2K, 2nd Table ONLY, Biblical Based Inference

(Reed DePace)

The third “New Machen’s Warrior Children” thread is about to pass 500 comments so far. Simple observation (no criticism in view): this thread has focused itself more on theonomically informed opposition to 2K than it has understanding of the 2K position. All who want to continue to pursue those lines are encouraged to do so on that thread. (If/when it gets up to the 700-800 comment range, if folks want to keep that focus going, we’ll start a fourth thread for that.)

Here I want to shift to a different thread in the tapestry of the 2K argument. In my reading this morning I happened to be in Romans 13, a key passage for one’s understanding of the role of the civil magistrate, the civil authorities of the secular nations (one of the two kingdoms in the 2K position, the sacred, the Church being the other). Before engaging further with the argument I’m about to make, let me ask you to read Romans 13 so it will be fresh in your memory.

Note the basic pattern of the chapter:

  • Verses 1-4: the civil magistrate” role as God’s ordained minister to administer civil justice.
  • Verses 5-7: the Christian’s public-square response to the civil magistrate in his exercise of his authority.
  • Verses 8-10: the Christian’s interaction with others in the public square in light of the of the civil magistrate's exercise of his authority.
  • Verses 11-14: the Christian’s "private house" obedience to God in light of eschatological considerations.

Note specifically verse 9b-10. There the second great commandment provides the summary justification for why the Christian is submissive in the public square to the civil magistrate's authority. It is not because this authority inheres in the civil magistrate, but because it is from God. Submission to the second great commandment is part of the Christian life (no duh), and this finds explicit expression in how we submit to the civil magistrate.

I don't expect there is any disagreement between pro and anti-2K up to this point. But let me make one debatable observation. When Paul goes to apply, the exemplify his reference to the role of the civil magistrate note where he specifically goes – to the 2nd Table of the Mosaic law (commandment 5 through 10). Note what he does not mention, any law from the 1st Table of the Mosaic Law (commandments 1 through 4). He does not even make an application from the 1st Table. Nor are there any 1st Table inferences present in what Paul says.

Even when he gets into verses 11-14, where it could be argued his focus shifts from public square issues, to "private house" issues (i.e., how we live behind closed doors), Paul still does not make any reference or inference to 1st Table considerations. Again his examples are expressly 2nd Table considerations!

Now, it is admitted that this is an argument from silence, or better yet, an argument from absence. Absent from what Paul says is any reference to 1st Table considerations. This does not mean that the absence here means the absence elsewhere in Scripture.

Yet at least it is a strong argument leaning in the direction of the 2K position that the civil magistrate in the New Covenant era only has authority over 2nd Table issues. It is almost as if Paul is providing a commentary on Jesus' bifurcated render to caesar/God command (Mt 22:21; Mk 12:17; Lk 12:25). In the one place in his letters where Paul offers the fullest explanation of the gospel (comprehensively Romans is an explanation of the gospel), when it comes to a key application of the Christian life, when Paul expressly brings into view the Christian's public square relationship – it did not cross his mind to say anything about 1st Table issues.

This is a very, very strong biblically based inferential argument in support of the 2K position. The civil magistrate in the New Covenant era has no authority over 1st Table issues. These are not in Caesar's purview, but they are reserved exclusively to his Church, and her alone.

(Reed DePace)

About these ads

511 Comments

  1. proregno said,

    February 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Prof Herman Hanko on both tables of the law and Romans 13:

    “But in rejecting the “left-wing” radicalism of the Anabaptists and committing themselves and the cause of the Reformation to the principle of the great importance of the civil magistrate, they also were careful to define, not only what the church’s obligation towards the magistrate is, but also what the magistrate’s obligation before God is. And in dealing with the latter question, they were convinced that the magistrate was required by God to enforce obedience to the first table of the law as well as the second table. And included in the first table, especially the second commandment, was the obligation to worship God as He commands in His Word. For the magistrate to enforce the second commandment, therefore, required of him that he “protect the sacred ministry; and thus remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship.” Where, through the influence of the Reformation, a Christian state was set up (Calvin’s Geneva, The Netherlands, Scotland, and England), the Christian magistracy enforced the first table of the law of God as well as the second.

    This all was according to Scripture. It ought to be clear that when Scripture speaks of the obligation and task of magistrates, Scripture makes no distinction between the first and second tables of the law—as if the magistrate had to enforce observance of the second table only and not of the first. In Romans 13:1-7, where the office of the magistrate is discussed in detail, the magistrate is described as “the power of God.” The magistrate is a “minister of God”; he is a “revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” In I Peter 2:14 the duty of magistrates is said to be “the punishment of evildoers” and “the praise of them that do well.” The Holy Spirit does not say that the magistrate is for the punishment of those evildoers who break the second table of the law. All evildoers are to be punished and all well-doers are to be praised by the magistrate.

    That no distinction is made between the two tables of the law in the duty of magistrates is clear also from the fact that the two tables of the law are really bound together. The Jews asked Jesus what was the one great commandment of the law; to which Jesus responded: Love God and love your neighbor. To love God and to love the neighbor is one commandment because one cannot love his neighbor without loving God. One cannot keep the second table of the law without keeping the first table. One cannot require obedience to the second table, therefore, without requiring obedience to the first table. This is true of a parent, a school teacher, an elder in the church, a magistrate in the state.”

    See full article here:

    http://sb.rfpa.org/index2.cfm?mode=narrow&volume=65&issue=402&article=3793&book=0&search=belgic%20confession%20article%2036%20hanko&page=1&chapter=0&text_search=0

  2. TurretinFan said,

    February 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I will read carefully.

  3. Reed Here said,

    February 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Slabbert. Simple observation: the force of Hanko’s argument is mere assertion. Assuming his position is correct he assumes that 1st Table issues are necessarily inferred. His appeal to Peter’s letter is based on the same assumption/assertion. His appeal to Jesus’s summary of the law into two great commands does the same.

    He assumes they are not separated with reference to the civil magistrates authority. He has not actually made any argument demonstrating this is what the Bible teaches. No disrespect to Dr. Hanko, but assumption based assertion is not a very good argument.

  4. proregno said,

    February 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Reed, Murray in his commentary says here:

    “It is apparent that in this passage the apostle is not dealing with love to God. He is dealing ‘exclusively’ with love to our fellowmen, as the commandments quoted later show. It is just as true that love to God is the fulfilment of the law that pertains to our relation to God (cf. Matt.22:37,38; Mark 12:29,30; Luk.10:27). But ‘here’ it is love in inter-human relations that is in view (cf. Matt.22:39; Mark.12:31; Luk.10:29-37). So in this instance the law that love is said to fulfil is the law pertaining to mutual relations among men.” (NICNT, 1968, p.160, inverted commas added in quote.)

    We must not assume Paul restrict’s the magistrate’s task to the second table, with a wrong inference that v.9,10’s (indirect?) purpose is to (help) define the magistrate’s task/duties. In the context that is not the purpose, directly or indirectly.

    The focus of v.9,10 is given in v.8, “Owe no ‘man’ anything, but to love one ‘another’ ” …, which according to Murray, is the transition from the relationship with the magistrate to ‘mutual relations among men’, i.e. personal second table duties and relations, not the relation and duties between the magistrate and God (which are given in v.1-4 = minister of God).

  5. Reed Here said,

    February 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Slabbert: I don’t see how anything Murray says here contradicts the point I am making.

    Rom 13:8 begins the transition to “owe no man …” The focus of vs. 8-10 surely is not to be considered outside of its immediate context, is it? Why does Paul move from relationship with magistrate to relationship with fellow man?

    Note the common characteristics that tie these three section to one another (i.e., contextual considerations)::

    Vs. 5-7 public square relations vis-a-vis Christian to magistrate.
    Vs. 8-10 pubic square relations vis-a-vis Christian to others.
    Vs. 11-14 private house relations vis-a-vis Christian to others.

    In all three sections the law in view is exclusively 2nd Table. What they have in common is more compelling to understanding their meaning than what is not said. There are no 1st Table considerations in view at all.

    We agree on the Scripture’s own hermeneutic principle: Scripture is Scripture’s only authoritative interpreter. A sub-corollary to this principle is that the immediate context in more compelling to meaning than further/broader contexts.

    Again, arguments from elsewhere in Scripture may de-power the force of the argument I’m making. But there seems to be nothing in the immediate context to deny it. Indeed, it seems to reinforce it.

  6. proregno said,

    February 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Reed, from the silence/absence of the first table and the presence of the second table you infer that v.9,10 defines/restricts the magistrates duties.

    It is the inference that I think is not a good or questionable inference, because I believe v.9,10 does not want to answer that question, it is not it’s purpose (and therefore one has to read something or an issue into that verses), because:
    a. a transition/new focus took place in v.8 etc,
    b. in the immediate context the magistrates duties must be sought in the biblical definition/prescription of the terms ‘the minister of God’ and ‘good’ (v.4, cf. Ps.2:10-10 and Rom.7:12?), and
    c. the further context of Scripture (OT and NT, cf. BC art.25) must help us answer the duties/limits of the magistrate.

    Thank you for the good discussion.

  7. Cris Dickason said,

    February 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    It seems pretty plain and direct: in Rom 13:1-7 it’s all in the realm of christian/magistrate relations. There’s no hint of an expectation that the magistrate is going to prohibit idolatry. The magistrate was an idolator, Paul is writing to the church in the imperial capital! You would expect him to either mention the imperial duty to uphold the 1st Table – or urge subversion and revolution against this idolatrous magistrate, or at least, petition the emperor to recognize the true God (and His Christ).

    Remember, Paul will be prisoner for Christ (within a few years of penning Romans), because he wants to plead for citizenship, imperial freedom, to be a Jew that recognizes Jesus as Messiah. In order to secure the Gospel against Judaizers and Jews, Paul will appeal to Caesar and is await imperial justice, precisely to get the magistrate to create a peaceful, level playing field for the Gospel.

  8. Reed Here said,

    February 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Slabbert: thanks to you as well for the good conversation. It is refreshing.

    Yes, I see your inference point. I simply think it does not do justice to the contextual considerations I am raising. Even if we were to isolate verses 1-7 from verses 8-10, the specific source of the duties listed in verses 1-7 are only 2nd Table (with no 1st Table inferences).

    But since we cannot in good conscience isolate Rom 13:1-7 from Rom 13:8-10, we must consider why Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit thinks they mutually support the basic point he is making. Helpful to understanding their mutuality is observing what they have in common. And that common shared thing is considerations of the 2nd Table (and that only).

    I’m also familiar with BC art. 25 arguments. Not persuasive to me.

    The immediate context of Rom 13 provides at least a partial listing of the civil magistrates’ duties. I agree that other Scripture will demonstrate if the Rom. 13 list is to be considered comprehensive or partial.

    Psalm 2 at most tells us that civil magistrates should recognize the source of their ordination. It says nothing specific to their duties. Such arguments are inferential at best in Psalm 2, and must be informed by specific passages – such as the list here in Rom 13 :)

    Not sure how you’re seeing Rom 7:12 apply to the subject at hand. Given the context of that chapter I think at best you will only be able to make inferential based arguments as to its application to the civil magistrate. There is nothing specific in the immediate context there (indeed, the civil magistrate does not seem to enter at all Paul’s purposes there).

    I am reminded of an additional sub-corollary hermeneutical principle at this point: the less clear in Scripture is to be interpreted by the more clear. Rom. 13 is more clear on the duties of the civil magistrate than either of the passages you mention. Accordingly, the intepretive force flows preeminently from Rom . 13 to them, rather than the other way around.

    I don’t expect my argument has the power to persuade anyone already persuaded otherwise. At the very least it does demonstrate that the “2nd Table only for the civil magistrate” conviction is not wild eyed, without biblical support.

  9. jared said,

    February 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Another problem, Reed, is that the “second tablet” is, historically and traditionally (i.e. prior to the Reformation), commandments 6-10, not 5-10. It also doesn’t help that they are arranged differently too. It seems to me that if you want to make biblically based inferences then that’s where you really need to start.

  10. February 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Thanks Reed. I hadn’t seen this before. Very helpful.

  11. curate said,

    February 16, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Reed, this has to be one of the weakest arguments that you have made. You are correct that it is an argument from silence. In fact, it is an argument from nothing at all. (Do not take that personally).

    The whole point of Reformation is that the State embraces and enforces the Reformed Faith. Without the first four commands there is no Reformation, just private assemblies of Anabaptists and lovers of the American Constitution, and an atheist or idolatrous State.

    How that is a good thing cannot be explained, except that it makes the idol worshippers happy, according to dgh …

    If the magistrate in Romans 13 commends those who do well, how does that exclude the first commands? If he punishes evil, how does that exclude godliness, the greatest commandment in the law?

    Read the OT again, and see how the criticisms against idolatry are directed first and foremost against the rulers. Read Kings and Chronicles again. Read Psalm 2. Are the rulers of the earth there Israelite kingss only, or does it include the rules of the earth?

  12. Reed Here said,

    February 16, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Roger: just one OT comment: read Psalm 2, agreed above it warns civil magistrates to recognize the Source of their ordination. Nothing there says a peep about civil magistrate duties.

    At least my argument here shows a passage where Scripture does discuss duties – all 2nd Table. The only part of my argument that is silence (absence) is if whether or not this is an exclusive list of duties or partial. Read my responses to Slabbert for more.

  13. Reed Here said,

    February 16, 2011 at 2:47 am

    Jared: actually did consider the historical numbering difference. While it is material to our historical usage of the terms 1st and 2nd Table, it is immaterial to the argument I’m making here.

    Please read the passage again. You’ll note there is no reference/no inference to what we in our tradition number the first through fourth commandments. all which deal with man’s relationship with God. All that is referenced/inferenced in the chapter are what we in our tradition number the fifth through tenth commands, all which deal with man’s relationship with man.

  14. Richard said,

    February 16, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Reed, as you see it should the state defend and uphold marriage? If so, why should it not defend and uphold the other creational ordinance of the sabbath? Are not both of these part of the natural law that should undergird a nation’s statutes?

  15. proregno said,

    February 16, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Reed, my reference to Rom.7:12 is to show that the word ‘good’ as we find it in Rom.13:4, must be determined by God’s law (and commandments which is ‘good’), and not in what Plato, Nero or Jefferson think it is according to natural law.

    Why do it seems we want or will allow almost everything but the civil laws of Moses ?

    Taking Cris’s comments in consideration, we must also keep Paul’s primary purpose with Romans in consideration. He does not try to write a new handbook on Mosaic civil government (it has been done already), he now focus on the believers relation to the civil magistrate, and without going in to detail, remind them (civil rulers) what they should be: ‘minister of God’, whether they agree or not. They must obey Ps.2:10-12.

    Paul does not address christian civil rulers (they would come later), but the church, and therefore the focus of v.9,10.

    Re Ps.2: what is the ‘bands’ that the civil rulers (v.2,3) break, and how is it determined ? Can rulers submit and fear the LORD, without submitting to His Son and His Law ? What is the meaning of ‘Kiss’ the Son, other than submitting to His rule according to God’s Law ? If the king of Scotland defeat the King of England, but the latter still rules and acts according to his own laws and dictates, did he really ‘kiss’ the feet of the king of Scotland ?

    Does a ruler ‘recognize’ Christ’s Kingship if he keeps rejecting to rule according to the ten commandments ?

    So what R2K is actually advocating is that rulers must only give lipservice to serving Christ in the area of civil government, only ‘saying’ they acknowledge the Lord ordained them, but not applying His Laws ?

    Something like someone saying I believe in the Lord, but I do not obey His commandments, contra John 14:15 and Luk.6:46, applied to civil publlic life ?

  16. curate said,

    February 16, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Reed, would you please explain how the rulers in Psalm 2 can acknowledge Jesus as the Christ while ignoring the most important commandments?

  17. Reed Here said,

    February 16, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Slabbert amd Roger: is this post I’m really trying to stick to biblical considerations.

    Every additional argument you’ve introduced presupposes the 1st Table is still in play under the New Covenant. Yet this passage knows nothing of the 1st Table for the civil magistrate.

    An effective counter argument will demonstrate from textual considerations why Paul does not bring into view 1st Table considerations.

  18. TurretinFan said,

    February 16, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Reed:

    A quick point of order. The 1st table is still in play, in general, under the New Covenant. The only question (apparently) is whether it is still in play with respect to the civil magistrate. Correct?

    -TurretinFan

  19. dgh said,

    February 16, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Curate: you wrote, “The whole point of Reformation is that the State embraces and enforces the Reformed Faith. Without the first four commands there is no Reformation, just private assemblies of Anabaptists and lovers of the American Constitution, and an atheist or idolatrous State.”

    If that is the whole point of the Reformation, then please explain why Lutheran States enforce Lutheranism, Roman Catholic states Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodox states Orthodoxy.

    In other words, having the state enforce religion is not special to the Reformation. In fact, if the Reformers did not insist on this they would have been John Hus or John Wycliffe.

    But if you want Constantine to be your norm, that’s fine. Just don’t call that Reformed.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Richard, you bring up a good point, and the creational nature of the Sabbath is one reason why I think blue laws are actually a good idea, and something the government should enforce. However, how is the government supposed to enforce church attendance and worship, arguably the heart of the Sabbath commandment? Ugly visions of forcing people into church are swimming in my mind at this point.

  21. greenbaggins said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:24 am

    TFan, I would think that is what Reed is getting at, yes.

  22. Zrim said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Given his locale, it may be that Curate has in mind the Second Reformation instead of the First. The First was the reformation from popery, the second from prelacy.

    Lane, the vision gets uglier when, depending on who has the seat of civil power, forcing people into church to celebrate the Mass.

  23. TurretinFan said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Lane wrote: “However, how is the government supposed to enforce church attendance and worship, arguably the heart of the Sabbath commandment? Ugly visions of forcing people into church are swimming in my mind at this point.”

    Zrim added: “Lane, the vision gets uglier when, depending on who has the seat of civil power, forcing people into church to celebrate the Mass.”

    I note: People acknowledge that parents have the right and duty to do this, and we see children being forced into church all the time (some are even forced to celebrate the Mass). I understand that the American/French models of individual autonomy bridle at the idea of the state acting like a father, but it is both historically correct (that’s where the state came from) and Biblically suitable (kings are described in Scripture as having a paternal role).

    Or to put it another way, why is it ok for parents to do this, but wrong for the civil magistrate to do it? Neither of these is “the church,” and the state is simply a logical development of the concept of the family.

    -TurretinFan

  24. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

    TFan: Does it make a difference that parenthood is temporary?

  25. paigebritton said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Jeff-
    Surely you mean the authority of parenthood?
    pb

  26. greenbaggins said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

    TFan, I think there is a difference between parents directing (“forcing” seems a harsh word at this point to me) their children to be brought up in their faith, when they have spiritual oversight over their children, on the one hand; and a government forcing heads of households to do something they really do not want to do, and worship a God they do not want to worship. And Zrim has a point as well. Would you sanction the government forcing people to attend Mass? If not, then is the only viable alternative to force all the Roman Catholics out? I do not see the Bible giving the government the authority to do either.

  27. TurretinFan said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:17 am

    a) LOL Paige. I am sure he meant that.
    b) The strength of parental authority is somewhat less in our modern societies than it was in ancient societies. For example, I don’t think that the patriarchs felt that they were at liberty to disobey Jacob’s commands regarding obtaining grain from Egypt — and Judah clearly expected his adult son, Onan, to obey his commands.
    c) But even if we could ground the idea of emancipation in the “leave and cleave” creation ordinance (and I’m not trying to rule that out), still I’m not sure whether the possibility of future emancipation changes the moral analysis. After all, civil regimes are also temporary — and our lives on earth in general are temporary.

    In other words, it may be a distinction, but does it make a difference?

    -TurretinFan

  28. TurretinFan said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Lane:

    I don’t approve of Romanist parents sending their children to mass, but that’s because the mass is idolatry, not because parents don’t have the authority to command their children to attend church.

    Likewise, I wouldn’t approve of a Romanist King requiring his people to attend mass, but for the same reason as above.

    I’m sure you agree with me that it is right and proper for parents to compel their children to attend church, even when the children are reluctant to go. And likewise, I trust you agree with me that it is not good for anyone to force their children to engage in idolatry.

    I’m simply arguing that the same principle applies to civil government by extension. The problem with compelling people attend Roman masses is that the mass is idolatry, not some other reason.

    -TurretinFan

  29. Zrim said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Or to put it another way, why is it ok for parents to do this, but wrong for the civil magistrate to do it? Neither of these is “the church,” and the state is simply a logical development of the concept of the family.

    First, I’m not persuaded that sphere sovereignty (a subset of 2k) can maintain the notion that institutions develop one from another. Rather, institutions are sovereign if inter-related spheres, which is to say that while there is overlap between magistrates and families, it isn’t necessarily true that the family “begets” the state. (This has interesting implications about how one views education, btw.)

    Second, and related to that point, it seems clear that while parents have both natural and religious authority over children, magistrates have only natural authority over citizens. Families create, schools educate, churches redeem and magistrates rule human beings. It seems to me that if we go with the begetting notion instead of the sovereign-but-related notion we gets the sorts of confusions 2k means to correct, not least that magistrates are ordained to nurture religious faith as well as provide civil order.

  30. TurretinFan said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Zrim:

    “It seems clear” and “It seems to me” aren’t arguments that have much purchase for me.

    -TurretinFan

  31. Richard said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

    @ Lane: I agree completely! Has any advocate of 2K interacted with Oliver O’Donovan at any length, cf. VanDrunen’s comments in Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms pp. 430-431 n. 16.

  32. Reed Here said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

    TFan, no 18: yes.

  33. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

    TFan (#30) — that’s Zrim’s way of being polite.

    Paige: Yes. :)

    TFan (#27): Does Jesus’ actions towards his mother say anything about emancipation? Or his mention of hating father and mother (in preference to Himself)?

  34. TurretinFan said,

    February 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Jeff:

    Re Zrim’s politeness – I agree it is more polite than just abruptly stating one’s conclusions, but I was trying to politely point out that no real argument has been provided.

    re: Jesus’ actions towards his mother

    1) They are obviously complicated by the fact that Jesus was not just Mary’s son but also her Lord. Jesus himself comments on the paradox of being the Lord of David, you may recall – by natural order it would be the opposite.

    2) Jesus’ actions toward his mother in terms of telling her that he must be about his father’s business, that his hour was not yet come, and that his true mother and brethren are believers are, I think you’ll agree, non-normative for parental relations. Instead, they reflect on his divinity.

    3) Jesus’ actions toward his mother at the cross suggest that in terms of human relations there exists a continuing parent-child relationship even after adulthood (Jesus wasn’t married, of course, but I’m not sure that matters).

    4) Jesus’ comments about relative hate of father and mother suggest that love for one’s parents entails matters in the religious spheres, but that one’s duty to God supercedes one’s duty to one’s parents. After all, if one were not under a general obligation to one’s parents, following Jesus in disregard for their wishes would simply be a matter of having a different opinion from them.

    -TurretinFan

  35. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    TF:

    1) Yes, but I think more justice needs to be done to “who are my mother and my brothers? Those who do the will of God.”

    2) Yes, these are clearly eschatological statements.

    3) Certainly. Paige’s distinction that fixes my sloppiness is clearly important.

    4) Yes … and that’s precisely what is in view here.

    One’s duty to God supersedes one’s duty to obey the magistrate. And if the magistrate is given authority over the first table, then he becomes the effective head of the church (see: Church of England). In which case, it becomes impossible to obey God rather than man, for the magistrate now defines what is one’s duty to God.

    The only other alternative is to allow men freedom wrt 1st table matters. As in, “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.”

    One way to express the reason I take a “2nd table only” position is that I believe WCoF 20.2 and 31.2 implicitly contradict the original WCoF 18.3, a contradiction that was not clear until after Cromwell and Charles II.

    Consider the difference: if my precocious daughter were to petition me to be rebaptized, I could say to her, “Not while you are under my roof, and here’s why: (long discussion of covenant and the silliness of rebaptism…).” At some point, however, she reaches the age where she (a) must obey God rather than man, and (b) she has sufficient judgment to be able to make such a decision.

    But if my *citizens* petition me, the Lord King of Caglestan, to be rebaptized, I say “Not while you live in my country.” What then? Obey God rather than man and suffer the consequences, I suppose? What then? I either buckle down and prepare to dole out consequence en masse, to no effect; or I decide not to enforce the law.

    This is different from murder. There is no religious requirement to murder, steal, commit adultery, covet, or lie. There *is* a religious requirement to worship — and the differences in worship are precisely what lay at the heart of Cromwell, Mary, Elizabeth, &c.

  36. Zrim said,

    February 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Jeff and Tfan, I wasn’t trying to persuade. Tfan asked a question and I gave him my 2k answer (is everything a debate meant to persuade?).

    Jeff, your daughter is also subject to your elders, so she also has a duty to obey their ecclesiastical authority even when she moves out from out under your immediate parental authority. So she isn’t really out of the woods if she decides her baptism was invalid. But good thing she isn’t religiously subject to her civil authorities who couldn’t care any less.

  37. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Zrim, good point; but it’s not so much that she’s “out of the woods” that I’m concerned about, but rather that she would automatically come under the jurisdiction of the kingdom of God by virtue of coming under the jurisdiction of the kingdom of man.

    If she belongs to the church, she’s under its authority.

    If she belongs to Caglestan, she’s under … God’s authority? But could change that fact by moving to Zrimecistan?

    That’s just weird.

  38. Zrim said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Jeff, she belongs to the church because you belong to the church and she belongs to you, regardless of where either of you belong politically. So I agree it’s weird to say that one’s political situation has any direct bearing on one’s spiritual situation. But it does seem to me that’s what we get when we say that the family begets the state instead of saying they are distinct and sovereign spheres.

    BTW, if the magistrate really is a nursing father the way elders and dads are then wouldn’t we expect NT letters giving instructions to magistrates not to lord it over or exasperate their subjects the way elders and dads are? Still, one wonders how a magistrate who, unlike elders and dads, rules by the sword and not the Spirit could avoid lording it over or exasperating.

  39. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Zrim: Jeff, she belongs to the church because you belong to the church and she belongs to you…

    Yes, but that doesn’t last forever, either. At some point she either does or does not believe the Gospel, can or cannot say the creeds.

    Zrim: BTW, if the magistrate really is a nursing father the way elders and dads are then wouldn’t we expect NT letters giving instructions to magistrates not to lord it over or exasperate their subjects the way elders and dads are?

    Are you suggesting that the 5th commandment doesn’t actually pertain to duties to superiors and inferiors? Sometimes for a Confessionalist you seem to skate close to denying the Standards …

  40. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    That was meant mostly humorously BTW.

  41. jared said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Reed,

    RE: #13

    You said,

    While it is material to our historical usage of the terms 1st and 2nd Table, it is immaterial to the argument I’m making here.

    I’m shocked that you would initially respond with this statement, especially considering the title of this thread is “2k, 2nd Table ONLY…” (emphasis mine). But the more you consider it, the more material it becomes. The two tablets are two copies of the same law, i.e. all ten words on both tablets; there’s a reason for this. Justice always requires at least two witnesses. Remember, the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking Him for the greatest (singular) commandment in the law. But Jesus summarizes the law as two commandments bound together by love. While it’s true that Jesus identifies one as the greatest, He doesn’t leave it at that because only one commandment cannot be representative of the entire law or of the law’s purpose in establishing justice and righteousness. This shows us that the law must be taken in aggregate even though it is composed of individual parts. If you think Paul, as a Jew (and a pharisee, no less) divides the law at all in the way you are suggesting (as in these commandments are about man’s relationship to God while those commandments are about man’s relationship to man) so as to distinguish some section of it apart from another then you are misapprehending Paul’s thought about the law. You continue

    Please read the passage again. You’ll note there is no reference/no inference to what we in our tradition number the first through fourth commandments. all which deal with man’s relationship with God. All that is referenced/inferenced in the chapter are what we in our tradition number the fifth through tenth commands, all which deal with man’s relationship with man.

    What I notice is that in the immediate context of the passage Paul is admonishing us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices on account of God’s mercy (and that it comes on the heels of his speaking to the dangers of disobedience to God). I notice that 13:1-7 is an excursus which addresses our responsibility as citizens within the broader context of offering our bodies as living sacrifices. Further, I notice that one need but ask the question, “Does God establish rulers to be wrongdoers?” in order to demolish the argument in the original post. That a true Christian would be the best magistrate seems a strike against the argument as well. At the very least, there’s certainly nothing in this passage lending credence to a separation of kingdoms in the 2k sense.

  42. curate said,

    February 17, 2011 at 12:37 am

    dgh: If that is the whole point of the Reformation, then please explain why Lutheran States enforce Lutheranism, Roman Catholic states Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodox states Orthodoxy.

    Lutheran States enforce Lutheranism because they had Reformation, RC do not because they did not have Reformation, and ditto the EO.

    What they had in common was consensus that the civil magistrate had an explicit and primary duty to God, a consensus that only the Anabaptists argued against, and now neo-Anabaptists like you. Perhaps in your case you are a man who puts the American Constitution above the command of God.

    The separation of church and state that you espouse is a blatant violation of the Ten Commandments. I support church/state separation, but in the historical sense, not your atheist-State sense.

  43. curate said,

    February 17, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Reed, you have not answered my argument that Reformation is by definition the adoption of the Reformed Faith by the State. Reformation Day memorialises the adoption by Frederick the Elector of Luther’s teaching as the official faith of his Principality in 1517. In England Reformation came in 1548. The reason these dates exist is formal action by these kings to reform the church.

    Your argument simply ignores this. How can a man who glories in calling himself Reformed argue that the magistrate is free from the obligation to obey the first four commands?

  44. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 6:09 am

    …is free from the obligation to enforce the first four commands?

    The position is not that the king may disregard them; but that he has no authority to enforce them.

  45. Zrim said,

    February 17, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I said, “Jeff, she belongs to the church because you belong to the church and she belongs to you…”

    To which you responded, Yes, but that doesn’t last forever, either. At some point she either does or does not believe the Gospel, can or cannot say the creeds.

    Actually, if you die she still belongs to the church by virtue of her baptism. You may not last so her belonging to you may not last, but her church membership does because the church endures. So if you go then her denial of her baptism or the gospel is still the church’s burden.

    I said, “…if the magistrate really is a nursing father the way elders and dads are then wouldn’t we expect NT letters giving instructions to magistrates not to lord it over or exasperate their subjects the way elders and dads are?”

    To which you responded, Are you suggesting that the 5th commandment doesn’t actually pertain to duties to superiors and inferiors? Sometimes for a Confessionalist you seem to skate close to denying the Standards …

    I’m not sure how you’re getting that “the 5th commandment doesn’t actually pertain to duties to superiors and inferiors” by what I said. You’ll recall that 2k says the Christian life is all about obedience (to the relative howls of various critics). But what I was actually suggesting was that magistrates aren’t tasked with nurturing faith. If they were, I’d expect some explicit NT data instructing them on how not to do it, the way there is for those that are so tasked (elders and dads).

  46. Zrim said,

    February 17, 2011 at 8:29 am

    That a true Christian would be the best magistrate seems a strike against the argument as well.

    That true faith makes for a better Christian than unbelief seems obvious (if not a little redundant). But it is not altogether clear how redemptive status has any bearing, good or bad, on one’s ability to carry out creational tasks. Bill Maher seems to think faith would make Sarah Palin a bad President, which seems to be the other side of this skewed Constantinian coin.

  47. Zrim said,

    February 17, 2011 at 8:34 am

    How can a man who glories in calling himself Reformed argue that the magistrate is free from the obligation to obey the first four commands?

    It’s not that he is free from the obligation to obey any of the Ten Commandments in his person. It’s that he is not obligated to enforce the first four in his office.

  48. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 8:40 am

    “The position is not that the king may disregard them; but that he has no authority to enforce them.”

    Failing to enforce them is disregarding them, if the position is wrong.

    -TurretinFan

  49. paigebritton said,

    February 17, 2011 at 9:32 am

    But it is not altogether clear how redemptive status has any bearing, good or bad, on one’s ability to carry out creational tasks.

    Just curious, Zrim:

    I know you’d agree that ” it’s better to be ruled by a wise Turk than a stupid Christian.”

    Is there any qualitative difference, as far as performing the duties of a magistrate is concerned (we’ll leave aside plumbers and bakers here), between a “wise Turk” and a wise Christian?

  50. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Jared, no. 41 (response in three parts): I’m sorry, it is probably just me, but I’m having trouble following why you’re so shocked by my response. Let me try and muddle through some responses and see if I’m tracking. If not, please let me know.

    At first it sounded like you were taking offense based on my use of the “table” nomenclature in a manner you found offensive. You’re usage, referencing the two stone tablets brought down Mt. Sinai, is not how I’m using them. I’m using this nomenclature consistent with Jesus’ summary on Mt 22:37-38, where he provides this two table structure (commands relating to God, commands relating to fellow man).

    Now, with this follow up comment, it sounds as if you’re offended by the appearance that I have divided the 1st Table (our commands 1 through 4) from the 2nd Table (our commands 5 through 10). It sounds like you’re saying that my argument in some offensive manner breaks or denies the organic unity between the two.

    If this is the source of offense let me address that issue. Yes, I do recognize that the two tables are organically connected. I recognize that this connection is so strong that one cannot abide by either table without abiding by the other also. Further, I agree that to break one command is (in some manner) to break them all. Nothing I’m observing, however, denies this.

  51. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Jared, no. 41: Following from my previous post, if I’m tracking with where the sense of offense comes from, let me offer a defense as to why I do not believe I’m breaking/denying the organic unity of the two tables of God’s law. To show this, let me go to Rom 12:1-2 with you.

    I think we can agree that Rom 12 begins Paul’s last major section in Romans. Here, through chapter 15 (maybe a bit into 16) Paul is explaining how this gospel he has just concluded detailing is now applied to the various relationships the Christian has in life. (Let me call these relationship spheres.)

    To zero in further, Paul (more or less) follows a threefold pattern in discussing how the gospel applies to the Christian’s relationship spheres. Rightly he begins with the Christian’s relationship with God (chapter 12 more or less). Then he turns to the Christian’s relation with the Pagan World (chapter 13 more or less). Last he turns to the Christian’s relationship with God’s family, the Church (chapters 14 and 15 more or less). In each Paul is explaining how the gospel applies in these relationship spheres.

    We can safely take this one step further and bring the issue of God’s law into view at this point. While Paul’s emphasis remains how God’s power in the gospel (Rom 1:16-17) applies to the Christian, he now particularly turns to what we would identify as third use of the law considerations, how God’s law now provides the Christian for a framework for expressing his gratitude via God’s power in the gospel.

    My observations here are consistent with this threefold pattern. I’m particularly looking at chapter 13 which deals with the Christian’s relationship to the Pagan world. I’ve not said chapter 12 does not exist. Nor have I eliminated the organic relationship. I admit that the Christian, in relating to God must also keep in view his relationship to the Pagan world, and vice versa.

    I’m only looking at the structure of how Paul tells the Christian he is to relate to the Pagan world. He does not mention 1st Table issues. It is not that they are not related. It is simply that they are not immediately in view in this particular setting.

    E.g., coveting my neighbor’s house does violate the 1st Command, but the immediate focus is on my lack of love for my neighbor, not my lack of love for God. Recognizing the immediate focus does not deny the organic unity.

  52. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Jared, no. 41: Following from my previous post, even more particularly I’m only looking at a subsection of this section of the Christian’s relationship with the Pagan World (Rom 13). In discussing the Christian’s relationship with the Pagan world, Paul breaks it down into three subsections: the relationship with the pagan public at large via the civil magistrate, the relationship with the individual pagan in public, and the relationship with the individual pagan in private.

    The focus of my argument is on the first, the relationship with the pagan public at large via the civil magistrate. Here immediately in view is only 2nd table issues. This immediate focus is the same for the other two pagan world subsections (individual pagans in public and private respectively).

    My argument does not deny the organic unity of both tables. It is only looking at the issue of Paul’s immediate focus. When discussing the Christian’s relationship with the pagan world he only mentions 2nd Table issues. In particular, when he mentions the relationship with the civil magistrate, he only mentions 2nd Table issues.

    My contention is that this supports the 2K proposition. Paul did not mention 1st table issues with reference to the civil magistrate because they are not in view when discussing the gospel’s application to this relationship sphere in the Christian life. This, however, does not deny the organic unity of God’s law. It simply offers some contextualizing for how that law applies in the Christian’s relationship spheres.

    Sincerely, I didn’t mean to offer any shocking offense. If I wanted to do that, I’d tell you to go lick a 9-vol battery.  (Nothing stronger, I still love ya.;-)

  53. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Jared, no 41 (sorry, another response):

    “Does God establish civil magistrates to be wrongdoers?”

    Of course not! That observation however, says nothing about the duties of the civil magistrates.

    Does God establish a corn grower to be a wrongdoer? Of course not!.That true observation however does not tell us if the corn grower should or should not be following the same list of duties as the brain surgeon in the hospital.

  54. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Jared, no. 41 (last one, I promise): so the “true” Christian (I’ll not worry about fleshing that out and trust we’re more or less on the same page), would be the best civil magistrate? If by that you mean the one best able to abide by the commands for civil magistrates say in Psalm 2, I will agree somewhat. That is, at the very least the Christian has an essential resource that the unbeliever does not, the illumination of the Spirit. This however, is not the only biblically valid qualification for the civil magistrate (natural gifting must also be brought into view).

    And this whole topic is very interesting – and has zero to do with the question of the duties of the civil magistrate. Sorry to be so adamant, but I think your responses still do not apply to the point I’m making.

  55. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Roger, no. 43: take no offense at my ignoring your historically based argument. I acknowledge that you made it. I also acknowledge that it is a valid subject of discussion pertaining to the issue of the civil magistrate’s duties.

    I’m not responding to it simply for the sake of focusing the conversation on this thread on a particular exegetically based argument. I value historically based arguments. It is simply that those are not the focus of what I want to talk about here.

    Feel free to offer exegetically based counter-arguments that have historical force. E.g., feel free to post some reformed father’s exegesis of Rom 13:1-7 showing how 1st table issues are the purview of the civil magistrate. I promise to respond as I have time.

    Thanks – always value your interaction Roger.

  56. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Jeff, no. 44, and TFan, no. 48:

    If 1st table issues are not in the purview of the civil magistrate then to Jeff’s observation seems the correct response.

    If however, 1st table are within the civil magistrate’s list of duties, then I would agree with Tfan; to not enforce is to disregard.

    2K at least proposes the former is the biblical position, not the latter.

    Important distinctions from both of you that help the rest of us not argue past each other. Thank you.

  57. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Jared:

    I’m aware of Kline suggesting that perhaps the two tables were two copies of the same law. The basis for this isn’t anything in the text of Scripture, but rather conflicting Jewish tradition (some of the tradition says 5 on each, some says two copies) and Ancient Near East (ANE) practice of making two copies of covenant documents.

    But, as Reed pointed out, when we talk about the “second table” we are simply referring to those commandments that deal with man’s relationship to man, which is commandments 5-10 (the subject matter summarized by the second great commandment). This is our designation, whether or not the tables were actually written with the preface on the first tablet facing the 5th commandment on the second second tablet or not.

    It should be noted that the text of Scripture tells us that the law was written both on the front and the back of the tablets. Thus, even if there were two copies, perhaps we might simply distinguish between “front” and “back” obligations, if someone wished to insist that it was two copies.

    Personally, I think the ANE practice would be irrelevant, since both copies were given to Israel, rather than one copy being given to Israel, and the other retained by God. Or alternatively, we may view the tables that Moses shattered on the mountain as being God’s copy.

    Finally, the Scriptures don’t ascribe any special significance to the duality of the tablets. Therefore, we should be extremely cautious about deriving dogmatic significance from their duality.

    -TurretinFan

  58. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Zrim (#45): The first part is probably a rabbit trail. All I was saying is that her belonging to the church as my child is not a permanent arrangement. At some point, she transitions into belonging to the church as a visibly professing person, which supersedes her covenant child status. OR, she transitions into being a breaker of the covenant, which again supersedes her covenant child status.

    Either way, she stands on her own at some point. My being alive has naught to do with it.

    I said, “…if the magistrate really is a nursing father the way elders and dads are then wouldn’t we expect NT letters giving instructions to magistrates not to lord it over or exasperate their subjects the way elders and dads are?”

    I was trying to unpack the implicit argument here; perhaps I misunderstood.

    I heard you say,

    (1) If the magistrate is really a nursing father, then the NT would give directions to them, but
    (2) It doesn’t, so
    (3) They aren’t.

    And immediately, I asked, “So where does that leave WLC 123 – 130?” For therein, superiors are said to be styled fathers and mothers.

    Now, maybe you want to draw some distinction here (“nursing father” instead of generic “father”) — you probably do! — but I just wanted to point out that (1) is not so strong in light of WLC 123-130.

  59. Zrim said,

    February 17, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Is there any qualitative difference, as far as performing the duties of a magistrate is concerned (we’ll leave aside plumbers and bakers here), between a “wise Turk” and a wise Christian?

    Paige, since it’s a creational good, it seems to me that wisdom is wisdom no matter the redemptive status of who has it. I’d rather a wise Christian than a foolish Turk, but only because of the adjectives and not the nouns. What I’d like to know from those who seem to assume that the wisdom and otherwise natural abilities of believers outpace that of pagans is how Daniel got so smart and able going to the University of Babylon?

  60. Zrim said,

    February 17, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Jeff, it turns on what is meant by “nursing father,” which, you’re right, should be made clear. And I’d rather go to WCF 23.3 to make the point.

    If one means one who nurses the protection of “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… 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,” then yes. If one means by “nursing father” that the civil magistrate nurtures our faith the way natural and supernatural fathers do, then no.

  61. proregno said,

    February 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Just a hermeneutical observation (sorry if it is a old one):

    I think all would agree that there is continuity and discontinuity between die OT and NT, between Israel and today’s magistrates, the debate is about ‘how much’ continuity and ‘how much’ discontinuity.

    When a R2K’er debates a credobaptists, he will (correctly) emphasise that the covenant idea must be drawn from ‘all’ of Scripture, not only the NT. He will emphasise more continuity than discontinuity (one covenant, different administrations, circumcision and baptism – Rom.4:11, etc.).

    When a R2K’er debates a 2K’er on the civil magistrate, he turns around and now emphasise (radical?) discontinuity (with the credobaptists?) so that the doctrine of the magistrate must be drawn restrictively (only?) from the NT (esp. Rom.13).

    Dr. VanDrunen observed in a debate with dr. Schreiner (credobaptist) that he cannot see how the covenant sign that were for adults and children in the OT economy, are now in the NT economy withheld from children and only given for adults, i.e. the narrowing of the covenant privileges. I agree.

    But I would like to ask the same about the civil magistrate: I cannot see how both tables were the duties of Israelite kings in the OT, but now, since Christ has been given all authority, now that His kingship must be proclaimed and recognised everywhere over all nations, that the civil magistrates duties are now restricted only to the second table in the civil/public area.

    I think we can develop a biblical confessional ‘both tables’ 2K view of the civil magistrate for our times, without falling into the radical dangers of both an anabatistic or constantinian view of the state.

    Conclusion: an covenant church with an anabaptistic magistrate

    I have not seen the hermeneutical exgetical case for this dualism, which seems more a product of a nature vs grace dualism than a product of Scripture and the reformed tradition.

  62. David Gadbois said,

    February 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Reed, I think something folks are missing is the fact that Romans 13 is so, well, present tense indicative. It doesn’t say that the government *should* do anything, it says that’s generally what it does (punish evil and reward good), even in Paul’s own historical context. It seems to me that this strongly indicates concern for 2nd-table only. A pagan government was administering equity on the horizontal plane.

  63. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Slabbert: good comments. Some affirming a 2K certainly do at times sound like they’re inconsistently applying their hermeneutics. I’ve not read enough of Van Drunen yet, so I’m not commenting on him in particular.

    So far I’ve not read anyone who is actually basing their argument on a flat “it isn’t repeated in the NT” type of argument. I’m willing to be shown otherwise, but I haven’t seen it.

    The argument is more textured than that, dealing with the ways in which the application of the Mosaic civil law has changed due to one simple fact: the civil nation of God’s people is no longer co-terminous with spiritual nation of God’s people. This is an undisputable change from OT to NT. However, arguments based on this are not merely a “the NT doesn’t say it any more” argument. They’re much more textured than that.

  64. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    proregno,

    I would ground that case in Jesus’ fulfillment of the Davidic kingship. The true kingdom has come; the shadow of kingdom located in a national government is no more.

    This doesn’t entail the dissolution of all government, but a severing of tie between government and the kingdom of God.

    Israel was God’s nation; America or England or Egypt cannot be.

  65. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Jeff:

    Christ’s kingdom is the kingdom of heaven. We still await it and pray “thy kingdom come.” Therefore, I do not believe that the argument from fulfillment can apply.

    -TurretinFan

  66. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    David, no. 62: wow, good insight David. The indicative use seems to communicate the sense of what IS. If there were something wrong with what IS, we would expect here or elsewhere a statement at to what OUGHT. That we have none is strong evidence that the IS of Rom 13:1-7 is equal with the OUGHT in the civil magistrate’s duties.

  67. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    TFan: Do you mean, that since Christ’s kingdom has not come in its eschatological fullness, that we cannot say that Christ has fulfilled the role of Davidic king? Spin this out a bit.

  68. Neal said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    That we have none is strong evidence that the IS of Rom 13:1-7 is equal with the OUGHT in the civil magistrate’s duties.

    Wow, that sounds like an R2K version of the naturalistic fallacy.

  69. Cris Dickason said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Re #23 (I know, many posts ago – but not that long chronologically): TF ( & Curate):

    So you want the state to make church attendance compulsory? Gee thanks for turning the US into Tudor England! If “Washington DC” declares for Rome, are we going to put up with that? Or are we going to become Genevan exiles? Or, perhaps we’re going to raise up militias and look for a Cromwell from Kansas to lead us into battle and presumably victory, so that we can enforce Puritanism (oops slipped from Tudor to Stuart England).

    You see the point: you are arguing for a return to a quite bloody mentality.

    Sorry this doesn’t stick to the exegetic/hermenutic/Rom 13 raison for this thread.

  70. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Cris D.:

    You wrote: “So you want the state to make church attendance compulsory?”

    Actually, I was arguing that there is nothing morally wrong with that. After all, if there is something morally wrong with it, then we shouldn’t be compelling our children to come to church.

    You wrote: “If “Washington DC” declares for Rome, are we going to put up with that? Or are we going to become Genevan exiles?”

    For myself, I’d be one of the first to be burnt at the stake, so I suspect I’d join the exiles if it was possible. Otherwise, a martyrs crown would be mine.

    You wrote: “Or, perhaps we’re going to raise up militias and look for a Cromwell from Kansas to lead us into battle and presumably victory, so that we can enforce Puritanism (oops slipped from Tudor to Stuart England).”

    lol

    You wrote: “You see the point: you are arguing for a return to a quite bloody mentality.”

    The abuse of something shouldn’t lead us to seek to destroy the thing. That was the error of the temperance movement.

    -TurretinFan

  71. proregno said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    64: Jeff, what about this (biblical) solution:

    OT: One nation is God’s nation: Israel (Deut.7)

    NT: All nations can become ‘God’s nation’, i.e. Christian nations, not only the one or the other (Matt.28:18-20).

    If you say, but not all Americans are elect therefore we cannot be a Christian or God’s nation, then the same would be or was true of Israel, only the elect were the true nation of God (remnant), not everyone head for head. And they had a ‘christian state’ without the majority agreeing most of the time ?

    We must think covenantly/organically, not only about family and church, but also about nations and civil magistrates.

    I believe there is, was and will only be one church in both OT/NT, and that is all the elect among all nations. The kingdom is God’s spiritual reign in and through Christ (through Spirit and Word), that cannot be limited or identified with only one place or group or nation, but is among all to whom He graciously send His Gospel. And, the Gospel has implications for all of life, because Christ has been risen from the dead, physically. He is our comfort in both spirit and body, for both ‘nature and grace’.

    In the NT the church has not replaced the nations, the church are now among all the nations (Paul became a Hebrew Christian, Rom.9:3; 11:1, not only ‘Christian’). The elect among that nations are the true nations (whether they are the majority or minority) of God. In this sense I believe that Gen.12:3 were fulfilled in Christ, and now He commands ‘disciple all nations’, that is all nations must obey His Law, whether in church or state.

    The false dualism between nature and grace (1st vs 2nd table?) leads to many problems.

  72. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Neal, no. 68: were you looking for interaction? If so, you’ll need to flesh that out for me.

    If you just wanted to throw that out there, great. Thanks!

  73. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Slabbert: all nations will obey God’s law in the Kingdom of glory (in the New Heavens/Earth).

    All nations ought to obey God’s law now, whether they are subject to him via the government of the covenant of grace (the elect alone) or the covenant of works (the non-elect).

    This still does not answer the question of what obedience the civil magistrate is given authority to secure?

  74. David R. said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Tfan said: “After all, if there is something morally wrong with it [i.e, making church attendance compulsory], then we shouldn’t be compelling our children to come to church.”

