2k – Affirmations & Denials (1 of 3)

I thought it might be helpful in the 2K discussions if there were a list of principles with which we could interact. Since he has been such a prominent voice on this subject, I asked Dr. Darryl Hart if he might be willing to provide such a list. He graciously agreed to do so.

The list provides fifteen 2k principles in the form of Affirmations, coupled with corresponding denials. Following Dr. Hart’s formatting of these principles, this post contains the first six theologicalaffirmations. Two additional posts will include vocation affirmations (four) and ethics affirmations (five).

For the sake of the flow of Dr. Hart’s argument, please read all three posts first. Then post comments and questions where appropriate (corresponding to the affirmation(s) and/or denial(s) you’re commenting upon.)

I want to thank Dr. Hart for the work he put into this list and allowing us to post and discuss this here. Please remember to treat each other with the Christian civility that marks your profession of faith in Christ and your commitment to love your brother. Thanks!

(Reed DePace)

Theological Affirmations

1) Affirmation: Jesus is Lord
Denial: Jesus is not Lord over everyone in the same way; he rules the covenant community differently than those outside the covenant.

2) Affirmation: the visible church is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ
Denial: Outside the visible church is not part of the redemptive rule of Christ (even though Christ is still sovereign).

3) Affirmation: the Bible is the only rule for the visible church (in matters of conscience).
Denial: Scripture does not reveal everything but only that which is necessary for salvation.

4) Affirmation: Christ alone is lord of conscience
Denial: Christians have liberty where Scripture is silent.
Denial: the pious advice and opinions of Christians is not binding.

5) Affirmation: the visible church has real power (spiritual and moral, ministerial and declarative, the keys of the kingdom) in ministering the word of God.
Denial: the church may not bind consciences apart from Scripture.
Denial: the church may not bind consciences on the basis of one minister’s or believer’s interpretation but must do so corporately through the deliberations of sessions, presbyterians, and assemblies.

6) Affirmation: Christ’s righteousness alone satisfies God’s holy demands for righteousness, and believers receive this righteousness through faith alone (i.e., justification).
Denial: believer’s good works, much less unbelievers’ external obedience to the law, do not satisfy God’s holiness but are filthy rags.

DGH

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54 Comments

  1. Vern Crisler said,

    February 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    #2 is Romanism. What is it about “not of this world” that’s so hard to understand? #5 is wrong in that the church does not have declarative power. This is just Federal Vision ecclesiology in a new guise.

  2. Stuart said,

    February 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    A big thanks to Reed for suggesting this idea and to Dr. Hart for his response. IMO, these affirmations and denials serve as a better way to address the issues at hand.

    Dr. Hart,

    As one who still considers himself a novice in this area (if someone asked me two years ago about 2k, I would have had little idea what was meant by the term), I’ll say in advance I appreciate any feedback you give on the following questions/comments . . .

    I see that along with the WCF you affirm that “the visible church is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.” How do you understand the kingdom proper? Is the kingdom to be completely equated with the visible church? Is the visible church the manifestation of the kingdom in this age? Is the visible church a subset of the greater reality of the kingdom? Or would you say something other than any of these options?

    You state in a denial under #3 above, “Scripture does not reveal everything but only that which is necessary for salvation.” Doesn’t the last part of this statement as worded lean too heavily in one direction? WCF 1.6 states, “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.” I agree with you that Scripture doesn’t address everything in a cookbooky or encyclopedic manner, but Scripture does seem to address more than simply our salvation.

    Under #5 above you state, “the church may not bind consciences on the basis of one minister’s or believer’s interpretation but must do so corporately through the deliberations of sessions, presbyterians, and assemblies.” Could you help flesh out what this might look like? If all you mean is that a minister must not preach his own scruples rather than Scripture, I get it. But your point seems to be stronger than that since you’re addressing interpretation. As a point of contact, how would interpretation and then exhortation to specific obedience to the 4th commandment be treated regarding your statement?

    Thanks!

  3. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Vern, the wording of both is from the Confession (15.2, 31.2). Do you take exception to those sections, or do you see a difference here?

  4. Vern Crisler said,

    February 28, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Jeff, I haven’t looked at WCF for a while, but if it’s equating the visible church with the kingdom of Christ, it is horribly wrong. If it means that the visible church is more or less an EFFECT of the kingdom of Christ, then it would make a lot of sense. The reason Darryl and Scott and some other radical 2k types sound so much like Federal Visionists regarding the visible church is that they are Confessional absolutists — who at the same time ironically enough deny the truthfulness of Genesis 1, go figure.

  5. Stuart said,

    February 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Vern,

    I can’t speak for Dr. Hart since I really don’t know much about his view of the kingdom (see my questions to him above), but I interacted with Dr. Clark about a year ago on this very issue. Here’s what I wrote . . .

    At the moment, my understanding of the kingdom is this: the kingdom of God is the renewed order that the Triune God brings to this fallen world. With this in mind, the fullest sense of the kingdom is eschatological and thus found in the new heavens and new earth. Yet there is a proleptic sense in which we (the church) participate in that eschatological fullness of the kingdom now. This is because Jesus’ incarnation, perfect life, atoning death, resurrection, ascension, and seating at the right hand of God, along with the pouring out of the Spirit in power, has inaugurated this renewed created order and brought the kingdom near to us. Believers are now “new creations in Christ” and are being made fit through the sanctifying work of the Spirit for the renewed creation so that we will be conformed to the image of Christ and thus reflect his glory perfectly experiencing the full enjoyment of God through all eternity. Thus we are presently citizens of the kingdom even though our participation in the full blessings of that kingdom are experienced now only in part.

