Why Is John Calvin Still Important?

This book explains why. The author, David W. Hall, is one of the foremost experts on Calvin’s influence in the modern world. This little gem of a book can be read in a couple of hours at most, and is an easy read. There were quite a few eye-openers for me, at least. What amazed me was the evidence he marshals for the following: the vast influence of Calvin’s thought through the Genevan Academy, the printing presses, and preaching; the sheer volume of Calvin’s output (which I knew about, but was struck afresh at just how much God enabled him to accomplish); the human-ness of John Calvin (contrary to popular opinion, John Calvin was a loving, gracious, generous man who inspired life-long loyalty in his friends, and gave it in return); his ideas were responsible for the American Revolution and the freedoms we enjoy (Hall is especially well-equipped to show us this tracing out of Western liberty). In short, this is the perfect book to give to Calvin despisers. The one myth that is not dealt with in this book is the Servetus story. However, you can listen to David W. Hall debunk that myth in the interview that Christ the Center folks had with him.

Also included in this book is a brief biography as well as several tributes from various people of different denominations, who have appreciated Calvin’s contributions. This is the perfect book to give to someone who wants something more than Wikipedia, but something less than a major tome. The book has 112 pages.

272 Comments

  1. greenbaggins said,

    October 3, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Rey, I have deleted your comment, because you have sabotaged my advertisements long enough. Cease and desist!

  2. greenbaggins said,

    October 3, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Rey, it is past time for you to be gone from this blog. You have nothing constructive to say. All you ever say is how bad Calvinists are. It gets quite old and tiresome, even if it had some entertainment value for awhile. If you had remained respectful, I would have let you stay. But you have consistently reviled the servants of God, and I am through with it. You are banned permanently. If you continue to comment on this blog, I will hunt down every one of your comments and delete them.

  3. October 3, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Lane,

    More than Wikipedia? You’re breaking my heart… :-)

    I can also help hunt down rey’s comments if you desire. I use the Search Everywhere extension for Firefox, which will do site searches in place.

  4. E.C. Hock said,

    October 3, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    I am glad there is a new look at Calvin’s significance, for sometimes one gets the sense that Calvin is no longer adequate, therefore of diminished interest, for Reformed theology. The founder of this great tradition has been, of late, eclipsed and/or marginalized by the preference for Puritanism, zeal for the Westminister Standards and the demand for more particulars in theological areas. The Institutes are losing their grip, accept as a model of archaic Calvinsim. Afterall, if Turretin is now the final word, who needs Calvin? He looks rather simple and antiquated. One sometimes wonder if Calvin would be allowed membership in some Reformed churches, let alone preach in today’s Reformed pulpits. Yet, when one reads the character of his theology expressed within the times he lived, new appreciation emerges for his contribution and gritty passion in thinking altogether biblically, theologically and confessionally as a preacher.

  5. Elder Hoss said,

    October 3, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    This sounds like an outstanding read.

    It is noteworthy that so much of Calvin’s indefatigable labors were directed toward the social order, and the various spheres within it (politics, education, art, commerce, etc.). The older work by the Liberal UTS Historian McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism, underscores this as well.

    Would that contemporary Calvinists would recapture the comprehensiveness intrinsic to Calvin’s program and cease the terribly anti-Calvinistic abdication of the social order which has marked the last several decades of Calvinistic thought in the West.

  6. October 4, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Does anyone know, offhand, how much of Calvin’s output has yet to be translated into English (10%?, 60%) and what types of materials are mostly still untranslated?

  7. Stephen Welch said,

    October 4, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Thanks Lane for the recommendation. David Hall is an excellent writer and was one of Dr. Robert Reymond’s best students in seminary. I am anxious to secure a copy for myself. I appreciate the recommendations you give for various books. It is a valuable resource for us.

  8. Stephen Welch said,

    October 4, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Thanks Elder Hoss for the reminder that Calvin’s reforms did change the social order of his day. This is something that many Reformed people miss in the 21st century. We are not fulfilling the creation mandate and then we wonder why secularism has made so many inroads. Perhaps if more Christians were taking careers in journalism and politics we would not see the socialist trend in the media or civil arena.

  9. E.C. Hock said,

    October 4, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Good words above (#5 and #8) on the social effects of Calvin’s Calvinism. The evangelical (and Reformed) flight to the suburbs, leaving the city center behind, may have been curtailed. A subsequent retreat from cultural positions involving literary fields (inclusing journalism), arts, politics, financial institutions, education and media, could have been checked by appreciating Calvin’s more robust view of bringing godly influence to bear upon the social order. Instead, a fundamentalist streak intruded upon the theological scene, prompting godliness by separation, thus a withdrawal of more conservative believers from the social order, not an engagement of it. What caused that in Reformed circles? Why di we become more factional within, rather than outwardly transformational? Now our return to arena for engagement is more reactionary and combative rather than redemptive and transformative (but not in all sectors – we have such venues as seen in World magazine!).

    We see the ethical and structural challenges arising from that void today in Capital Hill to Wallstreet, from Hollywood to American Colleges, from the family to the civil functions of our towns. We all see it and groan. Our churches are elevated as pockets of resistance, scrapping and competing over the faithful Christians who remain since our inroads into the social channels of society are uphill, or marginalized. Who knows what “Reformed” means besides the well-initiated? Gladly, we increasingly seeing exceptions developing, and no small part of that I sense is a new appreciation of Calvin’s Calvinism as it realtes to the social order. We need a broader tent in Reformed circles to encapsulate again its value.

  10. Darryl Hart said,

    October 4, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I heart Calvin as much as the next Calvinist but let’s not get carried away with the Calvinist transformationalist agenda (unless we all want to join Redeemer-like congregations). I haven’t read David’s book, and this isn’t meant to disagree with him, but Calvin’s reforms were every bit dependent on a social order over which he had no control. Some would even argue that he was a real brake upon reforms in the French political order — he advised submission to the rulers — which might have prevented the execution of thousands of Huguenots (and which would have likely meant the execution of thousands of Roman Catholics).

    Let’s also remember that the government of Geneva did not have the kind of administrative apparatus that we enjoy (?) today, thus making pastors and elders into city councilmen and police. In other words, the church in Calvin’s day was politically powerful because it was an agent of the state.

    I for one can give at least two hearty cheers for the separation of church and state that came with 1776 and 1789. Plenty of Calvinists suffered from “socially transforming” churches prior to the revolutions of the late eighteenth century. Just ask the Covenaters about the “killing times” (and some of their killer were even Protestants).

  11. October 4, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I am currently reading the Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes edited by the same gentleman; a very enjoyable read. I take it there is more to come in this series?

  12. Jason Schuiling said,

    October 4, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    It is unfortunate that Mr. Hall attempts to connect the ideologies of John Calvin to the American Revolution.

    Respectfully, would Mr. Hart please refrain from co-opting the Covenanters in defense of his private opinions, who suffered for the cause of Christ in Scotland, England, and Ireland – not for the separation of Church and State as Mr. Hart understands it.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    October 4, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Daniel, I understand that there are about 4 or 5 more volumes in the series, although I have no idea what they are.

  14. its.reed said,

    October 4, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    What do you think about this book (or others) to help structure an Institutes based multi-year systematic theology study for high schoolers?

    reed

  15. Zrim said,

    October 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    E.C. Hock,

    Grand Rapids does actually exist, you know. All those references in footnotes aren’t for nothing.

    Unfortunately, though, my town looks a whole like most towns I go, ground-zero for all the sort of transformationalism ideals to which you refer. In fact, many don’t even have a cross-street like Divison and Wealthy. I’ve been here for years and still don’t understand what a “more robust view of bringing godly influence to bear upon the social order” is supposed to look like. Doesn’t transformation mean change, the good kind?

  16. Elder Hoss said,

    October 4, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Darryl Hart – My word. What a web we weave. “Redeemer transformationalism” and Genevan trasnformationalism in some kind of moral equivalence, and in the same sentence?

    Surely, to quote the great theologian Triumph,The Insult Comic Dog, – “you keed.”

  17. Darryl Hart said,

    October 4, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Mr. Schuling, if you’ll note, I also throw in the Huegenots, who were also likely not fans of the separation of church and state, judging by the Gallic Confession. My point was not to coopt the Covenanters, whose understanding of church and state in the National Covenant is far from mine. It is only to note that Puritans under Cromwell killed Presbyterians. So why wouldn’t we want separation of church and state? Isn’t the taking of any life in Christ’s name a bad thing? If not, how different are we than Muslims?

  18. Darryl Hart said,

    October 5, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Mr. Schuiling, sorry about misspelling your name.

  19. E.C. Hock said,

    October 5, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Zrim (#15):

    Yes! I did not mean to over look the near-celestial city of Grand Rapids, in this subject matter, especially after many journeys from west Chicago took me there in a book-search for greener pastures. Certainly the Dutch contingent of the Reformed faith has done its part in keeping us sensitive to a cultural/societal dimension to our worldview. Transformation does mean change, but change that is more than change in my devotional life, or change in my theological stance, but a change that has our wider communities in mind. Social transformation can be very abstract until we start thinking how to open our churches in ways that reach our communites and can bring our communites among us. J. Stott’s idea of the church as understood as God’s “new society” (i.e., Ephesians) ought to help us think about how that new society we live in seeks to shine light and interact with the old society around us ( an imperfect tension we ought to be prepared to live and function with on earth). Of course we do this without beginning to cave in and look more like the old society than the new society. I was thinking about that as I visited a Reformed church today that had both signs both for voter registration (politics) and flu innoculation (health) for the community within its premises.

  20. October 5, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Dr. Hart, may I humbly suggest that an abuse of a principle in the past does not mean that the principle itself is wrong – i.e. infant baptism.

  21. Jason Schuiling said,

    October 6, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Mr. Hart

    “Isn’t the taking of any life in Christ’s name a bad thing?”

    Do you actually believe that this is an accurate caricature of the cause and principles for which the Covenanters (and Hugenots) suffered and died? As I understand it, Cromwell and other persecutors of the Covenanters (etc..) killed the Presbyterians for their own tyrannical/political purposes, not from a strict allegiance to the confessional doctrine of the civil magistrate nor from their zealous obedience to Christ.

    Sir, I am genuinely perplexed by the vigor with which you adamantly defend subscription to the Westminster Standards and the selectivity with which you subscribe. Wouldn’t the majority of modern P&R denominations be better suited by removing from their confessions of faith any and all articles to which they would allow exceptions, and redrafting and renaming those confessions? It would seem that this method would go far in settling the confusion that said denominations’ Statements of Faith pragmatically and actually reflect Historic Confessionally Reformed Theology. Shouldn’t we all stop pretending that the faith confessed and practiced in the majority of modern reformed denominations has more that a casual connection to that embodied in the 15th and 16th century Confessions?

  22. Darryl Hart said,

    October 6, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Mr. Ritchie: what exactly is the principle at stake in the execution of professing Christians by other Christians who hold the power of the sword? I understand excommunication, but execution?

    It seems that you think the state should have an official religion. But how is that a good policy practically? Does this make America a Methodist nation because of President Bush? Or if Obama wins, will we be turned into the United Church of Christ? Aside from the practice is the principle. Is the church to be identified with the rule of any nation or state? Or is the church’s rule distinct from the state? (We are not in Kansas or Israel anymore.)

    Mr. Schuiling, I would remind you that American Presbyterians are confessional subscriptionists, and that is why we revised the WCF in 1787 over its teaching on the civil magistrate. I know this is likely not the place to reach a satisfactory conclusion, but I would be hard pressed to see how those revisions changed the theology of the Westminster Standards, especially since the original affirmed that the church was not to meddle in civil affairs. But before you beat up those who have revised the Standards, you might want to keep in mind that the Covenanters are not as pure here as they once were, since now even they can participate in national life even though the U.S. Constitution contains no reference to the Lordship of Christ. All of us Presbyterians are modern now.

  23. Zrim said,

    October 6, 2008 at 8:47 am

    E.C. Hock,

    My two-kingdom peso has a really low exchange rate as I inhabit the very transformational enclaves to which you refer. I doubt it will fare much better here. But my point was, to be more direct, it all sounds good until one actually surveys things on a daily basis, voter registration and health clinics notwithstanding. Transformationalism seems to be a sustained effort in both highfalutin religious fantasy and outright denial. Maybe I am greedy, but if we are talking about genuine change I would actually prefer no need for health clinics. I was thinking about that yesterday as I visited a Presbyterian church and read printed prayer requests and listened to uttered intercessory prayers for the “outlawing of abortion.”

  24. E.C. Hock said,

    October 6, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Zrim,

    You write: “I was thinking about that yesterday as I visited a Presbyterian church and read printed prayer requests and listened to uttered intercessory prayers for the “outlawing of abortion.” Surely all of these aspects – like intercessory prayer from within and community service from without – all contribute to being active salt and light, yes? One aspect on its own is too weak and minimal. You speak of “transformational-ism” which on its own (like any ‘ism’) promises too much and delivers so little, including the deliverance of heresy. This arises from either activism or quietism. Of course, one is in this for the long haul so appreciating these things at different levels is built into the lifeview. But it affords the opportunities and challenges needed to be salt out of the shaker and light placed on the table for all to see. Church goers in the church are not like fish swimming in an aquarium, which people watch at a distance, but with minimal interaction. If that were the case, could the church hope to venture “…to the ends of the earth”? If seeking to being transformational, by internal and outward means, is “religious fantasy,” then what does that say to Calvin’s view of sovereignty which fueled his biblical optimism and accomplished his global influence?

  25. Zrim said,

    October 6, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    E.C. Hock,

    Let me try this: The social transformationalism with which I am familiar here in Little Geneva has something to do with affecting something in broader society that nobody else can. When I press further on what this means it usually turns out to be something about ethics. But everyone, believing or not, has equal access to ethics and each does them no better or worse than the other. When this is pointed out and admitted the notion turns to something much more esoteric and existential, at which point I simply must plead ignorance; it sounds a lot like osmosis, but the very presence of my math textbook under my pillow never rendered anything of use.

    You suggest a distinction between “being transformational” and transformational-ism. I can easily understand the difference between being active and activism, which I would rather speak of than “being transformational”; but the parsing between being transformational and transformational-ism eludes me. Probably because it still sounds like we are expecting something to happen that just doesn’t. Why can’t we just be active covenant-keepers?

  26. October 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Dr. Hart

    When I said “the principle” I meant the establishment principle as a whole. If someone has committed a crime worthy of death, then they should be executed. However, differences of opinion among orthodox Protestants are not criminal activities.

    I believe earlier divines did not make this distinction as clearly as they should have – and I say this as both a Covenanter and a Theonomist. I believe that idolaters, blasphemers, damnable heretics, and even high-handed Sabbath breakers should be executed because the Bible warrants it. But to say that the State should execute someone for being a Baptist is a distortion of the principle.

    Now you may well believe the principle is wrong to begin with; but it cannot be refuted simply on the basis of past abuse.

    P.S. are you writing any more books in the American Reformed biography series…can I write one on Greg Bahnsen :-) )

  27. E.C. Hock said,

    October 6, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Zrim,

    I do not mind your phrase, active covenant-keepers, as long as this does not become a recipe for something too homogeneous, that is, a church ambiance and culture that turns ingrown and remains preoccupied with corporate piety alone. Even with a two-kingdom view, it cannot remain too distinct. There is overlap since we are to be in the world though not of it. That overlap is where transformation slowly occurs when the church is intentional about it.

    Of course, transformationalism can morph into nothing more than a sense of civil religion reduced to ethics. People just do, in an orderly way, what their sense of morality dictates. Religious reality is never clarified, defined or enhanced beyond the decent status quo.

    On the other hand, a lot depends on how people like to define “covenant” as applied to one’s lifeview. Francis Schaeffer held to a covenant view, yet not in a pietistic sense. Biblically, “covenant” is ever an expansive term, beginning from the promises of Abraham, and carried to the great commission of Jesus and further outward through the church age. Yet, we implode and the term shrinks to something domesticated in the church. Some see it as a warm, compfy word about close familiy ties, or something that over-emphasizes law over gospel. It is likened to ships all gathered in a harbor with dropped anchors and trimmed sails. We spend time scrubbing the decks and loading more cargo for all to see. There is a busy-ness to its steady cultivation but the ship rarely venture out of the harbor into the channels and high seas of culture.

    That is, “covenant” is a left to being a protective and preservative concept, not one that invites radical chnage, challenge, engagement or the kind of transformation that comes when the gospel goes missional. I do not mean to be negative or bias here, but “covenant” taken alone, without qualifiying terms to shape it, can have the sense of what some home-schoolers imply when you mention public schools – there is alarm and retreat into the home and church. I recall coming across a church in Texas which uses the Peacemakers ministry material very effectively. In fact they are so effective that every Wednesday night they make available counselling, and teams to mediate conflicts for anyone in the city that comes and seeks it. Of course, there is a wonderful opportunity to sew the covenantal gospel to heal the conflict, indeed, a covenant of peace, but that is the church as a well-fitted ship sailing through the seas – being transformational in an active, not activist sense. The transformation aims first at people, not at impersonal structures, except for basic structures like in marriage and family and labor.

    Now, let’s come back to “covenant.” You probably do not imply it in a narrow sense if you draw it out from the Dutch tradition. Now, Calvin, even in close-knit Geneva, had this kind of expansive energy to his meaning of culture with a covenantal outlook. That is what made it, well…transformational with the truth.

  28. Todd said,

    October 6, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    E.C.

    As a two-kingdom dude like Zrim, I think I agree with you, though your writing style makes you somewhat difficult to pin down. One of my problems with the transformational model is the tendency to blame God’s people for all society’s problems; as if there is a Scripture promise that if we would just obey God more, all laws, politics, culture and society will change around us (please don’t mention to the Chinese Christians how guilty they should feel that they have not brought about the downfall of communism yet).

    But also, the transformationalists tend to despise small things. What is wrong with just trying to be a good neighbor to those around you? God’s elect usually have a positive impact on their work environment, neighborhoods, families, etc…, this is true no matter the government or nation, but the elect will always be the minority this side of glory. Why is it so many are not pleased with local influence unless changes become national and political?

    (You nailed it on the school comment; it is ironic that those who tend to blame the church for retreat from culture are also the ones advocating a full-fledge retreat, mandated from the church even, from the public education system, but that’s another story.)

    TB

  29. Elder Hoss said,

    October 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    TB – Another way of looking at Christians’ repudiating public education in favor of homeschooling and Christian schooling viz., say Classical Christian education, is not one of retreat but of fidelity to the covenant God who promises that He will be a God to us and to our children.

    I have yet to meet a Christian who can demonstrate how it is that pagans, Wiccans, sodomites, agnostics, and the usual cast of characters are fit subjects for educating covenant children whom we have vowed, in our respect churches, to help disciple. Frankly, when I have met many of their kids, I find children largely indistinguishable from the world, both in terms of carriage/comportment and overall world-view.

    Oddly, Christian parents will (rightly) repudiate a vacation bible school run by Arminians if not worse, and yet, at the same time, have no problem allowing the state to educate her covenant youth for 13-15 yrs.

    Sadly, the results have been disastrous, and, at least in part, Christian pastors and elders are to blame for failing to inculcate a vision for Christian education in our ranks.

    But of course, if special revelation devolves solely upon what occurs in church one day in seven, we can supposedly assume that it is a matter of indifference with respect to who educates Christ’s lambs. Such is the “argumentation” offered by too many, and with sad outcome…..

  30. Darryl Hart said,

    October 7, 2008 at 6:54 am

    E. Hoss: exactly which classical Christian curriculum excludes pagans, agnostics, and sodomites from the classroom (i.e. Plato and Aristotle)?

  31. Zrim said,

    October 7, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Daniel Ritchie,

    I wonder if you might humor me and put a name to a name. I’d like to get it straight from a theonomist’s mouth: to your mind, who would be an example of those “idolaters, blasphemers, damnable heretics, and even high-handed Sabbath breakers” that should be executed?

  32. Darryl Hart said,

    October 7, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Mr. Ritchie: are you really G. I. Williamson?

    When Paul spoke of handing Alexander and Hymenaeus over to Satan, was he saying he had executed them? Um. I don’t think so. So the principle that you think so impregnable is actually quite iffy. (I also wonder how those Calvinists who did not tolerate Baptists would deal with your liberalism on the sacraments.)

  33. Zrim said,

    October 7, 2008 at 8:26 am

    E.C.,

    Like Todd suggests, your writing style is a bit obscure. Coupled with your references to ships and I am thinking Pink Floyd: “A distant ship on the horizon…your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.” Just some levity, that.

    I am not trying to be dismissive, but I don’t think it is all that complicated, to be honest. By covenant I simply mean the Law. I keep the Law (imperfectly, of course) as I am out and engaged in the world. I’m not changing anything. In fact, as I often say, I do a lot more maintaining than changing things. Maybe it’s just really low self-esteem, but I can’t even get my drive-through orders to come back to me right—what would make me think I am influencing or changing things the way you suggest?

    You make mention to (compulsory) education. I have the very lonely view in my circles of being a public education advocate in both theory and practice. I am not sure of the point you are making. But my advocacy has more to do with being “in the world but not of it” than any notion of influencing things. Though very few in my circles educate this way, I reject the missional notion of public education they typically employ to justify it. My children’s’ education is about their immediate interests, not others’. If they want to be real and deliberate missionaries one day, fine. But their missional effect in the world is the same as mine or any other believer in the world who is not ordained for such work, happenstance. I didn’t choose my vocation for any missional purpose, and I seriously doubt most other adults do. Why should a child’s vocation be any different?

    Todd, Re the fall of communism, I have heard Covies make reference to how “the gospel hasn’t taken root in China yet.” It is clearly implied that just because it isn’t a liberal democracy that the gospel has somehow failed there. But I can’t bring myself to say to our missionary who recently returned after 20 years, “You realize you failed, right?” Thanks seems more appropriate. And I would only add to your stellar point about despising small things that my transformers would agree about “local influence,” since transformationalism can be applied to things great and small. The problem is, though, folks don’t seem to go small or local enough, like say about a personal space of about five feet. But, even then, like I said above, even in that space I still do a lot more maintaining than transforming anything. I am only ordained to influence my children. And many days, I seriously wonder about even that!

    Speaking of kids, education and influence, I am off to preview the next installment of sex ed. I hope it’s not like last year where I was the only father amidst a flurry of flustered moms. If it is, I’ll try to transform them. On second thought, no, maybe I’ll just look forward to the study committee on reduced state funding because we don’t offer full-time kindergarten. Not sexy, I know, but that’s two-kingdoms for you.

  34. Todd said,

    October 7, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Elder Hoss quotes in Parenthesis

    TB – (Another way of looking at Christians’ repudiating public education in favor of homeschooling and Christian schooling viz., say Classical Christian education, is not one of retreat but of fidelity to the covenant God who promises that He will be a God to us and to our children.)

    I’m still looking for the verses that teach that to be a faithful Christian one must ensure no unbeliever teach our children the multiplication tables or the life and works of Edgar Allen Poe.

    (I have yet to meet a Christian who can demonstrate how it is that pagans, Wiccans, sodomites, agnostics, and the usual cast of characters are fit subjects for educating covenant children whom we have vowed, in our respect churches, to help disciple.)

    How about Moses?

    (Frankly, when I have met many of their kids, I find children largely indistinguishable from the world, both in terms of carriage/comportment and overall world-view.)

    Maybe you need to get out more. I meet strong Christians educated in the public schools all the time, both here and in other countries.

    (But of course, if special revelation devolves solely upon what occurs in church one day in seven, we can supposedly assume that it is a matter of indifference with respect to who educates Christ’s lambs. Such is the “argumentation” offered by too many, and with sad outcome…..)

    So either one agrees with Elder Hoss’ views on public education or one does not believe the Bible’s teaching. If you say so.

    The novel view in all this is the strict anti-public education stance so prominent today. It wasn’t too long ago in America that one of the differences between Presbyterians and RC’s was that Presbyterians usually sent their kids to the public schools while the RC’s sent theirs to parochial schools. How times change, and how Scripture interpretations change to go along with the changing times.

    More power to you for educating your children the best you can, but quit binding the consciences and judging the millions of Christian parents around the world that do not agree with you. I am going to print, one more time, the quote from Dr. W.A. Strange, in his fine book “Children In The Early Church” because nobody responded to it yet.

    “(The early public schools) promoted a religion (the Christians) considered false…characterized by moral values they could not share; and it was…steeped in paganism. So we might expect the early Christians to try to protect their young people by providing some alternative form of education which would keep them free from the temptations and snares of the pagan world in which they lived. They had after all the example of the Jewish synagogue schools. But, rather surprisingly, the Christians did not take that course for several centuries…(parenthesis mine for clarity)

    We hear of no Christian schooling outside the home in the early centuries…Christian parents were still content for their children to share a common education with their pagan neighbors…Christians did not see themselves as culturally distinct from their neigbhbors…

    To set up their own separate educational provision would have been to withdraw from the common life they shared with their pagan neighbors. And, while they recognized their dangers and allure of paganism, the early Christians saw no need to do that… They were not trying to create a Christian ghetto, but to be salt and light in their world. Their attitude to their children’s education was an expression of this open yet critical attitude.”

    Todd

  35. October 7, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Dr. Hart

    Sadly I am not GI Williamson [I am 60 years his junior]…though he is my patron saint.

    You are correct, Paul did not execute heretics, but as he was not a civil magistrate – to whom the sword has been committed Rom. 13 – he had no business doing any such thing.

    Again, I don’t claim to be blindly following earlier Calvinists. I am not liberal on the sacraments, I just don’t think people who disagree are heretics.

    Mr. Zrim

    In my book A Conquered Kingdom: Biblical Civil Government I seek to answer these questions.

    A public worshiper of false gods deserves to be executed. A person who publicly curses God [this is blasphemy; it is not for those who are found taking the Lord’s name in vain, which is profanity] deserves to be executed. A damnable heretic who deserves to be executed is one which preaches false religion under the guise of Christianity [see the earlier commentators of Deut. 13 and Zech. 13 for more]. A high-handed Sabbath breaker is one who engages in unnecessary public work deserves to be executed.

    That is the summary, I cannot go into more detail.

    Moreover are we not going some-what off-topic in this discussion.

  36. October 7, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Mr. Zrim

    I should point out that my views on heretics and Sabbath breakers being executed are not those of all Theonomists, but are my own.

    Blessings.

  37. Zrim said,

    October 7, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Daniel Ritchie,

    But bunny trails are the most fun.

    Well, execution is a pretty serious thing, to say the least. Maybe I should be happy that grace disallows you to speak as poorly as your system demands, but wouldn’t it behoove you to know just whom you are talking about before suggesting such a thing? Or is this the same reasoning that allows you to speak so viciously about those of us who are public school advocates in theory AND practice as “not bad parents, just those who get it wrong”? Huh? If I am “handing my kids over to Molech” wouldn’t that count as being a bad parent? Maybe my mistake was thinking that theonomy had guts. I guess it just sounds like it.

  38. Darryl Hart said,

    October 7, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Daniel Ritchie: your acknowledement of youth reminds me of the famous Churchill quote that might be adapted as follows: “anyone who is not a theonomist at 20 has not heart, and anyone who is not a paleo-Calvinist at 40 has no head.”

  39. E.C. Hock said,

    October 7, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Zrim, #33 – You wrote: “By covenant I simply mean the Law. I keep the Law (imperfectly, of course) as I am out and engaged in the world. I’m not changing anything. In fact, as I often say, I do a lot more maintaining than changing things.”

    Your comment above on “covenant” is why we have differences in how to view the concept of transformation as it relates to society. There is no transformational directive at all if covenant-keeping is really about law-keeping. I am trying to reflect on Calvin here (the original intent of this post) and surely he did not envision covenant-keeping as mere preservation of a moral system, but animated and advanced by a strong gospel component. Of course, Sixteenth Century Europe, under the sense of Christiandom, still had a theistic worldview of all life. Transformation moved along these assumptions. Covenant, as a new way of seeing life, was applied to these assumptions. But it was always more than the mere continuity of law. There is no transformative element apart from the gospel, which is really my final point on this matter on any discussions of transformational thinking. To use the metaphor again, the ships will stay in the harbor if no gospel initiative moves them into open waters. Any social/societal agenda (ships going out to sea) that happens by implication from the covenant must have its emphasis on being redemptive in all its contact with wider structures and systems.

  40. October 7, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Dr. Hart and Mr. Zrim

    I have both spoken to you as brethren and I am frankly appalled at the manner in which you have responded. I believe you should both repent and apologize to me for your disrespectful attitude.

    A parent who sends their children to public school is a bad parent at that point, but this is not the same thing as saying that in all instances they are bad parents – there is a distinction here.

  41. Zrim said,

    October 7, 2008 at 11:43 am

    ECH,

    “There is no transformative element apart from the gospel…”

    I think the word that is meant, then, is “sanctification.” That is the word used in broad confessional formulations and more narrow ones (ordo salutis). 3 out of 4 times in my environs when I think the S-word should be used it is switched out with the T-word. It’s a bit like the words “revival” and “reformation.” As a confessionalist over a revivalist, I have little to stake in the former but much more in the latter. The language of the T-word seems to me to be more in keeping with the personal/public therapeutic spirit of the age than in anything biblical, like the S-word.

    But I understand the Law to be the structure of sanctification, while the Spirit gives it its power. That’s different from “mere preservation of a moral system.” If Calvin had in mind what modern transformtionalism seems to suggest then the Augustinian-Calvinist doctrine of human sin and fallibility is helpful. After all, Godfrey has rendered Calvin a failure when it came to his theocratic notions. That’s a good thing.

  42. Zrim said,

    October 7, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Daniel Ritchie,

    Well, if Darryl doles out an apology I want one from him as well: he seems to be implying I have never had any heart, seeing as how in my own youth I was never anything remotely theonomic. But I’d settle for a bootleg of The Wire next time he’s through Little Geneva (jnside joke, that).

  43. greenbaggins said,

    October 7, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Daniel, you are taking Darryl way too seriously. You have to realize that Darryl loves to have fun with people and pull people a bit. I’ve seen it often enough on this blog alone. Don’t let the PB stuff influence how you are reading Darryl. Besides, Darryl has enough credentials to bury just about everyone who comments regularly on this blog.

  44. E.C. Hock said,

    October 7, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Is this the Darryl Hart that ages ago that emerged from King’s College, Aberdeen, UK? I think I remember hearing of his presence stalking those green and hallowed grounds.

  45. Darryl Hart said,

    October 7, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Zrim: if I showed up with a bootleg copy of The Wire in that transformed place of Grand Rapids, would I be able to leave with my digits still connected to my hands?

    Daniel Ritchie: Are you aware that theonomy and the establishment principle are at odds? That’s the ruling of the Free Church of Scotland, a communion that still affirms the Establishment Principle and that in 1998 declared, “It is essential that the General Assembly declare that the teachings commonly known as Theonomy or Reconstructionism contradict the Confession of Faith and are inconsistent with Biblical doctrine. It is also essential that the Assembly communicate that declaration to the Church and the grounds on which that judgement has been made.”

  46. October 7, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Lane

    Alright I am sorry, I think I have over-reacted; apologies to Dr. Hart.

    Dr. Hart

    I would not take the Socialist Free Church of Scotland too seriously; the Theonomists in the Free Church whom they persecuted also affirmed the Establishment principle.

  47. October 7, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    It should be noted that English Theonomist Stephen Perks wrote a defence of the establishment principle when refuting the principled pluralist John Coffey in his book “A Defence of the Christian State”

    This book is unanswerable in its refutation of political polytheism.

  48. October 7, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Or for more on the compatibility of Theonomy and the establishment principle see this book:

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

  49. Elder Hoss said,

    October 7, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Todd – My brief response would be to simply read Dabney on Secular education. Similarly, I would simply ask you to think through the fact that every branch of Christendom, whether liberally conceived, or more narrowly conceived, has repudiated the notion of public education as permissible for Christians, at least up until about the 1940’s.

    To this day, whole hosts of Reformed brethren take this position.

    I rather think it is YOU who should get out more.

    As A.A. Hodge and Luther noted, no greater engine for the propagation of Satan’s kingdom has existed, than as is found in the notion of a neutral, or statist education.

    I hope you do not have young children in public schools, or, if you an elder, that you encourage such.

    Sincerely,

    Hoss

  50. Elder Hoss said,

    October 7, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    And Todd – To the salt and light argument, why don’t we encourage covenant children to go to Muslim schools? Or, is this ultimately, as Marx noted, ultimately something that all too often boils down to pure economical considerations?

    Why can Christians “afford” the $20,000 car but whine about the unaffordability of Christian education? Is it not because we are radically unfaithful to the Lord of these tender lambs?

    I have dealt with more counseling sessions than I care too enumerate, growing out of this very problem, this profound naivete on the part of Christian parents that they can somehow counteract from 8 to 8:30pm, what is inculcated from 8am to 3pm days’ on end, year on year.

    May God have mercy on us.

  51. G.C Berkley said,

    October 7, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    In other words, “Thou shalt not let thy children attend public schools”.

    Perhaps you missed it, wedged in between the 4th and 5th commandments in the Sinaiticus translation of the Wahoogee Indus text.

    Yeah, commandment 4.5 or 4A. Something like that…

  52. bret said,

    October 7, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    LOL

    Darryl Hart just told us that Greg Bahnsen had no head.

    Sometimes you just got to laugh at people’s silliness.