    Except that children are church members, while citizens aren’t (simply by virtue of their citizenship).

  75. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Proregno: I hear you about the dangers of dualism. But when you say that “all nations can become Christian nations”, who is the king of such nations?

    In Israel, Saul, then David, then his heirs, were God’s anointed kings. Does God still anoint? Or is Christ the “anointed one”?

    See, we have no trouble saying that Jesus is God’s final word; therefore, prophecy is at an end. Or that Jesus is God’s final priest; therefore, the priesthood is at an end.

    But we don’t often think about what it means that Jesus is God’s final king, the eternal Son of David.

    I submit that the consequences are parallel: prophecy is done; priesthood is done; holy nationship is done.

    Instead, now, the kingdom of God is located in the church (cf. the Confession).

    So I would modify your statement by one letter:

    The elect among [those] nations are the true nation (whether they are the majority or minority) of God.

  76. proregno said,

    February 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Reed, the R2K argument is, if I understand it correctly, that because Israel was God’s nation in the OT = therefore both tables magistrate. In the NT there is no ‘God’s nation’ idea, therefore no need for Ist table.

    But, if one believe that the church did not replace the nations (anabaptistic-individualistic idea) but is among the ‘many’ nations today, as was the church among ‘one’ nation in the OT, then the dualism falls away, and we can turn our focus to, not ‘if’, but ‘how’ magistrates today ‘ought to’ (I fully agree with you here) obey God via both tables of the law.

    #69 Cris, I find it strange that reformed men can find the ‘religious persecutions’ of the 16/17 centuries so morally disgusting (yes, I also do not agree with all of it), and prefer the so-called 2nd table democracies of the past centuries, esp the last few decades. I think there are more blood spilt in one year in abortion clinics all over the world (maybe only in the USA?), than all religious persecutions combined in the reformation centuries. Our so called ‘peace’ times that allow us to still attend services and do missions, comes at a very heavy price, not in money but in lives.

    Sorry, but the second table of the law will never work without the first table, ask our Lord and King: Matt.22:37-40.

    ps. yes, Christ fulfilled the Davidic kingship fully (there is only one David and Christ), but that does not mean God does not want godly david-like kings today, in fact, because He fulfilled it, therefore, by God grace, we can have godly parents, preachers, teachers, civil magistrates, etc. It is and/and not either/or.

    Ps.2 greetings, I am off to bed, have a funeral to attend tomorrow (it is 00:20 on my side of the earth).

  77. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    “Except that children are church members, while citizens aren’t (simply by virtue of their citizenship).”

    Is that the relevant distinction? Their involuntary membership?

    And is it the objective reality, or the subjective belief of the parents that makes that relevant? In other words, is it ok for Baptists who don’t think their kids are members?

    -TurretinFan

  78. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    “TFan: Do you mean, that since Christ’s kingdom has not come in its eschatological fullness, that we cannot say that Christ has fulfilled the role of Davidic king? Spin this out a bit.”

    Actually, what I am saying is this:

    John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

    So, “is fulfilling” ok – but “has fulfilled,” seems wrong. Moreover, I would appeal to Psalm 110:

    Psalm 110:1 [A Psalm of David.] The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

    Since Christ even know is seated at the right hand of God, this has not yet been fulfilled, though it will one day.

    -TurretinFan

  79. Neal said,

    February 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    @Reed (#72)

    I was just surprised to see it stated so crassly.

    I’m not sure though that it makes a difference one way or the other in the context of this discussion. I think everyone probably agrees that the civil magistrate has certain God ordained duties, which certainly implies an ought. But I think the indicative nature of the passage is dubious, because what it is indicative of is duties that are already ascribed. In other words, the IS is describing an already assumed OUGHT. It’s interesting to think about though…

  80. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Proregno: I think we have some points of agreement, but first a distinction needs to be made.

    The term “R2K” is a pejorative that refers to the Westminster-West flavor of 2k thought. It is distinctly different from the view that Reed has been arguing here, in two ways:

    (1) Reed has argued that the second table of the Law (a Confessional term, BTW — WCoF 19.2) is a proper ground for civil government. Whereas “R2Kers” tend to deny this (exception: van Drunen).

    (2) Reed does not appear to accept the divide between natural law and God’s law, with one belonging to the common sphere and the other to the sacred.

    (For the record, I agree with Reed, though I acknowledge that there are problems with my own position.)

    (For the other record, “R2Kers” object to the pejorative term and prefer … well, it changes, but “pc-2k” as in “post-Constantinian 2k”)

    The short of it: Reed is not R2K.

    OK. I think we agree that we desire godly magistrates who are obedient to God’s law. This is not in dispute. The question is, does *obedience* to the first table entail *enforcement* of the first table?

    You’re reading the position as “There are limits to the magistrate’s righteousness”, when the claim is rather “There are limits to the magistrate’s authority.” The magistrate does not have unlimited jurisdiction.

    And I would argue, that his jurisdiction stops at the church door, metaphorically speaking.

    Think about it like this: if you see your neighbor stealing something, you can uphold the 8th commandment by saying something, or calling the cops. But you cannot — should not! — immediately try to arrest him and force him to repay double or whatever penalty you think is just. He’s not in your jurisdiction.

    In the same way, matters of faith and worship are outside the jurisdiction of the magistrate. If this were not so, then the keys of the kingdom would have been given to Herod instead of the apostles.

    So it’s not a question of dualism and nature v. grace and so on; it’s that a godly magistrate must recognize that authority over matters of worship is given to the church, and he must recognize that limit to his authority.

  81. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    TFan (#78): You seem to be emphasizing the “not yet” aspect of Christ’s kingdom, which I agree with.

    At the same time, you would probably say that there is an “now” aspect of Christ’s kingdom, correct? Mark 1.15, Luke 17.21, Matt 12.28.

    And one aspect of that is that we do not look for another anointed one, another Davidic king, to rise up and shepherd God’s people.

    Now proregno has said, yes, that’s true, but we still might have lesser magistrates who are godly. Certainly. Just as we continue to have elders even though Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

    BUT

    What we learned from the Reformation is that it is possible to usurp Christ’s authority by failing to realize the implications of his final role as priest and prophet.

    The RC church has priests. Why? Because they do not fully understand that Jesus is the final priest. There are no others. They say, Yes, yes, Jesus is the final priest; but we have priests in imitation of Him. We say, No, no. Jesus is the final priest, and there can be no other.

    The Pentacostals claim prophecies. Why? Because they do not fully understand that Jesus is God’s final word. Nothing comes after this. They say, Yes, yes, the canon is closed — but we still have words from the Lord. We say, No, no. Jesus is the final word, and there can be no other.

    So: What does it mean that Jesus is the eternal Son of David? I would argue that any state that tries to locate the kingdom of God to itself as a “Christian state” is flirting with usurping Jesus’ authority. He has already established His kingdom, and that is the church.

    It’s not a slam-dunk argument, but it has teeth, I think.

  82. paigebritton said,

    February 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I’m supposed to picture a basketball with teeth?

  83. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Jeff:

    How can an earthly king’s temporal kingdom usurp the kingdom of a king whose kingdom is not of this world? It seems like it would be impossible by definition.

    -TurretinFan

  84. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    TFan: Exactly so! And how could an earthly priest usurp the Great High Priest? And yet the pope calls himself the “head of the church.”

    So it’s not that the earthly king can actually replace Christ. But if he begins to make decisions about which types of worship to punish as idolatry, he will be making decisions that properly belong to the church, and acting as ruler over that church. See: Church of England.

    So my point is, since we agree that the earthly king’s temporal kingdom cannot actually usurp the kingdom of Christ, then we ought not be assigning him duties that belong to that kingdom.

  85. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Paige: And racing stripes. :)

  86. David R. said,

    February 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Tfan,

    “Is that the relevant distinction? Their involuntary membership?”

    I think the relevant distinction is parental vs. state authority. What is appropriate to the one is not necessarily appropriate to the other. And the fact that children are church members simply because their parents are speaks to the uniqueness of parental authority.

    “And is it the objective reality, or the subjective belief of the parents that makes that relevant? In other words, is it ok for Baptists who don’t think their kids are members?”

    It’s the objective reality, isn’t it?

    I think you acknowledged above somewhere that Roman Catholic parents have the authority to compel their children to attend mass. I’m curious: Would you also say that an RC state may compel its citizens to do so?

  87. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Slabbert, no. 76: no, that is not quite the Reformed 2K position. It not no need, but no application.

    There is not 1 to 1 equivalency between the OT civil magistrate in the Old Covenant nation of Israel and the New Covenant pagan nations of the world. The Mosaic civil law was was given in its particular form to a civil magistrate that no longer exists.

    The Reformed 2K position does not say that there is no relationship between old and new covenant magistrates. It contends that you cannot simply say what applied to the OT king in Israel applies to the civil magistrate today exactly the same way.

    Rom 13:1-7 specifies, at least, that the duties of the civil magistrates in the new covenant era are 2nd Table duties. The Reformed 2K position says that these are the only duties, that the 1st table duties that the OT king had no longer apply to the civil magistrates’ duties. The argument I’m making here is intended to show how this position is supported by Rom. 13:1-7.

  88. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    David R.:

    My own view is that it is wrong for Roman Catholics to attend mass. It’s wrong for anyone to engage in idolatry. And it’s likewise wrong for RC parents to compel their children to go for that same reason. The same goes for RC kings forcing their subjects to go (for the same reason – not for some separation of church and state reason).

    Re:

    I think the relevant distinction is parental vs. state authority. What is appropriate to the one is not necessarily appropriate to the other. And the fact that children are church members simply because their parents are speaks to the uniqueness of parental authority.

    Let’s concede for the sake of the argument that parental authority is unique. What about the uniqueness of that authority makes their compulsion of their children moral whereas the states compulsion of its subjects is immoral? In other words, even if there are differences between parental and state authority, why are the actions of a parent immoral when performed by the state?

    In other words, it doesn’t seem to help to point out that parental authority is different in some undefined way from state authority. One still hasn’t identified a moral principle that distinguishes between the two, thereby rendering immoral for the state an action that is moral for a parent.

    Moreover, in general the state is allowed to do most things to its subjects that parents are allowed to do to their children. In fact, some duties that were the patriarch’s duties are handed over to the state (capital punishment, for example). Viewed that way, the state’s authority is in some ways greater than that of the parent.

    Thus, while parental authority may well be “unique” in an undefined way, it is unclear how something that is moral when a father does it becomes immoral when a king does it.

    Let me provide a counter-example. It’s permitted for a king to take one of his subjects to be his wife, whereas it is not permitted for a father to take one of his daughters to be his wife. That, however, is because the father’s actions would constitute incest. But since incest is defined along familial lines, unless the King also happens to be the woman’s father, the moral principle would not apply to him. We can identify the moral principle that distinguishes between what is immoral for a father and what is moral for a king.

    But there does not seem to be any similar prohibition at play here. In other words, I don’t think you can point me to any moral law that prohibits Kings from insisting that their subjects attend the preaching of God’s word.

    -TurretinFan

  89. Reed Here said,

    February 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Neal, no. 79: I’m sorry, I’m sure it is me, but I don’t see what is so crass about what David said and to which I added.

    Of course an OUGHT inheres in what Rom. 13 says about the civil magistrate’s duties. I’m sorry if my wording suggested otherwise.

    All I was trying to observe (echoing David I think) is that the indicative form of the passage, in the absence of any other OUGHT passages speaks loudly that this is it.

  90. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    “And how could an earthly priest usurp the Great High Priest? And yet the pope calls himself the “head of the church.””

    By claiming to have the role that is reserved for Christ alone. That’s how. But Christ doesn’t reserve earthly rule for himself. So …

    “So it’s not that the earthly king can actually replace Christ.”

    But how are his claims in any way in conflict with Christ? I’m not asking how he can succeed (no one can), but how he can even try to succeed?

    “But if he begins to make decisions about which types of worship to punish as idolatry, he will be making decisions that properly belong to the church, and acting as ruler over that church. See: Church of England.”

    Well … maybe, maybe not. Do fathers make decisions about which types of worship to punish as idolatry among their children? Is he usurping the church’s duties? Surely not. But then why force the church and state into conflict when you allow the church and family to live in harmony?

    And, of course, the church doesn’t get to define what idolatry is. Like the King, the church answers to God and must recognize, not define. If you say, “but only the church has the authority to read and interpret God’s word,” … but I’ll wait for you to say that, if that’s what you plan to say.

    “So my point is, since we agree that the earthly king’s temporal kingdom cannot actually usurp the kingdom of Christ, then we ought not be assigning him duties that belong to that kingdom.”

    a) You’ve shifted from the rights of Christ the King, to the duties of the kingdom.

    b) The duty to obey the Word of God applies to all men everywhere, including all kings. It’s hard to see how a king requiring his people to hear the Word of God preached violates the king’s duties to God, or in any way usurps either the duties of Christ or the duties of the elders.

    -TurretinFan

  91. TurretinFan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Further to my #90, I want to add that it seems that the “obey God rather than man” principle also applies to the church. We don’t (of course) require that churches avoid discussing religion on that account. Nor do we require that parents avoid it … why do Kings get an exclusion?

  92. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    TFan (#90): I’m not asking how he can succeed (no one can), but how he can even try to succeed?

    Well, consider kings who have attempted to succeed: Nebuchadnezzar, who erected an idol and commanded worship and who placed the glory of his kingdom over the glory of God’s (Dan 4). Ahab. Pharaoh. Herod. The parade of wicked kings of Israel and Judah. And let’s not forget the antiChrist and beasts of Revelation.

    Each of these attempts to usurps God’s position by leading God’s people to worship falsely.

    TFan: Do fathers make decisions about which types of worship to punish as idolatry among their children? Is he usurping the church’s duties? Surely not.

    There is a crucial distinction here. The father is definitely tasked with raising his children in the nurture and admonition in the Lord. The child is definitely sanctified by his parents and a member of the covenant, and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the church and subjurisdiction of his father in matters of worship. We know these things from Scripture.

    The magistrate is, however, not obviously tasked with compelling his citizens to worship. He *may* be, based on OT examples (e.g., the good kings of Israel; or Nebuchadnezzar after his repentance); but this is not clear.

    And the citizens. Do we have any reason to believe that they should be considered covenant members? Is it right, or wrong, that they would outwardly worship without actually possessing faith?

    So while there is something to the idea that government grows out of family, we must also observe that Scripture does not extend every characteristic of the nuclear family to government; nor vice-versa: Citizens are not sanctified. Fathers do not bear the power of the sword.

    a) You’ve shifted from the rights of Christ the King, to the duties of the kingdom.

    The two go together. If we assign a duty to someone, we are also giving him the right to make decisions concerning that duty. This is the key point.

    If the magistrate is tasked with enforcing true worship, he is also granted the right to make decisions on the human level about what true worship consists of.

    You say, But God defines that. Yes, certainly. But the magistrate still has to make decisions based on God’s definition. Is the Mass an abomination? Or mandatory? Or permissible? The magistrate will have the right to make that call, if you give him the duty of enforcement.

    It’s hard to see how a king requiring his people to hear the Word of God preached violates the king’s duties to God, or in any way usurps either the duties of Christ or the duties of the elders.

    I think the missing piece is to recognize that granting the power of enforcement entails granting the right to make judgment calls.

    As we know, It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of His Church… (WCoF 31.1)

    We lose this when we grant the king right of enforcement. Historically, this is almost universally the case.

  93. Andrew Duggan said,

    February 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Sorry if this question has been asked before, however…. I did a quick search in the thread for Matt 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18 and finding none, I would like to know, if you are as comfortable with absolutely excluding the 1st table commandments from the requirement of perfect obedience Christ describes in Matt 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-30, and Luke 18:18-24. Like Rom 13, only 2nd table commandments and even the summary love your neighbor as yourself is in view.

    While Christ is obviously teaching about eternal life and our lack despite our thinking we have keep the law, (and not the magistrate) in those Gospel passages, it nevertheless seems to me that somewhat undercuts the assertion that Rom 13 listing only 2nd table commands necessarily makes that list exhaustive.

    For me, for your exegetical argument to move forward, I would ask you to demonstrate why the 2nd table list is exhaustive in Rom 13, in light of similar constructs in those Gospel passages.

  94. curate said,

    February 18, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Reed, you are still missing my point. The Reformers all thought that the first commandments were to be enforced, as you must agree. The fact that they said so repeatedly, and had a hand in making and enforcing their local versions speaks to that.

    How then do you reconcile your law-with-one-leg ideas with the Reformers’ while calling yourself Reformed?

  95. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Curate, you make a reasonable point here. Calvin’s argument for 1st table enforcement is strong: That God is a person whose rights must be respected.

    But two factors weaken his argument (to my mind):

    First, that historically, Calvin’s struggle in Geneva boiled down to a contest between church and magistrates over such things as proper worship. This suggests that Calvin did not perceive that placing the magistrate in charge of enforcement of the first table inherently contradicted the right of the church to make ministerial decisions regarding faith and worship.

    Second, while it is unquestionable that God is a person, it is questionable that his rights need defending.

    Finally, why call it Reformed? Well, because the position argued here is the position of the 1789 Confession, which the vast majority of Reformed churches subscribe to:

    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 the matters of faith. — WCoF 19.3.

  96. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 7:32 am

    “Well, consider kings who have attempted to succeed: Nebuchadnezzar, who erected an idol and commanded worship and who placed the glory of his kingdom over the glory of God’s (Dan 4). Ahab. Pharaoh. Herod. The parade of wicked kings of Israel and Judah. And let’s not forget the antiChrist and beasts of Revelation.”

    None of those kings errors, however, was that they sought to enforce God’s law (or specifically that they sought to enforce the first table). So, I don’t see how those examples support your contention.

    “Each of these attempts to usurps God’s position by leading God’s people to worship falsely.”

    Let’s grant that for the sake of the argument. That would not seem to prevent kings from leading God’s people to worship properly.

    “There is a crucial distinction here. The father is definitely tasked with raising his children in the nurture and admonition in the Lord. The child is definitely sanctified by his parents and a member of the covenant, and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the church and subjurisdiction of his father in matters of worship. We know these things from Scripture. The magistrate is, however, not obviously tasked with compelling his citizens to worship. He *may* be, based on OT examples (e.g., the good kings of Israel; or Nebuchadnezzar after his repentance); but this is not clear.”

    Even if I grant that it is not clear, I don’t see how one could reach the conclusion from the lack of clarity that it is immoral for the King to require his people to hear the preaching of God’s word, to rest from work on the Lord’s day, and to abstain from public blasphemy.

    “And the citizens. Do we have any reason to believe that they should be considered covenant members? Is it right, or wrong, that they would outwardly worship without actually possessing faith?”

    It’s better for them to outwardly worship than to outwardly curse God. Better than that, however, is for them to both outwardly and inwardly worship. Covenant status doesn’t enter into that equation, except as an enhancement – it’s worse for outward covenant members to openly sin than it is for those outside the covenant to openly sin.

    “So while there is something to the idea that government grows out of family, we must also observe that Scripture does not extend every characteristic of the nuclear family to government; nor vice-versa: Citizens are not sanctified. Fathers do not bear the power of the sword.”

    I think this has been acknowledged, and yet we have no moral principle that shows that the compulsion fathers provide is moral while the same compulsion by the king would be immoral.

    I wrote: “You’ve shifted from the rights of Christ the King, to the duties of the kingdom.”

    You replied: “The two go together. If we assign a duty to someone, we are also giving him the right to make decisions concerning that duty. This is the key point.”

    I’m not sure why you think it is key. Let’s grant it for the sake of the argument. Every man is under an obligation to obey the moral law of God, from the loftiest King to the lowliest serf. How does that in any way usurp Christ’s authority? Or more to the point – why does it seemingly only usurp it when a King is involved, but not a serf or peasant?

    “If the magistrate is tasked with enforcing true worship, he is also granted the right to make decisions on the human level about what true worship consists of.”

    Do you really think that was true of the kings of Israel? If so, how so? If you concede that it was not, then it seems your premise is flawed.

    “You say, But God defines that. Yes, certainly. But the magistrate still has to make decisions based on God’s definition. Is the Mass an abomination? Or mandatory? Or permissible? The magistrate will have the right to make that call, if you give him the duty of enforcement.”

    Yes, the magistrate must obey God. He has no right to act arbitrarily. Nor does his duty to obey God suggest he must act autonomously, without seeking godly counsel. But then where is the problem? And if it is problem, why wasn’t it a problem for the kings of Israel?

    “I think the missing piece is to recognize that granting the power of enforcement entails granting the right to make judgment calls.”

    I don’t see how that creates a problem. Perhaps you could explain.

    “As we know, It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of His Church… (WCoF 31.1)”

    ok …

    “We lose this when we grant the king right of enforcement. Historically, this is almost universally the case.”

    How do you lose it?

    -TurretinFan

  97. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 8:57 am

    TFan, it seems clear that we are somewhat talking past one another. We may not be able to remedy that, but here’s a final push.

    JRC: “I think the missing piece is to recognize that granting the power of enforcement entails granting the right to make judgment calls.”

    TFan: I don’t see how that creates a problem. Perhaps you could explain.

    When you place someone in a position of authority, you are granting him the moral right to make decisions and be obeyed. Note that I’m distinguishing between authority (which is ethical) and power (which is pragmatic). The authority can be limited: You have the right to make decisions here, but not there.

    But once a person is placed in that position of authority, he is “turned loose”, so to speak, and off he goes. Henceforth, he will be limited only by authorities above himself.

    Now in your scenario, you wish to give the king the authority to enforce the first table. Once done, you have turned him loose with no human authority above him and given him the right to make decisions about first table issues.

    Such as: Do Mormons, Socinians, Roman Catholics, or Copts count as Christians or not?

    Is it lawful to pray to a picture of Mary on the wall?

    Can an assembly speak in tongues? Perform faith healings? Handle snakes?

    For all of these are matters of the 1st and/or 2nd commandments. Giving the king the right to enforce means giving him the right to make decisions about. UNLESS, of course, you want to have him be subordinate to the church’s decisions on these matters … and then we’ve got a whole new 1k-ish paradigm going on.

    Once the precedent is established that the king has the right to make these decisions, we’ve lost control over what decisions he will actually make.

    If he chooses to let Mormons worship, or if he permits praying to Mary, you have nothing more to say about that.

    What I sense is that you and curate want David to enforce the laws. But what you will get is Ahab, on average. That was the point of my “parade of horrible kings” – Open the gate, and the orcs will come in.

    You say, How is this any different from having a human Church leadership?

    It is different in two ways. First, because Christ has promised to sustain his church against Satan’s attacks. There will always be a remnant. But Christ has not promised to sustain the state and guarantee good kings.

    Second, because church leadership has actually been authorized by Christ to lead his church. By contrast, kings have not — except by the line of reasoning

    (1) Kings must enforce justice
    (2) Both tables are just
    (3) Therefore the king must enforce both tables.

    The flaw here is in (1) — it is not a given that kings have jurisdiction over all matters of justice. The burden of my argument is that it is highly suspect to give the king jurisdiction over matters that have been given to the church.

  98. Reed Here said,

    February 18, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Roger, no. 94: I have not missed your point. I’ve chosen not to take it up. Seriously brother, even though we’re ordained to speak in God’s name, not everything either of us says qualifies as a “Thus Saith The Lord!” I simply don’t have time or interest to go down that rabbit trail with you. If you think this “defect” on my part is serious enough to warrant disbarring me from the reformed label, go for it ;-)

  99. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

    “TFan, it seems clear that we are somewhat talking past one another. We may not be able to remedy that, but here’s a final push.”

    It’s worth a try.
    “When you place someone in a position of authority, you are granting him the moral right to make decisions and be obeyed. Note that I’m distinguishing between authority (which is ethical) and power (which is pragmatic). The authority can be limited: You have the right to make decisions here, but not there.”

    a) As a matter of precision, I don’t place the king in authority.

    b) Another way of looking at authority is that it can be subordinated. A father has a large degree of authority over his children, but if he tells his children to break the law, the children ordinarily should obey the law rather than their father.

    c) Otherwise, I don’t think I have a problem with your description.

    “But once a person is placed in that position of authority, he is “turned loose”, so to speak, and off he goes. Henceforth, he will be limited only by authorities above himself.”

    And his conscience … but ok.

    “Now in your scenario, you wish to give the king the authority to enforce the first table. Once done, you have turned him loose with no human authority above him and given him the right to make decisions about first table issues.”

    ok

    “Such as: Do Mormons, Socinians, Roman Catholics, or Copts count as Christians or not? Is it lawful to pray to a picture of Mary on the wall? Can an assembly speak in tongues? Perform faith healings? Handle snakes?”

    ok

    “For all of these are matters of the 1st and/or 2nd commandments.”

    ok

    “Giving the king the right to enforce means giving him the right to make decisions about. UNLESS, of course, you want to have him be subordinate to the church’s decisions on these matters … and then we’ve got a whole new 1k-ish paradigm going on.”

    If the king has the duty to enforce them, the king has to make decisions about them. That’s how I’d view it. Whether he should be subordinate to the church with respect to some decisions or others is interesting (I’m not sure it makes it 1k-ish, but that’s neither here nor there).

    “Once the precedent is established that the king has the right to make these decisions, we’ve lost control over what decisions he will actually make.”

    ok

    “If he chooses to let Mormons worship, or if he permits praying to Mary, you have nothing more to say about that.”

    I can say it is wrong. I can say he has wrongly decided. Will he listen to me? Possibly not. I lack control, though, yes.

    “What I sense is that you and curate want David to enforce the laws. But what you will get is Ahab, on average. That was the point of my “parade of horrible kings” – Open the gate, and the orcs will come in.”

    That’s not very optimistic – but what of it? Suppose you’re right.

    “You say, How is this any different from having a human Church leadership?”

    No. My point is simply, “so what”? Abuse of authority doesn’t prove that authority itself is the problem.

    “The burden of my argument is that it is highly suspect to give the king jurisdiction over matters that have been given to the church.”

    Why? Remember that Ahab was an Old Testament king.

    -TurretinFan

  100. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

    TFan: Why? Remember that Ahab was an Old Testament king.

    Correct. And remember that the failure of the Law is that it lacks the ability to cause one to be righteous (Rom 7). My view is that we should consider the kingship of Christ to supersede OT kingship in the same way that the priesthood of Christ supersedes the OT priesthood.

  101. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

    “Correct. And remember that the failure of the Law is that it lacks the ability to cause one to be righteous (Rom 7).”

    a) That’s true of both tables (and I should add, the church has to interpret both tables as well).

    b) More significantly, the fact that Ahabs happen seems to be the bathwater. But you want to throw the baby out too (the Josiahs as well as the Ahabs).

    “My view is that we should consider the kingship of Christ to supersede OT kingship in the same way that the priesthood of Christ supersedes the OT priesthood.”

    If so, then the people of God should have no earthly king, since we have no earthly priest. But that’s obviously false. So it cannot be the same way.

    -TurretinFan

  102. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Reed has argued that the second table of the Law (a Confessional term, BTW — WCoF 19.2) is a proper ground for civil government. Whereas “R2Kers” tend to deny this (exception: van Drunen).

    Jeff, where are you getting this? What pc-2ker has tended to deny that the second table is a proper ground for civil government? In fact, the pc-2kers around here have been pretty explicit that while the magistrate isn’t bound to enforce the first, he is bound to enforce the second table.

  103. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Tfan, you say that it is wrong for Roman Catholic parents to compel their children to the Mass, and I understand why.

    But it seems to me that the difference between your view and the pc-2k view here is that you want the onus put on all creational authorities to compel subjects to the moral law of God (i.e. both tables). That is fundamentally a political posture. The pc-2k view wants to take a fundamentally spiritual posture. What that means is that the onus should actually be put on people who are in whatever subjection, familial or magisterial, to obey the moral law of God (i.e. both tables) at whatever consequence. Pc-2k doesn’t like the idea at all of disobeying any earthly authority, but just as much does it loathe the idea of compelling Roman Catholics parents or magistrates to enforce Reformed religion on their subjects. Instead, it seems better to compel the subjects of such authorities to repent of idolatry and disobey their authorities who compel them to it. This is actually the pattern and teaching of the NT.

    Your side of the table likes to point out how pc-2k ends up with no cost for discipleship with all its talk of the spirituality of the church, not intermeddling with civil cares, minding our business and living at peace with our neighbors, etc. But one wonders how there can be any such thing as persecution or martyrdom if authorities are to be compelled to make things safe and easy for believers.

  104. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Zrim:

    Hold on a second. You have things to say about the state, same as me. Neither of us is any more or less political or spiritual in that regard.

    Furthermore, here (so far) I’ve been criticizing the idea that is immoral for the King to compel his subjects to hear gospel preaching. I think that position is indefensible.

    There’s a position that I haven’t argued for here that says that it is mandatory for a king to compel his subjects to hear gospel preaching. That may also be indefensible.

    In which case, a via media would be it is permissible for the King to compel his subjects to hear gospel preaching.

    -TurretinFan

  105. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 11:03 am

    “But one wonders how there can be any such thing as persecution or martyrdom if authorities are to be compelled to make things safe and easy for believers.”

    There will be plenty of Ahabs according to Jeff, so I think we’re safe (I mean – likely to experience persecution).

    -TurretinFan

  106. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Zrim: In fact, the pc-2kers around here have been pretty explicit that while the magistrate isn’t bound to enforce the first, he is bound to enforce the second table.

    And at the same time, that special revelation is only for the church and general revelation is sufficient for the state, with no need for special revelation.

    Which means that the second table is simultaneously necessary and superfluous.

    Which is confusing to no end.

  107. Doug Sowers said,

    February 18, 2011 at 11:53 am

    @Reed: I’m not saying you’re *not* “reformed”, (after all, we call Baptists, “Reformed Baptists!”) but I do wonder why so many leaders in the *new* Reformed movement, like Scott Clark, Zrim, Dr Hart, you, and Lane, want to be known for your strict observance to the WCF, and yet disagree with the essence of the confession when it comes to the Law! How do you “personally” reconcile such a radical departure from the confession and still call yourself a strict subscriptionist?

    Meredith Kline recognized the WCF was theonomic, and was willing to say so in public! Kline even felt the revision was theonomic, and was willing to confess that as well! Why won’t Lane, Scott Clark, and Dr Hart admit as much, and write a “new” confession that concurs with PC 2K? Then wouldnt everyone be happy?

  108. David R. said,

    February 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Tfan (#88),

    “It’s wrong for anyone to engage in idolatry. And it’s likewise wrong for RC parents to compel their children to go for that same reason. The same goes for RC kings forcing their subjects to go (for the same reason – not for some separation of church and state reason).”

    Okay, so it seems that what you have in view is a confessionally Reformed magistrate compelling his subjects to attend a NAARC church, is that correct? (Because what you said above would also apply to a magistrate compelling attendance at Pentecostal worship or even a broad evangelical magistrate forcing his subjects to attend the nearest mega-church.)

    “In other words, I don’t think you can point me to any moral law that prohibits Kings from insisting that their subjects attend the preaching of God’s word.”

    Well if magistrates only have jurisdiction over second table issues, then the moral principle would be that he’s usurping authority, right?

  109. Doug Sowers said,

    February 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Wrong David R.

    In Israel, one did not have to believe or become circumcised! The only form of idolatry the Magistrate was to enforce was the subversion of the one true religion. In once sense everything an unbeliever does is a form of idolatry, but not all idolatry is punishable by the government. So it would be perfectly fine, for citizens to NOT go to church or NOT baptize there children, as far as the Magistrate is concerned. What they could not do, is “publically” promote and worship false God’s. IMHO.

  110. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    “Okay, so it seems that what you have in view is a confessionally Reformed magistrate compelling his subjects to attend a NAARC church, is that correct? (Because what you said above would also apply to a magistrate compelling attendance at Pentecostal worship or even a broad evangelical magistrate forcing his subjects to attend the nearest mega-church.)”

    What I have in view is something like that, in the sense that I am asking, “why would that be immoral?” I haven’t yet tried to argue that such would be mandatory (i.e. that the civil magistrate must compel attendance at such a church).

    “Well if magistrates only have jurisdiction over second table issues, then the moral principle would be that he’s usurping authority, right?”

    Yes. If it could be established that kings have no jurisdiction to regulate external conformity with respect to the sabbath, blasphemy, idolatry, and the worship of false gods, then it would seem that the civil magistrate would be exceeding the limits of his authority (and thereby violating the fifth commandment) if he did any of those things.

    And, of course, if Scripture teaches that it is immoral for a civil magistrate to regulate in those areas, I am all ears for that Scriptural argument. And that argument needs to address the major objection that the Jewish elders, judges, and kings had jurisdiction over such things, though they could not offer sacrifices or engage in distinctively priestly religious functions.

    – TurretinFan

  111. David R. said,

    February 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Jeff,

    “Which means that the second table is simultaneously necessary and superfluous.

    Which is confusing to no end.”

    Is the confusion solved if it’s remembered that natural law is substantially identical to the Decalogue?

  112. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    No, unfortunately. For Zrim’s burning issue appears to be to get special revelation *out* of government. So if natural law is substantially identical to the decalogue, then the problem just gets worse.

  113. paigebritton said,

    February 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    And at the same time, that special revelation is only for the church and general revelation is sufficient for the state, with no need for special revelation.

    Which means that the second table is simultaneously necessary and superfluous.

    Which is confusing to no end.

    LOL. You just don’t let the pagan magistrates KNOW they are actually using the 2nd table, and then it works.

  114. David R. said,

    February 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Tfan (#110),

    “And, of course, if Scripture teaches that it is immoral for a civil magistrate to regulate in those areas, I am all ears for that Scriptural argument. And that argument needs to address the major objection that the Jewish elders, judges, and kings had jurisdiction over such things, though they could not offer sacrifices or engage in distinctively priestly religious functions.”

    The argument is essentially the one VanDrunen made in Living in God’s Two Kingdoms. The civil magistrate rules over a *common kingdom* (established by the Noahic covenant) and therefore he does not have the right to enforce religion. The answer to your objection is simply that OT Israel was not a common kingdom.

  115. Reed Here said,

    February 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Doug, no. 107: sorry, same reply as to Roger. You’re not offering any snacks I’m interested in tasting.

  116. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Paige (#113): Right.

    It seems like one horn is possible deception — “GR is the decalogue, but keep that under your hat”, and the other horn is self-contradiction — “GR is the decalogue, but GR is sufficient, so we don’t need the decalogue.”

  117. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Tfan, I’m not saying “either of us is any more or less political or spiritual.” I’m saying your view has a fundamentally political posture (but not an altogether a-spiritual concern). Pc-2k has a fundamentally spiritual setting (but not an altogether a-political concern). These basic postures are what explain why you are primarily concerned that the magistrate is obedient to God and why pc-2k is primarily concerned that the believer is obedient to the magistrate.

    I agree that the argument that it is immoral for the magistrate to compel his subjects to hear gospel preaching is indefensible. It is the view of the legal secularist.

    I agree that the argument that it is mandatory for the magistrate to compel his subjects to hear gospel preaching is indefensible. It is the view of the full blown theonomist.

    I agree that it is permissible for the magistrate to compel his subjects to hear gospel preaching. But I’m not so convinced that this completes the only alternative to the above two, which actually would be that it is not at all necessary for the magistrate to do so the way it is for fathers and elders. Moreover, it is just as worth contemplating that while it may very well be permissible it is just as possible that it is a bad idea as it slouches toward full blown theonomy which stores up hope in the powers of this world.

    And, frankly, it is hard to for me to conceive that the same guy who says the Bible norms the civil magistrate doesn’t also think that it’s permissible and a very good idea and thus slouches toward theonomy, especially when the local theonomists believe they have an apologetic hero in him. So far, no legal secularist that I know of gets behind pc-2k the way theomomists get behind your via media views

  118. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Jeff, I don’t know why you keep confusing the legal secularist with the Christian secularist. It is the LS’s “burning issue to get special revelation out of government,” not the CS’s. The CS’s burning issue is to draw the lines more brightly, not the crasser effort to toss the Bible out of the common realm.

    But I suspected the sufficiency of general revelation to govern civil life was at root of your original claim that pc-2k denies the second table as a proper ground for civil government. But I don’t see how saying the former implies the latter. You say that the former dictum “means that the second table is simultaneously necessary and superfluous.” But you are forgetting that pc-2k makes the distinction between the necessity of special revelation in the political sphere and the possibility of it. It isn’t necessary but it is certainly possible. The theonomic impulse says it’s not only possible but also necessary.

  119. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Zrim:

    I think you’re mistaken. You and I both agree that the king must be obedient to God and that the subject must be obedient to the king. Moreover, we both treat those as apples and oranges – we don’t rank them in terms of priority. I think we both agree that the latter issue is more personal (unless we happen to be king), and the former issue is less personal.

    So, I must respectfully disagree with your comparison of the postures of our views. Moreover, I think it’s more productive for us to try to answer the question that seems to divide us, namely “what are the duties of the civil magistrate” – rather than the question that unites us, namely “what are the duties of the people who are under the civil magistrate.”

    Possibly you view the first question as a “political” question because you don’t think the king (as king) has “spiritual” duties. But that designation (if that’s how you are using it) just leads us back to the question. After all, you shouldn’t just assume you are right any more than I should just assume I’m right. Right?

    -TurretinFan

  120. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Oh, Zrim, I missed this: “I agree that it is permissible for the magistrate to compel his subjects to hear gospel preaching. ”

    I am very surprised to hear you say that. Glad, but surprised.

  121. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Jeff, actually what’s a little self-contradicting is to say, as you seem to do, that the Bible speaks to all of life but it doesn’t norm the civil magistrate (as in he doesn’t have the authority to enforce the first table). I’m saying the Bible doesn’t speak to all of life and it doesn’t norm the civil magistrate.

  122. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I think it’s more productive for us to try to answer the question that seems to divide us, namely “what are the duties of the civil magistrate” – rather than the question that unites us, namely “what are the duties of the people who are under the civil magistrate.”

    Tfan, fair enough.

    I think what divides us is the fundamental distinction between what is owed to God in one’s person and what is owed to God in one’s office. When you ask what a civil magistrate owes God you seem to think in terms of both person and office, whereas I think only in terms of person. While executing his task he mayn’t personally worship a false god or personally cheat on his taxes, but he may decide to enact laws another believing magistrate wouldn’t. And the same goes for any believer in any office or vocation: baker, plumber, teacher, mother, etc. Believing mothers may choose to carry out their parental tasks differently from another one, but neither may trespass the moral law of God whilst doing it.

    This is in fact how believers really live. I’m just giving a reason for it. You seem to be describing a way that believers should live but really don’t. Either believers need to get with your program and start looking the same in their offices as well as their persons, or you need a better way to explain why office and person are coterminous and why believing mothers have vastly different ways of carrying out their indifferent parental tasks.

  123. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    “The argument is essentially the one VanDrunen made in Living in God’s Two Kingdoms. The civil magistrate rules over a *common kingdom* (established by the Noahic covenant) and therefore he does not have the right to enforce religion. The answer to your objection is simply that OT Israel was not a common kingdom.”

    I leafed through LiG2k and didn’t see much of a positive argument.

    Perhaps you could sketch it with a little more detail than this. For me “common kingdom” is just a label. I’m not sure precisely what you mean by the label, why I should adopt the label, why the label matters, whether Noahic covenant established a “common kingdom,” and whether the kingdom of Israel was a “common kingdom.”

    The label itself, therefore, doesn’t really help me. As I said, though, I would be interested in hearing the argument.

    -TurretinFan

  124. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Zrim:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you think that it is immoral for the civil magistrate to reward evil and punish good? If so, how do you distinguish between person and office?

    -TurretinFan

  125. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Zrim (#121): Jeff, actually what’s a little self-contradicting is to say, as you seem to do, that the Bible speaks to all of life but it doesn’t norm the civil magistrate (as in he doesn’t have the authority to enforce the first table).

    Sorry, I don’t see the contradiction. I’m willing to be shown.

    I’m saying the Bible doesn’t speak to all of life and it doesn’t norm the civil magistrate.

    OK, then how do you say that the magistrate is obligated to uphold the second table of the law? Isn’t the second table in the Bible?!

    Clearly I’m missing something.

  126. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Zrim (#102): In fact, the pc-2kers around here have been pretty explicit that while the magistrate isn’t bound to enforce the first, he is bound to enforce the second table.

    Zrim (#118): But you are forgetting that pc-2k makes the distinction between the necessity of special revelation in the political sphere and the possibility of it. It isn’t necessary but it is certainly possible.

    Help me out here. Can you see that the “bound to enforce” of #102 seems to flatly contradict the “isn’t necessary but certainly possible” of #118?

  127. dgh said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Reed, kudos on your resolve in staying on your diet.

  128. dgh said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Roger: you wrote, “The reason these dates exist is formal action by these kings to reform the church.”

    In the spirit of this thread, here’s an exegetical (okay, proof text) response: “Put not your trust in princes.” (Ps. 143:6).

  129. Reed Here said,

    February 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Darryl: loving it. ;-)

  130. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Tfan, that’s descriptive of the magistrate, not prescriptive. But when the magistrate doesn’t live up to the description of his office it’s the not same as him not living up to what is prescriptive of his person. IOW, legally protecting abortion isn’t the same as performing or having one.

  131. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Jeff, it seems to boil down to a religious versus a political obligation on the magistrate’s part. When some say “the Bible norms the civil magistrate” it seems to mean he has a religious and political obligation (first and second table). When I deny the Bible norms the state I mean he only has a political obligation and not a religious one (second but not the first). It’s necessary to enforce the political, possible the religious.

  132. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Zrim (#131): When some say “the Bible norms the civil magistrate” it seems to mean he has a religious and political obligation (first and second table).

    Well, I can appreciate that you would want to resist this; but the words don’t mean that, and I don’t mean that.

    I mean rather that Scripture has some things to say about the civil magistrate that are normative; nothing more, nothing less.

    And when I say that “Scripture speaks to all of life”, I mean that every area of life is normed by one or more commands of Scripture, NOT that Scripture gives detailed prescriptions for every action in life.

    So it’s entirely consistent to affirm that

    (1) Scripture speaks to all of life,
    (2) Scripture norms the magistrate, and
    (3) The magistrate ought not enforce the first table of the law.

    In fact, if the argument is correct, then (2) entails (3).

  133. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    “Tfan, that’s descriptive of the magistrate, not prescriptive.”

    a) You mean like “a mechanic fixes cars” is descriptive, but when he doesn’t, we don’t say that the mechanism is immoral because he doesn’t, right?

    b) But should I take it that you think it is the same way with the civil magistrate? When a civil magistrate rewards evil and punishes good, he’s not behaving any more immorally than a doctor whose patient dies, or a soldier who loses a battle? That seems incredible.

    “But when the magistrate doesn’t live up to the description of his office it’s the not same as him not living up to what is prescriptive of his person. IOW, legally protecting abortion isn’t the same as performing or having one”

    Of course it is not the same, but it might also be wrong. Hating someone in your heart isn’t exactly the same as murdering them in cold blood, but it is a related sin.

    -TurretinFan

  134. David R. said,

    February 18, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    “Perhaps you could sketch it with a little more detail than this. For me ‘common kingdom’ is just a label. I’m not sure precisely what you mean by the label, why I should adopt the label, why the label matters, whether Noahic covenant established a ‘common kingdom,’ and whether the kingdom of Israel was a ‘common kingdom.’

    “The label itself, therefore, doesn’t really help me. As I said, though, I would be interested in hearing the argument.”

    Sure. The idea is that God’s rule over the post-fall world involves the establishment of two kingdoms that embody two principles: (1) radical spiritual antithesis between believers and unbelievers and yet (2) cultural commonality between them.

    The first hint of this program appears in the announcement of judgment in Genesis 3:14-19. The spiritual antithesis is seen in the radical enmity that will be established between the serpent’s seed and the woman’s. And yet there is also cultural commonality, in that both sides of the antithesis will equally share in labor, childbirth and temporal blessings.

    The common kingdom is then formally established in God’s covenant with Noah after the flood (Genesis 8:20-9:17). VanDrunen lists four features of the common kingdom: (1) It concerns ordinary cultural activities, such as raising children, eating, and enforcing civil justice. But it is silent with regard to religious devotion. (2) It embraces the human race in common, all of Noah’s descendants, rather than separating out a holy people. (3) It ensures the preservation of the natural order, but not its redemption. (4) It’s temporal; not eternal.

    The redemptive kingdom is formally established in the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15; 17). It bears the exact opposite features of the common kingdom: It concerns religious devotion. It separates out a holy people. Its purpose is redemption; not preservation. It’s eternal; not temporary.

    Interestingly enough however, Abraham, as he has not yet received the promises, models a two kingdoms lifestyle, that is, he maintains a religious antithesis from his pagan neighbors while yet pursuing cultural commonality with. The case is very different with Israel under the Mosaic covenant however, because the Land serves as a type of the heavenly inheritance, which of course becomes the possession of the people of God only when final judgment has occurred and thus all commonality between believers and unbelievers comes to an end. Hence, within the borders of the Land, all cultural commonality characteristic of the Noahic covenant ceases.
    And yet, outside the Land (and in exile), the two kingdoms lifestyle again prevails.

    I hope this helps answer your questions. This is all found in VanDrunen, pp. 75-97.

  135. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Tfan, why would a mechanic not living up to the description of his office be different from a magistrate or doctor not living up to the description of theirs? Sometimes mechanics, magistrates and doctors make mistakes while carrying out their official tasks, but those aren’t personal failures (even if they feel like it sometimes, depending on the specific case). But any of them not personally living up to what is morally prescribed is just different from falling down on the descriptions of their offices.

    People aren’t disciplined for sins of the heart. They are admonished. They are disciplined for sins done in the body. The test for what you mean, then, by “wrong” is whether to discipline someone for his political views or keep the bar at his personal actions. And I may disagree with one’s political views as being misguided and of poor judgment, but I won’t ecclesiastically discipline him for them because there is a difference between being political and being personal, as well as more available categories between “right” and “wrong.”

  136. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Jeff, ok, but Tfan seems to think that saying “the Bible norms the civil magistrate” entails him politically enforcing the both tables. For my part, that makes more sense. I don’t get how you can say that it rules out the first without just being arbitrary about it.

    When I say instead that “the Bible norms the church” I mean that elders spiritually enforce both tables. The magistrate has only political obligations, which we can say are structured by the second table. The church has only spiritual obligations, which are structured by both.

  137. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Zrim: TFan and I have different views on the magistrate, so it’s natural that we have different opinions on Scripture’s norms for the magistrate.

    So enlighten me on the “bound to uphold the second table” and “special revelation is possible but not necessary” thing. How are these compatible?

  138. David Gadbois said,

    February 19, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Reed said All I was trying to observe (echoing David I think) is that the indicative form of the passage, in the absence of any other OUGHT passages speaks loudly that this is it.

    That’s right. There is an implicit imperative present – the fact that the government was doing its duty *by God’s appointment*. The point is that it was indeed being accomplished, even in Paul’s historical context. Paul wasn’t talking about what it theoretically should do, but what it was doing.

  139. paigebritton said,

    February 19, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Reed & David G.,
    I’m finding myself disagreeing with your reading of the “IS”es and “OUGHTS” of Rom. 13:1-7. I don’t think that there is a strong case in this passage for reading an “OUGHT” for civil government — and I say this while heartily agreeing with Jeff & WCF about the respective jurisdictions of church & magistrate with respect to the “two tables.” I just don’t think this passage gets us there (in an imperative sense). Here’s my reasoning for you to vet:

    1. This passage (as the letter, of course) is addressed to Christians. It is DESCRIPTIVE of the arrangement of God’s providence for their lives re. civil government, and PRESCRIPTIVE only for how they are to order their lives in light of that providence.

    2. If it contained an IMPERATIVE for government, it would have been addressed to governing officials. Further, if you are arguing for the sufficiency of GR for the communication of the 2nd table of the Law, then it seems very strange that (even an implied) IMPERATIVE for pagan civil magistrates would be found in the written SR of Christian Scripture.

    3. The only way an (implied) imperative for civil magistrates could be construed from this passage, I think, is if a Christian civil magistrate were reading it! In that case, I think your argument about IS’s and OUGHTS makes more sense.

    Thoughts?

    ******

    BTW, everybody, we are throwing around the “2nd Table of the Law” idea rather blithely: do you really think the civil government can or should enforce the TENTH commandment??

  140. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Paige: maybe David’s and my explanation is not clear enough. It is not that there is an implied imperative directed at the civil magistrate – agree with you. What David is saying, and I’m agreeing with, is that there is a presumed imperative.

    I.e., Paul writes in a manner that presumes that what the civil magistrate is doing IS what he OUGHT to be doing. Agree that Paul is not writing to correct the civil magistrate. Nor is he writing theoretically as what would be appropriate for the civil magistrate.

    Instead, the civil magistrate is already doing what he ought to do. Therefore Paul does not need to make any adjustments in applying the civil magistrate to the Christian’s public life. This presupposition, coupled with no other passages correcting the civil magistrate simply says one thing, what the civil magistrate was doing was in Paul’s eyes what he ought to be doing.