    The present age manifestation of the kingdom is the church. It is within the church that the kingdom’s renewing power, joy, righteousness, peace, and love breaks into our fallen existence. Yet the church is not the kingdom, properly speaking. It is the one “place” in this present age where the eschatological kingdom is reflected and manifest. Thus the church bears witness to the eschatological kingdom and so, (as you stated in the above comment) “If you want to point someone to the signs and seals of the kingdom, you point them to the church.”

    Now in a very specialized sense, we could say “the church is the kingdom” in that Christ is our King in a more direct and acknowledged way than he is king over the rest of creation. Obviously he is king over all, but it is not always apparent to all that this is the case. In the new heavens/new earth the reign of God mediated by Christ will be recognized by all, but today only the church recognizes this (and even we recognize this truth imperfectly).

    We could also say that since “there is no ordinary possibility of salvation” apart from the church, and that the eschatological kingdom is the fullest expression of our salvation, then there is some room to see the church as “the kingdom” in the sense that the present age participation of salvation is ordinarily found in connection with the church.

    So in these specialized senses we could call the church “the kingdom” but in doing so we need to keep in mind the differences between the present age reflection/manifestation of the kingdom and the kingdom proper in its fullest, eschatological sense. In my understanding, to see the present age manifestation of the church as the only, or even the main, expression of the kingdom is to narrow the biblical concept of the kingdom and thus to miss the fullest expression of good news of the kingdom.

    To this rather lengthy statement Dr. Clark replied . . . “I think I agree with what you’re saying.”

    You can verfiy this by going to his website:

    https://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/heidelcast-14-feb-2010-kingdom-of-god-and-the-visible-church/

  6. Vern Crisler said,

    February 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    The visible church is NOT the kingdom of Christ, period. Not of this world means something. It means not of this world.

    The “visible” church at the time of Christ was Israel, which was persecuting those who belonged to the invisible church, the true kingdom of Christ.

    Salvation is always outside the church. Salvation is FOR the church, not IN the church. We have a different city.

    This is Protestant theology 101, and it is troubling to see Confessional absolutists undermining it.

  7. Roger du Barry said,

    March 1, 2011 at 1:45 am

    “Not of this world” does indeed mean something. It means it is not FROM this world, NOT that it is not IN the world. It is a genitive of origin, not a statement of place. That would be the dative case, not the genitive.

    Big difference.

  8. Richard said,

    March 1, 2011 at 5:07 am

    If there are two kingdoms (one redemptive and one common) then surely to say that the visible church is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is wrong? Moreover, all of life is kingdom work however this differs depending upon which kingdom (redemptive or common) the work is being done? See “The Rule Of Christ And The Kingdom Of God” by Paul Gardner.

  9. dgh said,

    March 1, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Vern, I’m glad to know what you think, but do you also think the OPC is Federal Visionist? Here’s what our BCO says:

    Chap. 2
    1. Jesus Christ, being now exalted far above all principality and power, has erected in this world a kingdom, which is his church.

    Chap. 3
    3. All church power is only ministerial and declarative, for the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice. No church judicatory may presume to bind the conscience by making laws on the basis of its own authority; all its decisions should be founded upon the Word of God. “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship” (Confession of Faith, Chapter XX, Section 2).

    4. All church power is wholly moral or spiritual. No church officers or judicatories possess any civil jurisdiction; they may not inflict any civil penalties nor may they seek the aid of the civil power in the exercise of their jurisdiction further than may be necessary for civil protection and security.

    Maybe you want to get off the desert island of your own ecclesiology and at least try to appreciate that a high view of the church is not the sole province of Moscow, ID, or Monroe, LA.

  10. Vern Crisler said,

    March 1, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Don’t you see Darryl, the BOC is symbolic language and is not meant to have literal application. Don’t you believe in modern medicine?

    If the BOC term “church” means the visible church, then it’s flat out wrong. Also, it sounds like the BOC is using declarative in the sense of proclaiming or clarifying rather than in the sense of determining or legislating. I agree that the visible church cannot make laws on the basis of its own authority. My fault for not understanding how the term “declarative” was being used.

    I also agree with the WCF about not binding the conscience except by the Word. I wish Confessional absolutists could agree with that.

    I don’t see how 4 is relevant. We’re not talking about whether ministers take the place of civil rulers, but whether the visible church can declare that slavery is wrong.

    Both the state and church are manifestations of the kingdom of Christ to the extent they reflect Christ’s commandments. Unfotunately, in our day, both the state and your vaunted visible church are more often opposed to the commandments of Christ than abide by them.

  11. Vern Crisler said,

    March 1, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Roger, that interpretation — favored by theonomic transformists — undermines the whole point that Jesus was making.

