2k – Affirmations & Denials (3 of 3)

This is the third of three of Dr. Darryl Hart’s affirmations and denials on the 2K topic. Remember, please read the other two (theological, vocation) before posting comments. Thanks.

(Reed DePace)

Affirmations on Ethics

1) Affirmation: Christians have an obligation to submit to God’s laws as they are found in general and special revelation.
Denial: persons cannot obey God’s law truly apart from regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
Denial: non-Christians may not please God in their external observance of God’s law.
Denial: even if non-Christians may not please God, their civic virtue is crucial to a peaceful and orderly society.

2) Affirmation: Christians please God in their good works thanks to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
Denial: the good works of Christians are not free from pollution (i.e. they are filthy rags).

3) Affirmation: the state and families have the responsibility for establishing and maintaining social order.
Denial: the church does not have the responsibility for establishing and maintaining social order.

4) Affirmation: church members have a duty to obey the laws of civil magistrates.
Denial: church members may not rebel against or disobey the magistrate.
Denial: church members must not obey the magistrate rather than God.

5) Affirmation: God has established a pluriformity of institutions (e.g. civil society) for the sake of social order.
Denial: the church has no calling to establish social order but will have an indirect influence on peace and order by encouraging godliness in her members.

DGH

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33 Comments

  1. Cyrus Eckenberg said,

    February 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    About the first denial under Affirmation 4. I hear this from people who say this, and then will affirm the justice to some particular rebellion. Such as the American War for independence, or Germans who opposed the Nazis. Ought not there be some point at which Christians are being better citizens by rebelling against a wicked authority? If not, why not?

  2. Cyrus Eckenberg said,

    February 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Also, one thing that never seems to be addressed is the question of what a Christian civil magistrate is to do? Should he behave any differently than a Pagan civil magistrate? What should be his guide?

  3. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Dr. Hart, thank you very much for taking the time to provide these details.

  4. Vern Crisler said,

    February 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    #3 marks this out as a Thornwellian view of 2k. Hodge could not agree with it.

  5. Paul said,

    March 1, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Affirmation:1) Christians have an obligation to submit to God’s laws as they are found in general and special revelation.

    Affirmation: 1a) why wouldn’t it be possible for a serious believer to keep that faith bracketed once entering the public square or the voting booth?The very essence of faith, at least the Christian variety, might be that it is private, personal, and something to keep distinct from expression in the public arena of politics. –A Secular Faith, pp. 176-177

    Do I submit to God’s law in my expressions in the public square and when I go into the voting booth, or do I check them at the door? Since we have a *conjunction* in affirmation (1), Hart cannot say “just chuck special revelation and keep general revelation.”

  6. Roy said,

    March 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Affirmation 1 whenever I hear it in its many manifestations always bothers me. Submerged in A1, but (I hope unintentionally) not stated, stands another affirmation: only Christians must obey God.

    No one at any when or any place ever had or has any excuse for not obeying God. That a person is not regenerate does not remove that obligation.

    More specifically (since we all know the unstated statement, namely that only natural revelation speaks to pagans), the very nature of God’s Word demands eager, willing, voluntary, joyful submission. I mean, come on: Sin is transgression of looking at rocks and trees?

  7. Paul said,

    March 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Another set of affirmations I’me hoping to see are 2k philosophy and worldview affirmations. DGH seems to think that 2K entails that Scripture says nothing important and significant to epistemology, metaphysics, science, politics &c. And he says there is no such thing as a Christian view of these things. Let’s take the 2k train all the way.

    Also, isn’t he just giving us his personal opinions, reporting his personal tastes? He’s not speaking for “2K” and it’s a little misleading to suggest he is. For example, look at his statement on rebellion:

    “church members may not rebel against or disobey the magistrate.”