  141. paigebritton said,

    February 19, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Thanks, Reed…
    But then “imperative” is probably not a word that should be used about the passage (re. the magistrate), because this implies “marching orders” for somebody, doesn’t it? We’re back to indicative: it’s just that you are saying that the indicative is describing a situation that not only “is” there, but it accords with God’s plan so it “ought” to be there, i.e., it’s fitting.

    It’s not a true imperative unless you are telling somebody to DO it, methinks. Which is why I am saying it only becomes an (implied) imperative if a Christian magistrate reads it and orders his magistrating by it (since then the words would have become, by implication, his “marching orders”).

    Make sense? I am not trying to be picky for pickiness’ sake — but you know how imperative it is for Christians to sort out God’s imperatives from his indicatives!

    pb

  142. Ron said,

    February 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Paige,

    Your points are well stated and sound. If I may add, not only does there seem to be an arbitrary requirement being presupposed by some, it is a requirement that is not consistently maintained when they exegete other passages of Scripture.

    Mark 10:17-18: When a rich young ruler called Jesus good, he neither affirmed nor denied that he possessed that quality of person but instead said nobody is good but God. Depending upon one’s pre-commitment it might be inferred that Jesus was not good and, therefore, not God; yet the text neither affirms nor denies either conclusion.

    Acts 1:6, 7: When the apostles asked Jesus whether he was at that time going to restore the kingdom to Israel, he neither affirmed nor denied such an intention but instead said that it was not for them to know the times or epochs that the Father has fixed by his own authority. Dispensationalists, given their pre-commitment to a restored national Israel, infer from the answer a confirmation of their theology, that the kingdom will be restored. Notwithstanding, no logical conclusion can be deduced from the text with respect to the restoration Israel’s kingdom.

    John 21:20-22: When Peter asked Jesus whether John would be alive at the time of Jesus’ return Jesus told him that if he wanted John to remain until such time it was no business of Peter’s. Jesus then put to Peter his task, which was to follow Jesus. Jesus’ answer did not logically imply that John would remain or not, let alone whether Jesus would even return one day! The answer even caused a rumor among the brethren that John would not die (John 21:23). John in this very epistle (same verse: 23) remarked on the unjustified inference that caused the rumor: “Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?’” Although John directly addressed the misunderstanding, do we need John’s clarification in order to appreciate the fallacy from which the confusion stemmed? Of course not.

    Mark 16:15: Jesus commissioned the church to baptize believers. Baptists think the text would have been a perfect place to insert something about infant baptism if infant baptism is a biblical practice. Some might say the NT silence regarding infants screams a Baptistic practice, but consistently Reformed folk apply the principle of OT continuity to NT silence.

    Obviously we cannot logically deduce that which is not deducible. But more importantly, we may not require that God give us answers in the places we want to find them. That is to put God to the test. Thirdly, and to your point, there is no good and necessary inference that we may draw from Romans 13 regarding the standard by which magistrates will be measured. Finally, 2 Timothy 3:16 must be reckoned with as well as the Reformed hermeneutic that presupposes continuity unless explicit or good and necessary inference leads us in another direction.

    In the final analyses, if we could deduce that Romans 13 demands what R2K requires, then I would think that a syllogism to that end comprised of premises that don’t beg crucial questions(!) could be constructed rather readily from the text. At the end of the day, using Romans 13 to uphold R2K is on par with concluding that (a) Jesus was not a teacher sent from God; (b) Jesus was not good and, therefore, not God; (c) Jesus intended to establish Israel as a political power but failed with the passing of John; and (d) infants should not be baptized. It’s not only irrational to make such leaps in reason, it’s reckless.

    Regarding the 10th Commandment, the civil government is not commissioned to deal with sins of the heart.

    Reed wrote:

    It is not that there is an implied imperative directed at the civil magistrate – agree with you. What David is saying, and I’m agreeing with, is that there is a presumed imperative.

    If it can be inferred from the text that there is a “presumed imperative”, then it stands to reason that there is an implied imperitive. Accordingly, if the latter is not present, then neither can be the former. Or, maybe somebody might tell us how he can know that Paul is presuming an imperitive yet not implying it. Sounds pretty gnostic to me.

  143. Zrim said,

    February 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    So enlighten me on the “bound to uphold the second table” and “special revelation is possible but not necessary” thing. How are these compatible?

    To the extent that the magistrate’s obligation is only political, and to the extent that the second table is a structure for carrying out that obligation, I think we can say that he is “bound to the second table.” And in that way he is bound to the spirit of the second table found in special revelation but not the letter, which he can easily find in general revelation anyway. If he wants to appeal to the letter, fine, it’s possible (contra the legal secularist), but it’s not necessary (contra the theonomist).

    To the extent that the church’s obligation is only spiritual, the church is bound to both the spirit and the letter of both tables found in special revelation.

  144. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Ron: remember the key caveat: in the absence of any other passage stating otherwise. This caveat is in view with the other passages you introduced. E.g., with reference to Jesus’ question< "why do you call me good?", there are other passages which help us eliminate some inferences, and settle on the correct ones.

    The issue David is raising is that there is an inference in Rom. 13:1-7. The "good and necessary consequence" of that inference is to be decided by recourse to other passages in Scripture. David's point is only strong to the degree that there are no other passages that modify it. If there are no other passages to modify it then the underlying assumption of Paul, that what is doing is what he ought to be doing, is a good and necessary inference.

    Find some passages that adjust that and game on. ;-)

  145. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Paige: you and Ron are understandably using indicative-imperative according to a theologically driven paradigm. I agree and use the same paradigm. However, this paradigm is not the end all for which the phrases “indicative” and “imperative” may be used.

    David’s usage is a strictly grammatical one. That is, his indicative-imperative observation does not specifically grow out of the theological indicative-imperative construct. It may be related, but it would be some sort of error (category?) to import all the theological construct considerations into a merely grammatical observation.

  146. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Ron: p.s., the “gnostic” crack is a cheap shot, and quite anachronistic. Of course, I know you’re partly having fun with me so I’m not taking offense. I’m just noting my objection which would be a “malarky!” exclamation with rolling eyes if we were discussing this at the barbeque over a beer. ;-)

  147. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Paige: your 10th Commandment question did make me pause for a moment; a valid question that does deserve clarification. My response would be that it is already agreed by both pro and con Reformed 2K that the authority wielded by the civil magistrate is only, exclusively, material and temporal.

    Applied here, in view in the civil magistrate’s enforcement of 10th Commandment considerations would be only actions. I.e., it is only when I act in such a way as to unjustly take from my neighbor what is his that the civil magistrate would be called upon to punish me and restore to my neighbor.

    I think Nathan’s sheep story to David is a great example. We’re not told that the rich man in his heart coveted his neighbor’s lamb. Yet that is the effect of his action.

    Similar “heart motivation” issues reside in the rest of the 2nd table commands, as per Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mt. Yet in the same manner, the civil magistrate is not called upon to punish murder in the heart, but murder in the heart that is acted out. The same applies to the 10th Commandment. The civil magistrate is not called to punish my jealousy for what the Jones’ have, just my actions that unjustly seek to make their’s mine.

  148. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Zrim (#143):

    That’s a helpful clarification. Thank you.

  149. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Jeff: do you like Zrim’s summary in no. 143? I find myself drawn to it? Holes, or concerns about it?

  150. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Doug (#109):

    You wrote something intriguing:

    So it would be perfectly fine, for citizens to NOT go to church or NOT baptize there children, as far as the Magistrate is concerned.

    Now, we know that the 4th Commandment sets aside the Sabbath as a holy day to the Lord, a day for rest and worship.

    In fact, the Confession lays out what it means to observe the Sabbath (21.8), with emphasis on worship — though many in the PCA take exception to this section.

    From what I can tell, your view of the magistrate is that he ought only to enforce “blue laws”, but not the requirement of worship. Is that correct?

    So what you’re saying is that the magistrate need not enforce the substance of the 4th commandment. Rest, yes. But worship, which is the heart of the Sabbath, need not be enforced. Correct?

    If so, then it’s worth asking what this means. For the 4th commandment is surely a matter of justice; in fact, it’s a creation ordinance. And yet the magistrate need not enforce it.

    How is it that the magistrate need not enforce justice?

    (An obviously loaded question … :) )

  151. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Reed (#149): Still chewing on it. I find it hard to put together all the various pieces of Zrim’s view:

    * Special revelation is for the church; general revelation for the culture.
    * General revelation is sufficient for common matters
    * A Christian mayn’t disregard Scripture while engaged in common activities.
    * The Scripture is silent on political matters
    * But the magistrate must uphold the second table.

    It seems as if Zrim’s point is that there is a general equity in the second table that the magistrate must uphold, but that the letter is not necessary.

    So that raises the question of how separate the letter of “do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not covet” from its general equity. I dunno what that means. Maybe Zrim can say more?

    (Zrim, of course, thinks I’m working too hard. This is all obvious and easy to some, no doubt. :P )

    Disclaimer: In general I find the perspectivalist framework to make a lot more sense than the “hard line between special and general revelation” framework. It appears to me that Calvin, for example, sees special revelation as a lens through which to view general revelation. And I don’t do well trying to force knowledge to go into one and only one bin.

    But I recognize that others (e.g. Todd) find the reverse true, so there ya go.

  152. TurretinFan said,

    February 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Zrim wrote: “Tfan, why would a mechanic not living up to the description of his office be different from a magistrate or doctor not living up to the description of theirs?”

    The job description of a magistrate is different from that of a mechanic, in that rewarding good and punishing evil are actions that are primarily moral. In contrast, determining the cause of engine failure and diagnosing illness is not primarily moral. This difference explains why the significance of a magistrate not living up to his job description is more like a pastor not living up to his job description than like a mechanic or doctor not living up to his job description.

    “Sometimes mechanics, magistrates and doctors make mistakes while carrying out their official tasks, but those aren’t personal failures (even if they feel like it sometimes, depending on the specific case).”

    Pastors too make mistakes. The moral implications of mistakes relating to the punishment of good (or rewarding of evil) are more like the mistakes a pastor might make as compared to accidentally cutting off the wrong leg or putting the wrong weight of oil in the engine.

    “People aren’t disciplined for sins of the heart. They are admonished. They are disciplined for sins done in the body.”

    Admonishment is a form of discipline, so I’m not sure what you have in mind here. Also, of course, if someone confessed that they lust in their heart unrepentantly, we would probable at least temporarily suspend them from communion — at least I think we would.

    “The test for what you mean, then, by “wrong” is whether to discipline someone for his political views or keep the bar at his personal actions.”

    I really didn’t have that situation in mind. Same for your remaining comments:

    “And I may disagree with one’s political views as being misguided and of poor judgment, but I won’t ecclesiastically discipline him for them because there is a difference between being political and being personal, as well as more available categories between “right” and “wrong.””

  153. TurretinFan said,

    February 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    David R.: Thanks for the additional information. Let’s see if I properly understand it.

    “The idea is that God’s rule over the post-fall world involves the establishment of two kingdoms that embody two principles: (1) radical spiritual antithesis between believers and unbelievers and yet (2) cultural commonality between them.”

    a) I don’t see the Scriptures teach this. In other words, I don’t see the Scriptures describing “culture” as distinct from religion. Is there a Scriptural argument to be made for this?

    b) I don’t see the Scriptures suggesting this framework for analysis. Now, of course, a framework doesn’t have to be explicitly Scriptural, but I want to be clear that there is no claim that this framework has authority.

    “The first hint of this program appears in the announcement of judgment in Genesis 3:14-19. The spiritual antithesis is seen in the radical enmity that will be established between the serpent’s seed and the woman’s. And yet there is also cultural commonality, in that both sides of the antithesis will equally share in labor, childbirth and temporal blessings.”

    This is described as a hint. But what it appears to be is simply an example of a passage to which the non-authoritative framework has been applied.

    “The common kingdom is then formally established in God’s covenant with Noah after the flood (Genesis 8:20-9:17).”

    I find it interesting that the establishment of the “common kingdom” involves a believer sacrificing clean (as distinct from unclean) animals on an altar to God. It’s hard to view that context as supporting application of the non-authoritative framework.

    Moreover, God’s commands to Noah include the command not to eat the flesh with the blood:

    Genesis 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

    But perhaps it is alleged that this is binding on all men everywhere.

    “VanDrunen lists four features of the common kingdom: (1) It concerns ordinary cultural activities, such as raising children, eating, and enforcing civil justice. But it is silent with regard to religious devotion. (2) It embraces the human race in common, all of Noah’s descendants, rather than separating out a holy people. (3) It ensures the preservation of the natural order, but not its redemption. (4) It’s temporal; not eternal.”

    Again, I suppose this is just part of the non-authoritative framework.

    “The redemptive kingdom is formally established in the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15; 17). It bears the exact opposite features of the common kingdom: It concerns religious devotion. It separates out a holy people. Its purpose is redemption; not preservation. It’s eternal; not temporary.”

    Like the covenant with Noah, the Abrahamic covenant involves a sacrifice of animals. The covenant made with Abraham in Genesis 15 involved a promise to give his family land. Considering that the land is going to be destroyed in the final judgment, this could hardly be “eternal.” It does promise redemption, but only a temporal redemption.

    The covenant with Abraham spiritually understood can point us to heaven (the promised land) to which will come in due time after going through the bondage of Egypt (this present sinful life) upon redemption from it.

    But the Noahic covenant also points us to something better. The rainbow we see that promises us no more global floods may point us toward that heavenly future rest from all judgment altogether.

    So, it does not appear that the distinctions are as clear as would be necessary to remove the framework from the realm of an academic theory.

    “Interestingly enough however, Abraham, as he has not yet received the promises, models a two kingdoms lifestyle, that is, he maintains a religious antithesis from his pagan neighbors while yet pursuing cultural commonality with.”

    This just looks again like an attempt to apply the non-authoritative framework to the facts. What is Abraham’s interaction with his neighbors? It’s actually something of a tangled mess. He doesn’t go to the lengths of integration that Lot does. Instead, he seems to live his whole life as a nomad. He purchases a burial place for his dead. But when he rescues Lot he tithes the spoils of war, before returning them to his neighbors from whom they were seized. When it comes time to take a wife for his son, he insists that she be from his original community, not Canaan.

    Lot is way more integrated both in terms of family (he seems to have betrothed his daughters to local men) and life (he seems to have settled down in a house inside a pagan city). But those aspects of Lot’s life are not particularly exemplary.

    So, at best, the application of the non-authoritative framework again seems strained.

    “The case is very different with Israel under the Mosaic covenant however, because the Land serves as a type of the heavenly inheritance, which of course becomes the possession of the people of God only when final judgment has occurred and thus all commonality between believers and unbelievers comes to an end. Hence, within the borders of the Land, all cultural commonality characteristic of the Noahic covenant ceases.
    And yet, outside the Land (and in exile), the two kingdoms lifestyle again prevails.”

    And yet there are aliens in the land – and even within the homes of Israelites under the post-Joshua kingdom. There is trade and business with the other nations. Moreover, the activities of the Israelites continued to include labor and childbirth. If those things are “common activities,” they certainly don’t cease in Israel.

    Moreover, the partitioning off of Israel begins in Egypt. You will recall that the Israelites, because they were shepherds, were an abomination to the Egyptians, and consequently assigned to Goshen. They did not integrate culturally with the Egyptians, although Moses himself would be an exception.

    Likewise, the children of Israel remained separate (or were supposed to) in the wilderness. Recall the evil that befell Israel at Peor because they did not (Numbers 25).

    “I hope this helps answer your questions. This is all found in VanDrunen, pp. 75-97.”

    I’m afraid it leaves me increasingly concerned that DvD’s position amounts to a non-authoritative framework being somewhat wishfully applied to Scripture, as opposed to actually reflecting doctrines taught by scripture.

    -TurretinFan

  154. Ron said,

    February 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Ron: remember the key caveat: in the absence of any other passage stating otherwise.

    Reed,

    We’re not NT and Psalms pocket Bible Christians. There is an entire testament that speaks to the law, which the Jesus said he did not come to abolish and 2 Timothy actually affirms. That’s why I find your approach to the text more Dispensational than Reformed. It seems to me that you are coming to Romans 13 with expectations and demands that you have no business having and making.

    The issue David is raising is that there is an inference in Rom. 13:1-7.

    Not to be picky but the speaker implies and the listener infers. I suspect you are speaking of what the text implies and not what you are inferring in Romans 13. Now then, with respect to the text’s implication, you already acknowledged that it does not imply an imperative; yet in the same breath you suggested that an imperative is presupposed by Paul. Much of your position hangs on your assumption of Paul’s alleged presumption, but as I noted already if you can truly glean the presumption of an imperative, then the imperative must be there and consequently implied. Yet you denied that the imperative is implied in the text, hence a major confusion over at least your terminology if not also your actual position. (I typically find that equivocal in words are usually a result of equivocal thought.) In the end, the text affords you nothing especially in light of OT Scripture, which even the NT informs us is profitable for instruction etc. You are simply superimposing your position upon the text just like the pre-trib rapture fanatics do with 1 Cor. 15 & 1 Thess. 4. Your unargued presuppositions are as obvious to the non-R2K folks as are the incredible claims of Hal Lindsey.

    Ron: p.s., the “gnostic” crack is a cheap shot, and quite anachronistic. Of course, I know you’re partly having fun with me so I’m not taking offense. I’m just noting my objection which would be a “malarky!” exclamation with rolling eyes if we were discussing this at the barbeque over a beer. ;-)

    I really don’t find the shot so cheap my brother. It seems to me that you have a hidden meaning of the passage given that you deny the imperative while affirming it through the back door of Paul’s alleged presumption, which you say is not implicit in the passage but nonetheless there before your eyes. At the very least, you might state more clearly what you mean by the author presupposing an imperative that he is not intending to imply. :)

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  155. Paul said,

    February 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Zrim,

    When I say instead that “the Bible norms the church” I mean that elders spiritually enforce both tables. The magistrate has only political obligations, which we can say are structured by the second table. The church has only spiritual obligations, which are structured by both.

    Zrim, I’m confused. Both tables? Like disciplining for coveting? This coming from the same guy who says that elders don’t have the authority to discipline or admonish members who try to make or keep it legal for stronger people to murder weaker people (violate the 6th), nor do they have the right to discipline or admonish a member who spends an inordinate amount of time with a woman who is not his wife, going to movies, dinner, and dance clubs with here, even after his wife protests against it (violating the 7th)???? Surely you can’t be serious here, as your 2K position has led you, via debates with me, to affirm both of the above scenarios in order to maintain your 2Kishness.

    Reed’s a pastor, perhaps he could enlighten me about the duties of a pastor in shepherding a member who goes to movies and dinners and dance halls with a woman who is not his wife, is that a thing all 2Kers hold to?

  156. paigebritton said,

    February 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Reed #145-
    David’s usage is a strictly grammatical one. That is, his indicative-imperative observation does not specifically grow out of the theological indicative-imperative construct. It may be related, but it would be some sort of error (category?) to import all the theological construct considerations into a merely grammatical observation.

    Thanks, and I don’t mean to keep harping on this, but I was only speaking grammatically myself, even though there are implications for one’s theology depending on how one understands grammatical categories. Imperatives are spoken TO people in order to effect a response of action or thought. Even implied imperatives (the ones that are not stated right out) have as an object motivating someone to DO something. At least, this is how I have always understood imperatives — maybe there is a different subdefinition that I have missed.

    Do you guys mean to say that Rom. 13:1-7 is in any way motivating someone to DO something so that conditions will be AS THEY OUGHT TO BE? If so, it’s grammatically an imperative, and I wonder who it is Paul is trying to motivate. (My vote would be the Christian magistrate, if it came to that.)

    Do you guys mean to say that Rom. 13:1-7 is describing a condition that is already AS IT OUGHT TO BE? If so, then it is grammatically an indicative, because no one is expected to act in order to make it so. Maybe what you are speaking of is really something like God’s decree? Then you could say that civil government is ordained by God and occurs because of God’s decree, or because of his governance and providence, and that’s AS IT OUGHT TO BE. But I don’t see how you could call this situation an “imperative.”

    Sorry for being a pest: these comments are less theologically motivated by any particular 2K/1K/theonomic agenda than they are insisting on an understanding of grammatical categories. If you can tweak my understanding of “imperative” so your use fits, please do.

    pax,
    Paige B.

  157. paigebritton said,

    February 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Reed, #147 –
    Applied here, in view in the civil magistrate’s enforcement of 10th Commandment considerations would be only actions. I.e., it is only when I act in such a way as to unjustly take from my neighbor what is his that the civil magistrate would be called upon to punish me and restore to my neighbor.

    Okay, I am being obtuse again, but I cannot see that the civil magistrate CAN enforce the 10th commandment, if all he can punish is the 10th commandment enacted! Paul (Rom. 7) thought he was doing peachy till he hit the 10th C, and then realized his grave sin. Point being, it’s a commandment in and of itself — not a commandment that only works in tandem with “murder” or “adultery” or “theft,” though of course coveting is at the root of all of these.

    So I don’t believe the civil magistrate can do anything about the breach of this commandment.

    Which raises the question, is it really the “second table of the law” that the civil magistrate is enforcing, if it isn’t the whole table?

  158. Zrim said,

    February 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    It seems as if Zrim’s point is that there is a general equity in the second table that the magistrate must uphold, but that the letter is not necessary.

    Yes.

    So that raises the question of how separate the letter of “do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not covet” from its general equity. I dunno what that means. Maybe Zrim can say more?

    Jeff, maybe you could re-phrase the question. I don’t readily understand it. But I do think, as you say, that you may be working too hard. I think it helps to keep in mind that the state is only politically obligated, the church spiritually. The next question is how to employ the Decalogue to structure those obligations. My answer, such as it is, is that the first and second table can both be said to be spiritual and so structure spiritual obligations; the second is also political but the first isn’t, it’s only spiritual.
    Now, I understand that others don’t see it that way and see that both tables are both political and spiritual, this not letting the state off the hook for enforcing the first. I think this turns a lot on what one first thinks the obligations of the state and church are respectively and then whether the first table is spiritual only or spiritual and political. For my part, I can’t see how worshipping the true God truly is a political action. It’s only spiritual. If it’s political then the worship of God really can come by the point of the sword, and that seems to flatly contradict all sorts of NT teaching.

  159. Zrim said,

    February 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Paul, what I have said is that an elder has the duty to admonish or warn a man who exercises poor judgment (spending non-sexual but dubious time with another woman). He disciplines a man who violates a law (spending sexual time with her). So, the elder still must admonish for coveting and discipline it. I’ll leave it to someone else to decide what bodily violating the tenth looks like.

  160. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 19, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Paige (#157):

    This is just an opinion, but I believe laws ought to reflect the equity of the 10th commandment. Some actions are not direct theft, but have the effect of transferring one person’s property to another without just compensation. In my opinion, the magistrate should not permit such actions.

  161. TurretinFan said,

    February 19, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Paige:

    The distinction I make is one of external conformity vs. inward conformity. The state’s responsibility to ensure external conformity. Thus, the state can’t mandate faith in Christ, nor can the state mandate love of Christ. Nevertheless, the state can prohibit idols (not idols of the heart, of course, but idols of stone), blasphemy and profanity, desecration of the sabbath, rebellion against parents and treason against the state, murder and wounding/maiming/mayhem, theft, adultery, prostitution, and rape, as well as lying testimony and fraud. I can’t see how covetousness itself would involve external non-conformity.

    But, of course, I’m not a “second table only” type, as you know.

    -TurretinFan

  162. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 19, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Zrim (#158): Jeff, maybe you could re-phrase the question. I don’t readily understand it.

    Well, you said that there is a spirit of the second table that the magistrate enforces, without being bound to the letter.

    So I’m asking, What does that mean? The letter is, “Do not murder.” What is the spirit that the magistrate must enforce?

  163. Paul said,

    February 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Zrim, I don’t think that’s what you said. But admonish and warn for what? And, if he continued to do it, despite the admonishments and warnings, despite the pleas from the wife to stop, your view is that pastors may not discipline. Right? Are there any pastors here who would agree with this? Every PCA and OPC pastor I have asked, to a man, has said no.

  164. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Paige: I’m not sure how to respond. The whole law has both internal and external considerations. The civil magistrate only deals with considerations that are external. It sounds as if you’re insisting that the internal cannot be distinguished from the external. But the very notion of corporeal punishment for external only infractions is the heart of the civil magistrate’s duties. This is true no matter what your opinion on 2K.

  165. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Ron: thanks.

  166. jared said,

    February 19, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks for the thoughtful and helpful response(s). Let me see if I can help you understand where you’re tracking and where you’re not.

    RE: 50 – My beef here is that neither Jesus nor Paul have in mind a two table structuring of the commandments in the way that you have been suggesting (or the way in which Reformed theology has structured it). You are affirming with your words that the law is “organically connected” but you deny it in your application of it to these texts. As we will see in just a moment, your argument here hinges on understanding Paul to be zeroing in on only half of the commandments, supposedly those that only speak of man’s relationship to his fellow man, then applying or tying “ONLY” (from the title) those commandments to the duties of civil government. The problem is that governing authorities cannot servants for good or agents of [God's] wrath on the basis of half the law, or on the basis of one witness. Justice requires implementing the entire law. The civil magistrate does this the same way the Christian citizen does, namely by loving God and loving man. The difference is not that they are bound to serve only according to half of the law, rather the difference is that they have been given authority to punish wrongdoers.

    RE: 51 – Paul doesn’t specify whether the governing authorities are pagan or not, so I think “state” might be a more appropriate sphere than “pagan world”. At any rate, the passage (you correctly note) is directed at how Christians respond to governing authorities. The passage, however, says nothing about which “table” those authorities are to abide by. Paul’s emphasis is on living according to love so his focus isn’t some supposed first or second table issues. Love is about the whole thing, that’s what Paul has immediately in view. The problem is in thinking that Paul’s focus on the first table somehow excludes the second table as a matter of practice. Just because something isn’t immediately in view doesn’t mean it’s altogether out of view. This is especially true when considering the law.

    RE: 52 – Again, Paul’s immediate focus cannot be used as an argument for division of application. Love is what characterizes the gospel and love is what ties the law together as a whole. Paul doesn’t have to mention “1st table” issues because they are inseparably tied to the “2nd table”. When you’re talking about the practical implications of love it’s easier to use the second half of the ten commandments as an example but they cannot be divided from the first half. This is precisely the problem with 2k theology. God gave Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth and Jesus commissioned us to take that authority and transform the nations with it. We baptize them and teach them to obey, it’s both spiritual and material, it’s both church and state. They may be separate spheres but they are governed by the same Lawgiver and his unchanging, undivided laws.

    TurretinFan,

    RE: 57,

    You say,

    It should be noted that the text of Scripture tells us that the law was written both on the front and the back of the tablets. Thus, even if there were two copies, perhaps we might simply distinguish between “front” and “back” obligations, if someone wished to insist that it was two copies.

    There aren’t “front” and “back” obligations; all of it is obligated as a singular whole. You continue,

    Personally, I think the ANE practice would be irrelevant, since both copies were given to Israel, rather than one copy being given to Israel, and the other retained by God. Or alternatively, we may view the tables that Moses shattered on the mountain as being God’s copy.

    ANE practice isn’t irrelevant because the covenant model precedes ANE practice. ANE practice is a derivative of the biblical model for the structure of covenants so in studying and understanding ANE practice we can gain insight into biblical usage. Kline’s observations in The Structure of Biblical Authority explains why Israel has both copies. In ANE practice one copy is to be kept in the house of the suzerain’s god and the other copy is to be kept in the house of the vassal’s god. In Israel’s case it is the same location, the tabernacle (and, specifically, the Ark). You continue,

    Finally, the Scriptures don’t ascribe any special significance to the duality of the tablets. Therefore, we should be extremely cautious about deriving dogmatic significance from their duality.

    Here we are in agreement, and this is the point I have been making. There is no duality in the law at all. The “greatest” commandment includes the second greatest. Jesus makes a note of the second greatest in order to thwart the intention of the Pharisees, not to establish some arbitrary division of the law into “1st table” and “2nd table” (or “back” and “front”) considerations.

  167. Ron said,

    February 19, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Paul,

    These thoughts are going to be a bit fragmented.

    The session’s job is ministerial and declarative, as I think you know. If a married man was spending what appeared to a session as an inordinate amount of time with a woman that was not the man’s wife, the session might want to minister to a potential problem, especially if the wife was expressing concerns. Making a declaration, whether in the form of a formal admonishment or something more severe, is quite another matter. Adultery without repentance is cut and dry; in such cases the session has something concrete to base a declaration of unbelief upon. The session can warn of potential problems that might ensue from a non-physical relationship, but the session is not in a position to issue a formal rebuke simply based upon a platonic relationship. In other words, having a platonic relationship is not a sufficient condition for a declaration of censure, but that doesn’t mean that such a state of affairs cannot be evidence and or grounds for such a declaration, but the charge could not very well be something there is liberty to do, like having a friend of the opposite sex. Now if a wife was disobeying her husband by having such a relationship, or the husband was not honoring his wife’s wishes by his having such a relationship, then those matters would come to bear on the situation and I’m sure a charge could be made. Also, the rejection of counsel is not a sufficient condition for a declaration of censure. Not all advice must be heeded, such as advice that pertains to restraining certain Christian liberties. As for counsel, what if the woman the man was spending time with was forty years his senior and a friend of his mothers? Obviously a session would assume something other than danger is near. How about if she was thirty years older? Twenty eight years older? You see the point. I’m not saying that a case cannot be made, presumably by a wife, but the charge cannot simply be “spending time with another person”. More must be fleshed out.

    Best,

    Ron

  168. TurretinFan said,

    February 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Jared:

    All of the law obligates everyone, no doubt — and all are subsumed under the first and great commandment. Nevertheless, there are some duties that man owes to man. Those are subsumed under the second, which is like unto it.

    -TurretinFan

  169. paigebritton said,

    February 20, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Okay, guys, thanks.

    So from the gathered wisdom re. the 10th Commandment, is it fair to say that, whether one is a “both tables” or a “second table only” person, what is really meant when we say that the magistrate “enforces the table(s)” is that he has jurisdiction over the seen but not the unseen, over actions of the body but not thoughts of the heart?

    Of course this makes sense (for how could it be otherwise!), but do you see how we are using the language of “tables” as shorthand without qualifications, and how this might be confusing to some? IOW, we do not really mean that he enforces all the commandments per se. Apparently y’all are on the same page about this understanding, so here I am just flagging the obvious.

    Carry on!

    pb

  170. Zrim said,

    February 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Well, you said that there is a spirit of the second table that the magistrate enforces, without being bound to the letter. So I’m asking, What does that mean? The letter is, “Do not murder.” What is the spirit that the magistrate must enforce?

    Jeff, what it means is that the Decalogue doesn’t need to be explicitly plastered or referenced in the public square. But it is necessary for the magistrate to see to it that you can’t take my life without being punished. He certainly may have the Decalogue hanging in his courtroom or referenced in his judicial opinions, but I tend to take exception to it since the Decalogue is a specific symbol given to the people of God alone, so we do better to be jealous for it.

  171. Zrim said,

    February 20, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I don’t think that’s what you said [An elder has the duty to admonish or warn a man who exercises poor judgment, e.g. spending non-sexual but dubious time with another woman. He disciplines a man who violates a law e.g. spending sexual time with her]. But admonish and warn for what? And, if he continued to do it, despite the admonishments and warnings, despite the pleas from the wife to stop, your view is that pastors may not discipline. Right? Are there any pastors here who would agree with this? Every PCA and OPC pastor I have asked, to a man, has said no.

    Paul, either you have a bad memory or I mis-spoke. So let my words here be a corrective to either case.

    But admonish or warn him for bad judgment Sorry, but I think there are more available categories for human behavior than simply “right” and “wrong.” And if a man continues in bad judgment but does nothing that rises to sin I don’t see what grounds anyone has to treat him as if he as sinned. It seems to me that you want to categorize everything in terms of “righteous” or “sinful” and fast-track bad behavior right into sinful behavior. But my experience tells me that it’s only a matter of time before bad judgment that doesn’t heed warnings becomes sin that needs discipline, so if it’s discipline you want to see happen just wait. For my part, I’m good with letting bad judgment be bad judgment and putting limits on any impulse to call evil what is not yet evil. It may not be popular to say, but have you considered that maybe a pleading wife needs to be tutored in patience instead of rushing to judgment?

  172. Zrim said,

    February 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    So from the gathered wisdom re. the 10th Commandment, is it fair to say that, whether one is a “both tables” or a “second table only” person, what is really meant when we say that the magistrate “enforces the table(s)” is that he has jurisdiction over the seen but not the unseen, over actions of the body but not thoughts of the heart?

    Paige, I’m a second-tabler, so the point here is to say that the magistrate sorts out the physical implications of how we externally relate to one another, not how we internally relate to each other or externally relate to God. The church sorts out the spiritual implications of how we internally and externally relate to both God and one another.

    My guess is that a two-tabler would say that the magistrate has jurisdiction over how we externally relate to both God and man, but not internally. But the problem for the second-tabler is that this makes it seem like the kingdom of God can come by coercive point of the sword: how can one relate to God externally if he is not first internally born from above? And if the state and the church share in the jurisdiction over how one relates to God externally then it seems to give rise to all sorts of problems, not least is that the church tends to lose her autonomy to rule over souls, as in the keys of the kingdom.

  173. Paul said,

    February 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Ron, there was more than just “spending time with another person.” Movies, dinner, and dancing. An inordinate amount of that, and all despite the requests of the wife (and kids) to stop. And, since Zrim will have to allow this, here’s the woman: Angelina Jole (so it’s not a woman 30 yrs his elder). Or, let’s up the ante, it’s Jole and Megan Fox. Just him and those two. Repeated dinners, movies, and dance clubs. No discipline?

    Here’s another scenario: A member of the church votes to have a civilly innocent man murdered and is in a position to protect the man, but doesn’t, instead ensures the man’s death. Zrim said that man shouldn’t be disciplined by the church. Is that what you’d say too?

  174. Ron said,

    February 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Paul,

    Given such scenarios as you mention, yes, the threat of discipline would very well be in order. The latter scenario would fall under the 6th Commandment and Q&A 135 of the WLC. I think the former comports with the intention of the the 7th as discussed in Q&A 138 and 139.

    I’m not following this thread too carefully and I didn’t realize that such things were being considered ecclesiastically innocuous.

    Thanks,

    Ron

  175. Zrim said,

    February 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Paul, I’m surprised the whistle hasn’t been blown yet, as much of this seems a bit tangential to my original point that the Bible norms the church (as opposed to the state) and does so by the structure of both tables.

    But be that as it may, I think your memory is failing you again. I don’t think I ever indulged your innocent man hypothetical due to its absurdity. As I recall, it was used in service to the more realistic question of abortion politics, which I am more willing, if reluctant, to indulge. And to that end, what I have said is that liberty includes political liberty. And I reject the use of ecclesiastical power to oppose a political view, even a political view I oppose.

    P.S. wait, dancing is involved? Ok, if there’s dancing then fast-track our man to discipline. Dancing is lame and I want to send a message about my personal opinion on how self-comportment beats self-expression. I don’t get enough positive feedback on that and maybe a little blood shed is what it needs. Sure, that defeats my point about the intermediate categories of wisdom and common sense, but I’ve grown weary of my opinion not getting more spiritual bang. Can we say he sports tattoos and bumper stickers, too?

  176. David R. said,

    February 21, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Tfan,

    David R.: Thanks for the additional information. Let’s see if I properly understand it.

    Thanks for the interaction. I’ve responded below. Pretty basic, no rocket science on my part.

    I had said: “The idea is that God’s rule over the post-fall world involves the establishment of two kingdoms that embody two principles: (1) radical spiritual antithesis between believers and unbelievers and yet (2) cultural commonality between them.”

    To which you responded: a) I don’t see the Scriptures teach this. In other words, I don’t see the Scriptures describing ‘culture’ as distinct from religion. Is there a Scriptural argument to be made for this?

    b) I don’t see the Scriptures suggesting this framework for analysis. Now, of course, a framework doesn’t have to be explicitly Scriptural, but I want to be clear that there is no claim that this framework has authority.

    My response: Well, what do you make of the fact that the progenitors of culture were from the line of Cain (Genesis 4:17-21)?

    I had said: “The first hint of this program appears in the announcement of judgment in Genesis 3:14-19. The spiritual antithesis is seen in the radical enmity that will be established between the serpent’s seed and the woman’s. And yet there is also cultural commonality, in that both sides of the antithesis will equally share in labor, childbirth and temporal blessings.”

    To which you responded: This is described as a hint. But what it appears to be is simply an example of a passage to which the non-authoritative framework has been applied.

    My response: Okay, but don’t you agree that the passage tells us to expect:

    1. a spiritual antithesis between believers and unbelievers (Genesis 3:15).

    2. a continuation of life and a common participation by believers and unbelievers in labor and the temporal blessings produced by it (Genesis 3:16-19).

    If so, isn’t it fair to call this a “hint”?

    I had said: “The common kingdom is then formally established in God’s covenant with Noah after the flood (Genesis 8:20-9:17).”

    To which you responded: I find it interesting that the establishment of the ‘common kingdom’ involves a believer sacrificing clean (as distinct from unclean) animals on an altar to God. It’s hard to view that context as supporting application of the non-authoritative framework.

    Moreover, God’s commands to Noah include the command not to eat the flesh with the blood …

    My response: Regardless of how Noah’s sacrifice is interpreted and whatever the scope of the prohibition of eating blood, wouldn’t you agree that the promises of the Noahic covenant and the things that it formally establishes pertain to ordinary cultural activities (not religious ones), the common life of all men (not just believers), the preservation of the natural order (not its redemption) and the granting of temporal blessings (rather than eternal)?

    I had said: “The redemptive kingdom is formally established in the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15; 17). It bears the exact opposite features of the common kingdom: It concerns religious devotion. It separates out a holy people. Its purpose is redemption; not preservation. It’s eternal; not temporary.”

    To which you responded: Like the covenant with Noah, the Abrahamic covenant involves a sacrifice of animals. The covenant made with Abraham in Genesis 15 involved a promise to give his family land. Considering that the land is going to be destroyed in the final judgment, this could hardly be ‘eternal.’ It does promise redemption, but only a temporal redemption

    The covenant with Abraham spiritually understood can point us to heaven (the promised land) to which will come in due time after going through the bondage of Egypt (this present sinful life) upon redemption from it.

    My response: It seems to me that you answered your own objection in your second paragraph (immediately above).

    You said: But the Noahic covenant also points us to something better. The rainbow we see that promises us no more global floods may point us toward that heavenly future rest from all judgment altogether

    So, it does not appear that the distinctions are as clear as would be necessary to remove the framework from the realm of an academic theory.”

    My response: While it’s true that the temporal “salvation” of the world through Noah points to eternal salvation, I don’t see how that removes any clarity.

    I had said: “Interestingly enough however, Abraham, as he has not yet received the promises, models a two kingdoms lifestyle, that is, he maintains a religious antithesis from his pagan neighbors while yet pursuing cultural commonality with [them].”

    You responded: This just looks again like an attempt to apply the non-authoritative framework to the facts. What is Abraham’s interaction with his neighbors? It’s actually something of a tangled mess. He doesn’t go to the lengths of integration that Lot does. Instead, he seems to live his whole life as a nomad. He purchases a burial place for his dead. But when he rescues Lot he tithes the spoils of war, before returning them to his neighbors from whom they were seized. When it comes time to take a wife for his son, he insists that she be from his original community, not Canaan.

    Lot is way more integrated both in terms of family (he seems to have betrothed his daughters to local men) and life (he seems to have settled down in a house inside a pagan city). But those aspects of Lot’s life are not particularly exemplary.

    So, at best, the application of the non-authoritative framework again seems strained.

    My response: Funny, I don’t see how you can say this. Yes, I agree that Abraham is unique in some ways (which isn’t too surprising given his special status as recipient of the promises, type of Christ and things of that nature). But it’s hard for me to see how anyone can contest the fact that details aside, (1) there is a sharp contrast between patriarchal sojourning and Israelite conquest, and (2) the New Testament portrays the life of Christians in this age in terms that echo the patriarchal lifestyle (not the Israelite).

    I had said: “The case is very different with Israel under the Mosaic covenant however, because the Land serves as a type of the heavenly inheritance, which of course becomes the possession of the people of God only when final judgment has occurred and thus all commonality between believers and unbelievers comes to an end. Hence, within the borders of the Land, all cultural commonality characteristic of the Noahic covenant ceases.
And yet, outside the Land (and in exile), the two kingdoms lifestyle again prevails.”

    You responded: And yet there are aliens in the land – and even within the homes of Israelites under the post-Joshua kingdom. There is trade and business with the other nations. Moreover, the activities of the Israelites continued to include labor and childbirth. If those things are ‘common activities,’ they certainly don’t cease in Israel.

    My response: I had already made the qualification that cultural commonality ceased only within the borders of the Land. But in their dealings with the nations *outside* the Land, the two kingdom pattern prevailed. The common activities certainly did cease for the Canaanites.

    You said: Moreover, the partitioning off of Israel begins in Egypt. You will recall that the Israelites, because they were shepherds, were an abomination to the Egyptians, and consequently assigned to Goshen. They did not integrate culturally with the Egyptians, although Moses himself would be an exception.

    My response: But the distinct thing about life in the Land is not so much that Israel was partitioned off, but rather that, instead of the two kingdom pattern of cooperation with their neighbors, they instead executed covenant curse sanctions against them.

    You said: Likewise, the children of Israel remained separate (or were supposed to) in the wilderness. Recall the evil that befell Israel at Peor because they did not (Numbers 25).

    My response: Perhaps, but the primary issues in that passage is idolatry. The religious antithesis is always to be maintained, even under the two kingdom lifestyle.

    You said: I’m afraid it leaves me increasingly concerned that DvD’s position amounts to a non-authoritative framework being somewhat wishfully applied to Scripture, as opposed to actually reflecting doctrines taught by scripture.

    Would I be foolish to hope anything I’ve said has mitigated any of your concerns?

  177. GAS said,

    February 21, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Paige, re: 10th Commandment.

    I think the more interesting question is what should we think about a government that actively breaks the 10th commandment through legislation and by encouraging it’s citizens to engage in covetousness?

    What do we do about a government that hold no terror for those who do wrong but for those who do right?

  178. paigebritton said,

    February 21, 2011 at 6:51 am

    GAS –
    I think the more interesting question is what should we think about a government that actively breaks the 10th commandment through legislation and by encouraging it’s citizens to engage in covetousness?

    I guess it is the same thing we are supposed to think about a government that encourages its citizens to engage in murder. Which is….???

    In all of the wrangling on this issue, I suppose the only application that we can really hope to derive is an understanding of how believers should think and act with regard to the civil magistracy, whether as magistrates themselves or as citizens of a given nation. The pagan magistrate himself doesn’t give a hoot what we decide about him.

  179. Kyle S. said,

    February 21, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Dear Paige,

    I think you asked two very good questions in 139. The first was about the argument based on Romans 13 that David Gadbois presented (in 62) and Reed has been defending (in 66, 87, 140, and 144). I presented a very similar argument last September on a thread here about two-kingdom stuff (http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/two-kingdoms-discussion/). I entered the discussion at 267 and bailed at 343. I think Reed’s done a nice job answering your questions about that argument, but you might find some of what I say in the other thread helpful.

    Your other question was about the two-kingdom view that the civil magistrate is to punish for violations of the second table. You asked about coveting, but you could have just as easily asked about killing in light of Jesus’s interpreting that commandment in such a way that it forbids hating others. Reed said that the two-kingdom view is that the civil magistrate is to punish for just the material and temporal violations of the second table. But that doesn’t rule out laws against hating others. There are actions that fall well short of violence that provide pretty unambiguous evidence of hatred. Would laws against such actions be justified? Should two-kingdom guys thinks so? Consider how the law distinguishes between murder and manslaughter (intent). There are already legal consequences for doing things in a certain state of mind (or heart) when there’s good evidence of that state of mind.

    There’s a similar problem for the two-kingdom view that the civil magistrate is to punish for violations of the natural law, or that which is known by general revelation. Paul tells us (I Cor 11:14) that men wearing their hair long violates the natural law. Would a law against this be justified? Should two-kingdom guys think so?

  180. February 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

    [...] authority. It is not because this authority inheres in the civil magistrate, … christian public square – Google Blog Search Lion of Judah Movie- Sponsor: Lionofjudahthemovie.com- Lion of Judah the Movie- Check out "The [...]

  181. Kyle S. said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Much earlier T-fan asked how it could be permissible for a father to force his children to sit and listen to gospel preaching, but not for the state to force its citizens to do that (and lots of other stuff). But, generally, while our own children aren’t people to whom we owe justification for coercion (or, issuing requirements, directives, etc. that come with penalties for violations), normal adults are. What does the relevant justification look like? What renders a coercive imposition legitimate? What renders a civil magistrate a legitimate authority? T-fan would presumably deny that it would have much to do with the people’s consent. That view is too much a product of Enlightenment rebellion – paeans to ‘American and French models of individual autonomy’. Or is it? Exodus 19:7-8 seems relevant here.

  182. paigebritton said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Hi, Kyle!
    I liked your thoughts there on the other thread — I’ll read along the rest of that conversation later.

    I still want to know from Reed & David G., if they think Rom. 13 contains an implied imperative about the magistrate, or refers to a “presumed” imperative that isn’t written down anywhere, just who the imperative is addressed to? There seem to be three options:

    1. There’s an imperative lurking somewhere that is addressed to the pagan civil magistrate, saying something like, “keep your legislative hands off the 1st table, just enforce the second”;

    2. There’s an imperative that can be derived from Paul’s description of God’s providence that is addressed to a believing magistrate, who then orders his actions accordingly, sticking to the 2nd table (but only the parts that can be seen);

    3. There’s no imperative for magistrates hovering around Rom. 13; Paul is just describing part of the outworking of God’s decree and providence and telling Christians how to order their lives in light of the fact of having government at all.

    I still don’t think the pagan magistrate gives a hoot about what we (or God) think, so it doesn’t make sense to me that there is any kind of command in the background of this passage for anybody but believers.

    pax!
    pb

  183. GAS said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Paige,

    I’m not so sure the pagan magistrate(s) don’t give a hoot especially in a representative democracy. Most likely they’ll try to diminish those who call for the government to uphold the moral law. Of course it gets even more complicated when many of those magistrates call themselves believers.

    The Apostle John went through an especially difficult period when the magistrate was a terror to those who did good. He only mentions wisdom as a response (Rev 13). If the beast of Revelations is the magistracy there is some dire warnings to those who submit to it when it is a terror to the good.

    Historically we’ve derived some principles from OT case laws.

    In Paul’s case, we know from Acts that he enjoyed some constitutional rights. Surely his audience would understand that the good government he was speaking of was the constitutional government of Rome since he was writing to Roman citizens, would they not? It becomes somewhat complicated since the Roman Republic had given way to the Roman Empire within his lifetime or just before. Nonetheless, Roman citizens still enjoyed basic constitutional rights.

    So it appears to me that Paul believed that Roman jurisprudence basically upheld the moral law. So for all the wrangling on Rom 13 perhaps the only thing we can say about the text is that we should obey government that upholds the moral law.

  184. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Zrim (#170): what it means is that the Decalogue doesn’t need to be explicitly plastered or referenced in the public square. But it is necessary for the magistrate to see to it that you can’t take my life without being punished. … but I tend to take exception to it [explicit references to the 10 Com] since the Decalogue is a specific symbol given to the people of God alone, so we do better to be jealous for it.

    So if I understand, you are making a distinction between the symbols (whether in Hebrew or another language) and the semantic content of those symbols.

    The words “Thou shalt not kill” evoke specifically Judeo-Christian imagery, and belong to the church; while the content of those words (“Don’t murder people”) is universal.

    Have I grasped this correctly?

  185. GAS said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

    One other note:

    Whenever Paul speaks about those acts that fail to love your neighbor as you love yourself he always ties it to idolatry. So it would appear that any second table violation per se violates the first table.

  186. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Paige (#182):

    I vote for option 3. The subject of all of the imperatives in Rom 13 is the Christian wrt his obligations to the magistrate; no instructions to the magistrate are found therein.

    That said, I do think that Rom 13 taken together with Rom 10.9 provides an imperative framework. It is not an implied imperative to the magistrate, but an implied imperative to the Christian.

    Romans 10.9 has long been understood to be a direct contrast to emperors’ demands to be styled “Lord and Savior.” (e.g. footnote here). Saying “Jesus is Lord” means denying that “Caesar is Lord.” The early church understood the passage in this way, which is why Polycarp was martyred for being an “atheist.”

    If we place these two passages together, it seems fairly clear that Paul’s instructions to the Christians are similar to Daniel’s stance in Babylon: Obey the king as far as horizontal matters are concerned (2nd table) — unless there is a command of God to be broken (cf. Ex 1.15ff). But do not go along with the king as far as vertical matters are concerned (1st table).

    The magistrate can levy taxes, but Jesus alone is Lord and Savior.

    So I find a parallel thought process in Rom 10 and 13; Dan 1; and Matt 22.15ff, all of which is made explicit in the Confession (20.2).