  53. bret said,

    October 7, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    G. C. Berkley,

    I think the commandment you’re looking for is right there at the top.

    Thou shalt have no other God’s before me.

    Those who send their children to Government schools have set other Gods before their children. Further, they have violated the commandment to love the Lord thy God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. How can people profess Love for God when they subject their children to a worldview that, by design, excludes the God of the Bible.

  54. Elder Hoss said,

    October 7, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    It would not be a stretch to state that, along with individual unfaithfulness on the part of the parent which, unfaithfulness all manner of parental verbal instruction and dogmatism cannot undo in terms of its deleterious effects on the child, the absorption of covenant children into godless public schools has been, even as A.A. Hodge warned, a formidable impetus for the apostasy of far too many of our covenant children.

    Watch the Presbyterian and Reformed world cannabilizing itself presently (are you with Bahnsen or Kline, Wilson or Horton, amill or postmill, paedo or anti-paedocommunion, strict regulativist or modified regulativist, unionist ala Gaffin or the contrary view via Westminster West) around questions which, though quite important, pale in comparison to something as basic as THE VERY FUTURE OF OUR COVENANT CHILDREN AND THE VOWS WE ALL TAKE IN THEIR DIRECTION AT THEIR BAPTISMS.

    Just a few weeks’ ago I sat with a woman cut to the heart over the godless associations and apparent apostasy of her covenant child, which apostasy she herself attributed to the distinctively anti-Christian education provided her child, both in terms of the family culture, as well as what occurred in the child’s life from age 5 thru 21. “Brother, if we only knew what we now know about our child and her standing in God’s covenant, and what the promises and obligations were.”

    There is hope for parents who have betrayed their covenant vows by turning their children over to the state for 15 yrs. It does not come by pastors and others comforting them for the rebellion of their children, imputing it to God’s secret decree of election, which decree is known only to him. Rather, it comes with pastors and ruling elders recapturing what has been the uniform Reformed consensus on this point up until and well past the nefarious work of the architects of public education in the United States, such as Horace Mann and other apostate Unitarians who viewed education and the state as a new messiah, yet knowing all the while in their depraved hearts that there is but one true Messiah, who claims absolute rights over our covenant children.

    In fact, they are not, properly speaking, ultimately ours. They are His, and let them be educated in accordance with who they are…

  55. Zrim said,

    October 8, 2008 at 8:41 am

    So let me get this straight: The brand of compulsory education has a direct effect on the spiritual condition of people. So what accounts for all the conflicts in Presbyterian and Reformed circles these days? CVT was a staunch proponent of parochial education and his broader Dutch Reformed tradition agreed with him. Whither his CRC? CSI trucks on with vigor as the CRC devolves with equal steam. Something tells me there is one mammoth disconnect here.

    I realize it will be guffawed, but it seems clear to me that what those who lend such a high ordination to the institution of education actually do is betray a low view of the family instead of a high one. The family (insofar as it is tucked nicely into the institution of church, of course) is what has the ordained power to nurture or destroy true faith, in mutual conjunction with the church. 8 hours in any sort of school pales in comparison to 1 with mom and dad, especially when that hour is in the pew. Education has its place, importance and dignity. But it isn’t the family. Something tells me that those who over-realize education might be the same ones who over-realize the function of statecraft to do more than it was ordained for as well.

  56. Darryl Hart said,

    October 8, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Bret: you’re right for once. It looks like Greg Bahnsen has G. I. Williamson’s head.

    To all opposed to state schools, sorry to burst the bubble, but wasn’t Calvin’s academy a state school? And if state schools are so bad, aren’t state churches? But what is theonomy but the endorsement of a state that administers God’s word, sort of like a church?

  57. October 8, 2008 at 11:11 am

    “Something tells me that those who over-realize education might be the same ones who over-realize the function of statecraft to do more than it was ordained for as well.”

    I totally agree; this sort of person is called a Statist – the opposite of a Christian Reconstructionist.

  58. Zrim said,

    October 8, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Daniel,

    Depending on what kind of statist, more like two sides of the same skewed coin. The opposite of a Christian Reconstructionist (or certain statists) is actually a Christian secularist.

  59. October 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    CR believes in a highly limited role for the civil government; Statism believes in a god-like totalitarian role for the civil government. Chalk and cheese.

  60. October 8, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    There can be no such thing as a “Christian secularist”; you may as well say one who can be a “Christian Atheist”. What I find most bizarre about Calvinistic defenders of political polytheism is they end up telling us that we are sinning by keeping the first commandment in the civil realm. If we refuse to have any other gods before us in our politics, the pluralists tell us we are going against God’s will!!

  61. Zrim said,

    October 8, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Daniel,

    Those limits seem to include, at least according to some, the execution of heretics. Last I checked Libertarianism, which also conceives of a limited government, has no such clause and neither does the GOP. CR and Statism (at least per your conception of statism) have more in common with each other than Christian secularism. But maybe you shop at WalMart where chalk and cheese can be found in the same isle, along with tires and bags of shrimp?

  62. Zrim said,

    October 8, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Daniel,

    Have you ever considered that when Jesus interpreted the Scriptures to be about him that he really meant it? Using the Bible to meet the perceived felt needs–be they for chintzier ends like personal fulfillment or more lasting and substantive ones like statecraft–are equal abuses of Holy Writ?

    You may be as amazed as you are about this side of the table, but the blind spot for fulfillment theonomists have is truly staggering.

  63. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    October 8, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Zrim,

    How does the Scriptures being about Christ, which they are, and “fulfillment” become a “blindspot” for Theonomists?

    Something tells me you know very little to nothing about what Theonomists and CR’s actually believe and teach. That is unless all you really know is what the smear merchants and functional antinomians have told you about it.

  64. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    So let me get this straight: The brand of compulsory education has a direct effect on the spiritual condition of people.

    So, let me get this straight. Sending your children to schools that teach from a Humanist, or Muslim, or Satanist belief system doesn’t have a direct effect on the spiritual condition of people?

    So what accounts for all the conflicts in Presbyterian and Reformed circles these days? CVT was a staunch proponent of parochial education and his broader Dutch Reformed tradition agreed with him. Whither his CRC? CSI trucks on with vigor as the CRC devolves with equal steam. Something tells me there is one mammoth disconnect here.

    A large accounting of the conflicts in P & R circles is the fact that people like you are pushing a “Christian” agenda that owes more to Aristotelian humanist categories then it does the Bible.

    Whither the CRC can be answered by pointing to how the CRC bought into humanist assumptions.

    No, mammoth disconnections at all. It all makes quite a bit of sense.

    I realize it will be guffawed, but it seems clear to me that what those who lend such a high ordination to the institution of education actually do is betray a low view of the family instead of a high one.

    I am to busy guffawing to even begin to answer this.

    The family (insofar as it is tucked nicely into the institution of church, of course) is what has the ordained power to nurture or destroy true faith, in mutual conjunction with the church. 8 hours in any sort of school pales in comparison to 1 with mom and dad, especially when that hour is in the pew. Education has its place, importance and dignity. But it isn’t the family. Something tells me that those who over-realize education might be the same ones who over-realize the function of statecraft to do more than it was ordained for as well.

    When families turn their covenant seed over to the State schools, they have in essence, substituted the child’s family for the new family found in the State schools. The state schools, through peer pressure, shape the child’s passion. The state schools, through the brainwashing regimen, shape the child’s thought. The child grows up wanting to be like his family, the school, as opposed to the family God intended him to have.

  65. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Bret: you’re right for once. It looks like Greg Bahnsen has G. I. Williamson’s head.

    And they both have the head of Jesus.

    To all opposed to state schools, sorry to burst the bubble, but wasn’t Calvin’s academy a state school? And if state schools are so bad, aren’t state churches? But what is theonomy but the endorsement of a state that administers God’s word, sort of like a church?

    All States are theonomist. The question isn’t whether or not a state will follow the law of a god or not. The question is only which law of which God will they follow.

    All states, whether in a defacto, or dejure sense, have a state school. All States, likewise, whether in a defacto, or dejure sense, have a state church. In these United States the State School and Church are government schools. These are inescapable categories.

    No theonomist desires the State to administer God’s word. All theonomists understand that there is a distinction between Church and State. The State administers justice. The State administers Grace. Both are under sovereign God and are responsible to his Law-Word.

  66. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Those limits seem to include, at least according to some, the execution of heretics.

    This the State is the sphere of justice, what should we expect but to find justice, as defined by God’s standard?

    Last I checked Libertarianism, which also conceives of a limited government, has no such clause and neither does the GOP.

    Whoever said that CR was pure libertarian?

    Reconstruction begins with the premise of self control. From there they get to libertarian like conclusions that the State will not have overweening power since it won’t need such power since people are self controlled. This isn’t that difficult.

    CR and Statism (at least per your conception of statism) have more in common with each other than Christian secularism. But maybe you shop at WalMart where chalk and cheese can be found in the same isle, along with tires and bags of shrimp?

    There is no such thing as Christian secularism. Such a phrase is a euphemism to allow political polytheism. So, we must say that anybody who talks about Christian secularism is really talking about Christian polytheism.

    CR and Statism have nothing in common unless you think that the rule in heaven is Statism. Only people who object to being ruled according to God’s standards would call such an arrangement “Statism,” just as only, the reprobate living in heaven would consider such an arrangement to be hell.

    Have you ever considered that when Jesus interpreted the Scriptures to be about him that he really meant it? Using the Bible to meet the perceived felt needs–be they for chintzier ends like personal fulfillment or more lasting and substantive ones like statecraft–are equal abuses of Holy Writ?

    Zrim,

    Have you ever considered that when Jesus gave us the imperatives of scriptures that serve as the third end of the law he really meant it? Using the Bible as a means to create public square antinomianism is a real abuse of scripture.

    You may be as amazed as you are about this side of the table, but the blind spot for fulfillment theonomists have is truly staggering.

    And the ripping and tearing of Scripture by those infected with the radical two kingdom virus is truly death dealing.

  67. Darryl Hart said,

    October 8, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Bret: Does theonomy also mean making up definitions as you go? If all states have state churches, what exactly happened to Massachusetts in 1833 when the state church there was disestablished? Did nothing really change? Sorry, but if you were teaching history, I’d want my kids as far from your class as possible.

    Also, the state doesn’t minister God’s word, you say. But the state does minister both grace and justice. Where do the state’s standards for grace and justice come from? Natural law? And does natural law reveal grace? If you were a high school theology teacher, I’d want my kids as far from your class as possible.

  68. Zrim said,

    October 8, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Benjamin,

    Does it count for anything that, despite their attempts to crown him patron saint of all things theonomic, CVT lamented and disavowed the likes of Bahnson and Rushdooney? Or that the large majority of Pres/Reformed churches have rendered it inconsistent with the confessional tradition? With smear merchants and antinomians like that who needs friends? Can you really be serious with the “you just don’t understand” thing? That sounds way too much like what emotes from another fashionable controversy these days not getting good Presby press.

    Bret said, “A large accounting of the conflicts in P & R circles is the fact that people like you are pushing a ‘Christian’ agenda that owes more to Aristotelian humanist categories then it does the Bible.”

    As much as I’d like to I’d like to employ the “people like you” tactic in response, I’d much pefer to think that what ails our circles–no less than any other circle–has more to do with sin than certain bad guys and their viruses. My pointis that nothing insulates us from going astray, up to an including parochial education, because sin goes wherever we do. I recall telling you once that we all are the problem, but it didn’t take then either.

  69. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    October 8, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Glad to see the “trump card” of the anti-theonomic crowd being played.

    Theonomy=FV.

    Even though all of the Theonomists who are now FV denounce and denigrate theonomy and the Theonomists all denounce FV. Cf: Joe Morecraft and the RPCUS…

    Thanks for playing Zrim.

  70. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Does theonomy also mean making up definitions as you go?

    No, but it often must teach the less learned about the idea of inevitable category. You know … the idea that nobody can get rid of the idea of God and all the things that God implies.

    If all states have state churches, what exactly happened to Massachusetts in 1833 when the state church there was disestablished?

    Why that’s easy Darryl. When the dejure State church was disestablished some other State church was established in a defacto sense. Let’s see … given that time period it was likely either the Unitarians or the Transcendentalists.

    Any other questions I can help you with Darryl?

    Did nothing really change? Sorry, but if you were teaching history, I’d want my kids as far from your class as possible.

    The feeling is mutual, I’m sure.

    But really … what changed is out with the old boss, in with the new boss. A State Church is a inevitable category Darryl. The Government School operates as the State Church today.

    Also, the state doesn’t minister God’s word, you say. But the state does minister both grace and justice. Where do the state’s standards for grace and justice come from? Natural law? And does natural law reveal grace? If you were a high school theology teacher, I’d want my kids as far from your class as possible.

    Come come Darryl, you have fallen to repeating yourself. Tsk Tsk. Tsk.

    The State doesn’t minister Grace. The state ministers justice. The standard for justice is God’s word and not some impossible to define, and ephemeral thing called “natural law.” Natural law according to who Darryl? Does Natural law teach me that I can over come my propensity to suppress the truth of Natural law?

    If you were a pre-school teacher I wouldn’t want you wiping my child’s nose.

    Good night … I can never over-estimate how dangerous you people are.

  71. Darryl Hart said,

    October 8, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Bret: in 66 your wrote: “No theonomist desires the State to administer God’s word. All theonomists understand that there is a distinction between Church and State. The State administers justice. The State administers Grace. Both are under sovereign God and are responsible to his Law-Word.”

    So the state, as you have it, ministers justice and grace and does so only on the basis of God’s word. That sounds like a lot of ministry of the word going on. Maybe you mistyped. Been known to happen.

    Also, if I understand you correctly, there is a defacto state church now, and defacto state administering justice according to God’s word. Or is it the case that something really is different between Geneva in 1560 and Lansing, Mich. in 2008. I know I am dangerously stupid, but your lessons sure are hard to follow. Maybe that’s because neither the state nor the church administer logic.

  72. October 8, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    There really is no point casting your Theonomic pearls before people like Zrim.

    At the end of the day political polytheism can be refuted on this simple basis: it involves the violation of the first commandment in the civil realm.

  73. bret said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Darryl opines,

    So the state, as you have it, ministers justice and grace and does so only on the basis of God’s word. That sounds like a lot of ministry of the word going on. Maybe you mistyped. Been known to happen.

    Nah … I learned how to type long ago. Almost took a job out of college where I would have been an executive secretary doing a good deal of typing.

    This is really simple Darryl. Follow closely.

    The ministry of justice according to God’s word is common grace to those to whom it is ministered. The ministry of word and sacrament is special grace to God’s people. See, that was easy. We managed to keep a distinction while at the same time seeing that God is directly sovereign over both.

    Please don’t try this at home. This is only safe with the experts.

    Also, if I understand you correctly, there is a defacto state church now, and defacto state administering justice according to God’s word. Or is it the case that something really is different between Geneva in 1560 and Lansing, Mich. in 2008. I know I am dangerously stupid, but your lessons sure are hard to follow. Maybe that’s because neither the state nor the church administer logic.

    Yes there is a defacto state Church now. It is the State Church of humanism as promulgated in the State Schools. The defacto justice that the state is administering is the justice of the God Demos according to Demos’ postivistic law.

    See, not hard to follow Darryl. Why, it’s so simple that even you can play along.

    I’ll pass on teaching logic to you. Some things are to difficult … even for the mighty.

  74. David Gadbois said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Bret,

    I unapproved your comment because of its reprehensible, condescending tone toward Darryl. You are welcome to reproduce the substance of your comment again as long as you omit those virulent elements.

  75. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Are you going to apply the same standard to Darryl’s comments to Bret in #71?

  76. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    David Gadbois,

    The double standard of this blog continues.

    Are you going to send me the Loooooooong response you eliminated so I don’t have to type the whole thing out again?

    my e-mail is jetbrane at gmail dot com.

  77. David Gadbois said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Bret – that is reasonable. I know how it is to lose a long post when something goes amiss in the blogosphere. Check your email. Just tone things down a few notches. I don’t know who you are, but I do know that Dr. Hart deserves respect.

    Ben – as you can see, I left all but one of Bret’s posts intact, even though almost all of his posts were rather heated. The temperature kept going up progressively, until the last one went well over the line. Not proportional to Darryl’s responses at all.

    In fact, regarding #71, I had honestly thought that Bret had mist-typed a few comments ago as well given the context. I don’t think Darryl meant it as a jab. The harshest label he used in that post was in facetious reference to himself.

  78. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Darryl,

    I seriously doubt you’ll be interested in continuing this but if you do so I’ll be glad to host you at IronInk. I’m not going to subject myself to a place where you get to zing me with frequency while I’m restricted from returning the same playful bon homie that you partake in with such relish.

  79. kjsulli said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 71,

    So the state, as you have it, ministers justice and grace and does so only on the basis of God’s word. That sounds like a lot of ministry of the word going on. Maybe you mistyped. Been known to happen.

    It would seem to be an obvious typo. The immediately preceding sentence asserted a distinction between church and state.

    Also, if I understand you correctly, there is a defacto state church now, and defacto state administering justice according to God’s word. Or is it the case that something really is different between Geneva in 1560 and Lansing, Mich. in 2008. I know I am dangerously stupid, but your lessons sure are hard to follow. Maybe that’s because neither the state nor the church administer logic.

    I don’t see what’s so difficult to follow in the logic. Essentially it boils down to this: there is no such thing as a religiously neutral government. All states have a state church or religion in a de facto sense if not officially de jure. In the U.S., the catechetical arm of American civic religion is without a doubt the public school system. It is in the public school system that American children are inculcated in the beliefs of humanism, multiculturalism, moral relativism, Darwinism, and a host of others.

  80. David Gadbois said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Bret,

    No one is saying that this should be a zing-free zone, on either side of the issue. But it was getting to be very difficult to interpret your increasingly heated and disproportional responses as “playful.”

    I do realize that tone in the printed word can be difficult to gauge. If Lane or the other moderators feel I have been overzealous here, your comment is still sitting in the “awaiting moderation” queue if they want to re-approve it.

  81. Todd said,

    October 8, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Since this thread is on Calvin, let’s try this famous quote of his:

    “There are two governments to which mankind is subject… The first of these, which rules over the soul or the inner man, and concerns itself with eternal life…the second, whose province is the establishment of merely civil or external justice, a justice in conduct…Anyone who knows how to distinguish between body and soul, between this present transitory life and the eternal life to come, will not find it difficult to understand that the spiritual kingdom of Christ and civil government are things far removed from one another. It is a Judaic folly to look for the kingdom of Christ among the things that make up this world”

    Todd

  82. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Well, if we are going to quote Calvin let’s try these.

    The French Confession – John Calvin

    XXXIX. We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates,[1] so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors,[2] but honor and hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.

    1. Exod. 18:20-21; Matt. 17:24-27; Rom. ch. 13
    2. I Peter 2:13-14; I Tim. 2:2

    Psalm 2

    “…without a doubt he is speaking of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. He admonishes all kings and authorities to be wise and to take heed to themselves. What is this wisdom? What is the lesson He gives them? To abdicate it all? Hardly! But to fear God and give homage to His Son…Furthermore, Isaiah prophesies that the kings will become the foster fathers of the Christian church and that queens will nurse it with their breasts (Isa. 49:23).I beg of you, how do you reconcile the fact that kings will be protectors of the Christian Church if their vocation is inconsistent with Christianity?”

    Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Libertines, p. 79

    The Church And Reformed Magistrates

    ” Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church. It is not in vain that he commands paternal love and all the benevolent feelings between brothers, relations, and friends to cease; in a word, that he almost deprives men of their nature in order that nothing may hinder their holy zeal. Why is so implacable a severity exacted but that we may know that God is defrauded of his honour, unless the piety that is due to him be preferred to all human duties, and that when his glory is to be asserted, humanity must be almost obliterated from our memories.”

    John Calvin
    Tract Defending Action Against Severtus

    Quoted in P.Schaff; History of the Christian Church vol 8 :791f.(Eerdmans 1981). The context is the defence of the execution of Servetus

    John Calvin 1509-1564

    “But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God’s honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves…Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.”

    Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542

    Note in this quote that Calvin would have found it quite strange to contend that there could be a theocratic arrangement that was not at the same time theonomic in some sense. I mention this because I have read some “smart” people try to make the case that while Theocracy was a part of Reformed tradition Theonomy never has been. This quote makes shreds of that proposition. Still, it must be admitted that the kind of theonomy that was advocated by the Theocratic Reformers would have been an altered form from what was developed in the 20th century. BUT not so altered that there are not touchstones of commonality.

    Secondly, note that this was a sermon which means it was preached in a Church. Calvin, speaking as the voice of God in the pulpit, was clearly violating Escondido notions of radical two kingdom theology. In this sermon he is instructing the State how it should operate.

    Could Calvin be ordained by R2Kt virus men?

  83. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Do Christian Kings Rule Apart From The Christian Faith?

    Psalm 2

    “…without a doubt he is speaking of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. He admonishes all kings and authorities to be wise and to take heed to themselves. What is this wisdom? What is the lesson He gives them? To abdicate it all? Hardly! But to fear God and give homage to His Son…Furthermore, Isaiah prophesies that the kings will become the foster fathers of the Christian church and that queens will nurse it with their breasts (Isa. 49:23).I beg of you, how do you reconcile the fact that kings will be protectors of the Christian Church if their vocation is inconsistent with Christianity?”

    Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Libertines, p. 79

    PermalinkPermalink Edit Edit… Deprecate Deprecate! Del Delete! 4 comments
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    The Church And Reformed Magistrates

    ” Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church. It is not in vain that he commands paternal love and all the benevolent feelings between brothers, relations, and friends to cease; in a word, that he almost deprives men of their nature in order that nothing may hinder their holy zeal. Why is so implacable a severity exacted but that we may know that God is defrauded of his honour, unless the piety that is due to him be preferred to all human duties, and that when his glory is to be asserted, humanity must be almost obliterated from our memories.”

    John Calvin
    Tract Defending Action Against Severtus

    Quoted in P.Schaff; History of the Christian Church vol 8 :791f.(Eerdmans 1981). The context is the defence of the execution of Servetus

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    Calvin On The Reformed Magistrate

    John Calvin 1509-1564

    “But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God’s honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves…Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.”

    Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542

    Note in this quote that Calvin would have found it quite strange to contend that there could be a theocratic arrangement that was not at the same time theonomic in some sense. I mention this because I have read some “smart” people try to make the case that while Theocracy was a part of Reformed tradition Theonomy never has been. This quote makes shreds of that proposition. Still, it must be admitted that the kind of theonomy that was advocated by the Theocratic Reformers would have been an altered form from what was developed in the 20th century. BUT not so altered that there are not touchstones of commonality.

    Secondly, note that this was a sermon which means it was preached in a Church. Calvin, speaking as the voice of God in the pulpit, was clearly violating Escondido notions of radical two kingdom theology. In this sermon he is instructing the State how it should operate.

    Could Calvin be ordained by R2Kt virus men?

  84. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Well if we are quoting Calvin let’s try another one,

    The French Confession – John Calvin
    XXXIX. We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates,[1] so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors,[2] but honor and hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.

    1. Exod. 18:20-21; Matt. 17:24-27; Rom. ch. 13
    2. I Peter 2:13-14; I Tim. 2:2

  85. Bret McAtee said,

    October 8, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    The French Confession – John Calvin
    XXXIX. We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates,[1] so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors,[2] but honor and hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.

    1. Exod. 18:20-21; Matt. 17:24-27; Rom. ch. 13
    2. I Peter 2:13-14; I Tim. 2:2

  86. October 8, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    With respect to Dr. Hart’s claim that he is a paelo-Calvinist, it should be recognized that on his reasoning Calvin was not a paelo-Calvinist.

    Cloister Calvinism is no Calvinism.

  87. Vern Crisler said,

    October 9, 2008 at 1:57 am

    For a long, perhaps boring discussion of the relation of church & state in America, its relation to theonomy, etc., some of you might be (emphasis on might be) interested in my critique of Gary North’s anti-constitutional views on my new Blog (under Politics & History category). I also discuss Calvin’s anti-theonomic views in the second paper of the series. Vern

  88. October 9, 2008 at 7:07 am

    It is a shame Gary North gets bogged down in a Masonic Consoiracy in Political Polytheism. I am not sure what I think of the US Constitution; on the one hand, I am sympathetic to the whole Christian America argument; but, on the other, I think there are serious problems with the US Constitution.

    For a discussion of Calvin’s Theonomic views, listen to this lecture by Brian Schwertley:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=92307162526

    And then read Chris Strevel’s article “The Theonomic Precedent in the Theology of John Calvin” in The Standard Bearer: A Festchrift for Greg L. Bahnsen.

    These works expose how Theonomic critics regularly mis-quote Calvin’s Institutes, in which the view he is critiquing is nothing like a Theonomic one, but a revolutionary opinion.

  89. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 9, 2008 at 8:06 am

    #53

    I guess you have never attended a public or secular college then?

  90. ReformedSinner said,

    October 9, 2008 at 9:21 am

    #84,

    When reading the past, one has to be careful to differentiate the categories of the past cultures with our modern cultures. I would not be surprise if Calvin has views “similar” to theonomistic views today, after all, they live in a time when it’s hard to separate state and church completely. However, that does not mean Calvin teaches Theonomy, and I believe many equally qualified Reformed theologians have debunk such arguments. And yes I’m familiar with North and Banhsen.

  91. D G Hart said,

    October 9, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Bret, believe it or not, I understand that Geneva was different from Philadelphia. Calvin ministered in the shadow of Constantine. All of the creeds from Reformed churches in the 16th century advocate a state church. I think they were mistaken, and I can find teachings in Calvin about the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom (not to mention Ursinus) which imply that the church should minister the keys of the kingdom (not the state), and that this ministry is spiritual and moral, not physical or political. But I do honestly get that Geneva had a state church. (I wish the critics of state schools would also see that Geneva had a state school.)

    So if you want to stand full-stop behind the 16th c. political/ecclesiastical arrangments, and don’t want to disavow the idea of killing professing believers in Christ’s name, how can you conceivably live with the current political arrangements and subscribe those creeds? Don’t you have to cross your fingers on the civil magistrate? Even the Covenanters in the U.S. had to learn how to participate in the political process without an affirmation of Christ as Lord in the constitution.

    So isn’t there something binding on you to take up arms and overthow the current government? I guess I’ll have to deal with what may come if you succeed in grabbing power. But for now it does seem a lot easier to beat up on me when you’re real problem is with a state that has established a church that is anti-God. HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF!!???!!!

    kjsulli: I also understand that the government is not fair and balanced, and that neutrality with respect to the God of the universe is impossible for every person. I also understand the problems of public schools and am quite comfortable with parents deciding to home school or send to private schools. What I am troubled by is a good point being used to make up reality. We do not have an established “church” as in something where our citizenship is bound up with worshiping a false god. Thankfully, we are still able to practice our religion freely in this country. And thankfully, the government does not tell my communion how to conduct its worship. So again its fine if you want to analyze philosophicall the problems that attend liberal democracy in the United States. Take a number because the line is getting longer. But that analysis does not give a right to make irresponsible statements either about churches that are really schools, worship that is simply a property tax bill, or government bias that actually protects the way most of us worship both publicly and privately.

    I am an anti-federalist and I think the U.S. went off the rails in 1789. So I have my alarms. But can’t we get a grip on the differences between Geneva in 1560 and Philadelphia in 2008, and can’t we see that somethings are better and some are worse. If we can’t, then how can we tell the difference between real persecution and not having a seat at the table? Maybe I’m a coward (there’s an opening for you, Bret), but I like life.

  92. Zrim said,

    October 9, 2008 at 11:02 am

    One of the interesting aspects to the prevailing notions of parochial education, as seen in this discussion, is the idea that children and adults are somehow in different categories with regard to their respective spiritual states. Grounded in the understanding that they are in impressionable develppmental stages it is not further more carefully considered that a distinction must be made between creational and spiritual development. Rather, the differences are collapsed and it is assumed that there is a direct correspondance between creational and spiritual status. The upshot is that children must be hedged in while adults are free to roam in and out of sacred and secular venues with nary a worry.

    But according to this logic, the older convert, say in high school, college or beyond, should drop out of his/her sedcular educational environs until he/she is declared “satisfactorily grounded in the faith” (whatever that might entail). But nobody ever actually seems to demand this of older converts; they only demand it of physically younger believers. Not only that, but this seems to suggest that by virtue of an older age alone sinners are somehow less vulnerable to the effects and influences of sin. Evidently, the ages of 18 and/or 21 must be the point at which this vulnerability is significantly lessened. Does that really make sense, especially when plenty of fully grown and schooled-up believers clearly can get so much wrong while younger ones can be observed quietly remaining faithful? But I just can’t bring myself to admit that my physical age hedges me in…isn’t that Jesus’ job? I know it drawls howls around here to suggest that catechesis with dad every night buries the influences of either sacred or secular educators every day, but something tells me that at root in much of this child/adult divide is more a modern idea that youth are to be handled with kid gloves because they are so very different. This over against a Christian notion that sin is an equal opportunity affliction and cares very little for creational walls built to keep it out and righteousness in.

  93. synthesizer said,

    October 9, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    #92

    Zrim,
    You bring up some interesting points. I was converted at 22 years old and had no spiritual training as a child. Yet, I had to work in a secular environment after my conversion and immediately learn that I had to defend my faith. I have nine children and have homeshooled all but one. I still have four school-age children. I am not an advocate for public schools, but I do marvel how those who are against them, allow their children to attend state universities. The academic climate at the university level is decidedly anti -christian on so many levels. Thanks for some food for thought.

  94. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 9, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    2 of my kids go to a private Christian school and the rest are homeschooled (accept for the one in diapers). So I view public school as a last resort, but would not impose my opinion on other Christians by saying it is “sin” to send their kids to public school. That is going beyond Scripture and abusing the consciences of the people of God. Only the hyper-covanental folks who believe their kids “are” Christians by virtue of having Christian parents are forced into such an untenable and absurd theological position. They’re afraid of not meeting the conditions of the covenant for their “covenant” children…

  95. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 9, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I should also say, the same folks I refer to above are quite often inconsistent in the application of their position (i.e. they condemn public school, but have college degrees at State universities, etc.) Like theonomists, they’re great at the theoretical, not so good at the practical (reality). They would have trouble living out their convictions in this world, if they would but just apply them…

    But it’s great fodder for comboxes!

  96. Bret McAtee said,

    October 9, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Darryl writes,

    Bret,

    Believe it or not, I understand that Geneva was different from Philadelphia. Calvin ministered in the shadow of Constantine. All of the creeds from Reformed churches in the 16th century advocate a state church. I think they were mistaken, and I can find teachings in Calvin about the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom (not to mention Ursinus) which imply that the church should minister the keys of the kingdom (not the state), and that this ministry is spiritual and moral, not physical or political. But I do honestly get that Geneva had a state church. (I wish the critics of state schools would also see that Geneva had a state school.)

    Darry,

    There is no shadow of Constantine, if by that you mean, that Constantine can be avoided. All governmental arrangements are Theocracies — whether in a defacto or dejure sense. You seem to keep running right by that.

    Second, no theonomist advocates that ministers run the civil realm. You seem to keep implying this and it really is horse hockey. Also, no theonomist denies the spiritual nature of Christ’s Kingdom, if by that you mean that Kingdom is ruled by Word and Sacrament. Still, all because the Kingdom is ruled by Word and Sacrament that doesn’t mean that that spiritual and moral authority doesn’t incarnate itself in a physical and political fashion.

    I agree that Geneva had a State School. I don’t think that was, or is, the optimum arrangement since I believe education should belong to the family sphere.

    Darryl,

    So if you want to stand full-stop behind the 16th c. political/ecclesiastical arrangements, and don’t want to disavow the idea of killing professing believers in Christ’s name, how can you conceivably live with the current political arrangements and subscribe to those creeds?

    By professing that the current governmental arrangement, due to its various wicked policies (Roe vs. Wade, Lawrence vs. Texas, Theft on an obscene scale, etc.) no longer has legitimacy. We live under an illegal regimen. We obey because we know that the State can beat us up. We wait for God’s good pleasure to raise up lesser magistrates to petition on our behalf, and failing that, to lead us against wickedness. Until that happens we bear God’s just judgments against us.

    Darryl,

    Don’t you have to cross your fingers on the civil magistrate? Even the Covenanters in the U.S. had to learn how to participate in the political process without an affirmation of Christ as Lord in the constitution.

    In dealing with the current civil magistrate we must be wise as serpents but harmless as doves.

    Darry,

    So isn’t there something binding on you to take up arms and overthow the current government?

    Yes, what is binding on me is that we are currently living under God’s just judgment against us, as exhibited in His punishing us with wicked magistrates. What releases me from that binding is God raising up lesser magistrates to oppose the wicked magistrates. Much like Americans had their magistrates lead them in the American war for Independence and much like Southerners had their magistrates lead them against the wicked Federal magistrates.

    Darryl,

    I guess I’ll have to deal with what may come if you succeed in grabbing power. But for now it does seem a lot easier to beat up on me when you’re real problem is with a state that has established a church that is anti-God. HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF!!???!!!

    By reminding myself of God’s severe mercy, great providence, that His judgments are altogether just, and that He will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world.

    Oh, and by keeping my powder dry for the time that God raises up a righteous magistrate.