    But 2ker Jason Stellman says,

    The issue of civil disobedience also came up. VanDrunen argues that it is never proper for a believer to seek to fight against religious persecution by means of the carnal weaponry of the state or its courts. If memory serves, he believes the same rules apply in the civil realm as well, meaning that it any form of civil disobedience to lawfully ordained magistrates is wrong, unless they compel us to disobey God’s law.

    To tip my hat to the just-deceased Howard Zinn, I would respectfully disagree here. While I do think a Christian should never resist religious persecution but rather endure it as an example of Christ-like cross-bearing, I do think it’s legitimate for the believer to fight against injustices that arise for non-religious reasons (such as during the civil rights movement), as long as such resistance (1) is non-violent, and (2) doesn’t violate the Westminster Confession and invoke our spiritual liberty as a reason to resist civil oppression (I wrote about this topic here, here, and here).

    http://deregnisduobus.blogspot.com/2010/01/christ-kingdom-and-culture-part-3.html

    So how do I know if I’m getting 2k or DGH Op-Ed?

  8. GAS said,

    March 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Only Gomer Pyle would be surprised with #4.

    But that can be fixed:

    Affirmation Christian have a duty to uphold the moral law; that force or fraud used by one person or peoples against another person or peoples is to be resisted, normally through the strictures of the civil magistrate, though when that is impractical in severe circumstances it is the individual Christian duty to resist that coercion to protect his neighbor.

    Denial That the powers that be have no direct power from God and are under the same obligation to avoid coercion except as may be necessary to stop other coercion.

    Denial The powers that be are not to be obeyed when they are usurping the moral law, usually through lower magistrates, who should use whatever means possible to prevent this coercion as wisdom dictates.

  9. Zrim said,

    March 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Paul, how does keeping faith bracketed and in its proper place to “check it at the door”? Maybe to keep it in one’s heart instead of don it on one’s sleeve is actually to apply special revelation instead of chuck it (Matthew 6:1-6)?

    And the more interesting thing about the Stellman quote is how he portrays DVD as sympathetic to a conception of civil disobedience which may not be as conducive to the non-redemptive transformationism you like to claim DVD for and against pc-2k. After all, as many non-redemptive transformers like your co-belligerent blogger CVD likes to point out, you don’t get civil rights in America without civil disobedience. But some of us remain unconvinced how sitting at lunch counters when the magistrate says not to isn’t civil disobedience. Or do you think it somehow immoral to not sit at a certain lunch counter?

  10. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t see how any of this negates the Civil Magistrate’s use of Special Revelation (or General Revelation which by definition cannot contradict SR).

  11. paigebritton said,

    March 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    In #1, why mention General Revelation? Do we ever even think about GR when we’re talking about the threefold uses of the law for believers?

  12. dgh said,

    March 2, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Ben, by “this” do you mean the set of affirmations on ethics or the entire set? The entire set would speak to your question.

  13. dgh said,

    March 2, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Paul, it is not leaving one’s faith at the door for a believer to adjust to the realities of God’s created order and providence. The reality and nature of my faith in my prayer closet is not the same as the reality God has placed me in when I’m driving. Believers adjust their faith to different realities and responsibilties all the time. And because these realities and responsibilities come from God, these adjustments are of faith.

  14. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:28 am

    This set of affirmations.

  15. David Gadbois said,

    March 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Cyrus said Such as the American War for independence, or Germans who opposed the Nazis. Ought not there be some point at which Christians are being better citizens by rebelling against a wicked authority?

    I think what is usually not distinguished in these discussion is between rebellion/disobedience against the government and participating in revolution (overthrow of government). The former would include, for instance, people who simply refuse to pay their taxes on the basis that the government is corrupt or unjust. It is a sort of selfish, lone-ranger style of vigilante justice. That seems to fit into the sort of disobedience that Romans 13 has in mind. But that is different from the latter, which is a matter of passing the sword from one bearer to another.