    That thought process is an imperative for the Christian, not the magistrate, but a Christian magistrate would do well not to push the Christian into betraying his conscience.

    So I guess we could possibly call it a doubly-implied imperative for the magistrate, at best.

  187. Zrim said,

    February 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

    So for all the wrangling on Rom 13 perhaps the only thing we can say about the text is that we should obey government that upholds the moral law.

    But, GAS, like Paul’s Nero in Romans 13, Jesus’ Caesar in Mark 12 had, among other moral faults, delusions of deity and demanded worship (which is why saying “Jesus is Lord” was enough to become a candlestick in Nero’s garden). That doesn’t seem to be upholding the moral law. And yet, we are to render unto him his due, which is to say obey him. Now, if you want to say we disobey his specific demand to worship him, then quite agreed. But I still don’t see any biblical ground to qualify our general obedience to the magistrate based upon his upholding of the moral law. I see it in plenty of sacrosanct-secular texts in western civilization which tell us that we may, indeed should, disobey a tyrant. But biblically I see no ground to civilly disobey a tyrant.

    David VanDrunen, in NL2K (page 121) has this to say about Calvin’s views on obeying not only good magistrates but bad ones:

    Calvin’s convictions on this subject [civil disobedience] were, on the whole, strikingly conservative. In an extended series of discussions toward the close of the Institutes, he hailed the honor and reverence due to magistrates as a consequence of their appointment by God [ICR 4.20.22-29]. Calvin exhorts Christians that they must “with ready minds prove our obedience to them, whether in complying with edicts, or in paying tribute, or in undertaking public offices and burdens, which relate to the common defense, or in executing any other orders.” [ICR 4.20.23]. He goes on to make clear that this applies to bad rulers as well as good: “But if we have respect to the Word of God, it will lead us farther, and make us subject not only to the authority of those princes who honestly and faithfully perform their duty toward us, but all princes, by whatever means they have so become, although there is nothing they less perform than the duty of princes.” [ICR 4.20.25]. “The only thing remaining for you,” Calvin adds shortly thereafter, “will be to receive their commands, and be obedient to their words.” [ICR 4.20.26].

  188. Zrim said,

    February 21, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Jeff (#184), yes, I think that is more or less right.

  189. Zrim said,

    February 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Jeff (#186), well said.

    That thought process is an imperative for the Christian, not the magistrate, but a Christian magistrate would do well not to push the Christian into betraying his conscience.

    This seems easier said than done. I can easily see a ruled believer who doesn’t like what another who rules decides claiming that his conscience is being bound, as well as saying that the Christian ruler isn’t really a Christian because he rules in a disagreeable way. In fact, the latter seems to be much more commonplace in the American scene than the former, and it is arguably a way for the ruled to bind the conscience of the ruling. E.g “Obama isn’t a Christian because of his economic policies or social philosophy.”

  190. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

    TFan, You’ve asked the core question: What is the Biblical case for Split-Table 2k? David R has been working the cult/culture case, while I’ve been arguing the eschatological case: Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic kingship; so earthly theocracy is no more. I hope to flesh that argument out more fully in the future, but for now, what do you make of this argument from the Confession:

    (1) Given: God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, (a) in any thing, contrary to His Word; or (b) 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.

    (2) Given a command P from the magistrate, it is either a matter of faith or worship, or of another matter.

    (3) If not a matter of faith or worship, it must be obeyed either because it happens to be commanded in Scripture, OR because the magistrate commands it, UNLESS it contradicts Scripture.

    (4) If a matter of faith and worship, it must be obeyed because it is commanded in Scripture, or else it must be disobeyed.

    (5) If a command is obeyed because it is commanded in Scripture, then the authority of the magistrate is of no effect, being superseded by the authority of God.

    (6) Therefore, in all matters of faith and worship, the authority of the magistrate is of no effect, since any command of his is either (a) superseded by the authority of God, or else (b) is to be disobeyed.

    (7) All 1st Table issues are matters of faith and worship.

    (8) Therefore, the magistrate has no authority over 1st Table issues.

    What do you think?

  191. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

    TFan, to anticipate two objections from WCoF 20.4:

    (1) WCoF 20.4 appears to retain the authority of the magistrate over matters of the Christian faith. And I would concede that in the 1647 Confession, this was the plain intent. Nevertheless, IF indeed the 1789 revision, which appears to teach a Split-Table 2k view, corrected the unbiblical error of the 1647 Confession, then the phrase “lawfully called to account” in 20.4 would need to be carefully parsed so as to determine what is lawful.

    (2) Likewise, the Split-Table 2k view does not deny that the magistrate and church mutually uphold one another. In my view, a Christian magistrate ought to “promote piety” (as the Confession has it) by non-coercive means. The only denial is that the magistrate has the power of the sword over 1st Table matters.

  192. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    @ Jeff: Please explain to me, why God wouldn’t expect every Nation to become a theocratic nation? What does *King* mean to you, if not a Theocratic rule?

  193. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    @Jeff, let me double up on my question:

    When you say :

    What?!!! Now, all nations are commanded to become Theocracies! After all, Jesus is the King of Kings! Now, the new Israel (Christ’s church) is to conquer every square inch, where the curse has been found, in Jesus name, through the sword of the Spirit. Christ is to have all dominion. So it’s just wrong to say that an earthly theocracy is no more! In fact, it’s the exact opposite!

    In times passed God overlooked mans rebellion, but now, in the Kingdom of God, all men are commanded to repent, and confess that Jesus is Lord! The leaven of Christ’s Kingdom is said to slowly take over, until it’s all leavened! The Kingdom of God started out, with the tiniest seed, “Christ”, and is to grow up into a giant tree, establishing dominion. That presupposes a Theocratic rule!

    All Nations are to be baptized in the Triune name of God, and instructed in *all* of God’s commandments. Yes, even the Law of God! So I would expect every Nation will one day surpass *Israel*, in terms of obedience, and reverence to the Law of God in a culturally unique and beautiful Theocracy. For we live in a time, when the Holy Spirit is being poured out on all flesh. Christ has broken the power of sin, humiliated Satan at the cross, taken the keys of death. We are in mop up mode, asked to trust in Jesus victory.

    Please explain to me, why God wouldn’t expect every Nation to become a Theocracy? Isn’t that the meaning of the Great Commission?! What does *King* mean to you, if not a Theocratic rule?

  194. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Doug (#193):

    (1) why God wouldn’t expect every Nation to become a theocratic nation?

    Because the kingdom of God is no longer located in a geopolitical nation. That outward form passed away when the true King established his kingdom. (Cf Daniel 2).

    God expects every ruler to belong to him and to obey him; but He does not require or desire for rulers to establish their nations as sanctified and set apart to Him as Israel was.

    (2) What does *King* mean to you, if not a Theocratic rule?

    Best case, it means a ruler who sees himself as accountable to God for the stewardship of his rule. And that stewardship is limited to the enforcement of matters not touching faith and worship, which are given to the church.

  195. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Doug, if I may, I’d like to challenge a couple of premises in #193.

    (1) Now, the new Israel (Christ’s church) is to conquer every square inch, where the curse has been found, in Jesus name, through the sword of the Spirit. Christ is to have all dominion.

    You conflate Christ’s rule over the nations with the Church’s rule over the nations.

    But it is far from clear that these are the same. A prince, the son of a king, is usually mocked (behind his back) for asserting the same authority as the king himself.

    Likewise, we are not given over to rule the nations (save in the eschaton) at this time. Instead, we are salt and light among the nations. Our weapons are spiritual and not of the flesh. We do not exercise the power of the sword, but instead endure beatings and persecutions for the sake of Christ, waiting patiently for the day when justice will be done (Rev 6).

    (2) All Nations are to be baptized in the Triune name of God, and instructed in *all* of God’s commandments. Yes, even the Law of God! So I would expect every Nation will one day surpass *Israel*, in terms of obedience, and reverence to the Law of God in a culturally unique and beautiful Theocracy.

    There’s a basic linguistic confusion here. The words goyim or ethnos, translated as “nation” in English, do not have the same meanings as the word “nation” as it is usually used in English today.

    A “nation” in English is a political unit with laws and government. It might contain many different extended family lines — in fact, the USA prides itself on being a melting pot for races. By contrast, an ethnos in Greek is an extended family, a race of people, whose members might live under any number of rulers. And in fact, both terms (goyim and ethnos) are frequently translated simply as “Gentiles” — non-Jewish people (e.g.: Gal 2.8, Acts 15)

    When Jesus tells his followers in Matt 28 to make followers of all the nations, He is therefore saying, Make followers from all of the Gentiles, or “from every race.” Which is exactly what they proceed to do in Acts.

    There is no sense, none at all, that Jesus is commanding his apostles to convert governments to Himself. This is not an exegetical option in Matt 28.

    Now, someone might argue that making a disciple of a king (Agrippa, for example) would have consequences for his subjects. And this is likely so; we would expect that king to learn justice from the Scripture.

    But we would not expect that king to begin to try to do the work of the church, to evangelize by exercising his own authority and the power of the sword. This concept is simply not there in Scripture.

    In short: it is important to distinguish between Christ’s rule and the church’s rule; and between ethna and “nations.”

  196. curate said,

    February 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    The NT is full of law lists, like the one Reed is using. They are not all identical, and they do not all have all of the ten words. To argue that the absence of some commands in one list somehow says that they are now obsolete is naive and uninformed.

    Reed should argue from other lists where the last six commands are absent, or present only in part, that those commands are also abrogated.

    That would demonstrate the value of this line of argument.

  197. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Roger: open to considering some of the other lists. Locations?

  198. GAS said,

    February 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Zrim,

    I believe the candlesticks occurred after Jesus and Paul, did they not? John probably seen or heard of that which is why he compared Rome to a beast, no?

    If we’re going to speak about Calvin we should probably also consider people like Beza, Knox, Althusius, and the Heugonots. Much of Reformed resistance theory was developed at this time and there was an obvious overlap with Calvin himself.

  199. Kyle S. said,

    February 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Reed,

    I just noticed that I used the same example in my 179 as you did in your 147, murder, to make incompatible points about the two-kingdom view that the civil magistrate is to punish for any (?) material, outward, temporal violation of the second table. If I say to you in all sincerity, “I hate you, you big jerk” haven’t I done something that provides adequate evidence of hatred, something that Jesus told us violates the second table? What in the two-kingdom view allows us to rule out the permissibility of a law against people saying things like that?

  200. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Kyle: of course, “I hate you” gives evidence that you have a heart as wicked as a murderer. Jesus’ point, however, is not that hate speech = murder, but that the one is of the same species as the other.

    That aside, where in the Bible do we see the command to punish hate speech? All the civil magistrate is to punish are those acts which harm the life, liberty or property of another.

    Take a look at the Rom. 13 examples Paul gives. Do you really think hate speech is included?

  201. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    All the civil magistrate is to punish are those acts which harm the life, liberty or property of another.

    Wait, that’s Locke.

  202. David Gadbois said,

    February 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Doug, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say we are tiring of posts (such as #193) that contain a lot of propagandistic assertions followed by exclamation points on every line. Aside from cluttering up this combox, it strikes me as immature and is certainly not winning any converts to your point of view. You are not speaking to anyone outside of your own theonomic paradigm.

  203. Zrim said,

    February 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    GAS, when the candlesticks occured is beside the point, which is that Paul’s magistrate, like Jesus’, likely didn’t satifactorily uphold moral law. Is demanding his worship an indicator of this? So if you’re going to make the ground for obedience the upholding of the moral law I don’t see how this comports with Paul’s apparent ground, namely that he is God’s appointed man. Once more:

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

    IOW, be obedient to the government because it’s God’s government, not because he upholds the moral law.

    I’m aware of the historical arguments for resistance theory. But my concern is to square it up with biblical arguments. And so far, Calvin’s conservative take seems the most biblical. What is arresting to me is how the magistrates in the minds of the resistance theorists, to my knowledge, whatever their tyranny never went so far as to demand their own worship. Jesus’ and Paul’s did, and yet no whiff of any notion of civil disobedience or resistance. Indeed, only the opposite.

  204. Kyle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Reed,

    No, I don’t think that the state has a divine mandate to punish even sincere utterances of ‘I hate you’. I think that if they would, they would be going beyond the divine mandate for their office. However, I also think that if they would, they would be punishing for a material, outward, and temporal violation of the second table — Jesus identifies it as such and the Westminster Catechism does, too. So I’m tempted to conclude that the second table in its entirety isn’t given to the state to enforce, even when this is qualified so as to include only material, outward, and temporal violations. Does that mean I’m not a good two-kingdom guy?

  205. GAS said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Zrim,

    GAS, when the candlesticks occured is beside the point, which is that Paul’s magistrate, like Jesus’, likely didn’t satifactorily uphold moral law.

    lol- You crack me up, buddy. :) So the candlesticks was just superfluous hyperbole- ok….likely!….LIKELY!…LIKELY!

    I actually gave an assertion that the Constitution of the Roman Republic upheld the moral law but I’ll make it better. The Constitution of the Roman Republic followed Natural Law! Whew! That’s better.

    As to Paul’s apparent grounds I explained this lo those many threads ago. Power does not mean rightness or wrongness nor does it indicate favor or disfavor of God. Power just means force. Power by itself is morally neutral. It’s only in the application of that power does the moral question surface. Consider that God may give indirect power to an individual who uses that power immorally to test his church.

    And again, Paul keeps speaking about “the good”. The context of the passage demands that Paul can only be speaking of good government. Here’s a little help for ya:

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities that are good. For there is no good authority except from God, and those good powers that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the good authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

  206. jared said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    So, what does not having any “tables” do to this discussion? I realize no one here is on board with that, but wouldn’t it sort of change the conversation a bit?

  207. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Well David Gadbois, I just re-read 193 and I loved it! Perhaps, I can slow down on the exclamation points, as I do get excited. I took full advantage of your “liar” comment, and had waaay to much fun teasing you for that. I hope your not holding that agaisnt me. But you were man enough to take it, and not delete my comments. I want you to know I recognized that, and I appreciate your deference. So please forgive me David for repeatedly ridiculing you for your *liar* comment. I really wish we could talk to each other some day. I’ve been reading your posts for around three years, so I feel like I know you. I’ve only been posting on Greenbaggins a few weeks, throwing hay makers to galore; you must think I’m the wild man from Borneo LOL. This is a subject I’m very passionate about, to put it mildly.

    I see you as a thoughtful brother who loves the Lord, and you’re easily my favorite opponent on the 2K side. Jeff Cagle is a jewel, super easy to talk too, thoughtful, but he’s in the middle on this issue.

    What’s troubling me is that you called my post propagandistic, huh? I was quoting the Bible, and the kingdom parables, with very little commentary.

    Maybe you could explain to me what I’m missing in the kingdom parables. You say I won’t win any converts, so that is obviously not good. Help me out Daivd; what did Jesus mean, if his kingdom is not going to slowly progressively take over the world? I couple the kingdom parables with Psalm 72 saying all kings are to worship Christ, and all nations are to serve him, with his enemies licking the dust. And Isaiah 2 says all the nations will flow into the mountain of God. Why aren’t those prophetic promises, something you believe will be accomplished through the Church?

    God bless you

  208. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Jared (#206): The “tables” term comes from the Confession, so it would be hard to jettison it.

    But even if we did, we could still distinguish between obligations that are Godward and obligations that are manward; and between commands that relate directly to faith and worship and commands that relate to other matters.

    Doug (#207): Why aren’t those prophetic promises, something you believe will be accomplished through the Church?

    Why not a Boettnerian post-mil? The main objection to theonomic post-mil is its great emphasis on resurrecting the OT law, as if we’re going to have Israel all over again, but with better success under the law this time!

    If we want to go post-mill, it would make a lot more sense to emphasize the “multitudes” of Rev 5 and argue that the Gospel will successfully go forth, changing the heart and making it willingly obedient to the law of God, instead of obedient by threat of punishment.

    Jesus’ “sword” is not the magistrate’s sword, but His word.

  209. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Kyle, no. 204: sounds like I may be misunderstanding what you’re trying to get at with your reference to hate speech.

    If all you’re saying is that the civil magistrate is limited to certain kinds of violations of the 2nd table, then we’re agreeing. My original post did not seek to scope out the full terrain of the civil magistrate’s duties. My focus is solely the fundamental division between 1st and 2nd table issues in view in Rom. 13. To observe that it is only certain types of 2nd table issues that are the purview of the civil magistrate does not deny the fundamental distinction. It simply offers further specificity on the basis of that distinction.

  210. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Jeff, no. 201: I’d love to say my brain is powerful enough to remember getting that from Locke, and my flesh just sinned in not attributing him. Yet that is not the case ;-) I picked up that summary phrase from my various studies, men whom I’m sure were “channeling” Locke in this regard.

    Even more importantly though, I use the summary because I see it as an accurate and adequate summary of the Bible’s teaching on the civil magistrate’s sword use. I don’t have the list verse at my fingertips. Yet I’m confident that any perusal of Scripture will show that this three-part temporal focus will stand the test.

  211. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Jared: I keep getting the impression that in some manner a driving concern for you is the appearance that the argument I’m offering in this post effectively denies the necessary relationship between the 1st table (Godward commands) and 2nd table (Manward commands). Am I reading you fairly?

  212. Cris Dickason said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

    In #205, GAS offered a rendition of Rom 13:1-2:
    “And again, Paul keeps speaking about “the good”. The context of the passage demands that Paul can only be speaking of good government. Here’s a little help for ya:
    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities that are good. For there is no good authority except from God, and those good powers that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the good authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
    Sorry, GAS, but that’s not an accurate or correct translation, nor is it an accurate or helpful paraphrase. A good paraphrase, an accurate paraphrase would be the restatement of a text based on correct exegesis. In fact, what is offered in #205 is not exegesis, it is eisegesis. There’s no hint of a qualification in Paul’s statement, much less any direct use of agathos or kalos as modifying exousia.

    Not intending to inflame or offend, but that is just unacceptable way to render these verses. Also, I know this sounds like a drive-by comment, as I’ve been pretty much silent through these hundreds of comments, but I have been observing from the sidelines.

    -=Cris=-

  213. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Jeff says: Why not a Boettnerian post-mil? The main objection to theonomic post-mil is its great emphasis on resurrecting the OT law, as if we’re going to have Israel all over again, but with better success under the law this time!>

    Me: Why make a distinction with *OT* law? Law is Law! Justice is justice! I keep sensing when you, Reed, and others, put the *OT*, or *Mosaic*, in front of Law, you bring a lot of baggage. Like, “yuck”!

    I loved Loraine Boettner by the way :) I, as a theonomic postmillennial guy, agree that God will have to change hearts! So did Bahnsen! We don’t feel, all we need to do is resurrect the OT law, that is a *caricature* and does not represent my heart felt opinion.

    But Jeff, aren’t we the New Israel? Didn’t our Lord Jesus say: I have not come to abolish the Law? Aren’t we to make disciples OF every Nation? Aren’t we to instruct every Nation in ALL of God’s commandments? Even the Law?

    Look, I know that God must change hearts, to get the kind of obedience that will glorify Him, amen? But there is a use of the civil law that does restrain evil men. And that is precisely the use that Paul sees fit to mention in 1 Tim 1:8 “We know the law is good, if one uses it lawfully”. Paul then goes on to explain that this use of the civil law restrains crime. And Paul with Apostolic authority calls that use of the Law; good! Who are you to say, resurrecting OT law will never work, Paul calls it good! Moreover, the very things he mentions in this “good” law are the very things were debating.

  214. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

    @Jeff: You say: Jesus’ “sword” is not the magistrate’s sword, but His word.

    But Paul says the government is a minister unto God, by punishing evil, no? How, pray tell, is the Government to know how to avenge justice, if he isn’t obedient to the Word of the LORD? What if he decides to kill good men?

    Some Magistrates have cut peoples heads off for saying, “Jesus is Lord”. The Beast of Revelation was called Lawless. Not because he didn’t have “laws”. What Law do you suppose the man of Lawlessness in 2nd Thess. was breaking?

  215. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Reed, what about marriage laws? That’s not life (as in life-and-death) nor liberty nor property. And yet it is contained in the 7th commandment.

  216. Zrim said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:55 am

    GAS, what Cris said.

    But if Paul was assuming good government in Romans 13 then what do you make of Jesus in Mark 12? Jesus is telling the people to obey the magistrate who not only has delusions of deity but also decreed that all males two and under be slaughtered in order to prevent his very own birth. So the Roman Republic doesn’t seem to be passing any tests of modern conceptions of goodness. Indeed, he seems worse than any magistrate anti-2kers hold up as immoral and worthy of rebuke and/or resistance. And yet, an unqualified command to obey him. No wonder “they were amazed.”

  217. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Doug (#213): We don’t feel, all we need to do is resurrect the OT law, that is a *caricature* and does not represent my heart felt opinion.

    Well, the intent is certainly not to caricature. Perhaps you read #208 as saying “all you want to do…”, but that wasn’t the intent. It’s not that I think of you as *only* wanting to resurrect the OT law, but rather that among other things, even good things, you also want to resurrect the OT law and place believers under it.

    To which, together with Paul, I say not merely “yuck” but “may it never be.” I fear that you have not sufficiently meditated on 2 Cor 3.

    Doug: But Jeff, aren’t we the New Israel?

    Jesus is the new Israel, and we are Abraham’s children by virtue of our adoption by Him.

    It seems like a niggling difference, but it has great importance: Many of the features of Israel have been subsumed in Christ. The most obvious of these is the sacrificial system; but circumcision also, and the punishment due to us because of the Law.

    Doug: Didn’t our Lord Jesus say: I have not come to abolish the Law?

    Indeed He did — “until all is accomplished.” Recall further that we still have this hanging issue about what He means.

    I’ll be happy to lay my cards on the table on this one, but I’d like for you to have an opportunity to put together and present your view a bit.

    Doug: Aren’t we to make disciples OF every Nation? Aren’t we to instruct every Nation in ALL of God’s commandments? Even the Law?

    Indeed we do. And we do this in the church. Recall, again, that Jesus is *not* commanding the apostles to make disciples of nations in the geopolitical sense, as if America could become a disciple of Christ. No, he commands the apostles to make disciples out of the nations, out of the Gentiles. God chooses this one, and that one, to attach to His kingdom, with no respect to his parentage.

    Doug: But Paul says the government is a minister unto God, by punishing evil, no? How, pray tell, is the Government to know how to avenge justice, if he isn’t obedient to the Word of the LORD? What if he decides to kill good men?

    Some Magistrates have cut peoples heads off for saying, “Jesus is Lord”.

    You mistake. As I’ve said above, the magistrate *is* to be obedient to the Word of God. *Part* of that obedience is to uphold the second table of the Law. *Part* of that obedience is to respect the authority of the church by leaving it alone to make determinations wrt faith and worship. And *part* of that obedience is to do his job justly and impartially, as Proverbs teaches.

    Doug: The Beast of Revelation was called Lawless. Not because he didn’t have “laws”. What Law do you suppose the man of Lawlessness in 2nd Thess. was breaking?

    He breaks the Law by setting himself up in the temple of God and deceiving those inside. In my view, allowing the magistrate to make decisions about faith and worship opens the door to deception. You *want* David, you *get* Ahab. Keep the door closed and the gate locked!

  218. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Jeff, no. 215: I would place marriage under liberty and property categories, depending on the the particular circumstances. E.g., “estrangement of affections” is a civil law phrase demonstrating this nuance.

  219. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Doug (#213): And that is precisely the use that Paul sees fit to mention in 1 Tim 1:8 “We know the law is good, if one uses it lawfully”. Paul then goes on to explain that this use of the civil law restrains crime.

    We return to 1 Tim 1.8. Before you present that as evidence, first some exegesis needs to happen. Of whom is Paul speaking: of magistrates, or of false teachers? And therefore, to which use is he speaking: of the civil, or of the 1st use or possibly 3rd use? And to confirm your reading, how does Paul follow up in 1.12-16: with an example of the magistrate using the law? Or of God using the Law to save sinners?

    These are leading questions, of course, which isn’t entirely fair or polite. I hope you’ll indulge a bit, for I think we need to have some exegetical clarity on the main passages at issue:

    1 Tim 1.8
    Matt 5.17 – 20
    Matt 28.18 – 20

    In each case, I believe we disagree about the meanings and/or imports of words. Would it be possible to focus our attention on these passages instead of big picture ideas?

  220. Kyle S. said,

    February 22, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Thanks, Reed. If I understand you, the point is that the two-kingdom view is that only second table stuff is in the purview of the civil magistrate, but not all second table stuff. That (only, but not all) is a helpful clarification of the typical two-kingdom view that I’ve previously understood to identify the state’s role with enforcing the second table, or that which is known by general revelation.

  221. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 11:51 am

    @Jeff: Yes, Paul was giving a healthy corrective to men “desiring to be teachers of the law”, without understanding what they were talking about. (He could have been talking to dgh and Zrim)

    So whatever they were teaching “wrong” about the law, Paul goes on to correct them saying: “We know the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding………

    This use of the Law Paul says is good, implies these teachers didn’t understand the *civil use of the Law* is still valid to restrain lawless, wicked evildoers as in homosexuals just to name one of the crimes. Sounds to me, like Paul wanted to correct their antinomian tendency, much like we see today. In other words, just because Rome was in power, doesn’t mean the Law used properly wasn’t still good.

    Regardless, whatever these false teachers were saying amiss about God’s good Law, Paul validates the *civil use* of the Law calling it *present tense good*. I can’t see any other meaning in Paul’s statement. I think Paul may have rebuking one of Zrim’s great great great great great great great great great grandparents. Tongue firmly implanted in cheek :)

  222. GAS said,

    February 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Cris (212),

    No offense taken. I appreciate your input even if you are wrong. :)

    Listen, I’m just a poor layman and don’t have time to run down to the library and look up greek words. All I can tell you is that if he is God’s servant to do me good then it is good that I expect. To universalize the passage to mean that all those in authority do good makes a mockery of human experience. But I would love to see how you exegete the passage.

    Zrim,

    If you want to talk about Herod then explain to me to what extent Herod was obliged to rule the Jewish people by the Roman Constitution? Were Jews Roman citizens with rights under the Roman Constitution? And speaking of Herod, ole John the Baptist sure seemed to have a disobedience problem when it came to the magistrate. I can only imagine how Jesus chewed his butt for being such a busy body.

  223. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    But Doug, the question is, Where is the word “civil” in the passage? Clearly you believe Paul is referring to the civil use of the law — but there aren’t any context clues I can see that point to the civil use. Rather, as my questions implied, it seems that the first use of the law is in view: The law convicts sinners, just as it convicted me, Paul, bringing me to salvation.

    That reading seems to tie 1.8 to its surrounding context; whereas “civil use” doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the horizon.

    So help me out: why do you see the civil use here?

  224. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    And to pour fuel on the fire: if 1.8 is talking about the civil use of the law, then is 1.9 saying that Christians are above the civil use of the law?!

  225. Zrim said,

    February 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    GAS, I’m just a poor layman who is trying to read Romans 13 plainly. And I don’t think it’s trying to say that all those in authority do all good all the time. The analogy is a parent, as in children obey your parents so that it may go well with you. Does that mean all parents do all good all the time? No, not even if they are believers. As often as not unbelieving parents are better parents than believing. So much for Jared’s assumption that Christians make the best magistrates ( a form of “Christians are better people”). But when they don’t do good that is still no ground for disobeying them. Imagine applying your reasoning to a child whose parent who falls short morally. But most people I know would still direct a child to show proper obedience even to an exasperating and even immoral parent.

    In fact, speaking of human experience, it seems to me that a superior form of obedience is to show submission to one who is lax than to him one adores.

  226. GAS said,

    February 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    OK Zrim, let’s test your theory.

    jonny sees daddy kill a man. daddy tells jonny not to tell anyone. Should jonny stay silent?

    jonny sees mommy having an affair with another man. mommy tells jonny not to tell anyone. Should jonny stay silent?

    jonny sees daddy steal something. daddy tells jonny not to tell anyone. Should jonny stay silent?

    jonny sees mommy lie and cheat to get free merchandise. mommy tells jonny to tell anyone. Should jonny stay silent?

    As to your last paragraph, ok, though I don’t see how that relates to our discussion.

  227. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Okay Jeff, let’s see if this helps. When Christian walk by the fruit of the Spirit, Paul says in Galatians, there is no law against, joy, peace, kindness, love, gentleness, amen?

    Now in 1 Tim. when Paul says the Law was not laid down for the righteouss, BUT for murderers, kidnappers, homosexuals, men who strike there parents, rapists and blasphemers. These were not Church matters, in Israel or today. God wanted the Magistrate to enforce these crimes with the sword. So of course these crimes should be handled by the civil Magistrate. Also, this passage gives strong apostolic proof, for the keeping of both tables.

  228. Cris Dickason said,

    February 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    GAS @ 222
    ” To universalize the passage to mean that all those in authority do good makes a mockery of human experience. ”

    You completely misread my comments; I was not claiming that being in authority equates with being good. Might does not make right, nor does it automatically make “good.” But, Paul is clearing calling on the Church to expect of the civil government basic peace-keeping so that folks can get with their lives, most especially so that the Church can get on with its mission of proclaiming the gospel and gathering on the Lord’s Day for worship with Word & sacrament (only 2 such!).

    It’s obvious that the Roman Empire wasn’t perfect. (1) we don’t expect perfection on this fallen earth, in this fallen estate.

    (2) Israel as a geo-political entity is caput. Despite some stirrings, national Israel has been finished as a nation since they went into exile. Israel (or Israel & Judah) went into exile, the Jews came out of the exile (appreciate the major shift taking place). The Jews are now a little remnant that must rely on the protection of the world empires. This is why Matt’s genealogy puts a major division at the Captivity.

    (3) Look at the visions of Daniel: it is all about the succession of world empires, and all those empires fight amongst themselves and are only interested in Israel’s territory as the bridge of land between Egypt & Fertile Crescent and as the coast of the Mediterranean. Israel is NOT the kingdom of heaven in Dan 2 that replaces and endures beyond the world empires. Jesus came and proclaimed the kingdom of God that comes into the midst of these and subborns the world’s citizens to be Heaven’s citizens.

    All of that was a long-winded (I admit it) way to set the context for the simple recognition, national Israel ends at the exile, when they come out of captivity they never regain national stature, independent existence, earthly empire. But they are still the line of promise that provides great David’s greater son, the one more glorious than Solomon, the true son of Abraham, who’s kingdom is not of this world, otherwise his disciples would take up the sword and fight. “Peter, put up your sword!”

  229. GAS said,

    February 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Cris,

    Thanks for that. I’m not a theonomist so I agree with most of what you wrote. My objection is narrower as it relates to Post Modern Two Kingdom theory. Specifically, I object to their call that we should have an Ana-Baptist mentality in our relation to the world. If the Magistrate is clearly breaking the moral law as it relates to the 2nd table I believe we have a Christian duty to resist those actions. Not so that the Church can establish an earthly kingdom but because it’s the moral thing to do so that a relative peace can be maintained and all people can retain their liberty to pursue the gifts God gave them.

  230. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    GAS: not sure where you’re hearing 2K say no opposition to the civil magistrate’s breaking the moral law. ??

  231. GAS said,

    February 22, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Oh my, Reed. You’re kidding, right? I admit I may be over-reading their agenda but if you have been following me and Zrim’s interactions he does not allow for much or any resistance to the Magistrate. How much of that is for polemical affect? Well, you’ll need to check with Zrim on that.

  232. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Doug (#227): Now in 1 Tim. when Paul says the Law was not laid down for the righteouss, BUT for murderers, kidnappers, homosexuals, men who strike there parents, rapists and blasphemers. These were not Church matters, in Israel or today.

    Side point: At least not in terms of the death penalty. The church would of course excommunicate any such.

    But to the main point: Paul says that these crimes are deserving of death. From whom?

    You’ve supplied “from the magistrate, of course!”

    But notice the other Pauline passage that speaks clearly of sins deserving of death: Romans 1.18 – 32. In this passage also, Paul says that sins such as idolatry &c. are deserving of death — including envy, gossip, and arrogance.

    But look at *who* delivers the punishment: God Himself. The magistrate is conspicuously absent, just as he is in 1 Tim 1.8. The thrust of Rom 1 – 3 is that

    * The Law pronounces the sentence of death, and
    * The Gospel delivers us from that sentence.

    And interestingly, 1 Tim 1 follows that same pattern: The Law clearly shows that [list of sins] is deserving of death. But I, Paul, who was guilty of even murder was pardoned and made an apostle of the Gospel.

    For Paul, the sentence of death is eternal death, not temporal death. The magistrate doesn’t kill people for gossiping and coveting. But God Himself justly judges such sins with Hell.

    So I would submit that the “civil use” of the law is miles away from what Paul is talking about here. The most that we can say is that the death penalty enacted by the magistrate is a fitting symbol for the true, eternal death that awaits unrepentant sinners. THAT is the death penalty of 1 Tim 1.8.

  233. paigebritton said,

    February 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I hear the same thing you do, GAS: the nobility of submitting to a corrupt civil magistrate, plus the sufficiency of GR for the successful running of civilization, equals very quiet Christians. Just mind your own business and wait for the bus (obediently).

    But Reed, are you allowing for a broader range of objections by Christians to their government, beyond just the obvious one of worship? Would “submitting to God and not to man” ever include protesting — though perhaps only in appropriate ways? — unjust laws and tyrannical rulers? Perhaps this is a wisdom issue?

  234. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Cris, Israel, ended in 70AD as God’s unique Covenant Nation. The country we now call Israel IS a geo-political nation. I can show it to you on a map. BUT, Israel is no longer God’s Covenant Nation. Jesus changed that in substance at Calvary, and in finality on 70AD.

    Listen to Paul in Ephesians 2:13

    “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility”.

    I would politely suggest that you refrain from unbiblical terms and concepts like *geo-political nation*. It winds up getting you and everybody else confused. While Israel never regained her former glory, to be sure, the Bible never says Israel wasn’t a geo-political nation prior to her ultimate destruction; therefore it’s probably a good idea for you to refrain as well. By the way, Israel was never independent! She was always to be dependent on God. So even your definition of independent geo political nation can’t be found in Scripture.

    Cris say: Israel is NOT the kingdom of heaven in Dan 2 that replaces and endures beyond the world empires. Jesus came and proclaimed the kingdom of God that comes into the midst of these and subborns the world’s citizens to be Heaven’s citizens.

    Well, you got that one kind of right; Jesus invaded this earth as the last Adam, the Israel of God. King in humiliation. The first seed of a new humanity, and now King in exultation, yes even King of Kings!

    Daniel 2:44

    “And in the days of those kings (Roman Empire) the God of heaven will not set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand and that it broke in pieces the iron the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold”.

    This prophecy is talking about Christ the King, and his Church! Made without human hands, born from the Jerusalem above. Christ has broken all former kingdoms, and will continue to conquer with the sword proceeding from his mouth. And he judges all nations by the Law of God. As, “we” his disciples proclaim the Gospel, fight the good fight of faith, until all God’s enemies are made his footstool. Christ has already overcome the world, and he promised that our faith will overcome the world as well. As Machen so confidently said, “let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God.”

  235. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    @Paige #233

    Amen, Sister! While your certainly not the bomb throwing type, I am impressed with your clear and cogent thinking expressed on this board. Keep up the good work!

  236. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    GAS: yeah, I’ve read your and Zrim’s interaction. I admit that Zrim is not a clear and succinct at times as I think he could be. But I’ve yet to hear one argument against the Christian having and exercising the right to object to wickedness on the part of the civil magistrate.

    That is NOT at 2 K position. Zrim has not made it, nor has Dr. Hart, nor has any other I’ve read here. I may be reading your objection to Zrim wrong. If so, please clarify. If not, I’ll be glad to respond to your sincere incredulity :-)

  237. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Paige: I’ve not even in mind what the “list” is in this regard. I’m simply questioning whether or not Zrim, or any other 2K proponent has made the argument I think I hear GAS saying has been made, to wit, that the individual Christian is not allowed to protest any wickedness on the part of the civil magistrate. If this is what GAS is saying he is hearing, that is a misunderstanding at least.

  238. Zrim said,

    February 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    GAS, I wonder if you’ve been following. Where do you get no allowance for any resistance to the magistrate? If he compels us to personally break the moral law we are to resist. In fact, it’s usually your school that says that when he compels us to be silent about the gospel it makes him a bad magistrate and we should phone our attorney to make things easier for us. But I’m saying we simply disobey and continue to speak, offering up our tongues and bodies.

    But here’s a way to answer your test. You’ve heard of those things lately called “Tiger Moms”? Well, I have. And, derived largely from Asian culture, their way of parenting seems to make the typical westerner’s hair stand on end. It does mine. I can hear plenty of American parents claiming that their method of parenting is exasperatng, abusive or tyrannical. Fine, but their children are still obligated to obey them. And I have hard time conceiving of Paul saying, “Obey your parents…unless they are Tiger Moms, then you can disobey.” Which sounds a lot like, “Obey your magistrate…unless he’s a 20th century tyrant, then you can disobey.” Huh?

    Paige, what you’re hearing may bother you. But do you have a biblical case for NOT minding your own business and waiting for God to make all things new? But 1 Thessalonians 4 is all about doing just that: “But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

  239. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    GAS & Paige: it may be that I’ve heard more, read more than you both have. Not intending to sound arrogant, nevertheless, the impression you say you are getting Paige IS NOT the 2K.

    At most the conclusions you’re observing there are inferences – and not good and necessary ones. In terms of these kinds of things 2K speaks to the role of the Church as the Church, not to to the role of the Christian as the civil subject of the Secular Kingdom. E.g., 2K does not have a problem with Lex Rex.

    This is a critical distinction that seems often glossed over. 2K understands that there is a difference between what the Church as the Church is called to do and what the Christian is called to do in the Secular Kingdom.

  240. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Zrim, no. 238: now your last paragraph does imply a contradiction with what you said in your first paragraph. I understand where you’re coming from Zrim. But maybe you might help remove the confusion this seems to inject.

    Is the Christian allowed to protest the wickedness of the civil magistrate? Is he supposed to protest the same? Don’t worry about the nuances. Just give the basic position.

  241. Cris Dickason said,

    February 23, 2011 at 5:56 am

    GAS @ 229 – I would say we have in the USA great liberty to speak to our elected leaders/authorities when they are wrong; we have liberty to peacefully & lawfully (constitutionally) replace them also. This is an option open to all citizens, believers and unbelievers, if that’s all you mean by “resistance” I would say that’s within our liberty in Christ and pilgrim calling. I’m not so sure these days if armed resistance is within our pilgrim calling. I’m honest enough to admit to myself (and everyone here) that I’m not so sure, from my current theological stance, that I would have been a patriot/revolutionary with Washington, Jefferson, et al. I could just as easily see my duty to be a royalist. Impossible to really tell what any of us would have done or been back then – as Aslan always told the kids, someone elses story is for them not you, so for our own. Aslan would say, you’re living in this time, not that previous one.

  242. TurretinFan said,

    February 23, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Reed:

    You wrote:

    But I’ve yet to hear one argument against the Christian having and exercising the right to object to wickedness on the part of the civil magistrate.

    That is NOT at 2 K position. Zrim has not made it, nor has Dr. Hart, nor has any other I’ve read here. I may be reading your objection to Zrim wrong. If so, please clarify. If not, I’ll be glad to respond to your sincere incredulity :-)

    I seem to recall either Zrim and/or Hart being unhappy with Pastor Bailey preaching a sermon in which he objected to wickedness on the part of the civil magistrate.

    Did you see that? If so, is your point that they did not provide much of an argument (I’m inclined to agree) or that they do not represent a 2 K position (I would be surprised to to hear you say that) or something else (maybe, for example, you are distinguishing and saying it is ok for us to criticize the civil magistrate here on a blog, but from the pulpit it’s forbidden). Could you clarify what you mean?

    -TurretinFan

  243. Reed Here said,

    February 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

    TFan: yes, I’m familiar with that objection (it was a rather extended one). The gist of their argument (whether or not they were clear enough) was in opposition to the sermon as a formal function of the Church. Their argument was not against Rev. Bailey exercising his responsibilities as a Christian where they intersect with the Secular realm. This is the clarification I am pushing here.

    The Christian lives in two kingdoms, secular and sacred. In each he bears rights/responsibilities. While there is at least interaction between both sets, at the very least there are clearly identifiable and distinguishable sets.

    The 2K “thou shalt not” in view here IS NOT about the Christian in his relationships in both kingdoms. It is solely about the Civil Magistrate in his functions as Civil Magistrate, and the Church in her functions as the Church. Individuals are involved, but their rights/responsibilities as individuals is not the subject of discussion.

  244. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Reed, so how would you distinguish your 2k view from (a) Calvin’s, and (b) Hart’s?

  245. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

    TFan, I don’t know whether you saw #190, but I would be interested in your thoughts on it.

  246. Reed Here said,

    February 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Jeff: I’m not ready yet to do that kind of work. One, I don’t know Calvin as well as you or some others here. Two, while I’ve listened to Dr. Hart, I still think he has not fully fleshed out his own understanding.

    I am working towards the “10-point” list, but I’ve got a ways to go yet.

  247. Cris Dickason said,

    February 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Doug S @ 234

    “geo-political kingdom” – make up your mind:
    * There is still a geo-political nation Israel, I can show it on a [modern] map See next paragraph.

    * But geo-political nation is an unbiblical term – No, it’s a non-biblical term

    * But geo-political nation is an unbiblical concept – No, I think the Davidic-Solomonic kingdom or, nation, and the Assyrian, Babylon, Rome, etc are present as concepts and realities w/in the Bible.

    * Despite being a term to avoid, you use it in a positive sense at least twice.

    As for that 1st button, I had to laugh. I was completely focused on redemptive history and the unfolding flow from Fall to Abraham to Israel (Moses) to Christ (& Church). The modern state of Israel does not factor into my prophetic or eschatological calendars, at least when the topic is not millennial views.

    The redemptive-historical progression shows that as Israel repeatedly failed, as a people their place and significance in the world scene shrank by divine judgment, so the nation / 12 tribes went into exile and a province (Judea), and a religious/ethnic minority (Jews) came out of the exile. Israel fails to be light & blessing to the nations, so they become less significant to the nations. Israel is condensed and compressed; ultimately focused on the one true son of Abraham, the one true Israel, the Seed (not seeds): Jesus Christ. The risen Lord Christ then builds his Church of those confessing him, so the Church is the new Israel, restricted not to one ethnic group and bounded by no ethnic symbols or signs, bounded by confession, Word and two sacraments (both sacraments freely available to girls as well boys)(1 Peter 2, etc.).

    The issue is: Does God expect all the nations of the world to adopt Israel’s laws or legal structure? Perhaps even more pointedly, does God expect Christians to lobby for or seek for their own government to enact and enforce Israel’s laws? We get no such picture from Rom 13, nor from the broader context of the NT Epistles, the Acts or the Gospels. There is no such requirement for the Church (Christians corporately and
    congregationally) nor for the individual believer.

    To put it most pointedly: why would we seek to “Judaize” civil governments
    when we have been most strenuously told (Galatians, et al) we don’t Judaize the Church or the Gospel?

    If that’s over-the-top, moderators may delete!

    -=Cris=-

  248. Doug Sowers said,

    February 23, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    No Cris, you were not over the top, even though I think you’re mistaken. Let’s go over this, okay? First off, to does God expect all nations to adopt Israel’s laws and legal structure?

    You need to be careful here, the answer is yes, and no. Not the outward form of the Mosaic economy, but yes to the general equity. All the Reformers felt that way, just look at the laws they passed! (Can anyone say Theonomy?) One doesn’t need to be an avid reader of the great theologians to see that point. The ceremonial laws, which prefigured the redemptive work of Christ, were confirmed, or fulfilled at Calvary! It would be ridiculous to sacrifice animals, amen? But are our sins are still washed away by the Pascal Lamb? Yes! But in its realization, now Jesus is the precious Lamb of God, amen?

    But! The moral laws, “with there just punishments” reflect the character of God, on how he wants crime punished. I am not talking about the laws that pertained only to the Jews, but to Gentiles as well. This is why Jesus said twice, “Don’t think I’ve come to abolish the law”, not until heaven and earth pass away can one jot or tittle pass away from this good law. So did the ceremonial law pass away? No!

    So, do we still keep the ceremonial law? Be careful, yes, and no! We still keep the Passover, in a new covenant sense, every time we take the Lord’s Supper, amen? It’s now kept in its fulfilled reality. Please let me give another illustration.

    1Cor. 5:6

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

    This is an old covenant ceremonial law, with new covenant application, same law realized in Christ. God didn’t abolish the ceremonial law, he fulfilled it! Christ is the reality it typified in Deuteronomy 16:3. Would you accuse Paul of Judaizing? Of course not! To Judaize, was to insist that one (especially a Gentile Christian, prior to 70AD) clutch on to the *shadows* that had given way to the reality of the cross. Especially typified in circumscion, and the older yoke of the Mosaic rituals. We still keep the marrow, or essence of the law, in Christ Jesus!

    When it comes to the Law given to Israel for all men, like how to punish, murder, kidnapping, blasphemy, rape, blasphemy, and theft, is still binding. At least that how our Reformers understood them. They saw them as perpetual! For if we want to be coherent, then justice and morality, have to be harmonious, or as I prefer, *coterminous*. In other words, if it was *moral* to execute a rapist in Israel, then it’s *moral* today, if you want to be coherent. That is what Calvin, Perkins, Cartwright, and all the Great men at Westminster believed, unless you want to call the men who wrote the WCF “Judaizeres”, ouch!

    Oh, and thanks for correcting my “mix up”, with “un” and “none” biblical terminology :)

  249. Doug Sowers said,

    February 23, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Moreover Cris, I can give you at least 10 other examples of Paul and other NT writers commanding Gentile christians to keep the ceremonial law, in a new covenant from. It’s laced all through the new testament. Like I said, to Judaize, was to force a Gentile Christian, (prior to 70AD) to become circumcised and keep the Mosaic rituals, in there older shadow form. It had nothing whatever to do, with a Nation punishing a rapist the way God’s Law commanded.

  250. Zrim said,

    February 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Reed (#240), my basic position is that in our American context protesting one’s government is a matter of liberty. So I don’t think it’s a matter of “allowed to” or “supposed to.” One also has the liberty to refrain.

    I’m not sure what the contradiction would be in my first and third paragraphs. In the first I mean that if the magistrate compels us to break God’s moral law in our own persons we have no choice but to disobey. In the third I mean that if he is not compelling us in this way then it is highly questionable that we have any biblical duty to disobey or rebuke him. He may be doing something evil, but where is there any biblical charge to rebuke him for it? Indeed, I think the case can be made that if we are not being compelled to break God’s law then to disobey, rebuke or protest might be unbiblical. I know that scrapes our American sensibilities that are nurtured on the virtues of civil disobedience, but I have yet to see a compelling biblical case for civil disobedience when the plain reading of the NT is clearly on the virtues of civil obedience.

    Tfan and Reed, re David Bailey’s “Sermon to a President,” I think Reed captures it well. It is not my view that officers of the church mayn’t have their political persuasions. Rather, it is to make a point about the burdens of their office. If the church they are ordained to lead is called to not meddle in civil affairs then it is hardly clear how they as individuals in their capacities and office can act or speak in meddlesome ways.

    What I find interesting is how Tim Bailey calls anyone who is not persuaded in his conscience to act and speak the way he does is “unfaithful.” If anyone is binding anyone, it seems to be Rev. Bailey in statements like these. I am saying he has every right to his views and convictions, and even to act publicly in ways I am persuaded are unbecoming even if perfectly lawful. What I’d ask is that he demit his ordination before doing so, as well as allow me my right to be as persuaded in my conscience of better ways to address certain social and political issues without calling into question my faith.

  251. Reed Here said,

    February 23, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Zrim: not contradiction, but confusion. You’ve cleared it up well (as I expected you could/would). Thanks!

  252. paigebritton said,

    February 24, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Zrim & Reed,
    Here’s the catch for me —
    In the first I mean that if the magistrate compels us to break God’s moral law in our own persons we have no choice but to disobey. In the third I mean that if he is not compelling us in this way then it is highly questionable that we have any biblical duty to disobey or rebuke him.

    This seems to mean that unless I am personally required by the magistrate’s laws to break God’s moral law, even in my Christian liberty I am not obligated — in fact, I ought NOT — to protest (in any way, mind you, not just “civil disobedience”) the actions of the magistrate.

    I guess I am wondering about situations where the magistrate’s legislative actions lead to injustice for others rather than myself, and the biblical basis for speaking up comes from things like these:

    “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” (Prov. 3:27)

    “He who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be answered.” (Prov. 21:13)

    “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” (Prov. 29:7)

    This kind of concern for “social justice” seems inimical to Zrim’s position.

    Reed, I recognize that there are different shades of 2K, and I just think that Zrim & Hart draw the line on Christian obligation and participation in bringing relief to a fallen world much more harshly than necessary.

    pax,
    pb

  253. Reed Here said,

    February 24, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Paige: I sympathize with your reading of Zrim and Hart. I guess I’ve been reading for enough now that I’m attuned to not read into their arguments things they’re not saying. Part of the reason for this is because I’ve read enough responses they’ve offered to the kind of “now wait a minute,” question you’re asking.

