule tennis with a baseball rule book or vice versa.

  24. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 12, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Okay. The brand of 2k Zrim is promoting:

    1. Affirms that Scripture says things that bind the civil magistrate.

    2. Affirms the Church can proclaim those things that bind the civil magistrate.

    Dr. Hart and Mr. Zrimec, do you affirm the two premises above?

  25. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 12, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Zrim, you would agree that it is necessary for the Christian magistrate to observe the Scriptures (a) in how he performs his duties, and (b) to define his notion of what is just and right, yes? He mayn’t disregard Scripture and call good, evil (or vice-versa).

    If it is necessary for the Christian magistrate to be so informed by Scripture, does it not follow that general revelation is insufficient for him in his calling?

    What I’m getting at is not a cheap logical point, but a question of loyalty: can the Christian magistrate reason solely from general revelation and still be loyal to the Lord? Wouldn’t he be making a god of his own conscience?

    Mr. Bayly: I appreciate your strong support of the unborn. Would you really say, though, that every pastor must speak out on this particular issue? There’s a lot of sin out there (and in here) … why single out this issue as the defining one? And could not reasonable people disagree about the best strategy for reducing abortions?

    More broadly: Could not a pastor decide that advocating for this law or that is outside of his jurisdiction, and that he therefore should be silent on the legislation question?

  26. dgh said,

    September 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Mr. S., I believe that what Scripture says is true. I believe the true church faithfully ministers the word of God. Those truths are binding on all people. The spiritual and eternal nature of those truth’s claims will not be adjudicated until the judgment day. The temporal and civil aspects of God’s law are deliberated daily by those authorities that God has ordained, and those authorities are legitimate even when they do not follow God’s law or implement it correctly.

    What I’d like to know from you is whether you think a magistrate’s authority is illegitimate if he doesn’t follow God’s law. I’d also like to know if you believe that freedom of conscience is valuable and legitimate.

    The reason is that you may think you hold to ideals that are different from mine, but if you are content to live in a society where the magistrates do not follow God’s law (as in tolerating blasphemy and idolatry), and does so because of the policy of freedom of conscience, then your position if functionally no different from mine. You only have the burden of hypocrisy — holding to an ideal that you don’t follow. I don’t say this to cast aspersions on your view. I only want to point out that many, like Mr. Van Der Molen, are so content to brand 2k as radical, when they actually practice radical 2k daily by submitting to an authority they consider to be illegitimate and iniquitous. And they think we 2kers have problems. .

  27. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 12, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    <So, it’s not that 2k is about “never allowing any sort of theological appeal in the context of cultural matters,” because that makes it sound like 2k is saying believers are hermetically sealed off from their faith in the public square or something along those sorts of clunky and really rather absurd lines.

    Zrim,

    Here is where I think that the 2K folks such as yourself need to further define matters. If the Christian’s faith is not sealed off from cultural matters than how can he apply his faith to the arts, sciences, law, politics, economics, etc within the framework of your system?

    Your statement about two books for two kingdoms is just going to raise this exactly the same question – when is it allowable for the instructions in one book to speak to the other kingdom?

    Given the Medieval church’s messy and intertwined relationship in the West and the church’s operating as a function of the state in the East, I think all of us Reformed folks agree with the renewed Reformation emphasis on a clear definition of the proper roles and responsibilities for church and state. This is what 2K is all about. But it seems to us that the Lutheran 2K position takes these principles to an extreme that is not warranted by Scripture. It would further seem that the W2K (can I use this term?) folks are sort of following in this same line of thinking although they haven’t got the bugs worked out of their system and they are not entirely sure how far they want to push the idea that the Scriptures should not speak to cultural matters. But as Lane said, this modern 2K debate is only beginning in the literature, so I don’t really expect that you will have all your ducks in line.

  28. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 12, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    >Mr. S., I believe that what Scripture says is true. I believe the true church faithfully ministers the word of God. Those truths are binding on all people. The spiritual and eternal nature of those truth’s claims will not be adjudicated until the judgment day. The temporal and civil aspects of God’s law are deliberated daily by those authorities that God has ordained, and those authorities are legitimate even when they do not follow God’s law or implement it correctly.

    Dr. Hart, I am glad that you believe these things. But I am still in a quandary how this answers many peoples concerns. So I will ask it again. Do you affirm that:

    1. The Scripture teaches some things that bind the civil magistrate.

    2. The Church may proclaim those teachings that bind the civil magistrate.

    Do you not wish affirm either of these simple and exceedingly general propositions? I made them as general as possible to find some area of agreement.

    >What I’d like to know from you is whether you think a magistrate’s authority is illegitimate if he doesn’t follow God’s law. I’d also like to know if you believe that freedom of conscience is valuable and legitimate.

    I believe that Nero had his authority from God. He was indeed legitimate. He was also a beast and a man of lawlessness. He was a minister of God and a very bad one at that.

    If freedom of conscience is the following:

    “Freedom of thought (also called the freedom of conscience or ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others’ viewpoints.”

    , then yes.

    I have answered TWO of your questions. Would you be kind enough to answer one of mine? Perhaps you already have and I am too dull to read you. If this is so, would you explain it to me.

  29. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 12:00 am

    >The reason is that you may think you hold to ideals that are different from mine, but if you are content to live in a society where the magistrates do not follow God’s law (as in tolerating blasphemy and idolatry), and does so because of the policy of freedom of conscience, then your position if functionally no different from mine.

    Living in a society and agreeing with everything that it does are two different things. I pray that magistrates would be given God’s wisdom as God gave it to Solomon. The essence of wisdom is Christ. I pray that they have the essence and not merely the appearance. I pray that God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that the ruler would rule justly in accordance with His will. Do you believe that the Scriptures have anything to say about civil justice? Do you think that the magistrate ought publicly to affirm what he is, a minister of God? Do you think the magistrate ought urge his subjects to repent as the King of Assyria did? Do you really do the same things that I do? I wonder.

  30. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Ha! I meant the King of Nineveh. And I realize that you pray some of these things. But I doubt that we function the same way entirely.

  31. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 12:09 am

    >You only have the burden of hypocrisy — holding to an ideal that you don’t follow. I don’t say this to cast aspersions on your view. I only want to point out that many, like Mr. Van Der Molen, are so content to brand 2k as radical, when they actually practice radical 2k daily by submitting to an authority they consider to be illegitimate and iniquitous. And they think we 2kers have problems.

    I believe that authorities do things that ought to disqualify them. Yet there they are. I teach others what I believe to be true in the hopes that they too believe what I believe about the Scriptures teaching concerning the magistrate. I pray that God would grant those who disagree, repentence and a greater knowledge of the truth. How is this hypocrisy?

  32. todd said,

    September 13, 2010 at 12:46 am

    “Here is where I think that the 2K folks such as yourself need to further define matters. If the Christian’s faith is not sealed off from cultural matters than how can he apply his faith to the arts, sciences, law, politics, economics, etc within the framework of your system? ”

    Andrew, this is a great question. As a more radical 2ker, I would say the Scriptures do speak to our life in the culture and political world, but not in the say way, for example, as theonomists would. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (LK 6:31), honor the Emperor (I Pet 1:17), submit to civil authorities (Rom 13), seek the peace of the city (Jer 29:7), be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the just, but the unjust also (I Pet 2:18), Abraham makes a covenant with Abimelech for the common good (Gen 21:22-34), aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs (I Thess 4:11). These are just some of the Scriptures that form my political philosophy and involvement in the world as a believer.

    What we would not suggest is that the Bible informs us on how these and other Scriptures must be applied by every Christian in a non-theocratic situation; i.e. how one should vote on particular issues, or that we(the institutional church) are to be telling the state how they are to do their business.

    And as Jeff stated above, Christians can have different opinions on how best to be a good neighbor, different passions, different opportunities in life, different abilities, etc… To demand that all must actively protest this or that social evil to be a faithful Christian or pastor is a binding of the conscience of a most serious kind. If politicians are using their authority for evil, the sins the Bible already condemns, those we all preach about anyway, condemn them, as well as abusive parents, overbearing bosses, lazy workers, etc,etc…pretty much everyone.

    The prophetic role of the church is always connected to the gospel. Our prophetic role is to preach the need for repentance and faith to every person alive. I don’t see how lecturing the military on whether gays or women can hold certain positions in the military has anything to do with that gospel message we have been given.

    Sorry for the length, but I believe the term “radical” came in when guys like Darryl, Lee and Misty Irons and myself suggested that the hot button issues that even most 2kers say transcend politics, such as abortion and gay marriage, were still on the table as political issues the church should not speak out on. I don’t mean that it is wrong to say abortion or homosexuality is sinful, but gay marriage and how states should handle abortion are still political issues that the church as an institution should stay out of. This is what seemed radical.

    If I said the church should not take an official position for or against the war in Iraq, most would agree. But the big three (abortion, women in the military, gay marriage?) seemed fair game to attack as the church. So I am not offended at the term radical because to suggest these three are also off-limits to the church (as having political solutions) is somewhat new, and yes, we are still trying to work all of this out and be consistent.

    Blessings,

    Todd

  33. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Mr. Scharping, you didn’t answer my question on freedom of conscience. You know that this is not what is meant in a discussion of state protections for idolatry and blasphemy.

    I really do get tired of this, “answer-my-question-because-look-at-me-I-answered-yours” line of discussion. What if your question is poorly worded? It is. And that is why I tried a different but fuller answer. If you want to be the literalist, then no, I don’t agree with either of your propositions. I’ve tried to explain why.

    Now, hammer away. I’m a coward, a liberal, a betrayer of Calvin’s Geneva (which executed Servetus mind you). So is everyone who pines for Geneva or Art. 36 of the Belgic who also submits to the current political establishment and allows a state not to acknowledge God and to protect idolatry and blasphemy.

    In my view, the 2k outlook makes sense of living next door to pagans. If the OT is the standard, pagans can’t live next door. 2k tries to take account of not living in Jerusalem any more. But 2kers bear the burden of being messengers of bad news. The critics of 2k never can fully embrace living in Jerusalem because they do like living in the U.S.A. or such other modern political arrangements. But they also like smacking around 2kers — it makes up for not banishing the pagans.

  34. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Andrew McCallum, the 2k I advocate does not say that the Bible should not speak to matters. 2k reads the Bible and finds that it does not speak to whether we should have a monarch or a republic, or whether abstract art is good or bad. Seeing that the Bible is silent on such matters, it grants liberty to Christians to have different views on these things (as Todd has indicated).

    2k is actually more Protestant than anti-2k because it fully recognizes the sufficiency of Scripture and that the Bible does not speak to a host of issues. If it did, then wouldn’t we need a chapter in the confession on math, literature, art, and political science?

  35. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 6:38 am

    >Mr. Scharping, you didn’t answer my question on freedom of conscience. You know that this is not what is meant in a discussion of state protections for idolatry and blasphemy.

    You are correct. I wanted a full definition from you and never bothered to ask for one so I looked on wikipedia. I know. I know. It is not entirely reliable. But since you have reminded me of its fuller definition and since I remembered the title of Samuel Rutherford’s book THE PRETENDED LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE, then I must admit after reading it that I agree with it along with George Gillespie’s WHOLESOME SEVERITY RECONCILED WITH CHRISTIAN LIBERTY.

  36. Scott said,

    September 13, 2010 at 6:53 am

    dgh said,
    “I do not think the state has an interest in enforcing the 3rd commandment.”

    I’m not sure it is quite this simple.

    For example, government has had invocations in Jesus’ name, political events, schools, etc. Verbal abuse of a police officer includes cursing God, that is at least a petty misdemeanor crime etc.

    The church has certainly influenced the state, and individual Christians in government certainly influence government more toward God’s ways.

    What concerns me with the absolutist way of your arguments, is they do not seem to acknowledge this. It almost sounds like they oppose this, and that kind of sterile analysis is not the history of our country at any time.

    Going back before America, John Calvin was quite involved in the government at Geneva.

  37. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 6:56 am

    >I really do get tired of this, “answer-my-question-because-look-at-me-I-answered-yours” line of discussion. What if your question is poorly worded? It is. And that is why I tried a different but fuller answer. If you want to be the literalist, then no, I don’t agree with either of your propositions. I’ve tried to explain why.

    I am sorry you are so exasperated. I appreciate you telling me that my question is poorly worded. I found your answer to dodge my two propositions in #22. Or at least your answer seemed vague. I was indeed intending to be literal. But that does not make me a literalist. :-) I was trying to pin down the exact area of disagreement. I did not expect you to say no to either one. I must say that I am surprised.

    It seems that since the Westminster Standards have a chapter on the magistrate and that they thought that it reflected God’s will for the Magistrate, and that the church was proclaiming truth about the magistrate, that therefore you disagree with its presence in the confession. Would you please clarify and explain the SEEMING contradiction?

  38. Zrim said,

    September 13, 2010 at 9:41 am

    If it is necessary for the Christian magistrate to be so informed by Scripture, does it not follow that general revelation is insufficient for him in his calling?

    What I’m getting at is not a cheap logical point, but a question of loyalty: can the Christian magistrate reason solely from general revelation and still be loyal to the Lord? Wouldn’t he be making a god of his own conscience?

    Jeff, to the extent that they are both God-authored, and to the extent that God cannot contradict himself, I don’t understand what appears to be an attempt to pit general revelation against special revelation, as if the believer doesn’t necessarily have a foot in both spheres.

    And I don’t understand why to employ general revelation to do its appointed task translates so easily into “making a god out of one’s own conscience.” The conscience is as God-made as a foot and using it to its fullest capability seems to be precisely what is was made for. If I use my foot to walk across a room am I really idolizing it? I doubt you’d say this. So why can’t I use my conscience, informed as it is by both GR and SR, to govern without thinking (fearing?) I’m this close to idolizing my conscience?

    But it just seems to me that believers of whatever vocation do this all the time and every day. Why would it be any different for a magistrate, unless you also think to govern is somehow a temporal vocation specially different from any other temporal vocation, bordering on an eternal vocation? If I use my conscience to decide daily familial matters why can’t I use it to govern the nation?

  39. Zrim said,

    September 13, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Here is where I think that the 2K folks such as yourself need to further define matters. If the Christian’s faith is not sealed off from cultural matters than how can he apply his faith to the arts, sciences, law, politics, economics, etc within the framework of your system?

    Andrew, what I would add to Todd’s and DGH’s helpful responses is simply that your question seems to have the curious premise that faith is supposed to have a direct bearing on and obvious implication for the cares of this world. It is very hard for me to see how this isn’t exactly the premise, or at least a variant of Protestant liberalism. I’m not trying to invoke a scare phrase for its own sake, but you don’t get to the idea that “the world sets the church’s agenda” without first thinking that faith is directly relevant to the individual’s vocation.

    That said, let me work with you. Isn’t is possible that one way to “apply faith to worldly cares” is to say that it isn’t directly relevant to these them, at least in the way we naturally think? Maybe one way faith speaks to worldly cares is to say that while they are very good, they are also passing and maybe we shouldn’t make too much out of them and place a sober perspective on just what they yield us? Maybe it says to retain their good dignity but lower the stakes of what they afford? Maybe faith wants us to understand the differences between the temporal nature of created things and how they stack up in light of eternity? In other words, maybe faith tells us to get a grip, which isn’t the same as “not giving a rip”?

  40. TurretinFan said,

    September 13, 2010 at 10:23 am

    DGH’s comment #12 is an example of one of the least valuable contributions to the discussion that I’ve seen. DGH seems to be unable to distinguish between sinful government (Nero) and illegitimate government (perhaps Cromwell would be an example here). Not all sinful governments are illegitimate, nor are all illegitimate governments as bad to live under as the legitimate ones (I’m sure nearly all Christians would prefer Cromwell to Nero).

    The fact that Constantine or the City Council of Geneva gives God more honor in their lawmaking is not something that moves them from being an illegitimate government to being a legitimate government – it’s simply a matter of them being more honoring of God.

    All nations ought to honor God in their laws, they ought to promote the true religion, and they ought to break down idols. They are not ministers of the gospel, but they are ministers of God.

    Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

    -TurretinFan

  41. Vern Crisler said,

    September 13, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Cromwell, illegitimate? In the context of his times, he was in favor of freedom of conscience. He opposed intolerant Presbyterianism and brought England to greatness.

  42. TurretinFan said,

    September 13, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I’m not going to debate Cromwell here. Suffice that us Presbyterians opposed him, by God’s grace the monarchy was restored after him.

  43. David Gray said,

    September 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    There are reasons not to be excessively keen on Charles II…

  44. TurretinFan said,

    September 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Agreed, David.

  45. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    “DGH’s comment #12 is an example of one of the least valuable contributions to the discussion that I’ve seen.”

    TurretinFan has written a good post titled Radical Two Kingdoms – Both Anti-Biblical and Worthless.

  46. David Gadbois said,

    September 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Moderate 2Ker, here.

    The biblical bar seems to be pretty low for what constitutes a “legitimate” government that we owe submission to. That is, whatever de facto government exists, whoever bears the sword, is the legitimate government. But Turretinfan is right in saying that it is a separate question to consider whether a government is sinful in its nature or practice.

    I do believe that, as a practice, it is usually best to be limited and restrained in what a minister identifies as sin from the pulpit on matters that are not specifically addressed by Scripture and legitimately debatable, since it is far too easy to descend into legalism. I really don’t want to hear sermons about how the Iraq war is unjust or how this or that music or movie is of the devil and shouldn’t be seen or heard. But it seems to me that the issues discussed by the Baylys should be no-brainers. It is wrong for the government to recognize and subsidize homosexual relationships, the state does have an obligation to protect innocent unborn life, and so forth. Ministers should say so.

    These matters can be argued on natural law grounds, so this should not be a problem even on 2K premises. I feel that some 2K supporters aren’t letting the Civil Use of the Law weigh in on their thinking. Both Law (all 3 Uses) and Gospel should be preached in the pulpit. That shouldn’t be controversial, but it seems to be for some of my 2K brethren.

    I’m hearing a lot of arguments that I used to hear from the hyper-redemptive-historical preaching advocates, only they were objecting to preaching involving the 3rd Use of the Law, while some of the 2Kers want to avoid the Civil Use. Rhetoric about this smacking of a social gospel is familiar to me, and no less silly this time around.

    The side of this issue which is of more weighty concern is not the matter of what is spoken from the pulpit, but how the keys of the kingdom are excercised on congregants when these issues are in play. It would be overreaching for a church to excommunicate a politician who is a member of the congregation for, say, voting for the Federal Stimulus Plan. But, again, that is not the sort of issue the Baylys are addressing. We absolutely should be excommunicating pro-choice politicians in our congregations.

  47. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Mr. S., which Westminster Confession. All the Presbyterian in the U.S. aside from the Covenanters use the revision of 1788 on the magistrate. I find that quite agreeable and it says the magistrates duty is to protect the freedom of conscience of all people, including unbelievers.

    And while you’re searching for books on freedom of conscience, do you think that any of those you are reading would make room for Mormons to broadcast three hours each day on nationally syndicated radio?

  48. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Mr. Van Der Molen, I don’t know what land you’re living in, but in the one in which I reside, talk-show hosts regularly break the 3rd commandment. And I’m not talking about Howard Stern — Rush Limbaugh says “h–l” and “d–m” a lot. That doesn’t seem to bother too many “conservatives,” nor does Glenn Beck’s idolatry.

  49. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Zrim: …I don’t understand what appears to be an attempt to pit general revelation against special revelation, as if the believer doesn’t necessarily have a foot in both spheres.

    Quite the opposite. The SOTC stated position is that general revelation, but not special revelation, governs in the common realm. I respectfully dissent. For Christians, at least, it is not sufficient to rely on general revelation and ignore special revelation.

    There ought to be an organic unity between special and general revelation, not a rigid wall between them.

    Zrim: So why can’t I use my conscience, informed as it is by both GR and SR, to govern without thinking (fearing?) I’m this close to idolizing my conscience?

    As long as we’re talking about “informed by SR”, I have no problem. But that defeats your whole scheme. On the SOTC account, the Scripture has no direct bearing on our activities in the common sphere. Consistent with that account, being “informed by SR” ought to be neither here nor there.

    But I’m glad you’re not consistent. :)

  50. TurretinFan said,

    September 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    #47 is another example of DGH’s unhelpful contributions to this discussion. Even the American revision of the WCF does not say what DGH claims it says. I wish he would have the good sense not to give a bad name to others who label themselves “two kingdoms” by making these sort of transparent false assertions.

    The American Revision of the WCF mentions “liberty of conscience” to be sure, but what is says is:

    2. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

    Likewise, the American Revisions mention the duty of civil magistrates not to favor one denomination over another (a very American touch, to be sure):

    3. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance./blockquote>But anything saying what DGH claims? Well, let him produce such a portion, if he thinks it exists!

    -TurretinFan

  51. TurretinFan said,

    September 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    And I see my final closing blockquote tag got broken. Hopefully someone can fix it.

  52. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I thought this post by Pastor Tim Bayly titled Responding to the rad 2K sibboleth… made good arguments.

    Excerpt:

    “But here’s my problem. The very arguments that equate the injustice of some lacking health care and others dying in wars of American imperialism demonstrate rad 2Kers don’t give a rip about the slaughter of the unborn. How can a man be concerned about something he knows nothing about? Which is to say, line up all the innocent victims who are dead because they lacked health care or were caught in the sights of the US military serving American imperialism and put them next to all the victims of the slaughter of the unborn causing blood to flow ceaselessly into our gutters and sewage treatment plants, and the proportions of one and the other will make you retch. Trust me–I’ve done the numbers. What proportion is a few thousand each year to 1,300,000 year after year after year. And this is just unborn babies; we’re not counting the newborn defective and feeble and elderly also murdered all around us each day. Read about it and listen to your doctors and nurses, brothers! It’s in your homes and the hospital rooms of your church members.

    Then we have the lousy implication or argument of moral equivalency, as if the evil of American imperialism (about which I’ve written) is an evil similar in weight to the cold-blooded slaughter of unborn babies. Get real, men! Have a heart. Think. Study. If you’re still able, feel, even.

    A certain rad 2K man disses me and my concern about the unborn by offhanded references to the Sixth Commandment being my favorite or precious or only command. Really, that says a lot, doesn’t it?

    Talk about the absence of concern and compassion and action and preaching against the sacrifice to Molech consuming the Western world today and a Reformed luminary gets into a snit about how preachers shouldn’t be fixated on the Sixth Commandment.

    Says it all.”

    Do read the entirety of the article.

  53. todd said,

    September 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    “We absolutely should be excommunicating pro-choice politicians in our congregations”

    David, would this also include church members who vote for a political candidate who is pro-choice?

  54. David Gadbois said,

    September 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Todd said David, would this also include church members who vote for a political candidate who is pro-choice?

    No, because one votes for candidates for a mix of reasons.

  55. Vern Crisler said,

    September 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    If you’re going to diss Cromwell, then good riddance to intolerant presbyterians….

  56. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Mr. Van Der Molen, I don’t know what land you’re living in, but in the one in which I reside, talk-show hosts regularly break the 3rd commandment.

    Darryl, I live in the same land you do, where the government routinely requires oaths and enforces perjury laws, both of which are derivative of the 3rd commandment per Heidelberg XXXVI. I suspect that despite your “2nd table only” rhetoric, you actually agree the government has an interest in upholding this commandment, at least in this respect.

  57. Scott said,

    September 13, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    dgh said,
    “Mr. Van Der Molen, I don’t know what land you’re living in, but in the one in which I reside, talk-show hosts regularly break the 3rd commandment. And I’m not talking about Howard Stern — Rush Limbaugh says “h–l” and “d–m” a lot. That doesn’t seem to bother too many “conservatives,” nor does Glenn Beck’s idolatry.”

    I don’t mean to distract from the back and forth here. But thought it might be helpful to know how this sounds to someone not greatly familiar with these terms.

    It’s really difficult to follow the argumentation here,

    By the way, How do you know that cursing does not bother conservatives listening? And perhaps you could be talking about the first radio commentator who takes the Lord’s name in vain on air? Why is your argument distancing from that?

    Why are you making points about 2k for radio commentators at all- aren’t we talking about magistrates here?

    And what do you even mean by “conservatives”? Are you using that term to describe religious conservatives? Are you implying you are something else?

    It is very difficult to follow your argumentation, or consistency, even to understand precisely what you are arguing for.

  58. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Afternoon Dr. Hart,

    To review here are my two propositions I asked you about:

    1. The Scripture says things that bind the civil magistrate.

    2. The Church can proclaim those things that bind the civil magistrate.

    To which you replied:
    >If you want to be the literalist, then no, I don’t agree with either of your propositions.

    And I wrote:
    >It seems that since the Westminster Standards have a chapter on the magistrate and that they thought that it reflected God’s will for the Magistrate, and that the church was proclaiming truth about the magistrate, that therefore you disagree with its presence in the confession. Would you please clarify and explain the SEEMING contradiction?

    You went on to say that you agree with the American revision. I was indeed talking about the American revision to which you have taken vows to uphold. My point is that your confession was written by men who thought that the Scripture taught propositions about the magistrate. HOW IS THIS CONSISTENT WITH YOUR REJECTION OF PROPOSITIONS 1 AND 2?

  59. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    >And while you’re searching for books on freedom of conscience, do you think that any of those you are reading would make room for Mormons to broadcast three hours each day on nationally syndicated radio?

    Would you be kind enough to recommend a book on the freedom of conscience? Preferably a classic on the subject if don’t mind. Please don’t say, “The Bible or the Confession”. :-) Also, if I may be so bold, I would recommend you read A FREE DISPUTATION AGAINST THE PRETENDED LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE by Samuel Rutherford. After all, you did say, “I’m willing to hear a case against freedom of conscience.” Thanks.

  60. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 13, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Mr. Van Der Molen, I don’t know what land you’re living in, but in the one in which I reside, talk-show hosts regularly break the 3rd commandment.

    I live in the same land you do, where the government routinely requires oaths and enforces perjury laws, both of which are directly derivative of the 3rd commandment per Heidleberg XXXVI.

    I would hope that despite the “2nd table only” rhetoric, you actually agree with the government’s interest in the 3rd commandment, at least in this respect.

  61. TurretinFan said,

    September 13, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Kurt:

    I hope you get a reply. It is indeed problematic for someone in an American Revisions church to deny those two propositions, since it would seem to place that person outside the American Revisions on at least the chapter on the Civil Magistrate.

    -TurretinFan

  62. TurretinFan said,

    September 13, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    “If you’re going to diss Cromwell, then good riddance to intolerant presbyterians….” That was essentially his thought, as I recall. :)

  63. David Gray said,

    September 13, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    >Moderate 2Ker, here.

    Thank you David Gadbois for a very reasonable post.

  64. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 13, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    I don’t know what land you’re living in, but in the one in which I reside, talk-show hosts regularly break the 3rd commandment.

    Darryl, I live in the same land you live in, where the government routinely requires oaths and enforces perjury laws, both of which are derivative of the 3rd commandment per Heidelberg XXXVI.

  65. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Turretin fan, the American revision says what you posted. Thanks. I agree entirely with this: “It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.”

    The magistrate is to protect all people, whether on the basis of their religion or their infidelity. That sure looks like the magistrate is to protect blasphemers and idolaters like Mormons and Roman Catholics. And if the magistrate is supposed to do that, then I don’t see how he or she can be said to uphold the first table of the law.

  66. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Mr. S., the book to read on freedom of conscience is Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism also defends freedom of conscience as I recall.

    As for the idea that the Bible speaks about the magistrate, well, no offense, but duh! What 2k views says that Bible doesn’t talk about the magistrate? And I’ll go you one better, I think most magistrates fail to do what Paul says they should do in Romans 13. I think that what Paul says in Romans 13 is compatible with protecting the freedoms of Roman Catholics and Mormons. And I also believe that I am required to submit to magistrates who either protect or do not protect freedom of conscience.

  67. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Truth,

    Here’s what Jason Stellman wrote in response to TurretinFan:

    “My point is that there is such a thing as going beyond Scripture in our desire to have a prophetic voice to the culture, thereby violating people’s consciences by placing on them burdens that go beyond God’s Word.

    For example, if your minister said from the pulpit that you need to repent for wearing clothing made by sweatshop labor, or that you need to drive a car that gets at least 30 mpg, or that refusing to eat locally-grown food is wrong, most believers would consider that ecclesiastical tyranny (which, as you know, the Reformers and Westminster Divines were very concerned about).

    “Now maybe you would have no problem being told such things. If that’s the case, then I don’t blame you for calling my position “worthless.” But if you agree with me that such teaching is an extra-biblical binding of the conscience, then what’s the problem?”

    Please notice he did not call anyone a name or insinuate they were a Communist.

  68. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    BTW, since Tim Bayly won’t respond here and because he closed the comments on his drive by blogging, it is worth noticing what he says supposedly in response to Stellman:

    “The very arguments that equate the injustice of some lacking health care and others dying in wars of American imperialism demonstrate rad 2Kers don’t give a rip about the slaughter of the unborn. How can a man be concerned about something he knows nothing about?”

    One, Jason did not equate those injustices. He argued that the discomfort over preaching about the politics of imperialism might also give people discomfort about the politics (as opposed to the sin) of abortion.

    Two, how does Tim Bayly know that Stellman doesn’t give a rip about the unborn?

    Three, how can Tim Bayly complain about Stellman writing out of ignorance when Tim Bayly doesn’t know what Stellman thinks about the unborn? Does the self-assured rightness of one’s position lead to hidden knowledge?

  69. TurretinFan said,

    September 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    “The magistrate is to protect all people, whether on the basis of their religion or their infidelity. That sure looks like the magistrate is to protect blasphemers and idolaters like Mormons and Roman Catholics. And if the magistrate is supposed to do that, then I don’t see how he or she can be said to uphold the first table of the law.”

    Did you catch the portion of the same paragraph, which states: “it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest”?

    Now, we can come back to the question of whether Mormons and RCs are part of the church of our common Lord, in a minute, and I’ll be happy to address that question.

    - TurretinFan

  70. dgh said,

    September 13, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    TF, and did you figure out that if the magistrate protects all people, including Protestants and Mormons, he is protecting the church of our common Lord. The confession does not privilege the church in the magistrates duties. It includes the church and religions in the magistrates duties. And I agree.

    Helpful?

  71. David Gray said,

    September 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    >TF, and did you figure out that if the magistrate protects all people

    Of course our magistrate does not protect all people, unborn people are bereft of protection.

  72. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    >As for the idea that the Bible speaks about the magistrate, well, no offense, but duh! What 2k views says that Bible doesn’t talk about the magistrate? And I’ll go you one better, I think most magistrates fail to do what Paul says they should do in Romans 13. I think that what Paul says in Romans 13 is compatible with protecting the freedoms of Roman Catholics and Mormons. And I also believe that I am required to submit to magistrates who either protect or do not protect freedom of conscience.

    Hmmm. So you believe that though the Bible teaches things about the magistrate you do not believe that it is binding on him. Is that the case? Remember that you agreed with my two propositions. Please unravel the confusion.

  73. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 13, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Sorry,

    Remember that you DISagreed with my two propositions.

  74. Zrim said,

    September 13, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    David, you said, “We absolutely should be excommunicating pro-choice politicians in our congregations” but not citizens for voting for candidates who hold a variety of political outlooks which may include choice politics.

    But why do private citizens get that benefit and public politicians don’t? At the end of the day both are more or less making the world safe for abortion. And if making the world safe for abortion is the problem then I don’t see why the citizen is let off the hook. Maybe you’ll say it is an issue of power and that the politician has more power to make the world safe for abortion. But it seems to me that those who have real power are those who either perform by their own hands or have in their own bodies (elective) abortions, and that it is these folks who should be subject to discipline.

    I’m not at all opposed to discipling members on this issue. I just want the right people in the hot seat, and it seems to me that by your reasoning we actually lower the bar, and what we are really doing is persecuting an ideology instead of disciplining a Christian. I really don’t want to get into the subject of abortion anymore than anybody else. But it does seem to me that, given our day and age, we have to in order to make an important point about these matters and what it means to moralize politics and politicize faith. And let me be clear: I morally and politically oppose abortion. But I don’t see any benefit to saying that anybody, citizen or magistrate, should be subject to discipline because s/he has certain politics. They should be subject to discipline for what they do in their own bodies (and minds).

  75. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 13, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Todd in #32 said this: As a more radical 2ker, I would say the Scriptures do speak to our life in the culture and political world, but not in the say way, for example, as theonomists would.

    Todd,

    I hope that if we don’t accept the premises of the “radical 2ker” that we will not be labeled as a theonomist. I would like to make the case that there is a happy medium between the two.

    The prophetic role of the church is always connected to the gospel. Our prophetic role is to preach the need for repentance and faith to every person alive. I don’t see how lecturing the military on whether gays or women can hold certain positions in the military has anything to do with that gospel message we have been given.

    But I don’t want to focus on the work of the church. I agree that the role of the church is to do exactly what is laid out in the Bible – preaching, teaching sacraments, etc. But what of the individual Christian who is seeking to make decisions on how to apply his Christian faith in the context of his personal relationship with Christ, his family, his business, his vocation, and just in general the culture around him? It seems that the R2K position would be OK with the application of Christianity to self and family. I think they would be OK with this Christian applying these biblical principles to business, but probably not to vocation if that vocation has something to do with the culture in general. This all seems to me to be rather inconsistent and it is my impression that, as mentioned to Zrim earlier, the R2K position still has not been worked out in a definitive way in these regards.

    So just to reiterate an important point, I’m NOT speaking of the proper functioning of a Christian congregation, but rather the posture of the individual Christian who is looking to understand and interact with the arts, sciences, law, politics, etc. So in your example in gays in the military, surely the Christian in the public arena will be able to draw upon what he knows to be true from Scripture to make decisions concerning the vocation that God has called him to.

  76. Paul Manata said,

    September 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    And let me be clear: I morally and politically oppose abortion. But I don’t see any benefit to saying that anybody, citizen or magistrate, should be subject to discipline because s/he has certain politics. They should be subject to discipline for what they do in their own bodies (and minds).

    But the Confession says,

    ” It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.”

    And since you believe the fetus is a person, how can you (a) be states rights on this issue since that’s anti-Confessional, (b) claim that a Christian magistrate may not be disciplined for not following the Confession here?

    And with respect to Christians who are not office holders, the Catechism says,

    “Q. 136. What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
    A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and WHATSOEVER else tends to the destruction of the life of any.”

    And since you believe the fetus is alive and is an “any,” and since a vote for abortion is a whatsoever that would “tend to the destruction of life” of the fetus, how can you say that Christian Jane may vote for some people to murder other people (since you said you are pro life, you must believe that this is what the vote is for).

    I am really confused here and am looking for help reconciling what looks to me as an unconfessional position for a self-avowed Confessionalist.

  77. Paul Manata said,

    September 13, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Zrim said,

    “Andrew,

    What’s wrong with using the sixth to tell a believer under a Reformed jurisdiction she mayn’t have an elective abortion (or that s/he mayn’t perform one)? Isn’t there a difference between saying what Christian Jane may or may not do with her pregnancy and how she may vote?

    I think the confusing you’re having results from the fact that the sixth also tells the Reformed believer that she “mayn’t” vote however she likes for what other people may or mayn’t do with their babies. You can’t laud the sixth on the one hand and then pull a Thomas Jefferson (snip snip) on the other.

  78. todd said,

    September 13, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Andrew wrote: “I hope that if we don’t accept the premises of the “radical 2ker” that we will not be labeled as a theonomist. I would like to make the case that there is a happy medium between the two.”

    No, it is not that clear, you are right. I would recommend this paper: http://www.upper-register.com/papers/reformed_theocrats.pdf

    Agree or disagree, it states our position more carefully than we have time for on a blog like this.

    “But what of the individual Christian who is seeking to make decisions on how to apply his Christian faith in the context of his personal relationship with Christ, his family, his business, his vocation, and just in general the culture around him? It seems that the R2K position would be OK with the application of Christianity to self and family. I think they would be OK with this Christian applying these biblical principles to business, but probably not to vocation if that vocation has something to do with the culture in general.”

    Andrew, the Scriptures guide our life in all our endeavors, but while the Bible doesn’t give doctors the cure for cancer, it does give general principles of conduct and purpose (for his glory), the same would apply to statecraft; the Bible gives us general principles of how to live in an unbelieving world, yet it gives liberty to Christians on specific issues like medicine and statecraft.

    “So in your example in gays in the military, surely the Christian in the public arena will be able to draw upon what he knows to be true from Scripture to make decisions concerning the vocation that God has called him to.”

    I don’t see in the Bible where God forbids gays from serving in the military, so I can’t answer the question; I’m not a military expert nor do I play one in the pulpit, yet I have Christians friends, some chaplains, in the military with varying opinions on this, and I tend to defer to them.

    The Bible tells me I must marry a believer, but beyond that there is much freedom to decide if the person is right for me. That same principle applies to many areas in the culture.

  79. David Gadbois said,

    September 13, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Zrim said But why do private citizens get that benefit and public politicians don’t? At the end of the day both are more or less making the world safe for abortion.

    Because voting for a particular candidate does not imply agreement with that candidate on all issues. When more than one issue is at stake there is always some ethical calculus one must take when casting a vote. One might vote for a pro-choice candidate, for instance, if one agreed the candidate on fiscal policies and both candidates running happened to be pro-choice. With no viable pro-life candidate one might as well vote for the guy who might give you a tax break. One could think of other examples, but obviously it is a more complex matter to vote for a person (which is what us voters do) rather than vote on an issue (which is what the politicians do).

    It would be different if the individual voter voted for legalized abortion in some sort of ballot proposition or referendum, if it ever came to that. I think that would be a disciplinable offense.

    But it does seem to me that, given our day and age, we have to in order to make an important point about these matters and what it means to moralize politics and politicize faith…. But I don’t see any benefit to saying that anybody, citizen or magistrate, should be subject to discipline because s/he has certain politics. They should be subject to discipline for what they do in their own bodies (and minds).

    I see plenty of benefit, namely the same benefit as any other form of church discipline, to expose covenant members who spurn the Law of God for the purity of the church, the glory of Christ, and in hopes that it will result in repentance rather than a solidified apostacy.

    Perhaps your comments here are intended to be programmatic or whimsical, because you present no real logical argument here. You warn against “moralizing politics” and “politicizing faith”, but if the Law, in all 3 Uses, is indeed one of the objects that faith apprehends, and we admit to the Civil Use of the Law as an artifact of general revelation and natural law, then faith is rather relevant (in some issues) to what we do in the voting booth. This is not complicated or hard to see, and I have yet to hear this being directly addressed.

  80. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 13, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I can easily see a scenario in which a politician might vote “pro-choice” (as scored by the NRLC) as a matter of political compromise.

    Take Bart Stupak. He got suckered into voted for the health-care bill, which contained a disputed clause possibly allowing Medicare to fund certain abortions. His vote was based on (a) assurances from his caucus that the disputed clause would not be written into regs in a pro-choice manner, and (b) that the bill did more good than harm.

    I think he was incorrect on both counts. The NRLC will undoubtedly tag him as casting a “pro-choice vote.”

    Is that disciplinable? No way.

    There’s a larger historical issue here. Ever since Augustine, the medieval church was nominally “2k.” Trouble was, they could not find a way to have the church and the magistrate co-exist without one running the others’ show. The Interdict, Henry IV in the snow, the Babylonian (Avignon) captivity, were all direct results of the church and state treading on each others’ toes.

    Once we start down the road of disciplining the magistrate for his magisterial decisions, it becomes hard to pull back and let the magistrate do his job.

    And frankly, church pastors should not be doing the job of the magistrate. They won’t do it well.

    Nor should we give the magistrate the idea that the Church is one of the constituents whom he must please. That has had some ugly effects recently in the Republican party.

    The problem that faces us is sorting out how much complicity for sin should be assigned to a person that allows freedom. If I allow a woman the freedom to hire a doctor to kill her baby, am I entangled in her guilt?

    If I pay taxes to a government that allows a woman the freedom to hire a doctor, etc. … am I entangled in her guilt?

    If I vote for a representative who votes to allow, etc. … am I entangled in her guilt?

    The natural law doesn’t actually answer those questions (even if one could order a copy of the natural law on Amazon, which one cannot).

    Here’s where I think Scripture could be useful, in analyzing the ways in which God considers a nation guilty for permitting sins. Good and necessary consequence might bring some closure to these questions.

    Tim B’s article does a great disservice to Dr. Hart by equating “Not Preaching Against Abortion on Your Blog” with “Not Giving a Rip.”

    Sometimes, people work different angles. I’m pretty sure that Dr. Hart’s solution to the problem of abortion is for the church to preach the Gospel as loudly and often as possible, so that people come into the kingdom and follow the King’s law out of love instead of out of coercion from the magistrate.

    That’s hardly “not giving a rip.”

  81. dgh said,

    September 14, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Mr. S. it would be good if your questions were straightforward rather than cute. Why don’t you tell me where you disagree with 2k?

    But to keep on your question-asking leash, the proposition that “the Bible teaches about the magistrate” is different from “the Bible teaches things that bind the civil magistrate.” As I have said, the Bible is binding on all people ultimately. The Bible is not so proximately. We do not live with non-Christians on the basis of whether or not they obey the Bible. If we did, we would live in Bible-land.

    And if you think the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, you are a theonomist. I mean, how do you avoid theonomy if you use the Bible with the Old Testament as your binding standard?

  82. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 14, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Darryl Hart: “And if you think the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, you are a theonomist.”

    TurretinFan has a post Does the Bible Bind the Civil Magistrate? that addresses this question:

    “Kurt A. Scharping posed a couple of propositions to one member of the radical two kingdoms group (I’m hesitant to name him, lest I embarass him). The propositions were these:

    1. The Scripture says things that bind the civil magistrate.

    2. The Church can proclaim those things that bind the civil magistrate.

    He then asked one of the proponents of a strain of R2K to indicate whether he affirms or denies these propositions. The proponent appears to have answered in the negative, which (if it were really the case) would leave that proponent outside the confessional boundaries.

    Even the American Revisions to the Westminster Confession of Faith teach that the Scripture says things that bind the civil magistrate, and the inclusion of these in the public document of the standards shows that the standards believe it is proper for churches to proclaim those things that bind the civil magistrate.

    My point in raising this issue is not to tar everyone who calls themselves “two kingdoms” with a broad brush. My point is that even those who call themselves “two kingdoms” eventually have to moderate their tendency to separate church and state. The Bible may not say what form of government is the best, but it does provide teachings that bind the civil magistrate.

    We would hope that even the most radical R2K proponent would think that the wall of separation between church and state is something that Scripture itself mandates. As such, it does not seem that any proponent of R2k, even the most radical, could deny the two propositions that Kurt has identified.”

  83. David Gray said,

    September 14, 2010 at 5:39 am

    The irony is that our current wall of separation between church and state isn’t even mandated by the constitution.

  84. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 14, 2010 at 6:31 am

    >But to keep on your question-asking leash, the proposition that “the Bible teaches about the magistrate” is different from “the Bible teaches things that bind the civil magistrate.” As I have said, the Bible is binding on all people ultimately. The Bible is not so proximately. We do not live with non-Christians on the basis of whether or not they obey the Bible. If we did, we would live in Bible-land.

    Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

    Dr. Hart, is your position that this is only teaching about the magistrate and not ethical direction for the magistrate? The mind boggles. Please explain. “May not” sounds like ethically binding directive does it not? Or is this only binding for Christians in places of authority?

  85. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 14, 2010 at 6:38 am

    >Mr. S. it would be good if your questions were straightforward rather than cute. Why don’t you tell me where you disagree with 2k?

    I thought my questions were straight forward. Sorry if you think that they are cute.

    Before I rush to disagreeing I would like to know what the opposing position is. And I would like to know whether it coheres. That is why I am asking these questions.

  86. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 14, 2010 at 7:10 am

    In #73 Todd says this: <The Bible tells me I must marry a believer, but beyond that there is much freedom to decide if the person is right for me. That same principle applies to many areas in the culture.

    And I would agree with this Todd. It seems like you are generally saying that as a pastor you don’t feel the responsibility to preach on what posture the members in your church should take towards cultural issues. And I certainly wouldn’t try to persuade you that this was your job. But likewise, if a member of yours decided, for instance, that their calling was to be an artist of some type and that their understanding of aesthetics ought to be guided by their faith in some sense, I would hope that you would not try to tell this person that they were wrong to be making such a connection.

    I often use the example of aesthetics to illustrate the point because it demonstrates cultural phenomena where Christianity leaves such a distinct stamp. Just take a chronological walk through any good art museum and look at the difference between paintings or sculptures that were executed in eras that were dominated by Christian thought and those that were dominated by humanistic thought. Compare for example the work of European art from the 16th century with that from the 20th century. You would be right to say that there is a fair amount of Christian liberty, but I think it would be incorrect to say, as some of the 2K do, that Christianity ought to have no implications for art since art is a cultural matter and the Christian and non-Christian both have access to the same natural/creational law. I’m obviously presenting you with rather Schaefferian sort of argument. But note that Schaeffer was never suggesting that cultural principles ought to be legislated by the church, only that the Christian faith has implications for cultural matters.

  87. todd said,

    September 14, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Andrew,

    To say that Christianity has “no” implications on our cultural endeavors, well, I don’t think any 2ker would say that. Though at the same time conversion doesn’t automatically make one a better doctor or tailor than before, though the reasons he does these things have certaintly changed, and depending on his previous life he may do these more ethically. As for your artist example, I am not an artist nor…, and it is a subjective argument, but I think religion made Dylan and Cash’s music worse, not better, fwiw.

  88. Mason said,

    September 14, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Jeff Cagle @ 75 –

    Great comments. I agree completely.

  89. Zrim said,

    September 14, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Perhaps your comments here are intended to be programmatic or whimsical, because you present no real logical argument here. You warn against “moralizing politics” and “politicizing faith”, but if the Law, in all 3 Uses, is indeed one of the objects that faith apprehends, and we admit to the Civil Use of the Law as an artifact of general revelation and natural law, then faith is rather relevant (in some issues) to what we do in the voting booth. This is not complicated or hard to see, and I have yet to hear this being directly addressed.

    David, my point is that it seems to me that your reasoning is essentially saying that to have certain politics (private citizen or public magistrate) is the same as being personally culpable for certain sins, which simply seems like a less-than-careful construal. So, to have choice politics is the same as being personally guilty of either performing with one’s own hands or having in one’s own body an (elective) abortion. If that’s true then what about having a political outlook that wants to make sure men and women are civilly free to publically worship false gods and practice idolatry, as in making sure Mormons and Catholics and Muslims remain unhampered in the public square, like me? Does this mean I am personally culpable for idolatry?

    I hope that was sufficiently logical for you, for I have no idea what has been “whimsical or programmatic” about my remarks.

  90. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 14, 2010 at 9:02 am

    …but I think religion made Dylan and Cash’s music worse, not better, fwiw.

    Exactly! Bad theology and bad philosophy make for bad art. Or as Richard Weaver put it, “ideas have consequences.”

  91. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 14, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Triabloguer Steve Hays has an interesting conjecture in his post today, Kline, 2K, and Judaism. Excerpt:

    “A debate has broken out in the Reformed blogosphere over the 2-kingdoms view. Meredith Kline is the modern father of this movement.

    I’m going to pose a question that I’ve never seen discussed in relation to his intellectual development. I wonder if Kline’s Jewish background wasn’t a factor in his radical church/state separatist ideology. He once told to me that as a boy, he attended synagogue with his dad. He seemed to indicate that his dad was a nominal Jews. Just going through the motions. But it’s possible that I misunderstood him. I’ve also read that his granddad was a pious Jew.

    This raises the question of whether his Jewish upbringing may not have been an influential consideration in the formation of his views on Christian statecraft.

    To my knowledge, Jews have a historical antipathy to state churches because they were often persecuted by the Christian establishment. And I don’t think it’s coincidental that church/state separatist outfits like the ACLU and People for the American Way have such a heavy Jewish representation.

    I think many Jews harbor conscious or subconscious fears of “Christian theocracies.” This is deeply ingrained.”

  92. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 10:23 am

    DGH wrote:

    TF, and did you figure out that if the magistrate protects all people, including Protestants and Mormons, he is protecting the church of our common Lord. The confession does not privilege the church in the magistrates duties. It includes the church and religions in the magistrates duties. And I agree. Helpful?

    The Confession (even in the American Revisions) pretty clearly singles out the Christian religion. Perhaps it will help you to see that if I add some emphasis to the text of 3:23 (I’ve also added sentence numbers, for ease of reference):

    (1) Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. (2) Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. (3) And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. (4) It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

    Now, there is also discussion in sentence (4) about their duties toward “all their people,” and “any other person.” But yet the text of the chapter does privilege the church in the magistrates’ duties. I’m focusing your attention particularly on the sentence (2) and sentence (3) duties.

    -TurretinFan

  93. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

    DGH wrote:

    And if you think the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, you are a theonomist. I mean, how do you avoid theonomy if you use the Bible with the Old Testament as your binding standard?

    That’s a very interesting definition.

    Does the Bible bind the civil magistrate in this way:”Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith”?

    If it does, then we are glad to welcome DGH into the theonomic fold. If not, on what basis do the churches with the American Revision have this line in their doctrinal standards?

    - Turretinfan

  94. David Gadbois said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Zrim said my point is that it seems to me that your reasoning is essentially saying that to have certain politics (private citizen or public magistrate) is the same as being personally culpable for certain sins,

    The culpability of a sin of omission (failing to protect innocent life against murder) is certainly not the same as a sin of comission (actually murdering an innocent unborn). But that doesn’t mean that the former gets a pass. The Heidelberg Catechism says the government is armed with the sword to prevent murder, so voting for or advocating that the government neglect this duty indeed sinful.