    There wouldn’t be a problem for a Christian to participate in such a cause, on the condition that it was just and that it was not done in any churchly capacity or in the name of Christ. Kim Riddlebarger, for instance, mentions the cinematic example of the minister in The Patriot removing his minister’s garb and putting on his militia gear.

  16. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    David, Paul provides this above:

    The issue of civil disobedience also came up. VanDrunen argues that it is never proper for a believer to seek to fight against religious persecution by means of the carnal weaponry of the state or its courts. If memory serves, he believes the same rules apply in the civil realm as well, meaning that it any form of civil disobedience to lawfully ordained magistrates is wrong, unless they compel us to disobey God’s law.

    So, it would seem that there is a 2k case to be made for opposing civil disobedience (until it becomes cultic disobedience) no matter how “just” one thinks the cause or how “civil” the means to get there. I’m not so sure Romans 13 has in mind a difference between uncivil civil disobedience and civil civil disobedience.

    I am familiar with KR’s “Patriot” point. But I have always thought that while it made good cinema, it would probably make better theology for the pastor to keep his collar and protect his sheep instead of abandon them.

  17. David Gadbois said,

    March 2, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    VanDrunen argues that it is never proper for a believer to seek to fight against religious persecution by means of the carnal weaponry of the state or its courts.

    I don’t know where DVD wrote this, but if that is accurate the statement is clearly false. Paul’s admonition for us to submit to the state does not mean we have to submit to every *individual* within the government. If the state provides legal avenues to appeal and redress grievances, it is not disobedience to the state *as the state* to make use of the legally-provided tools that the state itself establishes.

    This view is prima facie kooky. It would mean we can’t even go to court to challenge a traffic ticket. That would be disobeying the cop who wrote the ticket.

    For exegetical confirmation we don’t have to go beyond the Apostle’s own example of appealing to Caesar and appealing to his own rights as a Roman citizen.

    As for the issue of revolution, Romans 13 defines governing authority in terms of the one who “bears the sword”, in other words the entity that holds de facto military power. But needless to say militias and revolutionary armies bear the sword as well, and in fact can have de facto control of land and populations during coups and wars. So this is a matter of the sword being passed from one group of rulers to another, not a matter of an individual under the rule of the sword.

  18. Paul said,

    March 2, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Zrim (8),

    What part of “distinct from” did you not understand? If I’m “submitting” to God’s laws in the voting booth, I’m not sure how I’m keeping God’s laws “distinct from” what I do in the voting booth? If I am assuming my faith and letting it direct me, how am I keeping it “bracketed” when I act?

    DGH (13),

    Paul, it is not leaving one’s faith at the door for a believer to adjust to the realities of God’s created order and providence.”

    I don’t even know what this means. Almost every event is a providential event. Calvin’s Geneva, New England theocracies, &c. Care to elaborate?

    And are you saying the realities of the created order favor 2K? Was Israel opposed to God’s creative order or something?

  19. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    David (#17), per Stellman, DVD’s point that it is never proper for a believer to seek to fight against religious persecution by means of the carnal weaponry of the state or its courts came from “Westminster Seminary’s annual conference on the topic of Christ, Kingdom, and Culture, the third lecture, titled ‘Christ and the State.’”

    But this point seems to turn on “religious persecution.” I don’t think the point is at all that we mayn’t address civil grievances, even those that might entail religious concerns, through legal avenues afforded by the state. Granted, it can be fuzzy to determine what is religious persecution and what is civil grievance. But if it is religious persecution there seems little biblical ground to fight it instead of endure it. Paul’s appeal seems to entail civil grievance, not religious persecution.

    And I’m not sure how defining the magistrate as “the one who bears the sword” or who holds de facto military power resolves the problem of civil disobedience and rebellion. If Romans 13 understands the civil magistrate to be so defined then where is there any room for disobedience-revolution when the point is obedience-submission? I understand that the passing of the sword is the way of the world and is inevitable, but what I want to know is where the biblical justification is for rebellion?