    If it helps, Zrim and Darryl are arguing at a much more foundational level than most of questions asked to them recognize. There is something in the 2K position tht strikes me as more on target than the alternatives (e.g., theonomy). Thus I’ve been willing to look more closely at the foundational level and not sweat too much the application level quite yet. Application is important, but the foundations here are much deeper than one might first suspect.

    As well, I think there is something about the 2K position that when functioning at the level of application says in effect, “wrong way to ask the question,” or “not a valid question.” The 2K position is actually quite minimalist.

  254. GAS said,

    February 24, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Reed, Zrim, et al,

    Way back in the first thread, I believe, I proposed withholding a portion of ones taxes as a proper form of resistance to state funded abortions. To Darrly’s credit, he counseled to bring it to the magistrate and warned of the possible consequences. Fair enough.

    Zrim, OTOH, left no room for such a resistance harking back to his fundamentalist readings of Matt 12 and Rom 13. So for Zrim, he may leave some room for resistance in theory but when it comes to actual application he can’t seem to bring himself to allow it.

    I’ve got to believe there is something foundational in Van Drunen that pushes this pacifism towards the state.

  255. todd said,

    February 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Paige,

    As a 2ker with Darryl and Zrim, I would say one can protest something while still submitting. It all depends on how you do it. The same is true in Presbyterianism.

  256. Zrim said,

    February 24, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Paige, I think Reed makes a helpful point about the foundational argument and application. And while I agree with Todd that one can protest something while still being submissive, the questions I am asking are meant to challenge the apparent assumptions I think we have in American Protestantism which I have a hard time seeing as biblically compatible. I’m as American as you, so these questions scrape against my own natural inclinations in some ways. But if we can be as critical of various American cultural assumptions about things like sex and materialism, I find it curious that there can be as much pushback on questions re the assumptions that belie our understanding of American notions of citizenry as believers. IOW, if we say the Bible calls us to resist a fleshy culture then it also seems to instruct us on resisting a politically correct culture of civil disobedience that recoils at notions of obedience and submission. In the Bible, it’s the other way around.

    GAS, if I recall, your point was that you have the right to withhold taxes for things you don’t like. I simply don’t see the bibical basis for this; it seems way more American than Christian. Again, I think you have the biblial duty to resist a magistrate who tells you that you must abort your second child, but by the same token I don not see how you have any right to withhold your taxes for his funding of someone else’s abortion. I can see how you have the right to not like it, just like me, and voice your opinion, but so far I remain unperusaded that you can, biblically speaking, cherry pick where your taxes go. (Which also sounds a lot like the school-voucher arguements, which I oppose. If someone gets to keep their taxes from funding schools then can I keep mine which fund sewers and dig an outhouse in my backyard? Cherry picking taxes not only has biblical problems but practucal ones as well.)

  257. GAS said,

    February 24, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Zrim:

    GAS, if I recall, your point was that you have the right to withhold taxes for things you don’t like.

    No, that was your interpretation of what I was saying. I gave a specific proposal.

    I simply don’t see the bibical basis for this; it seems way more American than Christian. Again, I think you have the biblial duty to resist a magistrate who tells you that you must abort your second child, but by the same token I don not see how you have any right to withhold your taxes for his funding of someone else’s abortion.

    If we take your position to it’s logical conclusion then if Nazi Stormtroopers came to take my Jewish neighbor to kill him I have to let him go instead of protecting him, not resisting the magistrate, because it’s simply none of my business. The Biblical basis is actually quite simple. I have a duty to love my neighbor as I love myself. If I don’t want the magistrate to immorally kill me then I have a duty to protect my neighbor from the government killing him immorally.

  258. Reed Here said,

    February 24, 2011 at 11:33 am

    GAS: I’ll admit Zrim sometimes gives way to hyperbole to make a point, and may overspeak. But, c’mon …

    There is no way the specific example of “withholding tax payments” is equivalent to “protecting Ann Frank from the Nazi’s.” Talk about hyperbole, dude, you win the gold ;-)

  259. GAS said,

    February 24, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Reed,

    Why is the killing of unborn children somehow less atrocious than killing Jews?

  260. paigebritton said,

    February 24, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Thanks, Reed and Todd. Todd, I understand and agree with your statement about both submitting and protesting.

    I DO appreciate much about the 2K concept described by Zrim, Jason and Darryl, especially the heads-up about what the preacher should be doing with his sermon time (i.e., not telling the flock exactly how to vote, etc.).

    But Reed, I don’t think I am reading into Zrim’s presentation what I described above. Remember he wrote this (#250)? (And this is not the first time I have heard this argument from Z.)

    if the magistrate compels us to break God’s moral law in our own persons we have no choice but to disobey. In the third I mean that if he is not compelling us in this way then it is highly questionable that we have any biblical duty to disobey or rebuke him. He may be doing something evil, but where is there any biblical charge to rebuke him for it? Indeed, I think the case can be made that if we are not being compelled to break God’s law then to disobey, rebuke or protest might be unbiblical. I know that scrapes our American sensibilities that are nurtured on the virtues of civil disobedience, but I have yet to see a compelling biblical case for civil disobedience when the plain reading of the NT is clearly on the virtues of civil obedience.

    I am reading here, “Let sleeping dogs lie. It doesn’t concern you. You have no obligation to protest or rebuke such a magistrate. In fact, it is unbiblical for you to do so.” Eisegesis on my part, or is this what Zrim is saying?

    Contrast this with the Proverbs I have quoted above, and maybe you can see why I am troubled by this. It may be that Zrim has his own personal line that someone like Todd or DGH would not draw in the same exact place, but we sure hear a lot about it, which is why both GAS and I wondered earlier at your statement that 2K doesn’t go here.

    pax,
    pb

  261. Reed Here said,

    February 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    GAS: the lack of equivalency is in the response. Withholding taxes ni not comparable to protecting a Jew from the Nazis.

    Now if you want to compare the latte with smuggling out of China a pregnant Chinese Christian facing an abortion due to the one child rule, then there is some equivalency in response.

  262. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I’m with Paige. The WLC states that the 6th commandment requires

    comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.

    and forbids

    the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life

    While I respect Zrim’s principled stance, I don’t think he’s dwelt sufficiently on what the 6th commandment requires of us.

  263. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Reed (#253):

    One of the foundational questions that one needs to ask is whether we can properly divide between “behavior” and “Christian behavior.”

    DGH’s interpretation of the Confession The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture

    is that “life” refers to our Christian lives, not our lives in general. For that, general revelation is sufficient.

    And so the question is (a) whether we may properly bifurcate between our lives in general and our Christian lives, and (b) whether that was the original intent of WCoF 1.6 as written.

    As a 2k-er, I say “no” on both counts.

  264. Reed Here said,

    February 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Jeff: no argument, and … the question of personal Christian ethics is not going to be sufficiently answered by 2K because the questions is bigger than the subject. When Darryl and Zrim are asked such questions they routinely are pulling in convictions that are tangential but not resting upon the 2K principle.

  265. TurretinFan said,

    February 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    “the question of personal Christian ethics is not going to be answered by 2K”

    That is a remarkable statement. I need to ponder it for a while.

  266. David R. said,

    February 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Jeff,

    Have you ever read T. David Gordon’s essay, “The Insufficiency of Scripture”? I think DGH may be (at least partly) following Gordon. The essay is on the Modern Reformation website. If you haven’t read it, you may find it interesting.

  267. David R. said,

    February 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Here’s a teaser:

    “I clarify [the meaning of WCF 1:6], however, that ‘faith and life’ must be taken in its religious sense. I also clarify that the entire matter would have been better expressed had the divines articulated a more manifestly covenantal statement, indicating that the Scriptures are a sufficient guide to the various covenants God has made with his various covenant people through the centuries, and that the entire canon, taken in its entirety, is sufficient, therefore, to govern the members of the new covenant made in Christ. By ‘faith and life’ the divines intended what one is to believe and do as a member of the new covenant community.

    “To demonstrate that such is a correct reading of the Assembly’s intent, I call attention to the qualification near the end, regarding ‘circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church,’ which are to be governed not by Scripture, but by the light of nature and Christian prudence. Why would the divines have added this qualification regarding the life of the covenant community (‘worship … government of the church’), if Scriptures were an otherwise complete guide for all of life? Are ‘circumstances’ about automobile mechanics governed by Scripture, but circumstances regarding worship and church government not so governed? Of course not. Rather, this latter clause qualifies the intent of the previous, that ‘faith and life’ are shorthand references for the beliefs of the covenant community and the duties of the covenant community.”

  268. GAS said,

    February 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    With all due respect Reed, I think you’re straining for Gnats.

    If my withholding taxes restricts the government from funding abortions then I have effectively accomplished the same goal of protecting life.

    I think Zrim may have a point about American sensibilities but unfortunately it seems to be regarding our sensibilities to a difference between unborn life and born life.

  269. Reed Here said,

    February 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Tfan: reading your quoting me to Jeff, I said to myself “that’s not what I said.” So I re-read what I said, and yup, you got it right.

    I’ve gone back and edited that comment. I originally typed it, hit the wrong button, lost the whole thing when the web page went back one in history, and had to re-type the whole thing. When I did I failed to include a critical/key word:

    “the question of personal Christian ethics is not going to be sufficiently answered by 2K”

    is how the sentence should have read. Sorry for the mistake.

  270. Reed Here said,

    February 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    So Gas: either I’ve got bugs in my teeth, our you’re choking on a hog? That actually makes sense; a very proportional opposing set of metaphors :-)

    I’ll not argue with you which of us is tasting something unusual. I understand your intent. I do understand the connection between your two illustrations.

    My criticism is more toward the equitability of your two examples for the purposes of making your argument. Maybe if you had said “campaigning against the Nazis in an election (the one before they secured power)” is comparable to withholding taxes used for abortions, then (most likely) I would not have choked for a moment. ;-) As it is, mine is not an objection that should take up much of your time.

  271. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 24, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    David R (#266):

    Yes, I had read that before, and just went back and looked at it again.

    I know it looks nitpicky, but notice the careful difference between “Scripture is insufficient for common life” (Gordon) and “General revelation is sufficient for common life” (Zrim).

    Gordon argues that we as Christians, in our common lives, ought to feel comfortable acquiring wisdom from general revelation to guide us in our common affairs, AND that we should not assume that Scripture gives us all of the answers for plumbing and animal husbandry.

    Great, I say. This is precisely why I teach math and science.

    Zrim, OTOH, argues that special revelation is not necessary in our common lives; general revelation is sufficient.

    What? I say. Don’t we have to obey Scripture in every activity in our lives?

    Yes, he says. The Christian life is one of obedience. But that’s our Christian behavior, not our common behavior. The Bible tells us to be honest while we are plumbing; it doesn’t tell us how to plumb.

    DGH says much the same.

    I think that hair don’t split. If the Bible tells me to be honest in my plumbing, it’s telling me how to plumb — not sufficiently or exhaustively how, mind, but one of the parameters that must be followed. An obedient Christian will organize his plumbing around, among other things, honesty. Because God says so, and not simply because it’s good for business.

    Coming back to your specific point, David: Even though I agree with Gordon’s basic point, that general revelation is good and necessary, I think he misses the connecting thread that ties general and special revelation together. He argues that the Westminster divines had in mind specifically covenantal areas of life, with the idea that some areas of life are covenantal, while others are not.

    So I ask, Which areas of life are outside the covenant? Is my behavior as plumber outside the covenant, so that I may disregard covenantal obligations while plumbing? Or as a teacher? Or as an anything-else-er?

    I don’t think the Westminster divines thought that way. The covenant with man, they tell us, was a covenant of works that continues to be a perfect rule of righteousness, which binds all (justified and not — they are very definite about this!) to the obedience thereof.

    There is no area of life that is free from our covenantal obligations.

    Granted: Gordon meant the covenant of grace, I feel certain. But I don’t think the divines had that in mind.

    For if they did, they would almost certainly have *not* written the original magistrate chapter the way they did. Gordon’s take makes Westminsterian 2k an obvious consequence, and the Westminster divines were most certainly not Westminsterian 2k (we all agree!). I don’t think you could have “Covenanters” saying that civil government is outside the covenant.

    So while I appreciate Gordon’s zeal for general revelation, I think his take on WCoF 1.6 is essentially anachronistic: reading the entire Confession through the lens of the theology of Westminster West.

  272. Reed Here said,

    February 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Jeff: I’m hearing Zrim and Darryl merely speaking the same thing as Gordon, but the opposite way. What am I missing?

  273. GAS said,

    February 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Reed, as I look at your picture I think I can see ‘em. ;)

    I would have thought you would have noticed the “leads to” implication.

  274. David R. said,

    February 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Jeff,

    “I know it looks nitpicky, but notice the careful difference between ‘Scripture is insufficient for common life’ (Gordon) and ‘General revelation is sufficient for common life (Zrim).”

    I agree with you that that is an important distinction. It would be helpful to get further clarification here, though I doubt that there is ultimately disagreement.

    “Coming back to your specific point, David: Even though I agree with Gordon’s basic point, that general revelation is good and necessary, I think he misses the connecting thread that ties general and special revelation together. He argues that the Westminster divines had in mind specifically covenantal areas of life, with the idea that some areas of life are covenantal, while others are not.

    “So I ask, Which areas of life are outside the covenant? Is my behavior as plumber outside the covenant, so that I may disregard covenantal obligations while plumbing? Or as a teacher? Or as an anything-else-er?”

    I may not be completely understanding you here. I’m not sure which connecting thread you’re referring to, though I think your point is simply that there is no area of life that the covenant doesn’t speak to in some way, e.g., that even in our common callings, the covenant regulates our behavior. Is that right?

    I don’t see Gordon denying that (but I’m not sure you do either). Rather, I see him pointing out that, while the Bible instructs us exhaustively (i.e., sufficiently) concerning the specifics of what we are to believe, how we are to worship, and how the church is to be governed, it is not sufficient for all of life. I think the proper distinction is not “behavior”/”Christian behavior” (as you have it) but rather secular/sacred. All of life is covenantal, but some of life is secular and some of it is sacred.

    As far as I know, even the Covenanters did not see civil government as a sacred calling (or an object for reformation). Rather, their view of the duties of the magistrate flowed from their conviction that, while he had a secular calling, he was tasked with enforcing the true religion.

  275. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    David, Reed, and Zrim: The issue is over the words “sufficient” and “necessary”, which are very different terms:

    * Air is necessary for physical life, but not sufficient. We need food also. Both together must be present.
    * An earthquake is sufficient for widespread damage, but not necessary. A fire could do the job, or a plague of frogs. Any one of these will suffice.

    Gordon says that general revelation is necessary for our non-covenantal lives; and even for our covenantal lives to a small extent (citing the tail end of WCoF 1.6).

    Zrim, you say that general revelation is sufficient for our common affairs. This is a very different claim, and quite dubious. It means, literally, that we have no need of special revelation to govern our common affairs, for general revelation is sufficient, enough. The clear implication of the words is that we may disregard special revelation as unnecessary in our common affairs.

    Fortunately, you deny the clear implication of your words. You say, special revelation is still necessary while engaged in common affairs; but general revelation is still sufficient for our common affairs.

    That’s the claim; I can’t see my way clear to accepting it. It seems self-contradictory on its face.

    I would much rather say that SR and GR are both necessary for our lives, each performing a different role.

  276. David R. said,

    February 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Jeff,

    When Zrim said that GR is sufficient, I understood him to mean that plumbers, bakers and even civil magistrates can fulfill their respective callings just fine without recourse to Scripture. Wouldn’t you (and Gordon) agree with that (leaving aside for now the duty of a Christian magistrate)?

  277. TurretinFan said,

    February 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    “Just fine” means what, David R.? Do you mean from a moral standpoint? Or do you mean that the plumbing can meet code? I suppose mean the latter, but a robot could do that.

  278. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    David (#276): No, actually, I wouldn’t.

    What does it mean to “fulfill a calling”? Who has called? What has he called that person to do?

    In my view, secular callings *can* be glorifying to God precisely because God calls (some of) us to them as the way in which we glorify Him. And that means faithfulness to the one calling is necessary — which entails special revelation.

    One of the dangers I perceive in saying that plumbers and bakers can fulfill their callings without recourse to Scripture is that we run the danger of forgetting that secular callings are callings *from God*.

  279. David R. said,

    February 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Tfan, “just fine,” meaning simply that plumbers can fix pipes, bakers can make bread and magistrates can govern.

  280. TurretinFan said,

    February 24, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    David R.: That makes it sound like “just fine” has no meaning. What am I missing?

    -TurretinFan

  281. David R. said,

    February 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Jeff,

    A baker’s calling is to bake good bread and an architect’s calling is to design good buildings. SR isn’t necessary for either of these tasks, is it?

  282. David R. said,

    February 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Tfan, I’m not sure.

  283. Zrim said,

    February 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Paige, I think you might have to do more than quote a few Proverbs to make the case for how believers are obligated to civil disobedience when there is, from what I can tell, not only scant evidence for it in the NT but pretty overwhelming evidence for civil obedience.

    GAS, I’m on record as denying the alleged parallel between the Nazi regime and American jurisprudence. I’ll maintain that stance. It’s a silly comparison and one that only amps up the discussion to a screed level I don’t think is very helpful. Instead of transporting ourselves across time and place and speculating on what we would do in extremely complicated situations (surprise, surprise many of us would be absolute heroes), my point here is that we need to consider more seriously what it means to be civilly obedience and submissive in a wider culture that, frankly, does its level best to diminish those biblical virtues; I wonder if you can do that without invoking certain templates for evil that strike fear and loathing into the hearts of 2011 American? But it’s interesting to me how when the discussion is sexual egalitarianism the points about submission and obedience is plain to many who conceive themselves as conservative, but when it turns to how we are to politically comport ourselves everyone turns into a progressive .

    If my withholding taxes restricts the government from funding abortions then I have effectively accomplished the same goal of protecting life.

    Actually, GAS, I think you’ve more effectively defied commands to render unto Caesar his due. But do you really think if you withhold your taxes for pre-emptive war you’ve really “accomplished the goal of protecting” the weak and defenseless lives that came from shock and awe? I’m opposed to both political actions and hate that my dollars would go to fund them, but I’m also not so naïve as to think that my acts of civil rebellion have protected any lives.

    Gordon says that general revelation is necessary for our non-covenantal lives; and even for our covenantal lives to a small extent (citing the tail end of WCoF 1.6). Zrim, you say that general revelation is sufficient for our common affairs. This is a very different claim, and quite dubious. It means, literally, that we have no need of special revelation to govern our common affairs, for general revelation is sufficient, enough. The clear implication of the words is that we may disregard special revelation as unnecessary in our common affairs.

    Jeff, Gordon talks about the insufficiency of Scripture:

    “We appear to have lost the historic Protestant understanding of the importance of natural revelation, and have tended to function as though such revelation were not necessary. If anything has changed, then, it is that I would now argue with equal zeal for the insufficiency of Scripture in other than religious or covenantal areas. As such, Scripture is not a sufficient guide to many aspects of life, other than in the sense of providing religious direction and motivation to all of life.”

    I agree. And what I am saying is that if SR is insufficient for civil life then something has to be sufficient for it. And since there is only one book left, that must be GR. But why can Gordon employ the short hand of the insufficiency of SR but I get flack for my short hand of the sufficiency of GR? And why does my short hand imply we may disregard SR as unnecessary in our common affairs when Gordon says it’s insufficient? Why isn’t that the implication of Gordon’s provocative formulation? But, as Reed suggests, I don’t think either of us are implying anything close to what you suggesting.

    Tfan, your concern for “just fine” seems to be a way of questioning approximation, as in, “If GR only gets us approximation in our common lives then clearly it is insufficient.” But as I have suggested before, even if you throw SR on top of GR or replace GR altogether with SR, you still have the problem of human sin that neither book circumvents. SR is sufficient for ecclesial life, but we still get only approximation in ecclesial life because sinners are still sinners.

  284. Zrim said,

    February 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I’ve got to believe there is something foundational in Van Drunen that pushes this pacifism towards the state.

    GAS, a friend passes this along from DVD’s “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms” (I don’t have my own copy yet):

    ‎”The civil magistrates recognized by the New Testament were… officers of the Roman Empire. No one would have mistaken the Roman Government and Roman magistrates as ‘Christian.’ Americans and other people living in Western democracies often like to complain about their governments, but we should keep in mind that we have it far better under our own governments…than the early Christians had it under Rome.”

    Is this what you mean by foundationally pacifist? But I take it to mean that we Americans do a fair amount of moaning over the imperfections of our government, to the point of suggesting we may withhold our taxes for things that fund such imperfections, which seems at the very least sorta whiny compared to early believers who endured persecution but seldom yipped the same way.

    But at least our magistrate doesn’t think he’s God. Well, unless Mitt Romney comes to power, a guy who thinks he’ll be deified instead of glorified. So, if Mitt does gain the White House does this mean I get to withhold a portion of my taxes, which pay his salary, which gives him the means he needs to go to his false church to get nurtured in his own delusions of deity? Something tells me he’ll still go, just like Obama might continue in his policies despite my rebellion.

  285. Cris Dickason said,

    February 24, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Jeff et al @ 275

    I would much rather say that SR and GR are both necessary for our lives, each performing a different role.

    Lane Tipton made a similar point (in 2000) in a talk: The Covenant of Works: Implications for Human Knowledge. He then develops the point. Tipton (he wasn’t a Dr. yet) called it “Van Til’s Maxim: General revelation and special revelation are covenantally coordinated.” Natural revelation is never encountered by itself, for God spoke to Adam in the Garden (Vos’ pre-redemptive special revelation). Covenant thus unites general & special revelation. Neither is ever found in the abstract, the 2 are always found together concretely. Man deals with the personal God everywhere. General revelation was never designed to function alone, without special revelation. General revelation without special revelation is blind. Special revelation without general revelation is meaningless.

    That last line (blind…meaningless) wasn’t unpacked, but I think the meaning is, general revelation isn’t sufficient for salvation, it only gets one so far; and special revelation would be meaningless without the context of Creator – creature – creation. Special revelation is uselessly abstract or in a vacuum without the creation or general revelation context.

    This was 3rd talk in a series on Covt of Works (Vos contributions, Kline contributions, CVT synthesis). Scary that Lane Tipton was so good even then! These can be found on sermonaudio.com, search by speaker of course.

  286. paigebritton said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Cris’s point reminds us also of how we are to use the term “general revelation”:

    Its content is GOD (not baking or plumbing),
    its purpose is CONVICTION of what is true about God,
    and its result is, for many, JUDGMENT, not successful society.

    “Common grace” is something different.

    pb

  287. Cris Dickason said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:22 am

    And let me conclude the VanTil/Tipton commercial with this: There was a 4th talk back in October, 2000 by Lane: General Revelation/VanTil’s Apologetics. Just listened to that on the treadmill this morning (so no written notes).

    Tipton really focuses in on GR in this talk, supplies a context: CVT is knocked by traditional apologists for slighting GR (Gerstner, Sproul, etc). Yet through some pointed and easily found passages in CVT this is laid to rest. Tipton also provides an exegesis of Rom 1:18-23 or 25. GR is covenantal & historical, is clear & authoritative. I think there was a 3rd pt or pair of adjectives flowing out of Rom 1:18ff.

    Highly recommend all 4 lectures. The 4th is less than 30 minutes (Sunday School talk after the 3 longer lectures at GPTS)

  288. paigebritton said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Zrim –

    Paige, I think you might have to do more than quote a few Proverbs to make the case for how believers are obligated to civil disobedience when there is, from what I can tell, not only scant evidence for it in the NT but pretty overwhelming evidence for civil obedience.

    1. Do these Proverbs MEAN anything, or have I not reached the quota for MEANING? I could be more thorough; how many is enough? Is God’s wisdom (as found in the Proverbs) abrogated along with the Mosaic law for NT believers?

    2. Did you see that I affirmed what Todd said, about submitting AND protesting? Have you noted how many times I have indicated that I am not necessarily talking about “civil disobedience”?

    3. Does your objection mean that you yourself are ONLY talking about “civil disobedience,” rather than the possibility of protesting against or rebuking a magistrate through “civil obedience,” in this quote?

    if he is not compelling us in this way then it is highly questionable that we have any biblical duty to disobey or rebuke him. He may be doing something evil, but where is there any biblical charge to rebuke him for it? Indeed, I think the case can be made that if we are not being compelled to break God’s law then to disobey, rebuke or protest might be unbiblical.

    My impression is that you don’t care what the channel is, Christians should not speak up against the civil magistrate or his legislation UNLESS THEY ARE PERSONALLY BEING COMPELLED BY THE MAGISTRATE TO BREAK GOD’S MORAL LAW; and in the absence of this compulsion, if they do protest in any way, they are acting without biblical warrant.

    If you actually meant, “Christians may protest against and rebuke magistrates for their evil conduct and for unjust laws that harm our neighbors (if not ourselves) as long as they are going through appropriate channels,” I’m sorry but I missed it.

  289. Zrim said,

    February 25, 2011 at 6:27 am

    Paige, I think this may turn on what one means by “protest.” I don’t see any problem with believers disagreeing and lawfully, respectfully and even forcefully voicing that disagreement to their magistrate, if that is what one means.

    But if one means to rebuke, warn, become indignant or otherwise “put him in his place,” I just don’t see any warrant for that. The magistrate isn’t under ecclesial jurisdiction, and I don’t see how a subordinate rebuking a superior is consistent with the spirit of submission and obedience. It seems to be more consistent with self-righteousness. My sense is that most American Christians don’t really think this through much and tend to tip heavily toward the latter meaning because they tend to take their cues from a culture that has little use for the very conception of obedience and submission, as well as esteeming the vice of self-expression over the virtue of self-comportment. Then they like to point out how crass and uncouth the same culture is and how Christianizing it would solve lots of problems.

    But if it’s wisdom literature one wants to use to make his/her point about speaking and remaining silent there is also Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” And who could forget Ecclesiastes 3 (particularly verse 7b in this discussion):

    “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

    2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
    3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.”

  290. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2011 at 7:05 am

    David R (#281): What does it profit a man to build the whole world and lose his soul?

    There is a difference between being effective in carrying out the steps of architecture, and of fulfilling one’s calling as an architect. As TFan points out, robots can (and do!) the former.

    God does not “call” people to live lives without reference to Himself.

  291. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Zrim (#283): And what I am saying is that if SR is insufficient for civil life then something has to be sufficient for it.

    And what you are saying is understandable but simply, logically incorrect.

    There are more than two possibilities:

    (1) GR is sufficient for civil life, SR is insufficient (Zrim).
    (2) GR is sufficient, SR is sufficient (either one will do)
    (3) GR is insufficient, SR is sufficient (the position Gordon opposes).
    (4) GR is insufficient, SR is insufficient, but both together are sufficient (the van Tillian position, and mine).
    (5) GR is insufficient, SR is insufficient, and both together are insufficient (the existentialist position).

    Your argument is, “Since not (4), it must be (1).”

    No. There are three other possibilities one must consider. It’s clear that your argument is simply wrong, and general revelation (in the form of logic) shows that this is so!

    I’m sorry Zrim, but there’s a certain amount of situational irony here. You uphold the sufficiency of GR, but then you dismiss general revelation itself on this point. General revelation (logic) shows clearly that your argument is fallacious. But when I point that out, you mock me as “working too hard” or “being too philosophical.”

    I don’t take the mockery seriously or personally, but I do interpret it as evidence that you don’t really believe in the sufficiency of general revelation in this matter. Somehow, your theory is “allowed” to transcend and ignore holes in logic.

    We’ve enough history that I will take a risk in being blunt here: You have an unfounded mistrust of things philosophical and mathematical. This is not necessary.

    For my part, I am trying to shore up holes in a position that is basically good and worthwhile. The 2K position (in my view) is biblically correct; but 2K that bifurcates knowledge is not, and it threatens to self-destruct by being logically inconsistent. So I don’t want to tear down 2K, but to improve it.

    Work with me. Either show the consistency (improving 2K by improving its pedagogy); or else admit the inconsistency and modify your view (improving 2K by eliminating problems). But either way, please stop pretending that the fault is mine for “working too hard.”

    It’s hard to kick against the math.

  292. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Sorry, that should have been “Since not (3), it must be (1).”

  293. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Cris (#285/287): Nothin’ but net.

  294. TurretinFan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Zrim:

    You wrote:

    Tfan, your concern for “just fine” seems to be a way of questioning approximation, as in, “If GR only gets us approximation in our common lives then clearly it is insufficient.” But as I have suggested before, even if you throw SR on top of GR or replace GR altogether with SR, you still have the problem of human sin that neither book circumvents. SR is sufficient for ecclesial life, but we still get only approximation in ecclesial life because sinners are still sinners.

    No. My concern is that “just fine” doesn’t seem to have any meaning. Same thing for “approximation.” Approximation of what? “Approximation” is a term like “just fine” that implies some conformity to some kind of standard-of-a-standard (like a “passing” grade is a standard-of-a-standard, where perfection is the standard and “passing” is some amount of goodness relative to the standard of perfection) aka a meta-standard.

    In response to Jeff’s question, David R. replied:

    A baker’s calling is to bake good bread and an architect’s calling is to design good buildings.

    But why didn’t David R. just say “a baker’s calling is to bake bread and an architect’s calling is to design buildings”?

    Again, it looks like appeal to some kind of standard or meta-standard. I suspect the standard is an exclusively utilitarian one. He’s judging the bread to be “good” the same way for a baker as for a bread machine. He’s judging a building to be “good” the same way he might judge a cave to be “good.” Does it poison you? Does it break your teeth? Can you swallow it? Does it let light in? Does it keep rain out? Does it collapse when you vacuum the floors?

    But, of course, this kind of analysis treats man as a soulless thing – it ignores the chief end of man. It’s the same analysis one would make of inanimate objects or machines. And in some ways its even worse than such an analysis, because machines have clearly defined requirements (usually) whereas what constitutes “good” (standard) or “good enough” (meta-standard) bread or buildings appears to be totally subjective.

    This attempt to apply an a-theistic standard, therefore, leads both to the dehumanization of man and to relativism and subjectivity. I’m not sure such an approach has any merit, and I can’t fathom why my Christian brethren can stomach it.

    And just claiming it is “General Revelation,” doesn’t move you from an a-theistic standard to a theistic standard, or from a standard of subjectivity to objectivity. Why? First, because General Revelation is first and foremost God’s revelation of Himself and of man’s chief end. So it isn’t really “General Revelation” that you want to determine the matter, but an a-theistic subset carved out of that. Secondly, there are significant epistemological challenges in terms of accessing general revelation. General revelation may be like a book, but it is not a book. The perspicuity of general revelation, therefore, is rather limited.

    Moreover, if you are going to say that there is an objective standard of what constitutes “good” bread, I’d love to hear you explain that objective standard. I’ve seen breads from many different cultures and they are all different. But please tell me which comes the closest to the objective ideal for bread? Or, if you prefer, please tell me why (objectively) pita bread is better or worse than naan.

    -TurretinFan

  295. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Tfan,

    I’m trying to understand. Please tell me what standard you apply when you decide what food to eat, music to listen to, car to buy, etc.

  296. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Jeff (#290),

    “There is a difference between being effective in carrying out the steps of architecture, and of fulfilling one’s calling as an architect. As TFan points out, robots can (and do!) the former.”

    I may be mistaken, but I do not believe the classic idea of vocation has it that unbelief renders a vocation null and void. There are secular callings and sacred callings. Christians have both; pagans have only the former. It sounds to me like you and Tfan are saying that if someone isn’t a Christian then he isn’t human. But of course, there’s a vast difference between humans and robots, even apart from faith.

  297. GAS said,

    February 25, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Cris (241),

    I wanted to let you know that I agree with your post @ 241. If I’m reading the signs of the times correctly I believe those of us in the Church will increasingly be presented with opportunities to protect our neighbors. That’s why I find the pacifism of this post modern version of the two kingdom theory to be especially pernicious.

    Whatever happens, wisdom will be needed. I don’t believe that hiding in the basement of our churches is the “wisdom” that will be needed.

  298. Doug Sowers said,

    February 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

    @David R. All men are “called”, actually far more than called,
    “Commanded” to repent and confess that Jesus is Lord, you see, everything that is not of faith, is sin. Even the way you bake a cake! In all things, we are to glorify the Lord. Even the way you work out in the morning. The Magistrate, and the laws he enacts must be to the glory of God, founded on the Word of the Lord. There simply is no such thing as a “God free Zone”.

    I have searched the Bible, and haven’t seen God make a distinction between secular and sacred. Where do you see this concept taught in God’s Word?

  299. Doug Sowers said,

    February 25, 2011 at 11:58 am

    @Cris: I’m a little curious why you haven’t responded to the NT examples of “ceremonial law” (#248 and #249) that Paul commanded Gentile Christians to obey, like 1 Cor. 5:6. (In a new covenant context, of course) Would you say that Paul was Judaizing the gospel, by commanding NT Christians to obey an OT cerimonial law?

    Moreover, would you call, Thomas Cartwright, (the most esteemed Puritan of English Presbyterianism), and a Judaizer? Would you call John Calvin a Judaizer? Just wondering…….

  300. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Doug,

    “I have searched the Bible, and haven’t seen God make a distinction between secular and sacred. Where do you see this concept taught in God’s Word?”

    I’ve talked about this above, especially in #114 and #134.

  301. TurretinFan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    “I’m trying to understand. Please tell me what standard you apply when you decide what food to eat, music to listen to, car to buy, etc.”

    I’m pretty subjective about those things. There are certain constraints (like cost) but within those constraints it’s about what pleases my taste.

    I’m not sure how that helps, but I think it answers your question.

    -TurretinFan

  302. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Doug,

    It’s essentially the same distinction that Calvin was getting at here:

    “It may therefore be proper, in order to make it more manifest how far our ability extends in regard to these two classes of objects, to draw a distinction between them. The distinction is, that we have one kind of intelligence of earthly things, and another of heavenly things. By earthly things, I mean those which relate not to God and his kingdom, to true righteousness and future blessedness, but have some connection with the present life, and are in a manner confined within its boundaries. By heavenly things, I mean the pure knowledge of God, the method of true righteousness, and the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom. To the former belong matters of policy and economy, all mechanical arts and liberal studies. To the latter belong the knowledge of God and of his will, and the means of framing the life in accordance with them” (Institutes 2.2.13).

  303. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Tfan,

    “I’m not sure how that helps, but I think it answers your question.”

    You’re right, I don’t think it helps. I have no idea what you’re getting at in #294. Is it that utilitarian standards for things produced by humans are bad?

  304. TurretinFan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    What I’m getting at in #294 is that language is being abused in attempting to drive a wedge between man and man’s chief end.

  305. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I’m still not sure, but I think you’re saying something to the effect that evaluations like “just fine” or “good” are meaningless if the products in question are made by non-Christians. But I don’t think you or anyone else actually lives as though that were true.

  306. TurretinFan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    You wrote:

    I’m still not sure, but I think you’re saying something to the effect that evaluations like “just fine” or “good” are meaningless if the products in question are made by non-Christians. But I don’t think you or anyone else actually lives as though that were true.

    I can’t see how you could possibly arrive at that conclusion from my words. That’s not remotely close to what I said.

    -TurretinFan

  307. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Then perhaps you can try to say it again, but more concisely than you did in #294, and less so than you did in #304.

  308. Doug Sowers said,

    February 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    @David R. Let’s leave Calvin out of this, okay? I’m asking where in the Bible do you see a distinction bwtween sacred and secular?

  309. TurretinFan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    To build on my last comment, people use expressions like “good” and “just fine” all the time with respect to all sorts of standards. But no one is judging them on the basis of “General Revelation.” When I say my microwave pops popcorn “just fine,” it means I’m personally satisfied with its performance. It’s a highly subjective criterion. It has nothing to do with “General Revelation” or conformity thereto.

    When I say that my baker prepares “good” cakes, I mean I like how they taste. Again – it’s a subjective judgment. It’s not something objective. It’s not an appeal to “General Revelation.”

    -TurretinFan

  310. TurretinFan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    David R.:

    Per your request for a concise but not-so-concise summary. Recall you wrote:

    When Zrim said that GR is sufficient, I understood him to mean that plumbers, bakers and even civil magistrates can fulfill their respective callings just fine without recourse to Scripture. Wouldn’t you (and Gordon) agree with that (leaving aside for now the duty of a Christian magistrate)?

    My response is “just fine” has nothing to do with General Revelation. So, the claim for GR “sufficiency” is fundamentally flawed. It’s partly flawed because the “just fine” and “sufficiency” are not related to one another. “Just fine,” in all likelihood, is just an expression of someone’s taste, not an appeal to an objective standard of General Revelation. As such, as to this discussion, the entire “GR is sufficient” position should be discarded.

    -TurretinFan

  311. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Doug, I answered your question in #300.

  312. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Also, Doug, why should we leave Calvin out of it? If Calvin invoked this distinction, doesn’t that fact increase your hope that it’s a biblical one?

  313. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    David R (#296):

    I’m not well-read on the subject of Christian vocation. Let me tell you where I’m coming from, and then perhaps you or someone else can suggest further reading on the subject.

    Here are some things that inform my understanding on the subject:

    Veith

    Luther: Therefore I advise no one to enter any religious order or the priesthood – no, I dissuade everyone – unless he be forearmed with this knowledge and understand that the works of monks and priests, be they never so holy and arduous, differ no whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic toiling in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before Him by faith aloneBabylon. Capt. 3.41 – 42.

    My basic understanding is that Luther reformed the doctrine of vocation by overturning the medieval distinction between sacred callings that glorified God, and secular ones that did not. [1]

    As Luther saw it, we are to glorify God in all that we do, and a garbage man is just as capable of glorifying God through his garbage collecting, as a pastor is in his shepherding. And the way in which we glorify God is to execute our calling by faith.

    If this is so, and there seems to be good Scriptural reason to believe that this is so, then I would have to say that nonChristians cannot fulfill a calling from God, be they ever so excellent in baking, or architecture, or even architecture with baked goods.

    This is not to say that bakers without faith cannot be used by God’s providence to feed us; but rather to say that man does not live by bread alone. To the man who collects wealth for himself, but is poor towards God, Jesus says, “You fool.” That’s hardly the “well done, good and faithful servant” that would be expected towards one who fulfills his calling.

    Look at this another way. What is the chief end of man? Is this not his calling?

    Look at it yet another way: Cain built a city. Then his great-grand-descendants built a tower — and it was offensive in God’s sight. Skillful building is not sufficient to fulfill a calling.

    JRC

    [1] It appears also that there is some debate on the understanding of Luther’s doctrine of vocation. Paul Althaus appears to emphasize the Luther’s 2-kingdom separation between sacred and secular, lending itself to your interpretation; while Gustav Wingren appears to emphasize the “by faith” nature of vocation, lending itself to mine. I’m getting this from tertiary sources, so take it as a research lead rather than established fact!

  314. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Mods, I humorously linked to a picture of Hansel and Gretel above in #313, the third link down. Then I noticed that the right side contains pictures that we’d all rather not see. Please feel free to remove the link.

    *blush*

    JRC

  315. greenbaggins said,

    February 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Done, sir.

  316. Zrim said,

    February 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Jeff, first, general revelation includes not only logic but common sense. Second, my fundamental mistrust isn’t with logic, it’s with esteeming logic over common sense. So the irony for me is how you suggest general revelation undoes my argument with regard to its sufficiency for common life, since it’s only true if you think logic is king. But I think common sense is king. I don’t think life, like Legos, is easily pieced together by strands of premises and conclusions. I don’t think faith, like human beings, is merely the sum of its logical parts. It’s the Reformed logicians who, going to great syllogistic lengths, seem unnecessarily worried about how someone can epistemologically justify his morality, the common sense 2kers who only care that he behaves morally.

    And so I am simply puzzled by the denial that general revelation is sufficient to norm civil life. What else is it for? Your logic can tell you all day long to deny that general revelation is sufficient for common life, but my common sense tells me this is as plain as the sky is blue: general revelation corresponds to general life, just like special revelation corresponds to special life.

  317. Zrim said,

    February 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    GAS, what is so pacifistic about holding out the unfettered gospel to neighbors? But that really is my concern in all this, namely that to link up the gospel to any certain social or political cause is to obscure the gospel.

    And I don’t see how a 2k that esteems silence from wisdom implies “hiding out in basements.” The 2k for which I would contend sends believers fearlessly out into a world that already exists because it is God’s world. The 2k for which I would contend has little need to build a Christian ghetto, complete with everything from entertainment to schools. Ironically, I think the tendency to link up Christianity with social or political causes corresponds with a Christianity that constructs a “hide in the basement only to come out to transform” sub-culture.

  318. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Tfan,

    Thanks for the summary. I may still not be getting it–if I’m not, please forgive my denseness. By way of rehearsing where we are, and to see if I’m tracking yet: I had said initially that my understanding of the notion of the “sufficiency of GR” for the common realm is simply that cultural tasks can be performed “just fine” w/o recourse to Scripture. You objected to my use of the phrase “just fine” on the grounds that:

    1. GR doesn’t provide us with an objective standard for the evaluation of “just fine” (and invoking it is merely a cloak for a subjective preference)?

    2. GR is the wrong term since GR is in fact a revelation of God and of man’s chief end and really has no reference to man’s cultural pursuits (a point Paige had made sometime back)?

    3. Both of the above?

    4. Something else altogether?

  319. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Zrim (#316):

    Zrim: … my common sense tells me this is as plain as the sky is blue: general revelation corresponds to general life, just like special revelation corresponds to special life.

    I like common sense. It helps avoid a lot of silliness, especially when one is about to talk oneself into a mental abyss.

    But my common sense needs some checks and balances, wouldn’t you agree?

    In particular: One needs good and necessary inference from Scripture to make theological claims about where general revelation and special revelation belong.

    Here’s a good and necessary inference:

    Marriage is common to all people. Scripture gives specific commands and norms about marriage, both for all people (Gen 2,3) and for Christians. Therefore, Scripture speaks to at least part of common life.

    Commerce is common to all people. Scripture lays down norms about commerce. Therefore, Scripture speaks to at least another part of common life.

    Speech.

    Charity.

    Possessions.

    War.

    Food and drink.

    Scripture speaks to all of these, which are arguably the central features of common life. And to the extent that Scripture speaks, Christians are obligated to listen to its commands concerning common life.

    Forget me and my (alleged) overenthusiasm for logic.

    Can you let the Scripture rule your common sense? Can you consider the possibility that WLC 98 – 148 were written by men who thought that Scripture had great application to one’s common life?

  320. GAS said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Zrim,

    Thanks for the Van Drunen quote. I think it shows he hasn’t shown much wisdom in his historical analysis. Paul didn’t have it too bad when he could appeal his case to a higher magistrate. Of course when Nero came on the scene it changed dramatically. John sure didn’t call Rome nice names.

    And if state sponsored murder is a mere imperfection and those who complain about are whiners then I guess all that is left is silence.

    And I guess I don’t know what it means to send believers fearlessly out into the world to be silent.

    But I guess you believe that handing out bibles through the basement window fixes all that?

  321. TurretinFan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    David R.

    I’ve made some tweaks to your summary of my response, since they seem to be closer to what I was saying (than your previous summary), but not quite there yet.

    1. GR doesn’t provide us with an objective standard for the evaluation of “just fine” (subjective preference is how we evaluate “just fine”, but that isn’t GR), so “just fine” determinations don’t tell us anything about the sufficiency of GR.

    AND

    2. GR is the wrong term to describe what you seem to want to reference since GR includes a revelation of God and of man’s chief end and not solely a reference to what you refer to as man’s cultural pursuits (or what I called an a-theistic sub-set of GR)?

    I hope that helps.

    -TurretinFan

  322. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Tfan,

    Continuing my last post (#318),

    5. We ought not judge work to be “just fine” without considering whether or not the worker was motivated by a desire to glorify God?

  323. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Tfan,

    Thanks. (I hadn’t seen your #321 when I posted my #322.)

  324. TurretinFan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    re: “5. We ought not judge work to be “just fine” without considering whether or not the worker was motivated by a desire to glorify God?”

    If we’re measuring something by an objective, moral standard, of course. But I don’t think that’s what you had in mind. If you did …

    We can, of course, judge whether works outwardly conform to God’s law without considering the motives. But such a judgment is necessarily incomplete as a moral analysis.

  325. Zrim said,

    February 25, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Jeff, I have said it before: Scripture doesn’t so much speak to those common tasks as it speaks to particular people who do those common tasks. I think that’s a fairly subtle yet significant distinction (not too unlike the distinction between “living the gospel” and “living in light of the gospel”). The Bible speaks to all its people, not all of life.

    But, GAS, Paul was martyred by the same state that allowed him to appeal to it (same state, different ruler, no difference). So until an American Christian can claim his rights one day and be martyred a few years later, the Paul’s silence about his evil magistrate sure makes our complaining about the imperfections of ours seem pretty whiny.

  326. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Zrim (#325): Jeff, I have said it before: Scripture doesn’t so much speak to those common tasks as it speaks to particular people who do those common tasks.

    That’s an understandable distinction to make, and I agree with you. The phrase “speaks to” is an idiom, and if you want to replace it with “says things about”, I’m fine.

    The point is that Scripture is not silent about these areas, as has been alleged. The point is that Scripture does not keep its nose out of common activities.

  327. David R. said,

    February 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Tfan,

    A few thoughts:

    1. As far as the terminological issue, would you be happier with phrase “the light of nature” (instead of “GR”)? The way that phrase is used in WCF 1.6 suggests to me that it may fit well what we’ve been talking about.

    2. I think that my saying that cultural tasks can be done “just fine” without recourse to Scripture is simply to affirm common grace. The assertion doesn’t necessarily imply some sort of objective standard to be found in GR (or natural light).

    3. However, GR (or or perhaps better, natural light) does in fact equip us to make judgments that are more than subjective. Which is just to say that the natural man is able to discern the goodness of God’s gifts, which is one of the things that renders him inexcusable for his ingratitude.

    I don’t know if this helps …

  328. Zrim said,

    February 25, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Jeff, I’m not wild about either formulation that Scripture speaks to or about insert-common-task-here. Rather, it speaks to (even about) God’s covenant people who engage in said tasks. This is the personal nature of God and his word, which I thinks springs naturally from a covenant theology, as in I am your God and you are my people. Call me a stickler, or worse, but I really do think this is the better language to use. And without it we end up with redemptive versions of creational enterprise, Christian this and Christian that. I know I’m a broken record, but I know what Christians doing education (politics, baking, plumbing, art, economics, medicine, sports and leisure) is, but I remain stymied as to what Christian education (and the rest) is. And it does seem to me that the first step to getting to these bizarre notions is to speak in ways that suggest there really are redemptive versions of any creational task instead of only Christian people.

    So, if you want to say that Scripture has plenty to say to its adherents who do participate in these areas, agreed. But, unless one’s project is to more or less capture the culture for Christ, I still don’t see what is to be gained by saying it speaks to or about these things.

  329. David R. said,

    February 26, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Jeff,

    Thanks for the links on calling above, I’ll check them out. Honestly, I need to do more reading myself.

    There’s also Horton’s essay on the Mod Ref website, “How to Discover Your Calling.” He says:

    “A calling to make cabinets is the same for Christian and non-Christian alike. Because the unbeliever is still created in God’s image and is the beneficiary of God’s common grace, he or she is given a vocation by God in this world. God did not abandon the world and creation in order to work with his elect people, but rather he patiently endures the world’s rebellion during this interval, restraining wickedness, while he extends his kingdom of grace to the ends of the earth (2 Pet. 3:1-13). This creates space for this shared sphere of human activity which is neither sacred nor sinful, but common and eminently worthwhile.”

  330. GAS said,

    February 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Zrim,

    GAS, Paul was martyred by the same state that allowed him to appeal to it (same state, different ruler, no difference).

    Correct, except for the “no difference”. My argument is that Paul wrote Romans around the mid 50’s during the reign of Claudius when the organs of justice of the Roman Republic were still operating. Under those circumstances Paul could rightly exhort the Church to be obedient to those structures. When Nero came to power, and after the burning of Rome, those organs of justice fell apart. John wrote Revelations during this period and called Rome a beast. He called the Church to perseverance and faith. Because the Church was in it’s infancy and but a small percentage of the overall population, perseverance and faith was the wise course of action.

    So I think we can both agree that wisdom is what is required of Christians in dealing with the world but to reduce wisdom to merely one aspect of human experience, silence, is not wisdom. By definition, wisdom is having a basic understanding of people, things, and events and choosing the correct course of action that promotes justice. To say that silence is always the correct course of action, regardless of people, things, and events, is to nullify wisdom.

  331. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    David R (#329): Thanks for the food for thought.

    My gut reaction is to ask Horton: If God is the one doing the “calling”, then what does it mean to fulfill that calling?

    The implication seems to be that we can perform good works outside of faith, which I know Horton does not believe.

  332. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Zrim (#328): It would indeed be ironic for me to call you a stickler. :)

    I understand and agree with one of your basic points: The addressees of Scripture are God’s people.