  12. Roger du Barry said,

    March 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    That is not an interpretation, it is a statement of grammatical fact. You have made the genitive of origin into a dative of location. They are two different things. In so doing, with respect, you have entirely misunderstood the saying.

  13. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 1, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    DGH, I find much to commend in all three heads of your affirmations and denials.

    If I were to register a single objection, it would be to this:

    Denial: Scripture does not reveal everything but only that which is necessary for salvation.

    Unlike any of the other affirmations and denials, this denial lays down a hermeneutical principle: Scripture only reveals that which is necessary for salvation.

    Because this principle will color the way we read Scripture, it deserves the highest scrutiny. Otherwise, we will be shutting our ears to the Scripture by deciding ahead of time what it will and will not say to us.

    The first strike against it is WCoF 1.6: all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life. We notice that your denial has left out God’s glory; but more to the point, it subsumes “life” under salvation.

    I understand why; you’re tracking with T. David Gordon’s argument that the Westminster divines meant “spiritual life.”

    However, I think tracing the phrase “rule of life” in older Reformed writings paints quite a different picture.

    Belgic 25: We believe that the ceremonies and symbols of the law have ended with the coming of Christ … Nevertheless, we continue to use the witnesses drawn from the law and prophets to confirm us in the gospel and to regulate our lives with full integrity for the glory of God, according to his will.

    Likewise, the entire section of the WLC on the decalogue demonstrates that the Westminster divines thought of the law as a rule for our whole lives; this section is self-evidently patterned after Calvin’s discussion of the law in Inst. 2.8.

    For example: The purport of this commandment is that since the Lord has bound the whole human race by a kind of unity, the safety of all ought to be considered as entrusted to each. In general, therefore, all violence and injustice, and every kind of harm from which our neighbour’s body suffers, is prohibited.

    Calvin clearly sees something in addition to salvation in view in the 6th commandment.

    There’s no point in multiplying examples, except to say that it appears that the Reformed view of the Law as the “rule of life” is that it regulates our lives, and not merely our “spiritual lives.”

    And to step out more broadly, your claim that Scripture reveals “only that which is necessary for salvation” is a hermeneutical straightjacket that limits what we are allowed to hear from Scripture. I don’t think we want to be in that position.

    That objection aside, I appreciate and generally agree with the rest.

  14. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Sorry, the Calvin ref above is Inst 2.8.39.

  15. Vern Crisler said,

    March 1, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Roger, Jesus wasn’t just talking about the source of his kingdom. He was talking about its mode of manifestation. Read the context. Make sure your interpretation makes sense in light of that context.

  16. Roger du Barry said,

    March 2, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Vern, whatever you think the context is, it may not overrule the grammar. That is basic to the grammatical-historical method of the Reformation. The two must work together. If the Lord wished to speak of the mode of the manifestation of the kingdom, he would have used different language.

    John 18:36   Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

    The kingdom does not come the way all other kingdoms come, by military action by servants fighting, but the kingdom is achieved when the Christ ascends to heaven having been killed and raised.

  17. dgh said,

    March 2, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Jeff, thanks. You know you and I have been down this road before. When I read your maximalist understanding of all of life I immediately wonder why the Reformed creeds and confessions aren’t longer. Or why doesn’t the church have policies on medicine and agriculture? Is it because church officers turned a blind eye to all that the Bible reveals? Or is it the case that our creeds conform largely to the content of Scripture. I don’t know about you, but my life consists of more than what the Westminster Standards cover.

    And if you do think the Bible speaks to all of life, you not only get into problems of what the church is called to oversee — how many hours of television covenant children are watching — but you establish a confusingly fluid corridor between the church’s authority and the individual Christian’s calling, such that individual Christians read their Bibles, come to convictions, and then expect the rest of their congregations to conform.

    In other words, the Bible speaks to all of life idea confuses church power and Christian liberty (as you know, precisely what Frame’s biblicism and understanding of the RPW does).

  18. dgh said,

    March 2, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Stuart, what is crucial to the 2k view, is the distinction between Christ’s rule as creator and his rule as mediator (which you see in Col. 1). God’s rule is everywhere, so in that sense there is a general kingdom. But there is also a special kingdom which Christ rules as redeemer, and that is the church. If you conflate those two rules, then you expect believers and non-believers to submit to king Jesus in the same way.

    All of life I find to be highly problematic and I don’t think all of life is what the divines meant. If the Bible does speak to all of life, should our confessions and creeds be longer than they are?

    What I meant by a minister’s power is that he may not as a Presbyterian discipline someone (apart from preaching, which is one of the keys of the kingdom) simply by his own counsel or teaching. Lot’s of pastors have distinct notions about theology or personal conduct. Simply by virtue of their office those distinct views are not binding on all believers. Instead, what is binding is the corporate witness of the church confessed in the creed and catechisms, the form of government, and rules for worship. By saying this I am seeking to establish as much uniformity among Reformed and Presbyterian churches as possible, having pastors and church members reflect on official and corporate documents for those (all too revealing) moments when pastoral job searches start or congregational mission statements are drafted.

  19. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 7:10 am

    DGH, I hear your concern. Neither you nor I want to give aid-and-comfort to the Prayer of Jabez crowd.