    Darryl,

    I also understand that the government is not fair and balanced, and that neutrality with respect to the God of the universe is impossible for every person. I also understand the problems of public schools and am quite comfortable with parents deciding to home school or send to private schools. What I am troubled by is a good point being used to make up reality. We do not have an established “church” as in something where our citizenship is bound up with worshiping a false god.

    That is only because you’re looking in the wrong places. You expect the false God to come up and greet you by saying, “Hi, I am the false God and this is how my worshipers here are worshiping me.” People with eyes wide open clearly see that the God here is Demos (autonomy — The people have become as god) and the established Church is the government schools and while a few citizens fall through the cracks, Demos realizes that if he gets the majority the rest will be insignificant as it comes to control.

    Darryl,

    Thankfully, we are still able to practice our religion freely in this country. And thankfully, the government does not tell my communion how to conduct its worship. So again its fine if you want to analyze philosophical the problems that attend liberal democracy in the United States. Take a number because the line is getting longer. But that analysis does not give a right to make irresponsible statements either about churches that are really schools, worship that is simply a property tax bill, or government bias that actually protects the way most of us worship both publicly and privately.

    You can practice your religion freely? Well, I suppose you can, if your religion is one where it is wrong to condemn wickedness in the high places of the civil realm. Those of us who believe that freedom of religion means that should be allowed to speak prophetically against wickedness have been threatened by the State with various laws prohibiting such religion. It is completely reasonable to note that Schools are Churches. Public teachers are catechizers. Curriculum is catechism. Political correctness taught is the new prayer book. The long day in school is equivalent to the ancient Churches matins, vespers, and lauds. The School has its high holy Days (Martin Luther King B. Day, winter break, spring break, etc.) which is equated with the feast days of old. It’s all there Darryl, you just have to know where to look.

    Darryl,

    I am an anti-federalist and I think the U.S. went off the rails in 1789. So I have my alarms. But can’t we get a grip on the differences between Geneva in 1560 and Philadelphia in 2008, and can’t we see that somethings are better and some are worse. If we can’t, then how can we tell the difference between real persecution and not having a seat at the table? Maybe I’m a coward (there’s an opening for you, Bret), but I like life.

    I like life also Darryl. And obviously you’re very brave in defense of cowardice. I commend you for that. I guess I more inclined to agree with Knox’s estimation of Geneva that, it was “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the Apostles,” then I agree with your apparently high estimation of Philadelphia 2008.

    I don’t want a seat at the table Darryl. Since Christ is Lord of the table, I want the table. I agree that we are not suffering real persecution now. But real persecution doesn’t come apart from a process building to that end. I’d like to strangle the baby of persecution in the cradle.

    I wish you could get a grip on the whole idea of inevitable categories.

  97. Bret McAtee said,

    October 9, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    #89

    No, I haven’t and neither have you, and neither has anybody else. There is no such thing by secular, if by secular you mean something that isn’t dependent upon and reflective of some faith system or religion.

  98. Bret McAtee said,

    October 9, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    What’s the difference between parents sending their children to government secondary schools and to pagan colleges?

    Oh, about 15 years of training.

    The idea is that by the time children are 18 they ought to have been trained to the point that they understand a Reformed World and life view to the point that they are able to see and identify alien worldviews offered in a post high school setting.

    Still, IMO, if post high school education institutions existed that were genuinely Christian in the sense that they were epistemologically self consciously Christian I would advise parents to send their children to those schools as opposed to sending them to the pagan schools.

  99. Bret McAtee said,

    October 9, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Zrim,

    One of the interesting aspects to the prevailing notions of parochial education, as seen in this discussion, is the idea that children and adults are somehow in different categories with regard to their respective spiritual states. Grounded in the understanding that they are in impressionable developmental stages it is not further more carefully considered that a distinction must be made between creational and spiritual development. Rather, the differences are collapsed and it is assumed that there is a direct correspondence between creational and spiritual status. The upshot is that children must be hedged in while adults are free to roam in and out of sacred and secular venues with nary a worry.

    First, there is no such thing by secular, if by secular you mean something that isn’t dependent upon and reflective of some faith system or religion. Adults are free to roam in and out of venues that are informed and controlled by various faiths.

    Second, I would suggest that the way you make the distinction between creational and spiritual development is gnostic. You are suggesting that children can be put in a climate where they are taught to think in an adversarial way to Biblical Christianity and yet they will not be affected in their spiritual development. This makes me think that the only way I will understand your backward perspective is if I spend some time standing on my head.

    The idea that what you are calling creational development is isolated and separated from spiritual development is just one more example of the constant dualism’s that we find in the R2kt virus system. Because there is a dualism between creational and spiritual development it is possible to saturate your children in a creational pagan school setting without there be any effect on your children’s spiritual developoment. Dualism. Gnosticism.

    But according to this logic, the older convert, say in high school, college or beyond, should drop out of his/her secular educational environs until he/she is declared “satisfactorily grounded in the faith” (whatever that might entail).

    Actually, if they are not grounded in the faith that might not be a bad idea unless they have the capacity to learn what is not true and what is true at the same time. I have personally known some people who became converted in post-graduate studies and were able to do that.

    But nobody ever actually seems to demand this of older converts; they only demand it of physically younger believers. Not only that, but this seems to suggest that by virtue of an older age alone sinners are somehow less vulnerable to the effects and influences of sin.

    You cite that nobody demands this of older converts and yet you frequently observe what a mess the current Church is. Could there be a correspondence between those two statements?

    So, I think this observation of yours, bounces off of somebody who thinks it would be a good idea for older converts to somehow get grounded in their faith as quickly as possible. Another thing that needs to be said here is that given the way that God designs life, our foundation of truth is to be laid when we are young. If we don’t get it when we are young, the nature of life makes it difficult to get it later.

    Evidently, the ages of 18 and/or 21 must be the point at which this vulnerability is significantly lessened. Does that really make sense, especially when plenty of fully grown and schooled-up believers clearly can get so much wrong while younger ones can be observed quietly remaining faithful? But I just can’t bring myself to admit that my physical age hedges me in…isn’t that Jesus’ job? I know it drawls howls around here to suggest that catechesis with dad every night buries the influences of either sacred or secular educators every day, but something tells me that at root in much of this child/adult divide is more a modern idea that youth are to be handled with kid gloves because they are so very different. This over against a Christian notion that sin is an equal opportunity affliction and cares very little for creational walls built to keep it out and righteousness in.

    Your quip about Jesus’ job indicates that you seem to think that Jesus works apart from means. Sure it is Jesus’ job and the way he often does his job his by parents being faithful to the vows they made when they brought their children to Baptism.

    Second, I would say that most home schoolers don’t suddenly set their children free at 18 or 21 the way you are suggesting. Home school parents practice what might be called incremental exposure. Home school parents put their children in situations that are appropriate to their age all along the way. They then debrief and train. In such a way when the children get to 18 or 21 the children have been trained. Even then though, when they attend the pagan universities there will be phone calls home asking parents about what they learned in this or that class. Indeed, with my oldest daughter I had to attend a class to politely inform the professor he was getting the puritans wrong in some pretty significant ways. He received my correction. Said he would look into my points and later came back to my daughter and told her, “your father was right.” So, Zrim, the training doesn’t stop at 18 or 21 and it doesn’t even stop while they are in school.

    You really are constructing straw men.

  100. David Gadbois said,

    October 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Regarding the education wars, a few points:

    1. There is a lot of equivocation on the term “education” on the non-2K/Kuyperian side. As if education was an undifferentiated concept. That catechetical instruction is “education” in the same way as arithmetic is. For example, Elder Hoss said:

    I have yet to meet a Christian who can demonstrate how it is that pagans, Wiccans, sodomites, agnostics, and the usual cast of characters are fit subjects for educating covenant children whom we have vowed, in our respect churches, to help disciple.

    This seems to assume that education and discipleship are co-extensive or that education is wholly subsumed under discipleship.

    If indeed anyone was allowing pagans to provide the *whole* of our children’s education, including catechesis, then it would have force. But no one suggests this, even though ths kind of sloppy rhetoric tries to score points by glossing over the distinctions.

    2. While there is such a thing as a Christian worldview, that does not automatically mean that there are Christian versions of all fields of knowledge. As an aerospace engineer, I have yet to find a way of doing Christian aerospace engineering. How does one engage in a “covenenatal, Trinitarian” aircraft design? The very idea is not only silly, but trivializes both the biblical covenants and the Trinity. The engineering enterprise is a product of the cultural/creation mandate in Genesis, and is in the common grace realm fed by general revelation.

    So it is natural for me to be quite skeptical when someone tells me that I MUST have a Christian teach my children reading, writing, and arithmetic.

    3. As a practical consideration, I’d never send my children (should God grant my wife and I children one day) to public school. Simply because they, by and large, don’t do an even half-way descent job of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. I object to it only on the grounds that it is a socialist mediocrity, not on moral grounds or on principle

    I attended a Romanist high school (as an evangelical kid), which I don’t consider a great improvement over attending a Muslim school (per Elder Hoss’ remarks in #50). I knew full well back then that there was nary a regenerate person to be found there, but I did know that they did an excellent job of teaching me reading, writing, and arithmetic. Of course, I also took classes that taught and promoted Romanist dogma, which I considered to be rather entertaining and frequently comedic. I wasn’t forced to bow down to Mary statues, so my parents did me no wrong by sending me to that high school.

    4. I’ll echo previous comments and say that there is no principled basis on which non-2K folks can justify public higher education while objecting to public lower education. Children can be catechized by age 10 or 11, so if you are going to set the divider at a non-arbitrary location, it should be there.

    If someone is going to take the “out” of insisting upon Christian higher education as well, they’ll run into a good bit of practical difficulty. It seems that Kuyperians only want to open liberal arts colleges. Tough beans for a kid who wants to be an aerospace engineer, for, instance, since there is no Christian aerospace college (see point #2 above).

    5. Non-2K folks like to deploy VanTil’s (correct) insight that one’s worldview, epistemology, and assumptions will effect all fields of inquiry. What is ignored is the rest of VanTil’s insight, that unbelievers live by acting inconsistently with their purported worldviews, and steal capital from the Christian worldview as revealed in general revelation. It should therefore be no surprise that they sometimes can do math, science, farming, or accounting better than Christians can – including in the teaching of those subjects.

  101. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 9, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I teach at a Christian school, and I have contact with others at both Christian and public schools. When parents ask me, “What do you recommend — public, private, or homeschool?”, I respond, “It depends on the kid.”

    Bret, let’s grant everything that you’ve been saying about the public schools. For the sake of argument, we can accept the metaphor that public schools are temples of humanism with festivals and priests.

    Does it follow that attending a public school *is*, by definition, participating in humanistic religion? To borrow from 1 Cor, are the children in public schools drinking the cups of idols, OR, are they eating the meat sacrificed to idols? The former, as you recall, is incompatible with being a Christian. The latter is permissible as long as the conscience is undefiled.

    I would argue that the latter is a more apt analogy. Teachers in public schools may advocate humanistic ideas, but that doesn’t require students to accept them. It’s entirely possible for a well-trained child pick up skills like mathematics and writing from entirely secular teachers — to “plunder the Egyptians” — and engage in the spiritual battle in the situation he finds himself.

    I think you recognize this fact, Bret, which is why you allow for “adults” ages 18-22 to attend secular colleges, despite the fact that the atmosphere on college campuses is far more perniciously anti-Christian than in public secondary schools. In your view, an 18-year-old can attend a college without participating in its worship.

    Well, if an 18-year-old can do that, what about a 16-year-old? Or 14-year-old? *It depends on the kid.*

    In other words, what we’re talking about here is matter of wisdom rather than an iron-clad rule, “Thou shalt not participate in public secondary education.”

    Yes, secular schools are intent on inculcating their value system. We would be fools not to recognize this. For many, the better part of wisdom might be to stay away.

    But many may not be able to. You spoke earlier of those who drive $20k cars, but there are millions of Christians in America who can’t afford those kinds of cars to begin with.

    And still others may have students who are spiritually trained and able to be in the school without being of the school.

    We need wisdom to determine which ideas from secular education are truly compatible “all the way down” with Biblical theology, and the wisdom to know whether our children are vulnerable to being corrupted by the false ideas. We can’t just throw down a blanket rule, any more than we can create a blanket rule like “Thou shalt not watch R-rated movies.”

    The same wisdom is likewise needed to determine whether a given *Christian* school is a good fit for our children. Christian schools aren’t given a magic talisman that keeps them from error. On the contrary, Christian schools are often the promoters of errors at least as pernicious as those in public schools — legalism being the most common.

    In fact, I often steer students *away* from Christian colleges with Bible departments that are known to have a low view of Scripture. For many Christian young adults, it’s better to attend a secular university where the enemy is obvious, than to attend a “Christian” university where the enemy is trusted because of his Christian label.

    The same wisdom is required of parents who wish to home-school. In some cases, the kid needs to be home. But in some cases, being at home with mom and dad will simply exacerbate sin tendencies already present in the family.

    Or perhaps Mom and Dad weren’t the sharpest students in the class; is it loving to the child for them to pass on their substandard knowledge to their children when better teachers are available?

    Training? Yeah, absolutely. All parents need to be training their children on a regular basis. Mandated private- or home-schooling? That’s turning what may be wise for some (or even many) into a rule for all. I don’t think that works.

    I suspect, Bret, that you might agree with me. After all, if you really believed that sending kids to public schools was idolatry, wouldn’t you be pressing charges against those parents, just as if they had taken them to a Buddhist temple for services?

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

  102. D G Hart said,

    October 9, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Bret, at the risk of unleashing another torrent of words, I don’t see any in-between in your thinking (except when it comes to your remaining in a denomination — the CRC — where less in-between thinking would be useful). Everything (minus the CRC) is either-or. You seem to be saying that the United States is as hostile to true religion as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. How can you expect any Christian who would rather live in the United States than Iraq to take yourself seriously?

    Also, you keep insisting that you separate church and state, but since the state administers justice and grace, and does so on the basis of administering God’s word, there does seem to be at least a measure of redundancy between church and state.

  103. Bret McAtee said,

    October 9, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Bret, at the risk of unleashing another torrent of words, I don’t see any in-between in your thinking (except when it comes to your remaining in a denomination — the CRC — where less in-between thinking would be useful). Everything (minus the CRC) is either-or.

    You mean kind of like the idea of he who does not gather with me scatters?
    You mean kind of like he who is not with me is against me?

    You surely are right Darryl. I do not believe that there is such a thing as neutrality.

    Don’t worry about the torrent of words. On this subject I have a vast reservoir.

    And bless your Ph.D. theological heart, you keep right on with your homey jabs implying I am a hypocrite by being in the CRC. How many times have you done that now?

    You seem to be saying that the United States is as hostile to true religion as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. How can you expect any Christian who would rather live in the United States than Iraq to take yourself seriously?

    Oh fiddlesticks Darryl! While there is no doubt no such thing as neutrality, hostility certainly can come in varying degrees. Now, I surely agree that no one should take me seriously if I really were saying, the words you are trying to put in my mouth, that these United States are as bad as Iraq, but as I never said that, people are free to take me seriously.

    Now, how people can take you seriously after advocating a neutral realm where theology does not reign leaves me quite flummoxed.

    Also, you keep insisting that you separate church and state, but since the state administers justice and grace, and does so on the basis of administering God’s word, there does seem to be at least a measure of redundancy between church and state.

    I don’t know where you get some things you keep repeating. I keep correcting and you keep repeating what I’ve corrected you on.

    Ah well, that’s part of the fun of it all isn’t it?

    I tell you what. You quit with your downpour of misrepresentations and I’ll quit with my torrent of words.

  104. Bret McAtee said,

    October 9, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    I teach at a Christian school, and I have contact with others at both Christian and public schools. When parents ask me, “What do you recommend — public, private, or homeschool?”, I respond, “It depends on the kid.”

    I am sincerely sorry that you give such bad counsel. May I advise you in the future to say …. “Why, naturally you should be homeschooling your children.” What a wonderful opportunity you will have to really keep your Baptismal vows when your children were baptized.”

    Bret, let’s grant everything that you’ve been saying about the public schools.

    If everything I’ve said about government schools is granted, no argument remains.

    For the sake of argument, we can accept the metaphor that public schools are temples of humanism with festivals and priests.

    Ok, that means those who advocate children attending government schools have accepted the idea that God desired the children of Israel to send their children to the schools of Canaan. It means that they accept the idea that God approves of the children Israel taking classes in Canaan on “The social theory behind sacrificing children to Molech,” and “How luck guided Israel to this land,” and “Economics that don’t take account of God.” Among other classes.

    Does it follow that attending a public school *is*, by definition, participating in humanistic religion?

    Yes. Schools teach what to think. Scripture teaches as a man thinketh in his heart so he is. Sending children to a school that teaches humanistic religion produces humanistic children. Now, surely we all agree that God is gracious and that God can providentially pluck children from such saturation but we should not put the Lord thy God to the test.

    To borrow from 1 Cor, are the children in public schools drinking the cups of idols, OR, are they eating the meat sacrificed to idols? The former, as you recall, is incompatible with being a Christian. The latter is permissible as long as the conscience is undefiled.

    Interesting framing of the issue Jeff. I would instead say that putting the covenant seed in government school is to cause a little one to stumble. Now, again, I want to make it clear that I fully recognize that not all covenant children who attend government schools end up apostate just as all children who are aborted don’t end up being born dead.

    I would argue that the latter is a more apt analogy. Teachers in public schools may advocate humanistic ideas, but that doesn’t require students to accept them.

    Sure, you can soak a million rags in oil 40 hours a week for 13 years and it is possible that some of those rags won’t become oily rags.

    It’s entirely possible for a well-trained child pick up skills like mathematics and writing from entirely secular teachers — to “plunder the Egyptians” — and engage in the spiritual battle in the situation he finds himself.

    And it is possible that a children’s crusade to the Middle East would result in a few children actually attacking the citadel of Islam.

    Still, I quite agree, that in what are styled the “hard sciences” a student could learn in government schools. Of course this does not take into consideration the destructive peer dynamics that occur in government schools. Considerations quite apart from the humanism in the classrooms.

    I think you recognize this fact, Bret, which is why you allow for “adults” ages 18-22 to attend secular colleges, despite the fact that the atmosphere on college campuses is far more perniciously anti-Christian than in public secondary schools. In your view, an 18-year-old can attend a college without participating in its worship.

    No, Jeff, this is a mis-characterization of what I said.

    First, there is no such thing as secular.

    Second, I do not accept the premise that Colleges are any more humanistic then secondary schools.

    Third, I made it clear that the reason I find it acceptable for a 18 – 22 year old to attend college is that I believe by that age they should be trained to be a burr in the saddle of humanistic college professors. They may be in the temple of Molech, but while there they are giving Molech an enema.

    Well, if an 18-year-old can do that, what about a 16-year-old? Or 14-year-old? *It depends on the kid.*

    See first response to Darryl today. I already answered that.

    In other words, what we’re talking about here is matter of wisdom rather than an iron-clad rule, “Thou shalt not participate in public secondary education.”

    I think it is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

    That’s one of the ironclad ones isn’t it?

    Yes, secular schools are intent on inculcating their value system. We would be fools not to recognize this. For many, the better part of wisdom might be to stay away.

    Well, I suppose if your children are child savants and are courageous as lions and are not intimidated by adult blowhards foisting humanism, that in such a case we certainly might have an exception. Do you know any children like that?

    But many may not be able to. You spoke earlier of those who drive $20k cars, but there are millions of Christians in America who can’t afford those kinds of cars to begin with.

    Must have me mixed up w/ someone else. I never said that.

    And still others may have students who are spiritually trained and able to be in the school without being of the school.

    Just as there may be children who could join the Marines and make the cut.

    We need wisdom to determine which ideas from secular education are truly compatible “all the way down” with Biblical theology, and the wisdom to know whether our children are vulnerable to being corrupted by the false ideas. We can’t just throw down a blanket rule, any more than we can create a blanket rule like “Thou shalt not watch R-rated movies.”

    You watch R rated movies?

    Just kidding.

    Look, Jeff, children are children. They are to be protected. I fully grant that rare exceptions might occur. But the idea that we can make policy on those rare exceptions is unwise.

    The same wisdom is likewise needed to determine whether a given *Christian* school is a good fit for our children. Christian schools aren’t given a magic talisman that keeps them from error. On the contrary, Christian schools are often the promoters of errors at least as pernicious as those in public schools — legalism being the most common.

    I quite agree and would say that potential dangers exist for homeschooling. Still, a child would be better off growing up without education at all then to attend government schools.

    In fact, I often steer students *away* from Christian colleges with Bible departments that are known to have a low view of Scripture. For many Christian young adults, it’s better to attend a secular university where the enemy is obvious, than to attend a “Christian” university where the enemy is trusted because of his Christian label.

    I agree again.

    The same wisdom is required of parents who wish to home-school. In some cases, the kid needs to be home. But in some cases, being at home with mom and dad will simply exacerbate sin tendencies already present in the family.

    Well, in an ideal world, the Church would involve itself with those familial sin tendencies.

    Or perhaps Mom and Dad weren’t the sharpest students in the class; is it loving to the child for them to pass on their substandard knowledge to their children when better teachers are available?

    Teachers that are humanistic in their worldview are by definition not better teachers.

    Training? Yeah, absolutely. All parents need to be training their children on a regular basis. Mandated private- or home-schooling? That’s turning what may be wise for some (or even many) into a rule for all. I don’t think that works.

    Well, Jeff, you’re entitled to be wrong.

    I suspect, Bret, that you might agree with me. After all, if you really believed that sending kids to public schools was idolatry, wouldn’t you be pressing charges against those parents, just as if they had taken them to a Buddhist temple for services?

    Not having any parents whose children attend government schools I couldn’t speak to that.

    Second, even if I did, I’m wise enough to know that some things need to be done incrementally, even if that means that some covenant children will suffer as a result.

  105. Bret McAtee said,

    October 9, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    I teach at a Christian school, and I have contact with others at both Christian and public schools. When parents ask me, “What do you recommend — public, private, or homeschool?”, I respond, “It depends on the kid.”

    I am sincerely sorry that you give such bad counsel. May I advise you in the future to say …. “Why, naturally you should be homeschooling your children.” What a wonderful opportunity you will have to really keep your Baptismal vows when your children were baptized.”

    Bret, let’s grant everything that you’ve been saying about the public schools.

    If everything I’ve said about government schools is granted, no argument remains.

    For the sake of argument, we can accept the metaphor that public schools are temples of humanism with festivals and priests.

    Ok, that means those who advocate children attending government schools have accepted the idea that God desired the children of Israel to send their children to the schools of Canaan. It means that they accept the idea that God approves of the children Israel taking classes in Canaan on “The social theory behind sacrificing children to Molech,” and “How luck guided Israel to this land,” and “Economics that don’t take account of God.” Among other classes.

    Does it follow that attending a public school *is*, by definition, participating in humanistic religion?

    Yes. Schools teach what to think. Scripture teaches as a man thinketh in his heart so he is. Sending children to a school that teaches humanistic religion produces humanistic children. Now, surely we all agree that God is gracious and that God can providentially pluck children from such saturation but we should not put the Lord thy God to the test.

    To borrow from 1 Cor, are the children in public schools drinking the cups of idols, OR, are they eating the meat sacrificed to idols? The former, as you recall, is incompatible with being a Christian. The latter is permissible as long as the conscience is undefiled.

    Interesting framing of the issue Jeff. I would instead say that putting the covenant seed in government school is to cause a little one to stumble. Now, again, I want to make it clear that I fully recognize that not all covenant children who attend government schools end up apostate just as all children who are aborted don’t end up being born dead.

    I would argue that the latter is a more apt analogy. Teachers in public schools may advocate humanistic ideas, but that doesn’t require students to accept them.

    Sure, you can soak a million rags in oil 40 hours a week for 13 years and it is possible that some of those rags won’t become oily rags.

    It’s entirely possible for a well-trained child pick up skills like mathematics and writing from entirely secular teachers — to “plunder the Egyptians” — and engage in the spiritual battle in the situation he finds himself.

    And it is possible that a children’s crusade to the Middle East would result in a few children actually attacking the citadel of Islam.

    Still, I quite agree, that in what are styled the “hard sciences” a student could learn in government schools. Of course this does not take into consideration the destructive peer dynamics that occur in government schools. Considerations quite apart from the humanism in the classrooms.

    I think you recognize this fact, Bret, which is why you allow for “adults” ages 18-22 to attend secular colleges, despite the fact that the atmosphere on college campuses is far more perniciously anti-Christian than in public secondary schools. In your view, an 18-year-old can attend a college without participating in its worship.

    No, Jeff, this is a mis-characterization of what I said.

    First, there is no such thing as secular.

    Second, I do not accept the premise that Colleges are any more humanistic then secondary schools.

    Third, I made it clear that the reason I find it acceptable for a 18 – 22 year old to attend college is that I believe by that age they should be trained to be a burr in the saddle of humanistic college professors. They may be in the temple of Molech, but while there they are giving Molech an enema.

    Well, if an 18-year-old can do that, what about a 16-year-old? Or 14-year-old? *It depends on the kid.*

    See first response to Darryl today. I already answered that.

    In other words, what we’re talking about here is matter of wisdom rather than an iron-clad rule, “Thou shalt not participate in public secondary education.”

    I think it is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

    That’s one of the ironclad ones isn’t it?

    Yes, secular schools are intent on inculcating their value system. We would be fools not to recognize this. For many, the better part of wisdom might be to stay away.

    Well, I suppose if your children are child savants and are courageous as lions and are not intimidated by adult blowhards foisting humanism, that in such a case we certainly might have an exception. Do you know any children like that?

    But many may not be able to. You spoke earlier of those who drive $20k cars, but there are millions of Christians in America who can’t afford those kinds of cars to begin with.

    Must have me mixed up w/ someone else. I never said that.

    And still others may have students who are spiritually trained and able to be in the school without being of the school.

    Just as there may be children who could join the Marines and make the cut.

    We need wisdom to determine which ideas from secular education are truly compatible “all the way down” with Biblical theology, and the wisdom to know whether our children are vulnerable to being corrupted by the false ideas. We can’t just throw down a blanket rule, any more than we can create a blanket rule like “Thou shalt not watch R-rated movies.”

    You watch R rated movies?

    Just kidding.

    Look, Jeff, children are children. They are to be protected. I fully grant that rare exceptions might occur. But the idea that we can make policy on those rare exceptions is unwise.

    The same wisdom is likewise needed to determine whether a given *Christian* school is a good fit for our children. Christian schools aren’t given a magic talisman that keeps them from error. On the contrary, Christian schools are often the promoters of errors at least as pernicious as those in public schools — legalism being the most common.

    I quite agree and would say that potential dangers exist for homeschooling. Still, a child would be better off growing up without education at all then to attend government schools.

    In fact, I often steer students *away* from Christian colleges with Bible departments that are known to have a low view of Scripture. For many Christian young adults, it’s better to attend a secular university where the enemy is obvious, than to attend a “Christian” university where the enemy is trusted because of his Christian label.

    I agree again.

    The same wisdom is required of parents who wish to home-school. In some cases, the kid needs to be home. But in some cases, being at home with mom and dad will simply exacerbate sin tendencies already present in the family.

    Well, in an ideal world, the Church would involve itself with those familial sin tendencies.

    Or perhaps Mom and Dad weren’t the sharpest students in the class; is it loving to the child for them to pass on their substandard knowledge to their children when better teachers are available?

    Teachers that are humanistic in their worldview are by definition not better teachers.

    Training? Yeah, absolutely. All parents need to be training their children on a regular basis. Mandated private- or home-schooling? That’s turning what may be wise for some (or even many) into a rule for all. I don’t think that works.

    Well, Jeff, you’re entitled to be wrong.

    I suspect, Bret, that you might agree with me. After all, if you really believed that sending kids to public schools was idolatry, wouldn’t you be pressing charges against those parents, just as if they had taken them to a Buddhist temple for services?

    Not having any parents whose children attend government schools I couldn’t speak to that.

    Second, even if I did, I’m wise enough to know that some things need to be done incrementally, even if that means that some covenant children will suffer as a result.

  106. Darryl Hart said,

    October 9, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Bret: I guess you don’t know how you sound. You affirm that unless true Christianity is the religion of the state, a defacto godlessness reigns. That sounds pretty bad. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a godless society. I would imagine people their run around persecuting professors of the true religion since there is no neutrality, either you are for or against God and his people. And now it turns out that some godless societies are better than others. In your either-or universe (again excluding the CRC) I don’t understand how that happens, how some godlessness is better than other kinds. If it’s possible for a godless society to order itself around the rule of law (I know, I know, it’s not the real law), and it protects private property, and makes rulers accountable to the ruled, then if you don’t want to call it neutral, why wouldn’t you call it good?

    BTW, I know my theology stinks, but I do think you mean to say that Christ rules, not theology. It would be hard for me to imagine a doctrine ruling, and it would even be harder for me to believe that you could entertain the rule of anything else but Christ.

    Let the faucet open.

  107. bret said,

    October 9, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Darryl: I guess you don’t know how you sound. If you want to know how you sound I encourage you to read the comments at IronInk where I am cross posting your comments. The people there hear you to sound like someone very confused. I agree with them.

    Can you deny that defacto godlessness reigns in the public sphere in this country? Obviously you can’t. Indeed you are contributing to it by insisting either that the public square be deistically sanitized of “religion” or that the polytheism of all religions be allowed into the public square. Yes, indeed Mr. Darryl, godlessness does reign.

    I find it amusing that you are living in a society that aborts 1.3 million people annually, that is actively warring against Christianity in the curriculum of the government schools (consider California’s recent homosexualization of the school curriculum) where the State is constantly taking up the mantle of God walking on the earth, and you can say you wouldn’t want to live in a society of godlessness. You crack me up you silly man.

    You glory in this virtuous society but I bet you if the unborn could speak they might say that Iraq is better than these United States.

    You continue to be ignore the reality that the common grace of God may mitigate in any given society the degree of hostility that pagans have to Christians. Because of this the anti-thesis in one culture may not be as far advanced in one society that is against Christ as it is in another. Even a Ph.D. ought to be able to understand this Darryl.

    To make it as explicit and simple as possible for you Darryl, some godlessness is not as bad as other godlessness because some godlessness remains comparatively muted due to the reality that the worldview of the muted godlessness is being muted because of the remaining capital of Christianity that remains in the comparatively muted godless Worldview that is informing society. In short the contradictions have not yet worked themselves out in the direction of full throated godlessness. So, people are either for or against God’s people but that for(ness) or against(ness) is comparatively stronger or weaker depending on how far the anti-thesis has worked itself out.

    Finally, in your last example, I would say it is less bad, due to God’s common grace.

    How many times are we up to where you keep implying my hypocrisy by serving in the CRC?

    I hoped I helped you to understand concepts that my children understood when they were in the fifth grade.

    BTW, I know my theology stinks, but I do think you mean to say that Christ rules, not theology. It would be hard for me to imagine a doctrine ruling, and it would even be harder for me to believe that you could entertain the rule of anything else but Christ.

    First, thanks for humbly admitting that your theology stinks. That took a lot for you to admit, I’m sure. You are to be commended.

    Second, certainly Christ rules, but how would we ever know Christ apart from Christology? You’re not going pentecostal on me are you Darryl?

    Would you mind stopping your constant dripping?

  108. Darryl Hart said,

    October 10, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Bret: sorry again to confuse you, but we would actually know that Christ rules, not from Christology, the product of egghead Ph.D’s, but from — hello — the Bible.

    BTW, I find it amusing that you are so concerned about the godlessness of the U.S. but are not as worked up about faithlessness in your church the CRC. You have lots to say at certain blogs about how wicked and godless it is to have women ruling over men. Well, Bret, what’s up with the CRC? Why don’t you spend as much time trying to clean up a communion in which you are an officer as you do running for public office in this corrupt land of the USA?

  109. Bret McAtee said,

    October 10, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Darryl, as all men (egghead Ph.D’s or otherwise) learn from the Bible that Christ rules, what is it that they are immediately thus developing? Hello …. Christology. I mean, come on Darryl, let us recall that Christology means “study of Christ.” Where else would we study Christ except in Scripture. I mean I take it for granted that I don’t have to articulate every basic with you.

    Second, you do not know me and you do not know what I am doing to fight faithlessness in my little corner of the world. As such, your latest accusation is driven only by your ignorance.

    I’ll take the fact that I have brought you to the point where all you can do is cast aspersions on my character (a character that certainly has plenty of reasons to cast aspersions upon) as evidence that you’ve lost this debate where we are contending in the realm of ideas.

    Fondly,

    Bret

  110. Bret McAtee said,

    October 10, 2008 at 8:39 am

    In response to # 101

    I teach at a Christian school, and I have contact with others at both Christian and public schools. When parents ask me, “What do you recommend — public, private, or homeschool?”, I respond, “It depends on the kid.”

    I am sincerely sorry that you give such bad counsel. May I advise you in the future to say …. “Why, naturally you should be homeschooling your children.” What a wonderful opportunity you will have to really keep your Baptismal vows when your children were baptized.”

    Bret, let’s grant everything that you’ve been saying about the public schools.

    If everything I’ve said about government schools is granted, no argument remains.

    For the sake of argument, we can accept the metaphor that public schools are temples of humanism with festivals and priests.

    Ok, that means those who advocate children attending government schools have accepted the idea that God desired the children of Israel to send their children to the schools of Canaan. It means that they accept the idea that God approves of the children Israel taking classes in Canaan on “The social theory behind sacrificing children to Molech,” and “How luck guided Israel to this land,” and “Economics that don’t take account of God.” Among other classes.