    And also with this one:

    So, if you want to say that Scripture has plenty to say to its adherents who do participate in these areas, agreed.

    That’s what I’m saying. To be precise: Scripture has many things to say to Christians about their actions in the common realm.

    The obvious corollaries are

    (1) Scripture is not silent about (all) common activities, and
    (2) It is incorrect to say that general revelation is for common activities, and special revelation for sacred.

    This is my “common sense sky-is-blue” appeal.

  333. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 26, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    BTW, if you’re not tired of the logic train already, here’s a really good reason to NOT say that Scripture corresponds to the sacred realm.

    (1) We agree that Scripture has things to say to Christians about their common activities.
    (2) If the Scripture corresponds to the sacred realm, it follows that those common activities must be considered part of the sacred realm,
    (3) Whence it follows that Christian plumbing is a sacred activity.

    And I’m utterly sure that you really don’t want that conclusion.

    The alternative is to deny (2) — Scripture does not correspond only to the sacred, but also to common activities as well.

    This would then dovetail nicely with WCoF 1.6, in which we discover that general revelation does not correspond only to common activities, but also to some portions of church government and worship as well.

    What we’re after here is not to completely blur the line between SR and GR, as DGH fears, but rather to be specific about the ways in which the two work together in sacred and secular realms.

  334. David R. said,

    February 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Jeff (#331),

    “My gut reaction is to ask Horton: If God is the one doing the ‘calling,’ then what does it mean to fulfill that calling?”

    My thought is that it depends on the nature of the calling. If there really are two kingdoms, one of which calls us by creation, providence and common grace, and the other by Word and Spirit, then I would think there may be more than one answer. But it seems to me that if we truly recognize a legitimate common kingdom that embraces believers and unbelievers, is designed for preservation not redemption, is concerned with ordinary cultural activities, and is focused on temporal not eternal interests, then I would think one could fulfill his calling within that kingdom without attaining to his “chief end.”

    “The implication seems to be that we can perform good works outside of faith, which I know Horton does not believe.”

    No, it’s just that works are “good” in different senses. They can be good in the sense that they help preserve and sustain human life and society (common kingdom) without being good in the primary sense of proceeding from faith, being done in obedience and purposed for God’s glory (redemptive kingdom).

  335. Zrim said,

    February 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    GAS (#330), the problem for me is that you’ve been contending that there are grounds to civilly disobey one’s magistrate, which seem to be his doing evil things. And, from what I can gather, you think one way to gauge this rather obscure grounds is “state sanctioned murder,” which I take to mean something about legalized abortion. And you suggest that Paul could rightly exhort his hearers to obey their magistrate because “the organs of justice were still operating.” But if one indication that a magistrate is worthy of disobedience and thus not Paul’s exhortation to obey him, have you considered that Paul’s magistrate sanctioned the practice of exposure?

    But I still see no biblical justification for this argument of yours that a magistrate earns civil disobedience who carries out his charge in ignoble ways. I only see biblical grounds for what might be construed as cultic disobedience, namely that which calls for believers to personally compromise God’s religious and moral commands. Employing what I consider the dubious “church-in-infancy” argument, you then point to John who experienced persecution at the hands of a government whose “organs of justice fell apart.” I think you rightly suggest that the response to this was faithfulness to God, which likely implies cultic disobedience to Caesar. But how does this help your argument for civil disobedience to Caesar? We must always be civilly obedient, and from Paul to John I see absolutely no grounds for civil disobedience, only cultic. Furthermore, you suggest that faithfulness is a matter of wisdom, but I tend to think it’s a matter of obedience to God.

  336. Zrim said,

    February 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Jeff (#332), those corollaries may be obvious to you but they aren’t to me because to say that “Scripture is not silent about (all) common activities” is to imply that Scripture speaks to all of life, which brings us back to square one. And I simply don’t see how saying that “Scripture has plenty to say to its adherents who do participate in these areas” means that “it is incorrect to say that general revelation is for common activities, and special revelation for sacred.”

    And (#333) if Scripture “does not correspond to the sacred realm” I don’t see how you can uphold sola scriptura, as in the Bible alone norms the church. This is where your logic doesn’t seem to serve the common sensical and formal principle of the Reformation. But I’ve always maintained to you that while GR corresponds to common life and SR to ecclesial, this doesn’t mean that GR mayn’t be employed in ecclesial affairs nor that SR mayn’t be employed in secular affairs. We don’t have to toss the broad short hand about which book corresponds to which realm in order to get to WCF 1.6.
    But I see you use that curious little word “only,” as in the Bible corresponds only to ecclesial life. You seem to be using it on my behalf in a “solo scriptura” way instead of a “sola scriptura” way. But the Protestant sola doesn’t mean what the Anabaptist solo means. The former means that, while the Bible alone rules the church, we also take into authoritative and binding consideration tradition. Solo eschews tradition and creedal-confessional-catechetical adherence. So when I say the Bible corresponds to the church I don’t mean at the utter expense of general revelation, the way the Anabaptist does. And when I say that general revelation corresponds to common life I don’t mean at the utter expense of special revelation.

  337. GAS said,

    February 27, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Zrim,

    What I’m trying to say is let’s listen to the authors in their own context and from there derive principles. Paul and the early Church in the context of the Roman Empire is significantly different than the American Church and American polity. Let’s assume that exposure was a common occurrence during Paul’s time and that there were no laws against it. While the practice was immoral, the Roman government apparently had no laws prohibiting the act. Additionally, as far as we know, no Christians at that time were in a position to influence Roman law to change that immoral act.

    In our situation the the events are opposite. The de facto position was that abortion was illegal and we have moved to legalize it. We have had, and are able to elect, many Christian magistrates. So it seems anachronistic to have expected Paul to call Christians to engage the Empire in what was an accepted practice during the formation of the Church and equally anachronistic to read into Paul that infanticide allowed and financed by a government today as outside the purvey of the Church.

    As for the biblical grounds, again, the love your neighbor principle seems to be all the justification needed. Ya’ll can get into the intricate details of SR and GR and NL and CG but I’m a simple man and as far as I’m concerned the love your neighbor principle encompasses all of them. The funny thing is is that while we argue these distinctions, as Machen was well aware, the love your neighbor principle was and is being bastardized to make it so that you are required to love your neighbor more than you love yourself and using the government to coerce people into covetousness. So while we approach our cultic and civic duties in different ways the same moral principle underlies both kingdoms.

    Finally, as far as faithfulness and wisdom, I was arguing that John needed to encourage the Church to trust that God would bring them out the horrors which wasn’t something Paul needed to emphasize when he was writing. So wisdom applies to understanding current events and the message the Church needs to hear at any one time.

  338. Zrim said,

    February 27, 2011 at 7:23 am

    GAS, it now seems like you’re moving away from the point about civil disobedience to one of civil engagement, which I don’t have any problem with.

    But then you say “as for biblical grounds, love for neighbor.” This seems to be in response to my saying I don’t see any biblical grounds for civil disobedience, so I can’t tell if you’re still trying to make the case for civil disobedience or not. If so, while I can see how the second greatest commandment is a way to engage our wider socio-political situation in specific relation to abortion, I don’t see how it justifies civil disobedience. And you sort of lose me with the point about it being bastardized into love of neighbor more than self, though the stuff about using the government to coerce people into covetousness makes me think this might have something to do with another economic or social policy you also don’t like, which may be another reason to disobey the magistrate.

    But again, I get that there are policies people don’t like, and that’s fine, but to suggest that we may disobey is an entirely different question. And I think the biblical outlook is one that challenges this rather blithe American assumption that just because we don’t like something we may either rebel or at least embrace the spirit of rebellion. There had to be plenty of political policies the exilic characters Joseph and Daniel didn’t like in their pagan kings, but they both rose to a political prominance out of an obedient love and loyalty I tend to doubt the typical modern American religionist has for his magistrate. The default position seems to be antagonism.

  339. Zrim said,

    February 27, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Sorry, GAS, one more thought. You originally said that “we should obey government that upholds the moral law,” which seems to imply that we should disobey the government that doesn’t uphold the moral law. I would hazzard that you think tyrants like Saddam and Gadhaffi don’t uphold the moral law, and thus civil disobedience would be the norm. But what do calls to civil obedience such as we see in Romans 13 and elsewhere mean to believers who live under these regimes? Are such calls only really relevant to those who live under what 2011 Americans deem “upholding the moral law”? Can believers in other times and places really say, “Yeah, Romans 13 isn’t speaking to us, we can ignore that”?

  340. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Zrim (#336): Jeff (#332), those corollaries may be obvious to you but they aren’t to me because to say that “Scripture is not silent about (all) common activities” is to imply that Scripture speaks to all of life, which brings us back to square one.

    So if I’m hearing you, the obstacle to saying “Scripture is not silent about all common activities” is that you fear a possible implication: That Scripture speaks to all of life.

    I have good news: the implication you fear is not actually there.

    Consider:

    Scripture is not silent about all common activities implies Scripture has some things to say about some common activities.

    Compare with:

    My joke did not offend all my relatives implies Some relatives were not offended.

    I think you might have been reading it as if it said, Scripture is not silent about any common activities — which is not what’s being said or meant.

    So now that the obstacle is out of the way:

    Scripture is not silent about all common activities. It has some things to say to Christians about some of their common activities.

  341. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Zrim (#336): And (#333) if Scripture “does not correspond to the sacred realm” I don’t see how you can uphold sola scriptura, as in the Bible alone norms the church.

    Well, I uphold sola scriptura by sticking closer to the Reformed expressions of it: Calvin, Luther, and the Confessions. The notion of Scripture corresponding here and general revelation corresponding there is an oversimplification, a sloganization of Calvin, and I don’t think it faithfully represents Reformed thought on the matter.

    For example:

    I’ve always maintained to you that while GR corresponds to common life and SR to ecclesial, this doesn’t mean that GR mayn’t be employed in ecclesial affairs nor that SR mayn’t be employed in secular affairs. We don’t have to toss the broad short hand about which book corresponds to which realm in order to get to WCF 1.6.
    But I see you use that curious little word “only,” as in the Bible corresponds only to ecclesial life. You seem to be using it on my behalf in a “solo scriptura” way instead of a “sola scriptura” way.

    The “only” is found in the words that you cling to: GR is sufficient (“enough”) for common activities; and SR is sufficient for sacred.

    *Sufficient* means that anything else is unnecessary. It’s solo language.

    I actually agree with you that in broad strokes, GR is the primary go-to for how-tos in the common realm, and SR in the sacred. It’s when we start ignoring the roles of GR in the sacred and SR in the common, that we set ourselves up to be blindsided.

    Let me repeat: the problem with the “corresponds” and “sufficient” language is that it oversimplifies, leaving one blind to the ways in which the language is routinely incorrect.

  342. dgh said,

    February 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Jeff, you wrote: “It’s when we start ignoring the roles of GR in the sacred and SR in the common, that we set ourselves up to be blindsided.” Can you give an example? I think the problem is just the reverse. When we start taking SR into the common you get theonomy. And when you take GR into the sacred you get the social gospel. I believe the problems following mingling are far greater than any you could cite on the other side. But I’m all ears.

  343. TurretinFan said,

    February 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    As to:

    1. As far as the terminological issue, would you be happier with phrase “the light of nature” (instead of “GR”)? The way that phrase is used in WCF 1.6 suggests to me that it may fit well what we’ve been talking about.

    I view General Revelation and “the light of nature” as roughly synonymous. In WCF 1:6, the term is used this way:

    6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

    But it is important to remember that it is also used this way:

    1. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manner, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.

    (WCF 1:1)

    In other words, both “General Revelation” and the “light of nature” don’t inform merely about an a-theistic sub-set of life, but indeed General Revelation or the “light of nature” has as its primary purpose God’s self-revelation and the revelation of man’s chief end.

    As to:

    2. I think that my saying that cultural tasks can be done “just fine” without recourse to Scripture is simply to affirm common grace. The assertion doesn’t necessarily imply some sort of objective standard to be found in GR (or natural light).

    By all means, affirm that God sends the rain on the just and the unjust and that God restrains the wickedness of men. But the Reformed doctrine of common grace (a term that doesn’t appear in the Westminster Standards, though it does in the 3FU, the Savoy Declaration, and the LBCF) is a doctrine that is about the mercies God gives to men, not really about the use that men make of those mercies.

    As to:

    3. However, GR (or or perhaps better, natural light) does in fact equip us to make judgments that are more than subjective. Which is just to say that the natural man is able to discern the goodness of God’s gifts, which is one of the things that renders him inexcusable for his ingratitude.

    Perhaps man’s ability to discern the goodness of God’s gifts is not more than a subjective judgment. After all, man is made in God’s image. Even if man only makes subjective judgments of good, those subjective judgments may reflect to some extent a reference to the image of God in man.

    Moreover, I’ve proposed a test (regarding bread) above for whether General Revelation/natural light can provide an objective answer in even the relatively simple case of bread. I don’t think it can. If it can’t, then it seems that even if GR/NL can provide an objective answer in some circumstances, it must have a very limited scope.

    -TurretinFan

  344. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    DGH (#342): When we start taking SR into the common you get theonomy. And when you take GR into the sacred you get the social gospel.

    There are two basic problems here. First, you and Zrim are at odds again:

    …it isn’t that we “can’t” apply SR to the public square, rather that we don['t] “have to.” This seems to be an important difference.

    So while Zrim has been backing away from the idea that we can’t apply SR in the public square, here you are pressing the opposite message: Apply SR, get theonomy.

    Second, you’ve set yourself up for the “secret-decoder-ring” problem.

    Both you and Zrim have admitted that, no, you don’t actually mean that SR is *only* for the sacred realm; just mostly so.

    But now you say that when we take SR into the common realm, we get theonomy. Always? Then you yourself are headed for theonomy, by your own admission. Sometimes? Then under what circumstances?

    See, we pc-2k outsiders don’t have the secret decoder ring that allows us to divine which uses of SR in the common realm are permissible, and which are not.

    So what I’ve been asking you and Zrim for some time to do is to simply play your cards. *Specify* when and where Scripture is permissible to use in common affairs. Lay out the real boundaries, instead of the fuzzy pseudo-boundary of “Use SR, get theonomy.” Do for SR what WCoF 1.6, 9, 10 do with GR in the church.

    Now, as to the requested example: Consider the role that un-examined use of extra-Biblical knowledge played in the development of higher criticism. “We’re just looking at the text”, said Tubingen — while importing unexamined assumptions from extra-Biblical sources.

    That’s the kind of thing that we need to guard against. And we can’t do it by saying “No GR in the church! No SR in the world!”, because those rules simply aren’t true. GR happens. We use dictionaries and historical material when we exegete. We learn logic and rules of evidence so as to be able to make good and necessary inferences. And SR happens. People engaged in common activities think about how to not break God’s law in the common realm.

    What we need instead of the simplistic slogan is self-awareness about when and under what circumstances we use SR in this sphere and GR in that.

  345. paigebritton said,

    February 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    DGH –
    When we start taking SR into the common you get theonomy.

    Do you mean, “When we start quoting the biblical text in the public square, we get theonomy?”

    I am not sure that Jeff is proposing quoting the Bible everywhere (in his math classes, for example); but he is proposing that we (believers) really are instructed in various ways by the Bible so that we really do perform our common tasks in light of SR. (Am I right about this, Jeff?)

    I can’t see how this inevitably leads to theonomy. I think Jeff may just be trying to unbend the language of Zrim a bit, about what spheres we ought to associate the Scriptures with.

  346. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Paige, yes, exactly.

    (BTW, I think I have a comment in spam purgatory)

  347. paigebritton said,

    February 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Rescued! What were you doing among that riff-raff? No place for a citizen of God’s kingdom. Yeesh. :)

  348. Doug Sowers said,

    February 27, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Paige and Jeff!

    I’m praying that both of you will keep up the good work! :)

  349. Ron said,

    February 27, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Paige,

    The quoting of Scripture in the public square (or in the classroom for that matter) is not a condition for Theonomy. Theonomy pertains to the validity of the OT civil code and not how the thesis is promoted. Maybe an analogy might be useful. The Five Points of Calvinism is not concerned with teaching ministry. So, with respect to the Five Points, how one goes about trying to get people to embrace the Five Points does not impact the validity of the Five Points. In the like manner, how one goes about bringing Scripture to bear upon the civil magistrate is not germane to the question regarding the validity of Scripture in this regard.

  350. Zrim said,

    February 27, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Jeff (340), well, ok, you don’t hear the “all of life” implications of “Scripture is not silent about (all) common activities.” But if I am not mistaken I believe in other places you do explicitly say that Scripture speaks to all of life. Of course, by that you say you don’t mean anything neo-Calvinisty, but as I have said before, if one doesn’t want to imply anything neo-Calvinisty then it might be wise not to use their language.

    And re 341, well, if you want to say that “the Bible is insufficient for the church” then I suppose I am puzzled as to how this aligns with the formal principle of the Reformation. The Belgic Confession concerns “The Sufficiency of Scripture” and Article 30 says “We believe that this true church ought to be governed according to the spiritual order that our Lord has taught us in his Word.” And WCF 1 clearly indicates the sufficiency of the Bible for the church. Again, if you don’t want to imply something Roman Catholicy then don’t speak like one.

    And as far as showing you my cards (#344) I have so repeatedly and no secret decoder ring should be needed: Christian secularism is to be distinguished from legal secularism and theonomy. LS says absolutely no SR in the common realm, theonomy says SR is absolutely necessary in the common realm. CS says SR is neither to be absolutely barred nor absolutely employed. LS opposes CS’s comfort with biblical reference and theonomy opposes CS’s contention that natural law and general revelation are sufficient for common life with no need whatsoever for the state to explicitly reference or confess any allegiance to Christ.

    Paige, (#345), there tends to be two conversations going on. The one concerns which book is necessary for which realm. The second concerns what believers employ when in the common realm (it’s both, btw). Those two conversations aren’t always distinguished and it gets confusing. What I am saying re the first is that GR is what makes the common realm tick, SR is what makes the special realm tick; re the second, I’m saying that the Bible does indeed speak to believers as we go about our common tasks (not to all of life and not to unbelievers), even as we use GR along with the unbelievers to unanimously make things tick. It’s a dual citizenry point.

  351. David R. said,

    February 27, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Tfan,

    Somewhere up there I had said: “When Zrim said that GR is sufficient, I understood him to mean that plumbers, bakers and even civil magistrates can fulfill their respective callings just fine without recourse to Scripture.” A little later, I clarified that “A baker’s calling is to bake good bread and an architect’s calling is to design good buildings.”

    You objected strongly to my use of the adjectives “just fine” and “good,” and even though we’ve been round this a few times, I still do not really understand your objection. On reflection, I actually think you may have misunderstood my original statement. Would it help if I clarified that “just fine” and “good” are intended as evaluations of God’s handiwork as much as they are of man’s? What I mean is, He is the One who has determined to grant us temporal blessings by means of the various vocations, and in nature He has provided us with sufficient knowledge for the adequate (“just fine”) performing of those vocations. So by means of bakers, God grants us bread that accomplishes what He, in His common grace, designed it to do, namely, to nourish us and to taste good. Can we agree that the statement “God grants us ‘good’ bread” is true, regardless of whether my subjective preference is for San Francisco sourdough or Jewish rye? (After all, this is a statement derived from SR!)

    As far as the question of terminology: Yes, I recognize that WCF 1:1 uses the phrase “the light of nature” to correspond with what is often called “general revelation” in systematic theology, and that in this usage what is primarily in view is a revelation of God. But the usage of the phrase is different in WCF 1:6 and the usage *there* corresponds with what we often call “reason.” In his Introduction to Systematic Theology, Berkhof has a discussion of “the principia of the non-theological sciences” which I think applies here. He says:

    “The world as God’s creation is the principium cognoscendi externum [i.e., “first principle of objective knowledge”?]. Instead of ‘the world as God’s creation’ we might also say ‘God’s revelation in nature.’ Of His archetypal knowledge God has conveyed an ectypal knowledge to man in the works of His hands, a knowledge adapted to the finite human consciousness. This ectypal knowledge is but a faint reproduction of the archetypal knowledge found in God. It is on the one hand real and true knowledge, because it is an imprint, a reproduction, though in temporal and therefore limited forms, of the knowledge of God. On the other hand it is, just because it is ectypal, no complete knowledge, and since sin put its stamp on creation, no perfectly clear nor absolutely true knowledge. God conveyed this knowledge to man by employing the Logos, the Word, as the agent of creation. The idea that finds expression in the world is out of the Logos. Thus the whole world is an embodiment of the thoughts of God or, as Bavinck puts it, ‘a book in which He has written with large and small letters, and therefore not a writing-book in which we, as the Idealists think, must fill in the words.’ God’s beautiful creation, replete with divine wisdom, is the principium cognoscendi externum of all non-theological sciences. It is the external means, by which the knowledge that flows from God is conveyed to man.”

    Berkhof then goes on to discuss human reason as the principium cognoscendi internum [first principle of subjective knowledge]. He says “The same Logos that reveals the wisdom of God in the world is also the true light, ‘which lighteth every man coming into the world.’ Human reason with its capacity for knowledge is the fruit of the Logos, enables man to discover the divine wisdom in the world round about him, and is therefore the principium cognoscendi internum of science. By means of it man appropriates the truth revealed in creation.”

    Anyway, it seems to me that Berkhof’s discussion here of the source of scientific knowledge is essentially what Zrim and others mean by “GR” (or “the light of nature”) in this conversation.

    You said: “Moreover, I’ve proposed a test (regarding bread) above for whether General Revelation/natural light can provide an objective answer in even the relatively simple case of bread. I don’t think it can.”

    But as I hope you can see more clearly now, the idea of GR providing an objective standard for evaluating bread doesn’t have anything to do with what I had intended with my original statement.

  352. David R. said,

    February 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    The Berkhof citation is from pp. 94-95 of the Introduction to the Study of Systematic Theology.

  353. dgh said,

    February 28, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Jeff, I like Zrim and all, but I’m not sure what his and my disagreeing has to do with anything. You don’t agree with Frame on everything, so that makes Frame unreliable? BTW, it’s hardly pressing for 2kers to agree on matters beyond what the church confesses and how it ministers since we take liberty of conscience (and the limits of biblical revelation) seriously.

    So there is no decoder ring. It’s called having an opinion and set of personal convictions.

    But I don’t see how biblical criticism really applies here since we are talking about the magistrate. Theonomy and social gospel are theological political errors. Higher criticism is an academic phenomenon.

  354. dgh said,

    February 28, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Paige, as Zrim suggests, the problem is not so much with applying SR to common tasks. I believe parenting is a common task and I also believe that the Bible has some — hardly exhaustive — things to say about parenting. The problem comes from the Bible-speaks-to-all-of-life impulse. That leads to looking in the Bible for pretty much all standards. That means that GR gets neglected (such as Aristotle and Cicero for political wisdom). It also means that OT Israel becomes the model of a Christian polity.

    I know it is more complicated than this. New England Puritans actually had more respect for Natural Law than modern day theonomists and they still thought of themselves (even politically) as the New Israel. But in our time, applying the Bible to everything is, for me, not only a misuse of Scripture but politically unhelpful.

  355. paigebritton said,

    February 28, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Ron —
    Yes, I know quoting the Bible in the public square does not necessarily lead to theonomy, but I wondered what DGH meant when he talked about “taking SR into the common realm.” In conversation with these guys, it usually seems to mean “quoting the biblical text like those embarrassing transformationalists/theonomists,” which is why I asked if this is what he was thinking.

  356. paigebritton said,

    February 28, 2011 at 6:01 am

    DGH & Zrim,
    As I understand what you’ve been saying, the “Bible -speaks-to-all-of-life impulse” usually means one thing to Christian people these days, which you object to strenuously — that is to say, almost a Bible-is-SUFFICIENT-for-all-of-life mentality, which you (rightly, I think) see as naive and misguided theology.

    So when more sober-minded people like Jeff use this kind of language, you react strongly to it as belonging to that other camp — even if Jeff is the sort of person who might soberly read Aristotle and Cicero and sort out the wheat from the chaff, and even though Jeff’s end game is NOT theonomy.

    I admire you guys for sticking to your guns so consistently, but it is frankly downright frustrating that in this kind of conversation you won’t let Jeff define his own terms. In the case of “taking SR into the common realm,” I believe you two and Jeff are thinking and speaking of entirely different things, and that you are objecting to something he is not even saying.

  357. paigebritton said,

    February 28, 2011 at 6:17 am

    David R. –
    Thanks for that cool quote from Berkhof! It does help explain how the idea of “GR” collides with things like wheels and penicillin and maybe even government (though was B. just talking about natural sciences, not social?) in our conversation here. Berkhof is identifying the revelation of God with the wisdom contained in the creation, which is there for man (made in his image) to discover.

    I would still be cautious about our too freely using the term “GR” in this way for two reasons: One, as far as I can tell, in Reformed literature “General Revelation” usually retains the limited scope that TF has called “God’s self-revelation and the revelation of man’s chief end.” And two, the theological use of the term is usually set as a contrast to Special Revelation, and is concerned with concepts like judgment and soteriology, not the ordering of society (or the discovery of scientific truths). The former use is largely negative for humanity, and the latter is disproportionately positive.

    Make sense?
    pb

  358. Ron said,

    February 28, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Paige,

    Re: 335. Great. Also, if I might add regarding that post, “transformationists” and “theonomists” are entirely different matters too.

    I understood Darryl’s intent the first time. Yet I disagree that theonomists try to apply God’s word in the manner in which he suggests and that theonomists don’t appreciate natural law as did the Puritans.

    Best,

    Ron

  359. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Zrim (#350): But if I am not mistaken I believe in other places you do explicitly say that Scripture speaks to all of life.

    Yes I do, in a very qualified way. But I’m also very clear in my mind and speech that *that* has nothing to do with *this.*

    The Bible speaks directly about, giving specific directives for, SOME common activities. That’s the issue under discussion here.

    Separately, the Bible also gives broad strategic directives about ALL common activities (“Whatever you do, work heartily, as unto the Lord”). That’s not under discussion here, and one does not flow from the other.

    Those two are not the same and should not be confused. Perhaps *that’s* the error of transformationalism?

    …if one doesn’t want to imply anything neo-Calvinisty then it might be wise not to use their language.

    I hear you. What language would you suggest that correctly describes the two points I’ve made above?

    Zrim: And re 341, well, if you want to say that “the Bible is insufficient for the church” then I suppose I am puzzled as to how this aligns with the formal principle of the Reformation. The Belgic Confession concerns “The Sufficiency of Scripture” and Article 30 says “We believe that this true church ought to be governed according to the spiritual order that our Lord has taught us in his Word.” And WCF 1 clearly indicates the sufficiency of the Bible for the church.

    Both documents carefully spell out what sufficiency of Scripture does and does not entail (BC 7, WCoF 1.6).

    You, on the other hand, continue to hold out on me and give no details about what “sufficiency of general revelation” might mean OTHER THAN to say that “it doesn’t mean that we mayn’t use special revelation in the common realm” but “if we do, we get theonomy.”

    Look. When I teach kids how to use a Bunsen burner, I tell them about the dangers. Then I show them how to correctly light it, and where they can and cannot touch it so as not to get burned. I warn them about keeping long hair pulled back. And I show them how to use it safely.

    I give parameters. I don’t leave them guessing as to whether they are going to light the burner and get burned.

    You and DGH, on the other hand, tell us all that to bring SR into the public square is to “get theonomy”, but then you mutter something about Christian secularism being different from legal secularism.

    How? In what ways? Spell it out. Let us all know what you’re thinking. You think that you’re being clear, but you’re not, not in the same way that the Confession is clear about the sufficiency of Scripture.

    The point is not to bash here, though it may feel like it. The point is to sharpen, so that we don’t have a theological mess. Right now, all we have is

    * General revelation is sufficient for common activities, BUT

    (which directly implies that Scripture is not necessary for common activities,
    which directly implies that we may disregard Scripture for common activities)

    * We must obey Scripture while engaged in common activities, AND

    * We may use Scripture while engaged in common activities, BUT

    * If we do, we get theonomy.

    From a coherence standpoint, this is no better than “covenantal election.”

  360. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

    DGH (#353): Jeff, I like Zrim and all, but I’m not sure what his and my disagreeing has to do with anything. You don’t agree with Frame on everything, so that makes Frame unreliable?

    I’m not a public advocate for all things Framian; you and Zrim are the public face of pc-2k.

    But I don’t see how biblical criticism really applies here since we are talking about the magistrate. Theonomy and social gospel are theological political errors. Higher criticism is an academic phenomenon.

    Are you really suggesting that higher criticism had no effect on the church? Machen thought so.

  361. GAS said,

    February 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Zrim,

    Now that I’ve read some reviews of Klvanhorthartianism I have a general understanding of the categories that you are working within. My point is that any subcategories one works with must still correspond to the arch theological love your neighbor principle.

    So if one reads an occasional letter from Paul to the Romans it still needs to correspond to the arch theological principle.

    Since the arch principle encompasses the personal, cultic, and civil arena any ethical response must take into consideration the arch principle.

  362. Zrim said,

    February 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    In the case of “taking SR into the common realm,” I believe you two and Jeff are thinking and speaking of entirely different things, and that you are objecting to something he is not even saying.

    Paige, Jeff says quite unambiguously that general revelation is insufficient to norm common life. I object to that because it is indeed quite sufficient for that purpose. I understand that Jeff’s end game is not theonomy, but with a key denial like his I don’t see that it’s natural law and the two kingdoms either. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what his end game is, except perhaps to have everything spelled out in an exhaustively satisfactory way. That is a fairly impossible task.

  363. Zrim said,

    February 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Jeff (#359), like I suggested to Paige, you seem to be demanding that every wrinkle and implication of the dictum, the sufficiency of GR to common life that is, be resolved and accounted for. And to justify this demand you point out that the confessions do this very thing when they speak of the Bible’s own sufficiency for the ecclesial realm. Sorry, but I think the confessions also speak in rather broad terms as well and in point of fact don’t resolve for every possible nuance.

    I make the point about the differences between Christian secularism, legal secularism and theonomy and it’s just “muttering.” I try a specific example, as in referencing the sixth and second greatest commandments in the favored public square topic of the anti-2kers known as abortion, and you agree with my immediate point yet turn around later and say I haven’t helped you out with the larger point about how SR may be employed in the public square. I’m running out of ways to “spell it out.” I’m getting the sense that there is no way to spell it out.

    But here is what is wrong with your BUT/AND rubric and its alleged incoherence. It’s what I pointed out to Paige up there at 350 about the dual citizenry point and when not made clear leads to confusion. Further, I believe I have made this point to you in the past. It concerns the difference between realms and persons. The realms have one or another book assigned to them, and individuals either have citizenship in one realm or both. The common realm gets GR and the ecclesial gets SR. Unbelievers are citizens of earth and believers are at once citizens of both earth and heaven. Your rubric vacillates between the point about realms (“General revelation is sufficient for common activities”) and the point about individuals (“We must obey Scripture while engaged in common activities, AND We may use Scripture while engaged in common activities, BUT If we do, we get theonomy”). Well, if by “we” you mean un/believers applying SR in the common realm in order to make it tick then yes we get some form or another of theonomy. But if you mean “we” believers not bowing to idols or stealing whilst going about our common tasks then you actually get Christian obedience (you call it “personal theonomy,” but again I’d advise not using theonomic language if you don’t want to imply anything theonomic). And if you mean referring to the sixth and second greatest commandments found in both SR and GR to argue against abortion and losing the day and living with approximate justice then you actually get Christian secularism, not theonomy.

  364. David R. said,

    February 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Paige (#357),

    “Thanks for that cool quote from Berkhof! It does help explain how the idea of ‘GR’ collides with things like wheels and penicillin and maybe even government (though was B. just talking about natural sciences, not social?)”

    I take it that Berkhof was talking about all non-theological knowledge.

    “I would still be cautious about our too freely using the term ‘GR’ in this way for two reasons: One, as far as I can tell, in Reformed literature ‘General Revelation’ usually retains the limited scope that TF has called “God’s self-revelation and the revelation of man’s chief end. And two, the theological use of the term is usually set as a contrast to Special Revelation, and is concerned with concepts like judgment and soteriology, not the ordering of society (or the discovery of scientific truths). The former use is largely negative for humanity, and the latter is disproportionately positive.”

    I still think your caveat is a good one (as I did when you initially made it in the other thread). Would you be happier with the label “the light of nature” or with Berkhof’s “God’s revelation in nature”?

    Also, I’m not quite sure whether you’re saying: (1) GR is the wrong term and it’s a mistake to use it the way it’s being used in this discussion, or (2) GR is (or at least may be) the correct term; just be careful to qualify the way you’re using it since this usage isn’t as prominent in Reformed literature.

    Assuming for now that you mean something like (1) (for the sake of argument), I have a few thoughts that raise some questions for me:

    1. Systematic theology is of course primarily concerned with God and His revelation of Himself (rather than with knowledge in general) so it makes sense that the focus in theological discussions of GR would be geared accordingly. Could this be a reason for the limited scope that you and Tfan observe in theological discussions of GR?

    2. I notice that in Vos’s Biblical Theology, he has a section on “the mapping out of revelation.” He says that the basic divisions are SR and GR (and that the two subsets of GR are nature and conscience). So his taxonomy doesn’t leave room for a third category (for the sort of thing Berkhof was talking about). But we agree that all knowledge ultimately derives from (and is revealed by) God, right? So it would seem that this too must fall within the category of “GR” (since for Vos at least there’s no third category) whether or not this aspect of GR is prominent in Reformed literature.

    3. Also, in Van Til’s Intro to Systematic Theology, he has several chapters devoted to discussion of GR and one of them deals with (if I remember correctly) “general revelation of [not in] nature.” In this context, he brings up Calvin’s distinction of man’s knowledge of “heavenly things” vs. “earthly things” in which, as you’ll recall, Calvin waxes eloquent regarding the natural man’s abilities in those areas associated with the ordering of society—i.e., what’ you’re referring to as the “positive” aspects of GR. To be sure, he’s somewhat critical of Calvin here, but I bring this up simply to point out that Van Til at least seemed to think that this topic belonged under the category of GR.

    I don’t know how conclusive any of this is; I’m mostly raising questions. What do you think?

  365. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Zrim, I don’t expect exhaustive detail. I just want language that is not self-contradictory.

    If it helps, we can break it down into individuals and realms. I agree that there ought to be two different ways of thinking about those two different cases.

    For Christian individuals: Is general revelation sufficient for their common tasks? Say, plumbing?

  366. David R. said,

    February 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Jeff,

    How about something like this:

    General revelation is sufficient for the purposes for which God ordained the common realm, namely the continuation and preservation of life and the ordering of society.

  367. Zrim said,

    February 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Jeff, all a believing plumber needs to plumb is general revelation. What he needs to be obedient to God while plumbing is special revelation. So, yes, general revelation is sufficient for his plumbing tasks. It is insufficient for his task of obedience to God. Is this self-contradictory?

  368. paigebritton said,

    February 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    David R. –
    Would you be happier with the label “the light of nature” or with Berkhof’s “God’s revelation in nature”?

    Thanks for being concerned for my happiness! :) I wouldn’t want to take responsibility for pinning down the catch-all phrase that we need here — I’m not sure what is in common usage, or what the history is. Maybe there isn’t really a favored term, and this crew has just settled on “GR” by default. I’m inclined towards “common grace,” though TF would narrow this definition, too.

    I’m not quite sure whether you’re saying: (1) GR is the wrong term and it’s a mistake to use it the way it’s being used in this discussion, or (2) GR is (or at least may be) the correct term; just be careful to qualify the way you’re using it since this usage isn’t as prominent in Reformed literature.

    I was working with idea #1 before, and I think this is still the path I’d choose personally if I were writing or speaking about the categories “GR” and “SR” (calling the more general and positive intellectual activity of the common realm something like “common grace,” or the effects thereof).

    Your Berkhof quote lets me see GR as if it also included God’s wisdom — available and useful to men — in creation; but the systematic-theology category concerns do not usually bring this positive aspect of GR to the forefront (as Zrim & DGH have done in their usage of “GR”). If folks want to use “GR” in the second way, fine, I see the connection better now; but I still think it blunts the edge of the “GR” / “SR” theological distinction, and I think it is way too positive about pagan response to GR. IMO, this is a big missing piece from the pc-2K scheme, and it isn’t mitigated simply by redefining “GR.”

    Re. your concerns with Door #1:
    1. Yes, I think you are right, in systematic theology the concern is with the relationship between God & man, and not so much about people setting up society and culture.

    2. The thing about generalizing “General Rev” to include knowledge, or, for example, the things people discover about rocks and geometry and government, is the “Revelation” part of the phrase. General and Special Revelation both involve content that is deliberately communicated by God. Traditionally speaking, we say that content is about God. Whatever bits of General Rev that a geologist picks up along with his rock samples tell him about the wise Creator that made the rocks, not about the rocks. See the difference? Figuring out the properties of rocks is not a “revelatory” experience, it’s an empirical one. Finding out the character of God is revelatory, because God put that into the rocks along with the crystals — and according to Romans 1, this revelation leads to judgment!

    3. Don’t know about the Van Til and Calvin bit. I would be curious to know how tightly bound VT’s “general revelation of nature” is theologically to his understanding of a revelation about God in nature, or if he just grouped this aspect of life on planet earth among the GR chapters because of a similarity regarding the source of the knowledge. (IOW, would he acknowledge that the content was different in the two cases — one being about God and leading to judgment, and the other being about all kinds of useful things; but both beginning with an encounter with the created world?) I’ll try to read that sometime soon.

    Thanks for all your good thoughts!

  369. paigebritton said,

    February 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Ron —
    Also, if I might add regarding that post, “transformationists” and “theonomists” are entirely different matters too.

    Yes, I know this, too. When I speak like this I am tongue-in-cheeking it. Putting on Zrim-colored spectacles (everybody is either one or the other, if they aren’t pc-2K). ;)

    pb

  370. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    David (#366): That sounds about right. It brings us back to jurisdictions, which is the strongest part of 2K.

  371. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Zrim (#367): So, yes, general revelation is sufficient for his plumbing tasks. It is insufficient for his task of obedience to God. Is this self-contradictory?

    I think so. Take a Christian plumber who works for a plumbing outfit. His performance of his job is regulated by the Scripture, as WLC 127 and 128 indicate — specifically, Eph 6.6-7.

    So you are saying at the same time that Scripture is unnecessary for his plumbing tasks; and that he must obey God speaking through the Scripture, who tells him to work at his task heartily, not as pleasing men, but as pleasing the Lord.

    Now, I grant you that Scripture does not have a lot more to say than this. There are no passages on fittings or materials in Scripture.

    But what it does have to say, cannot be disregarded, right? And therefore is necessary … which therefore limits the sufficiency of GR.

  372. Ron said,

    February 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Paige – good job, again.

  373. Zrim said,

    February 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    So you are saying at the same time that Scripture is unnecessary for his plumbing tasks; and that he must obey God speaking through the Scripture, who tells him to work at his task heartily, not as pleasing men, but as pleasing the Lord.

    Jeff, this is only contradictory if one assumes that plumbing tasks include obedience to God. But until plumbers must pass tests that include obedience to God before they are awarded credentials to plumb, I don’t see it. Is a believing plumber bound to obey God while he plumbs? Yes. But he doesn’t need the Bible to plumb; he needs it to obey God while he plumbs, a task for which he only needs general revelation.

  374. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Zrim, obeying is not a specific action like running or jumping. It is doing whatever has been commanded. When a plumber obeys God, he isn’t plumbing with this chunk of time and then obeying God with that. (“Oop, now I have to plumb; oop, now I have to obey God”). His plumbing is done in obedience to or regulated by some command or other. Such as Eph 6.6-7 or 1 Cor 10.31.

    Again, this was crucial to the reformation of the doctrine of vocation, in that Luther freed folk up from the medieval doctrine that sacred vocations glorified God, while secular ones did not.

    The glorification of God in plumbing is not an incidental and separate task; it is accomplished by the plumbing itself.

    So plumbing tasks *do* include obedience to God, or else disobedience. One is either plumbing for God’s glory, or else plumbing for some other reason. One is either plumbing heartily as unto the Lord, or else not.

    Obedience or disobedience is in the cards either way.

    But until plumbers must pass tests that include obedience to God before they are awarded credentials to plumb, I don’t see it.

    It’s not surprising that men aren’t qualified to give other men tests on their obedience to God. That doesn’t prove much either way, though.

    Here’s a test for you: in the end, when God judges our works, will he judge our time on the job? Will it be assessed as to whether it was accomplished by faith? If so, then Scripture has something to say about plumbing.

    But I’m wondering what happened to your objection in #363. You told me that I was confusing realms with people. In fact, you told me that “GR is sufficient for common activities” was a statement about realms.

    But now that we’re talking about individuals, you’re still affirming the contradiction that I spoke of:

    General revelation is sufficient for the plumbing of a Christian, BUT
    A Christian must obey special revelation while plumbing.

    I don’t think I was confused about people and realms. I think I was accurately portraying the contradiction.

    Just curious: Would you say that a Christian’s plumbing is unregulated by God’s law?

  375. dgh said,

    February 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Jeff, how does biblical criticism affect the magistrate? Most of the approximately 2000 comments in these threads have been about the magistrate — you remember that breathtaking moment — whether or not to execute adulterers?

    So that’s what I asked what is the danger of keeping GR and SR distinct, with regard to politics.

    What I meant by if you apply the Bible to all of life you get theonomy is this — the only real detail on the magistrate is the OT law. So Bible-onlyism inevitably encourages theonomy. Just look at some of Frame’s writings on the magistrate. Lots of the Federal Visionaries like it. And then consider Doug Sowers’ prayers for you against Zrim and me. Do you sometimes wonder why theonomist like your view of the Bible-speaks to all of life?

  376. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    DGH: Do you sometimes wonder why theonomist like your view of the Bible-speaks to all of life?

    Because they’re hoping I really don’t mean it when I say that theonomy fails to reckon with Jesus’ status as the final king.

    But I do.

    To me, the theonomic arguments are not only uncompelling (sorry, Doug), but they are highly unuseful. What opportunity does anyone have to create a reconstructionist state? Cromwell’s Protectorate lasted, what, a decade or less? In a world without internet?

    The question is not, What kind of state should we create ab initio? But rather: what does it mean to live as a Christian individual in the society one finds oneself in?

    And if that individual happens to be a magistrate, then he will need to learn wisdom from Scripture (IMO), but he will not have a free hand to create laws after his own fashion. He will be bound, in America, by state or federal law, the Constitution(s) and the precedents that surround them.

    That’s the only magistrate situation that interests me, because it is the only one that has any feet.

    For the rest of us, there is the question of What does it mean to be a Christian who plumbs, or a Christian who teaches, or whatever one does?

    And there, I have to say that God’s commands apply to one’s whole life, to the entire man, to the extent that they speak.

    All of life is regulated by Scripture, but all of life is not specified by Scripture. There is no activity in life for which we may disregard God’s commands; but there are many activities in life for which there are not specific commands.

    I can’t see what’s problematic about that.

    P.S. How does Biblical criticism affect the magistrate? I wonder where we would be as a nation, civic justice-wise, if disregard for Scripture had not worked its way through academia. The standard for ethics at Princeton used to be Paul Ramsey; now, it’s Peter Singer.

    As you know, cause-and-effect is difficult. But I have to think that the meltdown in cultural regard for Scripture has had an effect.

  377. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    DGH, in case it wasn’t clear: I’ve drawn a line here between “Scripture speaks to all of life” in the case of individual Christians; and “Scripture speaks to all of life” in the case of laws.

    The first I affirm, the second I deny, except for the general equity of the second table.

    The reason for the difference is clear: individuals are accountable to God to obey His commands at all times and in every endeavor.

    Laws, however, must be universal to a degree and cannot therefore allow for the kind of liberty that Christians have; and further, the magistrate cannot regulate out of the Scripture without treading on the Church’s turf.

  378. dgh said,

    March 1, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Jeff, I appreciate the distinction, but I don’t think it helps with those believers who still think that a Christian will teach history or plumb differently from a non-Christian. That is why I am pushing for a greater distinction between GR and SR. You may think it is untidy. That may be because Scripture itself is not neat. But what 2k tries to do is let Scripture speak and acknowledge the limits of its speech, that way we might have a better grasp on the difference between what God requires and the doctrines and commandments of man.

  379. Zrim said,

    March 1, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Jeff, I know you’d like to portray my view as compartmentalizing the Christian life in some medieval sense, but I just don’t recognize my view in your portrayal. My contention has always been that God is glorified the same way we are justified—through faith alone apart from works. So if we have faith we are always glorifying God in whatever we do, whether those works are excellent or mediocre and whether we are senators or trash collectors. Because of faith we glorify God in all that we do. The unbeliever can never glorify God, no matter his office or even if his works are better than ours. The best he can do is a relatively good job.

    But, sorry, I just don’t see how it’s contradictory to say that general revelation is sufficient for the plumbing of a Christian, but a Christian must obey special revelation while plumbing. I’m not sure what more could be said here without just getting repetitive.

    I’m not sure what you mean by asking if a Christian’s plumbing is “unregulated by God’s law.” A believer is bound to be obedient to God in all his tasks. The moral law of God doesn’t tell us how to perform a task, it just tells us not to break it while getting the task done.

  380. Doug Sowers said,

    March 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

    dgh says: Jeff, I appreciate the distinction, but I don’t think it helps with those believers who still think that a Christian will teach history or plumb differently from a non-Christian.

    How can a teacher who doest believe the Bible teach history? If a teacher doesn’t understand, that God is Sovereign over history, and that it’s God who determines the boundaries of the nations, he will be hopelessly confused. (Kind of like you) Once again Dr Hart, you’re standing with both feet in the air! Up until the mid to late, during the 1930’s, Harvard College still taught *Genesis* as fact, when it came to how the heavens and the earth were created. Now, with the atheistic God sneering professors Harvard has on staff, evolution is taught as fact, and the Genesis account is scoffed at; as ridiculous! History is subjective enough as is, without God hating professors, spewing out lies, and mocking the Bible, in the name of historical facts! How can anyone teach history when he’s not standing on the Rock of God’s Word? Answer: in a God dishonoring way.

  381. Doug Sowers said,

    March 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    @Dr Hart, I would suggest you get back to the basics, and try re-reading Loraine Boettner’s “The doctrine of predestination”. It’s some much needed medicine for your mind. If a “teacher” of history doesn’t understand that God is the *author of history*, then he is very unhelpful, if not a downright menace. I had to put up with atheistic teachers my whole life of going though public schools. Teachers that contradicted everything my Mom and Church taught me about God’s Word. Talk about a double minded message! Five days of lie after lie, and two for my Church and Mom to correct their mistakes! Teachers, that rolled their eyes and scoffed at the very notion, of Jesus Christ being Lord of all.

    Yet, you seem to glory in the fact that atheistic teachers can teach history just fine! Huh? By what standard can you make such a preposterous assertion? A believer and non-believer look at history in two stark and different ways! Did God create the heavens and the earth, or no? Is God Sovereign over the Nations, or no? Is God Sovereign over the weather? If a “teacher” can’t get those questions right, then why would I want him teaching either me, or my children? Anyone can memorize facts taught in history books, but to teach history in a God glorifying, accurate way, presupposes that one needs to be a Christian, as a starting point for going forward to becoming a “good teacher of history”. Is God the author of history, or not?

  382. Ron said,

    March 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Doug,

    As CVT quipped, unbelievers – although they cannot account for their counting, do count (and some quite well at that).

    You’re painting with as broad a brush as some of your opponents. One can learn much from professing atheists; let’s not kid ourselves. Sure, you appreciate that the unbelieving worldview, even if it gets the facts right, will taint mathematics. That does not imply that such teachers are “hopelessly confused” or that Christians cannot benefit from their teaching. It’s this sort of all or nothing attitude that brings reproach upon the thesis I would defend. I hope you wouldn’t choose a heart surgeon with such strictures. :)

    With respect to things your opponents say, although it is possible to live peaceable lives through the means of being governed by only natural law, it is God’s restraining grace that enables us to be governed well through such means – not natural law itself. After all, natural law will exist in Hell but there will be no peaceable order to be enjoyed in Hell. Therefore, 2 points: (i) natural law is not sufficient for order – Divine intention is key. (ii) the sufficiency of natural law (givena state of affairs that includes God’s intention to restrain society) is irrelevant to the question of whether law makers should aspire to Biblical precepts in the realm of civil code.

    Back to it man(!), but if the position you want to advance is the same position as mine, then you might want to consider acknowledging man’s natural ability.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  383. Ron said,

    March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    The moral law of God doesn’t tell us how to perform a task, it just tells us not to break it while getting the task done.

    Zrim,

    I can only guess what is Jeff’s point. As for me, I would say that to people can perform the same external task yet only one perform it to God’s glory. The “how” to perform the task might in Jeff’s mind be speaking to that sort of thing. The “how” goes beyond the external task and, also, pertains to the manner in which the task is performed. For instance, there is a philosophy of math that goes beyond the external execution of math. There is a philosophy of fluid dynamics that goes beyond the external acts of engineering and plumbing. I’m certain of those things, but not so sure it applies to Jeff’s point.

