The utility of the spirituality of the church yesterday and today...

(Tim) In a comment under the post, "Two-kingdom's tendentious misuse of the Establishment Clause," Ken Patrick wrote: "Christianity is a threat to the existing political order because it is a call to a new way of living." Here are some thoughts I've had while watching that discussion...

Excellent comments, Ken, although I'd like to tweak your statement slightly: "Christianity is a threat to the existing religious (or cultic) order because it’s a call to turn from the our worship of the cult of the state to worship the One True Living God. Mind you: He has appointed a day when He will judge all men..."

In other words, let's acknowledge not only that the US Constitution does not establish separation of church and state, but also that there's never been a politas in history that's had separation of church and state. And those who reassure themselves they live in such a politas today here in these United States are deluded.

Among a host of things proving their error is the river of Molech’s blood we swim in each day. Millions of slaughtered children—a billion worldwide, now—proving precisely which god our state worships. His name is Molech, and we remain at ease in Wheaton and Escondido and St. Louis and Manhattan.

It’s weird...

If Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world, why did the kings of this world relentlessly pursue and finally murder him? Why did the kings of this world relentlessly pursue the Apostles? Why did good Polycarp die?

And in an age and empire so very similar to Rome (see Herbert Workman’s “Persecution in the Early Church”), why are none of us dying?

Well, certainly one of the reasons is that our kingdom is of this world. We’re not at all like our Lord or John the Baptist. And certainly not like the Apostle Paul who preached the Kingdom of God in such a way as to barely escape one city, only to start again in the next. That’s a good outline of the book of Acts, isn’t it?

If there was no separation of church and state in Sodom and Gomorrah, there’s no separation of church and state in these United States, today. Men are free to kill one another in the pursuit of perverse sexual immorality; women are free to slaughter their unborn children by the millions; and the civil authority bears the sword to force the citizens of this nation to support these horrendous crimes.

This is why the promotion of contemporary forms of the historic southern presbyterian doctrine of the spirituality of the church (to which Brother Pierce referred a few comments above) strikes me as a rather straightforward rubric for justifying our cold hearts which are indifferent to justice and mercy and truth. But more, so cold to love.

We need to look at Leviticus 20:1-5 and ask ourselves if we are not simply one more Israelite crying “temple of the Lord, temple of the Lord” while the hillside behind our house is strewn with crying babies doomed to die (Rome)? While our next door neighbor is hacking his Christian brother-in-law to pieces outside our front door with a machete, and in the course of the past three months, 750,000 of our neighbors and friends have been hacked to pieces in the same way—all dying at the hands of murderers spurred on by the civil magistrate (Rwanda)? While right down the street from us, babies—often Covenant children—are sacrificed to our Molechs of self-determination, pride, autonomy, security, and convenience?

We should tremble that God told Moses to say to His Covenant People:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “You shall also say to the sons of Israel: ‘Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will also set My face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given some of his offspring to Molech, so as to defile My sanctuary and to profane My holy name.

If the people of the land, however, should ever disregard that man when he gives any of his offspring to Molech, so as not to put him to death, then I Myself will set My face against that man and against his family, and I will cut off from among their people both him and all those who play the harlot after him, by playing the harlot after Molech’” (Leviticus 20:1-5).

“Disregard” is what we Reformed men do best, but under the rubric of separation of church and state. We hide our knowledge of suffering and our indifference to the cry of the widow and orphan with talk of the spirituality of the church, just as our southern presbyterian forefathers did. Where does Scripture command us not to oppress slaves? Where does Scripture command us to address the civil magistrate about the oppression of the slaves? Where does Scripture command us to bring the year of Jubilee into the New Covenant world? Where does the Confession teach us to try to stop pagans from doing what pagans do—slaughter their babies and their neighbors, and expose their infants?

We have a higher calling that must be protected: temple of the Lord, temple of the Lord, states’ rights, temple of the Lord, spirituality of the church, temple of the Lord, justification by grace alone, separation of church and state, temple of the Lord, temple of the Lord, temple of the Lord.