    Does it follow that attending a public school *is*, by definition, participating in humanistic religion?

    Yes. Schools teach what to think. Scripture teaches as a man thinketh in his heart so he is. Sending children to a school that teaches humanistic religion produces humanistic children. Now, surely we all agree that God is gracious and that God can providentially pluck children from such saturation but we should not put the Lord thy God to the test.

    To borrow from 1 Cor, are the children in public schools drinking the cups of idols, OR, are they eating the meat sacrificed to idols? The former, as you recall, is incompatible with being a Christian. The latter is permissible as long as the conscience is undefiled.

    Interesting framing of the issue Jeff. I would instead say that putting the covenant seed in government school is to cause a little one to stumble. Now, again, I want to make it clear that I fully recognize that not all covenant children who attend government schools end up apostate just as all children who are aborted don’t end up being born dead.

    I would argue that the latter is a more apt analogy. Teachers in public schools may advocate humanistic ideas, but that doesn’t require students to accept them.

    Sure, you can soak a million rags in oil 40 hours a week for 13 years and it is possible that some of those rags won’t become oily rags.

    It’s entirely possible for a well-trained child pick up skills like mathematics and writing from entirely secular teachers — to “plunder the Egyptians” — and engage in the spiritual battle in the situation he finds himself.

    And it is possible that a children’s crusade to the Middle East would result in a few children actually attacking the citadel of Islam.

    Still, I quite agree, that in what are styled the “hard sciences” a student could learn in government schools. Of course this does not take into consideration the destructive peer dynamics that occur in government schools. Considerations quite apart from the humanism in the classrooms.

    I think you recognize this fact, Bret, which is why you allow for “adults” ages 18-22 to attend secular colleges, despite the fact that the atmosphere on college campuses is far more perniciously anti-Christian than in public secondary schools. In your view, an 18-year-old can attend a college without participating in its worship.

    No, Jeff, this is a mis-characterization of what I said.

    First, there is no such thing as secular.

    Second, I do not accept the premise that Colleges are any more humanistic then secondary schools.

    Third, I made it clear that the reason I find it acceptable for a 18 – 22 year old to attend college is that I believe by that age they should be trained to be a burr in the saddle of humanistic college professors. They may be in the temple of Molech, but while there they are giving Molech an enema.

    Well, if an 18-year-old can do that, what about a 16-year-old? Or 14-year-old? *It depends on the kid.*

    See first response to Darryl today. I already answered that.

    In other words, what we’re talking about here is matter of wisdom rather than an iron-clad rule, “Thou shalt not participate in public secondary education.”

    I think it is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

    That’s one of the ironclad ones isn’t it?

    Yes, secular schools are intent on inculcating their value system. We would be fools not to recognize this. For many, the better part of wisdom might be to stay away.

    Well, I suppose if your children are child savants and are courageous as lions and are not intimidated by adult blowhards foisting humanism, that in such a case we certainly might have an exception. Do you know any children like that?

    But many may not be able to. You spoke earlier of those who drive $20k cars, but there are millions of Christians in America who can’t afford those kinds of cars to begin with.

    Must have me mixed up w/ someone else. I never said that.

    And still others may have students who are spiritually trained and able to be in the school without being of the school.

    Just as there may be children who could join the Marines and make the cut.

    We need wisdom to determine which ideas from secular education are truly compatible “all the way down” with Biblical theology, and the wisdom to know whether our children are vulnerable to being corrupted by the false ideas. We can’t just throw down a blanket rule, any more than we can create a blanket rule like “Thou shalt not watch R-rated movies.”

    You watch R rated movies?

    Just kidding.

    Look, Jeff, children are children. They are to be protected. I fully grant that rare exceptions might occur. But the idea that we can make policy on those rare exceptions is unwise.

    The same wisdom is likewise needed to determine whether a given *Christian* school is a good fit for our children. Christian schools aren’t given a magic talisman that keeps them from error. On the contrary, Christian schools are often the promoters of errors at least as pernicious as those in public schools — legalism being the most common.

    I quite agree and would say that potential dangers exist for homeschooling. Still, a child would be better off growing up without education at all then to attend government schools.

    In fact, I often steer students *away* from Christian colleges with Bible departments that are known to have a low view of Scripture. For many Christian young adults, it’s better to attend a secular university where the enemy is obvious, than to attend a “Christian” university where the enemy is trusted because of his Christian label.

    I agree again.

    The same wisdom is required of parents who wish to home-school. In some cases, the kid needs to be home. But in some cases, being at home with mom and dad will simply exacerbate sin tendencies already present in the family.

    Well, in an ideal world, the Church would involve itself with those familial sin tendencies.

    Or perhaps Mom and Dad weren’t the sharpest students in the class; is it loving to the child for them to pass on their substandard knowledge to their children when better teachers are available?

    Teachers that are humanistic in their worldview are by definition not better teachers.

    Training? Yeah, absolutely. All parents need to be training their children on a regular basis. Mandated private- or home-schooling? That’s turning what may be wise for some (or even many) into a rule for all. I don’t think that works.

    Well, Jeff, you’re entitled to be wrong.

    I suspect, Bret, that you might agree with me. After all, if you really believed that sending kids to public schools was idolatry, wouldn’t you be pressing charges against those parents, just as if they had taken them to a Buddhist temple for services?

    Not having any parents whose children attend government schools I couldn’t speak to that.

    Second, even if I did, I’m wise enough to know that some things need to be done incrementally, even if that means that some covenant children will suffer as a result.

  111. Todd said,

    October 10, 2008 at 9:14 am

    # 94

    You seem to have hit the nail on the head. Underlying the anti-public school fervor is this idea of a covenant condition, as if God made a deal with us parents in the new covenant; You keep your children out of the public schools and education them with a Christian world view over every topic and I’ll ensure they grow up faithful believers. If that was my understanding of the covenant of grace I’d home school also.

    But there are some other dynamics in effect. (No one is denying love for children is at the forefront, all Christian parents love their children.) But as Darryl and others have mentioned, there is also a failure to distinguish between creation and redemption. So multiplication becomes as redeemable as people, there is no distinction between teaching your child piano or Spanish and teaching justification by faith. So while professing a belief in common grace, in practice common grace is denied. Even under the Old Testament Law, the Jewish parents were to teach their children the Scriptures, but there was no prohibition against learning other subjects from the nations around them, like home construction, history, etc…

    Speaking of common grace, there is also an implicit denial of common grace when it comes to unbelievers. Because of common grace, we believe that man is not as bad as he could be, that there is a civic righteousness sinful man exercises. In actuality, most public school teachers simply want to be good teachers; to teach their kids math, or P.E. or English well. They do not wake up and say to themselves; how can I impose a non-Christian world view on my students? Now, some may argue they do this unintentionally, but for most classes there is no opportunity or ability to even consider such philosophical subjects. I have yet to hear my kids say their math teacher suggested all this math logic is random because there really is no god. Now, there are always the few bad apples, the agenda teachers, but there are options to pull your kids away from them.

    And as Zrim has said well, when one of my kid’s teachers says something questionable, they simply come home and ask me and I explain what the Bible says. They always trust their father over their teachers.

    Another dynamic is the categorizing of sins. There is a risk in any decision concerning our children. While the risk of worldliness is real for Christian children in public schools, home schoolers too often downplay the risk of legalism, lack of compassion, rebellion, etc… home school children are prone to. My Bible contains warnings against all those sins.

    I have worked in ministry for some 28 years now, and I’ve never really seen a difference number wise between the percentage of covenant children who deny the faith as adults that were home schooled verses public or Christian schooling. Not leaving out the sovereignty of God in salvation, which trumps all other factors, the human reasons for this have little to do with forms of education, but much to do with either over-harshness or over indulgence from the parents, or a marriage where father and mother do not love each other well. Children tend to turn out well when are taught the Bible from their parents, they grow up loved well but with boundaries, their home is a happy place, and they are part of a church where they are loved and taught well. Even then some simply choose not to serve the God of their parents, a great heartache to all, but one that cannot be avioded simply by a choice in education.

    Blessings,

    Todd

  112. D G Hart said,

    October 10, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Bret, I have not questioned your character. I have questioned the way you blog and the way you act. And as for turning this personal, you have the knack. You don’t know me any more than I know you. And yet well before we even met on-line you were calling my views an infection. Can you say “the second greatest commandment”? Sure you can.

    As for your position in the CRC and your blog, I note that on the index of Iron Ink you have a category of politics with 101 entries. No, I haven’t read through them, so you got me there. But I don’t see any category in the index for CRC. And when I ran a search on your blog for CRC I came up with five different posts, four of them from the past three months referring to your interactions with me and Zrim.

    So what is someone to conclude on the basis of that survey? It would seem that Bret cares more about politics than the church. And when I run google searches on Bret I find he is running for political office (or was once) on the Constitutional Party ticket, but for some reason I don’t see any news stories associating Bret with efforts to reform the CRC.

    Life is complicated, and we all make concessions to our circumstances. So your reasons may be good and not easily stated for not being visible in CRC politics or not going public in the CRC with your opposition to women’s ordination. At the same time, your public profile seems to elevate politics above the church. I find that odd for a minister of the gospel.

  113. Zrim said,

    October 10, 2008 at 10:49 am

    David @ 100 said,

    “As a practical consideration, I’d never send my children (should God grant my wife and I children one day) to public school. Simply because they, by and large, don’t do an even half-way descent job of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. I object to it only on the grounds that it is a socialist mediocrity, not on moral grounds or on principle.

    This is the sort of reasoning a Christian advocate of public education can relish. Ok, I could do without the “socialist medocrity” bit, but you can’t have it all. The dirty little secret about education is that it is about educating. Not exactly profound, but it goes a long way. The interests of a child are always what should be kept in mind, which is why the flimsy missiological justification for believers employing public schools fall apart pretty quickly in my mind. It also seems to me that a doctrine of Xian liberty has to be in the toolbelt. So, if a parent, who has absolute and exclusive ordination over his/her child, deems a public school choice as less than adequate, fine. We sure did. And while going across the street to the Xian school (literally) would have been convenient, we couldn’t justify that sort of bill to purchase the sort of nurture promised that only parents are ordained for anyway. The charter school was sufficient, and we made sacrifices to get it done. As it happened, we pulled up stakes after the first year of school, and a good public school district was the major factor in terms of where we’d end up.

    At the end of the day it really is about a quality education. And believe it or don’t, that can be done by just about anyone regardless of how they couch it. I’ll grant that one of the benefits of those who think education is indeed primarily an affective enterprise (instead of an intellectual one) is that they tend to do it well. So I’d pay for a Catholic or Baptist or Presbyterian (or whatever) school if I had to. I’m just gald I don’t.

  114. Zrim said,

    October 10, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Darryl,

    I have always found that odd as well. But, then again, it also seems to make all the sense in the world when you consider the respective presupp’s. For my part, though, I’d rather have dust-free sandals than a flat spot on my head.

  115. jeffhutchinson said,

    October 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    FYI, every now and then I still step in and moderate a thing or two here, and felt I ought to let folks know I just deleted the latest comment from Bret McAtee. Plain violations of the second greatest commandment get deleted. (I don’t read every comment, and so do not even pretend to be consistent in my modest efforts to maintain civility here, sorry about that.)

  116. greenbaggins said,

    October 10, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Bret, I agree with the other moderators. Cool it down a bit, please. Darryl deserves to be treated with respect. And, as I said before, he likes to fence, but it’s never personal.

  117. D G Hart said,

    October 10, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Jeff and Lane, thanks for watching out for me. You need not do so on my account. I suspect I’ll find Bret’s reaction over at Iron Ink (I have a bit of a masochistic streak). But you know what’s good for your blog.

  118. markvandermolen said,

    October 10, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I have read this site for some time and this is my first post here. I find the site edifying, but like any blog, it can be frustrating as well when things go off the rails. The blogosphere is not for the faint of heart, no doubt.

    Moderator, if you used the second commandment to justify deleting Bret’s latest post, then you might want to read over post #112 a little more carefully.

    Contrary to Hart’s statement, if one goes to Iron Ink and types in “crc” in the search function, you will find there are 20 posts that appear. A good number of those posts take strong exception to the CRC on the Form of Subscription, on women’s ordination, on the Banner, took on Calvin Seminary’s president, and the denomination’s move toward broad evangelicalism.

    In addition to that narrow sectarian CRC- focus, there are a myriad of other posts that deal with the broader “church”. Including of course, Bret’s series of critiques of the theology coming out of Westminster West and what implications it has for the church.

    It is fine to engage in spirited dialogue on theology. But this thread has derailed off the theological point. For Hart to publicly suggest that McAtee has more concern for politics than the church, based on Hart’s cursory {and skewed} review of a blog site, clearly turned turned this discussion into a personal attack on the integrity of the man.

    One would expect more from a minister of the gospel– and of the moderators here.

  119. greenbaggins said,

    October 10, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Mark, welcome to my blog. I appreciate your comments, and the points are well-taken. Maybe Darryl will modify (or maybe not) his position. I’m not going to answer for him, as he seems plenty capable of taking care of himself. However, what we are seeing here is a pattern of behavior from Bret, not just one post. I don’t mind a few sparks flying here and there, as I have made plain before. But, even if Darryl’s posts are viewed as an attack, that does not justify an attack in return. And given Darryl’s character, there is certainly more than one interpretation of his words.

  120. D G Hart said,

    October 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Mr. Vandermolen, Thank you for the correction (no thank you for rushing to judge this as a “skewed” reading of Bret’s blog). I now see what those links at the bottom of the page mean — “next page” and “previous page.” Doh! So I stand corrected, there are more posts at Iron Ink on the CRC than the five that came up on the first page.

    I still stand by the assertion about the index at the right hand column of Iron Ink. It has no reference to “church” or “CRC.” It does to “Politics” with 101 in parentheses. If the church and reforming the CRC were as important as politics, I’d expect to see “church” or “CRC” in the index column, and to see as many if not more posts about the church and the CRC as about politics. That is arguable. But I think it is not a “skewed” reading.

    Finally, I find it odd that a man who has blogged quite vociferously in opposition to women’s rule over men to enter the CRC so blithely as Bret appeared to do when he wrote of his ordination:

    “I realize that the CRC is not a perfect denomination and has some challenges before it but as I map out the Reformed denominational landscape I do not see a denomination that isn’t without its substantial issues. In the end I think all of us, who are trying to be epistemologically self conscious about being Reformed, are, in many respects, in the same boat together, and together, regardless of what Reformed denomination we are in, we are either going to survive together or we are going to capsize together. I honestly believe I can help all genuinely Reformed people, regardless of their Reformed denominational stripe, by working for Reformation and awakening in the CRC.”

    I wish Bret well on reforming the CRC, the church that ordained me. And I wish him well on serving all Reformed Christians. But I find it curious that he shows a more respectful posture to folks in the CRC at Iron Ink than he does to Christians of a different Reformed denominational stripe.

  121. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 10, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Bret: You are correct that I misattributed the comment about cars to you. That comment was Elder Hoss (#50). So consider the minor point withdrawn, with my apologies.

    Anyways, you would like to persuade me to change my counsel out of what I perceive as a genuine desire to avoid idolatry. Thank you. In order to persuade me, however, you will need to establish that attending a public school really is equivalent to idolatry. The burden of proof is high and entirely on you, as you are proposing to restrict the liberty of your Christian brothers in this matter. If you’re right, then we all need to do the right thing and make sure that our flock’s children stay out of public schools. But if not, then you need to refrain from judging another man’s servant. (It sounds severe, but I’m smiling. See? :) )

    You remarked that my choice of 1 Cor 10 was “interesting.” I would go a little further: it is the crux of the matter. Recall that some of the Corinthians sincerely believed that eating meat sacrificed to idols was the same as idolatry. Paul denied this. Rather, he insisted that participating in the ritual itself was forbidden (1 Cor 10.14 – 22), while the meat itself was permissible (vv. 23ff).

    So for our discussion, it makes all the difference as to whether being educated in a public school *is* idolatry or only *appears like idolatry* to some people.

    Your argument so far has been an appeal to obviousness: of course teenagers will be corrupted. You say, “Sending children to a school that teaches humanistic religion produces humanistic children.”

    I’m 100% positive that the inverse is not true. Sending children to a Christian school does not produce Christian children with anything close to statistical certainty. The failure of Christian schools to have a certain effect on children makes me question whether humanist schools would have any greater success rate.

    So what evidence would you provide that sending children to a humanistic school produces humanistic children? Do you have studies, for example, that control for the school over against the influences of media and friends?

    It’s a mostly rhetorical question, but if you do have such studies, I would be interested in them — because in the end, you and I want the same thing: for our children to grow up with Godly training. If it turned out that public school education is a large risk factor for godlessness, then the path of wisdom is to stay away.

    But on the other hand, if public school education turned out to be a minor factor in our childrens’ religious beliefs, then perhaps your intuitive linking of humanist schools and idolatry is mistaken.

    In the meantime, in the absence of such studies, I have to work with what I observe: some teens really are courageous as lions and desire to honor the Lord in their public school environments. Also, many public schools, especially in less urban areas, have Christians amongst their faculty and offer something different from the humanist brainwashing you fear.

    So *my* intuitive belief is that public schools offer education together with an agenda. Some schools offer more agenda, some less — and many students are perfectly capable of receiving the education and leaving the agenda, or examining the agenda and rejecting it.

    So you can understand that based on my intuition, it would make sense to say that *some* teens could attend *some* public schools without harm, and perhaps with profit.

    So I think the difference between us here is that I have yet to be persuaded to abandon my intuition in favor of yours. You need to develop your argument in a more rigorous way so as to make it more persuasive (to me, at least).

    Importantly, your arbitrary cutoff at age 18 really undermines your argument. If humanist schools are as efficacious as you make them out to be, then it makes no sense that a switch would be thrown at age 18 to cause the effect to disappear. Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that some Christian children are ready to face a secular system at 16 and some at 25, or never?

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

  122. markvandermolen said,

    October 10, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Darryl:

    Apparently he doesn’t categorize his blog topics the way you’d like.

    My main point was that there are far more posts on issues directly bearing on the church and her mission than there are on politics. By my count, the posts are 349 on church to 101 on politics. But it would silly for me to make your same mistake and then suggest this must demonstrate that Bret’s devotion to the church is 3.5 times higher than his devotion to politics. Who knows. I could be selling him short.

    Surely, counting the number of posts on a blog is not a faithful measure of the man’s heart devotion to Christ’s Bride. Using that standard to suggest that Bret elevates politics over the church is no less disrepectful than what you accused Bret of.

  123. kjsulli said,

    October 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 91,

    kjsulli: I also understand that the government is not fair and balanced, and that neutrality with respect to the God of the universe is impossible for every person. I also understand the problems of public schools and am quite comfortable with parents deciding to home school or send to private schools. What I am troubled by is a good point being used to make up reality. We do not have an established “church” as in something where our citizenship is bound up with worshiping a false god.

    Then, Dr. Hart, why don’t you respond intelligently in the first place rather than feigning an inability to understand the logic being presented? I’m not convinced of theonomy, nor do I take the tack that sending children to U.S. public schools is necessarily sinful. I think especially intelligent & spiritually astute children can navigate the public schools, by the power of the Spirit, with the help of godly parents and a godly church family, without giving their minds over to the state’s humanism; yet such are few and far between, and as a general rule, it is unwise at best to send young children to the public schools. None of this changes the fact that the public school system acts in a de facto manner as a state church, and strongly impels, if it doesn’t actually compel, apostasy.

  124. Darryl Hart said,

    October 10, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Mr. Vandermolen, since you are willing to offer a different interpretation of Iron Ink, maybe you could also explain why Bret wants to be of service to Reformed Christians and then slaps me around for my understanding of the state. I get it. I’m not Reformed. Like the CRC is?

    kjsulli: Sorry for my lack of intelligence. But it seems that if I don’t see that no air gets into your logic then I lack intelligent. Might it be conceivable, even imaginable, that your argument is not airtight? Or has Protestantism found its first pope?

    Hows’s this:

    The Roman Empire did not sanction the original church but in fact killed Christians.

    The church exists independently of the state.

    Therefore, what the state does with schools, roads, or garbage collection is not defacto the church.

  125. markvandermolen said,

    October 10, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    It is possible to be of service to Reformed Christians by striving to be a faithful witness in an apostasizing CRC AND by slapping around your understanding of the state.

  126. Kyle said,

    October 10, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 124,

    kjsulli: Sorry for my lack of intelligence. But it seems that if I don’t see that no air gets into your logic then I lack intelligent. Might it be conceivable, even imaginable, that your argument is not airtight? Or has Protestantism found its first pope?

    I didn’t criticize your intelligence; I criticized the intelligence of your response in comment #71, a response in which you very evidently put little thought, since I’m familiar enough with your work to know that you aren’t simply vacuous. I said nothing about my argument being “airtight,” either; on the other hand, I don’t see where you’ve come close to actually refuting it.

    Hows’s this:

    The Roman Empire did not sanction the original church but in fact killed Christians.

    The church exists independently of the state.

    What does this have to do with the substance of the argument presented, Dr. Hart? Okay, so the Roman Empire didn’t sanction the Christian church (neither does the U.S. federal government, although this refrains from physically persecuting the Christian church). Did the Roman Empire have a de facto state church? Yes, in fact it had a de jure state church. So how does this undermine anything I’ve said?

    Therefore, what the state does with schools, roads, or garbage collection is not defacto the church.

    And how does this follow? Is the building of roads or the collecting of garbage anywhere near equivalent to schooling? Where have I or anyone argued that just anything the state does is “defacto the church”? I can hardly believe that you’re actually trying to respond intelligently with nonsense like this. If you don’t want to take the time, so be it; I’m sure you have plenty of more pressing matters on hand than participating in a blog discussion. But why participate at all only to offer boorishness?

  127. David Gray said,

    October 11, 2008 at 4:40 am

    >It is possible to be of service to Reformed Christians by striving to be a faithful witness in an apostasizing CRC

    That certainly can be debated. Feel the same way about the PCUSA?

  128. Bill Wysor said,

    October 11, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Seems to me that Dr. Hart’s stultifying bifurcation, i.e. his severence of the spiritual from world views at large, has led to his inability to address Rev. McAtee’s argument and to instead divert attention by tallying posts over at Ironink. While Dr. Hart would have us confine spiritual concerns to church matters, in truth the spiritual can never be so understood as to be without incarnation both in the personal realm and in the public square. So when I say that the Church cannot escape the political I mean that we hold a worldview which affects all the ways in which we live and move, and which stands in antithesis to the world spirit and all the ways this spirit manifests itself.

    Despite Hart’s attempted obfuscation McAtee has repeatedly acknowledged the importance of sphere sovereignty regarding the sword and the keys. The Civil Magistrate’s primary task is Temporal Justice –but Temporal justice has to be defined by some standard and if it is not the Church that is articulating God’s standard as the standard for Temporal Justice then whose standard will be used to define Temporal justice? The Church needs to involve itself in issues today precisely because its people are looking to the State to solve the problems that only God can solve. Can we assume that if the Church doesn’t speak to political issues then some resolution to those issues will be found that are uninformed by some other anti-Christ religion? Hart’s myth of neutrality which is so ubiquitous serves to lull the Church to sleep at times and places where she might otherwise resist this theocracy of multiculturalism we now have in the federal government. Is our Lord Christ and Head of the Church not also Governor of the universe and Judge of all men? Could it be that the Lord would use a willing and obedient Church as a means to inform the State with the Law Word of our Sovereign Lord? In a proper separation of Church and State, both the Church and the State should realize their distinct primary tasks under Sovereign Christ and realize that as each conduct their business with integrity before Christ they mutually support one another’s efforts.

  129. Darryl Hart said,

    October 11, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Mr. Vandermolen, it is fine for Bret to slap around my views of the state. You might understand from some of his comments that he turns those comments a tad ad hominemly. That’s where the service to other Reformed Christians might kick in.

    It would also help if Bret actually understood my view. I have never said that I want to sanitize the public square of religion. Bret is right that I believe in the American political order that other religions, along with Christians, have a right to enter the public square, and the rest of Americans have a simialar right to be underwhelmed by assertions of Christ’s lordship. What I have tried to do in a variety of publications is show the particular difficulty of Christians thinking they should rule the public square. It creates a lot of problems for which Christians to let in — religious wars come to mind — and it raises lots of questions about what to do with non-believers who are law abiding citizens.

    The odd thing is that given Bret’s (and I assume your) views on the state that you can live with the current regime and not rush to take the godless out of power. From where I sit it looks like Bret and you are as complicit in America’s godlessness as I am. I do grant that Bret is running for public office. But isn’t that simply cooperation with the beast? Given his views isn’t something more radical needed than simply registering with the state and federal officials and seeking the votes of people who bow down to the defacto state church?

  130. Darryl Hart said,

    October 11, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Kyle: what the independence of the church from the state has to do with is the original place of Christianity in the world. It was not an established religion and Christ and the apostles did not seek to make it so. When the state told them to cease what they were doing, they disobeyed and took their lumps.

    And this has a lot to do with the relationship between Christianity and the state. Unlike Israel’s theocratic arrangement, the church did not have national boundaries nor did it have the sword in the way that Israel did. I believe that those who want the state to uphold the true religion are trying to go back to the theocratic arrangement and have not dealt with the important difference that Christianity introduced into the history of redemption and the way that God accomplishes his purposes now through the the spiritual and apolitical means of the church (as opposed to the state of Israel).

    I also think that Constantine changed this situation and the church’s holding power was never good for it, from the opulance of the Vatican down to the smugness of 425 Riverside Drive (the former home of mainline Protestantism’s offices). I don’t think that state power was very good for the Protestant churches after the Reformation either. Why do you think they turned out the way they did with so many theological compromises and that so many of the faithful Christians in those settings decided to opt out and form Free churches? It’s because the state and the church have different missions.

    Now I know some who want a Christian government still insist that it is possible to separate the church and the state. Bret and I have gone around on Massachusetts at another point. (I think the rise of Unitarianism and liberalism in New England is the natural product of state churches, he doesn’t). But having a Christian government requires the rulers to be Christian, doesn’t it? How could a state official administer justice from the word of God and be spiritually hostile to the word he is administering? Also, what is to come of non-Christians in the Christian commonwealth? Well, the Puritans tried the Half-way Covenant. And that is what happens when you take a spiritual matter and turn it into a public affair. Something that is exclusive needs to serve the interest of the common good. And that is exactly what liberalism does, tries to take the general truths of Christianity to retain a Christian influence on society and culture.

    Boorish? Or fair and balanced? You hyperventilate.

  131. Andrew Duggan said,

    October 11, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Re: … 124 & 126:

    To sum up:

    The one side says that the US has a de facto state church or at least a de facto state religion that is hostile to Christianity. That hostility affects how the state runs its schools. Therefore some say Christians should be be at least very wary in sending their children to state schools, while others say Christians should never send their children to state schools.

    Dr Hart says: “…what the state does with schools, roads, or garbage collection is not defacto the church.” That seems to deny the first premise of the other side.

    At least both sides can agree that what the state does is not a defacto Christian church.

  132. Darryl Hart said,

    October 11, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Yes, Mr. Duggan, I do think a school is different from a church. That is why families oversee education and elders over see a church.

  133. Elder Hoss said,

    October 11, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    All- Van Til and Berkhof’s FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION, Dabney’s brief but penetrating article on SECULAR EDUCATION in the 3 volumes published by Sprinkle, as well as Rushdoony’s THE MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF AMERICAN PUBLIC EDUCATION, would all be worthy reads.

    Certainly, for those who would want to understand why Reformed Christians for virtually the entirety of our existence have inculcated and maintained the necessity of Christian education for covenant youth, these works should be carefully consulted.

    In observing most of this thread, it is rather striking that education of covenant youth is somehow being severed from discipleship, as if the “paedia” of which Paul speaks, or his Spirit-prompted adage that “in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” is somehow a “one-in-seven” or interiorized concern.

    David Gadbois’ citation of Van Til in this regard is thus to be found as wanting as would be the case if one summonded CVT in defense of evidentialism (ie., he wrote against public education and was a staunch supporter of the Christian school).

    This will sound jarring to some, but the very same obfuscating one hears among professing Christians who say, “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but believe it’s the WOMAN’S DECISION” seems nearly ubiquitous among not a few Christians’ discussing educatoin (since perhaps 1940 or so) who say things like “I believe Christian education is a wonderful idea, but it’s the PARENT’S DECISION.”

    Of course, no one doubts that parents have the volitionary capacity to determine who educates their baptized, covenant children. The question is whether, even as Bret (who has demonstrated he can both give and take punches, to his demonstrable credit, and let it be said that the punches he’s thrown are consistently ABOVE the belt) put it, placing covenant children in statist, Christ-denying government schools is but to place other gods before them, to place stumblingblocks before them, and thus to imperil their spiritual welfare.

    Just try to picture a faithful Israelite saying to Moses, “Moses, I like this redemption stuff, and this Torah stuff, but Canaanite elementary has a WONDERFUL javelin program – We kind of think Jacob should go THERE.” Or, for those who dismiss most of the first 39 books in a fashion similar to the OT German School of Gunkel et al., picture an Ephesian believer telling Paul that he can bring up his covenant household in the “paedia” of the Lord, sufficiently, by Lord’s Day instruction, and 20-minute evening debunking sessions congealing around what little Aphrodite learned at Diana elementary school.

    I have met far more parents than I care to count, who rue the first 17 yrs. of their (now apostate) childrens’ lives. Of course, not all of this can be thrown back upon the educational framework, insofar as the world has its share of hypocritcal homeschoolers, or Christian schoolers whose “Christian school” is but a baptized public school.

    Certainly, God has mercifully preserved some covenant children whose primary educational exposure was the public school. However, providence not being the rule of duty, we can take no false comfort from this. He also preserved not a few of his own who went off the rails in the drug culture – And?

    But again – Van Til, Berkhof, Dabney and Rushdoony. Ad fontes! It would be a gross misrepresentation of the matter to somehow suggest that opposition to statist and government schools is attributable to personal prejudice, or the overweening attempt to bring other Christians into subjection to one’s predeliction. A helpful debunker of that kind of ad-hominem would be to simply view how Reformed Christians have addressed this subject until we in our suffocating arrogance somehow came to the conclusion that, in our generation, the sun of truth has risen with such brilliant lustre on our fair pate, that we know better.

    Actually, we don’t…..

  134. David Gray said,

    October 11, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    The Dabney article, when I read it a few years back, radically changed my understanding of public education.

  135. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    October 11, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    [sarcasm]

    Well since Rushdoony is on the list all of what you said can be written off…

    [/sarcasm]

    By the way mega 10-4 David Gray on the Dabney article…

  136. Darryl Hart said,

    October 11, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Elder Hoss: would you bring up on charges parents who send their children to public schools?

  137. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 11, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    So much for those mothers who weren’t exactly gifted with the intellectual capacity to teach their children grammar or long division….

    And were too poor to send them to the “True Truth Academy of the Truly Reformed”

    *sigh*

  138. ReformedSinner said,

    October 12, 2008 at 4:56 am

    Elder Hoss,

    It’s easy to throw around principles of what should be done, but I always believe that if you say something you also have the responsibility to make it happen. There are many problems to your suggestions.

    1) Not all parents are gifted intellectually to do home schooling. And to follow up on this one, not everyone lives in a community with a strong Christian home schooling network.

    2) Christians Schools in general are too expensive for the average Joe. Too bad Bush’s Voucher reformed never got passed. So unless you or the Church is willing to pay up for the kids Christian Eductioin, I would not slam a hammer over the parents’ heads and their inability to send their kids to Christian Schools.

    3) Finally, the term “Christian School” is too general. It comes in all sizes and varieties. Not all Christian Schools are truly “Christian” or by that I probably mean truly “Reformed Christian.” So it’s an evil to send my kids to a public school, but it’s sacred to send my kids to a Christian school that teaches Arminianism Soteriology, Evidentialism Apologetics, Flawed Philosophy and Logic of the Medieval times, and Post-modern “love trumps all, let us love everyone regardlessly” type of Gospel. Sorry, not my idea of a solid Christian eduction. Just because the teacher is allowed to quote the Bible (but never mind if he’s got the right exegesis/theology), the students are allowed to pray, and the school has “christian values” doesn’t necessarily make it Christian Education.

    Sorry, just because a school is full of “Christians” top to bottom doesn’t mean it solves all the problems. You do realize CVT also addressed this and he is equally harsh against these so-called “Christian Schools” (especially their reliance of Medieval education methodology, CVT is furioius that Christian parents traded one evil for another) and CVT wants the OPC to build “real Reformed Education through and through” type of schools. So by CVT’s standard, Elder Hoss your suggestion is also flawed and dangerously misleading to Christian parents.

  139. David Gray said,

    October 12, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Most parents are sufficiently gifted to educate their children in a manner superior to that of the public schools. And if all parents took this issue more seriously there would be a larger network and safety net to support those who struggle. And I would rather have my child in an honest Arminian school than a functionally atheistic school. Read Dabney.

  140. Darryl Hart said,

    October 12, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Mr. Gray, how would you feel about your elders telling you how you must educate your children?

  141. ReformedSinner said,

    October 12, 2008 at 8:59 am

    #139,

    Most parents are sufficiently gifted in a matter superior to public schools? How? Both my wife and I are Ph.D.s with multiple master degrees each, and my wife have multiple bachelors when she was in undergrad, and there are a few subjects that we are scratching our heads over, let alone teach our children to be sufficient at it.