    This sin is exacerbated by the fact that the philosophical foundations that underpin this view are sinful. Namely, that either the unborn is not a human being or that, if it is, the mother has the right to take its life. That sort of false doctrine is definitely disciplinable even if not personally or physically acted upon.

    If that’s true then what about having a political outlook that wants to make sure men and women are civilly free to publically worship false gods and practice idolatry

    Ah, but that is switching to the 1st/2nd commandment now, not the 6th. The (revised) Belgic Confession doesn’t say that the government has a duty to prevent violations of the 1st/2nd commandment. Nor does HC. But it does say that it has obligations to prevent violations to the 6th.

  95. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:09 am

    DaveJes1979:

    Technically, the Belgic Confession (as written) stated:

    And the government’s task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.

    Presumably you’re working from the one of the altered editions. But, of course, even the altered editions do not take things to the Jeffersonian extreme that seems to be favored by some of the most radical R2Kers.

    -TurretinFan

  96. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Excuse me, I seem to have gotten my Daves mixed up. That last one is to Mr. Gadbois.

  97. Bill Stephens said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:13 am

    So give a real life example of what a Christian magistrate in some level of US Government would do as a nursing father to “protect the church of our common Lord” that he would not do for the Jewish synagogue while still protecting the good name and allowing meetings “without molestation or disturbance” of the synagogue?

  98. David Gadbois said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Turretinfan,

    I switched my names around, actually (since I have superpowers as a moderator) :) Davejes1979=me

    You quoted the original Belgic Confession. I believe all 3 Forms of Unity churches, both in the Netherlands and in North America, hold to the revised Belgic Confession where Article 36 is changed. That includes my federation, the URC (Zrim is CRC I believe).

  99. Dan MacDonald said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:18 am

    David Gadbois, thanks for your clear and helpful comments. If you have any suggestions about a book to read that would set out a ‘moderate’ 2K position, I would like to read it. Having read Stellman, Hart and Muether, I think I would appreciate a little variety in my 2K diet.

  100. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I’m not sure the current U.S. government is compatible with even the American Revisions. However, one example might be providing funds to support ministers and repair churches, providing defense of missionaries abroad, and the like. Perhaps even other things, like special tax exemptions, would be appropriate.

    -TurretinFan

  101. David Gadbois said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Dan, as Lane indicated there aren’t many books on the subject at all. David VanDrunen himself strikes me as more moderate than Stellman and Hart, but he doesn’t really spend a lot of time talking about the practical implications of 2K theology rather than establishing it historically, theologically and exegetically in the two books he has written. I think the distinctions between mild, moderate, and extreme 2K views really only come out when we start talking about the practical societal and political implications.

  102. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I have a theory that the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic and the radical form of Two Kingdoms theology are joined at the hip. I may be mistaken, of course, and I don’t see any analytical link between the two, yet.

  103. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Mr. Gadbois,

    The revised version that your church holds to does include a paragraph (or sentence) about the civil magistrate promoting the gospel, right?

    -TurretinFan

  104. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Mr. Van Der Molen, I don’t know what land you’re living in, but in the one in which I reside, talk-show hosts regularly break the 3rd commandment.

    Darryl, I live in the same land you do, where the government routinely requires oaths and enforces perjury law, both of which are directly derivative of the 3rd commandment per H.C. Lord’s Day XXXVI.

    So despite the “2nd table only” rhetoric, such an absolutist position doesn’t hold up under even cursory scrutiny. The issue among the Reformed is “how” the magistrate is involved with the first table, not whether the magistrate “should” be involved with the first table.

  105. David Gadbois said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Turretinfan,

    Here is the revised Belgic 36 with an explanation of the changes in the footnotes:

    https://urcna.org/sysfiles/member/custom_public/custom.cfm?memberid=303&customid=2642#_Toc191785941

  106. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks (by the way, your security certificate for that site should probably omit the “www.” in “www.urcna.org”).

    The paragraph I had in mind was this one:

    Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect the sacred ministry,* that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, as He commands in His Word.

    I assume you would hold that this is a Biblical teaching about the civil magistrate, and specifically the Bible binds the civil magistrate to:

    1) protect the sacred ministry; and
    2) countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere.

    By DGH’s definition, then, you’re a theonomist! (and so is he, I suspect)

    - TurretinFan

  107. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    TurretinFan,

    Are you a proponent of logic in rhetorical argument?

    Earlier, you wrote this:

    (A) “The proponent appears to have answered in the negative [to Scharping's two propositions], which (if it were really the case) would leave that proponent outside the confessional boundaries.”

    Then you wrote this:

    (B) “By DGH’s definition, then, you’re a theonomist! (and so is he, I suspect).”

    And so TurretinFan, assuming your logic is airtight and your argument impeccable, that would then leave Darryl Hart with the enviable choice of deciding between being

    (A) Outside the Confessional Boundaries that he purportedly confesses to.

    Or

    (B) Being a theonomist.

    D’Oh!

  108. David Gadbois said,

    September 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I have to correct my comment above. Vandrunen has written 3 books on 2K, not 2 as I asserted, including one that is soon to be published that apparently deals with the practical implications of 2K theology, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms. I have obviously not read this book yet so I have no idea what position he takes, although I suspect I’d agree with him more than Hart or Stellman. It will certainly be a book to have once it becomes available.

  109. Dan MacDonald said,

    September 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks David. Nicely put, Truth Unites.

  110. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    TU&D:

    DGH has attempted to get out of that bind by saying that there is a difference between the Bible teaching about the civil magistrate (a genus) and the Bible binding the civil magistrate (a species of that genus). The problem is that the Bible (according to both the original and revised standards) teaches that the civil magistrate has duties. That’s not just a teaching about the civil magistrate, but a statement that purports to proclaim that that civil magistrate is bound in a particular way.

    And, of course, the 5th commandment (which is part of the second table, for what that’s worth) governs (among lots of other things) the civil magistrate, as explained in the Westminster catechisms.

    -TurretinFan

  111. David Gray said,

    September 14, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    This comes from a larger essay by an Eastern Orthodox priest in Touchstone but it still seems a wise statement:

    “We should not expect all Christians to agree among themselves on the specifics of such matters [health care, economics, etc.]. For this reason, itemized Christian solutions to complex social problems are preferably advanced with modesty and circumspection.

    “There are exceptions to this preference, nonetheless: Neither modesty nor circumspection is appropriate when a controversy involves the structure of Creation (such as the definition of marriage) or actions intrinsically sinful (such as the murder of the innocent). Cases like these call for bold address in clear prophetic tones.”

    One wonders what a radical 2k response would have looked like in 1942 National Socialist Germany. Holocaust? Leave it to the magistrate.

  112. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    TurretinFan,

    Thanks to your rippling blog biceps, you put the extra squeeze on Darryl Hart’s thrashing attempts to escape the headlock bind you put him in. All that remains is for him to tap out and to give up whether he is outside of the confessional boundaries that he confesses to or whether he is a theonomist. His choice.

    A choice that is the courtesy of the Scharping and TurretinFan tag-team.

  113. David Gray said,

    September 14, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Way too many pro wrestling references…

  114. David Gadbois said,

    September 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Mark VM said Darryl, I live in the same land you do, where the government routinely requires oaths and enforces perjury law, both of which are directly derivative of the 3rd commandment per H.C. Lord’s Day XXXVI.

    So despite the “2nd table only” rhetoric, such an absolutist position doesn’t hold up under even cursory scrutiny.

    The Heidelberg Catechism says that Christians may swear religiously by the name of God if the magistrate requires it, but it does not require that the magistrate require such a thing.

  115. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I’d much rather simply persuade DGH to see it the classical Reformed way, rather than choke him out or anything like that. He’s an elder (if I recall correctly) with whom I disagree, but someone who I’d rather win over to the more traditional view of the Scripture’s authority to speak to the civil magistrate. Perhaps he will be won over, perhaps not, but I’m a little uncomfortable with your kindly/innocently intentioned and complimentary pro-wrestling references.

    I think I should just take your comments as a compliment, but I wanted to take the opportunity to point out that I’m hoping to win a brother over to what I see as the Biblical position, not trying to body slam some muscular combatant.

    -TurretinFan

  116. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    “The Heidelberg Catechism says that Christians may swear religiously by the name of God if the magistrate requires it, but it does not require that the magistrate require such a thing.”

    It does, however, seem to presuppose that the magistrate is permitted to require such a thing, don’t you think? I mean, isn’t it obvious from our knowledge of the time of writing the document that virtually everyone thought the magistrate could require it?

    -TurretinFan

  117. Zrim said,

    September 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    One wonders what a radical 2k response would have looked like in 1942 National Socialist Germany. Holocaust? Leave it to the magistrate.

    David Gray, one also wonders what a 1k response would have looked like then and there. Based on the rather unchecked accolades usually showered on Bonheoffer, apparently a conspiracy to kill the magistrate, which is funny way to interpret Romans 13:1-7. It has been said that the Christian life can be summed up in one word: obedience, and that would seem to include civil and political obedience, for as the text says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

    To disobey the magistrate is to disobey God, and to obey him is also to obey God. That might create a lot of tension when the reader is nourished on modern notions of individual rights and the idea that civil disobedience is more virtue than vice. And to rub it in, more tension when the magistrate thinks himself a deity and tramples all over what moderns so prize and esteem. But that didn’t stop Paul from writing what he did.

    So tell me, what does Romans 13:1-7 look like in 1942 National Socialist Germany?

  118. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    TurretinFan (102): I have a theory that the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic and the radical form of Two Kingdoms theology are joined at the hip. I may be mistaken, of course, and I don’t see any analytical link between the two, yet.

    There’s a constellation of issues that come together:

    * Redemptive historical hermeneutic, which sees all of history marked by the epochal events of creation, fall, redemption, and second coming.
    * The Now / Not-Yet overlap of the ages.
    * Amillennial eschatology (in opposition to post-mil). Kline, IIRC, stated that the Confession was an amil document.
    * The Law-Gospel division, which accents the centrality of justification in our salvation and rejects anything with the faintest whiff of moralism.
    * The rejection of all things theonomic or tending towards theonomy.
    * A strong 2k distinction, rejecting the combination of church and state as was the case under Israel.

    I think the straightest line connection would be:

    Redemptive History hermeneutic –> distinction between Israel as nation-state v. visible Church as kingdom of God –> rejection of theonomy –> embrace of strong 2k dichotomy.

    But perhaps a more consistent 2k-er might correct me on that.

  119. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 14, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Zrim: I think the Hebrew midwives living in NAZI Germany probably would not have said, “Why yes, we’re hiding Jews right here. Please, do what you will with them.”

    In fact, liberty of conscience actually covers obedience to commands to disobey the Scripture:

    God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience

    Keeping in mind the context in which this was written, this clause in the Confession assuredly refers to commands from both church and king.

    Maybe not Bonhoffer’s plot to kill Hitler — clearly, that’s edgy stuff — but disobedience to commands that entail sin is pretty well in the cards. That has nothing to do with being American and everything to do with being Calvinistic (Inst. 4.20.32).

  120. Paul Manata said,

    September 14, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Jeff,

    “In fact, liberty of conscience actually covers obedience to commands to disobey the Scripture:

    God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience

    Good point.

  121. TurretinFan said,

    September 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    “Maybe not Bonhoffer’s plot to kill Hitler — clearly, that’s edgy stuff — but disobedience to commands that entail sin is pretty well in the cards.”

    At a minimum, David’s example of the non-assassination of Saul should give us pause before thinking that we have a commission to do what he did not. Of course, that presumes we can treat the OT as including moral examples and not just typologies of the coming Messiah.

    - TurretinFan

  122. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    TurretinFan: “I think I should just take your comments as a compliment, but I wanted to take the opportunity to point out that I’m hoping to win a brother over to what I see as the Biblical position, not trying to body slam some muscular combatant.”

    Yes, they were a compliment to your skills in applying logic. I do appreciate what you’re saying in the latter half of your statement, and it’s a credit to you, but the simple reality is that this thread is engaging in vigorous polemics. And the theoretical and actual stakes are high in this debate: What is the Reformed and/or Evangelical Church’s biblical response to state-sanctioned abortion?

    Your inexorable and relentless logic, set-up, and aided and abetted by Mr. Scharping’s two propositions, is necessary for the theological polemics pertaining to the outworking of radical 2k theology. If biblical and rhetorical logic is employed to corner the other side, does the other side say it was done “gently” when they’re left with no wiggle room? After all, Darryl Hart does not have any wiggle room after your precise rebuttal to his distinction between genus and the species of that genus.

    Here’s another occasional consequence of polemic debate: a character test. Will Darryl Hart throw down his pride in radical 2K theology and humbly acknowledge the superiority of your argument? Or will he thrash about with various rabbit trails and non-sequiturs? Will he concede the points you’re making or will he treat it with sullen silence?

    What do people do when faced with superior counter-arguments, better evidence, and/or an inescapable awareness of their own self-contradiction?

    TurretinFan, that is what your logic has done with Darryl Hart’s radical 2K arguments.

  123. David Gray said,

    September 14, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    >So tell me, what does Romans 13:1-7 look like in 1942 National Socialist Germany?

    I asked first. You answer me and I’ll answer you.

  124. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Forgive the repetive posts above. Repeated an effort to post that thought when I didn’t see it appear, but now all of the attempts were freed from the blog filter.

  125. Zrim said,

    September 14, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    David,

    Re #123, when 2k makes the point about civil obedience it isn’t the same as making things safe for holocaust, like your initial remark (and Jeff’s) seems to imply. To obey Hitler in 1942 Germany looks a lot like what it means to obey Dubya in 2003 America. So if you think obeying Hitler in 1942 Germany means being in/directly complicit in gassing Jews you sound a lot like the 1k middle-easterner who says to obey Dubya in 2003 America means being in/directly complicit in bombing Iraqi civilians. My sense is that you think the 1k middle-easterner is quite off the reservation. If so, you have a bit of a feel for what it sounds like to a 2ker when it is clearly implied that the call to obey Hitler means to be guilty of holocaust.

  126. David Gray said,

    September 14, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    >To obey Hitler in 1942 Germany looks a lot like what it means to obey Dubya in 2003 America.

    That is a truly wicked statement.

    >If so, you have a bit of a feel for what it sounds like to a 2ker when it is clearly implied that the call to obey Hitler means to be guilty of holocaust.

    That isn’t what I said or asked. If you are a German in 1942 how does a radical 2Ker conduct himself? Were the Ten Booms wicked to disobey Hitler?

  127. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Zrim, could you unpack that a smidge?

    Obeying W in 2003 America meant one of three things: Obeying lawful orders given; resigning if an unlawful or immoral order was given; or taking things to the GAO or Congress if unlawful or immoral order was given.

    Obeying Herrn Hitler in 1940s Germany meant: Obeying lawful orders given, or disobeying and rolling the dice with your life if unlawful or immoral order was given.

    And frankly, the frequency and urgency of unlawful or immoral orders was just a teeny bit higher im dritten Reich.

    So I don’t understand the parallel. NAZI Germany had no sense of checks and balances, little rule of law, that provided an obedient citizen with a safety valve in the event of a ruler gone amok. In fact, it was in many ways beyond even Nero’s government in capricious exertion of raw power.

    In short, our government makes it easier for a Christian to find a lawful recourse to a command contrary to Scripture.

  128. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Or put another way: a Christian mayn’t disobey Hitler because he’s Hitler — he disobeys specific commands contrary to Scripture (which came alarmingly often from Hitler).

    It’s not the man; it’s the command.

  129. David Gray said,

    September 14, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    If a radical 2K German pastor had concentration camp guards or members of the SS in his congregation presumably he doesn’t address what the magistrate is up to from the pulpit.

    And if somebody is nuts enough to think that serving in the US armed forces between 2000 and 2008 is the equivalent of being a member of the SS what then does our radical 2K pastor do?

  130. todd said,

    September 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    As interesting as these 2k discussions are, I am going to take a stab at answering the original question that started this thread, which I really don’t think the 2k differences answer. The question was whether Darryl’s strong response to the Bayly’s original post on their blog was justified, and I would answer yes. The Bayly’s thinking represents a number of believers in this country passionate about the pro-life cause, those I call anti-abortion fundamentalists (AAF), for lack of a better term. Here are some problems, IMO, with the AAF thinking represented by the Bayly’s.

    1. It is not enough for AAF that God may have called them to be very involved in this cause, a very good and noble cause. The AAF’s tend to look down on all believers not equally passionate and committed to their cause. They seem unable to simply be thankful that they have opportunities and passions to fight against abortion; but they make their cause a test for true Christian piety for all believers. Though not receiving a prophetic call from God to make such judgments, they take it upon themselves to judge believers, especially ministers, as to their faithfulness to God based upon their commitment to this social cause. To cause sheep to doubt the faithfulness of their duly appointed shepherds is a dangerous business, so much so that the scripture testifies, in the context of those causing unnecessary divisions and pitting minister against minister, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him, for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (I Cor 3:17). Thus to cause certain sheep to doubt or despise their ministers who do not meet such extra-Biblical standards as fighting to stop abortions, standards set up by the AAF, is to cause serious damage in the body of Christ. And yes, it is the height of self-importance to publicly make such judgments of other ministers.

    2. The AAF crowd tends to amp up the anti-abortion rhetoric to such an extent that civil discussion and possible compromises to reduce abortions seem impossible. Once you go the route of “slaughter,” “sacrifice to Molech,” “Nazi genocide,” etc…to describe your opponents, there is no room for people to be gently and patiently persuaded to the pro-life side. While the AAF feel the need to use what they consider uncompromising language, if you are trying to change minds of the majority, discretion in language and understanding the other side’s concerns tend to persuade much more than comparisons of young ladies who get abortions and pro-choice politicians to Adolf Hitler.

    3. The AAF who are Christians become so passionate against abortion that they can forget that fighting abortion, as noble as cause as it is, is not the life-giving message of the gospel; it is not the saving of souls. The AAF Christians often (though not always) give a pass to those who corrupt the gospel message as long as they are part of the cause. The greatest cause we have been given is evangelism, and the pro-life cause should not even compare to the great work of rescuing the spiritually dead to everlasting life. Pastors committed to the work of evangelism are to be admired and respected, for they truly are rescuing the dead. To be passionate about the gospel, its purity, its passion, it’s careful doctrines, its connected ecclesiology, etc…is the greatest cause for true life. While it is possible to have passion for both, too often the AAF loses sight of the temporal nature of his cause verses the eternal nature of evangelism. Unbelievers can join the pro-life cause against abortion and do much good, but they cannot advance the eternal kingdom of God. The minister especially should be devoted to advancing Christ’s eternal kingdom.

    Spurgeon said it well when he wrote:

    “The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others…I count nothing to be worthy of your pastor’s life and soul and energy but the winning of you to Christ. …My main business is the saving of souls. This one thing I do.“

    And as Charles Briggs wrote in The Christian Ministry (pgs 109-111),

    “Both the minister and the ministry are only for the Church. A pastor ought to have nothing at heart but the work of God and the salvation of souls. This ought to be his delight, his meat, and his life. We have therefore no right to entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life so as to hinder our entire obligation to the Church. So strongly was this obligation felt in the primitive age, that Cyprian gives the judgment of the Church, that a presbyter should not entangle himself with the office of an executor….still, the principle was excellent, that the Minister’s constant employment in spiritual affairs precluded him from giving the necessary attention even to important secular duties. ..Mr. Brown’s death-bed has given a most encouraging testimony on this subject – the result of forty years experience – ‘Oh! Labour, labour (said he to his sons) ‘to win souls to Christ.’ “

    While nothing above precludes gospel ministers from picketing an abortion clinic or helping a pro-life candidate get elected (on his own time), it is dangerous to assume this social cause is even remotely of equal value as his work as minister to advance the kingdom of Christ. I would hope all Christians, wherever one finds himself on the 2k spectrum, can agree with this.

  131. Zrim said,

    September 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    David, by “wicked statement” do you mean pretty awesome or pretty evil? My guess is the latter.

    Jeff, what I mean is that life for most Germans in 1942 wasn’t a daily decision to kill people or not. I know we like to think in these brutally two-dimensional terms, but their lives as subjects to a magistrate included the same sort of civil complexities that ours do during our wartime.

    So the question still stands: what does Romans 13:1-7 look like in a civil arrangement we think is the most heinous (defined as “no sense of checks and balances, little rule of law, that provided an obedient citizen with a safety valve in the event of a ruler gone amok”) in all of human history? IIf it helps, it’s a question that can be asked of those who think our America is the most heinous of all time. Either it has to look like something, or we say that Paul’s unstated footnote was something like, “Unless, of course, you live in Nazi, Germany. Then, obviously, you can disregard what I just said.”

  132. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Recommend reading the following, which covers most of the bases in this thread:

    http://ironink.org/index.php?blog=1&title=what_happens_to_r2kt_when_it_hits_the_st&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

  133. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 5:08 am

    For all of the critics of 2k, if the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, does that include the laws prescribed for the state in the Old Testament?

    If the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, why did Jesus and the apostles command obedience to a state that clearly violated not merely the laws of Israel but also the moral law of God?

    If 2k isn’t the solution to the differences between the OT and government after the coming of Christ, or to the silence of Jesus and the apostles about the wicked government under which they lived, I haven’t read any critic of 2k who offers one.

    If 2k is wrong, and the Bible is the standard for government, then how do the critics of 2k live with themselves. They are living under a regime that does not acknowledge God and that slaughters innocents. Why don’t they follow the example of Reformed Protestants and rebel? Why do they show more scorn to 2k proponents than to the civil magistrate who is violating God’s law? At least 2k proponents attempt to follow the Bible? Does the United States? And yet, 2k is more objectionable than USA? Huh?

  134. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Mr. Van Der Molen, I recommend David VanDrunen’s book on Natural Law and 2k. It is much better than anything Bret McAtee has written.

  135. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 5:29 am

    Tfan, btw, I am not at all sure what the mention of Christianity in the chapter on the civil magistrate obtains for your argument. The revisers of the Confession were after all Christian. So you might expect them to mention the church.

    But if they also wrote that the magistrate is to protect all people, that means the magistrate is to protect idolaters and blasphemers in matters of conscience. That means, just to keep connecting the dots, that those biblical passages forbidding blasphemy or idolatry do not apply to the civil magistrate. And that means that the Bible, as you construe it, is not binding on the civil magistrate.

    So I don’t think you are going to be able to iron out the contradiction between your view (and Mr. S.) – the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate — that the American revision of the WCF — the Bible forbids idolatry and blasphemy but the magistrate is to protect idolaters and blasphemers in matters of conscience.

    We’re not in Geneva anymore, Toto.

  136. steve hays said,

    September 15, 2010 at 7:37 am

    I’d note in passing that Zrim keeps invoking Rom 13 w/o bothering to exegete his prooftext–as if that has an assumed, unquestioned meaning. By contrast, consider Robert Jewett’s interpretation (to take one example).

    Likewise, his example of “bombing Iraqi citizens” simply uses a controversial illustration to illustrate his controversial position on 2K. It says a lot about his political outlook, but since many Christians don’t share his assumptions, that does nothing to advance the argument.

  137. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Mark Van Der Molen: Recommend reading the following, which covers most of the bases in this thread:

    http://ironink.org/index.php?blog=1&title=what_happens_to_r2kt_when_it_hits_the_st&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    I heartily second this recommendation.

    Excerpts:

    “R2Kt has turned JC6 into a public square antinomian.”

    I.e., Radical 2-Kingdom theology has turned Joe Christian into a Public Square antinomian.

    “Notice how easily though that once R2Kt hits the street it is so instantly censorious regarding a Christianity that forswears anti-nomianism. If one desires to be obedient then one automatically has a “do something mentality,” that is part of a sinister works based religion. When R2Kt hits the street obedience can’t be about glorifying God. No, instead obedience has to be about other Christians really wanting to make themselves feel good.”

    “Notice how the R2Kt kool aid has this guy arguing that it is perfectly acceptable for Christians to vote for abortion and infanticide supporters. Voting for a candidate that is unbiblical on the environment is of no more or less import then voting for a candidate that supports killing people.”

    “Obviously, JC6 suffers from here, what many R2Kt academic types suffer from, and that is a complete ignorance of how Biblical Christianity effects other spheres of reality.”

    “What we see in all of this as R2Kt hits the street is the incipient cultural relativism that is part of R2Kt. There is no right and wrong for Christians in the public square. Instead there is only different Christians having different opinions each concluding differently from their reading of Natural law. But darn it, isn’t it grand that both the person who votes for abortionist candidates and people who vote for pro-life candidates can come together and have communion every Sunday?”

    Conclusion: “R2Kt is a poison that is going to kill the Church dead. When it hits the street it goes from its powder cocaine version to a crack version that makes dopes out of people. The sooner R2Kt continues to be disciplined in Church courts the less mess there is going to be that we will have to clean up.”

  138. Zrim said,

    September 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Steve, anti-2kers invoke abortion all the time (it actually seems to be what fuels them). Unless one has been living under a rock for the last 40 years, I’d say that’s a pretty controversial illustration. They also bring up abolitionism, civil rights and the Third Reich, which also seem pretty controversial. If you pay close enough attention you’ll note that these illustrations almost always begin with the anti-2kers.

    So if your problem is that controversial illustrations don’t advance the discussion then it seems to cut both ways. I’d be glad to have to stop explaining that obedience to magistrates doesn’t mean worshipping them or killing or oppressing people, and even more glad not to have to explain I’m not personally wicked. I have at times refused to discuss the controversial illustrations the anti-2kers insist on bringing up for the very reason you cite, but then I’m accused of being a coward, etc., so I have some sympathy with your point, but I’ve come to see that controversial illustrations just seem inevitable.

    Todd, well said.

  139. TurretinFan said,

    September 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

    There seem to be a variety of flavors of R2K. One flavor is a public square agnostic. This flavor says, “I have no idea whether it is right for the government to make killing people a crime, nor have I any idea whether it is wrong for the government to fail to do so.”

    Another flavor is the antinomian flavor that says, “There are no rules about what the government can do. The powers that be are ordained by God, ergo whatever thy do is right.”

    There are, thankfully, also inconsistent varieties that claim various things but when the rubber meets the road acknowledge that there is a moral law that governs the actions of kings, and that the Bible is the rule of faith and life, even for kings as kings.

    I’m glad for that third flavor of inconsistent R2K folks, and I hope that they will see their inconsistency.

    -TurretinFan

  140. David Gray said,

    September 15, 2010 at 9:02 am

    >the Third Reich, which also seem pretty controversial

    I wouldn’t have thought the Third Reich was controversial. Don’t we all agree it was monstrous?

    Ignorant fools who wish to draw equivalence between US Forces currently and German forces in the Second World War don’t understand either conflict.

  141. steve hays said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Zrim said,
    September 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

    “Steve, anti-2kers invoke abortion all the time (it actually seems to be what fuels them). Unless one has been living under a rock for the last 40 years, I’d say that’s a pretty controversial illustration. They also bring up abolitionism, civil rights and the Third Reich, which also seem pretty controversial. If you pay close enough attention you’ll note that these illustrations almost always begin with the anti-2kers. So if your problem is that controversial illustrations don’t advance the discussion then it seems to cut both ways.”

    Are you suggesting that abortion should be controversial among Bible-believing Christians? What does that mean, exactly? Do you take the same position on abortion as NARAL?

    Is abolitionism controversial at this late date? Do you support the Southern institution of slavery?

    To whom is the Third Reich controversial? Leni Riefenstahl?

    I don’t know what you mean by “civil rights.” That’s vague. Do you mean Jim Crow? Affirmative Action? What?

    It’s not clear to me how my objection cuts both ways.

  142. TurretinFan said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Wilson has defended Southern slavery, as I recall. He’s not the only one doing that even today. But it’s certainly not as controversial as it was 100 years ago.

  143. David Gray said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:54 am

    >Wilson has defended Southern slavery, as I recall.

    It was a lot more complex than just that. But that, unlike most of the Zrim invoked subjects, would be genuinely controversial.

  144. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Mr. Van Der Molen, I recommend David VanDrunen’s book on Natural Law and 2k. It is much better than anything Bret McAtee has written.

    I’ve read Van Drunen’s work and I understand why you think it better. It attempts {but fails} to make an historical case for the same dichotomous ethic that you posit here. In far fewer words, McAtee has ably demolished it.

  145. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

    The Heidelberg Catechism says that Christians may swear religiously by the name of God if the magistrate requires it, but it does not require that the magistrate require such a thing.

    As TF noted, the HC presupposes that the government has a legitimate interest in requiring oaths. Furthermore, this is directly connected to the government’s legitimate interest in preventing perjury. Oaths and perjury pertain to the 3rd commandment, which is a first table commandment. Yet, R2k says the magistrate has no business with the first table. Our history, our current practice, and our confessions contradict that proposition. This should not be hard to see.

  146. Zrim said,

    September 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    David and Steve, by “controversial” I mean, as I thought you did, “provocative.”

    David, you still haven’t indicated what Romans 13:1-7 looks like in 1942 Germany. And, hey, what gives with the name calling? I thought conservative meant showing restraint.

  147. Bobby Avant said,

    September 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    So whats the difference between R2K and 2k? Ones perspective?

  148. David Gray said,

    September 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    >David, you still haven’t indicated what Romans 13:1-7 looks like in 1942 Germany.

    I”m still waiting for you to answer my question which proceeded that question.

    >And, hey, what gives with the name calling?

    So you actually are proposing equivalence between the US armed forces and those of National Socialist Germany?

    >I thought conservative meant showing restraint.

    I was being quite restrained.

  149. steve hays said,

    September 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Zrim said,

    “David and Steve, by ‘controversial’ I mean, as I thought you did, ‘provocative.’

    What you don’t seem to grasp is that if you’re trying to make a case for your position, it would be logical for you to use examples where you have common ground with your interlocuters–then use that to take your argument one step further.

    What you’re doing instead is to give examples (“bombing Iraqi civilians”) which invite further disagreement. That’s counterproductive. So what are you trying to achieve, exactly? Have you thought through you’re strategy?

  150. Cris D. said,

    September 15, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Time for a recess. Is anything being accomplished here? Since Tim Bayly so blithely checked out of the conversation at message # 5, there’s been scant attention to the original topic, no opportunity for a Bayly-Hart dialogue, and very little progress in these exchanges. Go back and read Todd at #130 and call it a day. The Baylys were wrong in their post, D.G. Hart was not over-reacting to that. And we are all still left holding our original opinions. (sigh)

  151. Phil Derksen said,

    September 15, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Zrim (and other 2K’ers who might share his sentiments), would you say that the English Civil War – in which the Puritan Parliament dethroned (and eventually beheaded) Charles 1, which then enabled the Westminster Assembly to convene – was an illegitimate conflict? If so, doesn’t this at least taint the various things that come about because of it?

    What about the American Revolution? Was that a sinful thing (even in principle) as well? I seem to recall that a British report at the beginning of the conflict characterized it as primarily being a “Presbyterian uprising”.

    What about when there are various legitimate magistrates who disagree with and are attempting to remove or discount each other due to perceived abuses of their rightful power (e.g. the American Civil War)?

    Is there ever such a thing as what many conservative Christians (including Reformed) would call “just (justified) warfare”?

    P.S. David Gray, my old (not meant in the personal sense) friend, I am pleased to say that for once I can agree with much of what you’ve put forth on this thread… : )

  152. Zrim said,

    September 15, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    David, I answered your question in 125. I’m starting to think you think Romans 13:1-7 doesn’t apply to some civil arrangements. Is it really that hard to answer?

    Phil, nice try, but I’m not about to make sweeping historical judgments. To my mind, the better question is one that seems ever before anti-2kers, and never really answered (ahem): where is there any NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion? From my plain reading, when it comes to the believer’s (individual or corprorate) relation to the magistrate the posture prescribed is one of submission and obedience. I understand that creates a lot of tension (which is probably why “they were amazed” in Mark 12 when commanded to obey a tyrant), espcially for those of us nurtured on modern ideas of governance. But the texts don’t go away simply because some civil uprisings were Presbyterian. Are you suggesting that Presbyterians can do no wrong?

  153. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Darryl Hart: “We’re not in Geneva anymore, Toto.”

    Alright, let’s take a look at what Toto, er, TurretinFan wrote, and then compare it to Darryl Hart’s conclusions. Besides TFan’s post, Does the Bible Bind the Civil Magistrate?, he also wrote the following in #110:

    “The problem is that the Bible (according to both the original and revised standards) teaches that the civil magistrate has duties. That’s not just a teaching about the civil magistrate, but a statement that purports to proclaim that that civil magistrate is bound in a particular way.

    And, of course, the 5th commandment (which is part of the second table, for what that’s worth) governs (among lots of other things) the civil magistrate, as explained in the Westminster catechisms.”

    Darryl Hart disagrees, writing in #135:

    “But if they also wrote that the magistrate is to protect all people, that means the magistrate is to protect idolaters and blasphemers in matters of conscience. That means, just to keep connecting the dots, that those biblical passages forbidding blasphemy or idolatry do not apply to the civil magistrate. And that means that the Bible, as you construe it, is not binding on the civil magistrate.”

    So who makes the better case from both Scripture and from the Revised Standards of the Confession, TurretinFan or Darryl Hart?

    Furthermore, does upholding radical 2K theology undermine a part of the Confessional Standards?

    Or does affirming a rejection of radical 2K doctrine undermine a part of the Confessional Standards?

  154. David Gadbois said,

    September 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Mark VM said As TF noted, the HC presupposes that the government has a legitimate interest in requiring oaths.

    For the HC to presuppose that the government does sometimes require oaths in the name of God does not require that we assume that this is the state’s legitimate role. That it does happen does not imply that it should happen.

    The fact that Christians should swear in these circumstances does not amount to an endorsement of the state requiring such an oath. That does not ethically follow.


    Furthermore, this is directly connected to the government’s legitimate interest in preventing perjury. Oaths and perjury pertain to the 3rd commandment, which is a first table commandment. Yet, R2k says the magistrate has no business with the first table.

    Oaths that are specifically in the name of God pertain to the 3rd commandment. Perjury, per se, pertains to the 9th. It is not obvious that the government needs to concern itself with the former rather than the latter.

  155. September 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Zrim,

    … where is there any NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion?

    I’ll answer you, if for no other reason than to blow everyone’s minds by demonstrating that all 2Kers are not little clones of one another.

    When Paul was in prison, he was beaten by a Roman guard. This was a violation of his civil rights as a freeborn citizen of the empire, and he therefore invoked his earthly citizenship in order to ensure better treatment for himself, the treatment to which he as a Roman was entitled.

    Now, if Paul was being beaten as a Christian for his testimony to Jesus, he would never have invoked his heavenly citizenship to escape ill-treatment. But since there’re two kingdoms and all….

  156. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Zrim: “To my mind, the better question is one that seems ever before anti-2kers, and never really answered (ahem): where is there any NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion? From my plain reading, when it comes to the believer’s (individual or corprorate) relation to the magistrate the posture prescribed is one of submission and obedience.”

    I’m so glad you asked this question. So glad!

    I readily see NT evidence in the story of John the Baptist’s confrontation with King Herod. If you recall, it ended in John the Baptist being beheade.

    Also, it’s very helpful to recall what Jesus said about John the Baptist.

    I’ve always wondered how the radical 2K’ers like Darryl Hart, R. Scott Clark, and others (like Zrim) understand John the Baptist’s confrontation with governmental authority over a “non-Gospel” issue.

  157. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    David G., I think you are avoiding the clear language of the HC. Although I would agree it has relationship to the 9th as well, the HC ties both oaths and perjury to the THIRD commandment:

    Lord’s Day 36

    99. Q. What is required in the third commandment?
    A. That we must not by cursing or perjury, nor by unnecessary swearing, profane or abuse the Name of God, nor by our silence or connivance become partakers of these horrible sins in others; and briefly, that we use the holy Name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence, to the end that he may be rightly confessed and worshipped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.

    100. Q. Is, then, the profaning of God’s Name by swearing and cursing so heinous a sin that his wrath is kindled even against those who do not, as much as in them lies, help to prevent and to forbid such cursing and swearing?
    A. Certainly; for no sin is greater or more provoking to God than the profaning of his Name; wherefore, also, he has commanded this sin to be punished with death.
    Lord’s Day 37

    101. Q. But may we not swear by the Name of God in a godly manner?
    A. Yes; when the magistrate demands it of his subjects, or when otherwise necessity requires us thus to confirm fidelity and truth, for the glory of God and the welfare of our neighbor; for such swearing is grounded in God’s Word, and therefore was rightly used by the saints in the Old and the New Testament.

    102. Q. May we also swear by saints or any other creatures?
    A. No; for a lawful oath is a calling upon God, as the only Searcher of hearts, to bear witness to the truth, and to punish me if I swear falsely; which honor is due to no creature.

    The HC confesses such oaths are *ethically* grounded by example in the Word of God. The H.C. specifically recognizes that government may require such ethical oaths. So, we confess the government has a legitimate., ethical interest in upholding the 3rd commandment in its ministration of truth and justice.

  158. Zrim said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    JJS,

    It isn’t clear to me that Paul’s appeal to his rights really qualifies as “civil disobedience and rebellion.” I think he was merely taking advantage of the civil rules providentially afforded (like us). Instead of civil appeal, what I am looking for is some NT ground for civil disobedience. I see plenty of ground for what might be termed cultic disobedience, as in holding to the testimony of Jesus when told not to. But if we can agree that his appeal wasn’t disobedient then where else can we go to justify civil disobedience?

  159. Zrim said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    TUAD,

    Whatever else could be said about John’s confrontation of Herod, do you really think it means believers, individual or corporate, are the world’s moral police? But instead of that, it might be that what the scenario demonstrates has more to do with the next age confronting this age. That is to say, perhaps it is of a more eschatological nature.

  160. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    “TUAD,

    Whatever else could be said about John’s confrontation of Herod, do you really think it means believers, individual or corporate, are the world’s moral police?”

    Zrim, when Jesus was praising John the Baptist, do you think Jesus thought that John was acting with the mindset that he was the Roman kingdom’s moral police?

  161. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Zrim: “That is to say, perhaps it is of a more eschatological nature.”

    Zrim, why do you think that John the Baptist’s confrontation with King Herod was perhaps more of an “eschatological nature”?

    What do you mean exactly by “eschatological nature”?

    BTW, I hope you do notice that I’m offering up the example of John the Baptist’s confrontation of Herod as a direct answer to your assertion of:

    where is there any NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion? From my plain reading, when it comes to the believer’s (individual or corprorate) relation to the magistrate the posture prescribed is one of submission and obedience.”

    For we do not see John the Baptist submitting and obeying the “magistrate”, in this case, King Herod.

  162. dgh said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Mark VM, if the current state has an interest in the 3rd commandment, why are Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh on the air? Why do you ignore the evidence that runs countrary to your claims? I will concede the state invokes 3rd commandment business in oaths and other practices. But if the same state allows cursing and swearing to go unpunished, can you really say that the state still has an interest?

    BTW, Brett did not demolish DVD’s book. Brett his his foot and he’s still shouting. Let’s just hope he’s not breaking the 3rd commandment.

  163. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Zrim, it is striking to me that you have such a stark view of Rom 13. I’d wager that you don’t take such a hard line on Eph 5.22: submit, no exceptions. A wife need not be the “moral police” to say something every now and then, right?

  164. dgh said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Truth, you may prefer TFan’s argument, but the fact remains that the Confession of Faith says the magistrate is to protect all people no matter what their religion or infidelity. What does protecting idolatry or blasphemy mean if not that the Bible is not informing the magistrate (on this view). Are Christians not to oppose idolatry and blasphemy? So how can the Confession insist that the magistrate should stick up for idolaters and blasphemers? (Hint, 2k)

    And so, why do you condemn 2k advocates more than you condemn the Confession of Faith or the current regime which allows Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh to broadcast freely? Do you really think they would have been on Radio Geneva?

  165. David R. said,

    September 15, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    “For we do not see John the Baptist submitting and obeying the ‘magistrate,’ in this case, King Herod.”

    How much of John the Baptist’s conduct is normative for Christians today, and how much of it should be seen, rather, as characteristic of his unique office as prosecutor of God’s covenant lawsuit against His people?

  166. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 15, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Mark VM, if the current state has an interest in the 3rd commandment, why are Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh on the air? Why do you ignore the evidence that runs countrary to your claims? I will concede the state invokes 3rd commandment business in oaths and other practices. But if the same state allows cursing and swearing to go unpunished, can you really say that the state still has an interest?

    Whether the government is *consistent* in their upholding the principles of the 3rd commandment is a different question than *whether* the government should uphold them at all. I’ve been focused on showing on what it is that we confess, i.e., that the HC recognizes that the government does have a legitimate interest in upholding this commandment, at least with respect to perjury and oath making. If this is conceded, then it would be fair to say the “2nd table only” position needs some revision.

    In answer to your question, I’d likely concede that the government is inconsistent in not punishing radio hosts for swearing on public airwaves. As famously documented by George Carlin, it was not that long ago that there were 7 “dirty words” the government banned from the airwaves. The counter argument is that the interest the government has in what individuals say on the airwaves is a less compelling than what persons say when they appear before government institutions for the administration of justice.

  167. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    “For we do not see John the Baptist submitting and obeying the ‘magistrate,’ in this case, King Herod.”

    How much of John the Baptist’s conduct is normative for Christians today, and how much of it should be seen, rather, as characteristic of his unique office as prosecutor of God’s covenant lawsuit against His people?

    David R’s question tacitly concedes that John the Baptist did not submit to and obey the “magistrate,” in this case, King Herod.

    Ergo, evidence has been provided from the New Testament which effectively blows up Zrim’s contention of “where is there any NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion?”

  168. David R. said,

    September 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    TUaD,

    “David R’s question tacitly concedes that John the Baptist did not submit to and obey the “magistrate,” in this case, King Herod.

    “Ergo, evidence has been provided from the New Testament which effectively blows up Zrim’s contention of ‘where is there any NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion?’”

    Are you tacitly agreeing that there is no NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion by ordinary Christians?

  169. David Gadbois said,

    September 15, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Mark VM said Although I would agree it has relationship to the 9th as well, the HC ties both oaths and perjury to the THIRD commandment

    Strictly, QA #99 says we cannot profane or abuse God’s name *by* cursing, perjury or unnecessary oaths in his name. So, again, it is not perjury or unlawful oaths per se.

    The HC confesses such oaths are *ethically* grounded by example in the Word of God. The H.C. specifically recognizes that government may require such ethical oaths.

    This again does not distinguish between the believer taking the oath and the propriety of the government requiring the oath. The oath-taking the believer practices is grounded by example in Scripture, but that does not mean it is not over-reaching for the government to require it. The biblical mandate for the believer to submit to the government’s requirement for oath-taking does not amount to an endorsement of that requirement. It only means that, in the case the government does require it, it honors God and promotes the welfare of our neighbor for the believer to do so, and is supported by biblical precedent.

    Biblically speaking I don’t recall anyone outside of the covenant community of Israel being required to swear in God’s name. It would not have made sense for worshippers of false gods to swear in the name of Yahweh. And today I don’t think it makes any sense for us to require, say, an atheist to swear in God’s name. It seems to me that that is indeed a recipe for unbelievers to break the 3rd commandment by insincerely using His Name when they do not believe in Him.

  170. Paul Manata said,

    September 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    JJS,

    Zrim,

    I’ll answer you, if for no other reason than to blow everyone’s minds by demonstrating that all 2Kers are not little clones of one another.

    I think the main contention isn’t that we think you’re all clones, it’s that when we (non-Outhouse Saints) say something Zrim disagrees with, it’s because we’re legalists or transformationalists or moralists or eeeeevangelicals. But when Zrim sees JJS disagreeing, JJS doesn’t get called those names. And that’s why people bring up the divergent viewpoints.

  171. Paul Manata said,

    September 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Zrim,

    This doesn’t allow for civil disobedience for you?

    WCF:

    God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience

  172. David Gadbois said,

    September 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Paul, don’t forget that its all social gospel, too!

  173. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    David R.: “Are you tacitly agreeing that there is no NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion by ordinary Christians?”

    No, not at all. I’m saying that that’s a separate question, a separate issue. The more immediate task is to establish that there is indeed NT evidence of civil disobedience and rebellion, particularly with the example of John the Baptist.

    Once that’s established and conceded, let’s then proceed to other questions.

    Do you concede?

  174. TurretinFan said,

    September 15, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    DGH

    You wrote:

    For all of the critics of 2k, if the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, does that include the laws prescribed for the state in the Old Testament?

    We divide the law into moral, ceremonial, and civil. Moral stays in force completely. Ceremonial is abrogated. Civil is maintained as to its general equity. But surely you already know this. Since you do, I think you shouldn’t ask. It starts to look like a red herring.

    If the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, why did Jesus and the apostles command obedience to a state that clearly violated not merely the laws of Israel but also the moral law of God?

    a) Jesus commanded obedience to them while still under the Mosaic administration. If your argument proves that the Bible is not binding on civil governments today, it proved that the OT wasn’t binding on Israel, which is an absurd result.

    The problem lies in your conflation of two ideas: (1) the idea that we must obey the rulers; and (2) the idea that the rulers must obey the Word of God. Sometimes there comes a time when rulers’ failure to obey God leads to us failing to obey the rulers (as the apostles did eventually), but not always.

    If 2k isn’t the solution to the differences between the OT and government after the coming of Christ, or to the silence of Jesus and the apostles about the wicked government under which they lived, I haven’t read any critic of 2k who offers one.

    Silence of Jesus regarding the wicked government? Have you not read?

    Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

    or again:

    Luke 11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

    Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

    But again, Jesus did not preach revolt or rebellion (nor do we).

    If 2k is wrong, and the Bible is the standard for government, then how do the critics of 2k live with themselves. They are living under a regime that does not acknowledge God and that slaughters innocents.

    Here again, your argument is based on your flawed premise that we have some kind of duty to cure ourselves of bad government. David didn’t assassinate Saul. Was that because he was “2K”?

    Why don’t they follow the example of Reformed Protestants and rebel?

    The complexity of the RP situation is really beyond this comment box. Suffice that their rationale was not simply that their government had sinned or seriously sinned. There was a great deal more to it, and characterizing it as rebellion prejudices the matter.

    Why do they show more scorn to 2k proponents than to the civil magistrate who is violating God’s law? At least 2k proponents attempt to follow the Bible? Does the United States? And yet, 2k is more objectionable than USA? Huh?

    These claims are factually inaccurate.

    Tfan, btw, I am not at all sure what the mention of Christianity in the chapter on the civil magistrate obtains for your argument. The revisers of the Confession were after all Christian. So you might expect them to mention the church.

    They don’t just mention the church, though. They say what I’ve already highlighted to you. It’s not R2K stuff. Their references to Christianity are not coincidental but intentional, after all the Americans were revising a previous paragraph.

    But if they also wrote that the magistrate is to protect all people, that means the magistrate is to protect idolaters and blasphemers in matters of conscience. That means, just to keep connecting the dots, that those biblical passages forbidding blasphemy or idolatry do not apply to the civil magistrate. And that means that the Bible, as you construe it, is not binding on the civil magistrate.

    I’d be happy to explain to you why your conclusion doesn’t follow, but I think you first need to recognize that very clear statements that the WCF makes about the Bible requiring the civil magistrate particularly to nurture and promote the Gospel. Once you acknowledge that, it seems we’re out of the R2K world, and we can help you to see what the rest of the paragraph is about (in terms of what kind of protections are afforded idolators (among them, papists).

    So I don’t think you are going to be able to iron out the contradiction between your view (and Mr. S.) – the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate — that the American revision of the WCF — the Bible forbids idolatry and blasphemy but the magistrate is to protect idolaters and blasphemers in matters of conscience.
    We’re not in Geneva anymore, Toto.

    We’ll get to ironing that out at some point. I don’t necessarily think that the American Revisions strike the right position, but I’ll give you a hint: the paragraph doesn’t mean that the government cannot require people to swear oaths, honor the Lord’s day by abstaining from unnecessary work, or abstain from open blasphemy of the Lord’s name.

    - TurretinFan

  175. TurretinFan said,

    September 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    JJS: I’m unclear how Paul’s threatening to blow the whistle on the Philippian government constitutes civil disobedience or rebellion.

  176. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Paul, because the chapter of the Confession you quote also says, “And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God,” I think you’re guilty of violating the confession by appealing to it for civil disobedience.

  177. TurretinFan said,

    September 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    DGH: PM didn’t suggest that the civil disobedience would be against a lawful exercise of lawful power, so your accusation fails.

  178. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    TFan, Charles Carroll, a Roman Catholic, signed the Declaration of Independence with John Witherspoon. JW had a large hand in revising the WCF. That suggests that Presbyterians were living knowingly with Roman Catholics (as well as Jews, btw). Roman Catholics were not tolerated in Geneva or New England, for starters. They believed that the state should uphold the true religion. The drafters of the revisions of the WCF did not so believe, otherwise they would have written something much more along the lines of what the Belgic, Second Helvetic, Scottish Confessions already said. In fact, there would have been no need to revise the Confession.

    You are denying that magistrate has a duty to protect all persons, according to the revision? So you are denying that the magistrate, in view of the revisions, has no obligation to protect idolaters and blasphemers? You think the magistrate, according to the confession, only means preferential treatment for Christians? You think this (“It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever”) only means Christians? If you do, then what was the point of the revision?

  179. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Daryl Hart,

    In #131 you asked several questions. I would like to answer this in a different way than TurretinFan.