    However, “all of life” is not a maximalist position. As I’ve repeatedly emphasized, Scripture speaks to all of life, but by no means exhaustively. Generally speaking, it gives a broad framework that is a rule of life (“love your neighbor”), but it leaves most of the detail unspecified. And the details unspecified are areas of liberty.

    And I think this explains what you correctly observe about the Standards: They are long on salvation, short (but not silent!) on the rest of life. Why? Because Scripture gives exhaustive detail about our salvation, everything we need to know. Scripture does not give exhaustive detail about the rest of our lives — but what it *does* say, rules our lives.

    Hence WLC 98 – 148, which is actually somewhat long when one thinks about it.

    …but you establish a confusingly fluid corridor between the church’s authority and the individual Christian’s calling, such that individual Christians read their Bibles, come to convictions, and then expect the rest of their congregations to conform.

    I certainly don’t want to do that, and I don’t recall ever advocating that. Don’t the joint principles

    * Scripture speaks to all of life, but
    * Details not specified in Scripture are subject to liberty

    handle your concern adequately?

  20. stuart said,

    March 2, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Dr. Hart,

    Thanks for your response.

    I have one more question at this time, if you don’t mind answering it.

    I asked about WCF 1.6 about “the whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life” . . . particulalry the last word of that phrase. You responded by stating, “All of life I find to be highly problematic and I don’t think all of life is what the divines meant.”

    What do you think the writers of the Confession meant by “life” in WCF 1.6?

    Again, as I said above, I would agree that Scripture doesn’t address everything in a cookbooky or encyclopedic manner. But when I read through the LC and see the detailed applications of the 10 commandments, I can’t help but think this is at least one way the Scriptures speak to how we live here and now in everyday situations. In a certain sense, that seems “all of lifeish” to me, but maybe I’m missing something crucial.

  21. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Jeff and Stuart (DGH): reading your concerns about Dr. Hart’s unwillingness to embrace the “all of life” language, I notice two things here:

    1. When you say “all of life” you seem to mean in a general manner, as in man’s duties to God and to man that are common to all mankind. Is that what you mean?

    If so, this could be comprehended within the 2K scheme by simply observing that these general duties are differentiated in the two kingdoms: the Secular via the covenant of works, and the Sacred via the covenant of grace. Both generally deal with man’s duties to God and to man, yet do so differently according to the covenantal differences.

    2. I repeatedly see Dr. Hart pushing back against the idea that the Bible speaks particularly to the plumber, to the mathematician, to the (fill the the vocational blank). You seem to be reacting to his refusal, hearing him deny the validity of the way the Bible speaks to all men, summarized in point one above.

    If I’ve understood you all correctly, I think this is a speaking past each other. The Bible does not speak to any particular vocation in the Secular kingdom in a particular manner. (I know Jeff, you’ve already observed this). It does not tell the plumber the details of his craft. Such Secular-vocation specifics are to be found in general revelation.

    This is not to say that the Bible does not offer any advice that the plumber can apply in the specifics of his job (I’m thinking Proverbs here). Rather it is to say that such advice is not given to him as a plumber. What the Scripture says to men in the Secular Kingdom it says to all without regard to one’s vocation. The Bible’s list of duties under the covenant of works applies to King and streetsweeper, to union boss and convenience store clerk – Indiscriminate of their vocations.

    Further, it applies for an end that is particularly not focused on the proximate end of worldly success. The Bible always speaks, whether to Secular or Sacred Kingdoms, for the ultimate eschatological end of the Kingdom of Glory. In other words, even what general advice the plumber can find in Scripture is not given to make him a better plumber, It is only given for one purpose, to bring him to or separate him from citizenship in the Kingdom of Glory.

    I appreciate your desire to be careful to note that the Bible does have something to say to “all of life.” I won’t speak for Dr. Hart here, but when I hear that I tend to hear the kind of evangelical moralistic therapeutic deism that is destroying the Church in our generation. I know you well enough Jeff, and I willingly assume it about you Stuart, to believe that is not your intention in the use of such language. If the qualifications I make here satisfy (more or less), maybe we could come up with a tad better phrase? :-)

  22. Vern Crisler said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Roger, Jesus said it 3 times:

    My kingdom is not of this world.
    If My kingdom were of this world
    My kingdom is not from here

    How many more times does Jesus have to say it? The genetive has reference to location in all three statements. You cannot reduce it to a mere genetive of authority or power. This world, this world, here. These are location terms.

    If it were a mere matter of authority or source, why would that be relevant to the ethical teaching the flows from the de-location references? After all, Rome’s authority also comes from God. The reason Christ’s followers cannot fight to establish his kingdom is simply that his kingdom is not a worldly, visible kingdom, but rather a Spiritual kingdom.

    It is very strange that theonomic transformationalists interpret the verse to mean that Christ’s kingdom really is of this world.

  23. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Reed (#21):

    1. Yes.

    2. I agree with you that a better phrase is needed.

    The phrase “the Bible speaks to all of life” has its origins in Kuyper and van Til, but has been coopted by transformationalists and therefore can confuse.

    Likewise, the phrases “the Bible speaks only of what is necessary for salvation” or “general revelation is sufficient for common tasks” might well have its origins in Old-School Presbyism, but has been coopted by “legal secularists” to force Christians to check their Scripturally-informed consciences at the door.