    And yes, if all parents took this seriously there will be a network, the point is there isn’t one right now and banging parents heads over it doesn’t help.

    I have read Dabney and all the relevant people. I took a course on Christian Education at WTS, thank you. I take this subject very seriously. However, I find the solution either immature or unrealistic to reach the goal (as this forum has sufficiently demonstrated) to be a subject that can be taught across the States. In some areas with a) a good Reformed Christian school, and b) a strong network of homeschooling, yes. Unfortunately that’s far and few in between.

    Finally, as the power of Holy Spirit has ambly demonstrated people aren’t lost forever just because they go to “atheistic” public schools. Which is easier to correct your child: between atheism and Reformed Christianity, or confuse him with Arminianism and Reformed Christianity? It’s your freedom to rather have your child to be Arminians, excuse me if I take CVT seriously and rather have my child to be Reformed through and through, and unfortunately for me that means I have to teach them myself because no “christian schools” near me does that. But teach them in a way of correction, as in having them in public schools, and then review with them what they learned in school, and correct them when necessary. I find this much more rewarding for both parents and children, rather have him go to a “christian school” and havingto correct every other “biblical” lessons he learns that are… well… not that biblical.

  142. E.C. Hock said,

    October 12, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Frankly, it is sad that a church body or family will fuss and quarrel over the type of schooling a parent chooses (or must choose) for his or her child. Most churches have different kinds of school educators in their congregations as well. Are we going to alienate fellow Christians and their callings by (subtle) demands for uniformity? Surely the unity-and-not uniformity principle found in Romans 14 comes to bear on this matter.

    Due to the challenges that each domain of schooling offers parents, whatever your schooling choice and trade-off, we need to support, not alienate, each other in Christ. Did not God arrange for Moses to be schooled in the pagan environment of Egypt? Was God wrong in His wisdom for Moses? Moses’ skills and experiences were not wasted. And like anyone of us, when he was effectually called, the right worldview focus emerged as needed for God’s greater purposes. The Lord has different reasons for having His children come to Him under different circumstances that may be uniquely used later in life.

    We choose the best we can for our children within the means and context we find for ourselves. Finding or producing equal excellence amidst the three pillars of home, church, and school is not a given. We seek to improve matters as we can, but each domain will have its draw backs and unique challenges, especially for a single-parent home. If not effective or God-honoring school teachers, there will be less than effective parents (or even incompetent ones), or again, less than effective pastors and elders and other teachers in the church. Some Christian schools are appalling in their academics. Some Christian homes are appalling in defining educational expectations for child or parent (wife). Divorce and emotional break downs arise as a result in trying to compete. Not all can teach reading, chemistry, physics, calculus, english literature or a foreign language. Not all parents are educated in ways to offer accelerated course work and structured discipline our older kids need.

    If we would spend more time seeking how to encourage and support and pray for each other in this season of life (since we all swim in the same culture together) the better off we will be, the stronger body in the Lord we will be.

  143. David Gray said,

    October 12, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    >Mr. Gray, how would you feel about your elders telling you how you must educate your children?

    Dr. Hart, very differently than I would feel if they were to give guidance on parameters they thought I ought to follow in educating my children.

  144. Elder Hoss said,

    October 12, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Darryl – I am not sure if you have children whom you are bringing up in the covenant of grace, or whether this question is for you, almost entirely theoretically in nature.

    My wife and I are providing Christian education for 5 covenant kiddos, and while there are serious sacrificies involved, it is a tremendous blessing.

    What I would say in response to your question is simply this: The Triune God is entirely capable of dealing directly with the unfaithfulness of His people, reserving to Himself that right.

    For example, would we bring up on charges men who did not tithe?

    Your question seems to presuppose that if sending one’s covenant children to public schools is sinful, elders ergo must be prepared to bring up members on charges for such conduct.

    Au contraire.

    Did Moses and the elders of Israel bring up the stick gathering on charges? Were Ananias and Saphira brough up on charges?

    The point is, even as was mentioned here in another context dealing with the Sabbath and its observance, that God Himself is more than capable of dealing with the infidelity of His people.

    Isn’t the apostasy of covenant children prove positive enough for us?

  145. Elder Hoss said,

    October 12, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    ….in other words, there are not a few transgressions concerning which JHVH Himself reserves the right to, and thus does, discipline His people. The heartrbreak of covenant children being lost to the world is far greater a judgment than any censure that could be brought forwardfrom this or that Session.

    Sessions may no more have the right to discipline parents for providing an anti-Christian education to their children than they have the right to discipline parents for giving 2% of their gross to the work of the kingdom, or for turning the Sabbath into any other play day.

    That question in itself proves nothing. And again, God’s judgments are far more effective than the judgments of men in any case….

  146. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 12, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    My final appeal on this subject will be to Scripture. Bret and Elder Hoss, you’ve made a strong case that parents should be highly cautious of the public school agenda.

    Overall, I would endorse your case. My only concern is your desire to extend that case into a blanket rule: public school attendance is a sin, a violation of the first commandment. At this point, I must part company with you.

    Daniel’s friends went to the king’s school, even though it was clearly an indoctrination into the ways of the Babylonian gods (as evidenced by their given Babylonian names).

    Yet rather than regard attendance as idolatry, they instead resolved to not be defiled by the king’s food, and grew in wisdom and favor with man because of their obedience to the Lord.

    Yet later, they were indeed tested with a temptation to idolatry. And when they faced the command to bow down or die, they refused.

    What can we draw from good and necessary inference from their example?

    (1) That they were sensitive to idolatry and determined to reject it.
    (2) That God blessed them, rather than cursed them, while they attended the king’s school.

    It follows that (3) *their* attendance of the king’s school was not equivalent to breaking the first commandment or any other.

    Would it not be tragically ironic, Bret and Elder, if in our zeal to protect our children from worldly wisdom, we delivered them over to a man-made rule (“Do not touch public school!”) that has the appearance of wisdom but is of no value in restraining their sin natures?

    May the Lord bless you on His day.

    Jeff Cagle

  147. E.C. Hock said,

    October 12, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Jeff Cagle’s word about well-intentioned zeal, which can back fire in a different direction, is no small warning. So typically, as we seek to avoid the ditch on one side of the road, we easily ignore the peril of the ditch on the other side. By protecting them from outside pressures of sin, we cultivate inside attitides of sin. Perhaps Luke 15 has a message here for us as we consider the so-called prodigal son…or sons. It was not just the bad son that is prodigal by squandering his inheritance in wasteful living. The “good son” who complained about the fatted calf, and said he always followed his father’s commandments, was also prodigal. Except that he trusted in his goodness and ability to do the right thing. But that, in turn, kept him from seeing the point of the gospel. He assumed his ethical stance was superior.

    In short, beware the “us” vs. “them” approach to moralistic debates (like mode of schooling) where we actually argue from one of two different ditches, rather than understand the perils of both and seek to pursue the kingdom of God in either case. Of course, it is the Father that ever pursues us either way – praise God for that!

  148. Darryl Hart said,

    October 12, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    E. Hoss: the question about whether parents sending children to state schools may not prove a whole lot. But since you endorse the idea that state schools are a defacto state church that is guilty of godlessness, and since sessions regularly remove people from rolls of churches for going to churches that practice idolatry, it is not at all unreasonable to think that sessions should discipline members who are engaged in idolatrous practices. (And for what it’s worth, I would advocate a session taking action against someone who breaks the Sabbath.) Could it be your bark is worse than its bite?

    Could it also be that going to state schools is not as bad as worshiping false gods? Daniel, after all, seemed to excell state schools that were hardly neutral, and yet God blessed him. Also, Paul taught that eating meat offered to idols was not inherently sinful. So perhaps the idolatry threshold applies more to real places of worship and not indirect ones where believers have more discretion, and there the elder police don’t need to issue warrants.

    One last thought, could it be that parents who send their children to state schools, may also extend a level of care and Christian nurture that is strong enough to shepherd children through the troubled waters of public schools? I think it is possible, though very difficult. At the same time, I don’t believe that any system of educating covenant youth is air tight. Home schooled kids go off the ranch. Christian schooled kids abandon the faith. Public schooled kids have problems. So since experience doesn’t prove what’s right, the theoretical question is one where parents make the call on how to educate their young. I am very cautious about a pastor, session or other Christian parents telling other parents how to rear their children. It’s sort of like France telling us how to deal with our immigration problem.

  149. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 12, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Hmm, so all “covenant kiddos” who receive this “christian education” become christians themselves? Or is it that they already *are* christians, and somehow this “christian education” keeps them as such?

    And if a covenant kid receives a christian education, but tells his parents he doesn’t believe in Christ, then what? Parents not faithful enough? God just decide not to honor their faithfulness in this particular case? What theological acrobatics do we have to perform so that this position is left standing?

    Just curious.

  150. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 12, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Darryl,

    What Sabbath-breaking activity would you prosecute?

    Just curious.

  151. Darryl Hart said,

    October 13, 2008 at 5:05 am

    GCB: not attending public worship; worshiping at the Roman Catholic parish; and sending kids to public schools on Sunday.

  152. its.reed said,

    October 13, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Brothers:

    It is fascinating to me that in this whole conversation abouut the covenant education obligations of parents, not a word has been said so far (I may have missed a secondary comment) about the focus of the Bible’s teaching here, to wit, the call to teach our children the gospel in all its fullness in the context of regular family worship.

    Full disclosure, I am both a home schooling parent and a board member of a classical Christian school. My participation in Christian schooling flows in part because of a committment to minister to other families who wanted to opt out of public school, but for whom home schooling is not an option.

    All this and I find myself in agreement with the sentiments of Jeff Cagle (with others here) in terms of what the Bible teaches concerning a parent’s education choices. The argument against “public school” can only be made by inference, as the Bible does not directly address the issue.

    On the other hand, Deut 6, 4, the whole book of Proverbs, etc. are very clear in terms of the covenant responsibility to what historically has been the practice of family worship.

    Darryl is right that there is no promise that any educational system innoculates children from going prodigal (or worse). These promises are focused on the faith of parents exercised in family worship. You fail parents miserably if you limit this to a decision over public vs. “Christian” education.

    Just my thoughts. Peace to all.

    Reed DePace
    Pastor, 1st Presbyterian
    Montgomery, AL

  153. Zrim said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Oh my. So much ado over education, and yet nothing very new I haven’t thought of or encountered as I continue to advocate for public education. I’m almost sorry I brought it up.

    But I think DGH asks a simple but vital question: is the (compulsory) education of covenant youth actually a matter over which one may be disciplined?

    This seems to get at the heart of things. It seems to me that what some of us are really up against here is a form of legalism. What makes this hard for many Presbyterians to recognize varies; from the fact that many Presbyterians have been conditioned to think is that legalism has something only to do with substance use, to the fact that this has to do with children, that group in whom we see bound up all our beliefs, values, habits, etc. But the principles of legalism can be employed in many different ways. That is part of its genius. It is odd that those who are otherwise consistent in their two-kingdom theology—even those who can be found including education as an example of how there is no such thing as Christian versions of worldly enterprise—draw the line at compulsory education in practice. This would be more troublesome were it not for an abiding doctrine of Christian liberty in the first place.

    CVT has been referenced various times so far. Whatever else this modern paterfamilias contributed to the larger Reformed tradition, his notions about parochial education he simply got wrong. It seems doomed from the outset insofar as compulsory education is quite simply a facet of culture, not cult. What really, I think, is going on with CVT and his notions of parochial education owes much more to the plight of an immigrating sub-culture to a larger unknown one. Education, because it is a trait of culture, is a vital institution to the success of any cultural cohesion. CVT’s line was, “In our isolation is our strength.” What that means is “we Dutch immigrants have to stick together if we want to survive.” That makes a lot of sense when one considers this to be a cultural enterprise. What makes it even more confusing can be how there is a lot of overlap with the principles of Christian orthodoxy. But at the end of it, the intolerance of Presbyterianism owes nothing to compulsory education. What keeps cult cohesive is a churchly confession.

    Nevertheless, until someone in the anti-public school camp can show me where I am sinning by my advocacy in theory and practice for public education, I suppose I will have to be happy to exist as a second-class citizen in the halls of the traditions of men. But that is all right; the seat in the back of the bus is still warm from my substance use days amongst the revivalists.

    Reed,

    Good points. They are ones I have tried to make when I say that a high view of the family understands that it is the only ordained institution to have the power to both make human beings (creational) and to either nurture of destroy faith (redemption). It seems to me that it is actually a low view of the family that lends this ordination out to any educational instiution, be it public or parochial. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with parochial education…just don’t over-realize what is actually happening 5 days a week for 8 hours a pop. The only institution ordained to make human beings both creation-wise and redemption-wise, for better or ill, is the family.

  154. E.C. Hock said,

    October 13, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    We need to remember the that the real abiding focus of Scripture is not Focus on the Family, but finally a focus on the church, i.e., God’s elected family. That God’s ordained institution to make us creatione-wise and redemption-wise. Is that not what the Book of Acts is all about? Obviously the family unit is a critical building block to having strong churches, but not necessarily so as if that creational structure is conditional to being a new creation in Christ. The out-pouring of the Spirit came upon those 120 huddled in prayer in Jerusalem, which were not distinguished in terms of the nuclear family, per se. When we understand that the aim of the the biblical gospel is an ever-expanding mission, more than culture (better, Christ’s mission to renew or change paradigms), then then how we look at the role of general schooling is much less a matter of uniformity than it is conformity – conformity to the purposes of Christ, whatever our social opportunity and context.

  155. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 13, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Darryl,

    That sounds fair. Glad we’re on the same page…

    ;-)

  156. Elder Hoss said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Zrim/Darryl/Others – It’s interesting how appeals to Reformed fathers are a double-edged sword, no? CVT is keenly relevant when it comes to apologetics, and yet terribly misguided, as was Berkhof (!) with regard to their rejection of public schools. Dabney, fantastic on the free offer of the gospel, but dreadfully wrong in his assertion that “secular education is neither possible nor permissible” and that no devotee of any religious persuasion at ANY point in world history up until the apostasy of Unitarianism and the work of Horace Mann ever believed otherwise.

    We are, even as Ian Faith said of Spinal Tap’s dwindling audience just prior to their near-collapse on the Boston tour, “very selective.”

    Zrim observed, “But I think DGH asks a simple but vital question: is the (compulsory) education of covenant youth actually a matter over which one may be disciplined?”

    I wonder how vital that question is if one means by “vital” the contention that “disciplinability” settles whether sending covenant children to public schools is wrong, under God.

    It can be abundantly demonstrated that a host of sins committed by the people of God do not fall under the rubric of a Sesson’s ability to discipline. Does this remove culpability?

    Of course, the alternative is that not a few Presbyterian and Reformed elders are de facto clericalists such that they believe all questions can ultimately come back to whether or not Sessions may discipline. If they can’t, well the matter simply is chalked up to liberty of conscience, and there you have it.

    But we can readily see how that line of argumentation falls to pieces in other areas, a few of which I previously alluded to.

    No Session I’ve ever interacted at with, or been on, has disciplined a member for withholding the firstfruits. For example, a PCA member makes $200,000 gross income and gives about $2,000 annually to the work of God. The Session, to my thinking, can lay out the case that this man is robbing God (if the matter becomes known to them), and urge him to change course.

    However, I suspect that there is not much said Session can do beyond a. declaring what God requires and urging faithfulness thereto; b. serving as examples in this regard, in terms of their own practice of giving.

    On the line of reasoning put forth by some here, the fact that a Session cannot disicpline a man for such unfaithfulness must somehow mean that his withholding the tithe is simply a matter falling under the category of “liberty of conscience.”

    Not so.

    Other example can be cited. Darryl argues that a Session would discipline a man for Sabbath-breaking. How is this defined? A well-known and beloved PCA preacher and teacher loves his golf on Lord’s Day afternoons? Then there’s the ruling elder who dashes off right after the Eucharist to take his two kids to a little league game.

    I believe in both cases a Session can and ought urge what would be a radical volte face for the individual and his family. Beyond that, the matter is in God’s hands.

    So, WHETHER YOU ULTIMATELY VIEW THIS AS BAD JUDGMENT, OR A “WISDOM” ISSUE, or on the other hand, FLAGRANT SIN, THE COMPORTMENT OF THE SESSION WILL LIKELY NOT DIFFER IN EITHER CASE.

    Such an approach is neither convoluted nor onerous. It sets forth lines of demarcation which strike the balance between the role of undeshepherd and Chief Shepherd.

    So it goes with public education for baptized, covenant children. Indeed, as I have underscored in two prior posts, God in His providence has preserved children educated for 15-16 yrs in the noxious greenhouse of the State. Conversely, there have children taught in both the private Christian and home school settings who have tragically fallen away from the faith.

    Neither of these examples sets forth the path of duty.

    As to Reed’s point about daily family worship (a phenomena grievously lacking in far too many homes), isn’t it interesting that several of the Westminsterian Divines met for the expressed purpose of determining whether the omission of family worship by fathers ought be catalogued in the same bin with “adultery” and other scandalous sins.

    After much deliberation (cf. Francis Nigel Lee’s THE HISTORY OF FAMILY WORSHIP, wherein he recounts the actual minutes of the meeting), the Westminterian fathers came to the position that fathers so guilty should be admonished privately, then publicly, and then – if repentance did not ensue -were to be barred from the Lord’s Supper.

    Perhaps, were they able to view this discussion, several of the divines would recommend a similar course of action in the case of those patronizing public schools. I personally would not, though I find their rigor far more commendable then the kind of de facto antinomianism and listlessness that characterizes far too many of our Presbyterian and Reformed churches. And, it should be noted as well that, while I would concur 10000% that daily family worship is a moral obligation and blessed privilege to be exercised by Christian fathers without fail (or moms in their absence), how MORE explicit of a duty is this than is our providing a distinctively Christian paedeia (Eph. 6) for covenant children viz. Christian education. It would seem that in both instances, inference plays a key role in formulating our position.

    In terms of practical ways of addressing this within Presbyterian and Reformed churches, why can’t those of us in business tithe 20% of the gross so that poor members can have the $5,000 for that child to attend the private Christian school? Some do, but why not more? Why don’t Sessions take far more seriously the waywardness of our covenant youth, whom we with regularity profess to help bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, viz. our member vows?

    A PCA pastor for whom I have profound regard, and who has several adult sons walking with God, once said to me that at the end of the day, most of us don’t really believe our membership vows concerning covenant children.
    He is right.

    So, call it what you will – a “wisdom” issue or an “outright sin of commission” issue. Just remember that probably every Reformed and Presbyterian theologian worth his salt, up until AT LEAST Machen, would view the standard “liberty of conscience” view as horribly misguided and wrought with peril, for covenant families. All of this should be incentive for us to redouble our efforts in establishing Christian schools, equipping parents for homeschooling, and encouraging successful businessmen in our congregations to belly up to the bar and give sacrificially beyond the 10% of gross, in an effort to winsomely yet passionately inculcate Christian education in our midst.

    As with daily family worship, and tithing, this needs to be embodied by Sessions themselves, backed by men of means, and from there, watch the healthy osmosis ensue to such an extent that, over time, the people of God in their localized expression achieve unity of mind with regard to this vital question of Christian education.

  157. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 14, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Ran across this article this morning: link.

    The gist is that students’ political and religious views shift left in college, with church-non-attendance doubling.

    This seems to be relevant to the discussion here; it seems that the “public high school effect” might be smaller than the “public college effect.”

    Jeff Cagle

  158. Todd said,

    October 14, 2008 at 8:50 am

    “Zrim/Darryl/Others – It’s interesting how appeals to Reformed fathers are a double-edged sword, no? CVT is keenly relevant when it comes to apologetics, and yet terribly misguided, as was Berkhof (!) with regard to their rejection of public schools. Dabney, fantastic on the free offer of the gospel, but dreadfully wrong in his assertion that “secular education is neither possible nor permissible” and that no devotee of any religious persuasion at ANY point in world history up until the apostasy of Unitarianism and the work of Horace Mann ever believed otherwise. We are, even as Ian Faith said of Spinal Tap’s dwindling audience just prior to their near-collapse on the Boston tour, “very selective.”

    Of course we are selective when apealling to all people outside the inspired writers. We like Luther on justification but not on the Lord’s Supper. It’s called discernment, and Sola Scriptura.

    “Just remember that probably every Reformed and Presbyterian theologian worth his salt, up until AT LEAST Machen, would view the standard “liberty of conscience” view as horribly misguided and wrought with peril, for covenant families.

    So we ignore the testimony of the early church, which almost uniformedly did not see Christian children in the public “pagan” schools as sinful? Anything from the Middle Ages? How about the Princeton men? Did they ever consider this a sin? How about Machen? Speaking of being selective…

    Todd

  159. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 14, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Elder Hoss,

    Two points:

    (1) What do you make of the example of Shadrach and friends? It seems like an important test case that falsifies your equation of “attending public school” and “breaking the first commandment.”

    (2) Tithing is not a good example of a sin that can’t be disciplined. Our Session has no idea what people give, and that’s by design; that information is kept private so that it will not be misused. So the failure to discipline non-tithers does not come about because Sessions are weak-willed about discipline. Rather, it comes about because we don’t actually know who is sinning.

    Your example of playing golf on the Sabbath is better, but still flawed; the PCA allows for a recreational exception to the Sabbath sections of the Confession — hence, there’s nothing to discipline.

    You need an example of a clear, public sin that the Session would not discipline. I can’t think of any off the top. If indeed sending kids to public schools is a violation of the 1st commandment, then we would have a knonw, public, flagrant sin. Those require discipline per BCO 29-2.

    Elder, BCO 29-1 says this:

    An offense, the proper object of judicial process, is anything in the doctrines or practice of a Church member professing faith in Christ which is contrary to the Word of God. The Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly, together with the
    formularies of government, discipline, and worship are accepted by the
    Presbyterian Church in America as standard expositions of the teachings of
    Scripture in relation to both faith and practice. Nothing, therefore, ought to
    be considered by any court as an offense, or admitted as a matter of
    accusation, which cannot be proved to be such from Scripture.

    I hate to be a little dog gnawing on your ankle, but I haven’t yet seen the Scriptural argument to get me to your thesis. What’s missing is a good and necessary inference from the 1st Commandment into a prohibition against public schools.

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

  160. Darryl Hart said,

    October 14, 2008 at 9:49 am

    E. Hoss and other detractors of state schools: no one (at least me) who is arguing for liberty of conscience on public education is denying that parents and elders have a responsibility to rear covenant children in the faith. The question is whether attending public schools contradicts it inherently.

    This is where the idolatry of the state church is raised, and some of us are dumbfounded that the foes of public education will denigrate those who argue for liberty on state schools are then seemingly blithe about corruption within the one institution that does profess Christ as Lord — the church. So threats come against public schoolsers, but sabbath desecration or women in office are things less in need of policing.

    Methinks that without the clarity that comes from a two-k view, some among us tend to elevate the matters of the state to at least the level if not above that of the church.

    For what it’s worth, I think sessions should work to get members to give generously to the church, observe the sabbath, rear their kids in the Lord, and keep women out of church office. But to try to get parents to regard it as sin to send children to public schools is — without a thus sayeth the lord — an unwarranted binding of conscience. Some Protestants used to know what that meant — Roman Catholicism.

  161. Zrim said,

    October 14, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Elder Hoss,

    I can appreciate your points about wisdom. Surely, not all which is lawful is profitable.

    But to pick up on what Darryl last said, I would rather contend that it is hard to heed a call to wisdom in this case when wisdom seems so lacking otherwise. This will likely be to pour the proverbial gasoline on (and invite all sorts of rabbit trails), but it is unfathomable to me how those who hardly blink an eye at the way in which churches join in worldly frays over such things as homosexuals/women in the military and reproductive non/rights, Darfur and AIDS (the list is endless) think they have cornered any market on wisdom. In a word, there is a fantastic credibility problem. I am a disgruntled member of the CRC. It is hard to accept the pleas to wisdom from those who at once pass around obnoxious petitions against the local strip joint while turning a blind eye to blatant and public sins of members, or the collective yawn given by my fellow Council members to the alarming proposed change in the form of subscription. If only this ostensibly confessional community took as seriously its Reformed heritage as it does its parochial education. If it is wisdom in the Reformed and Presbyterian enclaves to which you are appealing, I think your doctrine of sin needs some brushing up.

    And for what it is worth, you seem to think that those of us who have deliberately chosen against parochial schooling for secular have some sort of pragmatic reason, namely, that it costs too much. Like I have said before, I would be willing to pay for a good education no matter what kind it was, from Catholic to Baptist. My beef is paying for the idea that any school, parochial or otherwise, is in the project of making and shaping my covenant children. In close conjunction with the local church as members in good standing, that is our job as parents alone. I categorically reject the widely assumed notion that compulsory education is primarily an affective enterprise over an intellectual one; despite urban legends that lean heavily on and traffic in ridiculous caricature and sensationalism, it seems to me that secularists get this well before religionists; if that puts me at loggerheads with certain giants, so be it. Granted, there is always intersection and overlap when it comes to the complicated realties of being human, but the simple reality is that it is parents, for better or ill, who make human beings, teachers teach them. If anyone has a problem with that, take it up with the Host of heaven. He made the rules about who actually does what and who doesn’t.

  162. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 14, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    In the NT I only see giving, not tithing. That’s why you can’t really discipline for the lack of it.

    Just thought I’d throw another stick in the spokes of this comment thread….

  163. tim prussic said,

    October 14, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    I did read something about tithing that the other part of the Bible about tithing… you know, that part that Jesus and the Apostles read and commended to us for reading and obedience.

  164. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 14, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Sure, how often did they tithe back then?

  165. Elder Hoss said,

    October 14, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Darryl/Zrim/GC- Are you suggesting that if a covenant member’s wife told you she was concerned about the family’s lack of faithfulness in giving (ie., “Elder Hart, I’m concerned that my husband, as a VP at IBM gives 1% of our income to the work of God,”) this would not be grounds for reproof, since the NT teaches “giving” not “tithing”? Of, if a man consistently removes himself from all fellowship in the local church save for showing up for 55 mins on Sunday morning only to duck out to his sports league, leaving his wife and kids behind (I’ve seen this with some regularity) that such would not be worthy of reproof?

    I fear our problems may be deeper than even I suggested.

    Or, is the only grounds for reproof you envision in a Presbyterian church the fact that a man may engage in adultery or approvingly read books by Greg Bahnsen or Groen Van Prinsterer? : )

    As to early church historiography, this is a curious and debated argument. Anglican historians such as as Bingham and others have noted the presence of Church Schools, modeled after the pattern of the Jews during the intertestamental period.

    But even if one granted that the early Fathers patronized pagan schools, some of them also taught that salvation chiefly consisted in deification, were highly syncretistic in their view of pagan philosophy (read Von Campenhausen’s FATHERS OF THE EASTERN CHURCH for more on this), and embraced not a few other errata.

    And?

    Concerning the Princeton School, surely A.A. Hodge brought alot to the party, as did his Southern counterpart R.L. Dabney. Read again what they have written concerning public education. I didn’t make it up….

    So, no, I don’t believe we are wiser than our fathers in this regard, in much the same way that many here would contend that various innovations in Reformed Theology over the past 20 yrs or so betray a similar historical myopia. To attribute Van Til or Berkhof’s position, as did a prior respondent (I forget whom, please pardon) to merely a kind of cultural parochialism fails to take into account the fact that both of them, with men like Hodge, Dabney, and Von Mastricht, saw their view of public education’s impropriety as one growing DIRECTLY OUT OF THEIR VIEW OF THE COVENANT, and not easily attributable to “Dutch this or that” (besides, Hodge wasn’t Dutch, last I checked).

    Finally also, hearken back to the Westminsterian Divines’ ruling regarding church discipline against men who refuse to engage in daily family worship. I’ve stated I would not recommend a Session necessarily go that far. I suspect though that a whole host of Reformed and Presbyterian ministers (and those of other denominations) reading the unswerving stand taken by the Westministerians (cf. Francis Nigel Lee’s THE HISTORY OF FAMILY WORSHIP where he recounts this) would not even have it on the proverbial radar in terms of our taking heed to the flock.

    Our churches in this sense, far more resemble country clubs than they do the armory of the Lord, wherein disciples are being trained to take their place in Christ’s kingdom as prophets, priests, and kings, made after the image and likeness of our true Prophet, Priest, and King.

  166. Elder Hoss said,

    October 14, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Here is A.A. Hodge (and I sign-off with him, praying that you will consider some of the practical recommendations I’ve offered in terms of how this might work itself out in the life of our Reformed and Presbyterian churches):

    “I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, which this sin-rent world has ever seen… It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from the public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes the least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter how small a minority the atheists or the agnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is carried out in all parts of the country, the United States’ system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen” (A. A. Hodge, “Popular Lectures on Theological Themes,” 1889, pages 281-283).

  167. todd said,

    October 14, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Elder Hoss,

    You really want to relegate 300 years of church history on this matter as irrelevant because certain teachers back then taught salvation by deification? Even Tertullian saw the necessity for the Christian children to remain in the schools. Also, your quotes are not making your point. It is one thing to criticize public education, and there are many things to criticize, it is another to suggest Christian parents are not fulfilling their vows to God if they educate their children this way. It would be like me saying the devil is using Hollywood to promote lust, attack family values, etc… and someone using my quote to suggest every Christian who sees a movie at a theater is unfaithful to God. Where are the quotes from Hodge or other Princeton men that suggest they viewed Christian parents as unfaithful if they used the education system? Since most Presbyterians in their day used the public schools for their children, surely with all the sermons and articles available you can back up your claim.

    Todd

  168. todd said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    It seems there are four groups of Christians concerning public education. One group sees any removal from the public schools as a retreat from being salt and light, thus condemning home and private schools, a view more well known in broad evangelical circles than ours. The next group, like Zrim and myself, use the public schools and find much benefit in them, but also see home and private schooling as viable choices. The third group would not personally send their children to public schools, but leave the matter to each parent as a matter of conscience and do not judge parents on this matter. The fourth group label as “unfaithul to God” those parents who do education through the public schools. I would imagine the majority on a list like this see themselves in the second or third group.

    It is telling that most among the fourth group fall into the post-mil, theonomic category, without beginning a debate on the label “theonomy,” while the second group would be amil 2kingdom types, or as we are at times called, radical 2kers. :-)

    My point is, IMHO, the difference in convictions between groups 2 and 4 is often a difference in mission. When I read post-mil, theonomic liturature, they look at atheists, homosexuals, Muslims, etc… as people who need to be defeated, whose ideas need to lose out to Christians in the state and culture. Amil, 2kers see these as people who need to be reached, not defeated. The post-mils are trying to raise up an army to use their knowledge, wisdom, Christian world-view to penetrate the culture and politics that these institutions become more Christian. 2kers see this as a distraction from our true mission in this age, a “Jewish dream” if you will.

    The home schooled child is often raised hearing “Gods view-point” on every matter; economics, statecraft, culture, science, and religion, so he can use this knowledge for change. But what good is all this knowledge if he cannot befriend unbelievers, enter their world, build relationships with them, and learn to listen instead of always talking? I have seen too many home schooled kids grow up not knowing how to have unbelieving close friends, and unbelievers sure are not interested in listening to all their knowledge. So what do these adults do with all their knowledge? Well, often they start their own blogs!

    I do send my kids to public school, not only for the education, (and in my case the school gets excellent marks for the three R´s, P.E., literature, etc… My 12 year old just recited verbatim an entire poem from Poe he learned in honors English, I was very proud of him. ) I also send my kids to school for missionary reasons, not so they be missionaries now, but as adults, able to deal with bullies, learn to submit to other adults, learn to get along with different types of people, etc…

    Thus underlying this school debate is likely the real debate, what is the mission of the church in this age before Christ returns?

    Fire away

    Todd

  169. Darryl Hart said,

    October 14, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Elder Hoss: if you think that I would not reprove a man who is an exec. at WalMart and only “gives” a meager amount to the church because of what I’ve written here either about the state or about education, then I wonder if you’re teaching your kids Latin or logic (i.e., non sequiter). Also, I see nothing in my arguments on education or politics to suggest that a man who only participates in his congregation for 55 minutes on Sunday is actively being a member (except maybe that DGH disagrees with E. Hoss on public schools and government, so he must disagree with E. Hoss on giving and church membership.)

  170. Kyle said,

    October 14, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 130,

    Kyle: what the independence of the church from the state has to do with is the original place of Christianity in the world. It was not an established religion and Christ and the apostles did not seek to make it so. When the state told them to cease what they were doing, they disobeyed and took their lumps.

    This doesn’t address the argument, Dr. Hart. Where have I argued that the Christian church is not independent from the state? Whether Christianity ought to be an established religion is a matter of the state’s duty toward God and its citizens, not a matter of the church’s independence from the state. I nowhere advocate that church and state should be combined in one institution, or that the church should carry out the affairs that are properly the state’s or vice versa.

    The rest of your response comes down to this basic question: what duty has the civil government toward the Triune God, if any? When you answer that, then we can discuss whether a Christian state is practicable.