    I would first like to ask your permission to use the abbreviation “R2K” rather than “2K” to describe your position. If you would rather me use something else please let me know. We are all 2K folks. To quote me here, Given the Medieval church’s messy and intertwined relationship in the West and the church’s operating as a function of the state in the East, I think all of us Reformed folks agree with the renewed Reformation emphasis on a clear definition of the proper roles and responsibilities for church and state. This is what 2K is all about.. I’m sure that we are all quite firm in our belief that, over against RCC and EO churches, we ought to be rigorously defining the roles of church and state and we should have a clear understanding of the limits that the Church should play in the culture. Where I think we differ is just what this definition is. But if you will allow me to use the medieval churches (both East and West) as our historical reference, we are all 2K folks. So give me something else if you don’t want “R2K” to differentiate yourself from the rest of us 2K folks.

    For all of the critics of 2k, if the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, does that include the laws prescribed for the state in the Old Testament?

    Most of us are not theonomists. There is a principle of “general equity” here. This is obviously a deep subject, but surely there are more alternatives than theonomy and reliance on natural law. Would you agree with that?

    If the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, why did Jesus and the apostles command obedience to a state that clearly violated not merely the laws of Israel but also the moral law of God?

    We all believe that we must obey our civil authorities up until they tell us to violate what we know to be God’s commands. This is true today and all of us 2K people believe this and act on it. But this is a very different matter from the consideration of what sorts of laws our civil leaders ought to be passing and what principles these leaders should be looking to in order to determine good from bad laws.

    If 2k is wrong, and the Bible is the standard for government, then how do the critics of 2k live with themselves. They are living under a regime that does not acknowledge God and that slaughters innocents. Why don’t they follow the example of Reformed Protestants and rebel?

    As noted above, we don’t rebel from the civil authorities until they tell us to do what is in direct violation of what we know to be true. The Reformers rebelled because the ecclesiastical authorities of that time told them to disobey what they knew to be their responsibilities before God. The questions of 1) how we as individual Christians respond to an ungodly state and 2) what the Christian called to be a civil representative ought to use as a standard for determining good from bad legislation are two different matters.

  180. TurretinFan said,

    September 15, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    DGH:

    TFan, Charles Carroll, a Roman Catholic, signed the Declaration of Independence with John Witherspoon.

    < JW had a large hand in revising the WCF. That suggests that Presbyterians were living knowingly with Roman Catholics (as well as Jews, btw). Roman Catholics were not tolerated in Geneva or New England, for starters. They believed that the state should uphold the true religion. The drafters of the revisions of the WCF did not so believe, otherwise they would have written something much more along the lines of what the Belgic, Second Helvetic, Scottish Confessions already said. In fact, there would have been no need to revise the Confession.The fact that the American Revisions were made and that the American Revisions changed what the original Westminster Confession said, I grant. That’s not the issue.

    You are denying that magistrate has a duty to protect all persons, according to the revision? So you are denying that the magistrate, in view of the revisions, has no obligation to protect idolaters and blasphemers? You think the magistrate, according to the confession, only means preferential treatment for Christians? You think this (“It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever”) only means Christians? If you do, then what was the point of the revision?

    a) I don’t accept your characterizations of my position.

    b) One reason to revise was (and you’re the historian, so back me up here) that the Philadelphia presbytery was taking an exception with respect to the Confession on this point (i.e. on the paragraph as it stood before the amendment), and it would be better to have a Confession that everyone could agree to in good faith. It was also dangerous to appear to support the crown at that time, and those supporting the original WCF could easily be portrayed that way. So the amendment

    c) Undoubtedly the revised confession does not state things the way the original did. Again, that’s not the issue.

    The issue is that you have advocated here the proposition that the Bible does not bind the civil magistrate, a position that both the original and the revised WCF reject. Your radical version of two kingdoms theology is not only at odds with the original WCF, it’s at odds with the revised WCF. It’s at odds with the original and revised Belgic Confession as well, for what that’s worth.

    - TurretinFan

  181. Paul Manata said,

    September 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Darryl, TF is correct. I didn’t suggest it would be against a lawful exercise of lawful power. It is well know that men like Calvin allowed for revolutions. He recognized that God’s law stood over the king. Read David Hall’s _Calvin in the Public Square_ or his Genevan Reformation and the American Founding (as you probably have).

    As Hall writes of Calvin: “After beginning with a historical review his The Rights of Magistrates argued for a circumscribed resistance to tyrannical rulers. Organizing his work around ten questions, he affirmed that scriptural obedience did not categorically deny revolution in some cases. Toward the end of this tract, he articulated three “axioms” to clarify conditions warranting armed resistance: “(1) That the tyranny must be undisguised and notorious; (2) That the recourse should not be had to arms before all other remedies have been tried; (3) Nor yet before the question has been thoroughly examined, not only as to what is permissible, but also as to what is expedient, lest the remedies prove more hazardous than the very disease.”

    He goes on to state :

    Following Calvin’s teaching but predating the final edition of the Institutes, in good Calvinistic style, John Ponet delineated when tyrannicide itself would be legitimate: either if the tyrant was an overt criminal or when lower-level political officials became involved. With a passionate style, Ponet’s Short Treatise (1556) argued for the following:

    · The people could hold a ruler, who was to be viewed as the servant of citizens, accountable.

    · Overthrow, even if forceful, was permitted under certain conditions.

    · The basis for just governance was transcendental as well as universal.

    · Government was to be limited in scope and in force.

    · Authority was to be diffused among various spheres, not concentrated in one office.

    · Checks and balances, via ephors or tribunes, were necessary.

    These and other tenets of Calvinism would become standard fare in lands where the Reformed faith spread. The ideas (1) that God is the Superior Governor, (2) that man is a fallen sinner, and (3) that law, fixed constitutions, and decentralization of power are all necessary to limit human aggression became the signature of Calvinism in political forums. Later Hotman, Daneau and Althusius expanded these themes as the tradition developed.

    Most knowledgeable historians spot a definite evolution in political theology from Calvin’s early disciples (Knox, Goodman, Ponet) to his later disciples (Beza, Hotman, Danaeus). Two major lynchpins, however, changed after the 1570s: (a) submission was limited and (b) representation was absolute. These dynamics began to be publicized from pulpits and academies.”

  182. David Gadbois said,

    September 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I think there are some distinctions being glossed over. Obviously, we would all agree that “civil disobedience” is sometimes required, whenever the government requires believers to do anything against God’s Word.

    What I think is most relevant to the 2K discussion is whether or not it is permissible for a Christian to participate in revolution and overthrow of government. Clearly Romans 13 prohibits individual rebellion against the government, even when the state is responsible for genuine injustices. One may not simply break laws or evade taxes because they are perceived to be dumb or unjust. But it is not clear that Paul’s admonition amounts to a prohibition against participation in revolution, a change of government as opposed to simple rebellion against a government. Paul says that we must be in submission to the legitimate government, that is, the de facto government, the one that bears the sword. But that sword may change hands in the event of a revolution, and therefore I do not think it is wrong for a Christian to participate in a civil revolution.

    My only qualifier would be that the revolution should be civil in nature, that is, it is not something the church does or is involved in or even that individual Christians do in the name of Christ. If individual believers participate they should do so in a way that makes it clear that they do so as members of the secular kingdom.

  183. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Andrew McCallum, okay, so you’re not a theonomist. I accept that. Instead of R2k, how about PC2k (as in post-Constantinian).

    So on the point of general equity, what is the general equity of prohibiting blasphemy and idolatry? I know I sound like a broken record on this, but taking the Lord’s name in vain in Massachusetts was a capital offense. Should it be a misdemeanor on general equity grounds? It was severely treated in the OT. So what is the general equity for a modern state? I don’t think that freedom of conscience is the general equity and I don’t know how anyone would get there.

    I also agree that Christ and the apostles disobeyed the civil magistrate when their faith and God’s law told them to do something different (i.e., preach the gospel). But again, did they run around telling the magistrate that he ought to outlaw infanticide, abolish slavery, and use only men in the army? That seems to me to be what is at stake in these criticisms of pc2k. Because pc2k advocates don’t run around accusing the magistrate of infidelity, pc2kers are somehow guilty of infidelity and should not be followed.

  184. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    TFan, here is why the WCF revision is THE issue. Most of us at this blog who are Presbyterian are in communions where those revisions are the confessional norm. And yet a lot of folks here do not believe those revisions because they think the Bible requires the magistrate to enforce certain moral and religious convictions. Now, I happen to think that the Westminster Divines thought that what they wrote about the magistrate was biblical. And I think the American revisers thought their revisions were biblical. And I too think the American revisions are consistent with the different arrangement of civil and ecclesiastical realms after the coming of Christ and before the coming of Constantine.

    But at least we have a disagreement by two church synods on what the Bible requires of magistrates. One says the magistrate should abolish false religion. The other says the magistrate should protect the freedoms of all people, including those who hold false religions.

    The implication here is that the critics of 2k need to acknowledge the confessional legitimacy of the 2k position and also need to own up to their own bad confessional faith (if they are in the PCA, OPC, or ARP). In other words, Tim Bayly is wrong about 2k. 2k is what our churches profess. They do not profess what Tim Bayly says.

  185. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    September 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    >”One says the magistrate should abolish false religion. The other says the magistrate should protect the freedoms of all people, including those who hold false religions.”

    Both say it “should” do something. That is binding ethical instruction is it not? Hence the next point:

    >”The implication here is that the critics of 2k need to acknowledge the confessional legitimacy of the 2k position and also need to own up to their own bad confessional faith (if they are in the PCA, OPC, or ARP).”

    Whatever their disagreements, the 2k position is inconsistent with both the original and the revised Confession.

    Dr. Hart, do you not see the apparent contradiction? Do you not remember that you said, “No” to my two propositions? (See #58). Do you think many others also see this? How can anyone believe your position if you both affirm and deny it? Please clarify. Thanks.

  186. TurretinFan said,

    September 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    DGH:

    a) THE issue is whether R2k even measures up to the revised WCF. The way you have presented it here, it does not. I realize that there are different flavors of it, but there’s not just a Joint R2K statement for us confessional Reformed folks to critique.

    b) There is a secondary issue as well. You pit the American Revisions against the original Westminster Confession. Your take is that the American Revisions contradict the original Westminster Confession. I think the revisers of the Confession disagreed with the drafters, but their document does not necessarily contradict.

    I think if you look more carefully (as I’ve tried to sketch here) you’ll find that they two do not directly contradict one another.

    c) But again – the thing that sinks the R2k ship is not whether or not the two contradict one another, but whether the Bible binds the civil magistrate as magistrate. If so, as both confessions agree, then the R2k position seems to be out the window.

    -TurretinFan

  187. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Mr. S. Sorry, I’m not answering any more of your questions. You gave me bumper sticker assertions, didn’t define your terms, I tried to answer in a fuller way, and now you want to go back to the bumper stickers.

    BTW, if you think it’s a coup for someone to think that the Bible gives the magistrate binding ethical instruction, then start the party. But just remember to invite Jeremiah Wright and Hilary Clinton.

  188. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Tfan, if the revision and the original don’t contradict each other, then what is the logical category? In one system, Parliament was overseeing the state and the Confession (original) had a real Erastian tendency. In the American revision the magistrate has no power over the church or power to punish false religion. If you don’t see the difference between 1645 England and 1787 U.S.A., I’ve got several history books you might consult. Come on, even the Free Church Presbyterians still hold to the Establishment Principle and believe the American revision has abandoned that lower-stakes version of the magistrate protecting the true faith.

    And if you like Mr. S. think it’s a victory to say that the Bible has binding ethical norms for the magistrate, then you may want to reconsider. You have now gone from merely creedal formulations being in tension to the Bible itself. That’s because you think the Bible’s ethical norms for the magistrate include prohibiting false religion. I also think this was the case for Israel and is now true for the church. But the revisions of the WCF say that the Bible’s ethical norms are to protect freedom of conscience so that idolaters and blasphemers may practice their religion freely without hindrance by the state. So which is it? Does the Bible say to oppose idolatry or to protect it? That is the conundrum your hermeneutical gymnastics face (sorry for mixing metaphors). But to your party you could invite Jeremiah Wright and Peter Lillback to cover your bases.

  189. dghart said,

    September 15, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Tfan,

    BTW, in your sketch on the differences between the original and the revisions you failed to comment on the juiciest part. The original says this, that the magistrate:

    “hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed.”

    And the revision doesn’t even mention blasphemy or heresies. It says:

    “It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.”

    However you take that latter quotation, because it leaves out the prosecution of blasphemy and heresy it is a long way from the original. Contradiction? Maybe not. Very different? Sure looks like it.

  190. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Let’s look at what Darryl Hart and TurretinFan write. This will approach the heart of why there is a disconnect.

    Darryl Hart: “The implication here is that the critics of 2k need to acknowledge the confessional legitimacy of the 2k position and also need to own up to their own bad confessional faith (if they are in the PCA, OPC, or ARP). In other words, Tim Bayly is wrong about 2k. 2k is what our churches profess.

    TurretinFan: “THE issue is whether R2k even measures up to the revised WCF. The way you have presented it here, it does not.”

    I will explicitly state what others may already know. Darryl Hart believes that he, and others like him, represent 2K. TurretinFan and others (like the Baylys) absolutely do not allow Darryl Hart to say that he’s 2K, referring to him instead as a R2K proponent. TurretinFan has previously noted that there are several flavors of 2K, and Darryl Hart occupies R2K.

    The closest analogue to this that I can think of is when a Calvinist denounces another as a Hyper-Calvinist. Ergo, Darryl Hart’s exhortation of his particular outworking of 2K doctrine is seen, described, and categorized as “radical” (other possible adjectives might be “militant”, “extreme”, “hyper”, etc.)

    But this is off-putting to Darryl Hart. He wants to be seen as 2K, not R2K. Conversely, his attempt to label himself as 2K is off-putting to those who say that he is R2k.

    In a quest for clarification, is there a reliable litmus test to identify a R2K person from a 2K person?

    Here’s an attempt. Suppose Pastor Tim Bayly preaches a gospel sermon on Sunday. During the week, he is also involved in vigorous pro-life activities. He also shares the gospel with expectant mothers and pro-abortionists. Pastor Tim’s sheep know his Gospel witness and it influences his sheep’s political behavior, orienting them to against pro-abortion candidates.

    (Potential) Litmus Test: A 2K person is perfectly fine with what Pastor Tim Bayly is doing.

    A R2K person disapproves of what Pastor Tim Bayly is doing.

  191. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Dr. Hart:

    You’ve raised a plausible possibility: (1) That the 1789 revision of the WCF purposely omitted the issue of blasphemy *because* the magistrate is not called to enforce Scriptural norms.

    There are two other possibilities, however.

    (2) That the 1789 revision of the WCF purposely omitted the issue of blasphemy *because* the church is to enforce the first table of the law, and the magistrate the second.

    OR

    (3) That the magistrate is not qualified to make declarations on the nature of blasphemy (it being a matter of “faith or worship”), and therefore blasphemy falls outside of his jurisdiction.

    In either case, the magistrate would not be relieved from the duty of enforcing Scripture in general, but from enforcing Scriptural injunctions against blasphemy in particular.

    So why do you choose (1) over (2) or (3)?

    I have only a fuzzy grasp of post-Revolutionary American history, but my general impression was that the 2nd table of the Law played a comfortable role in American jurisprudence, even after 1789.

  192. Dave Lort said,

    September 15, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Where does the revision quoted in #189 limit the ability of the magistrate to act with regard to blasphemy or heresy? A strict reading of the language would seem to bind the magistrate to prevent persons under his jurisdiction from offering “indignity, violence, abuse or injury to any other person” on religious grounds, and to protect religious and ecclesiastical assemblies from interference by other persons, not to prohibit the magistrate from promulgating and enforcing any regulations with regard to such.

  193. Zrim said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Jeff, I think I’ve been pretty clear that I’m not saying “submit, no exceptions.” But my point has been that the plain reading seems to place the accent on obedience and submission. And so far the other side of the table seems more preoccupied on exegeting for exceptions instead of asking what the character of obedience and submission might be.

    It also seems to want to hang the entire project of getting all up in Caesar’s face on John’s confrontation of Herod. This despite clear admonitions to submit, no apostolic examples of Bayly-esque confrontation and the common sense understanding that getting up in someone’s face is the complete opposite of the spirit of submission. And I wonder if anyone considers what the familial version of the sort of public square confrontation they think is admirable looks like. Do they accept as becoming undermining rants against them from their wives and children? I’m not saying there can’t be disagreement or even voicing of disagreement, but isn’t there a big difference between that and disobedience?

  194. Adam Kuehner said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    DGH,

    YOU WROTE: “You are denying that magistrate has a duty to protect all persons, according to the revision? So you are denying that the magistrate, in view of the revisions, has no obligation to protect idolaters and blasphemers? You think the magistrate, according to the confession, only means preferential treatment for Christians?”

    Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this discussion, Dr. Hart. I appreciate your zeal for what you believe to be biblical. I do believe, however, that you are ignoring a crucial distinction and using unhelpful rhetoric that may prejudice readers against your position. Let me explain.

    1) The fact that a government punishes a citizen for breaking the law does not mean that it has forsaken its duty to “protect all persons”. It goes without saying that “protecting all persons” cannot mean refusing to punish legitimate crimes. It simply refers to the preservation of all due liberties.

    2) As you would agree, the U.S. government had a right to protect Lee Harvey Oswald from being assassinated by Jack Ruby prior to his trial. It has a right to protect a private citizen from murdering a guilty sex offender. And it has a right to protect a blasphemer from being deprived of any of his legitimate rights under the law. Protection, however, does not imply that the murder has a right to murder, that the sex offender has a right to molest, or (as is presently up for debate) that the blasphemer has any right to blaspheme with impunity.

    3) The real question here is whether or not ‘first table’ offenses legitimately warrant civil penalty. If they do, then the government is no more denying protection to a blasphemer by punishing his blasphemy than it is denying protection to a child molester for punishing his sexual offenses. Hence, your opponents do not disagree with the notion of “protecting all persons”. They disagree on what constitutes a punishable civil offense.

    4) Not even you would go to the extreme of saying that the government’s duty to “protect all persons” nullifies its duty to punish murderers and sex offenders. Hence, your use of this rhetoric begs the question. The real issue is not whether the state should “protect all persons” regardless of their actions, but WHICH ACTIONS ARE PUNISHABLE.

    5. Your constant reference to “protecting all persons” is therefore unhelpful and distracting. I would humbly ask you to cease using it as you proceed in the defense and presentation of your position.

    [My goal here is purely to aid the clarity of the debate. Whether or not I have done so is, I suppose, to be determined. I will now leave the real scholars on both sides to continue their vigorous discussion.]

    In Christ,
    A.K.

  195. Paul Manata said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Zrim,

    “Jeff, I think I’ve been pretty clear that I’m not saying “submit, no exceptions.”

    That’s good to hear, as that’s not how I’ve taken you. Indeed, that’s why I’ve raised those “ridiculous counterexamples” (in your terms). In response to them you should have said, “Of course, Paul, in situations like those you shouldn’t submit.” But you didn’t. You debated them for dozens of comments, claiming that disobeying Hitler is “a weird way to interpret Romans 13.”

  196. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    David R. and Zrim and Darryl Hart,

    Do any of you condemn John the Baptist’s confrontation of King Herod for not submitting and obeying the governing “magistrate”?

  197. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 15, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    “In a quest for clarification, is there a reliable litmus test to identify a R2K person from a 2K person?

    Here’s an attempt. Suppose Pastor Tim Bayly preaches a gospel sermon on Sunday. During the week, he is also involved in vigorous pro-life activities. He also shares the gospel with expectant mothers and pro-abortionists. Pastor Tim’s sheep know his Gospel witness and it influences his sheep’s political behavior, orienting them to against pro-abortion candidates.

    (Potential) Litmus Test: A 2K person is perfectly fine with what Pastor Tim Bayly is doing.

    A R2K person disapproves of what Pastor Tim Bayly is doing.”

    Correction. One sentence should read: “Pastor Tim’s sheep know his Gospel witness and it influences his sheep’s political behavior, orienting them to vote against pro-abortion candidates.”

  198. David R. said,

    September 16, 2010 at 12:49 am

    TUaD,

    “Do any of you condemn John the Baptist’s confrontation of King Herod for not submitting and obeying the governing ‘magistrate’?”

    No more than I would condemn Samuel for confronting Saul, Nathan for confronting David, Elijah for confronting Ahab, or any other Old Testament prophet for fulfilling his divinely appointed office.

    Do you condemn the apostles for not promoting similar conduct among Christians?

  199. proregno said,

    September 16, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Matthew 12:25 “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

    And world history confirms this.

    I can understand (not agree with) if the heathen, the idolater, the Godhater, the sodomite, the humanist, the aborsionist, Billary Clinton, Madonna, Osama, Imam Rauf, etc. wants and shouts that they want not Christ but Ceaser/Man as their only King in the ‘civil realm’, but, when Christians start doing it, you know something is seriously wrong.

    But, some will say, we believe Christ is King over all, all of life and the cosmos, we only reject the idea that God’s Law should be the standard and command for civil government.

    What a ridiculous (may I say pathetic) idea.

    Telling someone (confessing): you are King, but your laws, all your laws, do not need to be obeyed or honored.

    What is a King without His Law ?

    Do we really think we can honor the Lord without honoring His Law, which is holy, just and good (Rom.7:12). Where is the Spirit of Ps.119:136 and Prov.28:4.

    And yes, we are saved by grace through faith alone, not by works of the law. But from grace (will) flow thankful obedience (HC q/a 64), as we confess in die HC (q/a 2):
    1. law
    2. grace
    3. law

    Do our King want to be honored only in family and church life, or in all of life ? Does He command total repentance, faith and obedience from all people, or not (answer: Ps.117; Matt.28:18-20; Acts 17:30,31; 1 Tim.6:15; Rev.11:15, etc.)

    IMO, the problem with R2K, is that they do not love ‘all’ the Law of God, only those parts that has to do with family and church (with whom I and I think all other kinds of 2K’s wholeheartedly agree), contra q/a 114, HC: “… yet so that with earnest purpose they begin to live not only according to some, but according to all the Commandments of God.”

    It seems that R2K say that God’S law for the civil magistrate, esp. the first table of the Law, is not good and not just for all people on the earth, contra Deut.4:8, Rom.7:12 and 1 Tim.1:8-10, which means (although these brothers will not say and acknowledge it), that God is not good and just.

    But, how can a good God (BC art.1) give a bad/unjust law for all people created in His image, irrespective if they believe or not ?

    Who determines what is holy, good and just laws for all people, man or God ?

    And, how can the ‘one’ true God (Deut.6:4) give many contradictory laws (pluralism), i.e. in Church He is King according to His Word, but in the rest of life He is ‘king’ according to many contradictory unjust laws according to man’s humanistic/natural law ?

    Many law systems, many gods.
    One true God, one good just law for all, for the believer and non-believer (Ex.12:49), according to what God has revealed for each area of live, whether church or state.

    And, if unbelievers ar forced to do good outwardly accordingly to God’s commands, then it is good, because that is the purpose of God’s Law and a just government.

    They/we are saved by grace, the Gospel, not by the Law. But the Law must be there to convince of sin, and the more unbelievers are confronted with the Law, everywhere, not only in church or missions or evangelism, but in all of live, the more they would see:
    1. God is good and just
    2. man are sinful and cannot keep His commands
    3. I can only be saved by God’s grace in Christ
    (Gal.3:24 for all of life!)

    And therefore, it is greal love for our unbelieving neigbours that we apply the Law of God to all of life, especially the civil magistrate, in order, that by the grace of God, Muslims, Humanists, Atheist would call out:

    a. Deuteronomy 4:8 8 “And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?

    And then, if they see we can not fulfill His laws, will call out:

    b. Acts 16:30-31 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

    Psalm 2:10-12 “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 He be 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.”

  200. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 6:42 am

    David R., Zrim, and Darryl Hart,

    In the search for a clarifying litmus test to determine what is R2K and who is an R2K proponent, I propose the following:

    Suppose Pastor Tim Bayly preaches a gospel sermon on Sunday. During the week, he is also involved in vigorous pro-life activities. He also shares the gospel with expectant (or would-be) mothers and pro-abortionists. Pastor Tim’s sheep know his Gospel witness and it influences his sheep’s political behavior, orienting them to vote against pro-abortion candidates.

    Do you disapprove of what Pastor Tim Bayly is doing? Lack of disapproval means that you are okay with what Pastor Tim Bayly is doing.

  201. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:17 am

    In #193, Zrim says he thinks is clear that he doesn’t say “submit” with no exceptions, except in #117 he said:

    It has been said that the Christian life can be summed up in one word: obedience, and that would seem to include civil and political obedience, …

    To disobey the magistrate is to disobey God, and to obey him is also to obey God.

    I think it’s pretty clear that Zrim really does mean no exceptions. He might allow for one exception of preaching the gospel on the Lord’s day if that were not legal, but he puts no qualifiers when he says:

    To disobey the magistrate is to disobey God, and to obey him is also to obey God.

    Zrim is pretty clear, no exceptions.

    Also notice how Zrim gives more honor to Hitler in using his full surname while he referred to a former President of the USA with a disrespectful nickname in #125 when he wrote:

    To obey Hitler in 1942 Germany looks a lot like what it means to obey Dubya in 2003 America.

    Yes Zrim is clear, that quote from #125 should tell you everything you need to know about Zrim.

  202. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:59 am

    David G,

    I think you are unduly dividing matters wrt the individual’s obligation in taking the oath and government’s role in administering such oaths.

    Similar to what Calvin says in his Institutes, Matthew Henry makes this simple statement re: the 3rd commandment:

    There is no reason to consider that solemn oaths in a court of justice, or on other proper occasions, are wrong, provided they are taken with due reverence.

    Government requiring oaths in court, or upon taking office, is a practice from ancient times to the present day. It’s recognized as a proper action by government. It makes no sense to confess in the HC that the individual should submit to this directive if the government in giving this directive was acting contrary to the Word of God {see Belgic 36}.

  203. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 8:55 am

    DGH:

    Let me address your strongest points first:

    1) Yes, the American revision is different in significant ways from the original. The revised confession, in particular, does not positively state that the civil magistrate may punish blasphemy or that it may suppress idolatry. That’s dissatisfying to the Free P’s (and other conservative Scottish-tradition Presbyterians) and also to the RPs, who basically want any confession to affirm and accept the solemn league and covenant.

    2) Yes, 17th century Europe is different from post-Revolution America – very different. Not all of those differences are for the better. America has just been through a bloody revolution, and royalists are viewed with more than mere distrust by “patriots.” The push for a changed confession comes (as one might expect) from the more urban and Northern presbyteries – places where pluralism has more sway.

    3) You state: “In the American revision the magistrate has no power over the church or power to punish false religion.”

    In the American revision, the question of whether the magistrate has any power over the church or any power to punish false religion is not explicitly addressed. That means that the confessional tent of the American Revisions is bigger than the confessional tent of the original confession was. The new tent includes those who think the magistrate does have that power, and those who think the magistrate does not have that power. Of course, only one of those two positions is right, but the American revision does not require one to hold the right position on this issue.

    A similar issue exists regarding the pope as Antichrist. The American Revisions omit this. That means one can either hold that the pope is the Antichrist or one can not hold to it. Both views are part of the newer, bigger confessional tent. Only one of those views is correct, but subscription does not require one to hold the right position on this issue.

    4) You state: “if you … think it’s a victory to say that the Bible has binding ethical norms for the magistrate, then you may want to reconsider. You have now gone from merely creedal formulations being in tension to the Bible itself.”

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say here. I think the original Westminster Confession of Faith was right, and I think that the watered-down American revisions are right, insofar as they speak, though I don’t think they say everything that is to be said.

    As I’ve said before, if the Bible does not have binding ethical norms for the civil magistrate, then both the original and revised confession is wrong, because both clearly state that the civil magistrate has duties, and both state this on the basis of the Scriptures.

    5) You state: “That’s because you think the Bible’s ethical norms for the magistrate include prohibiting false religion. I also think this was the case for Israel and is now true for the church.”

    One problem I’ve noticed is that you don’t seem to actually know my position. My position, like that of the Reformers, does not call for “prohibiting false religion.”

    A second problem I’ve noticed is that you don’t seem to be thoroughly acquainted with the laws governing O.T. Israel. While the laws were too strict for R2k folks, they did not go so far as to “prohibit[] false religion” absolutely. Indeed, even the ten commandments make explicit reference to “thy stranger that is within thy gates.”

    Finally, it’s not clear what you mean by the church “prohibiting false religion” in the New Testament. The church does not have civil powers in the New Testament, just as the priests and Levites did not in the Old Testament – and just as Jesus and the Apostles did not have. So, I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at here.

    6) You state: “But the revisions of the WCF say that the Bible’s ethical norms are to protect freedom of conscience so that idolaters and blasphemers may practice their religion freely without hindrance by the state.”

    No, that’s not what the revisions of the WCF say. I highlighted this in my discussion (link to discussion). There is nothing in the American revisions that prohibits the civil magistrate from removing idols and criminally punishing open and notorious blasphemy. There’s nothing in the American revisions that requires that either.

    The section of the WCF on Liberty of Conscience (which has nothing to do with people being free to be idolaters and blasphemers) did receive a revision to omit the phrase “and by the power of the civil magistrate.” There was not, however, a phrase added to the effect of “but not by the power of the civil magistrate” nor was “they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the Church” amended to read “they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against only by the censures of the Church … .”

    If the framers of the American revisions wanted to go in the opposite direction from the original, it would have been easy: just add a “not” or “only.” None of the American revisions take that approach. I’ve already addressed the civil magistrate and the antichrist – the third issue was marriage to relatives of one’s dead spouse. The prohibition on such marriage was removed, but no one is required to affirm that such marriages are proper, much less mandatory.

    You state: “So which is it? Does the Bible say to oppose idolatry or to protect it? That is the conundrum your hermeneutical gymnastics face (sorry for mixing metaphors).”

    a) The Bible says to oppose idolatry. There’s no doubt about that. The question is whether the Bible says that the King should oppose idolatry (“King” sounds so much more grand that “civil magistrate”).

    b) I’d be happy to see you (or anyone) attempt to provide a case for the proposition that the Bible forbids the civil magistrate from opposing idolatry and/or that the Bible requires the civil magistrate to protect idolatry. I don’t think that the case can be made.

    c) It’s very easy to make the case that the Bible requires that the civil magistrate to oppose idolatry. There is a general principle that the Bible requires the civil magistrate to promote good and discourage evil. Idolatry is evil. Furthermore, we have numerous examples of kings being praised for removing idolatry, or being condemned for failing to remove idolatry.

    I’d be happy to engage you (or anyone else) in a formal written debate on the thesis “The Bible requires the civil magistrate to protect idolatry.” I’d take the negative position. I think we all know what the outcome of that debate would be. But if that is what y’all in the R2K believe, perhaps one of you would be man enough to take on the challenge! We can work out the details of the length of the papers, etc., once there is a willing challenger.

    - TurretinFan

  204. Zrim said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Paul,

    I hope it also makes you glad to hear that to my mind 2k is one good way to get cracked in the skull by modern tyrants who demand more than obedience, they demand absolute allegiance at odds with “Jesus is Lord” and a denial of the unfettered gospel. This is actually the main goal of 2k, to prop up “Jesus is Lord” and the pure gospel, something the Hitler’s of the world don’t finally take very kindly to. And to the extent that any sword is finally at odds with heaven, neither do those states lauded for their prizing of religious liberty. It takes less time for tyrannical states to crack skulls, but give America enough time and she’ll hang true religionists high as well.

    The problem with 1k of whatever stripe is that it either gets cracked in the skull for the wrong reasons, as in poking sticks at wasps nests because it thinks the church is commissioned to care one way or another about how Caesars are ordering their states, or it runs the risk of becoming friendly with Caesar because he’s doing things the way the church approves. 2k wants to be much more careful to avoid either ditch.

    But I still consider disobeying Hitler to be a weird way to interpret commands to obey a magistrate. I think when most hear the phrase “obey Hitler” they think it means “kill people.” If that’s what the phrase means then obviously it’s a problem. But I happen to think that interpretation of the phrase, as I said earlier, is very simplistic and two-dimensional. “Obeying Hitler” doesn’t necessarily mean “kill people” any more than “obey Bush” (better, Andrew Duggan? Talk about mountains and molehills) means “kill people.” So I’ll say it as plainly as I can: If “obey Hitler” means “kill people, worship Hitler instead of or alongside Jesus, or stop preaching the unfettered gospel,” then disobedience is the only option and our bodies and tongues should be offered to him for the slaughter. But if it doesn’t mean any of those things then obedience and submission is the command. Now, if you want to pick apart plain speech, go ahead. I just don’t see the point.

    BTW, Paul, the post is about fault on both sides. So far I don’t see how you think the anti-2k side is at fault, only how 2k is running amok.

  205. Zrim said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

    TUAD, do you seriously think anybody is going to say he would condemn John for confronting Herod? But like I already said, whatever John’s confrontation means it still has to contend with overwhelming NT data about obedience and submission. You know that Reformed hermeneutics 101 is all about interpreting parts in the light of the whole, so it seems to me the burden is on you to show how that one instance makes the case for violating the spirituality of the church and making hay of texts like Romans 13:1-7.

    Re your litmus test, first, you’re going to have to clarify what Tim Bayly thinks is a gospel sermon. Here is what he seems to think it is:

    http://www.baylyblog.com/2009/06/a-sermon-for-the-presidentand-for-the-people-of-god.html

    That is not a gospel sermon. That’s a glorified anti-abortion speech, and it’s hard to see how it fosters an obedient and submissive disposition toward leaders of the land instead of inciting not a little antagonism.

    You ask if I disapprove of what he’s doing. I do, quite vigorously. The rant on the Bayly side of the fence is that there isn’t nearly enough pushback and fight by 2kers, and that this indicates a whole host of things, including cowardice and unfaithfulness. But if it’s pushback and fight that they want it should be on them, because what they are doing is actually hampering the gospel and alienating people from it. They accuse 2k of hiding the gospel under a bushel, but it’s actually the cultural warriorizing that ironically hides it by blustering about a scant handful of particular societal issues.

    Nobody is trying to pry their convictions from their hands. The point is to put things into sane and biblical perspective. It is mystifying as to why this should draw so much ire and hatred. It is also mystifying as to why anybody should want to make things safe for those who arguably compromise the gospel witness with worldly cares. The accusation is that 2k “doesn’t give a rip.” But what 2k wants to do is actually put temporal concerns into a proper perspective in light of eternal truths. It may be that it’s less a matter of “not giving a rip” and more a matter of “getting a grip.”

  206. David Gray said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:37 am

    One thing R2K folks have been unable to address is the nature of the society in which we live. In our society nearly every adult wields secular authority, in varying degrees. Unless you believe voting to be sinful when you exercise the franchise you are, to a degree, Caesar.

  207. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

    “But like I already said, whatever John’s confrontation means it still has to contend with overwhelming NT data about obedience and submission.”

    Obedience and submission isn’t something novel to the New Testament age. These are duties that are required under the fifth commandment and are teachings that can be found throughout the Old Testament. They represent continuity, not discontinuity.

    -TurretinFan

  208. Paul Manata said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Zrim,

    So the only time you can disobey is when the government tells you to kill people or deny Jesus? Or do you think it goes beyond that? (Oh, I appreciate both ditches you want to avoid, but the problem is that you might also ignore a legitimate gripe in your effort to avoid ditches. Blindness to other things can happen by looking at one thing too closely, or by habitually averting your attention. Wars happen by picking fights, and by saying “peace, peace, when there is no peace.”)

    BTW, Paul, the post is about fault on both sides. So far I don’t see how you think the anti-2k side is at fault, only how 2k is running amok.

    Here’s one fault: they do tend to like using reason and arguments (and I know how that makes you bristle ;-). Anyway, this question of yours is too vague. Why? Because you have such disparity between both the “2k side” and the “anti-2k” side. And maybe this will help: by criticizing your comments I don’t equate that with criticizing 2K. I know you think that to criticize what you say is to criticize 2K, but I don’t.

  209. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Bret:

    Thanks for the offer. I would prefer that the proponent be someone who believes the resolution is true.

    -TurretinFan

  210. dgh said,

    September 16, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Jeff, at 191 (by now you really should call be dgh), I choose #1 because already the colonial church had raised reservations about the WCF on the magistrate at the adopting act of 1729, and the Hanover Presbytery in 1776 petitions against a religious establishment on the grounds of freedom of conscience for all inhabitants of Virginia. I concede #3 may be an option. But that leaves you with an awkward kernel and husk problem — why does the magistrate get to enforce only some of the Bible but not all of it? It’s not clear what biblical argument would let that distinction fly.

  211. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Bret,

    WCF (R2K edition):

    Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect blasphemers, without giving the preference to any group of blasphemers above the rest, in such a manner that all blasphemers are free to go about blaspheming the names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works of God, without danger of criminal penalty.

    What do you think?

    -TurretinFan

  212. dgh said,

    September 16, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Adam K. at 194: you make a plausible case, and it resembles closely John Cotton’s argument against Roger Williams — in effect that true freedom is to do the will of God. I can live intellectually with that position. But what does it mean for politics today? Does it mean, as I think it does, that you are opposed to freedom of conscience for non-Christians? And does it mean, as it did for Williams, that Baptists would not be able to live in the U.S. (if we were a Puritan republic)?

    In other words, I am trying to defend freedom of conscience as the revisors or the WCF were trying to do. And to do this you need some help from pc2k. If you don’t adopt a post-Constantinian stance, then you don’t have any Jews, Roman Catholics, or Glenn Becks in the US.

    In case you don’t see it, I am trying to get the critics of pc2k to own up to the implications of their view — which is no religious freedom. They may like the idea as one to beat down the current administration or to beat up pc2k advocates, but I wonder if they are really prepared to see their unbelieving neighbors deported.

  213. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 11:52 am

    DGH:

    Is “religious freedom” a moral absolute?

    -TurretinFan

  214. dgh said,

    September 16, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Tfan, first the push for a revised confession likely came as much from Virginia as from Philadelphia and New Jersey. The Hanover Presbytery didn’t much like the Anglican establishment and didn’t like having to pay taxes to support an Episcopal priest. I think you can imagine the same if you had to pay Gene Robinson’s salary.

    Second, I don’t read the revisions the way you do — duh. Since the king of England was supreme over the church and the state, I really don’t think the presbyterians of 1776 had much regard for allowing King George to be head of the church.

    Third, you say the revisions do not address specifically whether the magistrate has any power over the church. Well, since the original in chap. 31 granted the magistrate the power to call and convene synods and assemblies, and since that language is gone from the revision, it sure looks like they are denying the magistrate power over the church. The implication is a loss of power over punishing false religion.

    You are right that I don’t know your view. I am assuming that you think the magistrate should uphold the true religion and that he should enforce the first table of the law. Since the first table includes prohibitions against blasphemy and idolatry, I assume you think the magistrate should weed out idolaters and blasphemers. Correct me if I’m wrong. But when you say you agree with the reformers, they all (except for the Dutch where the republic never restricted religious practice) lived in situations like Calvin’s where someone like Servetus who denied the deity of Christ would be put to death. What is the general equity of blasphemy as a capital offense?

    You may have a point that I cannot prove from Scripture that the magistrate must not oppose idolatry or blasphemy (but again since your keen to oppose this idea how is it that I don’t know what your position is?), but I think it is the case that Jesus and the apostles were not sending missives to the emperor to uphold OT laws about idolatry even though the empire was thick with Roman gods. Still, what is true of Israel is true of the church. The church is called to weed out idolaters and blasphemers. Since the church does not have the civil power that Israel did, then by implication the civil authorities in the age of the church do not have the poswers that Israel did. The only way for the civil authorities to have that power is to found a Christian state the way the Puritans did where church membership and citizenship overlapped, and where the friends of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson needed to send postcards to their deported friends.

    Bottom line, do you believe in freedom of conscience for non-believers? If you don’t that doesn’t make you wrong? But I do wonder how you live in the current situation.

  215. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Zrim: “TUAD, do you seriously think anybody is going to say he would condemn John for confronting Herod?”

    I thought you might.

    Do you now acknowledge that there is evidence in the New Testament for your question of “where is there any NT evidence for civil disobedience and rebellion?”

    “Re your litmus test, first, you’re going to have to clarify what Tim Bayly thinks is a gospel sermon. Here is what he seems to think it is:

    http://www.baylyblog.com/2009/06/a-sermon-for-the-presidentand-for-the-people-of-god.html

    That is not a gospel sermon. That’s a glorified anti-abortion speech, and it’s hard to see how it fosters an obedient and submissive disposition toward leaders of the land instead of inciting not a little antagonism.

    You ask if I disapprove of what he’s doing. I do, quite vigorously.

    Thanks for stating that you disapprove. And thanks for providing that sermon as a specific exemplar of what you disapprove of in the Baylys.

    For the proposed litmus test, it appears to be working so far. You disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon. For the sake of clarification, let’s agree or assume that your disapproval marks you as a RADICAL 2K proponent.

    Further, let’s agree that any 2K person who doesn’t disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon is a normal 2K person, or a regular 2K person, or an average 2K person.

    Let’s suppose that Darryl Hart and David R. join you in voicing their disapproval of Pastor Bayly’s sermon that you linked to. Let them be marked as RADICAL 2K proponents.

    Let’s further suppose that Green Baggins, TurretinFan, Bret McAtee, David Gray, et al do not disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon. Let them be marked as 2K.

    This is what a litmus test is supposed to do. To segment into helpful categories.

    Zrim, you’re a RADICAL 2K proponent. That’s what you are.

  216. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Zrim: “Re your litmus test, first, you’re going to have to clarify what Tim Bayly thinks is a gospel sermon. Here is what he seems to think it is:

    http://www.baylyblog.com/2009/06/a-sermon-for-the-presidentand-for-the-people-of-god.html

    That is not a gospel sermon.

    Zrim, I’m not Tim Bayly. So if he comes back to this thread he can tell you whether he thought this sermon was a gospel sermon.

    Also, I want to thank you for pointing out this sermon. I had forgotten about it and you’ve given me a chance to go back and re-read it again, much to my great delight. Thank you.

    Anyways, I thought this section of the sermon was Gospel oriented:

    “I call on you, President Obama, to do today what you must certainly do one day. Repent in accord with the Word of God. Turn in obedience to your King. Bow before Him. Kiss the Son and seek His mercy. His promises of forgiveness and salvation are for you as much as for those you rule over.”

  217. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    a) Yes, obviously the comment about not preferring one denomination was important to Presbyterians.

    b) The Presbyterians have never accepted the King of England as the head of the church, even in the 17th century. That wasn’t the issue.

    c) You wrote:

    Well, since the original in chap. 31 granted the magistrate the power to call and convene synods and assemblies, and since that language is gone from the revision, it sure looks like they are denying the magistrate power over the church. The implication is a loss of power over punishing false religion.

    The silence of confession is silence not condemnation or reversal of the previous position. We can still have an objection to marrying our dead wives’ sisters, and we can still think that the pope is the antichrist. Neither of those positions are out of bounds on the basis of silence. Likewise, the position that the magistrate can call synods and prosecute notorious blasphemers is also not out of bounds on the basis of silence.

    When I say that you don’t know what my position is, what I mean is that you’re not familiar with the proper application of God’s law in the civil realm. You reason, for example, that if the civil magistrate is called to enforce the first table, that means that all the unbelievers are either executed or deported.

    That’s not how it would work in a Christian land, just as it was not how it worked in Israel. There were “strangers within thy gates” then (who were required to abstain from work on the Sabbath) and there will be similar strangers now. Their unbelief was not something that would get them executed or deported.

    However, blaspheming God’s name is something that civil magistrate is called to punish, and to punish regardless of whether someone is within the covenant:

    Leviticus 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.

    Nevertheless, consistent with the American revisions (and not inconsistent with the original), we are not to use the infidelity of the infidels as an excuse to oppress them:

    Exodus 22:21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

    Exodus 23:9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

    The general requirement for strangers was outward conformity. Thus, no blaspheming, no breaking the sabbath, no drinking blood, and so forth. But if they wanted to eat of the passover or to partake of the atonement, they had to be circumcised and become Hebrews.

    If people want to be part of the church, they have to be baptized and become Christians. But just to live in our lands, all we can command them to do is to refrain from external acts of evil.

    Does that make sense, whether or not you agree with it?

    -TurretinFan

  218. Adam Kuehner said,

    September 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    DGH,

    Thanks for the Cotton reference (#215). I look forward to tracking it down at some point.

    One more quick clarification, though:

    The issue is not “freedom of conscience for non-Christians”. If the “first table” were to be enforced, it would be enforced EQUITABLY on ALL PERSONS REGARDLESS of their religious convictions. Christians guilty of blasphemy would not be given special treatment. They would be punished along with anyone else who broke the law. Non-Christians who restrained their outward conduct so as to avoid violating the law would go unpunished.

    You continue to make this an issue of “WHO” (the offender) when it is really an issue of “WHAT” (the offense). Both of us agree that NOBODY HAS THE FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE TO VIOLATE THE SECOND TABLE (e.g. commit murder, rape, etc.) WITH IMPUNITY. Hence, we both affirm the magistrate’s right to force people to outwardly respect their neighbor, even when their conscience tells them they need to kill their neighbor. The real issue is whether the magistrate has equal right to force people to respect God (e.g. when Moses put to death the son of the Egyptian for blasphemy.)

    Re: the issue of baptists and multiple denominations, I would refer you to Bannerman’s discussion of this in vol. 1 of The Church of Christ. He espouses what I would call a moderate Confessional position on church/state relations; somewhere slightly to the left of Rutherford and Gillespie, but far to the right of most Reformed Christians today. The Free Church Fathers are generally helpful in translating ‘first table’ enforcement into a more modern, pan-denominational setting. I appreciate their writings very much.

    Thanks again for the informed discussion Dr. Hart,
    A.K.

  219. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Re: 204,

    No, not better. Do you really expect us to believe your contempt for Bush started Jan 20, 2009? So Zrim’s 2K (Z2K) teaches that as long was one obeys, he may hold the rulers in contempt? Seems like it to me.

    Re: 220,

    TF wrote:

    The silence of confession is silence not condemnation or reversal of the previous position.

    That is exactly right, and extremely important. That was a point that well needed to be made. Thank you.

  220. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Was it a violation of 2K for Nebuchadnezzar to outlaw blasphemy in Babylon as he did as recorded in Dan 3:29?

    Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill

    He also made it punishable by death, although not by stoning. So a nation outside of the covenant (Babylon) can make blasphemy a crime, but to suggest such a thing now is wrong? Since the major change between then and now is the coming of Christ, and now in our 2K world nations are prohibited (as some here say) of making blasphemy a crime so does that mean that Christ came to make the world safe for blasphemers? And here I thought Christ came to save the world — who knew.

  221. September 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    FYI, FWIW, the change regarding the pope as Antichrist was one of the 1903 revisions. The framers of the PCUSA constitution still believed that in 1788.

  222. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Zrim: “You ask if I disapprove of what he’s doing. I do, quite vigorously. The rant on the Bayly side of the fence is that there isn’t nearly enough pushback and fight by 2kers, and that this indicates a whole host of things, including cowardice and unfaithfulness.”

    Again, it’s a matter of proper language. Truth-in-labeling. He’s saying the R2K’ers are unfaithful and cowardly, not the 2K’ers.

    “But if it’s pushback and fight that they want it should be on them, because what they are doing is actually hampering the gospel and alienating people from it.”

    Well, they will tell you that some people have become Christians because the Holy Spirit blessed their Gospel Witness.

    “They accuse 2k of hiding the gospel under a bushel, but it’s actually the cultural warriorizing that ironically hides it by blustering about a scant handful of particular societal issues.”

    Again, they accuse R2K of hiding the gospel under a bushel. Not 2K. What you call “particular societal issues” also happen to be Biblical issues: Taking of unborn life and same-sex marriage.

    “Nobody is trying to pry their convictions from their hands. The point is to put things into sane and biblical perspective.

    I think their perspective is sane and biblical.

    “It is mystifying as to why this should draw so much ire and hatred.”

    It’s unclear to me why what the Baylys and others are doing is drawing so much ire and hatred from you, Darryl Hart, R. Scott Clark, and other R2K’ers.

    “It is also mystifying as to why anybody should want to make things safe for those who arguably compromise the gospel witness with worldly cares.”

    Are you saying that the R2K’ers want to make things unsafe for the Baylys and others (who incidentally would not stipulate that they are compromising their Gospel Witness with worldly cares)?

    ” The accusation is that 2k “doesn’t give a rip.”

    Correction again. R2K

    ——

    Darryl Hart and David R., do you join Zrim in his disapproval of the Pastor Bayly sermon that he linked to?

  223. David R. said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    TUaD,

    Yes. I’d be interested in your response to #198.

  224. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    David R.,

    Thanks for responding. Both you and Zrim disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon. That marks you as a R2K.

    With regards to #198, a better observation would be to note that a number of the apostles were persecuted and executed at the behest of the state or governing “magistrate.” If they submitted and obeyed the governing “magistrate” then a number of them would not have died the way they did. Their lives and their deaths are exemplars of conduct for Christians, particularly for the R2K’ers.

  225. David Gadbois said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    TUAD, do not underestimate the fact that some of the more extreme 2Kers are defensive on these issues because they feel that 2K insulates their rancid political liberalism. Oh, sure, they will allow us to talk about it, as one would debate Chopin vs. Beethoven. But don’t tell them they have an *ethical* problem as a Christian with their political views.

  226. David Gray said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    >Both you and Zrim disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon. That marks you as a R2K.

    Spot on.

  227. Dan MacDonald said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I apologize if I am misconstruing the matter. I would just like some clarity, because while I am sympathetic to 2K conceptually, I demur from the level of demarcation you seem to make between the church and the world.