  20. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Paul (#18), the problem remains that you assume no difference between political views and personal behavior. Assuming faith and submitting to God’s law will result in unequivocal personal behavior, but it will not yield the same in political views. So faith can be bracketed politically but not personally. I know you want to apply faith to politics but it’s personal behavior that faith is tied to.

  21. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    March 3, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Hart Failure

    Over at Green Baggins, Reed DePace has posted the 2k principles of Darryl Hart. I’m going to comment on some of his principles.

    i) And what is the duty of church members when the state punishes goodness and rewards wickedness?

    ii) How does that mesh with the natural law component of 2k? Even if we treat the alleged silence of the NT on civil disobedience or revolution as prohibitive thereof, surely it’s easy to come up with natural law justifications for civil disobedience or even revolution.

    Read the rest.

  22. David Gadbois said,

    March 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Zrim said But this point seems to turn on “religious persecution.” I don’t think the point is at all that we mayn’t address civil grievances, even those that might entail religious concerns, through legal avenues afforded by the state.

    But the point is that Romans 13 doesn’t make this distinction between civil and religious concerns. So if you are going to use Romans 13 as a club to assert that we can’t make use of lawful means of appeal and protest on religious matters since this would not be submitting, it just can’t get you there. Even if DVD’s conclusion is right, it would have to come from some other passage.

    And, again, there is the distinction between resisting an individual ruler and rebelling against the state.

    Granted, it can be fuzzy to determine what is religious persecution and what is civil grievance. But if it is religious persecution there seems little biblical ground to fight it instead of endure it.

    But this rather equivocates on what it means to “fight” doesn’t it? It is not hard to see that there is a principled difference between the use of physical violence to “fight” persecution and the use of civil means of appeal. The prohibition against physical resistance hardly entails a prohibition of all means of civil resistance.

    Paul’s appeal seems to entail civil grievance, not religious persecution.

    No, this is your own idiosyncratic opinion, supported by no exegesis and no NT commentator I know of. Paul wasn’t being held because he forgot to file his taxes.

    And I’m not sure how defining the magistrate as “the one who bears the sword” or who holds de facto military power resolves the problem of civil disobedience and rebellion. If Romans 13 understands the civil magistrate to be so defined then where is there any room for disobedience-revolution when the point is obedience-submission?

    You already admit that there is room for disobedience, namely in religious matters where Christians would be forced to disobey God. So trying to use this verse as an all-encompassing blanket to cover every type of disobedience is already out the window. What is the actual scope of the passage? The normal relation between an individual and the sword-bearing state. But times of revolution are extraordinary, and there are multiple sword-bearers vying for loyalty and submission. Submission to one can mean rebellion to the other.

    I understand that the passing of the sword is the way of the world and is inevitable, but what I want to know is where the biblical justification is for rebellion?

    On the contrary, where is the prohibition? You are trying to shift the burden of proof, but that is not how biblical hermeneutics and ethics work.

  23. Zrim said,

    March 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    But this rather equivocates on what it means to “fight” doesn’t it? It is not hard to see that there is a principled difference between the use of physical violence to “fight” persecution and the use of civil means of appeal. The prohibition against physical resistance hardly entails a prohibition of all means of civil resistance.

    David, it seems clear to me that there is a principled difference between physically fighting and civilly appealing. And I do think there is a place for the latter. But at the same time, do you think there is a place for enduring persecution instead of resisting it? Is there ever a time to do so, or is the call to always try and circumvent it so long as it is non-violent and legal? I get the Paul’s appeal argument, but it seems to me that you’re hanging a lot on it. What about the example of Christ, whom we called to emulate, who had every opportunity not to mention a right to resist persecution and yet he abstained from it?

    Also, I asked for biblical justification for rebellion and you suggested that the question really is one of prohibition. Is that another way of saying whatever isn’t prohibited is permitted? That sounds sort of Lutheran and evangelical. Isn’t the Reformed hermeneutic only that which is commanded is permitted? If so, civil submission is commanded. I don’t see anything permitting civil disobedience.