  171. E.C. Hock said,

    October 14, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Kyle,

    According to Romans 13, the civil government is already a “servant” of God in the way it inherently applies justice, though imperfectly. The state may not choose consciously to be God’s servant, but a servant it remains. The sword of Rome was as God’s servant though by no conscious decree from the emperor. As the state already serves the sovereign purposes of God, under His providence, one can say that, to that extent, the state is doing its duty under God by implementing its own civil laws, be they through common grace, to reward or punish human behavior accordingly. If the state is to protect the church, that too, in a limited manner, is being done through waving our tax and supporting our right to the freedom of religion, though its pluralistic form may not be satisfactory and its future not guaranteed. If we are wanting an Erastian configuration of church and state, then that is a more thorny question for a number of reasons in a Republic-oriented democracy. But as noted, that is not necessarily what Christ’s apostles ask us to endorse.

  172. Kyle said,

    October 14, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    E.C. Hock, re: 171,

    You haven’t answered the question I put to Dr. Hart, and I’m not advocating Erastianism.

  173. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 14, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Hoss: I wasn’t advocating that kind of giving (or lack thereof). Reproof would be in order to such a one as you mentioned in your comments. I was challenging the tithing requirement as an unmovable law. In the NT, we have the spirit of tithing exemplified in joyful giving from the heart–not an outward ordinance enforced. There is not a one to one correlation between OT tithing and NT giving, but a shift from outward ordinance to the inward work of the Holy Spirit…

  174. Darryl Hart said,

    October 15, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Kyle: no you haven’t argued for the identification of church and state, but you do seem to be upholding a pattern where the church is an agency of the state (which is what Geneva was, and which seems important to the argument that without a state religion, the state school becomes the defacto state church). So some real convergence is going on in your view, Erastian or not. It would be helpful if you could specify what the ideal relationship it.

    As to your question about the duty of the state to God, I don’t know why EC Hock’s answer is insufficient. The NT is fairly slight on political theory. Rom. 13 is one of those few places where the Bible says that the duties of the non-covenanted state are to restrain evil. That is its specific function. More generally, rulers have a duty to follow the law of God written on their hearts (Rom. 1). Christians under unbelieving rulers have an obligation to recognize that such rulers will not follow that law all the time, and so to keep their expectations in check.

    A good analogy here is the family, another institution ordained by God to restrain evil and propagate the race. We don’t think non-Christian families are illegitimate (at least I hope we don’t). So I don’t know why we would think a non-Christian government is illegitimate or defective or in need of Christianization for it to be legitimate or even valuable.

    I think one of the reasons you don’t see the import of the assertion of the church’s independence of the state is that you don’t see the difference between the OT economy of salvation and the one in the NT. If Christians want a “Christian” government, Israel would certainly be a good place to start (which is why theonomy has such a long shelf-life). But if that theocratic order has passed away with Christ’s advent, which I believe, then Christian politics are now to be found not in monarcies, republics, or democracies but in sessions, presbyteries, synods and general assemblies.

    The only nation in the history of the world with a biblical mandate and a religious mission was Israel. That mandate and mission changed with the Great Commission. Now, the United States is no better or any worse in the categories of redemptive history than Mexico or Sweden. What we want all of those states to do is restrain evil, and we pray that they will not persecute the church or restrict the proclamation of the gospel. But we don’t think they have some kind of religious obligation to establish Christianity or lead a national church as part of their calling as magistrates.

  175. Zrim said,

    October 15, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Todd @ 168:

    All good points. The culture wars’ concerns for finding heroes and culprits seems to ignore a higher view of human sin and depravity; there’s spreading the gospel, and then there’s the defeat and punishment of particular sinners. Insofar as it is a facet of culture and not cult, funny how the topic of education bears that out.

    From time to time I bump into believers who employ secular education for their children. More often than not, they tend to have what I call the “education as mission” view. Mine is an “education as vocation” view. This means that I don’t see our presence as primarily missiological. as I see it, education is about having the best interests of the one being educated in mind; mission is about having others’ interests in mind. The “education as mission” view seems to naturally flow out of the more misguided notions about the priesthood of all believers (i.e. “every member ministry”), the idea that common activity has to be justified as somehow sanctified work. And, voila, you get what you suggest as the first view. It’s bad for a host of reasons, but the most troubling to me is how it foists mission onto children and neglects their own best interests. School is a place for a child to learn, not a field to reap souls. There are people ordained for such work.

    After all, if my vocation as an adult has more to do with serving the best interests of my family and me than how many opportunities I have to share the gospel, why should it be any different for a child?

  176. Colin said,

    October 15, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Zrim,

    I like a lot of what you and Dr Hart say, but in the last few lines of no 175, you seem to disparage the role of the ordinary church member in evangelism, can I ask your rational for this ?

    Colin

  177. Zrim said,

    October 15, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Colin,

    I suspect that whenever the point is made that the work of evangelism is to be done by he who is ordained by the church it may sound as if it is disparaging to the ordinary believer.

    But I think this has more to do with our subsuming low-churchism than with disdain for the ordinary. After all, I am about as ordinary as they come. That certainly does not mean that I am at all absent witness. It just means I’m not exactly an evangelist. I witness in every venue from the Seven-Eleven to the teleconference to sitting in the nose-bleeds at the US Open; it is inescapable. But that is not evangelism. It may be that a certain person a knack for explaining things well, but until he gets a certificate in the mail from an accredited institution, he isn’t really a teacher and has no business heading up a classroom. It is interesting to me how, when it comes to a worldly example, most of us don’t think of that as necessarily disparaging to our friend but rather quite appropriate; but when it comes to the work of the church we get fuzzy. I think this has to do with the relative victory of anti-instiutionalism and an intensely personalized notion of religion.

  178. Kyle said,

    October 15, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 174,

    Kyle: no you haven’t argued for the identification of church and state, but you do seem to be upholding a pattern where the church is an agency of the state (which is what Geneva was, and which seems important to the argument that without a state religion, the state school becomes the defacto state church). So some real convergence is going on in your view, Erastian or not. It would be helpful if you could specify what the ideal relationship it.

    It would be helpful if you might identify where in anything I’ve said I’ve indicated that the Christian church should act as an agency of the state (or vice versa, for that matter). That the public school system acts as a de facto state church in inculcating civic religion in its pupils does not speak to the ideal relation of church and state, only to the situation as it now stands. So far you disagree with the contention that the U.S. public school situation functions in such a manner.

    As to your question about the duty of the state to God, I don’t know why EC Hock’s answer is insufficient.

    It is insufficient because his answer is merely descriptive of the state’s role in God’s providence rather than prescriptive of the state’s duties. Duties are prescriptive. We all agree that the civil government is a servant of God, whether a good servant or a wicked servant. What I’m asking for is what God requires of the civil government as His servant.

    The NT is fairly slight on political theory. Rom. 13 is one of those few places where the Bible says that the duties of the non-covenanted state are to restrain evil. That is its specific function.

    Then of course we’ll need to determine what is evil. I don’t know if you agree with Zrim, but he has previously alledged that Christians are free to hold varying views on whether the civil government should restrain the specific evil of abortion, apparently based on the same two-kingdom notion which you advance here.

    More generally, rulers have a duty to follow the law of God written on their hearts (Rom. 1).

    I don’t see where Romans 1 speaks specifically to the civil government; but for the sake of argument, let’s go with it. Does the law of God written on their hearts include idolatry, and what should be the civil government’s response to & treatment of idolatry? Have they any duty to restrain that evil?

    Christians under unbelieving rulers have an obligation to recognize that such rulers will not follow that law all the time, and so to keep their expectations in check.

    I don’t disagree with you here; but even so, it doesn’t change the civil government’s obligations, does it? And while Christians ought not to expect too much, have we no interest in speaking up against the civil government’s failure to abide by God’s law?

    A good analogy here is the family, another institution ordained by God to restrain evil and propagate the race. We don’t think non-Christian families are illegitimate (at least I hope we don’t). So I don’t know why we would think a non-Christian government is illegitimate or defective or in need of Christianization for it to be legitimate or even valuable.

    I’ve never said a non-Christian government is illegitimate or valueless; but it is defective to the same extent a pagan family is defective.

    I think one of the reasons you don’t see the import of the assertion of the church’s independence of the state is that you don’t see the difference between the OT economy of salvation and the one in the NT.

    And where have I asserted that the Christian church is not independent of the state?

  179. Zrim said,

    October 15, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Kyle said, “Then of course we’ll need to determine what is evil. I don’t know if you agree with Zrim, but he has previously alledged that Christians are free to hold varying views on whether the civil government should restrain the specific evil of abortion, apparently based on the same two-kingdom notion which you advance here.”

    What are you saying, Kyle, that I am now disallowed my states’ rights views on this one? Tell you what, I will let you be a federal-moralist if you let me, well, exist. I realize that sounds like a better deal for me, but you have to understand how much disdain I have for forms of moralism, including political ones.

    And, “I’ve never said a non-Christian government is illegitimate or valueless; but it is defective to the same extent a pagan family is defective.”

    So a believing son must tell his pagan folks they are defective? Sounds like a violation of the fifth commandment to me. Would you say you have a high view of creation?

  180. Kyle said,

    October 15, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Zrim, re: 179,

    What are you saying, Kyle, that I am now disallowed my states’ rights views on this one? Tell you what, I will let you be a federal-moralist if you let me, well, exist. I realize that sounds like a better deal for me, but you have to understand how much disdain I have for forms of moralism, including political ones.

    You’ve yet to demonstrate how my views are moralism, despite having accused me of it several times. As for your “states’ rights” views, I have never discussed with you the proper relation between the U.S. federal government & the American states. I have always spoken of the civil government or civil magistrate or state in general.

    So a believing son must tell his pagan folks they are defective?

    To the extent that they are unbelievers, they are defective relative to believers, because they continue to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” and “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened,” and “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” Sorry if that “sounds like a violation of the fifth commandment” to you.

  181. Zrim said,

    October 16, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Kyle,

    Re how the charge of political-moralism doesn’t take on the grounds of morality, my legalists are fond also of dismissing the charge under the guise of personal preference. I get it, there’s nothing I can say that will actually prove political-moralism to you any more than my legalists will ever admit their legalism. After all, who wants to actually be one? No, you’re right, we haven’t discussed specifically the relationship between certain magistrates, etc. But the language you use is pretty close to the language federal-moralists do. And, to be quite frank, my hunch is that you are using the political correctness of the wider anti-abortion culture of our circles to stigmatize a two-kingdoms view.

    Re your low view of creation, I know certain distinctions are not the long-suit here, but there is a vital difference between unbelief and being defective. Indeed, the scandal of unbelief actually depends on a higher view of creation than you seem to suggest in your “defective” language. After all, if unbelievers are less-than-human in their creation then where’s the beef?

  182. Darryl Hart said,

    October 16, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Kyle, since I keep misrepresenting you, and since you keep saying that I accuse you of things you don’t hold, maybe you could help me with a few answers:

    1) Was the relationship between church and state in Geneva a good thing?

    2) Was the state education provided by Calvin’s Geneva a good thing?

    3) Was the American Revolution a set back for the political order that reigned in Geneva?

    4) Do you think Mormons and Roman Catholics should be free to practice their religion (since they engage in idolatry)?

    5) Why do you think a school is a church? (I understand that presuppositions and world views exist and so without Christianity some other view comes into play, and I suppose that other view is idolatrous. But since Christian counsellors are telling me if I have a second helping of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving I’m engaging in idolatry, I wonder why the “idolatry” of public education is so objectionable.)

  183. Kyle said,

    October 16, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Zrim, re: 181,

    Re how the charge of political-moralism doesn’t take on the grounds of morality, my legalists are fond also of dismissing the charge under the guise of personal preference. I get it, there’s nothing I can say that will actually prove political-moralism to you any more than my legalists will ever admit their legalism. After all, who wants to actually be one?

    You’ve not even attempted to establish your charge of moralism, and already you’re complaining that I’ve dismissed your proofs! You’re too absurd.

    No, you’re right, we haven’t discussed specifically the relationship between certain magistrates, etc. But the language you use is pretty close to the language federal-moralists do.

    So you assumed you already knew my position on the proper relation between the U.S. federal government & the American states, didn’t you?

    And, to be quite frank, my hunch is that you are using the political correctness of the wider anti-abortion culture of our circles to stigmatize a two-kingdoms view.

    Frankly, if a two-kingdoms view results in the idea that Christians have the freedom to advocate pro-abortion policies, such a view deserves to be stigmatized. But I’m not quite the strategist you imply.

    Re your low view of creation, I know certain distinctions are not the long-suit here, but there is a vital difference between unbelief and being defective. Indeed, the scandal of unbelief actually depends on a higher view of creation than you seem to suggest in your “defective” language. After all, if unbelievers are less-than-human in their creation then where’s the beef?

    As I recall, you’re the one who couldn’t grasp how the idea of “innocent blood” figured into a Calvinist system of thought. Now how is it that “defective” equates to “less-than-human,” pray tell?

    Dr. Hart, re: 182,

    I’m not answering any further questions from you until you answer the questions I’ve already put to you. This is also on the further condition that you carefully review what I have actually said, so that your answers don’t presume to read between the lines to determine my position. Otherwise, I have nothing more to say to you on this subject, thank you.

  184. Zrim said,

    October 17, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Kyle,

    Re the moralism point, you’ll just have to forgive me; I’m really, really bad at describing colors. A friend of mine is color-blind and insists what is green is really blue (or vice versa, I can’t remember now). He calls me absurd, too.

    Re the freedom to have different views, did it ever occur to you that there is such a thing as simply bad ideas? I am not sure why bad ideas have to be foisted into the impious category. Was it when you exchanged a Presbyterian ecclesiology for a Romanist one (think John Kerry being excommunicated for his statecraft. Does that sound good to you? But I am with Cardinal Mahoney who corrected Kmiec’s excommunication for his Democratic devotions, probably because that is more Protestant)?

    Re innocent blood and Calvinism, I have always distinguished between ultimate innocense and penultimate innocense (I know, more distinctions). What I have never fathomed is how Augustinian-Calvinism should have any company with those who speak incessantly with those who refer to certain sinners in vitro as innocent. The correct language is weak. But I am still not clear on how weak means “entitled to the sort of absolute protection that nobody else is.” Don’t worry too much; if the question is whether Jane may or mayn’t, I do say that better judgment says she mayn’t. I just don’t think that is the question. The question is “who gets to decide?”

    How does defective translate into less-than-human? I don’t know, how do you feel if I tell you you are “defective” because you don’t see things the way I do? For my part, I’d rather be told I am either wrong (ideology) and/or subject to eternal judgment (theology). But being called “defective” goes way too far.

  185. Kyle said,

    October 17, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Zrim, re: 184,

    Re the moralism point, you’ll just have to forgive me; I’m really, really bad at describing colors. A friend of mine is color-blind and insists what is green is really blue (or vice versa, I can’t remember now). He calls me absurd, too.

    Brilliant. So, will you object if I call you an antinomian? Really, antinomianism is just like a shade of blue – too bad you’re colorblind. (Is colorblindness a defect? Does this mean you think me defective? Oh horrors!)

    Re the freedom to have different views, did it ever occur to you that there is such a thing as simply bad ideas? I am not sure why bad ideas have to be foisted into the impious category. Was it when you exchanged a Presbyterian ecclesiology for a Romanist one (think John Kerry being excommunicated for his statecraft. Does that sound good to you? But I am with Cardinal Mahoney who corrected Kmiec’s excommunication for his Democratic devotions, probably because that is more Protestant)?

    Legalized murder is not simply a “bad idea,” and John Kerry’s excommunication for his pro-abortion activity was only appropriate (not that it matters much in the long run since Rome is not in communion with Christ). You’ve previously accused me of lacking a Presbyterian ecclesiology. But our Confession specifically teaches that the civil government has a positive duty to protect the person of all their people:

    It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever (WCF 23.3, American revision)

    So, what after all is so unpresbyterian about my view? Is it something like how believing that the creation days were ordinary days in length is Adventist & sub-Reformed, as Dr. Hart elsewhere implies? Or is that just another color to which I’m blind?

    Re innocent blood and Calvinism, I have always distinguished between ultimate innocense and penultimate innocense (I know, more distinctions). What I have never fathomed is how Augustinian-Calvinism should have any company with those who speak incessantly with those who refer to certain sinners in vitro as innocent. The correct language is weak.

    How does God use “innocent blood” in Deut. 19?

    But I am still not clear on how weak means “entitled to the sort of absolute protection that nobody else is.” Don’t worry too much; if the question is whether Jane may or mayn’t, I do say that better judgment says she mayn’t. I just don’t think that is the question. The question is “who gets to decide?”

    What is this “absolute protection” to which you think that I think unborn children are entitled while no one else is? Last I checked, everyone ought to be protected from being MURDERED. The fact that our society allows unborn children to be murdered legally means that unborn children are treated as though NOT entitled to the same basic protection as everyone else. It’s not a question of “who gets to decide.” God has already said that the shedding of innocent blood is evil, and he charges the civil government with the authority to punish the perpetrators of such evil.

    How does defective translate into less-than-human? I don’t know, how do you feel if I tell you you are “defective” because you don’t see things the way I do?

    Oh yes, kind of like how you’ve compared my condition of not accepting your unsubstantiated charges of “moralism” with colorblindness, right?

    For my part, I’d rather be told I am either wrong (ideology) and/or subject to eternal judgment (theology). But being called “defective” goes way too far.

    I’m sorry your English is so defective that you think calling a government or family “defective” means that said government or family is composed of or headed by “subhumans.”

  186. Darryl Hart said,

    October 17, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Kyle: Come now. You didn’t wade into this discussion until #80 or so and you said this: “Essentially it boils down to this: there is no such thing as a religiously neutral government. All states have a state church or religion in a de facto sense if not officially de jure. In the U.S., the catechetical arm of American civic religion is without a doubt the public school system. It is in the public school system that American children are inculcated in the beliefs of humanism, multiculturalism, moral relativism, Darwinism, and a host of others.”

    If that is true, what do we do with the state and with the schools? What do you advocate? It sounds like either the state is pro- or anti-God. If the state is pro-God, what shape does that take? What does the state do with idolatry? And if the state is anti-God, what does it do with the state? And what should Christians do when the state is anti-God?

  187. Kyle said,

    October 17, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 186,

    I’ve already given you my requirements for further engagement with you on this subject. If you don’t wish to meet them, that is your prerogative. But I’m not answering your questions until then. Thank you.

  188. Darryl Hart said,

    October 18, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Kyle: as Ned Flanders says, “okydokilly.”

  189. Darryl Hart said,

    October 18, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Kyle: I now see where we disagree. I believe a school is a school. I believe a church is a church. I believe that churches and schools have different functions. I believe that schools educate and churches worship. You believe a school, when sponsored by a secular state, is a church. I don’t suppose, though, that you think a school sponsored by a Christian state is a church. Maybe you do. But in Calvin’s Geneva I think you could likely tell the difference between his academy and his church, because of the difference between education and worship.

    So if there are liturgical/idolatrous dimensions to education when conducted by a non-Christian state, why not liturgical/idolatrous dimensions to garbage collection and building roads?

    You seem to think the logic is obvious for schools becoming defacto churches. But equating worship and education is not really so obvious. I’d have thought a graduate of Washington & Lee could figure that out.

  190. Kyle said,

    October 18, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 189,

    I’d have thought a graduate of Temple, WTS, Harvard, & Johns Hopkins, a professor at and dean of WSC, a professor at WTS, a director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, a Director of Academic Programs at ISI, an author of several church historical works, a member of the OPC’s Christian Education Committee, and an elder of the church, would have understood what I actually said by now, would have admitted his misrepresentation of history, and would have comported himself with greater dignity in these discussions than he has.

    Much to my disappointment & regret, he has not.

  191. D G Hart said,

    October 18, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Kyle: I’d have thought the degree from Temple in film would have caused you to lower your expectations of me.

  192. Zrim said,

    October 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Kyle,

    You may call me whatever four-letter word you like. If you take requests, though, I really prefer Lutheran. Sure, “antinomian” is the one Paul got to the exclusion of “moralist,” so I should say that your charge puts me in good company. But I can live with Lutheran.

    Seriously, though, DGH has repeated what distinguishes us with regard to the nature of certain institutions. That was my point way up when I was talking about who is ordained for what: schools teach, homes make and churches redeem human beings. See, Uncle Abe, I can work with sphere sovereignty.

  193. Kyle said,

    October 18, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Zrim, re: 192,

    The number of men called “moralists” and “legalists” and “Pharisees” in the modern church by liberals and pagans and Unitarian Universalists and homosexuals and feminists and on and on and on certainly doesn’t incline me to feel like I’m somehow in bad company.

    Seriously, though, DGH has repeated what distinguishes us with regard to the nature of certain institutions.

    Dr. Hart doesn’t know what he’s talking about with regard to my views; but he & you welcome to skewer as many strawmen as you like.

  194. D G Hart said,

    October 18, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Kyle: I thought you went to bed.

  195. G.C. Berkley said,

    October 18, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Kyle,

    And what were those views again? For us simpletons? They must be profound if Dr. Hart apparently can’t figure them out…

  196. Kyle said,

    October 20, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 194,

    The timestamps reveal otherwise.

    G.C. Berkley, re: 195,

    Nothing particularly profound at all. But I don’t have the time or inclination to repeat myself for your benefit. Read what I’ve already written in this thread, and if you can find where I think the church is to act as an arm of the civil government, or where I stated or implied that state schools as a general principle must function as de facto state churches, please do let me know.

  197. Darryl Hart said,

    October 20, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Kyle: do you think the church acting as an arm of the civil government is bad? If so, does that mean you think Calvin’s Geneva was a mistake?

    BTW, I kind of got the message loud and clear that you think state schools are defacto state churches. That’s an assertion, not an argument. Some of would like to know how you get from the idea that because the state sponsors a school it turns into an established religion.

  198. markvandermolen said,

    October 20, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Dr. Hart:

    Is secular humanism is a religion?

  199. Kyle said,

    October 20, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 197,

    I never said anything remotely like “because the state sponsors a school it turns into an established religion.” This is your misconstrual of what I’ve said, which is why I’ve asked several times now that you address what I actually said.

  200. David Gadbois said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Kyle, since you aren’t exactly winning any converts here, perhaps you could post something more helpful than the last few comments which do nothing more than repeat the claim that you are being misrepresented. Maybe you have been unfairly represented. Fine. Folding your arms and stomping your feet with post after post of complaining about being a misunderstood victim (while mixing in bitter, insulting jibes toward others) won’t serve as a corrective to Zrim or Darryl’s supposed folly. You can write them off as hopeless, in which case you should probably leave and serve the Lord in a more productive manner than on this blog. Or you can explain, specifically, what your position is in contrast to how some have misunderstood it and argue, positively for it. Or, if you believe you have already done so adequately, then move on.

    But don’t expect that everyone else regards it as an obvious fact that you have been misrepresented when you have been so long on challenging and questioning others while being rather thin on actually defining and defending your own position.

  201. Darryl Hart said,

    October 21, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Mr. Gadbois, ding, ding, ding, ding: congratulations, you’re the two-hundreth commenter.

    Mr. Vandermolen: I frankly do not think secular humanism is a religion, any more than I think atheism is a religion, or existentialism. Do I think SH is an outlook that misunderstands the created order and that disregards God? In most cases yes. Do I think that SH informs public education? Probably but I can think of a number of other objectionable isms countenanced by public school teachers and administrators. Do I think SH is the established religion of the land? No. Otherwise I’d likely be persecuted for not believing it or bowing at the alter of John Dewey.

  202. Darryl Hart said,

    October 21, 2008 at 6:07 am

    Kyle:

    A) is it fair to say that you think the public schools in the U.S. are a defacto state church?

    B) If so, is it the case that all state schools function as defacto state churches? Is there something about education that is inherently religious?

    C) Or is it the state’s portion of public education that makes it religious, as in there is something inherently religious about the civil magistrate?

    D) Or is it all of the above?

    ___________ Your answer.

  203. markvandermolen said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:11 am

    I think Daryl’s answer to my question about secular humanism reveals the nub of the difference between his position and that of Kyle. I suspect Kyle would argue that all men are religious–either they worship God or they worship the creature. Daryl apparently believes there are religion-free zones, one of them being the public school system. This thread could go on discussing the definition of “religion”, etc, but from where I stand, this is where I see the divide between Kyle’s position and Daryl’s radical dualistic philosophy.

  204. Zrim said,

    October 21, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Mark,

    I think you are on to it more or less. What is functioning on this side of the table is a rather unapologetic triadalism.

    It works a lot like a Venn diagram. The classic Venn is two intersecting circles. One circle contains things only proper to one group, the other only proper to another; in the middle, where they converge, is common ground. For example, a directive might present a student with a list of words that are a mix of verbs and nouns. The direction would be to place all nouns in the left hand circle and all the verbs in the right. Then it would ask the student to place in the middle all words that contain the letter “e” or even “all the English words.”

    Triadalism works the same way. In the left circle, we could say exists unbelievers and all the things proper to them eternally speaking is contained therein (e.g. judgment, and all the related properties) and in the right circle the same for believers (e.g. redemption and all the related properties); but in the middle is where we all exist under natural law and its related properties, which takes absolutely no account of our previous status as either blessed or condemned.

    After briefly sketching out the narrative of Cain in his “stay of execution that allows Cain to build a city,” Mike Horton explains in God of Promise that:

    “…we begin the story with one creation, one covenant, one people, one mandate, one city. Then after the fall, there is a covenant of creation (with its cultural mandate still in effect for all people, with the law of that covenant universally inscribed on the conscience) and a covenant of grace (with its gospel publicly announced to transgressors), a City of Man (secular but even in its rejection of God, upheld by God’s gracious hand for the time being) and a City of God (holy but even in its acceptance by God, sharing in the common curse of a fallen world). Just as the failure to distinguish law covenant from promise covenant leads to manifold confusions in our understanding of salvation, tremendous problems arise when we fail to distinguish adequately between God’s general care for the secular order and his special concern for the redemption of his people.

    Religious fundamentalism tends to see the world simply divided up into believers and unbelievers. The former are blessed, loved by God, holy, and doers of the right, while the latter are cursed, hated by God, unholy, and doers of evil. Sometimes this is taken to quite an extreme: believers are good people, and their moral, political, and doctrinal causes are always right, always justified, and can never be questioned. Unless the culture is controlled by their agenda, it is simply godless and unworthy of the believers’ support. This perspective ignores the fact that according to Scripture, all of us—believers and unbelievers alike—are simultaneously under a common curse and common grace.

    Religious liberalism tends to see the world simply as one blessed community. Ignoring biblical distinctions between those inside and those outside of the covenant community, this approach cannot take the common curse seriously because it cannot take sin seriously…everything is holy.

    …[But] the human race is not divided at the present time between those who are blessed and those who are cursed. That time is coming, of course, but in this present age, believers and unbelievers alike share in the pains of childbirth, the burdens of labor, the temporal effects of their own sins, and the eventual surrender of their decaying bodies to death…there is in this present age a category for that which is neither holy nor unholy but simply common.”

    But to Kyle, I think, this is just unacceptable. Beyond whatever else he has offered, his last comment to me @ 193 reveals he is probably more comfortable in the fights between Fundamentalists and Liberals, where good guys and bad guys are fairly easily tagged by one or the other; after all, that is why God gave us “liberals and pagans and Unitarian Universalists and homosexuals and feminists.” It is inconceivable to him that “his group” could actually be vulnerable to the same foibles of political correctness, group-think or moralism and legalism that the “other guy” is. But if Calvinism is right there are no good guys and bad guys, only sinners.

  205. D G Hart said,

    October 21, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Mr. Vandermolen, I’d caution you against trying to represent Kyle’s views. He’s a demanding interlocuter.

    As for my own, I don’t think my views are any more radical than those of most Christians in North America who submit to the existing political order which does try to evaluate policies, citizens, and candidates apart from land, blood, and creed. I admit that this system has its problems and cannot overcome those attachments to place, family, and faith. I also admit for at least the tenth time in this string that public education leaves much to be desired, both on Christian and educational grounds. But as for the dualism you describe, I think I am only partly guilty.

    I do think your anti-thesis (how this avoids dualism, I don’t know) is correct about persons. Someone is either a believer or non-believer, and their actions, thoughts, etc. stem from their relationship to God. But when it comes to legal systems and political institutions I do think it is possible and reasonable to think that a judge or an attorney can evaluate my standing before the law fairly even if he is not a believer. At that point, religious convictions may be pushed aside for the moment to try to follow the rules of the system.

    I don’t see how any Christian engages the world differently from this, and so also avoids the guilt of my so-called radicalism (unless said Christian has joined a Christian militia and is intent on overthrowing the current regime). Everyday, in almost every walk of life we entrust our well-being to unbelievers. They may be out to get us eternally speaking. But they do a pretty good job of avoiding me on the highways, of giving me correct change, of sometimes pleasing my rooting interests when they take the field (except when they play on the Lord’s Day).

    I do believe that ulitmately believers and un-believers are at odds in fundamental ways. I simply reject that this is the way our interactions with unbelievers play out in a host of activities, including politics and public education. This seems to be what makes me guilty of liberalism, dualism, or radicalism. It may be. But then I don’t understand how those who believe that the antagonism between belief and unbelief is constant, ongoing, and pervasive stay out of the booby hatch.

  206. Zrim said,

    October 21, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Mark,

    Sometimes the discussion is vulnerable to ideals that make considerations unruly. The topics so far have been taken up by those that tend to involve our deepest beliefs, aspirations, values, etc. But take it down a few notches to common, everyday activities from fastening your seat belt to typing on a keyboard to pumping gas. There are simply hordes of penultimate things believers participate in which have nothing to do with ultimate truths, and with nary a second thought as to whether or not it should be trusted. Sure, penultimate things run a range of stakes; but no matter how high the stakes, if they are penultimate it still makes little sense to hold them to ultimate standards.

    Radical might actually be the one who has to investigate whether his seat belt was built on Christian principles before he uses it or the one who holds the feet of any and every common activity to the fires of special revelation. (

    My hunch is that those who would accuse of “radicalism” tend to actually live their own real lives according to what this side of the table is saying and only occasionally per their own theory. Well, that is, if they actually do go through their daily operations without worrying how Christianized their seat belt is.

  207. Kyle said,

    October 21, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Mr. Gadbois, re: 200,

    Dr. Hart & Zrim have hardly been sweetness & light. My jabs in this thread have been toward them, and not toward any others; and I’m fairly certain they can handle it, given the rate at which they dish it out.

    Now, if you feel I’m been thin in defending what I’ve said, it’s because the reponses to what I’ve actually said have been thin. There have been several strawmen burned, and I’ve asked several times for my interlocutor(s) to identify their strawmen in my own words. I have little desire to greatly expand on my position until they can demonstrate they understand what I’ve already said. Dr. Hart hasn’t demonstrated so thus far, however, as he is now asking a legitimate clarifying question, I will respond to that.

    Dr. Hart, re: 202,

    My answer is A. I do think the U.S. public schools function de facto as a state church. The other options do not reflect my position.

    Mr. Vandermolen, re: 203,

    I think you have you finger on the center of the matter.

    I hope to read the next couple of comments from Zrim & Dr. Hart later.

  208. D G Hart said,

    October 21, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Kyle: could you fill in the dots? Why education? Do you include the courts, the welfare agencies, the U.S. flag (as opposed to the Christian one — I’m kidding), the NEH, the NEA, HHS, the Postal Service? Simply stating that the schools are state churches does not persuade anyone except those who agree with that proposition. Where does the Bible equate education with what the church does? (No fair answering that sermons should be lectures.)

    Also, you agree with #203 but have no response to another reading of secular humanism (#205)?

    One last question: don’t I get a prize, a pat on the head, something — for finally figuring out your position? No peace, no justice.

  209. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 21, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Re #206 (Zrim):

    Radical might actually be the one who has to investigate whether his seat belt was built on Christian principles before he uses it or the one who holds the feet of any and every common activity to the fires of special revelation.

    And again from David Gadbois #100

    As an aerospace engineer, I have yet to find a way of doing Christian aerospace engineering. How does one engage in a “covenenatal, Trinitarian” aircraft design? The very idea is not only silly, but trivializes both the biblical covenants and the Trinity. The engineering enterprise is a product of the cultural/creation mandate in Genesis, and is in the common grace realm fed by general revelation.

    This point seems to require more nuance.

    David, I’ll wager a six-pack (collectible if I ever meet you in person, or if there are six-packs in the New Creation) that you do in fact allow Trinitarian thought to inform the way that you go about your job. At a minimum, you probably treat your fellow workers in a way that demonstrates the love of Christ. And you probably work as unto the Lord, not as unto men. And you probably also bring a creaturely humility to the field of engineering that opposes itself to an arrogant humanistic belief that you have it all figured out.

    Maybe not. But the myriad of Christian engineers that I know have those qualities as a lowest common denominator, and you’re probably within the bell curve.

    And the thing is, those characteristics exert a significant low-frequency effect on your work as an engineer, with the result that your engineering is probably qualitatively different from engineering done in a completely non-Christian culture (say, China).

    Likewise, Zrim, there *is* an extent to which we must hold all of our activities to the scrutiny of the Word. At minimum, we should determine whether they are lawful. And more than that, we should probably determine whether they are profitable. Every careless word, after all, will be held to account (Matt. 12.26).

    Specifically in the realm of seat belts, a Christian user of seat belts will not view them morally neutrally, but in terms of loving his family: Will the seat belt protect my kid in a crash? He would use common grace ideas (read: science) to answer that question, but the ethical component will be evaluated positively Christianly. (Now a non-Christian would probably also be concerned for the safety of his family. But he would have a hard time justifying his concern.)