    You probably have an article on this that I don’t know about, so please feel free to point me elsewhere if that is a more effective way to help answer this question.

  228. Dan MacDonald said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    dgh,

    The above was part of a comment aimed at you, the bulk of which comment somehow got deleted when I hit ‘post.’ Sorry. Ignore it.

  229. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    CC:

    Thanks for the correction. The change to chapter 22 (about lawful oaths) was also a 1903 change. In other words, the 1788 revision did not omit this: “Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching anything that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.”

    -TurretinFan

  230. Paul Manata said,

    September 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    David G,

    “TUAD, do not underestimate the fact that some of the more extreme 2Kers are defensive on these issues because they feel that 2K insulates their rancid political liberalism.”

    That’s true, but be careful, some 2Kers will accuse you of slander.

    I’ve also noticed that some 2Kers claim that pastors cannot condemn evils in a society, they leave that job to Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky.

  231. Reed Here said,

    September 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    TUAD, David G, Paul:

    Are any of you claiming that Dr. Hart or Steve Zrimic:

    Use 2K to insulate their “rancid political liberalism”? – or -
    Claim that pastors connot condemn evils in society?

    Or are you simply referring to unnamed other 2k’ers?

    If the latter, it might help to be clearer with that in this conversation. I’m not sure who y’all are talking about, but in context I do have to ask are you talking about those who spoken pro 2K here.

    Just a request for clarity.

  232. Zrim said,

    September 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    So, David (#225), I presume the opposite couldn’t be said: some of the more extreme anti-2Kers are defensive on these issues because they feel that anti-2K insulates their rancid political conservatism? One would think this would be a tactic this side of the table might take, but there are so many gosh darn politically progressive anti-2kers that it just wouldn’t work. Yours is also an odd remark, since of all the “extreme” 2kers I only know of there is one with lefitsh politics and another with pretty rightist politics (and I’m not particularly political, unless you brilliantly interpret a folksy reference to George W. Bush as “Dubya” to tell you “everything you need to know” about a person’s politics. Hi, Andrew).

    But we come back to another fundamental sticking point: to have political views is the same as personal morality and ethics. If that’s true then to have a political outlook that protects the right of people to worship false gods and practice idolatry is the same as personally worshipping false gods and practicing idolatry. Calvin’s Geneva thought so, but Kuyper, in his work to get the theocratic nature of Belgic 36 revised, was pretty unabashed to say that, “We do not at all hide the fact that we disagree with Calvin, our Confessions, and our Reformed theologians.” Maybe you want to throw Abe under the bus as well?

    http://sb.rfpa.org/index.cfm?mode=narrow&volume=62&issue=457&article=4393&book=0&search=&page=1&chapter=0&text_search=0

    TUAD, you got me, I’m a radical. But that feat strikes me to be about as easy as closing your eyes. You could have just asked me instead of going through all that. I guess to vigorously disagree with the Bishop of Bloomington marks one as outside the Reformed pale? But I suppose if Kuyper can vigorously disagree with Calvin (see link) I can with the Bishop. I think you might do better to excommunicate Kuyper first, though, then come after me. You know, because they matter way more than me or the Bishop.

  233. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    David Gadbois: “TUAD, do not underestimate the fact that some of the more extreme 2Kers are defensive on these issues because they feel that 2K insulates their rancid political liberalism.

    Thanks. I’m glad to know that it’s a fact.

    With regards to “extreme 2Kers” I believe that’s why the term R2K was originally developed.

    Also, I appreciate the adjective rancid to describe political liberalism. I was wondering if some of these R2K’ers were allowing their political liberalism to drive their theology. I would hope not, but maybe some are.

    “But don’t tell them they have an *ethical* problem as a Christian with their political views.”

    Why not? If there was someone professing to be a Christian working within the Nazi party and also as a member of the Nazi party, what would be wrong with informing that professing Christian that they have an “ethical” problem with their political views?

    Is it because they get defensive and they’ll start shouting at you in mad anger? If so, maybe when they calm down, they’ll listen to their pinged conscience.

  234. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    “TUAD, you got me, I’m a radical.”

    Thanks for the honest admission, Zrim.

    “I think you might do better to excommunicate Kuyper first, though, then come after me.”

    I’m not interested in excommunicating anyone. I’m merely trying to obtain helpful clarification as to what constitutes R2K and who is R2K in contradistinction to normal 2K.

    Darryl Hart, do you disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon that Zrim and David R. also disapprove of?

    Darryl Hart, Zrim, David R., et al, do any of you disapprove of what Green Baggins has done when he writes:

    “I have in the past and will in the future if the need arises, protest abortion in the strongest of terms. I would do so on the basis of being a good citizen of a secular government. I have picketed abortion clinics (only in a legal way on public property). I have supported crisis pregnancy centers, and would do so again, if I am in a situation where the need arises.”

    Further, let’s say that the congregants of Pastor Keister’s church are well aware of his Gospel Witness in this arena of being pro-life. (Perhaps they read his blog.) And it influences their political behavior, orienting them to vote against pro-abortion candidates.

    Do you disapprove of what Pastor Lane Keister is doing?

  235. Paul Manata said,

    September 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Reed,

    “TUAD, David G, Paul:

    Are any of you claiming that Dr. Hart or Steve Zrimic:
    Use 2K to insulate their “rancid political liberalism”?

    No.

    “Claim that pastors connot condemn evils in society?

    I believe Zrim has gone in this direction. For example, Zrim doesn’t think a pastor could/should condemn a Christian for voting to make/keep abortion legal if it became a single issue on a ballot. I have other quotes of his I can paste in if need be, but maybe he can clarify.

    “If the latter, it might help to be clearer with that in this conversation. I’m not sure who y’all are talking about, but in context I do have to ask are you talking about those who spoken pro 2K here.”

    Not any one here. Besides that, the names I know wouldn’t mean anything to anyone.

  236. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Zrim: “To obey Hitler in 1942 Germany looks a lot like what it means to obey Dubya in 2003 America.”

    David Gray: “That is a truly wicked statement.

    To make a moral equivalency argument between Hitler and Dubya, between 1942 Germany and 2003 America is truly rancid.

  237. David Gadbois said,

    September 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Paul M said That’s true, but be careful, some 2Kers will accuse you of slander.

    Some are reasonably open about their political leanings. One 2K pastor self-describes his political views as “progressive”.

    Also, a lot of the moral equivalence that has been brought to the defense of some flavors of 2K (“why aren’t you as worried about the deaths caused by Iraq War/American imperialism?”) could have been lifted straight from the pages of the New York Times op ed section.

  238. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Zrim wrote:

    “We do not at all hide the fact that we disagree with Calvin, our Confessions, and our Reformed theologians.” Maybe you want to throw Abe under the bus as well?

    If that’s your position, that you are at odds with Calvin, the Confessions, and the Reformed theologians, that certainly reduces a lot of the discussion. It would reduce our discussion with Abe, if he were around.

    -TurretinFan

  239. David Gadbois said,

    September 16, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    TUAD said Why not? If there was someone professing to be a Christian working within the Nazi party and also as a member of the Nazi party, what would be wrong with informing that professing Christian that they have an “ethical” problem with their political views?

    There is a 50% chance I’m mis-reading you here, but did you pick up on my intent to be sarcastic in the last sentence of my post? Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

  240. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Zrim: “I guess to vigorously disagree with the Bishop of Bloomington marks one as outside the Reformed pale?”

    No, that’s not what I wrote. Please do not distort and misrepresent me. I said that (based on tentative litmus test) that marks you as being a R2K proponent.

    And which you admitted and agreed to.

  241. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    David Gadbois,

    It’s because I didn’t realize you were being sarcastic. It’s hard to pick up on sarcasm sometimes.

  242. David Gadbois said,

    September 16, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    TUAD said Also, I appreciate the adjective rancid to describe political liberalism. I was wondering if some of these R2K’ers were allowing their political liberalism to drive their theology.

    I wouldn’t want to say it is “driving” their theology. I think they are sincere in believing 2K is biblical doctrine. I think 2K is biblical doctrine. But it is also a convenient tool to insulate their liberalism.

    I think they essentially believe that since we believe in 2K now, we don’t have to have a Christian worldview. A Christian worldview is transformationist talk or perhaps even social gospel, dontcha’ know? Personally, I’ve never seen 2K and a Christian worldview as incompatible.

  243. David Gadbois said,

    September 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Zrim said But we come back to another fundamental sticking point: to have political views is the same as personal morality and ethics.

    It is not “the same”, but on some issues personal morality does determine political views. If you are talking about views on, say, the gold standard or import tariffs, no. There is good and bad judgment on those issues. One can be foolish without being immoral. On some issues, however, one’s view directly reflects one’s morality. I mean, I thought us 2Kers were supposed to be really big on Natural Law operating in the secular kingdom? Natural law is moral law.

    If that’s true then to have a political outlook that protects the right of people to worship false gods and practice idolatry is the same as personally worshipping false gods and practicing idolatry.

    Flat out, that does not follow by any principle of logic. Believing that government has a limited domain in enforcing certain moral laws is not incompatible with believing that personal morality often plays into political views.

  244. Paul Manata said,

    September 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    David,

    “Also, a lot of the moral equivalence that has been brought to the defense of some flavors of 2K (“why aren’t you as worried about the deaths caused by Iraq War/American imperialism?”) could have been lifted straight from the pages of the New York Times op ed section.”

    Yep, or as I said, from Zinn and Chomsky :-)

    “Personally, I’ve never seen 2K and a Christian worldview as incompatible.”

    It’s not, how could it be, it’s supposed to be an application of the Christian worldview to the area of church and state, cult and culture, political involvement, etc. It is put forth as a Christian view of those things.

  245. Paul Manata said,

    September 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    David,

    “Zrim said But we come back to another fundamental sticking point: to have political views is the same as personal morality and ethics.

    It is not “the same”, but on some issues personal morality does determine political views.

    David, FWIW, I recently made some brief comments on this topic:

    http://aporeticchristianity.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/the-ethics-of-politics/

  246. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Besides abortion, gay marriage is another issue to consider.

    “Churches across California united last year in support of Proposition 8. Pastors educated their congregations, church members rallied in streets in support of the bill, and many were encouraged to vote according to their values.”

    From here.

    An R2K proponent would likely disapprove of the above.

    Darryl Hart, David R., Zrim, do you disapprove of pastors educating their congregations, church members rallying in streets in support of the Proposition 8 bill, and many Christians being encouraged to vote according to their values and beliefs in Biblical, one-man/one-woman marriage?

  247. David Gadbois said,

    September 16, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    TUAD, FWIW Scott Clark posted support for Prop 8. See, we’re not all bad :)

  248. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    “FWIW Scott Clark posted support for Prop 8.”

    Yay! Conservative political support by Scott Clark for a conservative political and a conservative Biblical issue!!

  249. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Earlier, I asked a question of DHG that may have been lost in the shuffle of the many questions.

    Is “religious freedom” a moral absolute?

    I hold that it is not. If it were, you’d have to take some kind of Manichaean view of the Old Testament. Since it is not, the fact that it may have to be sacrificed to obey God’s law shouldn’t give us heartburn.

    -TurretinFan

  250. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Bret: “Clark went out of his way to support Prop 8 according to reasons drawn everywhere except from Scripture.”

    2 observations:

    (1) Why wouldn’t he cite Scriptural arguments to support Prop. 8?

    (2) R. Scott Clark’s support of Prop. 8 is is conservative political speech for a political ballot initiative. Connecting the dots, as someone earlier said, would lead to the very real possibility that some members of Clark’s church would read about Clark’s political support of Prop. 8, consider Pastor Clark’s writings in support of Prop. 8 as informed political commentary, and to translate that into an encouragement to vote in favor of Proposition 8.

    Does a R2K proponent disapprove of what Pastor-Professor R. Scott Clark did? If no, then if another pastor did the same thing as R. Scott Clark in providing conservative political support for Biblical marriage, would the R2K proponents disapprove because it wasn’t R. Scott Clark who was the one providing conservative political commentary? Suppose it was Pastor Tim Bayly who posted his political conservative support for Biblical marriage. Would the R2K proponents give him a pass too, assuming they give R. Scott Clark a pass?

  251. dghart said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Adam K. at 218, I sort of see your point about who is offending vs. what the offense is. But I don’t think that distinction is so air-tight when it comes to the first table. And I really do wonder how much you have considered the depth of religious conviction that bounces up against that first table.

    Here’s the thing, how many citizens of the U.S. make killing a matter of conscience? I know, some will point to abortion and the ideology that fuels. But even the most rabid pro-choice people have tried to say that abortion is not murder because they argue the fetus is not a human. I think that is wrong and bogus, but implicit in that defense is a recognition that killing humans is wrong. In which case, unless a religion exists that practices human sacrifice, most people are fairly content with the restrictions of the second table. This would especially include Jews, Roman Catholics, and Mormons (after the admission of Utah as a state).

    But the first table gets a lot stickier. A good Roman Catholic does not believe he is doing anything wrong by observing (the idolatry of) the mass. He even believes that his conscience requires him to engage in a practice that Protestants consider idolatrous. A Jew also thinks he’s doing nothing wrong by praying to God without invoking Jesus’ name. And he believes for conscience sake that he needs to do so. (I don’t know Mormon worship to think of an analogy.)

    So this means that idolaters and blasphemers whom most of the original Reformed communities would not tolerate (and either banished or executed) believe by their conscience that they are not only not doing anything wrong but that they are also following the Ten Commandments.

    In which case the who is bound up with the what. The Roman Catholic worships in a Roman Catholic manner and cannot do otherwise. So if the magistrate is to enforce both tables he will not be able to protect freedom of a Roman Catholic’s or a Jew’s conscience.

    That may not trouble you. But it is highly ironic that Calvinists love to talk about how they contributed the freedom of conscience to the West when many of the Calvinists (I assume) do not give a rip about freedom of conscience. In which case, the desire that Presbyterians and Reformed for freedom of conscience was only for them and not for anyone else. That’s not a bad deal if you’re Reformed. But it sure would change the world’s politics if it were true.

  252. dghart said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Dan McDonald,

    For something short on the church and the world, you may want to look at one of the chapters in John Muether and my book, With Reverence and Awe. For a longer treatment I’d recommend David Wells’ No Place for Truth and some of the subsequent volumes.

  253. dghart said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Truth Undermines and Distorts,

    Since you keep asking and asking and asking, I do not personally object to Pastor Bayly’s mid-week activities as long as he has two sermons prepared for each Sunday.

  254. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 16, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Dark Heart,

    Why two sermons?

  255. TurretinFan said,

    September 16, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    DGH:

    A) why should the civil magistrate protect “freedom of conscience” for all men?

    B) you are aware, I suppose, that even the American revision of the standards requires the civil magistrate to enforce at least some of the first table of the law. If so, why are you trying to propose a distinction based on tables?

    -TurretinFan

  256. RL Keener said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I’m a newbie to the discussions on 2K, but Hart’s, Stellman’s, Van Drunen’s, and others’ arguments seem more persuasive and make more sense to this layman than the alternative. Reading through this thread is only confirming that perspective.

    I have a question for TFan and TUAD and others on their side: What do you make of Matthew 22:18 – 21:

    But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.”

    They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

    “Caesar’s,” they replied.

    Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

    Jesus’ reply seems consonant with 2K as defined by DGH, et al., but I can’t make sense of it according to your view.

    But perhaps I’m wrong. How do you explain his response according to your understanding of the reign of Christ?

  257. Zrim said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    TUAD, re your question about Rev. Keister’s remarks, I morally and politically oppose abortion, so I think it’s pretty safe to say we have a lot of common ground. However, I’m also as opposed to forms of activism of whatever cause that are marked by imprudence and favor self-expression over self-comportment (e.g. picketing). It is simply unbecoming and an unfortunate way to behave in public. I think it actually works to obscure the genuine concerns at hand, as well as fuel the fires of social-cultural-political discord instead of peace and order. It may be lawful and perfectly kosher, but I for one would not encourage it but in fact discourage it. I think there are superior ways to practice good citizenship than to join the ranks and practices of those who only cause more division, hatred, fear and loathing.

  258. Zrim said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    David, I don’t see how we 2kers being “really big on Natural Law operating in the secular kingdom” means that we morally judge someone for disagreeing (even strongly) on how best to address certain political questions. That makes absolutely no sense; it’s completely arbitrary. I know plenty of liberals who tell me that my conservative views on abortion morally impugn me as a misogynist, or that someone’s conservative economic views makes him personally guilty for impoverishing people. Fubar, and you know it. Names have hitherto not been mentioned, but Stellman is politically leftish and Hart is rightish, yet it’s 2k that lets them happily co-exist without resorting to moral indignation and judgment. On your view one has to eventually call the other personally morally corrupt. I have yet to see either do that, but in fact the opposite.

  259. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Daryl Hart,

    I’m responding back rather late to your post #183:

    Instead of R2k, how about PC2k (as in post-Constantinian).

    I’m glad to use a term that you would pick rather than something (i.e. R2K) that might come off as being pejorative. We all are 2K in that we see the need to distinguish the roles of church and state against the Medieval backdrop, and so I’m happy to see that you agree that we need to find something to distinguish your position from that of us other 2K folks.

    So on the point of general equity, what is the general equity of prohibiting blasphemy and idolatry?

    Well maybe there is general equity to be considered in this matter and I cannot say that I would fault a local municipality that passed an ordinance forbidding blasphemy. Would this be so terrible? But this is a detail of how to apply biblical norms in one aspect of culture. I am speaking of the fact that in general we can make proper applications of Scripture to cultural issues of which civil laws are one example, and of which your question about blasphemy is one of myriads of possible applications in this one example.

    But let’s say that civil governments ought not to have laws against blasphemy. OK then, so we have found one example where there is no general equity. What of that? Does it logically follow that ALL such applications of God’s Word to cultural matters are wrong-headed?

    I also agree that Christ and the apostles disobeyed the civil magistrate when their faith and God’s law told them to do something different (i.e., preach the gospel). But again, did they run around telling the magistrate that he ought to outlaw infanticide, abolish slavery, and use only men in the army?

    The age of Christ and the Apostles established basic principles upon which the Church was to be built. It was not the role of the early Christians to be making every possible application of Christianity that could be made. I would say a similar thing of nations today where Christianity is just emerging. I hardly expect that Christians in China would care a hoot about this conversation. But then they are not living in a time and place where such debates have relevance, at least not in the same sense as such matters are of interest to you and me.

    That seems to me to be what is at stake in these criticisms of pc2k. Because pc2k advocates don’t run around accusing the magistrate of infidelity, pc2kers are somehow guilty of infidelity and should not be followed.

    Whenever these debates over Christ and culture get going we seem to only be able to use the applications of law and politics as relevant examples. Why is this? Take my examples in #86 to Todd concerning applications of Christianity to aesthetics. Why do we have to immediately begin talking about politics when we engage in these Christ/culture debates?

  260. September 16, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    But even the most rabid pro-choice people have tried to say that abortion is not murder because they argue the fetus is not a human. I think that is wrong and bogus, but implicit in that defense is a recognition that killing humans is wrong. In which case, unless a religion exists that practices human sacrifice, most people are fairly content with the restrictions of the second table

    Darryl,

    What is implicit in such a defense is not a standard that calls murder wrong, at least in any absolute sense, but rather a standard that accommodates murder when it is deemed convenient. Accordingly, it is not only naïve but simply false to suggest that “most people are fairly content with the restrictions of the second table” – properly understood that is. After all, even you find any defense of abortion that is based upon the frothy conjecture of a non-human fetus “bogus”, which underscores the point that people are not content with the second table of the law. Their “bogus” attempts to redefine “human life” in order not to murder does not suggest the acceptance of the sixth commandment but rather implies the denial of it. That’s why they redefine life – not out ignorance but out of sinful convenience. The same can be said of the other five commandments in the second table. Are people content with calling all adultery wickedness? No, that’s why the culture calls some such sins an “affair” or a “fling”. Yet given the analogy of reasoning as it pertains to murder, you would have us believe that the culture is fine with calling adultery sin, yet it may if it pleases redefine certain types of adultery as something less. That is not to agree with the law; it’s to make oneself the judge of the law.

    A good Roman Catholic does not believe he is doing anything wrong by observing (the idolatry of) the mass.

    How do you know this? How do you know that the plain teaching of Scripture that denies the alleged sacrifice of the mass does not penetrate the Romanist’s mind and that he is not suppressing the truth in unrighteousness? After all Darryl, man knows by nature that works cannot appease the wrath of God. Accordingly, man knows by nature that the mass cannot do what the Roman church says it can do, placate God’s fury. One would think that the observance of the mass is not sin by your standards.

    He even believes that his conscience requires him to engage in a practice that Protestants consider idolatrous.

    Better yet, he is suppressing not what Protestants say he shouldn’t do but what God’s word teaches is an abominable practice.

    A Jew also thinks he’s doing nothing wrong by praying to God without invoking Jesus’ name.

    Was this too revealed to you too? I thought the former days of ignorance were gone with the resurrection? In any case, a Jew that hasn’t heard of Jesus, being human, knows in his heart of hearts that he is at enmity with God and that His wrath abides upon him. He may not know of Jesus, but he certainly knows (and suppresses) that he is under God’s wrath and, therefore, has no business coming before Him to ask anything other than mercy by grace.

    So this means that idolaters and blasphemers… believe by their conscience that they are not only not doing anything wrong but that they are also following the Ten Commandments.

    Your understanding or Romans 1 is I believe suspect, and you most certainly give new meaning to the notion of invincible ignorance.

    Ron

  261. proregno said,

    September 17, 2010 at 2:05 am

    In reply to #232, the reference to Kuyper’s view on BC art.36:

    1. Kuyper writes: “That our fathers have not developed this monstrous proposition out of principle, but have taken it over from Romish practice.”

    In the article itself I do not find any ‘principal’ arguments from Scripture and the Confessions on why the original BC art.36 is ‘monstrous’. What I do find is a lot of emotionalism against the ‘scaffold for the heretic’, as Kuyper calls it.

    2. Kuyper were at his best preaching and teaching ‘particular grace’, but at his worst with his development of the ‘common grace’ theory. Therefore his emotional reaction is a result of his times (end of 19th, beginning of 19th century), wherein the Enlightenment ideas fleshed out in the French revolution’s ‘Freedom, equality and brothership’ for all, has conquered or dilluted in some sense many good reformed folks view of ‘church and state’.

    3. Kuyper’s ‘common grace’ theory resulted in his dualism: the church is in service of special grace, the state should be in service of common grace, contra Ps.2. Ironically, this view developed together with Kuyper’s aspirations to become prime minister of the Netherlands, and in seeking ‘common ground’ with Rome, article 36 had to be changed to accomodate the votes of Rome and other sectarians.

    4. Therefore, I think Kuyper and his views were the results of his socio-political times, and not biblical, confessional principles.

    5. But, in saying this, it seems that Kuyper’s modern day followers has taken his views a step further, even too far: the radical 2k’s. Please correct me, but even Kuyper’s still believed in 2K, without the ‘radical’. He believed civil magistrate must apply the second table (5-9), and ‘some’ aspects of the first table (3,4), but not 1 and 2. But he did believe in a ‘christian magistrate’, even according to the revised art.36 BC. R2K are pleading for a ‘neutral state’ based on natural law, and is therefore a new movement which does not have any historical foundation in the mainline historic reformed faith, confessions and worldview.

    6. A question to R2K’s: please show me from Scripture and the Confessions why it is morally acceptable to have ‘in the name of the Lord ash a scaffold for murderers’, and have ‘the blood of murderers’ on our hands (to use Kuyper’s rhetoric), but it is morally objectionable to have death penalty for hardened blasphemers ? Maybe the answer is: man’s rights must be protected at all costs (our times demands it), but not God’s Name. We live in Prov.29:25 times.

    7. About the original wording of BC art.36: I read in the original nothing about ‘death to all heretics’, i.e. against persons as such. It says “… with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist …” (French: pour oster et ruiner toute Idolatrie et faux service de l’antechrist; Latin: submoveant et evertant, regnum Antichristi diruant). I am not saying that the Reformers (Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, Beza, etc.) did not believe in capital punishment for heretics in specific cases, but that the wording of the original must not be re-interpret according to the emotionalism of our times (as it seem Kuyper and his modern day followers do). There are therefore different ways to deal with this issue than only capital punishment to ‘remove idolatry and false religion’ from a Christian Reformed Republic (banishment, fines, etc.). The the best way of course to fight idolatry is the proclamation of the true Gospel by the Church under the protecting of the civil magistrate , which art.36 also teach. But, where a heretic or blasphemer are destroying the Christian order, purposefullu trying to lead the nation away from the one true Lord and His good laws, then as a final restraint, capital punishment could be applied after a just trail: “So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you. .” (Deut.13:11)

    8. BTW, if R2K’s worst nightmare comes true (no, not an Islamic or satanistic humanist civil magistrate), but a 2k christian civil magistrate applying both tables of the Law in righteousness and love for God and man, would they then teach openly against it and even be disobedient against such a legitimate christian state, because ‘freedom of idolatry expression’ is such an absolute natural law right for them for all people ?

  262. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 17, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Darryl Hart: “Since you keep asking and asking and asking, I do not personally object to Pastor Bayly’s mid-week activities as long as he has two sermons prepared for each Sunday.”

    So you do not disapprove of the Pastor Bayly sermon that Zrim linked to above in #205, is that correct?

    Also, you do not object to the following activities of Pastor Bayly either (“as long as he has two sermons prepared for each Sunday”), is that correct?

    (Pastor Tim Bayly) “Every Christian church with an abortuary in its city should organize themselves and other believers so that any time that killing place is open for murder, the people of God are present as witnesses against the bloodshed. There should always be men and women of God outside speaking up for the orphans and calling the mothers, fathers, girlfriends, grandmothers, doctors, security guards, and everyone else with blood-covered hands to repentance.

    If our church has no such ministry, it’s doubtful we would have picked up the children of the ancient Roman Empire whose fathers left them exposed to die. Nor would we have spoken up against the ovens of Auschwitz. Nor are we likely to adopt African AIDS orphans, or even non-Anglo or special needs children from the US. In fact, there’s a whole host of things we would never do. Too messy.

    We may be committed to supporting the crisis pregnancy center. That’s good, but it’s secondary. First, we must oppose the slaughter.

    For years, our church has had faithful women and men, organized in their witness, who call out…

    to those entering the abortuary offering them financial assistance and medical care if they’ll choose not to murder their unborn child. God be praised, we have a six year old boy in our church because one of those women heard and repented, later asking if someone in our church was willing to adopt her son. We did.

    Picketing with my children presented some of most tender times I had with them when they were growing up. And watching the faithful souls in our fellowship who are there each week is one of the greatest joys I have as a pastor.”

    Read the rest at Abortion: snatching prey from the teeth of the wicked….

  263. dghart said,

    September 17, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Andrew at 258, one reason why these discussions descend to politics is because that’s where folks like the Baylys take them. Over at their blog they recently comment on a gathering of like minded ministers and how encouraging it is that people are writing senators and some are contemplating running for office. In other words, we are 30 years into the Religious Right, the age of Colson, where a Christian world view means not only taking art but also the polity captive for Christ. So it’s hardly the case that pc2k folks are guilty of politicizing. And it is also the case that the politicizers condemn pc2k folks for not being politicized.

    As for the difficulty of finding general equity from blasphemy and your desire to find in Scripture truths upon which to craft cultural norms, don’t you think that if it is hard to find general equity from the most basic form of God’s moral will, it will be even harder to do so from more complex expressions of God’s will? That doesn’t mean that looking to Scripture for cultural guidance is wrong. But it can look downright foolish if the search for guidance on ethics, aesthetics and politics only goes to the Bible and leaves aside Aristotle. And frankly, I don’t see any particularly compelling view of Christian culture out there from the folks who are most adamant about it. At least my fundamentalist parents had enough sense just to call the world worldly and be done with it. Now it seems we want to baptize the world much in the way that Roman Catholics did by “Christianizing” pagan Europe.

  264. dghart said,

    September 17, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Tfan at 255,

    1) if the magistrate does not protect the freedoms of all men you may end up with St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. So it may be more prudent to protect both Roman Catholics and Protestants rather than letting each side slaughter the other depending on who’s in power.

    Does your question imply that you are considering withholding the freedoms of your Roman Catholic neighbor? Or are you going to sign a petition from ACORN to prevent the Mormon Glenn Beck from broadcasting daily?

    2) I don’t think it’s possible for the magistrate to uphold the first table and protect the freedoms of Roman Catholics, Mormons, Reformed Protestants, and Muslims. If you know a way to do that, I’m all eyes.

  265. dghart said,

    September 17, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Ron, I can imagine that a Roman Catholic thinks they are following God’s law because I have seen and yes, even wept, over A Man For All Seasons.

    But you say someone “knows by nature that works cannot appease the wrath of God.” Actually, I think people know by nature “do this and live,” and its flipside, “if you do this you die.” It’s part of the covenant of works that comes I believe with bearing the image of God. I know personally that I wonder when I experience troubles if it is a punishment for wrongs in my life. People do this all the time. If they are successful it is because they are good, if they experience suffering it is for evil. It is a universal human reaction. In which case, it is only by grace that we know that our works cannot appease the wrath of God, and that the works of a righteous mediator will. Which is why the covenant of grace has built in to it the works principle — that is, works are still necessary to satisfy God, and those works are Christ’s.

  266. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 6:37 am

    The original question about whether there are binding Biblical-ethical norms for the magistrate is ambiguous. Of course magistrates should obey God. Everyone’s supposed to obey God. But the real question here is whether or not magistrates should force his subjects to obey God. Or, perhaps better, whether the magistrate should force his subjects to obey the moral law in its entirety. The way I’m following this debate, DGH says no and TFan says yes.

    I think both want to use scripture to support his position. In that case, there’s something to the idea that even DGH thinks that the magistrate should be answerable to at least one Biblical norm – the one that forbids the magistrate from forcing his subjects to obey God’s moral law in its entirety. I don’t think DGH should be embarrassed by this. The important disagreement is over what God calls the magistrate to do. What’s the divine mandate to the magistrate?

    TFan wants an argument for the idea that, according to the Bible, the magistrate shouldn’t oppose (or, more specifically, punish) idolatry and blasphemy. Here’s one:

    1. Everyone agrees there’s an important passage (Romans 13) about the role God has established for civil magistrates.

    2. What role does this passage suggest? Puritan-types say it suggests that the magistrate should enforce divine moral law in its entirety; pluralist-types say it suggests only that the magistrate should enforce a peaceful social environment – rules that provide protection for people and their temporal, worldly interests.

    3. How do we decide which interpretation of the passage is better? We see which interpretation better fits the context in which Paul is writing. Significantly, he was writing about the civil magistrates of Rome, who definitely didn’t do anything to enforce divine moral law, but whom Paul thought were doing a pretty good job – at least good enough for Paul to confirm their standing as God’s minister in the way they were functioning.

    4. The best interpretation of this endorsement of the way they were functioning is that they were doing at least enough to enforce a peaceful social environment, punishing acts of violence, theft, etc.

    5. On the other hand, the Puritan interpretation the magistrate’s mandate to execute wrath on evildoers suggests that the Roman magistrates weren’t fulfilling it, contrary to what Paul said. So minimally, the other interpretation is a better one.

  267. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 6:41 am

    Above I gave a Biblical argument for a 2K-ish point of view. A few things about it:

    1. It’s not deductive. But a lot of interpretive arguments are inferences to the best explanation like this.

    2. It’s not based on a difference between the 1st and 2nd tables. I don’t think the state should punish for all violations of the 2nd table. Jesus interpreted the 6th commandment in a way that makes it prohibit hating others. He interpreted the 7th in a way that makes it prohibit lusting after others. But I don’t think there should be laws against hating and lusting after others. Maybe defenders of the distinction would want to say that the magistrate is only to deal with outward acts, but I’m not sure how that argument would go.

    3. It’s not based on what we can know by way of natural law or general revelation. I don’t think the state should punish for all violations of the natural law. Paul at one point says nature teaches that men shouldn’t wear their hair long. And, even though men wearing their hair long is an outward act that violates a law of nature, I don’t think the state should enforce this one.

  268. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 8:11 am

    DGH:

    I’ve posted some detailed responses to some of your arguments (link to detailed response). Nevertheless, I’d like to present you with the following positive case:

    1) The Civil Magistrate is a moral agent.

    2) Making unjust laws is an immoral act.

    3) The moral principle of justice that unjust laws violate is an absolute principle.

    4) The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

    5) There is no moral law except God’s moral law.

    6) The Scriptures are God’s clearest revelation of God’s moral law.

    7) The laws given to Israel by Moses were just laws.

    Do you agree with the seven items above? If not, which ones don’t you agree with? If you do agree with them, how do you justify your view of the civil magistrate from the Bible?

    -TurretinFan

  269. September 17, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Ron, I can imagine that a Roman Catholic thinks they are following God’s law because I have seen and yes, even wept, over A Man For All Seasons.

    Darryl,

    You might want to consider (or even rely upon) another source of truth to inform your imaginations, a more sure word of knowledge if you will having to do with faith and practice.

    But you say someone “knows by nature that works cannot appease the wrath of God.” Actually, I think people know by nature “do this and live,” and its flipside, “if you do this you die.”

    One can only know something that is true. It is not true that the unsaved man knows that he can obtain eternal life through law-works. Accordingly, the Romanist doesn’t know that by observing the intent of the mass he is meriting anything. But back to my original point. You would have to demonstrate from a better authority than you have if I am to believe in the invincible ignorance you’ve posited, that the Romanist truly believes he is obeying God and the Jew is not convicted for approaching God’s holy throne without a covering for his sin. Then we might finally work our way back to your point that the abortionist actually embraces the sixth commandment and that he is simply muddled on what life entails. Again, my position is that the law is loathed by the unbeliever but he does like it in part because it suits his desired gain. That the law serves the unbeliever’s purposes does not equate to a true love for the law. From there I would argue that the secularist is no more concerned with the second table than the first table. He hates the law-giver and hence His entire law. So, let’s not pretend that the first table is a harder sell than the second. They’re both impossible to sell when they are properly understood.

    I know personally that I wonder when I experience troubles if it is a punishment for wrongs in my life. People do this all the time. If they are successful it is because they are good, if they experience suffering it is for evil.

    No doubt, certain hard providences can be rationally indexed to previous evils. The “trouble” of a night in jail can be rationally indexed to fifth of gin and joy ride the night before. Notwithstanding, I think your statement should be balanced with some quiet time in the book of Job.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  270. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Kyle:

    The flaw in your argument seems to be your assumption regarding the “endorsement” of the Roman government. Paul describes the role of government, he does not say that the Roman government is doing a good job of it. Recall that Jesus himself said that Pilate could not have any authority except it was granted him from above. Yet Pilate (and the Romans by Pilate) executed Christ at the request of the Jews. That’s not an example of doing a pretty good job, it’s an horrible outrage – the worst possible injustice. There is nothing that any government can do that is worse (in terms of its intrinsic sinfulness) than killing the Son of God.

    Paul was not endorsing the Roman government, he was requiring the Roman Christians to be obedient even to very bad governments.

    I’m hesitant to use the next counter-example, because it may be misunderstood, but I’ll hope for the best: consider Paul’s similar comment to slaves to obey their masters. Whether or not this is an endorsement of slavery (let’s leave that subject aside), surely we cannot say that Paul was endorsing the behavior of every slave owner. All the more so when Paul commands women to be under the authority of their husbands. That’s not a universal endorsement.

    There’s a reason I picked these other examples. They are all part of a system of thought that makes right sense of Romans 13: Christians (and all men) are required under the fifth commandment to give honor to those that are over them, in whatever aspect and station of life – whether those are kings, or elders, or parents, or husbands, or masters, or employers, or whatever authority is over us, we must honor that authority.

    That’s not an endorsement of any of those in authority, nor is it saying that they’re doing a pretty good job.

    -TurretinFan

  271. proregno said,

    September 17, 2010 at 8:32 am

    #266

    Kyle, the president of a country comes to you, and say: “I must protect good works, and must punish evil works. But, how are the meaning of the words ‘good’, ‘good works’ and ‘evil’ determined in Romans 13:3,4:

    “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”

    In other words: where did Paul get the meaning/substance of these words that must be applied by a civil magistrate, whether he is Nero or Constantine ?

    Thank you for the answer.

  272. Mason said,

    September 17, 2010 at 8:48 am

    TUAD @ #262 –

    I’m not going to answer for Dr. Hart, but I see no Scriptural basis for Bayly’s claim that any church with an abortion facility should necessarily picket. There is no Scriptural command to do so. Furthermore, who says picketing is the best way to stop abortions? If stopping abortion is best accomplished through other means – like proclaiming the Gospel – then shouldn’t his efforts and the efforts of his sheep be focused on that?

    Look, opposing abortion from the pulpit is good and important. But saying every church MUST PICKET is imposing a law that isn’t found in God’s Word. In essence, it’s legalism.

  273. Zrim said,

    September 17, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Kyle, it strikes me that your post at 267 misses an important point about Romans 13. The text really isn’t about whether the magistrate should obey God so much as that the believer is to obey the magistrate. Yes, it may be said that the text incidentally describes the role of the magistrate, but much more importantly it is actually prescribing Christian living. That difference seems to me to be quite significant.

    Would we say that other imperatives about wives submitting to husbands, children obeying parents or slaves their masters are about whether husbands, parents and masters should obey God? It may be an interesting question. But consider that it is perfectly reasonable to say that Paul would not only have believing wives stay with their unbelieving husbands (1 Cor. 7), but that those wives should also submit to them (Eph. 22; Col. 3; 1 Pet. 3). Those texts are also more prescriptive of believer conduct than of unbeliever duties. Likewise, that seems to be what Romans 13 is about. Paul may be assuming it is good for rulers of whatever station to obey God, but he really doesn’t seem nearly as concerned for it as he does for believers to submit to their appointed rulers, relationships that are grounded, by the way, in creation.

  274. Zrim said,

    September 17, 2010 at 10:00 am

    TUAD, you’re ongoing comments help to make a 2k point: political persuasions are fine, but they need to be put into perspective, no matter how compelling. Like the other targets of your shouting, we get it already, abortion is bad and you’re very upset that bad things happen. But 2k is actually just a version of conservative outlook which is quite skeptical of what political projects can afford us in this life. The charge over there is usually that there is some rancid liberalism afoot over here. But what is ironic to me is how the anti-2k pushback seems to indicate an abiding liberalism on the pushers’ parts, because you all seem to assume that if we just get certain things outlawed or promoted the world will be a sunnier place. But it has been said that what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again and there is nothing new under the sun. I think those are actually quite inspiring words, for they put to bed those yammering brats who keep telling us we can have a fit and righteous world.

  275. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 10:01 am

    TFan and proregno,

    I can say a little more. The passage reads to me like a pastoral response to a concern Christians in Rome had: ‘Hey. This is a depraved, pagan state. Are we really supposed to submit to it?’ And Paul says, yes. That state is — not just should be when it’s doing the sorts of things it should, but is (or, at that time was) — functioning as God’s minister, literally God’s servant. On a fairly plain reading of this, it seems like an endorsement. Because Roman magistrates were fulfilling God’s mandate for the office; that is, because they were at least competent enough in enforcing those rules that provide the relevant sort of protections to people that live there — rules that restrain outward acts of violence and theft and secure a peaceful environment where people can pursue their projects — because of all that, Paul is telling these Christians that they should treat the Roman magistrates as legitimate civil authorities and submit to them.

    Or, try this: according to you, governments should enact coercive rules aimed at restricting behavior that is opposed by divine law morality. If governments have been commissioned by God to do this, then it should be very surprising, and seems to flirt with inconsistency, that Paul would confirm the standing of Roman rulers as God’s ministers, established by God with the authority to punish evildoers for people’s good. If ‘evil’ is understood in terms of divine law morality, then the Roman rulers were hopelessly failing to live up to their commission as God’s ministers to punish evildoers. Paul’s endorsement of the Roman rulers isn’t surprising at all, however, if governments have been commissioned by God to enforce merely those rules that tend to provide protection from harm and other sorts of intrusion to persons in their temporal affairs.

    That understanding of ‘wrong’ and ‘evil’ just fits better with the text and its context. Here’s a similar argument: Paul warns his audience to be afraid if they do evil. They’re to be afraid because the civil magistrate is ‘an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil’. But no violation of any piece of distinctively Christian morality would have been plausible grounds for fear of legal punishment. That is, any such violator would have had nothing to fear from the Roman authorities. They would, however, have reason to fear punishment by the civil authority if any would commit an offense against another person or his property. Therefore, rules prohibiting these sorts of offense are better candidates for the evils that civil authorities have a commission from God to punish.

    Same goes for ‘good’ and ‘right’. Is the exhortation to do right in verse 3 encouragement to adhere to divine law morality? Supposing this wouldn’t make sense of the reason Paul says they were to do right – that if they did, the authorities would commend them. Roman authorities would’t have commended anyone for adhering to very much that’s distinctive to Christianity. They would likely have thought it unreasonably austere or abstemious for someone to adhere to very much that is required by divine law morality. However, they would have commended Christians who acted as good citizens by obeying the laws within the Empire. Therefore, laws like that, ones that tend to provide protection from harm and other sorts of intrusion to persons in their worldly affairs, are better candidates for the ones God has given the civil authorities to enforce.

  276. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Kyle:

    Your reading of Romans 13 is wrong. Paul is speaking in general terms, not specifically addressing a particular Caesar. We can see that from the number shift in his discussion:

    Romans 13:3-4
    For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    Romans 13:3-4
    οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶ φόβος τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἔργων, ἀλλὰ τῶν κακῶν. θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν; τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει, καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς· Θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστι σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν. ἐὰν δὲ τὸ κακὸν ποιῇς, φοβοῦ· οὐ γὰρ εἰκῇ τὴν μάχαιραν φορεῖ· Θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν, ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι.

    It’s a gnomic discussion, speaking in general terms about rulers. It is, no doubt, of particular interest to Christians living under unreasonable (or simply unbelieving) rulers. Nevertheless, it is a general principle, not an endorsement of a particular regime.

    -TurretinFan

  277. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Zrim,

    In think my most recent post might go some way to addressing your concern inasmuch as I talk a little about why the believer is obligated to submit to the magistrate. That does implicate a role or mandate for that office, though, that Puritan-types don’t acknowlege. According to the plainest reading of what that mandate could be, the magistrate not only need not enforce divine moral law, he must not. It is not given him to do so.

  278. September 17, 2010 at 10:41 am

    But what is ironic to me is how the anti-2k pushback seems to indicate an abiding liberalism on the pushers’ parts, because you all seem to assume that if we just get certain things outlawed or promoted the world will be a sunnier place.

    Zrim,

    You might find this hard to believe but most of my efforts with respect to politics and the church are aimed at promoting the biblical principle that our kingdom is not of this world. That’s do the context / state of affairs in which I find myself as a Christian and elder. For example, I’m sickened by what Coral Ridge ministries turned into over the years. I remember not even being able to find the gospel on their website. Moreover, I’m deeply saddened when I see well meaning Christians I know and love behaving as if the kingdom can be ushered in through protests in Washington DC, and through the restraint of evil and a return to biblical norms. I don’t oppose marches and I can often applaud the effort (at least the intent) of those who choose to direct their energies in that direction, but just the same the Reconstructionist movement at the expense of the primacy of Word and Sacrament implies something very unbiblical – even Arminian. Personally, although I feel the pain of the 2K proponents, I believe 2K thought in the minds of many to be an over reaction to the masses within the church who would place their hope in an unbiblical nationalism for which a “freedom of religion” does not make room.

    I could say more but that’s probably enough.

    Warmly,

    Ron

  279. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 10:49 am

    But Tfan, that doesn’t address the arguments at all. I mean, Paul is writing to these Christians in Rome, right? He does say they should expect terror from them, etc. if they do ‘evil’ and praise from them if they do good, right? But Roman magistrates really were (right?) very unlikely to punish for violations of very much that’s distinctive to divine law morality or praise them for acts of godly righteousness. I agree that there’s a general truth about God’s mandate to civil authorities being expressed in the passage, but the one I’ve identified at least has the virtue of making sense of these facts.

  280. September 17, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Or, try this: according to you, governments should enact coercive rules aimed at restricting behavior that is opposed by divine law morality. If governments have been commissioned by God to do this, then it should be very surprising, and seems to flirt with inconsistency, that Paul would confirm the standing of Roman rulers as God’s ministers, established by God with the authority to punish evildoers for people’s good.

    Kyle,

    It’s not as if all divine morality is to be upheld by the sword. That distinction we find in Scripture. There’s a difference betweeen thinking x and acting upon x. With that aside, how is it “to flirt with inconsistency” to assert that Paul would expect Christians to submit to certain bad magistrates while expecting these same magistrates to judge according to the general equity of the law?

    Thanks,

    Ron

  281. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Ron,

    This — ‘It’s not as if all divine morality is to be upheld by the sword’ — is a pretty fair summary of what I take 2K-ish types affirm. Maybe I’m missing your point, though.

    About your other question, that’s not the inconsistency I was worried about in Tfan’s interpretation. Rather, I don’t see how someone could 1) hold that God’s mandate to the civil authority is for it to enforce divine law morality, 2) recognize that the Roman civil authorities were hopelessly failing to live up to this, and 3) recognize that Paul is affirming the standing of those Roman civil authorities as God’s ministers, literally God’s servants, in their functionings.

    Tfan responds by denying 3) but I don’t think this is plausible. Or, I think it’s more plausible that one thing Paul is doing here is telling Christians in Rome that, yeah, magistrates like that are doing at least enough of the sort of thing God has mandated for the office.

  282. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Kyle,

    The argument’s premise is wrong. Pointing out that the premise is wrong defeats the argument.

    Your premise was (and still is) that Paul is talking about a particular regime. Paul is not. He is talking about rulers in general.

    -TurretinFan

  283. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:29 am

    And to clarify: my position is that all civil magistrates are God’s ministers for justice, including the Romans. The Romans were not the best that ever has been, but they were not as bad as – for example – Mao Tse Tung. The government at Geneva was far better.

    All are God’s ministers – not all are good ministers.

    - TurretinFan

  284. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:45 am

    TurretinFan: “DGH:

    I’ve posted some detailed responses to some of your arguments (link to detailed response).

    I commend folks to examine TurretinFan’s detailed response to Darryl Hart in his post titled A Series of Unfortunate Arguments for R2K.

    Excerpts:

    “Darryl G. Hart is continuing to attempt to defend R2K in the comment box at GreenBaggins. His arguments, however, are getting less and less Biblical – less and less Confessional – and less and less rational. Let me provide some examples:

    DGH wrote (source):

    if the magistrate does not protect the freedoms of all men you may end up with St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. So it may be more prudent to protect both Roman Catholics and Protestants rather than letting each side slaughter the other depending on who’s in power.”

    a) This is really a non-argument. It’s just two speculative claims placed back to back.

    b) This non-argument presents a false dichotomy: there is a lot of middle ground between “slaughter each other” and R2k. The classical Reformed position that DGH rejects lies in that middle ground.”

  285. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Tfan,

    Well, I mean, you pointed it out in the sense that you asserted it. But you didn’t do much more than that. The lines of Greek and pointing out a number shift shouldn’t cast doubt on my reading because Paul could be making a point about that context and about rulers in general. That’s sort of what I’ve argued.

    Thanks for your clarification, but it’s a little odd to think that a civil ruler gets to count as a minister of God, a servant to promote justice, if he doesn’t promote justice.

  286. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:47 am

    “Thanks for your clarification, but it’s a little odd to think that a civil ruler gets to count as a minister of God, a servant to promote justice, if he doesn’t promote justice.”

    Why is that? Does a husband cease to be the head of the wife if he does a bad job?

  287. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:51 am

    No, but, if he’s bad enough, he could cease to be a minister to her for her good.

  288. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:53 am

    “No, but, if he’s bad enough, he could cease to be a minister to her for her good.”

    That would still be his job, right?

  289. September 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I don’t see how someone could 1) hold that God’s mandate to the civil authority is for it to enforce divine law morality, 2) recognize that the Roman civil authorities were hopelessly failing to live up to this, and 3) recognize that Paul is affirming the standing of those Roman civil authorities as God’s ministers, literally God’s servants, in their functionings.

    Kyle,

    I’ll take a quick swipe at this but I think it is best that I leave you in the capable hands of TF.

    I think you might be getting tripped up by the label “servant”. Walk with me for a moment, as I must be missing your points for it seems rather obvious to me that no contradiction exists. Maybe an analogy might be helpful, but I don’t want to get too far afield if it is not. Say a wife comes to me because her husband is failing miserably at the marriage. Is it not under good regulation to say to the failing husband that God’s mandate for husbands is that they love their wives as Christ loved the church (your point 1)? In other words, he is to act with grace and truth toward his spouse (i.e. rule the home as he ought); he should serve her in the Lord, in other words. But does that exhortation to the husband preclude the fact that the husband is failing to live up to the charge given to heads (your point 2)? In other words, does the mandate to the husband (point 1) preclude the establishment of the husband’s failure (point 2)? I should say not. Finally, does the mandate to husbands coupled with their failure at marriage somehow negate the fact that husbands are God’s appointed head of their home (your point 3)? In other words, they are God’s servants. Keep in mind that a spouse (or magistrate) can be a very blunt instrument but the One who wields him has great skill. (Their being a servant is not contingent upon their success let alone desire to serve.)

    In sum, what tension or logical contradiction arises by mandating that unrighteous men deal justly toward those who are to be in submission, and to call those unrighteous ministers God’s servants? NOTE: The appellation “servant” does not imply success on the part of the superior. It merely denotes the relationship to the person has to the Sovereign. They accomplish God’s purposes, hence they are God’s servants in this respect.