  384. Zrim said,

    March 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Ron, it’s hard to harmonize CVT’s quip with some of his more Doug Sower-ish statements:

    “Non-Christians believe that the personality of the child can develop best if it is not placed face to face with God. Christian believe that the child’s personality cannot develop at all unless it is placed face to face with God. Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum. In this vacuum the child is expected to grow. The result is that the child dies. Christian education alone really nurtures personality because it alone gives the child air and food.”

    “Non-Christians believe that authority hurts the growth of the child. Christians believe that without authority a child cannot live at all.”

    “No educational content that cannot be set into a definitely Christian-theistic pattern and be conducive to the development of covenant personality has any right to appear in our schools.”

    “What sense is there in spending money for teaching arithmetic in a Christian school rather than in a so-called neutral school unless you are basically convinced that no space-time fact can be talked about taught unless seen in its relationship to God? When speaking thus of the absolute antithesis that underlies the education policies of our schools, it is not too much to say that if any subject could be taught elsewhere than in a Christian school, there would be no reason for having Christian schools.”

    “The only reason why we are justified in having Christian schools is that we are convinced that outside of a Christian-theistic atmosphere there can be no more than an empty process of one abstraction teaching abstractness to other abstractions.”

    “No teaching of any sort is possible except in Christian schools.”

    “The ground for the necessity of Christian schools lies in this very thing, that no fact can be known unless it be known in its relationship to God. And once this point is clearly seen, the doubt as to the value of teaching arithmetic in Christian schools falls out of the picture. Of course arithmetic must be taught in a Christian school. It cannot be taught anywhere else.”

    “…if you cannot teach arithmetic to the glory of God, you cannot do it any other way because it cannot be done any other way by anybody.”

    “On the basis of our opponents the position of the teacher is utterly hopeless. He knows that he knows nothing and that in spite of this fact he must teach. He knows that without authority he cannot teach and that there are no authorities to which he can appeal. He has to place the child before an infinite series of possibilities and pretend to be able to say something about the most advisable attitude to take with respect to the possibilities, and at the same time he has to admit that he knows nothing at all about those possibilities. And the result for the child is that he is not furnished with an atmosphere in which he can live and grow.”

    “In contrast with this the Christian teacher knows himself, knows the subject, and knows the child. He has the full assurance of the absolute fruitfulness of his work. He labors in the dawn of everlasting results.”

    Van Til, Foundations of Christian Education (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1990).

    But Van Til isn’t alone. A branch of the “Take Back America” effort, the website The American View enlists his words along with plenty other Presbyterian and Reformed stalwarts in the fight against the pagans and their satanic workshop known as government schools where everyone knows that, ”Putting a child or young adult in the God-hating, Christless ‘public schools’ is a form of child-sacrifice. It is soul-murder.” That sounds really Doug Sowers-y.

    http://www.theamericanview.com/index.php?id=840

  385. Ron said,

    March 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Let me add, Zrim, that the philosophy of fact, if it is unto God’s glory, will require Scripture as its justification. The alleged atheist operating under GR alone does not give credit to a common creator who stands behind our minds and the external pipes and physical “laws” so that plumbing can be an intelligible experience. If all we are left with is GR, then all that can be referenced is a conceptual necessity for God, but conceptual necessity does not imply ontological necessity. SR is the key that unlocks our justification for the actual ontological-precondition for intelligible experience. There’s a difference between having intelligible experience and being able to justify it as such.

  386. Ron said,

    March 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Ron, it’s hard to harmonize CVT’s quip with some of his more Doug Sower-ish statements:

    Yes, I know. Some (many) of Doug’s statements are troubling to me. It struck me as odd when Letham one evening preached on the insufficiency of Scripture. Everything he said was true but it struck me as somewhat unnecessary and then I began to realize that there are people within our congregations that operate more like fundamentalist types (we don’t need no book learning) than Reformed. Maybe that is why DGH said that the Puritans had a more robust view of GR than many Reformed folk today. I see the point but I’m of the mindset that such a low view of GR is a minority report, but I appreciate that our samples and experiences are different.

  387. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Zrim (#379): But, sorry, I just don’t see how it’s contradictory to say that general revelation is sufficient for the plumbing of a Christian, but a Christian must obey special revelation while plumbing.

    If general revelation were to be sufficient for plumbing then there would be nothing in special revelation that needs obeying while plumbing.

    Put the other way: since it is necessary to obey SR while plumbing, then GR is not sufficient for plumbing.

    Simple, basic, common sense.

    For example: A plumber may not misrepresent his work to his client. Why not? The 9th commandment forbids it. Likewise, if he has promised to do plumbing work, then the 8th and 9th commandments require him to … plumb.

    You say, but those are separate issues: plumbing proper v. keeping your word.

    And I say, it’s all a part of what it means to be a plumber AND a Christian.

    Remember the Venn diagrams? The overlap between being a plumber and being a Christian is the way in which Scripture regulates plumbing. That overlap includes using honest weights and measures, working diligently, etc.

  388. paigebritton said,

    March 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    But, Jeff, that would seem to imply that a Christian who plumbs is a qualitatively different plumber than a non-Christian who plumbs. (Or potentially so. Christians who plumb during disobedient streaks would be no different, and potentially worse in outward behavior.) So — let’s say that a Christian who plumbs obediently is a qualitatively different plumber than a non-Christian who plumbs.

    I am pretty sure that if Zrim even acknowledges a qualitative difference on the Christian’s part, he wouldn’t call it “better.” Would you?

  389. Zrim said,

    March 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Jeff, I say they are distinct tasks that cohere within the believing individual. And those distinct tasks require distinct texts to meet their respective demands. So if we’re going to use the Venn diagram analogy, it seems to me better to see how the tasks cohere within the individual who has a foot in each sphere and needs each book to meet those demands than to say something as misleading as “the Bible is sufficient for plumbing.”

    I mean, if it’s common sense and the ordinary use of language you want to claim then it seems to me when someone says “the Bible is sufficient for plumbing” most people expect that means they can open it up and find something pertaining to plumbing. Obviously, and as I’m sure you would admit, that doesn’t happen. Then you’re forced to go a million miles out of your way to qualify your misleading statement. Why not work smarter instead of harder and just use my language?

    Paige, if a believing plumber plumbs well and remains obedient he has both glorified God and done good work; if he does shoddy work he has still glorified God. Faith doesn’t make his good work any better than the unbeliever’s good work, it only glorifies God. Because, you know, good work is just good work.

  390. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 1, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Zrim: …seems to me when someone says “the Bible is sufficient for plumbing”

    I’ve never said that, so I don’t see what the problem is.

  391. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 1, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Paige (#388): But, Jeff, that would seem to imply that a Christian who plumbs is a qualitatively different plumber than a non-Christian who plumbs.

    I hear you. I think the real difference is not between people, but within a given individual.

    Sanctification is so imperfect in this life that there will not necessarily be an outward difference between Christian A and non-Christian B in behavior. But there *will* be a difference between Christian A when he is obeying Scripture, and when he is not.

    That difference may (or may not) show up in the quality of his work (if he’s been slacking), or perhaps in his treatment of customers (if he’s been dishonest), or who knows … the Spirit is ultimately in charge of our sanctification.

    The point is simply that sin and sanctification do in fact have outward effects.

  392. Ron said,

    March 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    For example: A plumber may not misrepresent his work to his client. Why not? The 9th commandment forbids it. Likewise, if he has promised to do plumbing work, then the 8th and 9th commandments require him to … plumb.

    Jeff,

    I’d like to see you refine your argument in light of the premise that GR forbids these same things.

    Thanks,

    Ron

  393. Mike K. said,

    March 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Jeff,

    Put the other way: since it is necessary to obey SR while plumbing, then GR is not sufficient for plumbing.

    That’s only true if SR isn’t just repeating or enforcing that which is found in GR, a possibility that most transformationalists/non-pc2kers/people that aren’t DGH/Zrim/et al. (or whatever label) seem to reject out of hand. In other words, the expectations of everything moral wrt plumbing are already there in nature and known by all, sociopaths and talk show guests notwithstanding, and the church’s jurisdiction over the members’ love of neighbor intersects that in places.

    For an example of this reading, 1 Tim 5:8. No one believes it was received as a new law. While it could be argued that this is only because it agrees with prior revelation, that assumes a method of hermeneutics (I don’t know what to call it; “epistemological verification,” to be polite, or “prooftexting” otherwise) as ubiquitous in the 1st century that few practice today — even in Reformed circles — outside of devoted presuppositionalists.

    Then you still have to explain how people knew how to live prior to the giving of the previous revelation. Maybe there’s a compelling explanation besides natural law, but I’m unaware of it. A body of explicit, extrabiblical revelation that at least told Cain not to kill, Noah, not to get drunk, Lot, not to sleep with his daughters, etc. is sometimes postulated, supplying continuity with how people have to live now in light of the unreliability of GR/natural law. But that’s not taught in the Bible, which is supposed to be a pretty important consideration on that side.

    But if I’m correct, then SR isn’t necessary to know to use honest weights and measures or work diligently. Even in a Venn diagram, the P circle remains intact and self-defined however much the C circle overlaps. However, the obligations as a Christian – working diligently, being honest with neighbors – unsurprisingly cohere with what people naturally expect in business relationships.

    I find it funny that if you put an asterisk in the overlapping space, that thing is said to be a member of C and a member of P, which I understand as the two-kingdoms view and is what I’m trying to get at here. It is meaningless to call it a CP, which is what you seem to be striving toward as a whatever-you-identify-as. But you’re the math guy. :)

  394. Doug Sowers said,

    March 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    @Ron, Thanks Bro, your right, I shouldn’t have said that unbelievers can’t teach. History was my favortie subject in school, and some of my favorite history teachers, were unbelievers, and I leaned a great deal from them. And yes, I would want the best “heart doctor”, should I ever be in need of a serious open heart operation.

    What I was attempting to communicate was, most of my best teachers were straight up atheists! They mocked the Bible! While that did not destroy my faith in God, (And no Zrim, it didnt kill my soul) it certainly didn’t help it! If it were not for my “Christian Mother”, who could answer the constant barrage of derision, I don’t know what I would have thought. All I was trying to import, was that it would be much better to find a teacher that could teach history “well”, “and” teach it from a Christian perspective, amen?

    Why should we tolerate God sneering atheists to put there evil slant on how they see history? Machen was right, these secular teachers are a necessary evil for the present time, but let’s pray for the day, when it’s no longer necessary to hire, an unbelieving history teacher, amen? Why should we tolerate someone who doesn’t even know that God created the heavens and the earth, to teach history, amen?

    Moreover, sending ones child to a secular school, is not necessarily soul killing! Shame on you Zrim for saying that! My question would be, is it wise? Maybe yes, maybe no. It all depends on the public school and the teacher. If you have an idiot for a public school teacher, then one would have to be insane to send there child to his class. If on the other hand, the teacher is good, then by all means, no problem, as long as the parents are ready to unpack all the lies that there children will be taught.

  395. Ron said,

    March 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Doug,

    Thanks for your gracious reply and your willingness to make some modifications to your statements. I thought that you might. :)

    I so appreciate you.

    Ron

  396. paigebritton said,

    March 2, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Sanctification is so imperfect in this life that there will not necessarily be an outward difference between Christian A and non-Christian B in behavior. (Jeff)

    Faith doesn’t make his good work any better than the unbeliever’s good work, it only glorifies God. Because, you know, good work is just good work.(Zrim)

    Re. the qualitative difference between a believer and an unbeliever in the area of work, you guys have mentioned sanctification and performance, and as you say, these do not necessarily lead to an evaluation of “better” for the believer in question.

    But what about ideology? Is having the “mind of Christ” qualitatively different from not? Is it qualitatively better, and could this have an impact on the work of the worker, viewed holistically (glorifying God + striving to perform the work well + loving neighbor)?

    It may not be obvious about plumbers — though I think the case could be made regarding any kind of work — but in other professions one’s ideology is very clearly in play, especially in one’s answer to questions like, What is a human being? and What is the purpose [of my work]?

    Think of a teacher, doctor, magistrate answering these questions. Creatively apply the same to the plumber and the bricklayer. Can we really separate ideology from work? Is the Christian ideology qualitatively superior to all non-Christian ideologies, or not? Is the Christian offering something better, or not?

    Here’s where I think Jeff’s Venn diagram truly challenges some of the absolutes I am hearing from Zrim & DGH.

  397. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Jeff (#390), ok, if it’s common sense and the ordinary use of language you want to claim then it seems to me when someone says “the Bible speaks to all of life including plumbing” most people expect that means they can open it up and find something pertaining to plumbing. Commence the million miles point now.

  398. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Doug (#394), I find that P&R speak about education the way that Baptists speak about substance use and worldly amusement. Just as in substance use legalism, there are hard and soft versions of educational legalism. Instead the category of sin that hard uses, the soft kind employs wisdom, as in, “It may not be wrong but it is unwise to employ secular education.”

    But you also suggest that if one does he will have to “unpack lies” from the public school teacher. It’s true that one has to de-program, but that has to happen anywhere. You make it sound like lies don’t exist in Christian schools. But there are Christian schools that teach dispensationalism and credo-baptism, as well as transformationalism and Romanism. I wouldn’t preclude these as educational choices on those grounds alone because education isn’t about religious truth, something plenty of quotes provided you show that Machen held, as well as the extended quote I once provided by W.A. Strong concerning the practices of the early church.

  399. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Paige (#396), it isn’t clear to me how the problem solved by simply moving up the temporal scale toward the higher echelons. That sounds like God really isn’t interested every square inch, just the more enduring parts over against the more trivial ones. I happen to think it all matters to God.

    And I don’t know what “Christian ideology” is. It sounds like “Christian worldview,” which typically translates into Christian versions of creational enterprise. Again, I know what Christian doing ideology is, but I don’t know what Christian ideology is. I know what Christian theology is though, and that translates into the church which is structured and expressed in creeds, confessions and catechisms. So, the Christian is indeed offering something better, the gospel, which is the way to eternal life, not a way of doing temporal life better.

  400. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Zrim (#398): Good point.

  401. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Zrim: (#397): …then it seems to me when someone says “the Bible speaks to all of life including plumbing” most people expect that means they can open it up and find something pertaining to plumbing.

    OK. Is that false? Is there nothing in Scripture that pertains to plumbing?

    But what happens after they open up the Scripture? I would say that people’s expectations are adjusted as they are trained how to open up Scripture and read what it says. The solution to your problem is better exegesis, NOT to deny the obvious.

    I’ve been reading Scripture for some time now, and I’ve never been under any illusion that there’s chapter and verse on Teflon tape. But I’ve also never been under any illusion that when I read Eph 6.6-7, that plumbing is somehow exempt from that command. Scripture pertains.

    What we’re talking about here is a basic hermeneutical method: are we only going to admit what Scripture directly says, or are we also going to admit good and necessary implications as the teaching of Scripture? You and I both know the right answer to that question!

    So if Eph 6.6-7 has some good and necessary consequences for my plumbing, then it doesn’t matter whether or not it is explicit about plumbing — it still teaches some things that pertain to plumbing.

    So it turns out that our hypothetical reader of Scripture is correct. He just needs to be immersed and trained in the actual data to determine how and in what way Scripture actually speaks.

  402. paigebritton said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Zrim –
    Well, I intentionally replaced “worldview” with “ideology” because I know how you feel about the former term. Pretend the word “worldview” has not been co-opted by the Embarrassing Transformationalists for a second. What I mean is, what is the biblical answer to the ultimate questions that human beings tend to ask? I’ve gotta think it is a different set than non-biblical ideologies/worldviews would give. And one of the biggies, again, is What is a human being? And I think that a hospital administrator, say, who is a Christian believer, is probably going to answer that question differently than a hospital administrator who is an admirer of Peter Singer. And however you slice it, the Christian answer is going to end up with a way of “doing temporal life better,” and whether that’s entirely by accident or by God’s design, I’ll leave it to you to decide.

    And I have no clue what you mean about the “higher echelons.” Did you ask this because I used philosophical vocab? All I am talking about is something very ordinary, but I needed a word that would get at the whole deal — how we construe life, the universe, and everything. (Which seems to me to include every square inch.)

  403. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Ron (#392) and Mike (#393):

    I’d like to see you refine your argument in light of the premise that GR forbids these same things.

    Good. That’s helpful.

    The first issue for the Christian is one of loyalty. If one asks a Christian “why not cheat on your taxes?”, he could equally answer, “Because it’s wrong” OR “Because God says not to.”

    But because loyalty to God is more important in his life than some abstract deontology, he must and should say “Because God says not to.”

    This appears to me what the Confession means when it says that the moral law continues to be a rule for righteousness.

    The second reason has to do with our creaturely limitations. Mike, the missing component in your argument (and Zrim and DGH’s) is that your argument depends on assumption that we know with perfection the content of general revelation.

    But that’s not so. Not only is “general revelation” unavailable from Amazon.com, but our consciences are defiled in regard to discerning it, especially in moral areas.

    The same is true of special revelation, but less so. With SR, we actually have a text.

    So my refinement would be this: the reason that the Christian needs both GR and SR in his life is that he needs confirmation that he has correctly understood GR. He feels, intuitively, that it is wrong to cheat on his taxes. Scripture confirms that this is so.

    He feels, intuitively, that same-sex marriage is just a simple matter of equality. Scripture challenges his intuition.

    What I’m getting at is that knowledge of what is right and wrong is not purely a matter of deduction: We know GR (or SR) and work it all out from there. No, it involves induction, coordinating GR and SR to reason to best inference.

    So because SR is an explicit rule for righteousness, a Christian *must* observe it as a matter of loyalty. And because we as sinful and non-omniscient creatures do not have a royal road to perfect knowledge, we *need* SR and GR both to help confirm what we believe to be true.

    So Mike, the overlap does not lead us to say “GR here, SR there”, but rather “both together.”

  404. Doug Sowers said,

    March 2, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Zrim, Paige, or anyone: Would someone give me a working definition of transformationalist, and how, or why that’s bad? I see, even Paige referred to the *embarrassing transformationalists* hijacking the term *worldview*. Could someone please help me out?

  405. paigebritton said,

    March 2, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Hi, Doug,
    I am kind of teasing Zrim when I say “Embarrassing Transformationalists.” (That’s because he thinks I am one and I am not.) The people he and DGH are reacting against are sometimes (more kindly) called Neo-Calvinists, and they are characterized by language like “redeem” and “worldview” and “transform,” and they talk about taking back the culture (and sometimes the nation) for Christ. I read a book last year by Nancy Pearcey, maybe it was Total Truth?, and she about sums it up.

    Zrim would say they have a way too optimistic view of what Christians can accomplish in this world, based on a really overrealized eschatology (assuming they can bring Christ’s reign to fruition before its time). Here is a rare place where I agree with Zrim. Pearcey’s writing makes me shudder.

    Unfortunately, I learned to use words like “redeem” and “transform” and “worldview” to mean something more positive than Zrim would countenance, and yet less “realized” than the Neo-Cals. So it’s kind of difficult to communicate with those terms around here.

    Hope that helps!

  406. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I’ve been reading Scripture for some time now, and I’ve never been under any illusion that there’s chapter and verse on Teflon tape. But I’ve also never been under any illusion that when I read Eph 6.6-7, that plumbing is somehow exempt from that command. Scripture pertains.

    Jeff, you keep talking about tasks being subject or exempt from Scriptural commands. But, again, my point is that it’s people who are the targets of commands, not their vocations.

    Paige, your concern seems to be epistemological. Mine isn’t. It doesn’t matter as much to me how a pagan answers the question of what a human beings is. What matters whether they treat human beings like human beings. The epistemologists can ding the pagan all day long that he can’t justify his morality. All I care about is that he lives morally. And I don’t think anyone needs an explicitly Christian epistemology to do that. So, you may want to officially distant yourself from redemptive transformationism, and that’s great, but when you seem to have the same epistemological concern I am not sure why you shudder when you read Pearcey.

    By higher echelons I men that the temporal spectrum runs from trivial-temporal to enduring-temporal. But it all falls shorts of being eternal. Sometimes I think worldviewers think enduring-temporal is synonymous with eternal. But as much as marriage and family concerns are more enduring and of a higher order than trash collection, we will still have our familial bonds dissolved in the eternal age. So much for the “family values” doctrines.

  407. paigebritton said,

    March 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    It doesn’t matter as much to me how a pagan answers the question of what a human beings is. What matters whether they treat human beings like human beings.

    Um, Zrim, this is kind of the point: if you don’t answer the question right, you don’t treat human beings like human beings. This isn’t an epistemological question, some theoretical thing; it’s intensely practical. Here’s a handful of answers to the question What is a human being? Spot the Christian one, and tell me it isn’t different, and doesn’t make a difference.

    “Something good to eat.”
    “A cog in the economic machine.”
    “An expendable pawn in my regime.”
    “A white male citizen of X country.”
    “A bundle of chemicals.”
    “Image of God, owned by God.”
    “Someone to compete against.”
    “A postpartum baby.”
    “Anyone with an IQ of >100.”
    “Someone to take advantage of.”
    etc.

    We won’t, I note, have our humanness dissolved in the eternal age. Seems to kind of matter.

  408. Doug Sowers said,

    March 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks Paige, would it be fair to call transformationalists, post millennial? And wouldn’t that be a more helpful way of describing our different perspectives? I honestly don’t know what the world will look like when Christ comes back at the resurrection, but I think it will be glorious. :)

  409. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Zrim (#406): Jeff, you keep talking about tasks being subject or exempt from Scriptural commands. But, again, my point is that it’s people who are the targets of commands, not their vocations.

    People are the subjects of commands, and the commands are the actions those subjects are to take. Those commands are to obeyed at all times, impacting all that we do.

    There is no task that is exempt from the impact of the commands of Scripture.

  410. paigebritton said,

    March 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Yeah, Doug, I think they get slapped with the label “postmil,” whether they are conscious of that eschatology or not.

    pb

  411. David R. said,

    March 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Paige,

    “This isn’t an epistemological question, some theoretical thing; it’s intensely practical. Here’s a handful of answers to the question What is a human being? Spot the Christian one, and tell me it isn’t different, and doesn’t make a difference.”

    Except that practically speaking, *most* people treat other people decently most of the time. I have Christian and non-Christian friends and I can’t really say that the Christian ones treat me better. Some do; some don’t, and vice versa. I realize that you are concerned to uphold the stark spiritual antithesis between believers and unbelievers, but it seems to me that for most practical purposes “on the ground,” common grace tends to even things out.

  412. GAS said,

    March 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    David,

    Here’s my answer. Your a-theistic friends will vote for like-minded politicians who will enact policies that reflect those a-theistic worldviews and those policies affect everybody and leads to a rejection of the moral law. So while they might be nice to you face to face but they hate you in the voting booth.

  413. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    David R (#411):

    So does sanctification actually occur? (a loaded question, of course … but one that has to be asked if indeed common grace evens things out)

  414. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Paige, what David said.

    Look, I get the theory that belief and practice always go together. But in reality that lines up as often as it doesn’t. I think God’s providence makes up for those gaps when someone who thinks I am a mere sum of my parts doesn’t treat me that way and when someone who thinks I am made in the image of God treats me like I’m dirt. You want epistemology and I’m good with providence.

  415. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Jeff,

    My point is a covenantal one. DVD recently made a similar one:

    “But there are also certain senses in which Scripture cannot be taken in a simplistic manner as the moral standard of the common kingdom. For one thing, Scripture has always been delivered to God’s special covenant people, the Old Testament to Israel and the New Testament to the church. When Scripture gives its moral commands, it speaks to God’s covenant people and does not give them bare commands, but instructs them how to live as his redeemed covenant people. Even the 10 commandments begin with the introduction, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt….” Thus I think we need to be careful that we don’t simply take the commands meant as a response to God’s redemptive love and try to enforce them as such upon the world at large. This doesn’t mean that most of the commands of Scripture aren’t relevant for unbelievers too. But they’re relevant for different reasons. Unbelievers in the public square shouldn’t kill, commit adultery, or steal, but it’s because these things are prohibited in the natural law which binds all people as human beings, not because they’re in the 10 commandments which come to God’s special people he redeemed out of Egypt. Hence one of my concerns is that we be careful to make arguments and appeals in the common kingdom that are appropriate to the mixed crowds that populate the common kingdom, and not drop biblical proof-texts out of context.”

    Jesus lived and died for his people alone, not for commerce or economics or education or statecraft or business or art or medicine, etc. I think once we start suggesting that something other than God’s people are the targets for imperatives, even when highly qualified, is when we begin to create the problem of cultural Christianity. Everyone here eschews cultural Christianity, but do we understand just where that starts? It doesn’t just fall out of the sky, you know.

  416. paigebritton said,

    March 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    David R. –
    Are you sure that it’s “common grace evening things out,” in our particular time and country? Are you sure there’s no influence of SR in our society, even in a remnant or trickle-down fashion, two millennia after Christ? And are you sure the everyday niceness we enjoy here is going to last?

    I would think that if you wanted to get a glimpse of what kind of answers people would give in societies with NO strong SR influence, so that you could have a sense of where GR alone leaves them, you would want to look at places historically and geographically very different from our own. Ours is an SR-tainted data sample.

  417. paigebritton said,

    March 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Zrim,
    You want epistemology and I’m good with providence.

    Actually, all I wanted was to find out whether you think the Christian answer to “What is a human being?” is qualitatively different and qualitatively better than any consistent non-Christian answer. Regardless of how many people inconsistently imitate the Christian answer, and regardless of how many Christians inconsistently forget it, the bearers of Special Revelation are the ones who are obliged to give it. Is the Christian (biblical) answer different? Is it better? Will it make a temporal difference when it is given (acted upon)? If the answers here are yes, then the Christian at least potentially has an objectively superior thing to offer to the world around him, in whatever work he does. (Whether he does so or not is the obedience/sanctification part.)

    But since you think that the Christian view of humanity is irrelevant, and “making a temporal difference” is also irrelevant, I guess I have my answer now.

  418. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Zrim, OK, one could also think about what the Law means for non-Christians.

    But that’s a far jump away from where we are, which is: What does the Law mean for Christians engaged in common activities? I contend that the commands of the law are pertinent to Christians’ common activities; you (appear to) deny, since you scorn the Christian who picks up the Bible thinking that he’ll find something pertinent to plumbing there.

    So yes: covenantal obedience is what’s in view here. And that means what, exactly, for Christians?

    But about non-Christians.

    Zrim: Jesus lived and died for his people alone, not for commerce or economics or education or statecraft or business or art or medicine, etc. I think once we start suggesting that something other than God’s people are the targets for imperatives, even when highly qualified, is when we begin to create the problem of cultural Christianity.

    Certainly. But now think about how the Law precedes the Gospel: It reveals to us (whether from GR or SR) that our actions in the common realm show that we are sinners. Right?

    So what happens when we “fix” the problem of cultural Christianity by positing that Scripture’s demands are for the church only? We lose the first use of the Law; and thereby create a postmodern Christian enclave: *We* follow the Scripture, but outside the community, Scripture does not apply.

    You seem to leave yourself no room to say that the decalogue (as in the republication of covenant of works) is normative for all persons, justified and unjustified, as a rule of righteousness.

  419. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Paige, I do think the Christian has something objectively unique and superior to offer, the gospel, which is to say the way sinners are reconciled to God. What you seem concerned for here is a doctrine of man. The Bayly’s are as well. In fact, they contend that “the doctrine of man is central to the Christian faith.” They think that there was a time when the doctrine of justification was central, or as they put it “a gap issue.” But according to them, this has shifted to the doctrine of man. It’s the platform from which they launch their culture war and cultural Christianity.

    http://www.clearnotefellowship.org/WhoWeAre/DefiningPositions/GapIssues

    But the 2k point is that the central doctrine is still justification. It is the gospel that 2k wants to protect. The doctrine of man is fine as far as it goes, but when it becomes central to the church’s message it’s a step away from the Reformation and toward one form or another of cultural Christianity. So it isn’t that I think a Christian view of humanity is irrelevant, it’s that I think the gospel is the point.

  420. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    So what happens when we “fix” the problem of cultural Christianity by positing that Scripture’s demands are for the church only? We lose the first use of the Law; and thereby create a postmodern Christian enclave: *We* follow the Scripture, but outside the community, Scripture does not apply.

    Jeff, the first use of the law is a general revelation category, not a special revelation category. So when we say that imperatives are tied to the heel of indicatives we are making a third use point, which doesn’t lose the first use at all. But I don’t see what is so taboo about saying that the explicit covenantal demands are for covenantal people when they are preceded with covenantal language, as in “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of slavery,” therefore etc. Those words were not given to Israel’s neighbors. The pattern is followed in any NT imperative. Where is there any Scriptural example of the imperative being given to those outside the covenant?

  421. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Zrim, do you think it will be profitable to go down the road of “can the Law be preached to the Gentiles to convict men of sin”? If you really want to, we can … but it seems far removed from the question at hand.

  422. paigebritton said,

    March 3, 2011 at 6:28 am

    The doctrine of man is fine as far as it goes, but when it becomes central to the church’s message it’s a step away from the Reformation and toward one form or another of cultural Christianity. So it isn’t that I think a Christian view of humanity is irrelevant, it’s that I think the gospel is the point.

    Zrim, we are not talking about making one thing or another “central to the church’s message.”

    I am asking, Does the Christian worker in any way have something superior to offer this temporal existence, that a non-Christian cannot offer (except by way of shallow imitation)?

    You have consistently answered NO:

    NO, being a Christian does not make one perform the skills of a _______ better than a non-Christian ___________.

    NO, being a Christian does not even make one a more moral ______ than Joe Pagan.

    NO, Christians should not be arrogant enough to think that they can make any difference in the temporal world by way of “improvement.”

    So I posited the possibility that the Christian ________ can answer the question What is a human being? uniquely on account of Special Revelation, and in answering and acting on this answer out of obedience to God he may then end up offering this world something objectively superior to what Joe Pagan running on General Revelation could offer (unless Joe Pagan has, consciously or unconsciously, borrowed fruit from the Christian Tree).

    If what I have suggested is true, then YES, the Christian ______ CAN offer something qualitatively different, qualitatively better, and actually beneficial to the slice of time and geography and humanity that God has placed him in.

    Do you agree or disagree?

  423. Zrim said,

    March 3, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Jeff (#421), I think you may have your uses switched. The first use is the civil use, the second is the pedagogical use (the third the normative use). I’m not commenting on the second but the first.

    Paige (#422), when I think doctrine of man (or as you put it, “What is a human being uniquely on account of special revelation?”) I not only think imago Dei but more than that I think total depravity. That is actually where the Christian of the Augustinian-Calvinist variety places the accent on what it means to be human, which doesn’t seem to be to be a very useful doctrine for improving the world. However, it does seem a useful doctrine for a few other things: to give the world a more sober and realistic assessment of its abilities and potentials than it is naturally inclined to think, a way to keep believers’ self-righteousness in check, as well as a set up for the gospel.

    So in that sense I agree, but for different reasons. If people understand they are sinners and all the implications of that reality, then I think we can say we have benefitted the world.

  424. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 3, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Ah, that explains it. There’s actually inconsistency between the numbering (see here — but in any event, I was referring to the pedegogical use of the law.

    So let me rephrase: If we say that the imperatives of Scripture are for the covenant community only, we run the risk of losing the pedagogical use of the Law.

  425. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Zrim, the larger issue is a hermeneutical one. As I understand your view, you believe that the Law written on the heart and the Law written on two tablets say the same thing, but in different forms. Correct?

    The difference between the two is the form, not the substance. And the form, you say, is the province of the church; we should be jealous (I think that was the term) of the 10 Commandments so as to preserve their uniqueness to the covenant community.

    So that raises the question: Does the form really matter?

    I would argue no. For one thing, we actually don’t use the form of the 10 Commandments as given. We use whatever English translation our church does — “do not murder”, “Thou shalt not kill”, but probably not lo tirtsach.

    And in fact, in the Reformed tradition, the form of Scripture is secondary; the content is everything. We resort to the original languages to finally resolve disputes, but we use faithful translations normally.

    So it is with the Law. The form thou shalt not kill is not magic or sacred. It conveys a part of the perfect rule of righteousness that binds all, justified and justified. And its content is simple: don’t murder.

    Paul argues this way in Rom 1 and 2. The difference between Jew and Gentile is not that they are subject to different Laws, but that they have access to the same Law through two different modes.

    Paul demonstrates this in Acts 17 — he pulls out the content of commandments 1 and 2, and then says, “God calls you to repent!” Of what? Of breaking the law.

    So it seems to me that if you really believe that the Law written on the heart is the same in substance as the Law written on tablets (and you seem to believe it), then to draw a line between GR and SR is to make a distinction without a difference.

    The content, not the form, is the essence of the Law.

  426. Doug Sowers said,

    March 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Right on Jeff!

    That is exactly what I asked Zrim about 1500 posts ago. If it’s the same Law given to us in two forms, then what Zrim seems to prefer for the Pagan Magistrate, is a sin obsured version, of the same message! And of course, without the written Scripture, (as a stardard) how is one to “be sure” he’s really following it, in the first place? This is why Zrim and Dr Hart are incoherrent, to put it nicely. BTW, neither Zrim nor Dr Hart have been able to answer this most obvious question. *How is the magistrate to know if he is, in fact following GR?*

  427. Zrim said,

    March 3, 2011 at 10:44 am

    If we say that the imperatives of Scripture are for the covenant community only, we run the risk of losing the pedagogical use of the Law.

    Jeff, my point assumes the evangelistic mission of the church. In fact, that is actually a big part of the equation that I think 2k is trying to protect, namely that the church is given the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (personally, not geo-politically). She is not tasked with the cultural mandate, which is the project you get when explicit imperatives are more or less divorced of redemptive indicatives. Besides, it seems to me that a Reformed view of evangelism is that there are members of the covenant outside the church who are brought in by the free and liberal proclamation of law and gospel.

  428. Zrim said,

    March 3, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Jeff, if we don’t distinguish between forms then how do we make any meaningful distinction between church and state? I know you don’t think that distinction is irrelevant, but when you make arguments like this it sure seems like your theonomic slip is showing (and theonomic-Doug’s catcalls sure seem to affirm that suspicion).

    Doug, how does an elder know that he is in fact interpreting special revelation correctly? You’re doing that odd hermeneutical thing again which seems like a good example of an illegitimate quest for religious certainty. But the reality of sin (anybody catching how the doctrine of human sin is a 2k fixation?) makes hay the quest for absolute certainty in either realm. Approximation, Doug, not exactitude, so your litmus test is moot. But once more: SR and GR are sufficiently clear for their respective tasks. It’s resident and abiding sin that makes it seem like one or the other isn’t clear.

  429. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 3, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Zrim: Jeff, if we don’t distinguish between forms then how do we make any meaningful distinction between church and state?

    I’m sorry, I don’t follow. If we don’t distinguish between the forms of God’s law, then we cannot make a meaningful distinction between church and state?

    Sorry to be slow (coming off a fierce cold), but it seems to me that until 1789, there was a meaningful distinction between church and state *and* a consensus that the decalogue was a basis for civil society. So … their distinction wasn’t meaningful? Not trying to be difficult, it just comes naturally.

    Here are the distinctions I would draw between the church and the state:

    * The church is given a predominantly spiritual jurisdiction with the authority to proclaim the word and administer the sacraments. The state is given a temporal jurisdiction with the authority to punish wrongdoing and reward right-doing.
    * The state as an institution is obligated to the second table of the Law, the church to both tables. Individual citizens of any state are obligated to both tables coram deo.
    * The church has the power to make decisions about cases of conscience. The state has only the power to regulate behavior, with no ability to bind the conscience.

    It seems like those distinctions are meaningful enough without needing to get into forms.

  430. GAS said,

    March 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Jeff, not to be picky, I agree with your distinctions, except how does the State “reward right-doing?” Aren’t rewards from right-doing inherent from it? Aren’t those free interactions between humans that are free of coercion or fraud with a feeling of general good will towards each other the benefit? I don’t see how that is something the State doles out except in it’s negative function to resist those who do not act accordingly.

    To me this attitude of the State being a dispenser of rewards, not that I think you think about it in this way, is one of, if not the, foundational problems with “Our State”. This idea that the State can progress society by the power of the State through coercing people in ways that achieves some secular ends is giving the State messianic powers; that is clearly idolatrous.

  431. David R. said,

    March 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Jeff,

    I think this posted somewhere back there, but here’s how Stuart Robinson stated those distinctions you’re making:

    “Touching the distinction between the power ecclesiastical and the civil power,—which latter is ordained by God also,—the points of contrast are so numerous and so fundamental that nothing but the confusion of mind arising from the oppression of Caesar, and Antichrist backed by the power of Caesar, could ever have caused the obscurity and inconsistency of the Church’s testimony in modern times. For they have nothing in common except that both powers are of divine authority, both concern the race of mankind, and both were instituted for the glory of God as a final end. In respect to all else—their origin, nature and immediate end, and in their mode of exercising the power,—they differ fundamentally. Thus, they differ:—

    “1. In that the civil power derives its authority from God as the Author of nature, whilst the power ecclesiastical comes alone from Jesus as Mediator.

    “2. In that the rule for the guidance of the civil power in its exercise is the light of nature and reason, the law which the Author of nature reveals through reason to man; but the rule for the guidance of ecclesiastical power in its exercise is that light which, as Prophet of the Church, Jesus Christ has revealed in his word. It is a government under statute laws already enacted by the King.

    “3. They differ in that the scope and aim of the civil power are limited properly to things seen and temporal; the scope and aim of ecclesiastical power are things unseen and spiritual. *Religious* is a term not predicable of the acts of the State; *political* is a term not predicable of the acts of the Church. The things pertaining to the kingdom of Christ are things concerning which Caesar can have rightfully no cognizance, except indirectly and incidentally as these things palpably affect the temporal and civil concerns of men; and even then Csesar cannot be too jealously watched by the Church. The tilings pertaining to the kingdom of Csesar are matters of which the Church of Christ as an organic government can have no cognizance, except incidentally and remotely as affecting the spiritual interests of men; and even then the Church cannot watch herself too jealously.

    “4. They differ in that the significant symbol of the civil power is the sword; its government is a government of force, a terror to evil-doers; but the significant symbol of Church power is the keys, its government only ministerial, the functions of its officers to open and close and have a care of a house already complete as to its structure externally, and internally organized and provided.

    “5. They differ in that civil power may be exercised as a *several* power by one judge, magistrate, or governor; but all ecclesiastical power pertaining to government is a joint power only, and to be exercised by tribunals. The Head of the government has not seen fit to confer spiritual power of jurisdiction in any form upon a single man, nor authorized the exercise of the functions of rule in the spiritual commonwealth as a several power.”

    (The Church of God as an Essential Element of the Gospel, pp. 85-86)

  432. Zrim said,

    March 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Jeff, my point was that if the state takes the explicit form of the Decalogue instead of the implicit text of general revelation then what is the difference between the state and the church? The state wasn’t called out of slavery, out of the land of bondage.

    GAS, 1 Peter 2:14 says, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”

    Maybe you’re being too Republican?

  433. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Jeff, my point was that if the state takes the explicit form of the Decalogue instead of the implicit text of general revelation then what is the difference between the state and the church?

    Right, and my response is, that the church has the right to settle questions of conscience, and to regulate faith and worship; whereas the state has the right to regulate conduct only. That’s the difference.

    It is the subject matter, *not* the form, that distinguishes the two.

    Put it this way: your argument about forms depends on an inference: If we don’t distinguish the forms, then we can’t distinguish between church and state. But I’m perfectly capable of distinguishing the two without having to resort to distinguishing forms.

    Do you have anything stronger, like a positive Scriptural argument, to bolster your claim?

    Because that one argument is hanging over a cliff at the moment.

    The state wasn’t called out of slavery, out of the land of bondage.

    Nevertheless, the moral law, which was given to Israel on two tablets of stone, remains a rule of righteousness that binds both the justified and the unjustified to the obedience thereof.

    You seem to come awfully close to denying this at times.

    And anyway, it seems like a trivializing kind of rule. In Paul’s time, Gentiles were actually ignorant of the Law. But in America, most people know that God forbids murder and theft. It seems like you’re asking us to pretend that we don’t know this fact.

  434. David R. said,

    March 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Jeff,

    Should just the second table be displayed on courthouse walls?

  435. GAS said,

    March 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Maybe you’re being too Republican?

    lol… naw, I can only wish that Republican politicians followed these ideals. It’s just that I really believe that man was made in the image of God.

  436. Doug Sowers said,

    March 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Your right on that one, David R! :)

    The correct answer is both tables! The picture hanging in the hallway, as one enters the Supreme Court building; portrays lady justice, pointing her sword down, to a book. What book you say? The Law of Moses! It seems, that at one time in America, this was common knowledge. Justice and morality MUST be coterminous, if we are to be coherent! King Jesus is Lord over both his Church, and every Nation with one Standard of justice founded on the Rock of God’s Word. Yes, not only his Church, but even our Civil laws need to be in conformity with the Law of God.

  437. paigebritton said,

    March 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks, Zrim (#423).

    If people understand they are sinners and all the implications of that reality, then I think we can say we have benefited the world.

    I’ll agree with you there, but I will go further than you in saying that ALSO those who value man as the image of God have benefited and do benefit the world (in the sense of, for example, relieving suffering, saving lives, and conferring dignity). This is one area where I see the bearers of Special Revelation having a unique and superior thing to offer the world in the time, place, and slice of humanity into which they are set.

    But it sounds like such temporal benefits don’t rate very highly in your book, and that you would maybe be surprised (appalled?) to find that God cared about such things at all.

  438. GAS said,

    March 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    One has to wonder what some expect on the New Earth?

  439. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    David, I suppose it could be. I would much rather it be portrayed in a robust sense of justice amongst our leaders.

  440. Mike K. said,

    March 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Jeff,

    There’s enough going on here that, 48 hours after my comment, I had to use Google to find out whether it had even posted and where. Erring on the side of brevity:

    Mike, the missing component in your argument (and Zrim and DGH’s) is that your argument depends on assumption that we know with perfection the content of general revelation.

    Well, we don’t know anything perfectly (outside of axiomatic systems). Case in point wrt SR, I believe most people in this discussion weren’t raised Reformed, let alone as a transformationalist or 2ker, yet had been and still are confident in their grasp of Scripture. It can only be a question of sufficient knowledge; I would add that in SR, it’s of those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, and in GR, those for wisdom’s sake as we live our lives.

    In any case, it seems uncontroversial to note that creaturely limitations on knowledge apply whether you’re considering the natural world or an ancient text.

    But because loyalty to God is more important in his life than some abstract deontology, he must and should say “Because God says not to.”

    This seems like a half false dichotomy, half conscience-binding statement. If that abstract deontology is grounded in creation, per 2kers, and not a rebellious, secular, alternative morality, per whatever preferred label for non-2kers, then the reasoning there is arbitrary at best.

  441. Zrim said,

    March 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Paige, it isn’t obvious to me that conferring dignity is the monopoly of those who specifically confess the imago Dei. But the gospel does derive only from those who have a doctrine of sin, as in law and gospel. Lots of people without an express doctrine of the imago Dei can get to human dignity since it’s the hard-wired nature of things. But the gospel isn’t natural. So you can see my point about the implications of sin and how that benefits the world and raise me the imago Dei. But I’d rather raise the point about the gospel. Isn’t that the traditional twin set of doctrines in Christianity, sin and grace? Since when was it sin and creation?

    But lest you think 2k has an apathetic regard for the doctrine of creation, from where I sit 2k is the best doctrine going for being quite at ease with creation as-is. 2k asks transformationism why there is any need to redeem that which is essentially still very good (though conditionally marred).

  442. Doug Sowers said,

    March 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Zrim;

    I’ve said this before, but it needs to be reinforced. Not only reinforced, but you need to be taken to the matt on this one. Man is not good, let alone “very good”! This is a huge blunder on your part. You continue with this nonsense that man is essentially very good! No! A thousand times no! While man was originally created very good, once Adam fell, death entered the human race. Mankind became totally depraved, dead to God. And that’s not good!

    Just in the last 37 years in America, we have *legally* slaughtered 49 million babies to the god of convenience. Essentially good?! What are you smoking?!

    Also it’s not a sin vs. grace issue, its life and death! In Genesis 6 God looked down and said “mans every thought is on evil constantly”. Hardly good; marred with sin. How dare you! The natural man is dead to God. He’s a rebel, and child of wrath. Even after I showed you these scriptures, you would not repent! IMHO, were it not for Gods restraining hand on mankind, we would have destroyed the human race a million times over! (After the flood!)

    Scripture says, there is none good, no not one. There is not one verse in the Bible to back up your bazaar perspective that man is still essentially good after the fall. Yet I can show you a plethora of verses to the contrary. Why must you persist, in looking at life, with your *natural eyes*, contradicting the Word of God? This goes to the heart of the R2K issue. You have fallen in love with your pet theory, and to heck with what the Bible says!

    You write like you’re a deist, as if God just wound up planet earth, and left mankind to putter along with General revelation, except for the elect. That’s not true, God is active in every man’s action be it sinful or righteous, while not being the author of sin. God has fashioned every mans heart, for His own reasons. The Holy Spirit causes the deer to give birth, and the sparrow to fall to the ground. How much more the actions of man? God is active in every beating human heart and every breath we take. He constantly restrains sinful man from all sorts of evil. Just look at how God stopped King Abimelech from touching Sarah in Genesis 20!

    Do you think that was the only time God intervened and stopped sinful man? You don’t take into account that God is active in every action of man, be they saved or lost. Joseph said to his brothers, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”. This is true with every action of mankind from the beginning. God is the author of history! This has been gnawing at me for some time, because you have built an elaborate R2K structure that is faulty at the foundation. Since man is *not* fundamentally, or essentially, very good, you must quit contradicting God’s word! It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that your whole R2K theory, founded on sand, and not on the Rock of God’s Word. Brother Zrim, you really need to repent of the odious unbiblical doctrine.

  443. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Doug,
    Actually, Zrim is not mixed up about total depravity, as you suggest — see his comment to me in #423. He does tend to speak more positively of pagan enterprise (the common realm of government, society, etc. running on General Rev) than of Christian common enterprise (Christians who think they can “improve” things on planet earth are arrogant and misguided, seeking to usurp Christ’s ultimate “improvement” project — all that post-mill stuff). But he sees the need for the gospel amongst pagans just fine.

    When he talks about creation being “good,” he is playing his “Get Out of Platonism Free” Card: i.e., don’t fix what ain’t broke, God created it so it must be good, don’t be so arrogant to think you can contribute any kind of improvement to what God has set up. He mainly means “the way the world is run” and “physical creation,” not the hearts of pagans.

    Which I think misses a lot, but not in the way you think you’ve discovered.

  444. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Zrim,
    Paige, it isn’t obvious to me that conferring dignity is the monopoly of those who specifically confess the imago Dei.

    I wonder some about whether you are unable to see it because the contrasts are not stark enough in our day and place. (Although I think the contrasts exist even here in our setting, permeated though it has been by Special Revelation for so long.)

    I can think of many big examples of major historical changes that occurred because of Christians working in the common realm with the imago Dei as their template and the cross of Christ as their reason for courage: e.g., for starters, abolition of the slave trade, abolitionism in the US, the “Velvet Revolution” in Eastern Europe.

    And I can see close to home a small example of the mind of Christ making a difference in the common realm: my husband Josh, like Jeff, is a math teacher; he chooses to work with the ne’er-do-wells in a public high school, and his motivation for teaching them math with all the skill and love he can muster is precisely the value he has learned to assign them as human beings made in the image of God. Sure, there are non-Christian teachers who are motivated to teach the tough crowd: but even here, it’s at the points of extreme stress that the difference between a Christian motivation and a worldly motivation can be most clearly seen.

    Thought experiment: if the US government suddenly decided to only wield the sword, and left all things charitable up to the governed, do you think we would see a difference between Christian and non-Christian responses to the needs of the human beings who live in America?

  445. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Doug, take a deep breath. If you read a little closer you’ll see that I am making a distinction between the essence of creation and the condition of creation. Its essence is very good, as in made in the image of God. Its condition is totally depraved. And when it comes to condition I also make a distinction between total depravity and utter depravity. While totally unable to perform one iota of perfect righteousness, fallen creatures are not utterly incapable of doing proximate justice (i.e. see Calvin’s praise of the pagans).

    Paige, how is affirming the very goodness of creation’s essence anything but confessional Protestantism? The Anabaptists speak of grace obliterating nature, the Romanists of grace perfecting it, the liberals of their conjoining the two, all of which are comments on the defectiveness of creation’s essence. But confessional Protestantism says that grace renews nature, which is a statement on its condition.

    And if you want to hold up abolitionism as the direct and obvious result of those who confess the imago Dei then what do you do with the Dutch Calvinists who championed Apartheid? Re your husband, whatever else could be said here, that sounds like trying to discern motivations, which have two problems: first, it’s funny how it always conveniently comes up with believers being morally superior, and second, it’s not too unlike trying to discern the secret will of God, which we are actually forbidden from doing (Belgic 13 and Dt. 29:29).