A Reformed churchman wrote saying he thought I’d judged a certain essay by a certain 2K/R2K man unfairly, so I went back and re-read it. And the thing that struck me with even greater force the second time was the complete lack of awareness in this man that anything done by Reformed believers today seen by Molechites as participation in what they and their R2K friends love to refer to as “the culture wars” is ever motivated by love for our neighbor—for the widow and orphan in their distress.

No. As he saw it, Reformed believers today are involved in what he calls “the culture wars” because we want to protect our rights. We want to make the world better for our children. We’re caught up in a hissy fit over the loss of those halcyon days of Colonial America and we’re not going to take it any more.

In other words, it was his view that the prophetic witness and pursuit of justice and truth by Reformed men is really all about political power. Can you believe it?

But in the final analysis, maybe we should stop to consider the wise rule that it’s the thief that thinks everyone steals.

The Left certainly thinks the witness of Christians is all about political power, and with them it certainly is true that they’re all about political power. So if the R2K men think the witness of godly, pious Christians is all about political power, maybe these R2K proponents are just like their Left compatriots. Maybe both sides only care about political power, and the way the spirituality of the church translates into political power is that the absence of Jesus’ prophetic witness in the public square makes it much easier for Christian intellectuals to hide. Or much easier for them to maintain their truce with the cult of Molech.

There is no separation of church and state. Either believers today will live a godly life in Christ Jesus and be imprisoned and killed for it, or we’ll make our peace with the forces of Hell ruling us and demanding our worship; and One Day soon, find our Lord ashamed of us when we stand before His Throne.

The Pharisees lived and Jesus died. The Scribes lived and the Apostle Paul died.

It’s disgusting I have to say this, but I’m not calling for the taking up of arms. His kingdom is not of this world and it’s by the Word of His power that the Kingdom of God will prevail. But if our separation of church and state, two-kingdom doctrine allows us to escape infamy and pain and persecution and execution, we bear no resemblance to the host of witnesses, some of whom were sawn in two.

This world is not our home. And so, this world hates us. Unless, of course, we have a rubric for justifying our silence.

But if our scholarly reputation among the chattering classes is good, we would do well to remember that no servant is greater than his Master.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Amen. The religious nature of political governments started sinking in when I read a certain book...I hesitate naming it for fear of R2K's saying "See! You're a Reconstructionist!", which I am not.

The One and the Many, by Rushdoony is an excellent demonstration of how governments, when left to the hearts of men, become godlike. This is not a glowing endorsement of Rushdoony...I feel I have to state that clearly as R2K's (and many others) start to get a little scared at the mention of Rush...unless it's followed by Limbaugh.

Christians in Rome were among the best, most obedient citizens...and yet they were lit on fire, fed to lions, and the like. It wasn't an early form of R2K that led them to their deaths. It was a faith lived out *here* and *now*. Their faith threatened the kings of this world because their faith called attention to the true King, who sits enthroned laughing at the vain pursuits of the kings of the world.

The world isn't scared of a God that's "out there"...it's when that very same Transcendent God is *right here*. Right here is where men want to be gods...we remind them (and ourselves) that this is not the case. R2K can't do this, certainly not on Sunday (that's moralism) but maybe in their homes if they have time...but time outside of Sunday isn't God's, it belongs to the "secular", and God's time can't be taken up with moralism...that would be, well, immoral. Gotta keep those categories nice and clean...had the early Christians known this powerful fact, Caligula may have been a fine potential convert...I'm sure R2K could come up with a great reason to baptize Incitatus as well.

Tim,

As much as I'd like to take credit for those fine statements, I believe Ken Patrick made them!

Changed, dear brother.

Love,

Tim, count me as deluded (as if you haven't already), though I'm sure you do it with love.

But let me return the love by asking how if the church and state are not separate Christians avoid taking up arms. The nature of the state is to bear the sword. So it sure looks like you are advocating bearing the sword in Jesus' name. I thought after Peter's experience at the time of Jesus' capture Christians bearing arms was a no no.