    That’s probably the best I can do.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  290. proregno said,

    September 17, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Kyle, your view of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in Rom.13 are determined by theorizing about the socio-political thoughts of the Roman Empire, especially Nero.

    I think Paul’s mind were filled with God’s Word, also God’s Law, and that Scripture determined his use of words and their meanings.

    First, the immediate context helps defining ‘good’:

    Romans 13:8-10 8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    Secondly, other parts of Romans help,

    Romans 7:12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and ‘just’ and ‘good’.

    And, if we compare Scripture with Scripture (not Paul with Roman law), we find:

    1 Timothy 1:8-11 8 But we know that the law is ‘good’ if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

    God’s revealed Law determines ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and what’s sins should also be treated as crimes, and punished accordingly.

    If R2K’s demands that ‘natural law’ (the flavor of whomever rule) determines right and wrong, then anything goes and are allowed, and all people must obey. R2K leads to divine rights of kings, clothed in modern day humanism (democracy).

  291. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Sure, Tfan, he’s supposed to do that. But I don’t see why I should be embarrassed by this. On my view, a civil authority’s job is to ensure certain kinds of temporal protections. That’s the divine mandate the office. But one that did poor enough with respect to it wouldn’t be a legitimate authority (and a husband could reach this point, too). So my reading of the Romans passage entails that things hadn’t reached that point when Paul wrote it. It entails that had they reached that point, Paul would have addressed their situation a bit differently (but still expressed the same general principle about the sorts of things civil magistrates are tasked by God to do).

  292. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Ron,

    I think some of what I’ve said in recent posts should scratch where you’re itching, so to speak.

    Just to clarify, I agree that nothing hangs on the magistrate’s desire to serve — he could be an unwitting servant. But, again, it’s odd to say that one who fails miserably to do what God calls them to do in their office ‘accomplish[es] God’s purposes’ for that office. If God’s purpose for the office is to minister to subjects for their good, then how could one who never did that accomplish God’s purposes for the office?

    So I’m trying to figure out what it means to minister to subjects for their good and punish evildoers. Should we understand this mandate in terms of the enforcement of divine law morality in its entirety, or some narrower set of rules that are necessary for a peaceful social order. I’ve argued that the latter is a more plausible interpretation for a bunch of reasons, but Tfan is right in the sense that the argument depends on the idea that at least one of the things Paul is doing is addressing a particular context. It never occurred to me that he wasn’t. If he is, then the general principle he’s teaching is broadly 2K-ish.

  293. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Kyle,

    Again, however, the passage is general: just like the passage “the husband is the head of the wife” (not referring to a particular husband, of course, but to all husbands).

    Note the same number shift:

    Ephesians 5:22-23

    Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

    Compare:

    Romans 13:1-7

    Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

    I think especially the “all” at the end, in context, together with the repeated numbers shifts, makes it particularly clear that Paul is speaking generally. He’s not answering a specific question about a specific regime, and he’s not endorsing one regime over another.

    Likewise, Paul is not endorsing a particular husband with his comment in Ephesians, he’s making a gnomic statement about husbands.

    - TurretinFan

  294. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I know I said this before, but, to be clear — do you deny Paul could be doing both in the Romans passage? The context and language or number shift doesn’t in any obvious way rule out — at least as far as I can see — the idea that Paul could be providing a general principle and (or by) addressing a particular context.

  295. TurretinFan said,

    September 17, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Kyle:

    There’s no indication in the context that he’s talking about some particular Caesar or senate. His general statements apply to all authorities, and consequently would apply to the particular government of the Romans at the time of Paul’s writing, even though Paul does not appear to be particularly considering the current Roman regime, as such.

    But, bigger than that, Paul is not endorsing any particular regime. He’s not saying that the Romans are doing enough to qualify as God’s ministers. He’s saying that all rulers have that function (just as all husbands have the function of being their wife’s head, even those who do a lousy job of it – just as all pastors are ministers of the word, even those who don’t serve well).

    - TurretinFan

  296. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Darryl (from #264):

    Andrew at 258, one reason why these discussions descend to politics is because that’s where folks like the Baylys take them.

    It’s not obvious to me that the pc2k folks are any less likely to use examples from law and politics than those who disagree with their perspective. I just wonder what it is about modern Reformed Christians that this is what they immediately associate with when discussing Christ and culture issues.

    As for the difficulty of finding general equity from blasphemy and your desire to find in Scripture truths upon which to craft cultural norms, don’t you think that if it is hard to find general equity from the most basic form of God’s moral will, it will be even harder to do so from more complex expressions of God’s will?

    No, this does not logically follow. The fact that something is basic to the character of God does not mean that it will have a more straightforward application to cultural issues.

    The reason why I picked aesthetics as my example is that is a good example of a place where the correlation between Christian principles and their application in culture is very hard to escape. In our stroll down the halls of the gallery, we see that those who held to Christian principles of order, beauty, harmony, etc portray the world in a very different way than those who believed that we live in a universe devoid of order and purpose. But this raises the obvious question – why is this? And more importantly what can the Christian called to the arts learn from this?

    BTW, I don’t like the abbreviation “pc2K” since I don’t think the age of Constantine is a good historical marker. But it is good that we can agree that we are all 2K as I previously qualified my understanding of the term.

  297. Paul Manata said,

    September 17, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Andrew,

    “The reason why I picked aesthetics as my example is that is a good example of a place where the correlation between Christian principles and their application in culture is very hard to escape. In our stroll down the halls of the gallery, we see that those who held to Christian principles of order, beauty, harmony, etc portray the world in a very different way than those who believed that we live in a universe devoid of order and purpose. But this raises the obvious question – why is this? And more importantly what can the Christian called to the arts learn from this?”

    This is correct. Darryl will need to wait for my friend’s disseration to be finished. My friend is a WSCAL grad, 2K, nat law, and is writing his dissertation on a theological aesthetic. I keep telling him to title it: Tractaus Theologico-Aesthetica, but I don’t think he feels that one :-)

  298. Mason said,

    September 17, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Just out of curiosity, why was my comment from this morning deleted? I responded to TUAD’s post (#263) noting that there is no Scriptural command to picket abortion clinics, and thus for Mr. Bayly to say all churches should picket abortion clinics is effectively adding to God’s Word. Just wondering what I said that warranted deletion….

  299. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Darryl Hart: “Andrew at 258, one reason why these discussions descend to politics is because that’s where folks like the Baylys take them.”

    Well, let’s take a look at this argument from Politics and the Pulpit – Some Helpful Words. Excerpts:

    “Richard W. Garnett, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, offers some wise counsel on the issue of the pulpit and politics, noting that all true preaching has some political dimension to it. This is simply inevitable, given the fact that Christian preaching deals with the most important (even ultimate) issues of life.

    Even if the Constitution does not presume to tell ministers to stick to parables, is it bad citizenship, or just plain bad manners, for ministers to confuse our “public” role as citizens and voters with our supposedly “private” religious lives and beliefs? No. Religious faith makes claims, for better or worse, that push the believer inexorably toward charitable and conscientious engagement in “public life.” To the extent that religion purports to provide insight into human nature and relations, it necessarily speaks to politics. We best respect each other through honest dialogue by making arguments that reflect our beliefs, not by censoring ourselves or insisting that religious believers translate their commitments into focus-group jargon or cost-benefit analysis.

    Now, the central thrust of a genuinely Christian pulpit is the Gospel itself. Nevertheless, the Gospel is also political, if for no other reason than that the Gospel declares that Jesus Christ (and not Caesar, or anyone else) is Lord.

    In making his case, Professor Garnett gets to the heart of the matter. Christian beliefs do, inevitably, “push the believer inexorably toward charitable and conscientious engagement in ‘public life.’” There is much to debate concerning how these issues are best defined and understood, but Christianity is a public proclamation with public consequences.”

  300. Kyle said,

    September 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Tfan,

    I agree with the tautology: sure, Paul general statements apply to all authorities. I even agreed with the substantive claim that he’s making general statements in the passage. But the idea that Paul just happens to be making these points about magistrates in this letter to Christians in Rome, without regard to questions, concerns, or problems they had about the Roman regime, is a bit silly. Nothing about the text rules it out — no more than the general statements in Chapter 14 rule out the likelihood that they’re there to deal with certain kinds of conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome. I mean, he’s a pastor writing to them to build them up, encourage them, and address their concerns. It would be really weird if he didn’t put some thought into their particular context when he decided what to address. Indeed, the most cursory of searches turns up this (from just an NIV Study Bible at 13:1): ‘Christians may have been tempted not to submit to them and to claim allegience only to Christ’. Surely, this isn’t so controversial.

    So, the more I think about it, the harder it becomes for me to believe that this is really where the difference between us lies. I actually think you do better just to say that ‘yeah, that particular context is an important motivation for Paul to write what he did. But the implication isn’t that magistrates are only legitimate authorities if they do sufficiently well with respect to God’s pursposes for the office. Any magistrate’ you say, ‘no matter how lousy, even Mao, gets to count as servant of God and legitimate political authority’.

    I think this is false, of course. But it gives me a better handle on where you’re coming from.

  301. dghart said,

    September 18, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Tfan and TUAD (and anyone else who is listening):

    In his (I assume he is a he) “detailed” response to me, TFan includes this:

    “DGH wrote (same source):
    ‘I don’t think it’s possible for the magistrate to uphold the first table and protect the freedoms of Roman Catholics, Mormons, Reformed Protestants, and Muslims. If you know a way to do that, I’m all eyes.’
    So what? Some “freedoms” (like the freedom to blaspheme the Lord or the freedom to work on the Lord’s day) might not be protected. That’s the nature of having laws. Laws restrict liberty.”

    Tfan believes the protection of Roman Catholic and Mormon liberties is in the category of “so what.”

    I’m glad for that admission. This is really where the nub of the issue stands. If the magistrate is going to enforce both tables, then his state will not allow false religion. That’s why the National Covenant excluded Roman Catholic worship in Scotland. It’s also why Protestants either died or went into exile under Queen Mary Tudor. So if the 2k critics have their way in the United States, only Reformed Protestants will be able to practice their faith? Or will religious liberty extend to Baptists? I wonder what the Puritans answer was. Oh, that’s right, Roger Williams had to run for his life.

    So as long as folks are comfortable with shutting down all places of worship except those approved by the magistrate — with Obama I guess it would be the United Church of Christ — they can continue to disparage 2k.

  302. dghart said,

    September 18, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Ron @ 270, my “invincible ignorance”? Where’s the love, Ron?

    I didn’t say that unbeliever knows he can obtain eternal life by following the law. I said the unbeliever thinks he can please God by doing what it right, and the rightness may be known either from Scripture or from General Revelation. Trying to please god through good works is the works principle of the Covenant of Works, and it is the impulse behind paganism, which persists in the original human understanding of man’s relationship to God — Do this and live.

    I agree that the unbeliever has mixed motives in keeping the law. And I agree that ultimately the unbeliever hates God and suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. But your view of the unbeliever doesn’t show much love, or much capacity to recognize the image of God that still resides in them despite its being deformed. It sounds judgmental. But I’ve come to expect that tone from worldview advocates and philosophical types. Logic always trumps love.

  303. dghart said,

    September 18, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Andrew @296: I don’t know why you think pc2k is inadequate. From 320 to 1776 Christianity was part of the establishment. Christ and the apostles had no conception that Christianity would be established in the Empire. And the revolutions of France and America brought an end to Christianity as the state religion. In fact, most of the difficulties that afflicted Reformed Protestants in their views of the magistrate stemmed from the prior assumption that Christendom was the norm, not the pre-Constantinian era. In other words, the problem really is Constantine. Augustine thought so.

    Since you continue to insist on general equity, what is the general equity of executing blasphemers (Deut, 7 & 13). I haven’t heard where you go with that or how it might apply to the Christian magistrates treatment of Mormons and Jews. I believe that the general equity is excommunication. But when the church is established (a la Constantine), and when false religion is a threat to the state, heretics get executed (a la Servetus).

    When you write “In our stroll down the halls of the gallery, we see that those who held to Christian principles of order, beauty, harmony, etc portray the world in a very different way than those who believed that we live in a universe devoid of order and purpose,” do you really mean to suggest that John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer and Cecelia Beaux were Christians because they painted using the categories of order, beauty and harmony? Do you really think you can go through a gallery and chalk up all realist paintings to Christianity, and all abstract works to unbelief? Sorry, but this is a naive view of aesthetics and where these principles come from. Why, I studied with the great aesthetician Monroe C. Beardsley. He was not a believer to my knowledge and he believed and defended order, beauty, and harmony. And the pagan Greeks sure knew a lot about those principles.

  304. September 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

    But your view of the unbeliever doesn’t show much love, or much capacity to recognize the image of God that still resides in them despite its being deformed. It sounds judgmental. But I’ve come to expect that tone from worldview advocates and philosophical types. Logic always trumps love.

    Darryl,

    I find the unbeliever totally depraved, which means that the good he does is always the result of one lust restraining another. I believe that position as stated is loving-logical-Bible. I also hold to the conviction that the unbeliever suppresses his need for forgiveness and righteousness, which means that he has no interest in being found in Christ, but rather he prefers to establish a righteousness of his own. I deny the premise that when an unbeliever tries to appease God through prayer or participation in the mass that he does so with a clear conscience; a seared conscience, maybe, but not a clear conscience as intimated by your posts. In sum, I try not to check the facts of the case at the door when I try to offer a truthful and loving diagnosis of the case.

    In any case, my posts are: 260, 270, 278, 280, 289 and of course this one. I don’t find them philosophical in the least, or overtly logical. Nor do I find them lacking in love. Indeed, I did try to reason from basic Reformed premises as I interacted with what I thought you were trying to say. Unfortunately, we couldn’t even agree on the a, b, c’s, so any further discussion having to do with the topic at hand never even took place, with which I can live. I believe you, Kurt and others might have experienced the same problem.

    Warmest regards,

    Ron

  305. September 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Since you continue to insist on general equity, what is the general equity of executing blasphemers (Deut, 7 & 13). I haven’t heard where you go with that or how it might apply to the Christian magistrates treatment of Mormons and Jews. I believe that the general equity is excommunication.

    Darryl,

    That the church has a responsibility to deal with sin does not imply that the state does not. In fact, it is a common fallacy to argue for a repeal of directives that pertain to the state from directives that pertain to the church. One could just as well argue that the state should not discipline professing-Christian rapists because the church should censure them. So, in an attempt to preserve the equity of the sanction not only have you replaced it with an inequitable (but necessary) sanction; you have given the task of carrying out the civil sanction to the wrong authorities. How should we to determine which sins are crimes and does the hermeneutic that informs our answer comport with infant baptism?

    There was excommunication under the older economy, a “cutting off” (an exile of sorts), that was not accompanied by OT execution. Yet in God’s wisdom both were operative, presumable with distinct purposes. Having said that, it seems a bit dubious that excommunication is equitable to execution, if for no other reason than the translation does not preserve the general equity of the sanction! Moreover, the two aren’t close to being equitable because repentance lifts the penalty of excommunication, which was not the case for capital crimes under Moses. It is simply arbitrary (and hazardous) to operate under the principle that one is not accountable to the state because he is accountable to the church.

    By collapsing execution into excommunication the general equity of the sanction is not preserved but rather obliterated. Now that is not to argue that public blasphemy is a crime punishable by death (though I am certain it is and could argue the point); rather, it is to simply say that I have seen no reason to believe that church censures are to replace civil sanctions.

    Best,

    Ron

  306. proregno said,

    September 18, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I hear a lot of arguments here, some good, some not so good, but I miss substantive exegetical arguments.

    For instance, the blasphemy of Lev.24:10-16, is it the same as someone who does not believe in the Trinity, is a Atheist, a Mormon, etc. ?

    I think not, if one study the passage it seems that blasphemer were someone specificly cursing the Lord’s Name with evil intent and purpose.

    Also, do R2K think this passage is ‘ceremonial’, and if they do, please explain. Please explain also from Scripture why it was an abominational offense in the OT, punished by death, but in the NT times it could be tolerated at as ‘human natural law’ right protected by the civil magistrate ?
    Has God’s nature and moral law changed ? Where is the Scriptural command for the civil magistrate to protect blasphemy ?

    What about BC Q/A 100, or do we ‘pick and choose’ which parts of the Confessions to uphold and which not … like FV ?

    Interesting the passage also say: Leviticus 24:16 ‘And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.’

    Believer and non-believers, citizens and non-citizens should obey the Law of the land.

  307. September 18, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    “Please explain also from Scripture why it was an abominational offense in the OT, punished by death, but in the NT times it could be tolerated at as ‘human natural law’ right protected by the civil magistrate.

    Two comments all sides should agree with:

    1. If such liberty is to be protected because of natural law, then either natural law has changed over time or else it contracted special revelation under Moses.

    2. If one is willing to forgo any appeal to natural law, then at best all that can be argued against the perpetual validity of such a law is that it is no longer required, which is a far cry from saying that such a law ought not to be on the books.

    Ron

  308. proregno said,

    September 18, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Another question: if the civil government must rule by ‘natural law’, how does one decide what is good and what is evil ?

    Where is natural law written down, or do all humans just ‘know’ ?

    But, some of these humans would say they ‘know’ it is right to kill the unborn, and others says it is ‘evil’ to do so.

    Who then is right and who is wrong ? How would the civil magistrate decide ?

    Democracy, 50 plus 1, Pilate’s politics, contra Ex.23:1-3 ?

    What is the relation between natural law and biblical law, is the latter the first written down ? If it is, why only the second table (according to modern day natural law?), and not also the first table ?

    Has God only written down the second table of the law on our hearts, but not first ? (Rom.1;18etc)

  309. TurretinFan said,

    September 18, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    DGH claims: “Oh, that’s right, Roger Williams had to run for his life.”

    That’s not true.

    DGH claims: “Tfan believes the protection of Roman Catholic and Mormon liberties is in the category of “so what.” ”

    That’s also not an accurate statement.

    DGH claims: “So as long as folks are comfortable with shutting down all places of worship except those approved by the magistrate — with Obama I guess it would be the United Church of Christ — they can continue to disparage 2k.”

    Actually, what we’re criticizing (not “disparaging”) is R2K, not 2K. More specifically I’m criticizing DGH’s approach of saying, in effect, “so what” to Scripture. You’ll notice he has not mounted a Scriptural defense of his position, and when challenged to do so, essentially admitted he cannot do so.

    DGH wrote: “Christ and the apostles had no conception that Christianity would be established in the Empire.”

    Christ is God. He knew. DGH’s claim here borders on blasphemous. One might as well say that the Holy Spirit that inspired the New Testament didn’t know. We don’t know how much was shown to John about the future, but whether or not he or any of the other apostles new is completely immaterial.

    DGH wrote: “And the revolutions of France and America brought an end to Christianity as the state religion.”

    R2K is based in the Enlightment movement that is firmly connected with most despicable and detestable outrage known as the French Revolution.

    Unlike the French revolution, the American revolution did not throw off the establishment of religion in the colonies where there was an established religion (Virginia is one example, as DGH very well knows, having alluded to it earlier).

    DGH wrote: “Since you continue to insist on general equity, what is the general equity of executing blasphemers (Deut, 7 & 13). I haven’t heard where you go with that or how it might apply to the Christian magistrates treatment of Mormons and Jews. I believe that the general equity is excommunication. But when the church is established (a la Constantine), and when false religion is a threat to the state, heretics get executed (a la Servetus).”

    a) The civil magistrate is not to excommunicate anyone.

    b) Servetus was a heretic, but he was executed for his execrable blasphemy, not specifically for holding heretical views.

    c) Our churches do not excommunicate for particular sins, even for the sins of murder, adultery, or blasphemy, if there is Biblical repentance.

    DGH wrote: “But your view of the unbeliever doesn’t show much love, or much capacity to recognize the image of God that still resides in them despite its being deformed.”

    Had you been around to make this criticism of Moses, I think we would all have been relieved of your further false statements.

    - TurretinFan

  310. September 18, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    But, some of these humans would say they ‘know’ it is right to kill the unborn, and others says it is ‘evil’ to do so.

    Proregno,

    That’s not an argument against natural law but rather an observation that pertains to the fall of man. Even if we are to rely strictly on Scripture, another could still assert ludicrous interpretations of the texts. In other words, that men are stubborn doesn’t undermine either position. What you might want to argue is what concrete universal (to use CVT language) might we point to in order to justify our opinion on the question of which sins are crimes and what ensuing sanctions should obtain? Maybe there is none; maybe God’s word does not speak to the matter today. I think not, but that’s the best assertion I can make apart from the thesis I’ve been advocating.

    BR,

    Ron

  311. proregno said,

    September 18, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    It seems that R2K’s work with radical discontuinity in issues relating to civil magistrate (something they do not do with infant baptism). They work with a WWJD mindset, in stead of WDJC (what did Jesus command) in the whole of Scripture (Matt.28:19b).

    Calvin’s comments on John 8:11 are relevant for this discussion:

    “We are not told that Christ absolutely acquitted the woman, but that he allowed her to go at liberty. Nor is this wonderful, for he did not wish to undertake any thing that did not belong to his office. He bad been sent by the Father to gather the lost sheep, (Mt 10:6); and, therefore, mindful of his calling, he exhorts the woman to repentance, and comforts her by a promise of grace. They who infer from this that adultery ought not to be punished with death, must, for the same reason, admit that inheritances ought not to be divided, because Christ refused to arbitrate in that matter between two brothers, (Lu 12:13). Indeed, there will be no crime whatever that shall not be exempted from the penalties of the law, if adultery be not punished; for then the door will be thrown open for any kind of treachery, and for poisoning, and murder, and robbery. … But let us remember that, while Christ forgives the sins of men, he does not overturn political order, or reverse the sentences and punishments appointed by the laws.”

    Christ did not come to bring in a new Law-book (esp. not natural law ideas), but to fulfill and confirm the goodness, righteousness and justice of His Father’s laws. Some passed by (ceremonial and some civil laws pertaining to Israel alone), some were re-inforced (moral) and some teach us the principles and applications of the moral law (civil, case laws).

    Christ had a specific calling to fullfill, and therefore His focus was not the application of God’s Law to all areas of life, that is our task, His children among all nations in all walks of life.

    I believe all, 2K’s and R2K’s believe in the centrality/foundation of the Gospel, the Church and family, but it does not stop there, all of life is His. We do not serve a divided Saviour or King.

    This false WWJD ethic of R2K’s is not reformed nor biblical, it is more in line with anabaptistic thoughts. If we do the same with, for instance, church order and government, then it means we must all gather in house churches, sell all our property, etc. because that is what the early church ‘did’ (Acts 2-5), WW(the Church)D ?

    No, biblical and confessional wisdom follows all of Scripture for all of life, as the Confessions do, for instance art.25 BC,

    “In the meantime we still use the testimonies taken out of the law and the prophets to confirm us in the doctrine of the gospel, and to regulate our life in all honorableness to the glory of God, according to His will.”

    May our R2K brothers one day realise the wisdom, goodness and richness of God’s Law, all of His law, yes for personal, church and family life, and, ‘also’ for civil society.

    “Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.” – Ps.119:18

  312. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Once, they were interviewing a well-known movie star on a television show and this movie star was known for playing erudite parts with intellectual brilliance. So the expectation was that he would do the same on the interview. Yeah. It was a terrible disappointment. Really embarrassing for both the movie star and the interviewer. There were so many incoherent and non-sequitur responses. The interviewer did her best to wrap up the interview, and they then closed with what looked like awkward smiles. Many viewers were left concluding that without the benefit of preparation work and movie magic the supposed intellectually brilliant movie star really wasn’t all that bright in real life. It was sad.

    I think there’s some parallels of that story to Darryl Hart. He wrote some terrific books, but his arguments against the critics of R2K are just ridiculous.

    TurretinFan wrote the following on his own blog post (and it’s really applicable to much of Darryl’s Hart’s argumentation):

    “This non-argument presents a false dichotomy: there is a lot of middle ground between “slaughter each other” and R2k. The classical Reformed position that DGH rejects lies in that middle ground.”

    Darryl Hart uses False Antithesis and Strawman rhetoric quite often. One would expect better than that from Darryl Hart. Far better from Darryl Hart. It’s embarrassing to see him degrade himself like this.

    Here are some examples:

    #15. “Mr. Scharping, so you oppose freedom of conscience?”

    #187. “BTW, if you think it’s a coup for someone to think that the Bible gives the magistrate binding ethical instruction, then start the party. But just remember to invite Jeremiah Wright and Hilary Clinton.”

    #188. “BTW, if you think it’s a coup for someone to think that the Bible gives the magistrate binding ethical instruction, then start the party. But just remember to invite Jeremiah Wright and Hilary Clinton.”

    #212. “In case you don’t see it, I am trying to get the critics of pc2k to own up to the implications of their view — which is no religious freedom. They may like the idea as one to beat down the current administration or to beat up pc2k advocates, but I wonder if they are really prepared to see their unbelieving neighbors deported.”

    #265. “Does your question imply that you are considering withholding the freedoms of your Roman Catholic neighbor? Or are you going to sign a petition from ACORN to prevent the Mormon Glenn Beck from broadcasting daily?”

    #301. “So if the 2k critics have their way in the United States, only Reformed Protestants will be able to practice their faith? Or will religious liberty extend to Baptists? I wonder what the Puritans answer was. Oh, that’s right, Roger Williams had to run for his life.

    So as long as folks are comfortable with shutting down all places of worship except those approved by the magistrate — with Obama I guess it would be the United Church of Christ — they can continue to disparage 2k.”

    On TFan’s thread: “Tfan, I’m glad to know that you think your Roman Catholic neighbors should not be able to practice their faith. So when will you post about taking Glenn Beck off the air?”

    C’mon Darryl Hart. You can do better than this.

  313. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 18, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Darryl (#303),

    Andrew @296: I don’t know why you think pc2k is inadequate. From 320 to 1776 Christianity was part of the establishment. Christ and the apostles had no conception that Christianity would be established in the Empire. And the revolutions of France and America brought an end to Christianity as the state religion. In fact, most of the difficulties that afflicted Reformed Protestants in their views of the magistrate stemmed from the prior assumption that Christendom was the norm, not the pre-Constantinian era. In other words, the problem really is Constantine. Augustine thought so.

    Earlier in this thread I talk about the Medieval Church. In the West the state became part of the church while in the East the church’s role became a function of the state. As Paul Johnson points out in his history of Christianity, some of the West’s reliance on the church to provide civil functions was unavoidable given the collapse of civil order early in this period of time. But still, the convoluted and intertwined relationship of church and state in both West and East was unfortunate. I know you pc2k folks don’t want either of these versions of church and state intermingling. My point is that neither do we non-pc2K folks. In other words I agree with you – we don’t want the Constantinian model that was his direct heritage in the East and indirect in the West – they are both bad models. Both sides, pc2k and non-pc2k, look to the emphasis placed on the proper role of the Church in relation to the state during the Reformation (not always consistently applied as you point out) over against the testimony (or really lack thereof) of the Medieval Church on these matters. So that brings into question whether “pc2k” differentiates you and me which I don’t think it does, but for now I’m happy to refer to you by this abbreviation. I would rather this than you describing me as non-2K.

    Since you continue to insist on general equity, what is the general equity of executing blasphemers (Deut, 7 & 13).

    Maybe there is some application here but I’m convinced that there is. But for sake of argument, let’s assume there isn’t. What do we want to derive from this? Should we say that because we can find no application of God’s moral law to the civil arena in this one case that there is no application to the civil sphere of any law of God either explicitly laid down, or by good and necessary consequences, derived from one of these explicit principles?

    ….do you really mean to suggest that John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer and Cecelia Beaux were Christians because they painted using the categories of order, beauty and harmony?

    No, I don’t. I do however believe that, in general, when a culture is dominated by a given theological and/or philosophical perspective that the belief systems of these theologies and philosophies will be reflected in the art of that culture. So the literature of a culture that is dominated by let’s say the thought of Albert Camus will be very different than literature that reflects the thinking of let’s say Flannery O’Connor. Existentialism is a belief system that will find extension in literature. Christianity is a belief system that will find extension in literature. I would argue that Christianity offers a better worldview alternative than Existentialism as authors craft their art form.

    Now of course all of this is complicated by the fact that non-Christians often live their lives in greater conformance to Christian principles than many Christians. But what of that? We don’t argue that Christian ethics is a chimera because in their personal live some non-Christians act more like Christians than their Christian neighbors, do we? And what is true in the area of ethics is just as applicable in the area of aesthetics.

    At this point I would note that some of the folks who associate with pc2k would not find fault with my arguments here. They are theologians and pastors who are concerned that Christian congregations are often chasing after cultural relevance and trying to transform the culture, and by doing so deemphasizing those things which their congregation is obviously responsible for (preaching the gospel, caring for the flock, administering the sacraments, etc). But some other pc2k people find it necessary to rid the Reformed world of any even minor association of the Christian faith with the culture around them. It’s the Lutheran 2K model come to nest in the Presbyterian world IMHO. My perspective is that while of course Christian pastors should resist the temptation to allow their congregations to become merely vehicles for cultural transformation, that there is no threat to the mission of the Church, as that is laid out in Scripture, for Christians within that Church to be making some applications of their faith to the culture around them.

    I would finally note here that aesthetics is a branch of philosophy rather than a branch of theology. I’m sure you know this, but I don’t think that all those who have thrown their hat into the pc2k ring appreciate this fact. Sometimes Christian philosophers tread on the toes of the theologians by trying to use philosophy to comment on matters which really are within the remit of the theologians. As an example, I think of the attempt by philosophers like William Lane Craig and Alvin Platinga to resurrect Molinism and use it as a basis to adjudicate between God’s grace and man’s will. But there is an opposite error here too – theologians may be taking on the role of philosopher without good warrant. It seems to me that it is generally the role of the philosopher rather than the theologian to describe the relationship of worldview to culture. Theology ought to be the queen of the sciences and so the Christian philosopher must listen to the Christian theologian, but I just don’t see that it is the remit of the theologian to be answering all of these sorts of worldview questions.

  314. michael said,

    September 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Sorry if others have addressed this point raised somewhere up in the #150′s plus comments above about war ever being justified?

    Well, as a matter of fact, God did address this squirmish matter some faint of heart cowardice soldier might wilt from! Not that there are not a few politician/magistrates of like mind, mind you?

    Nevertheless, there is a place for good old righteous fight!

    Psa 46:8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
    Psa 46:9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.

    Psa 72:1 Of Solomon. Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
    Psa 72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
    Psa 72:3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
    Psa 72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!
    Psa 72:5 May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!

    Now, if we godly souls could just get about finishing the Great Commission, God could end the oppression and stop destroying the weapons of war with weapons of warfare!

    Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.
    1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.
    1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.

  315. dghart said,

    September 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Ron, I never said Roman Catholics had a clear conscience in observing the mass. I said that they could do so out of a desire to follow their conscience. Their conscience could well be deformed. But if we are not going to live with the freedom of conscience, then we will have a different place. I am getting the sense from you, TFan and Truth Undermines that giving up freedom of conscience is no biggie.

    As for the equity of excommunication and execution, I don’t agree. Israel’s religious was more physical than the church’s spiritual faith. The confession acknowledges this in chap. 7. So while execution or exile brings physical death for membership in the covenant community, so excommunication brings spiritual death for membership in the covenant community. Works for me.

    As for your not using philosophy, I’d be hard pressed for anyone but a philosopher to make heads or tails of this: “If one is willing to forgo any appeal to natural law, then at best all that can be argued against the perpetual validity of such a law is that it is no longer required, which is a far cry from saying that such a law ought not to be on the books.”

  316. michael said,

    September 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I am enjoying the lessons from the commenters hereon. Quite perspicacious and keen witted!

    @#181 PM: The people could hold a ruler, who was to be viewed as the servant of citizens, accountable.

    · Overthrow, even if forceful, was permitted under certain conditions.

    · The basis for just governance was transcendental as well as universal.

    · Government was to be limited in scope and in force.

    · Authority was to be diffused among various spheres, not concentrated in one office.

    · Checks and balances, via ephors or tribunes, were necessary.

    These and other tenets of Calvinism would become standard fare in lands where the Reformed faith spread. The ideas (1) that God is the Superior Governor, (2) that man is a fallen sinner, and (3) that law, fixed constitutions, and decentralization of power are all necessary to limit human aggression became the signature of Calvinism in political forums. Later Hotman, Daneau and Althusius expanded these themes as the tradition developed.

    Me: What I find rather amazing here is just how accurate those words are and relevant for us today because of how it has already been established by the Lord Himself by these similar situations:

    Luk 20:6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.

    Luk 20:19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
    Luk 20:20 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.
    Luk 20:21 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:
    Luk 20:22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?
    Luk 20:23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
    Luk 20:24 Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s.
    Luk 20:25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.
    Luk 20:26 And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.

    “The people” could hold accountable their “rulers and their deputies”! Hmmmmm?

    We certainly see that the rulers and their deputies confronting Jesus feared what the people might do to them if they erred in answering Christ in their hearing! Hmmmmm?

    Even the rulers realized that there is inherent by those they ruled over a justice they would suffer at the hands of their subjects if the true circumstances were to be uncovered and their motives were to be found out!

    So, we too realize that behind the scenes, that is in the dark spiritual realm moving upon the lusts of these human rulers this way, that spiritual rulers and authorities are also even still at work and that Calvin’s insights, and Ponet’s, realized just what Paul Manata shows with his post by way of the citations from History is also after the fashion we see the Apostle Paul also realized after those days of Christ cited above. Paul the Apostle writes this, here:

    Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
    Eph 3:9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
    Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
    Eph 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

    I bears repeating that one bullet point again: Authority was to be diffused among various spheres, not concentrated in one office.

  317. dghart said,

    September 18, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Tfan, If Roger Williams had not trekked to Providence he would have been imprisoned and likely executed. Just take a look at Massachusetts’ Capital Laws.

    Also, my not using Scripture was the point of the original post. Scripture is silent on republicanism, federalism, democracy, constitutions, separation of powers, the judicial branch, health care insurance. More precisely, it is silent about the form of opposition that Christians must take against certain social ills. If Scripture is silent, and someone says that the Bible requires something that the Bible doesn’t require (Tim Bayly), then, Geneva, we have a problem, as in a violation of the sufficiency of Scripture. We are not to bind others with the doctrines and commandments of men, no matter how good the intentions of Tim Bayly may be. That’s basic Protestantism and Turretin knew it.

  318. dghart said,

    September 18, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Truth Undermines, have you noticed how much you quote from other blogs but never quote from the Bible?

  319. michael said,

    September 18, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    What’s with these good comments in the 180′s?

    So on the point of general equity, what is the general equity of prohibiting blasphemy and idolatry? I know I sound like a broken record on this, but taking the Lord’s name in vain in Massachusetts was a capital offense. Should it be a misdemeanor on general equity grounds? It was severely treated in the OT. So what is the general equity for a modern state? I don’t think that freedom of conscience is the general equity and I don’t know how anyone would get there.

    Here in California, they are trying to legalize marijuana smoking! In some instances it is just a misdemeanor now as a State rule even though it is still a Federal crime. But, no misdemeanor occurs when taking the Name of the Lord in vain in public. No, well, that is free to do!

    But, this is also free to do in my State of California if you are as crazy as me? Try this at the next football game you go to and there are some half naked and body painted loud mouth half drunk guys hooting and yelling at all the mistakes of their team taking the Name of the Lord in vain! At the last game I went to, when the good old boys were blaspheming My God I said to myself after repeated attempts to cool my anger that if those good old boys yell out Jesus Christ’s Name that way again I was going to jump up and yell just as loud as I could: “Praise the Lord” and then preach from the bench hotly and intently and with as sincere a heart as I could the glories of His sufferings and resurrection! Just moments later the quarterback threw a bum pass and the receiver couldn’t catch the ball and these good old boys jumped up and started taking the Name of the Lord in vain yelling out loudly. I immediately jumped up and proclaimed His Praise as loud as I could. A deep and foreboding silence fell upon the crowd and not a sound could be heard on my side of the field! It took many minutes before the noise level got back to normal. But, to the Glory of God, I don’t recall one time more the rest of that game that an utterance of blasphemy was heard!

    That’s my definition of a general equity rule being enjoyed publicly when blasphemers can be shouted down so as not to be heard!

  320. Andrew McCallum said,

    September 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Just moments later the quarterback threw a bum pass and the receiver couldn’t catch the ball and these good old boys jumped up and started taking the Name of the Lord in vain yelling out loudly. I immediately jumped up and proclaimed His Praise as loud as I could….

    Michael – Praise God for your boldness is proclaiming the glory of His name! May the Lord grant us all such passion.

    Andrew

  321. September 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Ron, I never said Roman Catholics had a clear conscience in observing the mass. I said that they could do so out of a desire to follow their conscience.

    Darryl,

    You must be tired. I am too. Thankfully, I do think this is winding down.

    You wrote: “A good Roman Catholic does not believe he is doing anything wrong by observing (the idolatry of) the mass.He even believes that his conscience requires him to engage in a practice that Protestants consider idolatrous.”

    That sounds like a clear conscience to me, one that has no conviction whatsoever. But I’m glad accept your elaboration.

    Their conscience could well be deformed. But if we are not going to live with the freedom of conscience, then we will have a different place. I am getting the sense from you, TFan and Truth Undermines that giving up freedom of conscience is no biggie.

    What I am saying is that is irrelevant what one’s fallen conscience requires of him. What is relevant is what God prescribes in his word. If one has so seared his conscience that he can perform sin-x without conviction, ought he to be left with the civil liberty to do sin-x? If you need to know more about what sin-x entails in order to answer, then we can safely conclude that a clear conscience is not a sufficient condition for civil liberties. Consequently, any appeal to conscience is inadequate to seal your position.

    As for the equity of excommunication and execution, I don’t agree. Israel’s religious was more physical than the church’s spiritual faith. The confession acknowledges this in chap. 7. So while execution or exile brings physical death for membership in the covenant community, so excommunication brings spiritual death for membership in the covenant community. Works for me.

    I don’t fine an argument here for your position; neither do I find an interaction with what I wrote above. All I find is a statement of disagreement and then some assertions that do not lead to me to any conclusion. Maybe I’ll read it again later.

    As for your not using philosophy, I’d be hard pressed for anyone but a philosopher to make heads or tails of this: “If one is willing to forgo any appeal to natural law, then at best all that can be argued against the perpetual validity of such a law is that it is no longer required, which is a far cry from saying that such a law ought not to be on the books.”

    Please let me try to unpack that for you and anyone else. What you find cumbersome was the second point of a two part statement that I said all Christians should agree upon. The first part was the claim that if one wants to argue that OT civil sanctions should be abrogated on the basis of natural law then we must conclude that natural law contradicted the sanctions under Moses. After all, if God’s natural law, being universal and invariant, reveals that overt blasphemers should not be put to death, then that would mean that God’s two forms of law-revelation (Scripture and Natural) would have been at odds with each other under Moses, a monstrosity indeed. I don’t think anyone wants to stand up to the microphone and say that, but maybe I’m wrong. Assuming not, we should not look to “natural law” for the answer to what laws should be abrogated, lest we wish to be led to believe that there was conflicting revelation under Moses. That premise led me to the second statement that you found awkward.

    If one appreciates that the abrogation of the civil sanction may not be based upon the revelation of natural law, then on what basis may a Christian argue that such sanctions should be forbidden, and which ones should take their place? It’s been shown that it can’t be by way of natural law. Accordingly, the most one could argue in opposition to the relevancy of the civil case laws for today is that God no longer requires, for instance, that blasphemers or rapists be put to death. His revelation on the matter would have simply disappeared. As silly as I believe that is, it is a far cry from the bald assertion that we ought not to model OT laws today. It’s one thing to assert that we need not model our laws after Israel and quite another thing to say we are not to do so. In sum, if natural law is our source of revelation on this matter, then it must be consistent with the OT laws, in which case all we have to do is pick up the more clear revelation found in the OT. If natural law is no longer our source of revelation on the matter, then the most anti-OT law proponents may conclude is that God no longer requires that we implement the OT laws today, but that does not mean that it would not be wise to do so.

    Finally, if one wants to assert that natural law is informative in this regard then no appeal may be made to NT Scripture for abrogation lest NT Scripture contradicts the natural law that was supposedly revealing the same laws as Moses’ revelation. In other words, if natural law is a legitimate source for civil code then it must be consistent with the Mosaic code. And if so, then the NT may not contradict the OT code lest it contradicts the natural revelation that applied to Moses’ day.

    Natural law is very useful but not in the realm of defining crimes and sanctions in a fallen world. Left to natural law alone, all sins would immediately require God’s wrath but that is hardly how God would have us govern ourselves.

    Ron

  322. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 19, 2010 at 3:18 am

    Bret: “[R. Scott] Clark went out of his way to support Prop 8 according to reasons drawn everywhere except from Scripture.”

    Darryl Hart: “Also, my not using Scripture was the point of the original post.”

    Is there a pattern here?

  323. dghart said,

    September 19, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Truth Undermines, yes, the pattern seems to be that you quote other people and ask questions.

  324. dghart said,

    September 19, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Ron, the question is whether Scripture requires the magistrate — any magistrate — to punish blasphemy as a capital offense. Were the kings outside Israel to execute idolaters? Or was God’s law given directly to Moses on this? General revelation does not reveal that blasphemy is a capital offense. And Paul’s instructions in Romans 13 sure look like the magistrate’s responsibilities are not to punish blasphemy. After all, heaps of blasphemy were going on in the Roman Empire and Paul was silent on the magistrate’s responsibility for it.

  325. johnbugay said,

    September 19, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I’ve linked to this ongoing conversation on several occasions, by Steven Wedgeworth and his good friend Peter Escalante. I don’t know the whole history of these two individuals; at one point they did look closely at Roman Catholicism and rejected it. They also looked at the Federal Vision and rejected that, too, as a paradigm for Protestantism in our time. The view of the Reformation, of Christ and Culture and the role of Protestantism today resonates with me.

    The series started with a Review that Steven did of David VanDrunen’s “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.” Steven has followed up with three very fine blog posts, which turned into an ongoing discussion that’s not finished yet. It slows down in some places, and takes some wrong turns, but ultimately, this is one of the best overall discussions of Two Kingdoms in the Reformers thoughts and following, that I’ve ever seen.

    http://wedgewords.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/apostolic-succession-and-civic-freedom-pt-3/

    (I believe their take is more broadly “Protestant” than simply “Reformed.” In personal discussions with Steven, I know that he’s interested in the history of the English Reformation, which evolved along different lines. But I think that broader interest will give it a broader appeal.)

    Interestingly, this series (and Steven gives a kind of history of the series) began with a review that Steven did and that DGH critiqued. I think DGH may have made some good points, but along with that, he tried to be funny, and when he goes in that direction, I don’t think he does justice to his (or WSC’s) point of view.

    I haven’t done a lot of reading in this area, and it has sort of fallen behind in importance for me compared with some of the current things I’m studying. But it’s nice for me to know that these guys are out there, putting these ideas together.

  326. September 19, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Hi Darryl,

    Quickly… Your point from Romans 13 is an argument from silence, just as the credo-baptist position is an argument from silence, and just like the paedobaptist position hangs on an argument from silence. Not all arguments from silence are fallacious. I would say yours is for the same reason I’d say the credo-baptist argument from silence is fallacious. The determining factor is burden of proof, which can only be decided from precedence. We baptize our children because the NT is silent on the abrogation of the principle, yet – and this is key to your response – the NT had ample opportunity to affirm the continuation of the practice of children-inclusion yet didn’t. That doesn’t mean the principle of the inclusion of children ought to be abrogated. The same reasoning should apply to Romans 13 and the rest of the NT.

    Good Lord’s Day!

    Ron

  327. Zrim said,

    September 19, 2010 at 8:12 am

    TUAD,

    The quote you provided in 299 says in part: “We best respect each other through honest dialogue by making arguments that reflect our beliefs, not by censoring ourselves or insisting that religious believers translate their commitments into focus-group jargon or cost-benefit analysis.”

    If that’s true then why do anti-2kers of the Bayly stripe sound more like a pro-life PAC focus-group than even a pro-life PAC focus-group? Seriously, are you aware that there are secularist and atheist pro-life groups that sound just like religious ones?

    But you also suggest that the gospel and its conduit the pulpit may be politcized “if for no other reason than that the Gospel declares that Jesus Christ (and not Caesar, or anyone else) is Lord.” Maybe Mr. Gadbois will think me a broken record, but how does this reasoning escape the foibles of Protestant liberalism? 2k maintains that Jesus is indeed Lord over every square inch, but it’s miles more conservative about how that translates into thinking that the gospel may or should be politicized. I wonder if you might consider something. I admitted to being a radical who openly and vigorously opposes the sort of glorified political speeches dubbed “sermons” the Bayly’s preach from a distance at their magistrate, so maybe you can plainly admit that you don’t think all social gospel is bad, that the error of the Protestant liberals was that they had the wrong kind of social gospel, that those with the correct politics therefore have the right to politicize faith? But if you cannot own up to the logical implications of your assertions, maybe you’ll consider the idea that to de-politicize faith is perhaps one of the most political things one can do.

  328. TurretinFan said,

    September 19, 2010 at 9:19 am

    “excommunication brings spiritual death for membership in the covenant community”

    That’s yet another false statement. Excommunication does not bring spiritual death on people. That sounds like the error of the Federal Visionists.

    Excommunication is first and foremost a disciplinary measure. While it is the most extreme form of church discipline, the goal of excommunication is restoration of the person to the visible church.

    To the extent that excommunication is used on those guilty of apostasy (as opposed to contumacy, habitual sin, or the like), the judgment is not that the church is imposing spiritual death on the person, but that the church is recognizing an already-existing absence of spiritual life in the person.

    DGH wrote: “I am getting the sense from you, TFan and Truth Undermines that giving up freedom of conscience is no biggie.”

    a) This kind of inaccurate portrayal of the other side by DGH is something I’ve complained about from the start, here. The question is not about giving up freedom of conscience in general, but rather about whether freedom of conscience of the citizen trumps the civil magistrate’s duty to obey God’s law. No one from our side is talking about forced conversions, for example.

    b) This is pretty transparent grandstanding.

    DGH wrote: “Tfan, If Roger Williams had not trekked to Providence he would have been imprisoned and likely executed. Just take a look at Massachusetts’ Capital Laws.”

    Roger Williams was banished. That was the sentence against him. They didn’t even force him to leave immediately, apparently because Winter was approaching. When, however, Williams not only did not leave, but actively continued his propaganda campaign of sedition, the authorities took action to actively deport Williams, at which point he complied with the sentence of banishment already against him. Yes, it was capital crime for a banished person to re-enter (or to defy the banishment order). However, that was easily avoided simply by complying with the lawful commands of the civil magistrate.

    DGH wrote: “Also, my not using Scripture was the point of the original post.”

    No doubt, though your lack of shame about this is amazing.

    DGH wrote: “Scripture is silent on republicanism, federalism, democracy, constitutions, separation of powers, the judicial branch, health care insurance.”

    You’ve identified words that are not found in Scripture and topics with respect to which no one has directly criticized you. Maybe all those things you’ve identified are among the adiaphora. However, Scripture is not silent about the civil magistrate punishing blasphemy or sabbath-breaking. Yet, where Scriptures speaks, you do not wish to follow Scripture, inventing excuses for not doing so – excuses we easily shoot down – and defaming the Puritans and others.

    DGH wrote: “More precisely, it is silent about the form of opposition that Christians must take against certain social ills.”

    It’s hard to object to such a vague claim. The Bible is not silent about the duties of the civil magistrate toward evil.

    DGH wrote: “If Scripture is silent, and someone says that the Bible requires something that the Bible doesn’t require (Tim Bayly), then, Geneva, we have a problem, as in a violation of the sufficiency of Scripture.”

    A violation of the sufficiency of Scripture would be a claim that we need some other source of authority as our rule of faith and life.

    A claim that the Bible requires something that the Bible doesn’t require is a mistake (perhaps a serious mistake). It is addressed, however, by discussing the Bible.

    DGH: “We are not to bind others with the doctrines and commandments of men, no matter how good the intentions of Tim Bayly may be. That’s basic Protestantism and Turretin knew it.”

    The intentions of Mr. Bayly are, I agree, not the issue. Instead, the issue is: what does the Bible actually teach. You got our hopes up that you might try to do that in your article when you began it this way:

    Tim Bayly Is Doing His Gilbert Tennent Impersonation Again (September 7th, 2010 by Darryl G. Hart) . . . and along the way denies the teaching and authority of Peter and Paul.

    (ellipsis in original)

    But instead, what you do is simply argue that there are no examples of Peter and Paul doing exactly what Mr. Bayly is suggesting should be done at the present time. That’s not a legitimate or reasonable interaction with Mr. Bayly’s argument for their position.

    - TurretinFan

  329. TurretinFan said,

    September 19, 2010 at 9:23 am

    “Truth Undermines, yes, the pattern seems to be that you quote other people and ask questions.”

    Wow … now he has descended to making fun of names?

  330. dghart said,

    September 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Ron, but we have explicit repudiation of the kingdom of grace using arms when Jesus said in John 20: 36 “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

    Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world even among the Israelites who were seeking a heavenly city. But the Israelites did use the sword. Now Jesus says that he will not use the sword in connection with his kingdom. The NT does not say that we will change on giving the sign of the covenant to babies. So there is assertion as opposed to silence in the NT regarding the sword in the prosecution of Christ’s kingdom.

  331. dghart said,

    September 19, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Tfan, so you are admitting that Williams was banished. Are you saying that Baptists should be banished today? Or were the Puritans wrong to banish a Baptist? I mean, you seem to think that the 2k view of the Puritans was pretty nifty.