    On the flip side, a Christian maker of seat belts should have an incentive to not cut corners in their manufacture, even if he were not subject to random safety inspections. To do his job Christianly means to care for the recipients of his products and not his own bottom line. To quote my wife, “Competence is the first kindness.”

    So I don’t think we can ever place an activity so far into the realm of common grace that it is ethically neutral. Specifically, Zrim, I don’t accept that Jesus views any “penultimate activity” as “having nothing to do with ultimate truths.”

    Yet at the same time, I do not and cannot dismiss the overarching idea of common grace: that running society means caring for nonChristian neighbors as well as Christian ones; that God dispenses wisdom even to the donkey and the Samaritan; and that the Church’s job is not to take over the world, but to call God’s chosen to repentance and faith.

    Here’s an interesting thought: The basic divide comes down (once again?) to the conflict between Kline and Murray. Kline locates and emphasizes common grace in the civil realm; Murray, in the administration of the covenant and the church.

    So it seems to me that the common grace discussion needs more work. The 2K and theonomic poles (representing extreme Kline-side and Murray-side views respectively) don’t seem to supply a sufficiently clear path by themselves.

    Jeff Cagle

    P.S. Dr. Hart re #208: Have a cookie :)

  210. Andrew Duggan said,

    October 21, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Here’s another $0.02

    In #208, Dr Hart asks

    Why education?

    Perhaps it might be that since in the great commission (GC), as recorded in Matt 28:18-20, teaching is emphasised. It is referred to twice. While I can’t speak for K, and while I personally don’t think that the state school meets all the requirements of being a de facto church, the educational aspect is definitely one of those requirements.

    And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen
    Matt 28:18-20

  211. Zrim said,

    October 21, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Jeff,

    I see you are beginning to suggest neutrality. But natural is not neutral. This is the first turn folks seem to take when it is suggested that unbelievers have just as much access to natural law as we do. Indeed, because the are children of this world, they are arguably better at it. And when you and I go out to eat and I choose to leave a prudent tip and you a generous one neither of us can call the other “neutral” on ethics, since both are biblical; ducking out without paying is another matter.

    But the larger point was less about seat belts and more that if we really do believe that the gospel has direct bearing on and obvious implications for the cares of this world then we owe Liberalism a letter of repentance. And I am not sure what problem Rick Warren or Tim Keller or Jim Wallis pose.

    Also, you suggested to David that China is a non-Christian culture (and by extension that they probably don’t engineer well, which is mind-boggling). What does that mean? I know what Christians in a culture is, I don’t know what a Christian culture is though. My understanding is that you are in education. That is my background as well. I know what Christians doing education is, I don’t know what Christian education is though. A good friend of mine is a teacher in a Christian school, and he still can’t give me much beyond something to do with God creating ans sustaining all things. But Jewish and Muslim school teachers teach that.

  212. Zrim said,

    October 21, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Andrew,

    If I might, I think the adjective “compulsory” is assumed in the original question, you know, the three R’s, as they say.

  213. markvandermolen said,

    October 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Daryl, Re: #205

    You concede the antithesis in all persons, but somehow this can be successfully set aside in “systems”. So, you are perfectly comfortable to say a non-believing judge or attorney can judge you fairly according to the rules of the system.

    Well, what system? And what are the rules of the system, except those made up made up by persons living in antithesis? And the rules of the system necessarily reflect the presuppositions/beliefs of the individuals involved. Would you feel comfortable if you got arrested in Africa and some pagan tribal man judged he gets to keep your wife as the fine for your speeding on a rented donkey? Under your theory, I’m not sure what the basis of your objection would be { other than your wife might be a little miffed for the first week or so:-}

    Quite frankly, I am far less confident than you are that a judge ever sets aside his religious convictions to judge a case “fairly”.

    But turning back to your premise, I wonder: is it proper then to even speak of “Christian schools” or a “Christian seminary” for that matter? Answering that question would go along way to further understanding how far your theories have taken you.

  214. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 21, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Zrim (#211):
    Confusion abounds on my end. Maybe a trio of distinctions would help to advance things.

    I would distinguish the proposition, (NL from #211) “Unbelievers have as much access to natural law as we do” from the proposition, (~UT from #206) “There are simply hordes of penultimate things believers participate in which have nothing to do with ultimate truths.”

    NL1 is probably true, if we understand “natural law” in terms of physics and its follow-ons (chem, bio). But if “natural law” is intended to include such concepts as justice — that is, moral law — then NL1 is doubtful. Some access, yes. The same access? That seems contrary to Rom 1-2.

    But (~UT) seems hyperbolic. The phrase “nothing to do with” suggests that these “penultimate things” are entirely divorced from, say, the ultimate truth that there will be a final judgment. We would probably agree that this is not the case! (~UT) also contains the problematically undefined terms “ultimate truths” and “penultimate truths.” I don’t have a good intuitive sense of what distinguishes ultimate from penultimate. So I don’t much care for (~UT); it is overly squishy and moreover suggests the very neutrality that you wish to avoid.

    Then I would distinguish Liberalism the social position from Liberalism the theological position. You wrote, “…if we really do believe that the gospel has direct bearing on and obvious implications for the cares of this world then we owe Liberalism a letter of repentance.” If you mean social Liberalism, then I would agree that on some issues, social Conservatives have been wrong and social Liberals have been right. Civil rights for African Americans is the most glaring example.

    But if you mean theological Liberalism, then I’m unrepentantly unapologetic. They foisted a bad theology upon the Church and overwhelmingly corrupted and divided it. I owe no apologies for recognizing that fact, do I?

    (Likewise, my problems with a Warren or a Campolo would not be their social policies, but their theology.)

    And finally, on the subject of being an engineer, I would distinguish being a “better engineer” from being a “qualitatively different engineer.” The first term (which I didn’t use) is probably not useful, since engineering talent consists of several orthogonal components, and different individuals excel at different components.

    A Christian engineer, though, has the opportunity to be a qualitatively different engineer precisely because of the work of the Spirit in him, which affects, among other things, the ethical norms he brings into his work.

    BTW, Darryl asked rhetorically on the other thread, “do you really mean to imply that you pray over your car when it doesn’t start instead of calling a mechanic?” I think the response is clear: do both. “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God …” James 1.5 is one of my life-verses, and prayer has been the starting point for many a solved problem.

    I’ll save issues of “Christian culture” and “Christian education” for another time. Given that your perception of Christian education is that it offers nothing more than “God made and sustains everything”, I can understand why you would not see much value in it.

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

  215. Kyle said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Zrim, re: 204,

    Beyond whatever else he has offered, his last comment to me @ 193 reveals he is probably more comfortable in the fights between Fundamentalists and Liberals, where good guys and bad guys are fairly easily tagged by one or the other; after all, that is why God gave us “liberals and pagans and Unitarian Universalists and homosexuals and feminists.”

    What it reveals, Zrim, is that your hiding behind the apostle Paul, called an “antinomian” by the Judaizers, is a rhetorical tactic, and not a substantive argument.

    It is inconceivable to him that “his group” could actually be vulnerable to the same foibles of political correctness, group-think or moralism and legalism that the “other guy” is.

    Not so, Zrim. You just haven’t demonstrated how anything I’ve said is vulnerable to the charge.

  216. Andrew Duggan said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Zrim, Actually it’s not really about the three “R”‘s as they say, it’s about the x-o-logical foundation of the educational institution, and what it is really trying to accomplish.

    A counterfeit is needed to replace the church, if the state is going to develop a society free from the bonds of Christ. (c.f. Psalm 2:1-3) The state’s hostile to Christ schools function as a counterfeit to the church in the educational aspect of the Christian church’s commission from Christ. That’s why education.

  217. Kyle said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 208,

    Kyle: could you fill in the dots? Why education?

    Education in U.S. public schools includes moral & religious education (or, one may say, immoral & irreligious education). As I wrote in #79, “It is in the public school system that American children are inculcated in the beliefs of humanism, multiculturalism, moral relativism, Darwinism, and a host of others.” U.S. public schools teach that all religious beliefs, moral systems, and cultures are essentially equal, and that the choice of one over another is a matter of autonomous, individual preferrence, subject only to the principle of Western secularism: that no religion, moral system, or culture may favored by civil government against the others, must be treated with equal respect and tolerance. U.S. public schools also teach that religions make “faith claims” which, while not subject to scientific or philosophical purview per se, may not compete with scientific naturalism or philosophical relativism. Thus, the idea that God created the world, while perhaps religiously valid for you, is scientifically inadmissible; or, the idea that homosexuality is a moral wrong, while perhaps religiously valid for you, is philosophically inadmissible. So what U.S. public schools make of Christianity, and of God, is an individualized, private faith, no better nor worse than any other faith, which amounts to an outright rejection of the living God & His truth.

    Where does the Bible equate education with what the church does? (No fair answering that sermons should be lectures.)

    What does one make of the catechisms if the church has nothing to do with education? If education consisted only in the “three R’s,” you might have a point. But education comprises much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic, and rarely conveys brute facts without interpretation. If the educational philosophy is secular & humanistic, so will be the education provided. It may be possible to avoid the problem when teaching algebra, but it is impossible in U.S. public schools, for example, to avoid promoting atheistic Darwinism when instructing children on biology.

    Also, you agree with #203 but have no response to another reading of secular humanism (#205)?

    Well, as I wrote in #207, I was hoping later to read the next couple of comments after Mr. Vandermolen’s. At any rate, having obtained my degree in Religion at a formally secular university, I can, hopefully, say a thing or two about religion and secular humanism. The first thing I’ll say is that, in the study of religion, it has been notoriously difficult to provide one adequate definition of “religion” that accounts for all of those social, political, philosophical, ethical, spiritual, etc., phenomena generally regarded as religions without making “religion” into a meaningless catch-all. (Because of this difficulty, the academic study of religion has become increasingly interdisciplinary.)

    It is a fair enough objection that secular humanism, Marxism, and Darwinism are not what we may regard as “religions” in the usual, traditional sense, primarily because they lack cultic objects and rites. They are perhaps more properly designated anti-religious philosophies, or, perhaps, worldviews. In that respect, and taken (as a given what I have above said about the function of our public schools, we might regard the U.S. public school system as a state anti-church. But we know that it isn’t simply that these “isms” reject the true God, they are also positively idolatrous: they set up man as god in place of God, and “worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator,” although without a distinct form of rites and ceremonies. To teach these philosophies in U.S. public schools is to promote idolatry, to encourage the worship of other gods; thus, the U.S. public school system functions as a de facto state church, catechizing our children in a civic religion that idolizes man.

    One last question: don’t I get a prize, a pat on the head, something — for finally figuring out your position? No peace, no justice.

    You didn’t actually figure it out; you provided me a multiple choice question from which to choose my position for you. Still, I suppose I can give you a “good job!” sticker; you’ve got a long way to go before you earn a free pizza from Pizza Hut.

  218. markvandermolen said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I’d suggest that perhaps the cultic rite of secular humanism is abortion.

  219. Darryl Hart said,

    October 22, 2008 at 6:01 am

    Mr. Vandermolen, I think the difference between a school and a seminary is pretty easy to spot (though seminaries also used to be places where women were trained to be school teachers in — eeee gatts!! — public schools). So I have no real problem calling a seminary Christian, though I’d prefer that some denominator of Christian be used as well lest this seminary be some lowest common denominator sort of place. But schools come in all shapes and sizes — some for tax preparation, some for auto mechanics, some for the liberal arts. I’m not sure why any of these would have to be Christian because all of these subjects are ones in which Christians and non-Christians participate, and in which often non-Christians are smarter than Christians.

    Mr. Vandermolen and Kyle: I still don’t understand why you single out the public schools as the scene of politico-religous idolatry. If the terrible world views taught in public schools are going to be counted as the official religion of the regime, then that cultic worldview must also inform the courts, the police, the legislature, tax policy, etc. I don’t see how a state religion can be in force in the schools and not in every other part of the state’s institutional edifice. Given the size of government, that’s a lot of pots in which the state is putting idolatrous chickens.

    That raises a distinct problem for you, it seems to me. It’s one thing to escape this state religion by keeping your kids out of public schools. I don’t care for Marxism, Darwinism, or atheism and so parents who want to shelter their kids from these views should be commended and encouraged. But how do we escape this religion outside the scholols? Aren’t we submitting to it if we obey traffic laws, pay our taxes, pay them on time, stand for the Star Spangled Banner before the first game of the World Series (IN WHICH THE PHILLIES ARE PLAYING), say the pledge of allegiance, or vote? It is an odd religion that takes only one part of our institutional existence and lets the rest be — what? — neutral? Christian? It seems that you have turned the United States into Nero’s Rome. Most people can see a difference except those with a heightened anti-thetical awareness.

    So I still don’t understand 1) the way that you attribute a religious system to this highly incoherent project of the United States of America, or 2) the way you single out schools as the temple of the USA’s overt system of unbelief.

  220. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 22, 2008 at 8:41 am

    I still don’t understand why you single out the public schools as the scene of politico-religous idolatry. If the terrible world views taught in public schools are going to be counted as the official religion of the regime, then that cultic worldview must also inform the courts, the police, the legislature, tax policy, etc.

    Well, yes, exactly. And it does. So then the question for Christians is, which of all of these features should we resist? Which should we seek to transform? Which should we ignore?

    The strategy so far appears to have been to resist certain parts of the world view in entertainment, public education, and politics (while embracing others) and to ignore the world view that informs our public policies and economic practices. (Exceptions: Colson on prisons and police; Burkett on money; Warren on poverty — not endorsing their views, just giving them credit for trying).

    This strategy appears not to be working, either in terms of transforming the culture (which I care less about) or in terms of bringing the gospel to the next generation (which I care more about).

    If it is the case, as I believe, that a culture can providentially influence one’s receptiveness to the gospel, then part of our job in bringing the gospel to the nations is to help create a cultural environment in which the gospel message makes sense.

    So one might argue that public education should be singled out because it has the greatest deleterious influence on the next generation. The place to go from there is to study the question and see whether that’s a sound strategy.

    If the article I linked to in #157 is correct, then it may be that colleges, not high schools, are the most problematic influence. Perhaps we are focusing our attention in the wrong place?

    Aren’t we submitting to it if we obey traffic laws, pay our taxes, pay them on time, stand for the Star Spangled Banner … say the pledge of allegiance, or vote?

    Of course, the most consistent “2K-ers” of all, the Mennonites, would say “Yes”, and do as much as possible to avoid entanglement with government.

    But I would say that there *can be* a difference between saying the Pledge and saying the Pledge idolatrously. The problem is that there is no warning sign that lights up when I cross the line from one to the other … the sin is not in the doing, but in the heart. That’s why I argue that sending kids to public school is not necessarily sin, but in many cases may not be wise.

    Jeff Cagle

  221. Zrim said,

    October 22, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Jeff,

    Re how natural law applies more to physics than justice, I don’t get it. If God is sovereign over all creation why do his laws apply to some realms more than others?

    Re which kind of Liberalism, I meant theological Liberalism, the kind shared by MLK and Jerry Falwell or Jim Wallis and James Kennedy.

    You said, “If it is the case, as I believe, that a culture can providentially influence one’s receptiveness to the gospel, then part of our job in bringing the gospel to the nations is to help create a cultural environment in which the gospel message makes sense.”

    First, isn’t it the mysterious work of the Spirit when the gospel is preached that makes for receptivity?

    Second, the gospel doesn’t make sense. It’s as counter-intutive as anything can get. Isn’t making it make sense the project of the Liberals (the theological ones) as well as Hybels?

    Kyle,

    I really think the Pizza Hut prize is mine. You seem to be in relative agreement with many of the “transformational” architects one can see in public education’s own history. You all seem think human beings are being made at school. They aren’t. They are made at home (and redeemed at church). You are mistaking “being influenced” with “being made.” The problem for most religionists, though, is that the secularists have since figured out that education really isn’t about making human beings but simply educating them. You are fighting a ghost.

    And Darryl is right. If little idolators are being made in the public schools then they are creating our idolatrous culture. And we are participating in it. The only logical thing for a covenant-keeper to do in the face of idolatry, then, is withdrawal. The Amish figured that out a long time ago.

  222. markvandermolen said,

    October 22, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Daryl wrote:

    “If the terrible world views taught in public schools are going to be counted as the official religion of the regime, then that cultic worldview must also inform the courts, the police, the legislature, tax policy, etc. I don’t see how a state religion can be in force in the schools and not in every other part of the state’s institutional edifice. Given the size of government, that’s a lot of pots in which the state is putting idolatrous chickens.”

    Please, for the sake of your students, tell me this was a hyperbolic comment. You don’t REALLY believe there is no worldview informing these spheres, do you?

  223. D G Hart said,

    October 22, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Markvandermolen: no I don’t think these spheres of American life are philosophically or religiously free. Nor do I think they are fraught with the religio-cultic significance that you do. If they are as weighted with as much unbelief and idolatry as you believe, what are you doing submitting to such unbelief and idolatry? It seems a tad impolite to tar me with being a liberal when it seems that you live no differently from me when it comes to being a law abiding citizen in a state that you think actively denies God and promotes unbelief. Is it bad in the U.S. or isn’t it?

  224. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 22, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Re how natural law applies more to physics than justice, I don’t get it. If God is sovereign over all creation why do his laws apply to some realms more than others?

    Well, because there is an equivocation on the word “law”. The laws of physics cannot be broken (by us). The moral laws of God can.

    That fact spills over into knowledge. Because we are more tightly regulated by the laws of physics, it is therefore more easy to discover them, and there is more broad agreement as to what they are.

    So it’s not “different realms”, but different meanings of the word “law” that are to blame.

    Re which kind of Liberalism, I meant theological Liberalism, the kind shared by MLK and Jerry Falwell or Jim Wallis and James Kennedy.

    Just to be clear, when I hear “theological Liberalism“, I think of Schleiermacher and Bultmann, and perhaps Marcus Borg, but not Wallis or Falwell. You might find in conversation with others that this term is confusing.

    First, isn’t it the mysterious work of the Spirit when the gospel is preached that makes for receptivity?

    Well, yes. But human agency matters as well; we cooperate with God in the proclamation of the gospel — cf. Rom. 10 and Matt. 9.36-38, and the entirety of Acts.

    Second, the gospel doesn’t make sense. It’s as counter-intutive as anything can get. Isn’t making it make sense the project of the Liberals (the theological ones) as well as Hybels?

    I think this splices a couple of ideas together in an awkward way. The “foolishness” of the gospel does not mean “incomprehensibility”; else, no one would believe it. Nor would Paul have spent effort proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

    Instead, it refers to the difficulty of understanding the gospel without having a mind transformed by the Spirit — the “mind of Christ” at the end of 1 Cor 2.

    But now, what agency does the Spirit use to transform minds? Sometimes it’s direct: “Hey Paul — why are you persecuting me?” But more often, it is the exposition of the Word that the Spirit uses. That job is the one that we need to undertake; not just in our preaching, but in a whole-life kind of way.

    Thus, as we exposit, clarify, and live out the Word, then the gospel message *can*, in the Spirit’s timing, be more comprehensible to those who are called.

    In other words, I do not wish to deny God’s sovereignty in salvation, but rather to emphasize that the Spirit of God works through our words and actions.

    I’ll sign off here. Life presses.

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

  225. markvandermolen said,

    October 22, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Daryl re: #

    I’m happy your answer to my question at least clarifies, if not straight out contradicts your prior statement. So I’ll rest here that you acknowledge that the civil sphere is not religion free. At least that much we can agree on.

    But out of thin air, you then go on to say I “tar you as a liberal”. Sadly, this odd predilection of yours {seen throughout this thread} has only succeeded in “tarring yourself” as one incapable of carrying on a rational, responsive, and civil internet discussion.

  226. Zrim said,

    October 22, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Jeff,

    “Well, because there is an equivocation on the word ‘law.’ The laws of physics cannot be broken (by us). The moral laws of God can.

    That fact spills over into knowledge. Because we are more tightly regulated by the laws of physics, it is therefore more easy to discover them, and there is more broad agreement as to what they are.”

    I see, that is what I thought. So natural law applies more to physics than justice because we can break the latter; but I fail to see why the rules change just because things get dicey. That sure seems to suggest God is less the God of all flesh simply because it is sinful. So when you think “creation” do you think all those un-complicated things like birds, trees and oceans? When I think “creation” I think those things plus culture, ideas, values, beliefs, etc., things that get difficult and cause division amongst people.

    “Just to be clear, when I hear ‘theological Liberalism,’ I think of Schleiermacher and Bultmann, and perhaps Marcus Borg, but not Wallis or Falwell.”

    I understand. But maybe it would help to use the term social gospel instead? Sure, on paper Falwell would reject Schliermacher, but when one thinks the gospel has something obvious to do with the interests of cultural rightists (think Moral Majority) one has a lot more in common with the 20th century Liberals than he’d be willing to admit.

    “I think this splices a couple of ideas together in an awkward way. The ‘foolishness’ of the gospel does not mean ‘incomprehensibility’; else, no one would believe it. Nor would Paul have spent effort proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.”

    I agree. But simplicity and mystery are not so mutually exclusive. When I hear it said that we have to make the culture ready for the gospel I hear notions of “relevance” and “intelligibility,” which usually mean a taming of the great mystery of the gospel. I hear making friends with the zeitgeist. I have visions not of embracing the gospel on God’s terms but according to the terms of men.

  227. D G Hart said,

    October 22, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Mr. Vandermolen, I guess like Vern you are an L.A. Dodgers fan. It’s fine for you to chide me for being uncivil even if I am the one trying to find a way for Christians to belong to the civil society we have. But I wonder if you would mind answering the question: how is your response to the idolatry and unbelief of this regime any different from mine to a liberal democratic order? I don’t think I need to cross my fingers when voting or paying taxes. But aren’t you in danger of participating in idolatry if you do vote (even for Pastor Bret) or pay your taxes?

  228. markvandermolen said,

    October 22, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Daryl:

    Repentance is a hard thing, isn’t it?

    O.K., I’ll continue on, as time permits and with the hope that my patience need not be further tested by juvenile behavior.

    An answer to your question is found in the Belgic Confession. The article on Civil Government reads:

    ” We believe that because of the depravity of the human race our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers. He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies so that human lawlessness may be restrained and that everything may be conducted in good order among human beings.

    For that purpose he has placed the sword in the hands of the government, to punish evil people and protect the good.

    And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, subject to God’s law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship.

    They should do this while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them, with the means belonging to them.

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

    Moreover everyone, regardless of status, condition, or rank, must be subject to the government, and pay taxes, and hold its representatives in honor and respect, and obey them in all things that are not in conflict with God’s Word, praying for them that the Lord may be willing to lead them in all their ways and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all piety and decency.

    And on this matter we denounce the Anabaptists, other anarchists, and in general all those who want to reject the authorities and civil officers and to subvert justice by introducing common ownership of goods and corrupting the moral order that God has established among human beings.”

  229. D G Hart said,

    October 22, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Mr. Vandermolen: Since when is not having a sense of humor godly? The problem is that you still haven’t answered my question. What do you do living in the United States (I assume you do)? You may think you channel Guido de Bries, but the question for all of using the internet at least is what to make of the principalities and powers of the U.S. If you’re a citizen of the U.S., and you believe the Belgic Confession is right about the civil magistrate, aren’t you submitting to unbelief by sitting under U.S. rule?

    I’ve asked this three times now and it’s no longer funny. (Actually it is, but I refuse to use emoticons.) I guess answering is as hard as repentance.

  230. markvandermolen said,

    October 22, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    No Daryl, you just aren’t satisfied with the answer that’s been given. You asked a general question, and you got a general, complete, confessional answer. Naturally, I think you want more details. How the rubber hits the road, so to speak. No matter how many examples given, I’m sure it will only raise more questions in your mind. I think you just need to get out a little more.

    In my context, I have the opportunity to help the voiceless seek justice in the courts every day. I am privileged to fight against unjust judges and unjust laws. I get involved to elect godly men to office who would not seek to enact unjust laws that would coerce disobedience to God. So I am acutely aware of the antithesis that brother Guido eloquently described– our submitting to God appointed authorities and yet recognizing when they may seek to coerce a disregard of God. For example, such as what we see in the government schools, where God has been decreed to be removed from the throne and replaced by man. Thankfully, that antithesis can be resolved because we are not yet *compelled* to subject our children to this satanic indoctrination. Which makes it all the more puzzling that some Christians actually *voluntarily* choose it.

  231. Kyle said,

    October 22, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 219,

    I still don’t understand why you single out the public schools as the scene of politico-religous idolatry. If the terrible world views taught in public schools are going to be counted as the official religion of the regime, then that cultic worldview must also inform the courts, the police, the legislature, tax policy, etc. I don’t see how a state religion can be in force in the schools and not in every other part of the state’s institutional edifice. Given the size of government, that’s a lot of pots in which the state is putting idolatrous chickens.

    Yes, idolatry does inform every aspect of our political structure. This is the necessary consequence of refusing to be subject to the living God. This doesn’t therefore mean that every state institution functions as a state church. I gave specific reasons why the public school system does function this way: in short, public schools catechize and train our children in idolatry. The legislature, police, and courts do not. Neither, however, does it mean that they are somehow religiously “neutral” in themselves.

    That raises a distinct problem for you, it seems to me. It’s one thing to escape this state religion by keeping your kids out of public schools. I don’t care for Marxism, Darwinism, or atheism and so parents who want to shelter their kids from these views should be commended and encouraged. But how do we escape this religion outside the scholols?

    There’s a difference between living amongst, around, & near idolaters, which is pretty well unavoidable, and sending your children to public schools where they will be trained by idolaters in religious & moral matters. Is that much not allowable?

    Aren’t we submitting to it if we obey traffic laws, pay our taxes, pay them on time, stand for the Star Spangled Banner before the first game of the World Series (IN WHICH THE PHILLIES ARE PLAYING), say the pledge of allegiance, or vote?

    One may submit to an idolatrous government, and even work within said government, without submitting to idolatry. We have the example of Daniel. Too, didn’t Jesus say, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”? But we must also “render unto God what is God’s.” Thus obeying traffic laws & paying our taxes (on time), so long as these things are not in direct conflict with our obligations to God, are our duties to the civil authorities. I’ll let others weigh in on singing our national anthem or reciting the pledge of allegiance; especially the latter seems problematic to me. As for voting, in my opinion, so long as men who will seek to uphold God’s law may run for public office in this country, we may vote for them. But this is becoming increasingly difficult, and not much longer I’m afraid & it will be genuinely impossible for a Christian to run for public office conscientiously.

  232. D G Hart said,

    October 22, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Mr. Vandermolen: how exactly is asking what “you” would do general? It isn’t and that is why you decided to answer with some particulars. Thank you, thank you very much. So in your interactions in the courts, are any of the judges enacting evil laws ever Christians? I mean, some Christians used to favor the state doing all sorts of things that you might consider unjust, like having state schools. Can you say Calvin’s academy? Sure you can.

    Kyle: I appreciate your response but this sounds selective, as if the instruction of public schools is any more oppressive than a regime that celebrates the freedom of individuals and lets women choose to do whatever with their bodies. I don’t see why a parent or student can’t be as selective with public school education as you are with this evil and wicked regime.

  233. Kyle said,

    October 22, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Zrim, re: 221,

    I really think the Pizza Hut prize is mine.

    I’m sorry, but you’ve not even earned a single “good job!” sticker. You have to collect at least 20 to get a personal pan pizza with your choice of toppings.

    You seem to be in relative agreement with many of the “transformational” architects one can see in public education’s own history.

    For the better part of a year I was obliged to work and worship in a Presbyterian church where an actual, real, transformational agenda was being pushed (and still is), at the direct expense of the proclamation of the word of God. The word of God was being pressed into the service of that agenda. For many of the ministry leaders there, this was the real calling of the church: to expand the kingdom of God by redeeming the culture through the cultivation of influence and power in our cultural & civil institutions. This is not what I believe, and you would do well not to presume to ascribe to me such a position.

    You all seem think human beings are being made at school. They aren’t. They are made at home (and redeemed at church). You are mistaking “being influenced” with “being made.” The problem for most religionists, though, is that the secularists have since figured out that education really isn’t about making human beings but simply educating them. You are fighting a ghost.

    Human beings aren’t being “made” in our public schools; they are being undone. Children are being taught and trained in religious and moral ideas in our public schools. I myself was taught and trained in religious and moral ideas in the public schools I attended as a child. (Thanks be to God for His deliverance.) The secularists have not “figured out that education really isn’t about making human beings but simply educating them.” Secularists believe that people are fundamentally good at bottom, and that if only they are provided a proper education, and not hampered by the oppressive superstitions of yesteryear or held back by useless contentions over unscientific faith claims, they can reach their full potential as human beings. They push every effort to keep children in public schools for as many waking hours a day, as many days a year, and as many years as they can, with the goal of conforming children’s minds to their idolatries, and making families & churches mere influences. You’re right, I am fighting a ghost: the “ghost,” the spirit, of antichrist, being manifested in our public school system.

    And Darryl is right. If little idolators are being made in the public schools then they are creating our idolatrous culture. And we are participating in it. The only logical thing for a covenant-keeper to do in the face of idolatry, then, is withdrawal. The Amish figured that out a long time ago.

    Imagine that. I’m not only an ecclesiological Romanist, but apparently I have Anabaptist leanings. Thanks for enlightening us, Zrim.

  234. Kyle said,

    October 22, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 232,

    Kyle: I appreciate your response but this sounds selective, as if the instruction of public schools is any more oppressive than a regime that celebrates the freedom of individuals and lets women choose to do whatever with their bodies. I don’t see why a parent or student can’t be as selective with public school education as you are with this evil and wicked regime.

    Well, Dr. Hart, it would seem you aren’t allowing the difference I suggested between living in the midst of an idolatrous people and sending children to be trained by idolaters in religious & moral matters. If that’s the case, have you really appreciated my response?

  235. D G Hart said,

    October 23, 2008 at 5:07 am

    Kyle: the way you describe a public school is as if all students are required to read Marx, Freud, and Darwin (if only they were encouraged to read challenging texts), taken into rooms of torture if they even mention a deity, required to sing songs praising Gaya, all the while taught to obey only their teachers. In other words, you make it seem as if public school education is overtly idolatrous and godless. I would contend that the ethos of public schools is far more subtle, that kids with good instruction and care from the home can negotiate their way, and that even if they be made to feel odd for not doing what peers do they are not forced to renounce Christ.

    In which case, if the agenda of public education is subtle and not overt, it is a lot like the courts, the legislature, the public square, the media, and a host of other public spaces in the U.S. In all of those places God is not acknowledged, and motivations and ideologies abound that are at odds with confessing Christ as Lord. So Kyle, maybe you are not as thoroughgoing in your opposition to the state religion as you should be. It really is everywhere. But you seem to think that just because it is overt and explicit it needs to be opposed. For one, you haven’t convinced me it is more overt and explicit in public schools than in the public square. For anoter, you haven’t convinced me that the American political order and its subsidiaries is overtly and explicitly hostile to Christian faith.

    In my estimation, that order is a mixed bag. It offers certain benefits, such a the freedom for Christians to worship and maintain their churches in ways that Eritreans and Ugandans would love to have. On the debit side it grants such liberty to a host of beliefs and ideologies that Christians find objectionable. To negotiate all of those competing beliefs and convictions, the government tries for a moderate position (perhaps more anti-Protestant because of the run that Protestants had over public life from 1790 to 1965) that clearly favors non-Christians in ways that Christians find objectionable.

    You can try to liken this brush with religious and intellectual freedom to an oppressive, totalitarian, atheistic regime. But you would be wrong. This is unbelief of intolerance and indifference; it is not unbelief of persecution and hatred. Given what Paul says about the value of leading peaceful and quiet lives, I’ll take intolerance and indifference over persecution and hatred.

  236. markvandermolen said,

    October 23, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Daryl:

    The question I was answering and interpreted as a generic “you” was this:

    “no I don’t think these spheres of American life are philosophically or religiously free. Nor do I think they are fraught with the religio-cultic significance that you do. If they are as weighted with as much unbelief and idolatry as you believe, what are you doing submitting to such unbelief and idolatry?”

    In any event, I understood by your follow ups that you were looking for more personal specifics.

    You then wrote:

    ” I mean, some Christians used to favor the state doing all sorts of things that you might consider unjust, like having state schools. Can you say Calvin’s academy? Sure you can”

    I never said that state schools are ipso fact unjust. I said state schools that have deliberately removed God from the throne and compel worship of man are evil. I doubt Calvin’s academy did this.

    Follow the argument? Sure you can.

  237. D G Hart said,

    October 23, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Mr. Vandermolen, Don’t let the boomerang hit you on the return. If state schools that deliberately remove God from the throne and compel worship are unjust (deliberately, btw is a much contested term; see #235 if you care), what do those schools stay about the state sponsoring them? Isn’t the state then also deliberately removing God from the throne and compelling worship? And isn’t such a state unjust? And aren’t you complicit with the removal of God and false worship by being a compliant citizen member of that state? (Really, you and pastor Bret love to point out my inconsistency. Have you noticed the sizeable pothole of inconsistency on your road to non-dualistic bliss?)

    I don’t see how you can let the state off the hook, except that it would appear to allow you to feel as if you have done your duty by not participating in public schools. It also has the advantage of giving you leverage to beat up those of us not so hostile to public schools or the states that sponsor them as “liberals.”