Maybe it's me, but it sounds fairly utopian to think that you can have the unity of church and state without bloodshed in the name of Christ. Does the Thirty Years War ring any bells?

>>how if the church and state are not separate Christians avoid taking up arms.

Dear Darryl,

The weapons of our warfare are not physical. But the weapons of the state church will be--depend upon it.

Love,

"If Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world, why did the kings of this world relentlessly pursue and finally murder him?"

Of course, there is that pesky problem that Jesus himself said his kingdom was not of this world...

Dear Facebook,

The point isn't that His Kingdom IS of this world--it isn't. How many times do I have to say it? The point is that the civil magistrate always thinks Godliness is a grab for this-worldly power, and meets it that way.

If you can love Facebook,

Tim,

This is very helpful towards describing a positive view of what it is you are after when you state there is no separation of church and state. Your point, if I get it right, is that the state will always be religious one way or another, so let's do what we can to have it promote justice from a Christian world view. Is that correct?

Several other comments/questions:

1) This is somewhat vague, but ironically, in Neibuhr's 5-fold rubric, the tone of this essay is much more "Christ against Culture" than "Christ transforming Culture," i.e. it is one of inevitable conflict with the state rather than one of cooperation. Did that occur to you? Just a thought. For me, it's more the cooperation thing or "Christ in culture" thing that is concerning.

2) Would you be willing to say that in your view there is a separation between state and *visible church*, while still maintaining that there is no separation between state and the *invisible church,* that is converted Christians living as salt and life in this world ("the church" scattered as Stott puts it)? Is that waht you mean by no separation? Can you see how there may have been some talking past each other in the previous discussions? For me, when I say, "church," I almost always mean the Visible Church, which is the literal Kingdom of Christ on earth.

3) Now that we are using nicknames, have you worked out in your mind a working definition of the distinction between 2K and R2K? If you have, that might be helpful, but I realize that all this is somewhat fluid.

4) Would you be willing to say there is a difference between CW (culture warrior) and RCW (radical culture warrior)? Better yet, what would be a better nickname for that side?

5) Would you recommend that Christians not serve in the U.S. Military at all then, since they would be then defending this government which supports the cult of Molech? That's an honest question; I think a Christian in good conscience could say yes to this. (And yes, I know military personnel swear to defend the Constitution; but we are living in the real world and right now, and in the foreseeable future, the U.S. govt now defends abortion.)

6) Most importantly, do you really mean to say that on Judgement Day Jesus will be ashamed of true believers who were not imprisoned or killed? If so, what happened to their justification?

7) Or are you saying that if Christians today are not "imprisoned and killed" then they are not true believers at all? I have to assume you meant that whole paragraph as purposeful hyperbole, like Jesus saying to cut off our hands. Is that right? Because it's pretty literal.

I hope those questions are helpful to clarify things. Thanks!

>>Your point, if I get it right, is that the state will always be religious one way or another, so let's do what we can to have it promote justice from a Christian world view. Is that correct?

Yes, dear brother. Or maybe better, to have it promote justice PERIOD.

>>For me, it's more the cooperation thing or "Christ in culture" thing that is concerning.

I have often commended Ellul's "False Presence of the Kingdom" on this blog. And Ellul shows that every single time the church tries to cooperate with the state, it's immediately coopted and compromised. She loses her voice.

Dad wrote against prayer in public school. David and I don't want Modalist prayers led in our children's classrooms.

>>Would you be willing to say that in your view there is a separation between state and *visible church*, while still maintaining that there is no separation between state and the *invisible church,* that is converted Christians living as salt and life in this world ("the church" scattered as Stott puts it)?

Somewhat, although in our ethereal, misty, and vaporous world of evangelicalism where authority and water and bread and wine are despised, I'm loathe to speak too much about the invisible church. John Murray's essay on this is excellent.

>>Now that we are using nicknames, have you worked out in your mind a working definition of the distinction between 2K and R2K?