  24. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Zrim: Is that another way of saying whatever isn’t prohibited is permitted? That sounds sort of Lutheran and evangelical. Isn’t the Reformed hermeneutic only that which is commanded is permitted?

    Only in matters of faith and worship. Which this isn’t.

  25. Zrim said,

    March 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Jeff, obedience isn’t a matter of faith?

  26. David Gadbois said,

    March 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Zrim said Also, I asked for biblical justification for rebellion and you suggested that the question really is one of prohibition. Is that another way of saying whatever isn’t prohibited is permitted? That sounds sort of Lutheran and evangelical.

    Huh? We aren’t talking about a worship service here.

  27. TurretinFan said,

    March 3, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    This comment: “There wouldn’t be a problem for a Christian to participate in such a cause, on the condition that it was just and that it was not done in any churchly capacity or in the name of Christ,” must be wrong.

    Why?

    Because it would be absurd that it is right for us to give someone a glass of water in the name of Jesus, but wrong for us to give someone freedom in the name of Jesus. Yet it is right for us to give someone a glass of water in the name of Jesus (even though drinking water is an activity common to all men).

    -TurretinFan

  28. Zrim said,

    March 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    David, the point remains: where is there biblical justification for civil disobedience and rebellion? I don’t see what is to be gained by asking where there is prohibition when the plain reading of NT ethics is obedience. The question sort of answers itself.

    But no thoughts on what it means to emulate Christ who abstained from staking his own legal rights in the face of persecution? I wonder what you make of this from VanDrunen’s “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms” (pgs. 56-58):

    “Luther’s interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount through the two governments paradigm, however, did not separate Christians entirely from the use of the sword or make political life irrelevant to them. He goes on to explain that though Christians have no use of the law or sword amongst themselves, they submit to its rule and even do all that they can to help the civil authorities, in order to be of service and benefit to others. In fact, he explains, ‘If he did not serve he would be acting not as a Christian but even contrary to love….”. This counter-intuitive conclusion leads Luther to encourage Christians to seek out temporal occupations, even those that require using the sword: ‘If you see that there is a lack of hangmen, constables, judges, lords, or princes, and you find that you are qualified, you should offer your services and seek the position….” Luther reconciles these seeming contrary injunctions by emphasizing that Christians should never take up these tasks for the purpose of their own vengeance, but only for the safety and peace of their neighbors. And so, when a matter arises concerning themselves, Christians live according to Christ’s spiritual government ‘gladly turning the other cheek and letting the cloak go with the coat when the matter concerns you and your cause.’ This, claims Luther, brings harmony to the Christian’s life in both kingdoms: ‘at one and the same time you satisfy God’s kingdom inwardly and the kingdom of the world outwardly’. Shortly thereafter, Luther announces the final reconciliation of life in the two kingdoms: ‘No Christian shall wield or invoke the sword for himself and his cause. In behalf of another, however, he may and should wield it and invoke it to restrain wickedness and to defend godliness.’”

    I do still agree with you that there is a place for civil appeal for our own rights, but it does seem well worth contemplating that that place might be much smaller than we tend to imagine.

  29. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    March 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Affirmation: church members have a duty to obey the laws of civil magistrates.

    Denial: church members may not rebel against or disobey the magistrate.

    Given Darryl Hart’s affirmation and denial here, I have the following question for him:

    “Does R2k condemn those Christian pastors and churches who participated in the public square to wage civil disobedience against the civil magistrates in England prior to and during the American Revolution?”

    It looks strongly like Darryl Hart’s doctrine of R2K condemns those Christian pastors and churches who waged civil disobedience against the English civil magistrates prior to and during the American Revolution, but perhaps he doesn’t, and there’s some weird exception that he makes for the affirmation and denial that he makes above.