    But really, if the Belgic Confession is right, how do you live with this regime of unbelief and its church-schools? How can you in good conscience pay your property taxes knowing where the money goes? Isn’t that like giving to Planned Parenthood?

    My answer is it is not, and that you, like me, negotiate this political order with a sense that it has many weaknesses and some strengths, and that being a law abiding citizen of the U.S. (with all of its official institutions) does not force you or me to break the first commandment.

  238. Zrim said,

    October 23, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Mark,

    You suggest that DGH “get out a little more.”

    You then suggest, “For example, such as what we see in the government schools, where God has been decreed to be removed from the throne and replaced by man. Thankfully, that antithesis can be resolved because we are not yet *compelled* to subject our children to this satanic indoctrination.”

    Methinks the physician ought heal himself. Have you spent real time in an actual public education environment lately, or do you just know what you know by what you read in second-hand, biased sources that reinforce your dead-set conclusions? Contrary to what so many seem to love to believe, children are not actually sitting around all day learning how to hate God and serve Satan. (Your administrative assistant wouldn’t happen to be Dana Carvey, would s/he?)

    But along with DGH, I still don’t understand why the rules are different for children in their educational vocations than for adults in theirs: If kids need to be kept from the idolatrous schools, why are adults never expected to withdrawal from their vocations in the wider world? Seeing as how I am the only parent who doesn’t dress his girls in head-to-toe crash gear to peddle all of half a block, I wonder if some of this owes to the modern notion that kids are essentially different from adults and deserve special treatment? (sorry, more Carvey comes to mind: “In my day we fell off our bikes and broke our heads open and almost died…and we LIKED IT!”)

    Kyle,

    “Human beings aren’t being ‘made’ in our public schools; they are being undone.”

    If they can be undone they can be made. I am saying they cannot ultimately be either made or undone by institutions not ordained for such work. They can be influenced, but not made.

  239. markvandermolen said,

    October 23, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Daryl:

    Re: #237, I’m not worried about the boomerang hitting me on the return when its evidently hit it’s target, stuck right in the heart of your argument, which apparently consists of little more than mocking the Belgic Confession.

    You continue to miss the issue of the antithesis, the tension that exists when we live in the “already, not yet”. You and I can pile example upon example that will reveal this tension, but you find the tension as an argument for Christianity to retreat from the public square. It’s just too hard and you want clean outcomes in all these applications. So you are welcome to retreat to your radically dualistic nirvana where messy, hard decisions are nowhere to be found.

    The property tax question you raise is a good one, and I don’t profess to have entirely consistent answer to resolve the antithesis, except to say that on the one hand I have a duty to submit to the authority in paying that tax {which I note also pays for things besides public schools} while at the same time choosing to fight against that institution– in addition to not voluntarily subjecting my children to its indoctrination. Entirely satisfactory? Nope.

    If you find that position analogous to voluntarily forking a donation over to non-governmental Planned Parenthood, then we clearly we are speaking different languages.

  240. Darryl Hart said,

    October 23, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Mr. Vandermolen, well, I’m glad you think the boomerang missed. You must also believe the Rays won last night.

    How have I mocked the Belgic Confession? What I said was that we don’t live that way. I’d say it’s a kind of mockery to pull it out and then say — oops, can’t live that way but it sure looks good using it against old dunderhead Hart.

    And in case you missed it, I said explicitly that paying property taxes that are used for your defacto state churches is not the same as giving voluntarily to Planned Parenthood. What I was trying to suggest is that likening state schools to heresy breathing dens of iniquity is akin to equating taxes with donations to Planned Parenthood. Both are forms of either hysteria or fear-mongering.

  241. markvandermolen said,

    October 23, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Daryl:

    Actually, I’m pretty sure the boomerang hit its target. As surely as the Phillies won last night.

    Pass on my best wishes to your students.

  242. Darryl Hart said,

    October 23, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Markvandermolen: you must say “please.”

  243. Kyle said,

    October 23, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 235,

    Kyle: the way you describe a public school is as if all students are required to read Marx, Freud, and Darwin (if only they were encouraged to read challenging texts), taken into rooms of torture if they even mention a deity, required to sing songs praising Gaya, all the while taught to obey only their teachers. In other words, you make it seem as if public school education is overtly idolatrous and godless. I would contend that the ethos of public schools is far more subtle, that kids with good instruction and care from the home can negotiate their way, and that even if they be made to feel odd for not doing what peers do they are not forced to renounce Christ.

    You’ve colorfully expanded on what I’ve said, Dr. Hart. There’s no doubt that the public schools operate subtly; but the serpent was the most subtle beast in the Garden. If the public schools were demanding that children bow down & worship Buddha, every Christian parent with any sense left would immediately pull their children while there was still freedom to do so. But why should Satan show his hand so soon? It is certainly true that children are not forced to renounce Christ; but U.S. public schools have been growing steadily more & more hostile to anything resembling Christianity.

    So Kyle, maybe you are not as thoroughgoing in your opposition to the state religion as you should be. It really is everywhere. But you seem to think that just because it is overt and explicit it needs to be opposed. For one, you haven’t convinced me it is more overt and explicit in public schools than in the public square. For anoter, you haven’t convinced me that the American political order and its subsidiaries is overtly and explicitly hostile to Christian faith.

    I’m really at a loss how you come up with such arguments. I said nothing about my opposition being predicated on the overtness or explicitness of anti-Christian worldviews. My opposition to U.S. public schools, as I’ve explicitly argued, is based on their function. If our public schools merely taught strictly the three R’s, I could hardly argue this way, even if every last teacher was a Buddhist.

    You can try to liken this brush with religious and intellectual freedom to an oppressive, totalitarian, atheistic regime. But you would be wrong. This is unbelief of intolerance and indifference; it is not unbelief of persecution and hatred. Given what Paul says about the value of leading peaceful and quiet lives, I’ll take intolerance and indifference over persecution and hatred.

    So will I, Dr. Hart. But the difference is one of degree & not of kind.

  244. Kyle said,

    October 23, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Zrim, re: 238,

    If they can be undone they can be made.

    One may be able to tear down a house without being able to build a house. But the reverse is not true.

    I am saying they cannot ultimately be either made or undone by institutions not ordained for such work. They can be influenced, but not made.

    And what happens when the institution oversteps its ordained bounds?

  245. Todd said,

    October 23, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Kyle,

    You, like many, have sort of a conspiratorial view of public school teachers and administrators, sort of like H. Clinton’s “vast right wing conspiracy.” There are tens of thousands of believers teaching, as well as running, local schools. Do you really think anyone can get away with an agenda to attempt to dissuade believing children from their faith in the schools? Yes, unbelievers tend to let their worldview be known at times, but the kids don’t usually take them seriously when they have good parent(s) teaching them.

    Also, you may want to take up Zrim’s advice and go to your local elementary school and see for yourself what goes on, as well as get to know real public school teachers. You may be surprised. Most of them I have found genuinely care about kids’ learning the basics. Now, it is a sinful world, and we need to keep a watchful eye on what goes on anyway with our kids in the schools, but as I mentioned previously, there is no such thing as risk-free child rearing. (Maybe there is a public school teacher who reads this site that might want to respond.)

    The problem seems to be, one school in a very liberal area does something stupid that discriminates against Christians, and through the Internet everyone hears about it, and assumes that’s what all the schools are like. But that is like hearing about one PCA church using puppets in worship and assuming every PCA church does the same.

    On a historical level, how do you explain the rapid growth of Christianity in the first three centuries while the Christian children attended pagan schools, and in that case, overtly pagan? Why didn’t those schools destroy those childrens’ faith? Is it possible that our Lord’s promise to be with us while we are “in the world” instead of out of it (John 17) applies to our children also?

    Todd

  246. Kyle said,

    October 23, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Todd, re: 245,

    Do you think I live in a some pure Christian vacuum? I know the public school system because I went through it, along with all of my siblings and many of my closest friends, and I know families with children currently going through it. I’m sure most public school teachers really do have good intentions (my new ager aunt does), and care deeply about getting kids to learn the basics. (The majority also sincerely believes that education is the means by which children may have the opportunity to reach their full human potential.) I’m also well aware that public schools in one part of the country may be vastly worse than public schools in another part of the country.

    None of this changes anything I’ve said about the function of the U.S. public school system. I’m not talking about degrees of badness.

    And you can kindly can the nonsense implying that I don’t trust God to guard His own. God’s providential care & His promises are not reasons to act foolishly, much less contrary to His Law. Otherwise, Jesus would have jumped from the pinnacle of the Temple. But His response to the devil was this: “Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God.”

  247. Darryl Hart said,

    October 24, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Kyle, if the godless and idolatrous influences of public schools are subtle, then the godless and idolatrous influences of their sponsoring states are also subtle. That means that if it is a Christian’s duty is to avoid public education, it must also be a Christian’s duty to avoid American public life. The Amish practice this in a certain way, and the Covenanters used to have a Reformed version of non-participation. I am not suggesting such withdrawal is ludicrous. And I myself have some affection for Canada and Switzerland. So leaving the old U.S. of A. is something that Christians may need to consider.

    My point, though, is that I am not some kind of radical for thinking that public life need not conform to biblical standards either for me to participate in it or for it to be legitimate and worthy of my citizenly duties. You think that the state and its schools must acknowledge God for children to go there. But you don’t think the state must acknowledge God for you to live there. I really don’t see the difference between your and my practice. You are guilty of my apparent inconsistency, except that you seem to take solace that you’ve drawn the line with public education. Good for you.

  248. Todd said,

    October 24, 2008 at 7:09 am

    “And you can kindly can the nonsense implying that I don’t trust God to guard His own. God’s providential care & His promises are not reasons to act foolishly, much less contrary to His Law. Otherwise, Jesus would have jumped from the pinnacle of the Temple. But His response to the devil was this: “Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God.”

    Kyle, you didn’t answer the question about the early church.

    Thanks,

    Todd

  249. Andrew Duggan said,

    October 24, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Re: 247,

    The Amish practice this in a certain way, and the Covenanters used to have a Reformed version of non-participation. I am not suggesting such withdrawal is ludicrous.

    That was very funny.

  250. Todd said,

    October 24, 2008 at 7:27 am

    “Of course, the most consistent “2K-ers” of all, the Mennonites, would say “Yes”, and do as much as possible to avoid entanglement with government.”

    Jeff,

    How are the Mennonites consistent 2kers? 2k has nothing to do with avoiding civic responsibility or avoiding entanglement with government. Actually, it is the 1k folk who are suggesting, at least when it comes to our children’s education, to avoid all entanglements with government; requiring total non-participation; a type of position more in common with anabaptists historically than Presbyterians.

    Since this thread was on Calvin, here he makes the 2k position as clear as possible:

    “Therefore, lest this prove a stumbling-block to any, let us observe that in man government is twofold: the one spiritual, by which the conscience is trained to piety and divine worship; the other civil, by which the individual is instructed in those duties which, as men and citizens, we are bold to performs (see Book 4, chap. 10, sec. 3-6.) To these two forms are commonly given the not inappropriate names of spiritual and temporal jurisdiction, intimating that the former species has reference to the life of the soul, while the latter relates to matters of the present life, not only to food and clothing, but to the enacting of laws which require a man to live among his fellows purely honorably, and modestly. The former has its seat within the soul, the latter only regulates the external conduct. We may call the one the spiritual, the other the civil kingdom. Now, these two, as we have divided them, are always to be viewed apart from each other. When the one is considered, we should call off our minds, and not allow them to think of the other. For there exists in man a kind of two worlds, over which different kings and different laws can preside. By attending to this distinction, we will not erroneously transfer the doctrine of the gospel concerning spiritual liberty to civil order… (on Christian Liberty)

    Todd

  251. Zrim said,

    October 24, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Kyle,

    Re 244, “One may be able to tear down a house without being able to build a house. But the reverse is not true.”

    True enough, but children aren’t houses.

    “And what happens when the institution oversteps its ordained bounds?”

    Depends on the case. You write a letter or you can become an ex-patriot, or something in between. Seeing’s how I think myself as more a situated Christian than transient American, I have a really hard time with the stuff of ex-patriotism whether it’s the internal or external kind. Seems to me you advocate for a form internal ex-patriotism. Not only that but you seem perfectly fine with the grounds being subtle. DGH may go easy on ex-patriotism, but I demand a lot more from those who think they may drop out of the world (as if that were possible anyway). Either it is God’s world or it isn’t. To my mind, some have a very of idea of what being “in the world but not of it” really means: it seems to mean that not being of it is taken care of by not being in it.

    And for it’s worth, I am simply dying to hear how you solve DGH’s conundrum @ 247 (“You think that the state and its schools must acknowledge God for children to go there. But you don’t think the state must acknowledge God for you to live there”). My guess, though, as to the key is the same as it has been: 1) you lend to the institution of education something it was never ordained for (I know, Pastor Brett has told you to no let me get away with this goofiness), and 2) you think children are essentially different creatures than adults. Not only that, you seem to think they share more in common with houses than adults. You’re a wily one, you are.

  252. D G Hart said,

    October 24, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Todd: u da man.

    Zrim: I only think about leaving the U.S. because of its global footprint. With Montesquieu I prefer my republics small and rural.

  253. Jeff Cagle said,

    October 24, 2008 at 11:59 am

    How are the Mennonites consistent 2kers?

    It was a rhetorical flourish, and it may be overstated. But here’s what I meant: the Mennonites clearly delineate two kingdoms: the spiritual kingdom of God and the physical kingdom of the world. For them, the world is entirely corrupt (different from Calvin, I know); hence, their responsibility is to the kingdom of God. They are pragmatic “1k-ers” (as you point out) precisely because only one of the two kingdoms is of any value.

    Calvin’s difficulty is that he wants also to distinguish a spiritual and a physical kingdom, but grant value to both. Scripturally, he appears to be correct on this point. However, he also introduces new inconsistencies — which is why Geneva ended up with the church ruling the city in such an obviously physical manner, and the state making rulings on spiritual matters (e.g., the trial of Servetus).

    So I find Calvin’s 2k approach, to the extent that I understand it, to contain internal tensions. The Anabaptists are much more self-consistent in their thinking; it’s just that they are less consistent with Scripture (IMO).

    One locus of inconsistency is the family: does the “family structure” belong to the spiritual kingdom or the physical? Because of God’s covenantal working through the family, we would say that the family is a part of the spiritual kingdom. But because the family consists of real people in bodies in space and time, it is ruled by the government. So in Geneva, Calvin ends up passing laws regulating the behavior of husbands towards wives: the state has control over the family. But also, the church came around and checked that fathers were catechizing their children: the church has control over the family. Hence, the family ends up torn between the two kingdoms.

    Other loci of inconsistency include church government and also the actions of Christians who are magistrates. I don’t want to develop these, ’cause I need to grade papers right now. But I think that these three areas (family, church government, and the actions of Christians who are in the government) are the three most important issues to be resolved in the question of the two kingdoms.

    Mennonites have an easy, consistent, but incorrect solution (IMO).

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff

  254. Kyle said,

    October 24, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 247,

    My point, though, is that I am not some kind of radical for thinking that public life need not conform to biblical standards either for me to participate in it or for it to be legitimate and worthy of my citizenly duties. You think that the state and its schools must acknowledge God for children to go there. But you don’t think the state must acknowledge God for you to live there. I really don’t see the difference between your and my practice. You are guilty of my apparent inconsistency, except that you seem to take solace that you’ve drawn the line with public education. Good for you.

    Your point is off-point. How many times will I need to repeat myself that my objection to the U.S. public schools regards their FUNCTION? Does the state function to catechize and train us in idolatrous beliefs? No, it does not. If it did, we’d resist, and the state being what it is, the response would be force. The only inconsistency here is between your evident intellect & your incredible inability to comprehend my argument.

  255. Kyle said,

    October 24, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Todd, re: 248,

    Kyle, you didn’t answer the question about the early church.

    It’s not relevant to my argument. That some have been brought to Christ through Billy Graham crusades does not justify the method of such crusades; the same reasoning applies to your question.

  256. Todd said,

    October 24, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    # 255

    The question is extremely relevant. If you suggest that sending Christian children to public schools will damage or destroy their faith,and there is ample evidence offered that this premise is false (early church), you need to at least address the evidence offered to the contrary to make a serious case.

    Todd

  257. Todd said,

    October 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Jeff,

    Yes, now I understand your point, and agree. To some degree we will wrestle with inconsistencies of living the 2ks until He returns. It was the internal inconsistencies you mentioned that caused our American forefathers to change the WCF in 1789 on these matters. The Confession, IMO, is much more consistent now on church-state relations. It was these same inconsistencies that our Founding Fathers wrestled with in writing the Constitution, with Madison’s view finally winning out over time (thank the Lord!).

    Todd

  258. Kyle said,

    October 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Zrim, re: 251,

    True enough, but children aren’t houses.

    Okay … ?

    DGH may go easy on ex-patriotism, but I demand a lot more from those who think they may drop out of the world (as if that were possible anyway). Either it is God’s world or it isn’t. To my mind, some have a very of idea of what being “in the world but not of it” really means: it seems to mean that not being of it is taken care of by not being in it.

    I can’t even begin to describe the jaw-dropping irony of this reply. What is it again you called me for arguing that civil government is responsible to outlaw abortion, and that Christians are not free to support pro-“choice” policies? Moralist? Religionist? Romanist? Transformationalist? And now I’m an otherworldly Anabaptist advocating withdrawal from the world?

    And for it’s worth, I am simply dying to hear how you solve DGH’s conundrum @ 247

    See # 254.

    My guess, though, as to the key is the same as it has been: 1) you lend to the institution of education something it was never ordained for (I know, Pastor Brett has told you to no let me get away with this goofiness),

    What is it that you fail to understand about the way I’ve described the function of the public school system in the U.S.? Do you think it’s within the legitimate jurisdiction of the U.S. public school system to teach moral & religious views?

    and 2) you think children are essentially different creatures than adults. Not only that, you seem to think they share more in common with houses than adults. You’re a wily one, you are.

    I don’t think children are “essentially different creatures” than adults; however, they are immature & generally much more impressionable than are adults. And my metaphor of housebuilding is only meant to show the illegitimacy of your logic: Just because one may be able to unmake something, doesn’t mean one is able to make something.

  259. Kyle said,

    October 24, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Todd, re: 256,

    I don’t think it’s really relevant. If we grant your point, what I’ve said before still applies: God’s providential care for his church doesn’t make it a good idea to send our children to pagan school. Still, your point seems unsustainable. Ancient Rome didn’t have a universal public school system in which the vast majority of children were educated. Is it your contention that most Christian children went through pagan schools, which functioned analogously to our own U.S. public schools, and came through with no negative affects on their faith?

  260. D G Hart said,

    October 24, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Kyle: now now. Questioning intelligence is not really becoming a product of public education.

    Oh, so it’s the FUNCTION!!!!!!! of the public schools you’re talking about. Now I see. The public school in every state says that its mission is to catechize its children in unbelief. How could I have missed that?

    Well, the short answer is that no public school in its right or depraved mind would ever countenance such a proposition or FUNCTION!!!! because they sometimes do need to go to tax payers for increased revenues.

    Here’s the mission statement of the school district from which I was graduated: “Bristol Township School District will prepare and empower our students to be productive, competitive members in an ever-changing global society.”

    Now that’s a whole lot of idolatry in FUNCTION!!!!!

    Actually, Kyle, let me give you a little lesson in anti-thetical thinking. The FUNCTION!!!!! of public schools is a lot like the FUNCTION!!!! of American government. It is to do something of public value without acknowledging God and for the sake of people on both sides of the anti-thesis. But if the state is not for God, it is against God. (Do you really mean to insinuate there can be a God-honoring FUNCTION!!! of the state without a confession of Jesus Christ as Lord?) It doesn’t matter if the purpose is explicit or implicit because there is no neutrality. The implicit denial of God is just as bad and the explicit denial of God.

    So Kyle, you’re still caught bowing to godlessness everywhere you walk in this greatest nation on God’s green earth, even if you keep yourself out of the drug free zones around public schools. Every square inch is either for God or not. 2k thinking is an effort to try to account for the tension that exists between the antithesis on the one hand and the common life of believers and unbelievers between the advents.

    You and pastor Bret feel pretty certain about the lack of intelligence in 2k thought. But at least we can see the problem that comes with the application of the antithesis and try to figure out a way to remove our public lives from the aspersions of idolatry. You on the other hand see idolatry everywhere and then – voila – it doesn’t bite you because you have the sovereignty to turn it off outside public schools. Kuyper would marvel at your ability to cordon off unbelief.

  261. Kyle said,

    October 24, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Dr. Hart, re: 260,

    I don’t have any doubt of your intelligence, which is exactly why I am utterly flabbergasted that you have consistently either completely misread or misrepresented my views, and have addressed me at turns in the most sarcastic and condescending tones. I don’t know what others think of your bearing in the discussions you’ve had with me here, but frankly it’s left me feeling sick to my stomach and I’m sorry to say that I’ve lost a great deal of esteem for you. This last response of yours is all I can stand.

    I will look forward to reading your next book, and I pray it will be as useful to the church of God as so much of your work has been.

  262. Todd said,

    October 24, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Kyle,

    I said nothing about a universal school system, only that the early church read the same Bible you did, yet with their public education much more overtly pagan than our system, the Christians did not feel the need to education their kids separately from the schools in their culture. Whatever you see clearly in the Bible that prohibits this, for centuries the believers did not. That in itself should restrain your rigidity. But in addition, the Lord seemed to have blessed them with incredible growth and influence, given the supposed immoral and dangerous upbringing those Christians received. If what you say is true about the destructiveness of non-Christian schooling, the evidence for it historically is lacking, to say the least.

    You have a supposed law from God on this, yet with no specifics to help us know if we break it or not. How old can the child be before he can go to school? I want to know, after all, it´s God´s law were talking about, right? Can my child learn piano from an unbeliever? Can he take one science class at a local school? As soon as you take the education decision out of the realm of wisdom and into one of law, you become a tyrant going beyond Scripture to bind consciences in the way you see fit.

    Finally, there is the elitism of such a position. Millions of God´s people in other countries have not read Rushdooney or Dabney on education (not a bad thing), they do not have the resources to Christian or home school, they need the services the local schools provide. Are they all lawbreakers? Are you who home and Christian school among the faithful few who really obey God in this world? Why isn´t it enough to simply warn Christians of the potential dangers of the public schools? Why the need to go beyond and bind the consciences, destroy Christian liberty, and make superficial judgments about Christian parents who do not agree with you on this?

    Todd

  263. Kyle said,

    October 24, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Todd, re: 262,

    What “public education” was there in ancient Rome? How many Christian children were actually sent to pagan schools? You’re making arguments while assuming what you need to demonstrate. Maybe you can direct me to the paeans that Christians wrote in honor of their overtly pagan “public” educational system? Furthermore, the fact that God blessed the early church with great growth does not logically support the conclusion that sending Christian children to pagan schools was therefore a wise choice. Would you let me argue with the same seriousness that it was a good idea for Constantine to have such extraordinary influence in ecclesiastical matters, because, after all, God greatly blessed the early church?

    The duty of Christian parents is to raise up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Sending children to our U.S. public schools, as a general rule, cannot be a help in this, but is almost always a great hindrance. Or do you deny that my description of the public schools’ function is the least bit accurate? Would it be generally wise to send Christian children to a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Hindu school? Should that normally be considered faithful to the vows parents take at their child’s baptism?

    As for the rest of the world, have I been talking about the school systems in other nations? I’m talking about the U.S. public schools. Not having much experience outside of that system, I’m not going to comment on what schools may be like in Uganda or Bolivia.

  264. Darryl Hart said,

    October 25, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Kyle: well pardon me if I have overstepped the bounds of civility. I did write my last with a degree of sarcasm. And if that offends you, I am sorry. (I write if because I assume that sarcasm is a legitimate way of responding at times on blogs. So far Emily Post has not issued a blogging etiquette book.)

    I must say, though, that I find your hurt surprising because you have here and over that the two kinds of creativity thread been willing to dish it out. Above you have asked why I don’t respond intelligently (#123), you said I responded with little thought (#126), you questioned my dignity (#180), and you even admitted to someone else that you were taking jabs at me (#207).

    I have tried not to make this personal, and even if I have had my doubts about the fullness of your thought about this matter, I have tried not to bring that up but instead stay on the issue, not on the person. In fact, your friend pastor Bret and accomplice Markvandermolen regularly question the person along with the person’s ideas. My advice, if I have any dignity left, is to avoid raising the person’s character as an issue, but try to stay on topic and show what is wrong with their position (which is different from saying you disagree).

    And for what it’s worth, you also show a propensity for passive-agressive responses. So you interject with a measure of personal vitriol, some one takes umbrage in response, and then you say you won’t respond any more until they represent you fairly. The whole point of an exchange like this is to show the flaws in the other person’s position. That effort may still be fair even if it results in showing implications that are disagreeable to the person who wants to be treated fairly. Plus, the hide-and-seek way you have responded — I won’t write any more until you figure out exactly what I mean — is just not very winning.

    Meanwhile, the other side regularly misrepresents the 2k position, calling it radical, a virus, and a form of affirming neutrality or secularism. I think this is a use of alarmist language in exchange for serious exchange. I personally think that your views, Kyle, and those of Pastor Bret, are theonomic, or certainly show assumptions ripe for theonomy. That may not be a scare word with you or other readers. It is for me and that is why I don’t think I should use it in these exchanges. Simply throwing it out there doesn’t clarify.

    So what I’ve been trying to do is to show some problematic implications of your thought for which your views do not account. You may choose to take this as a cheap shot. But for some of us, your assertions about public schools do not add up. They neither account for what is actually going on in public education — which is why I quoted my own township’s mission statement. (I really do find it incredulous that you can attribute such wanton infidelity and idolatry upon assertions and functions that are not explicitly so, but that are much more often coded in the languge of social engineering or therapeutic moralism.) Nor do they explain how you can live in good conscience with the state that sponsors those schools.

    Again, I apologize for going over the line with sarcasm.

    And for what it’s worth, I’m finishing a book on the Religious Right and American Conservatism. No, they are not coterminous. And this exchange confirms my thesis that evangelicals do not understand conservatism.

  265. Todd said,

    October 25, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Kyle,

    Unfortunately, given the nature of this media, we are firing back and forth many salvos with only a few being answered. Darryl just stole much of my thunder in his recent response. Again, this is not personal, we each represent certain positions, and a challenging exchange helps others see the consistency and veracity if each position.

    Yes, “pagan” schools were common for children in Ancient Rome, and yes, the Christians for three centuries did not see anything in their Bibles that prohibited them from sending their children to those schools, and no, I don´t think it can be demonstrated that Constantine brought great blessings to the Christian faith: more the opposite.

    And I also believe you strongly underestimate the power of the church and family to influence children. Children can handle the non-Christian environment of schools, worldviews, bullies, etc…because of the incredible influence the Lord gives parents and churces to shape children. Again, history proves me correct on this. This is not to say public schools are for everyone: only a parent knows what his children can handle, not you, or pastors, or blog-crazy theonomists.

    Again, the major mistake you make, besides destroying Christian liberty, is not distingushing the two kingdoms. I read “teach” in the Bible and think, teach my kids the Christian faith, the Scriptures, make sure they are members in good standing of a good church that teaches good doctrine, etc. That is actually the standard historical understanding of those passages. I don’t read Deut 6, Eph 6 or Matt 28 (teach them everything I commanded you – I don’t recall our Lord commanding the disciplies how to learn geography, learn multiplication, or play basketball)and see commands about teaching math, music, how to drive a car, etc… The Bible never suggests that to bring one’s child up in the Lord one must Christianize every subject in the kingdom of man, that your kids must be taught every subject from a believer.

    Thus by ignoring the obvious meaning of those verses you have expanded them to mean more than they mean, thus adding to the word of God and laying unwarrented burdens on God’s people, which our Lord never takes too kindly to.

    Peace,

    Todd

  266. Todd said,

    October 25, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Per # 265

    Excuse the typos and spelling: I’m in Mexico, this computer has no spell check I can find, and I’m writing fairly quickly.

    TB

  267. Kyle said,

    October 25, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Todd, re: 265,

    Unfortunately, given the nature of this media, we are firing back and forth many salvos with only a few being answered. Darryl just stole much of my thunder in his recent response.

    If you are understanding my arguments in the same way Dr. Hart is, I suggest you quit reading his responses to me, because we will get nowhere otherwise.

    First, with regard to the Roman schools, I reiterate my questions to you in #263. And, as I thought, you would not let me argue seriously that Constantine’s influence was a good thing. I wouldn’t argue that it was, yet by the assumptions you are making about Roman schools & the blessings which the church had, why could I not argue that Constantine’s influece was a good thing, seeing as it was at this time that the church formulated the formal Trinitarian dogmas which are so precious to our faith?

    Second, as for the two kingdoms, I have repeatedly given my description of the way in which U.S. public schools function. Perhaps you’ve missed where I’ve stated a couple of times that if all the public schools did was to teach the three R’s, I would not be making the argument I am. I am not & have not suggested that every subject of study must be “christianized” for them to be taught and learned competently, or that every teacher of Christian children on any subject must be a Christian. Rather, what I have said is that our public schools go beyond simply teaching the basic subjects & skillsets, but that they in fact teach moral, religious, & philosophical ideas which are contrary to the truth, in a way which does in fact militate against the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

  268. Todd said,

    October 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Kyle,

    “If you are understanding my arguments in the same way Dr. Hart is, I suggest you quit reading his responses to me, because we will get nowhere otherwise.”

    Well, I think Darryl and I understand what you are saying. (Like Bart Simpson said after reading books for the first time: “Scientists have said people only use 10% of their brain, and now I’m one of them.”) We just don’t think you have proven your point well, either Biblically or consistently.

    “First, with regard to the Roman schools, I reiterate my questions to you in #263. And, as I thought, you would not let me argue seriously that Constantine’s influence was a good thing. I wouldn’t argue that it was, yet by the assumptions you are making about Roman schools & the blessings which the church had, why could I not argue that Constantine’s influece was a good thing, seeing as it was at this time that the church formulated the formal Trinitarian dogmas which are so precious to our faith?”

    The point was, you argue that to do A is unlawful, and will result in negative consequences. My response – Christians for three centuries (at the least) did not see A as unlawful, and we do not see the consequences of A you assure us would occur.

    Also, as for schools teaching morals, yes, schools must teach basic citizenship. My kids learn how to treat others with respect, not talk out of turn, not fight in the playground, be on time with homework, listen to instruction; all coponents of morality. They are not taught to vote for a certain candidate, or give up their faith, etc…at least not at the schools my kids attend. And the few times they hear something that is untrue, they know right away because they are taught well at home and church – it really is not that big a deal.

    “Second, as for the two kingdoms, I have repeatedly given my description of the way in which U.S. public schools function. Perhaps you’ve missed where I’ve stated a couple of times that if all the public schools did was to teach the three R’s, I would not be making the argument I am. I am not & have not suggested that every subject of study must be “christianized” for them to be taught and learned competently, or that every teacher of Christian children on any subject must be a Christian. Rather, what I have said is that our public schools go beyond simply teaching the basic subjects & skillsets, but that they in fact teach moral, religious, & philosophical ideas which are contrary to the truth, in a way which does in fact militate against the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

    So, is there or isn’t there such thing as a world view? You already said it is impossible for anyone to be neutral on any subject, so your hypothetical scenario of unbelievers teaching only the basic skills and knowledge without worldview is purely hypothetical, correct?

    Again, where in the Bible is it a sin to expose your child to a wrong viewpoint? At what age does the Bible allow children to be exposed to wrong viewpoints? Of course, answering those questions takes you out of the realm of law and into the realm of wisdom, or are you to play Rabbi and tell others beyond Scripture when they can do such? You have not answered the accusation that you are taking away rights from parents and placing them in the hands of the clergy, where they do not belong.

    Todd

  269. Kyle said,

    October 25, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Todd,

    Thanks for the interaction, but I really see no point in continuing this very fruitless discussion.

  270. Todd said,

    October 25, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Kyle,

    Fine, though in #246 you stated that Christians using the public schools for their children are acting “contrary to God’s law.” If you are going to stand in a pulpit and declare “God’s law” on this, you better be right. And if only partially intellegent people like me (as well as millions of other believers past and present) and highly intellegent people like Daryll cannot see the consistency of this position while living in a common grace society, nor it’s Biblical mandate, you may want to do some more thinking before declaring “thus sayeth the Lord.” A dangerous thing to do.

    Peace,

    Todd

  271. Kyle said,

    October 25, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Todd,

    No, that’s not what I stated in #246, although I’ll freely admit that in that case I might have been clearer. Still, you can read what I wrote in #123. Not that it matters. If you accept Dr. Hart’s reading of me, there’s nothing more to be discussed. Thanks anyway.

  272. Zrim said,

    October 27, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Todd,

    If you’re still down there, let’s you and me start a public school in Mexico. These Dutch in Little Geneva are killing me and my wife hates the cold winters.

    Seriously, I know I pointed it out way above, but I’m still rather intrigued with how the educational-legalism displayed by the other side of the table parallels so closely with substance use-legalism. Switch out the content and it is virtually the same head-banging discussion, complete with soft legalists (“secular education is fine, but ill-advised”) and harder ones (“handing children over to Molech, doing the devil’s work”) denying their legalism and entreating others to prove that which they will never admit to.


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