No, I'm sorry but I haven't.

>>Better yet, what would be a better nickname for that side?

I'm hopeful anyone tempted to settle into indifference toward the oppressed and widow and orphan will repent and we won't need a name for it. But if I had to choose a name, I think it would be most helpful to put it into historical context by referring to it as Southern Presbyterianism's spirituality of the church.

>>Would you recommend that Christians not serve in the U.S. Military at all then, since they would be then defending this government which supports the cult of Molech?

Good question which I'd like to hear your judgments on, and that of others who've been a part of the conversation, here. But Molech is not the key point, to me. Believers were not to leave the Roman army in New Testament times, were they?

To me, the larger problem today is drones firing Hellfire missiles under the control of joysticks in Virginia and Texas; blitz bombing and nuclear warheads dropped on women and children--civilians--intentionally; the enforced climate of fornication under mixed-sex military life; and finally, the chronic carrying of unborn children into harm's way due to the mainstreaming of woman combatants. Vern Poythress has called into question whether any war America fights can ever be said to be just now that unborn children are regularly in harm's way. I think he's asking a necessary question.

We have at least six men in our church currently serving in the military and several retired. I honor them for their service. Those who have enlisted while here at CGS, I've talked about all these things with.

>>Most importantly, do you really mean to say that on Judgment Day Jesus will be ashamed of true believers who were not imprisoned or killed?

Jesus addressed these words to the disciples. But the good thing is that you and I don't have to say or preach or write or teach anything other than this:

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38).

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, (2 Timothy 1:8).

Our Lord knows His own, but we’re often fooled. As Augustine put it, “Many sheep without; many wolves within.”

Love,

Tim,

Thanks, that is a helpful reply. I'm with you on the school prayer. This in fact, some of what 2K is trying to do -- keeping the sacred in sacred hands.

I think the questions you raise about America's warfare are excellent, and I state that as a US Army combat vet. The older I get and the more I read, the fewer of our wars do I think were undoubtedly just. Great questions for any soldier to consider. I also think the draft is always unjust, period.

That said, I do think the fact that you allow your members the Christian Freedom (as did John the Baptist as you point out) to join the military means that in some measure, you have a 2K theology. The U.S. Govt participates in all kinds of evil. The church is not to take up the sword, and yet some of its members may do so in service to that government, while yet acting Christianly in their personal conduct. That is much of what 2K is saying. It's not really controversial.

Of course, there may be certain governments that become so evil in their conduct that it may well become immoral for Christians to support it, but how they choose to non-participate would also be a matter of Christian freedom. So I was trying to figure out if you had arrived at that point yet.

As to Jesus' saying about not being ashamed of Him, I am with you that this is likely referring to the unconverted in our midst, whose lack of faith is shown by their cowardice in public. I also think that we can't just preach those words and leave it there; but must do theology as we preach those words. Otherwise, none of us are saved since all of us have disowned Christ at some time in our lives.

I think II Timothy 1:8 passage may be one that is particularly addressed to pastors, as our PCA ordination vows seem to recognize. But the principle is the same as that of I Timothy 3:12, which you cite: everyone who wants to live a godly life WILL be persecuted.

The question then is what form that persecution will take. Obviously, the requirement that we must be killed or imprisoned in our time to show we truly believe is overstatement, to put it mildly. None of us do enough for the weak, none of us are never ashamed of Christ in our lives. That is why I asked what happened to justification, when you put it that way. Because to the one who does not do enough in this life for social justice, but trusts God to justify the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. We cannot lose the Gospel in all this, which that paragraph, in my opinion, comes close to doing.

Finally, you ask why so few of are dying for the cause of Christ Might I might suggest that the reason so few of us are dying in our present empire is in fact thanks to the leavening influence of the Gospel on our Western culture over the centuries -- that it finally allowed us to break free from Constantinism, and it caused Presbyterians to have the humility to listen to Christians from other traditions on this score (i.e. imprisoned Baptists), so that finally, a large degree of religious freedom is now allowed. I don't look at it as a bad thing at all, without yet mitigating the force of II Timothy 3:12.

Thanks again for the good reply!

Maybe a better tack to take in this debate, would be to look at how Christians in those parts of the world which do not have Christian roots to their culture, handle things.

Speaking as an outsider: the challenge of the American Church seems to be that the culture in which it is placed has transitioned from an environment which was strongly Christian-influenced (I think that is a fair reading of things), to one which is not at all strongly influenced by Christian things. Hence all the problems you've mentioned; and it is still taking some time for the church to work out how it should now be engaging. If you can remember a world in which things were 'different', the 'now' is not a comfortable place to be.

However, there are Christians in other parts of the world who know what it is like to be a "resident alien" (eg. Singapore, Korea, evangelicals in the Republic of Ireland, Taiwan). What light might they be able to shed on the matter?

So Tim, will your state church execute people in Christ's name? And will your state church allow room in the nation for Mormons and Roman Catholics? How about Lutherans? They also use images in worship (sometimes known as idolatry)? Or will this simply be a state church that prosecutes the second table without havnig to deal with the messy business of the first?

It does seem you want all the advantages of a state church with none of the liabilities that have historically hurt them -- such at the Thirty Years War. Again, utopian comes to mind. You lovingly brought it there.

Darryl,

You’ve said

“Conservative Presbyterians in the U.S. have had far more liberty to found colleges and seminaries, and practice their faith, and do all sorts of things that conservatives back in Scotland even have not been able to do.”

I’d agree and contend that we’ve never been more irrelevant- from a substantive standpoint not a hipster standpoint. When the culture – forget politics for a moment- wants to know what to do with emerging technologies, say for instance stem-cell research—where are the Conservative Presbyterians? Back to politics, when the magistrates recognize that all law is the imposition of morality, and new situations arise (should stem-cell research be legal?) where a moral opinion or foundation for a law is needed, how come it’s the other Christian traditions that provide the resources while we Presbies continue to spit about theological hairsplitting?

You also say…

“no where in the NT do we see Christians trying to institute a political rule”

True. And nowhere on this blog has anyone suggested instituting political rule. But you still haven’t answered what both Tim and I have questioned; why is it that the Romans of all people persecuted Christians? You’ve suggested I read Calvin; I suggest you read Cochrane’s Christianity and Classical Culture. Even secular historians recognize the threat Christianity poses to the state – precisely because it is a competing, transforming institution.

Finally, you’ve said…

“I don't mean to sound naive, but where is the church being persecuted today? I can worship freely, my communion enjoys tax-exempt status, and we have chaplains in the federal military. Greatest nation on God's green earth and all that.”

My snarky side is tempted to say, ‘that’s because you’ve been founding colleges and seminaries and practice an individually-focused, private (and truncated) faith” but I won't. Ross above is pointing you in the right direction. Our brothers and fellow-citizens of Christ's kingdom in other parts of the world can witness to persecution. (I still don’t get how the mere fact that persecution takes place isn't the simplest proof for the statement that Christianity is a natural enemy and target of a pagan state – why else do they bother? Even the NT Wright’s of the world get this.) As our Christian political past continues to fade, one should expect more conflict with our own State - and I suspect that they'll come to your comfy seminaries; funny thing how the enemies of Christianity recognize it's claim to ultimate suzerainty and thus try to crush it, even when our own supposed repositories of the faith seem to think Christianity is compatible with pluralism. As it is, I’m sure there are ADF attorneys who read this site who can provide detailed examples where the State interferes now on a regular basis.

I think you continue to construct a straw man; no one here is advocating a return to a National Covenant, so your utopian grenades are duds. I believe you want all the benefits of Christ's saving work without any of the clear, historically-demonstrated socio-political consequences.

Tim Bayly: "But if our separation of church and state, two-kingdom doctrine allows us to escape infamy and pain and persecution and execution, we bear no resemblance to the host of witnesses, some of whom were sawn in two."

Sometimes I wonder if 2K doctrine is sophistry to justify and/or to provide cover for cowardice.

Truth....

Dr. Hart does seem to be jousting at windmills that do not, in fact, exist.

How often do we need to say, "That's not what we're saying!!"

Ken Patrick: Excellent post. I am honored to have been mistaken for you, brother! :-)

>>Ken Patrick: Excellent post. I am honored to have been mistaken for you, brother! :-)

Yes, I'm grateful for your wisdom and perspicuity, brother. Excellent.

Love,

Ken Pierce: "Dr. Hart does seem to be jousting at windmills that do not, in fact, exist."

Oh, I agree.

The thing that I find both baffling and tiresome is that he built the windmills that he's jousting at.

It's also known as building a strawman and burning it.

As a professor, and especially as a professor, he should know better than to use such rhetoric.

I agree Dr. Hart misunderstood what Tim is saying, and in the meantime what is lost is that Tim is essentially advocating a 2K position himself.

What was also lost was his severe overstatement of what is required of Christians today (imprisonment or death) as a necessary fruit of justification.

Mea culpa all, I am a Don Quixote like idiot, tilting at fantasies. But please bear with me just a little more. Tim wants Christian morality to inform the American state. Is that a misconstruction? If so, please advise me.

Tim also wants this state not to be a theocratic or Covenanter kind of political order. I imagine that means that deists like Washington and Unitarians like Adams will be able to hold public office.

But this Christian-informed state will allow idolaters and blasphemers to practice their sin. That is, I imagine there will be room in Tim's Christian-informed America for Mormons and Roman Catholics.

And then one more wrinkle: we are going to let non-Christians or non-orthodox enforce Christian morality.

So where does this Christian-informed America exist? Or better when? I really am curious to know when Tim or anyone else thinks the U.S. achieved its golden age of Christian informed government.

I imagine it would be the period when mainline Protestants were running the show, between 1900 and 1960. If so, that would be odd since those were the people who drove the Machens, Henrys, and Baylys out of the churches.

Or maybe it's the period from 1800 to 1860 when Wesleyan and Finneyite perfectionism was swimming along so well in producing order in the U.S. But again, the theological rigor of the Methodist age would not necessarily appeal to Presbyterians.

Those, in my judgment, are the best times for Christian influence in America. But if you choose them, be careful. You may be guilty of the liberal Protestant impulse to sacrifice true theology for Christian morality and the good society.

Dr. Hart,

You are not an idiot. You are a very intelligent man and a good historian, which is what makes this all the sadder to me.

I can exist alongside R2K men --as long as they don't tell 2K men they are betraying Christ, not preaching the gospel, or not preaching grace --all of which has been said by illustrious fellow WSC faculty members in print.

Ken, thanks, but could you point me in the direction of the America you'd like us to live in. It really might help this discussion.

BTW, if I am very intelligent, why are so many here telling me I am not?

Be careful the company you keep.

with all the love I can muster,

Dr. Hart,

How come men I know and love, even my more 2K friend Chris Hutchinson, and my friend Fred Greco understand that we live in this America, not long for some halcyon bygone day, and that we, right now, try to influence life for the good, as Fred has just pointed out.

Thanks for the warning, though. I am sorry you are degrading your reputation by the nastiness and flippancy of your responses.

Dr. Hart,

First, I want to apologize for the above comment. It certainly has not helped further the debate.

Your position seems to be that because the church has been wrong about somethings, or because it is unrealistic to think the church can win every battle, therefore it is not called to wage the battle for truth and righteousness in the public sphere.

What about the church standing up and supporting realistic and attainable goals to combat the breakdown of the family. Ending abortion would be enough for one lifetime --just as ending the British slave trade allowed good old Wilberforce to die a happy man.

Then, the protection of marriage and the family through turning back of homosexual marriage and the ending of no fault divorce, as Fred has suggested.

A reasonable agenda on which Christians can agree. The alternative, which appears preferable to R2K men, frankly, is abortion on demand, and the death of traditional marriage. IF the church has nothing to say to the state, we must stand by with folded hands, and let these gifts of God's common grace slip away, and the culture rot.]

All I am saying is that we educate our people on these things, prick their consciences about them, encourage their involvement and voting in accordance with the dictates of a Scripture-saturated conscience, and encourage as many Christians as are called to run for public office, and when there, to govern Christianly.

This, of course, is not without precedent. Kuyper, Wilberforce, John Q. Adams, and Elector Frederick the Pious, would all be examples, and more could be added.

Since Scripture speaks prinicipially to Christians, and the church's, relationship to the state, a Christian may function Christianly under a hostile state, a free state, a republic or monarchy. Each situation changes how he engages, but it does not change that he engages.

Ken,

There's a point where debate honors a man in his sin.

-Clint

>First, I want to apologize for the above comment. It certainly has not helped further the debate.

I don't know about nastiness but the flippancy certainly doesn't help his reputation. And I say that as someone who's been a big fan and promoted his books in a variety of places.

David Gray, chillax. When the posters on this blog set the tone of flippancy and some nastiness, it certainly seems that responding in kind is par for the course. But if you think that all of our speech needs to conform to the way we talk at church, then how is it you haven't chastised or made second-hand remarks about Tim and David? Sometimes it gets nasty, sometimes it gets flippant. I thought one of the Baylys' points was that men should be men, not women.

Ken, my point isn't that the church has been wrong or tactically challenged. My point is that the church is not called to engage in many of the things that you think it is called to do. There is an important distinction in Reformed teaching by both Old Princeton and Kuyper on the calling of the church as over against the calling of the individual Christian. The church as institution is circumscribed in what she can do. That is the point I've been trying to make ever since you read my dissertation on Machen because that is the point he tried to make.

You may try to dismiss this distinction as merely a cover for slavery. But because Kuyper and Hodge also made it, I think you might want to give it greater consideration.

"Ken, thanks, but could you point me in the direction of the America you'd like us to live in."

Dr. Hart said that every time he engaged Tim he got something like a "run protect the women and children" response. Well, we know Tim's an intelligent man, right? He isn't so unsophisticated that he cannot understand Dr. Hart's arguments. However, at some point he must have cut through the rationalization and realized that women and children must be protected or - that we must at least try or else how can we face God at judgment?

My question is, why *doesn't* Dr. Hart seem to have the response to protect the women and children?

Dr. Hart probably thinks grace means that we won't answer to God about how we didn't protect others. I find it very difficult to believe that Dr. Hart is an elder in the OPC, except that I've seen this same intellectual coldness in many reformed leaders.

If Dr. Hart means that CGS is an echo chamber because the Holy Spirit has moved many of us through disperate experiences and lives to come to this place at this time to hold strongly to the same truths and express them here, then I guess BaylyBlog is an echo chamber, with many voices speaking from independently discovered truth from the similar leading of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps Dr. Hart denies God's sovereignty and the Holy Spirit's ability to bring like minded men together who love God's people and others at least as much as their own minds and will discipline the later in order to love the former.

There is a point where we look into the eyes of broken people, of children molested by their fathers (met another one of them at Planned Parenthood this week) and say, "No more, I will not harden my heat ANY MORE!" And you begin to see that the mandate to protect others and fight in the secular sphere was always in scripture, it was our own heart that was defective.

Pray for the sanctification that will soften the hearts of our evil nation and its religious leaders.

Tim,

You've expressed many times about how you don't want to become part of the Temple Christian Booksellers mess.

But surely your writing is needed today if the vacuum created is filled by writing such as Dr. Hart's.

Love,

Clint, you have uncharitably characterized my position as one not simply where theoretically my views do not protect women and children but I personally do not do so either -- hence, the amazement that I could be an officer in Christ's church. That insinuation about personal conduct is rife here, but that's fine. It seems to be par for the course along with flippancy and nastiness. I'm a man. I can take it. My wife doesn't read this so she is protected.

But let me try this out on you: do you think it fair or charitable if I characterize your resolve to use the church to protect women and children in American society (I'm all for the church doing that as part of ecclesiastical discipline) -- if I characterize your position as the Social Gospel? Do you think this is fair? And since the Social Gospel was one of the chief aspects of Protestant liberalism, would it be fair or charitable if I charactererized Clint Mahoney publicly as a liberal?

Maybe you'd be fine with either characterization. But if not, do you think you could dial the flames down a notch or two?

Dr. Hart,

YOu are the historian, but I see WSC (not everyone certainly) saying something far different than Kuyper, Hodge, or Machen were saying.

After all Machen opposed prohibition --he took a public stand, an unpopular one, but he did it as a Christian, a churchman and a scholar, right? He was pointing out that the church was advocating for the wrong thing, but he himself was advocating, right?

And, that is all that I want. Advocating, voting, decrying, speaking out, Christians being equipped to think about the culture and how to influence it, and putting themselves forward for election.

>David Gray, chillax. When the posters on this blog set the tone of flippancy and some nastiness, it certainly seems that responding in kind is par for the course.

Reading, a lost art. Dr. Hart what I said, as opposed to what I quoted was that I didn't know about nastiness but that I did see flippancy. I haven't fussed about nastiness at all. Funny though, this is the only response I've gotten from you and it was the one with the least content. Go figure.

Dr. Hart,

Would you have the church remain silent in the broader culture (like the PCA remove its official opposition to abortion) on spirituality grounds?

Could a pastor actually advocate for legalized abortion, and remain in good standing in the church, in your view?

Or, could a faithful Reformed pastor argue that the state has no compelling reason not to allow homosexuals to wed, and still be a minister in good standing?

If your ground is that Machen argued the state had no legitimate authority over liquor, and the church had no right to advocate that it did, then is it also your argument that a minister could argue the state has no legitimate authority over the female body, and it would be wrong for the church to advocate that it does?

David Gray, LOL!

Ken, I don't think the church should petition the government on a host of issues, unless the church has policy proposals to go with those petitions. I think this is the clear intention of WCF 31.4. I also don't think anyone would have trouble discerning that the OPC and PCA oppose abortion by looking at our doctrinal standards on the sixth commandment.

If the state requires us to do something against our consciences, then by all means, the church has a duty to protect her people as much as possible. And individual Christians should according to their own vocations become engaged in political life. But I am not at all a fan of the church doing so corporately.

On Machen, he did not enter the public square and speak out on prohibition. He voted against certain motions before the church. In fact, not until the collection of shorter writings recently came out was his statement on prohibition ever published.

Actually, the stuff that WSC is saying is a lot like Hodge and Kuyper. What the Baylys and others are saying is a lot like Barnes and Beecher (New School, if you don't catch the references).

Dr. Hart,

I caught the references.

I remember seeing Machen's work on Prohibition and on the proposed legislation in MI (!!) and Oregon prohibiting private education. He was a mensch, for sure. A personal hero because of his mighty scholarship, his wide ranging intellect, and his ability to speak to the populace on the issues at hand.

I guess it is hard for me to draw hard and fast lines, or to make subtle distinctions.

But, however Machen spoke, and under whatever theological or ecclesiastical rubric, he spoke, and that is the point. And that is my sole point, too. He was a theologian, advising the consciences of Christians and others. And that is what I mean to do, and think pastors ought to do.

The point on Kuyper is this: he taught Christians to think Christian-ly about all of life. When he governed, he did so as a Christian (hence Dr. Clark's derisive comments about him forsaking his calling). Though he argued the spheres should be seperate (and I agree with him), he understood that coram deo meant the state was not properly secular, because in fact, no part of life was secular (contra an article you yourself penned). How ironic it is now that Mike HOrton penned a whole book about that a decade or so ago. Though it lacked proper nuance, I find it far preferable to his current stand.

And, the PCA does have a position paper on abortion and the sanctity of life in addition to the Standards.