    P.S. If ‘condemn’ is too strong a term for your disapproval, can you answer the question if I replace ‘condemn’ with ‘say they are wrong’?

    But please know that if someone says abortion is wrong or that rape is wrong, they are condemning abortion and condemning rape.

    Or knowing that when God condemns sinning, He is also saying that sinning is wrong.

  30. David R. said,

    March 4, 2011 at 12:29 am

    TUaD, Anyone who reads Romans 13:1-6 could hardly conclude it’s an open and shut case.

  31. David R. said,

    March 4, 2011 at 12:40 am

    “And he adds, Wilt not thou then fear the power? Do good. By this he intimates, that there is no reason why we should dislike the magistrate, if indeed we are good; nay, that it is an implied proof of an evil conscience, and of one that is devising some mischief, when any one wishes to shake off or to remove from himself this yoke. But he speaks here of the true, and, as it were, of the native duty of the magistrate, from which however they who hold power often degenerate; yet the obedience due to princes ought to be rendered to them. For since a wicked prince is the Lord’s scourge to punish the sins of the people, let us remember, that it happens through our fault that this excellent blessing of God is turned into a curse.

    “Let us then continue to honor the good appointment of God, which may be easily done, provided we impute to ourselves whatever evil may accompany it. Hence he teaches us here the end for which magistrates are instituted by the Lord; the happy effects of which would always appear, were not so noble and salutary an institution marred through our fault. At the same time, princes do never so far abuse their power, by harassing the good and innocent, that they do not retain in their tyranny some kind of just government: there can then be no tyranny which does not in some respects assist in consolidating the society of men.”

    –John Calvin

  32. David R. said,

    March 4, 2011 at 12:57 am

    And the “R2K” protest against pulpits and church courts being used for the rebuking of civil magistrates goes back at least to the mid-19th century:

    “On the other hand, it is equally plain that, as the affairs of the spiritual kingdom of Christ are of such a nature as to preclude any human devices in the way of means and instrumentalities for administration, so also the divinely appointed agencies for the administration of these affairs preclude the idea of the use of these agencies and the power accompanying them for any other purposes than the one great purpose of the kingdom itself. The officers, the ordinances, the courts, of the Church have, as we have seen, a very definite and a single end in view,—viz.: the evangelization of the world, and the calling and gathering out of it the elect of God. Hence the too common conception of the Church as power to be used directly for the promotion of mere humanly devised reforms, however desirable in themselves considered, and important to men, as men and citizens, to effect such reforms, or the conception, of the ordinance of the word preached as an instrumentality to rectify wrong public opinion, wrong moral views of social and civil affairs; or the conception of the courts of the Church as agencies through which to reach directly and reform civil evils and to arraign the State on national wrong-doing, is inconsistent with the fundamental nature of the Church itself, and must ultimately work out only confusion and corruption. This kingdom, in its administration, contemplates men only in relation to Jesus the Mediator. It ignores all strifes and parties of the kingdom of Caesar. It knows men only as friends or enemies of the King, and knows no parties but the parties of Christ and of Antichrist.”

    –Stuart Robinson

  33. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    March 4, 2011 at 7:52 am

    “TUaD, Anyone who reads Romans 13:1-6 could hardly conclude it’s an open and shut case.”

    That is precisely why I asked Darryl Hart my question because it strongly looks like his doctrine of R2K does condemn those Christian pastors and churches who waged civil disobedience against the English civil magistrates prior to and during the American Revolution, but perhaps he doesn’t, and there’s some weird exception that he makes.

    Anyways, suppose for argument’s sake, for a hypothetical sake, that R2K Darryl Hart condemns those Christian pastors and Christian churches who waged civil disobedience prior to and during the American Revolution. Furthermore, suppose that there are Christians who condemn R2K Darryl Hart’s condemnation.

    Are folks okay with that state of affairs?


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