    Re your thought experiment, more speculation that seems designed to hail the moral superiority of believers. But my answer remains that if we are simultaneously saints and sinners we have to come to realistic grips about the sinner part. Yes, I’d like to think that more of me would make the world better, but my own sense of sin tells me that more of me would actually perpetuate the problem. You probably agree that more of me would make the world worse off, but for different reasons

  446. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 4, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Zrim: (#445): If you read a little closer you’ll see that I am making a distinction between the essence of creation and the condition of creation.

    Does that mean that the Aristotelian distinction between essence and accident is a theological necessity?

  447. Doug Sowers said,

    March 4, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Hi Paige :) Just because Zrim uses the word total depravity doesn’t mean he understands the concept. Please let me illustrate: Here is Zrim: #441 (2k asks transformationism why there is any need to redeem that which is essentially still very good (though conditionally marred).)

    Notice how he calls mankind “essentially still very good” although conditionally marred? I’ve gone over this with Zrim before, and as per usual he won’t back down. Just because man still bears the image of God, does not *mean* man is still good! The natural man will always bear the image of God, even in hell! That will be the “hell” of it! This in no way infers that men and women in hell will be “very good” let alone “good” at all. The Bible tells us that man is no longer good, period end of story. Zrim refuses to acknowledge this fact; and even though he *says* he believes in total depravity, he obviously does not. Jesus said, “Only God is good”. Zrim would correct the Lord Jesus and say, “wrong Jesus, man is still essentially very good, just conditionally marred”. Now that is really scary!

  448. Doug Sowers said,

    March 4, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Moreover Paige, I went over this with Zrim way back on the first Warriors post, where Zrim left no doubt, that he felt mankind was still very good. (Because man still bears the image of God) I was apalled, and gave him scripture verses to the contrary, that he just ignored.

  449. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 9:57 am

    it’s funny how it always conveniently comes up with believers being morally superior

    Actually, what I was trying to get at was that the objective truth taught by Special Revelation is superior: you already made your case that we can’t make comparisons by way of moral superiority, since believers fluctuate so much. But what does a Christian possess, because of God’s Special Revelation, that others do not? That’s what I am pointing to, not the moral superiority of the Christians in the examples I gave.

  450. GAS said,

    March 4, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Doug, I concur with Paige.

    You may find it surprising but the program that Zrim and others are trying to sell is just the other side of the coin of your position. You want a totalitarian Christian regime and “The Program” says Christians need to submit a secular totalitarian regime.

    To sell this “The Program” they emphasis total depravity in the moral sense but claim that natural law affords joe the plumber the goodness of creation to be a good plumber. But because joe the plumber is one of the filthy masses when it comes to his personal life he needs the State to keep it’s thumb on him because he’s so totally depraved. You see, God gives the magistrate unrestrained powers to keep the dirty masses down.

    Then they tie “The Program” with a pretty bow called Providence so that when the magistrate becomes tyrannical and even attacks Christians we just sigh and say, “oh well, that’s providence”.

    If you want a better understanding of this mindset read about the Woodrow Wilson administration.

  451. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Well, Doug, you might be right. I only know that I always get pounded for forgetting the “total depravity” of everybody part.

  452. Reed Here said,

    March 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

    GAS: whoa! If that’s not a mischaracterization I’m lost.

    Zrim, do you think GAS has nailed your agenda down?

    Further GAS, please explain or retract your use of of “others,” as in “Zrim and others.” About the only one I’d include on the same page as Zrim is Dr. Hart, and even they do not seem to be 99% on the same page, let alone 100%. As it is I can’t help but consider myself included in this “others.” If I am, I think your characterization borders on the defamatory.

  453. Doug Sowers said,

    March 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

    @GAS, huh?!

    Brother GAS, how could you say that?. Do you believe that following God’s Law is totalitarian?! Was Israel totalitarian? Will the eternal state be totalitarian? Will we have no freedom in the eternal state? There is a huge disconnect with us brother, because when a Nation is obedient to God, by founding it’s statutes and rules on God’s Law, freedom reigns, not totalitarianism. Unless you’re saying when rulers give deference to God’s standards, they become totalitarian? Wow! Can you show me in God’s word, where God warns a Nation to not follow his Law?

    You see GAS? It’s not *IF* were going to draw the line, it’s just *where*. Will our Laws be founded on the wisdom of God, or the autonomous reasonings of man? It really Theonomy or Autonomy, take you pick.

  454. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 4, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Doug (#448, 449):

    I believe that Zrim’s position is that we may distinguish between man’s essence and his current condition. He has some historical precedent in Reformed theology (I’d have to look it up — perhaps Hodge or Reymond for recents) for saying that sin affected our condition but not our essence; else, one *might* reason, God might have to change our essence before justifying us.

    I’m uncomfortable in general with the Aristotelian distinction between essence and condition. I’m hoping that Zrim is not saying that the Aristotelian distinction is a necessary part of Reformed theology.

  455. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Doug, Paige dings me for not making much out of the doctrine of the imago Dei. Then when I say creation (both animated and non-animated) is essentially very good you go ape for my making too much of it. But it’s that very doctrine that gets Paige where she wants to go, human dignity, etc. Your defaming of creation’s essential goodness doesn’t help her desire to see human worth affirmed much. I think you guys need to huddle a little more.

    Paige, I agree that we have the unique doctrine of the imago Dei. But I am saying that we also have the unique doctrine of sin. And it just seems to me that the Christian project in the NT era is to place the accent on the latter. Great as creation is, it’s about redemption being better.

    Reed, I think GAS more or less mistakes Christian secularism for legal secularism. What I think he can’t countenance is the biblical notion of submission and obedience. Contra the legal secularist, I don’t mind if the magistrate is a religious one, he still needs to be civilly obeyed. That raises allsorts of interesting problems, but the biblical command to obey him who wields the sword as God’s vice-regent doesn’t go away.

  456. Doug Sowers said,

    March 4, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Zrim; the Bible says that creation WAS created very good. (Pre fall) Notice man wasnt eating meat prior to the fall? After the fall, we read that man is no longer good. It’s that simple! Sin entered all of creation! Adams sin had an effect on all of creation, animal life, as well as plant life, IE thorns and such. While it’s true that man still retains the image of God, (In some sense, and he always will) he’s no longer is called good, let alone very good. How about coming into agreement with God?

  457. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Jeff, I wouldn’t say “Aristotelian distinction is a necessary part of Reformed theology.” You’ll recall my agnostic view on the power and necessity of philosophy for theological confession (for which I get regularly reamed by the resident Reformed logicians). But without distinguishing between essence and condition in this way I don’t know how one at once maintains the very goodness of creation (i.e. the imago Dei) and its total depravity.

  458. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Doug, how about dropping the Gilbert Tennant impersonation?

    But do you understand that if human beings are no longer very good in their essential nature it undercuts your pro-life agenda? But as for me, I’ll take the doctrine of sin to put a cap on pro-lifery’s notion that the unborn are special creatures entitled to circumvent the pains and injuries of life, up to and including death, the rest of us ex utero’s are subjected to as sinners.

  459. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Mike (#440): Thanks for the interaction. We’ve hit a deep well-head, and I’m not sure I can keep up.

    But I’m glad that we agree that

    MK: … it seems uncontroversial to note that creaturely limitations on knowledge apply whether you’re considering the natural world or an ancient text.

    For our points of disagreement:

    MK: I would add that in SR, it’s of those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, and in GR, those for wisdom’s sake as we live our lives.

    Why is there a book of Proverbs? Or James (often classed as … wait for it … Wisdom Literature).

    My oversimplified complaint about some 2k theory is, “Too much Ecclesiastes, not enough Proverbs.” Scripture seems to point us in the direction of sourcing our wisdom in the knowledge of God.

    JRC: But because loyalty to God is more important in his life than some abstract deontology, he must and should say “Because God says not to.”

    MK: This seems like a half false dichotomy, half conscience-binding statement. If that abstract deontology is grounded in creation, per 2kers, and not a rebellious, secular, alternative morality, per whatever preferred label for non-2kers, then the reasoning there is arbitrary at best.

    That’s exactly what the Kantian project was supposed to be: a grounding of ethics in the part of general revelation accessible to all: Pure Reason.

    As you know, that didn’t work out so well. (That said, I have a soft spot in my heart for Kant. I want to sell bumper stickers that say “What if everyone was a deontologist?”)

    And one main reason it didn’t work out so well is that it removed relationship from the ethics equation. The notion of relationship is central to a Christian as he lives his life: Love for God, love for neighbor. Gratitude to Christ as his covenant Lord.

    We cannot and should not ask the Christian to stow those away and make decisions simply on “because it’s the right thing to do.” It would be sterile at best and legalistic at worst.

  460. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Zrim,
    Paige, I agree that we have the unique doctrine of the imago Dei. But I am saying that we also have the unique doctrine of sin. And it just seems to me that the Christian project in the NT era is to place the accent on the latter. Great as creation is, it’s about redemption being better.

    Okay, and I would say it like this: The Christian project in the NT era is to place the accent on BOTH, the one leading to and then leading from the other like different parts in a piece of music.

    I think the big-picture of your pc-2K understanding disallows the possibility of polyphony in believers’ lives on planet earth: your view leaves us with plainsong.

    Thanks for the interaction: I’m done now.

  461. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Zrim: OK, I can appreciate the desire to keep separate “something like essence” and “something like accident.”

    Aristotle wasn’t purely wrong, after all.

    Aside: But as for me, I’ll take the doctrine of sin to put a cap on pro-lifery’s notion that the unborn are special creatures entitled to circumvent the pains and injuries of life, up to and including death, the rest of us ex utero’s are subjected to as sinners.

    Fine, but you still have to deal with WLC’s term “protecting the lives of the innocent.” I’m pretty sure the writers of that phrase didn’t exempt children and others from depravity.

    And speaking of Confessional stuff, do you affirm that the Law given in two tables is a rule for righteousness, binding on the justified and the unjustified alike?

  462. GAS said,

    March 4, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Reed… really?

  463. Stuart said,

    March 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I think the big-picture of your pc-2K understanding disallows the possibility of polyphony in believers’ lives on planet earth: your view leaves us with plainsong.

    But Paige, when you compare the plainsong of pc-2k to the polytonality of transformationalism then the choice should be obvious.

    And after all, polyphony and polytonality have the “poly” in common, which means they both lack the simple beauty of the plainsong. ;-)

  464. Reed Here said,

    March 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    GAS: don’t know what really refers to, my “you’ve got to be kidding me” with regards to Zrim, or your indiscriminate use of “others”?

  465. GAS said,

    March 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Doug,

    In Glory… be ready here… there will be no law because we’ll all love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

    Here on earth we need law because our neighbor will try to harm us so the State is tasked to prevent that. That seems pretty clear enough, right? But think of the love your neighbor principle as a two pole synthesis. On the one hand is loving neighbor and on the other is loving yourself. If one or the other pole is out of balance then sin occurs. The most prominent imbalance occurs, of course, when we love ourselves more than our neighbor.

    But that’s not the only imbalance that can occur. So, for example, the Social Gospel preaches that we need to love our neighbor more than we love ourselves. It then employs government coercion to steal from one neighbor to give to another neighbor under the auspice of loving your neighbor more than you should love yourself.

    Then we have the problem of those who do not love themselves and their actions are manifested in things like homosexuality and drug use, etc. So the question becomes can the government coerce people to love themselves when they are not harming their neighbor? History has shown that to be highly problematic. Common sense tells us that a person cannot be coerced into loving themselves.

    So the point I’m trying to make Doug, which is the realization the founders of our country came to, is that government coercion needs to limited specifically to those areas where your neighbor would harm you otherwise the government becomes the greatest sinner.

  466. Doug Sowers said,

    March 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Zrim, it undercuts nothing! You’re failing to understand the difference between what God calls good, and how we use the word today. Man is no longer good, according to God’s origain meaning of the word, period! Nevertheless, man still bears the image of God; therefore, we are to treat human life with reverence. (Not because it’s essentially good!) We have no idea who God will call to himself; remember Paul of Tarsus? Let’s use the language found in the Bible, and quit importing other senses into the word *good*.

    Look, Jerry West was a *good* basketball player. (I know, I’m dating myself) But is he *good* according to God? No he is not! When you start using the term *essentially very good*, regarding fallen man, you’re contradicting God! Just because you can’t comprehend the word *good* like God, in no way undercuts the abortion issue. I see no contradiction. The same God, who said men still bear the image of God, (Genesis 9) also, says that man is not good. Both are true!

    God taught that Israel should be *good* to the Gentiles that lived within Israel, and to treat them kindly. (Similar to our modern usage of good) This in no way undercuts the fact, that in God’s eyes, they were not *good* in God’s sense. Let allow God to have the final say, amen? No one is good, in God’s sight. Let alone, “essentially very good”!

    Yet, God has decided to have mercy on many! God has a wise purpose for the propagation of humanity. Because God is Sovereign over history, we fear God, and revere men created in his image, even though no one is good! God makes a distinction between clean and unclean meat, even though to our eyes, there are times, unbelievers seem superior. Until the last day, we should pray for and contend that all men would call out on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved. Moreover, we should pray for, and contend that all Nations would glorify God in all of her Laws, as well.

  467. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Stuart —
    Ah, but is beauty simple? Think Bach counterpoint — and the Trinity.

  468. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Jeff (#461), I’ve no problem protecting the lives of innocents. But I do think in understanding “innocence” we need to distinguish between spiritual and temporal realities. Nobody is spiritually innocent but some are temporally weak and defenseless (but both are imago Dei). Much too often it seems to me that when many mean the latter they speak in terms of the former. The upshot is to create a special class of people who are entitled to special rights nobody else seems to be, as well as the idolizing of temporal life, that thing Jesus said we must lose if we wanted to gain eternal life.

    And yes, I affirm that the Law given in two tables is a rule for righteousness, binding on the justified and the unjustified alike.

  469. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Paige, you say plainsong like it’s a bad thing. I thought simplicity and ordinary were Reformed virtues?

  470. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Zrim (#468):

    Good to know on the last one. Does that include the point that the moral law that was delivered to Israel on two tablets is binding on all?

  471. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Plainsong is lovely, and beauty in simplicity.
    Counterpoint is lovely, and beauty in complexity.
    I’m reading God’s designs for us as the counterpoint kind of beauty.

  472. Stuart said,

    March 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    But Paige, plainsong is simple. Polyphony is not simple but complex. That sounds too much like multiperspectivalism, which is related to latitudinarianism, which is the cause of all evils in Reformed circles today.

    Ergo, plainsong is all I listen to on my ipod. ;-)

  473. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Jeff, yes.

  474. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Stuart, ipods lead to PowerPoint. Shun the evil.

  475. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Zrim (#468) — sounds like you have a quibble with the term “innocent” because it could be misunderstood, perhaps by the age-of-accountability crowd. And I sympathize.

    But couldn’t I, pretty please, have a special dispensation to use Confessional language without anyone thinking anything of it?

  476. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I am on the slippery slope because I love Bach counterpoint? Funny.

  477. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Jeff (#475), I’m not sure what you mean. But when you talk about the Bible speaking to all of life it sure seems a lot like when lifers talk about a right to life. And it takes forever to fix the implications. If you agree with me that it’s misleading to speak of “innocense” which implies a right to life instead of the weak and defenseless whose lives others are obligated to protect (i.e. obligations instead of rights), then it seems to me you might be able to see how “all of life” is similarly problematic.

    Are you saying “all of life” is confessional language?

  478. Stuart said,

    March 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Paige,

    All the musical comments I’ve made are with my tongue thrust so firmly in my cheek it hurts. I was hoping to get a smart remark from the Zrim corner since we’ve been around the latitudinarian block before.

    Musically, I actually like not only plainsong AND counterpoint, but some polytonal and even atonal stuff as well. Which is why I’ve already slid down the slippery slope and reached the bottom . . . you can’t trust a guy theologically who can listen to Gregorian chant, Bach, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg. :P

  479. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    March 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    What is the response to this quote from Calvin:

    “The duty of magistrates, its nature, as described by the word of God, and the things in which it consists, I will here indicate in passing. That it extends to both tables of the law, did Scripture not teach, we might learn from profane writers.”

    This is from Institutes, IV.20.9

    Calvin is saying here that even if the Scriptures don’t teach that the Magistrate should enforce both tables (which Calvin says they do) Natural Law should be enough to teach the Magistrate that this is true.

  480. Zrim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Stuart, did you miss #474? Or was my tongue plunged so deep in my own cheek there that it was unintelligible?

  481. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    you can’t trust a guy theologically who can listen to Gregorian chant, Bach, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg.

    Especially not all at the same time.

  482. Stuart said,

    March 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Yeah, my iPod won’t allow me to listen to more than one song at a time . . . but you’ve given me a good idea for a playlist!

  483. Stuart said,

    March 5, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Zrim,

    #474. Smart remark. Check.

    Still, I was hoping for the smart alex response that is both musically savvy and theologically profound. Sigh. Maybe next time.

  484. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 5, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Zrim (#477): I’m saying that the word “innocent” is Confessional language.

  485. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Benjamin,

    For my part, I find this is one of the few times when Calvin made a mistake, not by being completely wrong, but by being incomplete.

    He correctly views mankind as being obligated to God as a person. But he did not grasp or foresee that placing the magistrate in charge of enforcement of God’s personhood would place him over the church in jurisdiction.

    I would argue that Calvin’s experience at Geneva — the constant struggle between consistory and council — shows clearly the practical impact of his oversight.

    In short, I think Calvin mis-read the Natural Law.

  486. Zrim said,

    March 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Jeff, I agree with your disagreement (and so did Kuyper, by the way). So if Calvin mis-read the natural law that would seem to to suggest that natural law is sufficient to be read. And that insufficiency does indeed lie in the sinful reader.

  487. David R. said,

    March 5, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Paige (#368),

    I realize the discussion about the propriety of using the term “GR” to mean non-theological knowledge revealed in creation is a little stale now, but I’ve continued to ponder it. You had said:

    Your Berkhof quote lets me see GR as if it also included God’s wisdom — available and useful to men — in creation; but the systematic-theology category concerns do not usually bring this positive aspect of GR to the forefront (as Zrim & DGH have done in their usage of “GR”). If folks want to use “GR” in the second way, fine, I see the connection better now; but I still think it blunts the edge of the “GR” / “SR” theological distinction, and I think it is way too positive about pagan response to GR. IMO, this is a big missing piece from the pc-2K scheme, and it isn’t mitigated simply by redefining “GR.”

    And:

    The thing about generalizing “General Rev” to include knowledge, or, for example, the things people discover about rocks and geometry and government, is the “Revelation” part of the phrase. General and Special Revelation both involve content that is deliberately communicated by God. Traditionally speaking, we say that content is about God. Whatever bits of General Rev that a geologist picks up along with his rock samples tell him about the wise Creator that made the rocks, not about the rocks. See the difference? Figuring out the properties of rocks is not a “revelatory” experience, it’s an empirical one. Finding out the character of God is revelatory, because God put that into the rocks along with the crystals — and according to Romans 1, this revelation leads to judgment!

    Anyway, I’ve been doing a little reading. Apparently there’s been some debate about this issue. I found an essay online entitled “Scriptural Revelation, Creational Revelation and Natural Science: The Issue,” written by Michael Goheen, a church history and religious studies prof at Trinity Western University. Goheen makes an argument for a broad use of the term GR, namely, that it encompasses both revelation *about God* AND revelation *about nature* (i.e., the source of scientific knowledge). He distinguishes his view from the traditional usage, that is, from the view that GR only refers to God’s revelation of Himself and of His law.

    Goheen starts the essay with a quote from Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics saying that “those facts [brought to light by science] are just as much the words of God as the content of Holy Writ and are therefore to be accepted in faith by everyone.” (I don’t have the Bavinck volumes yet, but I’d love to read that quote in context!) He says that his purpose in the essay is “to address the relationship between creational revelation, scriptural revelation and science,” and that he’ll “argue that creational revelation is a powerful disclosure not only of God, but also of the creation itself.”

    Goheen then points out that “Much theological reflection on the teaching of Scripture concerning creational revelation has been done before the rise of modern science. As a result, there has been an underdevelopment of the scriptural doctrine of creational revelation. The primary concern in the formulation of the doctrine of creational revelation has been with the knowledge of God—that is, God’s virtues, perfections and being—that can be gained from the creation.”

    Goheen’s argument in part hinges on Isaiah 28:23-29, which I won’t quote here since this post is already too long. There’s a subsection of his essay titled “Revelation of God and Revelation of the Creation” that I thought was especially germane. Goheen says “I believe that the term creational revelation can be used to cover not only a knowledge of God as formulated in traditional theology, but also the knowledge of creation itself. What must be made clear is the relationship between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of creation in creational revelation. So far, in theology the doctrine of creational revelation has had primary reference to the personal revelation of God himself in the world.”

    Goheen follows the Dutch Calvinist philosopher H. Stoker (who he says follows Bavinck) in formulating the relationship. He argues against Berkouwer, who (like you) apparently wanted to limit usage of the term “GR” to the traditional narrower usage. Goheen says:

    “Stoker attempts a much more satisfactory formulation [than Berkouwer's] of the relation between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of creation in God’s creational revelation. Following Bavinck, Stoker distinguishes between the revelation of God himself including his relation to all things, to humanity in his word and in creation, on the one hand, and the revelation of the created universe to humanity on the other. Here the doctrine of creation revelation has two subsections. The first subsection takes up the concerns of Berkouwer by dealing with God’s self-revelation in creation from the standpoint of faith. The second subsection asserts that God reveals his created universe to humanity and opens up an area for science under creation revelation.

    “This distinction within the concept of creation revelation raises the question as to whether we have disguised two related but essentially distinct topics with mere terminology. Do we have here a knowledge of God, on the one hand, and a knowledge of creation, on the other, left side by side but subsumed under the category ‘creational revelation? Stoker’s attempt to relate the two is very illuminating: ‘Every fact…thus (i.) has an *ultimate* meaning moment…. revelational of God’s majesty, wisdom, power and glory and *at the same time* (ii.) a creaturely *specific* meaning moment; for instance, a rose being revelational of God *and at the same time* being a rose and not a lily or a butterfly. These meaning moments, though distinguishable, are not separable.’ [emphasis Stoker's]

    “Stoker says there is one revelation of God. Its ultimate purpose is to reveal himself so that he might be known, loved and served. By faith one apprehends this “ultimate meaning moment.” God himself is revealed. In that same revelation of God, a creaturely, specific meaning moment can be distinguished. One can know the creature itself. These moments of meaning are to be distinguished but not separated.

    “This formulation goes a long way to capturing the unity of creational revelation. Instead of two unrelated revelations side by side, it seems better to speak of one revelation of God. The ultimate purpose of this revelation is to reveal the glory and majesty of God. Every fact and creature, in each part and in the whole, reveals the splendor of God. This is the ultimate meaning of God’s revelation in creation. By faith in Christ and through the spectacles of Scripture we can discern this ultimate meaning in creation. It is possible, however, to examine the structural side of the creature that reveals God. We can examine the creaturely specific moment in more than one way—as to its mathematical side, its chemical side, its biological side and so forth.”

    Anyway, I thought this was interesting and helpful, and that maybe it addressed some of your concerns. It’s also interesting to see there’s been some wrestling over this issue.

    Whaddya think?

  488. paigebritton said,

    March 6, 2011 at 6:02 am

    David R.,
    Fascinating!! (And way to go with the “Blockquotes”!!)

    I like talking to you because you go off and read interesting things and come back and tell me what you found out. :)

    Nice find, here — very relevant to what we’ve been discussing about GR. The Goheen/Stoker view presses the bit you found in Berkhof to its logical conclusion: if you identify the wisdom of God found in natural phenomena as part of “General Rev,” the next step is to call the natural phenomena themselves “revelatory,” and the step after that might just be to decide that the content of that revelation is the natural phenomena themselves (i.e., not [just] God).

    Some observations:

    1. It looks like the Goheen/Stoker view is only concerned with natural phenomena rather than social sciences also — unless there was more in context (that you didn’t quote here), all I am seeing in the passages above by way of example are roses, lilies, butterflies, mathematics, chemistry, and biology. So it doesn’t look like this view comprehensively supports the positive evaluation Zrim & DGH have of the sufficiency of GR for EVERYTHING (from wheels to school boards).

    2. The view you are describing above ends up at a place that I believe Calvin goes with GR: it’s really only for the eyes of faith that the General Rev in natural creation is a positive thing: “By faith in Christ and through the spectacles of Scripture we can discern this ultimate meaning in creation.” These guys are talking about the single “meaning moment” that occurs when a believer marvels at both God and the details of his creation. (I’ve been there — bet you have, too! “Glory be to God for dappled things,” says Father Hopkins.) So again, this view does not offer support for a positive result of General Rev for unbelievers.

    3. I appreciate that these thinkers recognize that they are departing from a traditional definition of GR, but I wonder if they realize(d) the implications of the view they are promoting as a replacement? I think they would have done better to clearly make this be about “The Believing Response to GR,” because they have entirely neglected the JUDGMENT aspect of GR (presumably because they are only concerned with believers). But if this view is a replacement for the traditional view, then, as I said before, it has blunted the theological edge of the GR/SR distinction. (Actually, it seems to have done away with that “edge” entirely!) A casual reading of Goheen/Stoker could lead to one thinking these authors support a positive use of GR by ANYBODY, which does not do justice to Paul’s sternness in Rom. 1.

    Thanks for the interaction!!

    Paige B.

  489. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2011 at 7:09 am

    How about this:

    1. GR (as defined by David R.) reveals God as Creator-Sovereign (Rom 1:18-20)
    1a. This includes facts about creation’s mechanisms, and
    1b. Facts abouts creation’s Mechanic.

    2. Natural man cannot understand this because of self-imposed/God cursed suppression (Rom 1:18-20; 1Co 2:14)
    2a. This suppression applies specifically to 1b.
    2b. To wit, natural man knows he owes Someone/Something for his existence, but that’s about it (Rom 1:21-23).

    3. Regenerated man can understand GR because of Spirit-imposed illumination (1 Cor 2:12)
    3a. This corrected knowledge of GR only comes through the Spirit’s illumination of SR.
    3b. That is, GR is only understood correctly via SR.

    Does that cover the differences, or am I being too simplistic (a regular occurrence for me :-))?

  490. paigebritton said,

    March 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Yes — oops, not “yes” meaning you are too simplistic — I think you have pretty much captured the difference there is in the reception of GR. I would personally not include 1a as part of General Revelation, since I am in favor of leaving the empirically discovered details of the natural world in a separate category. IOW, let the “Revelation” part of “GR” have as its content God, not physical creation. Physical creation is the medium, but as traditionally conceived, in GR the message is the eternal and invisible qualities of God (and usually also the moral law via the conscience).

    Keeping the empirical and the revealed in separate categories allows for a positive use of the natural world by people in general (via common grace, providence, image of God, or however one would name this) but also allows, I think, for a theologically correct (or at least traditional!) use of the phrase “General Revelation,” which is only positive for believers (and which is a source of judgment for unbelievers).

  491. David R. said,

    March 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Paige,

    Thanks for the response—and the kudos on the block quotes (I’m pretty excited about that myself!) And I’m glad (and a little relieved) you appreciate this discussion. Certain problems grab hold of me and won’t let go till I get to the bottom of them. I’m always afraid others will be irritated by that, so I’m glad you’re not. You’re to blame (in a good way of course) for getting me started on this “GR/SR” problem.

    Reed,

    Thanks for that analysis. It seems to me that it pretty much covers the issues highlighted in the Goheen quotes I posted.

    Anyway, I’ve been able to borrow a copy of Bavinck’s Prolegomena and I’ve done some more reading (believe it or not) on the issue this afternoon and I’ve gleaned some new insights and come to some new conclusions. I think Bavinck is the most helpful thing I’ve seen on this issue so far. I’d love your feedback (Paige, Reed, and whoever else is interested).

    To start with, I think the problem that Paige first brought to our attention regarding the use of the term “GR” is a real problem and that it stems from the confusion of two different questions:

    1. The first of those questions is the question of knowledge, that is, What are the divisions of knowledge and How do we know? As far as the basic division of knowledge, there is (following Bavinck): (1) knowledge of God, and (2) every other kind of knowledge (i.e., all that’s needed for science, art, wheels and school boards). Bavinck discusses both of these divisions in terms of the three principia, or foundations, of knowledge. (Berkhof was echoing Bavinck.)

    a. For both kinds of knowledge (i.e., theological and non-theological), God is the essential foundation.

    b. In the case of theology, Scripture (SR) is the external principle of knowledge, i.e., the source of objective truth. But in the case of science and other kinds of knowledge, the created world is the EPoK.

    c. In the case of theology, the Holy Spirit is the internal principle of knowledge, i.e., the source of our subjective apprehension of the truth. In the case of non-theological knowledge, the IPoK is the light of reason, or the intellect.

    In spite of the fact that these three principia are derived from Aristotle, Bavinck points out that these foundations of knowledge are actually trinitarian: In both cases (theological and non-theological knowledge), God, who possesses archetypal knowledge, reproduces in humans a creaturely ectypal copy of that knowledge. He does so through the Son as Logos: in the case of theology, by the Scriptures; in the case of non-theological knowledge, by the display in nature of the works of His hands. We perceive these objects of knowledge (Scripture and nature) by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, in the one case, via His special operations; in the other, via His common operations.

    2. The second question is that of God’s revelation of Himself. And here is where we come to the proper division of God’s revelation into GR and SR. Though God reveals Himself to humanity at large in creation and conscience (GR), that revelation is insufficient for salvation. This is essentially the distinction highlighted, for example, in WCF 1.6.

    So in conclusion (and by way of relating this all back to the 2K discussion), properly speaking, the sufficient source of knowledge for life in the common kingdom is not GR, but is rather nature and the light of reason (as discussed in #1).

    Any thoughts?

  492. David R. said,

    March 7, 2011 at 12:18 am

    So to further clarify, even though we all know what’s meant in this discussion by the phrase “the sufficiency of GR for the common realm,” technically it’s a category mistake, because GR is (as Paige has pointed out) properly speaking a source of knowledge of theology (though insufficient for salvation) and not a source of other kinds of (non-theological) knowledge such as that needed for engaging in science, art, governing, trash collection and (of course) plumbing.

  493. Zrim said,

    March 7, 2011 at 6:39 am

    David R., that is fine as far as it goes. I tend to think of general revelation and “nature and the light of reason” more or less synonymously. But to my mind the larger point seems to do with the in/sufficiency of special revelation for the common realm. So it seems to me that point still stands: the Bible isn’t the book for the civil realm, it’s for the ecclesial realm. Call it what one will, general revelation/nature/light of reason is sufficient for life in the common realm. The pushback that is interesting for me isn’t so much “What is meant by general revelation?” so much as “No, GR/nature/light of reason is insufficient for common life. We need the Bible.”

  494. paigebritton said,

    March 7, 2011 at 8:39 am

    David R.,
    Happy am I if anything I’ve said has inspired you to dig. :) (And I think I’m about as irritating as you are to most people when I get interested in an idea.)

    I think you’ve summed it up beautifully above. It really is a matter of stepping back to consider how we are using language: if we’ve got a theological handle that already expresses a valid idea, it’s helpful for our communication if we do not import other things into that handle that essentially obscure or cancel out the original valid idea — in this case, that GR is distinct from SR regarding theological knowledge, and that GR has implications of judgment for the unbeliever (and is therefore a negative, not a positive, to this audience).

    I really appreciate you taking the point I made seriously enough to keep at it!
    pax,
    Paige B.

  495. David R. said,

    March 7, 2011 at 9:12 am

    One more comment: Whereas the nomenclature “GR” is incorrect for speaking of the source of knowledge for life in the common realm, the phrase “the book of nature” is correct for describing this source of knowledge. Bavinck himself speaks this way:

    “Not only in theology … but in every science we may discern three fundamental principles. Here, too, God is the first principle of being; present in His mind are the ideas of all things; all things are based on thoughts and are created by the word. It is His good pleasure, however, to reproduce in human beings made in His image an ectypal knowledge that reflects this archetypal knowledge in His own divine mind. He does this … by displaying them to the human mind in the works of His hands. The world is an embodiment of the thoughts of God; it is ‘a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God.’ It is not a book of blank pages in which, as the idealists would have it, we human beings have to write down the words but a ‘reader’ in which God makes known to us what He has recorded there for us. Accordingly, the created world is the external foundation of knowledge for all science.”

    Hence, if Bavinck is correct, then “the book of nature” is the source of all non-theological knowledge and it is also the medium (Paige’s term) for the message of GR (as highlighted in Belgic article 2).

  496. David R. said,

    March 7, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Zrim, I totally agree with everything after your second sentence.

  497. Doug Sowers said,

    March 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Good work Paige! :)

    Can we all admit, that Zrim, Dr Hart, and David Gadois, and others, are all wet, with this theory that GR is sufficient to tell us how to punish a rapist? It does nothing of the sort! That premise is what caused me to jump into this “sometimes very heated” discussion that tuned into a Theonomic debate. Since almost every nation punishes rape in a different fashion, I thought it was ridiculous to say the GR is *sufficient* to instruct the Magistrate on how to punish a (rapist, kidnapper, homosexual, murderer, and a child molester)

    While Paige might not be ready to go full orbed Theonomy with myself and others, I hope we can all agree, that GR doesn’t instruct Governments on the *how* we are to punish? This of course makes Zrim and David Gadbois, and Dr Hart, in serious error, and destroys there basic premise that we are to replace God’s Law, with something as ambiguous as General Revelation.

    With Paige’s careful spade work, I feel vindicated!! Yea!

  498. paigebritton said,

    March 7, 2011 at 10:02 am

    David R.,
    Good last quote from Bavinck, there. Though I wonder — if “the world is an embodiment of the thoughts of God; it is ‘a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God,’ then mightn’t we conclude that only those with the Spirit can pursue scientific knowledge rightly? Because those “invisible things of God,” you know, are only “positives” for God’s children. :)

    Not saying that an unbelieving scientist can’t make useful discoveries — there’s the “image of God” part; but only the believing scientist will be joyfully pondering the invisible things of God as well. Don’t know if we can point to a qualitative difference in the work, but certainly we can see the difference for the scientist.

  499. paigebritton said,

    March 7, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Heavens, Doug, just because we’ve been careful to define “GR” as something theological doesn’t do away with the common grace / light of nature / natural law stuff that you are objecting to. That’s a whole ‘nuther category and a whole ‘nuther argument.

  500. Doug Sowers said,

    March 7, 2011 at 10:35 am

    May be a ‘nuther’ category Paige. However, I’ve been told over and over again, that General Revelation is sufficient for all magistrates to determine *how* to punish a rapist. (And all crime in general)(Just don’t base it on God’s Law) I was even told that general revelation is an objective standard! My question remains unanswered, how can general revelation or natural law for that matter, be an objective standard, when virtually every Nation punishes a rapist differently! My question has always been, “by what standard” are we to punish crime? In other words, it’s a moral question, not easily detected from the light of nature! What punishment gives a rapist there just due? I have yet to hear an objective coherent answer. Zrim and Dr Hart lectured me over and again that General Revelation is good enough. To which I still ask, “good enough by what standard”? Zrim seems to say, anything BUT God’s Word! What no one has been able to do, is give me an objective answer to that simple, yet profound question.

  501. TurretinFan said,

    March 7, 2011 at 11:30 am

    David R.:

    Thanks for your response. My own previous words below are in italics (where I thought they were valuable for context).

    You wrote:

    a) I don’t see the Scriptures teach this. In other words, I don’t see the Scriptures describing ‘culture’ as distinct from religion. Is there a Scriptural argument to be made for this?

    b) I don’t see the Scriptures suggesting this framework for analysis. Now, of course, a framework doesn’t have to be explicitly Scriptural, but I want to be clear that there is no claim that this framework has authority.

    My response: Well, what do you make of the fact that the progenitors of culture were from the line of Cain (Genesis 4:17-21)?

    Cain built a city (presumably the first city). Lamech innovated polygamy. Jabal innovated nomadic cattle-driving. Jubal innovated musical instruments. Tubalcain innovated metallurgy. You apply your non-authoritative framework to that and call those innovations (or some of them) “culture.” Even assuming that Cain and his line were all unbelievers, I’m not sure what to glean from the fact that they innovated city-dwelling, polygamy, nomadic cattle-driving, musical instruments, and metallurgy.

    You wrote:

    This is described as a hint. But what it appears to be is simply an example of a passage to which the non-authoritative framework has been applied.

    My response: Okay, but don’t you agree that the passage tells us to expect:

    1. a spiritual antithesis between believers and unbelievers (Genesis 3:15).

    2. a continuation of life and a common participation by believers and unbelievers in labor and the temporal blessings produced by it (Genesis 3:16-19).

    If so, isn’t it fair to call this a “hint”?

    I’m not disagreeing that the text refers to spiritual antithesis or that the curse applies to humans universally. My point is simply that you’ve selected these two elements from the passage based on the framework. They don’t set up the framework, you’re just applying the framework to them. As long as you don’t argue that your framework has any authoritative force, I don’t see the problem. But if by “hint” you mean that the text is trying give us the framework, then no – I don’t see that.

    You wrote:

    Regardless of how Noah’s sacrifice is interpreted and whatever the scope of the prohibition of eating blood, wouldn’t you agree that the promises of the Noahic covenant and the things that it formally establishes pertain to ordinary cultural activities (not religious ones), the common life of all men (not just believers), the preservation of the natural order (not its redemption) and the granting of temporal blessings (rather than eternal)?

    I think the context of the covenant is upon the redemption of Noah and his family from the world-destroying judgment of God.

    I had said: “The redemptive kingdom is formally established in the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15; 17). It bears the exact opposite features of the common kingdom: It concerns religious devotion. It separates out a holy people. Its purpose is redemption; not preservation. It’s eternal; not temporary.”

    To which you responded: “Like the covenant with Noah, the Abrahamic covenant involves a sacrifice of animals. The covenant made with Abraham in Genesis 15 involved a promise to give his family land. Considering that the land is going to be destroyed in the final judgment, this could hardly be ‘eternal.’ It does promise redemption, but only a temporal redemption.

    “The covenant with Abraham spiritually understood can point us to heaven (the promised land) to which will come in due time after going through the bondage of Egypt (this present sinful life) upon redemption from it.”

    My response: It seems to me that you answered your own objection in your second paragraph (immediately above).

    The covenant made with Noah, spiritually understood, has similar qualities. If that answers my objection, apparently it swallows Noah’s covenant also.

    You wrote:

    You said: “But the Noahic covenant also points us to something better. The rainbow we see that promises us no more global floods may point us toward that heavenly future rest from all judgment altogether.

    “So, it does not appear that the distinctions are as clear as would be necessary to remove the framework from the realm of an academic theory.”

    My response: While it’s true that the temporal “salvation” of the world through Noah points to eternal salvation, I don’t see how that removes any clarity.

    Removes clarity? I don’t mean that there is any clarity to be removed. I simply mean that you seem to want to impose distinctions on the covenants, but the distinctions don’t come from the text.

    You wrote:

    I had said: “Interestingly enough however, Abraham, as he has not yet received the promises, models a two kingdoms lifestyle, that is, he maintains a religious antithesis from his pagan neighbors while yet pursuing cultural commonality with [them].”

    You responded: This just looks again like an attempt to apply the non-authoritative framework to the facts. What is Abraham’s interaction with his neighbors? It’s actually something of a tangled mess. He doesn’t go to the lengths of integration that Lot does. Instead, he seems to live his whole life as a nomad. He purchases a burial place for his dead. But when he rescues Lot he tithes the spoils of war, before returning them to his neighbors from whom they were seized. When it comes time to take a wife for his son, he insists that she be from his original community, not Canaan.

    “Lot is way more integrated both in terms of family (he seems to have betrothed his daughters to local men) and life (he seems to have settled down in a house inside a pagan city). But those aspects of Lot’s life are not particularly exemplary.

    “So, at best, the application of the non-authoritative framework again seems strained.”

    My response: Funny, I don’t see how you can say this. Yes, I agree that Abraham is unique in some ways (which isn’t too surprising given his special status as recipient of the promises, type of Christ and things of that nature). But it’s hard for me to see how anyone can contest the fact that details aside, (1) there is a sharp contrast between patriarchal sojourning and Israelite conquest, and (2) the New Testament portrays the life of Christians in this age in terms that echo the patriarchal lifestyle (not the Israelite).

    As to (1), there is a contrast between patriarchal sojourning and Israelite conquest. I didn’t deny that. There is much less contrast between the Israelites post-conquest and Abraham. On the other hand, the contrast (even during the conquest) isn’t helpful to the pm-2k position.

    As to (2), the New Testament portrays the life of Christians in this age in a wide variety of terms. Sometimes the terms remind one of the sojourning of the patriarchs, but other times they remind one of the conquest or the post-conquest era.

    You wrote:

    I had said: “The case is very different with Israel under the Mosaic covenant however, because the Land serves as a type of the heavenly inheritance, which of course becomes the possession of the people of God only when final judgment has occurred and thus all commonality between believers and unbelievers comes to an end. Hence, within the borders of the Land, all cultural commonality characteristic of the Noahic covenant ceases.
And yet, outside the Land (and in exile), the two kingdoms lifestyle again prevails.”

    You responded: ”And yet there are aliens in the land – and even within the homes of Israelites under the post-Joshua kingdom. There is trade and business with the other nations. Moreover, the activities of the Israelites continued to include labor and childbirth. If those things are ‘common activities,’ they certainly don’t cease in Israel.”

    My response: I had already made the qualification that cultural commonality ceased only within the borders of the Land. But in their dealings with the nations *outside* the Land, the two kingdom pattern prevailed. The common activities certainly did cease for the Canaanites.

    There was a particular judgment brought on the Canaanites at the conquest. After the conquest, however, there were resident aliens in Israel. These were non-Israelites living within Israel’s borders.

    You wrote:

    You said: “Moreover, the partitioning off of Israel begins in Egypt. You will recall that the Israelites, because they were shepherds, were an abomination to the Egyptians, and consequently assigned to Goshen. They did not integrate culturally with the Egyptians, although Moses himself would be an exception.”

    My response: But the distinct thing about life in the Land is not so much that Israel was partitioned off, but rather that, instead of the two kingdom pattern of cooperation with their neighbors, they instead executed covenant curse sanctions against them.

    You are confusing the conquest and life in the land. During the conquest, they executed God’s judgment on the people of the land. After the conquest, they continued the same pre-conquest pattern (in general).

    You wrote:

    You said: “Likewise, the children of Israel remained separate (or were supposed to) in the wilderness. Recall the evil that befell Israel at Peor because they did not (Numbers 25).”

    My response: Perhaps, but the primary issues in that passage is idolatry. The religious antithesis is always to be maintained, even under the two kingdom lifestyle.

    Setting up the framework you are applying is not the primary issue in any passage of Scripture (seemingly you acknowledge this). So, I feel OK pointing out the secondary issues in the passages we are discussing.

    You wrote:

    You said: I’m afraid it leaves me increasingly concerned that DvD’s position amounts to a non-authoritative framework being somewhat wishfully applied to Scripture, as opposed to actually reflecting doctrines taught by scripture.

    Would I be foolish to hope anything I’ve said has mitigated any of your concerns?

    I think I’m getting a fairly concrete understanding of what seems (to me) to be “the problem” with the pm-2k position(s) (I’m not sure that Zrim’s is the same as DGH’s is the same as DvD’s).

    -TurretinFan

  502. David R. said,

    March 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    To summarize what I think to be true concerning the terminological issue:

    1. The book of nature/book of Scripture distinction is not the same as the GR/SR distinction.

    2. The “two books” distinction can be used to speak of sources of knowledge (i.e., natural knowledge vs. theological knowledge). This is how Bavinck speaks in what I’ve quoted above.

    3. Properly speaking, the term “revelation” speaks of the source of a specific subset of knowledge, namely theological, and not of the source of natural, or non-theological knowledge.

    4. Hence, the GR/SR distinction is properly speaking a distinction between sources of theological knowledge.

    5. In addition to the Bavinckian usage in #2, the “two books” distinction can also be used to refer to the GR/SR distinction (e.g., Belgic article 2 usage).

    6. But the GR/SR distinction ought not be used to refer to the “two books distinction” (in the Bavinckian sense), as this is a category mistake.

    (I think the potential confusion becomes most evident with #5 and #6.)

  503. paigebritton said,

    March 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Nicely done. I think you have laid it out very well.

  504. David R. said,

    March 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Paige (#498)

    I think maybe it’s better to say that unbelieving scientists use “borrowed captial” from Christian theism than to say that “only those with the Spirit can pursue scientific knowledge rightly.” Of course it depends on what you mean by “rightly.” If you simply mean that they can’t make right use of the GR that’s transmitted via the book of nature, then yes. But of course that’s a theological (redemptive) issue; not a scientific (common) issue.

  505. David R. said,

    March 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Doug, The substance of the 2K argument is unaffected by this issue of terminology. Just replace “GR” with “book of nature” and the broader 2K argument stands.

  506. Zrim said,

    March 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Doug (#500), the answer to your question still depends on the hermeneutic one is using in the first place. It isn’t that you haven’t been given an answer to that simple yet profound question. It’s that you have been given a 2k answer and not a theonomic one. But you are right that the difference between the two answers is at once simple and yet profound. It’s the same simple-yet-profound difference that distinguishes law from gospel. That’s the same difference that separates Rome from Geneva. “Golawspel” results in lots of things, not least theonomy.

  507. Doug Sowers said,

    March 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Fine Zrim, just know this, I am content to use language found in God’s Word. Theonomy simply means “God’s law”; you know the same Law that Jesus declared he would not abolish. You, on the other hand, talk about two kingdoms, something that the Bible doesn’t seem fit to mention. Now who’s out on a limb? You have built a house with an inference based on silence, found in Rom 13. Your structure has a foundation of sand, while I have built my world view, on the Rock of God’s Word.

    Amazingly, it still hasn’t dawned on you, that the Mosaic Law contained the gospel, so there is no contradiction. The whole ceremonial Law was the Gospel in figures! Paul says as much in Galatians 3:21 “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! So much for your hermeneutic!

    You have completely misread Galatians, and interpret it like a fundamental dispensationalist! You’re the Neo reformed version of C.I. Scofield. You’re seeing an antithesis, were there is none. (The confusion was always in the reprobate heart, not in the Law.) You see Zrim, the thing that made the Jews stumble was Christ, not Law! The Law was not legalistic! It contained Law to be sure, but it was only too appropriated by grace through faith. As I pointed out to Dr Hart, the Law seen through the eyes of faith saw the Christ.

    Just read Psalms 119 about a thousand times until you get it right. You’re so confused; you’re making up words like Golaspel. LOL! Not very original either, since I know that Lane’s Dad invented that one. I’ll pray that God will open the eyes of your heart, to this essential truth, and that one day, you will be able to view the Law like King David, and say; oh how I love your Law, it’s my meditation both day and night! Why could David say that? Because the Mosaic Law taught the need for vicarious sacrifice, through the blood of the Lamb! The heart of the Gospel, contained in the Mosaic Law! You see? No conflict!

  508. Doug Sowers said,

    March 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    David R. Why insist on calling the civil realm, a kingdom, when the Bible does not? Why not just say there is one King (Christ Jesus) who governs two realms, or spheres of authority? I don’t want the government intruding into the polity of the church, nor do I want our elders bearing the sword, amen? If the Bible doesn’t see fit on calling the governing authorities a separate kingdom, why should you? BTW Greg Bahnsen who coined the term, Theonomy believes in two distinct realms or spheres of authority just like you. We just believe that God’s Law found in the Holy Scriptures, is the foundation for any structure that will last, be it individual, family, city, state, or nation.

  509. David R. said,

    March 8, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Zrim,

    “I tend to think of general revelation and ‘nature and the light of reason’ more or less synonymously.”

    As far as I can tell, those terms are indeed sometimes used synonymously, but when they are, they are ALWAYS talking about theological knowledge and never about other kinds of knowledge. GR is never used to refer to the latter sort of knowledge (because revelation is always theological) but the other terms are.

  510. Mark Hausam said,

    July 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    There are so many comments, and I don’t have time to read them all, so hopefully I’m not repeating something someone else already pointed out. But read Galatians 5:14: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

    Now do we want to infer from that the Christians in NT times no longer have any obligation to love God? Of course not. Paul only mentions the 2nd table here because his immediate focus is on horizontal relationships. Similarly, his focus in Romans 13:8-10 is on interpersonal relations, and so he says the same thing he says in Galatians. This no more tells us that that Paul thought the civil magistrate should only enforce the 2nd table of the law than it tells us that in our own individuals lives we should only LIVE the 2nd table of the law. Actually, the argument that Paul only wants us to live the 2nd table is stronger than the argument about the civil magistrate, because interpersonal life is the most immediate context. And yet we know from elsewhere in Scripture that we are to live the 1st table as well. So there is simply no argument here showing the civil magistrate is restricted only to the 2nd table.

  511. Reed Here said,

    July 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    On the contrary Mark, Paul’s reference is to ALL the law. He is expressly including love God, the 1st table, in his reference to love neighbor.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 349 other followers

%d bloggers like this: