Darryl and Scott, meet Shiphrah and Puah...

I've previously said that advocates of a radical two-kingdom theology apparently see no limits to state authority over Christians and the Church in the civil sphere. Their second kingdom, the kingdom of man, rules with absolute authority over both. Moreover, when the Church seeks to apply God's Word to the civil sphere it is violating not merely civil authority but the will of God who grants civil authority its power. The only check God permits upon civil authority is natural law; applying God's Law to civil authority is denying the legitimacy of that authority.

Thus, the Church is to be silent before the world on the major cultural sins of our day. It should be as silent on abortion today as it ought to have been on prohibition in the early twentieth century--and believe me, as Darryl Hart has made clear in numerous comments on this blog, the two are closely related social ills in his two-kingdom view. The Church may speak to Christians about such matters but not to the world. Before the world the Church speaks only of Christ, not of God's Law.

Though this approach might strike some as cowardice, a neat and clean escape from the obligations of Christ's Law of Love, to advocates of the two-kingdom view the opposite is true: by its silence before the world--except to speak of the cross of Christ--the Church demonstrates the Gospel most clearly. Any addition to the cross, any attempt to apply God's Law in the civil sphere is moralism, a refusal to recognize the legitimacy of civil authority and rebellion against God.

That this view bears no resemblance to the practice of the Luther, Calvin and the rest of the magisterial reformers makes no difference to Drs. Clark and Hart: what does the practice of men matter when the Word of God speaks so clearly?

But, of course, the question before us is ultimately Scriptural: does the Word of God truly demand such drastic division between the two kingdoms? Is the wall of separation between Church and state not merely a secularist construct but the requirement of God's Word as Dr. Hart maintains both in his published writing and on this blog?

Is it against the calling of a minister of the Gospel to act as a minister in opposition to abortion in the civil sphere as Dr. Clark believes? Is abortion legislation really a matter of "states' rights" as Dr. Hart believes? (Note that in Dr. Hart's view appropriate Christian action against abortion is apparently not only constrained by the doctrine of the spirituality of the Church he finds in the Word, but equally by the U.S. Constitution--as though in the civil sphere the U.S. Constitution is as inviolate, even in the face of the murder of infants, as the Word of God in the Christian sphere.)

The radical two-kingdom view's Scriptural foundation has three parts: 

The stool's first leg is the distinction between Old Testament, theocratic Israel and the New Testament Church. This is merely a negative leg in that the distinction between Church and Israel serves not to mandate the radical two-kingdom distinction, but only to keep the obvious link between civil and religious authority in Old Testament Israel from automatically accruing to the New Testament Church.

The stool's second leg is formulated on Christ's statement to Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world." Though this is not the sole passage advocates of a radical two-kingdom view point to as establishing the Church as a spiritual kingdom with no overlap with civil authority, it exemplifies such passages. 

The stool's third leg is an argument from silence: the New Testament Church and Christ's apostles are not shown by Scripture to have taken positions on issues of civil righteousness. The apostles speak of God's Law only to the Church, advocates of this view assert; their silence in the face of civil unrighteousness in their day requires us to avoid such issues in our day.

Lacking a positive command to avoid the exercise of religious authority or suasion in the civil sphere, radical two-kingdom advocates build the logic of their position on these three planks. Thus, demonstrate any one of the planks to be invalid and radical two-kingdom logic collapses. 

Is it possible to demonstrate biblically that one or more of the planks radical two-kingdom logic rests upon is invalid? I believe it is.

Drs. Hart and Clark and their friends in the radical two-kingdom camp take it for granted that one-kingdom, theocratic Old Testament Israel is no template for the two-kingdom New Testament Church. But is this so? Were there never eras in the Old Testament when Israel existed in a two-kingdom environment like that of the New Testament Church? Of course not; there were such times. At the outset of the Babylonian exile God spoke through prophets calling Israel to submit to Nebuchadnezzar and He punished Israel for rebelling and turning for help to Egypt. 

Israel lived a two-kingdom existence during both the Babylonian exile and the Egyptian captivity. But did Israel live in absolute submission to civil authority during those two-kingdom periods? Or did God call on the Israelites to violate civil law in obedience to His higher demands even during its periods of two-kingdom existence?

Interestingly, and importantly for this discussion, on at least two occasions during Israel's two-kingdom existence God not only led Israelites to disobey civil authority, but manifestly blessed their disobedience.

The first such occasion is found in Exodus 1:15-21 where we read of the Israelite midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, defying the command of Pharaoah to kill male Israelite children. Scripture tells us not only that God "dealt well with the midwives" for their disobedience, but He "gave them families."

Of course, the radical two-kingdom response to this passage is predictable: Shiphrah and Puah were being ordered to sin themselves. They didn't march on Pharaoah's palace to oppose his edict, they only refused to heed its directly sinful requirements for their own lives. So too, we should avoid the practice of abortion as Christians. But opposing the civil authority that stands behind abortion is beyond our purview just as it was for them. 

So my questions for Drs. Hart and Clark  are these: 

First, if we can't use Shiprah and Puah's civil disobedience as examples for our day since we're not being required to practice abortion, can we at least use them as examples demonstrating that there are times when civil disobedience is correct for the believer in a two-kingdom world?

Second, how would you preach to Shiphrah and Puah if they were in your congregation? Would you call on them--and their Hebrew customers--to disobey Pharaoah's edict, or would you avoid treading on civil ground here as well?

Third, how would you preach on Shiphrah and Puah in our day? What practical applications would you make from their lives?

But there's an even stronger example of civil disobedience in the two-kingdom life of Old Testament Israel, and that's the example of Esther. Esther, Ahasuerus's queen, like the rest of Persia was forbidden by law to approach the throne of Ahasuerus. "I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish," she tells her cousin Mordecai (Esther 4:16).

Yet Mordecai urges Esther to violate Persian law to save the lives of her people. 

Note that unlike Shiphrah and Puah, Esther is not required to kill. There is no sin required of her, yet Mordecai tells her that it's her duty as a child of God to oppose the murderous regime of Haman and Ahasuerus, even at the expense of breaking Persian law, even at the cost of her life.

What will radical two-kingdom advocates do with this story? Honestly, I don't know. A clearer call to obey the Law of God, to advance the Law of God even against the kingdom of man would be hard to find. But I suspect they'll look for some crack, some casuistry, some taxonomic distinction to keep from applying the story of Esther to our lives today. Somehow, via any possible means, the example of Mordecai calling Esther to stand against the murder of innocents even when it entails violating civil law and breaching civil authority must be found invalid for our day. In our day Mordecai would accept the king's edict, Esther would be silent, God would not bless such breaching of His spheres of authority and the Jews would die.

The three-legged Scriptural stool of the radical two-kingdom view will not stand. Its first leg, the fundamental dissimilarity between the Church and Israel is upended by the two-kingdom eras of the Old Testament. Its third leg, the silence of Scripture in showing the people of God opposing unrighteous-yet-legitimate civil authority is equally broken. It is a view that cannot stand the test of scriptural scrutiny. It is a view that betrays the lives of the Reformers even as it claims their mantle. It is a position more aligned with Anabaptist views and theology than Reformed, and it deserves our condemnation, seeing how easily it confirms us in our indifference to the wickedness surrounding us.

Comments

"Their second kingdom, the kingdom of man, rules with absolute authority over both."

You might want to try to understand the view before condemning it with silly assertions like this. When the government demands Christian believers, whether 2k or 1k, to worship it instead of Christ, to stop preaching the gospel, to sin, we obey God rather than man. No one has suggested the government has absolute authority. These regular and fierce attacks against Clark and Hart suggest that the Bayly Blog is now the new attack dog of Doug Wilson.

Not at all to dispute the need for Christian ethics in the kingdom of man, why have so many social justice churches been co-opted by left-leaning perspectives?

(At the first web address below click on anything that refers to "justice.")

http://warc.jalb.de/warcajsp/side.jsp?news_id=2&part2_id=19&navi=8

http://www.warc.ch/documents/ACCRA_Pamphlet.pdf

>These regular and fierce attacks against Clark and Hart suggest that the Bayly Blog is now the new attack dog of Doug Wilson.

Since when is Hart known for being an anti-Wilson partisan? That is perhaps the least credible comment in this whole discussion.

Messrs. Bayly & Bayly,

I am beginning to see why your blog is called "we're out of our minds." It seems that what you call "radical 2K" is a caricature, or strawman, of regular 2K. It would be akin to always bashing your views by attacking theonomy. Caricatures are always easier to shoot down. I went through and read the links you give, accusing Hart of equating prohibition and abortion and you are being inaccurate, at best.

Maybe your view is right. Maybe his is wrong. At least engage the actual view he espouses for the sake of those (such as myself) who are still trying to understand the debate and see where we stand.

It would be much appreciated.

David B., you have an interesting ability to conclude that by disproving another position, your position is right. But just because you think these biblical examples disprove 2k, they don't add up to a biblical justification for what you do or practice. At least, you haven't shown that.

First, it is another strawman to say that I believe in the "absolute" authority of the civil authorities over the church or Christians. How could you ever construe that a libertarian leaning anti-federalist errs on the side of "absolute" authority. Get a grip.

Second, you make a fairly decent outline of a couple positions that 2kers follow. The one that you really need to consider is the positive biblical warrant for what you do as part of the institutitional church or minister of the word. If the Bible is silent -- according to Reformed teaching -- the church may not do it, no matter how good the intentions. This is the entire basis for the regulative principle of worship.

So do these two instances of civil disobedience lead to the church as an institution speaking out against abortion? What they say is that Christians should obey God's law rather than man's. If the state is going to require me to execute my children, I disobey. If the state is going to require that Christians be slaughtered, it is possible for churchmen by humble petition (WCF 31.4) to request the magistrate to change his law or policy. It is also possible for Christians to think that "to die is gain," that martyrdom is not the final word.

Plus, if Esther becomes the warrant for what you do, then wasn't Jeremiah wrong not to go to Sennacharib and tell him not to take the Israelites into captivity? (I'm sure a few lost there lives in that one.) And aren't you cowardly not to go to Washington, enter the White House and confront Obama? Isn't that what the Bible is teaching here? Please don't tell me, you've been unfaithful, David.

One last point, you keep trying to school me with Calvin and Luther and how differently they acted in their times. Well, hello, the church was part of the political establishment then. If it still were, I imagine you and I would be mixing it up in Washington, D.C. But it is not anymore. So if you want to appeal to Calvin and Luther, then you also need to take the lumps of Servetus and religious wars. Again this problem with selectivity.

>One last point, you keep trying to school me with Calvin and Luther and how differently they acted in their times. Well, hello, the church was part of the political establishment then.

But for every time someone does that another invokes how Christians behaved under Nero. Well Toto we're not in Rome anymore either. How does 2K address the fact that nearly every adult in this land has some political power and bears some political responsibility?

David Gray wrote: "But for every time someone does that another invokes how Christians behaved under Nero."

That's because, I assume, the way Paul directed the church in the New Testament is normative for us while the way Calvin did it in Geneva is normative insofar as it is in line with Scripture.

Technically, given Augustine's understanding of the city of Man versus the city of God, we are still in Rome while we wait for the New Jerusalem.

Still waiting for the trumpet sound.

Cheers,

Dear Todd,

Please do me the favor of reading what I say rather than, as I'm forced to see it, intentionally mischaracterizing my view. It's clear in my post that I don't accuse two-kingdom advocates of giving secular government the authority to force Christians to sin. When I wrote of secular authority's absolute authority in the view of two-kingdom advocates I clearly stated that it exists "in the civil sphere."

Or perhaps you don't understand the distinction between civil and religious spheres yourself? But I suspect you do, and you were just looking to make an easy score by misquoting me.

Sincerely in Christ,

David Bayly

>>How does 2K address the fact that nearly every adult in this land has some political power and bears some political responsibility?

Keep asking, David. Haven't kept count, but how many times, now? Democracy, anyone?

>>Technically, given Augustine's understanding of the city of Man versus the city of God, we are still in Rome while we wait for the New Jerusalem.

That's your cue, Josh. Have at it.

Love,

Dear Darryl,

I'm speaking of what you view the extent of state power being from the perspective of a scriptural Christian and elder in the Church, not from your perspective as an American citizen.

As a citizen of this country you can hold any view you want on the limits of governmental power. Though I dislike libertarianism personally, my argument with your position has little to do with your views as an American citizen but everything to do with your attempt to limit Christians and the Church within the kingdom of man on the basis of Scripture.

If the only limits on state power you view as legitimate are those which flow from your secular position then my point is proven. You do view the state as possessing absolute power in its sphere, unchecked either by Church authority or individual Christian interpretation of Scripture.

Or do you actually proclaim your libertarian principles on the basis of Scripture?

Sincerely in Christ,

David

>Keep asking, David. Haven't kept count, but how many times, now?

I believe it is four times...

"my argument with your position has little to do with your views as an American citizen but everything to do with your attempt to limit Christians and the Church within the kingdom of man on the basis of Scripture. "

Does 2K, or R2K as you affectionately call it, limit BOTH Christians and the Church or simply the Church? I am truly curious here because I thought was only the latter and not the former.

Cheers,

David,

You write in your post that we beileve the state has absolute authority over both spheres, church and state (second line). Later in your response to me you say 2kers do not believe the state has the authority to make us sin and we believe the state only has absolute authority in the civil sphere. I'm confused.

How's Albuquerque treating you?

Darryl,

I was not aware of the existence of a regulative principle of civil governance.

I'm not sure that appealing to the regulative principle of worship will get you far here, but how is it that the men who coined the principle if not the moniker didn't apply that same "principle" to their interaction to the state, whether at the local or national level?

And I think, too, given the amount of ink spilled by Reformers on Christian interaction with civil government, it's odd that R2kers like Scott Clark and yourself think that somehow you're upolders of the Reformed Tradition®. In your comments above you recognized you're not in their line, but you have yet to show that Calvin, et al are exegetically wrong and that your position isn't simply the Enlightenment's (by way of Scottish Common Sense philosphy) happy Presbyterian landing place.

Todd, you continue to misread me--I fear intentionally.

If you can't grasp my grammar--which could be misleading though I don't read it as such--at least read the post where it is abundantly clear that your interpretation doesn't reflect my position.

Sincerely in Christ, David

David,

So what does this statement mean "Their second kingdom, the kingdom of man, rules with absolute authority over both."

Dear Todd,

I wrote, "advocates of a radical two-kingdom theology apparently see no limits to state authority over Christians and the Church IN THE CIVIL SPHERE (emphasis added by caps, the only way possible in comments). Their second kingdom, the kingdom of man, rules with absolute authority over both."

State authority trumps both Christian and Church, ruling over both with absolute authority "in the civil sphere," meaning in the sphere of authority 2-kingdomers deem God to have granted the state. Please read me fairly and quit the senseless carping.

As I said in a previous comment, even if you still can't grasp my meaning in that paragraph it should have been clear to you from the remainder of my post that what you accuse me of saying bears no relation to what I actually intended. You need to read the entire post and interact with it rather than simply misread one sentence tendentiously and then try to impale me on it.

And please, no more quibbling on this. I don't have the time for it though I want to do your questions justice.

Sincerely in Christ,

David

David,

I get what you are saying, not both spheres, but you think we believe the state rules with absolute authority over both Christian and church. Point us, that is not true. You are trying to describe our view, and none of us recognize our view in your four of five posts calling out 2kers. (The FVers are saying, "now you know how we feel")

Dear Todd,

Thanks for your kind response. We still disagree, but now at least we agree about the nature of that disagreement.

Love in Christ,

David

The democracy question (which I think is a valid one)cuts both ways. For instance, if we live in a nation with 51% Christians, should they vote to outlaw all non-Christian religions? I think one of the main points 2k makes is that operating in the civil sphere is more complicated than some are willing to admit.

David B.: You wrote: "Dear Todd,

"Please do me the favor of reading what I say rather than, as I'm forced to see it, intentionally mischaracterizing my view."

LOL!

David Gray, so why don't you tell me what it means that Christians have the power of franchise. Democracy doesn't give us the power to legislate, execute, or judge in the courts. The Constitution is clear on that. So we have the power to vote. What does the Bible say about that? Please, please, please, please (count 'em, four times) answer your own question. By asking you haven't exactly solved the problem that the Bible does not speak to democratic forms of Govt. And it is very clear that by appealing to the Bible only, the Reformers were not giving license to whatever pious intentions wanted (hence, by analogy, the logic of the regulative principle of worship).

Ken Patrick, you may think the Westminster Divines spoke with two tongues when it came to worship and the state. But in point of fact, in WCF 31.4, the paragraph appealed to repeatedly by Old Schoolers, the Divines say the church is not to meddle in civil affairs, unless by way of humble petition. (Is it just me, or do the Bayly Bros. not sound humble in their petitioning?)

Think about it. Why would an Assembly called by a parliament that committed regicide not be circumspect in what it said about what the church could say to the state? And if you look at the chapter on the church, 25, you don't see a whole lot more than word, sacrament, discipline.

So if the Confession is at all a boundary, it looks like the Baylys are foul again.

"Is it just me, or do the Bayly Bros. not sound humble in their petitioning?"

Had you not said that you didn't think a pastor had any business protesting at an abortion clinic?

How is that any worse than petitioning gov? They're both legal but very much hated by the world on issues like abortion and sexual sin.

-Clint

>David Gray, so why don't you tell me what it means that Christians have the power of franchise. Democracy doesn't give us the power to legislate, execute, or judge in the courts. The Constitution is clear on that.

Where in the Constitution does it ban Christians from doing those things?

>So we have the power to vote. What does the Bible say about that? Please, please, please, please (count 'em, four times) answer your own question.

Actually I already had answered but for those unclear on the reason God ordained the state I'm game to have another go.

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

>By asking you haven't exactly solved the problem that the Bible does not speak to democratic forms of Govt.

Of course the ordained role of the state doesn't change simply because you flip from monarchy to republic, merely the mechanism changes, as does the distribution of responsibility.

Can we all just agree that government is a servant of Jesus Christ?

Or did Jesus abdicate his authority to Pilate over the civil realm?

It really seems crazy to even entertain the latter question.

What's the benefit to 2K'ers to condemn and criticize 1K'ers?

Dr. Hart,

Humble petition is not "no involvement." So, churches can speak to the state, by the WCF, by your own admission, as long as we speak humbly, which we always ought to do.

David Gray, so the Constitution is your guide on citizenship more than the Bible? oh my. BTW, the Constitution technically doesn't say anything about the power of citizens. It delegates the powers of the three branches of the federal govt. And I don't know about you, but when the Constitution was passed there's a good chance my people didn't have franchise. It was supposed to put a break on democracy and keep rabble like my anscestors from getting too much power.

But the Constitution does ban religious tests for holding public office? Since you believe anti-abortion is a Christian duty, and since you likely only vote for anti-abortion candidates, you may be violating the Constitution by imposing religious tests. Come to the other side where you can apply natural law and not violate either the Constition or the Confession.

Ken Pierce, isn't it a tad odd that only about 8 posts and reams of comments into these discussions about 2k what the confession teaches about church and state is only now being considered? 2kers are trying to be confessional.

Divisive (i.e.Truth Divides): the advantage of critiquing 1k is that it looks to lots of 2kers that 1kers (contrary to the Pslams) put way too much hope in the princes of this world for the advancement of the kingdom of grace. We believe that Christ's kingdom comes through the ordinances that God has given his church. His kingdom knows no national boundaries. It is a spiritual kingdom in which communion is sweet because it is with the one who took away our sins and made us right with God.

We believe that the United States is not the embodiment of this kingdom. Nor do we believe that any state can implement this kingdom.

And we know from history that when the church loses sight of this difference between the gracious ordinances of God in the church, and the civil ordinances of God in the state, the church invariably abandons the gospel for works righteousness.

This is patently manifest in the history of American Presbyterianism between 1860 and 1930 (for starters).

Dr. Hart,

That is quite simply, untrue. The confession and how the church is to relate to the state has been brought up repeatedly by me in a variety of threads.

SO, let us humbly petition. Let us educate, and form Christian consciences.

And, like Kuyper or Wilberforce, when we are by God made his ministers of the state, then let us govern Christianly.

And, let's not get confused. We are all Two Kingdoms, just not in the same sense. I don't think there are any one kingdom types here (or at least I am not one of them).

The question is rather crypto-Lutheran quietism, or World-and-Life-View Calvinism. YOu don't seem as quietist as Scott Clark, but I do think you are reading Hodge and Machen with essentially Lutheran eyes. I am quite certain you will disagree with that!

Dr. Hart,

Your caricature of my position and the Bayly's is inaccurate. None of us is imminentizing the eschaton. NOne of us thinks the kingdom advances with the state or the sword.

What we want is less babies to die, less women to die in combat, less homosexuals to marry. OUr goals are modest ones, but they are goals.

And it makes me weep that you, and many of our other prophets, do not share them.

Tim, what Luke 14 has to do with 2k I'll never know. Wouldn't it at least mean inviting the poor and wretched 2kers to the wedding? I mean, on your view, we are pretty crippled and blind.

Ken Patrick, you think I have to go through contortions between my elder and citizen selves. Well I only learned this from Charles Hodge. As an elder I am called to minister God's word. I am not called to baptize my own advice or wisdom (the Baylys think I have none) with the word. So if a member asks me how to vote, I say that the Bible does not answer the question. (And even if you thought abortion was an issue sufficient to determine your vote, where does the Bible say that it is compared with all the other things that the state does. I can respect those who believe abortion is THE issue of the day. But can they really tell me that the Bible says it is the issue by which to vote in a federated constitutional republic?)

Back to Hodge: when Gardiner Spring proposed to the 1861 Old School GA that the church support the federal government in opposition to the secessionists, Hodge said that the Bible did not teach on the constitutional quesiton of federal vs. states rights. He argued against the Spring Resolution because the Bible was silent.

This is what 2kers are trying to do, be faithful to Scripture, and not go beyond ministering God's word.

I see that the Baylys try to minister God's word too. So did Martin Luther King, Jr. Does the aim automatically bring the result? In the Baylys case, no.

Spring's resolution was a misguided attempt by an otherwise faithful orthodox man, right?

So, we minister God's Word, but we do it to both the church and the world. God's Law doth forever bind all, justified persons as well as others....

There's more Confession!!

>>The question is rather crypto-Lutheran quietism, or World-and-Life-View Calvinism. YOu don't seem as quietist as Scott Clark, but I do think you are reading Hodge and Machen with essentially Lutheran eyes.

Precisely right. It had to be said sooner or later.

Love,

>David Gray, so the Constitution is your guide on citizenship more than the Bible? oh my.

No, you made an odd comment on what the Constitution said and I tried to clarify if you really meant the odd thing you said.

>BTW, the Constitution technically doesn't say anything about the power of citizens. It delegates the powers of the three branches of the federal govt.

Yes, and each of those branches is populated by "citizens", who can be Christians.

>And I don't know about you, but when the Constitution was passed there's a good chance my people didn't have franchise.

Is part of the 2K agenda to reduce the franchise? Return literacy tests?

>It was supposed to put a break on democracy and keep rabble like my anscestors from getting too much power.

Yes, things have changed.

>But the Constitution does ban religious tests for holding public office? Since you believe anti-abortion is a Christian duty, and since you likely only vote for anti-abortion candidates, you may be violating the Constitution by imposing religious tests.

OK, you're having fun as you're too bright to mean that seriously. We both know that the tests referenced are tests imposed by the states, not tests utilized by individual voters.

>Come to the other side where you can apply natural law and not violate either the Constition or the Confession.

Right now it looks like I'd have to abandon any knowledge of US and Constitutional history to do so (not to mention stepping aside from a normative Reformed understanding) and I think I'd rather not do that, thanks.

Me: "What's the benefit to 2K'ers to condemn and criticize 1K'ers?"

Darryl Hart answers: "the advantage of critiquing 1k is that it looks to lots of 2kers that 1kers (contrary to the Pslams) put way too much hope in the princes of this world for the advancement of the kingdom of grace."

Response: 2K'ers have it wrong. Eg., Multi-faceted pro-life actions and measures by 1K'ers DO NOT AT ALL mean that 1K'ers are putting "too much hope in the princes of this world for the advancement of the kingdom of grace."

How stupid can you be?

Darryl Hart continues: "We believe that Christ's kingdom comes through the ordinances that God has given his church. His kingdom knows no national boundaries. It is a spiritual kingdom in which communion is sweet because it is with the one who took away our sins and made us right with God.

We believe that the United States is not the embodiment of this kingdom. Nor do we believe that any state can implement this kingdom."

Response: No disagreement here. Any Bayly regular 1Ker disagree with Darryl Hart here?

Darryl Hart continues: "And we know from history that when the church loses sight of this difference between the gracious ordinances of God in the church, and the civil ordinances of God in the state, the church invariably abandons the gospel for works righteousness."

Response: Still no disagreement here.

(I'm wondering if you're badly and stupidly confusing LibProt Social Gospel stuff with what the 1K'ers on the Bayly blog are polemicizing about. It's quite an inexcusable failure to distinguish between the two.)

Darryl Hart ends: "This is patently manifest in the history of American Presbyterianism between 1860 and 1930 (for starters)."

Response: I leave it to others to address. I'm not sufficiently informed about the history of American Presbyterianism.

I am, however, fairly acquainted with the dreaded poison of Liberal Protestantism. If your beef is with LibProts, I'll join swords with you, Darryl.

But if you're attempting to link and lump 1K'ers like the Baylys (and others like myself) with the heresy and apostasy of Liberal Protestantism, then I'm confirmed in my decision to ferociously engage with you.

"But the Constitution does ban religious tests for holding public office? Since you believe anti-abortion is a Christian duty, and since you likely only vote for anti-abortion candidates, you may be violating the Constitution by imposing religious tests."

Okay, will someone please call Dr. Hart out for how stupid this paragraph is? The constitution is talking about tests imposed by gov not private individuals. The constitution exists so that people don't have to violate their consciences before God not so that we *have* to quench the spirit. Dr. Hart, give me a break! How stupid do you think we are?

-Clint

Dear TUAD,

Thanks, friend.

I think to myself when I read Dr. Hart, "I'm the one who trusts in the US government? No way! Dr. Hart is actively libertarian but I'm futilitarian when it comes to placing confidence in the US government.

Love in Christ,

David

>Okay, will someone please call Dr. Hart out for how stupid this paragraph is?

You mean someone else? :)

Darryl,

You say, "the Divines say the church is not to meddle in civil affairs, unless by way of humble petition." I don't believe I written anything about the church meddling, unless you mean the Church urging the Body of Christ to live like they're the Body of Christ even as citizens of a secular nation. As such, I find it remarkable that you wouldn't advise a parishioner to vote to outlaw abortion, although your answer seems to have wandered perilously close to thinking that I proposed that you advise a parishioner for "whom" to vote. I tried to avoid that potential tangle by limiting it to a proposed statute. The thrust of my point, and I think David Gray is hammering away at this is well, is that your parishioners are citizens and in a federal republic they have responsibilities, and sometimes they look for advice from their spiritual leaders when they perceive legislation to perhaps have moral implications. Whatever happened to "general equity?" I don't think you're as incompetent as you think you are; I think you should tell them to vote to protect those who can't protect themselves. And appeals to Hodge smack of some sort of evangelical Talmudism which I suspect is the font of the inertia which has and is emasculating the PCA. You quote Rabbi Hodge, and I quote Rabbi Calvin or Rutherford or Luther, etc.

For what it's worth, if you are accurately depicting Hodge, then I disagree with Hodge as well. I'm not familiar with the anecdote you related, but do you really think Hodge would have stayed silent if the resolution had called for Presbyterians to support the rescinding of laws regarding murder? And if he had, he'd have been wrong, very, very wrong.

Finally, your argumentation continues to obfuscate. Appeal to the scriptures, and if it is silent, then proceed to good and necessary consequence or inference and general equity. "The bible is silent" as an argument seems to be more a fundamentalist/biblicist approach than a historically Reformed approach. Use the scriptures to tell me that good and necessary consequence doesn't mean that God's repeated admonition to protect the weak, the widows and the orphans shouldn't apply to abortion. Limiting Scripture to merely what was addressed directly as you have isn't just a truncated, atrophied view, it really does look like your trying to avoid a fight.

I'm truly confused. Do we believe that the U.S. government is a servant of Jesus Christ? Or Not?

Though philosophers are often hasty to make pointless distinctions, please bear with me as I make a few distinctions. I think several of the main lines of argument are clear, but distinguishing these questions may still be helpful:

1) Does it honor God when church synods petition the government (vigorously or softly, frequently or infrequently) regarding moral concerns in the country? Likewise for groups of Christians or individual Christians.

2) Does it honor God when Christians who hold positions of political power enact laws which require non-Christians to follow God's law (for example, by forbidding sodomy, fornication, gay marriage, birth control, work on the Sabbath, divorce without just cause, drunkenness, prostitution, making images of God, idolatry, etc)?

3) Does it honor God when Christians call non-Christians to obey God's law, whether in personal discussion, public appeal (on a street corner), at a place of terrible evil (such as a brothel or Planned Parenthood), in media (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio), etc.

The question really driving things seems to be (2). Then, those who think (2) honors God think that (1) honors God, also, since it calls them to (2). R2Kers who disapprove of (2) seem to approve of (1) in very limited cases (so limited that calling for the abolition of slavery in the US in 1861 would not qualify). I think such a limited affirmation of (1) really is an abandonment of the poor and oppressed, evincing a lack of love. If we are unwilling to petition the government for redress for slaves who may be beaten and have their families split up, then there is really not much left we will petition for. Apparently, some R2Kers think (3) is also not a good idea, at least regarding any public call to obey God. Non-Christians, not being part of the Kingdom of God, are not supposed to be held to Christian standards. Hence, the only call to them is to become Christians, we should not call them to holiness. I am not sure how a pastor would ever make a call to repentance and faith without making a call to Christian holiness -- perhaps some R2K adherent could clarify that.

In any case, to return to the central issue, I do not understand how an R2K pastor could faithfully "minister the word" to a politician. If that politician is oppressing the poor (by permitting abortion, permitting the owning and whipping of slaves, permitting no-fault divorce, permitting fornication, etc.) shouldn't the pastor exhort that politician to protect the weak and the poor? Shouldn't he exhort him to encourage and protect those who do good and punish those who do evil? The response from R2Kers, as I understand it, is to say that the only responsibility the politician has is to maintain some modicum of peace in the country (and this is sometimes said to be "following natural law").

But, this is akin to permitting the unfaithful man to continue in adultery so long as he does not leave his wife. So long as he keeps up a good public showing, and keeps the household more or less functioning, then there is nothing else to be said. Natural law is silent. If the wife does not like it and causes a stink, she should be reminded to show deference to her husband and sacrifice for the good of the family.

For, the politician is permitted to keep his precious sin -- the one sin which he does not want to give up -- which is badly harming others, not to mention offending a holy God.

In other words, failing to exhort our politicians to to end abortion, end no-fault divorce, end many other evil practices is a failure to minister the gospel. For, it is a failure to teach them to be disciples, and to obey all that Jesus commanded. What ministry of the Gospel is there without a call to obey?

Federalism and subsidiarity are excellent political principles, but they are themselves subordinate to the law of God and in no way conflict with the law of God, which is binding on all men and all governments.

Darryl Hart said, "If the state is going to require that Christians be slaughtered, it is possible for churchmen by humble petition (WCF 31.4) to request the magistrate to change his law or policy." That's nice and specific, but it does seem to make the 2K position close to its caricature. I deduce that the 2K position is that if the churchmen evinced any indignation, or condemned the government for illegal activities in killing Christians, that would be morally wrong, and other Christians should condemn such activist Christians. Actual armed resistance to tyranny no doubt is even more of a sin. One thing I wonder about is whether if a church member is a policeman ordered to spit Christian babies on a bayonet, he should do as a good Christian, while humbly petitioning his superior to change the policy after due consideration. I'm serious about that--- it seems to be an implication of the position. And, of course, if the law says to turn in any secret Christians, any Christian who by political influence or mercy is spared should obey the law by turning in his brother, on pain of church discipline for unlawful resistance to authority--- while humbly petitioning the government to change its policy of requiring the exposure of Christians.

This may sound like caricature, but I am truly curious-- at what point does the 2K position stop, and what is the principled justification for stopping there?

This reminds me of the high church Anglicans in 1687. They'd happily preached nonresistance to tyrants to justify the persecution of Puritans by a high-church king, but became very quiet once a Roman Catholic king started persecuting high-church Anglicans.

"You mean someone else? :)"

I didn't even notice you wrote that already. I need to stop reading this because I've been scanning and I missed what you wrote. I thought Dr. Hart said it before, with response.