    It is therefore unsuitable also.

    I don’t have any pithy suggestions to replace it. Perhaps

    “The Scripture is a rule for life: specific for salvation, general for all of life.”

  24. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Jeff: thanks. I appreciate the nuancing of the dilemma ;-)

    I’ll think more about your starting suggestion. It needs a little nuancing, but I’m not sure how quite yet. For now, it is a good start.

  25. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Dr. Hart: what do you think of the differentiation I offer in no. 20. Does that get to your concerns with the phraseology “all of life”?

  26. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Reed (#21): one more thought on #1. I would like to see somewhere in the affirmations and denials an acknowledgment that the moral law as written in the decalogue continues to be a perfect rule for righteousness, binding both the justified and the unjustified to its obedience.

  27. stuart said,

    March 2, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Reed,

    I think I agree with what you’re saying. I’ve wondered if “all of life” has become a kind of technical jargon that means something some of us have never meant it to say. I’ve never meant by using that phrase “God speaks specifically and in detail to every type of vocation.” Nor do I have in mind “evangelical moralistic therapeutic deism” (whatever that is, it sounds bad).

    When I say “Scripture speaks to all of life” I mean there is a general way in which Scripture addresses how we should live in this present age . . . not to answer specific questions like “should I be a plummer or a pastor”? or “should I buy an SUV or not”?, but general commands and principles that come from God’s law and wisdom that shape the broader way in which we live here and now, and not just in the hereafter. In other words, there is not one area of my life to which the Scriptures cannot be applied in some sense. Whatever role I play, as a husband, as a father, as a pastor, as a citizen, as one who is under authority, etc., Scripture addresses these general roles. And in whatever circumstance I find myself, in plenty or in want, in sickness or health, in times of joy or sorrow, etc., Scripture has something to say about how I live within those circumstances. I’m not trying to make some “transformationalist” argument that we need to redeem this or that, I’m simply saying we can’t compartmentalize what Scripture says in such a way that it only tells us how Christ saves us and how we are to worship rightly.

    If we need to categorize all this under the two headings of the Covenant of Works for one sphere and the Covenant of Grace for another, I don’t have a major objection to that. I wonder why that’s necessary, but I’m a simple man with simple thoughts, and as I’ve admitted on this blog before, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. So maybe I’m missing something crucial.

    For better or for worse, when I hear “Scripture does not reveal everything but only that which is necessary for salvation” I do a double take. It makes me wonder what we mean by “salvation” because there seems to be a lot in Scripture that can only broadly be labeled as about salvation at best. I also wonder why Proverbs is in the Bible if Scripture only reveals what is necessary for salvation. And then I wonder if someone might take Dr. Hart’s statement as worded to mean that the Bible has absolutely no application to what they may be doing on Thursday at 9pm. And that strikes me as a bit off.

  28. stuart said,

    March 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Vern,

    What do you make of Revelation 1:6 . . . and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father?

  29. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Jeff: understand and agree, providing we’re not fencing in the “how” here.

    I.e., I think Rom 2:14 requires of us something along these lines:

    1. God’s moral law is the standard by which God judges all men’s thoughts and actions.

    2. This moral law is perfectly summarized in the 10 Commandments in the Bible.

    3. This moral law is sufficiently known by all men via their natural relationship to God as creature to Creator. Sufficiency here means in terms of no. 1.

    4. Because of this sufficiency (no. 3), while it is appropriate to expressly bring the 10 Commandments to all men’s awareness, this is not necessary for all men to nevertheless be fully culpable to God’s judgment (no. 1) by this standard (no. 2).

  30. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Stuart no. 28: appreciate your thoughts.

    Categorizing these under the covenants helps us differentiate the two key purposes of Scripture, secure the salvation of the elect and confirm the judgement of the rest.

    The idea that Scripture speaks to salvation is to avoid the kind of moralistic usage the Bible is commonly used for. This is a denial of its purpose. It is not written to give advice how live to well under the covenant of works. It is given to driven men out from that covenant, into the covenant of grace. The unbeliever who looks to the Bible to merely good advice on how to be a better father or husband is actually misusing the Bible. How much more so the child of God who ONLY looks to the Bible for the same.

  31. Roger du Barry said,

    March 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    22. Vern said: “The genetive has reference to location in all three statements.”

    In Greek the genitive does not refer to location, and neither does the English translation BTW. But in Greek there is a specific case that indicates location, and the genitive is not it. It is the dative. Also, the preposition “en” would probably be used, although not necessarily.

    The Lord Jesus did not say, my kingdom is not IN this world, which is clearly the way you are reading the saying.

    The kingdom is clearly IN this world, since the Church is a part of that dominion, but it is not OF it, because it was given to Christ by the Father, not the servants.

  32. stuart said,

    March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks for the interaction. I appreciate the clarity you bring to the discussion.

    Just a couple of things . . .

    1) I’m almost positive that on these issues some of us are talking past each other in some form or another. For example, I would never even think to suggest for a believer or non-believer that the Bible is “merely good advice on how to be a better father or husband.” The Bible principally teaches what we are to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of us. That said, just because we understand the Bible’s main goal is not familial advice doesn’t mean the Bible doesn’t have something to say about being a father or husband, however.