    In which case you do not believe that the protection of religious freedom is something that contemporary governments should do because that is contrary to a Christian view of the magistrate. Again, it’s fine for you to say that. I just want to be clear that that is what you are saying.

    But if you think it is fine for Roman Catholics to practice their faith in the United States or any duly formed government, how exactly is you critique of 2k different from the advocacy of 2k? The Bible forbids faithful magistrates in the OT from tolerating idolatry. The Bible forbids the church from tolerating idolatry. Where do we get the view that the state may tolerate Roman Catholic worship? I’m sensing that you do not favor state freedom for Roman Catholics.

  332. dghart said,

    September 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Tfan, according to the Baylys logic, a false minister does not opposed abortion. Jesus and the apostles lived at a time where infanticide was practiced. The NT only makes one mention of infanticide in connection with the slaughter of the innocents. That means that Jesus and the apostles fail the Baylys’ test. They also fail yours since they knew what the Bible taught about the civil magistrate and did not follow it.

    Or maybe the duties of the Christian magistrate were changing because redemption was no longer going to use civil weapons or law to prosecute Christ’s lordship.

  333. September 19, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Ron, but we have explicit repudiation of the kingdom of grace using arms when Jesus said in John 20: 36 “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

    Darryl,

    Yes, Jesus in John 18 spoke of his kingdom, which as our Confession teaches is the visible church, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation, but that has little to do with the ordained rule of civil magistrates. That the church should not use arms does not mean that civil magistrates shouldn’t. In fact, your point proves too much. If we were to apply the teachings of Jesus in this regard to the civil magistrates, there would be no temporal justice whatsoever (something you do not aspire to).

    Blessings my brother,

    Ron

  334. michael said,

    September 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    This comment at #192 is interesting to me:

    Where does the revision quoted in #189 limit the ability of the magistrate to act with regard to blasphemy or heresy? A strict reading of the language would seem to bind the magistrate to prevent persons under his jurisdiction from offering “indignity, violence, abuse or injury to any other person” on religious grounds, and to protect religious and ecclesiastical assemblies from interference by other persons, not to prohibit the magistrate from promulgating and enforcing any regulations with regard to such.

    Here in my city … the magistrate refuses to uphold the existing law of adultery. I was a Police Chaplain for my city during the middle 1990′s until I was forced to resign because of my public views about both homosexual behavior and adultery. The Police commander in charge of beat cops told me one day something amazing. He said in 1975 he arrested a man and charged him with committing acts of adultery! The District Attorney refused to bring that case forward. To this day that law has never been rescinded. It is against the written code of my city for anyone to commit adultery. But our magistrate will not enforce that law! Not to worry though because I have a fair idea My God will regardless of what the magistrate refuses to do to uphold the laws of my City.

    My conclusion is this. This city was a strong Presbyterian community during its formulative days in the middle 19th Century and many of the civilian authorities were Presbyterian. It is just my speculation the fact of their Godly influence framed the writing of the laws of conduct and general jurisprudence of the community. Today, lawlessness and political correctness have glossed over Biblical Truth so if it isn’t something like murder or perjury on the witness stand or thief and shoplifting from stores, it’s good to go for the rebel. Of course it is interesting to note that the roads are continually upgraded and kept free of potholes around and near the residences of the civil magistrates and are not so around the poor drug invested neighborhoods and more poverty minded folks! Hmmmmm?

  335. Kyle said,

    September 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Ron (re: #326),

    The argument I gave above isn’t an argument from silence. It was an inference to the best explanation of what Paul wrote. Roman Christians wonder whether they really have any obligations to submit to a depraved, pagan political ruler. Paul replies to them, ‘God has established them. They occupy an office that is ordained to function as His ministers to you for good, primarily by punishing evil. So yes, you’re obligated to submit to them’.

    But, of course, they weren’t punishing evils like idolatry and blasphemy. In that case, there are two possibilities: 1) whether or not a citizen is obligated to submit has nothing to do with whether or not political rulers do the job God has ordained for the office, or 2) the Roman rulers *qualified* — they were doing enough by way of ministering to its citizens for good and punishing evil.

    If 1) is correct, then it’s a little weird that Paul would go into very much about the ordained roles for the office. After all, he wasn’t writing to instruct Roman rulers about their role; he was writing to Roman Christians about why they were obligated to submit (and I think that’s why your #289 misses the mark). If 1) is correct, then, it would make more sense just to say ‘God has established them — period’. It doesn’t matter what they do, or how lousy they are, Roman Christians are obligated to submit. But 2) looks better if Paul says ‘You’re obligated to submit to them *because* God has established them — established them to promote justice and punish evil’. And if 2) is correct, punishing idolatry and blasphemy at very least isn’t essential to a political ruler filling the ordained roles for the office.

    So, to maintain your view, you have to deny Paul was telling Roman Christians that they have to submit in virtue of the fact that Roman rulers, despite being depraved pagans, actually were filling the ordained roles for the office. On your view of what those roles are, Roman rulers were failing miserably, but they still had to submit to them. That means you have to deny that Paul’s statement of the ordained roles for political offices had anything to do with the pastoral context of the letter. That seems bad, exegetically.

  336. September 19, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Kyle,

    Let’s assume 2, the Roman rulers qualified as ministers of justice because they were doing “enough” to qualify as such. If the OT precept of punishing blasphemers is still obligatory, then all we may infer from that very brief passage on Romans is that punishing blasphemers is not a necessary condition for minimally qualifying as a minister of justice. That, however, does not imply that punishing blasphemers is not a necessary condition for fulfilling the office as it ought to be fulfilled. To conclude otherwise is draw an inference from what is absent in the text. Accordingly, we’re left to fall back on the principle of OT continuity.

    you have to deny that Paul’s statement of the ordained roles for political offices had anything to do with the pastoral context of the letter. That seems bad, exegetically.

    If we may infer from the OT backdrop and the epistle that punishing blasphemers is not a necessary condition for minimally fulfilling the office of minister of justice, then of course the letter had at least something to say, although ever so indirectly, about the office of minister of justice. Apart from that, I can’t imagine what more we may infer from what the text says, or doesn’t say(!), with respect to how ministers of justice ought to act toward blasphemers. The apostle’s concerns were many, but obviously he had little interest in speaking to the saints of Rome about the exhaustive role of God’s ministers of justice. I can hardly blame him since the apostle’s primary concern was the kingdom that is not of this world.

    I don’t know if any of that helps. I’m trying very hard to grasp where you might be going with all of this.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  337. September 19, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Kyle,

    Let’s assume 2, the Roman rulers qualified as ministers of justice because they were doing “enough” to qualify as such. If the OT precept of punishing blasphemers is still obligatory, then all we may infer from that very brief passage in Romans is that punishing blasphemers is not a necessary condition for minimally qualifying as a minister of justice. That, however, does not imply that punishing blasphemers is not a necessary condition for fulfilling the office as it ought to be fulfilled. To conclude otherwise is to draw an inference from what is absent in the text.
    Accordingly, we’re left to fall back on the principle of OT continuity.

    you have to deny that Paul’s statement of the ordained roles for political offices had anything to do with the pastoral context of the letter. That seems bad, exegetically.

    If we may infer from the OT backdrop and the epistle that punishing blasphemers is not a necessary condition for minimally fulfilling the office of minister of justice, then of course the letter had at least something to say, although ever so indirectly, about the office of minister of justice. Apart from that, I can’t imagine what more we may infer from what the text says, or doesn’t say(!), with respect to how ministers of justice ought to act toward blasphemers.

    The apostle’s concerns were many, but obviously he had little interest in speaking to the saints of Rome about the exhaustive role of God’s ministers of justice. I can hardly blame him since the apostle’s primary concern was the kingdom that is not of this world.

    I don’t know if any of that helps. I’m trying very hard to grasp where you might be going with all of this.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  338. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Kyle (#335):

    As weird as it might seem to you, I think (1) has to be the correct option, that our obedience is not conditioned upon whether a political ruler is doing his job. Paul could not make a blanket statement like Rom 13.1 if it were not in reference to the office rather than the deportment of the officer.

    In support of this, consider Paul’s immediate about-face with Ananias in Acts 23.3. He respected the office, even though he believed A’s deportment to be self-condemning.

    Ditto David’s extraordinary deference to Saul.

    Cf. Calvin’s discussion in Inst 4.20.24

  339. dghart said,

    September 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Ron, you said that silence in the NT was not a sufficient argument. I pointed out that the king of the Jews refused to use the sword. This was a direct about face from what previous kings of the Jews were compelled to do. In which case, the church does not use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry. And the state after Christ does not use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry because Jesus, who did not use force, put an end to the use of force in prosecuting his kingdom. Israel did use the sword for redemptive purposes. Now you want a return to Israelite patterns. Yes, that is theonomic.

  340. dghart said,

    September 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Ron and Tfan, here is Calvin’s comments on whether or not arms should be used in prosecuting Christ’s kingdom (from John 18):

    “But here a question arises, Is it not law fill to defend the kingdom of Christ by arms? For when Kings and Princes are commanded to kiss the Son of God, (Psalm 2:10-12) not only are they enjoined to submit to his authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness. I answer, first, they who draw this conclusion, that the doctrine of the Gospel and the pure worship of God ought not to be defended by arms, are unskillful and ignorant reasoners; for Christ argues only from the facts of the case in hand, how frivolous were the calumnies which the Jews had brought against him. Secondly, though godly kings defend the kingdom of Christ by the sword, still it is done in a different manner from that in which worldly kingdoms are wont to be defended; for the kingdom of Christ, being spiritual, must be founded on the doctrine and power of the Spirit. In the same manner, too, its edification is promoted; for neither the laws and edicts of men, nor the punishments inflicted by them, enter into the consciences. Yet this does not hinder princes from accidentally defending the kingdom of Christ; partly, by appointing external discipline, and partly, by lending their protection to the Church against wicked men. It results, however, from the depravity of the world, that the kingdom of Christ is strengthened more by the blood of the martyrs than by the aid of arms.”

    Sounds pretty 2k-ish.

  341. September 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Jeff et al.,

    It might be helpful to have Kyle’s 1 and 2 close at hand: But, of course, they weren’t punishing evils like idolatry and blasphemy. In that case, there are two possibilities: 1) whether or not a citizen is obligated to submit has nothing to do with whether or not political rulers do the job God has ordained for the office, or 2) the Roman rulers *qualified* — they were doing enough by way of ministering to its citizens for good and punishing evil.

    I can interpret Kyle’s two statements harmoniously and not at odds with each other: The Roman rulers met enough sufficient conditions in order qualify as ministers of justice and the Roman citizens were to submit even though the necessary conditions for doing the job in an exemplary manner were not met.

    I’m not sure if Kyle would agree but if he doesn’t, then he might want to elaborate more on 1 and 2.

    Ron

  342. Kyle said,

    September 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Ron,

    Thanks. I really appreciate your efforts. And this even seems to me a bit like progress (and on a blog of all things!). So you say: all the argument above shows is that God doesn’t require states to coerce compliance with divine prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy, or any other of the rules distinctive to divine law morality. They adequately qualify as God’s ministers to us for our good when they promote justice in some more basic sense — preventing theft, violence, and other sorts of intrusion. But that doesn’t mean that God prohibits them from doing more to coerce compliance with a more full-bodied, distinctively Christian, conception of good (and/or punish for any violation of divine law morality).

    But, as I said earlier, I don’t think the passage *only* means to deal with a particular set of concerns that Roman Christians had about Roman rulers. It is also the best NT source text for distilling a general principle for the role of civil government. I think most commentators have agreed (even while they disagreed about what that general principle is). Anyway, I talked about this general principle as a divine mandate, which a state would be going beyond if it undertook to coerce compliance with divine law morality. Motivating compliance with divine law morality falls under the administration of a different ‘kingdom’ (or maybe better, ‘vice-regent’), i.e., the church. It’s not given to the state to do this.

    Of course, it used to be. You mentioned OT continuity. As much as I understand this, I think I deny it with respect to this issue. There is no continuity of political authority. The Hebrew state is gone. It’s judicial laws don’t apply to anyone. General equity? That doesn’t help you unless you can show that general equity requires enforcing divine law morality in its entirety. Do you even think that?

    Besides, if the general equity of Ancient Israel’s enforcement of divine law morality really does oblige citizens of all states, then it not obvious how Paul could have thought the Romans adequately qualify as God’s ministers to people there for their good.

  343. September 19, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Ron, you said that silence in the NT was not a sufficient argument. I pointed out that the king of the Jews refused to use the sword.

    Darryl,

    You rightly noted in #331 that Jesus did not use the sword because “his kingdom” was not of this world. I pointed out that the kingdom to which Jesus referred is the kingdom to which our standards refer, the church. The church is not to use the sword. I also noted that if you apply that text to the civil magistrates then you would prove more than you are willing to accept. You would be left with absolutely no use of arms, which means no possible way of deterring evil doers. Even Andy let his deputy carry a bullet in his pocket.

    In which case, the church does not use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry.

    That is a true statement. The church is not to use the sword at all.

    And the state after Christ does not use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry because Jesus, who did not use force, put an end to the use of force in prosecuting his kingdom.

    You wish to apply the text not to the church but to the civil magistrates AND in doing so you only want to make application in a very selective sense. You are reading our Lord’s statement to Pilate as teaching that absolutely no force is to be used by the civil magistrate with respect to the first table of the law but that it is permissible to use force to deter crimes and detain criminals with respect to commandments six and eight, but not five, seven, nine and ten. I’m sorry but I’m suspicious of such arbitrary exegesis. If you wish to equate “Kingdom” with the civil magistrate in that passage, then you must go all the way and interpret the text as forbidding arms absolutely and in all cases, but again that takes you further than you care to go.

    I would suggest that the text refers to an injustice being done to the Lord and that violence has no place in the kingdom. I would, also, prefer to apply the text to the church as Christ’s kingdom, in which case I can interpret Jesus as saying force has no place in the church, Christ’s kingdom out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

    Israel did use the sword for redemptive purposes. Now you want a return to Israelite patterns. Yes, that is theonomic.

    A cursory reading of my writings demonstrates that I have in no way implied that the sword has any place in the church.

    Ron

  344. TurretinFan said,

    September 19, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    DGH:

    Before my further responses, I wanted to apologize for the tone of my comment #309. I think it was excessively sharp. I stand by the content, but I do want to make clear that I apologize for the tone.

    I’ve responded to your attempt to argue from Jesus’ words to Pilate in separate post (link to response). Very briefly, the reason your use of this is not compelling is that there is no discontinuity expressed by Jesus’ words.

    DGH wrote:

    Tfan, so you are admitting that Williams was banished. Are you saying that Baptists should be banished today? Or were the Puritans wrong to banish a Baptist? I mean, you seem to think that the 2k view of the Puritans was pretty nifty.

    a) I’m not so much admitting that he was banished, as insisting that he was banished, in contradiction of your false charge that “Roger Williams had to run for his life.”

    b) I wasn’t saying anything about whether Baptists should be banished today.

    c) Roger Williams wasn’t banished for failing to believe that paedobaptism is proper. He was banished because he was a seditious rogue. I know that doesn’t paint the Puritans in such negative colors, but if you are going to pick historical examples, you are stuck with the facts.

    DGH wrote:

    In which case you do not believe that the protection of religious freedom is something that contemporary governments should do because that is contrary to a Christian view of the magistrate. Again, it’s fine for you to say that. I just want to be clear that that is what you are saying.

    I’m quite sure that’s not what I’ve said nor what I’m saying.

    DGH wrote:

    But if you think it is fine for Roman Catholics to practice their faith in the United States or any duly formed government, how exactly is you critique of 2k different from the advocacy of 2k? The Bible forbids faithful magistrates in the OT from tolerating idolatry. The Bible forbids the church from tolerating idolatry. Where do we get the view that the state may tolerate Roman Catholic worship? I’m sensing that you do not favor state freedom for Roman Catholics.

    Your position is not 2K, but R2K. There is a 2K position that is within the American Revisions, although it is not within the original Westminster Confession of Faith (because the American Revisions broadened the confessional tent). Your radical version, however, is not within the bounds of either document. It only pays lip service to general equity, as we’ve seen above. It fails to properly acknowledge the role of Scripture as the rule of faith and life.

    DGH wrote:

    Tfan, according to the Baylys logic, a false minister does not opposed abortion. Jesus and the apostles lived at a time where infanticide was practiced. The NT only makes one mention of infanticide in connection with the slaughter of the innocents. That means that Jesus and the apostles fail the Baylys’ test. They also fail yours since they knew what the Bible taught about the civil magistrate and did not follow it.

    I welcome your showing of infanticide being practiced among Palestinian Jews of the first century, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem (except for Herod’s slaughter). And, of course, since the apostles affirmed the validity of the moral law of the Old Testament, which did not change, we feel comfortable in thinking that to the extent they encountered infanticide, they opposed it. It is said that one of the marks of early Christianity was the rescue of such infants. The Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas, for example, speak to the topic of the protection of infants. Justin Martyr spoke against the pagan practice of exposure of infants in the 3rd century, before Constantine came around in the 4th to make Christian opposition to unjust laws easier.

    Will Durant writes: “in many instances Christians rescued exposed infants, baptized them, and brought them up with the aid of the community fund.” I’m sure even honest Abe “We do not at all hide the fact that we disagree with Calvin, our Confessions, and our Reformed theologians” Kuyper would be proud of them.

    DGH wrote:

    Or maybe the duties of the Christian magistrate were changing because redemption was no longer going to use civil weapons or law to prosecute Christ’s lordship.

    Redemption in the Old Testament period was brought about through the sacrificial system. This is one of those examples that make me think that the RHH is joined at the hip with R2K. RHH when abused leads to this sort of fuzzy thinking that is unable to differentiate between things actually related to redemption, and things that have other purposes. Taken to an extreme, RHH ends up being as ridiculous as Harold Camping’s panparabolic hermeneutic.

    Earlier, DGH had written:

    In other words, I am trying to defend freedom of conscience as the revisors [sic] or [sic] the WCF were trying to do.

    There are two problems. One, what the revisers of the WCF did and what they were trying to do may be two different things. The revisers do not mention “freedom of conscience.” They mention “liberty of conscience” at the same place the original drafters mention it, but it doesn’t mean what DGH means by “freedom of conscience.” Maybe one or more of the revisers was motivated by a desire to live in a pluralistic society, full of happy blasphemers and well-adjusted idolaters. Whatever their desire, what matters is what they put into the confession.

    Two, DGH has not answered the question about the moral grounds for defending freedom of conscience in the first place. The grounds that he seems to provide are that a pluralistic society is more fun to live in than a less tolerant society – but that’s not a moral principle at play. It may give warm fuzzies to those who are already predisposed to pluralism, but it does not provide an actual case for his position.

    DGH wrote:

    Ron, you said that silence in the NT was not a sufficient argument. I pointed out that the king of the Jews refused to use the sword. This was a direct about face from what previous kings of the Jews were compelled to do. In which case, the church does not use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry. And the state after Christ does not use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry because Jesus, who did not use force, put an end to the use of force in prosecuting his kingdom. Israel did use the sword for redemptive purposes. Now you want a return to Israelite patterns. Yes, that is theonomic.

    The only new thing here, that I see, is the claim that Jesus was “compelled” to use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry. Leaving aside the fact that Jesus did, in fact, drive moneychangers out of the temple with a whip, it seems that Darryl’s argument hinges on treating Jesus as a civil magistrate, though Jesus himself specifically disclaims any such role, and even points his disciples to the Sanhedrin as the lawful civil magistrate:

    Matthew 23:1-3
    Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”

    DGH wrote:

    Ron and Tfan, here is Calvin’s comments on whether or not arms should be used in prosecuting Christ’s kingdom (from John 18):

    “But here a question arises, Is it not law fill to defend the kingdom of Christ by arms? For when Kings and Princes are commanded to kiss the Son of God, (Psalm 2:10-12) not only are they enjoined to submit to his authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness. I answer, first, they who draw this conclusion, that the doctrine of the Gospel and the pure worship of God ought not to be defended by arms, are unskillful and ignorant reasoners; for Christ argues only from the facts of the case in hand, how frivolous were the calumnies which the Jews had brought against him. Secondly, though godly kings defend the kingdom of Christ by the sword, still it is done in a different manner from that in which worldly kingdoms are wont to be defended; for the kingdom of Christ, being spiritual, must be founded on the doctrine and power of the Spirit. In the same manner, too, its edification is promoted; for neither the laws and edicts of men, nor the punishments inflicted by them, enter into the consciences. Yet this does not hinder princes from accidentally defending the kingdom of Christ; partly, by appointing external discipline, and partly, by lending their protection to the Church against wicked men. It results, however, from the depravity of the world, that the kingdom of Christ is strengthened more by the blood of the martyrs than by the aid of arms.”

    Sounds pretty 2k-ish.

    It may well be 2k-ish. It’s not R2K theology, the indirect proof being in how much grief you give Calvin about Servetus.

    The other aspect of the proof is the fact that Calvin’s statement: “For when Kings and Princes are commanded to kiss the Son of God, (Psalm 2:10-12) not only are they enjoined to submit to his authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness,” is something that is utterly inconsistent with an R2K position that seeks to advocate pluralism.

    -TurretinFan

  345. September 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Mr. Moderator, please delete my 344 which was poorly formatted, making it confusing regarding who said what. Thanks!

    Ron, you said that silence in the NT was not a sufficient argument. I pointed out that the king of the Jews refused to use the sword.”

    Darryl,

    You rightly noted in #331 that Jesus did not use the sword because “his kingdom” was not of this world. I pointed out that the kingdom to which Jesus referred is the kingdom to which our standards refer, the church. The church is not to use the sword. I also noted that if you apply that text to the civil magistrates then you would prove more than you are willing to accept. You would be left with absolutely no use of arms, which means no possible way of deterring evil doers. Even Andy let his deputy carry a bullet in his pocket.

    “In which case, the church does not use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry.”

    That is a true statement. The church is not to use the sword at all.

    And the state after Christ does not use the sword to punish blasphemy or idolatry because Jesus, who did not use force, put an end to the use of force in prosecuting his kingdom.”

    You wish to apply the text not to the church but to the civil magistrates AND in doing so you only want to make application in a very selective sense. You are reading our Lord’s statement to Pilate as teaching that absolutely no force is to be used by the civil magistrate with respect to the first table of the law but that it is permissible to use force to deter crimes and detain criminals with respect to commandments six and eight, but not five, seven, nine and ten. I’m sorry but I’m suspicious of such arbitrary exegesis. If you wish to equate “Kingdom” with the civil magistrate in that passage, then you must go all the way and interpret the text as forbidding arms absolutely and in all cases, but again that takes you further than you care to go.

    I would suggest that the text refers to an injustice being done to the Lord and that violence has no place in the kingdom. I would, also, prefer to apply the text to the church as Christ’s kingdom, in which case I can interpret Jesus as saying force has no place in the church, Christ’s kingdom out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

    “Israel did use the sword for redemptive purposes. Now you want a return to Israelite patterns. Yes, that is theonomic.”

    A cursory reading of my writings demonstrates that I have in no way implied that the sword has any place in the church.

    Ron

  346. September 19, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks. I really appreciate your efforts. And this even seems to me a bit like progress (and on a blog of all things!).

    Go figure, right?

    So you say: all the argument above shows is that God doesn’t require states to coerce compliance with divine prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy, or any other of the rules distinctive to divine law morality. They adequately qualify as God’s ministers to us for our good when they promote justice in some more basic sense — preventing theft, violence, and other sorts of intrusion. But that doesn’t mean that God prohibits them from doing more to coerce compliance with a more full-bodied, distinctively Christian, conception of good (and/or punish for any violation of divine law morality).

    Not quite. We may infer from the text that they were a legitimate magistrate, but that does not imply that they weren’t required to punish blasphemers. You wrote “But that doesn’t mean that God *prohibits* them…”, which could imply that God did not also require them to punish blasphemers. *emphasis mine* I’m not saying it was optional. I’m saying it was required.

    I talked about this general principle as a divine mandate, which a state would be going beyond if it undertook to coerce compliance with divine law morality. Motivating compliance with divine law morality falls under the administration of a different ‘kingdom’ (or maybe better, ‘vice-regent’), i.e., the church. It’s not given to the state to do this.

    Let’s not kid ourselves. All states punish for immoralities. And all immoralities pertain to God. That’s why all governments are God’s ministers of justice, but none of this gets us any closer to the question at hand.

    The Hebrew state is gone. It’s judicial laws don’t apply to anyone. General equity? That doesn’t help you unless you can show that general equity requires enforcing divine law morality in its entirety. Do you even think that?

    Kyle, how can general the equity of laws x, y and z be applied if laws x, y and z are abrogated? Abrogation of a law and applying its general equity are not compatible concepts. What you are proposing is not general equity but rather the dismissal of first table laws.

    Besides, if the general equity of Ancient Israel’s enforcement of divine law morality really does oblige citizens of all states, then it not obvious how Paul could have thought the Romans adequately qualify as God’s ministers to people there for their good.

    This has already been addressed in post 290, 338 and in a few of TF’s posts. You don’t like the answers. They seem “odd” to you. I might recommend you simply reflect on them a bit more and if you can’t accept them, then draw other conclusions. There are more important matters – much more, to be concerned with. :)

    Ron

  347. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 6:57 am

    An Arminian Baptist has pointed me to Calvin’s commentary on Luke 14:23 (in Volume 32, i.e. Harmony of the Gospels, Volume 2, at page 173):

    Luke 14:23. Compel them to come in. This expression means, that the master of the house would give orders to make use, as it were, of violence for compelling the attendance of the poor, and to leave out none of the lowest dregs of the people. By these words Christ declares that he would rake together all the offscourings of the world, rather than he would ever admit such ungrateful persons to his table. The allusion appears to be to the manner in which the Gospel invites us; for the grace of God is not merely offered to us, but doctrine is accompanied by exhortations fitted to arouse our minds. This is a display of the astonishing goodness of God, who, after freely inviting us, and perceiving that we give ourselves up to sleep, addresses our slothfulness by earnest entreaties, and not only arouses us by exhortations, but even compels us by threatenings to draw near to him. At the same time, I do not disapprove of the use which Augustine frequently made of this passage against the Donatists, to prove that godly princes may lawfully issue edicts, for compelling obstinate and rebellious persons to worship the true God, and to maintain the unity of the faith; for, though faith is voluntary, yet we see that such methods are useful for subduing the obstinacy of those who will not yield until they are compelled.

    Notice that Calvin does not believe that people cannot be compelled to believe, nor does he conflate the roles of civil magistrate and church, yet he certainly is no friend to R2K.

    -TurretinFan

  348. proregno said,

    September 20, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Herman Bavinck against R2K (all quotes from dr. Nelson Kloosterman’s article on the topic: http://auxesis.net/kloosterman/natural_law_two_kingdoms_bavinck.pdf):

    1. The Kingdom of God is spiritual, but also has outward implications for all of life, including society/culture:

    “When we explain the kingdom of God in this full, rich sense, there is no basis for the claim that the OT idea of the kingdom of God was entirely spiritualized in the NT and stripped of all its sensory [zinnelijke] and political elements. For also in the NT the kingdom of God comes to earth (Mt.5.5); it is frequently portrayed by the images of a wedding and festive celebration (Mt.8.11); and it also possesses a political significance (Mt.20.20-23; Lk.19.11-27; Ac.1.6-7; Rev.21.23-24).”

    2. We must reject the dualism of Rome and Lutheranism:

    “To divide [human] persons in two—like Rome and in part like the
    Lutherans—and to say that in the realm of the supernatural and
    spiritual they are incapable of any good but in the natural realm they
    can do things that are totally [volkomen] good is contrary to the unity of
    human nature, to the unity of the moral law, and to the teaching of
    Scriptures that humans must always be images of God, do everything
    they do to the glory of God, and always and everywhere love God with all
    their heart, mind, and strength.”

    3. Current R2K thought is in bed with pietism, dualism, Rome and Lutheranism, not Reformed Christianity:

    “Just like Zwingli and Calvin, so too Luther set life in the world free from
    the realm of the church, but for the rest he abandoned that life to stand
    alongside the spiritual, speaking occasionally as if external human
    existence is wholly indifferent and incapable of moral renewal. Luther’s
    mistake was that he restricted the gospel and reduced the grace of God.
    For him, the gospel changes only the internal, the attitude, the heart, but
    all the rest remains unaffected until the last day. So here dualism is not
    entirely vanquished; at this point the true and full catholicity of
    Christianity is not reached. Redemption remains positioned alongside
    creation.”

    4. The Bible is the norm for all of life (Calvin) not only for redemption (Luther):

    “Calvin investigated the dynamic of sin more broadly than Luther and
    more deeply than Zwingli. For that reason the grace of God is more
    limited with Luther and more impoverished with Zwingli than with
    Calvin. Here in the mighty spirit of the French Reformer, redemption is
    not a supplement to creation, as with Rome, nor a religious reformation
    that leaves the creation intact, as with Luther, far less a brand new
    creation, as with the Anabaptists, but a joyous message of renewal unto
    all creatures. Here the gospel comes into its fullness, unto its genuine
    catholicity. Nothing exists that cannot and should not be evangelized.
    Not just the church, but also the home and the school, society and the
    state are placed under the dominion of the Christian principle; and with
    iron will and irrepressible stubbornness Calvin introduced that dominion
    to Geneva. So the German Reformation was a reformation of worship and
    preaching, the Swiss Reformation additionally a renewal of state and
    society; the one bore an exclusively cultic character, the other an equally
    social and political character. Everything flows forth from the fact that for Luther the Bible is only the source of redemptive truth, whereas for
    Calvin the Bible is the norm for all of life.”

    I agree with dr. Kloosterman, when he writes:

    “I share Dr. VanDrunen’s appreciation for the biblical image of Christians
    as pilgrims. The status of pilgrim should not be viewed, however, as an alternative to Christian cultural participation, but rather as the mode of
    Christian cultural engagement. It is precisely as pilgrims that we seek and pray for the coming of God’s kingdom already here and now. Our seeking the kingdom of God, Jesus taught, is already here and now accompanied by the gifts of eating, drinking, and clothing. If we may—indeed, must—seek God’s kingdom as we enjoy food, why not as we plant the seed and farm the ground that supplies our food? Why would we not seek God’s kingdom as we market and package and ship our food? Everything we do—all our eating, drinking, buying, selling, marrying, childrearing, educating, entertaining, burying—must be directed to the glory of God. Our orientation toward the future need not paralyze our responsible cultivating of creation in the present. The church fills the time between Christ’s ascension and Christ’s return with preaching and teaching the gospel together with all of its consequences for living in this world. Such gospel preaching and teaching necessarily, and thankfully, bears fruit
    also for Christian cultural activity.”

    To put the above in (HC) confessional language:

    Q64: But does not this (redemptive) doctrine make men careless and profane (for the life in culture)?

    A64: No, for it is impossible that those who are implanted into Christ by true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness (in all aspects of life and thought they are involved in).[Mat 7:18; Rom 6:1-2; John 15:5]

    The more I study this topic, the more I realise the debate is not between being theonomic or non-theonomic, it is about 2K’s (which includes both theonomist -classical and modern- and Ten Commandments only 2K’s) vs Rome, Anabaptism, Lutheranism (and now) R2K’s non-biblical dualistic view of ‘nature and grace’ or ‘church and culture’. Kloosterman’s is very helpful in understanding this paradigm, for those who have not read it yet: tolle lege !

    Bavinck was and still is right: grace does not surplant nature, it sanctifies it to the glory of God in and through Christ (Rom.11:33-36)

  349. Zrim said,

    September 20, 2010 at 11:20 am

    It is said that one of the marks of early Christianity was the rescue of such infants.

    It may informally “be said” in many places that this is so, and it may very well be historical fact, but, Tfan, the Reformed confessional formulations only formally “confess” three marks, none of which, as you know, includes the rescuing of infants. That is at the center of the Bayly’s criticism of certain 2k advocates (remember, the point of the post?). Quoth Tim Bayly in his post on 2k in relation to abortion: “There are many church officers today who are collaborators employing doctrine to justify their silence. Let me be clear: I am not saying these men are unconverted, but rather that they are unfaithful.” So, to be unfaithful apparently has something to do with how one chooses to respond to a very specific social issue. But not only does 2k want to allow for individuals the liberty to lawfully respond as they are compelled in their own consciences, but it also wants to say that unfaithfulness has much more to do with one’s relation to the three marks, which is to say that a person who denies his child baptism is actually more unfaithful than one who chooses not to scream at others about what they are doing with their unborn children (and for the record: 2kers also don’t scream at those who deny their child baptism, they just quietly fence them from the Table).

    And so we come to the point of disagreement: ecclesiastical concern versus worldly worry. If anti-2kers all want the rescuing of infants to move from an informal mark of Christianity to a formal mark of the true church, fine. But until then they really have no grounds to slanderously charge unfaithfulness, nor make things safe for those who do.

    But you also seem to have something against a pluralistic society. 2k opposes a pluralistic church, saying that there is a place for intolerance and a place for tolerance. The interesting thing is how even anti-2kers actually live like 2kers (at least those who happily inhabit America), but then get so riled when it is pointed out. If civil pluralism is as bad as ecclesiastical heterodoxy why don’t you guys either move to another polis or fight to overthrow the current regime? The Protestant Reformation opposed ecclesiastical heterodoxy and chose a posture more in line with the latter.

  350. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 20, 2010 at 11:43 am

    TurretinFan,

    I appreciate your continued endeavors in establishing that Darryl Hart is R2K.

    I have found this publisher’s blurb for Darryl’s book, A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State:

    “Darryl Hart contends that appeals to Christianity for social and political well-being fundamentally misconstrue the meaning of the Christian religion. His book weaves together historical narratives of American Protestantism’s influence on the nation’s politics, and commentary on recent writing about religion and public life, with expositions of Christian teaching. The tapestry that emerges is a compelling faith-based argument for keeping Christianity out of politics. A Secular Faith is sure to provoke a firestorm of debate among evangelicals and those who oppose their political activities.”

    TFan, assuming that this short publisher’s general summary is accurate, would you say that this sufficient enough to mark Darryl Hart as R2K?

  351. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I lack time for a full response at the moment. Two quick things:

    a) Yes, I meant to use the term “mark” in a very informal sense; and

    b) Re: “But you also seem to have something against a pluralistic society,” I have something against false religions (and you should too! – and I trust you do) – the outworkings of that are not necessarily as draconian as someone like DGH seems eager to paint them.

    -TurretinFan.

  352. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    TU&D:

    No, because it is not precise, i.e. it leaves a considerable amount of ambiguity. There are some red flags there, but that may just be “good marketing.” I’m very hesitant to assume that advertising blurbs are accurate descriptions, even hypothetically, which may be another reason for my reluctance to say that the blurb is enough.

    -TurretinFan

  353. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Hi TFan,

    So what makes Darryl Hart an R2K, and not a normal 2K?

  354. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    TU&D: I assume you’re asking what differentiates the two views (not why DGH holds the views he does). I would like to work more on a precise definition of R2K as opposed to 2K, before posting. Right now, there’s a certain amount of fuzziness and imprecision to the way I would go about describing it (and there’s no R2K joint vision statement, yet, that we can go by).

    -TurretinFan

  355. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks TFan. I look forward to a more precise definition of R2K so as to distinguish it from normal 2K.

    Earlier, I tentatively suggested a litmus test of whether someone might be seen as an R2K’er if they disapproved of Pastor Bayly’s sermon that Zrim linked to in #205.

    Zrim and David R. both disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon. After numerous requests to Darryl Hart on whether he disapproves of Pastor Bayly’s sermon linked to in #205, I can only gather that he DOES NOT disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon. So then Darryl Hart does not disapprove of Pastor Bayly having preached the following:

    “Jesus is God. He is King. He is Lord. This has earthly implications which we must understand and declare. Jesus is Lord. ALL earthly authority belongs to Him.

    This means that every form of earthly authority is subject to the Son. He is the King of earth. It is not merely a future authority. It is not the authority of a fugitive king or a future kingdom. Jesus began His earthly ministry with this declaration, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

    The Lord Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and He must reign until He has made His enemies a footstool. Of the increase of His government there will be no end. He has ascended; He has given gifts to men. His kingdom has come, His kingdom is coming, and His kingdom will come.

    If Christ were not King of the world today, we would not need to suffer as Christians. But our declaration of a present kingdom, a present Lord, a present authority is what necessitates our suffering.

    The kingdom and authority of Christ right here, right now is the reason the Gospel is so often a threat to earthly rulers. Earthly rulers live for today, not for the tomorrow of life beyond the grave. If our declaration of Christ’s authority is only future, it contains not the slightest threat to earthly kings who care nothing for the future. But Jesus is King right now. And every government and ruler which stands in opposition to the authority of Jesus Christ is a government and ruler which stands under the judgment of God now, not merely in eternity.

    President Obama stands as our head. He is our representative not just under our federal form of government, not just in earthly terms, but in heavenly terms, before the throne of God. He stands before God for all the righteousness and wickedness of our nation. He either opposes the sins of the nation and reaps blessing from God, or stands in affirmation of them and reaps their judgment.

    And in this regard I call on us to declare and President Obama to hear the Word of God.

    • President Obama, you have promised not to make abortion a litmus test in nominating judges to the Supreme Court. The King of kings, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, however, has declared the murder of innocents a high sin, a sin so vile that even after Manasseh repents of his butchery of the innocent and is followed by the righteous Josiah, God will not turn back his judgment on Judah. President Obama, you are not the first American political leader to embrace this slaughter. Others have gone before you in this. Others bear equal or greater responsibility. But you are president today. And you are the leader of a nation which is at war against God in this, President Obama. We have rejected the Word of God and the Lordship of Christ in this matter. You must oppose abortion in obedience to the King of kings for whom the murder of innocents is indeed a litmus test of righteous authority.

    • President Obama, in your declaration of June 1, 2009, “NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third. BARACK OBAMA.”

    President Obama, you speak of “the year of our Lord,” yet you honor what God despises, declaring a matter of pride that which is an abomination to God. In declaring good what God has judged wicked you are in rebellion against the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.

    I call on you, President Obama, to do today what you must certainly do one day. Repent in accord with the Word of God. Turn in obedience to your King. Bow before Him. Kiss the Son and seek His mercy. His promises of forgiveness and salvation are for you as much as for those you rule over.”

  356. Zrim said,

    September 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Tfan, implying something draconian sure seems to beat charging another with infidelity. One can be disagreed with, the other seems to demand action. So far you haven’t seemed to notice that Tim Bayly is saying those of us who do not picket abortion clinics are unfaithful, yet there is no call to discipline. Some might sayt that’s wanting all the benefits of forceful speech without taking any responsibility for it (and just to keep the politics of sex going, kind of like how formication is wanting all the benefits of an adult relationship without taking its responsibilities).

    Maybe you do see some problems with Bayly’s claim and wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s unfaithful. Maybe we’re just cowards?

  357. Reed Here said,

    September 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    TUAD (#356): if you are correct about Darryl (he can answer for himself as he cares), then there are only two options:

    1) Either Darryl is inconsistent, or
    2) You’re misunderstanding his point.

  358. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 20, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Reed Here: “TUAD (#356): if you are correct about Darryl (he can answer for himself as he cares), then there are only two options:

    1) Either Darryl is inconsistent, or
    2) You’re misunderstanding his point.”

    I could be misunderstanding his point. In which case it might be helpful if he was a bit clearer.

    But it might be more likely than Darryl Hart is inconsistent.

  359. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 20, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Should read: “But it might be more likely that Darryl Hart is inconsistent.”

  360. September 20, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    [...] tossed about the infidelity of 2k ministers sent a lot of shrapnel flying over at Greenbaggins where critics of 2k have repeatedly claimed that two-kingdom theology is outside the bounds of Reformed [...]

  361. dgh said,

    September 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Tfan and Truth, that was a fascinating exchange you guys had mid-day today, but maybe you should exchange digits so that the rest of don’t have to read your email chatter.

  362. dgh said,

    September 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Reed at 358, I can’t make head or tail of Truth’s comments so I wouldn’t know how to clarify.

    He claims that Obama is our respresentative.

    But the president not only represents Christians but also Mormons, Homosexuals, and Muslims.

    Tfan and Truth and Ron have trouble with pluralism in the United States. I admit it has its moments. But they really do seem to want a political order that would be revolutionary and hardly consistent with the quiet and peaceful lives that Paul commends.

    It’s also curious that these men — apparently conservative in politics — give the magistrate power unheard of among those who want to limit the reach of government. If the state can tamper with our religion, what’s next, our property?

  363. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Darryl Hart: “Reed at 358, I can’t make head or tail of Truth’s comments so I wouldn’t know how to clarify.”

    I’ll make this as simple as I possibly can.

    Do you, Darryl Hart, disapprove of the following sermon by Pastor Bayly?

    http://www.baylyblog.com/2009/06/a-sermon-for-the-presidentand-for-the-people-of-god.html

    Two choices for you Darryl Hart:

    (A) Yes, I disapprove of this particular sermon by Pastor Bayly.

    (B) No, I do not disapprove of this particular sermon by Pastor Bayly.

    Which do you pick? (A) or (B)?

    FYI, Zrim has already stated that he vigorously disapproves of this sermon.

  364. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    DGH wrote: “But they really do seem to want a political order that would be revolutionary and hardly consistent with the quiet and peaceful lives that Paul commends.”

    This is just another of DGH’s unhelpful comments. There’s nothing intrinsically opposed to Christians living quiet and peaceful lives in the most extreme implementation of a theonomic system, in which “general equity” means “do exactly word for word what Israel was commanded to do.”

    I don’t know whether I should be happy to see DGH condemn condemn at least one of the framers of the American revisions though. Perhaps he doesn’t even know he’s done it. But he earlier pointed to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, a document that lead to an actual revolution with actual bloodshed (as opposed to the hypothetical lack of peace that DGH’s scaremongering likes to posit), as being an important framer of the American revisions.

    Zrim:

    “Tfan, implying something draconian sure seems to beat charging another with infidelity.”

    Apples and oranges, but I guess I agree.

    “One can be disagreed with, the other seems to demand action. So far you haven’t seemed to notice that Tim Bayly is saying those of us who do not picket abortion clinics are unfaithful, yet there is no call to discipline.”

    Maybe this is the first step of that discipline: conviction of sin.

    DGH: “Maybe you do see some problems with Bayly’s claim and wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s unfaithful. Maybe we’re just cowards?”

    There are things that even cowards can do to uphold the sixth commandment. Surely you can agree with that. If I read Bayly’s article correctly, his objection was to those who do nothing, not those who fail to do some specific thing (like picketing).

    -TurretinFan

  365. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    DGH:

    In your post (automatically linked above) you write this: “Now some have tried to say that the revisions still assert the magistrate’s duty to suppress blasphemy and heresy.” A portion of that sentence links to my blog, suggesting that you’re referring to me.

    Your comment is not true about me, and I respectfully request that you retract it.

    -TurretinFan

  366. September 20, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Are we allowed to appeal to the WLC?

  367. September 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    TF, not only have you not implied that, I don’t remember anyone suggesting such a thing.

    RD

  368. dghart said,

    September 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Tfan, the point of your post to which I linked was to show that a direct contradiction between the original WCF and the revision does not exist. You note various difference but each time say that the change is not a direct repudiation of the original.

    And just for extra measure, let’s not forget what you wrote in another post in response to my point that a magistrate could not uphold the first table of the law and protect Roman Catholics from punishment for idolatry. You wrote, “So what? Some ‘freedoms’ (like the freedom to blaspheme the Lord or the freedom to work on the Lord’s day) might not be protected. That’s the nature of having laws. Laws restrict liberty.”

    So for the record, you disagree with the revised confession on the magistrate’s responsibilities and you agree with the original confession and you think that the revision and the original do not directly contradict each other.

    So when do you turn to defending Abe Lincoln?

  369. Zrim said,

    September 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    There are things that even cowards can do to uphold the sixth commandment. Surely you can agree with that. If I read Bayly’s article correctly, his objection was to those who do nothing, not those who fail to do some specific thing (like picketing).

    Tfan, I’d suggest using some old fashioned common sense when you read. It is pretty clear that by “silence” Bayly means “not vocal the way that I am vocal.” It’s a variant of “If you don’t care the way I care then you don’t care at all,” a favorite tool of the passive-aggressive and sophomoric. But the burden is actually on him who is charging infidelity to prove the charge when it is repeatedly and explicity said by the one being charged that he both morally and politically opposes abortion.

  370. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    “the burden is actually on him who is charging infidelity to prove the charge”

    I fully agree with that.

    As to whether by “silence” Bayly means “not vocal the way that I am vocal,” I hope that Bayly would disclaim that interpretation. I could be wrong. I can certainly imagine someone speaking the way you’ve characterized Bayly, but that would make him look pretty sophomoric.

    -TurretinFan

  371. dghart said,

    September 20, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Truth, I’ll answer your question if you promise to answer one I’ll ask.

  372. dghart said,

    September 20, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Tfan, btw, your point about Calvin’s Luke commentary, how does his language that a magistrate MAY make laws to compel sinners work to your or Ron’s advantage. Your point is that the magistrate must because this is what the Bible requires. “May” is not at all what you are saying and it means that Calvin also meant a magistrate “may not” make laws to compel sinners. In which case, according to your logic, Calvin allows the magistrate room to disobey God’s word. That’s, odd, isn’t it?

  373. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    “So for the record, you disagree with the revised confession on the magistrate’s responsibilities and you agree with the original confession and you think that the revision and the original do not directly contradict each other.”

    I do agree with the original confession, and I have shown that the revision and the original do not directly contradict each other. That far you are correct. I have not stated any disagreement with the revised version, or at least I didn’t notice myself disagreeing with them. Perhaps you could draw my attention to where I disagreed with the revised version?

    “So when do you turn to defending Abe Lincoln?”

    I don’t defend Abe Lincoln. But let’s not get sidetracked with that.

    -TurretinFan

  374. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 20, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    “Truth, I’ll answer your question if you promise to answer one I’ll ask.”

    Depends on the question you ask.

    But why are you playing games?

  375. TurretinFan said,

    September 20, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    DGH:

    “Calvin also meant a magistrate “may not” make laws to compel sinners”

    Calvin was not using the word “may” in the sense of probability “they may or may not do it” but in the sense of permission, “they are allowed to do it.” You and he/Augustine have a fundamental disagreement there, or so I gather from your comments, though perhaps you will find an ancient ally among the Donatists!

    Obviously, I agree with Calvin that magistrates are allowed to compel external conformity to the law of God.

    -TurretinFan

  376. September 20, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    If the original states w, x, y and z and the revision states x, y and z, a contradiction need not obtain. If we deny that principle, then John’s gospel contradicts Luke’s etc. One may believe the seat of the papacy is the seat of anti-Christ but that doesn’t mean he denies the revision or that the revision “contradicts” the original, lest we have very strange understanding of contradiction. There are other parts of the Confession that might appear in conflict with the original, but I don’t find those possible points of contention in what was left out. Maybe Darryl and TF might identify and discuss those sorts of things rather than Darryl focusing on what is not written.

    Ron

  377. September 20, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    “I have not stated any disagreement with the revised version, or at least I didn’t notice myself disagreeing with them.

    TF re:374,

    The reason you are being accused of denying the revision is because you affirm what was left out of the revision. As incoherent as that may be, that is the reason. It’s never been a matter of Reformed theology; it’s simply a matter of elementary logic that is not being employed. The faulty reasoning of your opponent is: if x is not stated, then x is denied. Yet many things ought not be stated, especially in a consesus document.

    Ron

  378. dghart said,

    September 21, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Truth, that is the Scrabble player calling the Chess player “playful.” Either you promise to answer my question, or I don’t answer. Seems fair to me. But I understand you may not think fairness is an OT teaching.

  379. dghart said,

    September 21, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Tfan, “may” is different from “must.” It is a point that lays behind the regulative principle. We may worship God according to our good intentions or according to his revelation, or we must worship him as he has revealed himself. Lutherans follow the former, Reformed the latter. Calvin was allowing permission. You are arguing against 2k by saying the magistrate must enforce the first table. You are applying the RPW to the magistrate. Good for you, you’re consistent. But the point of 2k is that the Bible is silent on many matters of social and political life.

  380. dghart said,

    September 21, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Ron, Since you’re the master logician, help me with this. Tfan says he disagrees with x. He says he agrees with y. But now he says x and y are compatible and not at odds. Does this have to do with logic or with the shifting sands of Tfan’s theological opponents?

  381. TurretinFan said,

    September 21, 2010 at 6:20 am

    I’ve posted a selection of passages from the Westminster standards, as revised by the Americans, that speak against the radical separation of church and state as well as against the radical separation of the first and second tables of the law in the state. (here’s a link to my post)

    Ron, you may be right about his basis for saying that, but I’ll await his own clarification of what he means.

    I’m disappointed to see that he does not appear to have taken down his untrue statement from his blog. This is a rather public violation of the ninth commandment.

    -TurretinFan

  382. TurretinFan said,

    September 21, 2010 at 6:22 am

    “Truth, that is the Scrabble player calling the Chess player “playful.” Either you promise to answer my question, or I don’t answer. Seems fair to me. But I understand you may not think fairness is an OT teaching.”

    Asking him to promise to do something the details of which he doesn’t know, is pretty obviously not fair.

  383. TurretinFan said,

    September 21, 2010 at 6:26 am

    “Tfan, “may” is different from “must.””

    I didn’t say otherwise.

    “Calvin was allowing permission.”

    He was not distinguishing between permission and duty. He was arguing against absence of permission. Context is important.

    “You are arguing against 2k by saying the magistrate must enforce the first table. You are applying the RPW to the magistrate.”

    a) I’m not arguing against 2K, I’m arguing against R2K, as has been repeatedly brought to your attention.

    b) I am not applying the regulative principle of worship to the magistrate. I am simply teaching the same thing as the Confession teaches, namely that the civil magistrate has a duty to maintain piety, justice, and peace.

    I wish you make a greater effort to honor the truth.

    - TurretinFan

  384. TurretinFan said,

    September 21, 2010 at 7:40 am

    “Ron, Since you’re the master logician, help me with this. Tfan says he disagrees with x. He says he agrees with y. But now he says x and y are compatible and not at odds. Does this have to do with logic or with the shifting sands of Tfan’s theological opponents?”

    DGH:

    If I agree with y, and if x and y are compatible and not at odds, then saying I agree with y, does not mean that I disagree with x. That’s where logic fits into the equation.

    The only person that I see claiming that I disagree with the American revisions is you. Why do you say that? Ron has given one guess, and I bet he’s right, but I’m willing to let you answer for yourself.

    -TurretinFan

  385. September 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Ron, Since you’re the master logician, help me with this. Tfan says he disagrees with x. He says he agrees with y. But now he says x and y are compatible and not at odds. Does this have to do with logic or with the shifting sands of Tfan’s theological opponents?

    Darryl,

    I’m the master nothing. I do like to understand my opponents, and occasionally I recognize when someone is unfairly arguing from silence, beating up straw men or equivocating like you might have been in 381. Have you substituted the same exact meaning for x throughout your brief summary above? When TF denies the charge that he disagrees with something, do you take the effort to bring forth what you think to be his apparent contradiction and show with precision and care why you believe that to be the case?

    Let’s review the bidding. TF agrees with the original Confession, therefore, he has a certain view of the seat of the papacy. The revision leaves that point out, which is not a contradiction to the original. A contradiction would exist if the revision implied that the papacy was not the seat of the antichrist. If we’re eager to take TF at his word, then all we may conclude is that he agrees with the revision as far as it goes on the matter of the Roman pontiff. One might wonder whether TF disagrees with the decision to remove that portion from the Confession, but that would hardly be a disagreement with what the revision teaches. His disagreement could only pertain to judgment, not content.

    I understand you to be saying that the omission of x is its denial. That is troublesome to me. Indeed, those who made the decision to omit x might have denied x, or they might have affirmed x but wanted to a more inclusive document than x would allow. In any case, the reason why x was removed is irrelevant to whether the revised document itself denies the original.

    ——–

    On a more personal note, your lack of precision in dealing with your opponents might have already caused others to think that you are not interested in “honoring the truth”. That would be very unfortunate for you. I would think that such an inference would be directly proportional to one’s regard for your abilities. It might be better for you if one found you unable rather than unwilling to deal with your opponents fairly. Then there is the manner in which you say things; you might consider that my brother. I have no doubt that you are kinder than maybe you sometimes project.

    With good intentions,

    Ron

  386. Dean B said,

    September 21, 2010 at 9:00 am

    FFan and dghart

    Hypothetically, if a country was only comprised of professing Christians would the civil government be unnecessary? Would the church government then extend to things that were magisterial or would its limit still be ministerial?

    If the civil government was necessary what role would they have in this Christian society? What laws would or could be made?

    What would be the difference between the 2K and R2K in answering these questions?

  387. Zrim said,

    September 21, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I fully agree with that [the burden is actually on him who is charging infidelity to prove the charge]

    Tfan, one wouldn’t know it by the way you speak here. Looking at all your posts, you seem to think the burden is on the other side of the table.

    Again, the charge is unfaithfulness, which isn’t trifling. You can disagree all you want with pc2K, and that’s fine, but the elephant in the living room is this charge, and it’s the heretofore unresolved point of the post. Bayly chimed in at the beginning and indicated that he had “changed some parts of the post since it first went up, partly in order to take into account some helpful criticisms of Darryl.” Evidently that didn’t include standing down on the charge of infidelity, and he has since been silent.

    To gain a little perspective, the real world version of this is a wife suggesting that her husband is unfaithful because, instead of actually committing adultery in his own body, he strongly disagrees with her about a matter adiaphora. And instead of addressing her wild-eyed charges against the innocent some are getting carried away in the finer points of their disagreement, which is fun and all I admit, but…hello.

  388. dghart said,

    September 21, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Ron, we are not talking about the pope. We are talking about chapter 23 on the civil magistrate. If you are going to take me to task for honesty and truthfulness, maybe you would like to stay on point. The original and the revision say very distinct things about the work of the civil magistrate. Tfan on the one hand says that the original is the best form of confessionalism because he disagrees with the revision, and then he wiggles to make room for the original in the revision. Seriously, this is intellectual dishonesty.

    In fact, I find your and Tfan’s handling of these two documents to be downright Jesuitical. 2kers of my stripe will gladly admit a difference between us and Calvin and Geneva. We have explanations for that. But you and your side won’t acknowledge a tension between Witherspoon and Calvin, between the USA and Geneva, or between the original WCF and the American revision. Instead, what I hear when the turns of logic fails are assaults upon my character. Why can’t you admit a difference? Could it be that you are at odds with your very communion on what the responsibility of the magistrate is?

    So which is Ron, is the original or the revision right? Both can’t be. Otherwise why revise?

    And as for your “personal” concern, when you come here and in one of your first responses to me accuse me of gross ignorance I am not sure you are in the best of positions to offer me advice on how to conduct myself publicly.

  389. TurretinFan said,

    September 21, 2010 at 10:38 am

    “Tfan, one wouldn’t know it by the way you speak here. Looking at all your posts, you seem to think the burden is on the other side of the table.”

    Which of my posts did you have in mind in that regard?

    As for the remainder of your comments, my own remarks here have not debated the issue of where the adioaphora line falls. I will say this, the preservation of the lives of our neighbors, including those in the wombs of other of our neighbors, is our duty under the 6th commandment. And if we live in a democratic republic, that duty applies to us in our role as civil magistrate, whether only as voter or also as public servant.

    -TurretinFan

  390. dghart said,

    September 21, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Tfan, is it fair or honest for Truth or for you to go by pseudonyms? Is that not a form of playing games? Why not attach your name to your views?

    And as for your point that you are not opposed to the revisions, it is really hard to know what you think since in one post you say “There’s an indirect contradiction between the very active role that the civil magistrate should play with respect to the Christian religion in the original WCF and the relatively “hands off” approach that the civil magistrate should have with respect to the Christian religion in the revised standards.”

    And then in another post you say “the revisions do not contradict the original position. They do not state the original position, nor do they deny the original position. The American revisions were a move to broaden the confessional tent. And the American revisions did broaden the confessional tent, in most respects, although the American revisions did narrow the confessional tent with respect to the issue of giving preferences to a particular denomination.”

    You appear to be twisting.

    And when you write, “Well, that straw man is soundly defeated to the extent that the right way (or at least, “a right way”) to measure Reformed confessionalism is by the American revisions,” you appear to be saying that the American revisions are not the proper guide to the confessional tradition, which suggests that they are outside the confessional tradition. But you don’t want to say that. So what are you saying?

    One thing appears to be that whenever I say 2k you say you are 2k and so you are not opposed to 2k. This is word games. Playful, yes, truthful, not.

    And then you retreat back to the silly point that what you’re trying to protect is the idea that the Bible speaks to and informs the magistrate. For instance, you wrote, “That does not mean that the American revisions of the Westminster standards require a reconstructionist view, nor does it mean that the American revisions require the views of 17th century Massachusetts. On the other hand, it does mean that those who are teaching that the civil magistrate is not called to maintain piety in the land, is forbidden to enforce the external provisions of the first table of God’s law, or is not required to observe justice, are outside the confessional bounds.”

    So somehow you want to maintain that the magistrate should uphold religion but not the way that Geneva or Boston did. You also want the magistrate to follow the Bible but not the way that Geneva or Boston interpreted the Bible. Well, how do you get around the clear prohibitions against idolatry and blasphemy in the first table, or the way that God instructed the Israelites to punish them. The Puritans were very careful in following the Bible. You want the magistrate to follow the Bible but not so carefully.

    So it seems you want preferential treatment by the state for Protestants but none of the Servetus or Williams business of execution and exile. If that’s the case, then you want 1950s America when the Protestant Establishment was doing a very good job of ensuring the Protestants enjoyed access to public life and excluded Jews and Roman Catholics in informal ways.

    But to make liberal Protestant America the ideal is a long way from Geneva, Boston, or the magistrate conforming his laws to Scripture.

  391. September 21, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Ron, we are not talking about the pope. We are talking about chapter 23 on the civil magistrate. If you are going to take me to task for honesty and truthfulness, maybe you would like to stay on point.

    Darryl,

    I referenced the revised Confession’s omission of the pope being the antichrist as an illustration of the principle that an omission of a proposition does not imply its denial necessarily. That, Dr. Hart, does not by any reasonable standards bring reproach upon my truthfulness. I was intentionally employing a point of the Confession that is not in dispute by you and TF so that you might begin to appreciate the elementary principle that the omission of x does not necessarily imply its denial. The reason I am belaboring that point is because your entire accusation toward TF would seem to depend upon it.

    Tfan on the one hand says that the original is the best form of confessionalism because he disagrees with the revision, and then he wiggles to make room for the original in the revision. Seriously, this is intellectual dishonesty.

    We all know your assertion. We also know TF denies it. He even requested in #374 that you show where he has disagreed with the revision: “I have not stated any disagreement with the revised version, or at least I didn’t notice myself disagreeing with them. Perhaps you could draw my attention to where I disagreed with the revised version?” For some reason you have not honored his request. For some reason, you seem to prefer to make assertions that don’t take the form of an argument. For instance:

    …I find your and Tfan’s handling of these two documents to be downright Jesuitical.”

    Why can’t you admit a difference?

    Could it be that you are at odds with your very communion on what the responsibility of the magistrate is?

    Both can’t be.right…

    Dr. Hart, obviously you have very strong opinions, even emotions, on this matter, but we already knew that. What some of us are waiting for is an actual defense of your assertion that TF has contradicted himself in his affirmation of both Confessions.

    Otherwise why revise?

    There can be many reasons to revise. For instance, I would revise the WLC answer 108 since I find it theonomic in nature and I do not believe that one should have to be a theonomist to be ordained in the OPC (for instance). My reasoning would be to widen the tent and to make the document more inclusive of non-theonomic men worthy of ordination. If the question were to be revised to my liking, it would not be a contradiction for me to affirm the words of the revision though the original would state in further detail what I believe. That’s the material point. (I would imagine you deny the theonomic nature of answer 108 but even so, I trust you will try to appreciate the point given my interpretation of 108.)

    Now then, even if your rationale for the revision of the Confession is granted, which TF is sympathetic toward, the question we are to be dealing with is whether the documents themselves, as they stand, contradict each other. You wish to read into the literal meaning of the revised document what you believe to be the rationale behind the revision – at which point, you are no longer rendering a judgment on what the revised document reports. What’s more, you want to judge one’s subscription to the revised standards based upon what you believe to be the rationale behind the revisions as opposed to judging whether one can affirm what the Confession itself actually states. That, I believe, is a hazardous practice.

    And as for your “personal” concern, when you come here and in one of your first responses to me accuse me of gross ignorance I am not sure you are in the best of positions to offer me advice on how to conduct myself publicly.

    Please forgive me of all my shortcomings. I was simply trying to help.

    Ron

  392. TurretinFan said,

    September 21, 2010 at 11:35 am

    DGH wrote: “Ron, we are not talking about the pope.”

    He knows that. He’s trying to provide you another example as an accomodation to you.

    DGH wrote: “The original and the revision say very distinct things about the work of the civil magistrate.”

    No one said otherwise.

    DGH wrote: “Tfan on the one hand says that the original is the best form of confessionalism because he disagrees with the revision, and then he wiggles to make room for the original in the revision.”

    Where did I say it is because I disagree with the revision? Where? You’ve repeated this claim several times.

    DGH wrote: “Seriously, this is intellectual dishonesty.”

    I’ll comment on that, once you show me that you are being truthful. I’ve called you out on your false statements now, several times.

    DGH wrote: “In fact, I find your and Tfan’s handling of these two documents to be downright Jesuitical.”

    I think your name-calling doesn’t solve your problem of refusing to correct your false statements.

    DGH wrote: “2kers of my stripe will gladly admit a difference between us and Calvin and Geneva. We have explanations for that.”

    ok

    DGH wrote: “But you and your side won’t acknowledge a tension between Witherspoon and Calvin, between the USA and Geneva, or between the original WCF and the American revision.”

    We acknowledge the differences, and we have explanations for them. You don’t like our explanation … but that doesn’t transform into us not acknowledging the differences.

    DGH wrote: “Instead, what I hear when the turns of logic fails are assaults upon my character.”

    What turn of logic failed? Again, you’re misrepresenting the situation.

    DGH wrote: “Why can’t you admit a difference?”

    Both Ron and I have admitted there is a difference. In fact, you yourself acknowledged that we admitted a difference, when you wrote: “BTW, in your sketch on the differences between the original and the revisions you failed to comment on the juiciest part.” (#189) Your own words convict you.

    Again, I exhort you to be more careful to honor the truth.

    DGH wrote: “Could it be that you are at odds with your very communion on what the responsibility of the magistrate is?”

    I’ve sketched some places where I think a radical separation view is at odds with the revised Westminster standards (link to sketch). Feel free to identify what chapter and paragraph you think we cannot accept, if that’s what you think. If you’re just throwing out groundless questions …

    DGH wrote: “So which is Ron, is the original or the revision right? Both can’t be. Otherwise why revise?”

    This illogical argument has been addressed by Ron’s pope = antichrist example, which you ignored. The primary reason for revision was to broaden the confessional tent. Both can be right, because the two do not conflict (as I demonstrated here).

    DGH wrote: “And as for your “personal” concern, when you come here and in one of your first responses to me accuse me of gross ignorance I am not sure you are in the best of positions to offer me advice on how to conduct myself publicly.”

    He’s not the only one giving you the same advice here. And, of course, even if your position about him were true (which it would be fruitless to argue with you about), that wouldn’t justify your ignoring sound advice that he provides.

    -TurretinFan

    P.S. I see that while I was typing this, Ron has also replied. I apologize for any unnecessary reduplication this produces.

  393. TurretinFan said,

    September 21, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    DGH wrote: “Tfan, is it fair or honest for Truth or for you to go by pseudonyms? Is that not a form of playing games? Why not attach your name to your views?”

    Since this is basically an unrelated personal attack, I’ll just let it go.

    DGH wrote: “And as for your point that you are not opposed to the revisions, it is really hard to know what you think since in one post you say “There’s an indirect contradiction between the very active role that the civil magistrate should play with respect to the Christian religion in the original WCF and the relatively “hands off” approach that the civil magistrate should have with respect to the Christian religion in the revised standards.””

    I’m not sure what is hard for you and what is easy for you. I would think that this comment from me would clear up any ambiguities in that post you are quoting from:

    I think the original Westminster Confession of Faith was right, and I think that the watered-down American revisions are right, insofar as they speak, though I don’t think they say everything that is to be said.

    (#203)

    DGH wrote: “And then in another post you say “the revisions do not contradict the original position. They do not state the original position, nor do they deny the original position. The American revisions were a move to broaden the confessional tent. And the American revisions did broaden the confessional tent, in most respects, although the American revisions did narrow the confessional tent with respect to the issue of giving preferences to a particular denomination.””

    Indeed.

    DGH wrote: “You appear to be twisting.”

    No.

    DGH wrote: “And when you write, “Well, that straw man is soundly defeated to the extent that the right way (or at least, “a right way”) to measure Reformed confessionalism is by the American revisions,” you appear to be saying that the American revisions are not the proper guide to the confessional tradition, which suggests that they are outside the confessional tradition. But you don’t want to say that. So what are you saying?”

    I’m saying that you erected a straw man and then defeated it. Your doctrine was being measured against the American revisions, not the original, without regard to whether or not the American revisions are either the proper standard or even a proper standard. Whether the American revisions are a better standard than the original is an entirely different debate, and you shouldn’t read anything into my silence about that debate, just as you shouldn’t read anything into the WCF (revised)’s silence about the pope being the antichrist, or about the civil magistrate calling synods.

    DGH wrote: “One thing appears to be that whenever I say 2k you say you are 2k and so you are not opposed to 2k. This is word games. Playful, yes, truthful, not.”

    I say, actually, that I am opposing your R2K position as outside the confessional boundaries. 2K is a pretty diverse group.

    DGH wrote: “And then you retreat back to the silly point that what you’re trying to protect is the idea that the Bible speaks to and informs the magistrate.”

    I guess it is a silly point to you, it’s a vital point for me.

    DGH wrote: “For instance, you wrote, “That does not mean that the American revisions of the Westminster standards require a reconstructionist view, nor does it mean that the American revisions require the views of 17th century Massachusetts. On the other hand, it does mean that those who are teaching that the civil magistrate is not called to maintain piety in the land, is forbidden to enforce the external provisions of the first table of God’s law, or is not required to observe justice, are outside the confessional bounds.””

    Indeed, I did write that.

    DGH wrote: “So somehow you want to maintain that the magistrate should uphold religion but not the way that Geneva or Boston did.”

    Again, that’s definitely not what I said.

    DGH wrote: “You also want the magistrate to follow the Bible but not the way that Geneva or Boston interpreted the Bible.”

    Once again, that’s not what I said.

    DGH wrote: “Well, how do you get around the clear prohibitions against idolatry and blasphemy in the first table, or the way that God instructed the Israelites to punish them. The Puritans were very careful in following the Bible. You want the magistrate to follow the Bible but not so carefully.”

    Once again, I didn’t say that.

    DGH wrote: “So it seems you want preferential treatment by the state for Protestants but none of the Servetus or Williams business of execution and exile. If that’s the case, then you want 1950s America when the Protestant Establishment was doing a very good job of ensuring the Protestants enjoyed access to public life and excluded Jews and Roman Catholics in informal ways.”

    This characterization is based on your previous mischaracterizations. It too is not what I said, nor an accurate representation of my views.

    DGH wrote: “But to make liberal Protestant America the ideal is a long way from Geneva, Boston, or the magistrate conforming his laws to Scripture.”

    No doubt. One might think that since I argued for the latter (in fact, I pointed out that the magistrate conforming itself to Scripture is mandated by both the original and revised standards), you wouldn’t bizarrely conclude that my position was the former.

    -TurretinFan

  394. TurretinFan said,

    September 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    RD wrote: “Now then, even if your rationale for the revision of the Confession is granted, which TF is sympathetic toward, the question we are to be dealing with is whether the documents themselves, as they stand, contradict each other.”

    I’d like to expand on this for a second. Whoever was behind the revisions either believed that the subject matter of the original was wrong or that it was insufficiently proven by Scripture, or for some other reason ought not to be binding on the American presbyteries.

    The product of the revisions, however, was mostly to broaden the scope of those who could in good conscience subscribe to the confession. In other words, where holding to the old confession would require you to believe “X, Y, and Z” now you are only required to believe X and Y. You’re not required to believe Z.

    I am open to Hart, or someone else, showing us that there were a rash of ministers who accepted the new confession but took an exception to 23:3 on the grounds that it was wrong. Given the analysis I’ve provided, I would be surprised by such a result.

    I skimmed through Witherspoon’s works, and didn’t find anything in them that was particularly informative as to what his personal views were, except that while he was against ministers serving in the state government, he thought that rules against such participation should be made only by churches, not by the state (See his letter regarding the Georgia Constitution, in volume 4 of his works).

    - TurretinFan

  395. dgh said,

    September 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Ron and Tfan,

    What is so hard about this? The RPCNA says it “rejects” (and italicizes the word) the original’s teaching that the magistrate is to suppress heresies and blasphemies. Rejection is the reason for its comment in its Testimony. Rejection is also the reason for the American revision. Tfan, Presbyterians all the way back in 1729 at the adopting act objected to the Confession’s teaching on the civil magistrate. And the objection in 1729 was unanimous.

    Now, unless I am grossly ignorant, you both have been arguing for the magistrate’s responsibility to enforce the first table of the law. Again, unless I am think that means you favor the original wording of the Confession. And again, unless I am completely stupid, that means you do not “reject” the original.

    This is why I am having trouble with your wanting to hold the two together. The revision “rejects” the original.

    That puts you on the side of rejecting the rejection. Again, that’s fine. But you are the rare American Presbyterians (if Tfan is one since we don’t know his identity) who reject the rejection. After all, the Americans who revised the Confession did not then turn around and say, wait a minute. We want God in the Constitution. Some of them actually knew the people who drafted and voted for the Constitution which does not mention God or the magistrate’s duties in the religious realm.

    So, to keep the history lesson going, Presbyterians have not dissented from the American understanding of government until recently with the rise of theonomy. And in fact, Presbyterians of both the mainline and sideline stripe have taken great comfort in claiming to be on the side of religious liberty. You know, some historians even speak of Puritan Boston as the “cradle of liberty” even though Quakers and Baptists were not free to live there.

    It really is okay for you to dissent from either the American form of political liberty or the confessional revisions that recognize it. But please be honest and admit that your support for the magistrate’s suppression of heresy and blasphemy is at odds with the American Presbyterian churches’ understanding of the magistrate along with the American system of Government.

    Or if you think I have misunderstood, please let me know where you disagree with church and state arrangements in Geneva or in Philadelphia. Is there somewhere in between? I’m willing to hear about it. But I know of no place where Protestants and Roman Catholics could both practice their faith together under the same government until the Quebec Act of 1774 allowed the French Catholics in Canada to practice their religion under the rule of a Protestant kind.

  396. dgh said,

    September 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Tfan:

    Apologies if you did not say things that I infer that you are arguing. If you care to unravel any or all of these distillations that you deny, I’d be glad for the instruction.

    Here they are:

    “DGH wrote: “So somehow you want to maintain that the magistrate should uphold religion but not the way that Geneva or Boston did.”

    Again, that’s definitely not what I said.

    DGH wrote: “You also want the magistrate to follow the Bible but not the way that Geneva or Boston interpreted the Bible.”

    Once again, that’s not what I said.

    DGH wrote: “Well, how do you get around the clear prohibitions against idolatry and blasphemy in the first table, or the way that God instructed the Israelites to punish them. The Puritans were very careful in following the Bible. You want the magistrate to follow the Bible but not so carefully.”

    Once again, I didn’t say that.”

    So what are you saying about Geneva and Boston, about the magistrate’s responsibility to enforce the first table, and the sort of religious arrangement in the U.S. you favor?

  397. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Darryl Hart: “Truth, I’ll answer your question if you promise to answer one I’ll ask.”

    Me: “Depends on the question you ask. But why are you playing games?”

    Darryl Hart: “Truth, that is the Scrabble player calling the Chess player “playful.” Either you promise to answer my question, or I don’t answer. Seems fair to me. But I understand you may not think fairness is an OT teaching.”

    TurretinFan: “Asking him to promise to do something the details of which he doesn’t know, is pretty obviously not fair.”

    Thanks TurretinFan. That’s exactly right. Here’s another approach that should show the absurdity of Darryl Hart’s tactics.

    Darryl Hart, if the situation were reversed, and I asked you to promise to answer a question that you had never seen before, would you make that promise?

    Would you? I really don’t think so.

    It’s why I wrote back in #313 that it’s embarassing to see you voluntarily degrade yourself like this when you argue in bad faith and play immature games. It’s not befitting of a professor, scholar, and a church elder.

  398. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I just posted something related to this over at OldLife, but it’s worth considering here as well.

    If indeed 1789 rejects Calvin (as DGH appears to argue, #389), does it not follow that Calvin, if alive today, would have to take an exception to WCoF 23?

    And unless the presbytery were willing to grant such exception (and some presbyteries do not grant exceptions), does it not follow that Calvin would be disallowed as a minister in a Presbyterian church?

    That’s a disturbing conclusion!

  399. Phil Derksen said,

    September 21, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    RE #399: ” If indeed 1789 REJECTS Calvin (as DGH appears to argue, #389), does it not follow that Calvin, if alive today, would have to take an exception to WCoF 23?” (emphasis added)

    Of course not only Calvin, but so too all of the Westminster divines who actually created and approved the original version!

    Just how far at least some of these divines took the magistrates “allowable” role in such matters (within a given political and cultural environment-i.e. theirs) can be seen in the following account from George Gillespie:

    [Following a defeat of the Parliamentary Army in a battle against forces loyal to Charles I] “Sept. 10 [1644]: Report was made from the Committee, of the Causes of Humiliation; wherein first they make a preface upon occasion of the breach in the West; then they draw up the causes in four kinds: 1. The sins of the Assembly. 2. Of the Parliament. 3. Of the Armies. 4. Of the People…The sins of the Parliament in twelve points, 1. In not pressing the covenant: many have not seen it, the breakers of it not punished; 2. In not suppressing Anabaptist and Antinomian ministers; 3. In not minding reformation of religion in the first place, and expediting the same;…12. No care for catechising the ignorant.”

    (Notes of Debates and Proceedings of the Assembly of Divines and other Commissioners at Westminster; February 1644 to January 1645, by George Gillespie, [David Meek, ed.; Edinburgh: Robert Ogle & Oliver & Boyd, 1846],
    69).

  400. September 21, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    What is so hard about this? The RPCNA says it “rejects” (and italicizes the word) the original’s teaching that the magistrate is to suppress heresies and blasphemies. Rejection is the reason for its comment in its Testimony. Rejection is also the reason for the American revision. Tfan, Presbyterians all the way back in 1729 at the adopting act objected to the Confession’s teaching on the civil magistrate. And the objection in 1729 was unanimous.
    Now, unless I am grossly ignorant, you both have been arguing for the magistrate’s responsibility to enforce the first table of the law. Again, unless I am think that means you favor the original wording of the Confession. And again, unless I am completely stupid, that means you do not “reject” the original.

    Brother Darryl,

    This will be my last post to you on this matter. I think we’re both repeating ourselves and that we have ample information to draw our respective conclusions about the other’s view.

    Working backwards on the snippet I pasted above, I have been arguing that Scripture requires the magistrate to uphold the first table of the law. I believe the original Confession is a fair representation of Scripture on that matter. That does not mean I prefer the original as it pertains to the first table because I for one think that many capable ordained servants get tripped on that issue, which is why I’m pleased to see the omission in the revision rather than prohibit non-theonomists from offices in the Reformed church.

    Regarding your first paragraph, as I have already noted you are going beyond what the revised Confession literally states, which you have yet to deny (which I find telling). Had the revisers intended to communicate the opposite of the original standards, then I trust they would have done so verbally. That seems reasonable to me. Yet they chose to omit as opposed to verbally contradict. Accordingly, although there may have been even general agreement that the first Confession was not Scriptural, it is apparent that the intent of the revision was not to communicate that message by verbal explication. You have yet to deny that too (which I also find telling).

    This is why I am having trouble with your wanting to hold the two together. The revision “rejects” the original.

    Your trouble is due to not accepting the fact that the wording of the revision does not contradict the original.

    But please be honest and admit that your support for the magistrate’s suppression of heresy and blasphemy is at odds with the American Presbyterian churches’ understanding of the magistrate along with the American system of Government.

    I heartily grant you that I’m in disagreement with the American system of government on this point, which is pluralistic and not after Christ. I don’t agree that I am at odds with the revised Confession and the Catechism, especially as long as WLC 108 still stands, yet I do find the original more biblically exhaustive on this point. I would be forced to deny the revised Confession if it actually stated the opposite of the original, which is not the case. That’s the best I can do.

    Thanks,

    Ron

  401. dgh said,

    September 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Jeff, but Calvin wouldn’t have to take an exception because for one he said that the magistrate may (not must) enforce the first table, and two because he did not believe the French monarchy which was Roman Catholic was illegitimate. He repeatedly implored the Huguenots to submit. I mean, if the Bible requires not only that the magistrate enforce the first table (and suppress heresy) but also that believers need to confess these magisterial responsibilities, how could Calvin in good conscience tell believers to be subject to an idolatrous regime?

  402. dgh said,

    September 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Truth, if it causes you such embarrassment, here’s the question: do you believe Roman Catholics should be able to practice their faith in the United States?

    I’ll answer yours if you answer mine.

    While I’m asking, what’s your name?

  403. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Darryl Hart: “here’s the question: do you believe Roman Catholics should be able to practice their faith in the United States?

    I’ll answer yours if you answer mine.”

    Yes, I believe Roman Catholics should be able to practice their faith in the United States.

    Now please answer my question from #364.

  404. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Phil (#400):

    Thanks for the additional info. Yes, I agree — if indeed 1789 is an utter rejection of what came before, then we have a real watershed moment in terms of what the Church confesses to be good and necessary inference from Scripture, and binding on the conscience.

    I’m nervous about going further from there.

  405. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    DGH (#402):

    Calvin wouldn’t have to take an exception because for one he said that the magistrate may (not must) enforce the first table…

    Over at OldLife you suggest a different solution: that exceptions to WCoF 23 are allowable. I think that’s the only sane resolution to the thought experiment.

    Calvin most certainly would have had to take exception. In his view, God is a person whose rights ought to be respected by the magistrate (Inst. 4.20.4). He held that the magistrate’s first and most important duty is the upholding of piety:

    Calvin: …in Scripture holy kings are especially praised for restoring the worship of God when corrupted or overthrown, or for taking care that religion flourished under them in purity and safety. On the other hand, the sacred history sets down anarchy among the vices, when it states that there was no king in Israel, and, therefore, every one did as he pleased, (Judges 21: 25.)

    This rebukes the folly of those who would neglect the care of divine things, and devote themselves merely to the administration of justice among men; as if God had appointed rulers in his own name to decide earthly controversies, and omitted what was of far greater moment, his own pure worship as prescribed by his law. — Inst. 4.20.9.

    DGH: I mean, if the Bible requires not only that the magistrate enforce the first table (and suppress heresy) but also that believers need to confess these magisterial responsibilities, how could Calvin in good conscience tell believers to be subject to an idolatrous regime?

    He pretty much handles that in Inst 4.20.22-29. The office is distinct from the officer.

  406. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 22, 2010 at 5:35 am

    Excerpt from a foreword by Tim Keller, edited to focus solely on the pitfalls of R2K:

    “Some evangelicals [and purportedly confessional Reform Christians] will say that this is a distraction, that we should concentrate fully on the only important things—the defense of orthodox doctrine and the evangelism of the world. Yet, as the authors point out, in 1930s Germany, a faulty understanding of how Christianity relates to the political contributed to the disaster of Nazism, which in turn meant the loss of the German Lutheran Church’s credibility, evangelistic witness, and even orthodoxy.

    Ironically, the Lutherans followed a [radical] two-kingdom approach to Christ and culture, in which Christians are not to bring their faith into politics … led to cultural, political, and ultimately spiritual disaster.”

    From Here.

  407. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I overlooked these earlier comments:

    “Hypothetically, if a country was only comprised of professing Christians would the civil government be unnecessary?”

    No.

    “If the civil government was necessary what role would they have in this Christian society? What laws would or could be made?”

    There are probably lots of laws that have morally indifferent aspects. If taxes are collected on April 15 or April 16 probably has almost no moral significance. However, to the extent that laws have moral significance, our infallible rule of faith and life is the Bible.

    “What would be the difference between the 2K and R2K in answering these questions?”

    2K would mandate that the government promote piety, whereas (from what I’ve seen of DGH’s comments) R2K would leave the promotion of piety exclusively to the church..

    - TurretinFan

  408. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I had written: “It is said that one of the marks of early Christianity was the rescue of such infants.”

    Zrim replied: “It may informally “be said” in many places that this is so, and it may very well be historical fact, but, Tfan, the Reformed confessional formulations only formally “confess” three marks, none of which, as you know, includes the rescuing of infants.”

    Yes, my comments were simply a response to DGH’s outrageous claims that Bayly’s standard would result in them rejecting the earliest era of the New Testament church.

    Zrim wrote:

    So, to be unfaithful apparently has something to do with how one chooses to respond to a very specific social issue. But not only does 2k want to allow for individuals the liberty to lawfully respond as they are compelled in their own consciences, but it also wants to say that unfaithfulness has much more to do with one’s relation to the three marks, which is to say that a person who denies his child baptism is actually more unfaithful than one who chooses not to scream at others about what they are doing with their unborn children (and for the record: 2kers also don’t scream at those who deny their child baptism, they just quietly fence them from the Table).

    When you say “what they are doing,” you mean murdering? Even those who reject paedobaptism can see that murdering one’s children is wrong.

    Zrim wrote:

    And so we come to the point of disagreement: ecclesiastical concern versus worldly worry. If anti-2kers all want the rescuing of infants to move from an informal mark of Christianity to a formal mark of the true church, fine. But until then they really have no grounds to slanderously charge unfaithfulness, nor make things safe for those who do.

    We can convert it into a formal mark by tying it to discipline, but that isn’t really the point. The point is probably better summarized as being whether someone is faithfully following the duties of the sixth commandment.

    Zrim wrote:

    But you also seem to have something against a pluralistic society. 2k opposes a pluralistic church, saying that there is a place for intolerance and a place for tolerance. The interesting thing is how even anti-2kers actually live like 2kers (at least those who happily inhabit America), but then get so riled when it is pointed out. If civil pluralism is as bad as ecclesiastical heterodoxy why don’t you guys either move to another polis or fight to overthrow the current regime? The Protestant Reformation opposed ecclesiastical heterodoxy and chose a posture more in line with the latter.

    Scripture teaches against sedition. One thing that Hart seems to infer is that if we believe that a government is sinful, then we think it is illegitimate. He (and you) should read the final chapter of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin. It is all spelled out pretty well there. Calvin answers most of the usual objections that are thrown at us by the R2K crowd, as well as some of the objections thrown at the more theonomic portion of the 2K crowd by the less theonomic portion of the 2K crowd.

    -TurretinFan

  409. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

    TUAD,

    Re 407, you quote Keller approvingly against 2k as saying, “Yet, as the authors point out, in 1930s Germany, a faulty understanding of how Christianity relates to the political contributed to the disaster of Nazism, which in turn meant the loss of the German Lutheran Church’s credibility, evangelistic witness, and even orthodoxy.

    Ironically, the Lutherans followed a [radical] two-kingdom approach to Christ and culture, in which Christians are not to bring their faith into politics … led to cultural, political, and ultimately spiritual disaster.”

    This hysterical reasoning is not unusual in most criticisms of 2k-SOTC. It plays upon the fears of 2010 Americans or other inhabitants of modern liberal democracies (akin to painting little, tiny mustaches on one’s political opponent, often literally) and is admittedly very potent. But what I don’t think these criticisms consider very carefully at all is that they are essentially saying that 2k outlooks are at least in part responsible for historical atrocities. It’s the old “silence is tacit approval” tactic. But to this I would suggest that those responsible for certain acts are the ones who actually performed them, not those who didn’t. Is that so hard to fathom? I understand this is frustrating to those who think the church is called to attend worldly concerns or otherwise believe that in some sense the world sets the church’s agenda, but there is simply nothing in the Great Commission that supports any such notion. I could be missing it entirely, but what part of make disciples, baptize and teach to obey (the three marks) implies that the church is called to block genocide? Is it the same thing that thinks Romans 13’s call to obey magistrates is to venerate those who conspire to assassinate (megalomaniacal) magistrates?

  410. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Scripture teaches against sedition. One thing that Hart seems to infer is that if we believe that a government is sinful, then we think it is illegitimate.

    Tfan, the point of the criticisms is to say that that is how we are to look at the church: if it bears the three marks it is legitimate (contrariwise, if it misses on them it is illegitimate). If an entity is either legitimate or not seems to imply logical consequences, as in submit or disobey. So to the 2k mind, when it comes to determining a true from less true church there is Belgic 29 and WCF 25, but when it comes to determining true magistrates there is Paul who simply says that there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
    But what you seem to want to suggest is that we talk about civil magistrates the way we talk about churches. And if that’s the case, then a logical consequence is that we should disobey a sinful magistrate the way we disobey a false church. The problem is that Paul doesn’t teach that there is any such thing as a false magistrate who may be civilly disobeyed, rather he teaches the precise opposite. The other problem is that you don’t seem to want to admit that if you determine an entity to be false that you must also disobey it.

  411. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Zrim:

    I’m not sure if you missed this. Your comments seem to suggest that you did. Here it is, perhaps more plainly worded:

    1) Suppose a civil magistrate is otherwise legitimate, but fails to perfectly fulfill the duties of a civil magistrate.

    2) In situation (1), the civil magistrate may still be a legitimate government.

    Do you agree or disagree with (2)?

    -TurretinFan

  412. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Tfan, if a tyrannical magistrate is legitimate then an imperfect magistrate is certainly legitimate. Proximation is all we are afforded in the temporal.

    The real question is: if it’s true that “there is no authority except that which God has established, and the authorities that exist have been established by God,” then what is an illegitmate magistrate?

  413. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Zrim, #410,

    Your comment is an exemplar of R2K reasoning.

    Thanks.

  414. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    “The real question is: if it’s true that “there is no authority except that which God has established, and the authorities that exist have been established by God,” then what is an illegitmate magistrate?”

    With all due respect, that’s not the question at all. You and I seem to agree on this.

    Our difference is over the question of what every magistrate (regardless of whether they are legitimate or illegitimate) ought to do.

    You seem to think, for example, that he ought not to be tyrannical I assume that you have a moral judgment in mind that it is wrong for a government to be tyrannical. I don’t mention that because I want to argue for tyranny. That’s not my intent. My intent is to point out that the moral law of God does apply to the civil magistrate. There are things that are right for them to do, and things that are wrong for them to do.

    Are you in agreement with me this far?

    -TurretinFan

  415. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Tfan,

    When I say “tyrannical” it has less to do with pointing to my own notions of moral judgment against a magistrate and more to do with allowing for a phrase that points to what moderns seem to assume is grounds for disobedience and non-submission: yes, 2010 American-Christian, 1930 German-Christians are supposed to obey a magistrate the American part of us is born and bred to think earns disobedience. I understand that’s exceeding difficult to say the least (I’m a 2010 American too). But, save demands to worship him (first table violation) or kill others (second table violation), which obeying the 1930 German magistrate doesn’t automatically mean anymore than obeying the 2003 American magistrate does, I see no biblical grounds to circumvent the call to obedience but, in point of fact, only the opposite.

    And perhaps our difference is even more complex, because my general point has less to do with “what every magistrate ought to do” and more to do with what every Christian ought to do. This is the point I made somewhere up there about the fact that a text like Romans 13: 1-7 is at best only tangentially about the nature of magistrates (i.e. reward good and punish evil)—it’s plain meaning is for the believer to obey his magistrate, not that every magistrate must obey God.

  416. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    “Tyrannical” is usual a term that reflects a negative moral judgment on behavior, whether in the mouth of the Reformers, the Puritans, or the moderns. Perhaps there’s some neutral or positive ancient usage, but these days the connotations are uniformly negatively. My point is simply this: you realize that it is possible for a legitimate civil magistrate to do something wrong.

    Now, you may want to discuss what the duty of Christians should be with respect to the civil magistrate. That’s an important issue, and I bet most of what you’d say about that, I’d agree with.

    What is more likely to divide us is over the question of what the duties of the civil magistrate are. But if we both agree that there are duties, and that it is wrong for the civil magistrate to fail in those duties, then we are at least headed in the same general direction on the question that may still divide us somewhat.

    -TurretinFan

  417. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 22, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Those arguing with the R2k adherents should just take them at face value. When they say they believe the magistrate is not normed by God’s will in special revelation, you should accept that this is really what they believe. When they resist any notion of Christian resistance of the magistrate, accept that this is what they believe. They’ve drawn an invariably clear and submissive posture to the magistrate, and yet we get drawn into arguing with them over the concrete difficult applications recognized by Reformed Christianity where the Word of God IS normative. See, eg. Calvin in his commentary on Daniel 6, Calvin reflects on the command found in 1 Peter 2:17: “Fear God, honor the king”:

    The two commands are connected together, and cannot be separated from one another. The fear of God ought to precede, that kings may obtain their authority. For if any one begins his reverence of an earthly prince by rejecting that of God, he will act preposterously, since this is a complete perversion of the order of nature. Then let God be feared in the first place and earthly princes will obtain their authority, if only God shines forth, as I have already said. Daniel, therefore, here defends himself with justice, since he had not committed any crime against the king; for he was compelled to obey the command of God, and he neglected what the king had ordered in opposition to it. For earthly princes lay aside all their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy of being reckoned in the number of mankind. We ought rather utterly to defy than to obey them whenever they are so restive and wish to spoil God of his rights, and, as it were, to seize upon his throne and draw him down from heaven.

  418. dgh said,

    September 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Truth, thanks for the answer. So you agree with me about Roman Catholics having freedom to worship. That means that you are modern 2k and against the confession since the magistrate is supposed to enforce the first table and Roman Catholics would be guilty of idolatry. Plus, Parliament did not allow Roman Catholics to worship in England.

    So how can you conceivably oppose or reject “R2k” when you practice it in your own convictions. Holy Moly!

    Now I’ll answer your question. I disagree with Pastor Tim’s sermon. Are you surprised? Maybe not. But I am surprised that you want a pastor to preach about violations of the 6th commandment but not about the 2nd or 3rd.

    As for Keller’s point about 2k theology in Germany, why did the Calvinist Netherlands capitulate to National Socialism and allow the Germans to rule? You may answer that some Dutch Calvinists resisted. So did German Lutherans. So how do you account for some 1ks and some 2ks resisting, and some 1ks and 2ks submitting? A simplistic appeal to Lutheran theology won’t sort out that predicament.

  419. dgh said,

    September 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Mark, what part of God’s will do you think should guide the magistrate? According to you (and your beloved Art. 36 of the original Belgic) it is God’s will for the magistrate to evict or condemn Roman Catholics. Abraham Kuyper did not practice this as a Christian magistrate. I assume that you consider yourself Kuyperian. Which Kuyperian should we take at his word?

  420. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    MvdM wrote:

    Those arguing with the R2k adherents should just take them at face value. When they say they believe the magistrate is not normed by God’s will in special revelation, you should accept that this is really what they believe. The only reason I am hesitant to do so is that I cannot seem to get them to say it that plainly. Perhaps I just need to scour their blogs, etc. more carefully. Would any of the participants in this conversation be willing to affirm MvdM’s description?

    -TurretinFan

  421. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    *sigh* another block quote closing tag error on my part. The place where my words begin after MvdM’s is “The only reason”

  422. dgh said,

    September 22, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Ron, if you’re still reading, it is a huge concession for the Covenanters to reject the original since they remained throughout their history committed to the very Solemn League and Covenant that Westminster adopted. So if the Covenanters reject, you think the Americans who never adopted the Covenants were less inclined to reject.

    Free Church folks and conservative Presbyterians in Canada read the American revisions as a break with the original. My reading is not at all skewed. And in the development of Christian political thought between Constantine and 1776 the change in the description of the magstrate’s duties is flat out breathtaking.

    I do find your language curious and equivocal. On the one hand, you disagree with the way the American government handles heresy and blasphemy. On the other hand, you wrote, “That does not mean I prefer the original as it pertains to the first table because I for one think that many capable ordained servants get tripped on that issue, which is why I’m pleased to see the omission in the revision rather than prohibit non-theonomists from offices in the Reformed church.” No offense, but it seems that you let practical concerns trump what God requires in his word (on your view). And you think modern 2k advocates are inconsistent? You won’t make God’s word an issue in the church. But you make it an issue for advocates of modern 2k. Huh?

  423. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Darryl, re-read what I posted in 418. It is pointless to engage in a discussion of what “parts” of God’s will guide the magistrate, when you don’t even believe the a priori confession that God’s will in special revelation guides the magistrate at all.

    Darryl, you make reference to “my beloved Article 36 of the *original* Belgic.” I’ve more than once made my convictions clear to you concerning my acceptance of Belgic 36 in its REVISED form as advanced by Kuyper. I will no longer assume ignorance on your part, but will presume deliberate intent in your representations. You have been told repeatedly that the revised Belgic 36 retains the normative limits of God’s Word on the magistrate. As long as you continue to reject such a basic confessional premise, this discussion will not advance.

  424. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    DGH:

    Your puzzle over Ron’s views are easily solved. Ron thinks the Bible teaches X, but he does not think that X is so central a doctrine that it needs to be in the Confession. He’d prefer there to be unity among Christians who disagree on this issue.

    His thinking is actually quite similar to that of the American revisers to the WCF who crafted a document that mostly says less than the previous document.

    There are lots of true doctrines that are not stated in the Confession, even some that are controversial doctrines.

    -TurretinFan

  425. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Darryl Hart: “Truth, thanks for the answer.”

    You’re welcome.

    “So you agree with me about Roman Catholics having freedom to worship.”

    Yes.

    “That means that you are modern 2k and against the confession since the magistrate is supposed to enforce the first table and Roman Catholics would be guilty of idolatry. Plus, Parliament did not allow Roman Catholics to worship in England.

    So how can you conceivably oppose or reject “R2k” when you practice it in your own convictions. Holy Moly!”

    It remains to be seen how agreeing that Catholics should have the freedom to worship translates into R2K critics (like TurretinFan, Ron D., Mark Van Der Molen, the Bayly Brothers, Bret McAtee, myself, and many others) being self-contradicting.

    “Now I’ll answer your question. I disagree with Pastor Tim’s sermon.”

    It was actually Pastor David Bayly’s sermon. Also, the question was whether you disapproved of Pastor Bayly’s sermon. Nonetheless, let’s let your disagreement signal your express disapproval of his sermon.

    “Are you surprised? Maybe not. But I am surprised that you want a pastor to preach about violations of the 6th commandment but not about the 2nd or 3rd.”

    I should not be surprised at your own ignorant surprise. Where did I ever say that I wanted a pastor to not preach about violations of the 2nd or 3rd commandment? No where! Don’t impute unwarranted things on me.

  426. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Also, the point of the question to you, Darryl Hart, was to flesh out a proposed litmus test whose purpose was to provide helpful clarity as to who and what is R2K versus normal 2K.

    You, Zrim, and David R. all disapprove of that particular sermon by Pastor Bayly. Your disapproval tentatively marks you as R2K along with Zrim and David R.

    To improve the discussion and argument, it helps to know who and what is R2K and who and what is not. Your answer clarifies that the proposed litmus test is working, and that it’s not unreasonable to assume and state that you and Zrim and David R. are all R2K.

    Thanks.

  427. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Darryl Hart, Zrim, and David R. all disapprove of Pastor Bayly’s sermon. I suggest that this marks them as R2K.

    Suppose I change a few words of Pastor Bayly’s. And suppose that it’s a pastor in Nazi Germany who’s preaching the same sermon except that it’s being addressed to Fuhrer Hitler instead of President Obama. This is what it would look like. And what the R2K’s disapprove of. (And do note that the abortion holocaust is far greater than the Jewish holocaust.)

    “Fuhrer Hitler stands as our head. He is our representative not just under our form of government, not just in earthly terms, but in heavenly terms, before the throne of God. He stands before God for all the righteousness and wickedness of our nation. He either opposes the sins of the nation and reaps blessing from God, or stands in affirmation of them and reaps their judgment.

    The second leg we stand on as Christians in evil times is this, and again, I speak God’s Word to you who are here this morning and to Fuhrer Hitler.

    Fuhrer Hitler, if you were to hear these words, it may occur to you that I am a pastor of little note ministering in a not-overly-large church in a not-overly-significant city. And from this pulpit I address you. Preposterous, you might think, delusional. Others may think the same, perhaps even some here this morning.

    But though you wield a sword ordained by God, Fuhrer Hitler, and though by that sword you rule without fear of insignificant pastors such as myself, never even knowing I exist, the disparity between our powers is much to my advantage.

    It is true that you rule over me and all Germans with real power. Indeed, the whole world is affected by your rule. You place Jews in concentration camps and many thousands of them continue to die. You declare war and the world is at war. I cannot rescind your decree. I am a pea, a gnat, a worm before you in every earthly sense.

    But—and this I stand on, this all Christians stand on in every evil day—though a worm in earthly terms, I wield a mighty sword. You, Fuhrer Hitler, bear the sword of the state, the earthly power of governance and rule. I wield the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

    I understand that this is a bold claim—so bold, it may seem preposterous. Yet so it stands. Wielding the sword of state carries responsibility. You will give an account to the Lord of lords and King of kings for your deeds as president. I too bear responsibility. I will give an account for the wielding of the sword ordained to me.

    It would be blasphemy to bear this sword for personal benefit or as a partisan of a political party. The captain of the Lord’s army is only for the Lord. The Sword of the Spirit is wielded only on behalf of the King of kings. And I will be judged more severely than those who bear the sword of government if I misuse this power by allying it to a particular political party.

    So I speak—from a church few have heard of in a city of little note—to you, Fuhrer Hitler. I am not bound with the chains Paul refers to in verse 8 of our passage. I do not wear steel cuffs. I am not shackled to a dungeon cell. The chains I and other American pastors suffer from are soft, velvet rather than steel: they’re chains of human insignificance and small-town unimportance—and often the self-imposed chains of affluence, comfort and ease.

    I call on you, Fuhrer Hitler, to do today what you must certainly do one day. Repent in accord with the Word of God. Turn in obedience to your King. Bow before Him. Kiss the Son and seek His mercy. His promises of forgiveness and salvation are for you as much as for those you rule over.”

    [Note: I beg your indulgence, Reed.]

  428. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 22, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    T-fan, I don’t think Darryl’s post #81 could be much clearer where he wrote:

    As I have said, the Bible is binding on all people ultimately. The Bible is not so proximately. We do not live with non-Christians on the basis of whether or not they obey the Bible. If we did, we would live in Bible-land.