I have never heard anyone who says, "you can't legislate morality" explain to me how most laws are not legislating morality. I can't believe an OPC guy has been making this case. Couldn't natural law be equated with common grace anyway? In that case, laws are still based on Christian truth. It's absurd to think we are going to have some sort of truly secular laws. Why should we as Christians work to obscure what little grace God has given a dark world through civil law by pretending it's not from Him?

I meant "without response"

Tim, please take down the comments about my stupidity. They are not helpful.

[NOTE FROM TIM: Darryl, I can't find anyone above saying you're stupid. Your arguments, yes--but not you. Love,]

I may read Machen and other Old Schoolers through Lutheran eyes, but at least I read them, something folks here don't seem to do. So here is Machen on the responsibility of the church:

"There are certain things which you cannot expect from such a true Christian church. In the first place, you cannot expect from it any cooperation with non-Christian religion or with a non-Christian program of ethical culture. There are those who tell us that the Bible ought to be put into the public schools, and that the public schools should seek to build character by showing the children that honesty is the best policy and that good Americans do not lie nor steal. With such programs a true Christian church will have nothing to do. . . .

"In the second place, you cannot expect from a true Christian church any official pronouncements upon the political or social questions of the day, and you cannot expect cooperation with the state in anything involving the use of force. Important are the functions of the police, and members of the church, either individually or in such special associations as they may choose to form, should aid the police in every lawful way in the exercise of those functions. But the function of the church in its corporate capacity is of an entirely different kind. Its weapons against evil are spiritual, not carnal; and by becoming a political lobby, through the advocacy of political measures whether good or bad, the church is turning aside from its proper mission. . . .

"The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life -- nay, all the length of human history -- is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that He has revealed Himself to us in His Word and offered us communion with Himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whosever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth -- nay, all the wonders of the starry heavens -- are as the dust of the street." (1933)

Dr. Hart,

Everything I am aware that Machen wrote or has been written about him I have read. Frankly it seems you are comparing apples and oranges. Machen advocated as a Christian in the public sphere, whether he thought the church should or not. You appear to be saying that the Christian checks his Christianity at the capitol steps because that sphere is secular, a position I ssuspect both Kuyper and Machen would have eschewed.

Dr. Hart,

I'm one of the ignorants who haven't read much from Machen...but I found this, perhaps you know the author/s?

>Machen opposed Presbyterian support for Prohibition, however, not because he approved of drunkenness or preferred unpopularity. Rather he did so for important theological—even Reformed—reasons. In a statement defending his position (never published again because of the damage his friends believed it would have done) Machen argued that the church had no legitimate rationale for taking a side in this political question. Aside from the question of the relations between church and state, he believed that the church was bound by the Word of God and so all of its declarations and resolutions had to have clear Scriptural warrant. The Bible did not, however, provide support for Prohibition. It taught the idea of temperance, that is, moderate consumption of alcohol and the other good things of God's creation. This meant that Scripture forbade inebriation. But even here the Bible did not give directions to government officials for abolishing drunkenness. Should this be a matter for the federal government to regulate or should states and local governments? Was legislation the best way to shape public sentiment or was an educational program more effective? Was regulation of private citizens' behavior even a proper concern of the state? The Bible did not answer these and various other questions. So, Machen concluded, the church had no business meddling in the politics of Prohibition or any other matter where Scripture did not speak. (taken from here: http://www.opc.org/OS/MachenRegulative.html

As Ken Pierce has pointed out (numerous times), Machen opposed certain policies *based on Reformed conviction*. If Machen was a true blue R2K proponent (and I'm not certain I trust the author/s summation), the question is this: "Was Machen consistent?"

To say the Church has no voice based on what *Scripture says* is to give the Church's voice! Especially when the "no position" stance was actually *a position* (i.e. a big N-O to Prohibition).

For certain men to take Machen's approach and then apply it to abortion is to compare apples and gorillas. At least apples and oranges are fruits...but abortion is the wholesale incorporation of Molechism into public life.

In your hearts you may not bow, but you do pay homage. I wonder why faith meant not even bowing physically to the god-state in the OT? It even made the 10 commandments...don't bow AND don't serve...just in case someone wanted to divorce mind from body, God made it clear: Don't even bow.

Has any R2K proponent explained how abortion is not a religious issue? Since when did the life of a man, woman, or child not have religious importance? For the life of me, how is this not a gospel issue?

I'm not sure if the world can see the light of R2K on Sundays when they're asleep and you're in your church building...I don't know if they can see your light when your gospel has no point of contact with sex, life or death...all covenantal in nature and all of which unbelief seeks to pervert and silence by the darkness outlined in Romans 1 that Natural Law proponents want to call light.

Is R2K functional atheism or pelagianism? R.C. Sproul would argue pelagianism is atheism, so I'll defer to R.C. on this.

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