    2) The way we frame our discussions seems to demonstrate we are aiming at different targets. So along those lines, I’m still not sure I understand the necessity of bringing in the CoW and the CoG distinction in this discussion, even if it “helps us differentiate the two key purposes of Scripture, secure the salvation of the elect and confirm the judgement of the rest.” The issue I am trying to understand in this discussion is not as much how the Bible applies to the non-believer, but how it applies to me as a believer. Do I think the Bible is only about salvation (how it comes and how it is attained), or is there something in Scripture that also tells me how to live in this present evil age as one who because of Christ has received salvation? I get the picture that is not the target for which the 2k guys aiming with their criticisms.

  33. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Stuart: appreciate the continuing “huh?” Look at it this way, in the Bible why does God offer the unbeliever advice on fathering?

    • If you answer, “so that he can be a good father,” you’ve argued for a moralistic approach to Scripture.
    • If you answer, “so that he is without excuse at the final judgment,” you answered according to the Covenant of Works.
    • If you answer, “so that he can see his need for Christ,” you’ve answered according to the Covenant of Grace.

    The latter two are consistent with the Bible’s ultimate end. The first one (moralistic usage) is inconsistent with the Bible’s ultimate end. Further, the proximate end of being a good father via biblical advice is only sound via the ultimate end envisioned in the Covenant of Grace.

    Unbelievers may do temporal good works for proximate ends. They may find advice to help in that effort from many sources, from Oprah to the Bible. Yet the usage of the Bible for merely such proximate ends is not valid in and of itself.

    The Bible is not a handbook for life if by that we mean advice for how to live your best life now (i.e., temporal concerns only). The Bible is about salvation, even when it speaks about fathering principles. The proximate end (advice on fathering) is only given for the achievement of the ultimate end (viewed covenantally differentiated.)

    Does this help?

  34. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Stuart: p.s., salvation is not about one event in the Christian experience, but about the whole Christian experience, from the new birth to the walk of faith to the eternity of glory. I.e., for the believer the covenant of grace is in view beginning to end. Nothing I do as a believer is set up outside the CoG considerations.

  35. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Re: #33

    It seems to me that there’s something missing here. With the options you have listed, the only one that actually relates to the children is the one you reject, i.e., the moralistic one. With the other two options, the goal of the advice on fathering is the end of the father, irrespective of the children. That seems odd…Is it possible to have an eternal goal in being a good father, like covenant succession, or the salvation of the child? Or perhaps a corporate eschatological function, with reference to the church?

    We would agree that Paul wants to be read according to the covenant of Grace, right? If so, then what Paul really wants us to learn from Ephesians 6 is that we need Christ, not that we should raise our children in the fear and paideia of the Lord. That almost turns the CoG hermeneutic into an allegorical reading, where the text doesn’t actually mean what it says, but something else…

  36. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    By the way, denial 3 is unhelpfully stated as a false dichotomy–it’s possible for there to be a third way, between salvation only and everything. And for Dr. Hart to keep arguing from silence (“why aren’t our confessions longer?”) is an argument from silences, also a fallacy.

  37. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Re: #18

    There is a false dichotomy here a well. The option are not just Creator and Redeemer. Jesus’ reign over the nations right now (even in a non-theonomic sense) is not due to his being Creator, but to his being resurrected (Phil. 2, Ps. 2, etc.). His authority is universal–see Matt. 28:18, unless we’re going to eisegete “spiritual” into the word authority. Thus, we have to take into account not simply Creation, but also Ascension when we look at how Jesus rules over the nations.

  38. Vern Crisler said,

    March 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Roger, where are you getting the idea that the genitive in Greek or English doesn’t refer to location? There are so many instances of genitives of location, it would be pointless to list them all. Eg. The queen of the south . . . for she came FROM the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon….” (Matt. 12:42.) Or, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect FROM the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt. 24:31.)

    Datives are used for location, among other things. But Jesus didn’t have to say “in” to refer to location, since “of” can do that just as well. There is no reason to interpret ek tou kosmou in only a figurative sense as referring primarily to source of authority, e.g., as in Mark 11:30, sourcing the authority for John’s baptism. The following, among many others, use the genetive of location:

    Luke 3:22: voice FROM heaven
    Luke 10:18: Satan falling FROM heaven
    John 3:31: OF the earth, FROM heaven
    John 6:32: bread FROM heaven
    John 17:15: not take them out OF the world

    These only make sense if location is in view. Similarly, John 18:36 only makes sense if location is included in the meaning of the genitive. Which one of these conditionals provides the relevant grounds for Christians not to take up the sword?

    p

    q

    Doesn’t it make more sense if (p & q) are jointly true?

  39. Vern Crisler said,

    March 2, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Hmm,

    p should be “If the source of authority of my kingdom was of this world, my servants would fight”

    and

    q would be “If the location of my kingdom was of this world, my servants would fight.”

  40. Stuart said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Reed,

    Look at it this way, in the Bible why does God offer the unbeliever advice on fathering?

    I find it difficult to answer this question as asked.