    And if you think the Bible is binding on the civil magistrate, you are a theonomist.

  429. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 22, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Zrim (#410): I could be missing it entirely, but what part of make disciples, baptize and teach to obey (the three marks) implies that the church is called to block genocide?

    It’s the “teach to obey” part.

    The parable of the good Samaritan alone ought to have been enough to convince individual Germans sitting under the teaching of “three marks” churches that they should not be complicit in the government’s thuggery.

    Zrim: It’s the old “silence is tacit approval” tactic.

    Sometimes, it is. Seeing a need and failing to meet that need is considered culpable under some circumstances in Scripture. Isn’t that what James and Jesus and Proverbs all teach? Surely they’re saying something more than a “tactic”?

    Or perhaps WLC 135 might move you.

    So: are you suggesting that German behavior was something other than tacit approval? German silence after Kristallnact was a sterling example of 2k modesty?

    I just don’t think you can successfully defend Lutheran 2k from the observation that it can run off the rails into sinful apathy. Better to acknowledge that SOTC is not free from problems, not a silver bullet that cures all that ails the church.

  430. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    MvdM:

    You may right, after all he uses the term “theonomist,” as though it were in an epithet. Yet, he does not cheerfully sign on to your characterization of his position. Is he shy about his position? Who knows!

    -TurretinFan

  431. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Tfan, yes we agree that there are duties that the civil magistrate has and that he should not fail to do them (they are summarized in the revised Belgic 36 and WCF 23, which likely just brings us back to square one). But what I am saying is that even if he fails to do these things he is still legitimate and we owe him our obedience. It’s not the same for unfaithful ecclesiastical magistrates (i.e. elders): they also have duties (the three marks) and should not fail do them, and when they fail we do not owe them our obedience.

  432. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Those arguing with the R2k adherents should just take them at face value. When they say they believe the magistrate is not normed by God’s will in special revelation, you should accept that this is really what they believe. When they resist any notion of Christian resistance of the magistrate, accept that this is what they believe. They’ve drawn an invariably clear and submissive posture to the magistrate…

    Mark, when it is said that the magistrate is not normed by special revelation it is not meant that this entails a command of believers to absolute allegiance to the magistrate. First, because that doesn’t logically follow. Second, because what is meant is that he has all he needs to be normed in general revelation, just like all the ecclesiastical magistrate has all he needs in special revelation (i.e. an outworking of sola scriptura). And third, because it is maintained that if the magistrate demands we break any law of God (Decalogue or Commission) we not only have grounds but commands to disobey.

  433. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Zrim: I think we’ve made progress … it least I more clearly see the difference between where you stand and where I stand, I think.

    DGH: do you agree with Zrim? Is the magistrate not normed by special revelation? Is it your position that the magistrate is normed by general revelation?

    And I guess I should ask, in view of your earlier accusation against Paul Manata, do you agree with Paul Manata, Zrim, and I that if the magistrate demands we break any law of God, we not only have grounds but commands to disobey?

    -TurretinFan

  434. Zrim said,

    September 22, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Jeff, teaching to obey is a matter of jurisdiction, so first make Adolf a church member, then you can admonish/discipline him for his genocide.

    But don’t you make any distinction between bad judgment and crime? If a believing friend is carrying on secretly but non-sexually with a woman other than his wife that’s really bad judgment which deserves admonishment, not adultery deserving of discipline. And my making that careful distinction is not being complicit in his bad behavior. I’m not guilty for either his bad judgment or the crime he commits in his own body.

    If Kristallnact is your example, then any church member who stole or destroyed another’s property (or assaulted or killed, etc.) is subject to admonishment/discipline. (And I would think that at some point, given the demands of absolute allegiance of certain megalomaniacs, a member would simply have to make a choice between Jesus’ church and Adolf’s Reich.) The point is one that concerns jurisdiction. When you don’t understand that you end up with a church not so much taking care of its own members and business as you have a church acting like the world’s police.

  435. TurretinFan said,

    September 22, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Zrim:

    fwiw Adolph was a baptized RC – not sure how that affects your answer

  436. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 23, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Zrim: Jeff, teaching to obey is a matter of jurisdiction, so first make Adolf a church member, then you can admonish/discipline him for his genocide.

    That wasn’t quite my point. I wasn’t saying that the church failed to discipline Hitler. I was saying that the church failed to teach its members to obey the Scripture.

    The failure was evidenced in its effects on the members, not at the institution-to-institution level.

    Zrim: But don’t you make any distinction between bad judgment and crime? If a believing friend is carrying on secretly but non-sexually with a woman other than his wife that’s really bad judgment which deserves admonishment, not adultery deserving of discipline.

    I don’t think the “secretly but non-sexually” example is always quite so clear-cut, but in any case: it’s not strictly analogous here.

    As I pointed out in re: WLC 135, we have a moral obligation to defend the lives of the innocent (and to preserve the estate of others — WLC 141). Failing to do so is a sin of omission.

    And that’s really the issue here. The distinction you make between crimes committed by self and crimes committed by others is predicated on the idea that there are no sins of omission, that standing idly by while others are harmed is nothing more than bad judgment. I don’t buy that.

    Yes, busibodiness and world-policemanship are to be avoided; but No, passing the beaten man by in the road is not acceptable in God’s sight.

  437. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 23, 2010 at 4:44 am

    DGH, Zrim, and others sympathetic to Westminsterian 2k:

    I appreciate very much your desire to keep the church from launching itself on a trajectory that leads to worldliness. As much as I’ve argued against you here, I’ve also benefited from the warning and have had occasion to use it in both my service as elder and also my work at a church school.

    So don’t take the resistance as complete rejection, but rather as a bull-headed desire to see things clearly, combined with a discomfort at some of the end-points I see in your system.

    Here are the main objections to SOTC that remain, that would need to be satisfied in order to convince me.

    (1) I still believe that SOTC is a radical departure from Calvin rather than a more consistent working out of his 2k theology.

    VanDrunen argues in Natural Law and Two Kingdoms that Calvin was truly 2k, but inconsistently so. That argument has been picked up here in this form: “Calvin was 2k, but his residual Constantinianism kept him from going all the way with it.”

    In my view, Inst. 4.20 falsifies your thesis. 2k? Yes. Inconsistent? No. We see in Inst. 4.20 that Calvin’s view of the minister is that he must (a) be a faithful viceregent of God; and that (b) he must follow the Natural Law, which is the Decalogue; and that (c) God is a person whose rights are to be respected.

    There’s nothing of Constantinianism in there, no sense that the civil government is an arm of the kingdom of God. In fact, Calvin rejects that latter idea. No, the magistrate does what he does because he is, as an individual, obligated to God as a person.

    Calvin makes this cryptic but crucial comment:

    Calvin: Let no one be surprised that I now attribute the task of constituting religion aright to human polity, though I seem above to have placed it beyond the will of man, since I no more than formerly allow men at pleasure to enact laws concerning religion and the worship of God, when I approve of civil order which is directed to this end, viz., to prevent the true religion, which is contained in the law of God, from being with impunity openly violated and polluted by public blasphemy. — Inst 4.20.3.

    SOTC essentially ignores this comment and acts surprised at Calvin. “Come on, Calvin! Couldn’t you see more clearly?” I think he was clear-sighted, and that SOTC just can’t handle the clarity.

    (2) SOTC presents a decidedly unclear version of the Natural Law.

    On the one hand, the Natural Law is held to be identical to the decalogue. And yet, we get statements like “the magistrate is normed by general revelation, not special revelation.” (#433).

    This makes as much sense as “I live with my wife, not my spouse.”

    If the natural law is the decalogue, then it looks like the magistrate is normed by both at the same time.

    Further, it is also held by SOTC that the magistrate should not pass laws relating to the first table of the Law. But the first and foremost thing that the Natural Law teaches is that there is a God to whom we owe proper worship (Rom 1). So it isn’t really even the Natural Law that the magistrate must follow, is it?

    All of this is to say that SOTC is quite fuzzy on the issue of Natural Law: What is it? How do we know it? What is its relationship to the Decalogue? How does a magistrate go about using it?

    Calvin had a clear answer: NL is the Decalogue, and we know it through the Decalogue.

    (3) SOTC needs to reckon with Calvin’s point that God is a person whose rights are to be respected in society.

    Calvin: Thus all have confessed that no polity can be successfully established unless piety be its first care, and that those laws are absurd which disregard the rights of God, and consult only for men. — Inst. 4.20.

    I have the greatest discomfort here. Clearly, SOTC’s premise is that God is not a person whose rights are to be respected in polity. I believe this stems from the observation that God is in no need of our protection. But that isn’t Calvin’s point. The point is not God’s need, but our obligation as humans — not Christians, but humans — to worship God aright.

    What disturbs me is that it seems a short societal distance from “God is not a person whose rights are to be respected” to “God is not a person.”

    That is: if our institutional structure denies that we must formally observe the rights of God, then does not the structure suggest that God is of no account at all? For if we deliberately ignore the rights of another, are we not saying that person is of no account?

    Those are the objections, and I’ll leave it there. God bless.

  438. TurretinFan said,

    September 23, 2010 at 6:19 am

    VanDrunen argues in Natural Law and Two Kingdoms that Calvin was truly 2k, but inconsistently so. That argument has been picked up here in this form: “Calvin was 2k, but his residual Constantinianism kept him from going all the way with it.”

    In my view, Inst. 4.20 falsifies your thesis. 2k? Yes. Inconsistent? No.

    I couldn’t find a similar expression to the one you used to summarize DvD’s point, but that would sound like an expression of R2K: an imbalancing of the idea of the two kingdoms against other Biblical concepts.

    -TurretinFan

  439. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Mark, when it is said that the magistrate is not normed by special revelation it is not meant that this entails a command of believers to absolute allegiance to the magistrate. First, because that doesn’t logically follow. Second, because what is meant is that he has all he needs to be normed in general revelation, just like all the ecclesiastical magistrate has all he needs in special revelation (i.e. an outworking of sola scriptura). And third, because it is maintained that if the magistrate demands we break any law of God (Decalogue or Commission) we not only have grounds but commands to disobey.

    You say that the magistrate has *all* he needs to be normed in general revelation. But then you say that the magistrate may not require a breaking of God’s Decalogue, and if he does, we should disobey. Your second statement on special revelation’s normative role on the magistrate exposes the flaw of your first statement, that general revelation is the sole normative standard. This goes to the heart of the R2kt error.

    Consistent with the Belgic, the Canons of Dort III/IV Art. 4 clearly addresses the insufficiency of natural light to order *civil life* aright.

  440. TurretinFan said,

    September 23, 2010 at 10:13 am

    That is an interesting observation on the inconsistency of R2k theology.

    1) The civil magistrate can ignore the 1st table (so they claim)
    but
    2) If the King tells us to worship him as a god (violation of the first table)
    we not only can but must disobey him.

    -TurretinFan

  441. Zrim said,

    September 23, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Adolph was a baptized RC – not sure how that affects your answer.

    Tfan, first let me reiterate that I am ever torn over discussions which veer this way. But it’s always the critics who invariably turn the dial up to decibel 10 and initiate questions about certain mid 20th century historical phenomena or later American legislation. When these are refused the charge is dodgery or cowardice, and when they are indulged it runs the risk of being tagged at best sympathetic to or at worst culpable for high crimes.
    That said, again, it’s a matter of jurisdiction. The objection here is against Protestant Reformed and Lutheran 2k that they are somehow or other culpable for the crimes of the Third Reich, but neither have any jurisdiction over a RC. And even if one were a baptized member of a true church that doesn’t make the church responsible for his crime.
    Besides, what it takes to block crime is worldly weapons, something the church simply doesn’t have. All a church can do is excommunicate. If a church fails to discipline a criminal member she is only guilty of falling down on the third mark, which is serious problem but not the same as being guilty of the crime. The call to blame certain churches for the crimes of her members is like blaming parents of serial killers for their crimes. It may play well to worldly notions of every man being his brother’s keeper in the brotherhood of man; and it may play well to ubiquitous ideas that the point of the Good Samaritan is the rather underwhelming, natural and not-so-profound idea that we should help those in need (instead of the more profound and supernatural portrait of how Jesus is the Good Samaritan helping his people ravaged by their worldly enemies and left for dead by their ecclesiastical leaders). But the only ones responsible for crimes are the criminals themselves. I should think this uncontroversial to those who would otherwise conceive themselves as conservative in their thinking, i.e. taking personal responsibility for behaviors instead of foisting it off onto others.

  442. Zrim said,

    September 23, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Jeff, that was an answer as well to your points about sins of omission and the Good Samaritan.

    As to your lingering objections to SOTC generally, much of it has already been addressed in the past, but I am mystified by what you call your greatest concern: “…a short societal distance from ‘God is not a person whose rights are to be respected’ to ‘God is not a person.’” Yes, I can see how it is a straight line from one to the other, but I am stumped as to how you firstly draw a straight line from SOTC to “God is not a person whose rights are to be respected.”

  443. Zrim said,

    September 23, 2010 at 10:27 am

    .Consistent with the Belgic, the Canons of Dort III/IV Art. 4 clearly addresses the insufficiency of natural light to order *civil life* aright.

    Mark, no, it addresses the insufficiency of natural light to obtain eternal life. The Canons are addressing the soteriological question (as in “But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him”), not an ecclesiastical question. General revelation is sufficient for man to order his temporal life but not obtain eternal life.

    Article 2 of the Belgic states in part that we know God by two means, “First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: his eternal power and his divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20.” If we sufficiently know God by that beautiful book then why can’t we sufficiently order the world by it?

  444. dgh said,

    September 23, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Mark, I see Zrim has corrected your (and Kloosterman’s) reading of Dort. Let me help you with article 36. You say that is retains in its revised form “the normative limits of God’s word on the magistrate.” Since you are an attorney, maybe your language is meant to be evasive and lawyerly. What after all is God’s normative limits on the magistrate? Not to meddle with religion?

    Well, the original Belgic said “And the government’s task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.”

    The 1958 Synod of the CRC declared this portion to be “unbiblical.” That sounds like a rejection to me.

    And yet modern 2k advocates are saying exactly what the revised Belgic says, what the revised Westminster says, and what the Covenanters rejected in the original Westminster. And somehow we are the ones who are wrong. All the modern Reformed and Presbyterian Churches agree with us on the error of the 16th and 17th century creeds on the magistrate. We are constantly critiqued for not holding those views. But no modern church does. So how is it conceivable that our view is impermissible or outside the bounds?

    You have some ‘splaining to do, Mark.

  445. dgh said,

    September 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Truth, let me work out the logic here, and Tfan may be you can follow along.

    The Baylsy singled out modern 2k for not giving a rip about the magistrate enforcing the sixth commandment.

    The sixth commandment is part of another nine, four of which pertain to worship.

    An older Reformed outlook insisted that the magistrate should not only enforce the second table but also the first.

    This outlook has been resurrected to show the weakness if not infidelity of modern 2k views.

    And yet the ones who use the point about the magistrate’s duty to uphold both tables don’t actually believe that point themselves. Truth thinks that Roman Catholics should have freedom to practice their faith. Ron thinks that the magistrates religious duties are not a big enough deal to bring up in the church.

    But if a modern 2k advocate doesn’t support the idea that the magistrate should enforce both tables, he’s a scoundrel and an infidel.

    Where’s the peace?

    Where’s the justice?

    Where’s the love?

    Where’s the brain?

  446. dgh said,

    September 23, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Jeff @438,

    Why is Calvin the norm? If he is the norm for me he is also the norm for you. And so are you willing to go with him all the way and see Roman Catholics exiled from the United States or heretics executed? I’m not trying to be coy or inflammatory. What I am is annoyed with the idea that modern 2k fails to live up to Calvin’s standard when almost no one except theonomists is willing to go with early modern arrangements of church and state. You may not be SOTC on paper but your practice sure seems that way. So why don’t you make your paper and practice conform? If ours has to, why not yours?

    Second, you do point out a difficult passage in Calvin and I do think this is in tension with other things he writes about the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom. I also believe that modern 2k people admit these tensions all the time. What goes under admitted is the tension I just mentioned between upholding Calvin as a standard against modern 2k but then not insisting that we should follow Calvin in our current political arrangements.

    Third, what is important to see in Calvin is the difference between his view and the Erastianism that is present in the Westminster STandards. Calvin along with many western Christians fought for the independency of the church from control by the state. Crucial to this was the power of excommunication. While Westminster soft pedals reserving excommunication for the church (ch. 30), it also grants power to the magistrate to call assemblies and preside over them. That’s a form of political power more typical of Zurich than Geneva. But the point is that once you start in the direction of insisting on the rights and prerogatives of the church as distinct from the state, you are in 2k land (a land populated by Roman Catholics and Protestants).

    Here is my serious objection to Calvin’s understanding of the magistrate’s religious duties. Do we really want a lay person to decide what the true form of worship or doctrine is? You do need that kind of decision if the magistrate is going to be able to spot the difference between infant and believer’s baptism and so banish the baptists from the city. Where does the Bible give that kind of power to a lay person? And what happens if an unbeliever occupies the position of magistrate? Vows only go so far and plenty of emperors and lords professed Christianity in Christendom without knowing what was orthodox. I cannot see how this would be a wise policy.

  447. September 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    That is an interesting observation on the inconsistency of R2k theology.
    1) The civil magistrate can ignore the 1st table (so they claim)
    but
    2) If the King tells us to worship him as a god (violation of the first table)
    we not only can but must disobey him.
    -TurretinFan

    TF,

    I gotta dock you 1/2 point for that one. I’m not sure I’d find that an inconsistency but rather simply an application of a principle that all Christians operate under. Obviously, R2K and some of us disagree over whether blasphemy is a crime that is punishable by civil magistrate; yet notwithstanding it doesn’t seem to follow that because they think all men are required to avoid blasphemy that they must also, in order to remain consistent, think that the civil magistrate is required to prevent blasphemy. We all agree that not all sins are punishable by civil magistrates, which means the civil magistrate is required to allow certain sins. R2K simply applies that principle to first table violations.

    Having said all that, the deciding factor must be biblical precept and certainly not what we think would work, or what would be in our estimation the least tyrannical way of governing ourselves in a fallen world.

    As my card has it you’re way ahead on points, so don’t pay attention to all this “where’s the love” nonsense. :) Your opponent is just trying to keep you off balance. Now touch gloves and come out fighting.

    Ron

  448. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Mark, I see Zrim has corrected your (and Kloosterman’s) reading of Dort.

    No, ignoring the plain language of the confession {as you did with your discussion with Kloosterman, et. al.} is not the same thing as correcting me. R2k refuses to submit to our confession that the noetic effect of sin extends to man’s ability to order civil life “aright”. The spectacles to correct our vision to to judge the “rightness” of our ordering civil society is graciously provided to us in his Law/Word.

    Let me help you with article 36. You say that is retains in its revised form “the normative limits of God’s word on the magistrate.” Since you are an attorney, maybe your language is meant to be evasive and lawyerly. What after all is God’s normative limits on the magistrate? Not to meddle with religion?

    Well, the original Belgic said “And the government’s task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.”

    The 1958 Synod of the CRC declared this portion to be “unbiblical.” That sounds like a rejection to me.

    Darryl, the Synod of 1958 did not declare that entire quoted section as unbiblical. You’ve been told this and should know this. Come clean and tell the folks here which part remains and which part was deleted.

  449. TurretinFan said,

    September 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    DGH:

    Are you willing to state your actual position as Zrim was? I suspect I disagree as firmly with him as with you, but I find his approach far less melodramatic, and far more helpful in terms of moving the discussion along.

    - TurretinFan

  450. TurretinFan said,

    September 23, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Ron wrote: “I’m not sure I’d find that an inconsistency but rather simply an application of a principle that all Christians operate under.”

    That principle that all Christians operate under implies something about the civil magistrate and the relation of that magistrate to the first table. Do you see what it implies?

    Those implications are inconsistent with R2k’s operating principles, at least as I see them. That’s all I was trying to say.

    -TurretinFan

  451. September 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    TF,

    I don’t see your point. Their principle is what, that Government is not subject to Scripture? If that’s what you mean by their operating principles, I don’t see how that contradicts to their belief that Scripture has plenty to say to individuals regarding adherance to the first table. I must be missing a premise of yours that might be obvious to you but not to me at the moment. Feel free to labor with me but don’t feel that you must.

    Best,

    Ron

  452. TurretinFan said,

    September 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Let me couch it this way:

    (1) King John, who is otherwise a lawful power, issues command X.

    (2) Command X is a command that no one should obey, because obeying violates God’s law, specifically some part of the first table of the law.

    (3) As DGH quoted earlier: “they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God,”

    (4) Considering (1), (2), and (3), the only conclusion we can reach is that Command X is an unlawful exercise of power.

    (5) But Command X’s lawfulness is normed by the first table.

    (6) Therefore, in some sense at least, King John as lawgiver is normed by the first table.

    Does that make more sense than my previous comments?

    -TurretinFan

  453. dgh said,

    September 23, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Mark, okay, if you insist. Here is all of Art. 36 with revisions from the CRC website:

    ________________
    Article 36
    The Civil Government
    We believe that
    because of the depravity of the human race
    our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers.
    He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies
    so that human lawlessness may be restrained
    and that everything may be conducted in good order
    among human beings.

    For that purpose he has placed the sword
    in the hands of the government,
    to punish evil people
    and protect the good.

    And being called in this manner
    to contribute to the advancement of a society
    that is pleasing to God,
    the civil rulers have the task,
    subject to God’s law,
    of removing every obstacle
    to the preaching of the gospel
    and to every aspect of divine worship.

    They should do this
    while completely refraining from every tendency
    toward exercising absolute authority,
    and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them,
    with the means belonging to them.

    They should do it in order that
    the Word of God may have free course;
    the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress;
    and every anti-Christian power may be resisted.*

    __________
    *The Synod of 1958, in line with 1910 and 1938, substituted the above
    statement for the following (which it judged unbiblical):
    And the government’s task is not limited
    to caring for and watching over the public domain
    but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry,
    with a view to removing and destroying
    all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist;
    to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ;
    and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere;
    to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone,
    as he requires in his Word.
    __________

    Moreover everyone,
    regardless of status, condition, or rank,
    must be subject to the government,
    and pay taxes,
    and hold its representatives in honor and respect,
    and obey them in all things that are not in conflict
    with God’s Word,
    praying for them
    that the Lord may be willing to lead them
    in all their ways
    and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life
    in all piety and decency.*
    __________
    *The Synod of 1985 directed that the following paragraph be taken from the
    body of the text and be placed in a footnote:
    And on this matter we denounce the Anabaptists, other anarchists,
    and in general all those who want
    to reject the authorities and civil officers
    and to subvert justice
    by introducing common ownership of goods
    and corrupting the moral order
    that God has established among human beings.
    ________________ END OF PASTE

    I don’t see how that helps your side. It removes what we have been debating here, namely, whether the magistrate has a responsibility to punish and suppress heresy. The revisions call the original conception “unbiblical.” It also removes the bits of political theology that allowed Christian magistrates to persecute Anabaptists.

    In other words, this modernizes the Confession, just as modern 2k modernizes 2k.

    So my point remains, I stand in the center of contemporary Reformed confessionalism. You do not.

    And you’re still wrong about Dort. Zrim is right. The passage that Kloosterman loves to quote says that the light of nature is not sufficient for salvation. If it weren’t sufficient for civil society, you better pack your bags and leave for Tyler, Texas.

  454. dgh said,

    September 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Mark, if you insist, here is Art. 36 as emended by the CRC:
    ________
    Article 36
    The Civil Government
    We believe that
    because of the depravity of the human race
    our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers.
    He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies
    so that human lawlessness may be restrained
    and that everything may be conducted in good order
    among human beings.

    For that purpose he has placed the sword
    in the hands of the government,
    to punish evil people
    and protect the good.

    And being called in this manner
    to contribute to the advancement of a society
    that is pleasing to God,
    the civil rulers have the task,
    subject to God’s law,
    of removing every obstacle
    to the preaching of the gospel
    and to every aspect of divine worship.

    They should do this
    while completely refraining from every tendency
    toward exercising absolute authority,
    and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them,
    with the means belonging to them.

    They should do it in order that
    the Word of God may have free course;
    the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress;
    and every anti-Christian power may be resisted.*

    __________
    *The Synod of 1958, in line with 1910 and 1938, substituted the above
    statement for the following (which it judged unbiblical):
    And the government’s task is not limited
    to caring for and watching over the public domain
    but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry,
    with a view to removing and destroying
    all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist;
    to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ;
    and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere;
    to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone,
    as he requires in his Word.
    __________

    Moreover everyone,
    regardless of status, condition, or rank,
    must be subject to the government,
    and pay taxes,
    and hold its representatives in honor and respect,
    and obey them in all things that are not in conflict
    with God’s Word,
    praying for them
    that the Lord may be willing to lead them
    in all their ways
    and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life
    in all piety and decency.*
    __________
    *The Synod of 1985 directed that the following paragraph be taken from the
    body of the text and be placed in a footnote:
    And on this matter we denounce the Anabaptists, other anarchists,
    and in general all those who want
    to reject the authorities and civil officers
    and to subvert justice
    by introducing common ownership of goods
    and corrupting the moral order
    that God has established among human beings.
    ______________ END OF QUOTE

    How this helps your case, I don’t know. The revision removes precisely what we have been debating, namely, the magistrate’s responsibility to execute the first table of the law. Synod called it unbiblical. And they add to your woes by removing the rationale that had allowed Christian magistrates to persecute Anabaptists. Are you still in favor of punishing the Amish for their beliefs? Have you told the Baylys about the high number of Anabaptists in Ohio and Indiana?

    And for the record, Zrim is right about Dort. The section in question says that the light of nature is sufficient for the working of society. Now if you think society needs to be like the church, then maybe you don’t want to alert the Baylys about the Amish because it’s the Anabaptists who were incapable of distinguishing between the secular and sacred spheres, and so renounced the sword as part of a Christian society.

  455. dgh said,

    September 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Tfan, @450. Zrim less melodramatic than I? Tell that to Caleb Stegall.

    I’m not sure what part of Zrim’s comments you are asking about.

  456. September 23, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    TF,

    I still see no contradiction. Maybe you might in as few words as possible state the R2K premise and the R2K violation of that premise. Keep in mind, a requirement of any king to have men worship him, although it would be violation of the first table, is a violation of the R2K premise that prohibits civil magistrates to bind consciences and enforce laws according to any religion, including emperor worship. Accordingly, such a requirement (to worship the king) would be disallowed by R2K standards, but not because of the first table. What would norm the prohibition of such practice within an R2K framework would not be the first table but rather the authority from which R2K grounds all civil laws, man’s wisdom, which states in this case that no religion whatsoever may be required or forbidden.

    Ron

  457. TurretinFan said,

    September 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I’m referring to #433, where

    a) Zrim acknowledged that he holds that the magistrate is not normed by special revelation;

    b) Zrim qualified that this does not mean that there is a command of believers to absolute allegiance to the magistrate.

    c) Zrim qualified that the magistrate has all he needs to be normed in general revelation, just like all the ecclesiastical magistrate has all he needs in special revelation. Zrim made a comparison to sola scriptura in this regard.

    d) Zrim qualified that if the magistrate demands we break any law of God (Decalogue or Commission) we not only have grounds but commands to disobey.

    (By the way, Zrim, I hope you will confirm that I am fairly representing you – I have tried to to stick pretty closely to your words).

    We agree with Zrim on (b) and (d). We do not think there is an absolute duty of obedience, and we believe that we have grounds to disobey the magistrate if obeying God conflicts with obeying the magistrate.

    We do not agree with (a) and (c), but at least the points on which we disagree are fairly clear. I wonder whether you agree with Zrim or take a third position (I’m confident you don’t agree with us on everything).

    -TurretinFan

  458. TurretinFan said,

    September 23, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I see your point, Ron. I provisionally withdraw my claim to have found an inconsistency.

  459. September 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    It was not that big a point but I think your other points are so clearly argued that I wanted to get rid of anything that could be construed as less than sound.

    Keep up the great work, and thanks for helping me think through so many things!

    Blessings,

    Ron

  460. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 23, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    The revision removes precisely what we have been debating, namely, the magistrate’s responsibility to execute the first table of the law.

    I’m not surprised by your attempt to obscure the argument, but my citation to Belgic 36 was for the simple proposition that the Law/Word of God norms the magistrate. While the version you posted is not the version our URC uses, nonetheless even your gussied up 1985 CRC version retains what I have argued. How that helps your case, I don’t know, but it once again makes mine.

    My argument on the magistrate’s interest in the 1st table was grounded on the example from the Heidelberg’s confession wrt the 3rd commandment and oaths. I believe you all but conceded the point. Perhaps for further reflection, you’d like to consider the government’s interest in the 4th commandment in ordering days of labor and rest, so that divine worship may occur. You might be interested to know that a degreed R2kacolyte of yours recently conceded this 4th commandment argument as well. Your “second table only” position simply won’t pass Reformed confessional muster.

    You assert– but do not demonstrate –that you and Zrim are reading Dort correctly. I’ve cited the language concerning the effect of sin on man’s ability to order things aright according to the light of nature, even in “things natural and civil”. You can continue to ignore that language, just as you did in your Christ and Culture debate with Kloosterman, et. al., but ignoring it won’t make it go away.

  461. dghart said,

    September 23, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Tfan, I agree with Zrim. I don’t see how that was not obvious given over 400 comments here. But since you disagree that the magistrate has all he needs from general revelation, I wonder how you propose that a non-Xian magistrate would obey special revelation since you need the Spirit to obey God’s word. Your position implies that only Christians should rule.

  462. dghart said,

    September 23, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Mark, if this statement from Belgic, “And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, subject to God’s law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship,” means the magistrate is normed by God’s word, why have you taken vows as an attorney to uphold laws that do not recognize God’s word as a norm the state of Indiana? Again, why do you choose to point out my infidelity when you fail to examine your own?

    As for Dort, here is the contested passage on the Inadequacy of the light of nature: “There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him–so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.”

    I don’t see how this is in anyway a point against my position. I agree that George Bush and Barrack Obama cannot use natural light correctly even in matters of nature and society. That is why we live in a fallen world. Even Aristotle couldn’t arrange the great society. It’s not because of the lack of wisdom, it’s because of the lack of faith. Without faith, God’s law, or a desire for God’s glory, nothing a man does is obedient. So Dort is saying that the light of nature is not sufficient to form a good society. You think that’s something that modern 2kers disagree with? What we say is that the light of nature is adequate to restrain evil and reward good, not to bring heaven down to earth.

  463. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    My oath as an attorney does not require me to undertake the defense of every law on the books. I am free to advocate modfication or overturning of existing law that I believe is unjust. I can decline a case which would violate my religious convictions. Have I been consistent in applying this in my career? Far from it. Often the difficulty in application doesn’t manifest themselves until later in the case. At least I acknowledge the fact {as does the Belgic} that these earthly laws have a specially revealed divine standard by which they can and should be judged. Do you acknowledge this?

    An anectdote you might find it superfluous, just last week at a contentious public hearing, I persuaded a government body to rule in my client’s favor, citing from and harmonizing together local ordinance, state law and the book of Matthew. One of the officials publicly commented that the scriptural argument was the sealer for him. The observers at the hearing applauded when the decision was rendered.

  464. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 23, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Darryl, my oath as an attorney does not require me to undertake the defense of every law on the books. I am free to advocate modfication or overturning of existing law that I believe is unjust. I can decline a case which would violate my religious convictions. Have I been consistent in applying this in my career? Far from it. Often the difficulty in application doesn’t manifest itself until much later in the case. At least I acknowledge the fact {as does the Belgic} that these earthly laws have a specially revealed divine standard by which they can and should be judged. Do you acknowledge this?

    I’ll leave this discussion with an anectdote you may find superfluous: just last week at a contentious public hearing, I persuaded a government body to rule in my client’s favor by citing from, and harmonizing together, local ordinance, state law and quotes from the book of Matthew. One of the officials publicly commented that the scriptural argument was the sealer for him, moved to approve the request, and the motion carried unanimously. The observers at the hearing applauded. It may seem a small victory in a little corner in Indiana, but Christ’s Word was proclaimed and the magistrate genuflected to the King.

  465. dghart said,

    September 24, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Mark, sorry to keep putting out there things you already know, but here is the oath required of Indiana attorneys:

    “I do solemnly swear or affirm that: I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana; I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers; I will not counsel or maintain any action, proceeding, or defense which shall appear to me to be unjust, but this obligation shall not prevent me from defending a person charged with crime in any case; I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me, such means only as are consistent with truth, and never seek to mislead the court or jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law; I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my client at every peril to myself; I will abstain from offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged; I will not encourage either the commencement or the continuance of any action or proceeding from any motive of passion or interest; I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless, the oppressed or those who cannot afford adequate legal assistance; so help me God.”

    Unless I am missing something, this is not a general wave of the hand to laws but to the government and authority of the United States and Indiana. Because neither of these authorities follows the original or revised Art. 36 of Belgic, you, Mark, have sworn allegiance to a government you believe to be unbiblical and contrary to your conscience. If you were 2k you would have a way out of this inconsistency. And if you were a Covenanter (who, by the way, rejects the original WCF), you would not have taken this oath. But since you are not, your constant harping about my 2k-infidelity looks weak if not hypocritical.

  466. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    September 24, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Unless I am missing something,..

    Yes, indeed you are missing a great deal.

  467. TurretinFan said,

    September 24, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Amen, Mark.

    DGH’s reasoning appears to be this:

    1) Either you believe that a government must recognize Christ’s authority in order to be legitimate; or you are R2K.

    2) But you are not R2K.

    3) Therefore, you must believe that the government must recognize Christ’s authority in order to be legitimate.

    4) Yet you swear allegiance to a government that does not recognize Christ’s authority.

    5) Therefore you are swearing allegiance to something you view as an illegitimate authority.

    6) Swearing allegiance implies that you think that the authority is legitimate.

    7) Therefore you are inconsistent.

    But, of course, the major problem with his analysis is his first premise, which is a false dichotomy. There may also be a minor problem with (6), but that is dwarfed by the error at (1).

    Of course, maybe DGH will think I’m misrepresenting his argument. If so, I invite him to try to formalize it better than I have.

    -TurretinFan

  468. Tom Albrecht said,

    September 24, 2010 at 9:18 am

    “Your “second table only” position simply won’t pass Reformed confessional muster.”

    2TO-2K??

  469. TurretinFan said,

    September 24, 2010 at 9:49 am

    “Second Table Only” is one of the indicia of R2K. It’s contrary to the Westminster standards, both original and revised (and as modified by the RPCNA).

    -TurretinFan

  470. Zrim said,

    September 24, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Zrim less melodramatic than I? Tell that to Caleb Stegall.

    Now that’s good funny. (Caleb, if you’re listening, I still think creation is in and of itself very good such that the city’s problem isn’t that it’s not the prairie. It needs no transformation of any kind, either Keller’s or Berry’s, though I will admit Berry beats Keller.)

    But, Tfan (and, yes, I do believe you’ve captured my points fairly enough), whatever your syllogism entails, the standing problem for pc2k critics is when they maintain that Jesus is Lord over every square inch but behave as if this isn’t true. Pc2k both confesses that he is and behaves that way. So it is a problem of consistency, yes, but not exactly the way you suggest.

    Jesus is Lord whether we live under Mao or Reagan, and we tell both to kiss the Son in the same way we tell any powerless vagabond to do the same. That’s because we don’t use a geo-political hermeneutic, but rather a personal one. And consider the notion that to tell worldly powers to kiss the Son has more to do with suggesting the utter folly and weakness of worldly power (you know, as in the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God, 1 Cor. 3) than it has to do with enlisting worldly powers for heaven’s bidding. The former is theology of the Cross, the latter a theology of glory, which was the Cortinthian error.

  471. TurretinFan said,

    September 24, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Zrim:

    You wrote:

    the standing problem for pc2k critics is when they maintain that Jesus is Lord over every square inch but behave as if this isn’t true. Pc2k both confesses that he is and behaves that way.

    I get the feeling that when you say “Jesus is Lord over every square inch” you mean something different from when your critics say “Jesus is Lord over every square inch.”

    For example, when I say that God – as Creator – is Lord over all the Earth, I mean one thing. When I say that Jesus Christ, as Redeemer, is Lord over all the Earth I mean a different thing. The former imposes duties and the law on all mankind, for all are created. The latter is a kingdom of world-wide scope, but limited membership: the redeemed are people out of every nation, tongue, and tribe. Their King is their Savior, and he has a special relationship to them because He redeemed them.

    I try to avoid speaking in a way that confuses the law/gospel distinction (as DGH seems to have confused it with his comment “you need the Spirit to obey God’s word”).

    But perhaps you don’t agree. Do you think that you and your critics both agree on the sense in which Jesus is Lord of all the Earth? If so, how does their behavior conflict with that?

    -TurretinFan

  472. dghart said,

    September 24, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Tfan and Mark, what I may be missing is one thing, but how you can beat your breasts about the magistrate needing to enforce both tables and then not see any problem with your own complicity in tolerating the current magistrate who is not enforcing both tables — all the while you do point out the infidelity of my 2k position — is something that is hard to miss.

    Maybe this will help you pick up what you are missing. I’ll repeat a point I have made many times. The Covenanters, who used to share your position and probably went farther by promoting the National Covenant, would not take vows to a government that did not recognize constitutionally the Lordship of Christ. So my point is or at least was a historical reality. Those who took seriously what the original WCF taught on the magistrate recognized the problem of participating in a polity that viewed the magistrate differently.

    My point is not a rhetorical one. Reformed Protestants with your views have not been so nonchalant about our regime. So why are you? And why do you spend more time beating up on the modern 2k proponents than making your governments conform to your views. Wasn’t the problem of the Pharisees that they taught one thing and did another?

  473. dghart said,

    September 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Tom, so I guess that is your answer to my question over at oldlife on whether modern 2k is permissible in our contemporary confessional situation. That’s fine, as long as you acknowledge that all the conservative Reformed churches — URC, PCA, OPC, RPCNA — have confessions that deny the 16th and 17th century views of the magistrate.

    Plus, if modern 2k is not permissible, that sure would be news to the Covenanters since they had no problem having fellowship with the OPC even though the OPC’s chief founder held to the Spirituality of the church.

    And please do throw under the bus, while your at it, Dabney, Thornwell, Peck, and Robinson. Yes, that modern 2k really is outside the mainstream of Reformed thinking since 1800.

  474. TurretinFan said,

    September 25, 2010 at 11:23 am

    DGH:

    Hopefully you have fellowship with Reformed Baptists and Confessional Lutherans. Neither of them have views within bounds of our confessions (either of the Westminster or Belgic varieties).

    Your views on the civil magistrate are not consistent with either the revised or original Westminster Confession of Faith, nor with the testimony of the RPCNA. That doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian or that we can’t have fellowship with you. After all, the gospel is broader than the standards.

    Your inflammatory comparison to the Pharisees is based on your faulty assumptions regarding the way that people who believe what the Confession teaches should act. You claim it’s not a rhetorical point, but it looks exactly like one. Moreover, it’s a point we’ve corrected several times, yet you continue to bring it up, without addressing the responses.

    -TurretinFan

  475. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    @DGH:

    I don’t understand why saying “The government ought to do X” is inconsistent with saying “My government doesn’t do X, so that’s where we are.”

    The Covenanters believed, apparently, that they ought not submit to a government that was anything less than pure. Perhaps that was a political statement (designed to put pressure on the regime), but it wasn’t an ethically required statement.

    Take an example: Husbands ought to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Following the Covenanter reasoning as you’ve articulated it, wives ought not to submit to their husbands until they first get their acts together.

    Nah. That’s flawed reasoning. It makes the perfect the enemy of the good.

    It also uses someone else’s sin (the husband’s lack of love) the cover for her own sin, the lack of submission.

    The real thing for the wife to do (or husband, if the shoe is on the other foot) is to police herself and then work with her husband as possible.

    Now if TFan were in a position to *do* something about the governmental order, and failed to, then you might call him to account. But the fact of submission is not evidence of hypocrisy; it’s evidence that TFan is policing himself, while simultaneously wishing that the government would police itself.

    That’s the best we can do.

    So I continue to find myself unpersuaded by the “Why don’t you do as the Covenanters?” argument. It assumes too much. TFan was born in America, he owes America allegiance, he pushes for lawful change to its polity, and that’s enough.

  476. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    @TFan: Suppose the magistrate in America were in charge of enforcing the 1st Table of the Law. What then? People — thinking here perhaps of current disputants — are awfully committed to their own religious views. What kinds of enforcement would even be possible?

    I know that’s a prosaically pragmatic question, but I do worry that 1st table enforcement might have to be so draconian as to (a) put everyone back under Judaic law, and (b) be worse than letting people simply be wrong and thus accountable to God.

  477. dgh said,

    September 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Jeff, it wasn’t that the Covenanters resisted the authority of the USA. It was the case that they refused to put themselves in positions — voting in elections, serving in the military, holding public office — that required them to take vows that conflicted with their convictions about the Lordship of Christ. The analogy in marriage would be a Christian wife married to a Mason who baked cookies for the Lodge’s fundraiser. Or something like that.

    The problem for the 2k critics is that they believe the magistrate must suppress heresy and idolatry but they believe also that Roman Catholics should be able to practice their faith freely. Or they take vows as attorneys to uphold the Constitution even though they thing the state must suppress heresy. You don’t seen an inconsistency in that?

  478. dgh said,

    September 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Tfan, I do not have formal fellowship with Lutherans or Baptists. And in point of fact, in Puritan New England and Reformed New Netherland Lutherans and Baptists were not welcome. I really think it amazing that you want the language of original Westminster but none of the political repurcussions.

    And it is the huge difference between 1647 Boston and 2010 Philadelphia that puts me much closer to the revisions of Westminster in 1788 than you. You think the magistrate should suppress heresy. I do not. The revisions say nothing about suppressing heresy. But you’re closer to them? Why, you must think the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation!

  479. Jeff Cagle said,

    September 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    DGH (#477): OK, going further: If one believes that government ought to suppress blasphemy, but one also believes that one ought to submit to government, and one *further* believes that holding office is lawful, then could not one deciding that holding office is the lesser of two evils?

    Clearly, the Covenanters decided in the opposite direction. But it doesn’t follow that TFan must join them.

    To take the analogy: if a woman was, for whatever reason, already married to a Mason, one would not fault her for staying married, right? Or for enforcing the household rules, to the extent they did not violate Scripture?

    Likewise, if one is living in the USA, and participating in government is generally lawful, then it doesn’t seem to necessarily be a violation of conscience to vow to uphold the law of the land.

    Which is somewhat different from your position, that the law of the land (in re: blasphemy) is actually correct.

    What I’m suggesting is that one need not be exactly pc-2K to admit that there are complexities in life.

  480. Zrim said,

    September 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Do you think that you and your critics both agree on the sense in which Jesus is Lord of all the Earth? If so, how does their behavior conflict with that?

    Tfan, it’s related to what I said above about the fact that Jesus is Lord over every square inch even when it looks like he isn’t. He is just as Lord over a land and magistrate that persecutes hi s people as he is over a land and magistrate that protects them. 2k critics of whatever stripe or degree seem to think Jesus isn’t quite sovereign Lord unless his Word is being applied culturally, socially, morally or politically to every square inch. 2k thinks he is no matter that state of worldly affairs and is satisfied with his Word norming the church alone—that is a task hard enough without worrying about it norming the world. The Word will norm the new heavens and new earth soon enough, by God’s hand alone. 2k critics don’t seem patient with that idea and want to jump the gun, as it were.

  481. TurretinFan said,

    September 25, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Zrim:

    Is Jesus just as much Lord over the Free Church of Scotland, the PCA, and the URC? Hopefully you agree that the answer is “Yes.” Yet, surely you also recognize that not all three churches are equally good at following God’s Word. You might even have a ranking (no need to share it, if you do). The same goes for nations: some nations honor God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him (look at the “In God We Trust” on USA coins). Other nations may honor God to a greater degree. Some do their job well, others poorly. But yes, we think it right to want to see the nations submit to Christ as King, and we pray that they will.

    DGH: I think plenty about political repercussions, but my theology is not based on them. And your red herring about heresies hasn’t distracted me from the fact that you are out of accord with both the revisions and the original, even if you are closer to the revisions than to the original.

    Jeff: There are a lot of obvious, easy-to-identify changes. No more taking the Lord’s name in vain on the radio, no more Sabbath desecration. Other things might be harder to draw the line. Idols would be removed and groves (or equivalent places of clearly false worship) would be removed.

    -TurretinFan

  482. dghart said,

    September 26, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Jeff, but that is precisely the point — whether the USA is lawful. The logic of the other side — which is why I ask Tfan if he thinks through the repurcussions of his theology — is that a government that does not uphold both tables is illegimate. I mean, if modern 2k is illegitimate for its view, how much more a government that is in accord with modern 2k. So I am still at a loss why modern 2k is so wrong and harmful and yet folks don’t point out the wrongfulness or harm of the USA.

  483. dghart said,

    September 26, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Tfan, “heresies” a red herring? Are you kidding me? Heresies is what we have been debating since it is what is in view as part of the magistrate’s responsibilities in the original WCF.

    Sorry, but you’re in denial.

  484. dgh said,

    September 26, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Jeff, btw, this is not just about submission to lawful authority. It is about intellectual integrity. People oppose modern 2k for not adhering to the original WCF. We are in error if not deviant because of this. But these same people are not willing to live with the politics of the original WCF — banishing or punishing Roman Catholic neighbors. They have no political theology that allows for their refusal to comply with a direct inference from the original WCF. And yet they can conclude that we are in error and outside the bounds. Huh?

  485. Zrim said,

    September 26, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Tfan, 2k wants to see the nations submit to Christ, but when we say “nations” we don’t mean something geo-political, we mean something personal.

  486. September 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Tfan, 2k wants to see the nations submit to Christ, but when we say “nations” we don’t mean something geo-political, we mean something personal.

    Zrim,

    I’m just ust curious. If all the nations were to submit to Christ in a “personal” way and the political leaders wanted to re-evaluate the laws of their lands in an effort to honor God with them, how might they proceed? I’m not looking to combat your answer. I’m just curious what that answer would be.

    Thanks,

    Ron

  487. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    TurretinFan has a post up: What Would Machen Say to Darryl Hart?

    Excerpt of Machen’s writings:

    “Are then Christianity and culture in a conflict that is to be settled only by the destruction of one or the other of the contending forces? A third solution, fortunately, is possible—namely consecration. Instead of destroying the arts and sciences or being indifferent to them, let us cultivate them with all the enthusiasm of the veriest humanist, but at the same time consecrate them to the service of our God. Instead of stifling the pleasures afforded by the acquisition of knowledge or by the appreciation of what is beautiful, let us accept these pleasures as the gifts of a heavenly Father. Instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God.” [Boldface added]

  488. September 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    [...] knowing when he is supposed to obey the Constitution and when he’s not? Do the Baylys (and their defenders) really think you can have the Constitution without the First Amendment? Do they also think you can [...]

  489. dghart said,

    September 27, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Tfan,

    While you’re out there making the world subject to God, be sure to make room for Roman Catholics and Socialists also to exert some dominance.

    “Tolerance, moreover, means not merely tolerance for that with which we are agreed but also tolerance for that to which we are most thoroughly opposed. A few years ago there was passed in New York the abominable Lusk Law requiring private teachers in any subjects whatever to obtain a state license. It was aimed, I believe, at the Socialists, and primarily at the Rand School in New York City. Now certainly I have no sympathy with Socialism. Because of its hostility to freedom it seems to me to be just about the darkest thought that has ever entered the mind of man. But certalinly such opposition to Socialism did not temper in the slightest degree my opposition to that preposterous law. Tolerance, to me, does not mean merely tolerance for what I hold to be good, but also tolerance for what I hold to be abominably bad.” J. Gresham Machen, 1923

    “I am for my part an inveterate propagandist; but the same right of propaganda which I desire for myself I want to see also in the possession of others. What absurdities are uttered in the name of psuedo-Americanism today! People object to the Roman Catholics, for example, because they engage in ‘propaganda.’ But why should they not engage in propaganda? And how chould we have any respect for them, if holding the view which they do hold, that outside of the Roman Catholic Church there is no salvation, they did not engage in propaganda first, last and all the time. Clearly they have a right to do so, and clearly we have a right to do the same.” J. Gresham Machen, 1923

    Mfan

  490. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Darryl Hart: “here’s the question: do you believe Roman Catholics should be able to practice their faith in the United States?

    Sure. I joyfully signed and support the Manhattan Declaration.

    Affirming the sanctity of life (particularly unborn life), biblical marriage, and religious liberty.

  491. dghart said,

    September 30, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Truth, what name did you use to sign MD?

    BTW, your signature would have put you in prison in 1640s London. (So the suppression of heresy only applies to magistrates that modern 2k advocates support?)

  492. dghart said,

    September 30, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Truth, by the way, your friend Tfan disagrees with you on the Manhattan Declaration. http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/11/response-to-manhattan-declaration.html

  493. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 30, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    “Truth, what name did you use to sign MD?”

    Hmmmmm… I don’t remember exactly. I think I might have signed my name as Darryl Hart, Ph.D.

    ;-)

  494. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    September 30, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    “Truth, by the way, your friend Tfan disagrees with you on the Manhattan Declaration.”

    I know. I smile at the memory.

  495. TurretinFan said,

    October 1, 2010 at 7:07 am

    DGH:

    I’m glad to see you are perusing my blog! There’s more to come shortly, if the Lord wills.

    -TurretinFan


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