    First, I stumble over the word “advice.” I would prefer to speak of God giving commands, promises, and wisdom (which is perhaps the closest thing to “advice” but still distinct enough in my mind that I have trouble with calling it “advice”). It’s probably just my own fundamentalist hangups. =)

    Second, even if I didn’t have a hangup over the word “advice” I’m not sure I would say that God gives fathering “advice” to non-believers per se. Most of the fathering texts I think of are given to men within the covenant community. Even in Proverbs, the general wisdom given is in context of the covenant community, and not to the world at large. That doesn’t mean there isn’t something for the non-believer . . . it simply means the primary audience is not the non-believer.

    Third, asking the question “why” in relation to God is bound to have a complex answer. I can think of several more possible reasons than the three you mentioned. Is there only one or two answers to this question, or could there possibly be several answers?

    salvation is not about one event in the Christian experience, but about the whole Christian experience, from the new birth to the walk of faith to the eternity of glory.

    OK, but is that the way the average Christian normally uses the word “salvation”? I’m ok with using the word “salvation” in a maximalist sense, but if we do this then the “all of life” aspect of Scripture is slipped in through the back door.

  41. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Stuart: I’m ok with using the word “salvation” in a maximalist sense, but if we do this then the “all of life” aspect of Scripture is slipped in through the back door.

    Exactly so.

  42. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Stuart: feel free to change “advice”. The question is, what does the Bible say to the unbeliever?

    It is never a texbook of ordinary temporal life concerns. Its ultimate end is salvation or judgment, as per what covenant one is in. It only speaks to temporal life concerns (e.g., fathering, a proximate end) in order to speak to salvation/judgment (ultimate end).

    As to “all of life” being slipped back in, don’t quite see it. The usage of that term I’ve objected to is specifically in terms of non-salvific concerns. If we mean by “all of life,” what the Bible says concerning redemption from beginning of life to eternity, I’ve not problem with the phrase.

    But that is not how the phrase is ordinarily used – and this is something I thought already settled. So, no, I’m, not importing “all of life” in the backdoor – unless you’re not tracking my original objection to this term.

  43. stuart said,

    March 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks for your patient replies. Apparently, I’m like the disciples during Jesus’ day . . . dull and not quite getting it.

    At the risk of trying your patience, I’ll make one last effort and see where it goes from here.

    You asked, “What does the Bible say to the unbeliever?”

    If you want to press for ulitmate ends, then salvation or judgment it is. Yet I think the answer is more mutifaceted than the ultimate ends framework allows. Proximate ends may serve the ultimate ends, but proximate ends are still “ends.” So in one sense, Proverbs 23:13 (Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die) is wisdom that could be applied by the believer or non-believer to a good temporal end, even though in another sense the non-believer does not understand true wisdom since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of such wisdom. The non-believer will also not benefit in an ultimate sense from the Scriptures as a whole without being in the confines of the covenant of grace. And if we as Christians pass off the Bible as a textbook of good fathering advice, then we’ve missed the ultimate point and let the non-believer whistle away in the face of his impending doom before the wrath of God. Hope that clears up both my agreements and distinctive differences with what you’ve said.

    It only speaks to temporal life concerns (e.g., fathering, a proximate end) in order to speak to salvation/judgment (ultimate end).

    While I agree in a sense with what you’re saying here, I can’t completely buy in to the statement as worded. If the ultimate end of Scripture is judgment/salvation and proximate ends only serve the ultimate end, then perhaps we need to talk about penultimate ends of Scripture (or something along those lines). I’m thinking something along the lines of what Joshua Smith touched on in comment 35 above. Surely we’ve missed something if love for others is left out or so subsumed under the “salvation” category that it doesn’t have a distinct (even if not separate) place in our expressions of what the Bible says. Even Jesus says the whole OT could be summarized by the two “love” commands.

    As to “all of life” being slipped back in, don’t quite see it. The usage of that term I’ve objected to is specifically in terms of non-salvific concerns. If we mean by “all of life,” what the Bible says concerning redemption from beginning of life to eternity, I’ve not problem with the phrase.

    But that is not how the phrase is ordinarily used – and this is something I thought already settled. So, no, I’m, not importing “all of life” in the backdoor – unless you’re not tracking my original objection to this term.

    Once again, I think we’re talking past each other. I apologize for my part in that.

    This discussion started with Dr. Hart’s statement . . . “Scripture does not reveal everything but only that which is necessary for salvation.”

    I asked “Doesn’t the last part of this statement as worded lean too heavily in one direction?” and then I went on to say “I agree with you that Scripture doesn’t address everything in a cookbooky or encyclopedic manner, but Scripture does seem to address more than simply our salvation.”

    Dr. Hart responded, to which response I stated “when I read through the LC and see the detailed applications of the 10 commandments, I can’t help but think this is at least one way the Scriptures speak to how we live here and now in everyday situations. In a certain sense, that seems “all of lifeish” to me, but maybe I’m missing something crucial.”

    Later I asked if the Bible is only about salvation (how it comes and how it is attained), or if there is something in Scripture that also tells me how to live in this present evil age as one who because of Christ has received salvation?

    You answered by saying “salvation is not about one event in the Christian experience, but about the whole Christian experience, from the new birth to the walk of faith to the eternity of glory.”

    To which I came back with “I’m ok with using the word “salvation” in a maximalist sense, but if we do this then the “all of life” aspect of Scripture is slipped in through the back door.”

    Then you replied with “The usage of that term (all of life) I’ve objected to is specifically in terms of non-salvific concerns.”

    This makes my head spin . . .

    Obviously “all of life”, as I suggested before, has become a kind of technical jargon that means something specific to those of us who are using. I don’t think the folks who are using it mean the same thing by it, however.

    I’ve never meant by using that phrase “all of life” that God speaks specifically and in detail about everything.

    When I say “Scripture speaks to all of life” I mean there is a general way in which Scripture addresses how we should live in this present age.

    As I stated before, the issue I have been trying to understand in this discussion (the 2K stuff) is not as much how the Bible applies to the non-believer (which is indeed a needed discussion), but how it applies to me as a believer.

    Does Scripture apply to all areas of my life (when I’m at work on Thursday and playing on Saturday as well as when I’m worshipping on Sunday), or only those areas that are religious in nature (how I worship on Sundays and the types of things I believe about God)?

    Does the Scripture tell me anything about being a husband, father, worker, son, neighbor, citizen, etc., or does it only tell me what to believe concerning God and how I might stand justified before him on the day of judgment?

    For better or for worse, Dr. Hart’s statement “Scripture does not reveal everything but only that which is necessary for salvation” struck me as answering those questions in a way that I was not comfortable.

  44. stuart said,

    March 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    and btw, Reed, I asked a question on the “Faith-Faithfulness” thread that may have gotten overlooked because of this discussion. If you don’t mind, I’d love to hear an answer to see if I understood you correctly.

    Thanks,

  45. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Stuart: I think you’re getting what I’m saying. I think you may have a principled disagreement that does not allow you to track with me all the way. Let me summarize and see if that helps.

    I am arguing against penultimate ends. Instead I am arguing for proximate ends, that only exist to serve the ultimate end. A brief contrast using the Bible’s information on fathering (e.g., Proverbs, Eph 6:4):

    1. The ultimate end is for redemptive purposes. (I think we agree here)
    2. There are proximate end for this fathering information:
    a. For redemptive uses in the believer’s life under the Cov. of Grace.
    b. For judgment uses in the unbeliever’s life under the Cov. of Works.
    3. There is (at least) one possible penultimate end for this fathering information, namely to instruct the father (believer or unbeliever) how to be a better father to his children.

    I am denying that point no. 3 is a valid use of Scripture. Specifically, I am denying that penultimate ends, understood to be legitimate secondary ends following which there is no necessary ultimate end, are a valid use of Scripture.

    To be sure such fathering information is intended to instruct the father (believer or unbeliever) how to be a better father. But it does so according to the proximate ends in view in no. 2, to minister redemption to the believer and judgment to the unbeliever.

    Dr. Hart’s statement about “only for salvation” follows this pattern. Yes the Bible says lots about ordinary temporal things. But why, for the ultimate end AND penultimate ends? NO, but only for the ultimate end.

    Make sense?

  46. stuart said,

    March 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Reed,

    I think I understand what you’re saying, but you’re right that I have a different take on these issues that keeps me from agreeing fully (which doesn’t make me a transformationalist, btw. Apparently there is more than one way to frame the 2k concerns.

    I do believe there are penultimate ends of Scripture that do more than serve the ultimate end, and in my mind that fact doesn’t diminish the ultimate end of Scripture one bit. Salvation/judgment is of ultimate importance in Scripture, but there are other, more temporal concerns addressed in Scripture as well . . . and while those things may not be utmost, they have a level of importance too.

    To be fair, I wouldn’t necessarily say one of those penultimate ends is to help us “be a better” anything . . . that sounds too much like the Bible belongs in the self-help section of Barnes & Noble . . . but I’m probably being snippy over semantics at this point.

    Thanks for the interaction!

  47. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Stuart: sounds like you say tomAto, and I tomAHto, with a little twist beyond. At the very least, you’re using penultimate different than the way I’ve defined it here. That’s o.k.

  48. stuart said,

    March 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    tomAto, tomAHto, potAto, potAHto, let’s call the whole thing off!

  49. paigebritton said,

    March 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Which is maybe one of the wisest things any of us has said in the past several weeks.

  50. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Paige: you didn’t happen to have a cigar in your fingers when you said that, did you? ;-)

  51. David R. said,

    March 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    you bet your life.

  52. paigebritton said,

    March 4, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Dorothy Sayers does Groucho Marx? I like that.

  53. dgh said,

    March 6, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Jeff, Stuart, and Reed, here is part of my reason for wanting to limit Special revelation to redemptive matters — aside from thinking that this is what Scripture actually reveals and why we don’t have chapters in our confession on aesthetics: it is a way of silencing those who want a Christian culture and to resurrect Christendom. If you can show me a way that you can say the Bible speaks to all of life and not let it wind up with theonomy or Christendom I am willing to listen. But I don’t know how you do that unless you are as careful as Old School Presbyterians were about distinguishing between the church and the state, between special and general revelation, between the holy and the common.

  54. Vern Crisler said,

    March 6, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Obviously rejecting r2k does not require that one adopt theonomy or Christendom as the only alternatives, any more than rejecting theonomy requires one to adopt the studied irrelevance of Daryl’s view.


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